I know what you’re thinking already, “Why is Otaquest posting information about pro-wrestling?” Well, let me tell you, for starters, I am an absurdly large pro-wrestling fan both domestically here in Japan as well as internationally with WWE and AEW. But also, Jushin Thunder Liger is an absolute legend in the industry and deserves to have his name recognized as a leader of pop-culture from Japan.
Jushin Thunder Liger is a world-renowned pro-wrestler as well as mixed martial arts combatant who debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1984 under his real name, Keiichi Yamada who then took on the persona of Jushin Liger when the anime of the same name was released in 1989. His career has spanned over three and a half decades and he is a name who is synonymous with Japanese Pro Wrestling. Jushin Thunder Liger saw an immense amount of success as a junior heavyweight, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship a staggering 11 times, more than anyone in history.
On top of all of this, Jushin Thunder Liger was also the first three-time winner of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament as well as a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, two-time winner of the Super J Cup, and was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1999. Jushin Thunder Liger, now 55 years of age decided to hang up his mask at the Wrestle Kingdom 14 event held in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome after 35 years of wrestling.
Jushin Thunder Liger has only wrestled one single match in the WWE at the NXT Take Over Brooklyn event on July 16th, 2015. Even though he never really had a track record with WWE, his contributions to the industry and his extreme tenure of having worked in five different decades had left WWE with no choice but to give him a spot in their Hall of Fame.
WWE has stated the following regarding Jushin Thunder Liger’s introduction to their Hall of Fame:
Jushin “Thunder” Liger, one of the most revolutionary competitors in sports-entertainment history, is the latest inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.
Liger joins Batista, nWo members Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash & Sean Waltman, The Bella Twins, JBL and The British Bulldog in the Class of 2020. They will take their place in history during the 2020 Induction Ceremony on Thursday, April 2, at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
The masked marvel emerged in Japan in the late 1980s, enchanting fans from the moment he emerged from the curtain, clad in a dazzling red-and-white body suit and a striking mask with three protruding horns. But as impressive as he was on first glance, Liger was even more remarkable once the bell rang. Inside the ring, Liger was an innovator in every sense of the word. His high-flying, hard-hitting style has influenced generations of competitors, and is credited as the inventor of the Shooting Star Press.
Liger made his way to the United States in 1991, arriving in WCW and engaging in an epic rivalry with Brian Pillman over the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship, the precursor to the Cruiserweight Title. Liger and Pillman’s incredible bouts are still talked about to this day as some of the most influential in sports-entertainment history.
Liger appeared for WCW sporadically throughout the 1990s, taking on competitors like Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko. Meanwhile, in his home country of Japan, he established himself as one of the greatest competitors of all time, becoming an 11-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, even after a brain tumor almost took his life. He went nearly four decades without competing in a WWE ring, until he made his WWE debut at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in 2015, defeating Tyler Breeze in a battle that brought the NXT Universe to its feet.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger retired in January, making him a grappler with the distinction of having competed in five different decades. And now, he will add another incredible accolade to his résumé: WWE Hall of Famer.
Jushin Thunder Liger will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before Wrestlemania 36 in Tampa, Florida on April 2nd. For those of you wrestling fans, you can catch his introduction live on the WWE Network.