Wrestling is one of the most well-known sports in the world, due to the influence of companies like the WWE. The performers have travelled all over the globe, honing their craft and being exposed to different cultures and wrestling styles. A countless number of wrestling moves have been popularised in the WWE and several have their origins in Japan. Here are six Japanese wrestling moves that have been used in the WWE.
- Michinoku Driver
The Michinoku Driver, innovated by Taka Michinoku, is a cross between a scoop slam and a piledriver. It involves a wrestler reaching between their opponent’s leg with the right arm and using the other arm to grab the opponent’s neck from the same side. Then, the wrestler lifts their opponent into a upside down position and drops into a sitout stance, driving the person into the mat neck and shoulder first.
The move shouldn’t be confused with the original Michinoku Driver, also known as a double underhook brainbuster. The original was innovated by The Great Sasuke, but because of how dangerous it is, the move is banned in the WWE. Therefore, Taka Michinoku’s move is more likely to be used because it’s safer to execute.
Named after a Judo throw, the uranage is also referred to as a side suplex. A wrestler stands face-to-face with another person and tucks their head under the opponent’s arm. At the same time, the wrestler reaches across the person’s chest and grabs their neck. The final part of the move involves the wrestler lifting the opponent up, turning 180° and slamming them back-first into the canvas.
The uranage is favoured by larger wrestlers because of how powerful it makes them look, but the impact depends on how the other wrestler sells the moves.
3. Fujiwara armbar
Created by Yoshiaki Fujiwara, this wrestling hold is also known as a short armbar. To perform the move, a wrestler lies on an opponent’s back at a 90° angle and puts all their weight into the action to stop the person from moving. Then, the arm is hooked and pulled back into the performer’s body, causing pressure on the forearms, biceps and pectoral muscles.
Several variations of the Fujiwara armbar exist, such as the Dis-arm-her used by Becky Lynch. This version of the move involves Lynch grabbing her opponent’s arm in a kneeling position and adding extra pressure.
Enzugiri is a combination of the Japanese words enzui, which translates to medulla oblongata and giri, which means ‘to chop.’ Therefore, the enzuigiri involves striking at the back of the head. Commonly associated with smaller wrestlers, the enzuigiri is often used as a counterattack for when a regular kick has been blocked.
Officially called a fireman’s carry neckbreaker, the attacking wrestler lifts their adversary onto their shoulders and drops them onto an extended knee. The opponent lands neck-first on the knee, creating a painful looking impact.
Japanese wrestler Hirooki Goto popularised the move and it’s been used by WWE wrestlers like AJ Styles and Adam Cole.
6. Kimura lock
The kimura lock is interesting because it has a stronger association with MMA than wrestling. The move gained notoriety when judoka competitor Masahiko Kimura used it to break Brazilian martial artist Helio Gracie’s arm.
Officially known as a reverse ude-garami, the move involves a wrestler grabbing an opponent’s left wrist with the right hand and then placing their left arm around the opponent’s arm while the wrestler holds onto their own wrist.
Brock Lesnar popularised the kimura lock in WWE and he’d often use it to break arms for storyline purposes.
In recent years, the WWE has introduced a wave of Japanese wrestlers to mainstream audiences, and some of the most talented can be found in the women’s division. Be sure to read Yamato Magazine’s article on the Japanese women who are changing the WWE landscape.