Toru Yano (May 18, 1978) is a Japanese professional wrestler, trained by and currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is in his second reign as one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions.
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2001–present)
Toru Yano was a decorated Grego-Roman wrestler, while studying in Nihon University, winning several amateur titles. In April 2001 Yano entered New Japan Pro Wrestling's amateur wrestling section, the Toukon Club, in order to become a professional wrestler. He formally joined New Japan in January 2002 and began training full-time for his debut. He would make his debut on May 18, 2002, coincidentally on his 24th birthday, in a match, where he was defeated by his classmate Blue Wolf. On August 31, 2003, Yano ventured into the world of mixed martial arts, when he competed in a match for Pancrase. Yano lost his to date only MMA fight to Osami Shibuya via submission to an armbar in the second round.
After steadily climbing the ranks in New Japan for nearly two years, Yano turned heel in early 2004 and changed his look by dying his hair blonde. From April to July 2004, Yano went on a long streak of losing matches via disqualification. After a learning excursion to the United States in early 2005, Yano joined Masahiro Chono's Black New Japan stable and formed a tag team with Tomohiro Ishii. In June Yano made it to the finals of a tournament for the vacant IWGP U-30 Championship, but was defeated by Hiroshi Tanahashi. After a disappointing performance in the 2005 G1 Climax, Yano traveled to Germany in October 2005 to compete for European Wrestling Promotion, where he would win his first professional wrestling championship, the EWP Tag Team Championship, teaming with Kendo Kashin. When Yano returned to Japan the following month, he was a changed man, becoming a more serious competitor no longer seeking to break rules. However, when this change failed to bring him any success, Yano reverted to his cheating ways in early 2005 and, together with Ishii, Togi Makabe, Shiro Koshinaka and Tomoaki Honma joined Hiroyoshi Tenzan to form the Great Bash Heel (GBH) stable in December.
In the summer of 2006 Yano took part in New Japan's invasion of Apache Pro Wrestling and on July 29, he defeated Kintaro Kanemura to win the promotion's main title, the WEW Heavyweight Championship, his first title in Japan. The following month Yano took part in the 2007 G1 Climax, this time picking up victories over Manabu Nakanishi and Shiro Koshinaka, but missed the finals of the tournament by a single point after drawing with Hiroshi Tanahashi. After the tournament Yano lost the WEW Heavyweight Championship to Mammoth Sasaki on September 23, 2007. In October Yano entered the 2007 G1 Climax Tag League, teaming with Togi Makabe, who had overthrown Tenzan as the leader of GBH, instead of regular tag team partner Ishii. The two of them would go on to win four out of their seven matches in the round robin stage of the tournament and thus made it to the semifinals, where they would be defeated by the eventual winners of the entire tournament, Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko. After the tournament Yano and Makabe remained together as a tag team, naming their team The Most Violent Players.
On January 4, 2008, at Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome, Yano and Makabe were defeated by Team 3D (Brother Devon and Brother Ray), representing American promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA). However, Yano and Makabe bounced back quickly and on February 17 they defeated Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time. They would successfully defend the titles against the teams of Giant Bernard and Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Takashi Iizuka, Giant Bernard and Rick Fuller, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto and Manabu Nakanishi and Yutaka Yoshie, before entering the 2008 G1 Climax Tag League in October. After four victories out of five in the round robin stage, Yano and Makabe advanced to the semifinals, where they defeated the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Hirooki Goto. However, on November 5, Yano and Makabe were defeated in the final match by Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Yano and Makabe's IWGP title reign of 322 days came to an end on January 4, 2009, when they were defeated by Team 3D for the second year in a row at Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome.
In April 2009 Yano turned on Makabe and together with the rest of GBH, excluding Tomoaki Honma, left the stable to join Shinsuke Nakamura and form the new heel stable CHAOS, with Nakamura as the leader. When Makabe returned from his injury, suffered at the hands of Yano, he was looking for revenge on his former tag team partner. After several tag team matches, Yano and Makabe were finally booked in a singles match on June 20, where Yano would come out victorious. In the 2010 G1 Climax Tag League Yano teamed up with Shinsuke Nakamura and together the two of them would make it to the semifinals before suffering an upset loss against the Junior Heavyweight tag team Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi). In early 2010 Yano began feuding with Hiroshi Tanahashi, starting on January 30, when he pinned Tanahashi in tag team match. Tanahashi would avenge his loss in a singles match on February 14, but was after the match jumped by Yano and Masato Tanaka, who then proceeded to cut off some of his hair. On May 3 Yano took arguably the biggest victory of his career by defeating the former four–time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Tanahashi in a singles match, after which the two of them were booked in a final Hair vs. Hair match for June 19. On June 19 Tanahashi defeated Yano, but despite his loss, Yano and his CHAOS ally Takashi Iizuka attacked Tanahashi after the match and went to cut his hair, before being stopped by TAJIRI, who took care of Iizuka and helped Tanahashi shave Yano's hair to end their feud. Yano then moved on to feuding with TAJIRI. TAJIRI, KUSHIDA and Tanahashi eliminated Yano and his CHAOS partners Iizuka and Gedo from the J Sports Crown 6 Man Openweight Tag Team Tournament on June 28, 2010, but on July 19 Yano defeated TAJIRI via submission in a singles match in less than six minutes to seemingly end their feud. The following month Yano entered the 2010 G1 Climax and managed to win four out of his seven round robin stage matches, including a major victory over the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Togi Makabe, but finished fourth in his block, thus missing the finals of the tournament. On September 3 TAJIRI returned to New Japan and attacked Yano after his match, showing that they were not done with each other. On October 11 at Destruction '10 TAJIRI defeated Yano in a singles match. On January 4, 2011, at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, Yano faced TNA performer Rob Van Dam in a hardcore match in losing effort. Yano has since adopted Van Dam's signature finger point taunt as his own.
In May 2011 Yano took part in New Japan's first tour of the United States. On May 13 in Rahway, New Jersey, he entered the tournament to determine the first ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion, defeating Dan Maff in his first round match. The following day in New York City, Yano defeated his CHAOS stablemate Yujiro Takahashi to advance to the finals of the tournament. On the third and final day of the tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Yano was defeated by MVP in the finals of the tournament. Yano would also fail to win the title in two rematches, first on June 18 in Osaka and then on July 18 in Sapporo. In August, Yano took part in the 2011 G1 Climax, where he managed to win five out of his nine matches, which included a big win over IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi. Ultimately, a loss against Giant Bernard on the final day of the tournament eliminated from the running for a spot in the finals. On September 19, Yano started a new rivalry with Yuji Nagata by attacking him after he had defeated his CHAOS stablemate Hideo Saito in a grudge match. The two faced each other on October 10 at Destruction '11, where Nagata was able to pick up a pinfall win. Later that same event, Yano attacked Hiroshi Tanahashi, after he had successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naitō and then accepted Nagata as his next challenger, and stole his championship belt, renaming it the "YWGP Heavyweight Championship". After Yano was named the number one contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, he went to team with Shinsuke Nakamura as the "CHAOS Top Team" in the 2011 G1 Climax Tag League, scoring a pinfall victory over Tanahashi in the team's opening match against the team of Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto. The CHAOS Top Team ended up winning all five of their group stage matches, with Yano also picking up a pinfall victory over Togi Makabe in the process, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament with a clean sheet. On November 6, Yano and Nakamura were eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by the team of Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer. On November 12, Yano failed to capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Tanahashi. On January 4, 2012, at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Yano teamed with Shinsuke Nakamura in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Pro Wrestling Noah representatives Go Shiozaki and Naomichi Marufuji.
On March 4, 2012, at New Japan's 40th anniversary event, Yano and Takashi Iizuka defeated IWGP Tag Team Champions, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima, in a non-title match, with Yano pinning Kojima for the win. On March 18, Yano and Iizuka attacked Tenzan and Kojima, after they had successfully defended their title against Yoshihiro Takayama and Lance Archer, and stole their championship belts. On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2012, Yano and Iizuka defeated Tenzan and Kojima to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship, starting Yano's second reign with the title.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "Original Kyoku" by New Japan Pro Wrestling
Championships and accomplishments
- EWP Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kendo Kashin
- EWP Tag Team Title Tournament (2005) – with Kendo Kashin
- PWI ranked him #139 of the best 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2011
Lucha de Apuesta record
|Hair||Hiroshi Tanahashi||Toru Yano||Osaka, Japan||June 19, 2010|