Hiroshi Tanahashi (棚橋 弘至 Tanahashi Hiroshi, born November 13, 1976) is a Japanese professional wrestler who is signed to a dual New Japan Pro Wrestling–WWE contract, where he performs on the WWE SmackDown brand, where he is a former United States, Hardcore and Million Dollar Champion He is best known for his work with NJPW, where he is a former seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and a one-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. Tanahashi holds the record for most reigns as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, while his fifth reign holds the record for most successful defenses, with eleven. He has also won NJPW's premier tournament, the G1 Climax, on two occasions (2007 and 2015).
When Tanahashi was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2013, Dave Meltzer stated that "you could make a strong case for him as the best in-ring performer in the business today", adding that he was "the leading star in New Japan Pro Wrestling's comeback from being in terrible shape a few years back to being the No. 2 pro wrestling company in the world".
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1999–2016)
Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (2005, 2010–2013)
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2006, 2008)
Shortly after Money in the Bank 2016 it was reported that Tanahashi had signed with the WWE despite no official conformation from the WWE. On the June 27 episode of Raw Tanahashi debuted saving long time rival Kazuchika Okada from an attack by Gallows and Anderson. On the SmackDown taping the following day Tanahashi suffered a slight knee injury in a tag team match against Gallows and Anderson, forcing him to miss Unforgiven. On the first episode of SmackDown Live on July 19 Tanahashi was drafted to SmackDown 24th overall in the 2016 WWE draft. Following this the duo formed a partnership and on the July 25 episode of Raw they defeated The Vaudevillains to earn a WWE Tag Team Championship match against Gallows and Anderson at SummerSlam. At the event Tanahashi and Okada put on a highly rated match but would ultimately lose.
Following SummerSlam Okada and Tanahashi teamed up again for the World Tag Team Championship tournament, in the first round on the August 23 episode of SmackDown they defeated Rusev and Sheamus to progress to the semi-finals. On the September 6 episode of SmackDown they were defeated by Enzo and Cass. Later on in the night Tanahashi defeated Cesaro, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose to qualify for a shot at the WWE Championship at the SmackDown exclusive pay-per-view Backlash against Shinsuke Nakamura, which he would go on to lose.
At No Mercy Tanahashi defeated Cesaro in a last man standing match to win his first championship in the WWE, the Million Dollar Championship. He was named as part of the SmackDown Live team to take on Team Raw at Survivor Series. At the event Tanahashi became the first person to pin Braun Strowman eliminating him second following a High Fly Flow, but Tanahashi was the second SmackDown member eliminating after being speared by Roman Reigns. At Armageddon Tanahashi lost his Million Dollar title to Rusev in a no holds barred match, two days later on SmackDown Tanahashi's rematch ended in a double countout. Later on Tanahashi was the first SmackDown roster member to declare himself for the Royal Rumble. At the Royal Rumble he entered third and eliminating Jack Gallagher and managed to last nearly 42 minutes before being eliminated by Braun Strowman.
During The International Series Tanahashi picked up eight points but failed to make the final at the Elimination Chamber. During the tournament Tanahashi picked up wins over Dean Ambrose, John Cena, Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton. Tanahashi took part in the WWE Championship elimination chamber match at the pay-per-view of the same name, entering first he managed to eliminate Cesaro but was the penultimate elimination being pinned by The Undertaker following a Tombstone Piledriver.
During a Raw house show on February 25, 2017 in Regensburg, Germany Tanahashi took advantage of the Hardcore Championship's 24/7 rule and ended Kevin Owens' record 189-day reign. As a result the title moved to SmackDown. At WrestleMania 33 Tanahashi defeated long time rival Kazuchika Okada to capture the WWE United States Championship. Tanahashi competed in the WWE Championship tournament throughout April and May to earn a shot at the recently vacated title, Tanahashi defeated Matt Hardy in the first round and Bray Wyatt in the quarter-finals but was beaten by Kazuchika Okada in the semi-finals.
Tanahashi would defend his United States title at Judgment Day against Shinsuke Nakamura and was successful in retaining it. He then successfully defended it again at Money in the Bank in the WWE's first ever three-out-of-five falls match against Nakamura winning the match 3–2 in a match that lasted nearly an hour. Tanahashi lost his United States title to Nakamura at Unforgiven.
Return to NJPW (2017–present)
On August 15, 2017 the WWE announced Tanahashi's contract had been tweaked to change it to become a dual deal with New Japan, which allows him to work for NJPW but he would return to the WWE when they need him.
- Finishing moves
- High Fly Flow (Frog splash)
- Texas cloverleaf
- Signature moves
- Dragon Rocket (Suicide dive)
- Dragon screw
- Dragon sleeper, sometimes while applying a hammerlock
- Flash Elbow (Elbow drop, with theatrics)
- Flying forearm smash
- Lightning Speed Cradle (Running inside cradle, sometimes as a counter to an oncoming opponent)
- Multiple suplex variations
- Bridging or release dragon
- Bridging German
- Bridging half-hatch
- Straight jacket
- Twelve Six (Leg hook sitout slam)
- Rolling senton
- Shining wizard
- Sling Blade, sometimes from the top rope
- Styles Clash (Belly-to-back inverted mat slam) – 2013–present; adopted from AJ Styles
- Twist and Shout (Snap swinging neckbreaker) – 2015–present
- "High Flying Star"
- "Ace of the Universe"
- "100 Nen ni 1-ri no Itsuzai" / "Once in a Century Talent"
- "Mr. Tokyo Dome"
- Entrance themes
- "High Energy" by Julia Claris (2004–2016)
- "Love & Energy" by Yonosuke Kitamura (January 29, 2017–present)
Championships and Accomplishments
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- CMLL World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Jushin Thunder Liger
- CMLL World Trios Championship (1 time) – with Okumura and Taichi
- CMLL Universal Championship (2013)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (7 times)
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Yutaka Yoshie (1) and Shinsuke Nakamura (1)
- IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship (2 times)
- NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Michael Elgin and Yoshitatsu (1)
- G1 Climax (2007, 2015)
- G2 U-30 Climax (2003)
- New Japan Cup (2005, 2008)
- IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament (2007)
- IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship League (2005)
- U-30 One Night Tag Tournament (2004) – with Taiji Ishimori
- Heavyweight Tag MVP Award (2005) with Shinsuke Nakamura
- Fighting Spirit Award (2003)
- New Wave Award (2002)
- Outstanding Performance Award (2003, 2004)
- Singles Best Bout (2004) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan on August 15
- Young Lion Award (2001)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #3 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2013
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- GHC Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Yuji Nagata
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award (2012) vs. Kazuchika Okada on June 16
- Fighting Spirit Award (2003, 2006)
- MVP Award (2009, 2011, 2014)
- Performance Award (2007)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5 Star Match (2012) vs. Minoru Suzuki on October 8
- 5 Star Match (2013) vs. Kazuchika Okada on April 7
- 5 Star Match (2013) vs. Kazuchika Okada on October 14
- 5 Star Match (2014) vs. Katsuyori Shibata on September 21
- 5 Star Match (2015) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura on August 16
- 5 Star Match (2016) vs. Kazuchika Okada on January 4
- 5 Star Match (2017) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura on January 17
- 5 Star Match (2017) vs. Kazuchika Okada on April 2
- 5 Star Match (2017) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura on June 18
- 5 Star Match (2017) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura on July 23
- 5 Star Match (2018) vs. Daniel Bryan on January 24
- Feud of the Year (2012, 2013) vs. Kazuchika Okada
- Match of the Year (2012) vs. Minoru Suzuki on October 8
- Match of the Year (2013) vs. Kazuchika Okada on April 7
- Most Charismatic (2013)
- Most Outstanding Wrestler (2012, 2013)
- Wrestler of the Year (2013)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)