Mr. Fuji is one of my first wrestling memories. I remember seeing the famous LJN Wrestling Superstars figure on the shelves in stores and watching him in the corner of the likes of Don Muraco and Kamala. Later on, I have a vivid memory of him cutting a promo on either Prime Time Wrestling or Saturday Nights Main Event (as a kid apparently I watched more PM wrestling than AM wrestling) flanked by either Demolition or The Powers of Pain. Even if I had gone no further with wrestling than being the casual fan that I was at the time, Fuji struck a nerve with me. He just looked evil and calculating.
As I became more of a fan, I began to see more of Fuji's in-ring career from the past. He meshed perfectly with Professor Tanaka and Mr. Saito. He never had the bodybuilder look, but he didn't need it. Mr. Fuji looked cruel. He appeared as if he knew dozens of different forms of martial arts and various ways of sadistic torture. The latter may have been true, judging from the countless stories of Fuji's nefarious "ribs" played on his fellow wrestlers. While some may be exaggerated tales passed down from locker room to locker room, there's no doubt that the man is one of the more storied pranksters in wrestling history.
My favorite my Mr. Fuji memory is probably one that few others would think of. It isn't his throwing of the salt or Fuji Vice or even managing Yokozuna to the WWF Championship. Instead, it's his appearance at WrestleMania III. At that historic event, Mr. Fuji is the very first heel to be introduced. The heat that the announcement of his name gets from the enormous crowd always resonated with me. It's the type of opening match heat that usually signifies the kick-off of a great show. It actually gives me chills. I always imagined that, after all of his years in the business, it had to be a magical moment.
Thank you, Mr. Fuji, for all of those magical moments.