Akira Tozawa

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Akira Tozawa (Wrestler)

Akira Tozawa, a seasoned Japanese professional wrestler, currently showcases his skills on WWE’s Raw brand as a valued member of Alpha Academy. With a remarkable career, Akira Tozawa has held prestigious titles such as the WWE Cruiserweight Champion and the WWE 24/7 Champion, an achievement he has claimed an impressive 16 times.

Before his tenure with WWE, Akira Tozawa enjoyed a fruitful twelve-year stint with Dragon Gate. During his time there, he amassed an impressive collection of championships, including the Open the Brave Gate, Open the Twin Gate, Open the Triangle Gate, and Open the Owarai Gate titles. Notably, he emerged victorious in the 2011 and 2012 Summer Adventure Tag League tournaments. His international endeavors led him to the United States, where he captivated audiences in promotions like Chikara, Dragon Gate USA, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.

Akira Tozawa’s journey with Alpha Academy commenced when he was welcomed as a “junior member” of the stable, as revealed in a Digital Exclusive prior to the October 23, 2023, episode of Raw. Eager to prove his worth, Tozawa issued a challenge to Bronson Reed, although he was unsuccessful in clinching victory. Nevertheless, his determination remained unwavering. On a subsequent night, during NXT: Halloween Havoc’s first installment, Tozawa orchestrated a daring move by snatching Noam Dar’s NXT Heritage Cup. However, his tenure with the cup was short-lived as he returned it to Dar during the event’s second night. Despite his setback, Tozawa’s tenacity shone through as he convinced Dar to engage in a match for the cup in the following week’s NXT episode, albeit falling short in a closely contested encounter under British Round Rules.

Additionally, it’s worth noting Akira Tozawa’s versatility and adaptability, which have been evident throughout his career, making him a formidable force in the wrestling world.

Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan

Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan
Akira Tozawa
NameAkira Tozawa
Date of Birth July 22, 1985
Birth PlaceNishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan
ProfessionWrestler
Children1
Height1.7 m
Weight71 kg
Billed fromKobe, Japan
Billed Weight156 lb (71 kg)
DebutApril 3, 2005
Trained
  • Kenichiro Arai
  • Masaaki Mochizuki
Ring name(s)
  • Akira Tozawa
  • Tozawa
  • Tozawa Kengai

Career

Akira Tozawa emerged as the third prodigy from the esteemed Dragon Gate dojo to step into the professional wrestling arena. Despite his initial setback of losing all ten matches during his debut trial series, he didn’t let defeat deter his determination.

Returning to the ring in October 2005 alongside fellow newcomer Yuki Ono, Akira Tozawa embarked on a journey marked by challenges and unexpected alliances. Teaming up with the unconventional Vangelis, who portrayed a wrestler with a controversial Nazi stripper persona, Tozawa found himself entangled in a web of rivalries and opportunities. His encounter with the seasoned Kenichiro Arai sparked a feud that would shape his trajectory in the wrestling world.

Refusing Arai’s invitation to join the prestigious M2K stable, Tozawa carved his path by establishing his own faction, Tozawa-juku. Despite lending his name to the stable, Akira Tozawa didn’t necessarily hold the reins of leadership. Wrestling with the label of a troublemaker, he often found himself sidelined and overshadowed by his peers within the stable.

The turning point came when Akira Tozawa and Ono transformed themselves physically, forming the formidable Metabolic Brothers tag team. Shedding their former attire for silver tights and boots, they aimed for success, only to be hindered by Ono’s injuries.

Determined to rise above setbacks, Akira Tozawa embarked on a journey of self-improvement, undergoing a transformative diet regimen. His newfound discipline culminated in a bold challenge against the reigning Open the Triangle Gate Champions. However, defeat spelled the end of Tozawa-juku, marking a bittersweet conclusion to his chapter with the stable.

Undeterred, Akira Tozawa forged ahead, forming the Kamikaze unit alongside stalwarts like Shingo Takagi and Dragon Kid. Despite facing setbacks like his loss in the Battle of Tokyo Tournament finals, Tozawa continued to push boundaries, challenging for championships and showcasing his resilience in the face of adversity.

His journey took an international turn with an extended tour of the United States, signaling a new chapter in Tozawa’s quest for wrestling glory.

Additional information: Akira Tozawa venture into the United States marked a significant phase in his career, where he competed in various promotions, including his notable tenure in WWE, where he showcased his skills on a global stage.

Tozawa's Wrestling Odyssey 2010

In May 2010, Akira Tozawa embarked on an exciting journey within the wrestling circuit. His debut with Dragon Gate USA, part of the organization’s global expansion, showcased his skills alongside Gran Akuma, though they faced a tough defeat against Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw.

Simultaneously, Akira Tozawa delved into the scene of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), starting with a dynamic tag team tournament where he and Yamato faced formidable opponents, The Briscoe Brothers. Despite their initial loss, Tozawa swiftly made an impact, securing victories against Scott Lost and Chris Sabin in subsequent matches.

His versatility shone as he also entered Chikara’s Young Lions Cup VIII, displaying his prowess against Green Ant and engaging in a memorable semifinal match. Despite the setback, Akira Tozawa determination remained steadfast, further evidenced as he entered PWG’s 2010 Battle of Los Angeles, where he faced off against El Generico and caught the attention of many with his standout performance.

The narrative of Akira Tozawa’s journey continued to unfold with highs and lows. He experienced triumphs, such as his victories against formidable opponents like Sami Callihan and Austin Aries, yet also faced challenges within his stable, leading to his eventual expulsion from Kamikaze USA. Amidst these dynamics, he pursued championship opportunities, albeit unsuccessfully, against opponents like Jon Moxley and Yamato.

Akira Tozawa’s ventures extended beyond national borders, as he represented Dragon Gate in prestigious tournaments like the King of Trios, showcasing his talents alongside esteemed colleagues Kagetora and Super Shisa. His contributions to PWG and Chikara further solidified his reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the wrestling world.

As Akira Tozawa’s career progressed, he encountered both victories and setbacks, each contributing to the narrative of his journey. Despite challenges, his resilience and dedication to his craft remained unwavering, leaving an indelible mark on the wrestling landscape.

Tozawa's Dragon Gate Journey 2011

On June 8, 2011, Akira Tozawa made a triumphant return to Dragon Gate, aligning himself with the formidable stable Blood Warriors. His comeback was marked by a notable victory over Shingo Takagi at the Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival 2011 on July 17. Teaming up with fellow Blood Warriors member BxB Hulk, Tozawa showcased his skills in the 2011 Summer Adventure Tag League, clinching victory by defeating the duo of Masaaki Mochizuki and Yamato from the rival faction Junction Three in the finals. September 16 witnessed a fierce showdown between Tozawa and his rival Yamato in a no-ropes, no-disqualification match, with Tozawa emerging victorious. Despite a valiant effort, Tozawa fell short in his bid for the Open the Dream Gate Championship against Masaaki Mochizuki on October 13.

December 1 marked a significant milestone for Tozawa as he and BxB Hulk secured the Open the Twin Gate Championship by defeating Kagetora and Susumu Yokosuka. However, tensions within Blood Warriors escalated on January 19, 2012, as Tozawa and Hulk betrayed their leader Cima during a pivotal match, resulting in Cima’s expulsion from the group. Stepping into the leadership role, Akira Tozawa guided Blood Warriors to victory over Junction Three in a decisive elimination tag team match on February 9, leading to the dissolution of their rival faction. Tozawa’s influence was further solidified on March 1 when he rebranded Blood Warriors as Mad Blankey.

Akira Tozawa’s pursuit of championship glory continued, but he faced setbacks, notably against Cima in his quest for the Open the Dream Gate Championship. However, triumph awaited as he, alongside BxB Hulk and Naoki Tanisaki, clinched victory in the 2012 Summer Adventure Tag League, securing both the championship and the Open the Triangle Gate Championship. Despite subsequent losses, including another unsuccessful bid for the Dream Gate Championship, Tozawa remained undeterred.

Forming a new alliance with Uhaa Nation and Shingo Takagi on August 30, Akira Tozawa embarked on a new chapter with the creation of Monster Express. This stable, later joined by Masato Yoshino, Ricochet, and Shachihoko Boy, showcased Tozawa’s adaptability and leadership skills. Together with Takagi, Tozawa captured the Open the Twin Gate Championship on December 22, 2013. However, their reign was short-lived, ending in defeat to Eita and T-Hawk on July 20, 2014.

Akira Tozawa’s prowess shone through on February 28, 2015, when he clinched the Open the Brave Gate Championship in a thrilling encounter against Kzy. Adding to his accolades, he secured the Open the Owarai Gate Championship on March 29 by overcoming Yosuke♥Santa Maria. However, his championship reigns were not without challenges, as evidenced by his losses in subsequent matches.

In a poignant moment on September 25, 2016, Tozawa announced his departure from Dragon Gate to pursue opportunities in WWE, marking the end of an era. His final match on November 3 alongside Masato Yoshino and Naruki Doi ended in defeat, closing the chapter on his illustrious career in Dragon Gate.

WWE

On March 31, 2016, Akira Tozawa  was revealed as a contender in WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series, later renamed the “Cruiserweight Classic.” His journey began on June 23, defeating Kenneth Johnson in a thrilling first-round match. He continued his momentum on July 14, triumphing over Jack Gallagher in the second round. However, his hopes for the championship were dashed on August 26 when Gran Metalik bested him in the quarterfinals.

Akira Tozawa’s story took a new turn on the September 5 episode of Raw when he was announced as a member of WWE’s burgeoning cruiserweight division. This was followed by news on November 2 that Tozawa would feature in the cruiserweight-centric 205 Live show. His impactful debut on Raw on February 6, 2017, where he defeated Drew Gulak, further solidified his presence. Joining forces with Titus O’Neil’s “Titus Worldwide” stable, Tozawa engaged in a heated rivalry with Cruiserweight Champion Neville, leading to a memorable showdown at Great Balls of Fire where, despite a valiant effort, he fell short. Nonetheless, Tozawa’s resilience shone through when he pinned Neville in a tag team match the following night. It was on the August 14 episode of Raw that Tozawa reached the pinnacle, defeating Neville to claim the Cruiserweight Championship, only to lose it back to Neville at SummerSlam, ending his reign after a mere 6 days. Eventually, Tozawa quietly parted ways with Titus Worldwide.

The October 10 episode of 205 Live marked a pivotal moment as Akira Tozawa found himself ambushed by Drew Gulak, sparking a fierce rivalry. After a brief hiatus, Tozawa returned on October 31, exacting revenge on Gulak. Their feud culminated on the November 21 episode of 205 Live with Tozawa emerging victorious in a Street Fight, bringing an end to their animosity.

In February 2018, Akira Tozawa formed a tag team with Hideo Itami, leading to a series of intense matches with Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado. Despite their initial success, tensions arose between Tozawa and Itami, resulting in their partnership’s dissolution after a loss to The Brian Kendrick and Gentleman Jack Gallagher.

Akira Tozawa journey continued to evolve, including notable achievements such as qualifying for the fatal four-way match at Royal Rumble 2019 and winning the 24/7 Championship multiple times. His career also saw moments of transformation, such as his heel turn during a segment with The Street Profits and The Viking Raiders, and his subsequent return to a more traditional persona after defeating Baron Corbin and JBL in a game of cards on the November 14 episode of Raw.

2023–present

In a pivotal moment on the November 13, 2020 episode of SmackDown, Chad Gable unveiled the “Alpha Academy,” reminiscent of his past partnership in the American Alpha tag team alongside Jason Jordan, and enlisted Otis as his protege. Their debut on December 11, facing Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura, unfortunately ended in defeat, setting the stage for their journey ahead. However, redemption came swiftly at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, where Gable and Otis, alongside Big E and Daniel Bryan, triumphed over formidable opponents, including Cesaro, Nakamura, King Corbin, and the Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn, in a thrilling eight-man tag team encounter.

The plot thickened on the February 19, 2021 episode of SmackDown, as Gable orchestrated a ruthless turn for Otis, instructing him to viciously assault Rey Mysterio following their tag team bout, marking their transition into villainous roles.

Transitioning to the 2021 Draft in October, rebranded as the Alpha Academy, both Gable and Otis found themselves drafted to the Raw brand. Their ascension reached new heights on January 10, 2022, when they clinched the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship after defeating RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle). Despite their valiant efforts in the Royal Rumble match, victory eluded them. However, their championship reign was short-lived as they relinquished the titles to RK-Bro on the March 7 episode of Raw, ending their 55-day reign.

Their pursuit for championship glory continued at WrestleMania 38 on April 3, where they fell short in a triple-threat match against RK-Bro and the Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford). To bolster their ranks, Tozawa joined the Alpha Academy as a “junior member,” seeking validation within the stable. Despite his efforts, Tozawa faced setbacks, including a loss to Bronson Reed and an escapade involving the NXT Heritage Cup, showcasing the tumultuous journey within the Alpha Academy stable.

Outside the ring, Tozawa made waves in the gaming world, debuting as a playable character in WWE 2K18 and continuing his virtual presence in subsequent installments of the franchise, including WWE 2K19, WWE 2K20, WWE 2K22, and WWE 2K23.

Championships

OrganizationChampionship/TitleNumber of Times
Anarchy Championship WrestlingACW U–30 Young Gun Championship1
CultaholicMost Underrated Wrestler (2019)1
Dragon GateOpen the Brave Gate Championship1
 Open the Owarai Gate Championship1
 Open the Triangle Gate Championship2
   
 – with BxB Hulk and Naoki Tanisaki1
 – with Masato Yoshino and T-Hawk1
 Open the Twin Gate Championship3
   
 – with BxB Hulk2
 – with Shingo Takagi1
 Open The Triangle Gate Championship Tournament1
 Summer Adventure Tag League1
   
 – with BxB Hulk1
 – with BxB Hulk and Naoki Tanisaki1
Pro Wrestling IllustratedPWI Top 500 Singles Wrestlers (2018)92
WWEWWE 24/7 Championship16
 WWE Cruiserweight Championship1
 NXT North American Championship Invitational (2018)1

 

Record

Winner Loser LocationEventDate
Akira TozawaSuper Shenlong IIITokyo, JapanDragon Gate eventAugust 1, 2013

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