Meet professional wrestler and filmmaker, Rionne Fujiwara
Rionne Fujiwara is a 29-year old professional wrestler from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He began training to become a wrestler in 2011, making his debut in February of 2013. He wrestles primarily in Japan.
In addition to wrestling, Fujiwara is a filmmaker. His feature debut, Broken, premiered in March of this year.
What was your earliest exposure to professional wrestling?
I remember watching the WrestleMania III Intercontinental title match between Ricky Steamboat and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a wrestler?
I really wanted to become a wrestler after watching the Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart feud in the late ’90s. I was around 16 or 17 years old when I decided it was something I wanted to do.
Who trained you? What was the training process like?
I was trained in Wrestling New Classic (WNC) by Yoshihiro Tajiri and Akira Nogami. Later, I trained with Yoshiaki Fujiwara in Pro Wrestling Fujiwara Gumi. However, my main training was in WNC. Japanese training is quite brutal. Lots of squats, push-ups, and bumps!
Talk a little about your time with Wrestle-1?
It is a very militaristic style of training. There is a hierarchy to everything. It is typical of a Japanese company. Wrestling alongside the Great Muta was a big career highlight.
As an Aussie, was life in Japan a difficult adjustment?
Not at all, I was 19 and fully embraced it. I remember being homesick the first two days, but it was smooth sailing after that.
Do you have a story that you could share about Tajiri?
One story that he told me is that he always used to kayfabe (“deceive”) John Cena about his English being poor. However, one evening while Tajiri was drunk, Cena figured out that had been ribbing (“tricking”) him and that he understood English way better than he was leading him to believe. There are waaaaay too many stories about us drinking to tell here.
Not to be pigeon-holed, you recently wrote and directed a feature film, “Broken.” When did you develop an interest in filmmaking?
My interest in film developed around the same time I discovered wrestling. Martial arts films fueled my passion for movies. At first, I wanted to be an action star, but eventually I found myself much more comfortable behind the camera.
What is the plot of the film?
A Japanese cop must find a two-brother hit-man team before they kill any more Japanese officials.
How challenging was the pre-production process?
Very challenging, but also fun.That being said, producing and directing is a blast.
Did your celebrity as a professional wrestler open doors for you in the filmmaking world?
No, because I shot the film before I started wrestling. It was just sat on the shelf while I was wrestling because, well, I was too busy follow up on the project. But things have calmed down a little, so I have found time to do other things in addition to wrestling. This gave me the ability to pay the proper attention to the release of the film.
People are fascinated with crime. What do you think is the appeal of Yakuza pictures?
It is an unknown world, and people wonder how real it is…sort of like wrestling.
Maya Murofushi is absolutely stunning. What was it like working with her?
She is awesome. She was so friendly and very professional. It was a joy to work with her.
Click here to watch the trailer for Broken.
For more information about the film: https://www.facebook.com/broken.japan/
Rionne Fujiwara can be found on Twitter: @IAmRionne
-Zep the Bear