Over the years WWE has been the home to many Japanese wrestling stars, and now a former WWE writer says their lack of success is down to “cultural ignorance.”
Japanese stars as varied as Genichiro Tenryu, Tatsumi Fujinami, Taka Michinoku, Yoshihiro Tajiri, KUSHIDA, KENTA, Asuka, and Shinsuke Nakamura – to name but a few – have all graced the ring in WWE over the years. To date, no male Japanese star has ever held the WWE Championship, with the supposed Japanese star Yokozuna actually part of the historic Samoan Anoa’i wrestling dynasty.
Asuka has by far and away had the most success in the company for a Japanese star having held the NXT, Raw, and SmackDown Women’s Championships in addition to WWE Women’s Tag Team gold. But her success is the exception rather than the rule.
Speaking on his Wrestling with Freddie podcast, former WWE writer Freddie Prinze Jr. gave his thoughts on why Japanese stars haven’t had as much success as they perhaps should in the company:
“I have an honest answer, but I feel like when dirt sheets pull it from our podcast, it’s gonna come off like brutal and rough. The funny answer is… Oh well, it’s just super racist.”
Freddie Prinze Jr. was quick to clarify his statement and points out that WWE is not a wholly racist entity. He does however claim that Vince McMahon has a “cultural ignorance” when it comes to Japanese stars:
“It’s just a cultural ignorance. Vince always felt … if English isn’t their first language, the American fan is always going to look at them as a heel, and if they are a babyface, [McMahon] wanted them to be funny and goofy.”