Once a popular mid-carder but now a despised heel, Takashi Iizuka is a 23-year veteran who competes in New Japan. He often employs underhanded tactics and frequently uses foreign objects that often cause him to get DQ’d.
Originally trained in sambo before taking up wrestling, Iizuka debuted in New Japan in 1986 against Akira Nogami. In 1989 he would win the first of 2 IWGP Tag Team Championships, then spent most of the next decade in the mid-card outside of another tag title reign in 1996. His breakout year was 2000, when he came up short in an IWGP Heavyweight Title shot and also won the G1 Tag League…then was back to mid-card. He spent the next few years there and also helped tutor young new wrestlers at the dojo.
2008 is when Iizuka began a heel turn that radically changed his career.
During a tag team match with Hiroyoshi Tenzan against then-IWGP Tag Team Champions, Togi Makabe and Toru Yano, Iizuka turned on Tenzan with his trademark sleeper hold, turning heel, joining GBH as their new leader.
Iizuka did a total 180 and completely changed his look and wrestling style, shaving his head bald, growing a sinister beard, and adapting a hardcore wrestling style. He also began frequently using an iron glove on opponents as his main weapon of choice.
His first major feud after turning was with the man he betrayed, Tenzan, who he defeated in October in a Chain Death Match. Since then Iizuka has gone on to feud with Yuji Nagata, again defeating him in a Chain Death Match. Now, Iizuka is a part of Shinsuke Nakamura’s group, CHAOS, and is looking to rekindle his feud with the returning Tenzan.
During the G1 Climax tournament in 2009, Iizuka lost five out of his six matches, mostly by disqualification, due to the use of his iron glove and his new weapon, a steel toothguard. His only non-disqualification loss was to Shinsuke Nakamura by pinfall. And, his only win came against his former tag team partner, Yuji Nagata, who got himself disqualified by throwing the referee out of the ring, whilst he was making his comeback, following Iizuka’s repeated use of the steel toothguard and interference from Tomohiro Ishii. These days wins seem to rarely come for him regardless of the match format, and in fact if the result of his matches isn’t a DQ loss or a tag team loss without a “Iizuka DQ’d” note, that could qualify as a surprise.
Stats & Info:
Real name: Takayuki Iizuka
Weight: 222 pounds/101 kg
Experience: 23 years
Finishing move: Sleeper Hold
Current affiliation: New Japan
2-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
2000 G1 Tag League