Yujiro Kushida is a Japanese professional wrestler and former mixed martial artist. He is currently signed with WWE and wrestles for the company’s NXT brand. His ring name is Kushida and he is the WWE Cruiserweight Champion in his first reign.
While in high school, he joined Nobuhiko Takada’s Takada Dojo and started training in wrestling and mixed martial arts. KUSHIDA made his MMA debut for ZST, a Japan-based mixed martial arts promotion. A year later, he traveled to Mexico to learn the style of luche libre wrestling. He made his professional wrestling debut as a masked wrestler named, Yujiro.
From 2006 to 2009, he wrestled for Japanese promotions Hustle, All Japan Pro Wrestling and Osaka Pro Wrestling. He left Japan and traveled to North America to wrestle for independent promotions like Chikara, Border City Wrestling and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre.
From 2010 to 2019, KUSHIDA wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling and held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship title six times. He also formed a tag team with Alex Shelley called the Time Splitters. Together, Shelley and Kushida won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships twice.
Kushida’s WWE Contract & Debut
In April 2019, WWE announced at a press conference a few days before WrestleMania 35 that KUSHIDA had signed with the company. KUSHIDA made his in-ring debut at NXT TakeOver: New York and defeated Kassius Ohno.
In January 2020, Alex Shelley joined NXT and KUSHIDA and Shelley became the Time Splitters again. The Time Splitters had their first match in WWE NXT on January 15 2020 but were defeated by Grizzled Young Veterans.
On April 12th, Kushida was named a participant in the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship round-robin tournament. In his first match, Kushida defeated Tony Nese and Jake Atlas in his second match. He lost to Drake Maverick in third match. A triple threat match was set up between Kushida, Maverick and Atlas, as all three men were tied at 2-1. Maverick won the match after pinning Atlas albeit in a controversial fashion.
On the August 12th episode of NXT, Kushida lost to Cameron Grimes in a triple threat match also involving Velveteen Dream. After the match, he was attacked by Dream, starting a feud between the two. He returned on the September 8th episode of NXT and attacked Dream. As a result, this led to a match at NXT TakeOver 31, that Kushida won.
Kushida Pursues NXT North American Championship
In January 2021, Kushida began to pursue the North American Champion Johnny Gargano, beginning a feud with him. On February 4th, it was announced that he would face Gargano for the title at NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day. At the event, he failed to capture the title from Gargano.
At NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, Kushida was defeated by Pete Dunne. On the April 13th episode of NXT, Kushida defeated reigning NXT Cruiserweight Champion Santos Escobar to win the title.
Career Championships and Accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- AJPW U-30 Tag Team Tournament (2008)
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- Cuadrangular de Parejas (2016)
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (6 times)
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- Best of the Super Juniors (2015, 2017)
- Super J-Cup (2016)
- Super Jr. Tag Tournament (2012)
- Ring of Honor
- ROH World Television Championship (1 time)
- What Culture Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling World Cup (2017)
- Mixed martial arts
- ZST Genesis Lightweight Tournament (2004)
- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
- NXT Cruiserweight Championship (1 time, current)