The Tokyo Pimp Is Not Just A Gimmick For Yujiro Takahashi


New Japan Pro Wrestling fans have been watching Yujiro Takahashi since 2004. He tagged with Tetsuya Naito as No Limit, was the first Japanese member of the Bullet Club, and has been NEVER Openweight Champion, NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion, IWGP Tag Team Champion, and Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. As the Tokyo Pimp, his entrances with various scantily-clad dancers are always memorable.

I met Takahashi while interviewing his Bullet Club stablemate Tama Tonga in the lobby/bar of a San Bruno, California, hotel the day before the G1 Special In San Francisco. Tonga greeted Takahashi as he was passing through the lobby, and called him over to the table. Tonga encouraged me to “Talk to Yujiro” as he briefly left the interview. He returned later to answer some questions with the Tokyo Pimp. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.

With Spandex: Hi, how’s it going?

Yujiro Takahashi: I’m enjoying. I forgot this place.

Oh, San Francisco?

Takahashi: Yes.

Have you been to San Francisco before?

Takahashi: I’m enjoying…. Fortunately, there is nice tacos restaurant around here. And I bought bottle of tequila at Target.

Takahashi shows me a picture on his phone of the several bottles of salsa and jars of mole that he bought to take back to Japan.

You’re stocking up on Mexican food?

Takahashi: Because I cannot buy in Japan. I can only buy in Mexico or California, around California. Japanese Mexican salsa sucks.

I’ll remember that if I ever go there.

Takahashi: What kind of talk?… I can only talk about dancers.

Okay, so you had English dancers in the UK; are you going to have American dancers in America?

Takahashi: I wanted bring Japanese dancers from Japan. But [Pieter] was busy… For tomorrow, I don’t need dancers because ten guys, five against five. Too many people. Even though I can’t dance. That’s okay. It’s all about me.

It’s all about you, no dancers.

Takahashi: Nothing, nothing.

Tama Tonga returns with beer. Takahashi asks how much the beers are, and Tonga says “We’ll charge it to the dancers.” Takahashi wants to know for real, and Tonga guesses at a price. They decide I’m paying. (I did not end up paying.)

RPW/Beyond Gorilla

How did you get the British dancers in the UK?

Tama Tonga: Did you go to the strip club?

Takahashi: No, just hitting on. It was the day before the day of show.

Tonga: Hitting on them?

Takahashi: The day before show.

So you just hit on them the day before the show, and then they came to the show.

Takahashi: Two girls, yeah.


Tonga: You think the Tokyo Pimp is a gimmick?

No, I’m just impressed. That’s, like, very fast. I mean, that’s a lot of extra work.

Takahashi: I am not looking at girls’ face. Just looking for ass. Which one, which one, which one, oh, I just find her.

Honestly, I did notice that [with the UK dancers.] I thought, “This guy is an ass man.”

Takahashi: Shape of ass most important.

It looked like four different girls on the two nights, but wearing the same costume. Was it the same costume, like same outfit?

Takahashi: I don’t remember.

Okay, it looked like two girls in Milton Keynes, and then two different girls in Manchester. Is that right?

Takahashi: Manchester?

Yeah. The second night.

Takahashi: Same girls.

Same girls? Oh, sorry, I guess I just have, like, face blindness.

Tonga: You were looking at the booty the whole time.

Yeah, I was like, “Wow.”

Takahashi: Girls have… bunny mask because of Pieter. You know Pieter famous?

Tonga: In Japan?

Takahashi: England.

Tonga: Really?

Takahashi: First of all, I want to take her for entrance with me… I want dancers with bare face, but the promoter talk to me, please make wear bunny mask because of Pieter, right?

Yeah, people like her. They, like, connect her with you.

Takahashi: Have you ever heard of Pieter?

Yeah, yeah.

Takahashi: She is getting famous.

She’s recognized… Like, you’ve got her, and then another girl you have a lot, and people notice when it’s like not them. And Don Callis talks about Pieter.

Tonga: Oh, Don loves Pieter, man.

Takahashi: There are two more dancers.

Tonga: I told her, we come to the States, we do tryouts.

How do you get the dancers? Are they all just, you met them in real life?

Takahashi: How do I get? My friend introduced me Pieter, Mao… Always, my friend introduce me. But he passed away, my friend… Now nobody introduce me to dancer. I need dance club, bar, scouting. Dancer never introduce me to dancer. You know what I mean?

Yeah, that makes sense.

Takahashi: Because jealous.

They want to get the most TV time.

Takahashi: That why I never ask introduce me to other dancer.

You’re tagging with Ishimori right now. It seems like you two are getting along really well.

Takahashi: Ishimori? He has six pack. I want that… But cardio training is most important to me. I did cardio training in this morning, and one more, but I drink beer.

Tonga: You enjoy tagging with Ishimori?

Takahashi: Yeah. But we’re close. Very close. He was in New Japan twelve or thirteen years ago, then he went to NOAH… He came back. I’m so happy. Nice to see him again. I like Ishimori. And he is nice guy.

Who else is your favorite to tag with?

Takahashi: Anybody… Bullet Club. I don’t know so much about Elite.

You wrestled WALTER in Strong Style Evolved UK and got those chops, those famous chops.

RPW/Beyond Gorilla

Takahashi: Why you know that?

Because on the indies, WALTER is famous for –

Takahashi moves the collar of his shirt aside to show his chop marks, still there from the match five days prior. I ask if I can take a picture of his chop marks and put it on social media.

Takahashi: Is WALTER famous?

Yeah! Well, in America he’s a very popular independent wrestler, and in the UK. Like in California he’s the PWG champion, which is like our biggest indie promotion. We really like him over here.

Takahashi: How many years his career?

It’s been a while… I think like ten years… He’s really big right now just over the past year or so.

Takahashi: You know WALTER, Tama?

Tonga does not know about WALTER.

Oh man, WALTER’s great. He’s like a huge Austrian guy; his name is “Walter” in all caps. He does like these huge lariats to people. He chops people so hard they, like, bruise seriously.

Tonga encourages Takahashi to let me take a picture of his chop marks.

Takahashi: Which one is more famous, Zack Sabre or WALTER?

Zack Sabre.

Tonga brings up the picture again, and I take the picture of the Takahashi’s chop marks.

What did you think about Aussie Open?

Takahashi: In England?


Takahashi: People are crazy. England… great. Better than Japan. Independent. Japanese people kind of shy. England people know how to enjoy wrestling.

(To Tonga) Have you ever wrestled in England at all?

Tonga: Never. I want to. I really, really want to. Just haven’t had the chance. And I’d like to go there with Japan. I’ve been watching this RevPro they’ve been doing and really enjoying that, so, hey RevPro, hit me up. Let me know. I’d come over there and knock some heads. It just looks really fun over there.

What do you guys think about wrestling in Australia and New Zealand?

Takahashi: I think Australia better.

Tonga: I think so, yeah. They were nuts. I really enjoyed wrestling over there.

Takahashi: They have wrestling TV show. Not broadcasting in New Zealand.

Oh, so they knew you guys in Australia.

Tonga: Australia’s got like a big wrestling following… It’s fun, it’s cool. I think it’s a market that we need to capitalize on.

Takahashi: Fale’s crazy with building something with wrestling in New Zealand. He’s going to be great.

Tonga: It takes us back to your question about Fale and doing his promoting. He’s really trying to open up the market for Japan in that area down there, Australia to New Zealand. He’s from New Zealand, so he understands the need for wrestling. There’s nothing big down there. All they see is WWE on TV. They need a presence. He understands that wrestling is a presence.

Takahashi: He is going to be Rikidozan.

He’s going to be the Rikidozan of New Zealand.

Takahashi: Have you ever heard of? He brought wrestling to Japan. Fale’s going to be like that.

Because he’s like a Big Guy, I think people are always surprised he has other stuff going on.

Tonga: And you see how much weight he’s dropped?… He’s like 25, 30 pounds down. I was like, “Bro!” Can you see, can you get an understanding of the G1, how much stress it puts on us? Fale has taken that next step.

There’s like an internet joke that Fale is at his most powerful during tournaments because they always use him as, like, a big guy to be a threat. He’s most powerful as a singles competitor during tournaments.

Tonga: Right. That’s the big mountain you’ve got to go over. You’ve got to climb this mountain.

Mount Fale.

Tonga: Mountain Fale, yeah, that’s his new name. Mount Fale.

Takahashi: Yeah, Fale is mountain.

(To Takahashi) I’ve got to think of questions for you. Hey, you were a tag team with Naito for a while.

Takahashi: First of all, Naito. Tanaka. AJ Styles. Next one is Hangman Page. He went to the Elite. I am looking for next tag team partner.

Next tag team partner?

Takahashi: I’m hoping for still Hangman Page, but he moved to Elite, the Elite. Need next one.

Tonga: What are you talking about?

Takahashi: He is already Elite.

Tonga: Who? Oh, Page?

Takahashi: Page.

Tonga: What is Elite? Are they Bullet Club? I don’t understand. Is this another layer of Bullet Club right there?… Emily, what do you see? That’s the conversation we were having… From a fan’s perspective, what do you see?


From a fan’s perspective, it’s like there’s the ROH guys, and they come in for like big shows. And it’s like, okay, here are the ROH guys. And they have the webseries, and then there’s kind of like the New Japan guys, which is like, I think people say Team Tonga, with the Tongan guys, Chase, Yujiro, and then Kenny is a New Japan guy.

And then people have different opinions. Some people like New Japan and ROH. Some people really do not like ROH… and they don’t like having to engage with that as part of understanding storylines. And then some people are like, “Do I have to, like, watch Being The Elite to get what’s going on in the main event sometimes?” And then some people are like, “Oh, I love that there’s that extra…” So it depends on people’s perspective. People like different wrestlers, so they have different opinions. But yeah, there’s a lot of different Bullet Club opinions right now.

Tonga: Yeah, I get bombarded with opinions.

I mean, people like to be mad about wrestling on the internet, so.

Tonga: (laughs) People like to be mad.

What would you say? What is the Elite?

Tonga: Nobody’s ever asked me that, can you believe that? I never thought about it…. The Elite. When you name yourself the Elite, what are you saying to me? What are you saying to us when you call yourself the Elite?

Takahashi: Us? Talking about all of us?

Tonga: I don’t know. I’m talking about Bullet Club, I guess, in general. What are you saying to us? You already know my thoughts, my feelings, on what is Bullet Club. So what are you saying to me when you say, “being the Elite?” Or did it start off The Elite? It started off the Elite, and then Superkliq was in there, and then it turned into Being The Elite, I think? But I’ve always been Bullet Club. We’ve always been Bullet Club. So to stand on the side and watch that… What is the Elite? What are you saying to me?… That’s my answer for your question.

You answered the question kind of with a question. No, never mind. With a question to people who aren’t here.

Takahashi: Talking about us? And the Elite?

Yeah, what would you say is Bullet Club and what is the Elite?

Tonga: Yeah, what does that mean? What does the Elite mean?

Takahashi: It means we are ordinary person. Elite is elite.

Tonga: Oh, they’re better than us.

Takahashi: They are better than us. But I cannot tag with Page anymore. The Elite cannot tag with like us, ordinary person. I hope tag with Page again. I hope so, but he cannot do that.

He cannot do that because he’s part of the other group.

Takahashi: Yeah, ordinary person, the Elite. Not same level.

Tonga: Is that how you feel?

Takahashi: So sad.

Tonga: I’m sad that’s the way you feel. I’m really sad that’s the way you feel, Yujiro. Why do you feel that way?

Takahashi: Oh, just kidding.

Tonga: Oh, I’m sad… I like Page. I’d tag with Page.

Takahashi: Not same level.

Tonga: Oh, gotcha.

We talk a little bit about approaching backstage comments, and how Takahashi has been commenting in Japanese with Ishimori, but plans to comment in English when with the other members of the group. As we wrap up the interview, Takahashi asks me if I can dance.