Masato Tanaka is one of the young lions of Japanese Puroresu. A six year veteran, Tanaka earned his reputation as an excellent worker in Atsushi Onita's Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) promotion. Known as the top Japanese 'garbage promotion', FMW was extreme and hardcore, with its exploding bomb death matches, long before Paul Heyman and ECW came around and claimed the label for themselves.
Regardless, it was in FMW that Tanaka cut his teeth in the wrestling business.
His series of matches with 'Awesome' Mike Awesome, Terry Funk, Mr. Pogo and Mr. Gannosuke established him as one of FMW's top stars. His stiff work, hard bumping style and willingness to absorb the stiffest of shots made him a favourite of legions of Japanese hardcore wrestling fans.
After Onita retired in 1996, Tanaka succeeded his mentor as the king of hardcore in Japan. Along with Hayabusa, he helped to carry the promotion in the post Onita-era, acting as the flag bearer for the ultraviolent promoption.
Word spread to the shores of North America about this young, emerging hardcore icon. It seemed only natural that ECW booker Paul Heyman would secure his talents and bring him to ECW.
Tanaka debuted in ECW on their Living Dangerously '98
PPV, defeating Doug Furnas
in a match that was panned by critics. In his next PPV appearance, Heat Wave '98
in August, Tanaka seized the spotlight and made up for his earlier lack lustre performance. It was there he rekindled his legendary feud with Mike Awesome as the two put on a match that stole the show (which Tanaka won).
He then teamed up with Balls Mahoney, capturing the ECW Tag Team titles at November To Remember '98. Tanaka grew homesick and returned to Japan where he has competed since.