Watanabe as Evil in February 2016
|Birth name||Takaaki Watanabe (渡辺 高章, Watanabe Takaaki)|
|Born||January 26, 1987|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||”King of Darkness” Evil|
|Billed height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Billed weight||106 kg (234 lb)|
|Trained by||Animal Hamaguchi|
|Debut||May 13, 2011|
Takaaki Watanabe (渡辺 高章, Watanabe Takaaki, born January 26, 1987) is a Japanese professional wrestler better known by his ring name Evil (stylised EVIL), currently working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW). After debuting in NJPW in 2011, Evil competed in the United States on excursion, working for companies such as Global Force Wrestling (GFW) and Ring of Honor (ROH) from 2014 to 2015. He is currently a member of the stable Los Ingobernables de Japon, which he created in 2015 with Tetsuya Naito and Bushi after his return to NJPW.
A former NEVER Openweight Champion, Evil is also known for his tag team with fellow Los Ingobernables de Japon member Sanada, with whom he is a two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and two-time World Tag League winner; he is also a record-tying four-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion: three reigns with Sanada and Bushi, and currently reigning with Bushi and Shingo Takagi, making him an overall seven-time champion in NJPW.
Professional wrestling career
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2011–2013)
Watanabe made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) on May 13, 2011, wrestling primarily as a Young Lion and in the lower cards of shows and remained with the promotion until October 2013, when after King of Pro-Wrestling, announced that he was being sent on a learning excursion to the United States.
Ring of Honor (2014–2015)
On the June 27 episode of ROH Wrestling, he lost to Adam Page after Colby Corino attacked Watanabe. On the July 4 episode of ROH Wrestling Dalton Castle would defeat Watanabe. On July 23, ROH announced that House of Truth member Donovan Dijak would battle Watanabe in a singles match taped exclusively for ROH's YouTube Wrestling Channel. This occurred July 24 at Death Before Dishonor XIII where Dijak defeated Watanabe.
August 22 at Field of Honor (2015), Watanabe qualified for an ROH World Television Championship match by winning a nine-man gauntlet match. September 18 at All Star Extravaganza VII he teamed with Will Ferrara to defeat Donovan Dijak and Greg James. On September 19, Watanabe received his shot at the Television Title in a match against champion Jay Lethal, but was unsuccessful.
Return to NJPW
The King of Darkness (2015–2017)
On October 12, 2015, Watanabe returned to NJPW at King of Pro-Wrestling, where he was revealed as Tetsuya Naito's associate during his match against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Watanabe's outside interference in the match was stopped by Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata, leading to Naito suffering a loss. In a post-match interview, Naito gave Watanabe the new name "King of Darkness" Evil. Under the new name, Evil became affiliated with Naito's Los Ingobernables de Japon stable. In December, Evil and Naito won their block in the 2015 World Tag League with a record of five wins and one loss, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On December 9, Evil and Naito were defeated in the finals by Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma.
In early March, Evil took part in the 2016 New Japan Cup in which he was eliminated in the first round by Tomohiro Ishii. On March 20, Evil unsuccessfully challenged Ishii for the ROH World Television Championship. From July 18 to August 14, Evil took part in the 2016 G1 Climax where he finished his block with four wins and five losses, thus failing to advance. Despite his failure to advance, Evil scored two big wins by defeating IWGP Intercontinental Champion Michael Elgin and NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata on the last day.
On November 5 at Power Struggle, Evil won his first title, when he defeated Katsuyori Shibata for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Ten days later, Evil lost the title back to Shibata in Singapore. At the end of the year, Evil took part in the 2016 World Tag League, teaming with stablemate Sanada. The two finished second in their block with a record of five wins and two losses, tied with block winners Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, but failed to advance to the finals due to losing the head-to-head match against Makabe and Honma.
On January 4, 2017, at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome, Evil, Bushi and Sanada won a four-team gauntlet match to become the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions. They lost the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryusuke Taguchi the next day, before regaining it on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka. In March, Evil made it to the semifinals of the 2017 New Japan Cup, before losing to Bad Luck Fale. On April 4, L.I.J. lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi in their second defense, before regaining it on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2017.
During the 2017 G1 Climax on August 5, Evil picked up a major win over reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Okada's first singles defeat in nearly a year. Evil went on to finish third in his block with a record of six wins and three losses. On October 9 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Evil received his first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but was defeated by Okada. In December, Evil and Sanada won their block in the 2017 World Tag League with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On December 11, they defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) in the finals to win the tournament. Six days later, Evil, Bushi and Sanada lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale in their fourth defense.
Championship reigns with Sanada (2018–present)
On January 4, 2018, at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome, Evil and Sanada defeated the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time. Evil and Sanada would successfully defend the IWGP Tag Team Championship on two occasions before losing the title to The Young Bucks at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall ending their reign at 156 days. The same night, Chris Jericho defeated Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. After the match, Jericho put Naito into Walls of Jericho and refused to release the hold. This resulted in Evil running in to make the save. Evil entered the 2018 G1 Climax and finished with a record of 5 wins and 4 losses, failing to advance from his block. At King of Pro-Wrestling, Evil was scheduled to compete in a singles match against Zack Sabre Jr.. Before the match could begin, however, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Chris Jericho, would return and attack Evil forcing the match to be a no contest.
On November 3, 2018, at Power Struggle, Evil challenged Jericho for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Evil was unsuccessful, however, and was forced to submit to Chris Jericho's Liontamer submission hold. In December, Evil and Sanada entered the 2018 edition of World Tag League. The pair scored a record of ten wins and three losses advancing them to the finals where they would meet the Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) in a rematch of the previous year's final. On December 9, they defeated the Guerillas of Destiny in the finals to win their second World Tag League and the challenge right for an IWGP Tag Team Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome.
At Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome, Evil and Sanada won IWGP Tag Team Championship in a Three-way tag team match, that also included Guerillas of Destiny and Young Bucks. They retained their titles at The New Beginning In Sapporo (2019) against Zack Sabre Jr. and Minoru Suzuki. At Honor Rising: Japan 2019, Evil and Sanada lost the titles in their second defense against Guerillas of Destiny. Evil was announced to take part in the 2019 New Japan Cup, but lost to Zack Sabre Jr. in the first round. Evil entered the 2019 G1 Climax, finishing with a record of 4 wins and 5 losses, failing to make it to the finals.
On January 5, 2020 at Wrestle Kingdom 14, Evil, Bushi and Shingo Takagi defeated four other teams in a Gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, making both Evil and Bushi record-tying four time holders of the title.
Championships and accomplishments
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- "Takaaki Watanabe's New Japan Pro Wrestling profile". Archived from the original on October 16, 2015.
- "Evil's New Japan Pro Wrestling profile".
- NJPW. ""King of Darkness" EVIL – "キング・オブ・ダークネス"EVIL – LIJ | NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING". NJPW. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
- "King of Pro-Wrestling". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- Meltzer, Dave (October 11, 2015). "NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 10-11: Kazuchika Okada vs. A.J. Styles for IWGP heavyweight title". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
- 注目の“内藤のパレハ”の正体は元ヤングライオン渡辺高章=新日本. Sports Navi (in Japanese). Yahoo!. October 13, 2015. Archived from the original on October 13, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
- "NJPW World Tag League Results & Standings". Pro Wrestling Torch. Archived from the original on December 9, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "World Tag League 2015". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "New Japan Cup 2016". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- "Road to Invasion Attack 2016". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- "2016 New Japan G1 Climax Results". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
- Rose, Bryan (November 4, 2016). "NJPW Power Struggle live results: Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay Lethal". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
- "Wrestling World 2016 in Singapore". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- 戦国炎舞 -Kizna- Presents World Tag League 2016. New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- Rose, Bryan; Currier, Joseph (January 3, 2017). "NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 live results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- 戦国炎舞 -Kizna- Presents New Year Dash !!. New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved January 5, 2017.
- Rose, Bryan (February 10, 2017). "NJPW New Beginning in Osaka live results: Naito vs. Elgin". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
- Rose, Bryan (March 19, 2017). "New Japan Cup semifinals results: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
- 戦国炎舞-Kizna- Presents Road to Sakura Genesis 2017. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved April 4, 2017.
- Rose, Bryan (May 2, 2017). "NJPW Wrestling Dontaku live results: Okada faces Bad Luck Fale". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
- Rose, Bryan (August 5, 2017). "NJPW G1 Climax 27 night 14 results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
- 【新日Ｇ１】オカダつ���に連勝ストップ Evilに敗れリング上で大の字. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). August 6, 2017. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
- ローソンチケット Presents G1 Climax 27. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved August 12, 2017.
- Rose, Bryan (October 8, 2017). "NJPW King of Pro Wrestling live results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Evil". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
- "鉄拳Presents World Tag League 2017". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 8, 2017.
- "鉄拳Presents World Tag League 2017". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 11, 2017.
- "JRA presents Road to Tokyo Dome". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved December 17, 2017.
- Renner, Ethan (January 3, 2018). "NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 live results: Okada-Naito, Omega-Jericho". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- "Hoken Minaoshi Honpo Presents Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall". June 9, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "保険見直し本舗Presents DOMINION 6.9 in OSAKA-JO HALL". June 9, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "戦国炎舞 -KIZNA- Presents G1 CLIMAX 28". August 10, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "九州三国志 presents KING OF PRO-WRESTLING ". October 8, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Renner, Ethan (November 3, 2018). "NJPW Power Struggle results: Chris Jericho vs. EVIL". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
- "WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018". December 7, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "第9試合 時間無制限1本勝負" (in Japanese). December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 results for Friday, January 4: Omega vs. Tanahashi, Okada vs. White, Jericho vs. Naito and more". Cageside Seats. January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- "NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2019 results for Sunday, February 3: Naito vs. Taichi and more". Cageside Seats. February 3, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
- Powell, Jason (January 5, 2020). "1/5 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 night two results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho, Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White, Jushin Liger's final match, Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP U.S. Title". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 2018". cagematch.net. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
- Alvarez, Bryan (March 15, 2018). "WOR: 2017 WRESTLING OBSERVER NEWSLETTER AWARDS DISCUSSION AND MORE!". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Takaaki Watanabe.|
- “King of Darkness” EVIL's New Japan Pro-Wrestling profile
- CageMatch profile
- Twitter profile
- WrestlingData profile
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
| World Tag League winner
2017 & 2018
Juice Robinson & David Finlay