Hiroshi Tanahashi was born on November 13th, 1976 in Ogaki, Gifu, Japan. Growing up Tanahashi used to play baseball all the way up till he was in college. During the time he was in college he joined the schools wrestling team, and found he found out he wasn't that bad at it. During one of his matches a talent scout from NJPW liked what they saw and invited him to come train at the New Japan Dojo. After A tryout he proved himself to be qualified and he was chosen to be a student. Tanahashi graduated the Dojo on October 10, 1999 when he had his debut match against Shinya Makabe. He proved to have a future in sport whenever he defeated the Mexican legend Negro Casas in mid 2000, and in 2001 defeating Scott Hall. Tanahashi continued on his path of greatness into 2002, which lead him to his first major victory. During the 2002 G-1 climax Tanahashi landed a great upset by defeating Kensuke Sasaki in under two minutes. Even though he ultimately lost the G-1 tournament he did walk away with some new respect. Right after the tournament he paired up with Kenzo Suzuki to form the team called "Kings of the Hills". They were a very well liked and strong team, but it didn't last long. Something tragic happened to Tanahashi. He was stabbed in the back by his ex-girlfriend Hitomi Hara. Tanahashi was rushed to a hospital, and managed to recover. Shortly after the stabbing news of the incident was reported across Japan and Tanahashi during this time gained a strong following and they all wanted to see him return to the ring as soon as possible .Almost four months later on February of 2003 Tanahashi returned and wrestled his first match against Manabu Nakanishi. Tanahashi seemed to be better than ever and in the early to mid of 2003 Tanahashi became the first IWGP U-30 Champion when he defeated Shinya Makabe. A few months later he would capture the IWGP Tag Team Titles, with Yutaka Yoshie, when they defeated Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. During the G1 Climax on August of 2003, Tanahashi would be the only man to get a pin fall Hiroyoshi Tenzan during the whole tournament. He would then go on to defeat PRIDE's Kazuyuki Fujita in a 10-man Elimination Tag Team bout on the October 13, 2003 Tokyo Dome show, and at the end of 2003 Tanahashi would get the upset when he and Nagata defeated Kenta Kobashi & Tamon Honda for NOAH's GHC Tag Team Title.
In early 2004, Tanahashi and Nagata would have to put the GHC Tag Titles up against Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa, and they would lose. On February 15, 2004, during the first round of the IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament, Tanahashi would pull a big upset when he beat Yoshihiro Takayama. This upset signaled that he was on the verge of winning the IWGP very soon. This guaranteed himself a place in the 2004 G1 Climax, and he would make it all the way to the finals to face the man he beat last year Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Tanahashi even though showing a good performance was not able to beat him, and he would lose the G1 Tournament again. On September 15, Tanahashi became Masked Devilock and fought THE APEMAN on what was called Devilock Night. The end of 2004 saw a high point in Tanahashi's career when he and Nakamura would beat Kensuke Sasaki and Minoru Suzuki for the IWGP Tag Team Titles. This was a true historic event in NJ history and if these two men ever needed to prove that they were the future of the sport this was it. During the Tokyo Dome show of January 4, 2005 Tanahashi would go one on one with Nakamura for the U-30 Championship, and he would end up losing the title to him. In a turn of events on Nakamura vacated the title on May 1. This meant that a tournament was needed to find a new champion. The event was the IWGP U-30 Openweight Title League, and Tanahashi managed to make it to the finals against Toru Yano beating him with his patented Slingblade finisher. So, he was now once again the U-30 Champion. Tanahashi also at this time started to affiliate himself outside of wrestling by attending Sasuke (Ninja Warrior) and many other events. He would also make his first wrestling trip out of Japan and went to wrestle in Mexico. Along with Nakamura they put their tag team belts against many of their top tag teams, though back in Japan on October 30, 2005 they would lose the titles to Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan.
In the start of 2006, Tanahashi would make his debut in the U.S. wrestling for TNA. He would face AJ Styles at the Final Destination pay per view, and a few days later he would face-off against Roderick Strong for TNA Xplosion. Tanahashi would then go on to wrestle in the New Japan Cup. In his first round, on April of 2006, he would defeat and upset Masahiro Chono. On the second round he would face and beat Hiroyoshi Tenzan, but in the third round he would lose to Yuji Nagata on April 29. Tanahashi, even though losing the tournament, impressed the NJ chairman and it was announced that he would face Brock Lesnar for the Heavyweight Championship on July 17, 2006. Tanahashi immediately vacated his U-30 title so that nothing could interfere with that match, but something did? Lesnar failed to show up for a scheduled event for the IWGP Title, and he was exiled as the champion. It all gets very complicated here, but all you need to know is that NJ reinstated the 2nd IWGP Championship to replace what Lesnar is/was carrying. Tanahashi got his title shot taken away from him, but he was placed in the IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament to crown a new champion. He would make it to the finals of the tournament and he would have to face the big Giant Bernard of all people. Tanahashi was at a very big disadvantage, but he mustard up everything he could and with the Sling Blade he defeated Bernard for the IWGP Title. After all his hard work he finally won the thing he so long strived to get. He even showed it off at his second appearance on Sasuke. He would go on to hold the title for around nine months in the process defending it against Nakamura, Koji Kanemoto, and others.
Tanahashi started out the year strong, defeating Kea at the Tokyo Dome to retain his IWGP Heavyweight Championship. His next challenger presented a unique challenge, as he was against the lighter and more experienced Koji Kanemoto. Tanahashi bulked up with the intent of out-muscling the Jr. Heavyweight, and he succeeded in doing that as he won with a dragon suplex hold. That would be his last successful defense however, as on April 13th he would lose the title to Yuji Nagata. Trying to prove that he deserved a rematch Tanahashi aimed to win the G1 Climax, and he did just that as he defeated Makabe in the semi-finals and Nagata in the finals. With momentum on his side, Tanahashi would re-gain his IWGP Heavyweight Championship on October 8th, winning the title for the 2nd time. In the G1 Tag League, Tanahashi would team with Koji Kanemoto, with the duo falling to Giant Bernard and Tomko to come in second place for the second straight year. Tanahashi ended the year defeating Jr. Heavyweight Champion Wataru Inoue, cementing himself as the man to beat in New Japan.
2008 was a very up and down year for Tanahashi. At the Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi would lose the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Shinsuke Nakamura. He would bounce back on February 17th with a win over AJ Styles, and he also took part in the New Japan Cup after missing it the year before. With wins over Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, and Giant Bernard he would win the New Japan Cup for the 2nd time. For the first time Tanahashi participated in the All Japan Champion Carnival, and Tanahashi stole the show as he battled the best All Japan had to offer. With wins over Taiyo Kea and Kojima, he reached the finals of the tournament against Suwama. Suwama would defeat Tanahashi in a classic match, but worse for Tanahashi he would be injured during the tournament which would force him to miss significant time. He would return for the G1 Climax, but he was still rusty and came in next to last place in his Block, only ahead of Inoue. In the fall Tanahashi went to TNA, but his stay did not last long and he returned in November. In preparing for his title challenge against Mutoh on 1/4/09, in December he picked up big wins over Giant Bernard and Togi Makabe.
2009 was a banner year for Hiroshi Tanahashi, as he was named the MVP by Tokyo Sports and he also was named Wrestler of the Year in the 2009 Puroresu Central Awards. Tanahashi started the year with a bang, defeating his old mentor Keiji Mutoh for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the Tokyo Dome. In February, he defended the title against his lifelong rival Shinsuke Nakamura, coming out the victor. Tanahashi's success continued, as the next month he defeated TNA's Kurt Angle and then he defeated Hirooki Goto. At this point, Tanahashi was getting cocky as he thought he had defeated everyone that was a threat to him, and on May 6th he was shockingly defeated by Manabu Nakanishi. Tanahashi quickly recovered by winning the title back the following month, and he went into the G1 Climax the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He did well in the G1 Climax, but in the Semi Final not only did he lose to Nakamura but he suffered an eye injury, forcing him to vacate the title. He returned in the fall and challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (Nakamura had won it in a decision match), but Nakamura won with the Boma Ye. In the G1 Tag League, Tanahashi did not participate but he did have a feud with TAJIRI, which Tanahashi won.
After having a great year in 2009, 2010 was bound to be a step down
but while he did not win any titles he still had some key victories to stay at the top of the card. Tanahashi started the year strong, defeating Go Shiozaki at the Tokyo Dome. At the New Japan Cup, Tanahashi's year got side tracked as he was upset by Tetsuya Naito in Round 2. Then, in May, Tanahashi was defeated by Toru Yano. On June 19th, Tanahashi got his revenge when he beat Yano in a Hair vs. Hair match. In the G1 Climax, Tanahashi did very well as he won his block, but he fell to the invading Satoshi Kojima in the Finals. On October 11th, Tanahashi had a big rematch against Naito who had defeated him back in the New Japan Cup, and this time Tanahashi won with the Texas Cloverleaf. In the G1 Tag League, he teamed with TAJIRI but the pair would barely miss out on the Semi Finals as they came in third in their block. In December, Tanahashi defeated Hirooki Goto and Tetsuya Naito in back to back nights, setting him up to challenge Kojima at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.