Where Are They Now? Kaientai

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January 16, 2013

They rode their newfound success and popularity with the WWE Universe until late 2001, when a shoulder injury led to Taka’s departure from WWE.

Funaki, now on his own, was searching for a way to stay fresh. The opportunity didn’t come in the ring, but backstage, when an official gave him a microphone and asked him to handle some interviewing. Funaki instantly became SmackDown’s No. 1 announcer.

“I was so excited,” Funaki said about the new opportunity. “I was so happy to be on TV.”

Funaki balanced his announcing duties with a busy in-ring schedule on SmackDown, competing in the fast-paced, high-flying Cruiserweight division. He managed to defeat Spike Dudley to capture the Cruiserweight Championship at Armageddon 2004. (WATCH)

In 2008, WWE fans learned that Funaki was also an expert in the martial arts. Ditching his ring gear for a traditional Japanese gi, he became Kung Fu Naki, a persona he was pitched years ago by another Superstar.

“It was Hurricane’s idea,” Funaki said. “He said he needed a partner, like Batman needed Robin. He said he needed Kung Fu Naki.”

While the idea came to fruition without the superhero, Kung Fu Naki found new life on SmackDown, where he crane kicked many opponents on his way to victory. (WATCH) Unfortunately, Funaki’s run in WWE came to an end in 2010, a result of neck surgery following WrestleMania XXVI.

Today, Taka Michinoku and Funaki are still closely involved in the business they love.

Taka returned to Japan, where he now operates Kaientai Dojo, a wrestling school and promotion. When he’s not tending to his dojo, Taka enjoys spending time with his wife, although he can often be found on his laptop, checking Twitter and Facebook. Michinoku might be really into social media, but don’t think Taka just sits around all day taking selfies with his phone. He also keeps a full schedule of wrestling dates in Japan.

“Any promotion going, I’ll wrestle for them,” he proudly said.

Funaki settled in San Antonio instead of heading back to Japan. He also runs his own wrestling school, Funaki Dojo, where he imparts the knowledge he picked up in his 12 years with WWE to the next generation of wrestlers.

“I want to help young wrestlers get to WWE,” he said. “I learned a lot while I was there, so I teach them whatever I can.”

Outside of his school, Funaki hangs out with his children and can often be found watching football.

“I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan,” he told WWE Classics. “I went to a Packers game and fell in love with the team.”

Though both members of Kaientai often found themselves wondering how they could survive in WWE, they’ve both discovered that they’ll always have a place in the professional wrestling world.

Follow Taka Michinoku on Twitter @Takam777.

Follow Funaki on Twitter @Shofufu824.

For more information on Funaki Dojo, visit www.FunakiDojo.com.

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