The Making of Tekken’s King: A Look at the Inspirational Figures Behind the Mask
Exploring the real-life wrestlers who inspired one of Tekken’s most beloved characters.
Have you ever wondered who inspired King, one of the most iconic characters in the Tekken universe? Almost every character in the series is based on someone in the real world, such as Bruce Lee (Marshall Law), Jackie Chan (Lei Wulong), Roy Batty (Bryan Fury), and Jean Pierre Polnareff (Paul Phoenix). And as some of you know, King is “The Legendary Luchador,” Tiger Mask. However, since there were several Kings throughout the series, were there several inspirational figures?
The following information is from Harada himself, so don’t @ me and “don’t ask me for %#&*!” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the opportunity)
Back in the 90s when the first Tekken was being made, Minoru Suzuki was a Japanese pro wrestling star and mixed martial arts pioneer who did the motion capture for the masked leopard, bringing all the theatrical moves and Puroresu style King needed to be unique. Suzuki was instrumental in creating some of King’s most iconic moves, and he also created from scratch some of the wrestling moves we see for King, as well as the throws for Michelle and Julia Chang. Suzuki’s contributions to King’s design and moveset make him an essential part of the character’s legacy.
Traditional wrestling. Love to see it.
Remember at the end of Tekken 1 where King gets praised by a bunch of kids outside an orphanage? Turns out that was not some random backstory idea they threw at the wall. This scene is based on the true story of Fray Tormenta, aka Sergio Gutierrez Benitez., a real Catholic priest who went undercover as his luchador alias and participated in wrestling matches for 23 years, all to fund his orphanage in Mexico. If this story sounds familiar to you, that’s because his story also inspired the movie Nacho Libre!
Tormenta’s story is an inspiring one, and it’s no wonder that it made its way into King’s backstory. However, there’s another element of Tormenta’s story that’s worth exploring. In addition to being a luchador, Tormenta was also a devout priest who believed that his wrestling matches were a way to bring joy and happiness to the people he served. By incorporating Tormenta’s values into King’s character, the Tekken team created a hero who not only fights for justice in the ring but also uses his platform to help others.
Lastly, King’s design is based on the legendary luchador Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask was a 1960s manga hero who fought for justice, and his character was later licensed by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in the 1980s. NJPW brought Tiger Mask to life with a series of talented luchadors, including Kota Ibushi, Ikuhisa Minowa, Yoshihiro Yamazaki, Koji Kanemoto, Mitsuhara Misawa, and Satoru Sayama. Each Tiger Mask portrayal contributed to the unique character of King in Tekken. For example, Satoru Sayama’s footwork and jumping back kick inspired King’s moves, while Mitsuhara Misawa’s iconic elbow strikes also made their way into King’s move set. By incorporating elements from Tiger Mask’s various portrayals, the Tekken team created a character who is not only a tribute to the legendary luchador but also a unique fighter in his own right.
It’s kind of like how there was a new King and Armor King, minus the death part.
And there you have it… The inspirations behind King’s design and moveset are diverse and rich in history. From Minoru Suzuki’s motion capture and move creation to Frey Tormenta’s devotion to helping others, and Tiger Mask’s influence on the luchador legacy, the Tekken team has created a character that is both unique and rooted in tradition. I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into King’s inspirations, and we look forward to exploring more aspects of the Tekken universe in the future.