Tama Tonga, a founding member of Bullet Club and the Guerillas of Destiny, is leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling. An emotional Tonga broke the news to the Japanese press after winning his fourth NEVER Openweight Championship from Shingo Takagi at Wrestle Kingdom 18.
“This is very hard for me to say, and I just made up my mind today that this will be my last month with New Japan Pro Wrestling,” said Tonga.
The 41-year-old New Japan star cited his desire to be closer to home as his reason for leaving. A father of three, Tonga spoke about what life was like for him as a child whose father, former WWE star Haku (also known as Meng in World Championship Wrestling), was on the road, working, for long stretches.
“I grew up in this life. My father was a wrestler. And until now, I finally realized how he felt, leaving for work for months at a time while my mom took care of four of us by herself for months at a time. And man, did she do a hell of a job,” said Tonga.
A well-traveled veteran who has performed across the world, Tonga grew to prominence in New Japan Pro Wrestling after starting the Bullet Club along with Finn Bálor, Bad Luck Fale, and Karl Anderson in 2013. With his brother Tanga Loa, they founded the Guerrillas of Destiny (G.O.D.), winning the IWGP Tag Team Championships seven times. For more than a decade, Tonga developed a deep love and appreciation for the country of Japan and everyone he met along the way.
“I love Japan. I love everything that I learned here. Everyone that I met, whether they were wrestlers, staff, journalists. I’ve connected with a lot of you,” said Tonga.
At times, Tonga appeared to be fighting back tears as he announced his impending departure from New Japan. However, Tonga gave no indication that he was leaving the wrestling industry as he closed by saying, “I must find work closer to home to be with my family.”