Tama Tonga
Tonga in March 2016
Birth nameAlipate Aloisio Leone
Born (1982-10-15) October 15, 1982 (age 40)[1]
Nukuʻalofa, Tonga[2]
FamilyHaku (uncle/adoptive father)
Hikuleo (brother)
Tanga Loa (cousin/adoptive brother)
Bad Luck Fale (cousin)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Kava
King Tonga, Jr.
Pate Fifita
Tama Tonga
Tonga Strong Machine[3]
Billed height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Billed weight95 kg (209 lb)[2]
Trained byThe Dudley Boyz[2]
Ricky Santana[4]
Karl Anderson[6]

Alipate Aloisio Leone[7] (born October 15, 1982) is a Tongan-American professional wrestler better known by the ring name Tama Tonga (タマ・トンガ Tama Tonga). He is currently signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former 2-time NEVER Openweight Champion. He is also known as a founding member of Bullet Club; he also makes appearances for Impact Wrestling in the United States.[8]

Tonga is the nephew and adopted son of professional wrestler Haku and forms the tag team Guerrillas of Destiny (G.O.D) with his cousin/adoptive brother Tanga Loa. He has also worked with NJPW's partner promotion in Mexico, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) where he has held the CMLL World Tag Team Championship twice. Upon winning the ROH World Tag Team Championship at G1 Supercard, he became the third wrestler to have won a championship in NJPW, CMLL, and ROH, behind Rocky Romero and Matt Taven.

Early life

Leone and his younger brother Taula were adopted by their maternal aunt and her husband, professional wrestler Tonga Fifita – better known as Haku or Meng – from his native island of Tonga while they were visiting in 1991.

They took him back to Poinciana, Florida where he grew up with his biological cousin and adoptive brother, fellow professional wrestler Tevita, and his older sister Vika.[9]

After graduating from Poinciana High School high-school, he joined the United States Air Force and was stationed for six years at Whiteman Air Force Base, serving as a B-2 Spirit mechanic. At the same time, his brother Tevita was playing college football with the UTEP Miners. During a phone call in 2004 they decided they would become professional wrestlers once they had finished their respective obligations three years later.[10][4]

Professional wrestling career

Training and early career (2008–2010)

In January 2008, the brothers approached the Dudley Boyz to use the ring they had at the Team 3D Academy of Professional Wrestling and Sports Entertainment training school they operated in Kissimmee, Florida. They did not join the school at the time as they were being trained directly by their father and Ricky Santana, a family friend. To practice more frequently they eventually joined the academy proper and were partly trained by Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley.[4][11]

The brothers made their professional debut in November 2008, wrestling as a tag team under the name The Sons of Tonga (referencing their father) in Southern Championship Wrestling (Florida). They continued wrestling under the same name in World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) and Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council (WWC) until early 2009.[12] Also in November 2008, they took part in a WWE tryout camp, two months later they were told that Tevita would be offered a contract by the company (he would later appear on television as Camacho) while Alipate would not. [13]

Alipate continued wrestling as Kava in WXW during the year, winning the WXW Television Championship on 20 June 2009 though he lost it the same day. In the first part of 2010 he returned to WWC, first as a singles wrestler with the moniker King Tonga Jr. (his father had also wrestled in Puerto Rico as King Tonga). He later teamed with Idol Stevens, billed as The New American Family they briefly held the WWC World Tag Team Championship.[12]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Debut (2010–2012)

Leone went to Japan in 2010, initially going to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) to train, he impressed enough to be hired by the company. [14] He made his NJPW debut in May 2010 under the name "Tama Tonga". His debut match came as part of the 2010 Super Junior Tag Tournament, where he teamed up with Davey Richards, losing in the first round to El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto.[15] Tonga was one of sixteen wrestlers who competed in the 2010 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He defeated Nobuo Yoshihashi,[16] and Akira,[17] but lost to Ryusuke Taguchi,[18] Fujita Hayato,[19] Kenny Omega,[20] Koji Kanemoto,[21] and Taiji Ishimori, ending with four points, second to last his group.[22]

He teamed up with Hirooki Goto, calling themselves Ara-tonga (a pun on Goto's nickname "Aramusha/Daredevil" and Tama's last name) to compete in the 2010 G1 Tag League tournament. They defeated the teams of Togi Makabe/Tomoaki Honma,[23] and King Fale/Super Strong Machine,[24] but lost to the teams of Manabu Nakanishi/Strong Man,[25] Masato Tanaka/Tomohiro Ishii,[26] and Yuji Nagata/Wataru Inoue,[27] which meant they finished fourth in their group with four points. He also entered the 2011 G1 Tag League tournament, this time teaming up with Strong Man, calling themselves Muscle Pavilion. He had less success than the previous year with a solitary victory over the team of King Fale/Yuji Nagata,[28] and losses against the other teams. On 4 January 2012, Tonga appeared in a dark match during Wrestle Kingdom VI (considered as NJPW's most important show), teaming with Captain New Japan to defeat Kyosuke Mikami and Tomoaki Honma.[29]

Excursion to CMLL (2012)

In September 2012 it was announced that Tonga would go to Mexico from 10 October 2012 and work for NJPW's partner promotion, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL).[30] His debut match for CMLL saw him participate in the 2012 edition of CMLL's Leyenda de Azul tournament. The match was a 16-man torneo cibernetico elimination match, from which Tonga was eliminated when Atlantis and Shocker double teamed him.[31] Following the tournament Tonga worked with a number of CMLL's top stars, including the Leyenda de Azul tournament winner Diamante Azul. On November 13, Tonga and El Terrible won the CMLL World Tag Team Championship from Atlantis and Diamante Azul.[32] Tonga next made it to the finals of the 2012 La Copa Junior Tournament, where, on December 14, he was defeated by La Sombra in the main event of CMLL's 2012 Sin Piedad ("No Mercy") show.[33]

Bullet Club and Guerrillas of Destiny (2013–2018)

Main article: Bullet Club

See also: Guerrillas of Destiny

Tonga (far right) with Bullet Club in September 2013

Tonga returned to NJPW in early 2013, just in time to compete in Wrestle Kingdom 7 on January 4 where he teamed up with Captain New Japan and Wataru Inoue to defeat Jado, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi by pinning Jado.[34] On April 7, Tonga and El Terrible successfully defended the CMLL World Tag Team Championship against La Máscara and Valiente at New Japan's Invasion Attack event.[35] On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, Tonga followed Prince Devitt and Bad Luck Fale ringside after Karl Anderson's loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi where they all attacked Tanahashi. The four of them founded a new villainous stable named Bullet Club under Devitt's leadership.[36]

On July 5, Tonga and El Terrible lost the CMLL World Tag Team Championship to Tanahashi and Jyushin Thunder Liger.[37] Tonga regained the title from Tanahashi and Liger on September 14 with new partner Rey Bucanero.[38] Tonga returned to CMLL with Bucanero in early October.[39] On October 18, Tonga and Bucanero were stripped of the CMLL World Tag Team Championship when they were unable to defend the title against La Máscara and Rush due to Bucanero being sidelined with an injury.[40][41] Tonga remained in CMLL until the end of the year.

Returning to Japan in 2014, Tonga participated almost exclusively in tag matches the next two years,[12] He took part in the 2014 World Tag League with Bad Luck Fale in November of that year. They finished at the bottom of their block with a record of three wins and four losses.[42] Tonga and Fale would team up again in the 2015 World Tag League for a worse result, picking up two wins for four losses to finish penultimate with four points.[43]

On 4 January 2016, at Wrestle Kingdom 10, Tonga teamed with Fale and Yujiro Takahashi to take part in a match to determine the inaugural NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions, they were defeated by Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe and Toru Yano when Jay pinned Tonga.[44] On February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Tonga, Fale and Takahashi defeated the Briscoes and Yano in a rematch to win the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.[45] After a three-day reign, the three lost the title back to the Briscoes and Yano at The New Beginning in Niigata.[46] During February, Tonga accepted an offer to join WWE. However, NJPW retained him when they offered a new contract and hired his brother.[47] On March 3, Tonga scored the biggest singles win of his career by defeating former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and reigning IWGP Tag Team Champion Togi Makabe in the first round of the 2016 New Japan Cup.[48] The following day, he was eliminated from the tournament in the second round by Hirooki Goto.[49]

In March 2016, Tonga announced he would reform his tag team with Tevita in NJPW, recruiting him into the Bullet Club as Tanga Loa. The team was named "Guerrillas of Destiny" (G.O.D.). On April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016, G.O.D. defeated Makabe and Honma to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions.[50] They lost the title to Jay and Mark Briscoe on June 19 at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall.[51] In late June 2016, Tonga returned to CMLL with his brother for a month-long excursion and the two competed in the 2016 International Gran Prix, where Tonga was the last eliminated, losing to winner Volador Jr.[52]

Tonga was announced as one of the participants of the 2016 G1 Climax from 18 July 2016.[53] NJPW's most prestigious tournament, it entitles its winner to an IWGP Heavyweight Championship title match at the next Wrestle Kingdom., Tonga's participation in the G1 was seen as a major step-up.[54][unreliable source] In his third tournament match on 25 July, he scored the biggest win of his career by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi (who had won the previous year's G1).[55] Tonga finished the tournament on August 12 with a record of four wins and five losses.[56]

Returning to tag team competition with G.O.D., he and his brother regained the IWGP Tag Team Championship from the Briscoe Brothers on October 10 at King of Pro-Wrestling.[57] They reached the final of the 2016 World Tag League but lost to Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma on December 10.[58] On January 4, 2017, Tonga and Loa lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano in a three-way match, also involving Makabe and Honma.[59] On June 11 at Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall, Tonga and Loa defeated War Machine to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the third time.[60] They lost the title back to War Machine in a no disqualification match on July 1 at G1 Special in USA.[61]

Tonga participated in his second G1 Climax by entering the 2017 edition in July. He finished with a record of four wins and five losses.[62] In December, Guerrillas of Destiny 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.[63] On December 11, they were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Los Ingobernables de Japón (Evil and Sanada).[64] Six days later, Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale defeated Evil, Sanada and Bushi to become the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions.[65] They lost the title to Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) in a five-team gauntlet match on January 4, 2018, at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome.[66] The following day at New Year's Dash, they would regain the title from Chaos.[67]

Bullet Club Civil War (2018–2019)

At The New Beginning in Sapporo, Bullet Club stablemate Cody turned on the leader of the stable, Kenny Omega. This led to there being two sides to Bullet Club; Team Cody and Team Kenny. While Tama stayed neutral at Strong Style Evolved before a tag team match against Marty Scurll and Cody, Tama stated if he were to be on a team it wouldn't be Team Cody. On the first night of the Wrestling Dontaku 2018 shows, G.O.D and Fale lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to the Super Villains (Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks). The second night, Tama debuted the newest member to Bullet Club, Taiji Ishimori. Later, it was announced that Tama will be competing in the G1 Climax 28.

At the G1 Special in San Francisco, Tama, Loa, King Haku, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi defeated CHAOS members Gedo, Yoshi-Hashi, and Roppongi 3K (Rocky Romero, Sho and Yoh), with Tama pinning Gedo after a Tongan Death Grip by Haku to Gedo followed by a Gun Stun. At the end of the night, following Kenny's victory over Cody in the main event, Tama, Loa, and Haku came out to seemingly celebrate with Kenny and the Young Bucks in a show of loyalty, only to attack The Elite, as well as fellow Bullet Club members Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, even Chase and Takahashi, and finally Cody, when they tried to intervene. They then left the ring declaring that they were the true Bullet Club. From then on, Tonga and his associates would be announced during their entrances as members of Bullet Club OG, while the rest would be known as Bullet Club Elite.

In the 2018 G1 Climax, Tonga participated in the B Block, where he tied for last place with 6 points, down from the 8 he posted in the previous two years. However, Tonga did manage to defeat the IWGP United States Champion, Juice Robinson, as well as that year's B Block winner, Kota Ibushi. On the night of the G1 Climax finals, Tama, Loa, and Ishimori won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships from the Super Villains in what was originally scheduled to be a showcase match but became a title match after Matt Jackson accepted a challenge from Loa to put the belts on the line. With this victory, Tonga became the first four-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion in NJPW history, and later that night, the Guerrillas of Destiny declared their intention to challenge the Young Bucks for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships as well.[68]

G.O.D. would end up dropping the tag team titles at Wrestle Kingdom 13 to Sanada and EVIL in a 3 Way Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship that also included The Young Bucks. On January 30, 2019, they lost the Never Openweight 6-Man Championship against Taguchi, Makabe, and Yano.[69]

Seven-time IWGP Tag Team Champion (2019-present)

On February 23, 2019, they would regain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles by defeating Sanada & Evil at Honor Rising 2019: Day 2, starting their fifth reign.[70][71] After defending the championships seven times, their reign would end when G.O.D lost to FinJuice (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) at Wrestle Kingdom 14.[72][73][74][75] They would soon immediately regain the belts at The New Beginning in the USA event in Atlanta, before again losing them without a defence to Golden*Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi) on a New Japan Road show in Korakuen Hall.[76][77][78][79][80]

After the 2020 Pandemic, Guerrillas of Destiny would make their return to Japan as participants of the World Tag League. They would win the tournament for the first time after defeating FinJuice in the finals.[81] They would go on to win an IWGP Tag Team Title match at the Tokyo Dome for the first time, defeating champions Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) after Tanga Loa hit 'ApeSh*t' (a Sitout Reverse Piledriver) on Taichi after 19 minutes & 18 seconds.[82][83][84] They lost the belts back to the Dangerous Tekkers on June 1.

Bullet Club departure and Hontai (2022–present)

At No Surrender, Jay White interfered in the Guerrillas of Destiny's match against former Bullet Club stablemates Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows by hitting his finishing move Bladerunner on Tonga causing them to lose the match. Afterwards, White, Chris Bey, and the Good Brothers all gave the 'too sweet' hand gesture in the middle of the ring signalling that Tonga and Loa had been kicked out of the group. In the 2022 New Japan Cup, Tonga faced Evil in the second round; during the match House of Torture attacked Tonga only to briefly be saved by the Japanese division of Bullet Club only to have them also turned on Guerrillas of Destiny and Jado. The following night, after losing to Bullet Club in a six-man tag team match, Tonga announced that Guerrillas of Destiny would become a stable. In March Tonga, Loa and Jado formed an alliance with Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato and later Hiroshi Tanahashi and joined the Hontai stable which represents New Japan.[85]

At Wrestling Dontaku, Tonga defeated EVIL to win the NEVER Openweight Championship, his first New Japan singles championship.[86] He lost the title to Karl Anderson at Dominion 6.12 in Osaka-jo Hall, ending his reign at 42 days.[87] Also at the event, Tonga was announced to be a part of the G1 Climax 32 tournament in July, where he would compete in the B Block.[88] He finished with 10 points, defeating IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White to advance to the semi-finals.[89] In the semi-finals match, Tonga was defeated by A Block winner Kazuchika Okada, therefore failing to make the finals.[90] Due to knocking White out of the tournament, Tonga earned an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match on October 10 at Declaration of Power, however failed to capture the title from White at the event.[91] Tonga later defeated Anderson to regain the NEVER Openweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 17, becoming the first to win a NJPW title from a WWE contracted wrestler since the two companies' past partnership ended in 1985. At Wrestling Dontaku on May 3, he lost the title to David Finlay, ending his second reign at 119 days. [92]

Personal life

Leone is the cousin of Bullet Club member Bad Luck Fale, they both spent their early childhoods in Muʻa, Tonga without meeting. They were in the NJPW dojo at the same time and realised they were related when a relative commented on a photo Fale had posted on social media.[93]

In addition to his adoptive brother Tevita with whom he wrestles in NJPW as the Guerrillas of Destiny, Leone's younger (biological) brother Taula is also part of NJPW under the name Hikuleo. Alipate and Tevita live together in Orlando, Florida, commuting to Japan for tours of between a couple of weeks to three months.[10]

Championships and accomplishments

Tonga as one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions in November 2016


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Achievements Preceded byDavid Finlay & Juice Robinson World Tag League winner 2020 With: Tanga Loa Succeeded byHirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi