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Tanaka in June 2019
|Born||Lori Elena Ayane Tanaka|
January 5, 1976 (age 45)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Other names||Lorelei Akira|
|Occupation||Professional wrestler • model •|
singer • rapper • songwriter •
musician • record producer •
pornographic actress •
|Years active||1990–present (musician)|
|Home town||Newark, New Jersey, U.S.|
(m. 1999; div. 2006)
Kelli DiMarco (m. 2018)
|Children||2, including Casey Tanaka|
|Parent(s)||Hiro Tanaka (father)|
Amiee Sutton (daughter-in-
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||5 ft 7 in (170 cm)|
|Billed weight||124 lb (56 kg)|
|Billed from||Newark, New Jersey|
|Debut||April 13, 1997|
|Genres||Nu metal • rap metal •|
industrial metal •
alternative metal •
grunge • skate punk •
metalcore • pop punk •
melodic death metal •
black metal • pop rock
|Instruments||Vocals • guitar|
|Labels||Earache • UNFD •|
Nuclear Blast •
Prosthetic • Epic •
Columbia • Overcore
Lori Elena Ayane Tanaka (born January 5, 1976) is an Australian-born Japanese-American professional wrestler, model, singer, rapper, songwriter, musician, record producer, former pornographic actress and former stripper. She is currently signed to WWE performing on the NXT brand under her real name, where she is the current NXT Women's Champion in her second reign. A second-generation professional wrestler, she is the daughter of professional wrestler Hiro Tanaka, the half-sister of professional wrestler Teresa, and the mother of professional wrestler Casey Tanaka.
Hailed as one of the best wrestlers in the world, Tanaka was named Sports Illustrated's Women's Wrestler of the Year in 2019, and topped Pro Wrestling Illustrated's (PWI) annual PWI Women's 100 list the same year. Tanaka was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2018.
Outside of wrestling, Tanaka is best known as the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, lead songwriter and founder of the Grammy-nominated nu metal band X-Hail-76, and is also known for her reputation as a sex symbol, mainly due to her modeling career which includes her work with Hot Topic in the late 1990s and early 2000s along with her nude pictorials for Playboy, Penthouse, and more recently, SuicideGirls.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 2.1 Extreme Championship Wrestling (1997–2000)
- 2.2 World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment (2000–2007)
- 2.3 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2011)
- 2.4 Return to WWE (2012–2014)
- 2.5 Action Zone Championship Wrestling (2015–2018)
- 2.6 Second Return to WWE (2017–present)
- 3 Professional wrestling style and persona
- 4 Other media
- 5 Music career
- 6 Discography
- 7 Personal life
- 8 In wrestling
- 9 Championships and accomplishments
Lori Elena Ayane Tanaka was born on January 5, 1976 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the only daughter of Hiro Tanaka (Yoshihiro Tanaka; 1940–2019) and his second wife Sophia Julia Okabe (1951–1991). She has two older half-sisters, Deborah and Teresa, and one younger half-siister, Jade. Her father was Japanese and her mother was American and of Japanese-Brazilian and Puerto Rican descent. At the time of her birth, Tanaka's family was living in Australia due to her father's work as a professional wrestler, working for World Championship Wrestling. Her father's work in the wrestling business lead to her becoming an avid wrestling fan at a young age.
In 1978, not long after the closure of WCW, Tanaka and her family moved back to the United States when she was two, eventually settling in Newark, New Jersey, where she attended several public schools before attending Barringer High School. She was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the age of 12. Tanaka at the time was known for being a talented singer, and learnt to play guitar during fifth grade.
On February 10, 1989, Tanaka's mother died after she lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a truck, killing her instantly. Tanaka struggled with depression as a result of her mother's death, which she would later attribute to her rebellious attitude during her early teenage years, often engaging in drug use, promiscuous sex, and shopping mall vandalism. She dropped out of high school after she got pregnant at the age of 15, and later gave birth to a son named Casey. Not long after her son's birth, Tanaka was legally emancipated from her father (with his approval) and left home soon after, leaving Casey in the care of her father. For a brief period, Tanaka lived with her childhood friend (and future wife) Kelli DiMarco and several of their friends in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In 1994, Tanaka moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she worked various jobs as a babysitter, waitress, bartender, nude model, stripper, and more infamously; as a pornographic actress under the pseudonym Lorelei Akira, starring in 45 pornographic films between 1994 to 1998.
Professional wrestling career
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1997–2000)
World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment (2000–2007)
Early storylines (2000–2001)
In September 2000, Lori began feuding with her half-sister, Teresa, after Lori refused to join the latter's ultra-conservative stable Right to Censor. Leading to a match at Unforgiven, which Teresa won by disqualification after Lori hit her with a steel chair. Lori would later lose again in a rematch at No Mercy, due to interference on Teresa's behalf by Val Venis. Lori's rivalry with Teresa continued at Survivor Series, which she won by disquallification after Ivory interfered on Teresa's behalf. Their feud ended at Armageddon, when Lori defeated Teresa via pinfall. After the match, Teresa raised Lori's hand as a sign of respect. On the December 14 episode of SmackDown!, Lori and the Dudley Boyz rescued Teresa from an attack by Right to Censor, after they banished Teresa from the group.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2011)
Return to WWE (2012–2014)
Divas Champion (2012–2013)
On July 23, 2012, during Raw 1000, Tanaka made a surprise return to WWE appearing alongside Lita and the other WWE legends in confronting Heath Slater. The following day, it was announced on WWE.com that Tanaka had re-signed with the company. On the July 27 episode of SmackDown, Tanaka competed in her first match with the company since July 2007 as a face, defeating Alicia Fox. Tanaka would then embark on a winning streak during the next couple of months, defeating the likes of Natalya, Beth Phoenix and Aksana.
On the October 8 episode of SmackDown, Tanaka and Layla rescued Kaitlyn from an attack by Divas Champion Eve Torres, Tanaka then forced Torres to reveal that she ordered the attack on Kaitlyn at Night of Champions and that Aksana was the culprit. At Hell in a Cell, Tanaka defeated Aksana to become the number one contender for the Divas Championship. Later that night, Tanaka attacked Eve following her victory in a triple threat match against Layla and Kaitlyn. The following night on Raw, Tanaka defeated Eve to become the new Divas Champion. At Survivor Series Tanaka would once again defeat Torres in a triple threat match; also including Kaitlyn, to retain the belt. In the weeks following Survivor Series, Tanaka began to show signs of a heel turn when she started to use underhanded tactics during her matches in order to win. At TLC: Tables Ladders & Chairs, Tanaka defeated Naomi to retain the Divas Championship. On the December 21 episode of SmackDown, Tanaka lost the championship to Eve after a failed assist from Layla. After the match, Tanaka shoved Layla into the ring post, turning heel in the process. The following week, on the Christmas Eve episode of Raw, Tanaka cemented her heel turn, berating and insulting the crowd for their lack of support towards her after losing the Divas Championship.
Afterward, Tanaka developed a new gimmick of an arrogant, self-righteous, egotistical maniac, purposely sheding away nearly every characteristic of her previous urban skateboarder-inspired gimmick from her mannerisms to her ring attire. An alliance between Tanaka and Eve was teased on the December 28 episode of SmackDown, when Tanaka helped Eve retain the Divas Championship against Kaitlyn by slapping the referee, causing a disqualification victory for Kaitlyn while keeping the belt on Eve. However, the alliance wouldn't last as Eve would leave the company after dropping the Divas Championship to Kaitlyn on the 20th anniversary episode of Raw and leave the company afterwards. However, the feud between Tanaka and Kaitlyn continued as Tanaka would complain about not getting her rematch clause.
Action Zone Championship Wrestling (2015–2018)
Return of "The Hardcore Bitch" and feud with Amiee Sutton (2015)
Tanaka's retirement lasted only less than ten months, as Tanaka announced on Twitter that she was coming back to the ring and announced that she signed with Australian wrestling promotion Action Zone Championship Wrestling. Tanaka would make her AZCW debut on the March 14, 2015 episode of AZCW TV, attacking Amy Sutton with a kendo stick and establishing herself as a heel. Tanaka then grabbed a microphone and proceeded to say "The Hardcore Bitch is back motherfuckers!!!". Despite being a heel, the crowd cheered loudly for Tanaka and began to chant "She's hardcore!!" after the repeated kendo stick attacks towards Sutton. For the next couple of weeks, Tanaka would repeatedly attack Sutton without explanation. Tanaka would later have her AZCW in-ring debut against Sutton on the April 20 episode of AZCW TV where she would emerge victorious after repeatedly caning Sutton with a kendo stick. Following the match, Tanaka cut a promo on Sutton, calling her a "pathetic slut" and stated that she isn't tough enough to be a wrestler, before brutally assaulting her again afterwards.
Face turn, feud with Roxanne Fox, and first-ever Action Zone Women's Champion (2015–2016)
After disappearing off TV for several weeks, Tanaka returned on the October 10 episode of AZCW TV, saving Amy Sutton from an attack by Roxanne Fox, turning face in the process and igniting a feud between herself and Fox.
Various feuds (2016–2017)
On February 4, 2017, during the main event of the very first broadcast of AZCW Inferno, Tanaka returned as the mystery opponent to face Tia Wallace for the to become the #1 contender for Rachael Rose's Action Zone Women's Championship in a Street Fight, which Tanaka would emerge victorious after a hard fought yet highly controversal match, as Wallace ripped Tanaka's top off just before the start of the match, exposing her bare breasts, as a result, Tanaka remained topless during the entire match. This incident would become the most-watched and most-downloaded moment in AZCW history. In a 2019 interview, Tanaka claimed that it was her idea to wrestle the entire match topless, stating;
"It was a bit of a self-confidence and self-esteem move on my part, as I had just turned 41 at the time and wanted to see if the fans thought if I was still hot enough, which I was more than satisfied with their reaction, that's probably why it was my favorite match in AZCW. But we were also testing the waters with 7mate to see how far we could push the limit in regards to the edgy adult content on Inferno, turned out we weren't anywhere near the limit and could push further, which we did do a few times while I was still there and its something I've noticed them doing now more frequently on the Inferno program with both Jenny (Patrick) and the other girls."
Feud with Helen Reyes and Departure (2017–2018)
On the December 23 episode of Inferno, Tanaka lost a Career vs. Title match against Reyes. As a result, Tanaka was forced to leave AZCW. After the match, Tanaka thanked the fans for their support and promised that they haven't seen the last of "One Bad Mama". Tanaka would make one last appearance on the January 13, 2018 episode of Inferno, when she helped Jen X-Treme win the Action Zone Women's Championship from Reyes.
Second Return to WWE (2017–present)
Sporadic appearances and Hall of Fame induction (2018)
On January 22, 2018, Tanaka made her first appearance in WWE since 2014 at the Raw 25 Years special, being honored as one of the historic women of WWE. A few days later, on January 28 at the Royal Rumble event, Tanaka competed in the first women's royal rumble match, where she entered at number 2, lasting the entirety of the match; at 58:57, before being the last woman eliminated by the eventual winner Asuka. The following night on Raw, it was announced that Tanaka would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. At the ceremony on April 6, she was inducted by her son Casey, her half-sister Teresa, and her father Hiro.
On the October 17 episode of NXT, Tanaka made a surprise appearance interrupting Denise King and confronting her for persistantly calling her out over the previous few weeks, establishing herself as a face, the two exchanged insults, culminating in King and Lacey Evans attacking Tanaka, before being rescued by her daughter-in-law Amiee Sutton. The following week, Tanaka challenged King and Evans in a tag team match at the Evolution event, while also revealing her tag team partner to be Teresa. On October 28, at the Evolution event, Tanaka (reverting back to her "Pretty & Deadly" persona and displaying mannerisms she had developed while working for AZCW) and Teresa defeated King and Evans in a tag team match. She appeared again later that night, alongside Teresa and her son Casey, aiding Amiee Sutton after she was viciously assaulted by the new NXT Women's Champion Emily Travis, who had just defeated Sutton for the belt.
NXT debut, feud with Emily Travis and winning the NXT Women's Championship (2018–2019)
On the October 31 episode of NXT, in a interview with Mauro Ranallo, Tanaka promised payback against Travis for what she did to her daughter-in-law, igniting an intensely heated rivalry between the two. The next day, it was announced that Tanaka had signed a contract with WWE and would perform full-time on the NXT brand. On the November 7 episode of NXT, Tanaka confonted Travis following her match against Io Shirai, before attacking her with a kendo stick and chasing her out of the arena, establishing herself as a face. The following week, Tanaka would make her NXT re-debut, where she defeated Lacey Evans, despite outside interference on Evan's behalf by Travis and Denise King. At NXT TakeOver: WarGames, Tanaka defeated Travis in an unsanctioned match, after the referee stopped the match due to Travis being too incapacitated to continue.
Professional wrestling style and persona
Takaka's wrestling style has been described as a mix of the brawler, technical and high-flyer wrestling styles. Her signature finishing move is a variation of the Stone Cold Stunner, which she has dubbed "Da Lori Stunner". Tanaka also uses the 450 splash, she has dubbed the "Pretty & Deadly" while in WWE and also dubbing it the "Deadly 450" while in TNA (and later in AZCW). Tanaka also used to use the Famouser as her finishing move during her first run in WWE.
Her in-ring persona in ECW was initially influenced by the grunge subculture of the 1990's. However, upon joining the WWF in 2000, her persona had changed to become more influenced on the nu metal and skater subcultures, but with a oversexualized tone. Tanaka discussed the character stating in 2019; "my gimmick is pretty much just me... But much more over the top and provocative."
In 1994, Tanaka began her modeling career after she was approached by a local agency when she was working as a stripper. Her extensive list of credits include dozens of magazine features and covers, ad campaigns, billboards, and spans all genres from fashion to fetish and art nudes; especially during her early modeling career. Tanaka posed nude for Playboy on five seperate occasions (December 1996, May 1998, February 2000, October 2011 & September/October 2017) and also posed nude for Penthouse magazine on four separate occasions (August 1994, October 1995, June 1999 and in the Australian edition of the magazine in September 2016). Aside from Playboy and Penthouse, Tanaka is also best remembered as a model for Hot Topic during the late-1990's and early 2000's, modeling the nu metal-influenced apparel that was marketed by the retail chain at the time. And from 2015 to 2017, she frequently modeled on the erotic pin-up site SuicideGirls.
Tanaka is the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of nu metal band X-Hail-76, which she formed in 1990 (as Exhale) with her childhood friends, Kelli DiMarco and Joey Holmes. X-Hail-76 have released eight studio albums between 1992 to 2021, four of which topped the Billboard 200 charts and three of which were certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. Their most successful album Control Desolution (which was released on December 19, 2000) has sold around 30 million albums in the United States to date (and over 43 million albums sold worldwide), was certified Diamond (30x Platinum) by the RIAA, and recieved a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Album.
Tanaka has also released six solo albums, her debut self-titled solo album (released on July 3, 2007) features a skate punk and metalcore sound. Her second album Evil Beauty (released on December 21, 2009) showcases an aggressive melodic death metal sound, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 charts. Her third album Hope Ain't A Sure Thing (released on November 4, 2011) features a more radio-friendly pop rock sound; which although commercially successful, led to accusations of selling out by longtime fans. Tanaka would return to a melodic death metal sound with the following three albums, The Necromancer (released on April 29, 2014), The Warrior (released on October 7, 2014), and The Succubus (released on April 14, 2015). Her sixth album; the critically acclaimed Tempest (released on January 4, 2019), features a groove-oriented nu metal sound (similar to X-Hail-76), and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 charts (her first number one album as a solo artist in the United States).
Tanaka's musical influences include Static-X, Coal Chamber, Dope, Machine Head, Alice In Chains, Soulfly, My Ruin, Korn, Deftones, Orgy, Fear Factory, Guano Apes, Ministry, Prong, Soundgarden, Tura Satana, Pantera, Faith No More, Sepultura, Pearl Jam, Staind, Cold, Nine Inch Nails, Godsmack, Hole, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana, and Primus.
- Lori Tanaka (2007)
- Evil Beauty (2009)
- Hope Ain't A Sure Thing (2011)
- The Necromancer (2014)
- The Warrior (2014)
- The Succubus (2015)
- Tempest (2019)
- Covered Up (2011)
- Benevolence (2012)
- Exhale (as Exhale) (1992)
- Labyrinth (as Exhale) (1994)
- Down (as Exhale) (1997)
- X-Hail-76 (1999)
- Control Desolution (2000)
- Perfect 10 (2003)
- American Vixen (2005)
- No Peace (2021)
Tanaka became a mother at the age of 16, giving birth to a son named Casey on March 16, 1992.
Tanaka is openly bisexual, stating in a 2008 interview that she discovered she was attracted to both men and women early into her teenage years, and that she has had casual sexual encounters with several women before she got married.
In 1999, Tanaka married fellow musician and then-X-Hail-76 bandmate DeSean Desmond after dating for over a year. She later gave birth to their only daughter Sophie Renée Tanaka-Desmond on November 4, 2002. The couple seperated in January 2005, and she filed for divorce in March 2006, which was finalised in October 2006. Desmond died on January 18, 2009, after suffering a brain aneurysm at his parent's home in Flint, Michigan.
In 2007, Tanaka began dating her childhood friend and X-Hail-76 bandmate Kelli DiMarco, the couple married on June 16, 2018 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In January 2021, Tanaka revealed that she and DiMarco have been in a polyamorous relationship with their X-Hail-76 bandmate Joey Holmes since December 2019. They currently reside in Miami, Florida.
Tanaka has multiple tattoos, including two japanese kanji symbols on her abdomen, a tribal wing tattoo with a red cross on her upper back, a tribal tattoo on her lower back, a yin and yang on her left wrist, and a tribal symbol on her left shoulder, which is a tribute to Jin Kazama from the fighting game series Tekken.
Tanaka regards herself as a tomboy, and has an interest in anime, manga, hentai, and video games. She has cited Kunoichi from Samurai Warriors as her favorite video game character, and Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex as her favorite anime character. She also enjoys extreme sports such as skateboarding, inline skating, freestyle BMX, and parkour.
- Finishing moves
- As Lori Tanaka
- Deadly 450 / Pretty & Deadly (450 Splash)
- Da Lori Stunner (Facelock jawbreaker)
- As Lori
- Pretty & Deadly (450 Splash)
- Famouser (Leg-drop bulldog)
- As Miss T
- (Under construction)
- As Lori Tanaka
- Signature moves
- Gamengiri & Cartwheel moonsault combo
- Knee balancing enzugiri
- Spaceman plancha
- Avalanche spanish fly
- Wrecking ball hurricanrana
- Bronco buster
- Springboard dropkick
- Arabian press
- Handspring headscissor takedown
- Glitter blizzard
- Tope atomica
- Suicide dive
- Springboard moonsault
- Corner foot choke
- Springboard dive
- Slingshot gullotine leg drop
- "Pretty & Deadly" (WWE)
- "The Deadly Babe" (TNA)
- "One Bad Mama" (AZCW)
- Wrestlers managed
- Entrance themes
- Extreme Championship Wrestling
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- "Shakie Fakie" by Kent Buchanon (2000 – March 28, 2001)
- "Waste" by Skrape (April 2, 2001 – June 25, 2007, July 23, 2012 – January 22, 2013, January 28, 2018 – present)
- "Desire to Fight" by Miki Fujii (January 29, 2013 – May 29, 2014)
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- "F.U. System (Intro cut)" by Dale Oliver (2011)
- Action Zone Championship Wrestling
- "Waste" by Skrape (March 14, 2015 – January 13, 2018)
Championships and accomplishments
- Action Zone Championship Wrestling
- Action Zone Women's Championship (3 times)
- CBS Sports
- Wrestler of the Year (2019)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Woman of the Year (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2019)
- Ranked No. 1 of the Top 100 female wrestlers in the PWI Female 100 in 2019
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- TNA Knockouts Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment / WWE