Chōno debuted in 1984 against Keiji Mutoh at a New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) event in Saitama, Japan. In 1987, he defeated Shinya Hashimoto to win the Young Lions Cup. After winning the tournament, he went on an excursion that started in Europe, wrestling for Otto Wanz's Catch Wrestling Association.
After a while in Europe, Chono went on an excursion to North America, starting in the United States, where he wrestled in NWA territories in the Kansas City and Alabama areas. He would also later wrestle in the Canadian Maritimes and in Puerto Rico, where he, Hashimoto, and Mutoh formed The Three Musketeers.
Chono returned to NJPW part-time in July 1988. He came back to the United States later in 1988 and teamed with Mike Davis in Continental Championship Wrestling, by then renamed the Continental Wrestling Federation, and won that company's tag titles as the Japanese Connection.
In April 1989, he took part in the IWGP Heavyweight Championship tournament, held at New Japan's very first show at the Tokyo Dome; he lost to eventual winner of the tournament and new champion Big Van Vader in the quarterfinals. During this time, he would return to the United States and have a brief run in Australia.
Upon Chono's return to New Japan in October 1989, on February 10, 1990, he wrestled in the main-event of NJPW's second Tokyo Dome show, teaming with Shinya Hashimoto against Antonio Inoki and Seiji Sakaguchi, on April 27 he won the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Mutoh, and on December 26 he defeated his mentor, wrestling legend Lou Thesz, when Thesz came out of retirement for one last match. The next year, Chono solidified his main-event status with an amazing performance in the first G1 Climax tournament, winning the tournament in a thirty-minute final over Mutoh.
He won the tournament again in 1992, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in the process. Since then, he has won the tournament on three more occasions. On September 23, 1992, Chono suffered a serious neck injury while defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Steve Austin. On January 4, 1993, he lost the NWA World title to IWGP Heavyweight champion The Great Muta in a Title vs. Title match. Around 1993, he participated in his third G1 Climax tournament, losing to Hiroshi Hase in the semi-finals. In January 1994, he received a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Shinya Hashimoto, though he would ultimately lose the match. In August 1994, he won his third G1 Climax tournament, defeating Power Warrior in the finals.
A short time after winning his third G1 Climax, Chono underwent a change in attitude. Originally a clean-cut fan favorite during his NWA World title reign, he turned heel, angered that Power Warrior received a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship before him, as he won the tournament. Chono's partnering with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Hiro Saito as "Team Wolf" provided a foundation to NJPW's nWo Japan. Establishing himself as leader of its Japanese sister stable, Chono joined the American nWo in December 1996 as it was gaining momentum in World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He would also join its successor, Team 2000, which would eventually restructure again. In a match against WCW's Bill Goldberg, Chono supposedly "shot" the match (actually employing legitimate combat) and dislocated his shoulder.
Upon returning to Japan, Chono rejoined NJPW, where he achieved much success. He won the IWGP Tag Team Titles on six occasions and also won the very prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Title in 1998. In 2002, Chono won his fourth G1 Climax tournament. He also became a booker for NJPW around this time. In 2003, Chono briefly joined Pro Wrestling NOAH for a handful of matches and was defeated by GHC Champion Kenta Kobashi on 2 May of that year. On October 13, he lost to Hulk Hogan.
In early 2004, Chono became the leader of the Black New Japan stable, which was the most dominating heel stable in NJPW until it was disbanded by Riki Choshu. As a reaction to this, Chono lead an "Anti-Choshu Army" with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Black Strong Machine. Chono won the 2005 G1 Climax tournament, thus having achieved a record-setting five G1 victories. His success in the G1 has given him the nickname Mr. August.
On October 30, 2005, Masahiro Chono and Tenzan defeated the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi to win their fifth IWGP Tag Team Championship. The team went on to rename themselves Cho-Ten, a portmanteau of the members' names. They were stripped of the titles in late 2006 after they split up, and refused to defend them together. Masahiro Chono formed a stable with Shinsuke Nakamura in 2006 called Chono and Nakamura-gun, which began feuding with Tenzan's new group, GBH.
Chono continued to wrestle full-time in 2007, but also began working as a promoter, with New Japan permitting him to set up cards in different areas of Japan. Following the 2007 G1 Climax, it appears that Chono may be breaking away from his BLACK faction and formed the Legend stable, having sworn in wrestlers such as Riki Choshu, Jushin Thunder Liger, Shiro Koshinaka, and AKIRA.
Outside wrestling, Chono began appearing on Gaki no Tsukai's "No Laughing Batsu Game" as one of the attackers, usually giving Hosei Yamazaki a slap to the face.
In January 2010 it was reported that Chono would be leaving New Japan and becoming a freelancer, after spending most of his career with the company.
In March 2010, Chono wrestled two matches since leaving New Japan, during a Samurai Festival. For the special occasion, Chono portrayed Nobunaga Oda. On both days, he wrestled AKIRA, who portrayed Mitsuhide Akechi. On the first day, he won, but lost the next day.
On July 31, 2010, Chono announced he is heading to All-Japan and wrestle in the Taiwan tour in November.
On August 15, 2010, Chono returned to New Japan to serve as the special ring announcer for the G1 Climax final match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Satoshi Kojima.
On November 5 and 6, Chono appeared in All Japan's Taiwan shows. On November 5, Chono and Mutoh defeated the Voodoo Murders (TARU and Rene Dupree). The following day, Chono teamed with Mutoh and Masakatsu Funaki to defeat the Voodoo Murders (Dupree, KENSO, and Joe Doering).
In December 2010, Chono began working for Antonio Inoki's Inoki Genome Federation as a booker.
On March 6, 2011, Chono entered Pro Wrestling ZERO1 for their 10th Anniversary Show. There he defeated Daichi Hashimoto in his debut match.
On April 17, 2011, Chono wrestled for Osaka Pro where he teamed with Kuuga and Orochi in a losing effort against Shodai Tiger Mask, Billyken Kid, and Tsubasa.
On August 14, 2011, Chono returned to Osaka Pro, this time teaming with TAJIRI and Zeus against Kuuga, Orochi, and Tadasuke.
On October 3, 2011, he returned home to NJPW, for a Team Wolf reunion match, teaming with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Hiro Saito against Osamu Nishimura, Koji Kanemoto, and Shinjiro Otani.
In January 2013, Chono signed with All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) as an advisor.
On August 25, 2013, Chono teamed with Joe Doering and defeated KENSO and AJPW President Nobuo Shiraishi in an exhibition tag team match.
Chono left AJPW in 2014.
Since leaving AJPW, Chono has become a freelancer. His last match on record was on April 13, 2014, for Dotonbori Pro Wrestling, teaming with Daisuke Masaoka and Hayata in a loss to Super Delfin, HUB, and Gran Hamada.
On December 28, 1991, Chono married Martina Carlsbad, whom he met while on an excursion in Germany in 1987. Together they have one son (born July 4, 2006) and one daughter (born August 2009). Carlsbad's daughter – and Chono's step-daughter – is professional wrestler Jazzy Gabert.
In late-June 1995, Chono's father died. His death forced Chono to miss an IWGP Tag Team title defense and take a hiatus, which forced him and Hiroyoshi Tenzan to vacate the title on July 7, 1995.
Chono appears as a gang member in the 2017 video game Yakuza Kiwami 2, alongside Genichiro Tenryu, Keiji Mutoh, Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami.Finishing moves
Kenka Kick / Yakuza Kick (Running arched big boot), sometimes while sliding to a sitting opponent
Multiple STF variations
FTS (Over rotated stepover toehold into a sleeper hold) – Innovated
Deathlock STF (Into a facelock, sometimes while crossing the opponent's legs together)
Into an inverted facelock – Innovated
Single arm straight jacket – Innovated
STS (Into a sleeper hold) – Innovated
Shining Kenka Kick / Shining Black / Shining Yakuza (Running single leg front dropkick to the face of a kneeling opponent while using their knee for leverage)
Diving shoulder block
Falling inverted DDT
Manhattan Drop (Inverted atomic drop)
Spinning heel kick
With Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Cho-Ten Torpedo (Double diving shoulder block)
CTC – Cho-Ten Crash (High knee / running back elbow combination)
Shining Assault (Shining Kenka Kick (Chono) / Lariat (Tenzan) combination)
With Giant Silva
Union Sky High Lariat (Chokeslam (Silva) / diving clothesline (Chono) combination)
"Charisma of Black"
"Mr. Black Jack"
All Japan Pro Wrestling
"Fight & Love" (2013)
"Team 2000 Crash" (2013)
Catch Wrestling Association
"Thunderstruck" by AC/DC (1994)
"Team 2000 Crash" (2010–2012)
"Fight & Love" (2012–present)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
"Soca & So On" by Paul Mauriat (1984–1989)
"Fantastic City" (1989–1992)
"Fantastic City '92" (1992–1994)
"Main Eventer" (August 5, 1993)
"Martial Arts" by Royal Hunt (1994–1996)
"nWo Crash" (1996–1999)
"Team 2000 Crash" (1999–2010)
Pro Wrestling NOAH
"Hard Crush" (2003)
World Championship Wrestling
"Pacific Zone" (1991–1992)
"1,000 Suns" (1995–1996, 2000)
"Tear It Up" by J.Hart and H.Helm (1996–1997)
Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling
AGPW North American Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Bob Brown
Central States Wrestling / World Wrestling Alliance
NWA Central States Television Championship (1 time)
WWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
Continental Wrestling Federation
CWF Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Mike Davis
Hawai'i Championship Wrestling
HCW Kamehameha Heritage World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
New Japan Pro Wrestling
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
IWGP Tag Team Championship (7 times) – with Keiji Mutoh (2), Hiroyoshi Tenzan (5)
NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
G1 Climax (1991, 1992, 1994, 2002, 2005)
G1 Tag League (2006) – with Shinsuke Nakamura
Super Grade Tag League (1995) – with Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Super Grade Tag League (1997) – with Keiji Mutoh
Teisen Hall Six-Man Tournament (2002) – with Giant Singh and Giant Silva
Japan/China Friendship Tournament (1990)
Young Lion Cup (1987)
Heavyweight MVP Award (2005)
Singles Best Bout (2002) vs. Yuji Nagata on October 26
Singles Best Bout (2005) vs. Kazuyuki Fujita on August 14
Tag Team Best Bout (2002) with Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Osamu Nishimura on June 5
Tag Team Best Bout (2004) with Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Shinsuke Nakamura on October 24
NJPW New Year Tag Team Tournament (1990) – with Shiro Koshinaka
Pro Wrestling Illustrated
PWI ranked him #28 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI 500 in 1997
PWI ranked him #70 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
Fighting Spirit Award (1991, 2002)
Performance Award (1992)
Tag Team of the Year (1990)- with Keiji Mutoh
Tag Team of the Year (1995)- with Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Tag Team of the Year (1996)- with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Hiro Saito
Wrestler of the Year (1997)
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Best Heel (1995)
Worst Worked Match of the Year (1992) vs. Rick Rude at Halloween Havoc
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)