Yoshihiro Tajiri (田尻 義博 Tajiri Yoshihiro, born September 29, 1970), is a Japanese professional wrestler best known for his ring name time in WWE, where he competed from 2001–2005 and briefly in 2016 to 2017 as Tajiri, currently competing as TAJIRI (stylized in all capital letters). He is also known for his appearances with the American professional wrestling promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling.
He rose to international attention through his work for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) from 1998 to 2001 and World Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Entertainment in 1996 and 1997 and again from 2001 to 2005 and a return in 2016/2017. Early in his career, he worked for several Mexican promotions such as Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). After leaving WWE in 2005 he has worked for a number of Japanese promotions including New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), Hustle, Pro Wrestling Noah (Noah) and Wrestle-1 (W-1). He was also the promoter and featured wrestler for the Smash promotion as well as its successor Wrestling New Classic (WNC). He is currently under a full-time contract with All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).
Over the years Tajiri has trained various wrestlers including KUSHIDA, Minoru Fujita, Ray and Syuri. In AJPW, he's won their Gaora TV Championship, World Junior Heavyweight Championship two times and the 2018 Jr. Tag Battle of Glory tournament with Koji Iwamoto. In BJW, Tajiri is the only person to have held the original and current versions of the BJW Junior Heavyweight Championship.
- 1 Career
- 2 Professional wrestling persona and style
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Early years (1993–1998)
Tajiri had originally wanted to become a kickboxer and trained in kickboxing, but after watching countless wrestling matches from Mexico, he entered the Animal Hamaguchi Wrestling gym and soon won its test match tournament. He debuted professionally in 1994 for Michinoku Pro Wrestling beating Akihiro Yonekawa and also wrestled for Wrestle Association-R. On 16 October 1994 Tajiri made his debut for IWA Japan under his real name. In 1996 he joined Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre.
In 1996 he left CMLL and joined the hardcore wrestling promotion Big Japan Pro Wrestling in Tokyo. He debuted for BJW under the name Aquarius and beat Unicorn in his first match. On 19 July 1996 he beat Dr. Wagner Jr for the CMLL World Light Heavyweight Championship and lost it to him on 27 July. On July 23, 1997 Tajiri would team up with Ryuji Yamakawa to win the vacant BJW Tag Team Championship and lost it to Gedo and Jado on December 22. The team would regain the titles eleven days later and lose it to Shadow Winger and Shadow WX. He beat Gedo to become the first BJW Junior Heavyweight Champion he would later be stripped of the title when he left the company.
Tajiri participated in Best Of The Super Juniors IV and won three matches but lost three also giving him three points and therefore missing out on the next stage.
Tajiri made several appearances for World Wrestling Federation under the name Yoshihiro Tajiri, his first being defeated by The Godwinns (Henry O. Godwinn and Phineas I. Godwinn) with Ken Paterson. On WWF Monday Night Raw in July 1997 he went up against Taka Michinoku, whom the WWF was pushing as its rising star in the Light Heavyweight division at the time. He was also beaten by Brian Christopher and Michinoku once again. His final appearance was a tag team match with Brian Christopher against Scott Taylor and Taka Michinoku.
Tajiri would also rejoin CMLL in 1997 until 1999 when he signed to Extreme Championship Wrestling.
TAJIRI's return to Japan came at HUSTLE on the 5th March 2006 defeating Kohei Sato, The Monster PTA & Yoji Anjo with Razor Ramon Hard Gay and Shinjiro Otani. In the Hustle promotion, he was originally aligned with the babyface Hustle Army, a group who defends the sport of professional wrestling against the Monster Army (led by Monster General and Monster K, who aim to destroy the sport). However, he was hypnotised by Yinling into joining the Monster Army. In 2006 TAJIRI took Yujiro Kushida under his wing and trained him while at Hustle and participated in multiple tag team matches and tag team tournaments, they also had several matches against one another. He also participated in HUSTLE GP, Hustle's only tournament, but was knocked out of the tournaments first round by Wataru Sakata. On his last appearance for Hustle TAJIRI defeated Muscle Sakai in a two out of three falls match which TAJIRI won two to one.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2006–2007, 2011)
Tajiri made his debut for All Japan Pro Wrestling in a losing attempt with The Great Muta however he did gain the respect of Muta. Tajiri and Muta would team up for a few matches, the most notable of which was against Kaz Hayashi and Satoshi Kojima when the pair used double Asian mist to get the win.
Tajiri was a title contender in All Japan Pro Wrestling throughout 2007, including a feud with AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Minoru Suzuki. This feud started on March 30, 2007 at the final Champion Carnival 2007 event, following Tajiri's victory over Suzuki via countout when Tajiri tied Suzuki's foot to the guard rail, and went on to steal the Triple Crown championship belts following the match. Because of Tajiri's refusal to return the titles, Suzuki created paper belts to temporarily represent his championship. Tajiri opposed Suzuki again on April 22, 2007 in a tag team match, in which Tajiri taunted Suzuki repeatedly. At the conclusion of the match, Suzuki (after losing the match because of the Tarantula) chased Tajiri around the Korakuen Hall, only for Tajiri to jump the guard rail and steal the paper belts. Days later, Tajiri returned the titles in exchange for a title match on April 30, 2007, where he was unsuccessful. Tajiri also teamed with The Great Muta to defeat Kohei Suwama and Scott Steiner.
Tajiri returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2011 to team up with Great Muta and KENSO in a loss to Partisan Forces (Masakatsu Funaki & Minoru Suzuki) & KAI. Tajiri would then bring SMASH's biggest stars to AJPW for a one night event where he and his partners AKIRA and StarBuck defeated BUSHI, Keiji Muto, and Shuji Kondo
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2009–2011)
During the summer of 2009, TAJIRI invaded New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he started a feud with the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, by attacking and green misting him after his title defense against Takashi Sugiura. TAJIRI participated in G1 Climax 2009 and won his first match of the tournament and his first match of his return. On August 13 TAJIRI pinned the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in a non-title match during the G1 Climax tournament, after using the green mist. TAJIRI ended the tournament with only four points, finishing bottom of block A. Hustle folded in October 2009, after which TAJIRI began wrestling for NJPW full-time. He would score two more pinfall victories over the now former IWGP Heavyweight Champion in multiple man tag team matches, but in the end lost the feud, when Tanahashi pinned him cleanly in a singles match on December 5. Afterwards, TAJIRI set his sights on Seigigun, led by Yuji Nagata. On January 4, 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome TAJIRI teamed up with fellow ECW alumnus Masato Tanaka and together they defeated Seigigun of Nagata and Akebono, when TAJIRI pinned Nagata after the green mist and a Buzzsaw kick. On February 14 Nagata defeated TAJIRI in a singles match in under five minutes to seemingly end the feud and TAJIRI's run with the company.
On June 19 at Dominion 6.19, TAJIRI returned to New Japan, turning face and saving former rival Hiroshi Tanahashi from Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka and helping Tanahashi shave Yano's head following their Hair vs. Hair match. On June 28 TAJIRI, Tanahashi and KUSHIDA entered the J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament, where they made it all the way to the finals on June 30, before being defeated by Prince Devitt, Ryusuke Taguchi and Hirooki Goto. In October and November 2010, TAJIRI teamed with Tanahashi in New Japan's 2010 G1 Tag League. After a strong start in the tournament, TAJIRI and Tanahashi were defeated by the IWGP Tag Team Champions Bad Intentions (Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson) on November 6, the last day of group stages, and slipped to third place in their block, narrowly missing the semifinals of the tournament.
Tajiri was then placed in charge of SMASH, a new promotion taking the place of Hustle. The promotion held its first show on March 26, 2010, Tajiri wrestled two matches on the first night, the first of which was a hardcore match with recently released from WWE Tommy Dreamer which he lost and then he beat Mentallo. Later on in the same night Tajiri and Dreamer saved KUSHIDA from Leatherface. Also to end the show Dreamer was honoring Tajiri and Tajiri broke into tears.
On February 25, 2011 TAJIRI gave KUSHIDA his blessing to leave SMASH and become a full-time member of the New Japan roster at the beginning on April 1.
During 2010, TAJIRI, along with other SMASH talent made crossover appearances in Finnish promotion Fight Club Finland (FCF). At SMASH.3 on May 29, 2010, TAJIRI defeated Valentine to win the FCF Finnish Heavyweight Championship for the first time. He would drop the title to StarBuck on July 24 at SMASH.6, before regaining it from him on November 22, 2010, at SMASH.10. At SMASH.12 Tajiri would successfully defend his title against Super Crazy but would lose the title later on in the night to Michael Kovac at SMASH.13, at SMASH.13. On September 8 at SMASH.21, TAJIRI beat AKIRA in the semifinals of the SMASH Championship tournament. On October 28, TAJIRI was defeated in the finals of the tournament by StarBuck. On February 10, 2012, Smash announced that the promotion would be folding after its March 14 event, following a disagreement between Tajiri and financial backer Masakazu Sakai. On February 19 at SMASH.25, Tajiri unsuccessfully challenged Dave Finlay for the SMASH Championship. On March 14, Tajiri wrestled in Smash's final match, where he and AKIRA defeated Hajime Ohara and StarBuck. Following the match, Tajiri announced his intention of starting a new promotion.
Wrestling New Classic (2012–2014)
On April 5, 2012, Tajiri announced the follow-up promotion to Smash, Wrestling New Classic (WNC), which would hold its first event on April 26. On April 26, Tajiri was defeated by Akira in the main event of WNC's first event. For WNC's second event on May 24, Tajiri reunited with former ECW tag team partner, Mikey Whipwreck, to defeat Gedo and Jado in a hardcore tag team match. Two days later, Tajiri and Whipwreck defeated Yo-Hey and Yusuke Kodama in another hardcore tag team match. On June 22, Tajiri's longtime partner Akira turned on him and, the following month, formed a new alliance with StarBuck and Syuri. Tajiri, Hajime Ohara and Kana, the former partners of the three, formed an alliance of their own to battle the three, but were on August 2 defeated in the first match between the two groups. Following the match, Ohara also turned on Tajiri and WNC, forming a new partnership with debuting female wrestler Nagisa Nozaki. On August 30, Tajiri teamed with Kana and the returning Mikey Whipwreck in a Barbed Wire Board Deathmatch, where they were defeated by Akira, StarBuck and Syuri. Tajiri, Kana and Whipwreck were also defeated in a rematch the following day in Osaka. In the second rematch on September 1, Whipwreck pinned StarBuck for the win, ending the villainous trio's win streak in the process. On September 20, Tajiri defeated Syuri in an intergender match at Korakuen Hall. On October 26, Tajiri entered the WNC Championship tournament, defeating Carlito in his first round match. On November 28, Tajiri defeated Hajime Ohara to advance to the finals of the tournament. On December 27, Tajiri was defeated in the finals of the tournament by Akira. On August 8, 2013, Tajiri defeated Osamu Nishimura in his home prefecture of Kumamoto to become the third WNC Champion. After five successful title defenses, Tajiri lost the title to StarBuck on February 27, 2014.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2014)
Tajiri debuted at the August Impact Wrestling tapings in New York City, defeating Robbie E on August 5, and working two matches on August 7; teaming with Austin Aries in a losing effort against James Storm and Sanada in the first and losing to Aries in a match, which also included Abyss, Mr. Anderson and MVP, in the second. His final appearance for the promotion was at the October 12, Bound for Glory pay-per-view event in Tokyo, teaming with The Great Muta in a tag team main event, where they defeated James Storm and The Great Sanada.
Tajiri wrestled his first match under a Wrestle-1 contract on July 6, 2014, teaming with Yusuke Kodama in a tag team match, where they defeated the Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) team of Ethan Carter III and Rockstar Spud. On September 22, Tajiri entered the Wrestle-1 Championship tournament, but was defeated in his first round match by Masakatsu Funaki. Tajiri then entered a storyline, where he began helping Funaki train for his semifinal match in the tournament. However, on October 8, Tajiri turned on Funaki, costing him his semifinal match against Masayuki Kono. Post-match, Tajiri was announced as the newest member of Kono's villainous Desperado stable. In November, Tajiri and Masayuki Kono took part in the First Tag League Greatest tournament, set to determine the inaugural Wrestle-1 Tag Team Champions, where they won their block with a clean record of four wins and zero losses, advancing to the semifinals. On November 30, Tajiri and Kono were eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Akira and Manabu Soya. On May 16, 2015, Tajiri defeated Minoru Tanaka at a Wrestle-1 event to capture the European Wrestling Promotion (EWP) Intercontinental Championship. A week later, Tajiri unsuccessfully challenged Tanaka for the Wrestle-1 Cruiser Division Championship. On May 30, Tajiri lost the EWP Intercontinental Championship back to Tanaka in a Title vs. Title match also contested for the Wrestle-1 Cruiser Division Championship. Following the match, Desperado turned on Tajiri and kicked him out of the stable. On June 19, Wrestle-1 announced a new contractual status for Tajiri, which would see him work only sporadic Wrestle-1 events from July onwards due to looking for a new career as an acupuncturist abroad. On January 31, 2016, Tajiri, Kaz Hayashi and Minoru Tanaka won the vacant UWA World Trios Championship.
On June 28, 2016, Tajiri announced he was leaving Wrestle-1 due to his contract with the company expiring. On July 29, Tajiri, Hayashi and Tanaka lost the UWA World Trios Championship to Andy Wu, Daiki Inaba and Seiki Yoshioka in their fifth defense.
Return to Japan (2017–present)
Following his departure from WWE, Tajiri returned to Japan, with All Japan announcing his first post-WWE booking for June 11. On July 30, Tajiri defeated Hikaru Sato to win the promotion's World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Último Dragón on August 27, only to regain it on October 21. He lost the title to Atsushi Aoki on February 3, 2018. On July 15, Tajiri defeated Jun Akiyama to win the Gaora TV Championship. In August, Tajiri and Koji Iwamoto won the 2018 Jr. Tag Battle of Glory. From November 13 to December 11, Tajiri and Gianni Valletta took part in the World's Strongest Tag Determination League, finishing the tournament with a record of three wins and seven losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. On May 5, Tajiri defeated Kazuki Hashimoto to win the BJW Junior Heavyweight Champion, thus in the process becoming the only wrestler to both the original and current version of the title. On May 27, TAJIRI lost the Gaora TV Championship to Yoshitatsu. TAJIRI would lose the BJW Junior Heavyweight Champion on September 15 to Yuya Aoki. On June 26, 2021, TAJIRI along with Yusuke Kodama and Hokuto Omori defeated Takao Omori, Black Menso~re and Carbell Ito to win the AJPW TV 6-Man Tag Team Championship. On July 22, they lost the titles to Yoshitatsu, Seigo Tachibana and Carbell Ito.
Professional wrestling persona and style
Originally TAJIRI performed as a face, without much ring character as such on display, until joining ECW where he adopted his heel "Japanese Buzzsaw" ring character. As the "Japanese Buzzsaw" TAJIRI began to display a more ruthless, deranged persona, focusing more on inflicting pain on his opponents than winning matches, which included creating the Tarantula submission hold. The Tarantula is a Rope-hung Boston crab, where TAJIRI himself is hung upside down over the top rope as he applies the hold. Since the move involves the use of the ring ropes, it is technically an illegal hold, and must be broken before a referee's count of 5 or risk disqualification. Since a submission from this position is not valid, it is a symbol of the "Sadism" that his "Japanese Buzzsaw" character displays. When Tajiri transitioned to the heel character in 1998 he began wearing baggy pants, using the heavy pants to hide just how much contact his foot actually has with an opponent's chest when Tajiri performs a "Buzzsaw Kick" (a high-speed roundhouse kick to the head) on an opponent that often finishes his matches. As part of the deranged Buzzsaw persona, Tajiri began using "Asian mist" during his matches, spraying a mist of water and green food coloring in the face of an opponent who sells the mist as being blinding. The mist was one of the signature moves of the Great Muta, TAJIRI's wrestling inspiration and adopted by Tajiri in the late 1990s and has been a trademark move ever since. When working as a heel the mist usually draws a strong negative reaction, but when he's a face it draws a positive reaction from the crowd when he uses it as payback on a heel during a match. During his partnership with William Regal, the face TAJIRI portrayed a more comedic version of the Buzzsaw character, often either disgusting or disturbing Regal with his antics.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Entrance themes
- "Asiattacker / Green Mist" by Jim Johnston (NJPW/Hustle/Smash/WNC/Independent Circuit)
- Hiroki Murase
- Jiro Kuroshio
- Josh O'Brien
- Kaho Kobayashi
- Koharu Hinata
- Koji Doi
- Lin Byron
- Masaya Takahashi
- Minoru Fujita
- Mitoshichi Shinose
- Rionne Fujiwara
- Yoshihiro Horaguchi
- Yusuke Kodama
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Big Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #23 of the 500 best singles wrestlers of the PWI 500 in 2002
- Tokyo Sports
- Wrestling New Classic
- WNC Championship (1 time)
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- SMASH profile (in Japanese). SMASH. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved on 2011-10-28.
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- Results New Japan, 12/5/09 & first 1/4 matches announced! . Strong Style Spirit (2009-12-05). Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
- Goto challenges Sugiura, TAJIRI targets Aogi-gun, Hogan in NJ rumours . Strong Style Spirit (2009-12-08). Retrieved on 2010-01-24.
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- March lineups, Yujiro name change, RISE & Legend dead, new rookie, more! . Strong Style Spirit (2010-02-15). Retrieved on 2010-02-19.
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