Taiji Ishimori (石森太二 Ishimori Taiji, born February 10, 1983) is a Japanese professional wrestler currently working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a current three-times IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion while also being a former two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and a former one-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion.
His best known for his work in Pro Wrestling NOAH, where he is a former six-times GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion where he holds the record for most reigns, and also a former three-time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion and also holds the record of being the longest-reigning champion in its first reign and the winner of 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Nippon TV/NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League. Through NOAH's working relationship with Impact Wrestling, he is a former one-time Impact X Division Champion.
Ishimori was originally trained by Ultimo Dragon's Toryumon Gym being part of its third class and he was assigned to the Toryumon X brand. Ishimori was pushed to be the ace (the top student) of his graduating class of Toryumon X, but he became one of Toryumon's bigger failures. After the closing of Toryumon X, he was as hired by DragonDoor a company created with the approval of Toryumon by unhappy wrestlers with Dragon Gate, and eventually he was pushed to be the main face of the promotion. However, the promotion closed the following year and he was hired by its successor El Dorado Wrestling, again being pushed as the main face of the promotion but shortly after, during the establishment of the roles of face and heel in El Dorado, Ishimori publicly renounced his status of ace leaving the promotion to sign with NOAH.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Toryumon (2002-2004)
- 1.2 HUSTLE (2004-2005)
- 1.3 New Japan Pro Wrestling (2004–2005, 2016)
- 1.4 DragonDoor (2005-2006)
- 1.5 All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005-2006)
- 1.6 El Dorado Wrestling (2006)
- 1.7 Pro Wrestling NOAH (2006-2018)
- 1.8 Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (2006-2007, 2010, 2015-2016)
- 1.9 Global Force Wrestling / Impact Wrestling (2017–2018)
- 1.10 Second return to NJPW (2018–present)
- 2 In wrestling
- 3 Championships and accomplishments
- 4 Luchas de Apuestas record
- 5 References
Professional wrestling career
A former judoka and amateur wrestler, Taiji Ishimori was trained in Toryumon Mexico and debuted against Fumiyuki Hashimoto in 2002. He went to compete in the Young Dragons Cup and won after beating Jun Ogawauchi, Henry III Sugawara, and lastly Condotti Shuji. Shortly after, he was given a pop idol gimmick and formed a boy band-like faction with Kei and Shu Sato, calling themselves the Sailor Boys. Ishimori was intended to become the "ace" (the top student) of his graduating class, even going so far as to release an album, "Keep in Journey", to support their gimmick. However, the fan interest never matched his hype, and Ishimori became one of Toryumon's bigger failures. Sailor Boys' rival faction, Los Salseros Japoneses (Takeshi Minamino, Pineapple Hanai, and Mango Fukuda) was in turn more successful with the fans. While in the Toryumon X brand, Sailor Boys also feuded with Mini Crazy MAX (Mini CIMA, SUWAcito, and Small Dandy Fujii), defeating them in X's debut show.
Unlike the rest of his class, Taiji did his Japanese debut for All Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle-1 project. Returning to Mexico, he won the UWA World Welterweight Championship on May 11, 2003, defeating Super Crazy to win the belt. Ishimori defended the UWA World Welterweight Championship two times, against Fuerza Guerrera on August 31, 2003, and against YOSSINO on December 7, 2003. He dropped the UWA championship to Takeshi Minamino on August 29, 2004. He tried to regain the title in the Dragon Fire The Final Challenge event, but it was unsuccessful. Also, at the last Toryumon X show, Sailor Boys challenged Gedo, Jado, and Katsushi Takemura for the UWA World Trios Championship, but they were defeated.
Like the rest of Toryumon X's wrestlers, Ishimori made some appearances in HUSTLE under various masked characters, almost always as an opponent of HUSTLE Kamen Rangers.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2004–2005, 2016)
Following the title loss, Ishimori began working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as one of their "Young Lions" prospects. Very early in his NJPW run, he was teamed up with Hiroshi Tanahashi for a one night U-30 (Under 30) tag team tournament. In the first round, the team defeated Blue Wolf and Katsuhiko Nakajima and in the finals, they defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Shinsuke Nakamura to win the tournament. At one point he teamed up with his mentor Ultimo Dragon for an unsuccessful shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, held by Gedo and Jado at the time. By mid-2005 Taiji Ishimori had left NJPW and begun working for All Japan Pro Wrestling.
On July 20, 2016, Ishimori returned to NJPW to take part in 2016 Super J-Cup tournament. However he was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by Kushida. After winning the NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League with ACH, Ishimori and ACH challenged for GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the team of Daisuke Harada and Atsushi Kotoge at Super J-Cup Final event on August 21, where the champions retained the title.
On October 21 at Road to Power Struggle event, Ishimori and ACH entered the 2016 Super Junior Tag Tournament. They advanced to the next round after defeating the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, The Young Bucks in the first round. After defeating David Finlay and Ricochet in the semifinals on October 30, Ishimori and ACH were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) on November 5.
In mid-2005, Ishimori was hired by DragonDoor a company created with the approval of Toryumon by unhappy wrestlers with Dragon Gate. As in Toryumon X, Taiji was chosen as the main face of the promotion, leading a group formed by Kota Ibushi, Little Dragon, Milanito Collection at and Venezia to oppose the group heel Aagan Iisou Shuji Kondo, "brother" YASSHI, Takuya Sugawara, Toru Owashi and Shogo Takagi). However, again as in Toryumon, Ishimori was not able to connect with the fans, and on the contrary, it was Aagan Iisou who got all the support of the public. After participating with Ibushi in the Aquamarine Cup Tag Tournament unsuccessfully, Ishimori turned his attention to KAGETORA and his group STONED (Kei Sato, Shu Sato, and Manjimaru), who had attacked Ishimori and Dragon in a match. However, due to the disruption of the company's sponsorship, Dragondoor closed soon after all wrestlers were released from their contracts.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005-2006)
In August 2005, Ishimori debuted in AJPW teaming with Keiji Mutoh. They, along with Kaz Hayashi, Satoshi Kojima, and other face wrestlers, feuded with the villainous Voodoo Murders group. Ishimori also started teaming with another former NJPW rookie, Katsuhiko Nakajima, eventually taking part in the AJPW 2006 Junior Tag League. Together they defeated Kikujiro (Nobutaka Araya) & Kikutaro and Akira & Ryuji Hijikata, but they passed without achieving much success. Ended the league, Ishimori left All Japan.
El Dorado Wrestling (2006)
In April 2006, Ishimori became part of El Dorado Wrestling, the new incarnation of DragonDoor. Ishimori, was the leader of the same group in which DragonDoor happened to be with El Blazer and Venezia was replaced by Jumping Kid Okimoto and fought against Aagan Iisou and STONED during the first events of the company, but shortly after, during the establishment of the roles of face and heel in El Dorado, Ishimori publicly renounced his status of ace and stopped appearing in the company to wrestle in Pro Wrestling NOAH. Despite losing his leader, Ishimori's group went ahead without him until the next season of promotion.
Pro Wrestling NOAH (2006-2018)
Teaming with KENTA and Ricky Marvin (2006-2008)
Ishimori began working as a freelance wrestler for Pro Wrestling NOAH in March 2006 and often worked as part of the "SEM" promotion that was considered the "Training Ground" for Noah wrestlers. He began teaming up with KENTA, wrestling on many shows together, trying to earn a match for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. The team failed to win the title on their initial chance. Due to being trained in Mexico Ishimori often wrestled against Mexican Luchadores who toured with Noah, facing such opponents as Charly Manson or Abismo Negro. He also wrestled on the NOAH / Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) co-promoted show TripleSEM on September 3, 2007, teaming with El Elegido and KENTA to lose to the Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Lider, and Juventud Guerrera). In 2007 Ishimori became a full-time NOAH wrestler and shortly after Ishimori and Kenta won the Tag Champions. The team went to Dragon Gate and defeated the team of BxB Hulk and Shingo Takagi on March 20, 2008. to bring the Noah Junior Heavyweight Tag Title back to Noah. Ishimori and Kenta successfully defended the title against Ricky Marvin and Kotaro Suzuki and also the team of Bryan Danielson and Eddie Edwards from Ring of Honor. On July 13, 2008, Ishimori and Kenta were defeated by Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Kotaro Suzuki and lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. In September 2008, the team won the 2008 Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League, with 12 points for 6 victories including defeating the reigning GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag team champions in the last match. In 2009 Ishimori began teaming regularly with Ricky Marvin, chasing after the Junior tag team titles. In early 2010 the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag title became vacant when Kotaro Suzuki suffered a knee injury. Ishimori and Marvin teamed up for a tournament to determine the next champions. They defeated Bobby Fish and Eddie Edwards in the first round and Genba Hirayanagi and Yoshinbou Kanemaru in the finals to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On August 22 Ishimori and Marvin lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to New Japan Pro Wrestling representatives Koji Kanemoto and Tiger Mask IV.
Junior Heavyweight Championships success (2013-2018)
On January 27, 2013, Ishimori defeated Shuji Kondo to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Through Noah's working relationship with Ring of Honor, Ishimori made his debut for the promotion on May 4, 2013, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, facing Eddie Edwards in a losing effort. During the following day's tapings of Ring of Honor Wrestling, Ishimori defeated Roderick Strong in a singles match. After a 405-day reign, the longest in the title's history, Ishimori lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Daisuke Harada on March 8, 2014. He won the title for the second time on December 23, 2015, by defeating Taichi. Ishimori lost the title to Taichi's Suzuki-gun's stablemate Yoshinobu Kanemaru on February 24.
On July 5, 2016, Ishimori defeated Yoshinari Ogawa in a four-man tournament final to win one of Noah's three spots in NJPW's 2016 Super J-Cup. In this same month, Ishimori took part in the 2016 NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League with his partner being American wrestler ACH. The pair won the tag league defeating Hajime Ohara and Kenoh for a spot in the final match then defeating Momo no Seishun (Daisuke Harada and Atsushi Kotoge), at the time the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship holders, in the final match. Their title match against Momo no Seishun was held on the final of the 2016 Super J-Cup and they were defeated.
Upon Atsushi Kotoge's vacation of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship, Ishimori faced Hajime Ohara for the vacant title on January 7, 2017, Noah's first show of the year. Ishimori lost the match to Ohara. Following a victory over Hi69 on January 9, the two agreed to form a tag team and made their interest in the newly vacant GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship known. The team squared off with the team of HAYATA and YO-HEY on February 18 for the vacated titles and defeated them to become the thirtieth champions. Following the win, the pair dubbed their team "XX" and accepted the challenge of their first challengers Daisuke Harada and Tadasuke for the March 12 'Great Voyage in Yokohama' show where they won. On March 25 XX teamed up with Hitoshi Kumano and the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion Hajime Ohara to face RATEL'S in a two out of three falls eight-man tag team match. During the final moments of the match, Kumano and Ohara had miss communication with XX which lead them to lose the match. After the match, Kumano and Ohara attacked Ishimori and challenged them for their titles. On April 22 XX defeated Back Breakers (Ohara and Kumano) to make their second successful defense of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. On May 27 Ishimori challenged HAYATA into a GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship title match. On June 25 Ishimori defeated HAYATA to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for the third time, becoming a double crown champion in the process. On August 26 Ishimori and Hi69 lost the titles to HAYATA and YO-HEY. On October 1 Ishimori lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Daisuke Harada. On January 27, 2018, Ishimori and Hi69 won the titles back from HAYATA and YO-HEY, only to lose it to Minoru Tanaka and Yoshinari Ogawa on March 11. This led the two splitting up after losing the titles. Afterwards, it was reported that he would leave NOAH, stating that he wanted "a new stage for his career" and wanted to compete on the international wrestling scene. One of the reasons that Ishimori left NOAH, was because of losing the title to Yoshinari Ogawa.
Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (2006-2007, 2010, 2015-2016)
Through NOAH's working relationship with AAA in Mexico Ishimori sometimes travels to Mexico, wrestling for AAA. This began in 2006 when he traveled to Mexico to team up with El Oriental and Naomichi Marufuji to defeat The Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Lider, and Juventud Guerrera). Subsequently, he appeared on AAA's 2007 Rey de Reyes event, teaming with El Alebrije, El Zorro, and Brazo de Plata to defeat Los Vipers Revolusion (Antifaz, Histeria, Mr. Niebla and Kaoma, Jr.). On March 19, 2010, Ishimori teamed up with Takeshi Morishima to defeat La Hermandad 187 ("The Brotherhood of 187"; Nicho el Millonario and Joe Lider) to win the AAA World Tag Team Championship, representing the AAA heel ("bad guy") faction La Legión Extranjera ("The Foreign Legion"). On May 23, 2010, Morishima and Ishimori lost the AAA World Tag Team Championship to the team of Atsushi Aoki and Go Shiozaki during Pro Wrestling NOAH's NOAH Navigation With Breeze - Day 1 show in Niigata, Niigata, Japan.
Ishimori returned to AAA on May 24, 2015, when he, Atsushi Kotoge, and Yoshihiro Takayama represented Pro Wrestling Noah in the Lucha Libre World Cup. They were, however, defeated in the first round of the tournament by the Dream Team (Myzteziz, El Patrón Alberto, and Rey Mysterio Jr.).
In early June 2016, Ishimori again represented Noah in the 2016 Lucha Libre World Cup. Team Noah, made up of Ishimori, Maybach Taniguchi, and Naomichi Marufuji, finished fourth in the tournament. In October 2017, Ishimori returned the following year representing Noah in the 2017 Lucha Libre World Cup. Team Japan Noah, made up of Ishimori and Hi69 made into the finals losing to Pagano and Psycho Clown.
Global Force Wrestling / Impact Wrestling (2017–2018)
Through a working relationship between Noah and Global Force Wrestling (GFW), Ishimori made his debut for the American promotion on July 2, 2017, at Slammiversary XV. Teaming with fellow Noah wrestler Naomichi Marufuji, he took part in a four-way tag team match, contested for both the GFW Tag Team Championship and the Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championship, which was won by The Latin American Xchange (Santana and Ortiz). Ishimori also took part in the following week's GFW Impact! tapings, where he entered the 2017 Super X Cup, making it all the way to the finals, before losing to Dezmond Xavier on August 17.
Ishimori returned to GFW, now known as Impact Wrestling, on November 5, 2017, at Bound for Glory, where he defeated Tyson Dux to earn a future shot at the Impact X Division Championship. Four days later, Ishimori defeated Trevor Lee to win the Impact X Division Championship for the first time. He lost the title to Matt Sydal on March 8, 2018, at Cross Roads, where Sydal's Impact Grand Championship was also on the line.
Second return to NJPW (2018–present)
On April 13, 2018, NJPW began promoting the return of Bone Soldier, a wrestler last seen in the promotion in January 2017. On May 4 at Wrestling Dontaku 2018, Ishimori returned to NJPW revealing himself as the new Bone Soldier and in the process joined Bullet Club by attacking IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay. On May 7, NJPW announced Ishimori as a participant in the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. In the opening match of the Best of the Super Juniors, he defeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay. He won his block with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On June 4, Ishimori was defeated in the finals by Hiromu Takahashi. Ishimori made his return to NJPW on August 12 as a member of the Bullet Club OG part of the Bullet Club Civil War storyline, teaming with Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa in a winning effort against their Bullet Club Elite stablemates Marty Scurll and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) to win the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.
In October, Ishimori and the newest member of Bullet Club OG Robbie Eagles took part in the Super Jr. Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of three wins and four losses, failing to advance to the finals of the tournament. During the tournament, Ishimori pinned IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA. On November 1, Ishimori was scheduled to compete on the November 1 show of the Road to Power Struggle, but he suffered a kayfabe ankle injury. Ishimori made his return on November 3, at Power Struggle, costing KUSHIDA a match against his Bullet Club OG stablemate and making his of challenging KUSHIDA for his title. On January 4 at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo Dome, Ishimori defeated KUSHIDA to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. They lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, and Toru Yano on January 30. Ishimori lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Dragon Lee in a three-way match involving Bandido on April 6 at G1 Supercard. On June 16, Ishimori and El Phantasmo defeated Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. From October 16 until November 1, Ishimori and Phantasmo took part in the 2019 Super Jr. Tag League, finishing the tournament with a record of five wins and two losses but failed to advance to the finals due to losing to Sho and Yoh in their head-to-head match.
On January 5, 2020, on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 in Tokyo Dome, Ishimori and Phantasmo lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship back to Sho and Yoh. From June 16 until July 2, Ishimori took part in the 2020 New Japan Cup, being eliminated from the tournament by Kazuchika Okada in the quarterfinals on July 2. On August 29, at Summer Struggle in Jingu, Ishimori defeated Hiromu Takahashi to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the second time. From November 15 until December 6, Ishimori took part in the 2020 Best of the Super Juniors, finishing the tournament with a record of seven wins and two losses, failling advance to the finals of the tournament, due to losing to El Desperado and Hiromu Takahashi in his head-to-head match.
On January 5, 2021, on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome, Ishimori lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship back to Hiromu Takahashi. Meanwhile, following Wrestle Kingdom 15, Ishimori and Phantasmo and the Guerrillas of Destiny entered a rivalry with Suzuki-gun over both stables tag team championships. This led to on January 23, Ishimori and Phantasmo defeating Suzuki-gun members El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the second time, before losing the titles back to them on February 25. On June 23, Ishimori and Phantasmo defeated Sho and Yoh to win back the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the thrid time.
- Finishing moves
- 450° splash
- Bloody Cross (Elevated single underhook single leg gutbuster) – 2018–present
- Bone Lock (Omoplata crossface) – 2018–present; parodied from Daniel Bryan
- Hermosillo (Double underhook piledriver)
- Revolución (Pumphandle sitout side powerslam, sometimes preceded by a fireman's carry)
- Superstar Elbow (Handspring backflip elbow drop) – 2002–2006, still used rarely
- Telaraña (Hammerlock cradle DDT)
- Inverted Bloody Cross (Lifting inverted single leg backbreaker) – 2020–present
- Signature moves
- Bicycle knee
- Cartwheel Death Valley bomb
- Cipher UTAKI (Reverse piledriver hold transitioned into a double knee facebreaker)
- Death Valley driver – adopted from Takeshi Minamino
- Flip DDT
- High-angle senton bomb
- Jumping double foot stomp to the shoulders of a standing opponent
- Jumping high knee
- Mexican Roll (Scoop powerslam transitioned into a modified reverse rolling prawn hold)
- Moonsault slam
- Multiple kick variations
- Drop, sometimes missile
- Handspring enzuigiri
- Springboard somersault drop
- Tiger feint
- Running front drop
- Multiple suplex variations
- Cobra clutch
- German, sometimes while sliding to an opponent hung from the second rope
- Pop-up folding powerbomb
- Reverse frankensteiner
- Running double knee strike to an opponent in the corner
- Running front flip piledriver
- Running hurricanrana
- Sakauchi (Crucifix driver)
- Shining wizard
- Slingshot leg drop to the back of the head of a downed opponent
- Springboard seated senton
- Standing moonsault
- Superstar 619 (Tiger feint hurricanrana)
- Superstar Quebrada (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent outside of the ring)
- With Hi69
- Double team finishing moves
- Aided snap swinging neckbreaker
- Double team finishing moves
- With ACH
- Double team finishing move
- Stereo 450° splash
- Double team finishing move
- "Bone Soldier"
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Impact Wrestling
- Impact X Division Championship (1 time)
- Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #204 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2011
- PWI ranked him #278 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016
- Pro Wrestling NOAH
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with KENTA (1), Ricky Marvin (1), Atsushi Kotoge (2) and Hi69 (2)
- Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League (2007, 2008) – with KENTA
- NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League (2012) – with Atsushi Kotoge
- NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League (2016) – with ACH
- Super J-Cup Qualifying Tournament A (2016)
Luchas de Apuestas record
|Winner (wager)||Loser (wager)||Location||Event||Date||Notes|
|Taiji Ishimori (hair and name)||Taichi (title)||Tokyo, Japan||Destiny 2015||December 23, 2015|
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