Yosuke Watanabe (渡辺陽介 Watanabe Yōsuke, born December 14, 1991 in Itabashi, Tokyo) is a Japanese professional wrestler currently working for the Dragon Gate professional wrestling promotion under the ring name Yosuke♥Santa Maria (ヨースケ♥サンタマリア Yōsuke♥Santa Maria). He is a former Open The Owarai  and Open The Brave Gate Champion.
Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]
Dragon Gate[edit | edit source]
Debut (2011–2013)[edit | edit source]
Watanabe trained for his professional wrestling career in the Japanese promotion Dragon Gate's wrestling school called "Dragon Gate Nex" and made his debut on January 26, 2011 at Dragon Gate Nex's Sanctuary.71 show in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, wrestling to a draw against his fellow trainee, and future stablemate, Eita Kobayashi. He later "graduated" to the main Dragon Gate shows as a low ranking rookie. On April 19, 2012, Watanabe would become the third incarnation of Super Shenlong, he would also form -akatsuki- along Chihiro Tominaga, Shingo Takagi and YAMATO. On May 6, -akatsuki- defeated Mad Blankey in an eight-man tag team match. Super Shenlong teamed up with Takagi and Yamato to participate in 2012's Summer Adventure Tag League with their only win going against Mad Blankey's Cyber Kong, Kzy and Mondai Ryu. On August 1 2013, -akatsuki- was forced to disband, after losing to Mad Blankey in a five-on-four tag team match. Also part of the stipulation, Super Shenlong was forced to unmask revealing his true identity. During the Summer Adventure Tag League, Naruki Doi turned on Masato Yoshino, meaning that Watanabe would fill Doi's spot in the tournament. Surprisingly, the team managed to defeat Don Fujii and Masaaki Mochizuki.
Millennials and Unifiliated (2014–2016)[edit | edit source]
No longer wanting to hide his true feelings, Watanabe joined the Millennials and renamed himself Yosuke♥Santa Maria, stating that she now used feminine pronouns. In keeping with the Millennials lucha libre style, Santa Maria is an exótico, man who fights in drag, incorporating dancing, feminine costumes and outrageous moves such as Sky♥Love and Zona Rosa. On February 22, 2014, Santa Maria debuted for Dragon Gate USA losing to Caleb Konley, the following night she defeated Ethan Page. On March 1, Santa Maria had her first championship match against Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!! for the Open The Brave Gate Championship, which she lost. On November 2, Santa Maria teamed with the unaffiliated "Mr. High Tension" Kotoka and Yuga Hayashi to defeat Don Fujii, Stalker Ichikawa, and Super Shisa, teasing their eventual joining. Four days later, the Millennials defeated Team Veteran Returns forcing them to disband, had the Millennials lost they would have been deported. On November 30, Santa Maria was pinned during a hair vs hair match. Santa Maria was forced into the chair for her haircut and despite her rampant protests, Fujii said that the rules were the rules and as such the show has to end with Maria having her head shaved. However, he had a change of heart after seeing how dejected Santa Maria was, and after offering to cut someone else's hair, decided to cut his own hair in an act he considered tanpatsushiki. Following Flamita vacating the Open the Brave Gate Championship, Santa Maria entered a tournament to crown a new winner but on January 1, 2015, she lost to Dr. Muscle in the first round. On February 4, Santa Maria defeated Jimmy Kanda and via fan support won the Open The Owarai Gate Championship, her first professional wrestling title. She lost the title to Akira Tozawa on March 29, 2015. On August 6, 2015, Millennials lost a three-way match and were as a result forced to disband. Despite this, Maria retained the gimmick. On March 5, 2016, Maria defeated Kotoka to win the Open The Brave Gate Championship.
Tribe Vanguard (2016–2019)[edit | edit source]
On May 28, Yosuke, along with BxB Hulk, YAMATO, and Kzy, formed a new unit named Tribe Vanguard. On June 19 VerserK attacked Yosuke Santa Maria and Lindaman made the save. On June 26 Lindaman claimed that he liked Maria and wanted to fight with and protect Maria. On July 24, Yosuke Santa Maria lost the Open The Brave Gate Championship to Eita at Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival. In mid to late 2016, Santa Maria began teaming with El Lindaman, with the duo beginning a kayfabe romance angle after Lindaman confessed that he liked Santa Maria and wanted "to fight with and protect her", the duo was officially named the Marilyns. After a poor showing in the 2016 Summer Adventure Tag League where the Marilyns tied for the last place in their block with just two points, Tribe Vanguard leader YAMATO declared that Lindaman would not be allowed to join their unit and Santa Maria slapped Lindaman, officially breaking up the Marilyns. In March Maria was announced to take part in a tournament to crown the new Open The Brave Gate Champion but ended up being eliminated in the semifinals by Lindaman. She would then in May take part in the King of Gate, finishing the tournament with a record of one win and four losses, failing to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.
In 2018, Maria was just only used on the mid-card, sometimes had championship matches, but it was rare and the last time she got a championship match was on May 6 at Dead or Alive unsuccessfully challenging Dragon Kid for the Open The Brave Gate Championship. Following the Dead or Alive, Maria took part in the King of Gate, finishing the tournament with a record of two wins and four losses, failing to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. On November 30, Maria suffered an injury during a match against Yasushi Kanda, a week later, it was revealed that Maria suffered an ankle injury and it would take two months of recovery. On March 16, Yosuke returned after 3 months, which later announced that she was returning to ring on April 10. On April 10, Maria made her return match with YAMATO, KAI and U-T against the returning Aagan Iisou (Shuji Kondo, "brother" YASSHI, Takuya Sugawara, Toru Owashi and Shogo Takagi) in a winning effort. In May, Maria took part in the 2019 King of Gate, finishing the tournament with a record of one win and four losses, failing to advance to the semifinals of the tournament. In July, Maria and Kagetora took part in the AJPW's 2019 Jr. Tag Battle of Glory, finishing the tournament with a record of three wins, one loss, and one draw, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On July 28, Maria and Kagetora were defeated by Hikaru Sato and Yusuke Okada in the finals of the tournament.
Dragon Gate Generation War (2019–2020)[edit | edit source]
In December 2019, after Tribe Vanguard was temporarily suspended, Maria the Dragon Gate stable in order to unite all Dragon Gate generation of wrestlers against Toryumon and R.E.D in a "Generation War". From May 15 until May 22, Maria took part in the 2020 King of Gate, losing in the second round to Diamante, eliminating him from the tournament. On December 27, after R.E.D forced Toryumon to disband, YAMATO decided to disband the Dragon Gate Generation stable, ending the "Generation War".
Factions[edit | edit source]
Character and reception[edit | edit source]
Watanabe's gimmick is that of an Exótico, or male wrestler performing in drag. In accordance with the gimmick, Watanabe has long, feminine like hair, and wears makeup and a skirt during matches. Watanabe is also exclusively referred to using feminine pronouns and considered a woman by the Dragon Gate roster. Since becoming Santa Maria in 2014, Watanabe's popularity has skyrocketed with fans, becoming one of the most popular acts in the company.
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- Neraiuchi (Crucifix driver)
- Signature moves (as Yosuke Santa Maria)
- Cartwheel transitioned into a headstand splash
- Frankensteiner, sometimes to an opponent seated on the top rope
- Hip attack
- Lovely Arrow (Sitout suplex slam)
- Lovely Rose (Running step-up plancha) – adopted from Anthony W. Mori
- Multiple kick variations
- Drop, sometimes while vaulting over an opponent
- Missile, sometimes while springboarding
- Spinning heel
- Japanese leg roll clutch
- Pompas (Seated senton)
- Sky Love (Jumping leg lariat)
- Triangle choke
- Zona Rosa (Cross-legged cradle pin)
- Signature moves (as Super Shenlong III)
- Diving leg drop
- Double springboard diving headscissors
- Standing moonsault
- "Chinese Hero" (as Super Shenlong III)
- "Onee Master"
- "The Former Third Generation Super Shenlong" (as Yosuke Watanabe)
- Entrance music
- "Santa Maria Walk" by Tsutomu Toya ft. Yuri Komuro
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
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- Open the Owarai Gate Championship . wrestling-titles. wrestling-titles. Retrieved on 2015-02-05.
- Gate of Passion 2012 results . IHeartDG. IHeartDG. Archived from the original on 2015-02-06. Retrieved on 2015-02-05.
- Summer Adventure Tag League 2012 . Cagematch. Cagematch. Retrieved on 2015-02-05.
- 新時代の扉が開いたドラゲーで、暁を解散に追い込んだMBが戸澤を追放！鷹木のDG初防衛戦の相手がYamatoに決定！ (in Japanese). Battle News (2013-08-02). Retrieved on 2013-08-01.
- 意地を見せた斎了を下したYamatoに、土井から裏切られた吉野が挑戦表明！ジミーズを下したミレニアルズはベテラン軍を指名！ (in Japanese). Battle News (2013-09-13). Retrieved on 2015-02-05.
- Gee Schoon Tong, Chris 2014-02-23. Radican's results - 2/22 DGUSA "Revolt!" in New York: Gargano defends DGUSA Title, Fox defends Evolve Title, former NFL player introduced, more . Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved on 2015-02-06.
- Gee Schoon Tong, Chris 2014-02-23. Show results - 2/23 DGUSA in New York: New Evolve champion, Gargano defends DGUSA Title, more . Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved on 2014-02-24.
- Kraetsch, Rich 2015-02-06. Dragon Gate "Gate of Destiny 2014" Review . Voices of Wrestling. Retrieved on 2015-02-06.
- Crown Gate 2014 results . IHeartDG. Archived from the original on 2015-02-06. Retrieved on 2015-02-06.
- 02/04 Truth Gate KickoffGate . iHeartDG (2015-02-06). Retrieved on 2015-02-06.
- Glorious Gate 2015 -最終戦- (in Japanese). Dragon Gate. Gaora. Retrieved on 2015-03-30.
- ja:ドラゴンゲート8.6後楽園大会 ミレニアルズvs.ジミーズvs.MBの敗戦ユニット解散サバイバルイリミネーション6人タッグ3Wayマッチ (in Japanese). Battle News (2015-08-07). Retrieved on 2015-08-07.
- 08/07 Gate of Generation Kickoff . IHeartDG (2015-08-07). Retrieved on 2015-08-13.