Definitions

Francisco Pantoja Islas

Yoshihiro Tajiri

, is a Japanese professional wrestler, best known for his appearances in the United States with Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. He is currently competing in Hustle as Tajiri.

Career

Tajiri, trained in traditional Japanese style and lucha libre, debuted in the late 1980s wrestling primarily in IWA Japan and later for the Japanese division of Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. In 1997, he left CMLL and joined the hardcore wrestling promotion Big Japan Pro Wrestling in Tokyo. Tajiri also made a brief appearance on WWF Monday Night Raw in July 1997 (wrestling under the name Tajiri Yoshihiro) as the designated opponent for Taka Michinoku, whom the WWF was pushing as it's future Light Heavyweight Champion at the time. He also wrestled under the single name 'Tajiri' against Brian Christopher on Raw in October of the same year, then Taka again later in the month, with the graphic reading 'Tijari'.

Extreme Championship Wrestling

While wrestling in Mexico in late 1998, Tajiri was observed by Extreme Championship Wrestling owner Paul Heyman, who invited Tajiri to wrestle for ECW in the United States. He debuted in December 1998 by picking up a victory against Antifaz Del Norte. The match was well received by the fans in attendance at the ECW Arena, who gave many standing ovations during the match. In early 1999, Tajiri would soon begin to emulate The Great Muta, who was one of Tajiri's wrestling heroes growing up. While in ECW, Tajiri had long feuds with Super Crazy, Little Guido, and Jerry Lynn. He formed an alliance with Steve Corino and Jack Victory, as well. Tajiri later formed a tag team with Mikey Whipwreck known as The Unholy Alliance, and they were managed by The Sinister Minister. Tajiri remained loyal to ECW until the company folded in January 2001. Tajiri participated in the final two shows on January 12, where he picked up a victory over Super Crazy, and January 13 2001, where he lost to Super Crazy in their final ECW match.

During his tenure with the company, Tajiri held the ECW World Television Championship and ECW World Tag Team Championship. He defeated his rival Super Crazy for the TV title and won a one-night tournament with Mikey Whipwreck for the vacant tag titles.

World Wrestling Entertainment

Soon after the closure of ECW, Tajiri was hired by the World Wrestling Federation. Tajiri debuted on the May 24 2001 episode of SmackDown! as a face and was given the gimmick of WWF Commissioner William Regal's assistant. After Regal turned heel by joining The Alliance, Tajiri feuded with him throughout late-2001. In the same time period, he began an on-screen relationship with Torrie Wilson and defeated Chris Kanyon for the WCW United States Championship. He lost the belt to Rhyno soon afterwards at Unforgiven in September.

WWF was named World Wrestling Entertainment, and the roster was divided into two "brands": Raw and SmackDown!. Tajiri, along with Torrie Wilson, were drafted to SmackDown!. He turned heel by forcing Wilson to dress like a geisha against her will, with Wilson eventually abandoning him and joining forces with Tajiri's babyface rival, Maven. Later on Tajiri, as a special guest referee, would make his second face run by getting betrayed by Jamie Noble after Noble caught Tajiri touching his then girlfriend, then-heel, Nidia. Later, Tajiri turned heel again by turning on then-Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio after a Cruiserweight championship match. Tajiri spat green mist in Rey's face after Rey defeated him. He would continue this heel run by spitting black mist in Nidia's eyes. (Nidia and Noble were both faces during this time.) Noble and Tajiri started a new brief feud after Noble made his second heel run by secretly turning on Nidia, because she was kayfabe blind. Tajiri won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on two occasions in 2002 and 2003, and he formed a short-lived stable with Akio and Sakoda known as Kyo Dai'. Kyo Dai was originally supposed to have been played off as Japanese gangsters, but Tajiri refused this offer in fear that he might be hunted down by the real Japanese Yakuza if the gimmick was seen as an insult.

On December 2003, Tajiri released his autobiography Tajiri: The Japanese Buzzsaw in Japan. The book chronicles his wrestling career from the Mexican and Japanese circuits to ECW and WWF/WWE. Completely written in Japanese, it was the WWE's first book to be published in a foreign language.

In 2004 he had two chances to earn a WWE Title Shot. The first Chance was in the 2004 Royal Rumble, where the Winner would get a Championship Match at WrestleMania XX. His second Chance was a SmackDown! style Royal Rumble, where the Winner would get a Match for the WWE Championship against then Champion Brock Lesnar at No Way Out. But he lost once again after he was eliminated by the The Big Show. This Battle Royal was won by Eddie Guerrero who would succesfully defeat Brock Lesnar at the 2004 No Way Out Pay-per-view

Following WrestleMania, Tajiri was drafted to Raw, where he turned face once again and feuded with Eric Bischoff and Jonathan Coachman. Coachman also often dispatched Garrison Cade to face Tajiri on his behalf in the ring. He would also feud against the entire stable of Evolution for a good portion of 2004. During this time, he formed a tag team with Rhyno. This team dissolved quietly after a failed attempt at winning the Tag Team Championship from La Résistance at Unforgiven 2004.

On February 4 2005, Tajiri teamed with William Regal to defeat La Résistance for the World Tag Team Championship on an episode of Raw emanating from Japan. After successfully defending the titles against La Résistance on a number of occasions, Tajiri and Regal issued an open challenge to "any tag team in the world." On the following episode of Raw, they retained their titles in a match with the debuting Heart Throbs. Their reign ended on May 1 at Backlash 2005, when they were eliminated from a tag team turmoil match by La Résistance.

Tajiri lost a 3-Way Dance (that also featured Little Guido) to Super Crazy at ECW One Night Stand 2005 on June 12. In late-2005, Tajiri formed a short-lived tag team with Eugene. In December 2005, Tajiri left WWE. With his contract expiring on December 12, he decided he wanted to try to become a journalist and spend more time with his wife and family in Japan. His final televised WWE match was a loss to Gregory Helms on Heat, at the conclusion of which he received a standing ovation. Tajiri left WWE on very good terms and competed at WWE's ECW One Night Stand 2006, teaming with Super Crazy to take on the Full Blooded Italians (F.B.I.) in a losing effort.

Japan

Since parting ways with WWE, Tajiri resurfaced full-scale in his homeland, competing primarily for Hustle and All-Japan Pro Wrestling as Tajiri. 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.

Tajiri has been a notable contender in All-Japan Pro Wrestling throughout 2007, as he began a feud with AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Minoru Suzuki. The feud started on March 30 2007 at the final Champion Carnival 2007 event, following Tajiri's defeat over Suzuki via countout; Tajiri tied Suzuki's foot to the guard rail, and stole 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, which had Tajiri taunt Suzuki throughout the match. 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 recently teamed with The Great Muta to defeat Kohei Suwama & Scott Steiner.

On February 12, 2008, Tajiri made an appearance at a WWE tour stop in Tokyo, where he accompanied William Regal to the ring for a match against Ric Flair, which Regal lost. He has recently held talks with the WWE about returning as part of the ECW brand.

Tajiri appeared at the WWE WrestleMania Revenge Tours shows in England.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

1Won during the Invasion storyline.

References

External links

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