Nicknamed “The Japanese Buzzsaw” for his devastating kicks, TAJIRI is a 20-year veteran who has competed around the world, gaining fame and popularity in both Japan and the USA. One of countless wrestlers who have graduated from Animal Hamaguchi’s Gym, he started out in IWA Japan in 1989 and competed there for a few years before relocating to Mexico. He competed in CMLL from the mid-90s through 1997, when he left for a couple of WWF appearances. In 1998, TAJIRI was invited to compete in Paul Heyman’s ECW, which is where his career began to take off. 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. He 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 April 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, he 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.
After ECW folded in 2001, TAJIRI moved to WWF, where he competed until 2005. He started out as an “assistant” to Commissioner William Regal then feuded with him and also won the WCW US Championship. After the renaming of WWF to WWE and brand split in 2002, TAJIRI was assigned to Smackdown and underwent a heel turn by essentially taking control of popular diva Torrie Wilson. He turned back to face then heel a few times while also winning a couple more titles, including the WWE Tag Team Championship with Eddie Guerrero and 2 WWE Cruiserweight Championships. He released an autobiography in Japan in 2003. 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.
He was sent to Raw in 2004 and quietly engaged in faction warfare before teaming with Regal in 2005 to win the World Tag Team Championship in Japan. Their reign lasted just under 3 months. TAJIRI left WWE at the end of 2005. 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 then-heel, 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 pay-per-view, teaming with Super Crazy to take on the Full Blooded Italians (F.B.I.) in a losing effort.
After leaving WWE, TAJIRI returned to Japan and regularly appeared in both Hustle and All-Japan. In Hustle, he sided with the Hustle Army, the faces and good guys battling the heel Monster Army led by Toshiaki Kawada, but was hypnotized by Yinling and joined the Monster Army. In All-Japan he feuded with Minoru Suzuki, a rivalry that began at the 2007 Champions Carnival when TAJIRI beat Suzuki by countout and stole the Triple Crown from ringside, then held by Suzuki. The titles were returned about a month later when TAJIRI was given a title match with Suzuki, which TAJIRI lost. In 2008, TAJIRI made a couple more appearances for WWE, including when the promotion toured Japan and also making appearances in England. TAJIRI then shifted his focus to New Japan in 2009, moving there full-time when Hustle closed for good in October. He feuded with Hiroshi Tanahashi at first then the Blue Justice faction, culminating in pinning Yuji Nagata in a tag team match at Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2010. Nagata got revenge in a singles match on 2/14, which likely ended TAJIRI’s NJPW run.
TAJIRI has also been active on the business side as well, as he is one of the co-founders of SMASH, a new hybrid wrestling/MMA/kickboxing promotion he formed with fellow Hustle star Akira Shoji and others, that will debut in March 2010. TAJIRI will oversese the wrestling arm of the promotion as well as being a regular competitor in the promotion. He’ll revive one of his old ECW rivalries at the promotion’s debut, facing fellow ECW alum Tommy Dreamer in a singles match.
Stats & Info:
Real name: Yoshihiro Tajiri
Weight: 180 pounds/82 kg
Experience: 20 years
Finishing move: Buzzsaw Kick
Current affiliation: SMASH
Ring entrance theme: “Imperial City” by Jesus Mercedes
1-time Big Japan Jr. Heavyweight Champion
2-time Big Japan Tag Team Champion
1-time CZW World Heavyweight Champion
1-time CMLL World Light Heavyweight Champion (Not recognized by CMLL)
1-time ECW Tag Team Champion
1-time ECW TV Champion
1-time IWA Hardcore Champion
1-time WWE World Tag Team Champion
1-time WCW Cruiserweight Champion
1-time WCW US Champion
1-time WWE Tag Team Championship
3-time WWF/E Cruiserweight Champion
1-time WWF Light Heavyweight Champion
2001 Tokyo Sports Grand Prix Special Award
Ranked #23 In PWI 500 Best Singles Wrestlers Of PWI Years In 2002
Official website (Japanese):