Último Dragón in December 2013
|Birth name||Yoshihiro Asai|
December 12, 1966 |
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||The Tiger II
|Billed height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Billed weight||84 kg (185 lb)|
|Billed from||Mexico City, Mexico|
|Trained by||Gran Hamada|
|Debut||May 13, 1987|
Yoshihiro Asai (浅井 嘉浩 Asai Yoshihiro?, born December 12, 1966) is a Japanese professional wrestler and actor, better known as Último Dragón (ウルティモ ドラゴン Urutimo Doragon?). In addition to having trained in Japan, Asai learned to wrestle in the lucha libre style while working in Mexico. He is credited with popularizing the "Asai Moonsault".
Asai holds a record as the professional wrestler with the most concurrent championships. On October 11, 1996, he won the J-Crown, a unification of eight junior (lightweight) division titles from various international promotions. At the time, he already held the NWA Middleweight championship; during this reign he also became the WCW World Cruiserweight champion, making him the most decorated wrestler in recorded history.[note 1] From December 29, 1996 through January 4, 1997 he was the active reigning and defending champion of ten titles, a record which still stands.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 2 Movie career
- 3 In wrestling
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Professional wrestling career
The name "Ultimo Dragon", which means "Last Dragon" in Spanish was initially used as a gimmick of Asai claiming to be the last student taught by legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, whose nickname was "The Dragon". The gimmick was later forgotten, but the name remained.
Early years (1987–1996)
Asai graduated from the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo in 1987, but left the promotion after he struggled to battle his way up towards mid-card status. He moved to Mexico where he joined the Universal Wrestling Association and subsequently won the UWA World Welterweight Championship in 1988. In March 1990, he joined the Universal Wrestling Federation in Japan. He also competed in the Universal Lucha Libre promotion founded by his mentor Gran Hamada.
In 1991, he signed with the Mexican Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) promotion where he first adopted the Ultimo Dragon mask and persona. During the same period, Asai also signed with the Japanese WAR promotion, and due to co-promoting, he was able to wrestle for NJPW. In Japan, he became IWGP Junior heavyweight champion twice, and in Mexico, he held various titles. In later years, he wrestled for Asistencia Asesoría y Administración.
World Championship Wrestling (1996–1998)
Asai made his American debut for the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion in 1996 initially under the translated name The Ultimate Dragon. He was referred to by this name for several months in WCW until they reverted to using his Spanish ring name. He quickly was pushed into the lime-light of the WCW Cruiserweight division with Sonny Onoo as his manager. He was instantly a heel based upon the fact he was Japanese and Sonny Onoo was his manager. He made his WCW pay-per view debut in 1996's Hog Wild against Rey Misterio Jr. for the WCW World Cruiserweight title but lost. He got back the win at WCW World War 3 when he returned to WCW as the J-Crown champion. He then feuded with Dean Malenko for the WCW World Cruiserweight title which he won at Starrcade 1996.
Dragon later dropped the World Cruiserweight title back to Malenko but his stock was rising as he won the WCW Television title from Prince Iaukea but lost it to Steven Regal. He then turned face by dropping Onoo as his manager and won back the Television title from Regal before losing to Alex Wright at the last Clash of the Champions. He would then win the WCW World Cruiserweight title one last time from Eddie Guerrero, before losing the title on the first WCW Thunder to Juventud Guerrera. He then suffered an arm injury in 1998 that required surgery. The operation was botched, causing nerve damage. It was thought that this would force an end of his career and he announced his retirement.
In 1997, Asai then became a trainer where he trained three classes of students, "Toryumon Japan", "Toryumon 2000 Project" (T2P), and "Toryumon X". His first class of students which included Don Fuji, Dragon Kid, Magnum TOKYO, CIMA and SUWA worked for WCW early in their career. In 1998, Asai began co-promoting Grupo Internacional Revolución (IWRG) based out of Mexico, where he trained several of the top young wrestlers. In 1999, a promotion named Toryumon opened, with the vast majority of the roster having been trained by Asai. Toryumon was later renamed Dragon Gate, and Asai parted ways with the promotion. He continued to train students at his gym.
In 2002, Asai underwent another surgery to repair the damage done to his arm in hopes of returning to wrestling. In late 2002 Ultimo Dragon was in talks with World Wrestling Entertainment for another shot at a United States run. To get back into ring shape he returned to action for his T2P and Toryumon Mexico promotions. On November 26, he teamed with former WCW wrestlers Norman Smiley and Perry Saturn in a win against Masaaki Mochizuki, Keni'chiro Arai and Toru Owashi for T2P. On December 7 he teamed with Mochizuki and Dragon Kid in a win over the team of Bestia Salvaje, Scorpio Jr. and El Duende for Toryumon Mexico.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2003–2004)
In the spring of 2003, he signed with World Wrestling Entertainment as the Último Dragón, seeking to realize his two lifelong goals of competing in Madison Square Garden and performing at WrestleMania. He was brought in on the heels of the signing of Rey Mysterio on the belief that he would make as big of an impact as Mysterio did upon his WWE debut. Asai made his WWE debut in dark match victories against Rico, Crash Holly and Shannon Moore as they debuted a series of video packages hyping the debut of Dragon on SmackDown!. He made his WWE television debut at Madison Square Garden on the June 26, 2003 episode of SmackDown! in a match with Shannon Moore, where he debuted his finisher, the Asai DDT (a standing shiranui) to the American wrestling audience.
Throughout the summer he competed in a tournament for the WWE United States Championship beating Jamie Noble but losing to eventual winner, Eddie Guerrero. He quickly rebounded by beating Kanyon in a WWE Heat match taped before Vengeance. He then wrestled on WWE Velocity for the next few weeks, leading to a match with Rey Mysterio on SmackDown. Dragon won the match only after Tajiri interfered and showed respect to Dragon due to their Japanese heritage. The next week Dragon teamed with Mysterio to take on Tajiri and Nunzio. After this match, he was not seen on SmackDown! for several months until the build for the Cruiserweight Open at WrestleMania XX. At the event, Dragon participated in the Open. Dragon's WrestleMania resulted in one of WrestleMania's most famous blunders, tripping as he entered the arena from the backstage area. The trip was edited out of the WrestleMania XX DVD. After the open, he faced Chavo Guerrero and Nunzio in his last WWE matches. His contract expired in 2004.
Return to Japan and Mexico (2004–present)
Since leaving WWE, Asai quickly picked up a New Japan tour in May 2004. He has occasionally wrestled for the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. He also took part in the short lived Japanese independent promotion Dragondoor, ran by one of his students Noriaki Kawabata using mostly T2P and Toryumon X graduates. He would wrestle in matches against Último Guerrero and various other stars who wrestled in Mexico or Japanese based lucha libre promotions. Since the fall of Dragondoor he went back to Mexico to run another class of the Toryumon school, which has led to some standouts in Hajime Ohara, Kazuchika Okada, and Pequeño Ninja. The rest of the Toryumon students along with Asai joined the Tatsumi Fujinami promoted Dradition promotion in Japan. In 2006, Asai began promoting the annual "Toryumon Mexico: Dragon Mania" wrestling show. He also wrestled at UWA Hardcore Wrestling based outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has wrestled against Sonjay Dutt, M-Dogg 20, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Black Tiger all in the UWA. Since then he has been working in Japan for various independent promotions such as Pro Wrestling KAGEKI, and Michinoku Pro. He has also been to Mexico as well as in Spain, working for Nu Wrestling Evolution. In December 15, 2013, Dragón defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru to win All Japan Pro Wrestling's World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Atsushi Aoki on May 29, 2014.
On August 30 and 31, 2014, Dragón participated in a show in Pyongyang, North Korea promoted by the Inoki Genome Federation. He defeated Hajime Ohara on the first day and Heddi French on the second in singles matches.
Ultimo Dragon starred in two films in 2008. The first was Bloodstained Memoirs, also starring Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley and Keiji Mutoh. Ultimo Dragon's scenes were filmed in the UK and Italy. The other was Ultimo Dragon, an heroic martial arts story.
- Finishing moves
- Asai DDT (Standing shiranui) – Innovated
- Cancún Tornado (Corkscrew moonsault)
- Dragon Bomb (Running sitout powerbomb, sometimes while slingshotting) – Innovated
- Dragon sleeper
- Dragonsteiner (with the opponent seated on the top turnbuckle, Dragon stands behind the opponent, twists around and performs a frankensteiner) – Innovated
- Signature moves
- Asai Moonsault (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent outside of the ring) – Innovated
- Atlantinda Backbreaker Drop (Spinning kneeling Argentine backbreaker drop)
- Diving crossbody
- Dragon Combo (Quick combination of shoot kicks to the legs and chest followed by a jumping rolling sole butt)
- Dragon screw
- Dragon Swing (Giant swing)
- Jumping kneeling reverse piledriver
- La Magistral (Arm wrench inside cradle)
- Multiple arm drag variations
- Multiple hurricanrana variations
- Multiple suplex variations
- Springboard moonsault press
- Tiger feint kick
- "The International Superstar"
Championships and accomplishments
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Comision de Box y Lucha D.F.
- International Wrestling Revolution Group
- Michinoku Pro Wrestling
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- J-Crown (1 time)
- British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Welterweight Championship (2 times)
- UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship (1 times)
- WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Toryumon Mexico
- Differ Cup: (2003) – with Yossino
- NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship (2 time, current)
- Yamaha Cup: (2008) – with Yutaka Yoshie
- Yamaha Cup: (2012) – with Angélico
- Suzuki Cup (2007) – with Kensuke Sasaki and Marco Corleone
- Suzuki Cup (2008) – with Alex Koslov and Marco Corleone
- Universal Wrestling Association
- World Championship Wrestling
- Wrestle And Romance / Wrestle Association R
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards
- Asai also became a co-holder of the WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Championship in October 1996, but it was retired that same day and was thus never defended by him
- "Ultimo Dragon". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- Molinaro, John (October 28, 1999). "A Quiet End for Ultimo Dragon". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
- Chatra, Mo (August 2003). "Enter the Dragon". Power Slam Magazine (Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD). pp. 24–25. 109.
- Japanese Superstars – Ultimo Dragon
- Chatra, Mo (March 2005). "Toryumon Uncovered". Power Slam Magazine (Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD). pp. 34–35. 116.
- SLAM! Wrestling – John Molinaro Chat
- "Ultimo Dragon slips at Wrestlemania falls trips classic". May 12, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
- Brett Mix (August 11, 2010). "Review: WWE Wrestlemania XX (20) DVD". WrestlingDVDNews.com. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
- "激動だった全日本の1年を斧爆弾で締めくくった大森が、新年一発目の三冠挑戦を表明！究極龍が悲願の世界Jr王座奪取！". Battle News (in Japanese). 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- "2014 スーパーパワーシリーズ 東京･後楽園ホール【最終戦】". All Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-05-29.
- "インターナショナル・プロレスリング・フェスティバルin平壌". Inoki Genome Federation (in Japanese). Retrieved 2015-03-22.
- "【3.22】 2015 ドリームパワーシリーズ 福岡大会". All Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
- Bloodstained Memoirs Official Site
- Ultimo Dragon Official Site
- "the 50 coolest manoeuvres of all time". WWE. 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
- "Finishing Moves List". Other Arena. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Sonny Onoo profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-09-10.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will. "Mexico: EMLL NWA World Middlweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 389–390. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 4th Edition 2006.
- "SuperLuchas staff (January 5, 2004). "Número Especial – Lo mejr de la lucha ilbre mexicana durante el 2003". Super Luchas (in Spanish). 40.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will. "Districto Federal Trios Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 393. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 4th Edition 2006.
- "Arena Listing – Arena Nacaualpan 1008". The Cubsfan. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will. "Japan: J-Crown Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 375. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 4th Edition 2006.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will. "Japan: NJWP IWGP Junior Heayweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 373–374. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 4th Edition 2006.
- 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Ultimo Dragón y Angélico Ganadores de la Copa Toyota". The Gladiatores (in Spanish). March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- "Suzuki Cup 2007".
- "Suzuki Cup 2008".
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Mexico: UWA Middleweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 399. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Mexico: UWA Welterweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 400. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "WCW World Cruiserweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 20. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "NWA / WCW World Television Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: WAR International Junior Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 386. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Japan: WAR Wrestle and Romance / Wrestling Association R World Six-Man Tag Team Title (Genichiro Tentryu)". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 385–386. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.