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The Ultimo Dragon

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Ultimo Dragon

Último Dragón
Ring name(s) Último Dragón
Ultimate Dragon
Yoshihiro Asai
Second Tiger
Saigon Dragon
Tiger Dragon
Billed height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Billed weight 104 kilograms (230 lb)
Born December 12, 1966 (age 46)  
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan[1]
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), better known as Último Dragón (ウルティモ ドラゴン?), is a Japaneseprofessional wrestler and actor.[1] 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. From December 29, 1996 through January 27, 1997 he was the active reigning and defending champion of ten titles, a record which still stands. Asai speaks Spanish fluently, and resided in Mexico for several years.

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 theUniversal 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.[3]

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 would wrestle for AAA.

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.[4] 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.

Toryumon (1997–2003)

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 includedDon Fuji, Dragon Kid, Magnum TOKYO, CIMA and SUWA worked for WCW early in their career.[6] In 1998, Asai began co-promoting Grupo Internacional Revolución (IWRG) based out of Mexico, where he trained several of the top young wrestlers.[7] In 1999, a promotion named Toryumon opened, with the vast majority of the roster having been trained by Asai.[6] 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 wrestlersNorman 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 atWrestleMania. 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 WWF 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 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. After the open, he faced Chavo Guerrero and Nunzio in his last WWE matches. His contract expired in 2004.

Back in 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 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.

Movie career

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.[9] The other was Ultimo Dragon, an heroic martial arts story.


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