Wrestler of the Day – August 1: Tajiri

Today is maybe my favorite ECW wrestler: Tajiri.

Tajiri got things started back in late 1993 so we’ll pick things up in IWA Japan on October 16, 1994.

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. El Gran Apache

They shake hands to start and we’re ready to go. Apache takes him down to the mat and does a headstand to escape a wristlock. They stay on the mat with Apache holding him in a leg lock. Armdrags don’t get Tajiri anywhere as he keeps getting thrown down. Instead a kick puts Apache down but he chops the skin off Tajiri’s chest. Tajiri goes to the corner for a wrist drag, only to get hiptossed back down.

Apache is just outclassing Tajiri right now. Both guys nip up and it’s Tajiri cranking on a headlock. Gran reverses into a headscissors before they speed things up again with Apache nailing a high cross body. Tajiri is sent outside and gets taken down by a big plancha. Back in and Tajiri escapes another armbar and nails a dropkick for two.

Apache easily fights out of a chinlock and hits a backsplash before punching Tajiri down in the corner. A suplex gets two for Gran but Tajiri comes back with some running dropkicks in the corner. Apache avoids a moonsault and grabs a bad looking reverse sunset flip (as in he starts like you usually would but falls back instead of going forward) for the pin.

Rating: C+. This was better than I was expecting and it worked really well. The problem here is Tajiri hasn’t figured out a character yet so he was just a guy in trunks doing what he could. Apache is a veteran who had forgotten more than Tajiri had ever learned at this point so it wasn’t much of a contest. Tajiri was trying though.

Tajiri would get a one off appearance in the WWF on Raw, April 22, 1996.

Godwinns vs. Tajiri/Ken Patterson

Tajiri, who looks to be about a foot and a half shorter, starts with Phineas. A cross body doesn’t work but Phineas misses an elbow drop. Henry and Patterson come in and here comes Sunny with the Tag Team Titles. Hillbilly Jim runs her off with his hound dog as Henry slams Patterson. Back to Phineas for some headbutts before Henry ends Ken with a Slop Drop.

Rating: D. This was a preview for Sunday’s title match when the Godwinns would challenge the Body Donnas. The match was nothing more than a squash with an angle involved, which isn’t the most interesting thing in the world. However it’s what Raw consisted of back in the day so you had to get used to it.

Back to Japan for the January 4, 1997 NJPW Dome Show.

Shinjiro Otani vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

Tajiri pulls his hand back on a handshake before kicking Otani in the face to start. More kicks in the corner have Otani in trouble and Tajiri stays on the arm. A German suplex gets two on Otani and Shinjiro is reeling. He comes back out of nowhere with a dropkick to the knee and Otani has a target. We hit a leg lock for a good bit until Tajiri crawls over to the ropes. Otani takes him into the corner for a facewash, followed by a spinning kick to the face.

They slap it out and both guys go down in a sudden fall. Otani is up first but misses a missile dropkick and gets caught in a German suplex for two. Tajiri throws him outside and nails an Asai moonsault to put both guys down. They head back inside and Otani counters a kick into a quickly broken ankle lock.

Tajiri rolls him around in a sunset flip for two and hooks a top rope hurricanrana for the same. A second hurricanrana is countered with a powerbomb, followed by a sitout powerbomb from Otani. He lets Tajiri up though and hits a springboard spinwheel kick (the same kind of kick that Tajiri hit him with at the beginning) for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was good stuff with both guys nailing each other. The fact that I have no idea what was going on here but I could figure out what kind of story they were telling is a very impressive thing. Tajiri disrespected the bigger star in Otani and the veteran wasn’t going to stand for it. Good stuff.

It’s off to ECW at this point with Tajiri starting around Guilty As Charged 1999.

Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Super Crazy

Both guys are new to the company. These two fought roughly 90,000 times and this is one of the first. Super Crazy is a high flying luchador and Tajiri is a hard striking wrestler from Japan. He’s clean shaven here but would eventually grow a beard and become one of ECW’s better workers. This is the kind of a match that ECW needed to fill out their pay per view cards and have exciting, non-hardcore matches. Feeling out process to start and Crazy won’t throw a closed fist. We get a very fast paced sequence with both guys taking the other to the mat for arm trap cradles for two each.

A tornado DDT drops Tajiri but he comes back with some very hard kicks to the head to take over. Back up and they trade chops to the chest before Tajiri kicks the knee out. Off to a leg bar on Crazy but he gets to the ropes and bails to the floor. That’s fine with Tajiri who nails a HUGE Asai moonsault. They fight to the apron and Tajiri hooks the Tarantula (a Boston crab over the ropes) but as always it doesn’t last long.

Crazy comes back with a springboard missile dropkick to send Tajiri to the floor followed by a HUGE flip dive to keep Crazy in control. A moonsault off the barricade crushes Tajiri before sending him back inside for a surfboard. Crazy keeps the hold on and bends Tajiri back into a dragon sleeper with the legs still bent back for a PAINFUL looking hold. Back up and Tajiri dropkicks the knee out and hits a huge dive to the floor (with Crazy nice enough to stand there with his arms open so Tajiri could hit him).

Tajiri slowly gets up first and kicks Crazy in the head. Back inside and a spinwheel kick to the face gets two for Tajiri but he comes back with a majistral cradle for two but Tajiri comes back with one of his own for the same. Crazy flips out of a German suplex attempt and hits a moonsault press for two. Tajiri heads outside again and another dive takes him down. Back in and a missile dropkick puts Tajiri down but he rolls through a tornado DDT.

Tajiri gets caught in a reverse tornado DDT but is able to counter a powerbomb into a DDT of his own. Tajiri blocks a moonsault by raising his boots before nailing a sunset bomb for two. Back up and Crazy hits a sitout powerbomb for another two so Tajiri does the same to him. As Crazy is kicking out though, Tajiri keeps his legs around Crazy’s arms and rolls him around the ring. They slug it out until Tajiri hooks a dragon suplex (full nelson suplex) for the pin.

Rating: B+. Yes it was a spot fest, but here’s the difference between this and the other spot fests that I’ve complained about so far: this was all them. There wasn’t a table and chair being brought in every five minutes and there weren’t a bunch of spots that had almost no effect at all. It was two guys doing whatever they could think of with just their bodies and the ring (plus the occasional barricade) to beat each other. Also it was only about twelve minutes instead of double that, meaning it didn’t overstay its welcome. This was very entertaining stuff and the best match ECW has had in awhile.

Another match from Hardcore Heaven 1999.

Little Guido vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

Guido comes to the ring sitting on Big Sal’s shoulders. Tajiri spits at Big Sal in some rare emotion before the bell. He’s back to hailing from Yokohoma, Japan. The now serious Guido catches an incoming kick and takes Tajiri to the mat for some ground and pound. He works on the leg but gets flipped over, allowing Tajiri to fire off kicks to the head. Guido comes back with some stomping in the corner and puts on a Fujiwara armbar.

A missile dropkick sends Tajiri out to the floor but he sidesteps a dive over the ropes. Tajiri dives onto the Italians and takes Guido down but Sal only loses his sunglasses. Back in and Guido loses half of his trunks when Tajiri grabs a sunset flip. The Tarantula has Guido in agony but Sal makes a save. Guido tries a headscissors but gets sent to the ramp. He comes back with a slingshot legdrop to drive Tajiri’s head onto the ramp, good for two back inside.

Back in and Tajiri gets caught in another Fujiwara armbar but lets it go and distracts the referee so Big Sal can powerslam Tajiri. We hit a keylock (arm hold) on Tajiri but he breaks it up with a low blow. Guido wins a chop off and gets two off a legdrop. A powerbomb gets the same but Tajiri counters the Boston crab. Dropkicks to the knees put Guido down but Tajiri can’t hook the dragon suplex. Instead he bends Guido over his back and spins him around before slapping the taste out of Guido’s mouth. Tajiri puts him in the Tree of Woe for a baseball slide before a kick to the head and brainbuster put Guido away.

Rating: C+. Tajiri got to show some personality this time and he was more interesting as a result. This was a solid match and again, it was different from the stuff that Tajiri and Crazy had been doing. It’s a good sign for the future as these guys are getting more and more developed every time they’re out there. Solid match.

Tajiri would turn heel around this time and get a World Title shot at Heat Wave 1999.

ECW World Title: Taz vs. Tajiri

Taz kicks Tajiri in the head as security comes to help Francine to the back. Tajiri comes back with the handspring elbow and a spinwheel kick sends Taz outside. A huge Asai moonsault over the top rope takes Taz down again. Back in and Taz counters the Tarantula with a whip spinebuster. Tajiri tries a sleeper but gets taken down in a belly to back Tazplex. There’s a head and arms Tazplex for good measure, drawing a shot at Perry Saturn at the same time.

Tajiri comes back with a hard kick to Taz’s weak neck but takes too much time going up, allowing Taz to super Tazplex him down. The hard kicks to the head stagger Taz and a low dropkick to the head gets a near fall. Some hard chops in the corner have Taz in more trouble but he shoves Tajiri off the top and onto Rhino on the ramp. Victory gets shoved down the ramp but pops to his feet, so Taz throws the wheelchair at his face.

Tajiri nails a superkick but runs into a sitout powerbomb on the ramp. Rhino has set up a table on the ramp against the ropes as Taz dares Tajiri to kick him. It’s a trap though as Taz catches a kick coming in and Tazplexes him through the table. Taz chases Corino to the back but Taz comes back with what looks like barbed wire. Joey says go to a wide shot so we can’t really see what Taz is doing. He strangles Tajiri with whatever he brought out and puts on the Tazmission until referees come out and ring the bell. Tajiri apparently tapped out on the ramp which is just as good as in the ring I suppose.

Rating: D+. This was another mess but it worked better than most of Taz’s recent matches. The idea of him having to fight off a whole team of guys worked well enough and even though Tajiri wasn’t going to get the title, he was a solid choice for a one off challenger. The money would seem to be in Corino but we’re likely to get more of that later. Rhino didn’t get physical at all here.

Tajiri would get another shot on the second episode of ECW on TNN on September 3, 1999.

ECW World Title: Taz vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

Taz is world champion but would be gone very soon. He would be in the WWF in January. Tajiri has Corino and Victory with him in his corner. You can barely understand the announcer. I think this is non-title. Taz pounds on him to start but walks into the handspring elbow.

Tajiri kicks him in the head and this is for the title. Ok then. Tajiri tries the Tarantula but gets countered into what we would call the Alabama Slam. Head and arms Tazplex and Taz spits in Tajiri’s face. They slug it out and Taz hooks a capture Tazplex to kill Tajiri. Taz hits the crossface shots but gets kicked in the head for two. Tajiri tries a big kick but Taz ducks and the Tazmission ends this quick.

Rating: C-. Nothing great here but the crowd LOVED Taz. That being said, he would lose the title at the PPV to Mike Awesome and would say goodbye to ECW. That’s not good because the Dudleys would be leaving really soon also. Tajiri is a guy I’ve been liking more and more lately as those kicks were SWEET.

Here’s a match that was done about a million times in ECW so I have to bring it up. From Anarchy Rulz 1999.

Little Guido vs. Super Crazy vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

This would become a staple of ECW shows for a long time. Tajiri doesn’t have anyone in his corner here. The fans are mostly behind Crazy, who now has Mexican flag inspired attire. Feeling out process to start until Crazy hits a top rope cross body on Guido for two. Tajiri kicks both of them down and goes after Crazy’s knee to take over. Guido gets sent to the ramp, allowing Tajiri to hook a headscissors on Crazy. Super comes back with a springboard missile dropkick but Guido comes in with a springboard cross body for of his own.

Guido and Tajiri make a short lived deal to work on Crazy but Tajiri quickly turns on Guido with a dropkick to the face. More kicks to the legs send Guido to the floor and Crazy puts him in the front row. Crazy dives over the barricade to take him down but Tajiri takes both of them down with a huge Asai moonsault. Sal is in the ring and crushes the non-Italians. Guido nails a middle rope Fameasser to Tajiri and covers Crazy for two.

Tajiri grabs a German suplex for two of his own on Guido before they both head to the floor again. Guido gets dropped ribs first onto the barricade and Tajiri takes him back into the crowd. This time it’s Crazy hitting a huge top rope Asai moonsault over the barricade to take both guys down again. Sal misses a charge and flies through a table to take him out for awhile. Back in and Tajiri puts Crazy in the Tarantula, leaving Crazy wide open for a hard dropkick to the face from Guido.

Crazy pops right back up and puts Tajiri in a surfboard with a dragon sleeper added in. He switches it up to a camel clutch and Guido adds on a Sicilian crab at the same time. Somehow Tajiri doesn’t give up so the hold is broken. Guido hits a quick Tomikaze for two on Crazy but Tajiri puts Guido in the Tree of Woe. A hard baseball slide to the face followed by a top rope moonsault from Crazy is enough to eliminate Guido.

It’s down to Tajiri vs. Crazy as soon as the referee is able to roll the unconscious Guido to the floor. Crazy kicks him down and nails a springboard moonsault for two before hammering away in the corner. The fans are nice enough to count to ten in Spanish as he fires in the right hands.

Tajiri comes right back with the handspring elbow, only to have Crazy nail a quick sitout powerbomb. The fans chant Super Loco but Tajiri counters another powerbomb into a spinning DDT. Crazy is back up first though and nails a reverse tornado DDT for no cover. Instead he loads up the three moonsaults but Tajiri gets his knees up to block the second one. A hard kick to Crazy’s head sets up a brainbuster for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was your usual spotfest but well done. There’s nothing wrong with sending three good high fliers out there to fire up the crowd for awhile. It’s not a great match or anything and the first Crazy vs. Tajiri match was more entertaining, but this was a very fun match and a much better choice than a lot of the nonsense ECW puts on pay per view at times. I wouldn’t mind if Tajiri and Crazy got some higher profile matches after this. Guido is a comedy character and shouldn’t be elevated.

Another three way, this time for the TV Title on ECW on TNN, April 14, 2000.

TV Title: Little Guido vs. Tajiri vs. Super Crazy

Elimination rules. Crazy is defending but the Network has promised the title to both challengers. It’s a brawl to start with Crazy being knocked to the floor. Guido kicks Tajiri down for two but gets sent to the floor a second later. Crazy comes back in but gets tossed as well by Tajiri. Guido gets kicked in the face by Tajiri but Big Sal crushes Tajiri on the floor. They’re flying around too fast to keep up with right now.

Sal misses a splash against the barricade and Tajiri bails into the crowd. Crazy uses Sal’s back as a launching pad to dive at Tajiri before pounding away on Sal in the ring. Tajiri comes back in to kick a chair into Crazy’s ribs but Guido is back in again to kick Tajiri down as well. A suplex gets two on the champion before he and Guido head to the floor. Crazy is dropped face first onto the concrete but Tajiri sends Guido over the barricade for a superkick to the jaw.

Crazy is busted BAD as Tajiri blasts Guido in the head with a chair, busting him open as well. Tajiri brings in a table but kicks Guido to the floor instead of putting him through it. Sal interferes again to give Guido control again. Crazy continues to stagger around at ringside as the challengers are back inside. Tajiri kicks Sal through a table at ringside before putting Guido in an inverted Gory Special. Even Tajiri is busted open now but he kicks both guys in the head to keep control.

Another table is brought in and placed over Guido who is already under a chair. Crazy is laid on the table but avoids Tajiri’s top rope double stomp, sending it through the table and onto Guido for the elimination. So it’s Crazy vs. Tajiri for the title now with Tajiri blasting him in the face with a chair. A German suplex puts Crazy down for two and here’s the Network. Crazy powerbombs Tajiri down for two and slides in another table.

Tajiri comes back with a crowbar of all things and blasts Crazy in the ribs. The champion kicks him down and gets the crowbar but has to duck the green mist. Another powerbomb puts Tajiri through the table but there’s no one to count. Cue Rhyno for a Gore on Crazy and a piledriver from the apron through the table at ringside. Tajiri covers the corpse that used to be Super Crazy for the pin and the title.

Rating: C. This had to happen at some point as Crazy always felt like a placeholder until we got to the important stuff. That being said, it was nice for the 485th edition of this match to actually be worth something. The carnage here was more than they needed, especially when you had three talented guys in there. At least it was exciting though.

Tajiri would have a blood bath at Hardcore Heaven 2000.

Steve Corino vs. Yoshihiro Tajiri

Corino is completely different now, having abandoned the cowardly character and becoming a serious old school style wrestler who can brawl with anyone. Tajiri has been thrown out of the Network after refusing to hand the TV Title to Rhino, thus turning face in the process. Corino is fighting for the Network here but offers to let Tajiri off. This turns into a racist tirade and Tajiri is ready to fight.

Tajiri misses a big kick to the head and Corino nails him with an enziguri. A hurricanrana is countered into a sitout powerbomb to give Steve two but Tajiri comes back with the Tarantula. They head to the ramp where Tajiri nails him with a kick to the ribs and a brainbuster to send Corino to the floor. Corino is already busted so Tajiri bites at the cut as is the custom in ECW. Back in and Steve is put in the Tree of Woe for the sliding kick to the face. There is a pool of blood under Corino’s head.

Tajiri loads up another baseball slide with a chair over Steve’s face but Jack Victory makes the save. Corino comes back with a superkick for one but his long blond hair is now almost entirely red. Steve can’t follow up so Tajiri sets up a table but kicks the edge of it, driving the other end into Steve’s ribs. You can’t see the blond in Corino’s hair anymore. Tajiri clotheslines Corino and Victory down but Corino pops back up with a backdrop through the table for two.

Corino gets two off a fisherman’s suplex and a northern lights gets the same. Steve sets up a table in the corner but gets kicked down to the mat. Tajiri puts on the Octopus Hold and Victory gets the green mist. The distraction lets Steve escape and grab a powerslam for a near fall. Tajiri goes INSANE with some of the fastest kicks and punches I’ve ever seen, followed by a big kick to the head. Corino is laid out on the table and a big double stomp from the top drives him through for the pin.

Rating: B. This was a really solid match with both guys looking great and Corino looking like a warrior out there. It’s a good example of two talented guys being able to have their skills shine through instead of getting bogged down by all the weapons and nonsense. Corino would gain a lot of respect very soon, partially because of this performance.

Tajiri would hook up with Mikey Whipwreck as the Unholy Alliance and challenge the FBI for the Tag Team Titles at November to Remember 2000.

Tag Team Titles: FBI vs. Unholy Alliance

The Italians are defending again and there’s no Minister at ringside. Mikey and Mamaluke get things going and hit the mat for a nice technical sequence before Tony gets caught in a spinning side slam. Tajiri sneaks in for a hard kick to Tony’s head and it’s off to Guido to renew an old rivalry. We get another nice technical sequence with Tajiri cranking on the arm and rolling Guido over for two.

Off to Mikey who holds holds Guido’s leg while his throat is over the rope. Tajiri tries to jump over Mikey and onto Guido’s back but mainly just lands on his partner. Instead they both place a chair next to his head and kick the chairs together to crush Guido’s head. Back in and Mikey hits a double Whippersnapper off the middle rope but hurts his shoulder in the process. The match stops for a bit as Mikey has to be taken out on a stretcher.

The fans want Super Crazy but no one comes out to help Tajiri. He helps himself with the green mist but Guido ducks. The Italians take Tajiri down into a Sicilian crab/camel clutch combo but now Crazy comes out to even up the odds. Crazy cleans house until the match settles down with Tajiri stomping a chair onto Guido’s head. Crazy holds up the chair for a dropkick against Guido’s head and the Italian is busted open.

Guido finally escapes for a tag to Mamaluke and the Italians start working on Tajiri’s arm. He’s able to counter the Kiss of Death and nails Guido in the head with a superkick but Mamaluke makes the save. Tajiri finally nails both Italians with the handspring elbow, allowing for the hot tag to Crazy.

The sitout powerbomb gets two on Mamaluke and a running DDT get sthe same on Guido. Everything breaks down again and Sal sends Crazy into the crowd. Tajiri puts Guido in a keylock as Crazy moonsaults off a sign onto Sal. The camera cuts right as contact is made, making the whole thing look stupid. Back inside and Guido grabs a bulldog on Tajiri to break up the Tarantula for the pin to retain.

Rating: C+. This wasn’t terrible but the Italians as champions just isn’t working. There are other teams that deserve the belts more than they do and the fans aren’t interested in what they’re being given. Crazy or Whipwreck and Tajiri would have been good champions but instead we’re stuck with the same guys holding the belts. They’re good, but they’re not interesting.

It was off to the WWF soon after ECW closed with Tajiri becoming part of the Alliance. Here he is challenging for the Light Heavyweight Title on Raw, August 6, 2001.

Light Heavyweight Title: X-Pac vs. Tajiri

First of all, Pac has both titles but this is just for one because having one less title means the end of the world as we know it I guess. Second, this is for a WWF Title between two WWF guys, so there’s an Alliance referee. The fans all think X-Pac sucks. They trade kicks and Tajiri takes over with his signature stuff. Pac sends him to the floor and mostly misses his dive. We can hear a voice which I think is the director. Back in, Pac tries something off the top but jumps into Mist and a Buzzsaw Kick to give Tajiri his first title. Too short to rate but Paul says that’s his first major title in the WWF. What’s a minor title then?

Another title shot, this time on Raw from September 10, 2001.

US Title: Tajiri vs. Kanyon

Kanyon takes him into the corner to start but Tajiri gets behind him and fires off the strikes. They go to the corner and the Flatliner gets two for Kanyon. They go to the floor where nothing happens and Tajiri tries a sunset flip coming back in. In a SWEET counter, Kanyon stands up and hooks a northern lights suplex out of the sunset flip attempt for two. Kanyon picks up the belt but Torrie grabs it and swings, hitting Tajiri in the head for two. Kanyon gets a rollup with his feet on the ropes for two. Green Mist and the Buzzsaw Kick give Tajiri the title.

Rating: C-. Not a horrible match I guess and Torrie looked smoking hot as always, but giving them a total of three and a half minutes didn’t do them any favors. Both of these guys were good in the ring but their characters weren’t going to get them any further than they got here, and that’s ok.

We’ll jump ahead about a year to No Mercy 2002 for yet another title shot.

Cruiserweight Title: Tajiri vs. Jamie Noble

Noble is champion here. Tajiri was the referee in a Noble/Nidia match on Smackdown for no apparent reason so Noble kicked his teeth in afterwards. Tajiri gets a baseball slide before the bell rings as that’s a running theme lately. Asai Moonsault hits and that’s about the extent of Tajiri’s offense for awhile.

Nice electric chair by Noble gets two. Pretty much domination by the champion so far. Tazz and Cole imply these three are in a three way relationship or something but that never went anywhere. The commentary is far more sexual in nature than what you would be used to in WWE today.

Jamie gets knocked off the top rope as he tries a suplex so Tajiri gets to miss a moonsault now. He does get a tornado DDT but doesn’t cover for no apparent reason. Both guys down now. Both guys up now. Tajiri unleashes that martial arts rush which is always awesome. Handspring elbow has Jamie in big trouble. German suplex gets two.

There’s the Tarantula and Jamie is reeling. Big kick misses and the Tiger Bomb is countered. There’s the kick and Nidia kisses the referee so he can’t make the count. And there’s the Tiger Bomb for two which is surprising. Tajiri goes for a victory roll but Nidia trips him so Jamie can dive into it for the Owen Hart at Mania X pin.

Rating: C. Not bad here and at least they allowed Tajiri to get in more offense than it looked like he was going to get. It’s nothing great or anything like that but this was definitely watchable and the whole thing worked pretty well. It’s a shame no one cared about this or it might have been interesting.

Yet ANOTHER title match at Judgment Day 2003.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Team Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero/Tajiri

Ladder match and Team Angle (Haas and Benjamin) are champions here. The brawl starts in the aisle as this should be rather good. Benjamin throws Eddie into a ladder and Tajiri takes his medal off. Team Angle beats Tajiri down with Eddie having been slammed into the ladder earlier. Ah there’s Eddie. And so much for that as he gets dropped on Haas’ knee to take care of that. Apparently Team Angle not knowing where a ladder is makes them inexperienced.

Tajiri and Eddie botch the heck out of something as they drop Tajiri onto the floor instead of a ladder. That looked awful. A handspring elbow by Tajiri to the ladder takes it and the champions down. Ladder goes into Charlie’s balls and the look on his face is priceless. Another ladder comes into the ring and Haas gets sandwiched between them as Eddie hits the hilo onto the ladder onto Charlie onto the ladder.

Shelton pulls Tajiri off the ladder and Tajiri’s face hits the rung on the way down. FREAKING OW MAN!!! Shelton powerslams Eddie into the ladder and the challengers are in trouble. This is one of those matches where there are just spots happening with very little going on in between. Not bad but kind of tiring. Team Angle does that jump on the back thing but from a ladder onto the ladder with Tajiri in between. That was awesome looking.

Haas almost gets up there but Eddie pops up to send Haas flying to the floor. The ladder gets wedged between the top and middle rope and Eddie is sent flying into it. Time for the Tajiri kicks and a ladder shot. Tarantula goes onto Haas which gets a big pop. Shelton saves his partner by driving the ladder into the head of the Japanese man. The champions take over again with Eddie in trouble.

The idea here is supposed to be that Team Angle doesn’t know how to win a ladder match due to inexperience. The problem with that is simple: you climb the thing. That’s how you win. See the belts? Go get them! How hard is that? Eddie goes up but Charlie keeps slowing him down.

Shelton goes after him too but Eddie knocks him down and drops a Frog Splash on him in a cool spot. Eddie vs. Charlie on top of the ladder and Charlie takes a sunset bomb to the mat. Always loved that move. Tajiri is finally back and his Mists Shelton to let Eddie grab the belts as we have new champions.

Rating: B-. This was good but the problem is that we’ve seen all this before. The MITB match coming up would make everything else done not called TLC seem weak. This was a good match and belonged on the PPV but it feels pretty worthless all things considered now. Good match, nothing we haven’t seen before though.

In other news, Tajiri gets a title shot at Summerslam 2003.

US Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Tajiri vs. Rhyno

Eddie is defending and this is one fall to a finish. Eddie has ticked off all three challengers so they all want to take him out. The champion bails to the floor so everyone else can fight and we quickly get down to Rhyno vs. Benoit. Chris hooks a quick Crossface, drawing Eddie in for the save. Tajiri is back in as well but Eddie breaks up a cover. Everyone is in now and all three challengers go after Eddie at the same time.

Rhyno hits a running shoulder to Eddie’s ribs in the corner and powerslams him down for two but Benoit comes back with a German suplex. A belly to back gets two on Tajiri but Eddie makes another save. Benoit is suplexed to the floor and Eddie is left alone with Tajiri, only to have the challenger monkey flip Eddie down for two. Rhyno comes back in and sends Tajiri to the floor but Benoit wants to beat up Eddie himself, triggering a brawl between challengers.

Rhyno gets control again and superplexes Eddie down for two but Tajiri kicks him in the back of the head. Tajiri snaps off the handspring elbow for two on Chris but Rhyno sends Tajiri to the floor, only to have Eddie headscissor him out to the floor. Eddie hurricanranas Benoit out of the corner for two and it’s Tajiri in again for some hard kicks. Eddie hooks the Lasso From El Paso (Liontamer crossed with the Texas Cloverleaf) on Tajiri but Benoit stops Rhyno from making the save with the Crossface.

Tajiri makes the ropes so Eddie turns around to dropkick Benoit in the head for the save. Benoit grabs the Crossface on Guerrero but Rhyno and Tajiri make the double save. Rhyno hits a spinebuster for two on Tajiri but Benoit knocks Rhyno to the floor. Chris rolls some Germans on Tajiri but Tajiri reverses into one of his own for two on Benoit.

Tajiri catches a charging Benoit in the Tarantula and the distraction lets Eddie get the US Title to shield himself from Rhyno’s Gore. Tajiri breaks up the Frog Splash but gets caught in the Tree of Woe. Benoit Swan Dives Rhyno but Tajiri makes a last second save. Tajiri and Benoit fall to the floor and Eddie frog splashes Rhyno to retain.

Rating: B+. This was non-stop action for about eleven minutes and incredibly entertaining as a result. It’s a great example of how wrestling and action can be so much more interesting than whatever drama the McMahons have going on at the moment. Watching these four make save after save is WAY more fun than hearing about Bischoff forcing himself on Linda or Stephanie being FURIOUS with Sable over whatever affair her dad is having this month.

Raw Tag Team Titles this time. From Unforgiven 2004.

Raw Tag Titles: La Resistance vs. Tajiri/Rhyno

Conway/Grenier here. Conway vs. Tajiri starts us off and Tajiri speeds around a lot to take over. Off to Grenier who hits the floor to avoid a Gore. Tajiri comes back in and takes over with a semi-botched tornado DDT. Conway beats on Tajiri and the fans just do not care. Off to a reverse chinlock as the fans chant USA for a Japanese comeback. Rhyno comes in and beats on both French dudes a bit.

This match needs to end like five minutes ago. It’s just boring but you could say that about every tag title match in this period. We hear about Rhyno looking everywhere for a partner as he walks into a double flapjack for two. The flag goes into Conway’s balls but a Gore only gets two. And there’s a flag to the face of Rhyno for the cheap pin.

Rating: F+. This had zero point in being on PPV. It wouldn’t even be a good Raw match, mainly because it went on way too long, getting almost ten minutes. La Resistance would be the heel team of the year for awhile as no one cared at all and it went nowhere at all. The tag division sucked BAD around this point and this is a fine example of it.

One last title shot and this time it’s in Japan. From Raw on February 7, 2005.

Raw Tag Titles: William Regal/Tajiri vs. La Resistance

Gee I wonder what’s going to happen here. Conway and Grenier here. The place ERUPTS for Tajiri who is all fired up here. Regal and Eugene were champions but Eugene is injured so Regal picked Tajiri as his new partner. Massive Tajiri chant starts up so Regal starts off with Conway. Regal Stretch goes on but it’s off to Tajiri who adds the low dropkick as the offense is on.

Regal plays Ricky Morton for a bit here despite getting some shots in to try to break the momentum. The fans chant something but it’s in Japanese. Grenier punches Tajiri so when Regal takes him down there’s no one to tag. STF is broken up quickly and there’s the hot tag to Tajiri who cleans house. Let the kicks begin! Enziguri hits Grenier for two as everything breaks down. Double handspring elbow takes out the French dudes and it’s Tarantula time. Regal takes Conway down and there’s the Green Mist and a Buzzsaw kick gives us new champions.

Rating: C+. The match totally doesn’t matter and is rated too high, but this is about giving the fans something to erupt for and that’s exactly what they did here. Tajiri and Regal would hold the belts about three months so this wasn’t just a fluke title reign. No problem at all with this and while it’s not great or anything, it was perfectly done as it made Tajiri look like a star.

That’s about it for Tajiri in America as he went back to Japan to wrestle for Hustle and NJPW. He even started his own company called Smash which for some reason had ties to Finland. We’ll wrap it up with one more match from Pro Wrestling Noah on July 22, 2012.

Tajiri vs. Maybach Taniguchi

This appears to be a hardcore or death match as Tajiri comes in holding a barbed wire baseball bat. They’re quickly on the floor with Tajiri being very aggressive and sending Taniguchi into the barricade. He throws a short ladder into the ring and whips the masked Mayback into the ladder in the corner. Tajiri throws the ladder over the ropes to try and hit Taniguchi again but only nails the concrete.

Now we get the opening bell and Taniguchi chokes away back inside. More choking ensues in the corner as this is nowhere near as violent as it seemed it would be. A chokeslam plants Tajiri but he escapes a powerbomb, only to be shoved into the referee. Mayback grabs the ball bat but Tajiri takes it away and drives it into the masked man’s ribs. He rips Taniguchi’s mask open, but it allows Taniguchi to blow red mist into Tajiri’s face. The referee gets up just in time to see Taniguchi blast Tajiri with a chair for the DQ.

Rating: C-. This was an odd match as it came off looking like a blood feud but turned into a slow paced match for most of the middle. The ending picked things up a bit but it still wasn’t the most interesting match in the world. Tajiri going insane could be something interesting to see if he had time though.

Tajiri is a guy who is known for doing one thing but is capable of doing a lot more on top of that. Those kicks are insane though and sound a lot worse than they actually are. Still though, he’s entertaining to watch and still looks good even much later in his career. It’s a shame he couldn’t talk or he could have been a bigger deal.

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