Yoshihiro Asai (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".
Último Dragón in December 2013
|Birth name||Yoshihiro Asai|
|Born||December 12, 1966|
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
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|
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 lower weight division titles from various international promotions. At the time, he already held the NWA World Middleweight Championship; during this reign he also became the WCW Cruiserweight Champion, making him the most decorated wrestler in 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. Since December 2013, he has competed mostly for All Japan Pro Wrestling as a freelancer.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Early years (1987–1996)Edit
Asai graduated from the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) 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. In CMLL, he adopted the Último Dragón mask and persona. "Último Dragón", which means "Last Dragon" in Spanish, was initially a gimmick that saw Asai claiming to be the last student taught by legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, whose nickname was "The Dragon". The gimmick was later dropped, but the name remained. Late in 1992, Misteriosito was turned into "Último Dragoncito", a Mini-Estrella version of himself. 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 AAA.
World Championship Wrestling (1996–1998)Edit
Asai made his American debut for the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) promotion in 1996 initially under the mistranslated name "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 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 Cruiserweight title which he won at Starrcade 1996.
Dragon later dropped the WCW Cruiserweight title back to Malenko but his stock was rising as he won the WCW World 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 WCW World Television title from Regal before losing to Alex Wright at the last Clash of the Champions. He would then win the WCW 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, Kenichiro 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)Edit
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 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. On April 22, 2004, WWE announced that Asai was released from his WWE contract after Asai asked for his release from WWE to go back to Japan immediately.
Return to Japan (2004–present)Edit
One month later after being released from WWE, Asai quickly picked up a New Japan tour on May 1, 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, Jyushin 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.
On 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 27, 2017, he regained the title by defeating Tajiri.
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.
On March 22, 2015, Dragón won another title in All Japan, when he and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Mitsuya Nagai and Takeshi Minamino for the All Asia Tag Team Championship. They vacated the title on October 14.
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.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- Comision de Box y Lucha D.F.
- International Wrestling Revolution Group
- International Wrestling Alliance
- 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 time)
- WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWF Light Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Pro Wrestling Revolution
- Tokyo Sports
- Toryumon Mexico
- Universal Wrestling Association
- World Championship Wrestling
- Wrestle And Romance / Wrestle Association R
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Luchas de Apuestas recordEdit
|Winner (wager)||Loser (wager)||Location||Event||Date||Notes|
|Yoshihiro Asai (career)||Cuchillo (mask and championship)||Tokyo, Japan||UWF live event||June 4, 1990|||
|Último Dragón (mask)||Dark Dragon (mask)||Barcelona, Spain||NWE live event||June 25, 2008|||
|Último Dragón (mask)||Hajime Ohara (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||DragonMania IV||August 22, 2009|||
|Último Dragón (mask)||Black Tiger V (mask)||Mexico City, Mexico||DragonMania VI||May 14, 2011|||
|Último Dragón (mask)||Sushi (mask)||Tokyo, Japan||AJPW live event||December 14, 2014||[Note 2]|
|Último Dragón (mask)||Tiger Ali (hair)||Mexico City, Mexico||DragonMania X||May 23, 2015|||
- 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
- Tag team match, where Dragón and Masked Burning #2 defeated Sushi and Mr. Christmas. Sushi, as the loser of the fall, was as per stipulation supposed to unmask, but instead Mr. Christmas unmasked, revealing himself as Jun Akiyama.
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- Enciclopedia staff (October 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Cuchillo (in Spanish). Mexico. p. 25. Tomo III.
- Enciclopedia staff (September 2007). "Enciclopedia de las Mascaras". Dark Dragon (in Spanish). Mexico City, Mexico. p. 6. Tomo II.
- "DragonMania IV". Pro Wrestling History. August 22, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
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- 全日本12.14後楽園大会 和田京平レフェリー40周年＆還暦記念大会、全試合を京平レフェリーがプロデュース. Battle News (in Japanese). December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
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