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Japanese professional wrestler.

Yoshihiro Tajiri was born on September 29, 1970 in Tokyo, Japan. Tajiri was always a fan of puroresu, but chose to practice kick-boxing instead of the grap game. However, something kept nagging him to try his first love, and he quit Hakata University in 1994 to try his hand at being a bone-bender.

Tajiri was trained by British and Japanese wrestling legend Kendo Nagasaki, and his first gig was in the same fed as his tutor, the ultra-hardcore IWA. Tajiri shyed away from the barbed wire and thumbtacks, however, and carved out a niche as a high-flying opening match worker. Indeed, Tajiri was on the undercard at the legendary King Of Death Matches tournament of 1995, won of course by Mick Foley. However, tiring of the $50 a-night payoffs, Tajiri jumped to BJPW, and had some success there, representing Big Japan at the NJPW Best Of The Super Junior tournament, and winning the BJPW tag titles alongside Ryushi Yamakawa in January 1998.

It was around this time that Tajiri actually made his debut in the WWF. He wrestled Taka Michinoku, Super Crazy and Scott 'Scotty 2 Hotty' Taylor at WWF TV tapings, but came up short when it came to getting a contract. Despairing at the prospect of returning to Big Japan, Tajiri took the advice of his friend Victor Quinones and went to Mexico.

Tajiri's performances against Super Crazy in both CMLL and EMLL in late '98 saw Paul Heyman sit up and take notice, and the two were signed for ECW. Crazy and Tajiri tore down arenas across the US with their puro-lucho antics, and Tajiri was getting over well as a straight-laced, stiff-kicking babyface. However, in the time-honoured tradition of American promoters, Tajiri was repackaged as a sneaky, green mist-blowing heel. He was pushed heavily against ECW champ Taz, but the Red Hook, Brooklyn resident refused to sell his lightweight challenger, and Tajiri came off looking like a jobber.

Tajiri got the respect of the crowds back with an insane series of matches against Super Crazy, Little Guido and Jerry Lynn, and, as one of Cyrus's Network stable, even carried the Sandman to a passable match. However, after winning the ECW TV Title, Tajiri was ordered to give the strap to the Network's golden boy Rhino, a situation that caused Tajiri to both turn on his stable and turn back face. After feuding with his former friends, including one brutally-violent brawl with Steve Corino, Tajiri teamed up with bump machine Mikey Whipwreck to capture the ECW Tag straps. However, with ECW dying and his bills not being paid, Tajiri had to act.

After a brief hiatus back home, Tajiri found himself working indy cards for CZW and in Mexico, before getting the call from Atlanta - WCW wanted him to work a tryout match. This slap to the face made up Yoshihiro's mind - he was off to Stamford, CT. Signing for the WWF for three years on a $100,000 downside, Tajiri made some dark match appearances that led to fears among the smarks that he was going to be yet another Japanese jobber - fears that seemed well-founded when he made his debut proper, as Commissioner William Regal's house boy.

After being handed his ass (storyline-wise, obviously) backstage by both Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, Tajiri finally made his in-ring debut on the June 14th, 2001 WWF Smackdown. Going over Crash Holly, Tajiri struck a chord with the WWF fans, and his subsequent matches with Rhyno, Chris Jericho and Scotty 2 Hotty saw him get over bigtime, with the same tried and tested recipe of stiff kicks, green mist and the Tarantula submission hold. Refusing to join the ECW/WCW alliance and sticking with the Federation did even more to endear him to the crowds, and his win over X-Pac for the WWF Light-Heavyweight Title was greeted with a pop as large as most of the midcard babyfaces on the WWF roster.

Tajiri has shown he certainly has the talent and the personality to rise to the top of the WWF tree - but the question remained whether Vince 'Big Americans: Main Eventers ; Small Japs: Jabronis' McMahon would let him continue his rise. Indeed, it seemed that Tajiri's time as the loveable underdog 'no-speaky-Engrish' babyface was over, as the booking dicatated that he would treat girlfriend Torrie Wilson as a subjugated geisha and start shouting a lot. Whatever happens, he will be remembered for at least one thing - he managed to get William Regal over as a babyface...

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