Yoshihiro Asai, better known as Último Drágon, is the forefather of the Dragon System style of wrestling. He is the creator and developer of the Toryumon promotions and the Último Drágon Gym.
Professional Wrestling CareerEdit
Early Years (1987-1991)Edit
Asai trained to become a professional wrestler through the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo, being taught the puroresu style of wrestling primarily by Antonio Inoki and Yoshiaki Fujimara. He graduated from the dojo in 1987 and wrestled in the New Japan promotion for a year. Struggling to move his way up to even mid-card status, he left New Japan and took a huge gamble moving to Mexico.
In Mexico, Asai was taken under the wing of Gran Hamada. Hamada trained him in the lucha libre style of wrestling and he was immediately booked by the Universal Wrestling Association. In 1988, a year into his career as a professional wrestler, Asai won his first championship, the UWA World Welterweight Championship.
In 1990, Asai returned to Japan and joined the Universal Wrestling Federation. He would also help Hamada start up in Japan Universal Lucha Libre, at the time known as Universal Pro-Wrestling. A year later, he would sign with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre to be the promotion he would wrestle for in Mexico.
Mexico and Overseas (1992-1997)Edit
It was in CMLL that Asai was given the Último Drágon mask and persona for the first time. The name in Spanish roughly meant "Last Dragon," which was the basis for him being given the gimmick of claiming to be the final student taught by the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee, whose nickname was "The Dragon." Overtime the gimmick would be forgotten, but the name would become his legacy in professional wrestling.
In 1993, Último left Universal Lucha Libre in Japan and signed with the Wrestle and Romance promotion, later renamed Wrestle Association R, run by Genichiro Tenryu. Through WAR, Último would make return trips to New Japan and would develop a lasting reputation in successfully mixing puroresu and lucha libre into a style of his own.
He would utilize moves that would later become synonymous with him that, out of respect and honor, they would be renamed after him. Moves such as the Dragon Bomb, Dragon Suplex, Dragonsteiner, Dragon Screw, and Dragon Sleeper. While it has since been discovered that he was not the innovator of the move, he was the first to use the standing shiranui as a finisher and it was called the Asai DDT to honor his extensive use. He would become the innovator of a springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent outside of the ring, which would become known as the Asai Moonsault.
World Championship Wrestling (1996-1998)Edit
Through the working relationship that existed at the time with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Último Drágon was used in World Championship Wrestling. He was originally called The Ultimate Dragon, the literal English translation of his name, before several months later they reverted back to Último Drágon. He was managed by Sonny Onoo and quickly pushed as the top heel in the company's cruiserweight division against Rey Misterio Jr.
As his push in WCW was taking place, Último won the J-Crown from the Great Sasuke on October 11, 1996. Also known as the J-Crown Octuple Unified Championship, it unified eight championships from eight different promotions into one: the British Commwealth Juniuor Heavyweight Championship from Michinoku Pro Wrestling, the IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Championship from New Japan, the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship from the Wrestle Dream Factory, the NWA World Welterweight Championship from CMLL, the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship from the UWA, the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship from WAR, and the WWF World Light Heavyweight Championship from the World Wrestling Federation on loan to New Japan.
At the same time, Último was in possession of the NWA World Middleweight Championship from CMLL. On December 29, 1996, he defeated Dean Malenko for the WCW World Cruiserweight Championship, thus completing his amassing of the record number ten championships at one time. His reign with all of the championships at once would only last six days before losing the J-Crown to Jushin "Thunder" Liger on January 4, 1997.
As Último was finding success working in Mexico, Japan, and America through various different promotions, he decided to open up the Último Drágon Gym. The idea being that aspiring Japanese wrestlers would have to follow his path by traveling to Mexico to learn from him. With the assistance of Dos Caras and Jorge "Skayde" Rivera, Último taught his students his style of wrestling, which mixed together puroresu from Japan, lucha libre from Mexico, and sports entertainment from America. Throughout 1997, his first six graduates Yoshiyuki Saito, Nobuhiko Oshima, Katsumasa Kuroki, Takahiro Suwa, Tatsuki Fuji, and Nobuyoshi Nakamura would be introduced through Mexico and later as enhancement talent in WCW.
In 1998, Último suffered an injury to his elbow that required surgery. However, the operation was botched, causing damage to the nerve system in his arm. It was believed that it was nearly impossible to fix, forcing him into retirement. He would concentrate his time and effort on the training of students at the Último Drágon Gym in Mexico and the development of the Toryumon promotions both in Japan and Mexico.
In September 2001, Último decided to undergo another surgery in the hope that there was a chance the damage done from the previous operation could be repaired. It was announced at the start of 2002 that the surgery was a success, restoring feeling and mobility he had previously lost. Speculation began to emerge as to when and where he would finally make his in-ring return, which took place at the ABSOLUTAMENTE 2002 pay-per-view show for Toryumon Japan on September 8, 2002 against Masaaki Mochizuki.
Taking his time getting back into ring shape, Último opened talks with World Wrestling Entertainment. In 2003, he signed a one-year contract with WWE. This meant he would have to step down as Director of the Toryumon promotion and appointed Takashi Okamura in his place.
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 15, 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 and Mexico (2004–Present)Edit
One month later after being released from 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.
- Finishing moves
- Asai DDT (Standing shiranui) - Innovated
- Cancun Tornado (Corkscrew moonsault)
- Dragon Bomb (Running sitout powerbomb / Running slingshow sitout powerbomb)
- Dragonsteiner )With the opponent seated on the top turnbuckle, Dragon stands behind the opponent, twists around and performs a frankensteiner)
- La Magistral (Arm wrenched inside cradle)
- Signature moves
- Asai Moonsault (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent outside of the ring) - Innovated
- Atlantinda Backbreaker Drop (Spinning kneeling Argentine backbreaker rack)
- Dragon Screw
- Dragon Sleeper
- Giant Swing
- Jumping Belly-to-Belly Pildriver
- Kick Combo
- Multiple suplex variations
- Aztec Suplex (Straight jacket suplex)
- Dragon Suplex
- German Suplex
- Tiger Suplex
- Rolling Sole Butt
- Tiger Feint Kick
- Top Rope Head Stand Evasion Followed into a Double Foot Mule Kick
- Single Leg Boston Crab
Other Wrestling InformationEdit
- Sonny Onoo
- Entrance Themes
- "Separados" by Luis Miguel
- "Dragon" by Jim Johnston
Championships and AccomplishmentsEdit
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- NWA World Middleweight Championship (2 times)
- Comision de Box y Lucha D.F.
- Distrito Federal Trios Championship (1 time) – with Naoki Sano and Hirokazu Hata
- International Wrestling Revolution Group
- Michinoku Pro Wrestling
- British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Tohoku Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Jinsei Shinzaki
- 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 Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #12 of the 500 Best Singles Wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 1997
- PWI ranked him #61 of the 500 Best Singles Wrestlers of the PWI Years in 2003
- Tokyo Sports
- Technique Award (1992)
- Universal Wrestling Association
- World Championship Wrestling
- WCW World Cruiserweight Championship (2 times)
- WCW World Television Championship (2 times)
- Wrestle Association R
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards
- Best Wrestling Maneuver (1996) Dragon Bomb
- Most Underrated (2003)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)