Ultimo Dragon ウルティモ・ドラゴン (Final Dragon)
Yoshihiro Asai 浅井 嘉浩
December 12th, 1966 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Kotetsu Yamamoto, Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Gran Hamada
May 13th, 1987 w/ Naoki Sano against Los de Muerte de la Misioneros.
Jumping Tombstone Piledriver
Dragon Suplex Hold
Tiger Suplex Hold
Championships and Accomplishments
New Japan Pro Wrestling
~ IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (20th & 28th Generation)
~ Junior Crown Champion (2nd Ever)
~ UWA World Welterweight Championship
~ UWA World Middleweight Championship (5)
~ NWA World Middleweight Championship (2 times)
~ WCW World Cruiserweight Championship (2)
~ WCW TV Championship winning (2)
WAR (Wrestle and Romance)
~WAR World Tag Team Championship six Certified (Partner Itirou Hazime Tenryu & Araya Nobutaka )
North Eastern/Michinoku Pro Wrestling
~ Tohoku Tag Team Championship (w/ Jinsei Shinzaki)
~ Trio Mexico Championship
Ultimo Dragon Biography (Written by Charles Schaeffer, 2008)
Yoshihiro Asai, better known as the Ultimo Dragon, was born on December 12th, 1966, in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Asai was trained in the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo where he was noted to have skills, but he lacked in body size being at only five and a half feet tall. He immediately left Japan and headed for Mexico to learn to use his body to it’s full potential. He debuted on May 13th, 1987, with Naoki Sano and Hirokazu Hata versus the Los Millonarios de la Muerte. Asai would start out wrestling for the Universal Wrestling Association and on July 29th, 1988, Asai would win his first championship when he pinned Ray Richard for the UWA World Welterweight Championship. He would hold the title for a little over three months when on November 9th, he would lose the title to Charles Lucero. On April 6th, 1990, Asai would go on to win UWA World Middleweight Championship when he defeated Cuchillo. He would hold the title till May
21st, 1990, when Cuchillo would get his revenge and win the title back. Then just a few weeks later Asai would come back and face Cuchillo again this time he would get the pinfall and the World Middleweight Championship for the second time. He would go on to hold the title for months when on December 28th, 1990, he would face and lose to Super Astro. After the few title runs he had in UWA he then would move to the EMLL where in October of 1991 he was given the name Ultimo Dragon. The name was an homage to Bruce Lee where he was billed as his final student. He would soon make his way back to Japan and on November 22nd, 1992, he would defeat El Samurai for IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He would manage to hold onto the championship for a little under two months when he would be defeated by Jushin Thunder Liger on January 4th, 1993. A few months later he would make back to Mexico and he would win back the UWA World Middleweight Championship on March 26th, 1993, when he would beat Negro Casas. He would hold onto the title for a little less than a month when he would be pinned by El Samurai on May 20, 1993. Dragon would not take the loss sitting down, and just four days later he would get a pinfall over Samurai winning the title back. He would hold the title for the rest of the year defending it against all challengers, but on January 5th, 1994, he would be beaten by Kouji Ishinriki. Asai would go on to train harder and rise up the ranks to win back the title he had lost, and on May 24th, 1994, just one year exactly after winning it the last time he pinned Ishinriki in Mexico City.
Ultimo Dragon would go on to hold the UWA World Middleweight Championship throughout the next few months beating everyone who challenged him. This brings us to November 8th, 1994, when he would take on “Corazón de León” who is better known here in the states as “The Lionheart” Chris Jericho. They have had a few matches in the past, but this one was different it involved the NWA World Middleweight Championship. Even though the title says NWA it is not a sanctioned by the current National Wrestling Alliance, but the title is still considered very prestige’s in Mexico. Enough rambling about the title? On that day Dragon would get the pinfall over Jericho and be crowned the new champion. Soon after, he would relinquish the UWA Middleweight Championship putting nothing between himself and the NWA Middleweight Championship. He would be faced with many of the top stars all around the world trying to take the title from his waist, but they would never be able to pin him for it. On July 7th, 1995 Asai and Jericho put on one what is considered one of greatest matches of that year, when they fought in Tokyo, Japan during a sold out event at the Sumo Hall. This match was considered so good that even Jericho himself calls that bout as one of his best ever. Chris Jericho even goes further out to say that out of everyone that he has faced over the years he considers Dragon as one of his best opponent’s ever. A few weeks later he would face Lionheart again this time landing the pinfall and winning the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship on July 28th, 1995. He would only hold the WAR Jr. for only a month when he would be beaten by Gedo. Dragon would then go back and forth from Japan and Mexico defending his NWA Middleweight Championship. On October 5th, 1995, he would get his rematch against Gedo for the WAR Jr. Championship, and he would get the pinfall winning back the title. He would add even more gold to his other two titles when he would beat Jushin Thunder Liger on August 2nd, 1996, for the British Commonwealth Junior Heavyweight Championship and the UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship. Then on August 4th, just two days later, he would land a pinfall on Shinjiro Ohtani for the NWA World Welterweight Championship. This would give him a total of five titles at the time, but just a day later he would lose all but the NWA World Middleweight Championship when he would be beaten by The Great Sasuke. Sasuke at the time already held four other titles, and with his win over Dragon the titles were all unified and called the J-Crown Championship.
Ultimo Dragon began to wrestle here in the states in the middle of 1996 having some great matches with all the top cruiserweights in the company at the time. He had some great showings with Dean Malenko, and both the late Eddie Guerrero, and Chris Benoit. On October 11th, 1996, he would get his rematch against The Great Sasuke for the J-Crown Championship. Dragon and Sasuke would have an all out battle, but Ultimo would land the pinfall and win the titles. At the end of October Dragon would team with Nobutaka Araya and Genichiro Tenryu, and they would win the WAR World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. For the time being this would give Dragon a total of ten consecutives championships, but Tenryu would relinquish his spot as the champion and they would be forced to vacate the Tag Titles. He would then head back to WCW to show off all of his gold, and to pretty much shove it into WCW’s Cruiserweight Champion at the time Dean Malenko that he was out for his as well. It wouldn’t be long after that he would make good on his promise when on December 29th, 1996, he would pin Malenko for that title. This would raise Dragon’s belt status back up to ten and making him the only man in history to hold that many titles consecutively. A week later he would be scheduled to face Jushin Liger at the January 4th, 1997 Tokyo Dome show. He would have a great match, but it was not his night to be and he would lose the J-Crown to him. After the title loss he would make his way back to the states to WCW to defend his cruiserweight championship. He would face Dean Malenko in a rematch on January 21st, and he would not seem to able to shake the loss he suffered earlier that month which lead to Malenko winning back the title that night. He would sort of hit a slump for a few months, but on April 7th, 1997, he would face and defeat Prince Iaukea for the WCW/NWA World Television Championship. He would go on to defend the title for a little over a month until May 18th, 1997, when he would be beaten by Lord Steven Regal. He would win the WCW/NWA World Television Championship again on April 7th, 1997, when he would win the title back from Steven Regal. He would then only be able to hold the title for exactly one month when he would be defeated by “Das Wonder Kid” Alex Wright on August 21st. The remainder of 1997 really was split between his career and his newly formed training groups known in general as Toryumon. On December 29th, 1997, just one year exactly, he would land a pinfall over Eddie Guerrero to win the WCW Cruiserweight Championship for the second time. He would only hold the title for ten days when he would be defeated by Juventud Guerrera on January 8th.
In 1998, Asai would go on to create another group known as Grupo Revolucion that was based primarily out of Mexico. This group would bring in many young students and even a few Japanese wrestlers to learn from the Dragon himself. Since Dragon was such an outstanding wrestler his students were easily chosen to come and show what they had in promotions in both Mexico and Japan. In the summer of 1998, tragedy would strike Dragon when he would suffer a severe arm injury. WCW whom he was still working for at the time had him placed in the care of one of their physicians. Dragon went through with the surgery, but during the procedure the doctor made a slip up and Asai would loss many of his nerves in his arm. This damage would be so devastating that he announced soon after that he would retire from pro wrestling. With his retirement he would also relinquish the NWA World Middleweight Championship which he held and defended for over three and a half years. He would though continue his obligations at teaching his many students, and making sure he taught them the ends and outs of the business. In 1999, many of his students, along with Asai, opened a promotion called Toryumon in Japan. This new promotion would showcase both up and coming talent from Japan and Mexico, but after a few years Asai would part with the company and they would change their name to Dragon Gate. He would still continue to train the young talent, and in 2002 he would find a doctor who would attempt to repair the damaged nerves in his arm. The surgery would be a success, and he would gain back most of the feeling in the arm. He would spend the rest of 2002 in rehabilitation, and in no time soon he would announce that he would return to the ring. He would make his return in Mexico, and on March 5th, 2003, he would defeat Sasuke to win back the NWA World Middleweight Championship which he never lost in the first place. A month later he would sign a contract with the WWE by way of his friends Rey Mysterio Jr and Jericho. He would join in hopes of competing in both Madison Square Garden and wrestling at Wrestlemania. Both of his goals would be met by Wrestlemania XX, but he would feel he was under appreciated and he would part ways with the company once his contract expired. He would soon after make his back to Japan and he would wrestle for Michinoku Pro and Dragondoor before it went under. On July 18th, 2004, he would win the Tohoku Tag Team Championship, with Jinsei Shinzaki, when they defeated Jiro Kesennuma, Kazuya Yuasa, Hayate and The Great Sasuke in the finals of a tournament to crown the first tag champions. They would go on to hold the titles until when they were beaten by the team of Katsuhiko Nakajima and Kensuke Sasaki on September 10th, 2004. Ultimo Dragon still wrestles occasionally, but he still insists on that his main goal is to be a teacher and pass on everything he knows to his students.
Ultimo Dragon can be considered one of the greatest junior heavyweight superstars of the 1990’s, and he can even be considered one of the best in ring performers of our time. He took wrestling to heart and created a character that would be known around the world. He would even create his own style of wrestling that incorporated both the high flying and finesse of Lucha Libre and the spirit and speed of Puroresu. He would not be known to be caught up in all the fame a glory that his name brought, instead he would be considered one of the humblest competitors to ever grace the squared circle. Not too many wrestlers would even feel that they must give themselves fully to their students, but even Asai who was even handicapped at one time still taught and poured all of his knowledge into his students. He was even given a second chance to continue wrestling, but he felt he has had his run and he wishes to see the newer generations show what they have. I do not think we will ever see another wrestler with the heart to ever do what he has done in his career and here’s hoping we get to continue seeing Asai in the ring in the ring for years to come.