Any man whose name can be shortened to “Yoshi” (see also, ‘Yoshimitsu’ and, uh, ‘Yoshi’) is automatically allowed into my cool book, but Tajiri has more going for him than just a cool name. A Japanese wrestler, he should typically have appeared for the WWF once or twice as a villain before being dropped, as is the typical norm for any foreign wrestlers who might suggest that America isn’t the fountain of everything that the wrestling fans tend to believe. Yet Tajiri managed to stay with the company – not only that, but he became a ‘face’, too. That means he is a character the crowd supports, as opposed to the hated ‘heels’. Granted, he was fighting another foreigner – the awesome Stephen Regal, who is the snottiest character possible, and brilliant for it – but Tajiri’s upward career with the WWF was symbolic of one thing: he was a damn fine wrestler. His fights see him employ a number of different moves, which was nice for a change. He did a lot of high-flying moves, but he also did lots of kicking manouvres and submissions, which made him perhaps one of the most versatile Japanese wrestlers ever seen on American shores. Here he is:
He also had a great gimmick in the ring where he would suddenly spit a mist into the eyes of his opponent, dropping them to their knees before he finished them off with a kick to the side of the head. You never knew where it was coming, which made his matches fascinating. I really liked the lil’ fella.