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#MustWatchMonday (7/4/16): Tajiri in WRESTLE-1


One of the bigger surprises in the Cruiserweight Classic was the inclusion of Tajiri, a cruiserweight who used to ply his craft in the WWE. Recently, word has gotten out that Tajiri has signed a new contract with WWE, and will be sticking around with the company after the tournament's end.

Being 45 years old, the decision to sign Tajiri to a new contract may confuse some people, but this is where I step in. Today, I show a couple of matches which show that Tajiri has still got it, and will be fine in the current WWE landscape.

In the past three years or so, Tajiri has wrestled primarily for the cruiserweight division of Keiji Mutoh's WRESTLE-1 promotion. While he never captured the cruiserweight title for this company, he was always a credible challenger, and this is no surprise given his accolades in other companies such as WWE, CMLL and ECW.

One of the challenges he made was against Minoru Tanaka, a wrestler that some may consider to be one of the former Junior aces of NJPW, and for good reason. Tanaka was a four-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, as well as the Junior Champion for AJPW and ZERO-1. Tajiri and Tanaka faced off three times in the span of a month, and their matches culminated in a double championship defense, with Tanaka defending his WRESTLE-1 Cruiserweight Championship, and Tajiri defending his EWP Intercontinental Championship. While ultimately Tajiri lost, the way he wrestled show that he hasn't missed a step, using his brutal kicks and submissions while throwing in some flash with springboards and his trademark Tarantula.



Another one of Tajiri's attempts at the Cruiserweight title was against Kotaro Suzuki, who won the title not long after leaving AJPW and signing with WRESTLE-1. Again, Tajiri shows that his age is not an indication of where he is as a wrestler, having another solid championship match. Here, he uses the green mist that he was famous for using back in the WWE, and followed that up with a solid kick. Tajiri even covers up for a small botch by Suzuki when he executed a handspring elbow. While this match isn't going to be on anyone's Match of Year lists, it definitely shows that Tajiri is a savvy veteran who can still very much go in the ring.


Given the quality of matches Tajiri had in the above two videos, it's no surprise that WWE would want to sign him back in some capacity, whether that be as a trainer, a coach, or even a full-time wrestler.

*****
Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.

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