Taiji Ishimori (February 10, 1983) is a Japanese professional wrestler who works for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). He has also worked for Pro Wrestling NOAH, Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) and Impact Wrestling.
Professional wrestling career
A former judoka and amateur wrestler, Taiji Ishimori was trained in Toryumon Mexico and debuted against Fumiyuki Hashimoto in 2002. He went to compete in the Young Dragons Cup and won after beating Jun Ogawauchi, Henry III Sugawara and lastly Condotti Shuji. Shortly after, he was given a pop idol gimmick and formed a boy band-like faction with Kei and Shu Sato, calling themselves the Sailor Boys. Ishimori was intended to become the "ace" (the top student) of his graduating class, even going so far as to release an album, "Keep in Journey", to support their gimmick. However, the fan interest never matched his hype, and Ishimori became one of Toryumon's bigger failures. Sailor Boys' rival faction, Los Salseros Japoneses (Takeshi Minamino, Pineapple Hanai and Mango Fukuda) was in turn more successful with the fans. While in the Toryumon X brand, Sailor Boys also feuded with Mini Crazy Max (Mini Cima, Suwacito and Small Dandy Fujii), defeating them in X's debut show.
Unlike the rest of his class, Taiji did his Japanese debut for All Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle-1 project. Returning to Mexico, he won the UWA World Welterweight Championship on May 11, 2003, defeating Super Crazy to win the belt. Ishimori defended the UWA World Welterweight Championship 2 times, against Fuerza Guerrera on August 31, 2003 and against Yossino on December 7, 2003. He dropped the UWA championship to Takeshi Minamino on August 29, 2004. He tried to regain the title in the Dragon Fire The Final Challenge event, but it was unsuccessful. Also, at the last Toryumon X show, Sailor Boys challenged Gedo, Jado and Katsushi Takemura for the UWA World Trios Championship, but they were defeated.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2004–2005, 2016)
Following the title loss, Ishimori began working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as one of their "Young Lions" prospects. Very early in his NJPW run he was teamed up with Hiroshi Tanahashi for a one night U-30 (Under 30) tag team tournament. In the first round the team defeated Blue Wolf and Katsuhiko Nakajima and in the finals they defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Shinsuke Nakamura to win the tournament. At one point he teamed up with his mentor Último Dragón for an unsuccessful shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, held by Gedo and Jado at the time. By mid-2005 Taiji Ishimori had left NJPW and begun working for All Japan Pro Wrestling.
On July 20, 2016, Ishimori returned to NJPW to take part in 2016 Super J-Cup tournament. However he was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by Kushida. After winning the NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League with ACH, Ishimori and ACH challenged for GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the team of Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada on August 21, where the champions retained the title.
On October 21 at Road to Power Struggle event, Ishimori and ACH entered the 2016 Super Junior Tag Tournament. They advanced to the next round after defeating the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, The Young Bucks in the first round. After defeating David Finlay and Ricochet in the semifinals on October 30, Ishimori and ACH were defeated in the finals of the tournament by Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) on November 5.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2006)
In August 2005, Ishimori debuted in AJPW teaming with Keiji Muto. They, along with Kaz Hayashi, Satoshi Kojima and other face wrestlers, feuded with the villainous Voodoo Murders group. Ishimori also started teaming with another former NJPW rookie, Katsuhiko Nakajima, eventually taking part in the AJPW 2006 Junior Tag League. Together they defeated Kikujiro (Nobutaka Araya) & Kikutaro and Akira & Ryuji Hijikata, but they passed without achieving much success. Ended the league, Ishimori left All Japan.
During his time in AJPW, Ishimori also worked for the short lived promotion dragondoor as the top face (good guy), and once again failed to be accepted in that role by fans. He formed a high-flying faction with Kota Ibushi, Little Dragon and Milanito Collection a.t., but they were beaten by the stable Aagan Iisou led by Shuji Kondo. Ishimori also was in the El Dorado Wrestling debut show, leaving the promotion right after.
Pro Wrestling Noah (2006–2018)
Ishimori began working as a freelance wrestler for Pro Wrestling NOAH in March, 2006 and often worked as part of the "SEM" promotion that was considered the "Training ground" for Noah wrestlers. He began teaming up with Kenta, wrestling on many shows together, trying to earn a match for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. The team failed to win the title on their initial chance. Due to being trained in Mexico Ishimori often wrestled against Mexican Luchadores who toured with Noah, facing such opponents as Charly Manson or Abismo Negro. He also wrestled on the Noah / AAA co-promoted show TripleSEM on September 3, 2007 teaming with El Elegido and Kenta to lose to the Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Líder and Juventud Guerrera). In 2007 Ishimori became a full-time Noah wrestler and shortly after Ishimori and Kenta won the Tag Champions. The team went to Dragon Gate and defeated the team of BxB Hulk and Shingo Takagi on March 20, 2008. to bring the Noah Junior Heavyweight Tag Title back to Noah. Ishimori and Kenta successfully defended the title against Ricky Marvin and Kotaro Suzuki and also the team of Bryan Danielson and Eddie Edwards from Ring of Honor. On July 13, 2008 Ishimori and Kenta were defeated by Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Kotaro Suzuki and lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. In September, 2008 the team won the 2008 Nippon TV (NTV) Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League, with 12 points for 6 victories including defeating the reigning GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag team champions in the last match. In 2009 Ishimori began teaming regularly with Ricky Marvin, chasing after the Junior tag team titles. In early 2010 the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag title became vacant when Kotaro Suzuki suffered a knee injury. Ishimori and Marvin teamed up for a tournament to determine the next champions. They defeated Bobby Fish and Eddie Edwards in the first round and Genba Hirayanagi and Yoshinbou Kanemaru in the finals to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. On August 22 Ishimori and Marvin lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to New Japan Pro Wrestling representatives Koji Kanemoto and Tiger Mask. On January 27, 2013, Ishimori defeated Shuji Kondo to win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Through Noah's working relationship with Ring of Honor, Ishimori made his debut for the promotion on May 4, 2013, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, facing Eddie Edwards in a losing effort.During the following day's tapings of Ring of Honor Wrestling Ishimori defeated Roderick Strong in a singles match.< After a 405-day reign, the longest in the title's history, Ishimori lost the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship to Daisuke Harada on March 8, 2014. He won the title for the second time on December 23, 2015, by defeating Taichi.
On July 5, 2016, Ishimori defeated Yoshinari Ogawa in a four-man tournament final to win one of Noah's three spots in NJPW's 2016 Super J-Cup. In this same month, Ishimori took part in the 2016 NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League with his partner being American wrestler ACH. The pair won the tag league defeating Hajime Ohara and Kenoh for a spot in the final match then defeating Momo no Seishun (Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada), at the time the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship holders, in the final match. Their title match against Momo no Seishun was held on the final of the 2016 Super J-Cup and they were defeated.
Upon Atsushi Kotoge's vacation of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship, Ishimori faced Hajime Ohara for the vacant title on January 7, 2017, Noah's first show of the year. Ishimori lost the match to Ohara. Following a victory over Hi69 on January 9, the two agreed to form a tag team and made their interest in the newly vacant GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship known. The team squared off with the team of Hayata and Yo-Hey on February 18 for the vacated title and defeated them to become the thirtieth champions. They went on to lose the title to Hayata and Yo-Hey in a rematch on August 26. In March 2018 Ishimori announced after Pro Wrestling NOAH's “Great Voyage in Yokohama” show that he was leaving the promotion.
Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (2006–2007, 2010, 2015–2016)
Through Noah's working relationship with Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA) in Mexico Ishimori began wrestling for AAA beginning in 2006 when he teamed up with El Oriental and Naomichi Marufuji to defeat The Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Líder and Juventud Guerrera). Subsequently, he appeared on AAA's 2007 Rey de Reyes event, teaming with El Alebrije, El Zorro and Brazo de Plata to defeat Los Vipers Revolution (Antifaz, Histeria II, Mr. Niebla) and Kaoma, Jr. On March 19, 2010 Ishimori teamed up with Takeshi Morishima to defeat La Hermandad 187 ("The Brotherhood of 187"; Nicho el Millonario and Joe Lider) to win the AAA World Tag Team Championship, representing the AAA heel ("bad guy") faction La Legión Extranjera ("The Foreign Legion"). On May 23, 2010 Morishima and Ishimori lost the AAA World Tag Team Championship to the team of Atsushi Aoki and Go Shiozaki during Pro Wrestling Noah's NOAH Navigation With Breeze - Day 1 show in Niigata, Niigata, Japan.
Ishimori returned to AAA on May 24, 2015, when he, Atsushi Kotoge and Yoshihiro Takayama represented Pro Wrestling Noah in the Lucha Libre World Cup 2015. They were, however, defeated in the first round of the tournament by the Dream Team (Myzteziz, El Patrón Alberto and Rey Mysterio Jr.).
Impact Wrestling (2017–2018)
Through a working relationship between Noah and Impact Wrestling, Ishimori made his debut for the American promotion on July 2, 2017, at Slammiversary XV. Teaming with fellow Noah wrestler Naomichi Marufuji, he took part in a four-way tag team match, contested for both the GFW World Tag Team Championship and the Impact Wrestling World Tag Team Championship, which was won by The Latin American Xchange (Santana and Ortiz). Ishimori also took part in the following week's Impact! tapings, where he entered the 2017 Super X Cup, making it all the way to the finals, before losing to Dezmond Xavier on August 17.
Ishimori returned to Impact on November 5, 2017, at Bound for Glory, where he defeated Tyson Dux to earn a future shot at the Impact X Division Championship.Four days later, Ishimori defeated Trevor Lee to win the TNA X Division Championship|Impact X Division Championship.
Return to New Japan Pro Wrestling (2018-present)
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Cobra clutch suplex
- Crucifix driver
- Death Valley driver
- Flip DDT
- Handspring enzuigiri
- High-angle senton bomb
- Mexican Roll (Scoop powerslam transitioned into a modified reverse rolling prawn hold)
- Missile dropkick
- Moonsault falling slam
- Running hurricanrana
- Sakauchi (Crucifix driver)
- Superstar Elbow (Handspring into a back flip elbow drop)
- Superstar 619 (Tiger feint hurricanrana)
- Superstar Quebrada (Springboard moonsault onto a standing opponent outside of the ring)
- Tiger feint kick
- Tombstone double knee facebreaker
- Tama Tonga
- Entrance themes
- "Still My Heart" by Naoki Maeda (NOAH; 2003 – 2004)
- "Played-A-Live" by Safri Duo (NOAH; 2004 – 2012)
- "Gangnam Style by PSY (NOAH; 2012 – 2015)
- "The Beginning" by One Ok Rock (NOAH; 2015 – 2017)
- "Fight It Out" by MOTHBALL (NOAH; 2017 – 2018 / IMPACT; November 5, 2017 – May 10, 2018)
- "Born Soldier" by Yonosuke Kitamura (NJPW, May 4, 2018 – present; used as a member of Bullet Club)
- "Callous Rage" by Ryan Andrews (IMPACT; July 22, 2018 – present)
Championships and accomplishments
- Asistencia Asesoría y Administración
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- Pro-Wrestling NOAH
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with KENTA (1), Atsushi Kotoge (2), Hi69 (1) and Ricky Marvin (1)
- Nippon TV / NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League (4 times) – with KENTA (2007 & 2008), Atsushi Kotoge (2012), and ACH (2016)
- Super J-Cup Qualifying Tournament A (2016)