|Ring name(s)||Mr. Yamamoto
|Billed height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Billed weight||230 lb (100 kg)|
|Born||July 1, 1977
|Billed from||Tokyo, Japan|
|Trained by||Yuji Nagata
New Japan Dojo
|Debut||October 12, 2002|
Naofumi Yamamoto (born July 1, 1977 in Gifu, Japan) is a Japanese professional wrestler and retired boxer. He is best known for his time working with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and the WWE. During his time in the WWE, he competed under the ring name Yoshi Tatsu. He has challenged Christian in the past for the ECW Championship and has also challenged for the Unified Tag Team Championship with Goldust but came up short in capturing the titles.
New Japan Pro Wrestling[change | change source]
He traveled to Los Angeles and trained at the local NJPW dojo. He debuted for the promotion in a match against Wataru Inoue at the Korakuen Hall on October 12, 2002. He started out working on the lower card to gain experience. He lost to Ryusuke Taguchi on December 27, 2003 in a chance to compete at the January 4 Dome Show. He defeated Hirooki Goto, Aikya Anzawa, and Hiroshi Nagao in the 2004 Young Lion Cup and earned six points but it was not enough to qualify in the finals. Yamamoto also competed in the 2005 Young Lion Cup where he only won one match when he defeated Yujiro. In 2006, he competed in his first G1 Climax tournament but lost all four matches. He competed and teamed with Manabu Nakanishi in the 2006 G1 Tag League and they defeated Giant Bernard and Travis Tomko to earn their only win in the tournament. During the Summer of 2007, he teamed with Hiroshi Tanahashi in a team called "New Japan Dragons" in a number of matches. Yamamoto and Tanahashi challenged then-champions Bernard and Tomko for the IWGP Tag Team Championship but lost. His last match in NJPW was on November 2, 2007 where he teamed with Yuji Nagata against Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano but they lost the match.
WWE[change | change source]
Florida Championship Wrestling[change | change source]
Yamamoto joined the WWE in late 2007 and debuted for WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), where he was to undergo assessment and training in the "WWE Style" of wrestling which is different from the Japanese style. He first wrestled under the name, Mr. Yamamoto and then simply as Yamamoto. He also briefly teamed with Sheamus O'Shaunessy where they formed a tag team under the name, The Movers and the Shakers. He later changed his ring name to Yoshitatsu and tweaked the spelling of it to Yoshi Tatsu, which is the name he currently wrestles under.
ECW (2009–2010)[change | change source]
On June 30, 2009, Tatsu joined the ECW brand and debuted under the ring name, Yoshi Tatsu which he joined because of their new superstar initiative. In his first match on the brand that night he defeated Shelton Benjamin but he lost a rematch to Benjamin on the July 9 episode of ECW. On the October 20 episode of ECW, Tatsu was involved in a number one contender's match for the ECW Championship against Zack Ryder who he defeated to become the number one contender for the title. He was unable to win the championship the next week against Christian who was champion at the time.
On the December 22 edition of ECW, Tatsu had a match against Jack Swagger who he defeated to earn a spot in the ECW Homecoming battle royal where the winner would challenge Christian for the ECW title at the Royal Rumble. He didn't win the battle royal however and was eliminated by Kane. Tatsu competed in his first Royal Rumble but lost when he was eliminated John Cena. Tatsu also formed a tag team with Goldust and they became the number one contenders for the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship but they lost in their championship match against The Miz and Big Show on which was the final episode of ECW on Syfy.
WWE Raw (2010-2011)[change | change source]
When the ECW brand was discontinued, Tatsu made his debut for the Raw brand on the February 22, 2010 edition of Raw, and teamed up with Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston defeating The Legacy (Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase, and Cody Rhodes), after Orton turned on his tag team partners. Tatsu also competed in his first Wrestlemania where he won a 26-Man battle royal dark match which opened WrestleMania XXVI by last eliminating Zack Ryder. After that, Tatsu mainly appeared on WWE Superstars. In July 2010, Tatsu was involved in a few backstage brawls with The Nexus to try and help John Cena get rid of them, which he failed to do and got beaten down backstage. Tatsu then went to Japan to promote the new WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 video game along with Maryse and after months of not appearing on WWE television he returned on the November 11 episode of WWE Superstars where he defeated Zack Ryder. On the November 29 episode of Raw, Tatsu teamed with Mark Henry and defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater, after a distraction by John Cena. A week later, Tatsu and Henry had received a shot at the titles in a Fatal-4-Way type Elimination Tag Team match, which also included The Usos and Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov but were the first ones eliminated. Tastu has since formed a team with former Nexus member Darren Young but lost twice on WWE Superstars to The Usos. Tatsu has been teaming with David Hart Smith on Superstars where they beat the team of Primo and Zack Ryder.
Yoshi Tatsu was announced as a pro for 5th season of NXT Redemption where he trained Byron Saxton who was a competitor on NXT season 4. On the April 26 episode of WWE NXT, Byron Saxton started a feud with Tatsu after he attacked him when Tatsu cost Saxton his match against Lucky Cannon. On the May 31 episode of WWE NXT, Saxton was the second rookie eliminated. After Edge was forced to retire due to a neck injury he gave up the World Heavyweight Championship and they had a 20-man battle royal to determine who the #1 contender was going to be to face Alberto Del Rio in a ladder match at Extreme Rules which Tatsu was a part of. Tatsu was eliminated by Christian. Tatsu also participated in a Smackdown vs. Raw battle royal during the 2011 WWE Draft but was eliminated by the Big Show.
NXT and SmackDown[change | change source]
Tatsu was drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2011 Supplemental Draft on April 26. He appeared at Extreme Rules on May 1 at where he was a Lumberjack in the WWE Tag Team Championship match. On the June 3 edition of SmackDown, He made his debut for the brand in a losing effort against Jinder Mahal. After the match, Mahal instructed The Great Khali to attack Tatsu and apply the Vise Grip on him. On the July 26, 2011 episode of NXT, Tatsu defeated Tyson Kidd in the first Necklace on a Pole match. After the match Kidd brutally attacked the right leg of Tatsu and on the August 2nd edition of NXT, Kidd said that "there will be no more Yoshi Tatsu".
Tatsu made an appearance on the August 19 episode of SmackDown, where he competed in a 20-man Over The Top Rope Battle Royal to determine the No. 1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship. Tatsu was eliminated by the winner, Mark Henry. He returned to NXT on the September 6th episode and debuted a new dark look with a half face paint and a black ring attire. He stopped wearing the facepaint by October of 2011. He would go on to form an alliance with Trent Barreta and they feuded with Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks. Tatsu competed on the January 27th edition of Smackdown, teaming with Santino Marella in a losing effort to the WWE Tag Team Champions Primo and Epico. At the Royal Rumble, Tatsu defeated Heath Slater in the dark match.
Tatsu along with Percy Watson entered the NXT Tag Team Championship Tournament on the January 23, 2013 episode of NXT but they were eliminated in the first round by The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan). In 2013, he appeared mainly on NXT. After being out of action for a while, Tatsu returned to NXT in a match against Corey Graves in March 2014 which Tatsu lost. Tatsu competed in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX but he was eliminated by The Great Khali.
On June 12, 2014, Tatsu was released from his WWE contract.
Other media[change | change source]
Tatsu has also been featured in the video games King of Colosseum II, Wrestle Kingdom 2, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, WWE '12 and as a downloadable character in WWE '13. Tatsu was a part of Santino's Foreign Exchange with Santino Marella and even hosted a couple episodes.
Personal life[change | change source]
Championships[change | change source]
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- He was ranked #78 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2010.
- He was ranked #137 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2011.
- He was ranked #126 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2012.
- He was ranked #174 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2013.
References[change | change source]
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