Taiji Ishimori (石森 太二 Ishimori Taiji, born February 10, 1983) is a Japanese professional wrestler currently signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he performs as part of the Bullet Club stable and is currently one-third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions alongside Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa.
Ishimori is best known for his 12 year stint with Pro-Wrestling NOAH, where he became one of the most decorated junior heavyweights in the promotion's history, holding the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship three times, while also setting the record for the longest reign with the championship at 405 days during his first reign. Ishimori also held the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship a record six times, and won the promotion's Global Junior Heavyweight Tag League a record four times. He is also known for his work in IMPACT Wrestling, where he is a one-time IMPACT X Division Champion.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
When an 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 & 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 & 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)Edit
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 Jado & Gedo at the time. By mid-2005, Ishimori had left NJPW and begun working for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2005–2006) Edit
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)Edit
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 developmental territory for NOAH. 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 Lider & 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 Championship 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 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 Championship. In early 2010 the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles 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 Kenohfor a spot in the final match then defeating Momo no Seishun (Atsushi Kotoge & 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. On March 12, 2018, Ishimori officially announced his departure from Pro Wrestling Noah. Ending his 12-year tenure with the company.
Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (2006–2007, 2010, 2015–2016)Edit
Through NOAH's working relationship with AAA in Mexico Ishimori sometimes traveled to Mexico, wrestling for AAA. This began in 2006 when he teamed up with El Oriental and Naomichi Marufuji to defeat The Mexican Powers (Crazy Boy, Joe Lider & 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 Revolusion (Antifaz, Histeria, Mr. Niebla & Kaoma, Jr.). On March 19, 2010 Ishimori teamed up with Takeshi Morishima to defeat La Hermandad 187 ("The Brotherhood of 187"; Nicho el Millonario & 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 Navigation with Breeze 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. They were, however, defeated in the first round of the tournament by the Dream Team (Myzteziz, El Patrón Alberto & Rey Mysterio Jr.).
In early June 2016, Ishimori again represented NOAH in the 2016 Lucha Libre World Cup. Team NOAH, made up of Ishimori, Maybach Taniguchi and Naomichi Marufuji, finished fourth in the tournament.
Return to NJPW (2016) Edit
On July 20, 2016, Ishimori returned to NJPW to take part in the 2016 Super J-Cup events. On night one, he was eliminated from the Super J-Cup tournament in the first round by Kushida. At night two on August 21, he and ACH utilized their championship opportunity granted by winning the 2016 NTV G+ Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League to unsuccessfully challenge the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Atsushi Kotoge and Daisuke Harada.
On October 21 at Road to Power Struggle, 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 & Rocky Romero) on November 5.
IMPACT Wrestling (2017–present)Edit
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 Tag Team Championship and the IMPACT Wrestling World Tag Team Championship, which was won by the Latin American X-change. Ishimori also took part in the following week's GFW 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 Wrestling, 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 IMPACT X Division Championship for the first time. He dropped the title to Matt Sydal on January 12, 2018, in a match where the IMPACT Grand Championship of his opponent was also on the line. In March, Ishimori signed his release from Pro-Wrestling NOAH, declaring himself a free agent, but with questions surrounding if he will ever be back on IMPACT Wrestling.
On June 4, the official IMPACT Wrestling Twitter announced that Ishimori would make his return to the company, under his NJPW Bone Soldier gimmick for Slammiversary XVI. At the event Ishimori lost a four-way match which was won by Johnny IMPACT.
Second return to NJPW (2018–present)Edit
On April 13, 2018, NJPW began promoting the return of Bone Soldier, a wrestler last seen in the promotion in January 2017. On May 4 at Wrestling Dontaku 2018, Ishimori returned to NJPW revealing himself as the new Bone Soldier and in the process joined Bullet Club by attacking IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay. On May 7, NJPW announced Ishimori as a participant in the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He would complete the tournament with 5 wins and 2 loses, advancing to the finals. On June 4, Ishimori was defeated in the finals by Hiromu Takahashi.
At G1 Special in San Francisco, Bullet Club's Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa along with King Haku attacked other members of the group and declared themselves "Bullet Club OG". Bad Luck Fale and Hikuleo aligned with this new Tongan subgroup, while the rest of the group has since been referred to as "Bullet Club Elite". Ishimori was confirmed by Tama Tonga as being part of BCOG. Ishimori, Tonga and Loa defeated The Young Bucks and Marty Scurll during the finals of the G1 Climax 28 to become the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions.
- Finishing moves
- 450° splash
- Bloody Cross (Lifting single underhook double knee gutbuster)
- Hermosillo (Double chickenwing piledriver)
- Revolución (Pumphandle sitout side powerslam, sometimes preceded by a fireman's carry)
- Telaraña (Hammerlock cradle DDT)
- 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
- "Bone Soldier" (NJPW)
- "Superstar" (NOAH)
- Entrance themes
- Pro-Wrestling NOAH
- "Still My Heart" by Naoki Maeda
- "Played-A-Live" by Safri Duo
- "Gangnam Style by PSY
- "The Beginning" by One Ok Rock
- "Fight It Out" by MOTHBALL
- Ring of Honor
- "Black Scorpion" by Dean Barrett
- "Horn Explosion" by Kenny Pickett
- IMPACT Wrestling
- "Kiyoshi Theme" by Dale Oliver
- "Fight It Out" by MOTHBALL
- "Callous Rage" by Ryan Andrews
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- "The Beginning" by One Ok Rock
- "Born Soldier" by Yonosuke Kitamura
- "Shot'Em" by [Q]Brick (used as a member of Bullet Club)
- Pro-Wrestling NOAH
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- IMPACT Wrestling
- IMPACT X Division Championship (1 time)
- Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
- AAA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Takeshi Morishima
- Best Wrestler of the Lucha Libre World Cup award (2017)
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time, current)
- NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship (1 time, current) – with Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa
- U-30 One Night Tag Tournament (2004) – with Hiroshi Tanahashi
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #174 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2007
- Pro-Wrestling NOAH
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with KENTA (1), Ricky Marvin (1), Atsushi Kotoge (2) and Hi69 (2)
- Nippon TV/NTV G+ Cup Jr. Heavyweight Tag League (4 times, 2007 and 2008) – with KENTA, (2012) – with Atsushi Kotoge and (2016) – with ACH
- Super J-Cup Qualifying Tournament A (2016)
- Toryumon X
- UWA World Welterweight Championship (1 time)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 5½ Star Match (2018) vs. Hiromu Takahashi on June 4th