Saturday, February 3, 2007

WCW: Shinjirō Ōtani

Ring name(s) Mr. Otani (Europe)
Shinjirō Ōtani
Billed height 5 ft 11 in (181 cm)
Billed weight 236 lbs (107 kg)
Born July 21, 1972
Resides Houston, Texas
Trained by Animal Hamaguchi
Debut June 25, 1992

Shinjirō Ōtani born 21 July 1972 in Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi is a Japanese professional wrestler.

Ōtani was the first WCW Cruiserweight Champion, defeating The Pegasus Kid in a tournament final to be crowned champion on March 20, 1996. This was the start of his push as a legitimate junior heavyweight contender. Over the years, Ōtani earned the J-Crown and was also part of the first IWGP junior tag team champions with Tatsuhito Takaiwa.

In 2000, New Japan booker Riki Chōshū, eager to push his protégé Kensuke Sasaki above everyone else downgraded the junior heavyweight members to mere jobbers for the heavyweights. Ōtani protested and was sent abroad to bulk up. Returning in 2001 as a full-fledged heavyweight, Ōtani challenged Sasaki for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, but failed. He then joined Shinya Hashimoto in creating their own promotion, Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE, where he became one of the top stars after Hashimoto's departure in 2004 and subsequent death. In ZERO-ONE he formed a tag team with Masato Tanaka called Emblem; Team Emblem (as they were later known) would appear in the US promotion Ultimate Pro Wrestling, and include Keiji Sakoda but they later split. On January 22, 2006, Ōtani defeated Steve Corino for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.

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