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RECAP AND REVIEW: Talk is Jericho with Ultimo Dragon on wrestling in Mexico, coming to WCW, “Ultimo” vs. “Ultimate,” Okada, Cena and more

Talk is Jericho – Ultimo Dragon Unmasked

Release Date: July 27, 2018

Recap By: Caitlin Lavelle

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:20 – Introduction

On this podcast, Chris Jericho speaks to Yoshihiro Asai, better known as Ultimo Dragon. It appears as though this conversation may have taken place back in January of 2018, prior to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)’s Wrestle Kingdom show.

3:50 – Interview Starts

4:30 – Why Ultimo Dragon started in Mexico

Ultimo Dragon says he tried to start his career in the NJPW dojo, but that it was hard to break into the scene because of his small stature. Ultimo was offered an opportunity in Mexico by NJPW Color Commentator Kotetsu Yamamoto. Ultimo says that it was always his goal to go to Mexico after training in the New Japan Dojo for a couple of years, so he feels lucky that he was given the opportunity to do so even sooner.

12:35 – Who gave Ultimo Dragon his gimmick, what his name means

Ultimo says that Antonio Peña (who would go on to be the founder of Mexico’s AAA promotion), suggested that Ultimo add something to his character. Peña pitched Ultimo the idea of coming out under a mask.

Ultimo told Peña that he wanted to portray Tiger Mask, but Peña explained that Mexican people didn’t associate Tigers with “Oriental” people, and that it would mask more sense if Ultimo portrayed a Dragon-inspired character.

Ultimo and Jericho explain that ‘Ultimo Dragon’ does not mean ‘the Ultimate Dragon’, but rather refers to Ultimo as the final student of Bruce Lee. Jericho and Ultimo laugh about this, as not only was Bruce Lee Chinese (and Ultimo is obviously Japanese), but the age gap between Bruce Lee and Ultimo Dragon would have made it improbable for the two to ever have crossed paths.

18:00 – Bringing Rey Mysterio into WAR in Japan

Ultimo says he helped to organize and produce the second stage of the first ever Super J-Cup Tournament. It was Ultimo’s idea to bring Rey Mysterio in as part of a non-tournament special attraction match against Psicosis.

Jericho and Ultimo remember that the original reaction to Mysterio’s booking was confusion and outrage, but that the Wrestling and Romance (WAR) Promotion was begging to bring Mysterio back after his match.

25:45 – Advertisement

28:05 – Interview resumes

28:10 – Ultimo Dragon on coming to WCW

Ultimo says he never thought about coming to the United States, because of the initial lack of emphasis on the Lucha Libre style and the absence of a cruiserweight division. Over time, Ultimo noticed that the US was changing, with wrestlers like Dean Malenko finding success in WCW. Ultimo asked Masa Saito for the opportunity to wrestle in WCW.

Ultimo recalls his first match in WCW against Rey Mysterio at WCW Hog Wild (1996). He says the match was so-so, but that the bookers were happy and offered Ultimo a push in WCW’s Cruiserweight Division.

32:50 – Ultimo Dragon’s WWE travel partners

Ultimo says that, in WWE, he traveled with John Cena, the Basham Brothers, Funaki and Tajiri. Ultimo says Cena was their driver, and that he thinks Cena ended up in the group through Funaki. Jericho calls it strange, but says John is such a strange guy that it’s kind of standard.

35:10 – Ultimo Dragon on starting the Dragon Gate promotion

Ultimo says that he founded the Dragon Gate promotion, but he prefers to separate himself from the promotion now because of a falling out with his former partner.

36:00 – Ultimo Dragon on getting botched surgery in WCW

Ultimo says that when he was in WCW, he needed surgery for bone chips in his elbow. Ultimo says that this surgery was botched by WCW’s doctor, cutting his nerve and causing permanent damage to Ultimo’s hand. Ultimo speculates that the doctor just wanted to make money off of the surgery and explains that the botched surgery left him unable to wrestle for six years.

Ultimo says he had three subsequent surgeries in Japan to try to fix his hand. He says he still has numbness in his hand and can’t even grab a ring rope with his left hand.

38:05 – Ultimo Dragon on training Okada

While recovering from his injured hand, Ultimo began training wrestling students in Japan. NJPW star Kazuchika Okada was among Ultimo’s students. Ultimo talks a bit about Okada’s early career.

43:05 – Why Ultimo Dragon left WWE

Ultimo says that the WWE office suggested he lose his mask, due to the popularity of Rey Mysterio at the time. Ultimo requested to take six months or so prior to losing his mask to take the Ultimo Dragon gimmick on a farewell tour through Mexico. WWE honored his request, but when he came back to WWE and said he’d be ready to lose his mask within the next month, Ultimo was told that WWE Creative had nothing for him.

44:15 – Whether Ultimo Dragon would ever lose his mask

Ultimo is unsure whether he would be willing to lose his mask. He points to Dr. Wagner Jr. and Kane as examples of wrestlers who lost their masks and were successful and talks about how unmasking added dimension to their characters. Ultimo wonders whether he would still be Ultimo Dragon without his mask.

49:40 – Outro

Timestamps
0:20 – Introduction
3:50 – Interview Starts
4:30 – Why Ultimo Dragon started in Mexico
12:35 – Who gave Ultimo Dragon his gimmick, what his name means
18:00 – Bringing Rey Mysterio into WAR in Japan
25:45 – Advertisement
28:05 – Interview resumes
28:10 – Ultimo Dragon on coming to WCW
32:50 – Ultimo Dragon’s WWE travel partners
35:10 – Ultimo Dragon on starting the Dragon Gate promotion
36:00 – Ultimo Dragon on getting botched surgery in WCW
38:05 – Ultimo Dragon on training Okada
43:05 – Why Ultimo Dragon left WWE
44:15 – Whether Ultimo Dragon would ever lose his mask
49:40 – Outro

Review: Without question, Ultimo Dragon has had a legendary career in professional wrestling. This is a (relatively) short, entertaining podcast that does a good job of highlighting the important parts of Ultimo’s career through an easy conversation between two longtime friends. Rating: 8/10

Writer Bio:

Caitlin is a wrestling fan who hopes to one day discover that she is the illegitimate daughter of Vincent Kennedy McMahon and the rightful Anonymous RAW General Manager. Until then, she’ll keep on living in Orlando, Florida with her husband and son.

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