Thursday, March 1, 2007

Performer Analysis: Ultimo Dragon

1) Innovation- 10/10

Dragon has innovated wrestling in so many ways, and been apart of so many different facets of the industry, it’s really quite amazing. First off, being the final student of Bruce Lee, the master himself, is quite a feat. Secondly, when the Japanese promoters didn’t like his style, he didn’t lag through the opening ranks; he did something not many before him had attempted- he relocated to Mexico, and became a huge superstar. Dragon was also intricate in the formation of the Super J-Crown, the combined tournament of eight different junior titles all over the world. He was among the first wave of cruiserweight wrestlers to invade WCW and re-energize light weight wrestling in America. And to top it all off, he created his very own promotion: Toryumon, which in it’s inception, was one of the most innovative and exciting promotions in the world; not to mention, there is a move named after him- the Asai moonsault, the backflip bounding from the 2nd rope to the outside!

2) Conditioning- 7/10

Dragon has been trained in the martial arts, and there fore has great stamina. He has always had a decently thick midsection and always looks top heavy, especially with all his Dragon gear on, but he is a very athletic man, and has worked many long tag matches in Mexico, Japan, and in WCW. He has been drug free and was rarely injured in his career.

3) Skill- 8/10

Dragon gained many great skills in his coming up in Mexico, often wrestling in long six, eight and ten man tag matches, learning to work many different sizes of opponents. Being able to think quickly on his feet and keep up with the lightning quick pace of the Luchadores helped him in Japan, where he was lucky enough to work some of the greatest competitors of the late 90’s and early 21st century. Great Sasuke, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho, El Hijo del Santo, Dean Malenko, Jushin Liger, and many more top opponents helped build Dragon’s abilities to have awesome matches, which he used to build his fed, Toryumon and it’s stable of great wrestlers.

4) Psychology- 7/10

Dragon wrestled some of the top names in wrestling in the late 90’s, guys who were building the future of wrestling. In Japan, psychology is very important, as it is in Mexico; the only difference is the subtleties in the different styles. They emphasize different things, giving Dragon a very well rounded look on the subject. When he came to America, the point is to entertain the fans and give believable performances, with facials and body language, something he was well prepared for.

5) Character- 5/10

Dragon has always played the upstanding face; a role that suits him. He has a great character and a great customer, but he has always been light on personality, something that possibly hindered him from becoming a heel. Or perhaps it’s his strong bond to the fans, which he has always had( barring that WWE run.)

6) Interviews- 2/10
Obviously, as is the case in the past, I do not speak Japanese, but I have seen some of his promos in translations and he doesn’t stretch beyond obvious points( I am going to beat you tonight!, or I will get my revenge!) and doesn’t use much emphasis on any points. Pretty plain interview skills.

7) Fans- 7/10

Again, Dragon has built a cult following during his career. His time in Mexico and Japan built him a world wide fan base that enjoyed watching his work, which is one of the reasons he was picked up by WCW. He usually got pretty good reactions there as well despite the fact he wasn’t given a lot to do but have good matches. His notoriety and influence in the Japanese wrestling picture had to be a selling point to pull him out of retirement and get one last chance, in WWE.

8) Strikes- 8/10
Dragon was a tremendous scientific wrestler and I would have to say that is probably his favorite style to work; or so it seemed in his later days. He had great kicking skills and implemented them very well into his arsenal every where he worked.

9) Match/ Opponent- 5/10

There’s no doubt that Dragon has faced off against the greatest lightweight stars, and well some of the best workers in the last ten years during his career. That is the reason for his score, almost solely, because he hasn’t had any red hot fire feuds that sometimes push a person’s career. He is usually a journey man, meaning he has worked in a number of promotions over his tenure, including AAA, New Japan, CWA, WCW, WWE, and Michinoku Pro, also having a number of matches in his own fed, Toryumon. Even though he has traveled all over the world, and competed against so many varied styles, he never really had a feud that will be remembered.

10) Gutcheck- 7/10

Dragon being a smaller guy, was never going to be a world Champion; at the time, he came into the industry, no one was. Even his own country didn’t see anything in him. But, he never gave up; he journeyed into Mexico and made himself a star. During his time in WCW, he chipped his elbow, an injury that would retire him for four years, but he didn’t sit idly by- he formed his own wrestling company, and opened a training school. When the opportunity came to him to achieve one of his own person goals in wrestling, he jumped on it: a chance to compete in Madison Square Garden and at a Wrestlemania. He joined the WWE in the summer of 2003 and stayed for one year and accomplished those goals. Dragon has had a tremendous love for this sport and it’s very evident in the length of his career.

Final Score: 66
Ranking: Superstar
PO: Thumbs Up

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