Former WWE Superstar Tajiri returned to the WWE with the chance to be a big star in their Cruiserweight Division. However, it did not work out that way and less than a year later he would be out the door and on a plane back to Japan.
Tajiri Returned At The Cruiserweight Classic
Tajiri left WWE in 2005 after four years with the company, with dreams of becoming a journalist in his home country of Japan. Few ever expected him to return, which made the announcement that Tajiri would return to WWE for the Cruiserweight Classic a huge shock to most.
He managed to make it through the first round of proceedings. Taijiri defeated Damian Slater in the first round, beating him in a quick five minute match. He was just as quick and as technically proficient as in his prime, not showing a day of his 46 years.
The next round would prove too much for the former Cruiserweight Champion, who fell to Gran Metalik in a fantastic bout. Metalik would go on to lose to TJP in the final of the tournament, while Tajiri would sign a deal with WWE to wrestle on their new show 205 Live and regularly on NXT TV.
He also filmed this hilarious video with former WWE Tag Team partner William Regal at the WWE Performance Centre:
Tajiri’s WWE Return Ended Due To Injury
Tajiri’s return to WWE in 2017 was ultimately a short one.
The Japanese star was a long-awaited arrival as soon as he was announced for the Cruiserweight Classic, with many fans hoping to see him on the main roster again and challenging for Championships.
He had not wrestled since ECW One Night Stand 2006 PPV, teaming with Super Crazy in a losing effort at the hands of The Full Blooded Italians, although he made a brief appearance during a WWE show in Japan in 2008.
After being eliminated from the Cruiserweight Classic by finalist Gran Metalik, Tajiri began to wrestle regularly on both NXT and 205 live. It was here that he would suffer an injury that would deeply affect the 46 year old legend.
Tajiri injured his knee during an NXT Taping in January during a tag team match alongside Shinsuke Nakamura against Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe.
The three other men in the team were all former NXT Champions, showing just how much WWE valued the former tag team champion and indicating he could have won the title himself had he stayed fit.
However, Tajiri requested his release from the WWE after the injury. Even though he did manage to recover and wrestle once more on 205 Live, he felt that he was not getting younger and his knee was too injured to wrestle at the intensity required in the WWE.
He thanked Triple H for the opportunity and stated he had no regrets about leaving, before quietly returning to Japan.
He continues to wrestle for All-Japan Pro Wrestling to this day and is an outside shot to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame one day. Let us know in the comments what you thought about Tajiri’s WWE return and if you’d like to see him back in the WWE.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.