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El Samurai

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Osamu Matsuda (April 19, 1966) is a Japanese professional wrestler who is best known for his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and is better known by his stage name El Samurai.

Career

Early years (1986-1992)

Osamu Matsuda graduated from high school in 1985, and joined the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo. He debuted in July 1986 and spent a few years working at the bottom of the card, wrestling with the likes of Kensuke Sasaki, Kenichi Oya, and Takayuki Iizuka. In March 1991 he went on a learning excursion to Mexico, and while working for the UWA promotion, adopted a mask and the El Samurai stage name.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1992-2008)

El Samurai returned to NJPW in March 1992. A month later, he made it to the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, in which he lost to Jushin Liger. Two months later, he defeated Liger for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. He would lose the title to Ultimo Dragon in November 1992. During that time, he would constantly team with Takayuki Iizuka and Akira Nogami in multi-man tag team matches.

In April 1994, El Samurai took part in the Super J Cup tournament; he defeated Masayoshi Motegi in the first round, before losing to The Great Sasuke in the quarterfinals. In December 1995, he entered into the second Super J Cup tournament, but he didn't fare as well as the year before, as he lost to Dos Caras in the first round. In August 1996, he took part in a tournament to determine the first J-Crown champion. At the time, El Samurai was the WWF World Light Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Gran Hamada in the first round, before losing to eventual winner The Great Sasuke in the quarterfinals.

In 1997 El Samurai adopted a new costume and won the Best of the Super Junior tournament, defeating Koji Kanemoto in the final match, during which his mask was torn completely off his face. The match was later given five stars by Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer. Only a month later he defeated Liger, winning the unified J-Crown which at that time consisted of 7 junior heavyweight championships, due to Liger losing one of the eight titles (the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Championship) before then. In March 2001, he and Liger won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.

In April 2004 El Samurai unmasked willingly for the first time since adopting the character, going by his real name, Osamu Matsuda, for a match against Osamu Nishimura, but it was for one night only. Up until at the end of January 2005, he was unmasked again in a MUGA-style match against Shinsuke Nakamura. Though El Samurai has not been a top contender in the NJPW Junior Heavyweight division for a few years, he still continues to be a veteran in it, recently winning a second IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team title, this time with rookie Ryusuke Taguchi.

On February 1, 2008 New Japan agreed to let El Samurai leave the company after his contract expired. He had been hit by injuries, which caused him not to be seen much in the ring in late 2007 & early 2008. His departure comes as some surprise as he leaves as one of New Japan's longest serving mainstays.

Freelance (2008-present)

On February 17, El Samurai appeared in All Japan Pro Wrestling, aiding Kaz Hayashi & Shuji Kondo by fending off NOSAWA Rongai & MAZADA. On May 8, 2010, El Samurai returned to New Japan to take part in the tournament contested for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. El Samurai and his partner, former rival Koji Kanemoto, advanced to the finals of the tournament, where they defeated the team of Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi to win the titles. Just over two months later, on July 19, Kanemoto and El Samurai lost the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to Devitt and Taguchi.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
  • Signature moves
  • Entrance themes
  • "The Unforgiven" by Robert Tepper (1988-1992)
  • "Terrible Gift" (1992-present)

Championships and accomplishments

  • El Mejor de Máscara Championship (1 time)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
  • X-LAW International Championship (1 time, current)

1Although he did win the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship twice, neither of his reigns are officially recognized by World Wrestling Entertainment. No reign prior to December 1997 is officially recognized by the WWE.

References

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