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Yoshi Tatsu: Painted with pride
Yoshi Tatsu made a triumphant return to in-ring action with a win over his rival, Tyson Kidd. (MATCH PHOTOS) Wearing new face paint and tights, the Japanese Superstar’s entire look has changed. Furthermore, his aggressive appearance matched a fiercer intensity inside the ring. What’s the meaning behind Tatsu’s darker perspective? (FACE PAINT PHOTOS)
"The Japanese wrestling style is different. I think everyone knows this. It’s aggressive," Tatsu told WWE.com. "I needed to show Japanese culture, Japanese pride and the Japanese style of wrestling, too. I am sure my wrestling has changed."
Tatsu had been noticeably absent from WWE programming for several weeks. After he was constantly taunted by Kidd for having a shrine to his action figure, their rivalry escalated to a new level during a Necklace on a Pole Match, which Tatsu won. His celebration was cut short on WWE NXT when Kidd beat down the Japanese Superstar, leaving him out of the ring for weeks.
“Everything with the action figure… it’s a respect thing. It sent him over the edge,” theorized WWE NXT announcer William Regal.
A mysterious Japanese symbol started appearing on the TitanTron during Kidd’s matches, often distracting the Hart Dungeon-trained Superstar. The symbol turned out to be the Kanji lettering for “pride” – a message from Tatsu.
"When I was a child, I wanted to be a WWE action figure, this is my dream," Tatsu explained to WWE.com. "My sweat, my blood, my tears, everything is in my action figure. But he broke it. That’s why I am very angry. He took the leg off my action figure. This represents not only my leg, but my pride, too. So I needed to get my pride and my leg back from him."
The Japanese Superstar’s new look is more representative of his native country. His black tights are emblazoned with Kanji characters and the Japanese flag. He now sports a red streak in his hair, and when he takes off his new mask, half of his face is painted red, white and black.
"This is like The Great Muta. When I saw The Great Muta wrestling, I wanted to be a wrestler. It’s a tribute. But I am not Muta, I am Yoshi," he said. "I don’t want to cover the whole face. It’s my own style. But my inspiration is The Great Muta."
Tatsu explained that his ultimate goal is to surpass the success The Great Muta and WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki, as well as win a championship.
"I want to be the top in Japan and the United States," Tatsu said. "I want to be the most famous Japanese wrestler in the world."
The Japanese Superstar also cited the tragedy that hit his country earlier this year – the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left 20,000 people missing or dead – as a key reason for his new intensity. He hopes to to inspire all Japanese people.
"I think Japan is still in crisis. If I establish a Japanese wrestler in the world, I can encourage the Japanese people. I want to inspire the Japanese people. That’s why I want to be champion," Tatsu admitted.
Regal is sure Tatsu’s reinvigorated passion and drive are indicators that the Japanese Superstar is ready to make an impact in WWE right now.
“Forget about the future. It’s this moment, quite honestly,” Regal said. “He’s a great one.”
Ultimately, Tatsu wants the WWE Universe to understand how passionate he is about being a Japanese Superstar.
"I am very proud of Japan, the country, and Japanese wrestling, too. I want to show them Japanese culture and the country and pride."