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Yoshiaki Yatsu (谷津嘉章 Yatsu Yoshiaki) (born July 19, 1956) is a Japanesemarker professional wrestler.

Amateur wrestling career

1976 Summer Olympics

Yoshiaki Yatsu was a talented amateur, competing at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montrealmarker. He didn't place in the tournament.

1980 Summer Olympics

He would have participated in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscowmarker, but Japan chose to follow the American-led boycott.

Professional wrestling career

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1980-1984)

Because of the boycott, Yatsu turned to the professional game, entering the New Japan Pro Wrestling dojo. NJPW sent him abroad to complete his training, and he ended in the WWF, where he debuted four days after Christmas, 1980, against Jose Estrada, in Madison Square Gardenmarker. He also had a stint in World Class Championship Wrestling in Texasmarker under the names Great Yatsu and Tora (Tiger) Yatsu in 1983. He won the American TV title there.

After he returned to Japan he became a protégé of Riki Chōshū. He was part of the core of Chōshū's first traitor heel stable, Kakumeigun (Revolutionary Army) in NJPW. In 1984, the Kakumeigun members left for All Japan Pro Wrestling, where they made up their own promotion, Japan Pro Wrestling Promotion as an "invading" satellite of AJPW. This idea was copied from the previous 1981 "invasion" by former International Pro Wrestling talent in NJPW, but it was constituted as an actual promotion beforehand.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1984-1990)

When AJPW promoter Giant Baba allowed interpromotional matches between AJPW and JPWP, Yatsu's push started. Baba saw Chōshū's regular tag team partner, Animal Hamaguchi as being not of rather imposing size, so he ordered Chōshū to replace him. Chōshū chose Yatsu and the two began feuding with the top AJPW team of the era, NWA International Tag Team Champions Jumbo Tsuruta and Genichiro Tenryu. Chōshū and Yatsu defeated Kakuryu for the titles on February 5, 1986, and dropped the title back to them exactly a year later.

Chōshū went back to NJPW in March 1987, but Yatsu chose to stay with AJPW. When Tsuruta and Tenryu split, Tsuruta first chose Tiger Mask II as his partner, but a very short reign with the PWF tag team titles convinced him that Tiger Mask was still green for the heavyweight division. Thus he turned to Yatsu, who shared his amateur and Olympic background, and the two clicked. The two first defeated Tenryu and Ashura Hara to win the PWF tag team titles on June 4, 1988, and on June 10 they won the NWA International titles from the Road Warriors. By virtue of their win, they became the first AJPW Double Cup Tag Team Champions.

Tsuruta and Yatsu dominated the championship, winning it a total of 5 times. After the AJPW Triple Crown was created, Yatsu received a shot at Tenryu but was defeated.

Super World of Sports (1990-1992)

In July 1990, Yatsu followed rival Tenryu and others into the new Super World of Sports promotion. There he maintained his rivalry with Tenryu and with talent from the WWF, including WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, whom he challenged in one match. He found more success in the tag team ranks, teaming with Haku to win the SWS tag team titles twice. As SWS was collapsing in mid-1992, however, Yatsu pulled out.

SPWF (1992-present)

He formed SPWF (Social Progress Wrestling Federation, later Super Pro Wrestling Federation), which formed his base of operations. Unlike Tenryu, Nobuhiko Takada and Atsushi Onita, however, Yatsu rarely challenged other big names in the major promotions; his only major appearance was in NJPW's G-1 Climax for 1994, in which he took fourth place in his six-man group (below Masahiro Chono, Keiji Mutoh, and Chōshū but above namesake Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Osamu Kido).

Yatsu came out of obscurity in 2000, when he announced he would have a mixed martial arts match in the PRIDE Fighting Championships against Gary Goodridge. But clearly, Yatsu's amateur days were long over and he was older; in the match in October, he lost. He then went to help Shinya Hashimoto's Pro Wrestling ZERO-ONE promotion gain prominence. In a match in March 2001, he defeated former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, the Britishmarker Gary Steele in under 10 minutes. A rematch against Goodridge in September ended up with the same result as before.

In 2003, old mentor Chōshū called Yatsu to his new promotion, Fighting World of Japan Pro Wrestling. Yatsu accepted but ended up leaving after a dispute over booking.

Yatsu sometimes uses a Great Muta-like persona, Akiyoshi Tsuya (Yoshiaki Yatsu's kanji characters written backwards, 津谷章嘉) in the independents. Despite his name and fame, so far he has not attempted to rejoin a major promotion, seeming content to run SPWF.

Championships and accomplishments

*AJPW Unified World Tag Team Championship (5 times) - with Jumbo Tsuruta
*NWA International Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Riki Chōshū
*PWF World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Jumbo Tsuruta
*World's Strongest Tag Team League winner - with Jumbo Tsuruta in 1987

*IWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Goro Tsurumi

*SWS Tag Team Championship (2 times) - with Haku

*WCCW Television Championship (1 time)

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