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How Ultimo Dragon Became a Forbidden Door Icon

A photo of Ultimo Dragon in the, now WWE property, WCW.

With working relationships in WWE and TNA as well as NJPW and AEW. The wrestling universe is walking through the Forbidden Door or Prohibited Portal. This term was coined in the 21st century but has been an integral part of wrestling history. Long before AEW and NJPW. There was one time a WWE Belt almost showed up on a WCW PPV event.

The WWE Light Heavyweight Title

The WWE Universe states that official title reigns began in 1997. This however isn’t the case. The original Light Heavyweight title was cross-promoted between WWE and the Universal Wrestling Association out of Mexico. The title was announced in 1981 and was defended across both promotions during this time.

The cross-brand promotion would continue throughout the 1980’s. Starting in the 90’s Michinoku Pro Wrestling as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling would start booking the title for their promotions. 

In the summer of 1996 Antonio Inoki had a plan to add some stability to the world of the light heavyweight division. He planned a massive tournament featuring 8 different promotions and champions. The J-Crown Octuple Unified Championship was the outcome. 

Over a year the titles were all defended across their respective brands, excluding WWE. Ultimo Dragon and special guest Sonny Ono, a former J-Crown Champion sat down with Lee Walker of Perched on the Top Rope. He had this to say.

“This was the very first time there were eight champions and there was an eight-man championship. The difficulty was defeating all those companies and company champions. So having politics, you can imagine, To be able to do that was amazing. Even now, I want to thank everyone who gave me the ability to compete in that tournament. “ 

– Ultimo Dragon

The idea of having to book eight champions and eight promotions seems like a nightmare for a promoter. NJPW was successful in executing the J-Cup in unison with the G1 Climax tournament that same year. 

Ultimo Dragon Wins It All and Shows Up in WCW

The Great Sasuke was the inaugural champion but over a year the J-Cup Crown would change hands. During his time in the tournament Ultimo Dragon was the WAR International Junior Heavyweight Champion. This earned him the spot. He would even go on to win the championship at one point and adorn all eight titles.

During his run as J-Cup Champion Ultimo Dragon had scheduled appearances per his WCW contract. This included a J-Cup Octuple Championship vs WCW Cruiserweight championship match, winner takes all. Ultimo Dragon was scheduled to face Dean Malenko at the Starrcade event in 1996.

Leading up to Starrcade Ultimo Dragon would appear on WCW Nitro with his eight world titles. This included the WWE Light Heavyweight title. When asked why the announcers didn’t give the names of the belts, he simply said “I doubt they knew them.” When asked if Dragon ever wore the WWE title on WCW TV he said,

“Yeah of course, we’ve all seen it. It was shown on WCW TV of course. I’m not particularly sure of the dates, but I had eight belts and Dean had the WCW Cruiserweight. Winner takes all.”

– Ultimo Dragon

After a few appearances on live TV WCW finally received a call from the WWE. Dragon recalls “the day before (Starrcade) we get a call from the WWE, they say, you can do that, but not on their (WCW) TV” Ultimately pulling the WWE title off of Starrcade.

Although it didn’t make it to the PPV Ultimo Dragon and the  J-Crown Octuple Unified Championship kicked in the forbidden door and prohibited portal.

More From LWOS Pro Wrestling

Header photo – WWE – Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.


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