|Born||July 21, 1972|
Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Billed weight||97 kg (214 lb)|
|Trained by||Animal Hamaguchi|
|Debut||June 25, 1992|
Shinjiro Otani (大谷晋二郎, Ōtani Shinjiro, born July 21, 1972) is a Japanese professional wrestler contracted to Pro Wrestling Zero1 (Zero1). Otani is also the acting President of the company.
Idolizing Kengo Kimura as a little child, and after graduating from high school, Otani moved out from his parents house after being heavily criticized by them for choosing a professional wrestling career, he left with 60.000 yen in his pocket. He went to Tokyo to start training in Animal Hamaguchi's gym. Otani's life was hard at the beginning, since he was homeless and his money only paid for a small tatami-like dwelling for 24,000 yen. However, thanks to Hamaguchi, Otani found himself working in a liquor store, where he gained a lot of money that paid his debts, and got him a better place to live, and at the same time he was training for his upcoming debut. He debuted on June 25, 1992 against Hiroyoshi Yamamoto. Like every young lion, he lost almost all of his matches, picking up victories over fellow young lions, such as future tag team partner Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Tokimitsu Ishizawa and Yuji Nagata. By 1995, he was already in the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship picture, and also aiding New Japan against UWF-i alongside Nagata, Ishizawa, Takaiwa, Koji Kanemoto, Black Cat and Takashi Iizuka. A little bit later, Otani became the first WCW World Cruiserweight Champion, defeating Wild Pegasus in a tournament final to be crowned champion on March 20, 1996. This was the start of his push as a legitimate junior heavyweight contender. Over the years, Otani earned the J-Crown and was also part of the first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 1999, having legendary feuds with Jyushin Thunder Liger, El Samurai, his own partner Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka and many others. Also around that time, he started associating himself with Shinya Hashimoto, his future business partner.
In 2000, New Japan booker Riki Choshu, eager to push his protégé Kensuke Sasaki above everyone else, downgraded the junior heavyweight members to mere jobbers for the heavyweights. Otani protested and was sent abroad to bulk up. Returning in 2001 as a full-fledged heavyweight, Otani challenged Sasaki for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but failed.
He then joined Shinya Hashimoto in creating their own promotion, Pro Wrestling Zero1, where he became one of the top stars after Hashimoto's departure in 2004 and subsequent death. During the company's relaunch following Hashimoto's death it was renamed to Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX. In ZERO1 he formed a tag team with Masato Tanaka called Emblem; Team Emblem (as they were later known) would appear in the US promotion Ultimate Pro Wrestling, and include Keiji Sakoda. This tag team has formed, disbanded, and reformed numerous times during Otani's time in ZERO1. EMBLEM would go on to win the NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Championship (ZERO1's top Tag Team Title Belt) two times. (Otani has held that title 4 times) Otani has won ZERO1's annual round-robin tournament the Fire Festival three separate times (2001, 2002, 2005). On January 22, 2006, Otani defeated Steve Corino for the AWA Superstars of Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship. On December 24, 2007 it was announced by ZERO1's parent company FIRST ON STAGE that Otani would become the President of ZERO1. Otani took office officially on January 23, 2007, replacing previous President Yoshiyuki Nakamura who became Director of FIRST ON STAGE. He defeated Yuji Nagata on February 27, 2009, to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
On January 4, 2013, at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, Otani made a special return to New Japan, when he replaced an injured Daichi Hashimoto in a tag team match, where he and Keiji Mutoh were defeated by Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima.
Beginning in September 2015, Otani downgraded himself back to the junior heavyweight division, proclaiming that the division had "lost its way" and "needed more heart". On September 23, he reformed his junior heavyweight team with Tatsuhito Takaiwa and defeated NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Champions Takuya Sugawara and Brother Yasshi to win the titles, the team's fourth tag team title overall and their first in 15 years. On October 11 Otani defeated Minoru Tanaka (who had defeated him and Takaiwa in 2000, along with Koji Kanemoto, to end their second IWGP junior tag reign) to win both the Zero1 International and NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championships. After three successful defenses, he lost the titles to Kotaro Suzuki on February 3, 2017.
1The championship was won in Tokyo, Japan as part of an interpromotional card between New Japan Pro-Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling.