New Japan is still a big mystery to a lot of fans, since many only started following it this year. It makes a little bit of sense to do a pre-Wrestle Kingdom Power Ranking, just because NJPW is very good at having Wrestle Kingdom be the end of the year’s storylines instead of just an excuse to drag things out. New Year’s Dash will start to shake things up immediately, so the start of 2018 will be interesting.
5. Hiromu Takahashi w/ Daryl
One of the few wrestlers who’s character and stuffed best friend translate to the Western crowd without needing to be involved in the title scene all the time. He’s got a great look, great in-ring ability, got a stuffed cat so over that when the internet thought he was dead, we collectively had vigils and even ROH wrote an apology for him not being at future shows.
Plus, thanks to his hockey outfit at Power Struggle, he was able to insert himself into the Fatal 4 Way at Wrestle Kingdom 12 for the Junior Heavyweight Championship. So it should be nice to see if he can get Mr. Belt back.
4. Hiroshi Tanahashi
The Ace of the last decade, went from having a down year to now one of the most overlooked years. His trilogy with Tetsuya Naito is arguably a more solid all around feud than Omega vs Okada, but, because of the hype around Kenny and Kazuchika and how over the top the first two were, that trilogy was gonna be the “feud of the year” since June…just because fans already had it in their heads.
Now at Power Struggle, Tanahashi and Ibushi had to follow up the Chris Jericho news, so people were more like “It was a great match…BUT JERICHO”.
It’s hard to really believe that he’s been seeing such great success this year, at his age, and after tearing his bicep (which is still torn) . So if he can get placed on the card to not get overshadowed by perception, then people may get an idea of his character and his ability to work.
3. Kenny Omega
Some may argue that he should be higher, but the two people ahead of him, had his number this year. Even though he got his win on Okada, it was still a weakened Okada and the match was still close.
Kenny benefits heavily from the “cool factor” and the fact that he speaks Japanese and English fluently, so there’s no language barrier disconnect with fans.
The big news for him going into Wrestle Kingdom is the Jericho match, but win, lose or draw — it won’t effect his status in New Japan. Bullet Club, The Elite and him alone are still so over, that as long as he comes back to the company in 2018, he will still be billed as a Top 3 guy.
2. Tetsuya Naito
The challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, and the best character in New Japan. He’s had the most intriguing storylines of 2017, the best trilogy and won the G1 beating the man who kept him out of the finals last year (Kenny Omega).
Everyone believes it’s a lock that Naito wins at Wrestle Kingdom as the payoff to his storyline from 4 years ago of his last failed briefcase challenge that got down voted to Semi-Main Event. However, if the Chris Jericho angle doesn’t prove it, New Japan is always full of surprises.
2018 could be a new era with Naito, but until he overcomes Okada, he’s got to be second.
1. Kazuchika Okada
*drops mic and explains nothing cause it’s not necessary*
What? You need reasons? PWI #1, master of the Match of the Year, carries lower card wrestlers to a “5 Star” match, got the biggest pop of G1 Special in California Day One, and he’s now the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion (single reign).
He elevates most wrestlers he’s paired again, elevates anime that he makes cameos in (World Trigger), and he has the look of a champion…you really can’t look at the man and not think he’s a main eventer.
After winning his 2 year feuds with Tanahashi and Styles, it cemented him as the new Ace, and until he retires or if he just severely falls apart, he will be a legend within 5 years. He’s already highly regarded by Eastern and Western fans, so he doesn’t have many more heights to climb to.
Does this really come as a surprise to anyone that follows New Japan? Probably not, the 5th place could be Kushida (his wrestling is phenomenal but his character didn’t make as huge of an impact as Hiromu and Daryl), but the top 4 have been the top guys for about 2 years now…so all the surprise faces may become meh faces. After Wrestle Kingdom 12 we can see where the New Year’s Dash takes us new story wise and we may get a little movement in the top guys.
Top 5: Animals in Wrestling
Professional wrestling is often referred to as a circus. It’s a wide-ranging presentation of different acts designed to appeal to children of all ages. Wrestlers have spoken in cizarny language to each other for most of the art form’s existence.
Every good circus needs animals.
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) February 11, 2018
Bury the Bullet Club Bear is just the latest involvement of animals (or people dressed like animals) in the history of our great sport. For many years, animals have been used to accentuate human performers. There was even a time when animals wrestled humans in special attraction matches. Here are Wrestling’s Top 5 Animals.
A macaw, Frankie served as Koko B. Ware’s mascot from Koko’s entrance into the World Wrestling Federation in 1986 until his tragic death in a fire in 2001. Frankie drove home Koko’s “Birdman” persona & entrance music.
The only problem I had with Frankie was that he didn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of Koko’s opponents. The 1980s WWF often ran angles where heels were afraid of babyface animals. Frankie really couldn’t pull that off.
4. C.P. Munk
CHIKARA has seen several wrestlers in animal costumes appear in their ring, but none inspired the reaction of C.P. Munk. Munk’s inspiration, C.M. Punk, actually appeared in the main event of the first CHIKARA main event. For whatever reason, he & CHIKARA’s management had a falling out and that marked Punk’s only appearance for the promotion.
August 13, 2005 marked the debut of C.P. Munk, a giant chipmunk with Punk’s mannerisms, wrestling attire & entrance music (sped up, of course). He appeared a couple of more times in October before disappearing. Munk’s return happened at CHIKARA’s Tag World Grand Prix 2006, where he teamed with Colt Cabunny.
We found out that Necro Butcher was the man behind the C.P. Munk persona. It made perfect sense, Necro’s typical character certainly wasn’t family-friendly & he needed a way to get into CHIKARA.
The British Bulldogs are still remembered as one of wrestling’s greatest tag teams. Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid certainly wrestled with the tenacity of bulldogs, but in the 1980s WWF you needed a little bit more than that to establish your persona. Enter Matilda. The bulldog showed up towards the end of the Bulldogs’ tag team championship reign, and offered at least the same level of managerial expertise as their previous manager: Captain Lou Albano.
The highlight of Matilda’s wrestling involvement happened when Bobby Heenan & the Islanders dognapped her. Fortunately, Vince McMahon hadn’t yet considered the idea of having a wrestler feed another wrestler their own dog for dinner.
2. Terrible Ted
The wrestling bear was a tremendously popular attraction throughout the 1950s & 60s. Live gates would go up across the nation when a bear was advertised. The most famous of the wrestling bears was Terrible Ted.
Ted wasn’t a bad worker from what I’ve seen. I imagine it had to be difficult from a mental standpoint for a human wrestler to get in there with him. Even if the bear looks like he’s working, you never really know for sure. Of course, wrestlers don’t need to worry about getting booked against bears now due to animal cruelty laws, liability laws & things like that. Daniel Bryan wanted to wrestle a bear at a recent WrestleMania, but there was no way he or a bear was getting cleared to compete in a WWE ring.
Jake Roberts had been known as “The Snake” ever since he started out in wrestling. It made sense on two levels: it rhymed with Jake’s first name & it described his personality in & out of the ring. It only made sense to make it a key part of his persona when he arrived in the WWF.
There’s definitely a fear factor when it comes to snakes. People are taught in Sunday School that they’re evil. Jake used Damien as well as any wrestler has ever used a side character. Damien crawling on Jake’s downed opponents was always a creepy moment that further established Jake as a sinister force. Even when he was a good guy, there was always something dangerous about Jake & Damien.
Damien was constantly involved in angles. Ted DiBiase kidnapped him. Earthquake sat on him. He was the only thing that Andre the Giant was afraid of. There was never a more important animal in the history of pro wrestling.
Power Rankings: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Well coming off the big New Beginning shows, there were some interesting events. Taichi kidnaps Naito, Sanada showed the world that he’s a the real deal, Kitamura shows a great ability to learn and adapt, as well as, Yoshi-Hashi…well…not stinking up the joint.
Given the fact there’s so much to chew on, it makes sense to try and Power Rank the current landscape of New Japan Professional Wrestling.
5. Tetsuya Naito
The leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, the leading merchandise mover in Japan and forever the Stardust Genius. Accolades aside, he’s been in a weird spot since losing his IWGP Championship shot at Wrestle Kingdom 12. He got jumped by Jericho, he got pushed around by Yoshi-Hashi and now Taichi is trying to make a statement with him. Not really sure why he’s being saddled with the lower card guys of 2 other factions, and freelance Jericho is looming over his head. So with no real direction but, himself and LIJ are still the most over thing in NJPW, he deserves mention in the Top 5.
4. Will Ospreay
ELEVATED, EL-ELEVATED – oh, ya his theme song is catchy, shut up. Aside from a catchy theme, he’s one of the premiere atheltes on the indie scene as well as New Japan. So given the fact that he’s been towards the top of the Junior Division for the last 3 years, and a 2 time Champion in the last six months, it’s hard to ignore him. The fans love him, Okada hand picked him for Chaos, and even hand picks him again for the Anniversary Show to reignite the tradition of the Junior Champion versus the Heavyweight Champion.
Starting off big, this proves to be a big year for Ospreay.
3. Minoru Suzuki
The Sadistic Surgeon, he literally tortured Hiroshi Tanahashi to the point where Red Shoes couldn’t take anymore and took pity on the stubborn former Ace. Now he’s the Intercontinental Champion after losing the NEVER to Hirooki Goto last month in a brutal match. He feels disrespected by the press, but the fans still love to hate him. Screaming Kaze Ni Nare at the right time, is still an arena wide tradition, and you can’t help but eat up his brutal technical style.
2. Golden Lovers
Well this one is a gimme. It’s the reunion every new western fan wanted and even many Japanese fans were clamoring for this. Kenny Omega’s possible split from the Bullet Club, time to go full Babyface with Kota Ibushi. Not only Bi-lingual…these guys will be a great story to keep fans engaged through the New Japan Cup and the usually smaller show of Wrestling Dontaku.
We know what they can both do, and now it’s just a matter of seeing where they go. Some great matches can be had, but until we get confirmation on the Bullet Club, speculation is abound.
1. Kazuchika Okada
What can I really say? He’s a 5 star machine, even more so than Omega. He’s booked to be super human, looks like a million bucks, has a global footprint larger than most expected and still remains mostly humble on promos. Also New Japan’s parent company Bushi Road has been using his boyish smile and look to help sell their products like Buddy Card Fight.
Even if your sick of him being champion, his matches are always put together in a way to make you believe the other wrestler has a legit chance, until Okada’s resilience shines through. So unlike other “Pushed down our throat” talent, Okada remains humble to fans, looks fairly human, just has a more impressive reserve tank than most.
He will continue to rain money down on New Japan, even after Omega’s eventually exit to WWE.
Well there we have it, Power Rankings for New Japan. Due to injuries, Hiroshi Tanahashi isn’t on this list and due to being relatively new, Jay White hasn’t quite captured the hearts and attention of people to believe he’s a top talent.
Could there be a lot of changes amidst how the Anniversary Show, New Japan Cup, Strong Style Evolved and Wrestling Dontaku shake out? Of course! Makabe challenging for the Intercontinental Title, Jericho’s eventual involvement and the next opponent for Okada could shift things. But until them, tranquilo and Bullet Club is fine, they’re fine.
Top 5: WWE Elimination Chamber Competitors
The Elimination Chamber is a match that still carries some weight with a number of fans. Unlike other gimmick PPVs the Elimination Chamber feels right at home as the biggest stop on the road to WrestleMania. Though the Chamber is known as one of the most dangerous matches there are some competitors who’ve managed to conquer it. Here are the top five competitors to ever step foot in the Elimination Chamber.
5. Chris Jericho
While Jericho does lay claim to the records of most Chamber appearances with eight and eliminations of all time with ten, Y2J only has one win within the confines of the steel structure. That of which came with interference from Shawn Michaels. Realistically, Jericho could be put on a worst competitors list considering his abysmal record, but he has had such an impact that it would be a shame if he wasn’t a part of the list.
4. The Undertaker
The Undertaker is often associated with a handful of gimmick matches, from Hell in a Cell, to Casket, to Buried Alive matches. However it has seemingly gone under the radar that he does happen to be a standout performer in the Elimination Chamber. He may only possess one win inside the chamber, but the Phenom does have six eliminations under his belt in only three appearances. This is the best elimination to appearance ratio in the chamber’s history. He is also one of the men to start from the first position to go on an win the match, and let us not forget he competed in one after getting severely burned by his pyro.
The Rated R Superstar doesn’t exactly come to mind when taking about Elimination Chamber competitors, but the numbers don’t lie. With two wins out of four appearances and averaging one elimination per outing, Edge is quite decorated when in comes to the chain mesh. He is also the only man to compete in two chamber matches in the same night, one of which he ended up winning.
2. John Cena
John Cena will make his seventh appearance inside the chamber come Feb 25, bringing him just under Jericho in overall appearances. If he manages to win, Cena will tie Triple H with the Elimination Chamber wins, however unlikely that may be. What’s interesting, however, is two of Cena’s wins would lead to a defeat moments later, one by Edge cashing in his Money in the Bank contract at New Year’s Revolution 2006 and the other being Batista at the Elimination Chamber PPV in 2010.
1. Triple H
With four wins, seven eliminations, and six appearances, the Game certainly deserves to be king of the chamber. The first man to lose and retain a championship in the structure, as well as well as being the only man to win back to back chamber matches, and doing it twice, he has been an integral part of the match’s history. It is safe to say Triple H won’t be stepping inside the chamber to compete for gold in the later stages of his career, so someone may take over his top spot someday. But for now he sits atop the Elimination Chamber throne.