With all the excitement resonating around New Japan and Wrestle Kingdom 12, I figured it would be unfair to act like there’s only one company in Japan. No one likes it when WWE gets preferential treatment just because it’s the biggest dog in the fight, so we shouldn’t ignore the talent in the smaller promotions just because New Japan is the new sexy and cool thing.
Hopefully most of these guys you are learning about for the first time, and take the time to click the links to their match in this article. Let’s spread the love for puroresu further than Kenny Omega, Testuya Naito, and Kazuchika Okada.
5. Shotaro Ashino (Wrestle-1)
Easily the hardest section to fill out since there’s a lot of tremendous top talent through most of the promotions. But Great Muta’s Wrestle-1 organization claims this one with their current champion who hasn’t even been wrestling professionally for 3 years yet. Growing into a solid heel, he is a ground specialist. Most of his offense is technical submissions or Greco Roman suplexes and clutches. He’s had quite a few good defenses this year, but the main reason he grabbed the number 5 spot is his lack of experience, yet amazing aptitude. Even an injury last year, that sidelined him for 3 months didn’t slow down his meteoric ascent in the company. Such a prodigious story deserves the recognition of Top 5. Check out this match between him and Jiro Kuroshio, Jiro is very charismatic and entertaining, but the match quality hits all of the marks.
4. Shingo Takagi (Dragon Gate)
A former bodybuilder who trained under Animal Hamaguchi (same guy who train EVIL in NJPW). He is a four time Open the Dream Gate champion in Dragon Gate (the World Title basically), former Open the Twin Gate champion with WWE Superstar Akira Tozawa, as well as the 2005 Wrestling Observer Rookie of the Year. Even though 2017 was a fairly quiet year for him all things considered, he’s one of the best wrestlers in Japan at expressing the story and psychology in the ring without needing to understand the language. His brawling/power style is brutal, but his expressive mannerisms is what helps you connect to the match. Watch this match from last year again Jimmy Susumu.
3. Naomichi Marufuji (Noah)
He has been called Noah’s Genius and even Misawa’s Successor. The star student of Misawa and one of the cornerstones of Noah since it’s inception. Marufuji has won all of the GHC belts, seen success in NJPW’s junior division during their cooperative years, and even beat Okada in G1 24 which created a rematch later in the year at King of Pro Wrestling 2016. He’s innovated different variations of Misawa’s flowsion and even innovated the Shiranui (Sliced Bread).He’s been around for nearly 20 years, but he’s not even 40, and hasn’t really lost a step. Here’s his match from the 2009 Super J Cup vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger (and we all know Liger is the best Junior in the history of wrestling).
2. Kento Miyahara (AJPW)
The Ace of All Japan, and the only one from their younger crop of talent to not leave when the company fell on hard times a few years ago. He’s like a combination of Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega. He uses a V-Trigger style knee strike he calls Blackout and a bevy of suplex holds that lead to many of his victories. He had some great matches this year with Shuji Ishikawa, Suwama and Joe Doering. Since dropping the title to Doering he’s taken a small backseat to allow for the main event scene to expand a little, but being the Ace, he won’t be out of the title picture for long. See his match against Suwama from last year for a small taste.
Shuji Ishikawa (AJPW)
An accomplished singles and tag competitor. Former AJPW Triple Crown champion (their World TItle), winner of the 2017 Champion’s Carnival and 2017 winner of the World’s Strongest Tag League with his partner Suwama. A veteran of the ring, but still puts on a fantastic match. His hard hitting style easily grounds younger, higher flying opponents, and his Fire/Thunder or Splash Mountain have won him quite a few battles. Not flashy, but he’ll break your face.
Daichi Hashimoto (BJW/AJPW)
AJPW World’s Strongest Tag League finalist with his partner Hideyoshi Kamitani, and current BJW World Strong Heavyweight Champion. He’s the son of Shinya Hashimoto (if you don’t know who that is, that’s fine, enjoy your 12th birthday party and puberty) and has been slowly living up to the name. Still young without a lot of exposure, but he could really be a bright spot for AJPW in the future if he continues to work with them.
1. Katsuhiko Nakajima (Noah)
The “Genius of the Kick” is the most complete wrestler from Noah’s younger talent. He’s had great battles against Go Shiozaki, Mohammad Yone, Brian Cage and Eddie Edwards this year. It would be hard to ignore the impact he’s had on this company since things started going downhill after the passing of Mitsuhara Misawa and the departure of KENTA (Hideo Itami). Similar to Miyahara, he utilizes a multitude of suplex variations to lead to victory, multiple kicks (hence, genius of the kick) and a Vertical Spike as some of his more effective offense. For a taste, here’s his Match of the Year Candidate against Brian Cage.
Now since I’ve shown that there’s a few companies, do yourself a favor, use Rutube.ru and find some more content from these promotions. The level of wrestling is equivalent to New Japan, just each company uses different concepts for lower card matches. Some like to use very old veterans (like Dory Funk Jr) or comedy wrestlers (like Stalker Ichikawa). You may not care for all of the undercard, but the upper mid card to main event stuff holds up nicely to what you’ve become accustomed to.
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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