12.17.2005

A thousand words where two will do. (Pro Wrestling)

This is here because I was supposed to be helping out with the formation of the Puroresu Power year end stuff. Upon completion, I realized that it reads more of what I think is the best stuff of the year in Japan, and less what should be elligable for those awards. So, I figured I'd just put 'er right here, in case anyone actually wants to read it.




- 2005 Best Japanese Promotion

Pro Wrestling NOAH
~To deny that NOAH has not had a truly incredible year is a sign that someone does not watch pro wrestling. But all across the world, the talk of the town has been NOAH. Just to name a few:
-Kobashi, Akiyama, and Shiosaki in Germany.
-Joe Vs. Kobashi
-NOAH presence at The Wrestling Channel's supershow in England.
-KENTA and Marufuji coming to America
NOAH has begun to establish a worldwide presence. But that's just a part of it. The other part is that, bar none, the NOAH product has just been better all around than what any other promotion has been able to throw at it, with the possible exception of Dragon Gate. But, as my viewing of Dragon Gate has been limited, and I know better than to talk about things I have not seen, I have no choice but to say that NOAH is on top this year. They've drawn highest, they've kept in the green (har), they've expanded farther, and have delivered the goods with every single show.

Honorable Mentions:

Zero-One MAX
~...if only for the truly incredible turnaround they've had following tragedy after tragedy. Shin'ya dying, Hoshikawa's injury, Ogawa leaving all together...it's been a heartbreaker for Z1MAX, and yet, in the face of this, they're not only still going strong, but nearly going stronger, thanks to the young stars like Kohei Sato (Second coming of Takayama, mark my words), Ryouji Sai, Rikiya Fudo, Osamu Namiguchi, and their unbelievable junior division. While I personally dislike most of what that division does, I cannot deny that it has certainly helped their product. I'm one of those guys that would rather see a firm chop and a meaningful headlock than spot after spot after spot after spot, with no semblance of meaning. But, I'm not one to judge. And aside from that, you can't talk about Zero-One MAX without mentioning the sheer heart and determination for success everyone in the promotion hat. Look at Masato Tanaka: God knows how long he's been injured, but he refuses to take any time off, and especially refuses to slow down even a little bit. The drive of every man on that roster is a truly inspiring thing, and continues to make me have hope for pro wrestling. Hats off to Zero-One MAX.

RIKI PRO & BIG MOUTH LOUD
~How bizzare is it that Riki Choshu's product is one of the most captivating around? And that BIG MOUTH LOUD, despite only having one show, can nearly top every single other wrestling event this year? The two promotions have been joined at the hip and feuding fiercely, leading to some of my favorite matches this year (Shibata/Choshu, Murakami/Fujiwara Vs. Choshu/Enson) and has proven to be constantly fascinating to watch. However, neither one has drawn enough or simply done enough to be serious competitors to the spot of best. Either way, though, it's been a blast to watch. If I had a DVD site, or a connection to a DVD site, I would totally shill the debut "Illusion" show for BML so hard right now.

- 2005 Worst Japanese Promotion

New Japan Pro Wrestling
~I could go on for hours about the missteps New Japan has taken this year. But the site mentions it enough that I don't have to. Suffice to say, New Japan is in a hell of a tailspin. Brock is a step in the right direction, and so is putting Choshu back in charge, but it's two steps forward after a good two hundred yard dash backwards. New Japan has just had an awful year. Product has been mediocre, there's no programs to care about, and the title situation is just sad. The IWGP has fallen so very, very far within the last few years, and is only just now starting to recover. There's lots of people to blame, but blame never gets anyone anywhere. Let's just hope they do better. It's no longer at the point that, if NJPW goes down, the whole industry in Japan will suffer, as proven by NOAH. Which is good. But it'll still be sad to see them go when they do. While they havent produced a lot of the best matches, they HAVE produced a lot of the best wrestlers over their time.

Dishonorable Mentions

Osaka Pro
~They lost everyone. They lost EVERYONE. They went from being the hot stuff on the Japanese indy scene to...losing EVERYONE. It's been pathetic and greatly saddening to watch. I mean, the promotion was run so badly that they made Daio QUALLT retire. Unforgivable, I say!

- 2005 Best Gaijin/Foreigner

LOLLZALX SHELeE FUUCKING OK
~No, seriously. I can't think of anyone. And if I would, it certainly wouldn't be Shelley. I'll leave this up to you guys. Maybe Low Ki?

- 2005 Worst Wrestler of the Year

Hiroshi Tanahashi
~GOOD FUCKING GOD, is this man horrible. I have seen some awful matches. Some genuinely bad matches that make my head hurt to think about. Most of them have this man. Hiroshi Tanahashi is the most nonsensical wrestler in the history of professional wrestling. No matter what the context of the match is, he plays "ikeman face in peril." He does it in other promotions. He does it in other promotions when he's supposed to be a foreign invader. He does it in foreign countries. Racist foreign countries. When he's evil on principle of not being Mexican. And he does the same shit. And as if this wasn't bad enough, the guy is more muscularly stacked than ANYONE in Japan. I mean, maybe Macho Pump, but christ, when you're comparing one of the "future hopes of Japan" to Macho Pump, you know you're screwed. Good job, Hiroshi Tanahashi: You make me hate wrestling.

Dishonorable Mentions

Naomichi Marufuji
~Superkick. Superkick superkick superkick, dropkick, superkick. Dropkick! Missile drop kick. Shiranui.

There. Every Marufuji match of 2005. No one needs to watch him now. No one needs to see the pain.

Minoru Suzuki
~He's not cute. He's just offensive. And while some people might enjoy that, I do not. Suzuki is greatly irritating to me, regardless of face/heel lines. You might say that it's the heels job to get me to hate him, but when I can watch Osamu Kido, in his current, broken down state, and enjoy him more than I do Minoru Suzuki? There's a problem. When I can watch WWE and enjoy it more than Minoru Suzuki? That's also a problem.

Kotaro Suzuki
~He managed to botch a que paso. That's the little push thing that luchadors do when they want someone to keep going to the ropes. I've seen him botch a que paso. I don't really think I have to say anything more than that.

- 2005 Most Damaged Wrestler (Damaged Goods Award)

Hiroyoshi Tenzan
~Another year, and another really sad outing for Hiroyoshi Tenzan. All you really need to see to believe he's elligable for this is the Tenzan/Kojima near-one hour match. It sums up his entire year perfectly.

Dishonorable Mention

Wataru Inoue
~Inoue used to be a dazzling technician. He used to be able to connect with crowds in all possible ways. He could make fans love him with his never-say-die spirit, make them hate him with his disrespect to elders and outsiders, and make them feel for him as he falls limply to the mat at the hands of a bigger, or simply better wrestler. Somewhere in 2005, he must have found cocaine or SOMETHING, because this man is not the Wataru Inoue I remember. What did all of you do to him? Where's the real Wataru? Will the real Wataru Inoue please stand up?

- 2005 Best Technical Wrestler

Shinsuke Nakamura
~The category's thin anymore, as the only two real technical wrestlers I can think of are Nakamura and AmDrag. There are wrestlers that do a lot of holds and cradles, yes, but I'm not about to call Kendo Kashin a technical wrestler. Besides, I don't think AmDrag has even been to Japan this year.

Honorable Mention

Rocky Romero
~I guess?

- 2005 Most Overrated Match of the Year

Kenta Kobashi Vs. Kensuke Sasaki, NOAH "Destiny", 07/18/05
~I enjoyed it, but come the fuck on. People made it sound like it was the greatest match in eternity, when it's really just a Japanese Lugar/Sting. An anticipated match up with a good result and a hot crowd. However, that doesnt mean it's an excellent match. There are a few mechanical problems with the match, but they're minor. The match is good. The match is fun. The match is by no means the best of the last decade.

Dishonorable Mention

KENTA Vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, same show.
~KENTA's great and all, but man, Yoshinobu Kanemaru sucks a dick. And has this unique ability to make any other match suck with his wonderous five move offense. He thankfully took a backseat as the year went on, to have bad matches with bad juniors in tag team situations, but this was (hopefully) his last prominent junior singles match.

- 2005 Best Bout: Jr. Heavyweights

KENTA Vs. SUWA, 9/18/05 (I think), NOAH
~This shouldn't be surprising. However, this match deserves to be here, as these two went out, and not only were able to do a straight laced Face/Heel match (a feat in Japan) but SUWA took this match so overboard that it could be said he made this match. KENTA's traditional spots were placed brilliantly, and SUWA's array of Mid-South Heel Counters and manuvers, combined with a little bit of the jumpiness of most Juniors around, made this something really special.

Honorable Mentions

Yuki Ishikawa Vs. Alexander Otsuka, 9/11/05, BIG MOUTH LOUD
~This match was first place, for me. But I realized that probably no one has seen it. So, if you have the money to change that, do. The entire BML show is great, but this match is just outstanding, in almost every concievable way. The only problem was they had to follow up an AWFUL (like there's any other kind) Enson Inoue double cross against Gerard Gordeau. The crowd didn't wake up again until the UTTERLY RAD main event.

Makoto Hashi Vs. Tsuyoshi Kikuchi, NOAH, 5/13/05
~As you can probably tell, I don't like much of the flying stuff in wrestling. I'm okay with a little of it, but only if it makes sense within the context of the match (I.E. The minor theme of John Woo Vs. Missile Dropkick in KENTA/SUWA). This is another one of those matches. It's 20 minutes long, and it doesnt really feel like a junior match (well, what a junior match has, anyways). The flying is limited. The reason I'm putting this here, though, is because the strikes are just gross. Gross and awesome. The match is a 20 minute brawl, with a few wrestling moves thrown in, and a lot of flaring tempers. It's one of my favorite matches this year, simply because of how fun it is.

Katsuhiko Nakajima Vs. Osamu Namiguchi, NOAH, Differ Cup Night 1
~I never thought a Dropkick would be painful to see, but man, Osamu's something else. This entire match is simple. The biggest move in it is a German Suplex (and a damn pretty one at that). And, for that simplicity, I enjoyed it more than pretty much anything else out there. It gets more out of strikes and holds than any match has for a long time. If these are some of the faces of the new generation, then it's really looking up.

TAKA Michinoku Vs. "brother" YASSHI, AJPW,
~This is the best American cruiserweight match ever. It's also the only match to not make me gag with overabuse of Super Kicks, because of the established fact that "brother" YASSHI's got a tough head. The chicanery from the Voodoo Murders and the overall greatness of "brother" YASSHI and TAKA really set this match apart. However, KENTA/SUWA played it's Face/Heel dynamic better, and didn't have the American interferance factor. So, nod goes to that.

- 2005 Best Bout: Heavyweight

Kenta Kobashi and Go Shiosaki Vs. Gen'ichiro Tenryu and Jun Akiyama
~It's good that Go is 100kg, because it would have broken my heart to not be able to put this here. This match was AWESOME. Everything about it was placed perfectly. This was also the start of the Tenryu/Kobashi feud, which has just been dazzling to watch. Akiyama remains excellent as a heel in tag matches. Akiyama is still a great foil to Kobashi, but doesnt get under his skin like Tenryu manages too. Tenryu sells Kobashi's chops like they're death, and when he recovers, he takes it out on Go Shiosaki, until he isn't able to fight any longer and succumbs to Revolution 2K5. You could argue that there wasn't anything on the line in this match. No titles, no rematch stigma, nothing like that. But the match stands alone, without needing a back story. There was a hint it would be alright going in, but no one had ANY idea it'd turn out as good as it did.

Honorable Mentions

Minoru Suzuki & Naomichi Marufuji Vs. Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima, NOAH 10/28/05
~Every once in a while, a match comes along that has no business being as good as it is. This is one of those matches. And, I actually would vote for this as heavyweight match of the year...but Marufuji's still a junior. So, it's disqualified. But, yeah. Great match. Marufuji calms down with the superkicking, Minoru Suzuki does a lot towards making his opponents look like threats, and Yone and Morishima are phenominal as a team. The team WILD II wishes it was when they were around.

Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. Satoshi Kojima, NJPW, 5/02/05
~Brilliant. That's the only way to describe this match. It's just start-to-finish brilliant. However, there's a 10 minute period where it drags in the middle, and that's all that's keeping it from being top match. The high point of New Japan this year.

3 out of 5 Katsuyori Shibata matches this year
~Vs. Riki Choshu, RIKIPRO, unknown date: Got something out of Choshu that no one has for a long time. It's, as expected, a crazy brawl, but Riki has always known how to do crazy brawls, so it works.
Vs. Jun Akiyama, WRESTLE-1, 8/08/05: If Shibata didn't suddenly stop selling 3/4ths of the way in, this would DEFINATELY be my match of the year. It's the perfect Strong Style Vs. Oudou match up. Plus, Akiyama actually got motivated for it. That's rare stuff.
Vs. Kazunari Murakami, BIG MOUTH LOUD, 9/11/05: I have a penchant for crazy ass brawls, and this was a crazy ass brawl that doubled as a dream match for me. I love the hell out of both guys, and to see them just go bezerk on eachother is excellent, and was more exciting than a lot of matches I can think of this year.
Blame KENTA for the tags not being listed. The guy was just shitty in both of them, for reasons I'm yet to understand. However, the good thing about the tag title match was that it was totally rad to see Shibata do the Busaiku Knee and KENTA the PK. Other than that, there was nothing good there.

Kenta Kobashi and Go Shiosaki Vs. Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima
~Worlds better than the singles match. Although I do enjoy the references to the singles match during the exchanges with Kobashi and Sasaki (the test of strength going the opposite way, the chop standoff), this match was made better because of the presence of the kids. I actually cheered for Shiosaki as he deadlifted Sasaki for a vertical suplex. I have no idea why people sandbag so much with Shiosaki, but the fact that he suplexes their asses anyways is great. This match was more exciting and more dynamic than the singles match, and as such, is a better match than the singles match.

- 2005 MVP (Most Valuable Player): Heavyweights

Gen'ichiro Tenryu
~I'm dead serious. No one man has created any more interest in a product than Gen'ichiro Tenryu. When it was announced that he would start earlier this year, all eyes were on NOAH. Misawa took the momentum created by the "omgtenryu" factor, and ran with it so hard that he took the promotion to it's highest heights ever, and cemented it as No. 1 in Japan. I do not think NOAH would have had the year it did if Tenryu starting there didn't give them the attention they needed. People liked the established roster, yeah, but the threat of outsiders has always been better for NOAH business (ZERO-ONE in 2000 and 2001, the awesome NJPW/NOAH Junior War, Yuji Nagata, the return of Yoshihiro Takayama) and better for it's product. This trend continues, and this year, it meant so much that I doubt NOAH would be where it is without Tenryu. While the Dome would have drawn with Misawa/Kawada, and Kobashi/Sasaki would have still been great, without the stigma and intrigue of Tenryu, I don't think as many people would have paid attention to NOAH until the Dome Show. Tenryu hasn't finished the year strong, I'll admit. But in return, he has essentially turned the tide in the perpetual battle of NOAH Vs. New Japan, and has been instrumental in the construction of the compelling product that NOAH is seen as today.

I didn't mention the Tenryu/Dragon Gate thing because I don't watch Dragon Gate since Kondo and YASSHI were fired.

Honorable Mention

Katsuyori Shibata
~Whenever people ask me who I prefer of Nakamura or Tanahashi, I always answer Shibata. This year, it stands truer than ever. While he didn't wrestle that much this year, every match he has had has two things in common. First, they not only started hot due to Shibata's ambush strategy, but stayed hot. Second: They were (with the exception of the GHC Tag Title Match) just plain good. Shibata has improved dramatically with every passing year, and this year, is so close to breaking out as a star that it's just nervewracking. If he would have actually won a few of his incredible matches, I'd have a tougher time considering him as MVP. As it is, he'll just stay here until he starts winning.

Satoshi Kojima
~He won both the IWGP and Triple Crown this year. While both belts arent on the level they were, say, six years ago, that still means a hell of a lot. It's no surprise that Kojima won the Tokyo Sports awards. He's also had consistantly great matches with some weird opponents, and is fixing to hit his first snag in his title reign next year, against TARU. However, that doesnt count! So, Kojima's had an awesome year.

- 2005 Best Tag Team of the Year

Kenta Kobashi and Go Shiosaki
~This team felt like family. Kobashi as father, mentoring Go Shiosaki through the toughest part of life: moving out in the world. Go felt like son, struggling to please father and striving to be like him. Aside from that mechanic, it really does feel like you're watching two Kobashi's in there. Go wrestles like Kenta did in 90s AJPW. High impact, straight kicks, awesome suplexes, flying offense, and a moonsault finish. Modern Kobashi cannot afford to wrestle like that, but he knows from personal experience that it works, and when he sees Go fight back, and refuse to die, he sees himself, and cannot help but cheer for him, as if he was a man in the crowd. He knows what he's going through; he's been there. And Kobashi knows he had the back up he needed, with Misawa watching over him. Well, now, Kobashi watches over Shiosaki, with Kobashi in Misawa's "Heavyweight Ace" role. It's just a really awesome team to watch, and it works on so many levels that, despite them not being a regular team, it makes them the best anyways.

Honorable Mentions

Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima
~Where the hell did this come from? Yone and Morishima started the year with a bloody Chain Deathmatch over Yone's Hardcore crown. And somehow, they ended the year not only as tag team champions, but as one of the best teams in all of Japan. It's been a crazy year for the both of them, but they only let people down once in their contests (KENTA/Shibata), and now, thanks to Minoru and Marufuji putting them over as death, and Morishima's performance against Taue, they only have that much more momentum.

Shuji Kondo and "brother" YASSHI
~I've always been a sucker for these guys. Like Strong/Evans, but WAAAAY calmer, and, in a few instances, way better. YASSHI is fourty times the heel that anyone in America is, and Kondo is a total badass. The Lansarze has always looked like death. However, this year, I can actually list them and not feel like a fan boy, as they've got an All Asia Tag Title reign to go along with their awesomeness.

Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima
~That other family team. They have really awesome matches, yes, but they dont have that much in common, and dont even play up the family thing until the bell rings. Kobashi and Shiosaki aren't blood related, and they do it better than Sasaki and Nakajima.

- 2005 Worst Tag Team of the Year

KENTA and Katsuyori Shibata
~This team also feels like family. Only instead of Father/Son, it's Older/Younger Brother, with the younger brother (KENTA) going "I CAN DO THAT TOO" and embarrassing the older brother, who does little about it. Who knows why this team is as flat out bad as it is.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Alex Shelley and Spanky
~Everything wrong with wrestling in one team. Really an amazing thing to see. With Alex, you've got the holds that are done for the sake of doing holds, the rollups that never win, and the overkill headdrops, and the constant crowd motioning (with what me and a few friends have taken to calling the FUCKING OKs.). With Spanky, you've got flying that makes little to no sense, and...well, actually, most of the reason this team is here is because of Shelley. It's like the Wonder Twins, only they always take the form of a shitty wrestler, and the shape of pale jerks. I can see why some people like them. I just...don't.

- 2005 Worst Match of the Year

KENTA and Katsuyori Shibata Vs. Mohammed Yone and Takeshi Morishima, NOAH, 11/04/05
~Read up. You can pretty much paste what I've said about KENTA and Shibata in all instances into this category, and get why this is the worst match this year.

- 2005 Fighting Spirit Award

- 2005 Newcomer of the Year

Tomohiro Iishi
~You havent lived until you've seen a strike exchange end with a lariat to the ear. Iishi may have been around for longer than 2005, but he made a hell of an impact either way. I consider him for this because this was the first I've actually heard of him, and good lord, the kid can go. Like I keep saying: if the new faces of wrestling in Japan are already this good, then the only way to go is up.

Honorable Mention

Kohei Suwama
~One year in, and he's one of the best heavyweights in Japan. The guy not only has a killer look, but good lord, his suplexes are stunning. In that respect, he is like Jumbo. Only time will tell if he can sustain his awesomeness for as bogglingly long as Jumbo did.

- 2005 Best Japanese Matchmaker

Mitsuharu Misawa
~NOAH's house shows are at least interesting. However, no one can make a big card feel more like a big card than Misawa. Every major show they've done has really felt like it was, and everything always balances out.

Honorable Mention

Shinjiro Ohtani
~The guy has so little to work with, and yet, he manages to churn out great show after great show, top to bottom. His talent pool isn't the greatest, but they all have their places, and that takes effort to do, especially when your top heel is Tadao Yasuda.

- 2005 Worst Japanese Matchmaker

n/a (only guy that comes to mind is MIKAMI, and that's more of a personal kind of thing.)

Phew! Long winded? A little.

4 Comments:

Anonymous el rudo said...

tanahashi played rudo in mexico. and did it damned well. stupid nomination, how can you call tanahashi worse then someone like arashi or nagoya ogawa or akebono? you need to watch more methinks, hes not the best but hes far from the worst.

12/17/2005 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger MaSuTa said...

No, no, he's the worst. I haven't seen anything of his in Mexico, but, if I had, I would doubt this would change. Arashi knows how to work his spots and get done. He's not offensive. Akebono...isn't supposed to be good. He's an attraction. And HUSTLE is like one big Opposite Day, so Naoya Ogawa also doesn't qualify.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is supposed to be this great, phenominal wrestler, when really, he's just a total goddamn let down. I don't care how good someone is in another country; you cannot be as big as he is and only work Face In Peril in the stuff that most everyone is gonna see. If you've seen the Mexico stuff? Great! I havent, and I don't like to talk out of my ass, about things I haven't seen. From what I have seen, Hiroshi Tanahashi has been my least favorite wrestler this year.

Like I said, this isn't nomination stuff any more. If it wants to be counted as such? Sure. But this is, like, my year end awards.

The Swanes. Or something.

12/17/2005 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Wataru Inoue was in the NJPW MOTY, by far... And I mean, the match involved Jado, GEDO and Koji Kanemoto. Irony.

How would MIKAMI even come near 'worst matchmaker' is beyond me. What did he do, a few 'Cruisers Game' shows? There wasn't supposed to be a sense of coherance to the shows, or continuity as it was doubtful they would continue. So the stories instead bled into DDT and 666 storylines. While nowhere near genius, New Japan went through how many shitty matchmakers?

12/29/2005 04:02:00 PM  
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