This should be 75-51 but I’m dumb and included 75 in the last bit.
74. KAZUSADA HIGUCHI.
Former sumo, absolute tank. Capable of being one of the big stars in Japan in the coming years. Maybe not Okada level but certainly the Sekimoto level of International recognition and love. I’m surprised DDT aren’t building solely around him but then they do have Irie and Takeshita. Aside from Irie’s ‘it factor’ Higuchi is DDT’s most outstanding natural resource.
73. DAISUKE HARADA.
I don’t really care for RATEL’s or Harada would probably rank higher. He’s one of my favourite juniors that isn’t presently under contract to New Japan. Always hoped he’d advanced to the heavyweight division but instead it was Kenoh and Kotoge. Harada is better than them both in my opinion. Fluid technician.
72. SAMI ZAYN.
I thought Sami had gotten lost on the main roster until his heel turn earlier in the year. As a heel he’s proved to be versatile and capable of getting almost anything over. WWE love guys like that. Another guy who does that is The Miz and he’s worked there forever. Sami should have a job for life.
71. MAHO KURONE.
When I first saw Kurone wrestle for TJPW in January I was stunned. What a terrific wrestler she is and her gimmick is next level. She’s a zombie, pretending to be a human wrestler. Learning from her mistakes and blood lust. Occasionally breaking ‘character’ to attempt to eat a cameraman. She’s currently taking time off but one to watch for when she’s back.
70. NAOMICHI MARUFUJI.
This is one of the hardest wrestlers to place on the entire list. NOAH are less relevant now than usual but Marufuji is still accomplished enough to crossover. Plus he was in Champion Carnival, although he was shite until the last few matches. On the flip side the last few matches were MOTYC. Marufuji still has that in his locker but he’s clearly broken down and that makes me a little sad.
69. DIRTY DRAGAN.
68. KYLE O’REILLY.
Air-guitar nerd. One of the best technicians in the world. Nerd. Part of one of the best booked cool heel stables since the nWo. Nerd. Takes silly bumps for a living. Total nerd.
67. MOMO WATANABE.
Although I rated Momo before this year she’s stepped up her game incredibly. Her win over Tam Nakano in January radically altered the landscape of Stardom and her brace of matches opposite Io Shirai were the very definite of ‘passing the torch’. Still extremely young but as good a young wrestler as there is in the world today.
66. TRAVIS BANKS.
Travis has had a tough year as Progress champion. It’s not been easy for him and his laboured babyface run collapsing and turning into a much improved deluded heel run has been quite beautiful. I’m also quite fond of Stupid Sexy Trav and the Anti-Fun Police babyface reunion stuff in Attack. It’s probably been a better year for him than I’m letting on. But hey, TK Cooper didn’t even make the list.
65. SHINGO TAKAGI.
One of the biggest dickheads in the world. His run in All Japan this year proved he is more than capable of exploding out of Dragon Gate and conquering every promotion he wants to. He’s in BOLA this year.
64. GENE MUNNY.
Sexual gammon. CCK’s best mate. Holder of the Gene Munny Certificate of Excellence, the most prestigious title in all of professional wrestling. Bar none. Master of the Ainsley Lariat. The undoubted future of British Professional Wrestling.
63. YUJI NAGATA.
Charges a lot for t-shirts. Is a grumpy old man. I have a delightful mark pic with him. Mentors half of Japan. My Dad and yours.
62. MILLIE MCKENZIE.
Just turned 18. Tremendous women’s wrestler at a very young age. Destined to be the dominant force in BritWres for some considerable time. Willing to listen to criticism. Big future.
61. SAMOA JOE.
I’ve been hot and cold on Joe’s WWE run but in reality, given Vince’s body fetishes, it’s remarkable he’s there at all let alone being treated as a big deal on the main roster. I should be thankful for small mercies. On the Indies, before TNA even, Joe was one of my favourites. I’m glad he’s still out there kicking ass and taking names.
60. SHUJI ISHIKAWA.
The real Big Dog! Shuji is a huge dude. Not only by Japanese standards. He’s a big old fucker and he kicks people really hard. He’s capable of just about anything in wrestling. He works the Strong Style but he’s adept at comedy and used to be a death matches beast and has the scars the prove it.
59. ROMAN REIGNS.
The other Big Dog. I like that he thinks his arm is a gun.
58. KAIRI SANE.
Limited opportunities for the Pirate Princess since she went to NXT. Her lack of height has become very apparent. With Io Shirai coming to join her they might get the chance to shine a little more.
Has been doing grand things to tag team wrestling. Will never get the ‘big push’ everyone has been hoping for since year dot. One can but dream.
56. TRENT SEVEN.
Has relaxed his style considerably since signing with WWE. Used to go hard in matches, loading them with chops and violence. Has toned it down and utilises the comedy and promos far more. Still hugely entertaining. His missus used to work the bar at Fight Club Pro and can still remember my drink order.
Has lost a little mystique by losing to Charlotte at WrestleMania but can console herself that she had the best match on the biggest show of the year. The worry is where WWE go now seeing as she was in a joke feud with Carmella and jobbed to her.
54. HIROOKI GOTO.
I may belittle and make fun of Goto on the reg but he’s a pretty decent pro wrestler all considered. It’d be fair to say he sometimes takes it easy but when he steps his game up it’s all gravy. His old finisher is better than GTR. GTR sucks.
If he’d not been busted for trying to frame Nosawa and Io Shirai for drug smuggling this guy would be a legit star. He’s one of the smoothest, most exciting lucha-style wrestlers I’ve ever seen in Japan. And where does he wrestle? The midcard of Zero1. Black-balled.
52. PENTAGON JR.
In theory Penta is my favourite wrestler because he does a lot of cool shit. The look for one. He looks amazing. And his chops are great. I dunno, once you’ve seen him do his act once there’s not a lot to revisit. Whereas Rey Fenix keeps doing incredible shit and I love him.
51. HANA KIMURA.
Hana is one of the main reasons I got properly into Stardom. She’s super cute but then she kicks someone’s head off. Oedo Tai are the best stable in wrestling (apart from Martina).
To be continued…