PREVIOUSLY ON THE COUNTDOWN
Cracking into the Top 10 Baby. Some cool cats in this bunch.
(4 Top 5 Votes)
I don't even know why one has to explain the appeal of Yuji Nagata. The man is a straight up ass kicker. And back kicker. And face kicker. And everything kicker. In the last few years he's been apart of some of the best matches in New Japan. While he's been slightly pushed down the card in order to push aces like Nakamura and Tanahashi, he has still represented New Japan in their feud with ZERO-1.
In 2010 Yuji was kicking ass in tag matches; he and partner Wataru Inoue became Tag Champs in March. After the duo lost their titles over the summer, they went on to win the G-1 Climax Tag League. After they came up short in their title opportunity, it appears Yui will be focusing on the threat of old rival Minoru Suzuki. The two will be facing each other at the Wrestle Kingdom Dome Show to kick off 2011. Expect some ass kicking.
(1 #1 Vote, 4 Top 5 Votes)
They said Go Shiozaki has potential. He was strong, has amazingly loud chops and fiery charisma. Sounds like a great combination, to me. Shiozaki had an extensive tour of America gaining exposure through RoH, FIP, and Harley Race's WLW. Upon his return, Shiozaki was paired up with Misawa and the two went on to win NOAH's Global Tag League and challenge then champions Akitoshi Saito and Bison Smith. It was evident that NOAH had big plans for him.
It was on June 13th, 2009 that Shiozaki's life changed drastically when his partner Misawa died in the ring during their title fight. Losing the legend was a tragedy and the companies direction changed drastically. Shiozaki was thrust into the main event scene, winning the vacant GHC Heavyweight Title.
After a short reign, Shiozaki has been working hard representing NOAH outside the company. He and Atsushi Aoki were AAA tag champs and competed at TripleMania, where they lost the titles. Later he competed in the G-1 CLIMAX. In the tournament he fought New Japan star Shinsuke Nakamura to a 30 minute draw. Because of the split points, Shiozaki missed the finals. The two fought again in order to settle things in a no time limit match, which Shiozaki won.
He will represent the company at Wreslte Kingdom, facing, again, Shinsuke Nakamura, on the biggest stage in Japan.
(3 #1 Votes, 2 Top 5 Votes)
Despite having more #1 Votes than any wrestler on the list. Marufuji finds himself at #8. Marufuji is a tough wrestler to love. Sometimes he seems to be the best wrestler in Japan, other times he's spotty and mechanical. It's tough to figure out which Marufuji you're going to get on any given night.
Marufuji spent the first half of the year being the New Japan Jr. Champion. Having fun defenses against Prince Devitt and KENTA. After losing the title in June, Marufuji was scheduled to take part in the G-1 Climx. An arm injury suffered in a match with Kenny Omega took him out of the tournament before it even started and kept him on the shelf until recently. Marufuji recently fought KENTA on 12/5 in which he was dominated. Moving forward, Marufuji looks at tag team success with partner Atsushi Aoki. The two will try to regain the Noah Jr. Tag Titles from outsiders Koji Kanemoto and Tiger Mask.
(1 #1 Vote, 1 Top 5 Votes)
Kota Ibushi, is one of the most popular indy wrestlers in Japan. His style is slick and exciting and it's not hard to see why he's popular among voters. His team with the popular Kenny Omega(who narrowly missed the Top 20) is a fun duo to watch and have gained a lot of attention from Puroresu fans. Recently the two won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag titles from the strong team of Prince Devitt and Ryuske Taguchi.
Check out his singles match with Daisuke Sekimoto in DDT. I really enjoyed it.
(1 #1 Vote, 1 Top 5)
Takayama was a pretty consistent vote getter on the ballots. Somewhere around the time he won the Triple Crown it became apparent that Takayama was getting his groove back. Between his stroke and his general ring age, Takayama seemed to be a lumbering shadow of his former self, providing just enough to get by, and using his magnetic personality to make up for the rest. But over the last couple of years he's resurged as one of the best heavyweights in Japan.
This past year he won NOAH's first Global league and had a slugfest with Takashi Sugiura over the GHC Title. His tag team with Takuma Sano has been very successful, as they are currently the GHC Tag Champions. I highly recommend their recent tag match against the Kings of Wrestling. Takayama really worked well with Claudio Castagnoli. I'd also suggest a personal favorite of mine: his match with Shinsuke Nakamura at this year's Wrestle Kingdom. I thought it was a great match that had a legit big match feel. It's currently in my Top 5 Puro matches of the year. CHECK IT OUT.
The grand finale! Who will be #1
I'd love to hear some guesses.