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Mid 2011 Puro Awards

by on July 5, 2011

Every December the Tokyo Sports Awards are awarded for outstanding professional wrestling performance in Japan.  Since we are about halfway through the year, I will offer my picks and analysis of where we stand heading into the second half of the year.  I will be honest up front and say for the most part, I don’t get to see much puro past the big four of New Japan, All Japan, NOAH and Dragon Gate.  I do watch the occasional Zero1, DDT or Big Japan show, or catch a must see match out of a smaller promotion.  But I really don’t see enough to offer up a pick for Women’s MVP.  Sorry if that offends any Joshi fans out there.

MVP: Hiroshi Tanahashi – This might be the easiest pick of any award.  He has headlined the four New Japan PPV shows and had great matches on each.  New Japan consistently plays before packed arenas on their big shows (except for the Tokyo Dome) and Tanahashi has been in the main event of all them.  His match with Hirooki Goto may be the match of the year when all is said and done.  And his match with Yugi Nagata at Korakuen Hall may not be far behind.

Best Bout: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto on 6/18 – This is the best match I have seen this year.  It was nearly flawless in every aspect.  With many fans expecting Goto to finally win the IWGP title, the crowd was hot and the near falls at the end were dramatic.  Tanahashi wins with two High Fly Flows.  This will be hard to beat.  Runners up include Tanahashi vs Yuji Nagata on 4/3;  Ryusuke Taguchi vs Kota Ibushi on 6/10; Masaaki Mochizuku/Don Fuji vs Genki Horiguichi/Ryo Saito on 2/6; and Daisuke
Sekimoto/Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryoto Hama/Manabu Soya on 4/28.

Best Tag Team: Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson (Bad Intentions) – The current holders of both the IWGP and GHC Tag Team Championship, this is a pretty easy pick as well.  But even though they hold two very important championships, this is not a run away (like Tanahashi for MVP was).  There have been other great teams this including Genki Horiguichi/Ryo Saito, Daisuke
Sekimoto/Yuji Okabayashi  and Seiya Sanada/Manabu Soya.

Outstanding Performance: Masaaki Mochizuku – Finally a non New Japan wrestler tops our list.  Mochizuku has been great all year both in his Tag Team with Don Fuji and in winning the Dragon Gate Open the Dream Gate Championship.    I put him just barely ahead of DDTs Kota Ibushi who won the the New Japan Best of Super Juniors and also the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title.  I could really go either way here but I will lean Mochizuku since he has headlined all year for Dragon Gate.  A distance third would be Kotaro Suzuki who seems to always have the best match on every big NOAH show.

Fighting Spirit: Yugi Nagata – He won both the New Japan Cup and the All Japan Champions Carnival.  This feat has never been accomplished before.  And at the age of 42, no one exhibits more fight spirit than Mr ANTI aging himself.   Others up for consideration include Suwama from All Japan and Yamato from Dragon Gate who have also been fantastic all year.

Technique Prize: Kota Ibushi – Ibushi has always been an amazing flyer and mat wrestler.  But this year he has added some additional brawling skills and really seems to have improved his kicking.  No one combines all three aspects like Ibushi who in my view is the best all around wrestler in the world.  Others to consider include Prince Devitt, Masato Yoshino, and Minoru.

Rookie of the Year: Daichi Hashimoto – I don’t see enough smaller promotions to know who the best true rookies are.  But this one seems a forgone conclusion based upon who his father was.  Even if he doesn’t deserve it, I can’t see Daichi not winning it.

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One Comment
  1. Just could not agree more: Hiroshi Tanahashi-Hirooki Goto, Tanahashi-Nagata, Taguchi-Ibushi, Mochizuku/Don Fuji-Genki Horiguichi/Ryo Saito, and Daisuke Sekimoto/Yuji Okabayashi vs Ryoto Hama/Manabu Soya on 4/28. That last one will be my guilty pleasure MOTY, so it shall be #3 on my Observer ballot.

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