Scout Report Directory

Scout Report by Wrestlingscout

30 Men, 20 Years, 1 Country: Part 2

14. Riki Choshu - Though a lot of people talk bad about him, Riki Choshu's place in puroresu is undeniable. His style was a new breed of strong style that was more North American than any top native in Japan before him. Though this meant his moves were more show than real, this new style was faster and different. After being discontent with his #4 spot in New Japan, Choshu did the unthinkable he turned on the #3 guy, Tatsumi Fujinami. This meant the first high-profile native feud in puroresu history, though it was cut short by Choshu's departure. His Ishin Gundan group left NJPW and started the short-lived Japan Pro. This put him in All Japan for a spell, but his style hindered him and he returned to New Japan. After returning, Choshu did it all from winning tournament to the IWGP Heavyweight title on three occasions. While his ability does not put him very high in the standings, Riki Choshu's role in the development of puroresu is definitely significant.

13. Kenta Kobashi - From the #3 man on Misawa's team to being one of All Japan, then NOAH's top stars, Kobashi has had a whirlwind of success. While Misawa headed the team and his trusty sidekick Kawada was always there, Kobashi had a nice spot. He was able to move around and made some awesome teams with Johnny Ace, Jun Akiyama, and Misawa himself after the group went their separate ways. Then the spilt came along and everything changed, Kobashi's allegiance to Misawa was paid back as he was give the top spot in NOAH. Currently out with a severe knee injury, Kobashi's return is one of the most anticipated in wrestling history and he may be able to build NOAH into the major promotion in puroresu for the millennium.

12. Keiji Muto - While more American fans know him as the Great Muta and perhaps better than anyone else on this list, Keiji Muto's accomplishments in his homeland are impressive to say the least. He brought an awesome blend of highflying and technical ability that few heavyweights had ever done. Muto's tours of the Caribbean and NWA also meant he was a fierce competitor, who was unafraid to bleed. He won numerous tag titles and captured the IWGP Heavyweight title three times in addition to NWA Television and Heavyweight title reigns. Muto's moonsault also became a dazzling move that popularized him, but hurt his knees so badly he's since changed his style dramatically. The new Keiji Muto has a goatee and bald head and employees a different style that has remarkably led him to winning All Japan's Triple Crown.

11. Akira Maeda - After traveling as Kwick-Kick Lee and winning the European Heavyweight title, Maeda was able to enter the IWGP Heavyweight title tournament. Representing Europe, Maeda managed to make a decent showing. He got a regular spot in New Japan, but left soon after to form the UWF. Maeda's long streak of problems began in 1985 when during a match with Satoru Sayama, he began throwing intentional low kicks. He returned to New Japan with several other UWF wrestler, including Nobuhiko Takada, whom he teamed with. Maeda's time in NJPW was short as he threw the infamous kick that broke Riki Choshu's orbital bone and led to Maeda's firing. Maeda's dismissal encouraged himself, Takada, and a few other wrestlers to start UWFI. Maeda never saw the first show as he went to Fujiwaragumi and started RINGS soon after. This company became a popular worked shoot promotion that Maeda starred in until his retirement in 1999. The group has become a springboard for the new breed of mixed martial artist that emerged in the mid-90s. It also provided a place where these men could work in between NHB fights. Though Akira Maeda has done many selfish and outright vicious things, he has certainly helped out puroresu by helping to bring worked shoots to his homeland.

10. Shinya Hashimoto - The last of the so-called "Three Muskateers," Hash's dominance in New Japan and building of Zero-One places him in the top ten. While Chono and Muto were more well-known internationally, Hashimoto is still in strong shape and the focal point of his own promotion. He's won some tag titles and almost typical three reigns, though one was almost a year and a half! It was during that final reign that Hashimoto's feud with Judo standout - Naoya Ogawa. The feud between the two did great business for New Japan, but sometimes went into business for themselves. Then when Hashimoto's time seemed to be passing he and several wrongly used peers left and began Zero-One. The group used wrestlers from all the promotions in Japan, especially NOAH and BattleArts. The group's awesome pay-per-views set a high standard for off-shoot groups that may follow. That company and much of NJPW's success can be credited to Shinya Hashimoto.

9. Jushin "Thunder" Lyger - An amateur wrestling champion, who changed junior heavyweight wrestling as Japan knew it, Jushin Lyger's spot in this list maybe lower than it should be. While several Tiger Mask wannabes popped up over the years perhaps only Lyger has been the best, though he has certainly been his own man. Like Sayama, Lyger crossed innovative highflying, exciting moves, and classic wrestling to become the top junior heavyweight of his day. He elevated the juniors to a point where they could hold their own cards and some even started their own feds. Lyger has been richly rewarded with numerous IWGP Junior Heavyweight titles and several tournament wins as well. He is truly a credit to the juniors in puroresu.

8. Toshiaki Kawada - After being a solid tag wrestler with Ricky Fuyuki and Mitsu Misawa, "Dangerous K" proved he was second to no one. Teaming with former foe, Akira Taue, Kawada became hell-bent on being the star of All Japan by way of winning Misawa's Triple Crown. Their feud ensured high quality matches, but time after time Kawada came up short. He finally beat Misawa and won his second Triple Crown. Then he chose the hard road when Misawa led most of the boys away from AJPW to start NOAH. This meant Kawada had the top spot, but All Japan's future was in doubt. Kawada stepped it up though, fighting the top stars of New Japan in stellar matches. All Japan's future may rest on the shoulders of Toshiaki Kawada, but he is the man they need.

7. Mitsuharu Misawa - The leader of the young lions in early 1990 All Japan, Misawa's years of battling Jumbo Tsurata gave the company a solid angle that paid off in the end. Misawa finally triumphed and then became the king of the hill fighting off his own former partners. As the company's top star and president, Misawa was looking to change Japan's most traditional group. After butting heads continuously with Mrs. Baba, Misawa and the bulk of All Japan left to start NOAH. Though it may have been the deathblow to the promotion that made him, Misawa could have more control than he ever had before. Though many dispute whether NOAH will survive, it has done reasonably well so far with Misawa as the company's first Globally Honored Crown champion.

6. Tatsumi Fujinami - "The Dragon" has managed to do what few men have been able to accomplish, going from a top junior heavyweight to a top heavyweight. While he was the #3 star in 1980s New Japan, Fujinami was really playing a huge role for a smaller wrestler. Then he made the transition to the Heavyweights and is the most successful IWGP Champion to date with five reigns under his belt in a ten-year period. Though his style was not very innovative minus a few moves, Fujinami was just a solid wrestler, who New Japan used to show that even the little guys could make it.

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