Jr. Heavyweight Division – Hiromu Takahashi
After returning to New Japan last November, Hiromu Takahashi made sure to make 2020 his year. Defeating Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom and winning back the Jr. title he had to relinquish, this set off a near picture-perfect year for the Ticking Time Bomb.
From that moment, Hiromu took the weight of the Jr. division on his shoulders. Fans were upset that the match between Hiromu and Naito was cancelled. However, Hiromu continued to show that the Juniors were as talented and strong as the Heavyweights in the New Japan Cup with a stand-out win against Tomohiro Ishii.
Even when Hiromu lost the title to Ishimori at Jingu Stadium, he did not let this bother him. Taking it all in his, he kept working and fighting until the annual Best of Super Jr tournament. Like the New Japan Cup, Hiromu put his heart and soul into every bout and put on some match of the year contenders. His match in the final with El Desperado caused excitement amongst fans and earnt him his second BoSJ win.
With a chance to wrestle on Night 2 at the Tokyo Dome for the Jr title, 2021 is going to be even more exciting for Hiromu. The possibilities are endless. Whatever the year may bring, Hiromu is bound to put smiles on fans faces.
Heavyweight Division – Tomohiro Ishii
Despite being predominantly based on the mid-card of New Japan, Tomohiro Ishii proves each year why he is one of the best in New Japan. From the start of the year, the Stone Pitbull has put his heart and body on the line in every match.
Throughout the year, Ishii has produced some potential Match of the Year contenders. These ranged from his match with Hiromu during the New Japan Cup or his G1 bout against Shingo Takagi. All of them were a combination of speed, power and strength as good as any other wrestler in the world. He has also helped raised the prestige of the NEVER 6-man titles with each defence.
As well as putting on great matches, fans also saw a different and more charismatic side to the Stone Pitbull. During this year’s New Japan Together project, the Toru Yano CHAOS show gave us some hilarious moments from Ishii. We saw a cute Ishii in a school uniform and heard some stories from his days as a young wrestler.
Going into 2021, many fans will be pleading for a big moment for Tomohiro Ishii. Whether it is a run with the Intercontinental, US or more importantly the IWGP Heavyweight title, it is something that Ishii deserves. However, just like this year, whether it happens or not will not affect the quality of matches we see.
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