5. Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax 31
Whenever you need a match that will consistently deliver, the best two people are the workhorses of New Japan: Shingo Takagi and Tomohiro Ishii.
In the first main event of the first night of G1 action, fans were treated to a match that deserves to be a MOTY candidate.
Since their first meeting in 2019, Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi have had an intense rivalry.
Yet, with Shingo holding the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, the stakes were higher than ever in their G1 match.
From the start of the match, both men started the power battle with the intensity they are known for.
From shoulder tackles to exchanging elbows, it quickly became a brawl both in and out of the ring.
Yet, the power and strength were intertwined with speed and athleticism that shouldn’t be seen in two men of that size.
From lariats, enziguris and suplexes, both men were both worn out, but each time they were knocked down, it only made them more determined.
Many hoped that Ishii would finally break through and succeed in the G1. Yet, a Last of the Dragon was enough to put a halt to those chances very early in the tournament and cement Shingo’s dominance.
This match also showed why fans love watching them wrestle because they bring the best and worst out of each other.
4. Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado – Best of the Super Junior
In 2020, Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado had a MOTY candidate in their BoSJ final match.
Although it wasn’t the match of this year’s tournament, it was still one of the best of the year.
As expected, with Desperado holding the Jr title, the stakes were even higher, with both men having something to prove.
As expected, from the very beginning, it was a war of attrition and urgency. It seemed like both were willing to put their bodies on the line and brought something out of their opponent.
Yet, it was also the storytelling that made this match unique. Both men have always been connected, whether they like it or not.
Their relationship blurs the lines between love and hate, disdain and desire.
Yet, as the match went on, it didn’t seem like it was ending anytime. Although time limit draws are rare in New Japan, it was the perfect possible outcome for this match.
3. Hiromu Takahashi vs. YOH – Best of the Super Junior Final
In a year where the Heavyweights dominated New Japan, the Best of the Super Junior final proved that the Jr Heavyweights shouldn’t be ignored.
In particular, one match that stood out was the final match between Hiromu Takahashi and YOH.
Going into the final, most fans thought that the result between YOH and Hiromu would be easy.
However, the reality showcased just how good all of the wrestlers are.
Although the match started slowly with YOH and Hiromu wrestling a more mat-based offence, it didn’t last long.
Within the first 15 minutes, both wrestlers threw everything into the match and still seemed to have a surge of adrenaline.
Even after SHO came out to try and ruin the match, with the help of CHAOS and LIJ, the match continued to shine and showcased how diverse the Jr talent is.
Yet, it was the final moments of the match that seemed to capture the attention of fans the most. With a series of roll-ups, near falls and kicking out of finishes, it seemed like either man could win.
It took 38 minutes for Hiromu to hit the Time Bomb II for the win. For many, it was not only one of the best Jr matches of the year but also one of the company’s best.
YOH and Hiromu couldn’t be more different in the ring, but their chemistry was unrivalled.