My views on Pro Wrestling from the East and West

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Extreme Puroresu Awards 2004

2004 was a real interesting year for pro-wrestling in both America and Japan. WWE started off strong, but things seem to have started going downhill for them not long after WrestleMania with some unbearably bad storylines and undesereved pushes.
New Japan saw it's IWGP World Title's worth reduced to almost nothing as bad booking decisions plagued the company for most of the year.
NOAH created a true Juggernaut in it's champion as Kenta Kobashi faced and defeated all comers to solidify his position as the most dominant champion in recent years.
All Japan turned things around BIG TIME as they managed to pulls fans back to watch their shows thanks to some smart booking decisions being made as well as the interest generated by bringing in outside talent.

Here now I present my Extreme Puroresu 2004 Awards!

Best Wrestler (East): Kensuke Sasaki
- Make no bones about it, being a freelancer has done wonders for Sasaki's career. Making his big return to NJPW in a MOTY bloodbath against Yuji Nagata, to giving some sense of credibility to the IWGP title when it was having a crappy year. And lets not forget his fun excursions to the little leagues like joining the Florida Brothers in Dragon Gate and even making appearances in the even more obscure DDT promotion. Practically a man who's done it all this year from winning titles (IWGP TWICE) and tournaments (BAPE STA!! a-k-a), putting on some incredible matches in NJPW / AJPW to showing a less serious side of himself by taking part in comedy matches with the Florida Brothers. Like him or hate him, Sasaki was definately the MVP of 2004.
Runners Up:
- Kenta Kobashi
- Toshiaki Kawada
- Hiroshi Tanahashi

Best Wrestler (West): Chris Benoit
- Chris Benoit is officially the man that CANNOT seem to have a bad match with ANYONE. His WWE career definately peaked this year when he won the WWE title at WrestleMania XX, and even though he lost the title at Summer Slam, is still turning out quality matches everyweek regardless of his opponents (see his match with Viscera last week!). There is no denying this is man who has earned his spot in the business after all the obstacles he's gone through (broken neck, etc.) and the definate MVP of 2004.
Runners Up:
- Eddie Guerrero
- A.J.Styles
- Shawn Michaels

Best Tag Team (East): Naomichi Marufuji & KENTA
- The first and still reigning GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions are another combination that always seem to put on great matches, whether it's defending the Jr. tag titles or taking on the heavyweights, these two always deliver a memorable performance. The speed of Marufuji and the skill of KENTA have made for a almost unstoppable combination so much so that NOAH booker Mitsuharu Misawa would even entrust them with main event slots on shows!
Runners Up:
- None Available (No other team entertained me as much)

Best Tag Team (West): America's Most Wanted
- They've teased breaking up this duo before, but without a doubt the work best together in the tag ranks of NWA:TNA, holding the tag titles a record number of times and having incredible battles with the likes of XXX for the belts. This is a team TNA needs to keep together, even if they win individual titles.
Runners Up:
- XXX (Elix Skipper & Christopher Daniels
- Chris Benoit & Edge (pre heel Edge)
- Rey Mysterio & Rob Van Dam

Match of The Year: Kenta Kobashi VS Jun Akiyama (Tokyo Dome 7/10/2004)
- Two men with a long history as friends and enemies clash at the biggest show in NOAH's history, and show the world how a big money main event should be done! Great mat work, story telling of how they almost seem equal, and topped off with a heap of insane bumps as they try to get the big win over each other, and an ending that leaves you wondering if one guy had managed to hit his move, maybe the results would be different today. The definative MATCH OF THE YEAR.
Runners Up:
- Kenta Kobashi VS Akira Taue (Nippon Budokan 9/10/2004)
- Kenta Kobashi VS Yoshihiro Takayama (Nippon Budokan 4/25/2004)
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Hiroshi Tanahashi (G-1 Climax Finals 8/15/2004)
- Royal Rumble Match (WWE Royal Rumble 1/25/2004)

(Bare in mind the following category is based only on shows I've seen for myself this year)
Wrestling Show of The Year: Toryumon Japan Vo~Annivesario 6th Anniversary Show 7/4/2004
- Who would have thought my first taste of Toryumon would also be Toryumon's LAST SHOW? And it would also leave a heck of an impression on me as it just jumped ahead as probably my favourite indy fed in Japan right now. From the fast paced six-man opener, to the UDG title tournament, to the hilarious antics of the Florida Brothers, this was definately the most entertaining and action packed overall show I'd seen in a LONG time!
Runners Up:
- NOAH "Encountering Navigation" - 4/25/2004
- NOAH "DEPARTURE" - 7/10/2004
- NJPW "King of IWGP" - 2/15/2004



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