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Thread: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

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    Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Who are the Top 10 Japanese junior-weights of all time, and why?

    Steve's thoughts to come after a few replies. I'd say the peak for the style was clearly the 90s and Liger feels like the clear #1 pick. A few of the NOAH guys would probably make the cut but not sure how high. No one who debuted from the last 15 years or so would get a sniff.
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Since I never followed much Puro, I'm obviously way out of my league here... therefore more of a question for the experts: How are the chances for Tajiri and Ultimo Dragon in this?

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Quote Originally Posted by The Living Loocha Legend View Post
    Since I never followed much Puro, I'm obviously way out of my league here... therefore more of a question for the experts: How are the chances for Tajiri and Ultimo Dragon in this?
    Not sure either would make my Top 10 but both are certainly contenders. Maybe the very end of a Top 10 or in a #10-#15 spot. Ultimo had a good peak but it wasn't that long and he didn't do a lot of note after it. Plus he wasn't really a ring general level guy who could carry a lesser worker. He was a good big match guy who could turn up an deliver a barn-burner when put in a high profile match and he was reasonably consistent during his peak years. Tajiri probably relies on his American work heavily as his prime years were probably the back of the 90s into 2000. He was incredible in his younger years, had a strong peak, and managed to age well enough afterwards. Main thing against him is that his ceiling was lower than other guys in the discussion (how many Tajiri matches are considered classics?).
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    #1 would be Jushin Liger without a second thought. Undoubtedly the best junior ever, an incredible peak with a bunch of classics with basically all of his peers and really strong pre- and post- peak runs.

    The rest of a Top 5 would have Ohtani and Sasuke for sure. Both have really great peaks in obviously different ways. I'd probably have Togo in there too and I think KENTA would also slip into a Top 5 - a really great peak of almost a decade with a high ceiling, a whole bunch of great tags and singles against a wide range of guys and was often the driving force behind a lot of those matches.

    The rest of a Top 10: Kanemoto. Fuchi. Taka Michinoku. I think Marufuji would probably make Top 10 based on his juniors run, like KENTA he had a really strong career up until moving up, loads of great matches and was often the driving force there. Main thing against him is lack of great singles matches, though you could say the same for Fuchi. #10 is a toss-up, I could either go with Fujinami (the original great juniorweight, much better than Sayama) or even Hashi (similar case to his NOAH peers but on a lesser scale).

    Other guys I think would be in the mix: Ultimo, Tajiri, Delfin (strong peak but not a lot outside of it), Hayabusa (got to take the good with the bad). I could see a #10-#20 being guys like Samurai, Kanemaru, Shinzaki, Minoru Tanaka. If someone said Ibushi, I don't think that would be crazy.
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Man, I've been workshopping a list, but I cannot order them to save my life, outside of Liger #1.

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Liger seems like the #1 option due to his longevity. However Koji Kanemoto isn't that far behind and probably beats him peak matches. I'm more into Marufuji vs Kanemoto than most though. I'll stand by that as probably the best Junior Heavyweight Title Match New Japan has ever done.

    Other stand out choices are Great Sasuke, Naomichi Marufuji, Dick Togo, etc. Satoru Sayama is one of the most influential Juniors, and he has his fair share of good matches but his best work was in UWF and I don't really consider that apart of him wrestling in a junior style, if that makes sense. He's probably a 9-10 by proxy still. Whereas Marufuji in his early GHC Heavyweight Title reign comes off as a Junior wrestling Heavyweights so I would consider that. I've not really watched much Otani but judging by his 1993-1994 work - before his peak - there is a lot of great matches to watch. KUSHIDA would definitely be a modern inclusion for me. Bland personality but always excellent once the bell run. Kinda like Tomohiro Ishii in that sense.

    Another wonder is where Dragon Gate fits in. Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Yoshino and Doi all probably count.

    To quickly make a list:

    Koji Kanemoto
    Jushin Thunder Liger
    Masaaki Mochizuki
    Great Sasuke
    KUSHIDA
    Dick Togo
    KENTA
    Super Delfin
    Masanobu Fuchi
    Tiger Mask I

    HM include: Minoru Tanaka/Heat, Taka Michinoku, CIMA, Ultimo Dragon, Dragon Kid

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    What peak Kanemoto matches beat Liger's? The Samurai match is 1. I barely even remember Marufuji vs Kanemoto apart from the general consensus at the time being it was kinda stinky.

    I'd have Sayama in a Top 10 shoot-style workers for sure, but as Tiger Mask? Nah. One of the most overrated workers of all time, though thankfully over the years I think that reputation has been exposed like Brody's has been. Compare his matches with the similar opponents to Fujinami and the latter was exponentially better. I take the point on the influence but that's secondary to actual ring-work for me.

    KUSHIDA is a guy modern fans rate higher than me. I think he is fine, but I would have a hard time rating him higher than SUWA, Gedo, Yoshihito Sasaki, Ikuto Hideka and MEN's Teioh and I didn't even mention them as Top 20 guys.

    No DG/Toryumon guy would get in the Top 20, but of that group I'd rate Mochizuki, Milano and SUWA the highest. Then maybe Dragon Kid for consistency. CIMA is another guy I think is absurdly overrated, he has a lot of talent but there are hardly any great CIMA singles matches despite him being afforded more opportunity than any of the other DG system guys over the last 20 years and he's rarely the best guy in any of the big multi-man matches.
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    I wouldn't be able to make a list cause I just have too many blind spots. Someone like Kanemoto for example I've barely seen anything off.

    Liger's #1 and from the little I've seen Otani and Sasake would be in a top 10 too. I have missed a lot of KENTA's Jr run, but I don't doubt he killed it in the 2000s.

    Wrestlers who graduate to heavyweight make this a harder task, someone like Ibushi has now spent quite a lot of time not in a Jr division, but still feels Jr heavyweight in style.

    I'm with MC, KUSHIDA would have to be in my top 10. I think he was very consistent for NJPW and probably their unsung hero during their golden period in 2012-17. I think he had the best Jr title run of the decade there, and would kill it in the tags too. What I wouldn't give to have some Timesplitters tags again because that division has been an insta skip for years for me.

    I like Fuchi from what I've seen in early 90s AJPW, but he doesn't come across like a Jr. He comes across like a short heavyweight like an Ogawa.
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    I had to double check if Fuchi actually was a junior-weight, but he was up until the mid-90s I believe. He held the AJPW Jnr belt for like 3 years but that was partly because he rarely defended it.

    That reminds me - completely blanked on Kikuchi. Another Top 20 guy for sure.
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Quote Originally Posted by King Steventon View Post
    What peak Kanemoto matches beat Liger's? The Samurai match is 1. I barely even remember Marufuji vs Kanemoto apart from the general consensus at the time being it was kinda stinky.

    I'd have Sayama in a Top 10 shoot-style workers for sure, but as Tiger Mask? Nah. One of the most overrated workers of all time, though thankfully over the years I think that reputation has been exposed like Brody's has been. Compare his matches with the similar opponents to Fujinami and the latter was exponentially better. I take the point on the influence but that's secondary to actual ring-work for me.

    KUSHIDA is a guy modern fans rate higher than me. I think he is fine, but I would have a hard time rating him higher than SUWA, Gedo, Yoshihito Sasaki, Ikuto Hideka and MEN's Teioh and I didn't even mention them as Top 20 guys.

    No DG/Toryumon guy would get in the Top 20, but of that group I'd rate Mochizuki, Milano and SUWA the highest. Then maybe Dragon Kid for consistency. CIMA is another guy I think is absurdly overrated, he has a lot of talent but there are hardly any great CIMA singles matches despite him being afforded more opportunity than any of the other DG system guys over the last 20 years and he's rarely the best guy in any of the big multi-man matches.
    The Marufuji match is one that I think beats Liger's best. Against the consensus or not, that's what I think. The Wagner match I'd put above Liger against Sano or Sasuke as well. I guess it depends how much people like Liger vs Samurai from the 92 BOSJ. I didn't like it that much compared to Liger's other matches.

    Tiger Mask certainly isn't the go-to Junior of the 80s for me. I'd much prefer watching the 85-89 set of Juniors like Takada, Koshinaka and Hase.

    For Fuchi as a Junior, he had some great matches against Koshinaka, Hiro Saito and Chavo Guerrero Sr in the 80s. The style isn't really what you consider Junior Heavyweight wrestling but it's good stuff that holds up well. It just never got shown on TV.

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    I feel like Kushida might be a blind spot for me, someone got five or so matches that are (hopefully) available on NJPW World I can check out?

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    KUSHIDA vs Ricochet, 2014 BOSJ Finals
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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    Any top 10 list of junior heavyweights would definitely have to include Masaaki Mochizuki. He's definitely my favorite junior heavyweight ever and he will always hold a place in Japanese fans' hearts for that match with Otani and his karate and high flying skills.

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    Re: Top 10 Japanese Junior-weights of all time

    The names that immediately came to mind were Kanemoto, Liger, & Otani. Then Ed's point about guys jumping to Heavyweight is also true. For example Otani had a great 5-6 year run as a Jr., then spent literally 20 years as a Heavyweight. I don't know if it's fair or not but the fact that we are segregating things into this role in the first place makes me automatically subtract from guys like him, Marufuji, & KENTA who were amazing as Jrs. but then have had longer careers as Heavyweights. Also people from companies like DG, MPro, & DDT are largely a different case as they are almost exclusively jr. Heavyweight companies as well which is a bit different than a specifically weighted division in a larger company. In the modern era I think Harada, Kotoge & Ishimori have longevity and match quality to be worth looking at. I also thought of Hidaka pretty quickly. Hard to argue against his last 20 years. Minoru Tanaka would certainly be in my top 10. Kotaro would have to be considered, he still does a lot of good things now.

    I'll think on this.

    Fuchi, & Ogawa were both Jr. Heavyweights to be fair. Fuchi and Kikuchi regularly had matches for the Jr. Title along with Momota and later Ogawa wrestled for it as well. The Jr. Division was just SO unimportant that Fuchi is more known for his 6 man matches.

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