The 2nd ANnual Puroresu Representin’ Awards Preview 1: Rookie Of The Year
With the 2nd annual Puroresu Representin’ Awards right around the corner, it’s time to preview each category ahead of the voting and assembling of the polls to determine the winners. In this first part I’ll review the first candidates for the first award-Rookie Of The Year. This category honors our choices of the best new wrestlers over the past year. This category will have 2 separate polls: One only for men & one only for women/girls. There are 2 main criteria for eligibility in this category, one of these must be met:
1-Wrestler must have debuted on or after July 1, 2010.
2-Wrestler must not have completed one full year/12 total months as an active wrestler.
Optional-Ideally male candidates will have been active for at least 3 months, hopefully 3 consecutive months. For women, it depends in part on their affiliation but I’d like to see them work, again based on promotion, a minimum of 5 events but circumstances are considered.
As the final ballots may represent, exceptions may be made for wrestlers who meet condition #2 but not #1 if they have, to the best of my knowledge, less than 6 months’ experience as an active wrestler if they missed significant time due to various extraneous circumstances-which if it happens this year (and it might) will be because this particular wrestler was injured and missed most of his rookie year after his debut. With that being said, here’s a look at some of the likely candidates, click below to read my thoughts. And if you know of any possible candidates I might have missed, feel free to indicate so in the comments section.
The likely candidates:
Hiromu Takahashi (New Japan)
Takaaaki Watanabe (New Japan)
Soshun (All-Japan; This is contingent on him returning from inactivity due to injury this Saturday [7/9]. If that happens and he works all or most of the next tour this month he will be eligible as he has only 1 month experience before he was injured)
Takumi Soya (All-Japan) is probably going to be left off the ballot, he only had 2 months’ experience and has now missed 4 of 6 months since his debut due to injury (fractured jaw). If he returns in late 2011 or early 2012 he will be eligible next year.
Daichi Hashimoto (ZERO1)
Moon Mizuki (JWP)
Manami Katsu (JWP)
Mochi Miyagi (Ice Ribbon)
Maki Narumiya (Ice Ribbon)
Tamako (Ice Ribbon)
Meari Naito (Ice Ribbon)
Neko Nitta (Ice Ribbon)
Dorami Nagano (Ice Ribbon; While she didn’t “officially” debut until June, she’d been doing exhibition matches for a few months, enough that I’d consider her eligible)
Yuzuki Aikawa (Stardom)
Yoko Bito (Stardom)
Mayu Iwatani (Stardom)
Eri Susa (Stardom)
Arisa Hoshiki (Stardom)
If Saki Kashima can get a couple more matches in before August, I’ll consider her eligible. Otherwise I’ll consider her next year. She has one match since her late June debut, I’d like to see her get, if possible, at least 2 more.
My picks as early favorites:
Men: Very tough call with a thin field that was further thinned by injuries and NOAH not being able to recruit (their last rookie class was in 2005). Unless Soshun looks really good in his first tour in a long time, I’m leaning towards Hiromu Takahashi, in part due to experience and avoiding injuries. Dark Horse: Daichi Hashimoto. Has lost all his singles matches but sure hasn’t backed down from an absolute murderers’ row of foes since his debut-Masa Chono, Keiji Muto & Yoshihiro Takayama among others. In my eyes he’s hurt by ZERO1’s limited schedule, which has kept down his exposure and in-ring time. Shocker Special: Shigehiro Irie. Got a big push late in the grading period and even won the KO-D Tag Team Titles, but only held the belts for a few days.
Women: This one’s incredibly obvious-Yuzuki Aikawa. Yes, I’ve been a fan of her even before she was a wrestler and you can’t overlook the bouncy-bouncys and all the attention she gets from SportsNavi in part and others because of it (and her having been a top model), but she’s also transformed herself amazingly from bikini model to very capable wrestler. Whether or not she gets the final nod in my book will be detemined on 7/24-if she wins the Wonder Of Stardom Title and becomes the first champion, she’ll probably lock my vote up. But if she loses, I’ll be heavily leaning towards the one who beat her in the ring-Yoshiko. Dark Horse: Mochi Miyagi & Neko Nitta. Both have won titles in Ice Ribbon already but the face that Miyagi’s title reign (tag team) lasted only about a week and Nitta did beat Tsukasa Fujimoto to win hers have me leaning towards Nitta. Shocker Special: masu-me. Trying to start out in JWP is hard but she did work her way up to a JWP Jr. Title & POP Title shot late. (She lost to champ Kagetu)
The final ballot will be posted at the end of July.
Update: Apparently Irie is not a rookie after all so I removed him. And as a friendly reminder to those who want to help out/comment, keep it clean and use some etiquette. Flaming, insults, being a smart-@$$, etc. will only get you blacklisted. Stay classy, commenters.