Atsushi Aoki is a 4-year veteran and the first of NOAH’s most recent crop of rookies to break through to the mid-card ranks. Part of a trio of rookies debuting in December 2005 (Ippei Ota & Akihiko Ito were the others), Aoki was mainly used as a jobber until mid-2009, when he finally began to get a singles and tag team push. He had a deep run in the NTV Cup Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team League, reaching the finals with DDT’s Kota Ibushi before losing. This led to a GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title shot, and although he came up short in a loss to then-champion KENTA it appears he has now established himself as at least a mid-carder and can no longer be viewed as a jobber first and foremost.
In late 2010, after coming up short against KENTA, Aoki formed a tag team with his rival that many felt had great promise on paper. They began living up to that promise very quickly, winning the 2010 NTV Cup Tournament which marked Aoki’s first career tournament victory and perhaps the next step forward in his career. Altohugh he & KENTA failed in a bid to win the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from then-champions Koji Kanemoto & Tiger Mask 4, Aoki finally won the titles in late December 2010 with Naomichi Marufuji, pinning Kanemoto to win the titles and get quite possibly his long-awaited breakthrough win. It looks like 2011 could finally be his big year.
Stats & Info:
Weight: 180 pounds/82 kg
Experience: 4 years
Finishing move: Assault Point, Cross Armbreaker
Current affiliation: NOAH
Ring entrance theme: “Hotel California”
1-time GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion
1-time AAA World Tag Team Champion
2010 NTV Cup Jr. Tag League