We’re at that time of year when everyone on Twitter is either complaining about or making fun of the PWI 500. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about that arbitrary list, so I’ve decided to make my own! Except, I haven’t got time to write down 500 wrestlers’ names, so I’m going to stick to ten with the RAW 10 (do you know that’s the first time I’ve noticed that the site’s name can be abbreviated to RAW? You’d think that would have been on purpose). Much like the original list, there will be no rhyme or reason for my rankings. I’m just going to make it up as I go along.
10. Shota Umino
After Strong Style Evolved UK, Shota Umino was standing by himself while people flocked around the other New Japan wrestlers out at the merch tables. I took that moment to tell him that I thought he had a great match. The smile on his face when I said that lit up my day. I don’t know if they use positive reinforcement as a training technique in the dojo or if Shota even speaks English, but everyone should have Shota Umino smile at them sometime. It’s quite a treat.
9. Kazuchika Okada
Kazuchika Okada decided to give up being the greatest wrestler on the planet and instead live out his edgy emo phase (with balloons) throughout what is perhaps the most prestigious wrestling tournament in the world. You’ve got to respect that hustle. Plus, he kept hitting Rocky Romero on the head with said balloons, and that was fucking hilarious.
8. Rey Fenix
Have you seen this boy do all those flips he does? It is fucking mental. He bounces and then twirls and then twists and then somehow lands on his feet! That shit he does when he jumps from rope to rope, I mean what the hell? I’ve never seen anything like that before. Rey Fenix should be on every list just for that.
7. Lucky Kid
Lucky Kid is a man who understands that wrestling is a bit crazy. He’s embraced that crazy and is all the better for it. While the world is going off the rails, Lucky is quite happy to wander down to the ring, hug someone’s leg and maybe try to win a match every now and then. He’s living life to the fullest which is a state we should all be looking to emulate.
6. Chuck Taylor
Chuck Taylor is the second wrestler included on the RAW 10 that I’ve met this year. I bought a t-shirt from him at Fight Club Pro. It was an XL which is far too big for me, but I wanted to get it directly from him because shipping costs are extortionate. I said hi, got the t-shirt and shook his hand. He was incredibly pleasant and seemed like a decent chap. Plus, he’s really good at Twitter.
5. Tomohiro Ishii
I don’t have an amusing reason for including Tomohiro Ishii on the list. He’s big Tomohiro Ishii and why the fuck wouldn’t he be here?
4. Zack Sabre Jr
Zack Sabre Jr is a horny little fucker who likes twisting people up in all sorts of kinky ways. He’s also introduced a very British strand of insults to New Japan which has to be respected. Most importantly, though, he fucking hates the Tories, and we can all get behind that.
3. Timothy Thatcher
Have you seen him? He’s a big hunky bear man who will out-wrestle all of you. Why wouldn’t he be on my list?
2. Kota Ibushi
My Magical Flying Elf-Man lives his life in the moment. I imagine that’s why he spends a lot of time getting lost or leaving things in places he’s not supposed to leave them in. This is a man who quite happily shoots fireworks off his own chest and Moonsaults off balconies but finds the idea of books so incredible that he doesn’t trust them. He’s on a higher level than the rest of us, and he needs to be protected.
1. Hiromu Takahashi
Oh Hiromu, my sweet summer child. How I miss you dearly. Hiromu Takahashi’s injury is definitive proof that the world isn’t fair. A man with that much passion and energy should not be restricted to a hospital bed and forced to give up Mr Belt to a new home. Hiromu Takahashi brings me joy both through his wrestling and through the very act of being Hiromu Takahashi. Cherish him and love him. For there are not many like him.