For around five minutes, I pondered whether I could justify making Mio Momono my wrestler of the year when she hasn’t got into the ring since September. Then I realised I was being a fucking idiot. Mio wrapped up this meaningless award back in June and isn’t just my wrestler of the year but the best wrestler in the world right now.
The reasons for that are plentiful, but the main one is Mio’s innate Mioness. I can’t think of anyone else who does what she does. There are people doing bits of it, plenty of goblins, plenty with her grit and determination and plenty with her approach to big matches, but none of them brings it all together and ties it up in the same bow that Mio does. There’s a relentless to Momono that no one else can match. The kind of relentlessness that will have her cling onto a submission even as someone tumbles over the ropes or rain headbutts down on a wrestler twice her size in an attempt to get the win. When she steps into that ring with something important on the line, she fights like someone who never quite figured out this shit wasn’t real. I buy that she is willing to give everything she has to come out with the win.
Then there is the other side of Mio, a side that, unsurprisingly, appeals to me. Because while Mio’s big match work is incredible, I might be even more fond of her nonsense. Mio is a master of the silly, but as I noted in my match of the year round-up, she takes that silliness extraordinarily seriously, approaching it with the exact same attitude that she does the other stuff. The spot I’ll always go back to is her punching away at her backside, the way others would a leg, after a series of Hirota kanchos. It’s not that no one else sells those moves, but that Mio has to go a step further, putting over the damage throughout the rest of the match and working way too hard to get over an arse injury. That willingness to push the boundaries and do stuff others wouldn’t even consider is what makes her special.
I’ve barely even touched on any of the actual matches. The Road To GAEAISM and the numerous incredible tags that made it up plus the main event of that show, all of her Catch the Wave run, the four-way with Mei, Mei and Miyuki, her singles match with Big Hash, and so much more. It doesn’t matter that her year was only nine months long because those nine months were near impeccable, every moment providing a slither of magic. Now, we all just have to cross her fingers and hope that her latest injury heals up nice and quick because at the age of twenty-three, she’s still got seventy-seven years of wrestling ahead of her, and we don’t want her too banged up. Mio still has far too much to do.