Ramblings About’s Wrestler of the Year 2022: Mei Suruga & Pom Harajuku

Having gone back and forth for weeks over who my wrestler of the year was, I managed to whittle it down to two candidates and began the process of figuring out who would be number one. Then, having spent far too long thinking about it, I realised that this award is my own creation, which means I can do whatever I want. Therefore, for the first time ever, Ramblings About Wrestling have two wrestlers of the year, and what a pair they are. The best in the world in 2022, as decided by me, were Mei Suruga and Pom Harajuku.

Mei Suruga

She probably should stop biting people. Credit: TJPW

For the last two years, when it came time to talk about wrestlers of the year, I’ve put Mei on my best-of-the-rest list, but with the caveat that I knew it was all a bit predictable. Yes, she’s incredible, but I go on about it all the bloody time, and how many more ways can you say it? Well, I’ll have to find at least one more because 2022 saw Suruga do it again, only better.

And what’s funny about Mei’s year is that she’s done it when I’m the least invested I’ve ever been in her Gatoh Move/ChocoPro work. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of love for her home base, and I think she’s had some brilliant matches there, but with Emi abroad and Yunamon leaving, Mei has become the de facto Ace, required to hold up the standard and defend the homestead. If she’s on a show, the odds are she’s in the main event, and while I think she’s done well, it’s never been the stuff that excites me. I can appreciate Best Bros’ matches or Mei vs Shoko, and most of them are very good, but it’s never been what I love.

Thankfully, Mei has also delivered plenty of that. I would even go as far as to say it’s where she excelled. Few wrestlers can wander into a company and steal the show like Suruga can. Whether she’s pairing up with Momoka Hanazono to menace Oz Academy, charming the whole of Mexico in one swoop or travelling to America to try and slay the giant Andrew Everett, Suruga has become an almost perfect indie wrestler. Need her to come in and do a five-minute comedy opener? She can do it. Put a rookie through their paces? Yup, no problem. How about a twenty-minute blast of a tag? In her sleep. Mei’s wrestling education has been far from the norm (she’s spent a lot of the last two years performing solely to a camera), but it’s created a hybrid who can deal with anything you throw at her.

The scary part is that she’s only going to get better. The opportunities will keep coming, and with them, chances to wrestle all sorts of people. She’s spent the last few years learning in a tiny office in Ichigaya, but now the world is open to her, and if she got that good while cooped in, imagine what will happen when she’s able to spread her wings? 2022 was the start of something for Mei Suruga, and she was already the best wrestler in the world, so what the hell is going to happen when she is another few miles down that road? I have no idea, but I’m very excited to find out.

Pom Harajuku

How can you not love her? Credit: TJPW

Pom Harajuku isn’t a traditional wrestler of the year. I feel safe in predicting that she won’t win any Observer awards, and she’s unlikely to have the kind of matches that burst out of the bubble. If you put Pom in front of a decent chunk of the wrestling audience, they’d scoff, but then I tend to think those people are fucking idiots, and there is definitely a correlation between those two things. Because despite all that, I can’t think of a wrestler in 2022 who has entertained me as consistently as Pom has. In fact, alongside her regular partner Raku, she is a massive part of why I still commit to reviewing every live TJPW show. If I miss one, I might miss her next moment of genius.

And while Harajuku might not win many awards from supposedly prestigious publications, 2022 has become the Year of Pom for those in the know. Her incredible interactions with Max the Impaler were something of a coming out party, as they woke up the joshi world to how quietly brilliant she has become. In turn, TJPW has run with it, regularly putting her in a position to shine. However, this stuff didn’t start with the Max feud. For a long time now, Pom has been the master of the gentle fun of the TJPW nonsense brigade, charming us all with her friendship with Yuki Aino and Raku and booting people in the shins. Dressed in her patchwork of tartan, Pom has never vanished into a crowd, always choosing to stride forward purposefully (often taking a beating in the process), and people love her for it. Just listen to the fans cheering her on to find the courage to battle Max.

I don’t want to make it sound like Pom is all caper and no substance, though. Sure, she’s not Aja Kong, but she has become a decent wee wrestler over the last couple of years, her progress accelerating at a steady pace. In that time, she’s also developed her own style, becoming perhaps the only wrestler I’ve ever seen who focuses purely on opponents’ shins and doing a better job than many celebrated limb workers in the process. There was a time when I think Pom would have floundered if placed in the spotlight, but that’s no longer the case, as proven by her stepping in for Raku to challenge for the tag titles, easily the biggest match of her career so far. However, that’s not the only example. She’s had singles matches with everyone from Hyper Misao to Rika Tatsumi to Miyu Yamashita, and every one of them has seen her bring her unique Pomness to the table. It’s proof that while she might never consistently top cards, she can always be relied on to hang with the best.

Most of all, though, Pom makes me happy, and I think 2022 is the year where I decided that’s what I really want from wrestling. I’ve written and thought more about this stupid pseudo-sport than most (and will continue to do so), but the more I learn about it, the more I gravitate back to the simple stuff. Yes, there is joy to be found in epic title matches and sweeping storylines, but is that better than a Harajuku clown trying to catch a bee in a net or plucking up the courage to smack a Non-Binary Nightmare in the shin with a bin? Nah, if anything, it’s worse, and whoever does win all those other awards won’t have anything on our Pom.

If you enjoyed my ramblings, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi. Even the smallest amount is appreciated.


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