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InYourCase

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  1. I've been thinking a lot about the 2016 GWE project recently and how I really enjoyed compiling my list. I talked on my podcast, Open the Voice Gate, about how this project came along at a very formative time in my wrestling viewing habits and ever since, this project has changed the way I think about and consume wrestling. Last week on Twitter, Chad Campbell posted an updated GWE ballot and it inspired me to do the same, but I didn't want to tweet about it, so I'm putting it here instead. Here's my 2016 ballot. Kenta Kobashi Stan Hansen Genichiro Tenryu Tatsumi Fujinami Rey Mysterio Jr Masaaki Mochizuki Bryan Danielson Toshiaki Kawada Terry Funk Jun Akiyama Vader Ric Flair KENTA Mitsuharu Misawa Shingo Takagi Jushin Liger Riki Choshu Hiroshi Tanahashi Shinya Hashimoto Kazuchika Okada Akira Taue Kurt Angle Eddie Guerrero Jumbo Tsuruta Susumu Yokosuka El Generico Tomohiro Ishii Kota Ibushi CIMA Ricky Steamboat Chris Hero Chris Benoit Hiroshi Hase William Regal Shawn Michaels Yoshihiro Takayama Nick Bockwinkel Masato Yoshino Samoa Joe Masato Tanaka CM Punk Austin Aries John Cena Steve Austin Shinjiro Otani Kiyoshi Tamura Kensuke Sasaki Koji Kanemoto AJ Styles Yoshiaki Fujiwara Daisuke Sekimoto Low Ki Minoru Suzuki Jay Briscoe Arn Anderson Dick Togo Carlos Colon Jim Breaks Yuji Nagata Naomichi Marufuji Claudio Castagnoli Randy Savage Yoshihiro Tajiri Mark Briscoe Yoshiaki Yatsu Negro Casas Akira Tozawa Yoshinari Ogawa Roderick Strong Kenny Omega Sean Waltman Yoji Anjoh Fit Finlay Masa Fuchi Brock Lesnar Satoshi Kojima Will Ospreay Dragon Kid Matt Hardy Zack Sabre Jr TAKA Michinoku Milano Collection A.T. Kevin Steen Volk Han Mick Foley Tsyoshi Kikuchi Chris Jericho Too Cold Scorpio Ricochet Little Guido Edge Sabu Goldberg Sting Dustin Rhodes Alexander Otsuka Makoto Hashi Genki Horiguchi Zolton Boscik Homicide New additions are in BOLD. The biggest change is flipping my #1 and #2 (and #3 and #4). I went with Hansen in 2016, mainly built off of the idea that he had successful runs in four vastly different territories. His longevity mixed with his adaptability put him over the top. Four years later, I just can't deny Kobashi the top spot. I've gone back and rewatched almost all of his GHC defenses and I still feel comfortable saying that is the best title run ever. Kobashi's case is simple. He has the greatest output of all-time. No one really touches him. My gut tells me he's the greatest of all-time and then I watch the footage and that idea is confirmed. Tenryu slides ahead of Fujinami based on longevity. Assuming someone does a large scale version of this project in a few years, I'd like to examine Tenryu's case as a possible #1. Masaaki Mochizuki jumps from #10 to #6. He's the most consistent wrestler I've ever seen. Since 2000, he's been working at a world-class level and has a nearly 20 year streak of at least one ****1/2 match a year. He worked with the young boys and rookie generation of Dragongate for almost all of last year and it only illuminated his greatness more as all of those kids came away much better workers as a result of working with Mochizuki on a regular basis. More than anyone else, Mochizuki was criminally undervalued by participants in 2016. Kazuchika Okada jumped 62 spots from #82 to #20. When ballots were submitted in 2016, Okada was someone I really struggled with rating. He had by far the largest upside of anyone in the running because he was realistically only four years into his career at that point. In 2016, NJPW was just putting a bow on the Tanahashi vs. Okada story and transitioning into Naito vs. Okada. We hadn't seen Okada vs. Omega, Okada vs. Shibata, or Okada vs. ZSJ at that point, let alone the numerous high-level Tanahashi and Naito rematches. His greatness is undeniable at this point. I'm glad anyone with a clue has stopped fading him. If Okada continues his usual output, he'll have a serious case for being in the top 10 five-six years from now. Kota Ibushi jumped up 44 spots for similar reasons. Yoshiaki Fujiwara fell 21 spots, which is the biggest fall for anyone that remained on the ballot. I like Fujiwara a lot. I like him enough to think he's one of the 50 best wrestlers ever. What I value in wrestling has shifted since 2016, however, and as a result, all of the shoot-style guys (with the exception of Tamura) took a hit. Volk Han and Yoji Anjo are still on my ballot but they both dropped slightly. New additions find themselves on the bottom half of the ballot. No one has gone from a non-entity to one of the 50 greatest wrestlers ever in the last four years. Kenny Omega was on the cusp of making my ballot in 2016, primarily due his All Japan output and his continued consistency in DDT. In the time between submitting ballots now and in 2016, Omega produced the match of the decade with Okada (6/9/18) and weirdly became underrated at one point. Numerous great matches with Ishii, Naito, and a handful of really strong MOTYC-level tag team matches. Will Ospreay joins the fray based off of his run in New Japan. Ospreay is one of New Japan's greatest juniors of all-time at this point. His portfolio is only rivaled by Liger and Kanemoto. I think his NJPW work is stronger than Otani's, but I really like some of heavyweight Otani's work + Otani has longevity on his side. I have no doubt Ospreay will pass him some day. Zack Sabre Jr is someone I was flirting with in 2016 but I didn't think he had the output. He upped his game and became the best worker on the US indies for a short while and is now one of my favorite guys to watch in New Japan. I went back and watched some really early ZSJ stuff recently and was delighted at how well it held up. He's got a decade of great matches under his belt now. Ricochet seems like the easiest man in the world to book, yet WWE is somehow screwing it up. He was close based off the strength of his work in Dragon Gate in 2016. His time as a pushed commodity in New Japan finally put him over the top for me. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a Goldust match, which is why he was absent from my ballot in 2016, despite the fact that I really like his WCW output. His willingness to adapt to a new style and a new generation of talents in AEW have helped get Dustin on the list. Sans a clunker or two, he's been really enjoyable to watch in AEW. He knows his role and he does his job well. Same goes for Chris Jericho, who is obviously pushed far more than Rhodes, but is in a similar place career-wise. Jericho was just coming off of a bunch of terrible WWE matches when the ballots were due in 2016 and I think that hurt him in the long run. He fell off my ballot because of his terrible AJ Styles matches. He's since reinvented himself and it's clear now that he's one of the greatest to ever do it. He just needs to be motivated. AEW helped get a handful of guys on the ballot, while since 2016, the only person that has been aided by their work in WWE is Roderick Strong. I was a huge advocate for Roddy in 2016 because he's a multi-generational indie superstar who remained a pushed act for well over a decade on the indies. I never imagined his act would work well in NXT, but it has, and I'm wildly impressed by that. Zolton Boscik is an odd pick for WoS guys to make the list, especially given that I don't have Steve Grey on my ballot. Grey would likely make it if I watched more of him in the interim between 2016 and now, but in my limited WoS viewing in the last four years, Boscik is always the guy that has stood out to me. I simply love what he brings to the table. Homicide was a late scratch in 2016 and i've regretted it ever since. The man deserves to be represented. The cuts: Akira Maeda Bret Hart Curt Hennig Jeff Hardy Matt Sydal Ryo Saito Spike Dudley YAMATO I was shocked to see that I had Maeda ranked as highly as I did in 2016. I don't enjoy his shoot-style stuff at all anymore and I don't think he's an elite tier guy in 80s New Japan. He's someone I don't enjoy watching, which can also be said for Bret. I put him on my ballot in 2016 because I felt like I had to. I don't feel that way anymore. I don't like watching Bret. I never think he's the best guy in any of his matches. He's not for me. Maybe one day I'll come around, but I don't anticipate that happening. Curt is gone because I simply think there are guys better than him that deserve a spot on the list. Dragon Gate loses a trio of guys in Sydal, YAMATO, and Saito. The latter two were actively bad at points in 2017. Saito was in a feud so bad it nearly drove me away from the company. YAMATO failed as a top guy and that really hurts him in my eyes. Sydal is great, but his post-WWE run hasn't brought a ton to the table and his flying abilities have been surpassed by guys like Ricochet, Ospreay, and PAC. I had Jeff Hardy at #61 in 2016. He's off the ballot now. I really respect what Jeff did and if this was a Top 150, he'd be in there, but he's not as good of a plunder guy as say, Homicide, and his weapon-less work was never that great. Spike is someone I love but there's too many guys out there that are just more talented. Wrestlers I need to study: Gran Hamada Giant Baba PAC Steve Grey Yuji Okabayashi The entire Joshi scene Hamada will make my ballot as soon as I deep dive his career. I've just never gotten around to doing so. Baba is someone I want to find a spot for, but if I ask myself who's better: Homicide or Giant Baba? My gut tells me Homicide. I need to watch more 70s Baba because that could convince me he's worthy of being on the list, but I also don't love 70s All Japan so who knows. Love Grey, just need to see more of him. PAC and Okabayashi are contemporary guys with strong cases, I just struggled contextualizing them in the big list. I've seen next-to-zero joshi and at some point will change that. I'd be happy to answer any questions about where guys are ranked. I love that four years later, I'm still thinking about this project on a regular basis. It was a lot of fun to do the list the first time around and it's been great revising it now.
  2. InYourCase

    Current New Japan

    Is there anyone here who hadn't seen Shingo before his New Japan run? Would love to hear your thoughts on his overall package. Thought he was beyond great in Dragon Gate but I know most people here don't watch that promotion.
  3. InYourCase

    All Elite Wrestling

    It's a tremendous move. The four from the DG exodus are top tier wrestlers, and the OWE kids from China, while all rough around the edges, all have terrific potential.
  4. InYourCase

    All Elite Wrestling

    https://www.voicesofwrestling.com/2019/01/09/getting-to-know-owes-strong-hearts/ Info on CIMA and some of the people that will (more than likely) be involved. If anyone has questions on Strong Hearts, please let me know
  5. InYourCase

    WON HOF 2018

    Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I think it is a safe bet to say that Dragon Gate was the #2 promotion from 2009-onwards, maybe even a little sooner because New Japan was in such rough shape at the tail end of the 2000's. By 2011 they are a definitive #2 behind New Japan and have remained that way ever since. There are some that will argue that DDT is as big, if not bigger than Dragon Gate, but DDT continues to be unable to draw outside of Tokyo. They had some ridiculous Korakuen sellout streak (1,850 a month) that was ended when CIMA left the company. I want to say the streak went for over 2 years, but I am not 100% positive when it started. All I know is that I started following Dragon Gate religiously in 2013 and since then, it has been a very rare occurrence that DG has not sold out Korakuen, and again, the sellout streak officially ended after CIMA left the company. Outside of the monthly Korakuens which are a big part of their business, they run 5 big PPV-like shows a year, with the biggest being their Kobe World show in July. Prior to this summer, numbers have always been inflated for these shows so it is impossible to say for sure what numbers they were doing, but I've never heard any rumors about shows flopping at the gate before CIMA left. I firmly believe that they were drawing 6-8K at Kobe World Hall every July for an extended period of time, even if they were saying 8-10K. Dragon Gate is based around units, but the leaders of those units are always the true draws. CIMA has always been the figurehead of the company. There have been numerous times where myself or other Western fans have criticized CIMA for putting himself over, but the fact is he has always drawn. That is backed up by the fact that his appearances in DDT and W-1 have immediately become the most popular videos on their YouTube pages ever, and in W-1, droves of people are leaving their shows after his matches. People are paying specifically to see CIMA and his new Strong Hearts unit. W-1 has never drawn and now their big shows with CIMA are seeing a spike in attendance. He's the semi-main at the DDT Sumo Hall show this week, and that show is probably the biggest annual non-NJPW show in Japan every year at this point. The fact that he came right into the company and was announced for a semi-main match against Konosuke Takeshita (DDT's golden boy) is a huge deal. I believe I was told that there was a spike in ticket sales after CIMA was announced, but I'd have to double check with someone that follows DDT closer. In terms of his influence, I listed guys that have had successful careers in large part due to CIMA. The career of Jack Evans alone does not make CIMA a HOFer, but with guys like him, PAC, and Ricochet, they would have NEVER reached the heights they would have without CIMA. The gaijins that last in Dragon Gate have all eventually elevated their careers in a big way. He also gets credit for training Shingo Takagi, who I had in my Top 15 for GWE. Takagi was the first graduate of the Dragon Gate Dojo and for a very long time was the #2 in the promotion behind CIMA. It's funny now, as the two have real life heat and it is mostly due to the way Takagi wrestles. CIMA hates his style and said that if Takagi's style ever became the house style, the promotion would soon fold. That's just a small anecdote. Amazingly, I think CIMA's weakest category is his in-ring. There is a great debate in the DG community over what CIMA's greatest singles match is, because no one seems to have a truly good answer. We just discovered that CIMA has a shockingly low amount of singles matches in Korakuen Hall, which is shocking considering that he's wrestled there on a monthly basis for 20 years now. The stock answer on CIMA's best singles match is his 2015 bout with the aforementioned Takagi. Takagi was on a run as champion where he was taking down Dragon Gate's first generation of stars (CIMA, Don Fujii, Masaaki Mochizuki) and it concluded with this match against CIMA where towards the end, CIMA starts to do his buddies signature moves to try to overcome Takagi. It's a beautiful match. I'm always amazed that the PWO-type crowd isn't more into CIMA because he wrestles in such a different way than most contemporary puro stars. He works a lot of "TV style matches" and eventually builds to these epics with crazy callbacks, including his work in tags and trios. I'll try to dig up some DG gems to post here, but this match from July was brilliantly laid out. Having watched hundreds and hundreds of CIMA matches over the years, this match felt like he was calling all of the shots. This match basically felt like his vision of pro wrestling. One of my favorite matches of the year. And finally, I think reducing him the level of Hayabusa is completely unfair. Every aspect of his case is stronger. Ibushi I can't speak on because there's so much more to unfold there, but if CIMA retired tomorrow, the puro industry would suffer as a result. He is a legend. If he was in a company that was respected by the Japanese press or was covered consistently by Dave, he would have gone in two years ago. I want to make it clear that if I could vote, I'd be voting for Akiyama (and probably Taue) but even if CIMA wasn't selling out Budokan Hall monthly, he's never been on top of a sinking promotion like Akiyama. Taue was never the main draw in All Japan. Akiyama doesn't have the influence CIMA has because to my knowledge he isn't a renounced trainer and for God knows what reason, he's never caught on with Western fans the way that Kobashi, Misawa, and Kawada have. He smokes Taue in influence. Forget it. I think CIMA is overall a better worker than Taue, and not far off from being a better worker than Akiyama. The last thing I'll say is that Joe Gagne brought up a good point when he mentioned that he won't be voting for CIMA this year because he wants to see how the Strong Hearts invasions play out. That is entirely fair, and to me it's the only logical reason not to vote for CIMA, because he's arguably having his best business year ever this year. Still, I think he's already done more than enough to warrant getting in. Sorry this was so long.
  6. InYourCase

    WON HOF 2018

    I'm not sure what it's going to take to get people to vote CIMA in, but there's no one on the ballot more deserving than CIMA. Just a brief overview: -Worked on top of the #2 promotion in Japan for 15 years. When he split in May, attendance dipped rapidly. -Since leaving, he's worked in Wrestle-1 and DDT and has spiked interest. Is easily the best draw W-1 has ever had. He's semi-main eventing DDT's biggest show of the year in a few weeks. -I had him in my 30's for GWE. He's a generational talent who doesn't have bad matches with anyone. Can do lucha grappling, can fly, can work the contemporary super puro style. He's proven he can do it all. -Jack Evans, Matt Sydal, PAC, Ricochet, Rich Swann, and Apollo Crews would not have been signed without CIMA. There is a clear "before CIMA' and "after CIMA" difference with these wrestlers. I can always go more in-depth if anyone has interest or wants to discuss it, but I fully understand that PWO is more concerned about lucha guys getting in (and I don't think that's wrong of them)
  7. InYourCase

    WDKW100 2017 RESULTS

    Hero won last year, didn't he? Crazy to think he fell that far (and I think his ranking is awfully generous). Great work with this, Sam. This list always represents a very deep, very interesting bubble.
  8. InYourCase

    [1995-06-24-NWA New Jersey] Dan Severn vs Yoshihiro Tajiri

    Really happy I ran across this post. The environment ruled, this match ruled, and I wish there was more Tajiri from this era on tape. Great way to spend 10 minutes.
  9. I find it fascinating that those who feel disconnected hyperfocus on Dave Meltzer and his star ratings. As someone that loves modern wrestling, and feels bad for those that can't realize we're in a golden age, I can say that Meltzer's stars mean nothing to a large quantity of people I interact with. What is Meltzer's influence? There are so many outlets and so many voices, why is Dave the one that people look at?
  10. I don't know how I didn't know this match existed. I hope this project sheds light on how foolish it is that CIMA finished at #201 for GWE. He was so good here, and at this point, was 22 years old. I desperately wish we would've gotten him in the BOSJ instead of say, Kid Romeo, who was actually in the 2000 BOSJ. Loved CIMA, loved Liger, and loved Kanemoto on the opposing side. Super entertaining match. ****
  11. InYourCase

    People's perception of wrestler's sizes.

    Lol. It's because he's a NXT reject who doesn't fit in a workrate promotion (or whatever ROH tries to be these days) and clearly got booked just because he was an ex WWE guy they could roll out . That your first thought would be "is it because he's fat?" is hilarious. A company that books the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, and brings in Okada/Tanahashi fairly regularly. Weird that that audience doesn't give a shit about Bull Dempsey. Not hilarious . Fans of today hate wrestlers because they are overweight . That is a fact. You have to be a great worker to get past being overweight . I don't watch NXT so I have only seen a picture of James , never seen him work .Unless you are Samoa Joe or Steen , ROH fans boo fat guys out of building. Been that way since the Blue Meanie hit TV screens. You're right, indies didn't start promoting "hoss divisions" or anything. Keith Lee isn't one of the most buzzworthy guys on the indies right now. Willie Mack doesn't have a large circle of fans. Fuck off with that shitty, uninformed opinion. And it isn't a matter of "ROH fans". The ROH fans that went to the RexPlex are not the same ones going today. Even the Chicago Ridge crowd has completely evolved, and they've been in that same building for 13 years. I would love to know where you came up with that theory.
  12. InYourCase

    PWG

    Young Bucks vs. Futureshock vs. Super Smash Brothers: 7/21/12 ACH vs. Kyle O'Reilly: 8/31/13 AR Fox, Rich Swann, & Candice LeRae vs. Adam Cole & the Young Bucks: 8/31/13 Chris Hero vs. Akira Tozawa: 9/5/10 Kevin Steen & Akira Tozawa vs. El Generico & Ricochet: 5/27/11 Young Bucks vs. Super Smash Brothers: 5/25/12 Threemendous III and both nights of BOLA 2013 are essential viewing to me
  13. EVOLVE started out as a Danielson-esque style for big matches. TJP, Danielson, Bobby Fish, Sawa, and then later Finlay and Callihan. That lasted from EVOLVE 1-9. 10 started the time period in which EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA were in the same universe. EVOLVE became Dragon Gate USA without the Dragon Gate guys. Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann, El Generico, Samuray Del Sol, Ricochet, and again, Sami Callihan. Even a guy with as much talent as Chris Hero struggled to fit in during this time. It was a dreadful period for the promotion in terms of attendance and buzz, but the talent pool was top notch. EVOLVE 31 started a reboot for the promotion. They went to weekend W-L records and put a huge emphasis on a top 10 ranking system. This was the start of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and Biff Busick being the faces of the promotion. There was a clear transition period between 31 and 44. The undercard was filled with young high-flyers like Matt Cage and Shane Strickland. Guys like Swann, and even for a short time, Johnny Gargano, were pushed down to the midcard as the grapplefuck trio, Drew Galloway, Roderick Strong, and Chris Hero took over the main event scene. This style officially took off at EVOLVE 45, which is oddly enough one of the best EVOLVE shows ever. The Strong vs. ZSJ match is essential viewing. Thatcher won the world title in the main event. EVOLVE 45-57 was the peak of Thatcher being at the focal point in the company (and subsequently getting outshined by the rest of the card). TJP really took off at this time. Hero was starting his insane run that just concluded, Drew Gulak finally started to take off as a legitimate main eventer, and fresh faces like Tracy Williams, Fred Yehi, and Matt Riddle were starting to take off. EVOLVE 58 is when Thatcher was, to me, the official point in which Thatch became a joke. The grapplefuck style was still present, but TJP, Chris Hero, Fred Yehi, Matt Riddle, Zack Sabre Jr, Hot Sauce, Drew Gulak, and Tommy End were all performing lightyears better than Thatcher. 58-69 featured a lot of Thatcher bombing, and various Grapplefuckers giving their farewell speeches to the promotion. 69 was highlighted by Johnny Gargano saying goodbye, which, in my mind, is still a wound the promotion has yet to fix. From 70-now (77), there's been a giant influx in new talent. The grapplefuckers have disappeared, and we're starting to see a new style form. Sammy Guevara, Jason Kincaid, ACH, and Keith Lee will probably be main eventing the promotion by this time next year, and they're a part of this new generation of high-flyers. tl;dr - the promotion is slowly transitioning out of a grapple-heavy style
  14. InYourCase

    The greatest match of all time

    The first match that comes into my mind is Kobashi vs. Misawa from 3/1/03. Somehow there's been three and a half pages of talk, and I dont' think anyone has mentioned that. For that style, in that time and place, it's the perfect match. It holds up 14 years later as a five star, no doubt about it, classic. I would listen to arguments for 4/7/13 or 1/4/16, the two best Okada vs. Tanahashi matches. If I was compiling a list, it would be hard to not include at least one of those two in my top 10. I don't think there's ever been a more dramatic match than 1/28/86. It's the perfect balance of emotional storytelling and in-ring action. I could buy arguments for 12/3/93, 6/9/95, and Kobashi vs. Kawada from 6/12/98, as well. I have to mention Blood Generation vs. Do FIXER from 7/3/05 and Mochizuki vs. Shingo from 11/1/05. I think those are two of the greatest matches of all-time. tl;dr - Kobashi vs. Misawa, 3/1/03
  15. InYourCase

    The greatest match of all time

    Dylan Hales does. It's been probably two years since I've watched them at this point, but I was in favor of 12/3/93 over any of the praised All Japan tags.
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