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Hiroshi Tanahashi

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For a person with the same time frame as a wrestler, Daniel Bryan pretty clearly has a bigger and wider output of great matches. Danielson probably makes it in the top 40, but it's not gauanteed and he is a LOCK to make the list for someone who only worked from 2000 on.

 

I don't buy that Bryan "pretty clearly" has a bigger & wider output of great matches, and i'm saying this as someone who might have Bryan in his top 5 overall. Since 2012, Tanahashi's resume runs laps around Bryan's even when considering Bryan's great 2013. Tanahashi has had more high level matches in the last month than Bryan has had in the last two years, and that's not an exaggeration at all.

 

Bryan's best year overall was 2006, and I would put that year up against any singular year of anybody else, ever. His only *great* WWE year was 2013. His first couple of years he was never given chances. Even in some of his better years, he was working WWE babyface formula which dragged down is stuff. Lately, he's obviously been banged up or not working at all.

 

Both guys came up around the same time. Bryan has an edge in the early careers of each, but the gap isn't as wide as the Tanahashi edge over the last 4-5 years, which to me is huge. I like Bryan's WWE work, but in my view it doesn't touch his pre-WWE stuff. If I sat down and listed his Top 100 matches, I'd have a couple of Punk matches, Cena at SummerSlam, Bray at Rumble, the six man w/Ryback vs The Shield, and maybe a few other singles matches that i'm not remembering at the moment from his WWE work, with easily about 80-90 non WWE matches making up the rest of the list. 20 would probably be from 2006 alone. Bryan's best year was 2006, followed by 2009, so 2013, his best WWE year, might be third at best. During Bryan's WWE time, Tanahashi has been on a historical run of greatness.

 

To me, this 10/24/04 Bryan Danielson vs Hiroshi Tanahashi match is better than all but a dozen or so of Bryan's WWE bouts, and this is't even one of Bryan or Tanahashi's more heavily hyped bouts. If nothing else, Bryan's individual performance here blows away his formula WWE stuff (as a face or heel), even if you disagree on the overall quality of the match being as high as I think it is. And this was the kind of stuff Bryan was churning out consistently pre-WWE. SO much of his WWE run was wasted teaming with Kane and doing goofy shtick while Tanahashi was peaking at the same time. And while Bryan appears to be done, or at least just about done, Tanahashi is coming off the best G1 of his career and is still among the best in the world.

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x18hky9_bryan-danielson-vs-hiroshi-tanahashi-njpw-10-24-04_sport

 

It looks like I'm burying Bryan here, but i'm not. My intent is to illustrate why I think saying Bryan "pretty clearly" has a bigger & wider output of great matches is a pretty wild statement. I think Bryan vs Tanahashi is extremely close. Both will rank very high on my list.

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I just watched a Tanahashi & Nagata vs Kobashi & Tamon Honda match from 2003 and first of all it was great, but more importantly and unexepectedly I thought Tanahashi gave the best performance of the 4. A year ago I wouldn't have thought Tanahashi was anything special when he was young, because I just never heard much about this part of his career. This past year I've seen a decent chunk of pre-2010 Tanahashi, which is something I never explored before, and it seems he's been a great wrestler for a pretty long time.

Top 10.​

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While on the topic of pre-2010 Tanahashi I feel compelled to make sure people are keeping in mind his AJPW match VS Honma from July of 2004. There were also some very good matches VS Giant Bernard somewhere along the way.

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I'm not a Tanahashi fan, but the Fujita match from '04 is excellent and he played scrappy underdog in that about as well as you could possibly hope. There's a short Tenryu match from the G-1 that year where he played a similar role, and while neither performance or match is at the level of the Fujita match (and performance), but it's really fun as well.

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Curious where people are on Tanahashi after another stellar year in 2015 and a 2016 already including what to me was the best Tanahashi-Okada match yet and a solid Omega match.

 

I can't imagine anyone who wasn't sold on him when this thread was busy in '14 have changed teams here, but how high are his fans going?

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Curious where people are on Tanahashi after another stellar year in 2015 and a 2016 already including what to me was the best Tanahashi-Okada match yet and a solid Omega match.

 

I can't imagine anyone who wasn't sold on him when this thread was busy in '14 have changed teams here, but how high are his fans going?

He's hovering around my #15 right now.

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Curious where people are on Tanahashi after another stellar year in 2015 and a 2016 already including what to me was the best Tanahashi-Okada match yet and a solid Omega match.

 

I can't imagine anyone who wasn't sold on him when this thread was busy in '14 have changed teams here, but how high are his fans going?

He's fine, but nowhere near my list. Maybe a top 100 workers since 2010?

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I'd consider him the number 1 worker since 2010. I'll probably be the high vote on Tanahashi, he's definitely in my top 10, could finish as high as 4th but probably not.

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I realize WingedEagle wasn't really addressing me with the bump, but I have generally liked a lot more Tanahashi in the last 18 months or than at any other point prior. If I had another six months I'd consider going back and rewatching some of his pre-NJPW revival stuff just see how it's aged. He won't be anywhere near my top 100, nor do I honestly think he was anywhere close to one of the best wrestlers in the World over the last couple of years. That said, he's had more than a few matches where I really loved his performances, even when many of his normal fans didn't think much of them. He still can be pretty worthless on B/C shows, and I don't buy the argument that he's a consistently high end performer, but he's basically post-comeback Shawn Michaels both in terms of good and bad.

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Despite bumping the thread to see what folks had been thinking, I hadn't really started to consider Tanahashi relative to others. After merely skimming the list of nominees top 25 feels like a floor with a ceiling much higher. There aren't too many wrestlers with a longer list of great matches.

 

The top of my list is looking oh so incredibly unAmerican.

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Tanahashi is a Top 20 guy for me. Having a plethora of great matches, probably more so than any other modern candidate besides Mochizuki really helps his case, but I think he's great at everything he does. His punches are a far cry from Matt Hardy's, but I can live with that. Love his bumps, love the way he sells, and I am all about subtle heel Tanahashi.

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Tanahashi is top 15 for me and could very well be the best worker of the 2010's. To this day he's still one of the best big match workers in the world. Even as he's slowed down in recent years you can expect at least one or two MOTYC's from him. His performance in the last two G1's are also major feathers in his cap. 2020 in particular he was in a rather weak block and still delivered on an almost nightly basis.

His pre-2010's stuff is also very good with good to great matches against Giant Bernard, Nagata, Fujita, and Suwama. The Suwama match in particular is a fantastic heel performance by Tanahashi, playing the cocky hotshot free agent from the "other" promotion.

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I'll say this about Tanahashi. He took a good while to really put it together as a main eventer. He won the title in 2006 and, despite his peaks during this time against Nagata, Goto and Mutoh, he took until around 2011 to become a great wrestler. That's nearly 6 years of inconsistency at the high level. If he was still a midcarder, that's different because expectations are a tad different for me. Nakamura easily outshone him during this period. But once he got great, he was immense. The Okada feud speaks for itself. Classic after classic, even long after New Japan ran it into the ground. Plus many more matches against any modern New Japan act. Tanahashi is also a great babyface work who can rally a crowd with ease to his side, which in turn helps the opponent get over in the heelish role. 

His weakness are his offence execution, which isn't as bad as his detractors would claim. His mat-work isn't Tatsumi Fujinami's but he works it well in a purposeful way and that's all you could ask for. His striking does get exposed in matches where he's going toe to toe with Shibata or Tomohiro Ishii though. Tanahashi builds his matches in ways that they almost always end in exciting ways, even if the body of the match isn't that great. Tanahashi works really well in a more dismissive role as well. His match against Naomichi Marufuji comes to mind where he didn't respect Marufuji's status at all and he came off like the biggest ass, in a good way. 

Tanahashi probably will be in my top twenty. Maybe higher. 

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Disagree about Nakamura, it took until 2009 for him to become a consistent compelling performer (and he REALLY put it all together after his CMLL stint a couple of years later) and by that point Tana had more great matches and that awesome Champions Carnival run in 08'. I don't think either was that much of a standout before 07', they had good stuff for sure but not eye popping "best out there" level, specially on a regular basis as they would eventually do.

All the 2010's New Japan guys will do really well this time around I think. Tana was one of four modern performers that made my top 50. Him making his case stronger from 2016 to 2026 will be a nice look for me.

 

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Makai Club #1 I agree with your point but the Suwama CC match is 2008 and man is that an all-time performance. That match was a total revelation when I finally got around to it. Tanahashi was very frustrating for a long time though, without the Nagata feud I don't know if he'd ever have become the fully formed Ace of the Universe that can flip so expertly from Big Match Tana to highly vulnerable. But then I'm still getting shocked by even older stuff, like the amazing breakout performance from him and Nakamura VS Suzuki & Kenskay in 2004. He's a fascinating candidate for certain that's not in my top 10 currently but likely has one of the best chances of cracking it.

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22 minutes ago, Clayton Jones said:

Makai Club #1 I agree with your point but the Suwama CC match is 2008 and man is that an all-time performance. That match was a total revelation when I finally got around to it. Tanahashi was very frustrating for a long time though, without the Nagata feud I don't know if he'd ever have become the fully formed Ace of the Universe that can flip so expertly from Big Match Tana to highly vulnerable. But then I'm still getting shocked by even older stuff, like the amazing breakout performance from him and Nakamura VS Suzuki & Kenskay in 2004. He's a fascinating candidate for certain that's not in my top 10 currently but likely has one of the best chances of cracking it.

Yes! Suwama is another match that's excellent. And I dislike Suwama a lot. 

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1 hour ago, Makai Club #1 said:

His match against Naomichi Marufuji comes to mind where he didn't respect Marufuji's status at all and he came off like the biggest ass, in a good way. 

Which Marufuji match was that? 2016 G1?

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I've come around on Tanahashi since the last time we did this, largely because he's done such a good job working around his declining physical tools. I find brokedown Tana more compelling than the ace who was fighting to hold off Okada. I also found his early work surprisingly good when I went back to watch some of the G1s and other shows from NJPW's "dark" years. He was way more interesting than Nakamura. 

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19 minutes ago, Boss Rock said:

Which Marufuji match was that? 2016 G1?

I believe it was. Maybe I'm misremembering the match as its been five years since I've watched it.

Tanahashi teaming with YOH against HARASHIMA and Ken Ohka is another example of Tanahashi being an excellent heel. And there are backstage politic elements to the match in the build to add more spice to the match. Basically Tanahashi big leagued HARASHIMA in a singles match on one of the Peter Pan shows in 2014, and he said in a promo backstage that he felt like he was above DDT, legitimately. HARASHIMA was pissed by the comments, naturally and this tag match was them sweetening things out so DDT and New Japan could continue their partnership. 

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Asshole heel Tana is best version of him, imo. It's too bad we only got it in small doses because of his role and status in New Japan.

IIRC correctly Tana also big leagued Marufuji during that G-1 calling him something close to a "young up and comer" or along those lines :lol:

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He's one of the current NJPW guys I will have the pleasure to get deeper into. I can't wait to see where he stands alongside Naito & Okada.

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I'm pretty sure Tanahashi has the strongest combined resume of high-end singles and tags of any 21st century worker. The match with Okada at Invasion Attack is my pick for greatest IWGP title match, and the match with Nakamura vs. Suzuki/Sasaki that brother Clayton mentioned is my pick for greatest IWGP tag title match. How many other wrestlers can credibly claim to have been involved in both the best world title match and the best tag title match of a major promotion?

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