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Kento Miyahara

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The Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion and undisputed ace of All Japan, Miyahara has had some hype as one of the best in the world this year. Dave was pimping him as top three, alongside Okada and Will Ospreay. I've noticed some others in the wrestling journalist/podcast sphere pimping him as a great big match wrestler in title matches.

I'm completely unfamiliar with modern AJPW though. 

What do people make of the guy and the claims that he's one of the best in the world? What matches stand out to make that case? 

I'll eventually get round to watching some of the pimped matches and posting about them myself but I'd love to hear from some of you who are more familiar with the work first.

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I've dipped my toes into his stuff and so far, I don't quite see the best in the world arguments. He puts on some great title matches though so maybe it's a matter of me not diving deep enough or following him closely? I've enjoyed everything I've seen but nothing that particularly stands out as best in the world.

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The "one of the best in the world" talk seems like a reactionary take from people that are noticing Kento just now because Dave has been pimping him so big this year because he got to see him live. I know Meltzer has been watching his top matches for quite a while now but just like he did with Tanahashi in 2011, he has turned in up a notch this year so more people a getting his eyes on Miyahara. I wouldn't call 2019 a great year from him, at all. In fact, a lot of people that have followed him closely have soured on him a bit, I'll get to that a little bit later. It could also come from people that have been on the "Kento is really fucking good" for a long time train that are finally seeing him get his due, so they just push the narrative too.

Even though I haven't followed his whole career nor watched everything from dude in the last 4-5 years, I've seen a lot and enough to be confident in saying you could make a good case for him being a top 5 in the world in 2016 and 2017, with the latter year being his best case for a BITW argument.

But Kento is very much a wrestler from this Era in terms of ring style. He does flashy, high speed stuff and tends to shrug off the work from the first half (or 1/3) of a match because he wants to speed things up and get into a higher gear for the last 10 minutes of his matches, were he will hit a lot of moves, do reversals and trade a lot of nearfalls with his opponent while the crowd gets hotter and hotter. That is a formula that works, but that to me has suffered from two things:

1.- Shit does get old after a while. It's rare watching Kento have a match that goes away from his formula. And while that's not a bad thing in itself, I think this particular formula doesn't lend itself from so much repetition, specially because...

2.- His matches have gotten longer. One of the things I truly appreciated from Kento when I started to really follow him more (2016) was that his matches, while mostly following this formula, were mostly worked in 15-22 minutes. Which made it waaay easier for me to forgive/forget flaws, as what Kento does suits a sprint way better than any other type of match. Now it's more common to see him do longer stuff, and the more "epic" he tries to make his matches, the more they drag imo. There are exceptions of course, like the Shuji Ishikawa match from 2017 at Sumo Hall (a top 3 singles MOTY from 17'). 

Now, a lot of fans don't really care for excess in their wrestling , and if that's the case, there's very little NOT to like about Kento. And if you are fairly new to his work, I don't think his repetitiveness or flaws will hit nearly as hard as if you've been watching him for long. He has a shit ton of charisma and he clearly looks up/idolizes Tanahashi, as it's pretty evident he's taken a lot from his persona/character. Specially late 00's cocky/asshole young guy (next Ace) Tana. I've lost count how many of Miyahara's matches have fuckery involving Kohei Wada and I never get tired of it because they just make it entertaining to watch.

 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Jmare007 said:

 Even though I haven't followed his whole career nor watched everything from dude in the last 4-5 years, I've seen a lot and enough to be confident in saying you could make a good case for him being a top 5 in the world in 2016 and 2017, with the latter year being his best case for a BITW argument.

What would you recommend from 2017 other than the Ishikawa Sumo Hall match?

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13 minutes ago, SmartMark15 said:

What would you recommend from 2017 other than the Ishikawa Sumo Hall match?

I think all of these are very much worth a watch

vs Joe Doering 4/22 from the CC

vs Jake Lee 4/16 from the CC

vs Shuji Ishikawa 5/21 (excess + red hot Korakuen crowd)

vs Suwama 6/11

vs Shuji Ishikawa 8/27 (the Sumo Hall match)

vs Suwama 10/9 (excess + red hot Korakuen crowd)

 

The Triple Crown match against Sekimoto from the year before (5/25/16) is a must watch too, of course :)

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Like Tanahashi, Okada, he is very formulatic. It can work at its absolute best but it's something I find myself burned out on. And that's from someone who loves watching New Japan main events most of the time, so it's safe to assume Miyahara has something to do with it. 

 

I wouldn't agree with the best in the world talk at all though. Miyahara is more like top 20-50, especially in 2019. Just too many lacklustre performances for me. 

 

But he does have some class matches. Both Zeus matches last year (21/10/18 & 27/07/18), Suwama (09/10/17), Shuji Ishikawa (27/08/17)

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There's a sequence in the Ishikawa Sumo Hall match that encapsulates both the best and the worst of Miyahara. After a Fire Thunder on the apron, he clenches his fist to check for nerve damage. That's the kind of subtle detail you only see from the true greats. But less than two minutes later, he pops up after a superplex so he can do a fighting spirit comeback. It's stuff like that that makes him so frustrating. He'll build a match around sublime selling and deep layered storytelling, but then he'll throw it all away so he can get his shit in.

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As a consistent big match worker, he's truly one of the best in the world. I've had him as a top 10 worker for the last three years (funnily enough he might be #7 each year). His flaws have already been pointed out in that he has a formula he rarely deviates from, he's not a great long-term seller (especially with leg damage), and mounts comebacks a bit too easily. And when he relies on the same formula for almost every match, I do often find myself wanting something just a tad different.

But there's absolutely a lot to like about him. He can play both cocky ace and sympathetic underdog against a larger opponent quite well (sometimes even during the same match). His offense is gorgeous.  He spams the Blackout knee and German suplex a bit too much, but they're things of absolute beauty. Not to mention he brings a good deal of intensity in his strikes. He also has a very good understanding of escalation and building to that crescendo of action in the finishing stretch.

Kento's also very good in tag settings as he and Yoshitatsu of all people are a really good team (check out any of their matches against the Violent Giants or Jun and Sekimoto from last year's tag league). And like Okada, his formula ends up gelling with a lot of different people to the point where he's having a legitimately great Triple Crown match against, again, Yoshitatsu of all people.

Is he a perfect wrestler? Definitely not. But he's absolutely one of my favorites to watch and delivers in pretty much any setting.

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