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By Matthew Macklin on 2014-10-28 10:13:46
Tomohiro Ishii

The Stone Pitbull and CHAOS member, Ishii has become one of NJPW's most consistent performers over the last year and has had more standout and blow away matches than can be listed. Ishii has become a cult favorite in NJPW due to his longevity with the company and his never say die attitude. Ishii is a smaller guy that wrestles like he is ten feet tall and withstands more punishment than anyone can possibly imagine. I would compare him to Taz in that regard. However he deals it out just as much which leads to his matches becoming battles of grit, determination and endurance.

The quality of his matches have led to him having stand out performances on several NJPW shows over that last year and being called one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world. In my opinion, no one has had as many great matches as Ishii has over the last year or so.

At 38 years old, Ishii has been around for a long time and has gained a following over that time with his huge breakout performances coming in the 2013 G1 Climax tournament where he scored a huge upset over Hiroshi Tanahashi and battled Katsuyori Shibata in one of the most gruesome, stiffest, strong style matches seen in years, a bout that was match of the year for many.

Ishii’s momentum would continue in early 2014, where he engaged in an intense rivalry with Tetsuya Naito over the NEVER Openweight championship. The two couldn’t be separated in tag matches and tore into one another with forearm exchanges on several occasions leading into their match at The New Beginning in February where Ishii won the title in one of my favorite NJPW matches ever (yes it was that good).

Ishii raised the prestige of the NEVER championship, a tile that was an afterthought, by going on to have more match of the year contenders with Kota Ibushi, Tomoaki Honma and rematches with Naito. Ishii took the championship and made it something that people wanted to see defended on every show. Every match was blistering and and Ishii proved that he himself was no longer a mid card afterthought.

Ishii took part in this year’s G1 giving more roaring performances and again being a standout on what has been called pro wrestling’s greatest ever tournament. He battled through a severe shoulder injury over his last few matches, which proved once again that no one had more toughness and guts than Tomohiro Ishii.

Ishii is now in his second reign as NEVER champion after taking it back from Yujiro Takahashi. He is set to head into more defenses of the title that might as well be called the NEVER Ishiiweight title at this point. I’d love to see Ishii challenge for the IWGP heavyweight championship as the atmosphere alone for that as the crowd gets behind their cult favorite, would make it an absolute spectacle.

What to watch out for?

Forearms, stiff forearms and lots of them. Chops, incredibly stiff lariats that will make you wince. Watch out for his delayed superplex from the second rope and his brainbuster finisher.

Every once in a while he will pull out the Ishii Driller, which is a vertical suplex into a piledriver, similar to the Steiner Screwdriver. Ishii is the definition of Japanese strong style and fighting spirit and will always give 110% even when his body might be falling apart.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax 23

The match that took Ishii from being an afterthought to a serious player. Ishii took on the ace of NJPW and scores the biggest win of his career in what was a huge upset at this link.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata – G1 Climax 23

There’s not too much that can be said as the sights and sounds of this one speak for themselves. You won’t be able to look away from this match.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tetsuya Naito NEVER Championship – The New Beginning 2013

Ishii and Naito finally get to tear into each other after weeks of brawling and one of the best matches of the year is produced. Ishii wins his first NJPW gold and cements himself as a serious competitor in NJPW at this link.

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