Puroresu, mainly speaking non New Japan Puroresu has risen in popularity over the years dramatically: Nationally and Internationally. With the incredible RealHero Archive it makes watching Independent puro easier than ever before, you no longer need to order off a dodgy website and wait weeks to receive a DVD with horrendous quality. In a matter of seconds, you can be watching a HEAT-UP show that took place a week ago. Thanks to Morten VH on the blessed occasion we are able to watch shows from BJW, AJPW, Fortune Dream and much more live! DDT Universe is streaming numerous shows live every month. I’ve been following indie Puroresu for almost 2 years now and I’ve watched some of these guys I’m about to talk about grow into spectacular performers. With the RealHero Archive I can follow along these young dudes careers week by week almost. It’s truly the best time ever to be a fan of Puroresu and just wrestling as a whole. Today I want to talk about 5 guys who I think will carry Puro for the next 10-20 years. These guys are like what your Nakajima’s, Miyahara’s and Okabayashi’s were 5-10 years ago. You knew they were destined to be superstars but it just took time. I could theoretically write a list of 25 guys but I’ll keep it to 5, 5 of my favorite young guys currently in Puroresu.
Yuma Aoyagi: All Japan Pro Wrestling
Yuma is a dude who has fought for everything he has and is still fighting super hard. He is a junior in All Japan at the moment, but I know and I assume many others know that he is destined for bigger things. Give him time to season and maybe a Jr. Title Reign or two then move him up to a heavyweight. He has the charisma for days and is only in his 3rd year of professional wrestling. He is getting opportunity after opportunity which is well deserved. He’s currently competing on the NJPW Lion’s Gate shows and challenged for the AJPW Jr. Title in January in a tremendous match against Keisuke Ishii. There is no doubt in my mind Yuma will hold the Triple Crown one day.
Takanori Ito: WRESTLE-1
This dude is Japanese Kevin Owens if Kevin Owens was a shoot fighter, he even lists KO as one of his influences. Ito is super fresh on the scene, debuting this year and my god he is already one-half of the WRESTLE-1 tag team champions. Mutoh realizes how good this guy is and isn’t wasting him by jobbing in 5 minutes on the undercard. Ito is special and WRESTLE-1 have capitalized on that. Don’t let his physique fool you, he is very athletic and has one hell of a bridging German suplex. As long as WRESTLE-1 stays around Ito will be a big time player.
Koji Iwamoto: All Japan Pro Wrestling
This Iwamoto guy will always hold a special place in my heart. I remember watching a HEAT-UP show from last January and he threw the best Judo throw I’ve ever seen and I lost my shit and I went and watched every Iwamoto match to make tape which was about 2 matches as of January 2016 and I was very impressed. This guy seemingly came out of nowhere but he trained in the Sportiva dojo which has produced MANY awesome pro wrestlers. He holds a special place in my heart because I witnessed his come up, from working HEAT-UP and making tape once every couple months to being signed by AJPW and winning the Jr. Tournament earlier this year. Like Aoyagi he had to fight so hard for what he has. Iwamoto will be a heavyweight in the years to come for sure, he is already toned and muscular but as he gets into his 30’s he will really take shape. Jun Akiyama was very smart to snatch Iwamoto up before anyone else could…. Cough Cough NJPW.
Takuya Nomura: Big Japan Pro Wrestling
It’s funny because I hesitate to call Takuya a ‘rookie’ which technically by Japanese wrestling standards he is but if you have ever seen Takuya wrestle you couldn’t call him a ‘rookie’. This guy wrestles like a seasoned veteran and personally, he is a top 20 worker in the world with only being 15 months into his career. The buzz for Nomura was coming after 2 weeks of him debuting, the early matches with Hideki Suzuki helped him so much. Hideki took a liking to Nomura and he has taken Nomura under his wing. If you’re reading this then I guarantee you know who Takuya Nomura is. I know probably half of Japan knows who Takuya is, he wrestles everywhere! This year alone he has wrestled for BJW, AJPW, WRESTLE-1, NOAH, K-Dojo, ZERO1, WAVE, Ice Ribbon and very soon he will be competing in NJPW as a part of their Lion’s Gate project. I honestly thought he was a good chance of challenging for the Strong Title at Ryogoku this year but it looks like he will be involved in the new BJW Jr. Title match, I personally see the finals being Kazuki vs. Takuya which in Ryogoku will be so special. Takuya is going to conquer Japan, in 10 years he will be what Shuji Ishikawa is to Puro now. The Big Dog, Takuya is still so small and precious so we can call him the “The Big Chihuahua” as he is not quite a Labrador or German Shepard just yet.
Fuminori Abe: Sportiva
This is another guy that was sort of getting on everyone’s radar but then boom out of nowhere he is wrestling on like every show imaginable and killing it! Abe much like Iwamoto was trained in the Sportiva Dojo and again like Iwamoto I first saw Abe on HEAT-UP shows. I didn’t know what to think of him, he is unique with his movements and actions inside the squared circle. Over time he won me over big time and I’m now a huge Fuminori Abe fan. Whether it be on the AJPW undercards or in BASARA this dude always seems to kill it in every possible way. He is a main stay and a big deal to quite a few promotions at the moment, he is slowly climbing up the ranks in GUTS WORLD which everyone should keep an eye out for. All of Abe’s 2017 matches in GUTS are must-see. Abe will leave his home promotion/dojo in a couple years and sign with a bigger company, one would assume that would be AJPW but you never know. BJW could make an offer with the addition of the Jr. Heavyweight to the promotion, NOAH is all about shooting nowadays and Abe can do that to perfection. NJPW could get him on a Lion’s Gate show and they may fall in love with him like all of Puro Twitter did. Whatever path he chooses it will be a bright — scratch that, VERY bright future ahead for Fuminori Abe.