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Bart

Top 10 Wrestlers Of The Year- Non WWE edition

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WALTER

Will Ospreay

Kota Ibushi

Zack Sabre Jr

Kenny Omega

Masashi Takeda

Tomohiro Ishii

Katsuhiko Nakajima

Jordan Devlin

Jay Lethal (I couldn't come up with a tenth name, but I wanted to commemorate some of the excellent work he's done as ROH champion and even before that with his excellent series against Jonathan Gresham)

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1. Kenny Omega 

Why? This Year Kenny has proven why he is currently the best in the world, His year started off well with a critical acclaimed (In My opinion overrated match) for the United States Championship at Wrestlekingdom and while he then had a very meh match against Jay White he would go onto have some of the best tag team matches in a long time after reuniting with Kota Ibushi before Finally capturing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, he would have some amazing title defenses and be the B-block Runner up in the G1 Climax. This Year truly has allowed for Omega to Prove Why he is the best in the world in professional wrestling. 

2. Zack Sabre JR 

Why? This Year Zack Sabre JR started off the year as a triple champion holding two titles in RPW and The Evolve World Championship. He would go onto win the New Japan Cup and the Super Strong Style 16 tournament two of the most prestigious tournaments in pro wrestling today. Zack would also go onto have excellent matches against the likes of Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada, Testuya Naito, WALTER, Matt Riddle and Kota Ibushi. He came Third in the G1 this year however the reason I put Zack at Number 2 is that in a large amount of his major matchups such as his IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Okada, His defense of the RPW British Heavyweight Championship against Ishii and his PROGRESS World Championship match against WALTER he would be on the losing end in all the listed examples and the majority of the time in other major matches. 

3. WALTER 

Why? WALTER this year has proven why he is one of the most impressive wrestlers in the world. The man started the year off as PROGRESS Atlas Champion and Only lost it because he had to vacate it in order to get another opportunity at the PROGRESS World Champion, he would also have excellent matches against Zack Sabre JR, Keith Lee, Jonah Rock, Jeff Cobb and Tyler Bate. WALTER only dips in popularity because of the fact that he hasn't been shown in a major promotion on the level that some others have but that doesn't mean we should disregard his in ring ability and incredible statistics as he also won the PWG World Championship, the PROGRESS World Championship, The Fight Club Pro Infinity Cup and started the year off as one half of the WXW Tag Team Champions with Timothy Thatcher. 

4. The Young Bucks 

Why? I mean come on. They have put on excellent match after excellent match continuously this year however they have been in an odd position in regards to wins and losses. The Bucks while being the best Tag Team this year they have lost a lot of the excellent matches they have been a part of for example they lost their MOTY contender Against the Golden Lovers, Their rematch for the IWGP JR Tag Team Championships against Roppongi 3K losing their tag titles after only a month, Losing the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles in their Second Defense against the Guerillas of Destiny and losing in a 3 way ROH Tag Title Match twice. Title win wise yes if you only look at what happened on a numerical level it is impressive winning the IWGP JR and Heavyweight Tag titles in the same year, the Ring Of Honor and NEVER Six Man Tag team Championships with different team mates however when you look at the actual statistics of those title reigns and they become a lot less impressive. I'm not going to talk about them impressively running All In this year because it's not really relevant. 

5. Kazuchika Okada 

Why? A year ago he would've topped this list but after a very disappointing second half of the year Okada falls to the half way point in the list however this doesn't mean we should ignore his impressive match history this year as he started the year off as IWGP Heavyweight Champion defeating the man who everyone thought would have dethroned him in Tetsuya Naito, he would continue to put on excellent matches against SANADA, Zack Sabre JR, EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Of Course Kenny Omega. The second half of the year was... Interesting to say the least for Okada. After losing his the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in what is possible one of the best wrestling matches ever according to a certain wrestling critic Okada went on a sort of losing streak losing matches to Zack Sabre JR and Jay White to name a few although Okada was the runner up against Hiroshi Tanahashi in the A-block he was unable to defeat his biggest rival although only due to a time limit draw however he would lose to Tanahashi a month later for the first time in over two years. This demonstrated the lowest point in Okada's career being unable to defeat the man he had worked so hard to defeat. Okada would end off the year being betrayed by his mentor and his student as Jay White and Gedo stabbed Okada in the back. Overall Okada fell off in the latter half of this year thus falling down the list. 

6. Kota Ibushi 

Why? Alright Ibushi this year has been interesting. To kick off the year Ibushi was in an odd position although feuding with Cody Rhodes technically the match wasn't really being payed attention to despite it being on the wrestlekingdom card. Ibushi would also mostly be scene as Kenny Omega's tag team partner but that was the problem, while people loved the Golden Lovers reunion it was quite clear that Omega was the bigger focus out of the two of them. He would also have a somewhat disappointing run in the New Japan cup losing to Zack Sabre JR In the quarter finals. It was in the second half of the year however in which Ibushi began to pick up pace, Ibushi would win the B-block of the G1 climax even being able to beat Kenny Omega. Ibushi although he would lose the finals to Hiroshi Tanahashi he would go on to win the NEVER Openweight Championship to end off the year and even put in a very late match of the year contender teaming up yet again with His Golden Lovers Partner against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Will Ospreay. 

7. Hiroshi Tanahashi. 

Why? Tanahashi opened up the year poorly in my opinion with the extremely disappointing Jay White match and then immediately losing the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Minoru Suzuki before disappearing for a month and then returning  making it to the finals of the New Japan Cup before losing to Zack Sabre JR then being under the radar for a decent part of the year before mounting an incredible comeback at the tail end of the year winning the G1 climax defeating Kota Ibushi in the finals and defending his Tokyo dome main event against Kazuchika Okada and Jay White Successfully. Tanahashi would also continue the momentum putting on the previously mentioned late MOTY candidate. Due to his inconsistency this year however ending it off strong and going into the next year impressively he hits the number 7 spot. 

8. Will Ospreay

Why? Ospreay has had an interesting year to say the least. He started off very strong winning the IWGP JR Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlekingdom defeating Marty Scurll, Hiromu Takahashi and Kushida. He would go on to successfully defend the title against all three of these men before losing it to Hiromu Takahashi after Takahashi had won the best of the super juniors match. During his run as IWGP JR Heavyweight Champion he would also face Kazuchika Okada in a great match although he would lose. Ospreay would also appear to target the Heavyweight Division of New Japan specifically the NEVER Openweight Championship going after Taichi before getting Injured. Ospreay would also put on great matches in Progress Wrestling specfically an insane 2 out of 3 falls deathmatch against Jimmy Havoc. Ospreay was also a part of the previously mentioned tag team match which was incredible. 

9. Tomohiro Ishii 

Why? Ishii this year has just been insane while he hasn't exactly won the most matches or even been in many main events. Ishii won the NEVER Openweight Six Man Titles with Beretta and Yano to kick off the year although their reign only lasted one day however a few months later he would capture the British Heavyweight Championship from Zack Sabre JR only to lose it 3 months later to Minoru Suzuki. Ishii's run in the G1 climax this year was also impressive even managing to defeat IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega being one of 3 men to do so in the G1. He would then have an incredible match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Omega and would then defeat Minoru Suzuki to regain the British Heavyweight Championship and would go onto have an incredible rematch at Power Struggle. What lets Ishii down is while he book ended the year quite well the middle of the year for Ishii was mostly inconsistent with not a lot happening. 

10. Aussie Open 

Why? This year on the independent tag scene there has been no better tag team than Aussie Open. This year Fletcher and Davis have put on great matches against the Grizzled Young Veterans, LAX and the 918 just to name a few. In regards to titles they have held the Defiant Tag Team Championship, ATTACK Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship, PROGRESS Tag Team Championships and as individuals Mark Davis has won the Infinity Tournament in FCP 2018 and The Natural Progression Series and while Kyle Fletcher hasn't won any major titles he's had impressive singles matches against some high tier names. Their main Let down is that they aren't in a big enough spotlight so hopefully in 2019 that changes for the Australian duo. 

Honorable Mentions: Hirooki Goto, Minoru Suzuki, Hiromu Takahashi, Bandido, Mark Haskins, David Starr, Jimmy Havoc, Paul Robinson 

 

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I almost feel like NJPW should/could have their own Top 10 list given the impact and quality of their talent year round. This isn't based on in ring skill, or a single category. Just who I've enjoyed throughout the year with what I've been able to catch.

1. Kota Ibushi
2. Low Ki
3. Zack Sabre Jr
4. Pentagón Jr. 
5. Hiroshi Tanahashi
6. WALTER
7. Johnny Mundo/Impact/Blackcraft
8. 
Taiji Ishimori
9. LAX
10 Tomohiro Ishii


Honorable Mentions: Will Ospreay, Tessa Blanchard, Jonah Rock,  Shane Strickland, David Starr, PAC (he has only been back for barely a month or so but damn, 2019 is going to be fun), Killer Kross, Mayu Iwatani, Meiko Satomura

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Like many others said NJPW could have it's own top 10, however if we include them then my top 10 would be:

1 - Kenny Omega

2 - Chris Jericho

3 - Tetsuya Naito

4 - Zack Sabre Jr

5 - Kazuchika Okada

6 - Jay Lethal

7 - Pentagon Jr

8 - Rey Fenix

9 - Johnny Impact/Mundo

10 - Hiroshi Tanahashi (His sole win of the G1 edges a couple of people up)

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10 hours ago, TastefulChain4 said:

Jake Strong

The wildcard! Don't see many people praising Strong (Hager) that much these days but he has been doing better than most ex-WWE wrestlers have after leaving the company. He took a big step by choosing to walk away for himself and with the confidence LU have shown in him as of late it's going well.
Going to be watching his MMA debut next week?

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On 1/17/2019 at 8:12 AM, Arius said:

The wildcard! Don't see many people praising Strong (Hager) that much these days but he has been doing better than most ex-WWE wrestlers have after leaving the company. He took a big step by choosing to walk away for himself and with the confidence LU have shown in him as of late it's going well.
Going to be watching his MMA debut next week?

I'm not the biggest MMA fan but I'll probably check it out on YouTube just because it's Jake Strong.

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