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NJPW ‘Matches of the Year: 2017’

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2017 will go down in history as the year New Japan Pro-Wrestling took the wrestling world by storm. Putting their faith in Kenny Omega, NJPW, for the first time, allowed a non-Japanese wrestler to main event their biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom. Not since 2006 had New Japan placed a westerner in the main event of their annual January 4th Tokyo Dome show. In fact, it was Brock Lesnar who last received that honor in 2006 and the show wasn’t even called Wrestle Kingdom in those days. This was a huge deal for a company who was looking to expand to even greater heights outside of their home country. Kenny Omega took the ball and with the help of Dave Meltzer changing his rating system for Omega, NJPW blew up in a major way.

Now, with more eyes on New Japan worldwide than ever before, let’s take a look at what I believe to be their greatest matches of 2017. You won’t see many tag team matches on this list. Admittedly, the tag division is the weakest aspect of the company. Where they succeed is their singles division that contains many different styles and influences from wrestlers trained all over the world.

There is the British style brought over by the likes of Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll. The WWE trained athletes such as Kenny Omega, Trent Beretta and Juice Robinson. American independent stars like Ricochet and Michael Elgin. The old guard of Japanese wrestling with Yuji Nagata, Minoru Suzuki and Satoshi Kojima. And lastly, the current crop of Japanese stars in their prime; Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi and Kota Ibushi. The contrast in styles is what makes New Japan Pro-Wrestling exciting. There are so many options and possibly match ups that may occur, which is what keeps you coming back to the promotion for more. 2017 was a fantastic year for NJPW and here are some examples.

January

4th – Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
4th – Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
4th – Katsuyori Shibata vs Hirooki Goto
4th – Kushida vs Hiromu Takahashi

February

5th – Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki
11th – Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin
11th – Hiromu Takahashi vs Dragon Lee
11th – Katsuyori Shibata vs Will Ospreay

March

12th – Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii
19th – Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii

April

9th – Kazuchika Okada vs Katsuyori Shibata

May

3rd – Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii
18th – Will Ospreay vs Ricochet
18th – Hiromu Takahashi vs Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger
29th – Kushida vs Ryusuke Taguchi

June

3rd – Kushida vs Will Ospreay
11th – Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
11th – Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
11th – Hiromu Takahashi vs Kushida

July

1st – Kenny Omega vs Michael Elgin
2nd – Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii
17th – Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi
17th – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr.
21st – Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr.
22nd – Kazuchika Okada vs Michael Elgin
23rd – Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii
23rd – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Yuji Nagata
25th – Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada
27th – Kenny Omega vs Michael Elgin
27th – Kazuchika Okada vs Satoshi Kojima

August

1st – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
2nd – Kenny Omega vs Evil
4th – Kota Ibushi vs Yuji Nagata
5th – Kazuchika Okada vs Evil
8th – Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki
11th – Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
12th – Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
13th – Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega

September

16th – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr.
16th – Funky Future vs Kanemaru & Taichi
24th – Kenny Omega vs Juice Robinson

October

9th – Kushida vs Will Ospreay
23rd – Hiromu & Bushi vs Dragon Lee & Titan

November

5th – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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