Tomohiro Ishii is a journeyman wrestler. He has become a cult favorite because of his strong work. Unfortunately Ishii has never won the big one in NJPW. Ishii has had two shots at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship but has come up short both times. I believe a Ishii Heavyweight title run would be massively popular and could be similar to Mick Foley’s late World Title reigns. Here are five reasons why Tomohiro Ishii should be Champion.
He’s an underdog
Everyone loves an underdog and Ishii is a quintessential Cinderella story. Ishii is often overlooked in NJPW because of his stature and standing as a perpetual mid-carder. Ishii’s age and closing window for success add to his dark horse status. Wrestling is great when unpredictable because unexpected surprises are fun. Also, people can resent successful wrestlers and take pleasure in their misfortune. Ishii beating the odds could take advantage of all of this, making it a treasured wrestling memory.
Ishii is a tough guy
They call Ishii the Stone Pitbull because of his toughness. He is never afraid of enduring the punishment necessary to get the job done. Ishii’s toughness is his greatest strength and biggest weakness. Ishii sometimes makes poor strategic decisions because of his need to prove his fortitude. The flaw just makes him even more relatable.
He’s paid his dues
Ishii has wrestled for NJPW since 2004. He gives maximum effort and is incredibly consistent. Ishii has been on a tear since his G1 match with Katsuyori Shibata. It seems like he’s good for at least one five star match a year. Ishii getting the IWGP Heavyweight title run he deserves would be fun, because it would make the world seem just.
It’s good storytelling
NJPW is known for great storytelling because of their long term outlook. An Ishii title run would be the ultimate slow play. A victory would be the culmination of a 24-year career and 16 years of NJPW history. There is nothing more satisfying than a great end to a long story.
The fall could be huge.
It’s easy to imagine why Ishii should be Champion because of the reasons stated above. It would be massively popular and the person that ended it would get massive heat. The boos KENTA or Jay White could generate in that situation could be endless. Elevated heels could be big business for NJPW.