The Rajah Debates – Round 2 – Defrost vs. Psycho

The Rajah Debates – Round 2 – Defrost vs. Psycho

Welcome, one and all, to the glorious debut of the Rajah Debates! For years, the best and brightest minds of the Rajah forum have done battle with words about a myriad of fascinating topics from the wrestling world, seeking to answer the questions that plague the wrestling community. Is John Cena actually a good wrestler? What’s the greatest wrestling show of all time? Is anyone as good as Bobby Lashley? (No.) But for the first time ever, we’re bringing the debates to you and letting you guys act as judge, jury and executioner.

The way this works is simple. Each match will involve a maximum of 3 350 word posts from each participant going in order. At the end, you guys and our panel of judges will vote to see you moves on to the next round to get one step closer to Rajah immortality. Over the course of the next month you’ll grow to know and root for these brilliant weirdos until we eventually crown a grand champion.

Sound good? I thought so! So let’s jump right in!


Now, two new combatants will enter the circle of debate from which only one can proceed. And here is the topic that they will do battle over:

These debates always focus largely on WWE, which is natural since this is the WWE forum and it is by far the subject that wrestling fans are most interested in as a whole. But as we have here today two people who notably watch and appreciate wrestling outside of WWE, there’s no better time to open our view up a bit and ask a different sort of question. So congratulations, Defrost and Psycho, you two are now scouts looking for the best talent in the world. Who’s it going to be?


The coin toss dictates that DEFROST will go first.



Who is the best wrestler in the whole wide world? What does that even mean? Are we looking at consistency or are we looking for peaks? There is a guy I am thinking of that on his best day is as good as anyone, but often coasts. To me there has been one man since 2007 that has been slightly above everyone else.

From the night he lost the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Yuji Nagata in April 2007

Until the night he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to win the 25th G1 Climax this past August…5-finals_sport

For 8 years Hiroshi Tanahashi has been the gold standard in professional wrestling. When others were claiming the title as the best in the world it was always Hiroshi Tanahashi that held that title. From his amazing 2007 trilogy with Yuji Nagata, to his match that November against Hirooki Goto and the following year’s All Japan Champions Carnival where the ultimate babyface proved he could be the greatest heel alive, to his becoming Ace of the Universe in 2009, to the greatest IWGP Championship reign of all time in 2011, and now to his rivalry with Kazuchika Okada which will culminate on January the 4th. Maybe Bryan Danielson can come close to his level in this time, but you have to remember there were down times with him. When Jericho was claiming the title, and was the best thing in WWE, he could not touch Tanahashi. Every smark’s darling CM Punk doesn’t even compare.

Look at it like this. The kind of reader the Wrestling Observer attracts loves CM Punk. Despite that the Wrestling Observer Wrestler of the Year as voted by subscribers in 2011, 2012, and 2013 was Hiroshi Tanahashi. For me the main event of WK 9 and the G1 Final are 2 of the 3 best matches this year. In 2013 he and Okada were in 4 of the top 8 matches voted in said WON. IN 2012 worked an entirely different style with Minoru Suzuki and had the MOTY. In 2011 it was one amazing match after another. He truly is the once in one hundred years talent.



Many before have laid claim to “best wrestler in the world” both inside and out of WWE. Some just claimed it as what they believed, and others have used it as a tagline. It’s very hard to come to a consensus when everyone has different criteria for what makes someone the best. So what does make someone the best? There is a combination of recurring points of discussion that definitely help make the difference.

Publication awards and fan-voted accolades are pretty important, and I would say more so than kayfabe credentials. In-ring skills are definitely the foundation and are possibly the most important when determining the answer. However, the way a wrestler carries one’s self in the ring is just as crucial, from look, to attitude, to the mannerisms that make every movement in and out of the ring come alive more than the next wrestler doing the same moves.

So who has such wicked in-ring skills that it puts him above the rest? Who has the support of publications, peers, fans, and critics alike to back it up? And who has so much in-ring charisma bleeding out of him that the only term to properly label it is “SWAG?”

Nakamura burst onto the NJPW scene with high praise from officials, being dubbed the “Super Rookie,” a title that is rare for anyone in the sport. With his early understanding of wrestling ability, he quickly became IWGP Heavyweight Champion by the end of his second year in the business, becoming the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history. Despite this early display of talent, it was in 2011, after a return from Mexico, that we saw the birth of “Swagsuke”, the man in black tights, flashy jackets, and with ridiculous charisma that we all know and love today. He ranks high on lists, has 5 star matches under his belt, and every casual on-looker who sees him gravitates toward him. His wrestling style is unlike anyone else’s, and he often steals the show no matter who his opponent may be. It’s hard to argue that anyone else is better.



Defrost: “There is a guy I am thinking of that on his best day is as good as anyone, but often coasts.”

Hey, guess who I was thinking of there? On his best day Shinsuke Nakamura is as good as Hiroshi Tanahashi, but over the years he has been all sorts of hit and miss. In the interest of fairness I will not go as far back as 2007 with Nakamura as I did with Tanahashi because the Shinsuke of then and the Swagsuke of now may as well be two different human beings. Between the peaks of the Tokyo Dome and the G1 Final, probably not so coincidentally the two biggest shows of the year, there had been a wide valley. In February he has a horribly disappointing match with Yuji Nagata. Speaking of the G1 you could hear rumblings of griping about Nakamura’s run until the last two nights where he obviously killed it. But that’s a 20% success rate for a lot of people.

Let’s look at some common opponents between the two. Here Hiroshi Tanahashi has a match rated 5 stars in the Wrestling Observer with Katsuyori Shibata from last September…-9-21-14_sport

Two months later in the main event of a PPV in NJPW’s hottest building Nakamura had a perfectly fine, but a bit off a let down of a match with Katsuyori Shibata…ata-njpw_sport

Or look at the series of matches that has dominated Shinsuke’s 2015 against Hirooki Goto. Outside of their G1 match, which I appear to be in outlier in how much I liked it, it was about 6 months of meh. Every time Tanahashi has gotten in the ring with Goto it has ranged from very good to magical.…ion-2007_sport

Until last year when the title was really elevated it was Nakamura’s job to have a 3.5 to 4 star match underneath Tanahashi’s 4.5 to 5 star match. Then the title was elevated to main events last year. When Nakamura had a run with Hiroshi Tanahashi. And even then I think we can all agree to forgot Shinsuke’s match with Daniel Gracie ever happened. Hell bringing it up here just seems unfair.



Without Shinsuke Nakamura, the Tanahashi/Nakamura Wrestle Kingdom main event for the IC Title could not have happened. It was Nakamura’s hard work with the championship that brought it to a level of credibility that could outdo the Heavyweight Championship. And considering the dearth of talent he had to work with while Tanahashi was working with the cream of the crop, Nakamura worked miracles by getting such high caliber performances that came close, and in some’s opinions overcame Tanahashi’s.

In fact, one of the biggest tributes to Nakamura’s skill is the fact that he pulled top notch performances one after another out of Bad Luck Fale, someone who is largely hailed as the worst performer in New Japan, without flaw. Meltzer rated those matches as 3.75, 3.75, 3.5, and 4 respectively, whereas Tanahashi’s outing just a month ago garnered a mere 3.25.

In that whole time, he was slowly drawing more and more non-Japanese viewers to the product, people who were enthralled by this walking monument to charisma who kicked all sorts of ass. A quick scour of the General Wrestling forum will attest to that, as would a Twitter search. Meanwhile, Tanahashi impresses, but often is compared to John Cena in his role, leading people to be less intrigued by the announcement of his matches.

You claim that Nakamura has had a wide valley of great matches between Wrestle Kingdom and the G1 Final, yet Tanahashi hasn’t had a strong record himself. Actually, many of your statements about each man’s record this year is based on personal opinion. In my personal opinion, Nakamura had a strong G1 showing and has been killing it with Goto despite repetitive booking. But personal opinion holds less water here, and if we look at one of the world’s most renowned wrestling critic’s opinion on single’s matches(sans the G1 Final), Nakamura has had the stronger year.

Nakamura’s Star Ratings: 5, 3.5, 4, 3.5, 4.5, 4.5

Tanahashi’s Star Ratings: 4.75, 4, 2.75, 3.5, 3.25

Including Nakamura outdoing Tanahashi on the biggest stage with arguably a lesser opponent. Do the math.



I love Kazuchika Okada as much as anyone, but calling Kota Ibushi a lesser opponent, let alone imply that there was some heavy lifting in that match by Nakamura, strains credulity. I’m glad you mentioned the Tokyo Dome. Nakamura and Ibushi had just about as good as match as you can see. So the reaction people start having is how can this possibly be followed. Not only did Tanahashi and Okada follow it, Tanahashi being especially great in that match, they were either on par with it. Tanahashi proved without a shadow of a doubt this January that a crowd dying for your match has nothing to do with what you are following. It has to do with how good you are, and how over your stuff is. Tanahashi is basically Einstein. He came up with the E =mc2 of wrestling.

Let’s put those star ratings in context. Between the Tokyo Dome and G1 Shinsuke was booked with far stronger workers than Tanahashi. Tanahashi spent the 4 months prior to G1 with Toru Yano, a fun comedy guy in NJPW but unless he is allowed to use smoke and mirrors not really great in ring. Shinsuke worked with the aforementioned Hirooki Goto who is one of the best workers in the world. Even then there was a bit of an uproar that Dave’s ratings were inflated on the Goto matches, especially the Dominion one.

You mentioned Fale, but in G1 and in September Tanahashi got good matches out of him too. As did Okada in April. So basically Fale can be carried. Tanahashi’s G1 tournament. He was great in his match with Ibushi, he got Naito’s new heel gimmick over, had another awesome match with Shibata including many Inoki vs Fujinami shout outs, then had amazing MOTY level matches with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura to close it out. Meanwhile Shinsuke had a couple of good matches, several meh matches, and two awesome matches at the end with Okada and Tanahashi. The body as a whole goes to Tanahashi there and the peak sorta depends on which you like better between the AJ vs Tana and Shinsuke vs Okada matches. Given their lack of chemistry in the past I’d go Tana and AJ.



Just because Tanahashi could follow a match doesn’t mean he outdid it. And while Ibushi is a terrific competitor, one wouldn’t be hard pressed to say Okada is a couple notches above him. The main point is Okada is a main event talent that Tanahashi has had plenty of main events with. Ibushi was elevated to the respect of a main level star after his barnburner with Nakamura. The fact that they had a match that prompted people to think Tanahashi and Okada couldn’t follow it is a testament to the true magnificence of that match and Nakamura’s ability.

I actually didn’t even include the first Yano match for Tanahashi in the star ratings because that one was far too short an unfair. Even if you take out the match I did include, and take out the two highest rated matches with Goto from Nakamura’s list, you still see Shinsuke beating out Tanahashi on average. Besides that, one of my points was during the IC run that you condemned as insignificant until Tanahashi came around, he battled with many lesser opponents and pulled out magnificent matches. And while Tanahashi might have had a good matches with Fale, many people agree that Nakamura had better matches. Give Yano a legitimate match that doesn’t end in minutes, and I bet the story would be the same.

As far as G1 goes, Nakamura had a stronger showing than you let on. Nakamura had a wonderful match with Honma, and strong bouts with Ishii, Goto, Nagata(much better than their earlier outing) and Kojima. On top of that he had the excellent match with Okada and Tanahashi that you mentioned. And he did all the working with an injured elbow. As for Tanahashi, he had good matches, but he only had a hand in getting Naito’s heel gimmick over. Naito was the one who put the work into that, and his matches with Shibata and Ibushi did the trick just as much.

Nakamura had the stronger year, got the IC belt over, and has far more in-ring charisma than Tana could dream of. Enough said.