Once again, thank you for enjoying these spotlights on some international stars. Today we remain in the land of the Far East and move over to New Japan's big company rival, Pro Wrestling NOAH and shine a light on its GHC Heavyweight Champion, Go Shiozaki!
Shiozaki is one I have come to love to watch in the past six months. He's got a bit of a generic wrestler feel to him when you first see him―big and muscular but not Batista muscular, and doesn't have much a flashy look.
But there's nothing generic about what this guy does in the ring, nor is there anything generic about what he's done in his five-year career.
Go entered the NOAH dojo at the age of 21, became the only man to graduate in his "class," as well as the youngest person on the NOAH roster and quickly moved into the role of protege of Kenta Kobashi, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
The two became a very successful tag team, especially as Shiozaki quickly learned Kobashi's style. The team even put on a match that was given a near-perfect rating by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Eventually Shiozaki went solo, more so following after Kobashi was diagnosed with cancer. During this time Shiozaki, in a desire to improve his skills, ventured into foreign territories, including Ring of Honor.
He put on some solid tag team matches as well as having great showings against Nigel McGuinness in a few title matches.
He also spent time in Full Impact Pro, ROH's sister promotion in Florida where he became the heavyweight champion, as well as wrestling in Harley Race's WLW (World Wrestling League) promotion, where he also won the heavyweight championship.
Eventually, he came back to NOAH where he started to receive a push, thanks in part to being the tag team partner of the legendary, and sadly recently deceased Mitsuharu Misawa. He was Misawa's tag team partner in his final match as well.
It was during this time that then-champion Jun Akiyama became unable to compete due to herniated discs, and Shiozaki's slow push came to head when he defeated No. 1 contender Takeshi Rikio to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
Shiozaki may not have a flashy look or feel to him, but nearly everything the man does in the ring is impressive to me. Thanks to being Kobashi's protege, his style of wrestling is very similar, and has adapted a lot of Kobashi's moves as his own.
He does a mean vertical suplex into an elbow drop, as well as some hard-hitting lariats. He does Ric Flair inspired backhand chops that would put the man to shame. His most impressive move for me is a new one, a modified reverse DDT, that I would call OUCH.
My favorite matches of his are mainly tag team matches. I love the match he and Kobashi nearly received a perfect rating for. More recently, I watched a match in which he and Takashi Sugiura took on New Japan rivals Shinsuke Nakamura and Milano Collection AT.
He's also a great singles star, and can without a doubt carry a main event. As I said before, he's put on some good matches with Nigel McGuinness while in ROH and recently put on a great match with Chris Hero.
At only 27 years old, Go Shiozaki is now saddled with carrying NOAH into the future, especially as champion. I have no doubt that Shiozaki's star will continue to rise, and he deserves every amount of respect he gets.
Next time we stay in NOAH and shine a spotlight on one of the greatest young stars to ever step foot in the ring, the ORIGINATOR of the Go 2 Sleep, current GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion KENTA!