NJPW News: Los Ingobernables de Japon (LiJ) win Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Best Gimmick award for 2017
What’s the story?
Los Ingobernables de Japon, the wacky stable led by Tetsuya Naito, have been voted as the Best Gimmick of 2017 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
This marks the first time since 1989 that an NJPW act or character has won the award, and the first group or stable to have won it since 2013.
In case you didn’t know…
The Best Gimmick award goes to that act or character that stands out the most in a positive way and gets the biggest reaction in a given year. These winners are important because they indicate those characters that the audience loves the most, and the bookers behind those gimmicks then know which ones are working and which ones are not.
Over the past thirty years, a WWE gimmick has won this award more than any other promotion, with the Undertaker having won more than any other with 5 consecutive wins between 1990 and 1994.
Other WWE gimmicks to have won this award include: ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Santino Marella, The Wyatt Family, Rusev & Lana, and the New Day. Both CM Punk and Matt Hardy are the only two wrestlers to have won more than once under different gimmicks.
The heart of the matter
LiJ took this award as a group for their outstanding work together over the past year. Despite being obvious heels, the NJPW audience appears to love everything about them, hence, them being voted as the best gimmick.
The runner-up for this award was Hiromu Takahashi, himself a member of LiJ, for his gimmick of being a crazy person with a stuff plushie cat named Daryl. That gimmick – like Mr. Socko and Moppy from the dawn of the 2000s – became an overnight sensation and has made Takahashi into an incredibly popular and eye-catching character in his own right.
The only WWE gimmick to reach the top three in terms of votes was Velveteen Dream, who is technically an NXT gimmick and not a main roster character. He received the third-highest number of votes, with a few other WWE gimmicks listed immediately beneath him.
You can expect all five members of LiJ be featured prominently on NJPW programming going forward. In Japan, LiJ sells more merchandise than any single other individual or group, which is a major factor for any wrestling promotion.
Furthermore, LiJ is widely considered to be the ‘cool’ brand of NJPW wrestlers to follow, which means that the bookers are likely to book them strongly in the coming months so that the company can continue to grow in popularity on an international level.
As a unit, Los Ingobernables de Japon (LiJ) have been consistently the most entertaining and eye-catching groups around the world. Each one of them has something unique about them that makes them interesting.
Naito is the detached leader that spits in the face of NJPW’s traditions and sense of honor. EVIL is…evil. Bushi is an impressive masked wrestler. SANADA is an excellent heel that’s improving every day, as seen with his impressive showing against Okada in a recent singles match. Finally, Takahashi is so wacky that even the most serious of NJPW fans cannot help but laugh at his antics.
Clearly, this group of wrestlers have struck gold with the collective gimmick they work with, and ought to keep investing in it for the future.
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