NJPW News: Tetsuya Naito voted the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Most Charismatic Wrestler award for 2017
What’s the story?
Tetsuya Naito, one of the biggest wrestling stars both in his native Japan and on an international level, was voted the Most Charismatic Wrestler of 2017 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers.
In case you didn’t know…
Charisma is one of the most important aspects of being a professional wrestler. When someone talks about another wrestling star and says, “Wrestler X has ‘it’”, that ‘it’ usually means charisma.
It’s that ever-critical ability to control an audience with one’s words and non-verbal actions. It’s the ability to make people invest in you emotionally and keep their attention no matter what you do.
Some of the most charismatic and magnetic wrestlers of all time have won this award due to their incredible abilities to sell a story to their audiences. Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, John Cena, The Rock, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and Shinsuke Nakamura are all previous winners of this award.
The heart of the matter
Tetsuya Naito was head and shoulders above all other nominees voted for this award, receiving almost four times as many votes as the runner-up, Connor McGregor.
Naito’s former NJPW rival, Shinsuke Nakamura, was voted at a distant fifth, receiving less than a tenth of the number of votes that Naito did.
This award is further testament to Naito’s ability to control a crowd and tell a story with even the most subtle of movements and actions. In some cases, he doesn’t even have to say a single word but needs only make a few small gestures and that is enough for the audience to understand what he’s doing and why.
This is a critical skill for a wrestler and is a major reason why Naito has become one of the best wrestlers alive today.
Naito is currently at the top of NJPW’s main event scene, embroiled in feuds with many of the company’s top stars. In particular, his Los Ignobernables de Japon faction continues to wage war with the other stables in the company, especially with the Okada-led faction Chaos and the Omega-led Bullet Club.
What’s more, the dominant rumour at this time suggests that Naito will be facing Chris Jericho at NJPW’s Dominion event later this year.
If you’ve ever watched Naito wrestle, cut a promo, or do anything wrestling-related for that matter, you’ll understand why he rightfully won this award. The man carries himself with both an air of professionalism and a sort of detached apathy that makes him stand out from the crowd.
His matches and storylines with his fellow LiJ stablemates have been among the best that NJPW had had to offer throughout the year, and LiJ merchandise is actually outselling every other wrestler’s/faction’s merchandise as well. It’s obvious that Naito found himself when he became ‘Tranquilo’ and adopted this new personality.
I for one see even more success for Naito in the coming years, as long as the trend from 2017 continues for him going forward.
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