The famous Japanese newspaper Tokyo Sports has awarded its prizes to the best of the year in 2018. For this, several of the critics vote a series of nominees based on their performance throughout the year, the success they have had and the development under his character, among other factors.
This is the 45th edition of the awards, which will be delivered on Thursday, January 17. Among the highlights is the victory of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) fighter and current winner of G1 Climax 28, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi manages to take this distinction for the fourth time in his career, having previously won in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Tanahashi has overcome with 18 votes in his favor to Kazuchika Okada (12 votes) and Kenny Omega (3 votes) to be chosen as the best fighter of the year.
In the year of Tanahashi, it is noteworthy to have lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Minoru Suzuki in February, to be a finalist of the New Japan Cup, to have challenged the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and to have won the G1 Climax 28, in addition to his multiple appearances in other series and movies like ” My dad is a heel wrestler”. With this victory, Tanahashi matches Genichiro Tenryu and Keiji Mutoh, being only surpassed by Antonio Inoki, chosen 6 times as the best fighter of the year.
Among the other awards highlights the first victory of Tsukasa Fujimoto as a fighter of the year with 16 votes, beating Meiko Satomura and Chihiro Hashimoto (both with 3 votes) and Momo Watanabe (with one vote).
As for the fight of the year, Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega in Dominion was chosen, being the fifth consecutive time that Kazuchika Okada wins this distinction and the second time in the history of Tokyo Sports that an individual match is repeated for the second year in a row (Kenta Kobashi vs. Mitsuharu Misawa between 1997 and 1998 were the only ones to get it).
With 16 votes, Shuji Ishikawa and Suwama were chosen for the second consecutive year as the best team of the year, beating the other nominated couple, The Ungovernables of Japan (EVIL and SANADA), who obtained 3 votes. This happens for the first time in 15 years, after the previous victory of Mitsuharu Misawa and Kenta Kobashi between 1993 and 1994.
As for the prize for the best rookie, Utami Hayashishita took the prize in the second round with 13 votes, after drawing in the first round with Ben-K with 9 votes (there were a total of 4 nominations).
Tetsuya Naito won the award for the best technical fighter by beating other 9 nominees. For its part, Pro-Wrestling NOAH won two prizes, one as a special prize for Naomichi Marufuji and another for Fighting Spirit for Kaito Kiyomiya.
Below is the complete list of prizes:
– Best fighter/MVP: Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW)
– Best fighter: Tsukasa Fujimoto (Ice Ribbon)
– Best fight: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega – 2 out of 3 falls without a time limit, at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka Jo-Hall (NJPW)
– Best tag team: Violent Giant (Shuji Ishikawa and Suwama) (AJPW)
– Best technique/skill: Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
– Fighting Spirit: Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH)
– Best Overall Performance/Performance Award: Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH)
– Debutante of the year: Utami Hayashishita (STARDOM)