Even though the world might be going through a tough time we are lucky enough to still have pro wrestling here to give us some entertainment.
Today I am going to be giving you some of my picks for wrestlers to look out for in wrestling in 2021.
For this, I will be looking at people from the main promotions I watch (NOAH, Tokyo Joshi Pro) but I may include some others in this.
Without further ado let us get into the list.
First, we take a trip to Tokyo Joshi Pro. A promotion filled with colourful characters and tell some great stories. Here you will find many wrestlers ready to breakout. One of those people is Miu Watanabe.
The powerhouse idol had a strong 2020. She held the princess tag team championships (alongside Rika Tatsumi) for most of the year losing it in November. They held the belts for 370 days making 4 defences. She also made it to the princess cup quarterfinals in singles action in 2020 Watanabe had a record of 5 wins, 1 draw and 2 loses.
At the time of writing, Miu Watanabe is making her 1st challenge for the Princess of Princess Championship (TJPW’s top championship) against tag partner Rika Tatsumi. This will be Watanabe’s second-time main eventing Korakuen hall. The first time was at Brand New Wrestling 3 where she teamed with Miyu Yamashita to try and take the Princess Tag Titles from NEO Biishiki-Gun. This will be her first-time main eventing in singles competition.
In my opinion, by the end of 2021, Miu Watanabe will have truly broken into TJPW’s main event scene. This might happen as early as February with her title challenge. I expect Watanabe to have a strong showing in the princess cup as well.
For me, Miu Watanabe has the potential to be the next big star in TJPW. She has all the tools and for me is the wrestler to keep your eyes on in 2021.
Sticking with TJPW we have a person who is arguably one of the most promising rookies in the whole of Joshi Mirai Maiumi.
Maiumi debuted in 2019 and has been going from strength to strength ever since. Her move set is different from most peoples on the TJPW roster. Using heavy strikes, throws, suplexes and lariats all to great use. This moveset helps her stand out on the TJPW roster.
In 2020 she made some big leaps. She challenged for her fist championship in TJPW. Challenging (unsuccessfully) for the Princess tag championship. Maiumi also made it to the semi-finals of the International Princess championship tournament. She lost to Hikari Noa in a match which may TJPW fans consider to be the match of the tournament (myself included).
Maiumi has started 2021 strong as well. She has challenged for the International Princess Championship. This will be her first time challenging for a singles title. This is a big chance for her to prove herself and launch herself into the upper half of the TJPW card.
By the end of 2021, I feel like Maiumi will be an upper card fixture for Tokyo Joshi Pro. her unique style (for TJPW) and potential to be the next big star not only in TJPW but in Joshi, this makes her a valuable asset to have.
The last Tokyo Joshi Pro wrestler to feature on this list is vivid honey mustard Suzume.
Suzume debuted in the summer of 2019. She has a very high energy moveset. Lots of high-speed moves.including things like a springboard bulldog and a diving crossbody. Suzume has one of the more flasher and exciting movesets in TJPW.
Like most rookies, Suzume improved in her second year. In 2020 she received her first championship opportunity. Unsuccessfully challenging for the Princess Tag Team Championships. She made it to the second round of the princess cup losing to eventual winner Mizuki.
TJPW also showed big trust in Suzume when she was tasked with guiding the new debuting rookie Arisu Endo through her first match. That showed the faith that TJPW have in Suzume.
By the end of 2021, I think Suzume will be on the cusp of the upper card in TJPW. I think she will have a surprising run in the princess cup too which will elevate her onto the cusp. Suzume has a lot of upside and potential. She will be a big asset for TJPW moving forward.
Next, we move to Pro Wrestling NOAH with Kinya Okada.
Although Okada debuted in 2018. Injuries hampered his progress. Meaning he fell behind other rookies and wrestlers on the NOAH roster.
2020 was the year Okada really started to come out of his shell. He had been receiving training from Katsuhiko Nakajima and that showed as Okada started to incorporate kicks into his offence.
While Okada didn’t compete in any high profile matches in 2020 its when he started to put the pieces together and become one of the highlights of the NOAH undercard. It’s only a matter of time before he picks up first singles win against his seniors.
By the end of 2021, I think Okada will firmly be in the mid-card. He will be in and around both the tag title scene and the National title scene (NOAH’S secondary title). Hopefully, he gets to compete in his first NOAH tournament. whether that be the Global Tag League or the N1 Victory. He is one of the prospects that NOAH will be building their main event scene around in the future. So they will probably continue a slow but steady build. I think he’s ready for more.
The last person from NOAH on this list is their resident tank Yoshiki Inamura. Inamura debuted in 2018 and has slowly become one of the best rookies in the world.
I called Inamura a tank and the reasoning being he is one. His offence is high impact and strong moves. Things like power slams, throws and clubbing forearms. He also uses a big diving shoulder block with extreme effectiveness
2020 was a breakout year of Inamura. He competed in BJW’s strong climb tournament. He scored 2 singles wins which is big considering he had only pinned fellow rookies at this point in NOAH. Inamura also got his first big pinfall in NOAH when he pinned Yuko Miyamoto.
Inamura also competed in NOAH’s N1 Victory tournament. A strong show of faith from NOAH by putting in him the tournament. Although he finished with 0 points he put on a great display and showed how much he improved.
By the end of 2021, I think Inamura will have captured his first title in NOAH. be that the tag team titles or the National title. He is ready for a lot more. He is one of the highlights of NOAH’S undercard and always shines against the wrestlers in the upper card.
Now admittedly I have just started watching DDT but these last two guys have caught my eye.
First, we have Keigo Nakamura Nakamura debuted in 2019.
In the little I have seen of him he has really impressed me. He had a great rookie vs rookie match with Hideki Okatani which I would highly recommend.
Nakamura has a lot of flashy moves including a second rope moonsault. He is eager to impress and sometimes that leads to some sloppiness in the matches.
In 2021 I expect Nakamura to continue to progress. Hopefully, he will tighten up his offence. Also hopefully he will pick up some singles wins. I think DDT has a gem here.
Now this one is a bit out there because Ueno is already a champion. He currently holds the DDT Universal Championship. And you could argue that he is already a main eventer
Ueno debuted in 2016. Ueno has a mix of styles. He can grapple on the ground or he can go high risk.
Ueno had a great 2020. He had a great tag team title run and was part of some of the best tag team matches of the year. Ueno also ended 2020 as a singles champion when he captured the DDT Universal Championship (his first singles title discluding the DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship) at DDT’s biggest show of the year Ultimate Party. He has already got defences under his belt.
In 2021 I think Ueno will be a big main eventer for DDT (if he isn’t all ready). Ueno has all the upside in the world. I think he will be in the hunt for the KOD openweight championship (DDT’s Biggest prize). It would surprise me to Ueno at the top of DDT by the end of 2021 or 2022.
And that’s my 7 picks for the top wrestlers to watch in 2021. Who do you think will break out this year? Let me know!