Total Votes: 51
The Mitsuharu Misawa Award
Keiji Mutoh - 10 votes
For the second time, Keiji Mutoh wins the Mitsuharu Misawa Award. The win is due to a number of reasons. First, Mutoh continued to work to improve All Japan Pro Wrestling including pushing the younger stars, hiring a few new stars, and helping get new sponsorship for the promotion. Mutoh also fought back from a bad knee injury (not his first) to have a few big matches later in the year and even lost weight just so he could put over Kaz Hayashi for the All Japan Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Mutoh has become the flag bearer for Puroresu Love, and with many wrestlers from his generation retiring or fading, Mutoh is one of the last of his class to continue the fight to spread the good word of Puroresu.
Takashi Sugiura - 19 votes
While the fight for second place was close, Sugiura ran away as the MVP in 2010. While the promotion as a whole did not do well in the voting, there was little doubting that Sugiura had one of the best years. Sugiura won the GHC Heavyweight Championship in December of 2009 and held the title for the entire year, defeating wrestlers from New Japan and Pro Wrestling NOAH. He was a fighting champion as well, as he defended his title 7 times during a year, a very high number for a heavyweight champion in Japan. In tag team action he reached the Finals of the Global Tag League, winning the Fighting Spirit Prize. He also won his match at the New Japan Tokyo Dome, the most highly attended event of the year. Ending 2010, Sugiura was the longest running heavyweight champion in Japan.
Second Place (tied): Daisuke Sekimoto (6 votes)
Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi - 15 votes
In what was the biggest surprise to me in the voting this year, the Golden Lovers won the Tag Team MVP in Japan. The team was already a success in DDT, but really came to everyone's attention when they won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. They won the titles in October but through the end of the year they managed to have three defenses, and have surprised everyone with their ability to hang with the best Jr. Heavyweights that New Japan has to offer. The "it" team for 2010, for the second straight year the New Japan Jr. Heavyweight Champions win the award with a New Japan heavyweight tag team not too far behind.
Second Place: Giant Bernard and Karl Anderson (10 votes)
Tetsuya Naito - 21 votes
This was not even close, as New Japan's Naito ran away with the award for Breakout Star. It wasn't Naito's first big year, but it was a year that saw him go from midcarder to having competitive matches against the main eventers of the promotion. His year started off hot as he won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship with Yujiro at the Tokyo Dome. Then in the New Japan Cup, he beat Anderson in the first round and then upset Hiroshi Tanahashi in the second round. He had several other matches against Tanahashi the rest of the year and while he did not beat him again, the crowd was always hot for their matches as Naito put up a big fight. He also participated in the G1 Climax and had pinfall victories over Togi Makabe, Karl Anderson, and Manabu Nakanishi along with a draw against Tanahashi.
Second Place: Yuji Okabayashi (7 votes)
New Japan Pro Wrestling - 24 votes
In what should be called the "New Japan Award," New Japan easily won Promotion of the Year for the third straight year. This is due to a number of factors. New Japan is one of the few promotions that seamlessly combines new stars, old stars, Jr. Heavyweights, and Heavyweights on almost all of their cards so that more people find something they enjoy to watch. They also have the wrestlers that won the Tag Team of the Year, Match of the Year, and extensively used the wrestler that won Comeback Wrestler of the Year. New Japan may not be dethroned for a few more years, but this was the first year that DDT has appeared in the listing as they came in 3rd, so perhaps New Japan should watch out.
Second Place: Dragon Gate (10 votes)
New Japan vs. NOAH - 21 votes
One on one feuds came in 2nd and 3rd, but the New Japan vs. NOAH feud continued to hold fan's attention. The year started with Naomichi Marufuji winning the New Japan Jr. Heavyweight Championship and he had several exciting defenses (including the Match of the Year) before losing the title to Prince Devitt in the summer. Tiger Mask and Kanemoto got revenge for New Japan when they won the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in the fall but they only held the titles for two months before losing them to Marufuji and Aoki. Sugiura also defended the GHC Heavyweight Championship in New Japan at the Tokyo Dome, defeating Togi Makabe, and throughout the spring and summer the two promotions had occasional skirmishes in both promotions.
Second Place: Minoru Suzuki vs Masakatsu Funaki (12 votes)
Naomichi Marufuji vs. Prince Devitt, New Japan on January 30th - 11 votes
Match of the Year is often a close vote as there are so many different promotion, styles, and wrestlers that it makes it a difficult vote for many people. All three that were ranked were from different promotions, but the inter-promotional Marufuji vs. Devitt ranked above all others in terms of entertainment and excitement. The reason it won was that it was a very seamless match with a hot crowd, big moves, and they kept you at the end of your seat throughout. Marufuji was on fire as the New Japan Jr. Heavyweight Champion, but Devitt seemed destined to be the new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion (and he was, as he would successfully defeat Marufuji in June).
Second Place: KENTA and Aoki vs. Strong and Edwards, NOAH on October 30th (7 votes)
Event of the Year
New Japan at Tokyo Dome on January 4th - 16 votes
The biggest event of the year, it is hard not to recognize the Tokyo Dome event as the Event of the Year. In 2010 New Japan had several New Japan vs. NOAH matches (including a GHC Heavyweight Championship match), and Marufuji walked away with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship to signify the first title swap in the most recent New Japan vs. NOAH feud. TNA wrestlers participated as well, as NO LIMIT won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in a three way from Team 3D. Legends Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher also wrestled, giving the card a unique feel as the crowd cheered some of their old favorites. The main event saw Nakamura retain his title against old nemesis Yoshihiro Takayama, confirming that he was one of the top heavyweights in Japan.
Second Place: New Japan "Destruction" on October 11th (9 votes)
Satoshi Kojima - 10 votes
Kojima had a good year in 2009, but he won this award for his return to New Japan and dominating the promotion that he first started in to become their top wrestler. Kojima entered the year as the Triple Crown champion, but lost the belt in March. A few weeks later it was announced that Kojima was injured and would be out for awhile, but then it was realized that it was more an issue of him wanting to leave All Japan. In late spring Kojima became a Freelancer, and immediately made a statement in New Japan when he won the G1 Climax. A few months later he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, making him one of the few wrestlers to hold both the All Japan Triple Crown and IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the same year.
Naomichi Marufuji - 9 votes
Pro Wrestling NOAH has the lock down on this award, and Marufuji won for the second time. Marufuji had a great year in 2010, even though he did miss part of it due to injury. He first won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship against Tiger Mask and had several very entertaining matches with the belt including two against Prince Devitt and against the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger. Marufuji also had success in his own promotion, including winning the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship with Aoki. Beyond that he had several other well thought of matches, including one against KENTA, and in general his matches rarely disappointed throughout the year.
Atsushi Aoki - 5 votes
Young Atsushi Aoki finally really started to make a name for himself in 2010. Originally he was not thought to be the best of the graduating class in 2005, but as the other wrestlers dropped off Aoki began to emerge. The crowd really got behind him and he started having significant success in the tag team ranks. Still, as you can see from the fact they did not rank in the top three promotions, Pro Wrestling NOAH has slipped in popularity and since Aoki is not in many main event matches, his matches have been slipping under the radar. With him winning his first championship in December, hopefully in 2010 fans will begin to recognize the skills of Atsushi Aoki.