The Ace of New Japan. His nickname references him being a 1 in a century talent (1 - 100). He is the best wrestler in the world, IMO, and it's probably not even a contest. Has no shortcomings at all in wrestling. I remember Meltzer saying that he is the only wrestler that he can remember ever getting every Hall of Fame vote amongst his peers. Probably has the most Meltzer ***** star matches in recent memory too, for whatever that's worth.
He's main evented Wrestle Kingdom (their big event akin to WrestleMania) ten times in a row. Reduces the fangirls in the audience to tears, and you'll see this after he wins a match at a big event. He plays the air guitar, which sounds ridiculous as hell, but the crowd always goes nuts for it. They then try to get his sweat on their towels.
Luxurious hair (lmao at the person who called it "luscious"), bright colors, etc. He ran counter-culture to the MMA style that NJPW was trying to push in the mid 00's. More on this later.
Tanahashi is credited with pulling NJPW out of the financial abyss, and turning it into a hot product.
He has had bad back problems, but still performs at an extremely high level. 39 years old, though, so we're approaching time for a new ace....
Tanahashi vs. Suzuki at King of Pro Wrestling 2012
(***** Meltzer rating; voted MOTY in the Observer Awards; Most well done match ever, IMO)
Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles at G1 Tournament 2015
(****3/4 Meltzer rating; Fun & really exciting, especially if you familiarize yourself
with the wrestlers' moves, and thus understand how significant certain things are in matches)
28 years old; an early prodigy; the future of the company.
NJPW sent him off to TNA when he was a Young Lion (a NJPW'er in training) as a learning experience. Turns out they didn't do shit with him, but Okada said that it ended up being ultimately a good thing, because he got to watch a lot of American television. He said he realized that you needed to be a character to make a ton of money, so that's when he created the "Rainmaker" personality.
It's kind of a mix of a rapper's persona, with a tiny bit of Batman, but with a huge amount of refined elegance. It's a unique combo, and it's all Okada. One of the things you'll notice is that he has tremendous body language, and he says he learned that from watching Sting.
Tanahashi has commented on how he's jealous over Okada's recognition and usage of the camera. Tana said that some vets never learn how to use the camera to their advantage, but Okada knew how to do that very early on.
Tremendously smooth wrestler, and he'll remind you of Orton in that way. He was initially trained in Mexico at 16, so he has the ability to fly around, which is kind of unusual for a tall guy. Has amassed a ton of top tier matches in a short amount of time, and will end up going down as one of the most legendary wrestlers, because he was so good so early.
His whole aura is one of detached cool, and unbothered arrogance. Most recent example was him no-selling getting beaten down in a press conference. "Ow. Back to the presser..."
Can be quite the dick, and plays to the crowd wonderfully when trying to get under their skin. Despite that, he's become a fan favorite, and everyone knows he's the future of the company.
Helped Tanahashi turn around business, and it is his rise that has really helped turn NJPW into a super hot product (business-wise, especially).
If Okada were American, Vince would be pushing him for the next 10 years straight. He's everything Vince would want.
Oh, btw, as for the TNA story, Okada was asked if he has anything to say to TNA. His response, said in perfect English, was "Hell no!
Okada vs. Nakamura at G1 Tournament 2015
(****3/4 Meltzer rating; Thrilling and I loved Okada's intensity)
Okada vs. Nagata at G1 Tournament 2015
(****1/4 Meltzer rating; Okada was a great dick here)
A few more bonuses matches:
Okada vs. Tenryu at Retirement Match 2015
(Okada showing how great he is working with someone old as hell)
Okada vs. Ospeary at Global Wars UK 2015
(Charisma for days, and lol at encouraging the "O-ka-da" New Day style chants)
All you need to know about Shibata is that you need to know nothing. The best way I've ever heard him described was "somebody forgot to tell Shibata that wrestling isn't real."
Will beat the shit out of you for looking at him the wrong way, and then leave the ring like none of this means anything to him. Straight ass-kicker, and my personal favorite wrestler.
You'll find that he's very over in Japan, and extremely over with the American audience online, but politics have prevented a big push.
He's got a Brock like personality, but even morseso in the sense that I think that he's more legitimately standoffish, but he does love wrestling
(the art of it) more than Brock does.
Was initially pushed as one of the big 3 with Tanahashi & Nakamura, but left NJPW just a couple of years into his career at the age of 25 for MMA. The other wrestlers resented this hard, and have cock-blocked his push since he returned in 2012.
Despite that, he stands out, the crowd's into him, so maybe it's inevitable that NJPW pushes him hard now that WWE just raided half their top talent. This is something to watch for in 2016.
His nickname is simply "The Wrestler", which gives you an idea of what he's all about. He's worn the same simple black trunks (or shorts) and black boots his entire career. No glitzy ass entrances for him. He's just coming here to kick your ass, and that's it, buddy.
Somehow, that simplicity has had the effect of making him stand out.
If you're not into hard hitting, ultra-violent, "fuck you, I'm not selling for you until you literally beat it out of me" type matches....well, you will be after watching Shibata. Or else you're just no fun.
But seriously, Shibata has made a fan out of people who don't usually like that style of wrestling, because his performances tend to be so electric.
Lastly, he's actually a really great technical wrestler, and was a national champion in high school, so he can mix it up with the mat work and technique.
Shibata vs. Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom 10
(****1/2 Meltzer rating; F that, it's damn near a five star match!)
Shibata vs. Ishii at New Beginning 2016
(****1/2 Meltzer rating; The sequel to match above.)
Shibata vs. Sakuraba at Dominion 2015
(**** Meltzer rating; F him again. This was pure art. I remember him saying that a lot of people were telling him it was one of the top 2 matches of that extremely stacked show. Damn right it was, Meltzer.)
Shibata vs. Murakami in Big Mouth Loud 2005
(Pretty cool to see him go against a version of himself.)
Shibata vs. Nakajima in Big Mouth Loud 2006