Welcome to the first ever world-renowned annual Koala Mask Awards. Or for short, The Koalies.
The Koalies are basically like the Slammies, but more meaningful. They also include all wrestlers and promotions, not just the WWE. In fact, I’ve been quite disillusioned with the WWE as of late (except for NXT which is the bees knees), so don’t expect to see too many WWE names pop up this year. The Koalies will most likely heavily favour Japanese wrestlers and promotions, because this year has been all about Japanese wrestling for me. The in-ring product in Japan has been on another level this year. While WWE has grown stale and TNA has temporarily closed for business, Japanese promotions like New Japan and Dragon Gate have been firing on all cylinders, as the kids say.
Without further adoodoo, let’s hand out some Koalies.
The Tomohiro Ishii Award for Excellence in Tomohiro Ishiiness: Tomohiro Ishii
To celebrate Tomohiro Ishii’s first ever Koalie, here’s a few Ishii highlights from 2014:
The key word is lariat.
Ishii has had a pretty great year. He started off by winning the Never “Indiscriminate” title from Naito in one of the best matches of the year, which you can say about most of his matches really. He lost the title momentarily in a travesty of justice to Yujiro Takahashi, but he soon won it back. Ishii has had great match after great match with guys like Kota Ibushi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto, Tomoaki Honma, and Tetsuya Naito. No matter which one you choose, they’re all fantastic.
Ishii injured his shoulder sometime through the year, but in true Japanese style, he didn’t miss any dates, or at least not many, and continued to have fantastic matches.
Simply put, Ishii is awesome. Due to the style he works, I’m not sure how much longer he can continue being awesome. So enjoy him now while you can.
The Hard Fart Victory Award: Sammi Zayn
The Hard Fart Victory Award is pretty much the same as a Fighting Spirit Award, but not exactly. For me, it’s an award that goes to a person who fought (farted) hard, didn’t give up, didn’t succumb to any evils or cheap tricks, and in the end triumphed. Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania victory is a perfect example. He was a top contender for the award, but in the end I decided Sammi Zayn’s 18 month journey to the NXT Championship deserved the award. I can’t really argue Daniel Bryan not getting the award, but Zayn’s victory is still so fresh, and while both journeys were very long and very strenuous, Zayn’s road felt more poetically sound, while Bryan’s road relied heavily on being at the right place at the right time. Not to say the gratification at the end wasn’t the same. I shed just as many tears for Bryan’s Mania win as I did for Zayn’s win at NXT Takeover R Evolution. I think I just enjoyed Zayn’s journey more. Zayn’s journey was more personal. It was about believing in yourself and staying true to your beliefs and who you are. Bryan’s fight was more with “Authority” ‘figures and being kept down. Both were great, and it’s super hard to choose between the two. On any other day I might have chosen Bryan, but today I choose Zayn. Deal with it!
Funny As F**k Moment Award: Ryusuke Taguchi Can’t Understand English
Match of the Year: Jesus I don’t know.
There were so many of them, particularly in Japan. Styles/Suzuki, Ishii/Ibushii, Ishii/Nakamura, Okada/Nakamura, Ricochet/Ibushi, Ricochet/KUSHIDA, The Timesplitters/ReDragon, Tanahashi/Anybody he wrestled. How can I possibly choose just one? How dare you try to make me choose! I’m going home! Don’t talk to me!
The “He Gives Funk a Bad Name” Award: Ryusuke Taguchi
I started the year not caring too much at all about Taguchi. I enjoyed his match with Devitt which resulted in Devitt leaving New Japan for WWE, but that was more Devitt’s part in the match than Taguchi’s. My zero f**ks given for Taguchi soon turned into actual feelings later in the year, but not good feelings. The more I saw of his work, the angrier it made me. It’s two thing really. 1. Hip swivels. 2. Ass-based offense. If it weren’t for those two things, I could probably get behind Taguchi. Over the past few months he’s actually developed a bit more of a personality and legitimately made me laugh, but then he wrestles and rams his ass cheek onto his opponents face and my smile goes away. It goes so far away. But then this happens and it comes back:
But then HIPS! And it’s gone again. I’ve never been so torn by a wrestler before.
The “He Makes Me Want to Vomit in My Mouth” Award: 1st place tie between Taichi and Yujiro Takahashi
My problem with Yujiro is related to my problem with Taguchi in there’s way to much hip movement going on, but Yujiro takes it even further by being an incompetent wrestler and doing his best Val Venis impersonation. Ugh! Taichi is just rotten. Though NO PANTS is pretty funny.
This is my favourite Yujiro moment of 2014:
Least favourite Yujiro Moment of 2014:
How dare you!?
Award for Excellence in Comedy Wrestling: “Hollywood” Ichikawa Stalker
No words. Just GIFs.
Best Japanese Man/Mexican Women: Yosuke♡Santa Maria
I heart Yosuke so much.
The Steal the Show and Bail Award: Ricochet in New Japan
Oh come on! Is that even legal?
Ricochet didn’t make a lot of appearances in New Japan this year. But when he was there, he stole the show each time. Ricochet has incredible matches against Kota Ibushi (Above) and KUSHIDA. And he won the New Japan Best of Super Juniors tournament. Most importantly, he made a big impact and left the New Japan crowd wanting more. And hopefully we will get more of Ricochet in New Japan in 2015.
Young Koala of the Year: Big R Shimizu
Late this year, comedy gimmick wrestler Ryotsu Shimizu transformed from this:
Shimizu has really started to come into his own in the latter part of this year. He’s ditched his cartoony character gimmick, joined Dia Hearts, and has started gaining some victories with he help of his THUNDER THIGHS!
I expect big things from Shimizu in 2015. Big thigh things.
The “I Can’t Believe He Lost” Award: Katsuyori Shibata defeating Tomoaki Honma in the G1.
I can’t believe Honma lost every match of the G1. Actually I can believe that, but what I really can’t believe is the decision to make Honma lose against Katsuyori Shibata in their G1 match. After a string of losses, the fans only became more pumped for a big Honma win. A win over Shibata would have been a huge moment for Honma. Instead, we got an awesome wrestling match that I hate because of the outcome. It really was a fantastic match, but Honma losing really cheesed me off. If there was ever a time and a place to give Honma a big win, then was it.
The “I’m Not Too Old For This S**t!” Award: Minoru Suzuki
Minoru Suzuki is in his late 40s, yet I’m still hoping he gets a run as IWGP Heavyweight champ. Despite pushing 50, Suzuki continues show New Japan fans that he can still hang with the best of them. Case in point, his match of the year contender with AJ Styles during the G1. Suzuki and Styles created a huge buzz with their G1 match. The funny thing is that both guys have said that they didn’t think it was anything special.
I’m a Heel. That’s What You Raised Me To Be Award: Adam Cole
He stapled a piece of paper to Jay Briscoe’s forehead. What have you done lately?
I don know when it happened, but Adam Cole has become one of the best heels in the business. He’s the kind of heel who wrestlers that want to be a heel should watch and learn to become a great heel.
Adam Cole BAY BAY!
There’s Something in My Eye Award: Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Wrestle Kingdom 8
Great match, awesome video package beforehand, beautiful imagery of both men walking to the back together afterwards.
I love the back story of these two. They went to the same high school, they came up in New Japan together, they developed a heated rivalry which came to an end at Wrestle Kingdom 8. After the match, they went back to being friends. Wrestling friendships get me every time.
Referee of the Year: Hiroyuki “Red Shoes” Unno
First of all, matching red shoes and belt. That’s enough right there to get the referee of the year award. But Red Shoes id much more than just red shoes, he also has some of the best, and widest range of reactions in the business. Observe:
Award for Excellence in Cardigan Sporting: Hirooki Goto
Hirooki Goto’s exceptional achievements in the area of cardigan wearing has pushed me and @ to reassess our lives (well me at least) and take our cardigan game to the next level. The Goto Level. No more monkey business, it’s time to get real.
And now for the big one. The award that tops all other awards. The creme de la creme. The crime de la crime. If this award were a droid it would be R2D2. If it were a Hong Kong fighting movie star it would be Jackie Chan. If it was the night, it’s be Batman. It’s the Most Valuable Koala Award.
And the winner…will be announced on the special end of year review episode of J-Shoot. I’ll also announce the winner of the The Tag Team Award for Top Tag Team that Tagged as a Team Award on J-Shoot.
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