Now onto the awards…
Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada
The reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion left all other competitors in the dust in 2013. Okada spent most of 2013 as the World Champion, as was the driving force behind New Japan's impressive 2013. As a member of CHAOS, New Japan's leading heel stable, Okada pieced together a powerful year, the highlight being his victory over New Japan superstar Hiroshi Tanahashi on April 7th at New Japan's Invasion Attack PPV. Okada, who adopted his "Rainmaker" persona in 2012, established himself as being the coolest of cool, and backed it up by having one of the most successful years a wrestler could possibly have. Okada defended his title against everyone, from a vengeful Tanahashi, to veterans like Satoshi Kojima, to young up and comers like Karl Anderson. His recent feud with Tetsuya Naito has fallen a little flat heading into NJPW's biggest show of the year, January 4th at the Tokyo Dome, but at just 26 years old, Okada has a lot to build off of.
The biggest difference between Okada and his closest rival for this award, Daniel Bryan, was that Okada was a much more prominent player. While Bryan was probably the most popular wrestler, he just didn't get the same opportunities that Okada has to be THE top guy in the company. Bryan has been overshadowed by John Cena, Randy Orton and Triple H, Okada has been overshadowed by nobody. Okada has headlined every PPV since he won the title, Bryan has headlined a few, but recently has been more of an afterthought. Bryan was spectacular, but he just didn't have a better 2013 than Kazuchika Okada.
Honorable Mention: Daniel Bryan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KENTA, CM Punk, Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano
Best Technical Wrestler: Daniel Bryan
Bryan has won a slew of these awards since he burst onto the national scene in ROH, but these last few years, his awards have been different. It is one thing to have great matches with Samoa Joe, KENTA and Nigel McGuinness, it is another thing to get good matches out of limited workers like Ryback or John Cena. Bryan has simply out-classed everybody else when it comes to technical wrestling, and has put on a clinic in every single match he participated in 2013. He has had several Match of the Year candidates, against all types of opponents, and doesn't look to be slowing down heading into 2014.
Honorable Mention: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Kyle O'Reilly
Best Brawler: KENTA
Pro Wrestling NOAH hasn't had a lot to cheer about in 2013. Dwindling attendance numbers and a mass exodus of veteran talent has done a number on the once prosperous promotion. However, they still have an absolute ace in KENTA, who has carried the GHC Heavyweight Chmapionship since late January. With the abrupt retirement of Low Ki, KENTA is probably the undisputed best pure striker in wrestling right now. KENTA's emphatic, in your face style has made sure that brawling, which is beginning to fade away stateside, is alive and well in NOAH.
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