top of page

2023 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Ballot Review Part 5(Mexico and Japan)

With Japan and Mexico getting a lot of love from voters (is The Mexican Block doing Mexican Block things running joke getting boring now?) Their sections in the Ballot are getting thinner and thinner now and with just a max of 3 names allowed to be filled in either of the other 2 of the triangle of influential countries in wrestling history than isn't the USA sections, it makes choosing harder (also, it is going to be 2 votes plus the team of Jackie Soto and Maki Ueda for Japan considering the majority of ballots should have Beauty Pair in considering they are slam dunk candidates)


So let's look at the best candidates for Mexico and Japan and see if they stack up.


MEXICO


Dorrel Dixon Last Year- 36%



Maybe the greatest foreigner in Lucha history, Jamaica’s greatest ever wrestler was in the rare position of being on the techino side of the divide as an extranjero and would pop houses in his time in EMLL/UWA and is an interesting case for the HOF just for his lucha work but his time travelling the territories is a fascinating read with his run with Bobo Brazil as one of the trailblazing black tag teams in the 60’s and one of Buddy Roger’s opponents when “Nature Boy” was the New York territory’s top heel.


Will/Should Dorrel get in? While I do like to take the mickey out of the idea of The Mexican Block doing Mexican Block things and getting Lucha guys on the Hall of Fame from nowhere, there is a reason why the Mexican Block is a good thing when it comes to HOF voting, Dorrell Dixon might never get a shout of being inducted if it wasn’t for the knowledge of those would are passionate about Lucha.


Dorrell’s resume is great as stated above and unlike the rest of the Mexico section, Dorrell has hits in his wrestleograpahy (did I just invent a new word) that isn’t limited to Mexico. If Los Hermanos get inducted, I can see Dorrell being the one from Mexico with the highest vote share that doesn't get inducted this year.


Angel Blanco/ Dr. Wagner- Last Year 32%



With Wagner already being in, the addition of Angel Blanco and Dr. Wagner to the ballot in the mass entry of tag teams saw them get 32% of the vote. Their victory over El Santo and Rayo de Jalisco was a big deal at the time and afterwards in their reign beat Mil Mascaras and Black Shadow and Los Rebeldes (René Guajardo and Karloff Lagarde) with the pair winning the Tag Team of the Year in Box y Lucha magazine.


Will/Should Blanco y Wagner be inducted? There is an argument that Blanco and Wagner should be joined by their La Ola Blanco stablemate El Solitario and the trio being in the ballot. Whether that’s because El Solitario is in the Hall of Fame alongside Wagner and having 2 out of 3 HOFer’s in a trio is in fact bad when it comes to nomination but with a third of one of the great trios in Lucha history not included with Blanco and Wagner, it feels weird to vote them in.


Sangre Chicana- Last Year-30%

Huracan Ramirez- Last Year- 30%





Once again stuck near each other in the results last year after a 33 and 32 percent respectively in 2021, there are only two other Mexico candidates that polled above their number of 30% in last year's poll.


Sangre was a great worker (I fully recommend the Sangre vs MS-1 match from 1983) had a great run on top, winning titles in the 80s, 90s and 00s and while Huracan has an interesting resume being the man who invented the huracanrana/had the move named after him depending on who you believe and his movie career which formula, the masked wrestler taking on organised crime was popularised by El Santo, made him a mainstream star and in the company with Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras as the most famous luchadores in Mexico at that time. Both men have been forgotten by history with the greatest of the greats of lucha having been inducted before they were.


Will Sangre y Huracan be inducted? Mexican wrestlers pre-mid 80s are at a disadvantage due to lack of television footage due to political reasons and incomplete results records and with voters only being allowed a max of three in the Mexico section while numbers for Sangre and Huracan could easily go up, the very likely chance of votes in Mexico could be spread could also harm the pair.


Should/Will Sangre y Huracan be inducted? Huracan’s influence might be there when it comes to his move set and his mainstream appeal can be seen on his imdb page but if you base your voting on feels and vibes, Huracan just doesn't feel like a Hall of Famer. Sangre, when you look at workrate and time on top of EMLL, he might a interesting dark horse to be inducted.


JAPAN


Tomohiro Ishii- Last Year 38%



Ishii’s 140 8.00+ rated matches on Cagematch puts him third amongst those that have been wrestled in the 21st century (Will Ospreay and Bryan Danielson being 1 and 2) and his six Best Brawler Awards in the Observer awards are only beaten by Bruiser Brody and Mick Foley, both of them Hall of Famers. On the basis of in-ring style he should get in, but one problem arises in Ishii’s claim for the HOF.


Should Ishii be inducted? Only four wrestlers from the US and Japan who could have been classed in the modern category on their time of induction that have not won a World Title have gone into the HOF (Ted Dibiase, Akira Maeda, Atushi Onita, Roddy Piper) and all four were big draws at the box office with two (Maeda, Onita) having promoting as part of their HOF resume, something Ishii cannot claim to be even being a good draw being a lifer in the mid-card even when those matches always produced in the ring.


Will Ishii be inducted? Never has a HOF ballot member had such a diverse CV when it comes to the criteria for induction but in the guidance that Dave Meltzer gives it says that if you feel that one of the 3 points of that criteria is so strong by itself that you can vote for that person and for many Tomohiro Ishii’s number of in-ring bangers will be the reason that he will be on a lot of ballots but with Ishii’s numbers plateauing (Ishii’s 38% last year was static from the year before) Ishii’s chances of getting above 60% are not high.


CIMA- Last Year 34%



You might remember CIMA from such moments like being in Stronghearts in the first PPV match in AEW and that ROH trios match in ROH but when you look at his career in whole, CIMA is one of the most under the radar influential wrestlers of all time. Toryumon/Dragon Gate is one of the most influential promotions in wrestling history with their trademark trios formula making its way to AEW after inspiring The Young Bucks and their peers.


Should CIMA be inducted? With CIMA as the backbone of the company in its restart in 2004 after Ultimo Dragon left the company he started and took the trademarks of Toryumon with him (is that where Rebekah Vardy got the idea to trademark Wagatha Christie?) Dragon Gate became the No.2 company in Japan and while the argument is that NOAH went downhill after the death of Mitsuharu Misawa and that AJPW stopped being a wrestling company when Motoko Baba sold the company in the mid 00’s, DG were a decent No.2 in that time and CIMA was the main reason as to why.


Will CIMA be inducted? Had OWE, which CIMA found, not been harmed by the Coronavirus pandemic, maybe CIMA’s case would have been boldly enhanced. But those who yell about the AEW/OWE partnership and it making CIMA into a certainty for HOF induction had it not been ruined by a man and his bat conveniently forget that CIMA’s high point in AEW once Dynamite got going was being part of the team that got railroaded by The Elite in a comedy (a good comedy match btw) on Dark and add the weirdness that has been CIMA’s career post March 2020 and CIMA for all his awesome work just doesn’t pass the eyeball test.


I heard the Open The Dragon Gate podcast say that you wouldn’t hold Patrick Ewing and his HOF case when he was on the NBA HOF ballot because of his time at Seattle but the problem is that CIMA isn’t Patrick Ewing, but if you think ABA pioneers should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame then CIMA might get in after all.


Hayabusa- Last Year 23%



In another case of using the criteria of being a pioneer for future wrestlers, Hayabusa ticks that box easily. When you see a 450 splash, you see Hayabusa’s Firebird Splash. Same goes for the Falcon Arrow, Hayabusa popularised that move. A lot of the current style is influenced by Hayabusa.


While his headlining years in FMW were not of the calibre of Atushi Onita, it's a horrible comparison considering Onita was arguably the highest drawer in pro wrestling from 93 to 95 and Onita left the company to die when he left to take on adventures away from the squared circle. What Hayabusa did in the box office was delay the inevitable considering the chaos that was surrounding the company in its final years and even then his box office numbers were impressive considering the turmoil the company was in at the time at the time of Hayabusa's best years


Should/Will Hayabusa be inducted? Wrestling is an art form and Hayabusa is one of the most copied creators in its history. You can see elements of his style in what Omega, Ospreay and Takahashi have done in the last 5 years. Hayabusa was ahead of the curve in the late 90s and is one of the ultimate pioneers and deserves more than 23% but history says that induction is very unlikely this year but a gradual climb can happen and Hayabusa in the HOF could be a possibility


Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada- Last Year 22%



The best team in pro wrestling in 1993 and 1994, the pair also took part in a match/occasion so great that if there was a Hall of Fame for wrestling matches Toyota vs Yamada on August 15,1992 would be a contender to be inducted but when it comes a performers ballot the team of Toyota and Yamada face a difficult task to be inducted.


Will/Should Toyota and Yamada get inducted?- Just because Toyota/Yamada were the best tag team in the world for two years doesn’t mean they should be in. They never had the resonance with the public that Beauty Pair (more on them in the Newbies on the ballot article) and The Crash Gals had and while their in-ring work was stunning (the trilogy against Mayumi Ozaki and Dynamite Kansai is must watch) they weren’t the ultimate draw that you might need to be to be inducted as a tag team and with their vote share number being 12% shy of the relegation zone, the team of Manami and Toshiyo are more likely to be looking behind them rather than looking at the 60% line.


Comments


bottom of page