• GRAPPL

The 2020 GRAPPL 100 MVPs



The MVP of the GRAPPL 100 in 2019 was pretty clear-cut – nobody could touch Will Ospreay last year.


· He was in 19 of the 100 matches listed (essentially 1 in 5)

· He was in twice as many as his nearest rivals

· He had the most appearances in the top 25

· He had the match of the year (vs. Shingo Takagi in the Best of the Super Junior final)

· And to top things off he was even in the highest rated tag team match of the year (alongside Paul Robinson vs. Aussie Open for PROGRESS).


This year it’s less straightforward.


If you look solely at the total number of matches in the 100, Tomohiro Ishii and Shingo Takagi stand clear at the top, with both appearing 11 times. Nine of Shingo’s matches are singles matches compared to eight for Ishii.


They clearly make great opponents. Two of these singles matches were as opponents (The NEVER Openweight title match at New Japan Road and in the G1 Climax) and they also appear as opponents in a tag team match and six-man tag. It’s an easy equation… Shingo + Ishii = quality match.


Ishii had 14 singles matches overall in 2020, so with eight of these making the list, that means that 57% were in the GRAPPL 100. Shingo had slightly more singles matches (16) and his nine individual appearances in the list meant that 56% of these were included.


Pretty impressive stuff! When you watched a Shingo or Ishii match in 2020 there was more than a 50:50 chance that it was going to end up as one of the best 100 matches of the year!


Somebody who appeared less often in the GRAPPL 100 overall was the returning Hiromu Takahashi, however his singles representation is comparable. He appears eight times in total, one fewer than Shingo’s nine singles appearances and equal to Ishii. He did however wrestle more singles matches overall than either of his NJPW colleagues in 2020 (18 in total) so his ratio was lower (44%).


A less obvious contender is Mayu Iwatani. Fewer individuals rate Stardom events on GRAPPL compared to other promotions, but she has clearly had an outstanding year and appears in the 100 on six occasions. Five of these were singles matches, so having had nine singles matches overall in 2020, this means that 56% of her matches were included which puts her in the same bracket as Shingo and Ishii in terms of ratio.


Another who had an excellent year was Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Go Shiozaki. Like Iwatani, he also made the GRAPPL 100 on six occasions, however having wrestled more singles matches in 2020 (12), his ratio was slightly lower at 50%.


However, if we turn our focus away from the list as a whole and focus on the “top end”, the picture changes somewhat.


This is where Shiozaki shines. When you purely look at the top 25 matches in the GRAPPL 100, nobody had more entries than him. He had four matches in the top quarter of the list, and in fact all four of these came in the top 15 when you isolate things further.


Incredibly, a third of Shiozaki’s matches in 2020 were in the top 15 matches of the year overall!


Interestingly, this is where Shingo and Ishii fall. Despite having an unparalleled number of matches in the 100 as a whole, Shingo had just one match in the top 25 and Ishii surprisingly had none. While they have both had consistently excellent 2020’s, they rarely peaked at the highest levels.


The aforementioned Hiromu Takahashi performs better at this level however. Three of his matches made the top 25, suggesting that as well as regularly and consistently producing high quality matches, he stepped up to “elite” level as well.


Speaking of “elite”, Kenny Omega is a surprising name near the top of the list when you isolate the top 25 matches. He also appears one behind Shiozaki with three entries, and these are very different matches (singles vs. PAC, the tag team match of the year with Hangman Page vs. The Young Bucks, and the Stadium Stampede match). He makes the GRAPPL 100 on three other occasions, but with 32 matches in 2020, Omega’s high-end ratio is much smaller. It does however demonstrate that he can still deliver, and produce high end quality and variety.


Many have questioned his old rival Kazuchika Okada’s ability to deliver in 2020. After an outstanding two night stand at Wrestle Kingdom 14, his year was considered largely lacklustre. Indeed, he only has four matches in the 100, and two of these were the Wrestle Kingdom matches. However, you can’t ignore the fact that these were the top two matches of the year on the GRAPPL 100! When you throw his 11th placed match with Shingo Takagi from the G1 into the mix as well, nobody actually appeared more times in the top 11. The volume might not be there for 2020, but nobody turned it on at the absolute highest level like Okada.


And what of last year’s runaway leader Will Ospreay? He appears in the GRAPPL 100 six times this year (a 68% decrease compared to 2019), however five of these are in the top 50 and three are in the top 25 (matching Takahashi, Omega and Okada). He also has two matches in the top ten (again matching Takahashi and Okada, and also Shiozaki).


He may be a victim of his own success the previous year, after all 47% of his 34 matches made the list last year, but having had 17 singles matches in 2020, this means that only (ONLY!) 35% made the list this year.


So, who is the MVP of the 2020 GRAPPL 100?


If you’re purely basing it on volume and consistency, then there has to be an argument for Shingo Takagi or Tomohiro Ishii. If you basing it on top-end appearances then Go Shiozaki just nudges ahead.


However, if you take all these aspects into account, you probably have to look no further than Hiromu Takahashi.

  • He had the equal second highest number of singles matches on the list (equal to Ishii, one behind Shingo).

  • He wrestled more singles matches than any of Shingo, Ishii or Shiozaki, but still had an outstanding ratio making the list (44%).

  • He had the equal second highest number of matches in the top 25 with three (one fewer than Shiozaki, two more than Shingo, three more than Ishii).

  • He had the equal highest number of matches in the top 10, with two.


When it comes to match quality, nobody ticked all three boxes of volume, consistency or delivering at an elite level like him.


In our view, the MVP of the 2020 GRAPPL 100 is Hiromu Takahashi!


Here’s some of the data!