One had to wonder when I would return to New Japan on the countdown and the answer is in the back end of the top 5. With us now reaching the number four wrestler in the world I don't think there is a doubt that Tetsuya Naito has moved into that conversation in the last year. Over the last year Naito has shown so much improvement from where he had been in the ring just in the way he carries himself. At first some pegged Naito to be on the level of Hiroshi Tanahashi and though he could still reach Hiroshi it has taken longer then many first thought. Initially Naito began his career teaming with fellow rookie at future Junior Heavyweight superstar Yujiro Takahashi called No Limit.
Following a short tour in the United States they would return to Japan and actually win the IWGP Tag Team Titles in a match including Team 3D & Bad Intentions. That would the teams only reign with the top tag titles before splitting in 2011 and this would start a roller coaster for the current leader of LGI in Japan. Fast forward to 2014 with years of resentment building and thinking that Naito may not be ready it all comes to ahead when he is bumped from the Main Event of Wrestle Kingdom against the World Champion in favor of Nakamura vs Tanahashi. This card change would be used in story lines for years to come it would take another loss to Okada for Naito to be sent on excursion to the States. However, it would be a tour of Mexico that would allow Naito to find his darker side.
Since he has returned to New Japan it's like he found his character and become a different person. The best comparison I can make is that it was almost like New Japan was trying to make Naito be something he wasn't comfortable being. But upon his return to the company it didn't take to long for his stock to rise and things to change. Things have changed so much in the last three years for Naito that he not only fought in the Main Event of Wrestle Kingdom, but came within inches of winning. Overall, Naito is one of the few top wrestlers with clear cut gimmick in the modern age of wrestling and he plays his part to perfection. Naito in my opinion still has room to grow as a talent and could become the Best Wrestler in the World in the coming years if his output continues and his stock continues to rise.
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