The last time I took time to bring up YOSHI-HASHI in a non G1 preview article, I talked about how his return during New Year Dash last year was the pinnacle of a rather lackluster event.
A year and a half later, it is time for me, and all of you, to remove the words « disappointment », « lackluster » from our vocabulary when discussing CHAOS’ longtime member, and look at what the perspectives are for him.
Are you ready ? Let’s get into it !
There probably hasn’t been any wrestler looked at within the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster like YOSHI-HASHI. Mocked by what seems to be a majority of western fans, due to him being one of those wrestlers who simply would never find success, among other things. You could say that, over time, Yoshi-Hashi became a bit of a joke among fans. This specific point is changing in 2020. What a crazy year, right ?
Last August, apart of CHAOS alongside Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto, Hashi won his very first championship in New Japan, 12 years into his career. The trio won a tournament to crown new NEVER 6-man tag team champions, beating the other CHAOS trio of Kazuchika Okada, SHO and Toru Yano in the finals. Hashi then delivered an inspiring promo about never giving up, which would resonate with anybody struggling at anything for quite some time.
Then, YOSHI-HASHI was announced as part of this year’s G1 Climax field, making his return after being absent the year prior. So far, the man has performed pretty well, most notably against Juice Robinson to kick off B block action. In a match between two wrestlers shining the brightest as underdogs, Hashi, while in defeat, may have shine brighter than his opponent, and the two delivered a strong performance to start their tournament. Then, after taking the fight to EVIL yet losing again, Hashi picked up his first victory, and not against anybody. YOSHI-HASHI claimed a win over potential B block winner SANADA of all people, leaving the latter with no points and a record of 0-3, as these lines are being written. Needless to say that, no matter how the tournament ends for YOSHI-HASHI, that this win in particular is one of his biggest.
If he can keep this up, which I personally have a hard time doubting after what I got to see, YOSHI-HASHI may very well end up as one of the unsung « MVP’s » of this year’s G1. At the very least, one of the most consistently good performers in the tournament, while also not blowing you away like others would. After all, he never really does, and it is a big reason why so few people actually give him the praise he should get more often.
Now, after taking a look at what happened recently for YOSHI-HASHI, let’s take a look at post-G1 possibilities for him. While he currently is holding a championship alongside two guys who can play to Hashi’s strengths, mainly his ability to be a really good underdog and punishment taker in tag matches, there is a chance this first run calls for something a little bit bigger, while keeping a similar dynamic.
Earlier this year before COVID happened, I wrote an article discussing how New Japan was reshaping the tag team division and how the work done so far looked promising. If there is one person in the available roster who could benefit from this trend continuing, it probably is YOSHI-HASHI. How could he benefit ? I say, let’s involve YOSHI-HASHI in an actual tag team program. While we are not really sure if, and when, the next World Tag League tournament will happen, let’s assume for the sake of this piece making sense, that the tournament will be held within the next few months, possibly during the usual timeframe.
So, YOSHI-HASHI enters World Tag League, a tournament he has already participated in alongside current 6-man tag team champs Ishii and Goto, respectively last year and in 2017. Who would be his partner this time ? Well, from 2012 to 2016, Hashi was teaming up with none other than Kazuchika Okada in the tournament. With Okada being in his first year doing essentially nothing of note since Christ was born, there is an opportunity to not only reunite the two friends together as a tag team, but also to make use of that pairing to continue telling the story kicked off by Hashi’s first championship win in New Japan. A story filled with multiple layers thanks to this new chapter, featuring two friends who have been drastic opposites through the course of their New Japan careers, ever since they fought one on one at Wrestle Kingdom 6. Okada quickly rose up as a main event star, and had to grow while knowing he would bear the responsability of being the company’s Ace. Hashi had to grind every step of the way, never breaking the glass ceiling leading to truly meaningful wins, while keeping a workhorse mindset.
As I just said, there is an opportunity to continue telling the inspiring story of YOSHI-HASHI finally rising up and breaking the glass ceiling. Last August was the first step, accompanied by two veterans who also had their fair share of difficulties breaking that same ceiling. The next step can be taken alongside the man who, almost instantly, broke it and eventually became the standard. Okada himself declared in an interview that, if he were to chase tag team gold, he would only do it alongside YOSHI-HASHI. Therefore, this is the reason why these two enter World Tag League together for the first time in four years. Hashi wants to keep proving to the world his hard work and will to keep going will lead him to new heights, while Okada wants to help his best friend reach his goals (while also being a very convenient way to keep him occupied, away from the likes of Naito, White, Ibushi and the Heavyweight championship). These two have been quite successfull in past Tag League appearances, twice reaching 8 points in 2013 and 2016, so with added experience and motivation, there is a really solid argument to say that, whenever the next WTL happens, Okada and YOSHI-HASHI should be the winners, going on to (most likely) face Dangerous Tekkers for the IWGP Tag Team titles, possibly at Wrestle Kingdom.
As with these sorts of inspiring stories, the ending seems rather obvious : YOSHI-HASHI gets to win the second championship of his New Japan career, on the company’s biggest stage, alongside his best friend who helped him along the way.