NJPW’s SANADA has everything it takes to be a top guy. He’s got the look, athleticism and charisma required to be a World Champion. Despite this, SANADA hasn’t won any singles titles in his four years in NJPW. His tag team success doesn’t seem like enough because of his huge potential. So why isn’t SANADA a bigger deal in NJPW? Here are six reasons why.
He was never a Young Lion:
All promotions prefer to develop their own talent because it’s good business. NJPW particularly prefers homegrown talent because they value loyalty. SANADA failed his NJPW Dojo tryout and subsequently developed his skills around the world. I believe NJPW has unintentionally pushed other wrestlers over SANADA because he’s not their product.
Playing second fiddle in LIJ:
SANADA always seems to play second banana to Los Ingobernables de Japon leader Naitō. He even debuted while helping Naitō win The IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Although SANADA has challenged the LIJ structure, he has never been able to overcome it. Now it seems like SANADA is even farther down the LIJ pecking order because of the success of Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi.
I believe a big reason why isn’t SANADA a bigger deal is because he’s in the right place but at the wrong time. NJPW’s roster has been stacked during SANADA’s time. There has been a log jam at the top because of multiple generational talents making NJPW their home. SANADA’s biggest flaw may be that he was born a few months after Kazuchika Okada. He might have been the top guy in other eras.
The Paradise Lock:
The Paradise Lock traps opponents to the canvas and the only escape is a kick in the derrière. It’s one of SANADA’s signature moves because LIJ loves to poke fun at Milano. The hold is silly comedy wrestling. I believe it is holding SANADA back because it makes it hard to take him seriously. Comedy wrestling is great, but I don’t believe SANADA can be great as a comedy wrestler.
Terrible grooming decisions
SANADA has the potential to be a heartthrob because of his good looks. He hides them under weird facial hair and a bad dye job. Does he think it looks good because his friends are ribbing him? Is SANADA ribbing us? I believe it would do him a world of good if he cleaned it up.
No defined character:
Okada is the Rainmaker because he makes it rain money on NJPW. Tanahashi is the Ace because he is consistently at the top of the card. What the hell is a Cold Skull? The Cold Skull nickname is just one of the aspects of SANADA’s vague character. Is he supposed to be a zombie, cool guy or comedy wrestler? I think narrowing it down would be great because it would give SANADA direction.