Here I will try and delve into why SHO should be in contention for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. I won’t say I’m not biased, I remember his New Lion days and was incredibly happy to see him come back from an excursion and form R3K with YOH and Rocky Romero, but there is something all together likeable about SHO. He has the natural ability and charisma that is needed to push the Junior Heavyweight division into a new era and the right direction.
With recent events in New Japan, I have decided to revisit my thoughts and feelings on SHO and see how he got to this point and where he could go from here. Goodbye Roppongi 3K, It was a really good ride while it lasted.
Who is SHO?
SHO was born on 27th August 1989 and was a member of the CHAOS faction and a part of the tag team Roppongi 3K with YOH and Rocky Romero. While at high school, SHO would become involved in Greco-Roman wrestling and would go on to be the vice-captain of his wrestling team at university, competing in the 7th All-Japan University Championship for Greco-Roman wrestling where he came in third overall. As well as working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, SHO has competed in Ring of Honor (ROH) and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). While in CMLL, he would go by the name Raijin, Japanese God of thunder, and teamed up with Okumura, Kamaitachi [Hiromu Takahashi], and Fujin [YOH] as part of the La Ola Amarilla faction. SHO has been a four-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with YOH and the team has also won the Super Jr. Tag Tournament for three consecutive years in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
What Happened Next and Why He Should Be In The Mix
With his natural ability and charisma, SHO should be near the top of the card and has proven time and time again that he is not just a tag team wrestler. His match with Shingo Takagi for the NEVER Openweight Championship was an instant classic and also shows that he can go at it with Heavyweights, not just his contemporaries in the junior division. At the time of the BOSJ27, his tag team partner, YOH, was out injured and Rocky Romero was stuck in the United States due to the COVID Pandemic, making it the perfect time to push this young star to the moon and show everyone that there is a new guy in town ready to lead the division to new heights.
SHO’s 2021 has been a journey of discovery. He has spent the last year thinking about what he wants out of his career. SHO would face off against IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and former CMLL stablemate Hiromu Takahashi at The New Beginning. This match was one of my favorites of the last year and the first time in his career that SHO would challenge for the singles title.
Things were looking good for SHO as a singles star until the return of his tag team partner YOH at Sakura Genesis. The two men would reunite and quickly win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships from Suzuki-gun members Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado. Victory would be short-lived as they quickly lost the belts to the Bullet Club team of Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo at Kizuna Road.
This event, along with the following month’s events, would lead to frustration for SHO and lead to his eventual turn. Most of us knew it was coming, or at least wanted it to, but we just didn’t know when or where it would happen. The team would fall into a slump, losing many of their tag team matches and unable to reclaim the former glory or chemistry they once had before YOH’s injury in 2020. Despite how hard SHO worked in the ring, it just wasn’t enough, YOH would continue to take the pins in all their matches, resulting in even more frustration for SHO, who must have wondered why YOH would come back and halt the momentum he had gained as a singles star. What came next would set these two men on a path of destruction and betrayal.
Roppongi 3K would have a disastrous time in this year’s Super Jr Tag League, losing their first three matches and therefore being eliminated from the tournament. Each time, YOH would take the pin for the team. Frustration turned to anger for SHO in their matchup with El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru on 16th August 2021. YOH yet again looked like he was about to give up, after being put into a submission hold; instead of helping his friend, he allowed the Suzuki-gun team to submit YOH. After the match was over and still on zero points, SHO would finally make his move. After over a year of teasing, broken promises and missed opportunities, SHO would viciously beat down YOH, declaring he was now “useless to him”. R3K was over after nine years together, from Young Lions to their time in CMLL, all the way to the top of the Junior Heavyweight Tag division. Their time and achievements will never be taken away from them, but now the two must go it alone and figure out the world of singles stardom.
Where Should SHO Go Next?
So where does SHO go next and what does he do about his YOH situation? Well, I have some ideas.
He could go it alone, form his own team or remain a lone wolf, a dark avenger known as the Shock Arrow. He could reunite with his old stablemate from CMLL, Hiromu Takahashi, joining up with Los Ingobernables de Japon. But my favourite, and something I’ve wanted for some time, is that he joins the villainous group of catch-style wrestlers and all-around bad guys, who I personally think secretly have hearts of gold, known as Suzuki-gun.
Why Suzuki-gun, I hear you cry, and it’s a very simple answer, SHO just fits in with the group. Firstly, SHO has a mean streak that is essential for the stable. His look has also become darker in recent years, using a black and yellow colour scheme that could easily be incorporated and adapted to the Black and White of Minoru Suzuki’s army. He betrayed YOH in the midst of their match against eventual winners of this year’s Super Jr Tag League, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado, maybe teasing SHO joining the group. The big thing that would set SHO on the path to Suzuki-gun is his background in MMA; many of the members of Suzuki-gun have a background in MMA, Catch-Style Wrestling, or both and SHO is no exception. Plus, with his stiff kicks and big power moves, he is someone Minoru Suzuki would gladly welcome into the fold, well, after a barn burner of a match between the two anyway.
What do you think SHO should do moving forward? Let us know in the comments!