A dissection into the character of Master Wato by your resident New Japan expert Bam.
I can’t pinpoint the moment my absolute disdain for Master Wato started but I can tell you what I don’t like about him or why he hasn’t clicked with me, from a naff gimmick to silly hair and gear that looks like it is out of a bad cartoon, something just doesn’t seem quite right.
I vaguely remember him from his Young Lion days in New Japan Pro-Wrestling but he never I vaguely remember him from his Young Lion days in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, but he never made much of an impression on me, unlike Shota Umino and Ren Narita who instantly captured by heart and impressed me. Umino and Narita are stars. Umino impressed during The New Japan Cup 2019 in a barn burner of a match against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Narita who truly grew into his own during the Best of the Super Juniors 26 tournament last year. Even Yuya Uemura, who I personally didn’t think much of a year ago has really blossomed and come into his own, since Umino and Narita left for an excursion, against the likes of Yota Tsuji and Gabriel Kidd.
His matches haven’t been out of this world, like other returning Young Lions who have gone on to reach the top of the card and adored by fans the world over, such as Kazuchika Okada or Hiromu Takahashi. Yes, I understand that is a lot to live up to but seeing these new Young Lions, Shota Umino in particular with my own eyes at RevPro at the start of 2020 and at Royal Quest in August 2019, it really shows just how far behind Master Wato is compared to his contemporaries. He has a few flashy moves, but his in-ring psychology and storytelling aren’t there, and that may take time, but that’s what excursions are for, you either have it or you don’t and for me, he just doesn’t have it.
El Desperado managed to get a good match out of him in the main event of Best of the Super Juniors on 23rd November 2020. This match didn’t set the world on fire and showed yet again that the main event should have belonged to higher quality matches put on by more reliable and consistent competitors like Hiromu Takahashi vs Douki, Sho vs Taguchi or even BUSHI vs Robbie Eagles. All this further highlights Master Wato’s lack of experience, which allowed for a dip in match quality compared to the other competitors. In contrast, Young Lion Yuya Uemara has had better, more thrilling and demanding bouts during the BOSJ27, especially against Taiji Ishimori the same night Wato was in the main event. Unfortunately, the addition of Tenzan as his mentor hasn’t helped raise his profile or ability, even if New Japan Pro-Wrestling seems hell-bent on pushing Master Wato as the new face of the division.
In spite of what the people in the office want, Mater Wato doesn’t have the charisma, ability or likeability factor of past Ace’s of the division that has included KUSHIDA, Will Ospreay, Hiromu Takahashi, Dragon Lee, and Taiji Ishimori. On top of this Master Wato also has a lot to contend with when it comes to legendary figures such as the recently retired Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, Black Tiger, and Wild Pegasus to lead the division into this new era of New Japan and Junior Heavyweight wrestling. For someone so young and inexperienced, with the obvious shortfalls within his arsenal we must conclude that Master Wato’s push is coming too soon and at the determent of the rest of the division, especially SHO whose tag partner YOH is currently out injured. SHO should be experiencing a strong run through the tournament and division and has all the attributes that Wato is so obviously lacking.
Find the Best of the Super Jr.27 on Sunday 29th November over at New Japan World with both Japanese and English commentary. You can also get translations for all the backstage comments over at New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s YouTube page.