Wrestling and comics have always gone hand in hand, larger than life characters and dramatic storylines coming to a head as good fights evil. Sometimes these confrontations take place in the pages of comicbooks and sometimes they take place in the squared circle.
The connection between wrestling and comics are timeless. The first ever Spider-Man story had Peter Parker step into a wrestling ring to test his new-found powers, a moment made famous by Macho Man Randy Savage (“Bonesaw is ready!”) in the 2002 Spidey film.
At times, the wrestlers we see performing astonishing feats of strength and flight make them seem like real life superheroes. But what if they really were a superhero from a Marvel comicbook? Which hero are they most like?
Hiroshi Tanahashi is Captain America
It’s entirely possible that Tanahashi was injected with the same super soldier serum that gave us Captain America. The Ace is a beacon of light in NJPW in the same way that we can always have faith in Cap to do the right thing. Both are the embodiment of good virtue, are leaders of their own brigades, and they apparently have oversized chests. Universally loved and respected, they have proven themselves reliable time and time again. I’d say Tanahashi is Captain New Japan, but we all remember how terrible that idea was.
Kazuchika Okada is Iron Man
Of course the Rainmaker is Tony Stark. Only Stark would be brash enough to stick his own face on money and have it blown into a crowd like Okada has done on many occasions. In every facet they are leaders, and yet that role is handed to somebody else, whether it be Tanahashi or Captain America. They even both went off track when dealing with their personal demons: Iron Man turned to alcohol during the Demon In The Bottle arc, whereas Okada died his hair red, put on questionable trousers, and started playing with balloons… to each their own.
Kota Ibushi is Thor
Two absolutely shredded Gods. Who needs brains when you have thunderous brawn? Their mutual affinity for blowing stuff up is apparent too; Thor with Mjölnir and Ibushi with fireworks. They can both be charming and jovial, but if the situation arises, a flip can be switched and they can destroy anybody they choose to. Ibushi’s switch has been dubbed “Murder Ibushi”, whilst Thor can go full God of Thunder on any soul unfortunate enough to be in his way.
Minoru Suzuki is The Hulk
When Hulk gets angry, he attacks anything in his path. When Suzuki gets angry, he attacks any Young Lion in his path. Actually Suzuki attacks Young Lions even if he’s not angry. Or maybe he’s just always angry? Maybe that’s his secret?! Both are near unstoppable when their emotions get the better of them and they relish a tough opponent that can give them a fight worth their time. I’d hate to try confront either of them, even if they were in a good mood. There’s no reasoning with them; when they want to fight the only choice you have is to run. You don’t have to be quickest, you just need to be quicker than one of the Young Lions.
Robbie Eagles is Hawkeye
Even though he wore ring gear inspired by The Winter Soldier, with the nickname Sniper of the Skies, Robbie had to be Hawkeye! Precision is the aim for both men: Eagles with his sniper springboard dropkick and 450-Splash, (both with pinpoint accuracy to weaken his opponent’s legs) and Hawkeye has his bow and arrow, seemingly unable to miss any target. Neither have actual superpowers, but through their own unique skills they still both still fit in and hold their own against the larger heroes.
Zack Sabre Jr. is Mister Fantastic
The Windy Man, or if you’re Jon Moxley, the “human fucking udon noodle.” Do we actually know if ZSJ has bones in his body? Any wrestlers that may be reading this, please confirm. The way he contorts himself around his opponents, torturing them with a multitude of submissions, could only be imitated by Mister Fantastic who can stretch his body parts into virtually any shape.
Toru Yano is Loki
If Loki saw a Yano match I have to think he’d be impressed. Neither are about playing fair, they’d both rather cheat their way to victory. Yano is impartial to delivering a low-blow to his opponents whilst the referee is distracted; a trick that would leave the God of Mischief grinning. It’s almost like magic that Yano always has a roll of tape ready to tie his opponents up with. From a safe viewpoint, both are a joy to watch, but being their victim would be a nightmare.
Jeff Cobb is Juggernaut
Cobb possesses inhuman strength that can be damn right terrifying at times. His G1 Climax and Wrestle Kingdom 15 matches had him throwing his opponents around like they were teddy bears, no matter their shape or size. We’re used to seeing Juggernaut run through walls, and oddly enough, I don’t think it’d be out of character if we one day saw Cobb literally charging through a wall.
El Desperado is Deadpool
Two wise-cracking, smooth-talkers that can back it up. The trash talking is just as important as the fight itself for Despy and Deadpool. Although, as we discovered at the Best of the Super Juniors final, El Desperado has a much more hunkier face beneath the mask than Deadpool does. Despy may not actually be crazy like Deadpool is, but his finishing move El Pinche Loco literally translates to “fucking crazy.”
Tomohiro Ishii is The Thing
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if it turned out Ishii was actually made of rocks. It takes seemingly superhuman levels of strength to put down Ishii; he’ll often shrug off a suplex or a forearm and keep charging forward. Neither are pretty to look at, but there’s beauty in their brutality.
There are a lot more NJPW wrestlers and infinitely more Marvel characters to match them up with. Who would Hiromu Takahashi be? Perhaps he’d be better suited as Deadpool than El Desperado, clearly they both have some degree of insanity rooted in their heads. Does Spider-Man have a NJPW counter-part? Yuji Nagata or Satoshi Kojima would certainly make a strong case for Old Man Logan!