Ranked at number two in June, Hiromu Takahashi fell off badly in 2017's second half, to the point where he no longer feels like the NJPW Junior Heavyweight division's star, but a supporting actor in a movie starring Will Ospreay, KUSHIDA, and Marty Scurll.
His in-ring fortunes have declined significant. A middling Best Of The Super Juniors run preceded a needless championship loss to KUSHIDA at Dominion 6.11, and while Hiromu will challenge for the belt in a four-way title fight at Wrestle Kingdom 12, he no longer feels like a white-hot commodity.
Regardless, these complaints aren't enough to diminish the incredible start Takahashi made to 2017. Starting with a career-defining Tokyo Dome win over KUSHIDA, Hiromu was soon putting on some of the most breathtaking matches in the company, regardless of weight class. His 11 February clash with Dragon Lee was a beautiful blitzkrieg, he outclassed the exceptional Ricochet in their title fight, and shone against Ospreay, Scurll, and Lee in the BOSJ tourney. Booking concerns aside, the Dominion bout was a borderline classic too.
Takahashi's wild, reckless style and electric charisma have made him a transcendent performer, and he'd be a lock for our top five if NJPW hadn't cycled him out of the spotlight.