4. Hirooki Goto
Hirooki Goto has earned this awful reputation as ‘the guy that chokes when going after the big one’. He has come so close to winning tournaments and championships so many times, yet the big win has constantly eluded him. Perhaps this year might be the year that Goto finally breaks free from that stigma.
Goto won the G1 Climax in 2008, but he didn’t manage to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. In fact, he has won literally every single other NJPW title he’s eligible for except for that world title. He’s in a similar position to the one Eddie Guerrero found himself in when he won the WWE Championship: a lifelong workhorse that had consistent popularity yet couldn’t achieve what everyone thought for him was impossible.
Goto is 38 years old, but still wrestles like someone much younger. He could prove to be a more-than-capable challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship if NJPW puts enough effort into booking him as they have with Okada and Omega.