This pick came after great deliberation. I struggled as there were several candidates in the running to receive this most prestigious honor. My heart weighed heavy, I've been into Japanese MMA for the last year quite heavily, and I thought it'd be nice to add someone who bridges the gap between Japanese MMA and wrestling, such as Sakuraba, Takada, or Takayama. I also had some others in mind, Jake "the Snake" Roberts has been in the running for over a year now, and after watching some pimped '90's lucha guys like El Dandy were legitimate contenders as well.
But, in the end, I went with one of the gutsiest performers I've ever seen in Meiko Satomura. I'd always been a fan, but after seeing her in the brilliant documentary GAEA Girls, my love fully blossomed. Satomura, plain and simple, is the ideal worker. She hits hard, will take a hell of a beating, agile and athletic, and best of all, displays such captivating levels of emotion in her performances that it transcends people pantomiming physical punishment (wrestling at its campiest worst) to a level of theatric showmanship and grace that'd make Hollywood icons like Stanwyck, Renoir, and Cagney blush.
I get behind her 100% when I watch her, I cringe when she takes big shots, as though I'm watching the family dog get tortured in some grotesque nightmare, I sit on the edge of the couch as she rallies back on offense, and in the end, that's what wrestling does for us when done best.
Meiko, you deserve this honor today, thank you for your contributions, hard work, and ability to undermine years of people saying women in short hair aren't sexy as you've proved them wrong and put your detractors in a Fujiwara armbar.