Top 10 Matches of the Week – 11/20 -11/26
|1||KAIRI vs Mayu Iwatani (4.5)||NJPW/Stardom Historic X-over||11/20||IWGP Women’s World Championship|
|2||Chris Jericho vs Tomohiro Ishii (4.5)||AEW Dynamite Thanksgiving Eve||11/23||ROH World Championship|
|3||Will Ospreay vs Shota Umino (4.5)||NJPW/Stardom Historic X-over||11/20||IWGP United States Championship|
|4||El Hijo Del Dr Wagner Jr. vs Yoshiki Inamura (4.5)||NOAH The Best||11/23||GHC National Championship|
|5||Yukio Naya vs Kazusada Higuchi (4.5)||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix In Korakuen Hall||11/18|
|6||The Bloodline vs Kevin Owens, Drew McIntyre & The Brawling Brutes (4.25)||WWE Survivor Series War Games||11/26||War Games|
|7||Austin Theory vs Seth Rollins vs BIG BOB Lashley (4.25)||WWE Survivor Series War Games||11/26||WWE United States Championship|
|8||Death Triangle vs The Elite (4.25)||AEW Dynamite Thanksgiving Eve||11/23||AEW Trios World Championship Series Match 2|
|9||TJP & Francesco Akira vs Lio Rush & YOH (4.25)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 1||11/21|
|10||Yuki Ueno vs Daisuke Sasaki (4.25)||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix In Korakuen Hall||11/18|
|HM||Bianca Belair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Alexa Bliss & Mia Yim vs Damage CTRL, Rhea Ripley & Nikki Cross (4)||WWE Survivor Series War Games||11/26||War Games|
|HM||AJ Styles vs Finn Balor (4)||WWE Survivor Series War Games||11/26|
HELLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOO, welcome to Shutdown Season, aka the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s where everyone’s brains are fried, and we’re all doing our best to coast through the holidays. However, wrestling does not sleep, and neither does my quest to have 600 4+ star matches in 2022. I’m currently at 564 and on pace for 622. Translation: I’m a loser and a psychopath.
But hey, I love it, and I can’t imagine I’ll ever hit this volume again unless I somehow get paid to do this nonsense full-time (t’would be the dream, obvi). And damn, this past week may have been the toughest time I’ve had ranking the top 10 since I started doing this. I had five matches at 4.5 stars, and the margin between them is incredibly razor thin for me. Additionally, the Men’s War Games and U.S. Title triple threat matches from Survivor Series were RIGHT behind those.
Note: Surprisingly, this is the only time it’s happened, but I’m including two matches from DDT from the week prior because there’s been so much awesome wrestling of late that I’ve fallen a bit behind.
But let’s start at the top with the incredibly entertaining, fun and HISTORIC, New Japan and Stardom Crossover show. As you know if you’ve read any of these, I’ve been quite a large fan of Stardom this year, and New Japan has largely been my favorite promotion since 2017, so needless to say I was pretty excited about this one. KAIRI and Mayu Iwatani had a brutal and emotional battle to become the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion. While I personally wanted to see Mayu get the W, KAIRI is also an excellent choice, and the two left it all in the ring in an outstanding match.
In the semi-main, Will Ospreay and Shota Umino topped their Royal Quest match with an excellent contest over the IWGP United States Championship. The first match was stopped, somewhat controversially by referee Red Shoes — Shota’s father — and Ospreay was even more relentless this time around. The drama was there with Shooter refusing to let his father stop the match, but in the end, Ospreay was just too much. AND HOLY SHIT, then Kenny Omega popped on the video screen to challenge Ospreay for a U.S. Title match at Wrestle Kingdom!!! I’ll admit, I was pretty adamant that the match wasn’t going to happen yet, but boy I am so glad to be wrong. Lastly, all of the mixed tag matches were a blast to watch, and I couldn’t recommend this show more.
AEW had two very strong matches on Dynamite following up from Full Gear. The Elite fall to 0-2 in the Best-of-Seven series vs the Death Triangle — this time, with Penta using the dreaded hammer. It’s easily going seven, and it’s gonna be awesome. Speaking of awesome, the main event between Chris Jericho and Tomohiro Ishii was a sheer delight! Two of my favorites all time went to war, and Jericho’s chest was pouring blood the whole time from Ishii’s chops. He probably bladed, but who cares, it looked sick! I was initially unaware of Ishii being a “young boy” in Genichiro Tenryu’s WAR promotion while Jericho was there in the mid 90’s. I absolutely love that style of match and what a joy it was to see Jericho and Ishii pummel the hell out of each other.
I mentioned Survivor Series earlier, and damn, what a hell of a show! Naturally, I skipped Ronda/Shotzi, but I had all four other matches at either 4 or 4.25 stars. However, the men’s war games match gets ***** for storytelling, as Sami Uso sacrificed his best friend Kevin Owens to solidify his loyalty to The Bloodline, and finally winning over Jey Uso. It was brilliantly executed with the backstage segments beforehand, and the cherry on top was Sami catching Owens the exact same way after he hit the Helluva Kick in their legendary match at Battleground 2016. Just incredible stuff. As has been the last few weeks for Austin Theory, who improbably and smartly won the U.S. Title in an incredibly compelling and fast paced triple threat against Seth Rollins and BIG Bob Lashley. Also, both the women’s war games and AJ/Finn were very good, but I would’ve gone with opposite winners.
Rounding out this week in Japan, one of the most surprisingly damn good matches of the year belongs to GHC National Champion El Hijo Del Dr. Wagner Jr. and Yoshiki Inamura in Pro Wrestling NOAH. It was one of the first cheering crowds allowed in NOAH and they were HOT for Inamura. It was the best singles performance I’ve seen for both men and this was a beautiful big boy battle. New Japan’s World & Super Junior Tag Leagues have started, and the best match in the early going has been Junior Tag Team Champs TJP & Francesco Akira knocking off the random, but very fun team of YOH & Lio Rush. TJP & Akira are so tight and I love watching them. Lastly, the seemingly indestructible Kazusada Higuchi lost his first singles match in a year, surprisingly, to up-and-comer Yukio Naya, who will face the reigning runner up Yuki Ueno in the D-Oh Grand Prix Final in what should be an interesting contest.