|1||Shingo Takagi vs Taichi (4.75)||JTO 50th Anniversary we For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi||12/19||NJPW King of Pro Wrestling Championship Last Man Standing Lumberjack|
|2||Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI vs Jun Kasai & Tomoaki Honma (4.5)||JTO 50th Anniversary For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi||12/19||No Disqualification Tag|
|3||Jamie Hayter vs Hikaru Shida (4.5)||AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash||12/21||AEW Women’s World Championship|
|4||Tomoka Inaba vs Suzu Suzuki (4.5)||JTO 50th Anniversary For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi||12/19|
|5||Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI vs Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, El Desperado & Taka Michinoku (4.25)||NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome Night 2||12/23||Suzuki-Gun Final|
|6||Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Satoshi Kojima (4.25)||NOAH Kongo Produce DIAMOND 5||12/18|
|7||The Elite vs Death Triangle (4.25)||AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash||12/21||AEW World Trios Championship Series Match 5 No Disqualification|
|8||Mike Bailey vs Yuya Uemura (4)||Impact Wrestling||12/22|
|9||Carmelo Hayes vs Axiom (4)||WWE NXT||12/20|
|10||YO-HEY & Kzy vs Atushi Kotoge & Seiki Yoshioka (4)||NOAH N Innovation||12/23||GHC Jr Tag Team Championship|
Hellllllllooooooooooooooooo, it’s been a big week! Not only because of Christmas — I hope your holidays have been merry and bright — but also because I hit my ludicrous goal of 600 4+ star matches in 2022! It’s a true achievement of nerdom and markdom, and couldn’t have been accomplished if I had a day job. Let’s be honest, I’ve put off getting a “real” job in order to absorb as much wrestling into my brain as humanly possible. I believe I have matches from 26 different promotions. Damn, it’s been an awesome year. Now I’ve shifted gears to rewatching a myriad of matches, because I’m going to do my first ever TOP 200 list (last year was 100). So buckle your ass up for that one, and stay tuned.
But! This past week in wrestling was quite strong, and included low key one of the best shows of the year — Just Tap Out 50th Anniversary For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi. JTO is Taka Michinoku’s promotion, and he’s had several of these TakaTaichi events, which are always great. This one was no exception with three matches at 4.5+. Shingo/Taichi was an incredible final installment in their rivalry over KOPW 2022 — legitimizing that championship in the process. I went 4.75, but Dave Meltzer actually gave it 5. Props to Taichi, who is without a doubt one of the most improved wrestlers in New Japan since I started watching in 2017.
Additionally, Minoru Suzuki and DOUKI took on deathmatch legend Jun Kasai, and always invigorated in JTO shows Tomoaki Honma, in a bloody, brutal war. It was an incredibly emotional match, just days before the Suzuki-Gun final — which was also just wonderful. Suzuki — who doesn’t bleed often — bled within mere minutes, setting the tone for what was to come. Suzuki and Honma had some brutal exchanges down the stretch as Suzuki-Gun got the W. Lastly, an awesome battle between two 20-year-old women — Suzu Suzuki and Tomoka Inaba. Damn, this was a fight, and both women left it out there. Suzu is perhaps my favorite wrestler of 2022 that I had never seen previously, and although I’ve only seen a handful of Inaba matches, she’s pretty damn great in her own right. The future of joshi wrestling is so incredibly bright it’s hard to even fathom.
Regarding the Suzuki-Gun final, talk about emotional — sheesh. But what a perfect sendoff. Towards the end, Suzuki attacked each of the seven other men (including his teammates) one-by-one, which led each of them to attack Suzuki, with the finish coming after Taichi hammered him with the Iron Claw, followed by a Zack Driver from ZSJ, yelling “THANK YOU SUZUKI!” mid-move. It was beautiful. As was the snow falling in the ring thereafter. It’s sad to see one of the most entertaining New Japan factions say goodbye, but it’s very intriguing to see what comes next. Taichi turn on Zack? Jake Lee coming in to take over? Strap me in, daddy.
Speaking of daddy’s, Satoshi Kojima continues to prove he’s still got a lot in the tank during his current NOAH run. He battled NOAH stalwart, and one of my top wrestlers from 2021, Katsuhiko Nakajima to a brutal 30-minute draw. It was the first NOAH show I saw this year that allowed cheering, and the crowd sure was fired up for this one. I can’t wait to see these two tangle again. Different show, but the NOAH crowd was also quite fired up for the GHC Jr Tag Championship match between Atsushi Kotoge and Seiki Yoshioka and YO-HEY and Kzy. I don’t pay super close attention to NOAH junior stuff, but I pop in from time to time. This was a very fun match that was elevated by the crowd, but NOAH has loved hot potato’ing their titles this year to a fault.
Coming back to America, Jamie Hayter had yet another outstanding match, this time with former AEW Women’s champ Hikaru Shida. Like Jamie/Toni, this also had a very joshi-like feel as they went to war, and featured many crisp counters and transitions. Just beautiful stuff. And I want to give credit to my friend BJ Whitmer, who is a backstage producer for AEW, and produced both of those matches, and a lot of the other recent women’s stuff sans Jade. The AEW women’s division feels as healthy as it ever has in the 3+ years of the company.
Lastly, Speedball Mike Bailey stays hot with an awesome match against New Japan’s Yuya Uemura. Uemura is currently on excursion, but he keeps proving that he’s a big time talent that’s going to fit in like a glove once he gets called back to Japan. And on NXT, Carmelo Hayes and Axiom put on a fun, jumpy, smooth match. Carmelo has future NXT Champion written all over him, and I’d love to see Axiom get a run with the North American title.