Top 10 Matches of the Week – 1/1 – 1/7
|1||Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (5)||NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17||1/4||IWGP United States Championship|
|2||Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White (4.5)||NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17||1/4||IWGP World Heavyweight Championship|
|3||Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Kenoh (4.5)||NOAH The New Year||1/1||GHC Heavyweight Championship|
|4||Yuka Sakazaki vs. Miyu Yamashita (4.25)||TJPW Tokyo Joshi Pro ’23||1/4||Princess of Princess Championship|
|5||Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. El Desperado vs. Master Wato (4.25)||NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17||1/4||IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship|
|6||Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura vs. KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji (4.25)||NOAH The New Year||1/1||GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship|
|7||Jon Moxley & Bryan Danielson vs Top Flight (4.25)||AEW Rampage||1/6|
|8||Zack Sabre Jr vs. Ren Narita (4)||NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17||1/4||IWGP World Television Championship|
|9||Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. FTR (4)||NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17||1/4||IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship|
|10||Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins (4)||WWE Monday Night Raw||1/2||WWE United States Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 12/18 – 12/24
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.
|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|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 12/11 – 12/17
|1||Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs Aussie Open (4.5)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 17||12/14||World Tag League Final|
|2||Gunther vs Ricochet (4.5)||WWE Smackdown||12/16||WWE Intercontinental Championship|
|3||Yuki Ueno & Toi Kojima vs Kazusada Higuchi & Yuki Ishida (4.5)||DDT FREE – December||12/14|
|4||MJF vs Ricky Starks (4.25)||AEW Dynamite Winter Is Coming||12/14||AEW World Championship|
|5||Jon Moxley vs Sammy Guevara (4.25)||AEW Rampage||12/16|
|6||Lio Rush & YOH vs Chris Bey & Ace Austin (4.25)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 17||12/14||Super Junior Tag League Final|
|7||Chris Jericho vs Action Andretti (4)||AEW Dynamite Winter Is Coming||12/14|
|8||Death Triangle vs The Elite (4)||AEW Dynamite Winter Is Coming||12/14||AEW World Trios Championship Series Match 4|
|9||Dakota Kai & IYO SKY vs Liv Morgan & Teegan Nox (3.5)||WWE Smackdown||12/16||WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship|
|10||Motor City Machine Guns vs Heath & Rhino (3.5)||Impact Wrestling||12/15||Impact Tag Team Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 12/4 – 12/10
Well well well, it’s great to be back for another week with TWO FIVE-STAR MATCHES! It is my third such week this year, and the first two both had two five-star matches on the same day (Okada/Ospreay & Hangman/Danielson – 1/5, Ospreay/Finlay & Higuchi/Takeshita – 9/25), and I’m up to 15 total five-star matches in 2022. And this past week’s were a pair of absolute wars, but in completely different ways: Josh Alexander vs Mike Bailey from Impact Wrestling, and The Briscoes vs FTR in a double dog collar match at Ring of Honor Final Battle.
Let’s start with FTR/Briscoes, which I consider to be a legitimate Match of the Year contender (along with their first match). I’m not sure if there’d ever been a double dog collar match before — I know I’d never seen one — and a small part of me hopes there isn’t another because this was so perfect. The culmination of the greatest tag team trilogy of all time, with some of the most heart-pumping, dramatic, beautiful violence you’ll ever see inside (and sometimes outside) the confines of the squared circle. All four men donned the crimson mask to perfection, and even referee Mike Posey got busted open after being clocked by a chain by Dax Harwood. Big kudos to Pose for that.
It was non-stop, wild action from the bell until Dax passed out after 22:20. And it was heartbreaking seeing Cash do his damndest to break it up while being held back by Mark Briscoe. Speaking of those two, the spot where Cash whipped Mark off the top rope onto a pile of chairs on the floor was one of the most insane things I’ve ever seen. The stipulation made this feel like two different singles matches taking place in the course of a tag team match — it was wonderful. Maybe I would like to see it again. Anyway, there’s really not much else to say. Just watch it. Bravo, and thank you to everyone involved.
Now, onto two of the best wrestlers in the world going at it for nearly an hour on free television. Alexander and Bailey put on one of the most entertaining and well-paced hour-long matches I can remember (sans Omega/Okada, of course). The time seemed to fly by and the action never dragged. And it definitely strayed more towards hard hitting and striking as opposed to technical mat work. Both men put on a master class of selling, and this was a true war of attrition — and entirely unexpected. Although I did catch wind that Alexander went an hour with someone? because this match was taped in Louisville the day after we attended Over Drive. Unfortunately, the crowd kind of stunk for the match, but it didn’t really take away from it for me. Certainly a hotter crowd would’ve added to it, but it was just a brilliant match. The full match is on Youtube without commercials, so if you’re a fan of professional wrestling I think you’ll enjoy this.
And damn, there was a slew of other great action this past week as well, as I had three matches at 4.5. FTR had another Top 5er in their long awaited AEW tag team championship challenge against The Acclaimed on Dynamite. The Acclaimed retained in an incredibly exciting face v face bout where I had no idea who was going to win. The nearfall with Bowens breaking up the pin at the last second after the Big Rig was tremendous. And on Rampage, Jon Moxley and Konosuke Takeshita had an excellent, brutal fight that I thought was better than their AEW title match earlier this year. I’ve said it before in this space, but Takeshita is so damn good, and I couldn’t be happier that the American audience is getting more and more behind him. Hard not to when you’re that freakishly good. Now that he’s moved to America and eating all the Cinnabon his big heart can desire, I hope he can start getting some big wins. Perhaps he could be the one to dethrone Orange for the All-Atlantic Championship? Moxley was brilliant as ever in this match taking a beating like the true champ he is, and even working a little heely again as the crowd was really getting behind Takeshita. The kickout at 1 after the Paradigm Shift made me hard. This was so great.
My other 4.5er was the inaugural men’s Iron Survivor match from NXT Deadline. I’m not a weekly watcher of NXT, but I was intrigued by this new match concept, and boy did they hit a home run with this one. I didn’t watch until Sunday and knew the result, but I was still quite riveted in this match. Everyone played their part so well, and Grayson Waller sneaking his way to three pinfalls, and playing a little cat and mouse at the end made for a fun result. Even though he had no falls, JD McDonagh is an absolute stud and has hit another level since his name/character change. Axiom and Carmelo Hayes continue to wow, and I’d absolutely love to see a singles match between the two. Heck, I was even impressed with Joe Gacy who I’ve never really cared about. Great stuff here and props to Shawn Michaels for the concept and execution. The women’s match was a ton of fun too.
On the 4.25 line, we had the final of DDT’s D-Ou Grand Prix, which saw last year’s runner up Yuki Ueno (aka Baby Ibushi) get the win over the up-and-coming Yukio Naya, who came in off the biggest win of his life over my father and K-OD Openweight Champion (DDT’s top title) Kazusada Higuchi. This was a great hard-hitting contest where there was little doubt in the winner, but both guys busted their ass and Ueno bumped and sold so well to make Naya look like a big badass with the size advantage. Wheeler Yuta had another excellent chapter in their rivalry of swapping the ROH Pure Title. I liked how this one begun with both men using the close fists, and Garcia forcing Wheeler to burn his three rope breaks very early on. A great mix of technical and striking work per usual between these two, and I really enjoyed the finish.
For both Stardom and New Japan’s tag leagues, I kind of picked and chose which matches I watched. Stardom’s final which saw Nanae Takahashi and Yuu defeat Utami Hayashishita and Saya Kamitani was a lot of fun with a surprise winner for me. I haven’t seen a ton of Yuu but she definitely impressed with her power moves with Saya’s excellent selling as always. Utami looked like the strong beast that she is, and Takahashi also had a great performance. Great fun and many great moments down the stretch.
Over to NJPW, Chris Bey and Ace Austin vs Alex Zayne and El Lindaman was a heck of a fun match and one of the best matches of both the junior and heavyweight tag tournaments. Both teams were standouts in my opinion, along with the jr champs TJP & Francesco Akira and YOH and Lio Rush. Very much looking forward to the final between Bey/Austin and YOH/Rush. On the heavyweight side, the United Empire battle between Aussie Open and Great O-Khan and Aaron Henare was a great fight between faction mates. United Empire manager Gideon Gray’s stock has risen drastically in my book, as he’s managed and introduced three teams across the two tournaments.
|1||The Briscoes vs FTR (5)||ROH Final Battle||12/10||ROH World Tag Team Championship Double Dog Collar|
|2||Josh Alexander vs Mike Bailey (5)||Impact Wrestling||12/8||Impact World Championship|
|3||Jon Moxley vs Konosuke Takeshita (4.5)||AEW Rampage||12/9|
|4||Grayson Waller vs Carmelo Hayes vs Axiom vs Joe Gacy vs JD McDonagh (4.5)||NXT Deadline||12/10||Iron Survivor|
|5||The Acclaimed vs FTR (4.5)||AEW Dynamite||12/7||AEW World Tag Team Championship|
|6||Yuki Ueno vs Yukio Naya (4.25)||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix The Final||12/4||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix Final|
|7||Wheeler Yuta vs Daniel Garcia (4.25)||ROH Final Battle||12/10||ROH Pure Championship|
|8||Nanae Takahashi & Yuu vs Utami Hayashishita & Saya Kamitani (4.25)||Stardom Goddesses of Stardom Tag League Night 10||12/4||Goddesses of Stardom Tag League Final|
|9||Alex Zayne & El Lindaman vs Chris Bey & Ace Austin (4.25)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 13||12/7|
|10||Aussie Open vs Great O-Khan & Aaron Henare (4)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 12||12/5|
|HM||Claudio Castagnoli vs Chris Jericho (4)||ROH Final Battle||12/10||ROH World Championship|
|HM||The New Day vs Pretty Deadly (4)||NXT Deadline||12/10||NXT Tag Team Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 11/27 -12/3
Can I get a WHO DEY! What a thrilling win for my Cincinnati Bengals last night over Joe Burrow’s son Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Alright, with that out of the way, let’s talk a little wrasssssslin’, shall we?
I’m going to start in the land of AEW, as I attended Dynamite in Indianapolis — my 10th career AEW show and fourth of the year. I was fortunate to sit next to indie wrestler Brandon Prophet, who runs his own promotion in Indy. He had many great stories, and I’m excited to have him on the Brain Buster Boys next week! I also had a very brief encounter and conversation with Saraya, and she couldn’t have been more of a sheer delight. And MJF walked right in front of us as he exited after clocking Mr. Regal. Don’t want to get into it, but it’s pretty wild that it appears he’s headed back to WWE imminently.
On to the action, and it’s no surprise that Bryan Danielson and Dax Harwood put together one heck of a professional wrestling match. And it really accelerated about halfway through as they upped the physicality and striking. Danielson is an actual wrestling god, and by god, what a year Dax has had. He’s a 4.25 machine with all his singles matches. And I loved the Elite/Death Triangle match starting with an extended brawl on the outside before the bell actually rang. As always, great action between those two teams. which was definitely a thrill live. The Elite got the expected win, although it was hard to tell from our vantage point, and for a second I thought the Death Triangle were up 3-0, haha.
Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling continues to roll in 2022 with yet another very strong show in All Rise. Miyu Yamashita and Millie McKenzie had a physical war over the Spirit of Eve Championship in what was my match of the week. Yamashita is oodles better than she showed in her match in AEW against Thunder Rosa, and I had yet to see Ms. McKenzie and damn was she impressive. I definitely look forward to seeing more from her. Another talent I saw for the first time on that show was 17-year-old New Albany, Indiana native Billie Starkz, who challenged Yuka Sakazaki for the Princess of Princess Championship in the main event…in Korakuen Hall…what an accomplishment for a 17-year-old. I was equally impressed with Billie who carried herself quite well in the high profile spot. She did some sort of snap One Winged Angel on the apron, followed by a flip onto Sakazaki that was sick! Good good stuff. Oh, and Mizuki and Arisu Endo put on one hell of a fast-paced and exciting 10-minute match.
On to HHH Land, and we had Prince Puma vs King Cuerno for the World Cup Final! Wait, I mean Ricochet and Santos Escobar — but I do love the Lucha Underground throwback matchup, and it was awesome. I knew the result before watching, but that was a damn good television main event. They threw everything at each other and showcased some excellent high flying work. I’m very happy HHH has featured both guys, and Zelina Vega is a natural fit with Legado. And the Bloodline is still cooking with two good matches, Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso, and Jey helping his new pal Sami Uso get the W over Sheamus.
Lastly, New Japan’s tag leagues are hitting their stride, and on the heavyweight side, the teams of Bishamon (Goto & YOSHI-HASHI), Aussie Open and Naito & SANADA have definitely stood out above the rest in terms of match quality.
|1||Miyu Yamashita vs Millie McKenzie (4.25)||TJPW All Rise||11/27||EVE Spirit of Eve Championship|
|2||Ricochet vs Santos Escobar (4.25)||WWE Smackdown||12/2||World Cup Final|
|3||Bryan Danielson vs Dax Harwood (4.25)||AEW Dynamite||11/30|
|4||The Elite vs Death Triangle (4.25)||AEW Dynamite||11/30||AEW Trios World Championship Series Match 3|
|5||Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso (4)||WWE Monday Night Raw||11/28|
|6||Mizuki vs Arisu Endo (4)||TJPW All Rise||11/27|
|7||YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (4)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 6||11/27|
|8||Tetsuya Naito & SANADA vs Aussie Open (4)||NJPW World & Super Junior Tag League Night 9||12/2|
|9||Yuka Sakazaki vs Billie Starkz (3.75)||TJPW All Rise||11/27||Princess of Princess Championship|
|10||Sami Zayn vs Sheamus (3.75)||WWE Smackdown||12/2|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 11/20 -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.
|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|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 11/6 – 11/12
|1||Death Triangle vs The Elite (5)||AEW Full Gear||11/19||AEW World Trios Championship|
|2||Josh Alexander vs Frankie Kazarian (4.75)||Impact Over Drive||11/18||Impact World Championship|
|3||Jamie Hayter vs Toni Storm (4.5)||AEW Full Gear||11/19||AEW REAL Women’s World Championship|
|4||Syuri vs Utami Hayashishita (4.75)||Stardom Gold Rush||11/19||World of Stardom Championship|
|5||Chris Jericho vs Bryan Danielson vs Sammy Guevara vs Claudio Castagnoli (4.5)||AEW Full Gear||11/19||ROH World Championship|
|6||MJF vs Jon Moxley (4.5)||AEW Full Gear||11/19||AEW World Championship|
|7||Jungle Boy Jack Perry vs Luchasaurus (4.25)||AEW Full Gear||11/19||Steel Cage|
|8||Trey Miguel vs Black Taurus (4.25)||Impact Over Drive||11/18||Impact X-Division Championship|
|9||Eddie Kingston vs Jun Akiyama (4.25)||AEW Full Gear: Zero Hour||11/19|
|10||Jordynne Grace vs Masha Slamovich (4.25)||Impact Over Drive||11/18||Impact Knockouts Championship Last Knockout Standing|
|HM||Austin Theory vs Dolph Ziggler (4)||WWE Monday Night Raw||11/14|
|HM||Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor (4)||WWE Monday Night Raw||11/14||WWE United States Championship|
Well, well, well, what a week it was! Firstly, my podcast, Brain Buster Boys, celebrated its two-year anniversary and got to do so by attending two wrestling shows in Louisville, Kentucky: Monday Night Raw and Impact Over Drive. Oh, and not to mention AEW Full Gear and Stardom Gold Rush.
(Listen to part 1 of the Two-Year Anniversary Show here and part 2 here!)
I’ll start chronologically and say I really had a blast attending my first WWE show in over five years. It was big, bright, and loud all night, and we were treated to some good matches and storyline progression, mostly in the case of Austin Theory. He had an awesome backstage promo, followed by a great match with Dolph Ziggler, and he closed the show by attacking Seth Rollins and hoisting the United States Championship over him. They didn’t crack my top 10 because it was such a strong week, but I wanted to recognize the Theory/Ziggler and Rollins/Balor matches from Raw, because they were both damn solid and a treat to take in live.
Impact Over Drive was the third Impact special event I’ve attended this year, and they’ve all been so much fun, and great shows to boot. We opted for the general admission tickets this time, and we were posted up about 15 feet from the ring, parallel to the commentators, with a perfect view of the action. We made plenty of new friends and were starting cheers all night, specifically for Black Taurus. The first handful of matches were fine, but things really escalated with the X-Division Championship match, and our group was responsible for starting every single Black Taurus chant. He looked over at us in acknowledgment multiple times and you could tell our cheers were firing him up. He had an outstanding back-and-forth match with Trey Miguel with plenty of big moves, but that bastard Trey (seemingly) turned heel by spraying Taurus with spray paint to get the W.
Jordynne Grace and Masha Slamovich rekindled their rivalry with an excellent Last Knockout Standing for the Knockouts Championship. It was a slight step below their amazing match at Bound For Glory, but the stipulation worked for this, and they put together an engaging, physical match, which saw Grace get the win by Muscle Buster’ing Masha through a door outside the ring.
The main event saw yet another 2022 banger performance from Josh Alexander, and (probably not even) arguably the best performance and singles match of Frankie Kazarian’s career. They battled for nearly 33 minutes, throwing everything at each other, doing each other’s moves, grueling submissions, but Alexander outlasted Kazarian finally planting him with the C4 Spike. And then things got interesting when Bully Ray came out to challenge Alexander for Hard To Kill and proceeded to nearly piledrive his wife before Alexander handed over the Impact World Championship. I’ll admit, I wasn’t at all excited about the prospect of Bully Ray challenging for the title, but I’m definitely more intrigued now.
AEW IS BACK BAYYYYBEEEE! It’s certainly been an up-and-down 2022 for AEW, but they saved the best for last, and Full Gear is the ppv of the year in my opinion. Emotions started running high on the pre-show with Eddie Kingston getting to take on his hero (and absolute legend) Jun Akiyama. It went just over 10 minutes and was a battle of wills, chops, punches, and suplexes, but the best moment came after the match with the mutual sign of respect, and Kingston in tears on the microphone. That definitely set the tone for what would be an amazing night.
The main card kicked off with a bang, as JACK PERRY (it’s weird) finally bested his old friend Luchasaurus in a thrilling steel cage match. Speaking of thrilling, holy shit that trios title match was LIVE. It was one of those special energies in the room when we were watching, and from the bell it was hot, heavy, wild, insane and never let up for a second. It was so great seeing the Elite back — especially Kenny — and their chemistry with Death Triangle is second to none. The storytelling here was tremendous with Fenix refusing to use the hammer initially, but eventually giving in to lead them to the W. It was my match of the night and match of the week. And me oh my, we’re going to get a best-of-seven series! I seriously cannot wait to see what these six cook up over the next couple months.
My 2nd-favorite match of the night was the Women’s World Championship (no interim tag here), which saw Jamie Hayter finally and rightfully claim the throne over old friend and roommate Toni Storm, in what was one of my favorite women’s matches to ever take place on American soil. These two absolutely slugged it out and left it all in the ring. The last few minutes were sublime with nearfalls, but Hayter was finally able to get it done (with the help of Britt Baker) and I certifiably lost my mind. What a moment, and no woman in the company deserves it more. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Hayter as champion.
The fatal four-way for the ROH championship was such an exciting and well-executed matchup. There was obvious intrigue with the potential of stablemates squaring off, and the main story was when Sammy would break and he eventually did. I’ve given Sammy a lot of guff this year — and it was all warranted — but I’m glad he’s cut out the bullshit and stuck to wrestling. This was one of his best performances of the year. All the interactions between Danielson and Claudio were great, including the late nearfall with the bisiko knee. But the dastardly Ocho snuck in and retained. And of course, the main event which was full of drama, and finally saw the coronation of Maxwell Jacob Friedman as AEW World Champion. Like his match against Punk in Chicago, Mox embraced the full heel and beat MJF pillar to post for like 80% of the match. Although everyone and their brother expected Regal to turn and help MJF win, it was perfectly executed with Regal scolding MJF for attempting to use the Dynamite Diamond Ring, telling Mox to go get the ref, and sliding the brass knucks in perfectly for MJF to clobber Mox for the 1, 2, 3. It’s a new era, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store!
Lastly, Syuri and Utami Hayashishita had yet another incredible match in their rivalry, which saw Syuri defeat Utami in a 28-minute war, to set up her match with Giulia at Dream Queendom at the end of the year. Similarly to MJF, it’s Giulia’s time, and I’d be quite surprised if she didn’t take the World of Stardom Championship off her former tag team partner. That match will surely be wild!
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 10/30 – 11/5
I’m skipping the pleasantries and getting right into it this week because HOLY SHIT KATSUYORI SHIBATA WRESTLED ORANGE CASSIDY…IN A REAL MATCH…FOR THE AEW ALL-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP…AND IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND AMAZING.
That could be the article there. But wow, as a massive mark for both Shibata and Orange, this was a literal dream match — and I rarely use that incredibly overused term. Just over a year ago, Shibata shockingly appeared at the G1 Climax Final show and had a five-minute grappling exhibition with Zack Sabre Jr. It was incredible to see Shibata back in the ring grappling without any strikes or suplexes — given that he nearly died in the ring in April 2017. If that’s all we would be getting from Shibata for the rest of his career, I would have been more than happy.
And then he was scheduled to have a mystery opponent in another exhibition match at Wrestle Kingdom 16 this past January. And who showed up, but none other than Shibata’s closest mentee, and now “The Son of Strong Style,” Ren Narita. Not only that, Shibata broke New Japan’s rule because he wanted a real match — he wanted to be hit. And I’ll admit, I got a little teared up seeing him and Narita blast each other in the Tokyo Dome.
Shibata, aka “The Wrestler” became one of my favorites of all time AFTER his injury from going back and watching all of his old work. Nobody wrestles like him, strikes like him, and takes punishment like him (well, maybe Tomohiro Ishii) and he captivated me immediately.
Fast-forward to June 26, Chicago, Illinois, the United Center, for AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door. I was in attendance, and despite all the injuries and late changes to the card, it was absolutely ELECTRIC. In a night full of incredible matches and moments, Shibata’s surprise appearance was without a doubt the moment of the night for me, and easily one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen in live entertainment. I sprinted to the bathroom after the conclusion of the wonderful Will Ospreay/Orange Cassidy match. I had just gotten to the urinal and pulled my hogg out, and I heard the riff. The only riff I could’ve heard at that moment that could get me to put my hogg away and sprint back out of the bathroom (fortunately the stream had not yet begun). And I went out in the arena and yelled, and screamed, and slapped hands with so many strangers, and cried. I couldn’t believe I got to see Shibata in the flesh, and I’m getting goosebumps as I write this now. The image of Orange putting his sunglasses on Shibata will forever be firmly implanted in my brain.
Shibata had not been since that wonderful summer evening in Chicago, until this past Wednesday. Orange Cassidy had just retained his All-Atlantic Championship in a fun match against Rey Fenix and Luchasaurus, and it had been billed that the winner would advance to Friday’s Rampage for the “Atlantic City Dream Match.” Never in a trilllllllllion years did I see it coming, but I was looking down at my phone, and THE RIFF! I let out an audible yell, my body was covered in goosebumps, and I think I kept yelling “YEAH” and “OH MY GOD” idk I think I blacked out. Orange gave Shibata the contract, and he signed it right there. It was legitimately shocking and wonderful.
The match itself wasn’t a 5 star classic, but it was a 10 star moment for me. There was definitely some rust from Shibata, but the joy of seeing him compete, let alone against one of my favorite wrestlers today, certainly outweighed the rust factor by a million. We got to see Shibata do the little kicks, hit the Orange Punch, hit a PK, and have the vintage sitdown strike exchange. It was all surreal. And yeah, I know people are upset Shibata lost, but did you really think Orange was gonna drop that belt yet? I get it, and Shibata’s rust can certainly be as good as any kayfabe reason for him to take the L. It was tough to rate, so I stuck with 4.5 stars, but it’s easily one of my personal favorite matches of the year.
Everything else this week seems secondary, but it was an awesome week of wrestling overall! Will Ospreay and Tetsuya Naito had a borderline 5 star banger for the IWGP U.S. Championship, and the entire NJPW Battle Autumn 16 show was strong. WWE Crown Jewel was mostly a strong and fun show, with the final two matches being by far the best. All props to Logan Paul, the man can go and is a freak athlete. Bianca and Bayley had one heck of an entertaining Last Woman Standing match as well.
Also, DDT’s D-Ou Grand Prix has begun, and my lover Kazusada Higuchi has kept his boiling hot streak going with two great performances to begin the tourney, including a 30-minute BRUTAL draw against Yuji Hino where each men voluntarily took chops and strikes from each other for pretty much the entirety of the match. If you like big hoss’s slapping meat, you don’t want to miss this one.
That’s more than enough for this week. Thanks for reading if you got here, and enjoy the list!
|1||Orange Cassidy vs Katsuyori Shibata (4.5)||AEW Rampage||11/4||AEW All-Atlantic Championship|
|2||Will Ospreay vs Tetsuya Naito (4.75)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 16||11/5||IWGP United States Championship|
|3||Kazusada Higuchi vs Yuji Hino (4.5)||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2022 In Yokohama Night 2||11/5|
|4||Roman Reigns vs Logan Paul (4.25)||WWE Crown Jewel||11/5||WWE Undisputed World Championship|
|5||Syuri vs Maika (4.25)||Stardom Hiroshima Goddess Festival||11/3||World of Stardom Championship|
|6||Bianca Belair vs Bayley (4.25)||WWE Crown Jewel||11/5||WWE Raw Women’s Championship|
|7||El Desperado & Master Wato vs Hiromu Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori (4.25)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 16||11/5|
|8||Takashi Sugiura & Satoshi Kojima vs Kenoh & Katsuhiko Nakajima (4.25)||NOAH Ariake Triumph – The Return||10/30||GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship|
|9||Tetsuya Endo vs Yuki Ueno (4.25)||DDT D-Ou Grand Prix 2022 – The Beginning||11/1|
|10||Josh Alexander & Frankie Kazarian vs Aussie Open (4.25)||Impact Wrestling||11/3|
|HM||Seth Rollins vs Austin Theory (4.25)||WWE Monday Night Raw||10/30|
|HM||TJP & Francesco Akira vs BUSHI & Titan (4.25)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 16||11/5||IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 10/23 – 10/29
Well well well, Happy Rusev Day yet again! Where the heck is Miro anyhow? Shit, I’m tired of asking that question but heyyyyy, it’s your boy Bretty Spaghetti back for another installment of my 10 favorite matches from this past week in the wonderful world of wrestling and sports entertainment. I was telling a friend who is a very casual wrestling fan that I’ve been doing these weekly columns, and he couldn’t believe that I was doing a top 10 every WEEK, thinking it would be tough to find that many matches each week. To that I laughed, admitted I was a sicko, told him how blessed we are to be wrestling fans in 2022, and that I’m on my way to having 600+ matches from this year rated at 4 stars-plus. Like I said, sicko.
Let’s kick things off with New Japan this week, as they not only continued their World Television Championship Tournament but also held their Rumble On 44th Street show in NYC. Starting with the former, I think it’s no secret that Tomohiro Ishii vs The Son of Strong Style Ren Narita was the most anticipated first round match of the tournament, and holy hell did it deliver! Narita, or Baby Shibata as I like to call him, channeled the spirit of his mentor in this one, and it certainly called back to the Ishii/Shibata classic from the 2013 G1 Climax. These two went to war in front of a LOUD AND ABLE TO CHEER WITH THEIR MOUTHS crowd at Korakuen Hall, and boy it was an absolute joy to watch and everything I love about New Japan. Oh, and Narita is pretty much already a star. It’s free to watch on youtube, so do it:
Rumble On 44th Street and The Night Before show both were incredibly entertaining and featured some unique matchups, including a fun 12-man tag that saw Kazuchika Okada and Jon Moxley on the same team. But, my favorite match of both shows was the New York City Street Fight aka Who’s Your Daddy part 2 between Shingo Takagi and El Phantasmo for the KOPW provisional trophy. What an exciting street fight filled with near falls, and I’m even more excited my “Shingo Is My Daddy” shirt arrived yesterday. Thank you again to Shingo for making KOPW not only relevant but incredibly fun, and ELP keep doing you, brother. Also, BIG HORN ENERGY Clark Connors returned from injury with an awesome performance against Murder Grandpa Minoru Suzuki. Clark put up a hell of a fight and gave Suzuki a lot of offense, and I continue to be impressed with Clark since his young lion graduation.
Staying in Japan, gotta shout out the man who stole my heart this summer, ace of DDT, Kazusada Higuchi, as he had another outstanding and emotional match against grizzled veteran and stablemate Yukio Sakaguchi. Higuchi has etched his way into my top 5 wrestlers of the year — he’s so great. Stardom had a nice week back with an outstanding match between Mayu Iwatani and Utami Hayashishita to determine who would face KAIRI to become the inaugural IWGP Women’s World Champion. Also, their Goddesses of Stardom Tag League has begun with two rippers — Starlight Kid and Momo Watanabe battling Syuri and youngster Tomoka Inaba to a thrilling draw, and the MAFIA BELLA team (what an entrance!) of the queen Giulia and the returning Toxic Spider Thekla took it to the champions Tam Nakano and Natsupoi — just great stuff overall here.
Here in America, FTR and Swerve In Our Glory had an exciting match to determine the #1 contenders for the AEW tag team titles. It was an exciting back and forth affair where the winner was in doubt, but SIOG snuck by to set up SIOG/Acclaimed III, but why the hell did FTR even have to fight for this? They’ve been #1 contenders like all year! And they’ll have to wait their turn even longer, but SIOG/Acclaimed III should be tight. Also on Dynamite, Bryan Danielson and Sammy Guevara had a heck of a contest that saw Danielson pick up a much needed W, and damn it was nice seeing him beat up that loser. WWE didn’t have a match as fire as Sami’s Ucey segment, but JD McDonagh and Ilja Dragunov continued their hot feud on NXT with another banger of a match.
|1||Ren Narita vs Tomohiro Ishii (4.75)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 9||10/26||NJPW World Television Championship Tournament First Round|
|2||Kazusada Higuchi vs Yukio Sakaguchi (4.5)||DDT God Bless DDT||10/23||DDT KO-D Openweight Championship|
|3||Mayu Iwatani vs Utami Hayashishita (4.5)||Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League Night 1||10/23||IWGP Women’s Championship Tournament Semifinal|
|4||Shingo Takagi vs El Phantasmo (4.25)||NJPW Rumble On 44th Street||10/28||New York City Street Fight|
|5||Swerve In Our Glory vs FTR (4.25)||AEW Dynamite||10/26||AEW World Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender|
|6||Starlight Kid & Momo Watanabe vs Syuri & Tomoka Inaba (4.25)||Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League Night 1||10/23|
|7||Minoru Suzuki vs Clark Connors (4.25)||NJPW Rumble On 44th Street||10/28|
|8||JD McDonagh vs Ilja Dragunov (4.25)||WWE NXT||10/25|
|9||Giulia & Thekla vs Natsupoi & Tam Nakano (4)||Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League Night 1||10/23|
|T-10||Bryan Danielson vs Sammy Guevara (4)||AEW Dynamite||10/26|
|T-10||Zack Sabre Jr vs David Finlay (4)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 10||10/27||NJPW World Television Championship Tournament Quarterfinal|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 10/16 – 10/22
Happy Rusev Day! You know what that means? It’s time for another installment of Loaf’s Top 10 Matches of the Week! It was a bit of a special week as I had the pleasure of attending AEW Dynamite in my home of Cincinnati. I actually live in Newport, KY but 10 minutes from the arena so you get the picture.
It really had the makings of a special show, and there was a palpable energy in the building. The Trios Championship opener really set the tone, and the wild spotfest was a sheer delight to take in live. I love PAC’s continued heel behavior with Fenix preventing him from using that damn bell hammer yet again, as well as Orange Cassidy toting the All-Atlantic title in a backpack.
We were treated to a very nice face vs face match between Toni Storm and Hikaru Shida, as this is now turning into a bit of a Dynamite recap, but so be it. Riho’s return was outstanding as well, but easily the moment of the night was the MJF and William Regal promo. It’s hard to even describe what being in the building for that felt like, but that sure was a special one. MJF was treated as a legitimate babyface, as deserved, and as foreshadowed by MJF as he took to Twitter earlier in the day to say that Skyline Chili is indeed not mid. Regal was equally as great on the stick, and damnit I cannot wait to see where this goes. Does MJF beat Moxley clean or does he take the shortcut to get the job done?
It’s tough to follow a legendary promo like that, but Dalton Castle and The Boys easily got the crowd re-engaged. Chris Jericho continues his strong run of late, and this match was highly entertaining, including the Boys clowning with Jake Hager over the bucket hat. But shit, my two favorite wrestlers in AEW were tearing the house down in Moxley’s home arena before the incredibly scary and unfortunate injury to Hangman Adam Page. I’m very glad Hangman is okay, but it was a bit of a buzzkill to what could have been in the top tier of the 159 episodes of Dynamite. But boy oh boy I can’t wait for Mox/MJF at Full Gear.
Phew, in other news, NXT’s Halloween Havoc produced two very strong matches, with the triple threat NXT Championship match between Bron Breakker, Ilja Dragunov and JD McDonagh being my match of the week. The drama was high, and JD and Ilja were both tremendous in their face/heel roles, rekindling their great feud from NXT UK earlier this year. Breakker worked well in the powerhouse role, but Ilja and JD were on another level. Also, the North American Championship ladder match was a ton of fun with a bit of a surprise winner in Wes Lee.
Even though it took place last week, I’m including AAA’s Triplemania: Mexico City for this week because that’s when I watched it, and it’s my list! El Hijo Del Vikingo and Rey Fenix put on a hell of a display for the AAA Mega Championship, but I don’t agree with Dave Meltzer that it was 5 stars. Some of the spots and moves were utterly ridiculous, but it lacked the urgency and cohesion that I look for in a 5er. Also, Pentagon Jr had a nasty bloody war with Villano IV, defeating him in a Luchas de Apuestas and taking the 57-year-old’s mask — which is quite a big deal in Mexico. You could feel the gravity of the moment, and Penta is at his best when he’s just downright nasty. I wish we’d see that side of him more in AEW. And regarding Villano IV, hats off to ya for the performance, and I remember that guy as a jobbery part of the WCW Cruiserweight division in the late 90’s, so I’m glad I can now remember him for something better.
Over in Japan, the Stardom portion of the IWGP Women’s Championship bracket began with a couple firecrackers between old-friends-turned-bitter-enemies Mayu Iwatani and Momo Watanabe, and a big, battering hoss fight between Utami Hayashishita and Himeka. More to come on that next week as we now know the finals matchup of that tournament and Stardom’s Tag League begins. Additionally, SANADA and Taichi renew their bromance/rivalry with easily the best NJPW World Television Championship tournament match yet. And even more thrilling, Taichi challenged his old mentor Kawada to a match while he was at ringside for commentary. Yeah he’s old, but it would be a true joy seeing one of the true GOATs of professional wrestling lace up the boots one more time against Taichi. Wrestling in 2022 is just the absolute best.
|1||Bron Breakker vs Ilja Dragunov & JD McDonagh (4.5)||NXT Halloween Havoc||10/22||NXT Championship Triple Threat|
|2||El Hijo Del Vikingo vs Rey Fenix (4.5)||AAA Triplemania XXX: Mexico City||10/15||AAA Mega Championship|
|3||Wes Lee vs Carmelo Hayes vs Von Wagner vs Oro Mensah vs Nathan Frazer (4.25)||NXT Halloween Havoc||10/22||NXT North American Championship Ladder|
|4||Mayu Iwatani vs Momo Watanabe (4.25)||Stardom First IWGP Women’s Champion Decision Battle 1st Round||10/22||IWGP Women’s Championship Tournament First Round|
|5||Death Triangle vs Orange Cassidy & Best Friends (4.25)||AEW Dynamite||10/18||AEW World Trios Championship|
|6||SANADA vs Taichi (4.25)||NJPW Battle Autumn Night 3||10/16||NJPW World Television Championship Tournament First Round|
|7||Pentagon Jr vs Villano IV (4.25)||AAA Triplemania XXX: Mexico City||10/15||Ruleta De La Muerte Final Mask vs Mask|
|8||Utami Hayashishita vs Himeka (4)||Stardom First IWGP Women’s Champion Decision Battle 1st Round||10/22||IWGP Women’s Championship Tournament First Round|
|9||Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Chris Ridgeway (3.75)||NOAH Demolition Stage||10/16|
|10||Chris Jericho vs Dalton Castle (3.75)||AEW Dynamite||10/18||ROH World Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 10/9 – 10/15
Hellllllooooooooo marks, Bretty boy is back again with a fresh spread of wonderful professional wrestling matches. While last week was highlighted with majority American-based wrestling, this week we’re back to the Land of the Rising Sun…or England – as New Japan’s Royal Quest II show was FINALLY made available after two weeks. Unfortunately, a bit of the luster had worn off, but the buzz couldn’t have been higher for the FTR/Aussie Open match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. And it sure delivered, sitting firmly in this week’s #1 spot. What a hell of a year for both teams, especially FTR.
Additionally, both squads opposed each other again on Royal Quest II Night 2 — with FTR teaming with Shota Umino, Gabriel Kidd and Ricky Knight Jr; and Aussie Open teaming with Will Ospreay, Great O-Khan and Gideon Grey — in an outstanding high-octane 10-man tag. Also on Night 2, New Japan fans were treated to the new Yota Tsuji — complete with new gear, new offense and a new attitude — in a war with Tomohiro Ishii.
New Japan also held its Declaration of Power show on 10/10, which featured Match of the Night and my #2 of the week in the rematch between JONAH and Kazuchicka Okada. The Japanese crowd LOVES JONAH and I sincerely hope he doesn’t go back to WWE because he’s carved out a heck of a niche for himself in New Japan. Jay White got his revenge in defending the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tama Tonga, but Tama has now cemented himself as a legit babyface main eventer. What a run he’s had in the past year-plus. Lastly, the WHO’S YOUR DADDY match between Shingo Takagi and El Phantasmo was hilarious and great fun. I really wanna get one of those SHINGO IS MY DADDY shirts — because he is indeed my father.
Staying in Japan, Kazusada Higuchi continued his incredible run this year in DDT. After a grueling tag title match which saw he and Naomi Yoshimura retain their championships against the menacing Daisuke Sasaki and KANON, MMA legend Shinya Aoki cashed in his Anytime/Anywhere contract (essentially MITB) to challenge for Higuchi’s KO-D Championship. It was incredibly tense, but the Gooch was able to survive and pick up the win after a nasty headbutt. Tokyo Joshi Pro had yet another outstanding show, and I had four matches rated 4 or 4.25, with the Princess of Princess Championship match between Shoko Nakajima and Yuka Sakazaki cracking the list. TJPW has been a great surprise for me this year.
It was a quieter week here in America. While WWE had some great television, it wasn’t their best week for matches. I don’t watch NXT weekly, but I had to watch the Best-of-3 series between Nathan Frazer and Axiom. All three matches were great, but they saved the best for last. Those two guys have amazing fast-paced chemistry and I could watch them in 12-minute matches all day. AEW had a strong Dynamite show, which saw Orange Cassidy finally getting his first piece of gold after besting his rival PAC to win the All-Atlantic Championship in a very exciting match. I also had the inaugural match between Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus also at 4 stars, but it just missed this week’s top 10.
Without further ado, here’s THE LIST!
|1||FTR vs Aussie Open (4.75)||NJPW Royal Quest II Night 1||10/1||IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship|
|2||Kazuchika Okada vs JONAH (4.5)||NJPW Declaration of Power||10/10|
|3||Jay White vs Tama Tonga (4.25)||NJPW Declaration of Power||10/10||IWGP World Heavyweight Championship|
|4||Tomohiro Ishii vs Yota Tsuji (4.25)||NJPW Royal Quest II Night 2||10/2|
|5||FTR, Shota Umino, Gabriel Kidd & Ricky Knight Jr vs Aussie Open, Will Ospreay, Great O-Khan & Gideon Gray (4.25)||NJPW Royal Quest II Night 2||10/2||10-Man Tag|
|6||Nathan Frazer vs Axiom (4.25)||WWE NXT||10/11||Best-of-3 Series Match 3|
|7||Kazusada Higuchi & Naomi Yoshimura vs Daisuke Sasaki & KANON (4.25)||DDT Get Alive||10/12||DDT KO-D Tag Team Championship|
|8||Yuka Sakazaki vs Shoko Nakajima (4.25)||TJPW Sun Princess III||10/9||Princess of Princess Championship|
|9||Shingo Takagi vs El Phantasmo (4)||NJPW Declaration of Power||10/10||Who’s Your Daddy? KOPW Provisional Championship|
|10||Orange Cassidy vs PAC (4)||AEW Dynamite||10/12||AEW All-Atlantic Championship|
|HM||Kazusada Higuchi vs Shinya Aoki (4)||DDT Get Alive||10/12||DDT KO-D Championship|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 10/2 – 10/8
What’s up my DOGGGGGGGGGGGGs, Bretty back here with a unique week, in that I have zero matches from Japan in my Top 10. Stardom’s wonderful tournament has concluded, and I realized as I was making this week’s list that the Tokyo Joshi Pro (TJPW) show was on Sunday 10/9, which would be next week. Anyway, enough with the dumb housekeeping – let’s get to it.
All three maj American promotions featured ppv’s or “special” shows with Impact Bound For Glory, WWE Extreme Rules, and AEW Battle of the Belts IV – and yes, I do consider Impact maj because they’ve been CRUSHING it all year. And with that, Bound For Glory was my favorite show of the weekend, even with that geezer Bully Ray winning the Call Your Shot Gauntlet. But damn, it was a great night of wrestling, highlighted by the outstanding, hard-hitting and emotional main event which saw Josh Alexander defeat Eddie Edwards in my Match of the Week.
It’s a damn shame news has come out that a good chunk of Honor No More, Mia Yim, Chelsea Green, and Deonna Purrazzo all appear to be done with the company and likely headed to WWE. Honor No More was such a key fixture for Impact all year, but I have faith that they’ll be fine because their wrestling and storytelling has been top-notch this year. Speaking of, Jordynne Grace and Masha Slamovich had an absolute RIPPER that is one of the best women’s matches you’ll see all year, including my beloved Stardom. Speedball Mike Bailey’s awesome X-Division Championship reign was halted by the former Elite Hunter Frankie Kazarian in yet another excellent Mike Bailey match. And the likely WWE-bound OGK retained their tag titles against the Motor City Machine Guns in another spreadsheet worthy match.
I was excited for Extreme Rules as I had been for any WWE event in recent memory, as I’ve fully dived back in after four years away. The build was excellent, and it was only a 6-match card, as opposed to AEW’s recent 66-match card. The show was still quite good, but I think I gave it unrealistic expectations in my mind so it slightly underwhelmed. But damn, feed me as much Brawling Brutes/Imperium action until I’m about to explode because everything from that feud has gotten me incredibly horny. Bayley/Bianca adequately met expectations and was a very fun match, despite me wanting it to main event and Bayley win. Speaking of the main event, I definitely enjoyed the Fight Pit match between Riddle and Rollins, but given the personal nature of the rival, and the presence of UFC legend Daniel Cormier, I was hoping for a little more. DC seemed to do more harm than good, and was a far cry from Ken Shamrock’s inaugural UFC-guy-turned-WWE-ref performance at Wrestlemania 13 during the best WWE match of all time.
More backstage drama at AEW – FUCK Sammy Guevara. It’s beyond go-away heat from me – I’d be so happy if I never had to see his dumb face on my television screen again. But unfortunately, that’s merely a pipe dream. The MJF/Yuta match was wonderful as expected, and I was thrilled to see Wardlow in a real match with Brian Cage, who definitely needs to be on our screens more, but the fact that JAS hoisted that loser Sammy on their shoulders to end the show is tone deaf and embarrassing. PAC pulling back-to-back double duty on Rampage/BOTB was great, as his heel behavior continues.
Welp, here is an incredibly rare Top 10 of all matches in America!
|1||Josh Alexander vs Eddie Edwards (4.75)||Impact Bound For Glory||10/7||Impact World Championship|
|2||Brawling Brutes vs Imperium (4.5)||WWE Extreme Rules||10/8||Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook 6-Man|
|3||Jordynne Grace vs Masha Slamovich (4.5)||Impact Bound For Glory||10/7||Impact Knockouts Championship|
|4||Gunther vs Sheamus (4.5)||WWE Smackdown||10/7||WWE Intercontinental Championship|
|5||MJF vs Wheeler Yuta (4.25)||AEW Dynamite Anniversary||10/5|
|6||Frankie Kazarian vs Mike Bailey (4.25)||Impact Bound For Glory||10/7||Impact X-Division Championship|
|7||Bianca Belair vs Bayley (4)||WWE Extreme Rules||10/8||WWE Raw Women’s Championship Ladder|
|8||OGK vs Motor City Machine Guns (4)||Impact Bound For Glory||10/7||Impact Tag Team Championship|
|9||PAC vs Trent Beretta (4)||AEW Battle of the Belts IV||10/7||AEW All-Atlantic Championship|
|10||Matt Riddle vs Seth Rollins (4)||WWE Extreme Rules||10/8||Fight Pit|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 9/25 – 10/1
Hey, Brett here – how on earth is it October? Anywho, it was another WILD week in wrestling, although I feel like I could say that most weeks these days because wrestling is so tight right now. BUT, I had two five-star matches on the same day from two different shows for the second time this year (1/5/22 – Hangman/Danielson – AEW Dynamite; Okada/Ospreay – NJPW WK Night 2). AND, we had the culmination of Stardom’s outstanding 5Star Grand Prix, which saw the coronation of my first Stardom love, Giulia.
But before we get to Giulia’s banner week, let’s hit on these 5ers. David Finlay showed a new gear in his rematch against Will Ospreay after shockingly defeating him in the G1. This time it was for the IWGP U.S. Championship, and Finlay really turned up the intensity after cracking Ospreay’s hand with the shillelagh. Ospreay had another improbable and amazing underdog performance, and it was easily the best performance of Finlay’s career.
Fresh off his exciting excursion to the U.S., Konosuke Takeshita returned to his home promotion of DDT to challenge Kazusada Higuchi for the KO-D Championship. Higuchi has stepped up to lead DDT in the absence of Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo, who recently vacated the title after getting shoot knocked out by NOAH’s Katsuhiko Nakajima (which was wild). I expected a long, epic, brutal title match, but it was merely 19 minutes of some of the most incredible feats of athleticism and badassery that I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring.
Before taking home her first 5Star Grand Prix in a bonkers final against old rival Tam Nakano, Giulia outlasted Wonder of Stardom Champ Saya Kamitani by referee’s decision with 11 seconds before the time limit in one of my most anticipated matches coming into the tournament. And the same night of the final, earlier in the night, Giulia went to battle with former friend-turned-enemy in 20-year-old stalwart Suzu Suzuki, in which both competitors were fighting back tears prior to the bell. What followed was a 15 minute emotional war ending in a draw and leaving us all clamoring for more.
Also in DDT, Cara Noir had his first singles match, falling to Yuki Ueno in challenging for the DDT Universal Championship. But boy oh boy, I absolutely love Cara Noir after just two matches, and have to believe he’ll be on a bigger stage sometime in 2023. He has such a unique gimmick, a beautiful entrance, and he was trained by Zack Sabre Jr so he can absolutely go in the ring.
Here in America, Damian Priest and Matt Riddle had a banger of a match to close out a very good Raw, and Chris Jericho continues his hot streak of matches with a thriller against Bandido to retain the ROH World Championship.
Speaking of Jericho, here’s who MADE THE LIST!
|1||Will Ospreay vs David Finlay (5)||NJPW Burning Spirit Night 14||9/25||IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship|
|2||Kazusada Higuchi vs Konosuke Takeshita (5)||DDT Who’s Gonna Top?||9/25||DDT KO-D Championship|
|3||Giulia vs Tam Nakano (4.75)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 20: Championship Battle||10/1||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Final|
|4||Giulia vs Suzu Suzuki (4.5)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 20: Championship Battle||10/1|
|5||Giulia vs Saya Kamitani (4.5)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 19||9/24|
|6||Yuki Ueno vs Cara Noir (4.25)||DDT Who’s Gonna Top?||9/25||DDT Universal Championship|
|7||Mayu Iwatani vs Starlight Kid (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 20: Championship Battle||10/1|
|8||Damian Priest vs Matt Riddle (4.25)||WWE Monday Night Raw||9/26|
|9||Chris Jericho vs Bandido (4.25)||AEW Dynamite||9/28||ROH World Championship|
|10||AZM vs Hazuki vs Fukigen Death (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 19||9/24||Stardom High Speed Championship|
|HM||Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kenoh (4.25)||NOAH Grand Ship||9/25||GHC Heavyweight Championship|
|HM||Himeka vs Maika (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 20: Championship Battle||10/1|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 9/18-9-24
HEY YO! It’s actually Brett here this time in my 2nd installment of Top 10 Matches of the Week. This week was a bit crazy for me as I was out of town for a good portion, and have been fervently catching up on all the wonderful wrestling I missed.
This week shredded from a match quality standpoint. I had 21 matches at 4+ stars, compared to last week’s nine. Just a note, my weeks will run Sunday through Saturday, so this doesn’t even include three shows on 9/25 from each of the big three Japanese men’s promotions (NJPW, NOAH, DDT – sorry All Japan). Also, I’m giving myself a little buffer if I miss matches from the prior week, so you’ll see a couple from last week. Both are from Stardom, and usually, it takes a few days for them to upload shows to Stardom World anyhow.
Speaking of Stardom, was another outstanding week for arguably the best promotion in the world as their 5Star Grand Prix is nearing its climax. In addition to their promotion-high four matches on my list this week, they had another 4.25 honorable mention, plus four other 4’s. Unfortunately, 10 of my 4’s didn’t make the list this week, including the likes of Rollins/Lashley, Jericho/Claudio, MCMG/Aussie Open, and the Maclin/Moose/Callihan Barbed Wire Massacre match.
Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson certainly lived up to the hype in a surprisingly bloodless Blackpool Combat Club battle on Dynamite Grand Slam, while Jungle Boy and Fenix had an excellent strike-filled inaugural singles match on Rampage. DDT held a 30th anniversary show for the LEGEND Jun Akiyama, and it was cool seeing him team with Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Konosuke Takeshita teaming with Yuji Nagata on opposite sides of a 6-man tag. Additionally, Cara Noir made his DDT debut, and boy was I impressed. I had never seen but heard great things about the ballet dancer gimmicked man trained by Zack Sabre Jr, and I really enjoyed his work. Looking forward to his match against Yuki Ueno for the DDT Universal Championship, as well as Takeshita against Kazusada Higuchi for the KO-D Championship from their 9/25 show that I’ve yet to see.
Without further ado, here’s who MADE THE LIST!
|1||Jon Moxley vs Bryan Danielson (4.5)||AEW Dynamite Grand Slam||9/21||AEW World Championship|
|2||Suzu Suzuki vs Momo Watanabe (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 16||9/18|
|3||JD McDonagh vs Tyler Bate (4.25)||NXT||9/20||NXT Championship No. 1 Contender|
|4||Cara Noir, Chris Brookes & Masahiro Takanishi vs Yuki Ueno, MAO & Toj Kojima (4.25)||DDT Jun Akiyama 30th Anniversary||9/18||6-Man Tag|
|5||Saya Kamitani vs MIRAI (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 16||9/18|
|6||Syuri vs Tam Nakano (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 18||9/23|
|7||Jungle Boy vs Rey Fenix (4.25)||AEW Rampage Grand Slam||9/23|
|8||Mayu Iwatani vs Hazuki (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 18||9/23|
|9||Jun Akiyama, Tetsuya Endo & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Yuji Nagata, Konosuke Takeshita & Shunma Katsumata (4.25)||DDT Jun Akiyama 30th Anniversary||9/18||6-Man Tag|
|10||The Usos vs Brawling Brutes (4.25)||WWE Smackdown||9/23||WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship|
|HM||Starlight Kid vs Natsupoi (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 15||9/17|
Top 10 Matches of the Week – 9/11-9/17
Thanks for checking out the inaugural edition of Brett Jager’s Top 10 Matches of the Week. Brett watches a variety of wrestling and will be dropping his 10 top matches of the week going forward, including where you can find the match, and the matches rating. You can find the top 10 matches of the week (9/11/22-9/17/22) below.
|1||El Desperado vs Jun Kasai (4.75)||JTO Taka Michinoku Debut 30th Anniversary||9/12||Death|
|2||Brawling Brutes vs New Day vs Hit Row vs Imperium (4.25)||WWE Smackdown||9/16||WWE Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender|
|3||Giulia vs Mayu Iwatani (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 13||9/11|
|4||MIRAI & Maika vs Aoi & Tomoka Inaba (4.25)||JTO Taka Michinoku Debut 30th Anniversary||9/12|
|5||Starlight Kid, Momo Watanabe & Saki Kashima vs Hanan, Hazuki & Koguma (4.25)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 13||9/11||Artist of Stardom Championship|
|6||Bryan Danielson vs Chris Jericho (4)||AEW Dynamite||9/14||Grand Slam Tournament of Champions Semifinal|
|7||Suzu Suzuki vs Saya Kamitani (4)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 13||9/11|
|8||Johnny Gargano vs Chad Gable (4)||WWE Monday Night Raw||9/12|
|9||Mayu Iwatani vs Suzu Suzuki (4)||Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Night 14||9/12|
|10||Mike Bailey vs Mascara Dorada (3.75)||Impact Wrestling||9/15||X-Division Championship|