Better late than never!
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10. Sammy Guevara vs Joey Janela, PWG 9/2
(My Rating: ****1/4, VOW Rating: ****1/4, Meltzer Rating: ****1/2)
In many ways, this is the epitome of what indie wrestling is in 2017. There was a heavy emphasis on fast paced action, exhilarating high spots, and men kicking out of things that should have killed them. These were two men making their debut in the hot indie place and doing their absolute best to get over. Janela is an insane person who is willing to kill himself, and Guevara is a brazen young upstart with a knack for innovative flying. This was the main event of WrestleMania to these men, and that’s what’s fun about PWG, you get to watch guys go all out for you whether they’re in a big spot or not. I ate up every moment of this.
9. Will Ospreay vs Flip Gordon, ROH 10/15
(My Rating: ****1/4, VOW Rating: ****1/2, Meltzer Rating: ****1/2)
This match was exactly as advertised: Will Ospreay wrestling a man with Flip in his name. This was a breakout match for Flip Gordon, and it truly shows how elite of a worker Will Ospreay is. Many men have had their career best matches against Will Ospreay, and Flip Gordon joins that list.
The flying in this match was eye candy for sure, but I really got into the story of Flip trying to overcome the more experienced and world traveled flyer in Will Ospreay. Flip proving he could hang with a guy like Ospreay was truly what invested me in the match. Ospreay had to win, but on this night, Flip gained a ton in losing.
8. New Day vs The Usos, WWE 10/8
(My Rating: ****1/4, Meltzer Rating: ****1/4)
We had multiple reviewers for this match from VOW, but they liked it even more than me, one even going the full five snowflakes on it. And with how tough the hardcore fans can be on WWE matches, particularly stipulation matches, that says a lot.
This match was truly great, and I’ve been saying for a while now that The Usos are a legendarily great tag team in WWE history already, and maybe this heel run was just the freshening up they needed.
New Day, to their credit, were also great here, and Xavier Woods is probably the breakout performer in WWE in 2017. His face in peril spots and comebacks were highlights of this match and in this feud, overall. The creative use of kendo sticks was another highlight. If I have one complaint in this match it’s that the great spot where New Day trapped an Uso (I sing their praises but still can’t tell them apart) in the corner of the cell with kendo sticks didn’t really lead to anything or play into the finish at all. This was one of the best WWE matches this year.
7. Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW 10/9
(My Rating: ****1/2, VOW Rating: ****1/4, Meltzer Rating: ****3/4)
These men have such excellent chemistry. Tomohiro Ishii is Tetsuya Naito’s best opponent. Every time I watch Ishii I feel like he’s the best wrestler in the world, even in a year like this where Okada and Omega are at the forefront of those discussions.
These men knew each other so well, they fit so many reversals and counters into a shorter amount of time than some of their previous encounters. Each man had to be 4 moves ahead to land their signature offense, because that’s the level these men knew each other and the level of their wrestling ability. Ishii always seems to have Naito’s number, but is never quite good enough to win the big one. He put forth another herculean effort here, putting over the big star in another incredible match.
Tomohiro Ishii is such a valuable asset to NJPW in this era, and I truly hope he is recognized for all his greatness. He’ll never be IWGP champion, but he’ll always be my guy.
6. Chosen Bros vs Monstars, PWG 9/1
(My Rating: ****1/2, Meltzer Rating: ****1/2)
The four of these men had an excellent hoss clash. In many ways this was my favorite tag match all year. This truly felt like a battle of superheroes, as all of these men did such titanic and athletic things that you’d think they were performing in front of a green screen. I almost wanted these men to stop fighting each other and band together to become Earth’s mightiest heroes.
Every combination of these four men produced uniquely compelling sequences, and in many ways this is the prototype of what a modern indie heavyweight match is.
5. Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Kenoh, NOAH 10/19
(My Rating: ****1/2)
I’ve wanted to write about Kenoh for a while now. He’s my favorite guy in NOAH, and Nakajima would be my second, so I was amped for this match. It delivered and then some. This was maybe the stiffest match on any list I’ve made this year. This was a war, and these men brutalized each other. Kick after kick, slap after slap, every strike made a noise. These men hit each other hard until one of them would break. Neither man would and so they’d drop each other on their heads. There were suplexes on the floor. This felt like a real throwback NOAH match or even a 90’s AJPW affair.
Kenoh is so underrated. His offense looks so good and crisp, his selling is great, and he knows when to fire up. Nakajima is similarly good at the same things, and this felt very much like a mirror match in a lot of ways. This made the ending perfect, as neither man scored the fall and it went to a time limit draw. This is great for Kenoh, he took the most recent ex-champion to the limit, and I hope this means more for him to come.
4. Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA, NJPW 10/9
(My Rating: ****1/2, VOW Rating: ****1/4, Meltzer Rating: ****1/2)
I think at this point it’s fair to say that these two make excellent dance partners: five matches and all of them have been MOTM contenders. Will Ospreay is the future of pro wrestling.
If Okada and Omega are revolutionizing wrestling now and bringing it into a new age of greatness, then Ospreay is one of the men who will carry on that mantle. He’s only 24.
This man, in the last three years, has had as many great matches as anyone in wrestling, with MORE different opponents than anyone, and he’s not even 25 yet.
I truly believe that superlatives don’t do this man justice. And KUSHIDA is also one of the best in the world! And in their 5th big time match these guys found new things to do together. And it’s not like they were holding back before. We got a Sasuke special into a cross arm breaker here. No one’s bringing out innovation like these guys. The flying is great, the technical wrestling is great, and even the striking is as good as any heavyweight match you’ll see. This match had no fat on it, everything had purpose. And Ospreay makes history in winning the title.
3. Chihiro Hashimoto vs Meiko Satomura, Sendai Girls 9/24
(My Rating: ****1/2)
Man, I love women’s wrestling. Something about it just brings out the emotion in me. This was a simple story, of the young, talented, wannabe Ace challenging the company’s true matriarch and den mother, who was also the woman who trained her. Chihiro Hashimoto is 25 years old, and has been wrestling for two years. By the time this match occurred, under two years in fact. She’s awesome. With her amateur wrestling background and her stocky frame, she had already ascended to the throne of world champion a year prior, defeating Satomura to capture her first world title. Here, a year later, she defended it against her successfully, taking her rightful place as Ace of the promotion.
This was a great modern joshi match. This was strong style. There was fighting spirit, brutal strikes and clubbing lariats. Meiko Satomura is excellent. She conveys such badassery in the ring, and commands the attention of any viewer. Chihiro was not eaten up by her. She fought with such heart and valiance and you wanted to see her win. You wanted to witness the passing of the torch, because Chihiro was truly worthy of carrying it. Chihiro eventually went full on primal and headbutted Meiko twice, stunning her long enough to put her away with her beautiful bridging German suplex. This is probably my favorite women’s match of the year.
2. Kento Miyahara vs Suwama, AJPW 10/9
(My Rating: ****3/4)
This was the best Suwama performance since he came back injury. I feel that Kento Miyahara brings out the best in this man. Kento Miyahara is one of my 10 favorite wrestlers on the planet, and Suwama kept up with him here in a way I didn’t expect. Suwama was absolutely brutal here, devastating Miyahara with chops and lariats. I thought this would follow Miyahara’s signature title defense formula of him surviving a lot of big moves, hitting several black out knees, and nailing the package German to secure the victory, but no. Suwama fought off the package German at every turn. Miyahara, to his credit, reversed the Last Ride in every fashion possible. Suwama’s 4th attempt at it sealed the deal, and left my mouth agape at the quickie title run the AJPW Ace had already wrapped up.
Joe Doering challenging, and eventually beating Suwama for the title made it all better for me, but that would come later. This match to me was the best in the Miyahara era so far. If you want to know what all the rage is for AJPW’s new young Ace, check out this classic.
1. Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak, PWG 9/3
(My Rating: ****3/4, Meltzer Rating: *****)
It truly is something when a match lives up to its hype. Not only did I know this was a five snowflake match before I watched it in full, I had seen a lot of the high spots in it in PWG’s preview of the show. And yet, I still absolutely loved it, and imagine seeing the whole thing totally fresh and unspoiled would’ve been an even greater treat.
It’s not just that these super heavyweights were doing incredibly athletic things. They never stopped working big man style either. It’s like when Ricochet does power moves…it’s the total package. Big moves, big kickouts, big dives…everything these men did was big. If Keith Lee was half the worker he was, he’d still be one of my favorite wrestlers due to his pure charm and charisma. But then he does the things he can do in the ring, and it’s just unfair. In a year where we’ve seen incredible dance partners face off, from Okada/Omega, Hiromu/Dragon Lee to Ospreay/Scurll…Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak have been as good as any pairing. And this was their magnum opus.
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Kurt Angle vs Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, Kane & The Miz
(My Rating: ????, Meltzer Rating: ****1/4)
I know this match was divisive among people, but I have to be honest, this was the most fun I had watching a WWE match in a while. Part of me wanted to put it at #1 for this month, but with all of the good wrestling that we saw I couldn’t bring myself to do something just for a goof.
This match was goofy. It was stone cold fuck nuts. But I truly did enjoy it, the same way I enjoy the new Fast and Furious movies. This was a car crash of fun nonsense. Miz proclaiming that they were going to haul the Shield off like trash, and then actually having a dump truck was perfect, because in WWE there’s no such thing as figurative language.
I loved the psychology of having 3 men fight off 5. It involved The Miz, Cesaro and Sheamus all being worked like they were one person. Seth fought Kane, Dean fought Braun, and Kurt fought MizCesaroSheamus, basically. The Angle stretcher spot I could’ve done without. Rollins and Ambrose fought off 5 men like heroes. There was chaos and high spots aplenty. I soaked it all in with glee. It probably helped that I watched this with my friend and we were laughing about it the whole time.
Kane turned on Braun for no reason. Braun was beating up the Shield and this angered Kane somehow. I like to think that Kane suddenly, in his mind, pictured Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as the free market, and pictured Braun as government overreach. And he could not have Braun putting his hands on his free market and so he went to eliminate him, as any good libertarian would. This led to the apparent homicide of Braun Strowman via trash compactor. The chant of, “That was murder” is something I’ll never forget. Corey Graves echoed my sentiments that Miz would never see his daughter grow up, because he was going to prison.
This match had it all! Not to mention the young upstart Kurt Angle got a big win in a PPV main event, beating up tag team title contenders by himself and pinning the IC champ the Miz. When my child asks me someday if heroes are real I’m going to show him/her this match. What more do you people want? In writing this article I’ve convinced myself that the star rating system hasn’t failed me here. This match was *****.
9/1 Rey Horus vs. REY FENIX
9/2 LDRS vs. Ricochet and Matt Sydal
9/2 WALTER vs. Keith Lee
9/2 THE ELITE vs. Lucha Brothers and Flamita
9/3 Zack Sabre, Jr. vs REY FENIX
9/3 PENTA EL ZERO M vs. Matt Riddle
9/3 Ricochet vs. Travis Banks
9/3 Chuck Taylor, Flamita, Joey Janela, Mark Haskins, and Morgan Webster vs. Brian Cage, Jonah Rock, Sami Callihan, Trevor Lee, and WALTER
9/3 Ricochet vs. Keith Lee vs. Jeff Cobb
10/4 NXT Drew McIntyre vs. Roderick Strong
10/11 WWE NXT Andrade Almas vs. Johnny Gargano
10/25 WWE NXT Andrade Almas vs. Roderick Strong
10/9 Roppongi 3K vs. Ryusuke Taguchi and Ricochet
10/9 EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada
10/23 Roppongi 3K vs. Hirai Kawato & KUSHIDA
10/23 Dragon Lee and Titan vs. Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi
10/30 Roppongi 3K vs. Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi
10/14 The Elite vs. Best Friends and Flip Gordon
10/15 Bullet Club vs. Search and Destroy
10/18 Cage vs. Jeremiah Crane vs. Mil Muertes
10/18 Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma
10/18 Pentagon Dark vs Prince Puma
10/8 Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens
10/22 AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor
10/1 (Aired 10/8) NOAH The Great Voyage in Yokohama Vol. 2 Eddie Edwards vs Naomichi Marufuji
10/4 BJW Andre The Giant Panda vs. Stan Kobayashi
10/7 wXw World Tag Team League Day 2 Rottweilers Vs. Ringkampf
10/25 CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Ep. #128 CWF Rumble