Democracy lives on as we head forth in the Match of the Month calendar year. A couple of surprises made the list this month, and that’s what’s great about the new format: it’s expanding my own horizons as well.
If you would like to nominate matches and participate in Match of the Month you can do so at the Voices of Wrestling forums. You should also follow me on Twitter (@Lawsoncomedy89) and listen to my wrestling podcast “Talking Smark”. Last but not least, I have a $1 comedy special for sale at Lawsonleong.com. Okay, one more, I want to thank Jack Beckmann (@packerman120) for once again conducting the poll.
With all that out of the way, let’s get to the matches!
10. The Gauntlet Match
RAW 2/19 (4 points, 2 total votes)
I am somewhat surprised this cracked the top 10 but maybe I shouldn’t be. This was the longest match in RAW history, breaking the repetitive cycle to which we’ve become so accustomed to. Seth Rollins was the star and glue of this whole thing, putting in one of the best performances I’d ever seen from a WWE wrestler on a show.
Once Rollins was eliminated the match dropped in quality and wasn’t quite as fun again until Braun came out and killed Miz and the Miztourage. Rollins vs Reigns and Rollins vs Cena were both legitimately terrific and those parts will go down as some of the most memorable RAW content from this year.
9. Jonathan Gresham vs Jay Lethal
ROH 2/9 (5 points, 4 total votes)
This is actually in a three way tie with the next two matches for seventh place. I loved this match.
I always knew Gresham was a great technical wrestler, but he’s never before had such a high caliber opponent and a true spotlight put on him as in this contest. Lethal played his role perfectly as the veteran main eventer while Gresham was the upstart technical wizard, confounding Lethal at every turn with his smooth transitions and quick sequences. This performance alone put him up there with Zack Sabre Jr. and Mark Haskins for me as far as best technical wrestlers in the world go. I can’t wait to see the rematch.
8. Misaki Ohata vs Arisa Nakajima
WAVE 2/12/18 (5 points, 2 total votes)
So, I actually haven’t seen this match yet! That’s another first for Match of the Month. There’s nothing else I can say except I’m glad that we got a joshi match on here. I will see it eventually, right after I get through the half dozen tournaments going on this month.
7. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tyler Bate
PROGRESS 2/11 (5 points, 2 total votes)
I think I’m the low man on this match and I gave it ****1/4. I saw a lot of people calling this a Match of the Year contender and while I didn’t see it at that level; I still thought it was pretty great.
6. Timothy Thatcher vs WALTER
PROGRESS 1/29 (6 points, 2 total votes)
It’s pretty amazing that this match made the top 10 for two different months. It goes to show how awesome this match is. I wrote about it last month so I don’t need to go on about it too much here, but just know it’s my second favorite match of the year so far and is in contention for best Progress match of all time.
5. Momo Watanabe vs Io Shirai
Stardom 2/18 (9 points, 5 total votes)
I’m so happy to see two joshi matches on here. This match I have seen and it is terrific. Momo Watanabe is 17 years old, a literal child. She was trying to win the second biggest title in Japan’s biggest joshi company BEFORE her high school graduation. The crazy thing about Io Shirai playing this veteran ace main eventer role is that she’s only 27.
The pacing and structure of this match was spot on, exactly what I like in a big main event. Io stakes her claim as best in the world and Momo has the potential to be a transcendent joshi wrestler. Only time will tell.
4. Golden Lovers vs Cody & Marty Scurll
NJPW 2/24 (12 points, 4 total votes)
I’m not necessarily surprised to see this match so high but I do disagree with it. The Golden Lovers reunion has me as excited as everyone else, but I don’t really see the difference in quality between this tag match and the six-man from the night before, which got some votes but not enough to place.
This match was fun but if this got voted so highly I imagine we’re going to see quite a few Golden Lovers matches on future MOTM columns to come.
3. Kzy vs Masaaki Mochizuki
Dragon Gate 2/7 (18 points, 8 total votes)
Now we get to the big winners this month. This title match was excellent. I’ve always liked Kzy, but he’d never been given a chance to main event like this. He delivered like I thought he could. Kzy’s quick strike hit and run style against Mochizuki’s old man gruffness came off truly compelling. Masaaki Mochizuki may be one of the greatest wrestlers ever. I would at least nominate him for greatest Dragon Gate wrestler, though admittedly I’m not an expert on the promotion.
Funny thing is, as much as I liked this match, I’m once again possibly the low man on it (my top 10 is below). I hope this leads to more big matches for Kzy. There have been many big multi man matches where he was the standout performer and so I look forward to his attempt to move up to main event status.
2. SANADA vs Kazuchika Okada
NJPW 2/10 (24 points, 8 total votes)
I saw a lot of divisiveness in regards to this match with even my podcast co-host not liking it. I, on the other hand, thought this was excellent, just a hair below the Tokyo Dome main event. Lots of smooth counter wrestling and offensive sequences from SANADA, and Okada was his usual great big match wrestler self.
Two things that may have hurt this match is A. There was no way SANADA would win and B. he sure as hell wasn’t winning with that dragon sleeper. We did get a great nearfall on the moonsault which remained protected as SANADA didn’t get the immediate cover because he hurt his knee on the move.
An excellent match that will get lost in the shuffle of great matches in this historic title reign.
1. Hiromu Takahashi vs Will Ospreay
NJPW 2/10 (40 points, 17 total votes)
It doesn’t surprise me that this match won the month but I am surprised by how much. I always feel like the Ospreay detractors will play a big factor but it seems quite a few people are fans of the kid, myself included. This may also speak to how much people love Hiromu. People really love this man, as they should. And it’s a bit of a shame that we won’t be seeing him around the Jr. title picture for a bit, but it had to be done. This is Ospreay’s time.
As for the match, if you haven’t seen it, just picture a match between these two. You got it. There were flipz and movez and flipz out of movez and divez and bumpz and strikez and nearfallz. And it was awesome. I’m not being facetious; I just have trouble remembering the specifics because this match was so packed with action.
One innovative spot I recall is Hiromu attempting his avalanche wheelbarrow victory roll and Ospreay catching him mid-move and German suplexing him while jumping off the middle turnbuckle. We got a great kick out at one from Hiromu; both men showed great fire and were absolutely insane in this contest. I feel like both of these men could be regular NJPW main eventers, but only time will tell.
My Top 10
- Roderick Strong vs Pete Dunne, NXT 2/14
- AR Fox vs Keith Lee, EVOLVE 2/17
- Sanada vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW 2/10
- Hiromu Takahashi vs Will Ospreay, NJPW 2/10
- Momo Watanabe vs Io Shirai, Stardom 2/18
- Kyle Fletcher vs Mark Davis, PROGRESS 2/7
- Mark Davis vs Walter, PROGRESS 2/11
- Matt Riddle vs James Drake, EVOLVE 2/17
- Jonathan Gresham vs Jay Lethal, ROH 2/9
- Walter vs Timothy Thatcher, PROGRESS 1/29
- 2/6 Roderick Strong vs Hideo Itami
- 2/13 Drew Gulak vs Tony Nese
- 2/20 Mustafa Ali vs Jack Gallagher
- 2/27 Roderick Strong vs Kalisto
- 2/1 Lucha Memes, Keyra vs. Ricky Marvin
- 2/3 NGW: British Wrestling Weekly, Robbie X vs. Will Ospreay
- 2/3 EPW, Street Gang Hooligans (Logan Grey & Alex Kingston) vs The Untouchables (Marcius Pitt & Damian Slater)
- 2/11 PROGRESS, Pete Dunne/Trent Seven vs Matt Riddle/David Starr
- 2/15 Smash, Matt Riddle vs Mike Bailey
- 2/21 NXT, Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas