Welcome to the Fischbeckmann15: a monthly tracker on the Wrestler of the Year race for 2020. In this series, I, Thomas Fischbeck, and my co-captain Jack Beckmann will be your proverbial guides through the shaky waters of professional wrestling each month.

We’ll both keep tabs on the top contenders for the Wrestler of the Year award and give match recommendations for every major player in the race. The goal here: to highlight the top workers in the world and also to expose you, the reader, to some matches or perhaps even wrestlers whom you may not have seen any of. I know there were matches that my partner Jack recommended that I haven’t watched, and I’m sure the opposite was true as well. Think of this series as your handy dandy guide to keep up to date with all the major players in the race, and a way to look back at the end of each month and see what you may have missed. Alright, I’ve been rambling for long enough, so let’s get onto the lists with myself first.

Please note: these lists were created on February 29 so don’t consider anything that took place after that date.

Thomas

Thomas watched a stupid amount of wrestling this month but, of course, didn’t get to everything, though, so if you think he’s left someone out that deserves to be on the list – shoot a tweet @rasslinratings – let’s have a conversation! Alright, onto the list!

  • Honorable Mentions: Hikaru Sato (AJPW), Yuji Okabayashi (BJW), Yuji Hino (ZERO1), KENTA (NJPW), Adam Page (AEW)
  • Dropped Out (From January): #8 Hikaru Sato (AJPW), #9 Yuji Okabayashi (BJW), #11 Daniel Makabe (FREE), #13 Yuji Hino (ZERO1), #14 Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW), #15 Daisuke Harada (NOAH)

#15 – Kenny Omega (AEW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ Adam Page vs. Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky – AEW, 1/22
  • w/ Adam Page vs. Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky – AEW, 2/12
  • w/ Adam Page vs. Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix – AEW, 2/19
  • vs. PAC – AEW, 2/26
  • w/ Adam Page vs. Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson – AEW, 2/29

I’ll be frank, I’m clearly a puro-focused wrestling fan, and I haven’t always been the biggest Kenny Omega fan, but it is hard to deny the brilliance of what the past month has been for Omega, from tremendous tags with the “Hangman” Adam Page, to a top-notch singles match vs. PAC, Kenny checks in as the highest-ranked US-based wrestler on my list.

#14 – Hirooki Goto (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. KENTA – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/ Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL & Shingo Takagi – NJPW, 1/6
  • vs. Shingo Takago – NJPW, 2/1
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW, 2/4
  • w/ Toa Henare vs. EVIL & Shingo Takagi – NJPW, 2/5
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – NJPW, 2/6
  • w/ Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata – NJPW, 2/22

New Japan’s 2020 has opened firing on all cylinders, and Hirooki Goto has been somewhat flying under the radar, but when you look back at his brilliant resume thus far, it is hard to deny his inclusion on this list, which is carried by strong NEVER title matches against KENTA and Shingo Takagi. I do wonder, however, what the next few months will hold for Goto, who is now titleless.

#13 – Keisuke Ishii (DDT)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ Kazuki Hirata vs. Naomi Yoshimura & Yuki Ueno – DDT, 1/5
  • w/ Kouki Iwasaki vs. Kuma Arashi & Yusuke Kodama – DDT, 1/12
  • w/ Shuhei Washida vs. Ken Ohka & Shuichiro Katsumura – DDT, 1/19
  • w/ Kota Umeda vs. Daiki Shimomura & Masato Kamino – BASARA, 1/22
  • vs. Yumehito Imanari – DDT, 2/24

The highest-ranked (and only) DDT wrestler on my list is not Konosuke Takeshita or HARASHIMA, but the champion of the lesser-known Ganbare sub-brand: Keisuke Ishii. Ishii has been floating around being one of the most underrated guys in the world for a while now, and I hope his inclusion on my list here drives some people to check out his work, especially his title match against Yumehito Imanari. His tag work in BASARA, Ganbare, and the main DDT brand has been excellent as well, and his is more than worthy of inclusion on this list.

#12 – Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ Robbie Eagles & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. El Desperado, El Desperado & Taichi vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/  Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Shingo Takagi – NJPW, 1/6
  • vs. EVIL – NJPW, 2/1
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW, 2/4
  • w/ Robbie Eagles & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – NJPW, 2/6
  • vs. Shingo Takagi – NJPW, 2/20

The more well known Ishii checks in one spot ahead of Keisuke. Tomohiro Ishii has been one of the most consistently great wrestlers in the world for a while now, and he’s started of 2020 killing it with both tremendous work in tags against LIJ as well as a very strong NEVER title match vs. Shingo at Korakuen Hall. With the New Japan Cup coming up (maybe?) I hope to see Ishii add to his resume.

#11 – Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ Go Shiozaki vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Naomichi Marufuji – NOAH, 1/5
  • w/ Go Shiozaki & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Hideki Suzuki, Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Sugiura – NOAH, 1/30
  • vs. Shotaro Ashino – W-1, 2/12
  • vs. Hideki Suzuki – NOAH, 2/16
  • vs. Yoshiki Inamura – NOAH, 2/24

Katsuhiko Nakajima might just be the most exciting wrestler in the world. If you can get Joe Lanza to admit a Hideki Suzuki match was good, you must be doing something right. It wasn’t just the Hideki match, but also a very strong WRESTLE-1 title match vs that promotion’s ace, Shotaro Ashino, that catapults Nakajima up to #11 on this list. I’m really curious to see what NOAH does with Nakajima forward, as well as how his title match vs Kaz Hayashi, perhaps the final title match in WRESTLE-1 history, will perform.

#10 – Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW)
January Ranking: 12th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Will Ospreay – NJPW, 1/4
  • w/ Ryu Lee vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/ BUSHI vs. SHO & YOH vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori – NJPW, 1/6
  • w/ BUSHI vs. Robbie Eagles & Ryu Lee – NJPW, 2/1
  • w/ SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ Shingo Takagi & EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW, 2/4
  • vs. Ryu Lee – NJPW, 2/9

Hiromu being back has really brought a smile to my face this year. His matches against Will Ospreay and Ryu Lee are both low-end match of the year contenders in my view, and while he may not get a chance against IWGP champion Tetsuya Naito because of the coronavirus show cancellations, he’ll get a chance to prove his worth in Best of the Super Juniors in just a few months. Nevertheless, he does earn a top ten spot on my list for now, with a ton of potential of climbing further.

#9 – Shingo Takagi (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ EVIL & BUSHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Robbie Eagles & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. El Desperado, El Desperado & Taichi vs. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/ EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto – NJPW, 1/6
  • vs. Hirooki Goto – NJPW, 2/1
  • w/ EVIL & BUSHI vs. Hirooki Goto, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW, 2/4
  • w/ EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto & Toa Henare – NJPW, 2/5
  • w/ EVIL & BUSHI vs. Hirooki Goto, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW, 2/6
  • vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW, 2/20

The #2 wrestlers in my 2019 Wrestler of the Year rankings missed the list in January, but after a strong February highlighted by NEVER title matches against Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii, he rocketed all the way up to ninth in my updated list. With potential title matches against SHO, Toa Henare, and many others on the horizon, I expect Shingo won’t miss any future versions of this list. Especially if his scheduled New Japan Cup match vs Will Ospreay 1) takes place and 2) lives up to what we know it can be.

#8 – Will Ospreay (NJPW)
January Ranking: 10th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW, 1/4
  • w/Robbie Eagles, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 1/6
  • vs. Dowie James – MCW, 1/11
  • vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ Kazuchika Okada, SHO & YOH vs. El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 2/4
  • w/ Kazuchika Okada vs. Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 2/9
  • vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – RevPro, 2/14

A pair of strong matches against career rival Zack Sabre Jr. propel Will Ospreay into the top eight in my February rankings. We still aren’t sure about whether the New Japan Cup will be rescheduled, but if it is, I expect Ospreay to have quite a few other high-end matches there, and perhaps he can climb higher on my list and contend for the #1 spot.

#7 – Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH)
January Ranking: 6th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Go Shiozaki – NOAH, 1/4
  • w/ Hitoshi Kumano, Junta Miyawaki, Minoru Tanaka & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Hao, Kenou, Masa Kitamiya, Nio & Yoshiki Inamura – NOAH, 1/30
  • w/ Go Shiozaki vs. Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Sugiura – NOAH, 2/16
  • vs. Takashi Sugiura – NOAH, 2/24

I found Kaito’s match against Takashi Sugiura on 2/24 slightly disappointing, and thus he drops a spot, my question now is what will Kaito turn to after back-to-back losses in GHC Heavyweight and National Title matches? Perhaps a tag title run with Shuhei Taniguchi?

#6 – Kento Miyahara (AJPW)
January Ranking: 5th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Jake Lee – AJPW, 1/3
  • w/ Yoshitatsu vs. Yuma Aoyagi & Danny Jones – AJPW, 1/19
  • vs. Yuma Aoyagi – AJPW, 2/11

I’m not as low on it as some, such as John Carroll, but Kento’s title defense against Yuma Aoyagi on February 11th certainly was on the lower end of his title matches, and as a result, I moved Jake Lee into the #5 spot, meaning Kento is no longer the highest-ranked All Japan wrestler. However, with a Triple Crown defense vs. Suwama coming up, as well as the Champion Carnival, I expect Kento to stop this one-month slide and return to climbing these rankings.

#5 – Jake Lee (AJPW)
January Ranking: 7th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Kento Miyahara – AJPW, 1/3
  • w/ Koji Iwamoto vs. Ryouji Sai & Takashi Daimonji – AJPW, 1/10
  • w/ Fuminori Abe vs. Yuki Ishikawa & Hikaru Sato – AJPW, 1/19
  • w/ Ayato Yoshida vs. Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama – AJPW, 2/6
  • w/ Koji Iwamoto vs. Black Menso~re & Takao Omori – AJPW, 2/11

After an awesome Triple Crown title match vs Kento Miyahara to kick off the year, Jake Lee has been killing it in tag matches throughout January and February. Highlighted by a pair of All-Asia Tag Title defenses, I expect Lee’s tag work to continue to impress, and with Lee’s involvement in both AJPW’s Champion Carnival and BJW’s Strong Climb, I see him staying near the top of this list.

#4 – Go Shiozaki (NOAH)
January Ranking: 4th

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Kaito Kiyomiya – NOAH, 1/4
  • w/ Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Naomichi Marufuji – NOAH, 1/5
  • w/ Katsuhiko Nakajima & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Hideki Suzuki, Kazuyuki Fujita & Takashi Sugiura – NOAH, 1/30
  • w/ Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Takashi Sugiura & Kazuyuki Fujia – NOAH, 2/16

We will have to wait a couple of extra weeks for Go Shiozaki’s GHC Heavyweight Title match against Kazuyuki Fujita, but between some great buildup tags and his tremendous start to the year, Go remains in the top five.

#3 – Kota Ibushi (NJPW)
January Ranking: 2nd

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW, 1/4
  • vs. Jay White – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa – NJPW, 2/21
  • w/ Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata – NJPW, 2/22

Due to an illness, Kota Ibushi hasn’t gotten as many chances as his fellow competitors at the top of this list: Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada. However, he’s made the most of his opportunities, including a MOTYC main event on ¼ against Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. I’m interested to see what Kota will be able to do with the tag straps now, as he and Hiroshi Tanahashi have a chance to turn that division around, the upcoming match against the team of Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) has me intrigued.

#2 – Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
January Ranking: 3rd

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Jay White – NJPW, 1/4
  • vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/ Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA vs. Jay White, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori – NJPW, 2/2
  • vs. KENTA – NJPW, 2/9

A tremendous IWGP Title defense against KENTA (which I was probably the high man on at ****½) pushes the IWGP champ up to #2, although he lost a big chance for a boost in these rankings when his upcoming match against Hiromu Takahashi was cancelled. Nevertheless, Naito remains the most likely person to dethrone our #1:

#1 – Kazuchika Okada (NJPW)
January Ranking: 1st

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Kota Ibushi – NJPW, 1/4
  • vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW, 1/5
  • w/Robbie Eagles, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 1/6
  • w/ Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki & Taichi – NJPW, 2/1
  • vs. Taichi – NJPW, 2/2
  • w/ Will Ospreay, SHO & YOH vs. El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 2/4
  • w/ Will Ospreay vs. Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. – NJPW, 2/9
  • w/ Hirooki Goto, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata – NJPW, 2/22

You know, I actually wasn’t that big a fan of Okada’s 2019. His two biggest matches of the year: the G1 Supercard main event vs Jay White and the Dominion main event vs Chris Jericho both didn’t land with me. However, no one can deny that the rainmaker is firing on all cylinders so far in 2020, and despite being the only wrestler in the top six to not hold a title, I like his chances of staying up here in the coming months.



Jack

Jack had a bit of a slower month wrestling-wise, only having watched 100 or so matches, but he has watched enough to consider himself ready to conduct official science on who the top 15 wrestlers of the year are as of March 1st, 2020. If you’d like to argue with him about his list, you can find him on Twitter @packerman120. Without further ado – here is his list. Side note – recommended matches are all matches I had above four stars. I will also be only adding recommendations for wrestlers Thomas has not listed, unless I strongly believe in a match that he does not.

  • Honorable Mentions: Yuji Okabayashi (BJW), EVIL (NJPW), Chris Jericho (AEW), Susumu Yokosuka (DG), Daichi Hashimoto (BJW)
  • Dropped Out: #6 Yuji Okabayashi (BJW), #9 Daichi Hashimoto (BJW), #10 Chris Jericho (AEW), #11 Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW), #12 Susumu Yokosuka (DG), #13 Ben-K (DG), #14 YAMATO (DG), #15 Daniel Makabe (Freelance)

#15 – Jake Lee (AJPW)
January Ranking: 8th

After a strong, high-profile start to his year, Jake Lee cooled off a bit in February. However, that did not stop him entirely from adding to his arsenal of matches for 2020 – as he turned in two very good tag matches that helped him just edge the top 15 over #16 – Yuji Okabayashi. Those two tags (2/6 with Ayato Yoshida vs. Violence Giants & 2/11 with Koji Iwamoto vs. Takao Omori & Black Menso~re) both brought something unique to the table, and both showcased that Lee may not be a lost cause that many have portrayed him as being.

#14 – Minoru Suzuki (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Jon Moxley – NJPW, 2/9

Minoru Suzuki makes his way onto my list mostly due to his match against Jon Moxley that took place early in February. I’ve found that I am very much the high man on the match at ****¾, but it was everything I love about pro-wrestling. For fifteen minutes, two insane motherfuckers brought everything they had to the table and left no forearm unthrown, no chop not blasting the chest of the other. It was an incredible display of violence that I will not forget for a long time. Suzuki is also helped by his performance in multi-man tags that took place on the road to New Beginning.

#13 – Kento Miyahara (AJPW)
January Ranking: 5th

After what I consider to be a weak February, Miyahara drops down my list considerably. While there were some who staunchly defended Miyahara’s Triple Crown defense vs. Yuma Aoyagi, the match did not land for me at all. I thought it was Miyahara’s weakest defense that I can remember. The match also felt as if it never left first gear, with Aoyagi being unable to transition his character ability into an excellent work-rate based match that I have come to expect with most Miyahara defenses. If it wasn’t for his excellent match in January vs. Jake Lee, Miyahara would almost certainly fall off the list.

#12 – Zack Sabre Jr. (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. SANADA – NJPW, 1/5
  • vs. Will Ospreay – NJPW, 2/2
  • vs. Will Ospreay – RPW, 2/14

Another new debut to the list – Zack Sabre Jr. Sabre had an excellent February that peaked with his two matches vs. Will Ospreay, my 2019 Wrestler of the Year. While I personally preferred the New Beginning match to the High Stakes match that took place two weeks later, both were outstanding matches featuring excellent pro-wrestling from both men. Sabre also consistently impresses in tag matches, with his tags building up the Ospreay match in NJPW being a prime example, almost all of them coming in at ***½ in my eyes. With momentum on his side, time will only tell how far Sabre can climb my list.

#11 – Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
January Ranking: 7th

Tetsuya Naito may be my least favorite great wrestler. While I often enjoy the man’s matches, heck, his series vs. Kenny Omega remains in my pantheon of all-time great matches, I often leave big Naito matches feeling empty. Is this due to my lack of investment in the character? Is this due to my general distaste for the super hardcore LiJ stans, me generally preferring Kenny Omega? Is it because the man is a broken down husk waiting to be taken to the back and shot like one prominent wrestling journalist may claim? I truly do not know – but the Naito disappointment syndrome struck once again with the KENTA title defense on NJPW’s New Beginning in Osaka show. While I went ***¾ on the match, I left wanting more, yearning for the days of Okada once more. My disappointment in the match lies with KENTA, a man whose character I enjoy but whose ring work often doesn’t translate with me, but I can not completely absolve Naito. Naito is on my list and will remain on there based on his sheer amount of opportunities he will be afforded as IWGP Champion, and because of the excellent match against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom. If not for those matches, however, I do not expect Naito would remain on my list, or make it on in the first place. With Naito’s match against Hiromu Takahashi seemingly in the can for the time being, it is hard to tell where Naito will go next for me. Let’s just hope it isn’t another boring match against Jay White.

#10 – Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Tomohiro Ishii may have not had any MOTYC level matches in February, but goddamnit, the man pumped out ****+ matches like it was nothing. For the month of February alone, Ishii had four of them, with three coming in the first week of the month. This is truly the story of Ishii’s career, he has the occasional MOTYC, but the man pumps out greatness night in night out nonetheless. Because of this, I expect Ishii to be a consistent fixture on this list, especially once G1 season comes along.

#9 – Shingo Takagi (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

Freaky fact – Thomas and I both have Shingo Takagi on our lists at #9. Even weirder? We both have him averaging 3.73 stars per match. What are the odds of that? For me, I’m surprised the stars aren’t higher, as Shingo Takagi is consistently one of my favorite wrestlers at the moment. The man does not know how to shit the bed, and the intensity and passion he brings the table are met by no one. Takagi also had four ****+ matches in February, sharing 3 of those with #10 on this list – Tomohiro Ishii. The multi-man tags around Takagi’s matches with both Goto and Ishii were consistently great on each tour stop, which helps propel Takagi from being unranked to #9 on my list.

#8 – Hirooki Goto (NJPW)
January Ranking: NR

I’m running out of things to say about this NEVER trio of Goto, Ishii & Takagi! Goto was a big part of what made the NEVER preview tags early in the month excellent, and he also was a participant in the great Manabu Nakanishi retirement match. That match was everything I want a retirement match to be – the old guy shows some fire, but eventually they just can’t get it done anymore. If only this column was sponsored by Bluechew and I could make an excellent joke there. Maybe one day. One man who does not need Bluechew, however, is Hirooki Goto. The man shows consistent fire and passion despite being the lovable loser of NJPW. In the past, I’ve often found Goto to not deliver in the big spots like I’ve wanted to, but so far in 2020, that hasn’t been the case. Could this be the best year of Goto’s career to date?

#7 – Kota Ibushi (NJPW)
January Ranking: 4th

Kota Ibushi had a bit of a quiet month, but that did not stop him from adding to his 2020 resume. Ibushi participated in both the Manabu Nakanishi retirement match as well as a tag team title challenge vs. the Guerillas of Destiny that fell just short of great for me. Now that Ibushi is fully recovered from the flu as well as his Mallory Weiss syndrome, I expect him to quickly add to his case and jump back up my list. That is if the coronavirus lets any NJPW shows happen over the month of March. We shall see!

#6 – Jon Moxley (AEW/NJPW)
January Ranking: Honorable Mention

Recommended Matches:

  • vs. Lance Archer – NJPW, 1/4
  • vs. Sammy Guevara – AEW, 1/15
  • vs. Minoru Suzuki – NJPW, 2/9
  • vs. Chris Jericho – AEW, 2/29

If you asked me to name two men who defined the month of February in wrestling, one of the men I would name is Jon Moxley. Moxley began and ended his month with greatness, with both the Minoru Suzuki match and the Chris Jericho match being excellent displays of pro wrestling. Moxley did not stop there, however. He also delivered fun performances in the preview tags to his match with Suzuki, as well as in his preview matches versus various members of The Inner Circle on Dynamite. Now that Moxley is AEW champion, a title he absolutely deserves, the sky’s the limit. What I feel confident in saying is that this is the best stretch of Moxley’s career to date, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

#5 – Hangman Page (AEW)
January Ranking: NR

Recommended Matches:

  • w/ Kenny Omega vs. Fenix & Pentagon Jr. – AEW, 2/19
  • w/ Kenny Omega vs. The Young Bucks – AEW, 2/29

The cases of Hangman Page and the #4 on my list, Kenny Omega (spoiler alert!), are very similar, but they both bring something different to the table in their outstanding tag team matches. I’ll be honest, I thought Hangman Page was dead in the water after ALL OUT last year. However, that couldn’t be farther from the case now. Page’s cowboy alcoholic character has connected on a gangbusters level with the AEW crowd, and as a result, Page feels like the hottest thing going in wrestling right now. Page & Kenny Omega are easily the frontrunners for tag team of the year, and if their momentum of four-star matches every week continues, Page very well could join his tag team partner in contention for wrestler of the year.

#4 – Kenny Omega (AEW)
January Ranking: NR

Some have gone as far as calling Kenny Omega their front-runner for WOTY. While I am not at that point, one can’t deny the great year that Omega has had thus far. When you combine his excellent tag team matches with Hangman Page as well as the superb iron man match against PAC, Omega fully deserves the praise he has received thus far this year. Omega’s tag team match with Page vs. The Young Bucks on AEW Revolution is easily in my top 3 matches of the year thus far, with Omega especially delivering a world-class performance we’ve come to expect from him. When my colleague Thomas has Omega in his top 15 despite generally being lower on him than most, that just goes to show you the year Omega has been having. With Omega finally broken out of his weird slump he had when he first joined AEW, I expect that we will continue seeing the Kenny of old as the months go on.

#3 – Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW)
January Ranking: 3rd

Outside of his February 9th title defense vs. Ryu Lee, Takahashi has had a relatively quiet month of February. He spent the last half of the month in multi-man tags subtly teasing the match that was never meant to be, that being the Anniversary Show main event vs. Tetsuya Naito. It’s a shame that that match isn’t happening in the near-term, as it would have assuredly been excellent, and a great help to get Takahashi over this consistent place at #3 on my list. Due to his talent and status as champion, however, Takahashi’s opportunities to rise will continue to exist. Once NJPW returns from their corona hiatus, I expect Takahashi to continue being the outstanding wrestler that he is.

#2 – Kazuchika Okada (NJPW)
January Ranking: 1st

And with Okada’s placement at #2, it reveals that my February list WILL have a new number one, and there should be no surprise as to who it is. Okada had a relatively disappointing month in my eyes, as his match vs. Taichi earlier in the month was greatly disappointing to me. Okada picked up a bit as the month went on, with good performances in multi-man tags as well as the Manabu Nakanishi retirement match, but due to his performance in the Taichi match, Okada slips from his number one spot. However, given that he is Kazuchika motherfucking Okada, I do not think his slide will continue, as the man is simply one of the greatest wrestlers in the world.

#1 – Will Ospreay (NJPW)
January Ranking: 2nd

Will Ospreay is my favorite wrestler out there right now. The man delivers on an insane level night in, night out, and it feels as if he is adding MOTYC’s to his resume every week. In February, Ospreay added his excellent two-match series with Zack Sabre Jr. to his resume, with those alongside multi-man tags propelling Ospreay into my #1 spot. Ospreay was my wrestler of the year last year, and he finished #2 in 2018. For him to be at #1 currently just shows the insane level of consistency Ospreay has produced for nearly three years now. We are watching an all-time great do his work, and I can’t wait to see what Ospreay continues to do now that he is rapidly rising in the heavyweight scene of New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Thank you for reading the February edition of the Fischbeckmann 15. Before we head off for the month back to our caves and college assignments, here is our combined top 15. 1 point for honorable mention, 2 for #15, and so on and so on. Tiebreakers are determined by the highest vote.

  • #1 – Kazuchika Okada – 31 points
  • #2 – Will Ospreay – 25 points
  • #3 – Kota Ibushi – 24 points
  • #4 – Tetsuya Naito – 21 points
  • #5 – Hiromu Takahashi – 21 points
  • #6 – Shingo Takagi – 16 points
  • #7 – Kenny Omega – 15 points
  • #8 – Kento Miyahara – 15 points
  • #9 – Jake Lee – 14 points
  • #10 – Go Shiozaki – 13 points
  • #11 – Hangman Page – 13 points
  • #12 – Hirooki Goto – 12 points
  • #13 – Tomohiro Ishii – 12 points
  • #14 – Jon Moxley – 11 points
  • #15 – Kaito Kiyomiya – 10 points