In a new feature for Ramblings About Wrestling, I am going to start rounding up my ten favourite wrestling matches from each month. This will be far from a definitive list as (and I’m not sure if you know this) there is a lot of wrestling. If I’ve missed anything you think I should check out, tell me! Anyway, let’s talk the graps.
10. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Ryota Hama, BJW in Korakuen Hall (1/1/19), BJW
Two bigs boys decking it out (although calling Hama big is undercooking it slightly). In many ways, that’s wrestling at its simplest, not that it means it actually has to be simple. What caught me off-guard about this was how incredible man mountain Sekimoto was as the babyface in peril. I’ve only seen glimpses of him in the past, but the way he sold Hama’s beating before firing up and hoisting the behemoth into the air was breathtaking.
If, like me, your knowledge of Sekimoto comes from his work during last year’s WrestleMania weekend, please check this out then follow up by watching his match against Kohei Saito from Zero1. I already thought he was a standout, now I have him down as incredible.
9. Masaya Takahashi vs Takumi Tsukamoto, BJW in Korakuen Hall (1/1/19), BJW
I’m a deathmatch man now. From this moment onwards, everything on this site will be about nutjobs smashing each other over the head with light tubes. One BJW show was all it took.
Jokes aside, I find deathmatches very hit and miss, but fuck did this hit. It was a motherfucking war as these two murdered each other for nearly twenty minutes, leaving them both slick with their own blood. The run home was particularly incredible, as Tsukamoto seemed to have it won when he hulked up, slamming Takahashi onto a tray filled with pebbles and thumbtacks. Sadly, it was not to be his day as the champion somehow fought back for the win. Still, both of these men can look back on this one as a job well done.
8. Tetsuya Naito vs Chris Jericho, Wrestle Kingdom 14 (4/1/19), NJPW
Tetsuya Naito driving the belt that he hates into the skull of Chris Jericho was a beautiful piece of storytelling. For well over a year, Naito has been running away from the Intercontinental Title, desperate to not be connected with something he associates with mediocrity. However, at the end of this war, it was that belt which came to his aid.
You can’t ignore Jericho either. He might have signed with AEW, but if this was his final NJPW match, his work was done. Y2J worked his arse off to make Naito look like a fucking star, and that’s not a bad legacy to leave behind.
7. War Raiders vs The Undisputed Era, NXT TakeOver: Phoenix (26/1/19), WWE
I don’t watch much WWE anymore (I can’t even be bothered to watch the Rumble, and I used to love that shit). However, the one thing I will never ignore is an NXT Tag Title match. Those are always off the charts.
This was no exception as The Undisputed Era continue to prove that they are second to none when it comes to making others look awesome. Strong and O’Reilly threw themselves around the ring for Hanson and Rowe, while the way they cut off the War Raiders hot tag time after time was perfection. This was two exceptional tag teams putting it all out there to steal the show, they only went and did it too.
6. Will Ospreay vs Kota Ibushi, Wrestle Kingdom 14 (4/1/19), NJPW
We’ve received yet more proof in the last few days that Will Ospreay is a colossal cunt. However, that came just a few weeks after he once again proved he’s an incredible wrestler. Ibushi vs Ospreay was always going to be sublime, I’m just not sure we expected it to be sublime in this way.
We all expected these two to go balls to the wall in the high flying. What I don’t think we expected was for them to start smacking the shit out of each other too. My abiding memory of this match will be Ibushi hanging in the Tree of Woe, still lashing out with slaps in Ospreay direction, refusing to go down easy. It doesn’t get much better than that.
5. Kagetsu vs Jungle Kyona, Stardom 8th Anniversary Show (14/1/19), Stardom
I have fallen in love with Stardom in the last month. I love how colourful and joyous it is, while also delivering standout matches like this. It was an epic showdown between two of the company’s best as Kagetsu attacked Jungle’s arm and Kyona went after Kagetsu’s neck.
And from Kagetsu dragging Kyona around Korakuen Hall to the final showdown where Kagetsu could not resist diving into her bag of tricks to get the win, this was a fight. A fight that could only be divided by the slippiest of margins. Kyona may have lost, but she did more than enough to make sure that we all want to see it again.
4. Utami Hayashishita vs Starlight Kid, New Years Stars (3/1/19), Stardom
I’m pretty convinced that Utami is a wrestling prodigy as there is a reason she is currently the holder of four title belts. This match, just a few days into the year, was my first proof of how wonderful she is as her and Starlight Kid put on a compact but perfectly worked display.
And while Starlight Kid’s performance shouldn’t be ignored, it was Utami’s selling of her leg that made it. Right to the end, she continued on, limping into victory after Starlight Kid’s desperate attempts to take it out from underneath her. If the future of wrestling is in the hands of talent like these two, we’re going to be just fine.
3. Moustache Mountain vs Grizzled Young Vets, NXT TakeOver UK (12/1/19), WWE
What did I say about NXT tag team matches? In fact, if you’re going to pick one team that exemplifies that current streak it’s Moustache Mountain. There’s a decent chance that Tyler Bate and Trent Seven are the best tag teams in the world right now. I’d have to think about it for a bit, but who is better?
Everything that makes them great was on display here. Trent Seven’s sublime selling, Tyler Bate’s insane hot tags and the way that they drag you into their stories. You were so desperate for them to win as we entered the final stretch that it was a total shock when GYV did. The bad guys weren’t supposed to do that, but the fact they did, made it all the better.
2. Jay White vs Kazuchika Okada, Wrestle Kingdom 13 (4/1/19), NJPW
This was not a modern-day New Japan style match. It was short and sudden with Jay White picking up as decisive a victory as you are going to see, and that was what made it.
Because, on the surface, this was all set-up for Captain Kazu’s return to form. From the Rainmaker music to those gorgeous thighs, it was supposed to be his homecoming. However, Jay White wasn’t having any of that. He ripped Kazu out of the Rainmaker and laid him out with the Blade Runner. One, two, three. The gasp of shock in the Tokyo Dome is something that I won’t forget for a long time.
1. Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Wrestl Kingdom 13 (4/1/19), NJPW
What can be said that hasn’t been said already? The one thing that stood between Tanahashi and Omega having an outstanding Dome main event was their very different approaches to wrestling. Omega is all flash, while Tanahashi focuses on old-school psychology. So, they only went and took those differences and embedded them into the story of the action.
It was everything a Wrestle Kingdom main event should be. A war between two men battling to prove that they are the very best. If this was Kenny Omega’s final NJPW match, he went out doing what he always does. Stealing the show.