Alright, even I will admit that this is taking the piss levels of late. I’d feel guilty, but I doubt anyone is sitting around waiting for it, so I’m not going to beat myself up too much. Plus, there has been a shitload of wrestling recently which combined with my life being a bit nuts has put this on the back burner. I do hope my one fan can forgive me.
Tomohiro Ishii gets the best out of everyone, but that statement is never truer than when he is in the ring with Taichi. There is something about Ishii that cuts through all the Singing Ballbag’s bullshit and drags him into a straight-up fight. I’ve said it before, but if this was the Taichi we got in every match, he’d be one of my favourite wrestlers.
How can you watch a match like this and believe KENTA has lost his magic? Sure, he’s a step slower than he was in his peak, but when he’s going out there and beating the shit out of people who gives a crap? Despite this match being for nothing, he and Sabre didn’t hold back for a second, and it was beautiful.
Calling this Will Ospreay’s coming out moment might be a bit much. Will has been a star for a long time, and it’s always been clear that New Japan sees something in him. However, this was the moment it became clear just how much they see him in. He pinned the Ace while still technically a Junior and after a fantastic match. Ospreay is going all the way to the top, whether you like it or not.
Okada and Ibushi are generation-defining talents. The kind of people you’ll look back on twenty years from now and smile at the thought that you watched them regularly in their peak. In the final match of A Block, they went out and showed exactly why, crafting a masterpiece in the ring. The best thing about it, though? I reckon they can do better.
Shingo is still technically the new boy in LIJ, but he and Naito’s history goes back a long old way, and he’s generally come out on top. This was Naito’s chance to show he was now ahead of his old friend and they had one hell of a battle to find out whether that was true. Some people claim Naito can barely walk, and when you watch matches like this, you have to wonder what the fuck they are smoking.
Tanahashi is the standard to which Ibushi holds himself and since his return to New Japan (well, after he took off that silly mask at least) he has been desperate to surpass his God. This was the moment where he did exactly that, going out there and putting on a match that only these two could pull off. It was a stunning piece of work between two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Sit back and enjoy.
It wouldn’t be one of these lists if a match from Arisa Hoshiki’s continually brilliant run with the Stardom White Belt didn’t turn up. However, this was more Jungle’s match than Arisa, as she dominated the champion and looked like a total fucking badass. Kyona is genuinely one of the most underrated wrestlers on the planet right now, and if you want proof as to why I believe that, watch this match.
Okada vs Suzuki was elevated by the fact that I saw it live and I won’t bother to pretend otherwise. If you were to remove that factor, it would probably still be on this list, but a bit further down. However, that’s no bad thing. Wrestling flourishes in the live environment and watching Suzuki and Okada beat the shit out of each other will stay with me forever.
If you were to strip everything else away and focus only on the wrestling, I’m not sure this would be a five-star match. However, when you talk about storytelling and emotion, White vs Ibushi had it all. I wasn’t just out of my seat watching this. I was jumping around punching the air while I lived and died on every near fall. White was the perfect bastard, Ibushi the untouchable hero, and it all came together to create magic.
If White vs Ibushi was the scalpel, then Shingo vs Ishii was the sledgehammer. Two big boys beating the shit out of each other until one of them could no longer stand. What more do you need? It’s no secret in what direction my wrestling taste lies, and if I could bottle it up and make the perfect match, it might just be this one.