Hello everyone and welcome to the December 2022 edition of my Matchguide. This month I recommend ten matches from around the world of wrestling from the UK, Mexico, USA and Japan. December was a very strong month for wrestling with a few matches that I think will have flew under the radar of a lot of people. I hope you will find a match here that you will be able to watch yourself that you haven't already.
10. Zack Sabre Jr vs Leon Slater, Revpro Uprising, 17/12/2022
Zack Sabre Jr finally made his Revpro return for the first time since before the pandemic this month. He took on the recently turned-18 Leon Slater who in 2022 has emerged as one of the top young prospects in British wrestling.
This match was a real clash of styles with the technical wizardry of ZSJ versus the high-flying expertise of Slater. Slater was not phased by the task of taking on the world-travelled ZSJ and showed no lack of confidence against the veteran. This was a very nice wrestling match to watch thanks to the crisp execution of ZSJ and the exciting attacks of Leon Slater. ZSJ showed Slater that he still has a long way to go but it was not an easy ride for ZSJ either. This was a cool veteran vs top prospect match and it was cool to see ZSJ back competing in his home country.
My star rating: 4.25
Cagematch Average: 7.67
Where to watch: Revpr on demand
9. Arisa Nakajima vs Hiroyo Matsumoto SEAdLINNNG, SEAdLINNG Of The Year 2022, 28/12/2022
This was a Beyond The Sea title match between two veterans of the Joshi scene with Hiroyo Matsumoto putting her title on the line against Arisa Nakajima. These two previously met in August where Matsumoto won by referee’s decision followed by an injury suffered by Arisa Nakajima. This injury would cause Nakajima to vacate her Beyond The Sea title and take months off her career. Matsumoto won the vacant title and now in her return match, Nakajima is coming for her title and her revenge.
These are two of the most reliable Joshi’s on the indie scene right now and they did not disappoint here. It was a hard-hitting Joshi affair with great strikes and suplexes as brutal as they were beautiful. Nakajima did not miss a beat during her time and reminded all of us why she is one of the best around.
My star rating: 4.25
Where to watch: seadlinnglive.com
8. El Hijo Del Vikingo vs Bandido, AAA Gira Aniversario XXX Noche de Campeones, 28/12/2022
At the final big AAA event of the year, Vikingo put his title on the line against one of the top luchadors in the world Bandido. Despite having a lot of international success Bandido has never held a title in AAA so he was desperate to finally win the big one in his home country.
Vikingo being the smaller man relied more on his speed and agility while Bandido relied more on his size and power. Unsurprisingly this match had some absolutely crazy moves. Vikingo did a moonsalut off the lighting rig. Bandido executed a monkey flip on the apron catapulting Vikingo into the ring post. There were some spectacular dives by both men accompanied by innovative offence inside the ring. There were some great near falls and counters near the end as we thought Vikingo’s year-long reign might come to an end. This was another great title defence for Vikingo. If you’re a fan of lucha libre and somehow haven’t watched this yet then what are you waiting for?
My star rating: 4.25
Where to watch: Fite
7. Hartley Jackson vs Mizuki Watase, DDT Ganbare Pro Giri Giri Chop!, 2022, 27/12/2022
The big Australian Hartley Jackson put his Spirit of Ganbare World Openweight Title on the line against Mizuki Watase in this match. This was a classic David vs Goliath dynamic with Jackson playing the role of the monster while Watase was the underdog crowd favourite.
The match had a crazy start with Watase jumping Jackson but he got nailed by a Death Valley Driver on the apron in the opening minute. Jackson controlled much of the early stage of the match with Watase, the firm fan favourite building sympathy from the crowd. Jackson wasn’t afraid to bump like hell for Watase during his comeback spots. Watase even made a tribute to Shinjiro Otani by hitting his opponent with the face wash twice. Jackson spoke before the match about bringing the fighting spirit out of Watase and boy did he achieve his goal. They exchanged a pair of brutal headbutts which Watase was able to unbelievably shrug off then Jackson hit him with his signature piledriver but to the amazement of everyone watching Watase sprang right back up to his feet. Watase was fired up and ready to take the fight to the big man. He even managed to hoist Jackson up for a brainbuster. Ganbare is a promotion that sneaks under most people’s radars but the world title matches can really be amazing and that was the case here. Not only was the physical action amazing but the passion was as well both during the match and after the bell.
My star rating: 4.5
Cagematch Average: 9
Where to watch: Wrestle Universe
6. Douki and Minoru Suzuki vs Jun Kasai and Tomoaki Honma, JTO 50th Anniversary For TAKATaichi Together - Last TAKATaichi, 19/12/2022
At the last ever TAKATaichi event Suzuki Gun members Douki and Minoru Suzuki met Tomoaki Honma and the death match legend, Jun Kasai, in a tag team encounter.
This was a spectacular bloody, violent brawl. Kasai asked before the bell to make the match no disqualification and Suzuki agreed. Minoru Suzuki gets busted open almost immediately and has to fight from underneath which is rare for a Suzuki match. Minoru Suzuki is a living legend but this is Kasai's world. Honma also has his fair share of deathmatch experience from his BJW days. Suzuki and Douki are at a disadvantage and have to scratch and claw for everything in this match. There are some great moments between Suzuki and Honma after Honma begins to bleed. It's hard to use words to do this match justice but I definitely recommend that you watch it. It's Minoru Suzuki in an impromptu death match for crying out loud.
My star rating: 4.5
Where to watch: NJPW World
5. Gunther vs Ricochet, WWE Smackdown, 16/12/2022
After winning the Smackdown World Cup Ricochet became the number-one contender for Gunther's Intercontinental championship. This makes for an interesting title match as Ricochet represents what Gunther hates about modern wrestling. Gunther believes that the mat is sacred and is a traditionalist. He despises the high-flying style that Ricochet specialises in. Ironically many of Gunther's best matches have come against smaller high flyers like Ricochet and that trend continued here.
Gunther used his size and strength and technique to decimate Ricochet in the first half of this match. It soon became apparent that Ricochet would have to rely on his speed and agility to get any meaningful offence against the big man. Gunther's control segments are among the most captivating in all of wrestling and conversely, Ricochet's comeback spots are equally exhilarating making for an excellent match-up. Ricochet is able to even get Gunther up for a twisting suplex at one point and hits a beautiful shooting star press which makes you believe he might actually beat the champion. The best WWE tv match of the year.
My star rating: 4.5
Where to watch: Peacock/WWE Network
4. Masaaki Mochizuki vs Yuki Yoshioka, Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2022 - Day 4, 06/12/2022
This month Open the Dream Gate champion Yuki Yoshioka made his fourth title defence against the challenger, Masaaki Mochizuki. Yoshioka is the new young star in Dragon Gate but Mochizuki represents a different generation. A former three-time Open the Dream Gate champion, Mochizuki was an original member of the Dragon Gate roster in 2004 and is a true legend of the company. He has done it all and at 52 years old he is coming once again to challenge for the top championship in Dragon Gate. Make no mistake, this is not a washed-up legend coming for one last hurrah, no this is a highly conditioned athlete coming to prove he can still hang with the best of Dragon Gate. Another layer to this match is that the champion Yoshioka is a former member of the Mochizuki dojo and a student of Mochizuki. Yoshioka has grown a lot since then and now he gets to prove that he has surpassed his mentor.
The story of this match is simple but highly effective. Mochizuki uses his 30 years of experience to his advantage at all times, using every trick in his arsenal to help him win the match. On the other hand, the younger Yoshioka relies on his superior speed and athleticism to get flashes of offence against the veteran. Mochizuki dominates the early stages of the match and even busts out a jaw-dropping picture-perfect moonsault off the apron to prove that even at 52 years old he is still an incredible athlete. Mochizuki follows up by using his experience edge. Yoshioka attempts a lariat on the outside but Mochizuki is able to dodge and send Yoshioka into the ring post where he damages his arm. This is a great example of the experience of Mochizuki. He found a way to turn Yoshioka’s greatest asset, his speed against him. Mochizuki targets this arm for the entire match. The momentum switches when Yoshioka is able to lock in a figure four. Mochizuki is stuck in his hold for a very long time and it takes away one of his greatest assets, his kicks later in the match. This shows the cleverness and the growth of Yoshioka as a wrestler. I was really wowed by the performance of Mochizuki here. It was absolutely masterful. Every second of this match he impressed. All of the little things were done excellently. I love student vs teacher style matches and this was a wonderful one. My favourite Dragon Gate match of the year.
My star rating: 4.5
Where to watch: Dragon Gate Network
3. Jamie Hayter vs Hikaru Shida AEW Dynamite Holiday Bash, 21/12/2022
At the Holiday Bash edition of AEW Dynamite Jamie Hayter made her first title defence in the main event against Hikaru Shida. Despite her alliance with Britt Baker, the AEW fans love Jamie Hayter. One of the reasons for this is her great matches in the ring. This quality was also evident in another former AEW women's world champion, Hikaru Shida. In the pandemic era, Shida well and truly established herself as the ace of the division, having great matches with a variety of opponents. After she lost the title and borders opened up more Shida began travelling regularly to Japan again where she is the current Regina Di Wave champion as well as an International Ribbon Tag Team champion. As a result of this Shida had been a little bit forgotten about at times. A division which once leaned on her very heavily is now starting to stand firmly by itself and at the centre of that is the champion, Jamie Hayter. In the build, to this match, Shida referred to herself as the strong heart of the division and it is time to remind everyone about just how good she is.
Jamie Hayter tweeted before the match about invoking the spirit of All Japan Women and that is exactly what they did. AJW in the 80s and 90s was considered to be the pinnacle of women’s professional wrestling and was notorious for its hard-hitting matches. It came as no surprise then when the match began and both women started beating the living daylight out of each other. The strikes were fierce and there were some brutal bumps on the outside. Both women brought out the best in each other as they displayed their immense toughness. The crowd was relatively quiet at the beginning of this match but mid-way through they realized that they were witnessing something special and came alive. It is only her first defence but it does feel like Hayter is creating crowd engagement in her matches like no other women’s champion before her. The closing sequence in front of the electric San Antonio crowd was magical. It was even reminiscent of Okada vs Omega with Hayter looking for her Hayterade lariat and Shida for her signature knee strikes. This was a special that exceeded my expectations. A top 10 AEW match of the year and in my opinion the best women’s match in North America this year.
My star rating: 4.5
Where to watch: FITE/TBS
2. FTR vs The Briscoes, ROH Final Battle, 10/12/2022
Final Battle was a fitting event for this match to take place as this was the final battle between two of the best tag teams of their generation and the culmination of what should go down as one of the greatest tag team rivalries ever. These two teams met for the first time at SuperCard of Honor earlier this year in a dream match and had a five-star tag team classic in front of an electric crowd. FTR won that day, came away with the ROH tag team titles, and became “7 Star FTR”, winning their seventh major tag team title. The Briscoes being 12-time ROH tag team champions are more synonymous with the belts than any other tag team and were dying to get them back. The challenge was made and at Death before Dishonor the two teams met in an epic two out of three falls match which in my opinion was another five-star classic. That night FTR retained the ROH tag team titles and continued their legendary year. The Briscoes were once again upstaged on their own turf by FTR, this time, in a stipulation they had a particularly impressive record in in ROH. In the beginning, there was a healthy respect between these two teams but as time went on animosity and resentment began to creep in. At Final Battle, The Briscoes were willing to channel all of that animosity and use it to win back their tag team titles. They challenged FTR to one of the most brutal stipulations in wrestling, the dog collar match. A dog collar match is a truly brutal match and one that can deeply affect your livelihood. This shows the lengths that the Briscoes are willing to go to in order to win back their tag titles and prove they are the best.
You could argue that this stipulation favours the Briscoes as they are the wilder of the two teams, they have a lot more experience in bloody brawls than FTR and you would think would be more comfortable in the dog collar environment. However, FTR come out of the gate hot as it is Cash Wheeler who uses the chain first to attack Mark Briscoe who he is chained to. Meanwhile, Dax and Jay are chained together and both sets of wrestlers brawl around the arena creating an incredibly violent start to the match. It feels incorrect to call this a wrestling match, this was a fight, a struggle between two teams with a deep burning desire to win at any cost. This was gritty, violent and even unsettling in the best way possible. Blood flowed quickly and it flowed all match long. Jay Briscoe’s crimson mask is probably the most impressive I can recall since Dustin Rhodes at Double or Nothing 2019. These teams hated each other and they used the chains and the ringside environment to their fullest potential to hurt their opponents. This war was a great ending to one of the greatest tag team rivalries ever. Aside from anarchy in the arena, the best hardcore match of the year in my opinion.
My star rating: 4.75
Where to watch: Bleacher Report/Fite
1. Syuri vs Giulia, Stardom Dream Queendom, 29/12/2022
At the last Stardom show of the year, Syuri put her Wonder of Stardom title on the line against a woman she has a lot of history with, Giulia. In 2020 Syuri made her return to Stardom joining the Donna Del Mondo faction led by Giulia. She achieved great success in DDM winning the Artist of Stardom titles alongside Giulia and Maika. She also held the SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship as well as the Goddess of Stardom championship alongside Guilia. Then at Stardom Dream Queendom 2021, Syuri ascended to the top of Stardom beating Utami Hayashishita for the Wonder of Stardom belt. In 2022 Syuri went on one hell of a run beating all challengers including a great match with Giulia in March. After this match, Syuri left DDM and formed her own faction called God’s Eye. She was at the top of her game and no longer a part of Giulia’s faction but a leader of her own. The 5Star Grand Prix tournament determines the Wonder of Stardom title challenger for Dream Queendom each year and it was won by Giulia. Giulia now had a date set with her former stablemate for the top title in all of Stardom.
If I had to describe this match in one word it would be intense. Before the bell even rang both women stared daggers into each other. They were prepared to go to war because they knew that was what it would take to keep one another down. As soon as the bell rang they unleashed hell on one another. It wasn’t long before they found themselves halfway up the ramp and Giulia hit Syuri with a suplex off the ramp and into the chairs. There was a callback to their match in March with Syuri hitting Giulia with a piledriver through the table this time. Neither woman was willing to let up even for a second. They traded high-angled German Suplexes in the ring but both women almost immediately got back to their feet. Giulia was forced to reach deep into her arsenal to try and keep the unbeatable champion down. She hit Syuri with two Glorious Drivers and a Northern Lights Bomb but still, Syuri kicked out. With her own signature offence failing her Giulia attempted the signature moves of her DDM stablemates as well as Hana Kimura but still, Syuri kicked out. This was the best Stardom match of the year. A true match of the year candidate. A match that sums up everything that Stardom is about. If you’re still not on the Stardom train then hop the hell on with this match.
My star rating: 5
Where to watch: Stardom World