The Best of 2023: March | Cagematch 9+ Matches with In-ring Statistics/Analysis.
Life has really done a number on my energy when it comes to watching and analysing wrestling recently. So here is my very belated look at the matches from March that broke 9/10 on Cagematch. Below you will be able to find the following matches contrasted with Dave Meltzer's WON match ratings: - MJF vs Bryan Danielson from AEW Revolution
- Adam Page vs Jon Moxley also from AEW Revolution
- Kenny Omega vs El Hijo del Vikingo from AEW Dynamite
- Hazuki vs Saya Kamitani from Stardom Triangle Derby Finale
Below you will find all ten of the matches that have received a 9 or above on Cagematch in the first quarter of the year. The four matches from March have been added to the six that we spoke about across January and February. Read on for the full 2023 list up to the end of March:
1. Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay - Wrestle Kingdom 17
Cagematch - 9.78
WON - 6.25*
GRAPPL - 4.91 (Highest rated match on the app)
The greatest match of all time? Probably not, but it does sit at number one on GRAPPL; although only 395 people have voted on it compared to the 1652 that have voted on Omega/Okada 1 on GRAPPL. Additionally, it sits at number 7 in Cagematch with 879 votes. So it may drop over time, if GRAPPL can get it's users voting as much as they once did.
I've written about Omega vs Ospreay in a separate article here, where I discuss my confusion around why I didn't experience this as one of the greatest matches on all time in the manner which the vast vast majority of viewers did.
2. Bryan Danielson vs MJF - AEW Revolution 2023
Cagematch - 9.65
WON - 5.75*
GRAPPL - 4.79
Personally, this was one of my favourite matches of all time and the fifth match I'd award 5 stars. You can check out my statistical analysis of this match in detail here. Additionally you can check out other articles about this match on our website: the booking of the story and a further breakdown of the match.
3. Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi - NJPW New Beginning '23
Cagematch - 9.37
WON - 4.75*
GRAPPL - 4.59
This was a well received match that really peaked towards the end in true Okada-style. It's also a big part of the 2023 Okada-story that is seeing him adopt a less patient approach to his challengers, instead he is wrestling in a more aggressive and dismissive manner. This match combined that with a traditional Okada closing stretch where the two top-tier athletes struggled for dominance, what was special about this match's closing stretch is that it lasted 10 minutes.
Our In-ring Statistics and Analysis highlight the large chunks of the match that were Takagi-driven; in fact Okada did not get the most offence in three consecutive minutes of this match at any time. His attitude and hard hitting offence, when he was hitting his offence, meant that he could take loads of offence from Takagi and still seem strong.
4. Adam Page vs Jon Moxley - AEW Revolution
Cagematch - 9.27
WON - 5*
GRAPPL - 4.63
This feud and, in particular, this match is proof that AEW's avoidance of doing rematches is somewhat misguided. Routed in learning lessons from the flaws in WWE's booking for the decade proceeding AEW, rematches are avoided due to WWE's spamming of rematches. However wrestling companies have built iconic stories on carefully measured series of matches throughout history and AEW need to start doing more of this so to not squander their talent's opportunity to create such iconic stories.
This match wasn't for me as i'm not a fan of a lot of the spots in this kind of match but it's impossible not to appreciate the structure, the sacrifices made and the response to this match. It is even more impressive when you consider that all this was achieved without any benefits that a first time match brings.
5. Kento Miyahara/Takuya Nomura vs Naoya Nomura/Yuma Aoyagi - AJPW Giant Series
Cagematch - 9.26
WON - 4.75*
GRAPPL - 4.45
This match rocks, and I say that as somebody whose most recent All Japan match that they have watched is from the late 90s. I'm not up to date with the wrestlers or the storylines but I found this match to be a very welcome breath of fresh air in my wrestling viewing.
It's an incredibly action packed; strike and strikedown heavy, match built around a furious exchange of reversals and tide changes. Neither team spends extended time selling for their opponents. Instead, both teams sell in short bursts before exploding back onto offence, creating an intense struggle for dominance that sees a dramatic face-off between Aoyagi and Miyahara.
6. Kenny Omega vs El Hijo del Vikingo - AEW Dynamite: 22nd March.
Cagematch - 9.18
WON - 5*
GRAPPL - 4.6
This was a match that I very much enjoyed but just not to the same extent as everyone else. That may be because of my general burn out with wrestling this year or the up and downs of life affecting my ability to connect with entertainment. So with that being said I will pass this match off to our writer Sergei who wrote about it a few days after the natch took place: here.
7. Saya Kamitani vs Hazuki - Stardom Triangle Derby Finale
Cagematch - 9.1
WON - 4.75*
GRAPPL - 4.31
At time of writing Saya Kanitani's Wonder of Stardom Championship reign has just come to an end after 480 days. Out of the 17 matches that she contested for the championship over those 480 days, this match vs Hazuki was the highest rated via Cagematch voters. As of the end of March, it was also the only Stardom match to have broken the 9/10 barrier on Cagematch.
It was a match that saw the infusion of terrific in-ring work fused with an unpredictable result and real investment in the wrestlers. A lot of the drama came from the fact a lot of viewers expected Hazuki to be the one to end Kamitani's record breaking Wonder run. Ultimately that wasn't the result, but it elevated the already excellent physical exchanges.
8. Bryan Danielson vs Rush - AEW Dynamite: 8th February '23
Cagematch - 9.08
WON - 4.75*
GRAPPL - 4.36
The sole AEW match on the list thus far and what a match it was. AEW are yet to have a PPV this year so it needs a special match to break through the confines of TV wrestling and compete with less constricted PPV matches. This match had stakes via Danielson needing to beat Rush to earn his match with MJF at Revolution.
When looking at the stats, you will notice that there is not a huge amount of variation in how the wrestlers fought; it was very strike heavy with a small smattering of grapples and dives. This allowed the match to stand out as different in itself, but it was the intensity and the manner of the match that elevated it. Rush's viscousness, intensity and brutality coupled with Danielson's fire, tenacity and blood were the key to this match's greatness.
9. Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kenoh - NOAH The New Year 2023.
Cagematch - 9.06
WON - 4.5*
GRAPPL - 4.35
The return of NOAH to critically acclaimed in-ring brilliance? I certainly how so but reports of a giant contract being offered to Hiroshi Hase, could be seen as a sign that the 61 year old may be the next nostalgia cash cow for NOAH. Hopefully the company realises that doing so so soon after the Mutoh retirement tour may be a bit much.
This was a match that built big moments such as big dives and that Top-rope Falcon Arrow onto the apron built around strong strike exchanges. This was a strongly contested match where both men had periods of advantage, Kenoh got more in overall but Kiyomiya took control at the end and very much put Kenoh away strongly.
10. Kazuchika Okada vs Kaito Kiyomiya - NOAH Keiji Muto Grand Finale
Cagematch - 9.03
WON - 4.75*
GRAPPL - 4.33
This match was performed in a way that was much closer than most people felt after viewing. Okada may have made a mockery of Kiyomiya at the beginning and then completely demolished him at the end of the match, however Kiyomiya got the best of Okada for most of the middle ten minutes of the match. This led to a 52-48% split in total offence in Kiyomiya's favour.
This was a short match, relatively speaking, showcasing Okada's disdain towards Kiyomiya. Kiyomiya's response was explosive seeing him use 15 strikedowns which was an almost 40% Strikedown Rate. Okada's superiority over Kiyomiya was characterised by using powerful grapples, the kind of offence that leads to the viewer remembering such powerful spots.
In short this was a short 16 minute match, that was unusual in structure and character, that achieved a lot.
As mentioned this article is very late, hopefully an already slightly belated April edition will be here soon. Check out the February and January editions in the Featured Articles section of the homepage.
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