I'm not going to lie, this was probably the weakest week of the year so far, but it did give us one amazing match in the main event of NJPWxAJPWxNOAH's All Together Again that pitted six of the best Japanese pro-wrestlers in an exciting and story-driven spectacular that showcased everyone wonderfully. There were also some solid TV matches this week from WWE, AEW, and a few good matches from Impact's Against All Odds event on Friday.
- Presten Vance (JungleHook vs LFI, AEW, 7/6)
- Atsuki Aoyagi (Hiromu, Aoyagi, & AMAKUSA vs Wato, HAYATO, & HAYATA, NJPWxAJPWxNOAH, 9/6)
- Jay White (Jay White vs Ricky Starks, AEW, 7/6)
- Sami Callihan (OVE vs The Design, Impact, 9/6)
#10 - Masha Slamovich
Slamovich had a brutal Dog Collar match against her current rival in Impact, Killer Kelly, at Against All Odds this week.
Even in front of a lackluster crowd that failed to get into the match at all, both these women went all out and really brought a sense of hatred and vitriol to the match. They used the chain right off the bat to pull each other down and Masha drug Kelly around the ring by the neck with it on multiple occasions. Masha continued to use the chain in order to enhance her own offence, jabbing it into Kelly's throat and wrapping it around her hand and following it up with a stomp.
There were lots of cool spots in this match, so its a shame the crowd couldn't get into it. I think with a hotter crowd it could have motivated both women to go just that little bit further and put on a great match. Still a good showing, however.
#9 - Chris Sabin
Chris Sabin got is revenge on the X-Division champion, Trey Miguel, at Against All Odds this Friday, and successfully won his 9th X-Division title in a solid match.
The crispness of Sabin's moves and his effortless execution of them really sets him on another level in terms of professional wrestlers, and this match was a perfect example of his skills. From impact moves like spears and DDTs that look devastating, to incredibly clever transitions from move to move that are innovative, Sabin has this ability to make everything feel real. One example of this that I found in the match was when Chris had the wrist lock on Miguel and as he moved behind and around the champ, he started punching him in the stomach in order to force him into the corner and shoot him off into a spear in the opposite turnbuckles rather than just push him there.
It's little things like this that make Sabin stand out, and the fact that he can still think of ways to do so after years and years in the business is remarkable to say the least. Chris Sabin is your new X-Division champion and the winner of two points this week!
#7+8 - Gabriel Kidd & Alex Coughlin
The BULLET CLUB's Wardogs had their first match as a team this week after debuting at NJPW Dominion 6.4 in Osaka-Jo Hall. They wrestled one half of the IWGP and Strong Openweight Tag champions Hirooki Goto, who teamed with Young Lion Ryohei Oiwa on the New Japan Road show on Saturday, building to their two title matches on the 4th and 5th on July.
Both Kidd and Coughlin made a real impression in this match in terms of character and also in-ring ability. They managed to get real heat with the Chiba crowd while still having a brilliant match that showcased the ferocious and relentless offence. From brawling on the outside from Kidd, to Coughlin overpowering both of his opponents on the mat, the Wardogs already feel like a well rounded team that uses their differing styles to keep their foes on the backfoot for most of the match.
The ending stretch of the match was good too, with big kickouts and reversals that one might expect in a more important match on a bigger show. This gave us a glimpse into them as a team that keeps us waiting until after the G1 to see them really get going as a pair.
#6 - Rising HAYATO
Rising HAYATO might have been the biggest breakout star from the All Together Again show on Friday where he teamed with HAYATA, and Master Wato against Hiromu, AMAKUSA, and Aoyagi.
This was a fun little match that showcased each participants highflying abilities, but HAYATO's unique look and attitude had a lot more impact on me than the moves of the others (even though I'm fairly familiar with most of them). HAYATO's laid back vibe and spotless dives contrast each other so well, resulting in an interesting and rewarding wrestler to watch. I think Hiromu also knows this as he focused on him for most of the match, trying to play mind games with the All Japan star by mocking his signature pose and stealing his moves.
Rising HAYATO made a big impression on me and I will be making an effort to watch some more of his matches in the future, and that deserves five points on this weeks list!
#5 - GUNTHER
GUNTHER (I hate calling him that) had yet another BANGER on WWE TV this week as he took on an impromptu challenge from Kevin Owens on RAW. This was not an Intercontinental title match, but both guys wrestled like it was.
The majority of the match was GUNTHER destroying Owens in all his signature ways, from chops to powerbombs and everything felt like it hurt, BADLY. This is something that only WA-GUNTHER can achieve and it makes him a must see wrestler, especially in the WWE landscape where the wrestling can sometimes feel rehearsed and... well, fake.
After 15 minutes of KO getting eviscerated by the giant Austrian they cranked the match up to the next level, picking up the pace, exchanging nearfall after nearfall and going to the top for high risk moves that failed to get the job done. The main gripe I have with this match is the finish which was a classic WWE non-finish where GUNTHER rolled up KO and pulled the tights to win after interference from the other members of Imperium. On top of this, the fact that it was a non-title match really took my interest out of the match as I knew nothing was going to change afterwards, the finish just drove this home even more.
Overall it was a fun TV match that I think was overhyped by a lot of people, but it was still a highlight of a relatively slow week.
#4 - Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins had his first defence of the new WWE World Heavyweight championship on RAW this week, as he faced off against Judgement Day member, Daimian Priest, in the main event.
This match was really good, as both men had great chemistry in the ring and brought the pace up from the middle of the match onward. They incorporated loads of different styles, from brawling on the outside, to limb work in the ring, with Rollin's signature offence sprinkled in at the right spots. The main story of the match was the champion working on Priest's shoulder in an attempt to neutralize his South of Heaven finishing move, along with any other big lifting offence.
This match got Rollins' title reign off a better start than Roman's has ever reached and is hopefully one of many great title matches on WWE TV, because lord (Ibushi) knows we need it.
#3 - Alex Shelley
Another story was finished this week (haha suck it Cody) after long time Impact/TNA wrestler Alex Shelley won his first ever Impact World championship from Steve Maclin in the main event of Impact's Against All Odds. This maded both members of the Motor City Machine Guns singles champions at the same time, for the first time in Impact history.
This result was really unexpected in my opinion as Shelley had never won the World title before this match and the title changing hands on a Impact B PPV, especially against Steve Maclin, who Impact seemed to be putting all their steam behind coming out of Rebellion. The match centred around Shelley's intelligence and technical ability against Maclin's power and unpredictability. Shelley would wear down Maclin with submissions and pin attempts throughout the match only to get caught with a suplex or a strike, sometimes even being taken to the outside and left laying after being rammed into the barricade or getting hit with an elbow from the apron.
It was a match that was paced perfectly, building to a crescendo where a worn down Shelley managed to fight back against the champ with a combination of tricky reversals and submissions from nowhere, before a top rope Sliced Bread, two exposed turnbuckle shots to Maclin, and a Shellshock for the one two three.
This was a great match an a fitting one for Shelley to complete a lifetime achievement in winning the world title for the first time. More than worthy of the eight points this week.
#2 - Orange Cassidy
Orange Cassidy was also part of an unexpected result in a title match this week. On AEW Dynamite he went head to head with the dastardly Swerve Strickland in a match that people had been waiting for for a long time.
Orange's AEW International title reign has been one of the best things in AEW in recent months, as you can see the degradation in his physical state, week to week, while he still puts on amazing matches. His ability to portray this was in full effect this week as he really had to take all the opportunities he could to put away the favourite to win in Swerve. Spots like the DDT off the stairs and Orange trying to take Swerve out the ring while in the electric chair position and then hitting the hurricanrana on the outside really gave a sense of desperation to Cassidy's offence.
The finish was great when you look at the long term story compared to GUNTHER/Owens match. Orange kicking out of the Swerve Stomp to a massive pop and then the quick roll up exchange into the one two three with the tights pulled getting Orange his 24th defence of the title. Although many people hated the fact that Swerve lost I think it was a great... well, "swerve" and made for one of Orange's biggest moments in his career and it elevated the title to another level in my opinion.
#1 - Kazuchika Okada
Okada had by far the best match this week, teaming with Kenoh and Yuma Anzai to take on the team of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kento Miyahara, & Kaito Kiyomiya.
This match was amazing and might be the best six-man tag team match of the year so far. Okada's in-ring work was perfectly fine for an Okada match (this is high praise), but his character work is what's been standing out the most to me recently. This match was rich with it too. Having Hiroshi Tanahashi (who is Okada's partner and six-man tag champ buddy) and Kaito Kiyomiya (his most hated rival in recent memory) was perfect booking, and having the super over Kento Miyahara out popping him in the match was the perfect storm for the black trunks Rainmaker to dig deep into that dark place he's at right now and take out all his rage on them.
His interactions with Kaito were brilliant, with Okada taking pot shots at him on the apron, trying to infuriate him into making dumb decisions on behalf of his team, and Kaito falling for it and firing back, brawling with him on the outside trying to get revenge. Kento would annoy Okada with the fans chanting his name louder than anyone else's and Okada took him to town with the best wrestling he could muster to out do him. Then all of this culminated with Okada vs Tanahashi at the end and the Rainmaker keep down his tag partner down for the count.
This was a great story in one match while advancing others in multiple companies, something that I've never really seen before. I haven't even got to the story of him and his own team which was a build to him and Kenoh working together with help from a eager Yuma Anzai facilitating the connection between the two stars.
Overall it was a brilliant match that saved the whole show from being a mediocre charity event where some of the top stars did their shit and went home in 14 minutes. Fully deserving of the whole ten points this week!
Lets have a peek at the leaderboard after week 23: