This week was a historic one for wrestling all over the world as AEW launched their brand new TV show, Collision, with CM Punk returning to the ring after 10 months away. But behind all that noise there was also an amazing week of performances over in Japan, especially for All Japan and NOAH who both had two major shows this Saturday where the GHC and Triple Crown titles were on the line! Tag Team wrestling was also a big focus of wrestling this week, with two massive six-man tags in AEW, as well as major tag bouts over the AJPW World Tag Team championships, and non-title tags too!
- Yuma Anzai (Yuji Nagata vs Yuma Anzai, AJPW, 17/6)
- Skye Blue (Skye Blue vs Toni Storm & Skye and Willow vs Outcasts, 14/6 & 17/6)
- Kenoh (Kenoh and Soya vs Kento & Aoyagi & Kenoh and Soya vs AXIZ, 17/6 & 15/6)
- Jay White (BCG & Joe vs CMFTR, 17/6)
- Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens (KO & Sami vs Imperium, WWE 12/6)
#9 & 10 - Matt & Nick Jackson
This week's Dynamite saw the return of the "Hungbucks" even if they were stripped of their misnomer (as revealed on BTE) and were just known as The Young Bucks and Hangman Adam Page. They took on the BCC team of Moxley, Yuta, & Claudio in the main event.
This match was a classic 10 minute PWG style spotfest that the Young Bucks have perfected over their career and it didn't disappoint on Wednesday either. It was a quick, but jam packed match with big spots from the Hungbucks that landed perfectly and were executed crisply. On top of the flashy moves the Bucks also took it to the hard-hitting BCC, taking stiff shots left right and centre before finding an opening to get off their own signature moves.
One of my favourite spots was a synchronized dive and moonsault from Nick and Hangman that was well timed and looked amazing. It's great seeing the Bucks and Page back as a trios team and its obvious that they love it too, which makes for an even better performance from the Elite members.
#8 - Buddy Matthews
Buddy Matthews had one of his best performances in his AEW career on Saturday after a tremendous match against the returning Andrade, although many others weren't as high on the match as I was.
I loved that match because of Buddy's selling near the end and his explosive offence both at the start and just before the finishing sequence. Both Buddy and Andrade seemingly aggravated their injuries in this match, with El Idolo's shoulder taking a beating and Buddy tweaking his knee coming off the top rope.
Buddy took some nasty bumps in this match too, being thrown into the timekeeper's area by Andrade and landing awkwardly on a table, as well as multiple staff members. Back in the ring Buddy would try a sunset flip off the top rope in an attempt to powerbomb Andrade to the mat, but his knee buckled in a spot eerily similar to the time his former leader Seth Rollins busted his own knee out. He would try for the powerbomb again, but his knee couldn't withstand all the extra muscle mass that Andrade had developed and he crumbled to the mat once more. He would eventually lose the match to a Figure 8 when Andrade dug into his wife's finisher pool like Matthews had tried too earlier.
Lots of people were taken out of the match during the middle when it slowed down and the medics came in to check on both participants during the picture in picture, but I really liked its as I was wondering if they were actually injured or not and when they both shrugged the doctors away it got a big pop from the crowd who were even more eager to see the rest of the bout.
#7 - Konosuke Takeshita
Takeshita had his first match since joining up with Don Callis on this weeks AEW Rampage against Bandido, and it was a great match by both men.
You can tell that Takeshita has really taken to his new heel persona quickly as he knew exactly when to cut off the high spots of both Bandido and himself. One of the worries I had with him turning heel was the as soon as he got back in the ring the crowd with instantly start cheering him again, because of this awesome moveset and terrific wrestling prowess, but this wasn't the case.
Take knew when to use his big moves and how to follow them up with more basic and brutal ground and pound segments that really got the heat from the crowd who wanted to see all of Bandido's cool moves too. The finish was great with both men flipping out of their opponent's German Suplexes and then Konosuke hitting multiple Jumping Knees on Bandido before pinning him in a slightly cocky manner.
I think this was a great teaser for what Takeshita can do as a heel and I hope he goes on a dominant run as an International champion or TNT champion.
#6 - Jake Lee
Although the match may have gone on a tad too long, the GHC Heavyweight championship match between the champ Jake Lee and his challenger Takashi Sugiura at NOAH's Green Journey in Nagoya was an interesting one.
Starting off with some mat work, Jake Lee quickly realised that he was in for a fight against the former GHC Heavyweight champion. As mat work moved to a slower more deliberate pace the match saw Takashi take it to the champ with a variety of slams and power moves that wore Jake down throughout the match. During these exchanges Lee would continually target Sugiura's arm to the point where I was wondering what the fuck he was doing since he doesn't have any submission moves based around it in his arsenal, but it all came into focus at the end.
The final 10 minutes of this match were the highlight, as it is with the vast majority of Japanese style main events. It was filled with hard strikes and quick reversals and counters that all led to Sugiura trying to apply the ankle lock on Jake, but the work done to his arm was too much and Jake managed to easily kick free of the hold and hit the Yakuza Kick for the one two three!
This was great match psychology that I've never really seen before and made the long run time worth the wait as it really paid off in the end.
#5 - Samoa Joe
When Samoa Joe wants to turn in on, by god does he turn it on. Joe was part of CM Punk's big return match when he teamed with Jay White and Juice Robinson of Bullet Club Gold to take on his long time rival CM Punk who teamed with FTR in the main event of the first ever AEW Collision on Saturday.
Joe played the long game in this match, letting Jay and Juice take a beating from CMFTR before he finally tagged in against a legal CM Punk. The crowd went crazy and you could tell this was a big moment for Punk, but Joe seemed calm and collected. After all he's beat the shit out of Phil many times before, and this would be no different. Joe wasted little time in chopping the shit out of Punk and he would scurry back to his corner for the tag relatively quickly.
The match for Joe was mostly a face off between him and FTR member Dax Harwood, as they both decided to chop each other as hard as the possibly could, so hard in fact, that Will Washington said that he could here them all the way in Tony Khan's office backstage. The other major spot with Punk was when Joe managed to sink in the Coquina Clutch on him which Punk had no answer for. It was only with help from his partners that Phil managed to escape before his eyes rolled into the back of his empty head, and this made Joe look even more like a monster than he already does.
Although he and BCG didn't win, it did elevate him to one of the top heels on Collision, if not the whole company, and I'm sure we'll get that Punk singles match down the line, but for now a great performance.
#4 - Adam Cole
Adam Cole also had a brilliant and long match on AEW TV this week, fighting MJF in a title eliminator match in the opening of Dynamite.
This match was like if you took the Collision main event's length and Buddy vs Andrade's selling and combined it into one. The psychology of this one was just amazing and it did wonders for Cole after his disappointing match against Jericho at Double or Nothing. There were many parts in this bout that directly countered some of the flaws in the Jericho, like more intensity and passion from Cole which was enhanced with great selling off the bat.
The match started as one might imagine a typical Cole match would start, mostly generic back and forth action, with MJF getting a good amount of heat by taunting the crowd and complaining to the referee, but it got really intense around the 15 minute mark. Adam hit the Ushigoroshi on Max and his knee buckled underneath the weight. It looked legitimately disgusting and I really thought the knee was fucked for the rest of the match. I have no idea if this as part of the match, but Doc Sampson coming in to check on Adam did wonders for it in my opinion, as it gave Cole adversity to overcome that at least felt real even if it wasn't. This, on top of MJF targeting the head of Cole after his concussion issues, took the match to the next level where even a count out loss was a possibility for Cole after a nasty elbow through the timekeeper's table from Maxwell.
The finish was brilliant with Cole hitting the Panama Sunrise and the Boom after he fought to get back into the match, before pinning MJF as the 30 minute time limit ran out. This was the perfect match for Cole and MJF as it push them further along the face and heel scales respectively.
#3 - Yuji Okabayashi
If you love big meaty men slapping meat then do I have the match for you this week. Yuji Okabayashi & Daisuke Sekimoto faced off with Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa at AJPW's Dynamite Series: New Age Maniax show on Saturday and it was amazing.
Its hard to transcribe pure and unbridled meat slapping into any language of human origin, but if I had to describe it in a single onomatopoeic word, it would have to be BOSH! Not bish. Not bash. BOSH! This has to be one of the biggest (in a literal sense) tag matches in recent memory and everyone wrestled like it was their last match. Even the older Ishikawa battled through and contributed a lot to the match. The standout, however, has be to be the massive Yuji Okabayashi, who chopped, slapped, and lariated his way through the match, knowing exactly when to hit each type of move to get the right reactions from the crowd (which were loud).
This is one of my favourite tag team matches of the year and I highly suggest you seek it out if you can, more than any other match I've talked about this week.
#2 - Atuski Aoyagi
Atsuki Aoyagi had two major title matches in AJPW this week, as well as a big eight-man tag team match where he teamed with Kento, Anzai, and his brother Yuma in a match against Nagata, Kojima, Tanahashi, and Wato on Yuji Nagata's Blue Justice XII show in New Japan.
His first match was an AJPW Jr. Heavyweight championship defence against GLEAT's Kaito Ishida, and although it wasn't a blow away match it was certainly a good one. Atsuki showed off his flashy, highflying offence against Ishida's straight to the point and heelish offence. It was a classic home grown vs outsider title defence where Atsuki just managed to get the win at the end.
The second match was a brilliant challenge for Kento & Yuma's newly won AJPW World Tag Team championship as Atsuki teamed with Rising HAYATO to take on the ace and his own brother. This match was built around the Jr. vs Heavyweight idea, where Atsuki and HAYATO used their agility and highflying to take down the two heavyweights while they tried to not get caught. This match really helped HAYATO get over, as the finishing minutes were he trying to hang with Miyahara before ultimately taking the pin put him over big with the crowd, but Atsuki definitely played his role well in this one too, sometimes using HAYATO as a base to get offence off on the champions.
#1 - Kento Miyahara
Speaking of the champ! Kento Miyahara gets the number one spot on this weeks list after three great matches, similar to Atsuki Aoyagi! He won back the AJPW World Tag Team championships from Kenoh & Manabu Soya on the 15th, defended them against the aforementioned Jr. Heavyweight tag team of Atsuki and HAYATO, and then participated in the main event of Blue Justice XII!
The match against Kenoh and Soya was a hard hitting affair as Kenoh's devastating kicks and Soya's unmatched strength took a toll on the challenging team. This didn't dissuade Kento, however, as he would keep his arrogant persona throughout the match no matter how long he was on the back foot for. The ending sequence was insane with a long striking exchange between Kento and Soya that was interfered with by Kenoh coming in, only to get taken out by Yuma and the two legal men getting back to it. Multiple Blackout knee strikes to Soya and a Shutdown German would get Kento and Yuma the win, bringing the tag belts back to All Japan!
I've already touched on their second tag title match of the week so I'll go over the eight-man tag in New Japan instead. This was a fun little match that showcased the best of All Japan against a mix of the old guard and the rising Master Wato in New Japan. All the guys in this match really brought their A-game, even if it wasn't as good as the six-man All Together Again main event, but it did do just a good of a job at showcasing their characters as that match did.
Overall it was one of the most impressive performances I've seen in a single week this year and has got me wanting to watch more and more AJPW than ever before. Good job Kento!
Here's the leaderboard at the end of week 24: