I feel like I say this every other week and with the G1 around the corner I most certainly will again, but this was probably the best week for wrestling so far this year (and probably the last few years too). With shows like Forbidden Door and Stardom Sunshine, to DPW's Tag Festival show and a fun NOAH show in Korakuen Hall, it was a week where every wrestling fan should have left satisfied by the performances given to them.
- Seth Rollins (Seth Rollins vs Bron Breakker, NXT, 20/6)
- Athena (Athena vs Keira Hogan, ROH, 22/6)
- DOUKI (DOUKI vs Jack Perry, AEW, 23/6)
- Violence is Forever (VIF vs Miracle Generation & Tag Festival Final, DPW, 24/6)
- Giulia (Donna Del Mondo vs STARS, STARDOM, 25/6)
- Utami Hayashishita (Queen's Quest vs Odeo Tai, STARDOM, 25/6)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi (MJF vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, AEWxNJPW, 25/6)
- Zack Sabre Jr. (Orange vs Shibata vs ZSJ vs Garcia, AEWxNJPW, 25/6)
#10 - Chris Ridgeway
Chris Ridgeway and his team-mate Daga challenged for the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship at this Saturday's NOAH Star Navigation show from Korakuen Hall, in what was a surprisingly exciting match.
The GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team titles have been notoriously flip floppy the past few years with titles changes every other month, normally in long and middling matches, but this time all the pieces seemed to fall into place. The defending champions Tadasuke and YO-HEY played great babyfaces with defined roles as YO-HEY's left arm was brutalised by Ridgeway the whole match and Tadasuke performing some great hot tag comeback spots. Chris showcased his impeccable technical wrestling skills, transitioning from hold to hold smoothly and keeping the pace of the match up in the process. It really felt like the match was the perfect combination of Jr. Heavyweight speed and striking mixed with the British style of grappling.
Great job by all four men, but Ridgeway in particular stood out from the rest and got the submission win in the end to capture the titles!
#9 - Andrade El Idolo
Following an amazing match last week with Buddy Matthews, Andrade, once again, put on a classic Collision match that wowed the audience, both at home and in the arena. This time with Buddy's buddy Brody King. The two had one of the most hard-hitting matches I've seen on American television for a long time.
Andrade got pummeled by King for the majority of the match, taking devastating chop after devastating chop that left his chest and injured shoulder area completely limp with the compression tape getting ripped of more and more with each strike.
Even through all the punishment Andrade still pulled of some amazing spots in this match and sold well during them too. The Moonsault to the outside, over the ring post, was spectacular and the running back elbow is always a thing of beauty.
Although many were put off by the DQ finish, I think it was a good way to continue the story and keep both men strong, with a rematch always in the books too. I would love to see them go at it again.
#8 - Go Shiozaki
On the same show as the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team title match, Go and Kenoh had an amazing one on one encounter that focused around limb work (my favourite!). Coming off a big win against Kenoh and Soya, Go and his partner Katsuhiko Nakajima were riding a wave of tag team success, even putting out a challenge for the Heavyweight Tag Team titles.
Going into this singles match, however, Go was still winless in one on one competition since his return and has been finding it hard to overcome the top guys in NOAH at the moment. He went into the match with a pretty clear strategy, fuck up Kenoh's leg. The idea being that it not only weakens Kenoh's kicks, but also forced him to think about going for the Professional Foot Stomp too. He both kicked and chopped at the leg throughout the match while Kenoh tried weakening the midsection with his own kicks.
The match was a test of will and tactics. Go trying to neutralise Kenoh's offence, and Kenoh trying to enhance it. This left both of them on equal footing for most of the match, but Shiozaki ended up neglecting most of his signature offence and that led to his downfall.
A really great story of self doubt leading to yet another tragic Shiozaki loss.
#6 & 7 - JD Drake & Anthony Henry
The Workhorsemen became the third ever DPW World's Tag Team champions at DPW's Tag Festival 2023 show that aired on Saturday this week. Starting off the Tag Festival tournament with a win over the team of Jackson Drake and Jay Malachi and advancing to the four way elimination final in the main event for the DPW World's Tag Team championship and the tournament trophies to boot!
The first round match was super hard hitting and a great mix of highflying offence from Jackson and Jay compared to The Workhorsemen's tag team synergy and strikes. The match was fast paced from the off, with the Workhorsemen running in on their rivals, Violence is Forever, and Jay and Jackson coming in for the save and the end of the previous match. This gave the match an extra level of intensity and the Workhorsemen did great playing the heels and getting the new and younger team more over than when they came into the match.
The main event four way was also great, but the Workhorsemen only really became a factor when it was just them and Violence is Forever left in the match. They focused on Dominik Garrini's right arm and turned what was a fun match with exciting highspots and flips, from the like of the Best Bros and Above the Rest, into another hard-hitting and brutal affair that left VIF down for the count and now former DPW World's Tag Team Champions.
#5 - Mike Bailey
With the 6 points Mike Bailey's earned this week he is now at the top of the leaderboard with 55 total points this year and those 6 points were well earned ones at at. Mike had an opportunity at the DPW World's Championship held by Lucky Ali at DPW Tag Festival 2023, in what was a rollercoaster of emotions, let alone a fantastic professional wrestling match.
The last time Lucky Ali and Mike Bailey met was in last years Carolina Classic finals where Speedball was the last to be eliminated by Ali for the #1 contendership to the DPW World's title, so there was a lot of history going into this singles match.
The match started with Speedball being a little cocky while out wrestling Ali with smooth dodges and clever reversals. He quickly got off some of his signature offence like the inside out moonsault, the rapid kicks, and the double knees to the gut. Ali would take advantage of a big missed kick from Bailey, however, that resulted in his bare foot crashing into the steel guardrail. He sold the leg well for the rest of the match.
The finish was sensational with a ref bump leading to Bailey taking advantage and hitting the Ultima Weapon. The special enforcer, Colby Corino, would come in to make the three count and crowned Bailey the new DPW World's Champion, at least until another DPW official came out and reversed the decision before Ali would give a low blow and a Parkland Plunge to Speedball to retain his title. This was a brilliant match that harkened back to Attitude Era style booking, but combined modern day workrate ring work too.
#4 - Konosuke Takeshita
Takeshita was part of the big ten-man tag team match at Forbidden Door, teaming with the BCC and Umino vs The Hungbucks, Ishii, and Kingston. Although everyone in the match was phenomenal and contributed to one of the best ten-man's of all time, the real stand out of the match to me was Konosuke Takeshita.
Take was going all out in this match, giving some of the most audible forearms I've ever heard, especially that one to Ishii that looked like it knocked the soul out of him. Its hard to pick out the individual moment's that stuck out to me with the shear number of people that were involved in the match, but coming out of it it was clear that Takeshita had a goal in this match, to show the world that even amongst some of the biggest stars in wrestling today he was the best out of all of them.
Starting the match with a chorus of boos and ending the match with the whole crowd on their feet for his offence, it was clear that he proved his point. After the match he also made it clear that he wasn't part of the losing team and left them at ringside as he walked back up the ramp looking quite angry at the outcome.
#3 - CM Punk
I should really be giving these 8 points to the Toronto crowd, but alas Punk did prove that he still had it, after competing in only multi-man tag team matches since the return from his little meltdown a few months ago.
It's impossible to talk about Punk this week without acknowledging the reactions from the fans, and Punk himself knew this. He made the Bullet Club Gold team look like big time guys on Collision and leaned into the negative crowd reaction even more at Forbidden Door. He hit the Hogan leg drop on Kojima and started lariating him in the corner while shouting his famous shoot promo with Joe from back in the day. LARIAT LARIAT LARIAT KOJIMA KOJIMA KOJIMA. It was a very enjoyable match that showcased the leader of Bread Club perfectly and gave in one of his best matches in years.
#2 - Bryan Danielson
Bryan put on a performance of a lifetime in the main event of Forbidden Door this Sunday, taking Okada to the limit, being only the second person to ever tap out the Rainmaker, and with a broken arm too!
The match started like you'd expect a big New Japan style main event would, with Danielson and Okada trading holds and countering each other with style and grace before transitioning into an exchange of wrestling philosophies. Danielson would go for the running knee multiple times only to be met by the boots of Okada who fired off perfectly timed dropkicks. Bryan took a real beating in the match and its impossible to over look the big injury he sustained during it.
During a top rope elbow drop from Okada, Danielson broke his forearm and was severely limited for the last 10 minutes of the match, so the fact that he continued for that long was extraordinary. He talked in the post show media scrum about how he adapted his approach to the rest of the match because of the injury, saying that he felt like he had to do get the Yes! chants going to get the crowd back into the match since he couldn't have done it any other way. It's little things like this that make Bryan one of the greatest performers of all time and he showed everyone that he was the best by tapping out Kazuchika Okada. Nine well deserved points for the American Dragon!
#1 - Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay had what was quite honestly the greatest match to ever take place on North American soil at Forbidden Door. When the Wrestle Kingdom 17 rematch was announced for the Toronto show I was convinced that it couldn't live up to the spectacle that was the Tokyo Dome match, but I was proven so very wrong when Ospreay hit that final Stormbreaker and pinned Omega for three.
The competition between the two was a lot more fierce this time around and it ended up being one of the most brutal non-hardcore matches I've ever seen. Kenny delivered some cringe-worthy moves like the DDT on the steel stairs and the repeated snap dragon suplexes, but also took a Tiger Driver '91 from Ospreay, landing directly on his head and somehow managing to not be completely paralyzed by it.
The highlight of the match was undoubtedly the Kamigoye and OWA from Ospreay and Kenny kicking out at one. The crowd exploded at that point and it took the match to the next level, along with Kenny getting the rope break after Will hit the Stormbreaker too close to the edge of the ring. The match itself was filled with so much passion and will to win from both men (and the crowd) that in the moment these spots felt like life or death situations and both wrestlers sold them like it too.
Overall this was one of the best matches I've ever seen and the babyface performance from Kenny was other-worldly and he deserves more than just ten points, but the rules are the rules.
Lets check out the latest version of the leaderboard after Forbidden Door week: