We're back with another great week of wrestling that saw the continuation of the G1 Climax, the start of the 5 Star Grand Prix in Stardom, and DDT's biggest show of the year, Wrestle Peter Pan. We also had some great shows over in America with the Blood and Guts edition of AEW Dynamite and a surprisingly amazing Death Before Dishonor from ROH that had one of the best women's matches of the year.
- Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens (Zayn & Owens vs Mysterio & Priest, WWE, 17/7)
- Will Ospreay (YOSHI-HASHI vs Will Ospreay & KENTA vs Will Ospreay, NJPW, 18/7 & 21/7)
- HENARE (HENARE vs Shingo Takagi & HENARE vs Eddie Kingston, NJPW, 19/7 & 23/7)
- Adam Cole & MJF (Cole & MJF vs Garcia & Guevara, AEW, 19/7)
- Yota Tsuji (SANADA vs Yota Tsuji, NJPW, 21/7)
- Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis (Aussie Open vs Lucha Bros vs The Kingdom vs Best Friends, ROH, 21/7)
- Shingo Takagi (Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW, 23/7)
- Natsupoi (Natsupoi vs Starlight Kid, Stardom, 23/7)
- Utami Hayashishita (Utami Hayashishita vs Mina Shirakawa, Stardom, 23/7)
- MIRAI (Momo Watanabe vs MIRAI, Stardom, 23/7)
- Konosuke Takeshita (Konosuke Takeshita vs Yuki Ueno, DDT, 23/7)
- El Desperado (El Desperado vs Daisuke Sasaki, DDT, 23/7)
#10 - Daniel Garcia
This week Daniel Garcia challenged for Katsuyori Shibata's Pure Championship at ROH Death Before Dishonor on Friday, and although he was unsuccessful he gave us everything he had. Every last thrust.
This was a surreal kind of match. It was filled with the typical technical offence that you'd expect from a Pure Rules match and had the hard hitting striking you'd expect from a Shibata match. The X factor in this, however, was the "sport-entertainment" that Garcia infused throughout. He used his "dance" as a storytelling device to great effect, no matter how silly it looks on screen. This was the Dragon Slayer's fighting spirit. Where most wrestlers would kick out at one, or jump right back up from a suplex, DG was embracing his inner "Yeah Yeah Yeahs" as he danced till he died, passing out in Shibata's choke hold while using his last breaths to power out his final thrusts before the PK put him away.
You could easily talk about the well executed wrestling in this match, but it was clearly a canvas that Garcia painted a masterpiece on while his charisma leaked onto the mat with every move, dancing or wrestling.
#9 - Suzu Suzuki
In Suzu's first match in the 5 Star Grand Prix on the 23rd, she wrestled former World of Stardom Champion, Syuri, in an intense 11 minute match that saw some of the most brutal displays of wrestling all year.
Suzu started hot, hitting Syuri with a Tequila Shot before the bell even rang, following it up with two massive German Suplexes, that latter on the ramp which was connected to the ring. Suzu had control of Syuri on the outside, but the tides turned when the God's Eye leader hit a apron hung DDT on Suzuki. Syuri's vicious kicks kept Suzu on the back foot once the two made their way back into the ring. Syuri did great work on Suzu's arm, which was sold perfectly by Suzu.
The craziest spot in the match was a bone shaking German Suplex from the apron to the floor that Suzu gave Syuri after she stopped a top rope maneuver. With only a 15 minute time limit for 5 Star matches speed and intensity are the names of the game, and no-one played the game as well as Suzu did on Sunday. Well you could argue Syuri did since she won the match, but Suzu's performance felt a lot more passionate and aggressive to me, which gives her 2 points on this weeks list.
#8 - Chris Brookes
Speaking of passion. DDT's Wrestle Peter Pan show from Sumo Hall saw one of their most passionate and determined wrestlers take home the KO-D Openweight Championship after Chris Brookes beat Yuji Hino for the belt in the main event!
If you're going to watch this match I would highly recommend checking out the pre-match video package that chronicles Brookes' journey to Japan and his love for the country, its wrestling, and the friends he's made over there, as it bring so much more meaning to the match going in. The video also dived into his plan to overcome the mountain that is Hino, as he trained on his kicks with Kudo who used them to overcome the giant Shuji Ishikawa, who's one of the biggest men in Japanese wrestling today.
The match was intense, with Hino's power overwhelming Brookes, who managed to escape his bigger and more devastating moves like the Powerbomb, but was still kept on the defensive for a large portion of the match. Chris' comeback was great as his injured shoulder and use of kicks told a great story as he manged to hit big move after big move, with Hino trying to show that he's unfazed by it all. He eventually went down after two Praying Mantis Bombs, among other big moves Brookes borrowed from people who'd helped him in his career in DDT like Kudo, and HARASHIMA.
Brookes' post match promo was just so amazing that anyone could understand even if you don't know Japanese. Truly a "finish the story" moment, and probably my favourite of them all since the phrase was coined.
#7 - Mayu Iwatani
Mayu Iwatani was another woman who had a stand out performance on the first night of the 5 Star Grand Prix this week. She wrestled Hazuki right after the Suzu vs Syuri match, at it was clear that the two wanted to top that one, and in my opinion they did.
The two were fired up and where just as brutal as the match before. It was a match focused on big moves and fast reversals, with a great back and forth of dropkicks, Brainbusters, and striking exchanges. There was one point were Hazuki went all out and beat down Hazuki with forearm after forearm, even when the icon was flat on the mat, showing her will to win was probably more than Iwatani's.
Mayu hit Hazuki with big move after big move, but Hazuki refused to stay down, going for multiple topes after rolling out of the way of a moonsault from Mayu. The two of them were on the same level the whole match and it really felt like a battle of attrition between the two, but Mayu managed to come out on top, with stiff kicks leading into a moonsault and the two stage Dragon Suplex for the win.
A great fast paced match with hard hitting offence, a classic Mayu bout!
#6 - Shota Umino
Shota had one of his best performances to date against NOAH's Kaito Kiyomiya on night 5 of the G1 this week, as the two went to a time limit draw, the second of Shota's G1 so far.
This was one of the first times Shota has felt like a true star in the ring in my opinion. His ring work felt a lot more focused and his selling improved a lot from the his matches with ZSJ earlier in the year. The speed and intensity of his moves is clearly the focal point of his in-ring work, and coupling that with his selling made from a very dramatic match that boosted his star power more than his previous bouts. The final minutes of the match were great as Kaito had been working on Shota's leg for the whole time and the struggle from Shota while he was trapped in the Figure Four leg lock was perfect.
Putting him in the ring with Kaito was also a great idea as the similarities between the two are obvious, but Kaito being the veteran gave Shota something else to overcome in the process. Even though they went to a draw it did feel like Shota and Kaito were on the same level after the time limit expired, which is definitely a positive for the Roughneck.
#5 - Taichi
There's not too much to say about Taichi this week, just that he had an amazing performance against Kazuchika Okada on night 5 of the G1.
These two went out there and just tried to have the best match they could without overcomplicating things. Okada started off with the Emerald Flowsion into an attempted Rainmaker to pick up the win early, but Taichi escaped to the floor. Taichi would take the brunt of the offence as Okada looked like the dominant defending G1 champion, but our Holy Emperor would slowly work his way back into the match. The finishing stretch was magical, as Taichi kept blocking Okada's offence at every turn and morphing it into Dangerous backdrops, forearms, and suplexes that had Okada on the ropes, only winning by a flash pin on Taichi.
Lots of intense offence and momentum shifts make it one of the best and most dramatic matches of the G1 so far.
#4 - Giulia
Intensity is very much a theme this week, as Giulia faced off with Saori Anou on the 23rd in her first 5 Star GP match of the year.
The short time limit for these matches definitely make for super aggressive matches and this one was no different. The match started with some innocuous chain wrestling, but quickly spilled out onto the connected ramp after Giulia was rocked with a suplex. Giulia would get it even worse, however, as she was suplexed off the ramp and into the chairs people had been occupying seconds before. From then on the two brawled around ringside, flinging each other into chairs again and again so it looked like a bowling alley when they were finished.
Giulia ended up on the winning end of this exchange, piledriving Anou through a table before tossing her back in the ring. She dominated for a while before Saori synched in a Figure Four and an armbar at the same time, resulting in a awesome sell by Giulia as she struggled to reach the ropes. They traded big moves back and forth, with Giulia countering a Hurricanrana into a Powerbomb which got a near fall, but ultimately the two would wrestle to a time limit draw after Giulia could only make a one count on a Glorious Driver before the clock ran out. Perfectly timed.
#3 - PAC
After a long absence from AEW, PAC finally made his return to the promotion, and didn't waste any time in putting in some amazing performances. His first match was in Blood and Guts along with Takeshita and the BCC as they faced off with the Golden Elite, and his second was an ROH World Championship match at Death Before Dishonor only a couple days later.
I'll talk more about the Blood and Guts match with the next entry into this week's list, so lets focus on the match against Claudio Castagnoli on ROH. This match stemmed from PAC leaving his team high and dry in Blood and Guts after Claudio had a few "miscommunications" with the Bastard during the bout, and it lived up to the hype that developed, even on such short notice.
PAC's combination of speed, power, and technical ability was matched by Claudio the whole way through, and it made for a compelling fight to say the least. Their insane athleticism allowed for some amazing reversals and counters that I've never seen before, like PAC countering a top rope Ricola Bomb from Claudio in a Hurricanrana off the top rope after he'd already kicked out of a regular Ricola.
PAC's selling was also a great aspect of the match that enhanced his comeback spots while making Claudio look like the monster in the ring that he is. The finish was a bit wonky with Wheeler running in for the distraction, but the Brutalizer spots had me believing the PAC could get the win, even for just a second, so its hard to argue about the interference when its so clearly setting up a Death Triangle vs BCC feud in the future, which should be awesome.
#2 - Jon Moxley
The Blood and Guts match was definitely hit or miss with some people, but if you look at the story on even a basic level then you can see how this match was the perfect finish to the feud between the BCC and the Elite.
As you might imagine, Mox got very violent in this match, immediately rushing into the cage with a fork when his music hit, and stabbing Kenny and Hangman in the head and body. He brought loads of physicality to the match and he was a great focal point to the fight as the de facto leader of the BCC, fighting for his guys against the armatures that call themselves the "Elite". The most brutal spot of the match was obviously everything to do around the bed of nails Jon had stashed under the ring, and they used it way more than I expected. Mox throwing Kenny into the corner after propping the bed there one of the cringiest spot I've seen in a while and then Ibushi moonsaulting onto Mox while he was on it topped that.
Mox gave his all in this match, which made it even more impactful when PAC and Takeshita would leave the other three high and dry against the Golden Elite. Even though we didn't see it thanks to AEW's terrible camera work that night, Mox submitting for Wheeler while the latter was getting choked by a steal chain the same way he'd been by Hangman was a perfect culmination to the feud as it meant that Moxley realised that friendship was the most important thing to the BCC and that this vendetta he had against the Elite was just something that had spiraled out of control after he took his feud with Hangman too seriously (which Adam did too).
As you can tell I'm more impressed with Jon's emotional performance, and the storytelling of the the whole feud, than I am with his in-ring on the night, but that doesn't mean it wasn't an excellent display of physical ability.
#1 - Athena
It was a real struggle picking only one half of the Death Before Dishonor main event to be #1 in this week's rankings, but in the end it had to be the winner, and still the ROH Women's World Champion, Athena.
I think it would be very hard to have the most beloved and the most "hated" wrestlers on a roster deliver a bad match, but when those two wrestlers are the best in the division, then you've got yourself a classic on your hands, and that's what we got! These two had two previous matches before this one, going one and one before this rubber match was set of the title.
The match was executed to perfection, with sublime wrestling and psychology throughout that lead up to some of the best submission and near falls I've ever seen on American soil. Willow kicking out of the O-Face and Athena kicking out of the Powerbomb was perfectly done as both moves have been so well protected for a long time. It felt like the whole ROH rebrand was leading up to this moment, even more than the Eddie/Claudio or the Mark Briscoe/Samoa Joe matches.
The homages to previous women of honor was also a lovely gesture that didn't feel out of place for Athena as she noted in the post show press conference that she needed to bust out new moves after wrestling Willow so much. The closing stretch was as good as any I've seen this year, with a great submission finish after hitting a second O-Face to tap Willow. It was a great way to keep Nightingale strong and Athena looking like an absolute killer. Athena is one of the best champions in wrestling today and this match definitely cemented that.
Thanks for reading this weeks edition, and since there was so much great wrestling this week I do urge you to check out the honourable mentions as there's loads of brilliant matches I couldn't talk about this week. Anyway, lets have a look at the WOTY leaderboard after week 29: