As the G1 enters the last weeks of the block stage we also see the start of the N-1 tournament over in NOAH. We also had WWE's big Summerslam show at Ford Field which went head to head with a great episode of AEW Collision which saw four title matches. Kota Ibushi had his first match back in Japan since his injury back in 2021, his ten man elimination tag team match took over Sumo Hall in GLEAT's biggest show in their history.
- Tomohiro Ishii (Tomohiro Ishii vs HENARE, NJPW, 2/8)
- Trent Beretta (Moxley vs Beretta vs Penta & BCC vs Best Friends, AEW, 2/8 & 4/8)
- Aussie Open (Aussie Open vs Vikingo & Komander, AEW, 2/8)
- T-Hawk (T-Hawk vs Hayato Tamura, GLEAT, 4/8)
- Kaito Kiyomiya (Kaito Kiyomiya vs Ren Narita, NJPW, 5/8)
- CM Punk (CM Punk vs Ricky Starks, AEW, 5/8)
- Finn Balor (Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor, WWE, 5/8)
- IYO SKY (IYO SKY vs Bianca Belair, WWE, 5/8)
- Manabu Soya (Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Manabu Soya, NOAH, 6/8)
#10 - Hikaru Shida
After defeating Nyla Rose on last week's AEW Rampage, Hikaru Shida was given a title shot against AEW Women's World Champion Toni Storm on this week's Dynamite 200 show from Tampa, Florida. It turned out to be a good match that culminated in Shida becoming the first ever two time AEW Women's Champion! Loads of fans were hoping for this result, but the outcome came as a shock for many regardless.
The match itself was an above average women's match for AEW TV as complaints around the division have spiked once again due to the lack of direction heading into AEW All In at Wembley. This match seemed to be a kind of rebuttal to these claims as the workhorse of the pandemic era has now been put in the most prominent roll in the division. Shida went all out with stiff strikes and smooth transitions and Toni did a great job too. Although their was a fair bit of interference by The Outcasts it did end up enhancing the match as the odds looked progressively worse for Shida as they got deeper into the match. The Shining Samurai managed to snatch the title away from Storm with a flash pinfall, however, to a great reception!
Shida gets one point this week for restoring my faith in the women's division while having a fun little match to main event a really great episode of AEW Dynamite!
#8+9 - Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler
The AEW World Tag Team Champions defended their belts on this week's AEW Collision against the monstrous team of Big Bill and Brian Cage who won a battle royal on the 100th episode of AEW Rampage a week prior.
This was a great David verses Goliath type match with the beginning being dominated by the challengers, knocking down both members of FTR with ease, until the champs found their openings to get back into the match by singling out a member from the opposing team. FTR are great at both being the calculated heels and the sympathetic babyfaces, and their work in this match proved no different. Both guys bumped like their lives depended on it and put over the size and power of their challengers with everything they did. FTR used their teamwork and technical ability, however, to overcome the size difference, but also showcased their strength at certain points in the match too, which put them over as dominant champions.
There was also some more lighthearted spots in the match, like Big Bill going over to Cash's mother only to get slapped in the face. Overall it was a great showing for both teams and was a hot start for Collision as they were head to head with Summerslam.
#7 - GUNTHER
GUNTHER walked into WWE Summerslam only 32 days away from becoming the long reigning Intercontinental champion in WWE history, and thankfully, he is now only 30 days away at the time of me writing this. The man who had a chance at ending this reign was Drew McIntyre and he came so so close on Saturday.
These two had a typical big beefy brawl as you would imagine they would. It was a similar bout to the three way at Wrestlemania but with a lot more focus and strategy. They started the match with each man showing their immense strength and fighting spirit, trading lariats, before we saw some more defensive tactics from GUNTHER, who dodged two Claymores and the hitting a Shotgun Dropkick to counter a third. Drew survived a splash from GUNTHER before the two went at it with chops which Drew got the upper hand in opening up the opportunity for a Claymore, but only got a nearfall on GUNTHER. Drew lifted the champ up to the top turnbuckle, but was pushed onto the top rope by the Ring General who hit a splash, lariat, and a powerbomb to retain his title.
This was a good match that put GUNTHER over as smart and powerful, especially against a man the size of McIntyre. Although it wasn't as good as the Mania three way, it had a different purpose to it which I think they put across well.
#6 - Yota Tsuji
This was one of the most memorable matches of the block stage of the G1 by far. Not only did they have an amazing pre-match segment, they also had an intense and brutal match that showcased both men's passion and physicality in the ring.
As Tsuji was making his entrance Kidd continued his tradition of jumping his opponent from behind, but this time Tsuji had the same idea. In one of the most confusing G1 spots of all time, Yota came strolling down the ramp as he was also getting beaten up by Kidd right next to the ring. Kidd eventually caught on to the fact that something was amiss and turned around into the knee of Tsuji! It turns out that Tsuji has a legitimate twin brother who he used as bait for Kidd. The real Tsuji and Kidd then brawl on the outside for a bit before getting into the ring and starting the match proper.
The match itself was brilliant, as the two went hell for leather, hitting lariats, forearms, and chops like they somehow found themselves in the final of the tournament and not some undercard match between guys who were already eliminated from the tournament. Both men's styles and characters meshed perfectly, with Tsuji being the calmer and Gabe being the wild-man, but both having that same level of intensity. I would say that the only reason Tsuji gets the points this week it due to the entrance and him winning the match, but in ring wise they were both at a similarly amazing level this week.
#4 & 5 - Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli
This weeks AEW programming was highlighted by Claudio and Moxley, as Mox had a fun Three Way Anything Goes match against Penta and Trent at Dynamite, which lead into a Parking Lot Fight between Mox and Claudio and the Best Friends on Rampage.
The Anything Goes match was a fun brawl that had some great spots involving tables and thumbtacks that brought the ever present hardcore AEW style to the 200th episode celebration. They successfully avoided the classic triple threat trope of removing a man from the equation and instead used the chaos to have Trent pick up a big win over Penta after Moxley hit him with a Death Rider. This obviously led to the Parking Lot Fight on Rampage, which was even more violent.
The bell rang and the four men immediately splintered off, with Mox and Beretta going at it and Claudio and Taylor facing off. The whole match was a violent tornado of car parts, old friends, and flying oranges, which created a somewhat cartoonish, yet visceral brawl between the teams. Moxley's selling and Claudio's unique offence definitely helped foster that feeling as the match went on, but the finish drove home the brutality that the BCC was birthed from. Yuta jumped out of a trunk and viscously attacked his former friends with Moxley crushing Trent's head with a stomp through a car door window to end it in brutal fashion.
Moxley had a great week this week and with the help from Claudio manages to make it high on this weeks list thanks to the Parking Lot Fight.
#3 - Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack had his second to last block match of the G1 this week as he faced his biggest rival in New Japan, Tetsuya Naito, in one of the best matches of the tournament so far! These two have wrestled against each other in one on one matches 10 times as of this match, and it's clear that the two know each other inside and out because of it. After a fairly underwhelming G1 for Naito this match really showed everyone that he can still produce a tasty cake when given the right ingredients, and Zack is the finest organic vegan ingredients the world can offer at the moment.
It wasn't a fancy cake, but it was one that doesn't get sickly, even if you want to eat the whole thing in one go. It has a great base of smooth and fast technical wrestling with a centre of comedy and charisma that you can only get between these two guys which cancelled out any of the rougher and drier parts of the sponge.
As always, Zack targeted the arm of Naito, while Naito went for Sabre's neck, leading up to an exciting finishing stretch with the two countering move after move, desperate to get the win in the final minutes of the match, Zack went for the Zack Driver in an attempt to end things as soon as possible, but Naito countered it into a half Destino, only for Sabre to counter a full Destino seconds later, and landing the Zack Driver, but not having the energy to make the pin. Zack hit a Tornado DDT using the top turnbuckle and Naito copied him, only to roll him up with it instead and sneaking out a win over ZSJ!
#2 - Kota Ibushi
Ibushi made his return to Japanese pro wrestling this week as he teamed with Shuji Ishikawa, Hagane Shinno, Daisuke Sekimoto, and Yumehito Imanari in the main event of GLEAT Ver. Mega to take on the GLEAT team of Kaito Ishida, El Lindaman, Check Shimitani, Soma Watanabe, and Takanori Ito in a 10-Man elimination tag team match.
The vibe of this match was really fun, an all star verses outsiders kinda vibe, that really fit well with the participants in the match. Ibushi's team was very diverse, with a big guy like Ishikawa all the way to a little guy like Shinno, giving their team a variety of styles and offence. The GLEAT team seemed to me to be a lite version of their opponents which made for a great underdog dynamic in the match with lots of counterparts facing off throughout.
Of course this being a ten man the time in which Ibushi was in the ring was limited, but he was a large presence throughout and had a really great finishing sequence with Kaito Ishida at the very end where you could see more of the old Ibushi than ever before (in my opinion). He was smoother and more precise than his previous matches in GCW and AEW and the intensity was more present than ever too. I can't not mention the moonsault from the the top of the entrance way too. That was prime "himbo" Kota, which we've been missing so much of recently, so it was a great addition to the match, even if it was a little clunky getting everyone over there for the spot.
Obviously Kota still has a ways to go before he's at the level that he once was, and maybe he'll never reach that level again, but its going to be a fun journey seeing him getting back to 100% and this was just the beginning of that trek.
#1 - El Phantasmo
This was definitely the biggest match of El Phantasmo's career so far and he wrestled like it. The match was against Will Ospreay and it was the final block match for both men, with the winner making it to the playoff stage of the G1 Climax 33.
The pace and intensity of this bout was unlike any other so far in the tournament. They went 18 minutes and didn't let up for a second, hitting big move after big move, and still brought more out for the extended finishing sequence. The best thing about this match was the near falls, as even though I went into the match spoiled, knowing Ospreay was going to win, I still bit on a number of them, which is truly the sign of a great match.
There were so many great spots in this match, but the Sudden Death from ELP on a midair Ospreay when Phantasmo got into the ring beating the 20 count was something else. The number of emotion in that one spot was mind boggling. One of the things I loved most about the match was both men's deep set of finishers and signatures. ELP had the Sudden Death, Thunderkiss '86, the CRII and the CRIII, and Ospreay had built up multiple new finishing moves just this year alone with the Leap of Faith and Storm Driver '93 added to his already great move set.
This was undoubtedly ELP's best match since moving up to the heavyweight division, as his selling was top notch and all his moves were executed to perfection. His desperation in this match was something else though, and his time spent building a connection with the Japanese fans paid off in droves that night because of performances like this. Phantasmo's quest to beat Ospreay is still on going, but one day he will get that win and I hope its soon.
Here's a look at the WOTY leaderboard as its stands: