It was an unfortunately lackluster week for wrestling the past seven days, as WWE gave us a middling B-PPV and other than the Intercontinental title match on RAW, they failed to give us compelling TV matches throughout the week. AEW on the other hand, had a very strong couple of TV matches on Dynamite and a brilliant one on Collision this Saturday too. One of the main things that was missing was the weekend Japanese shows, as they've moved to the Monday of next week instead, as its a national holiday over there, so the quality of wrestling this week was noticeably weak for such an amazing year so far. There were still some bright spots, however, so lets dive into them.
- Toni Storm (Toni vs Skye Blue & Toni vs Hogan, AEW, 4/10 & 7/10)
- Komander (Komander vs TV vs Dorado vs Penta & Komander vs Kingston, AEW, 6/10 & 7/10)
#9 & 10 - Yuma Aoyagi & Takuya Nomura
In a weaker week for Japanese wrestling, Aoyagi and Nomura have managed to sneak into the top 10 for week 40, with a fun, but also hard hitting, affair in the semi-main event of All Japan's "New Chronical-Z ~ Jump Over" show on the 5th.
The two were up against Ayato Yoshida, a fast paced 31 year old technician who I'd never seen before, and the biggest prospect in Japan today in Yuma Anzai, so all four certainly had something to prove going into the match. I believe they did prove themselves in this one too, having an entertaining match for an intimate crowd. Nomura has been on the up in All Japan and him teaming with the Triple Crown champ, Yuma Aoyagi, helped bring out more of his personality while still bringing heated exchanges against both of his opponents, both in the ring and brawling on the outside. Aoyagi also continued to make himself look even more like a Triple Crown champ, leading the match and giving the other participants a good amount of shine while still looking strong.
It wasn't the most outstanding match, but still a good one none the less. I wouldn't say its anything to go out of your way for, unless you're craving some of the Japanese style this week.
#7 & 8 - Cody Rhodes & Jey Uso
Cody and his new bestie, Jey Uso, were successful in their Undisputed WWE Tag Team championship challenge this week at Fastlane, beating Finn Balor and Damian Priest with a new tag finisher, which I've dubbed the Co-D. A Cody cutter into a flapjack from "Main Event" Jey Uso.
The match was a solid, with Balor and Priest building the heat for a rabid crowd as Jey tried and tried to get the hot tag to Cody, who was super over with the crowd, which added a lot to the match. The match really picked up the pace in the second half, after Cody finally got the tag (to a massive pop), and with the interference from the rest of the Judgement Day, the crowd reached their highest peak of the whole night. They definitely capitalised on it too, giving us a big and unexpected title change that saved the whole show from being a useless 4 hours of "PLE" time.
I think the best outcome of the match, however, was the hilarious post show press conference. "Do you feel him, sir?".
#6 - IYO SKY
IYO had the best match on WWE's Fastlane PPV in my opinion, successfully defending her WWE Women's Championship against ASUKA and Charlotte Flair in a solid three way match.
Charlotte got taken out of the match early, as ASUKA misted her, and that allowed IYO and ASUKA to go head to head and show off their joshi style for a short while before Flair came back in a slowed it down a touch. From then on it was mainly a rotation of Charlotte taking out one of the joshis and then grinding down the other until it gets broken up and they pick up the pace for a bit. IYO hit some great moves like the shotgun dropkick from the top and a moonsault to the outside.
It wasn't the best match Io's had in the company, and I think the singles match she had against ASUKA on Smackdown was better, but she helped carry this match to the best on Fastlane and retained with the awesome Moonsault on a mid Figure 8 Flair. A finish that they redid from NXT In Your House, this time on a much bigger stage. Can't wait for her to defend against Taylor Swift at WrestleMania!
#5 - Athena
The workhorse and the shoulders holding up ROH TV, Athena, had another great match for her ROH Women's World championship against Leyla Hirsh this Thursday, and it made me tune into the show for the first time in a long time.
Both women went out there before Collision and took a notoriously stingy and dead pre show crowd and got them invested in a stiff striking battle, interspersed with some compelling submission work from Hirsh that Athena sold so convincingly. There were some unexpected moves like the top rope German Suplex, helping the match stand out among the other TV title defences. There was a great intensity too the match that most women's matches in America fail to achieve, and that's something you can always look forward to with an Athena match.
There's always an interesting vibe around Athena, who is kind of a tweener at the moment as she plays the heel, but always wins over the crowd by being such an amazing in ring talent, deserving of some points this week.
#4 - Rey Fenix
Rey Fenix had his second AEW International championship defence this week as he took on Nick Jackson in the opener for AEW Dynamite.
This was a rematch from one of the very first episodes of Dynamite back in 2019, which was one of the best matches TV matches in the companies history, and certainly Nick's best singles match of his career. This weeks match didn't exactly surpass the previous match, but to say it was anything but great would be an understatement.
The match was, as expected, a highflying spotfest of a match, but they successfully integrated the back injury of Fenix and gave Nick a leg to be worked over by the luchador too, which gave the match some extra depth as Fenix delivered some incredible moves off the ropes and the the corners. all of this, plus some great chemistry between the two, made for an exciting TV opener that had a slightly grittier edge to it that many would have thought.
#3 - GUNTHER
GUNTHER yet again defended his Intercontinental title on RAW this week as he fended off a fired up and determined Tommaso Ciampa when Ciampa challenged GUNTHER to have the match the same night as their scheduled contract signing.
The match was a hard hitting affair as we've come to expect from GUNTHER and his legendary title reign, with great intensity, limb work, and some tremendous chops to boot. Ciampa worked over the hand on GUNTHER in this match after he accidentally chopped the ring post. He would slap GUNTHER's hand into the announcers table and ferociously target it while in the ring too, beating it to a pulp. This was sold tremendously by GUNTHER and it forced him to use other moves like the Powerbomb and the Sleeper Hold to get the win.
Although it wasn't the best match of his reign it did show GUNTHER's dominance and versatility in the ring, with the neutralisation of one of his biggest assets not being enough to defeat him. A solid TV main event!
#2 - Bryan Danielson
Bryan Danielson continued on his final countdown this week by getting a pinfall victory over one half of Aussie Open, Kyle Fletcher, on AEW Collision this Saturday. To me this is a kind of mini dream match, and a taster for a possible Danielson vs Ospreay match down the line, but right now it was the best match of the week and showcased both men extremely well.
Dragon did a great job of selling for Fletcher both physically and psychologically too, being out-paced by the Aussie Arrow as well as being out-smarted as well. He did this while also looking very dominant in the parts of the match that he needed to, locking in some brutal submissions and fighting his way out of difficult situations like a tight Dragon Sleeper from Kyle. The main contribution from Danielson was making Kyle look like a star though, selling for some intense and impactful moves like the spinning Michinoku Driver and a gnarly Suicida to the outside that almost killed Fletcher in the process.
Danielson snuck out the win in this one and used ZSJ's Euro Clutch to do it. This makes me think that Sabre's challenge for a rematch might be accepted sooner than we expected?
#1 - Kyle Fletcher
After losing his AEW World Tag Team title match against FTR on WrestleDream last week, Kyle was yet again tossed into the singles division after his tag partner Mark Davis suffered a broken wrist in the bout.
On Dynamite, Kyle was recommended to Don Callis by Ospreay as a replacement for Sammy G in the Omega/Jericho tag match and he showed out against two of the greatest of all time, even if he did take the pin. The match started kinda slow, with Take and Fletcher controlling Jericho for a time. This allowed Fletcher to get in some more character based heel work, that helped build heat for the hot tag to Kenny. This is where things picked up. Kenny and Kyle had some great sequences together, both dishing out some nasty suplexes and Kyle going all in with his vicious rocket kicks, nearly taking the heads of Omega and Jericho.
Kyle then got an even bigger opportunity against the "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson just a few nights later on Collision. This was the best match of the whole week in my opinion and made Kyle look like one of the smartest wrestlers on the roster, as he reversed and countered 90% of Danielson's moves, which isn't something that normally happens in Bryan's matches. I've already talked about this match from Danielson's side so there's not much more to say, other than it was one of Kyle's best matches in AEW so far.
We got a big shake up in the leaderboard with Danielson making his way to the top and Fletcher coming in third, just behind Speedball Mike Bailey!