It was a great week for TV wrestling this week, with Mistico's AEW debut against Rocky Romero on Rampage, Shida and GUNTHER defending their titles, as well as a rare Kenny Omega singles match against Kyle Fletcher living up to the hype. Jay White also continued his great run of TV matches as he faced off against Penta El Zero Miedo on Dynamite. To cap all that off, we saw Impact's Bound for Glory PPV on Saturday, with Ospreay vs Mike Bailey giving us yet another MOTYC for William, and one of Bailey's best ever matches. Yuma Ayoagi also had a killer title defence against tag partner and the ace of AJPW, Kento Miyahara!
- Mike Bailey (Bailey vs Samurai del Sol & Bailey vs Ospreay, Impact, 19/10 & 21/10)
- IYO SKY (IYO SKY vs Charlotte Flair, WWE, 20/10)
- Catch 2/2 (Catch 2/2 vs Fujita & Eagles, NJPW, 21/10)
- Jetsetters (Jetsetters vs DOUKI & TAKA, NJPW, 21/10)
- Eddie Kingston (Eddie Kingston vs Jeff Jarrett, AEW, 21/10)
- ABC (ABC vs The Rascalz, Impact, 21/10)
#10 - GUNTHER
GUNTHER defended his WWE Intercontinental championship on RAW this week, taking out the monster that is Bronson Reed, winner of a three way match the week prior to earn the privilege.
The match went as most people would expect. Big meaty men slapping meat. A real super heavyweight clash. This was a change of pace for GUNTHER, however, as his previous title defences have been against the likes of Gable and Ciampa, who would always get dominated by the champ before fighting their way back from underneath, only to fall yet again at the last hurdle.
By no means was GUNTHER outclassed in this match, however, but it was definitely more of a struggle, with chops and strikes that would normally fell any other opponent, only being scratches on the massive fuselage of Reed. Reed would power out, and through, much of the champ's offence, who tried to slow him down with sleeper holds, only for Reed to break free and hit some big offence of his own, like kicks, a Death Valley Driver, and a big Superplex of the top turnbuckle. GUNTHER sold well for Bronson, and it definitely helped Reed get more over with the crowd in the process. This was particularly needed after a fairly chilly return for him earlier in the year.
GUNTHER would pick up the win after a big splash from the top and an impressive powerbomb on Reed, getting the three count to retain the title. A great TV title match that helped elevate everyone in it in a relatively short run time of 12 minutes.
#9 - Mistico
After an unexpected announcement last week, Mistico faced Rocky Romero on this week's AEW Rampage in a "Pound for Pound Crown" match, pitting the two CMLL champions against each other in the first CMLL x AEW crossover since the promotion's founding four years ago.
The match itself was as close as you could get to a CMLL style match outside of Mexico, even if the ring wasn't made out of obsidian. They brought in a CMLL ref, and made the match a two out of three falls bout to try and give the full Lucha experience to the Texas crowd, who came out in their masses to see the Mexican icon in action.
Although this wasn't the best Mistico match I've ever seen, it was still an exciting match which was laid out at an authentic pace and had some classic Lucha Libre moves from both men, like dives to the outside, hurricanranas, and Tornillos. Rocky was the perfect opponent for Mistico too, as Romero is always great at getting heat with the crowd and getting them behind the babyface (not like the crowd needed much persuading though). The last fall was where the action really started to speed up, with Mistico preforming some great counter wrestling and finishing the match with La Mistica out of nowhere for a quick tap from Rocky getting him the win.
#8 - Jay White
Jay White went toe to toe with Penta El Zero Miedo on AEW Dynamite this week, in a chop filled encounter to kick off the show.
Penta got the jump on White (quite literally) with a dive to the outside during the latter's entrance, following it up with a double stomp from the top rope in the ring, but White would quickly gain control with a little help from BCG on the outside allowing Jay to hit a beautiful spin out into a DDT. Penta seemed to be a lot more driven in this match as he kept the taunting to a minimum, which really helped Jay look a lot more dominant in his heat spots, like when he was stomping on Penta's head near the apron and during the Indian Deathlock where he was clawing at Penta's face in the process.
Penta came out of picture in picture with a great comeback which Jay sold well, leading into a chopping exchange that had Penta take his vest off and the commentary team naming Texas cities in which they could hear the chops in. This was when the intensity and physicality of the match really picked up with Penta hitting a spinning Death Valley Driver for a great nearfall, as well as the Made in Japan for another. White would only get the win after the Left Hand of God from Juice and sealed Penta's fate with the Blade Runner for the three.
White does a great job at making himself look like a total prick, but a very powerful prick at the same time. Using BCG on the outside, but also making it clear that he really didn't need their help anyway, which in turn, helps keep his opponents protected too.
#7 - Hikaru Shida
"Student vs Teacher" was the tagline for Hikaru Shida's AEW Women's title eliminator match against Emi Sakura, her trainer on Dynamite. As you might expect this was a joshi match through and through, with stiff shots and great pacing for a 9 minute match.
Emi worked over Shida's midsection with back breakers and crossbodies galore, taking to the top rope for a moonsault later in the match too, but Shida worked hard to overcome this and fire off some of her own offence, like a massive knee to the midsection of Sakura as she was coming in for a crossbody in the corner. The finishing stretch had more nearfalls than I expected, like Sakura hitting the Tiger Driver for a fairly convincing two count, at least as convincing as you can get from a Emi Sakura match on AEW TV, but it being an eliminator match did go some way in putting doubt into people's mind about the result. This only continued as Emi blocked the Katana from Shida, kicking out at one, and then finding a way to get the champ in the La Magistral for a very good false finish before a Falcon Arrow and a flush Katana got Shida the win in the end.
This was a great match, and a promising reboot of the AEW women's division, with Shida putting on a simple and solid TV title match!
#6 - KENTA
Although KENTA didn't defeat Chris Sabin for the Impact X-Division title at Bound for Glory on Saturday, I was still extremely impressed that he wrestled an intense and serious match for once! These past few years it's been increasingly oblivious that KENTA was phoning it in in most of his matches, but every now and again he puts on his working boots. This, however, was not one I'd think he'd do that for.
The two kicked off the show, getting right to it with a tight lock-up which is something rarely seen nowadays, but KENTA showed his colours off the bat with a cheap shot only seconds in, following it up with stiff boots and kicks. I think he must really like Sabin ha ha. Of course there were a few silly antics from the Fang Revived, as he taunted the Chicago crowd with the GTS pose of Punk's, before trying for the G2S (the real version). That was closer to the finish, however. Before then KENTA ground down the champion, pinning Sabin multiple times, and getting him a headlock, allowing the crowd to get behind Chris and then trying to kick his head off for the rest of the match as Sabin tried again and again to put KENTA away with the Cradle Shock, which he eventually does.
The main takeaway from this match is that the KENTA we all know and love is still in there and when he wants to, with a good dance partner like Sabin, he can produce that 2000s NOAH magic, or at least a taste of it, and that intensity he showed was the key.
#5 - Bryan Danielson
This is Dragon's whopping FIFTH entry into the Worker of the Week list in a row, and for good reason. The man has been making up for lost time since he was out for a few months after the Okada match at Forbidden Door, and this week was no different as he faced off with Andrade El Idolo, which is apparently a dream match for Tony Khan.
Again, as expected, this was a brilliant match, one of the best TV matches of the week. Danielson and Andrade had faced off once before on Smackdown Live back in 2018, but both men are very different today and they showed that in this match. They started off with an extended technical sequence, with both men failing to get the upper hand multiple times, squaring off with each other after every exchange that came up neutral. I enjoyed this a lot, since normally wrestlers would do this once to show the crowd that this is a match between two workers of equal caliber, only to jump into a normal match, but the way Dragon and Idolo did it gave even more legitimacy to it, especially with the finish they used too.
Danielson and Andrade both worked on each other's arms in the middle of the match, with Andrade making a change midway through and calling on his lucha offence rather than trying to meet Bryan on the mat. This would be fruitless in the end, however, as Danielson managed to wrestle Andrade back to the canvas, attempting to synch in the LeBell lock with Idolo slipping out and trying for his Figure 8. This was one of my favourite moments of the match, as Andrade is transitioning from 4 to 8 and thus losing some of the power he has on the hold, allowing Danielson to make it to the ropes just as Andrade doubled the hold.
Although this one wasn't as brutally violent as the Rush match, Dragon still managed to make Andrade seem like a legitimate threat, only thwarted by a quick and somewhat unsatisfying roll up win for the American Dragon. Great selling and psychology from Danielson, resulting in yet ANOTHER TV banger.
#4 - Kenny Omega
From one of the GOATs to another, Kenny Omega finally had a singles match on Dynamite in what seemed like a year (His last was actually against Wheeler Yuta in July). This time he faced Kyle Fletcher. For me this is a Pseudo-Dream Match, as I do believe that Fletcher will one day be on a similar level as Will Ospreay is now, and we definitely saw a glimpse of that on Wednesday.
In structure it was seemingly the opposite of Danielson's dream match on Collision, but it ultimately produced the same result. The two went at it with flashy high velocity action off the bat with Kyle's vicious Rocket Kicks mirrored by Kenny's V-triggers and nasty suplexes being exchanged too. Much like Kyle's match against Danielson, he clearly scouted Omega a lot before the match. He managed to counter or dodge the vast majority of Omega's offence at least once before getting caught out in more obscure situations that the veteran had managed to make for himself.
It was really Fletcher's intensity and will to prove himself that pushed this one to the next level, and that fire was the main driving force for the story of the match, giving Omega something obvious to fight against has he was going in as the clear favourite. Kenny had to pull out all the stops to defeat Fletcher, and although he did it much quicker than he defeated Will at Wrestle Kingdom, you could tell it was still just as much of a challenge. Omega hit the Golden Triangle moonsault and the Plancha to the outside, commenting on the things he does at his age (lol). Even though that little line was a joke, it was still something that added to the match and put over Fletcher in the process.
The finishing stretch was even more exciting and high octane than the rest of the match, with the two trading some massive offence, like the spinning Michinoku Driver from Fletcher and the Poisonrana from Omega, leading to the One Winged Angel and the three count for the win.
Kyle was such a miserable disappointment... in Callis' eyes (not mine)!
#3 - Alex Shelley
It was a good week for the Motor City Machine Guns as not only did Chris Sabin retain his X-Division title, but Shelley also retained his Impact World Championship against Josh Alexander in the Bound for Glory main event on Saturday.
Shelley played a bit more of a heel role in this match, at least in the opening minutes, as this was Alexander's first title match since returning from injury earlier this year and is one of Impact's biggest babyfaces at the moment. The opening saw a solid technical exchange, ending in both men teasing their finishers before Shelley escapes to the outside when Josh attempts the Ankle Lock seconds later. Shelley focuses on the left arm of the challenger in retaliation, using that leverage of the arm to get a quick nearfall.
Shelley didn't just tunnel vision on the arm though, getting into a few striking exchanges with Alexander, trading chops and kicks, sometimes going back to the arm when the opportunity presented itself, like stomping on the arm Alexander was using to hold onto the ropes with on the outside. Stuff like that really made the match feel organic and reminded me of a classic New Japan main event, which would be cemented even more once they got to the finishing stretch.
The majority of the match consisted of offence that this, not really doing anything too dramatic, but being far from uninteresting, with loads of seemingly small spots building the match perfectly to the climax of counters and nearfalls. Alexander tried multiple times to get the C4 Spike, but Shelley managed to escape from all of them in a fantastic sequence of counters, leading to a Shell Shock, a Superkick, and then a second Shell Shock to put Alexander away definitively!
A great match, that's even better on a re-watch, and another cap in the feather of a great year for Shelley. Go out of your way to watch this one.
#2 - Yuma Aoyagi
Moving over to Japan now, Yuma Aoyagi defended his AJPW Triple Crown title against tag partner and rival, Kento Miyahara, in one of the most thrilling and hard hitting AJPW matches of the year. Going into this match Yuma had only beaten Miyahara once before, and that was in the Champion's Carnival earlier this year, but he was still to beat Miyahara in a title match, so this was a big test for him, and him and Kento recently losing the AJPW Tag Team titles to the Saito Brothers put even more pressure on both of them to prove their worth in the company, but Yuma definitely bore the brunt of those expectations.
Unexpectedly, Yuma came into the match with a lot of swagger and cockiness, which is usually Kento's role in big title fights. This may have been some kind of mind game he was trying to play, or maybe just a fake it till you make it kinda deal. Regardless, this new found attitude of Yuma definitely helped him in the match as the two engaged in a test of strength after the bell rang. Yuma pushed Kento to the outside and proceeded to dominate Miyahara for a spell, ripping up fan's Kento signs in the process! Eventually Kento would gain control and take things back in the ring where eventually they got even more violent.
The middle of the match is slower than I expected, but as this went nearly 30 minutes I can't really complain, especially when the finishing stretch lasted around 10 minutes by itself, and what a 10 minutes it was! Yuma hit multiple Rockstar Busters (a modified leg hook fisherman buster) in the ring and also on the apron, which resulted in some brilliant nearfalls, as Kento lit up the champion with Blackouts and Shutdown German suplexes in retaliation. This wasn't enough to keep Aoyagi down, however, as he kicked out of everything Miyahara threw at him, which I was super surprised by. He eventually hit The Fool to end the match just before the 30 minute call.
This was one of the best AJPW matches I've seen this year and proved that Yuma Aoyagi is a full blown star and main eventer for the company.
#1 - Will Ospreay
Oh my god, what to say about Ospreay's match against Mike Bailey at Impact's Bound for Glory? It's probably Impact's second ever 5 star match, and one of Bailey's best matches of his career, but for Ospreay this was just another day on the job. That's how insane of a wrestler he is.
These two have tangled a couple times before, with Ospreay besting Bailey more times than not, and I don't think anyone was expecting Speedball to get the win here, but it didn't stop the match from having some of the best spots and nearfalls of the year so far and that's what made it one of the best matches of year in my eyes. There wasn't much deep storytelling or working of holds, just two men throwing their best at each other and it totally worked in their favour. This is the kind of match that we rarely see in Impact (or should I call it TNA now?), which is no slander on the their product, but as we saw in the main event I talked about earlier, their big matches are normally longer and more nuanced than this one.
Because of the nature of the match it's not really one to list down sequence after spot after move, but it's the level of precision Ospreay and Bailey have with their moves, and the fluidity they move between the spots and the seamlessness execution of the sequences that leave my jaw on the flaw every time I see one of their matches. There were multiple spots in this match that left me speechless, with incoherent noises spewing out of my mouth at 2 in the morning, especially after that Hidden Blade into Bailey's Tornado kick into the corner. That's the sign of a world class professional wrestling match. Just amazing work from both men, and yet another promotion Ospreay has given their match of the year.
After another great week of wrestling, let's see how it's affected the leaderboard: