This week was a great one for tag team wrestling, as the Super Junior Tag League really kicked off, with four shows across the week giving us some brilliant two on two matches against some of the best juniors in the world (and SHO). We also saw a massive AEW Collision main event as Kenny Omega defended his record AEW World title reign against the current champ MJF. New Japan also had it's Fighting Spirit Unleashed show in Las Vegas this Saturday, with Giulia defending her STRONG Women's title and Shingo Takagi beating Tama Tonga in the main event to claim his third NEVER Openweight championship! Speaking of title changes, Kenoh finally ended Jake Lee's GHC Heavyweight title reign at Demolition Stage this Saturday, after four successful defences since March.
- Fuminori Abe & Takuya Nomura (Astronauts vs Hideki Suzuki & Hikaru Sato, BJW, 22/10 (shown 29/10))
- Zack Sabre Jr. (Zack Sabre Jr. vs Boltin Oleg, NJPW, 24/10)
- Kosei Fujita & Robbie Eagles (Fujita & Eagles vs TAKA & DOUKI & Fujita & Eagles vs Wato & Despy, NJPW, 24/10 & 26/10)
- TJP & Francesco Akira (Catch 2/2 vs War Dogs & Catch 2/2 vs YOH & MUSASHI, NJPW, 24/10 & 25/10)
- Becky Lynch (Becky Lynch vs Lyra Valkyria, NXT, 24/10)
- Kevin Knight & KUSHIDA (Jet Setters vs War Dogs & Jet Setters vs BUSHI & Titan, NJPW, 25/10 & 28/10)
- BUSHI & Titan (BUSHI & Titan vs Wato & Despy, NJPW, 26/10)
- Katsuhiko Nakajima & Go Shiozaki (AXIS vs Marafuji & Sugiura, NOAH, 28/10)
- Alpha Wolf & Dragon Bane (Wolf & Bane vs YO-HEY & Tadasuke, NOAH, 28/10)
- Jack Morris (El Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr. vs Jack Morris, NOAH, 28/10)
- Jay White (Jay White vs AR Fox, AEW, 28/10)
- Eddie Kingston (Eddie Kingston vs HENARE, NJPW, 28/10)
#10 - Yuya Aoki
In a last minute watch from me, Yuya Aoki has just managed to squeak his way onto this week's list with a great BJW World Strong Heavyweight title defence against BJW stalwart, Daisuke Sekimoto! Originally taking place on the 22nd, the show was broadcasted on Sunday, so that means I can take it into account for this week.
The last time I talked about Aoki on this series was after he won the Heavyweight title from the now retired Yuji Okabayashi back in May. In that match Aoki was the definitely the underdog, and it was no different for this defence against Sekimoto. Daisuke overpowered Yuya at every turn, dominating him for most of the match, but the comeback spots from Aoki were the highlights (obviously). Aoki had to go out of the box to get back into this one, even busting out a Spanish Fly from the top rope to gain back the advantage.
As the match went on, Aoki started to get more and more resilient. Where he would once use interesting and clever counters to escape Sekimoto's offence, he gradually started to fire up instead, taking big chops and lariats and powering through them, eventually getting the win with a palm strike to the face and a Tiger Suplex. This was a very solid match in which Aoki displayed some great strikes, comebacks, and fighting spirit against one of the top names in the promotion, further cementing him as one of the best alongside guys like Sekimoto.
#9 - Konosuke Takeshita
Konosuke Takeshita had his first TV singles match since July this week, as he faced off with Kyle Fletcher on AEW Rampage.
Although there wasn't too much depth or story in the match itself, it was still refreshing to see Takeshita go all out in a short sprint like this, a little Halloween treat one could say. Fletcher was also a perfect opponent for him, with both men loving going all out every chance they get, with a great pace to the match that really made it feel like a war between two young stallions of the business.
Takeshita hit some nasty forearms and lariats, as is expected, and you really dont need much more than that to get me going to be honest, but add in some beautifully timed and executed counters and transitions and you've got something special. With more time and some more build a match between these two could easily be a match of the year contender. For now however, this was a perfect exhibition match for both, emphasising the viciousness and dangerousness of Takeshita and the fighting spirit of Fletcher too.
#8 - Giulia
Giulia flew all the way to America this week to defend her NJPW STRONG Women's title against Hyan at Fighting Spirit Unleashed on Saturday. Both women really showed out that day and it was a great title defence to add to Giulia's reign.
They started off at a brisk pace, Hyan and Giulia taking each other to the mat with a shoulder block and dropkick respectively. They played up Hyan's strength a lot in the match, but Giulia fought back with her impressive striking and reversals, aka the Joshi style. Hyan was not without some counters of her own, however, as she reversed a Falcon's Arrow from Giulia into her own after getting hit with an Avalanche Butterfly Suplex from the champion.
This really felt like a Joshi match in America, stiff strikes, brutal bumps, and some nasty looking power moves too. Hyan really showed that she could hang with one of the best in Japan and I would love for her to make her way over there at some point, but Giulia definitely stole the show in this match. Every time she goes to the US she's more over than the last, so she's obviously doing everything right.
#7 - Shingo Takagi
Shingo Takagi's match against Tama Tonga for the NEVER Openweight belt was a weird one for me. It wasn't helped by the fact that it was 6 am and I was nearly falling asleep for most of it, but even still I could see the great work happening in front of my half closed eyes. The real problem with the match was the length, they tried to spread out a classic hard hitting "NEVER Openweight" style match over 30 minutes and it was noticeable.
You might be saying "but Adam you gave Shingo #7, why are you shitting on the match?", well the final minutes of the match were very good, with a classic New Japan main event finishing sequence of reversals and nearfalls, but I feel like Tama was the one dragging the match down for most of it's runtime with some relatively uninspired control segments from him compared to the explosive and exciting offence of Takagi. It feels like a template of a New Japan main event to me and that's not actually a bad thing, but I just feel like with someone more... interesting... Shingo could have made this a match of the year contender with ease, and I thought that at multiple points in the match, especially the finish.
At the 20 minute mark Shingo reveresed a Gun Stun into the back slide which he transitioned into the Takagi Driver '98 (which is a Tiger Driver '98, but with the arms trapped behind the opponent). That gave us a pretty cool nearfall and a Last of the Dragon countered into the Gun Stun minutes later got a similar reaction. A reversal of the J-Driller into a Hurricanrana, a Gun-Stun of his own, another Pumping Bomber, and finally a Last of the Dragon got Shingo the three count and his third NEVER Openweight title reign.
Ultimately this match could have been even greater that it already is if they were to play to Shingo's strengths and had a shorter more condensed match, even if it was just 10 minutes shorter, as the work was there, but the connective tissue was somewhat lacking. I'm still excited to see if we get those Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega matches Shingo was hinting on the run up to winning the belt, however.
#6 - Kenoh
After being the only man to defeat the GHC Heavyweight champion Jake Lee in this year's N-1 Victory, Kenoh finally got his shot at the title at Demolition Stage in Fukuoka on Saturday, and won!
It was a fairly long match, with some boring control segments from Lee, but Kenoh managed to turn shit into gold, selling his midsection throughout, which reduced the efficacy of his kicks. A clever way to sell. Kenoh would slap Lee multiple times showing his unique take on fighting spirit as he slow got back into the match after being worn down with body scissors and Boston Crabs from Jake. The second half of the match was a lot better as Kenoh really started to fire off offence at a good pace, capitalising on all the support he gained from the crowd in the first half.
Kenoh used Jake's own move, the Face Break Shot, only to get choke slammed and set up for the real FBS from Lee, Kenoh dodged it and a second one, hitting a German Suplex right after and locking in the Triangle Choke and then transitioning into the Kenoh Special, but Lee got to the ropes right after. Kenoh hit the PFS for a two count, then missed the Moonsault PFS and got cracked with a FBS, but kicked at two, himself. A couple round house kicks and the Kenoh Special finished off Lee as he tapped out to Kenoh in a dramatic and fast paced finish.
A great babyface showing from Kenoh and hopefully a fresh new start that NOAH has needed for quite some time (I doubt it though).
#4 & 5 - El Desperado & Master Wato
Heading over to the Super Jr. Tag League now, and El Desperado and Master Wato have been doing some great work in all of their tournament matches so far, not only technically, but also storyline wise, as Despy slowly warms up to having Wato as his tag partner.
One of their best matches of the tournament so far was against BUSHI and Titan at Korakuen Hall on the 25th. This one was wild from the start as both teams brawled their way through a typically hot Korakuen crowd, making their way to the concourse half way up the stands where the LIJ team hit crossbodies on Wato and Despy off the archways above the stairs. They continued the match at a high pace back in the ring with some impressive double team moves from LIJ, who've been tagging much longer than their opponents, but Wato and Despy came in for multiple pin breakups which heightened the drama of the match ten fold, even if they didn't do too many double team moves themselves.
Their 28/10 match against Drilla and Connors was also amazing, but I think I'll leave that for when we talk about them next. The YOH and MUSASHI match was kinda wonky in my eyes, but I'm pretty sure that was a part of the story for both teams as they're both new tag teams and are trying to figure out how to work together, so I can excuse that one. The only other match they had this week was against Robbie Eagles and Kosei Fujita which was another solid match in a tournament full of great wrestling. Nothing really memorable to it, but the work from Fujita and Eagles meshed well with Despy and Wato, making for a fun bout.
#2 & 3 - Drilla Moloney & Clark Connors
Drilla and Connors also had a really great week, with multiple four star matches in my opinion. Their first one, against Catch 2/2, was a brilliant rematch from NJPW STRONG Independence Day shows earlier this year.
Although I dont think it was as good as their previous, it was still a terrific match. The War Dogs have such great intensity when they wrestle, starting this match with a big brawl on the outside and up the stands similar to the BUSHI & Titan vs Despy & Wato match, but more focused on ground and pound rather than highflying, ramming TJP into the railing on the stands and tossing them into the barriers at the bottom. The War Dogs also integrate illegal antics into their matches brilliantly, using the belts to drum up even more drama with the Eddie spot, rather than sucking all the life out of a match like House of Torture might. The finish to this match was great as Drilla hit the Drilla Killa on Akira and then the Full Clip on TJP for the win. It gave them as decisive as a win that you can get, and put over both members in the process.
Their match against the Jet Setters was also great as the War Dogs made Kevin Knight look like an absolute star. As I said before, they're so good at control segments because they actually get people excited to the comebacks, especially for guys like Knight who are just so fun to watch in that position. What's even better is that the War Dogs can keep up when the matches are taken to the next level and add to it as well, they kinda remind me of ReDragon in that respect, and not just because they do the High Low thing as a signature.
Overall the War Dogs have been using this tag league to improve the most and show people exactly what they can do, raising their stocks with each match.
#1 - Kenny Omega
Big Match Kenneth was out in full force on Saturday, defending his record 346 day AEW World championship reign against the current AEW World champ, MJF, in the main event of Collision.
At the start of the match both men displayed their technical proficiency on the mat, going back and forth with some early pin fall combinations with ease, but there were definitely some botches that occurred which had me worried about the two's chemistry, but going into the middle and latter portions of the match all the concerns I had faded away as the two produced some of the best wrestling of the whole year.
This match had so many memorable spots, something that the Shingo/Tonga match was very much lacking that would have taken them to the next level like this AEW title match did. There was obviously the Doctor Bomb through the table on the outside which was insane and led to a great moment where the ringside doctor came and checked in on both men. These kind of spots are always scary and having the doctor there gave the audience even more anxiety going into the rest of the match (well at least for me it did). This anxiety for their safety slowly merged into the excitement and drama heading into the final minutes of the match adding even more to the nearfalls and even making me bite hard of one of Kenny's were he sat down into a pin after MJF tried to roll him up. I swear he had it at that point, and it's very rare for me to bit on a nearfall nowadays, so massive kudos to them for that.
The action was so crisp in these last minutes as each one of Kenny's V-Triggers hit the mark perfectly and looked absolutely brutal, then you had the Poisonrana trades which was PEAK pro wrestling, and if anyone tells you it wasn't then you know they're probably a fan of the Miz. There were so many great nearfalls as realistically there was a slight chance Omega could have won, but in the end MJF hit two Heatseekers to get the win and cap off the best Collision match of all time.
After a solid week of action lets see how it's affected the leaderboard going into the final few weeks of the year: