It's a round robin filled week, with AEW, NJPW, and DDT kicking off the Continental Classic, World Tag League, and D-Oh Grand Prix, respectively. AEW's "C2" promised to be one of the greatest wrestling tournaments of all time, and although its off to a good start, with a couple standout matches, it's still far from reaching this status at the moment. That's not to say it couldn't rise to the occasion with the matches that are still in the chamber, however. Outside of these there wasn't much else to write home about, as WWE's Survivor Series under-delivered in terms of match quality, in my opinion.
- Taichi & Yuya Uemura (Taichi & Yuya vs Zandokan Jr. & Tsuji & Taichi & Yuya vs ELP & Hikuleo, NJPW, 21/11 & 24/11)
- El Phantasmo & Hikuleo (ELP & Hikuleo vs Bishamon, ELP & Hikuleo vs Taichi & Yuya & ELP & Hikuleo vs Zandokan Jr. & Tsuji, NJPW, 21/11 & 24/11 & 26/11)
- Swerve Strickland (Swerve Strickland vs Jay Lethal, AEW, 25/11)
- Kris Statlander ( Kris Statlander vs Diamante, AEW, 25/11)
- Kazuki Hirata (KANON vs Kazuki Hirata, DDT, 26/11)
#10 - Wheeler Yuta
Wheeler Yuta picked up one of the biggest wins of his entire career this week on Rampage. After calling out ROH Pure champion, Katsuyori Shibata, on Dynamite the two faced off for the title in the main event.
Wheeler came into the match knowing that he was still vastly out skilled compared to The Wrestler, even after training with the BCC, but this time he had a plan. A very clever plan at that. Kicking him in the balls. Early on in the match Wheeler did showcase his technical wrestling ability, but was, as he expected, overwhelmed by the champion, "forcing" Yuta to resort to dirty tactics, like eye pokes and cheap shots behind the ref's back. He managed to keep momentum on his side for a while due to these antics, soaking up the boos from the crowd while stomping on Shibata like he was a cockroach. Eventually Shibata fought his way back into the match, fighting spirit on full display, as he took shot after shot from Wheeler.
This obviously scared Yuta and he goes for the low blow after a ref distraction and pins the champion with the Seatbelt clutch for the win, taking the title of Shibata in a legitimately shocking, but needed win for the young boy of the BCC. This was a great match that incorporated Wheeler's mounting frustration over the past few months, as he's failed to win many big matches the whole year. A good pay off for Wheeler's story and some much needed character progression that's been helped by some steadily increasing mic work too.
#9 - Daniel Garcia
Over to the first match of the Blue Block of AEW's Continental Classic now, and Daniel Garcia came into his match against Claudio Castagnoli in a similar position to Wheeler, but with a totally different attitude.
Garcia has been very open an honest about his role in the company at the moment, which is seen in his character work, especially in his post match promos after his bouts with Andrade and Miro. His reason to be in the tournament isn't to win the whole thing, but prove to himself that he can hang with the top stars in the company, which is what this tournament consists of. This match against Claudio was an interesting start, as he showcases his great technical ability the whole match, unlike Yuta, only to be overpowered and out struck at nearly every turn. He managed to get some big reversals and counters off at multiple points in the match, but Claudio is just a much more developed and adept wrestler at this point in his career so reversing Garcia's moves, like the Dragon Tamer, wasn't a problem for him.
Garcia got brutalised for most of the match to be honest, but his selling was great and he really connects with the crowd as an underdog trying to get his big win, so this will only lead to a bigger reaction when he finally does. A good start to the CC for Daniel, someone who definitely needs to be in a spot like this to improve.
#7 & 8 - Gabe Kidd & Alex Coughlin
Speaking of improvement, BULLET CLUB's War Dogs made a big splash in the first week of World Tag League this year, compared to a forgettable performance in last years edition, where they were just young lions used as fodder for the other teams. This year they've waged their own warpath through the competition after a shaky start against Kaito Kiyomiya & Ryohei Oiwa. They've also faced off with Umino & Narita and Ishii & Yano, getting wins over both teams.
Their first match against Kaito and Oiwa was arguably their best and set the tone for their matches throughout the tournament. Kidd continued his tradition from the G1 of attacking people as they're making their entrances, blasting Kaito right off the bat. These two faced of in one of the more memorable G1 matches this year, going to a double count out after a brutal match that rarely kept itself to the ring. They picked up right from where they left of here, as Kidd and Kaito couldn't keep their hands off each other as Coughlin and Oiwa stuck to a more technical style inside the ring, which was also good, but overshadowed a lot by the action on the outside. This had a ton of heat to it and a decent Korakuen crowd ate it up, giving this match an extra bit of spice on top of the two points up for grabs in the tournament.
I'll talk about their match against Umino and Narita in a bit, but I was actually surprised with their match against Ishii and Yano! The combo of Ishii and Yano is so much better than Bebop Tag Team because Ishii does what he wants (be a beast in the ring) and then Yano comes in to mix to change things up with a more silly style which, so far, hasn't impacted too negatively on the match quality. Ishii and Gabe really hit it off in this one, both firing off massive forearms, lariats, and chops until Gabe hit the Leg Trap Piledriver for the win.
#5 & 6 - Shota Umino & Ren Narita
Staying with World Tag League, and one of the standout teams of the A block has to be Ren Narita and Shota Umino who've had some of the best matches of the tournament so far. Their match against Great-O-Khan and HENARE on the first night was great and they followed it up with another good match against the aforementioned Kidd and Coughlin. Their most recent match verses AEW's Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona did let me down a little, however.
Against the United Empire Shota and Narita did well as individuals, but lacked some cohesion as a team, but I suspect that this is part of their story in the tournament. Shota really stood out in this, having a lot more fire and passion than normal, or since his match against Ospreay at least. He was the protagonist of the match for sure, hitting all his big moves like the Death Rider and the Blaze Blade for some good nearfalls, where as Narita played a supporting role, helping to break up nearfalls and grapple with O-Khan too.
The match flowed really well and built up to a crescendo that could have gone either way. One of the best matches of the tournament so far. Their next match against the War Dogs, on the other hand, was very different. Shota was doing is classic Moxley style entrance, but Gabe blindsided him and Coughlin followed up with the beatdown. Gabe's intense and unending fury towards anyone who thinks they're better than him really pushed Shota to keep the same demeanor he has been for the last month or so. Gabe was too much, however, and he got the shock win over the future ace with the Leg Trap Piledriver once again.
Shota was definitely the better of the two in these few matches, showing a lot more intensity and star power even in defeat.
#4 - Chris Brookes
Over in DDT, Chris Brookes had his first match of the D-Oh Grand Prix this Sunday, taking on Yukio Naya on the opening night.
DDT have been pushing Naya quite hard for the past year, putting him in the finals of last years D-Oh, but he broke his leg early in 2023 and hasn't had many opportunities to show his dominance since, yet they still presented him as a threat in this match. With Brookes losing the KO-D title to Ueno just weeks ago the dynamics of the match were wonky to say the least, but it didn't stop them from putting on a great match.
Brookes tried everything to make Naya look as strong as possible in this one, attacking before the bell and targeting his knee off the bat in an attempt to take away the power of his kicks and knees. Brookes also got some of his Schadenfreude International friends to come a help him, but it didn't really do anything to the beast of a man that is Yukio and it felt very out of character for Brookes. Chris went all out with big offence here, even if he couldn't hit it all. He tried for the Praying Mantis Bomb on the exposed floor of Korakuen Hall, but Naya slipped out and got things back in the ring where Brookes would eventually hit a massive Tombstone Piledriver for a nearfall. Naya would fight back with some brutal knees to the stomach and face, ultimately getting the win with the Backdrop Driver after a final knee with the pad down.
This match was filled with good counters and reversals of big moves, and it did make Naya seem like a bigger star than he his, with a lot of help from Brookes.
#3 - Mark Briscoe
Mark Briscoe has his first match in the Gold Block of AEW's Continental Classic this Wednesday as he faced of with the final boss of AEW, Jon Moxley.
This was a relatively short match, going past the usual end of Dynamite, but it still delivered in my opinion. It was a really scrappy match that pitted city tough Mox against country tough Mark and it worked beautifully, especially for a first time ever match-up! Briscoe's scratch and claw offence juxtaposed with Moxley's confident and overwhelming offence led to some great moments in this match, Mark kicking out of the first Death Rider being the climax. Briscoe made the comeback with a bloodied face after Mox busted him open on the stairs earlier on added to the drama of the match down the stretch.
I feel like if this match got more time it could have been even better than it was as Briscoe's comeback seemed to have a lot more left to give and more to build towards than a single finisher. Otherwise it was the second best C2 match so far in my opinion. Briscoes personality is one that sticks out in every match and immediately forms a connection with the crowd and his Red Neck Kung-Fu is but one way he portrays that in the ring. A great trait to have in a round robin tournament like this.
#2 - Yuki Ueno
We head back over to DDT for the D-Oh GP now, as the new KO-D Openweight champion, Yuki Ueno, faces his first big test since becoming the champ. His first match in the tournament is against former KO-D champ and one of the baddest in DDT, Kazusada Higuchi.
Ueno had to use all the highflying and gymnastic ability he had to counter Higuchi's power, that was evident from the outset. Higuchi would just chop Ueno into oblivion for the most part, with Yuki having to power through to get his own offence off. It made him look strong even if he was on the backfoot for the most part as he defeated the odds to stay in the match, throwing out some strikes of his own at points too. Topes and Hurricanranas were useful to Ueno, but on a man the size and strength of Higuchi he really needed to hit the WR for the win, no matter how hard it is to get off on a man this size. I think this was where the real struggle for Ueno was. As we know he is more than capable of beating top guys (he's the champ for a reason), but Higuchi presented a different challenge for him.
Brody King is this week's #1 and he firmly sits on the Goliath side of things, even when it comes to his first opponent in AEW's CC tournament, Eddie Kingston.classic David verses Goliath match is what tickles my fancy, and Ueno performed the role of David perfectly.C
#1 - Brody King
Brody King is this week's #1 and he firmly sits on the Goliath side of things, even when it comes to his first opponent in AEW's C2 tournament, Eddie Kingston.
This was a war as you'd expect, both men dole out some blistering chops, but Brody is just bigger and hits harder, no matter how much fighting spirit Kingston has. This is the main through thread of the match and it works well as Brody's monster-esque demeanor and moveset allows for a man even the size of Eddie to be thrown around and treated like Brody's prey, crushing him against the barricade on the outside. Eddie's comeback is all the better for it too, hitting multiple Saito Suplexes on the big man, who manages to stay alive, fighting back just as strong as he was before.
This was a great start to Brody's tournament, and hopefully the start of a great singles run for him as he feels like the one from the House of Black with the most upside at the moment. Performances like these prove that, and make the fans want it even more. I doubt he'll gather much more success in the rest of the tournament, maybe another win or a draw or two, but regardless it's going to do wonders for his standing in AEW coming out of it.
Lets see how that's affected the leaderboard heading into December: