As AEW's Continental Classic continues and New Japan's World Tag League ends with a bang, it ended up being a great week for wrestling, even in WWE. Danielson had two C2 tournament matches with Garcia on Friday night and Andrade just the next night, having bangers with both men. Moxley also faced off with RUSH and Swerve had a brilliant match with Mark Briscoe. Bishamon won the WTL trophies for the 3rd time in a row, a new record, and did so in amazing fashion as they had a long and exciting match against ELP and Hikuleo. Monday Night RAW saw some of the best TV matches from WWE all year, with Sami facing off with Drew McIntyre and Rollins defending his title against Jey Uso in a thriller to end the show.
- Johnny Gargano & Tommasso Ciampa (DIY vs Imperium, WWE, 4/12)
- Jay White (Jay White vs Jay Lethal, AEW, 6/12)
- Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (Bishamon vs War Dogs & Bishamon vs ELP & Hikuleo, NJPW, 8/12 & 10/12)
- Trick Williams (Iron Survivor Challenge Match, NXT, 9/12)
- Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns vs Alexander & ZSJ, Impact, 9/12)
#10 - Christian Cage
Christian Cage makes it on this weeks list with a successful defence of his TNT Championship against long time friend turned rival, Adam Copeland, as they main evented AEW Dynamite in their home country of Canada.
This match was a masterclass in story driven in-ring action. A WWE style match that perfectly blended drama and work-rate as both men told a compelling story, even before the finish came to be. Copeland worked over Christian's hand throughout the match, forcing Christian to compremise of certain moves, like punching with his non-dominant hand. This gave Copeland the advantage at many points during the match, but Cage was just too smart and sneaky for him, dodging the Spear multiple times, even leapfrogging over it right into the Killswitch for a near fall.
The finish came when Adam bumped into the ref by accident, giving Cage the opportunity to kick poor Bryce in the balls and get the TNT title from the timekeepers table. Copeland had time to recover, however, and went for another Spear, but the two collided in the middle of the ring. Shayna Wayne (Nick Wayne's mother) came rushing down to the ring as both men were down and picked up the title. She hesitated for a bit before cracking Copeland in the skull with it, getting revenge for him Con-Chairtoing Nick a few weeks ago!
I thought this was a great match that showed how you can get a completely different style of match over with the AEW fans if you build the story correctly. It was filled with anger and passion and there wasn't a single second to downtime the whole match. Sure for some people the finish was too sport entertainy, but it progressed the story and made perfect sense too.
#9 - Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega had his first single match since losing to MJF for the AEW World title back in October, this time against another fellow Canadian, Ethan Page.
There wasn't too much story going into this match, only that Page wanted to test himself against one of the best wrestlers in the world in his home town, but as the match went along they told a compelling narrative based the size and strength difference between the two, with Page displaying his power in some impressive spots in the match. For the most part, however, Kenny was the guy who got the crowd into the match, and he was the clear babyface too, even though he was technically the obsticale Ethan was trying to overcome.
Kenny proved that even though he might not be as powerful as Page (which put over Page strong, as Kenny is always lorded as being a strong guy), he was certainly more experienced and intellegent in the ring, countering Ethan's slingshot cutter when he went for it a second time later in the match. Kenny's speed and striking were the main tools he used throughout the bout, as when he went for moves like the Dragon Suplex or the OWA Page could easily power his way out of them unless he was blasted with a few V-Triggers beforehand.
This was a fun exhibition match for Page, and a reminder that Kenny is one of the best in the world, even if he doesn't have the best match of the night, as he can put almost anyone over just by having a match with them.
#8 - Jey Uso
Jey Uso had his first ever WWE World Heavyweight title opportunity on this week's episode of WWE RAW as Seth Rollins gave him a title match for his work in the War Games match at Survivor Series.
This is undoutably Jey's best singles match. He put tons of effort and passion into this one, something that was very lacking in his other big title match against Roman at SummerSlam. The main bulk of the match was fairly standard, with Jey keeping his ground and outsmarting Rollins at points, but it was the final 10 or so minutes that really made the match.
There were tons of brilliant near falls and false finishes, including a Spear to Rollins and an Uso Splash that got a two count, followed up by a couple Superkicks before another splash that should have gotten him the win, but Rollins managed to kick out again. Jey is so over at the moment, so both these near falls got massive reactions from the crowd, to the point where you think about if they should have just given him the title at this point. He's definitely earned it, and that was personified in the intesity of the match.
Seth eventually got the win after Jey went for another Spear, but Rollins countered it into a Pedigree, and then followed it up with a Curb Stomp for the 1 2 3. A great TV main event that gave Jey the spotlight before getting taken out by McIntyre after the match.
#7 - Jon Moxley
Heading over to the Continental Classic now, and Jon Moxley had his third match of the tournament against RUSH, in what was a brutal and hard hitting affair to kick off this week's AEW Dynamite.
As I just mentioned, this was one of the most hard hitting matches of the tournament so far, and it's not surprising given the men involved. I think both men took it as a mission to look the strongest in this match, but they couldn't resist a bit of taunting every now and again too. They brawled on the outside for a while after exchanging some chops in the ring to start off the match, and RUSH suplexed Mox into the barricade, but Jon retaliated by hitting a massive tope suicida when he got back in the ring.
RUSH went for the Bull's Horns multiple times, but Mox either got out of the way or (my personal favourite) just smashed him with a King Kong Lariat for an awesome near fall. Mox tried to get the win with the Death Rider, but RUSH kicked out so Jon went for the choke instead, obviously knowing that RUSH was too reslitant for any other kind of finish. I liked that RUSH immediately getting up from the choke after passing out for a second as it looked realistic and helped put him over in defeat. Moxley is still unstoppable in this tournament though, and his post match promo's are brilliant too. I love the C2!
#6 - Sami Zayn
Back over to WWE now, and from the main event of RAW with Seth and Jey, to the opener. Sami Zayn challenged Drew McIntyre to a match after the latter was whining about losing to Rollins at Crown Jewel. A pretty good reason to be honest.
The match itself was a classic David vs Goliath matchup with Sami sustaining a freak injury to his ankle around a quarter of the way through. This would be the main focus of the match, but Sami managed to keep it hidden from Drew for a few minutes before McIntyre noticed Zayn limping around the ring. I thought his was a very clever way of changing up a limb work based match-up and made Sami look smart in the process, even if his injury would eventually lead to his downfall after Drew would take advantage of it at multiple points in the match.
Sami's selling was brilliant, from limping around the ring, failing to pick Drew up, and also fighting through the pain to get moves off too, all while giving us some great facials along the way. As you guys should know by now, I'm a sucker for limb work so this was a delight to see on RAW, and with two big stars like Sami and Drew, it felt like an important match to kick off the show.
#5 - Eddie Kingston
Eddie Kingston had his third match of the C2 against one of his most hated enemies in Claudio Castagnoli on this week's Collision show. Going into the match at 0-2 Eddie was pissed backed into a corner, having to get this win to stay in the tournament.
That intensity was evident by how Eddie started this match, throwing and Uraken and a Backdrop Suplex right off the bat for a near fall less than 30 seconds into it. From then on Claudio managed to take back control and Eddie goes into full babyface in perril, trying to fight off Claudio's power with his chops and strikes, but Claudio was just too far ahead at this point and none of these strikes really gave Kingston much of an in-road back into the match.
There were some great call backs to their previous matches, more specifically the finish, where Eddie reversed a Powerbomb into a roll up for the shocking win, which was how Claudio beat Kingston back at Supercard of Honor earlier in the year. It was one of the longest C2 matches and that made the flash win from Eddie more surprising, as a draw would have also been an interesting outcome to the two's trilogy.
#4 - Swerve Strickland
Swerve is back yet again with another great Continental Classic bout, this time against Mark Briscoe, who is on the verge of elimination going into the match.
You can tell Mark knows what perril he's in in this match, just by the way he starts the match. He doesn't go straight into a chopping battle like he did with Mox and RUSH, but instead takes it slow, trying to stop Swerve from increasing the pace and taking control. Ulimately Swerve would wrestle control of Mark after taking a beating when Mark started to get comfortable, swapping headlocks for chops.
Swerve would get cocky as soon as he was in control, slapping Briscoe in the face, and paying the price when Mark hit him with a Basement Dropkick through the ropes to the outside. They brawl around ringside for a while and Swerve hits him with a suplex off the barricade onto the floor. From here on Swerve was decisively in control, attacking the midsection and back of Briscoe.
Mark tried to go back to the side headlock like he started the match with, but the match was too far gone, and Mark was too weak to keep control, being sent into the ring post by Strickland. Swerve knew that he had to keep control and stop any momentum from Mark, while also giving himself enough time to get off his big top rope moves, which proved tricky as Briscoe kept coming back for more.
Briscoe got the knees up on a 450 splash, but Swerve would mirror him seconds later, getting the knees up on the Froggy Bow. Swerve hit a Death Valley Driver on the apron and then finally hit the Swerve Stomp for the win. This was a real struggle of a match and put over the importance of the match for Briscoe while making Swerve look very intelligent in the process.
#2 & 3 - El Phantasmo & Hikuleo
Beating TMDK in the semi finals of the World Tag League, El Phantasmo and Hikuleo met Bishamon in the finals, a rematch from the block stages of the tournament, where G.o.D. won. Going into it I was slightly underwhelmed by the match, and the whole booking of the tournament in general, but as a stand alone match it's hard to say that it was anything but awesome.
It was the longest WTL final in history at 40 minutes and 30 seconds, but it felt like it needed to go that long, especially when we got to the final ten minutes or so. The start of the match was similar to their block match, with Bishamon controlling one member of G.o.D. until the other comes in to make the save or get the got tag, and it's nothing too special, but ELP does some good highflying and Hikuleo portrays himself as much more of a monster than usual while Bishamon rattle off double team move after double team move. As we get to the 20 minute mark it seems like we're coming into the final stretch with some big kick outs from both teams, ELP hitting multiple Sudden Deaths and Hikuleo teasing a double God Send to both members of Bishamon, but this wouldn't be the end by a long shot.
G.o.D. would eventually bring out a table and set it up on the outside, and it would be the focus of the next half of the match really. Hikuleo teased God Sending Goto through it, but YOSHI-HASHI came in for the save and then GYR/Shoto'ed him off the apron and through the table, leaving ELP all on his own.
ELP is definitely the most over foreigner in New Japan at the moment, and this extended stretch at the end where he's battling off both members of Bishamon is amazing. He's reversing finishers, hitting even more Sudden Deaths, and kicking out of everything that's thrown at him, but in the end Phantasmo got hit with the Naraku and was pinned by Goto as Hikuleo was crawling to get the break, but couldn't make it.
This was the match of the tournament for me, and even though it was really long (too long a lot of people are saying) I think it helped put over ELP specifically. Making him even more a babyface than before. Bishamon are the current champions, so with their win they challenged ELP and Hikuleo to a rematch at Wrestle Kingdom, this time with the STRONG Openweight Tag titles and the IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles on the line too.
#1 - Bryan Danielson
Bryan is back again at the #1 position in the Worker of the Week list, and for good reason too. He had two of the best Conintental Classic matches so far, both of them being completely different. His first match of the week was against Daniel Garcia (well this one was actually taped last), and the second against Andrade El Idolo (taped a day before the Garcia match).
The Garcia match was one of the most important matches of the tournament for sure, as Garcia needed a win to stay alive in the tournament, but also to prove to himself that he's improving and still able to slay the Dragon, which he managed to do earlier in the year. This match was much the same as their previous as there was some incredible technical wrestling throughout that really told the story of Garcia kinda having Danielson's number, but always missing a step and allowing Bryan to get in offence. The most obvious example of this was when Garcia went for the "Dance" in the corner, allowing for Danielson to hit him with an insane Busaiku Knee to set up the Lebell Lock and get the win, but there were also moments where it was clear that Garcia was learning too. When he locked in the Dragon Slayer and pulled back too hard he managed to find a way to turn it into a piledriver instead, keeping the momentum on his side.
While Garcia was the main story in that match, it was clear that Danielson was a pivotal role in making it all come together so seemlessly and be the obsitacle that Danny needed to over come, and of course he played that role perfectly.
His next match with Andrade saw the roles reverse, however, as Danielson got beat to shit for the whole match. Andrade focused on Danielson's fractured orbital bone for the majority of the match, ripping off the eyepatch halfway through the match, digging at the socket and kneeing Bryan in the face as hard as he could. Danielson sold this so well though, both when taking the punishment, but also when he was on offence. You could clearly see the intensity of his strikes in direct retaliation to what Andrade was doing to him. Fighting back whenever he could, hitting some crazy moves, like a tope suicida out of the corner of the ring and a massive Backdrop Superplex from the top rope.
It was a match that could have easily gone either way and made sense, but Andrade winning after multiple running knees in the corner to the face of Danielson was probably the perfect ending to the match and gives Danielson some more story going into his final matches of the tournament.
Overall Danielson has been the best participent in the C2 so far and you can tell that he's loving every second of it, cutting the post match promos while trying not to burst out into a smile while talking about the matches and what they mean to him and his opponents.
This is what pro wrestling is meant to be.
Lets see how the leaderboard is looking before the final fortnight of 2023!