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Worker of the Week 51

Coming down to the penultimate week of the year and there has been some terrific graps to round us off. AEW finished off the block stage of the Continental Classic with some big upsets and hard hitting action. New Japan looks forward to the Dome on the 4th on January with two Road to Tokyo Dome shows that saw one of the best NEVER Six-man defences of the year and the United Empires Young Boy, Callum Newman, step up to the plate against Ishii in an outstanding match that showcased the future of New Japan. Even WWE had a few good TV matches this week, with GUNTHER's Intercontinental title defence bringing out the best in The Miz!


Honourable Mentions:

- Julius and Brutus Creed (Judgement Day vs Creed Brothers, WWE, 18/12)

- Swerve Strickland (Swerve Strickland vs RUSH, AEW, 20/12)

- Roderick Strong (Roderick Strong vs Komander, AEW, 20/12)

- Orange Cassidy (Orange Cassidy vs Rocky Romero, AEW, 22/12)



#10 - Daniel Garcia

Kicking off this week list is Daniel Garcia, as his one and only Continental Classic win got one of the largest pops of the year, and 1 point for WOTW!

In Garcia's final match of the tournament we see his story "ark" come to a close in a bout that perfectly encapsulated the Blue League as a whole for Danny. Facing Brody King in his last match personified the struggle and grind that Danny went through the last month, and served it on a platter, goading him into finishing it all. Backed into a corner and determined not to be a loser, Garcia went at King with everything he had and put on one of the most passion performances of the tournament so far.

Brody destroyed Garcia for the most of the match, as you'd expect by the way both men have been booked in the tournament, but Garcia was a reliant as ever, battling through the onslaught of attacks, using his dance, once again, as a crutch to get the crowd behind him. After a few unsuccessful attempts at a Backdrop Suplex, Danny finally managed to life up the hulking frame of King and dump him over his shoulder to a massive pop, before running for the Jackknife pin and picking up his only three points of the tournament!

Garcia's whole tournament has been so rewarding to watch as it not only represents his return to form as one of the hottest prospects in wrestling, but it also served as an allegory for AEW as a promotion, trying to find its place in the business once again.


#8 & 9 - Zack Sabre Jr. & Kosei Fujita

Heading over to Japan now, and the TMDK team of Zack Sabre Jr. and Kosei Fujita had a pair of fun tag matches as ZSJ prepared to face his Wrestle Kingdom challenger, Tanahashi. Their first match was somewhat of a warm-up match on paper, going against the Young Blood tag team of Oskar Leube and Yuto Nakashima, but it turned out to be more a challenge than they imagined. The second match was against the Dream Team of Okada and Tanahashi in their final matches before Wrestle Kingdom.

The first match was better than I expected from a young lions match, but these four really made something of substance from the bout. All of these guys were good to great on the mat, but the varying body sizes made for some fun and interesting moments and strategies. Oskar being the tallest by far, Yuto being the heaviest, Zack being the lankiest, and Fujita being the smallest. This meant that each wrestler could bring something of their own to the match, whether that was Zack targeting the legs, Oskar using his strength to throw people around the ring, Yuto using his size to bowl over is opponents, or Fujita applying his agility to get the upper hand, as well as showing off some of his own strength when suplexing Nakashima.

The next night saw the pair go up against two legends in Kazuchika Okada and, the now president of NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi. This match undelivered just a touch I would say, but was still good as we got some top guys facing off, including a lovely sequence from Okada and Sabre, which is always a pairing I'll go out of my way to see. Okada harkened back to earlier in the year with his hatred for the youngsters of New Japan, now deeming Kosei to be unworthy of taking the Rainmaker and beating him with a modified neck lock instead. There wasn't anything too memorable about the match otherwise, but it was clean and well executed pro wrestling, and you can't go wrong with that.



GUNTHER had yet another great match defending his Intercontinental championship, in what has now become a legendary reign with the belt. What's also legendary about GUNTHER is that he got a great match out of The Miz, which seldom few have managed. The two went at it on Monday Night RAW this week, as The Miz put his right to any further challenges to GUNTHER's title on the line in the match.

This match was a lot better than their Survivor Series match, with a lot more fire from The Miz and a lot more psychology too. The Miz would work the hand and arm of GUNTHER after he accidentally chopped the ring post, giving Miz something to go after, and a real chance of taking the belt, unlike the SS bout. GUNTHER sold the arm really well and gave Miz a lot of shine in the match. At one point GUNTHER had Boston Crab in, but the arm gave out and Mike was able to counter out, working the arm even more throughout the match, and getting a nearfall with a Skull Crushing Finale of the ropes. GUNTHER was still able to overwhelm Miz, however, and would eventually get the win with the Powerbomb after a Rainmaker. A rare sight in the lands of the fed.

Another great defence from GUNTHER, who's definitely been the MVP of WWE this year, something that's reflected on these lists (He's currently #22 on the list).


#6 - Jay White

This week Jay White clutched his spot in the Gold League finals of the Continental Classic after defeating Jon Moxley for a second time in his career on Dynamite, and making the three way semi-final for next week's episode. This was another big win for White this year, beating MJF clean less than a month before.

The match was very character driven, as most White matches are, but not at the expense of the in-ring work, which was a top notch too. Jay was as cocky and annoying as he normally is at the start of big matches, but Mox came at him quick, forcing White into the meat of the match from the start. Moxley delivered the majority of the offence at the beginning, trying to beat down White from the bell, but Jay would target the leg of Mox throughout the match, eventually turning the momentum to his side.

Moxley would work his way back, hitting lariats and chops to wear White down, but Jay would get two chairs in the ring and hit Mox with one for the cut off. Mox tried again to get back in the match, but White's counters were too good and he would get the Blade Runner on Moxley for the win. Although this wasn't the most spectacular match of the C2 it was still a thrilling encounter due to the stakes and the two's well defined characters.


#5 - El Hijo del Vikingo

El Hijo del Vikingo makes it onto this week's list after having a Final Battle rematch against Black Taurus for the AAA Mega title on Rampage a week later. This time Vikingo took a lot more of the spotlight and he was a lot more consistent this time, which is why he made it on this list instead of Taurus again, even though he also had a great showing!

They didn't do too much different from their Final Battle match in terms of story or style, but they let a whole new bunch of moves out the bag for this one, and in a slightly more compact package, only going 14 minutes compared to their 16 at FB. Vikingo did show more strength here than in the first, so that was a nice bit of continuity between the matches, as Vikingo caught a flying Taurus, which flipped the script somewhat, looking back at last weeks match.

Not to much more to say with this match, being so similar to the last, but it was still a lovely little expansion pack for their rivalry, and I hope to see Taurus and Vikingo wrestle each other a lot more in the future.


#4 - Eddie Kingston

Coming back from his first two losses in the C2, Eddie Kingston picked up his third win in a row to secure himself a place in the Blue League Final on Wednesday.

Both men came in with the opportunity to make the final, so they took it slow and steady to start, but both tried to get off some signature moves out of no-where. Andrade going for the running back elbow, and Eddie going for the Uraken, both of which were dodged, before going back to a slower more cautious approach. After the first ad break was when the action really picked up. Andrade would blast Eddie with a basement dropkick and a couple Dragon Screws in order to set up the Figure 4/8, and take control of the match, getting off the double knees in the corner for a two count.

Eddie would gain the advantage with an anti-air Enziguri and the Kobo Chops in the corner, really picking up the intensity now that Andrade could end it at any time due to Kingston's leg. Andrade would take control for a minute, but Eddie powered out of the Hammerlock quickly and hit the Exploder Suplex, but Andrade fired back with the Spinning Back Elbow for a great near-fall before locking in the Figure 4. Kingston tried to block and got to the ropes immediately, followed up by two Urakens and a Northern Lights Bomb to win and go to the blue block final!

Kingston sold really well in this match. Not just the damage taken in the match, but he sold the importance of the match itself, adapting throughout the bout and changing up his pacing to emphasise that he could lose the match at any time, but also win in the same fashion. Great in-ring storytelling!


#3 - Mark Briscoe

Speaking of important matches, Mark Briscoe's match against Jay Lethal wasn't important at all, at least looking at in from a tournament standpoint. Both men were already eliminated, so a win from either didn't affect anything, but it was still a match for pride. It's also a very personal match for them too, as this was a rematch of the first match Mark had after Jay Briscoe passed away and Lethal was very good friends with Jay, so it had a lot of emotions running through it.

They knew that they needed something extra to get the crowd involved in this particular match and built a great story around using a chair in the match, with Briscoe introducing one early in the bout and throughout, but the referee thwarting his plans nearly every time, hell even Lethal tried to use it as well! Between these spots Mark wrestled at his usual all out pace with his wacky Redneck Kung-Fu getting the crowd into every moment of the match.

The crowd was really a make or break for this match I think, but that doesn't take anything away from the work these two did, as they really brought their A game. The final chair spot of the match was brilliant as Mark used it to assist him in a tope to Lethal on the outside to a massive pop.

This was an example of how to get people invested in a match, something Mark is really great at doing. It might be one of his best characteristics as a wrestler in general, something a lot of guys and girls lack, even in the top spots in the industry.


#2 - Bryan Danielson

We talked about Eddie making it to the blue block final of the C2 tournament, so lets talk about his opponent coming up this Wednesday, Bryan Danielson!

Danielson walked into Collision this Saturday at nine points against his opponent's, Claudio Castagnoli, six. It was a must win for Claudio, but Danielson had to win or draw to get through, which he did, but it was as a result was the latter, leaving him at the top of the block with ten points.

The match was a very technical affair, as you'd expect, with some great call backs to previous matches between the two in WWE like the La Mistica into the LeBell Lock. Claudio kept it respectful and clean for most of the match, trying to out wrestle Danielson one on one, no funny business or emotional baggage included. Bryan would pick up the pace halfway through the match as he tried to get the Busaiku Knee off, but Claudio countered into the Giant Swing which was a highlight of the match.

As the time limit drew closer Claudio switched up his plan and trying to get the pin as fast as possible. He hit the neutralizer for a near fall and then locked in the Sharpshooter at the minute mark, wrenching back as hard as possible before the time limit eventually expired without Danielson tapping.

Danielson was great this whole match, putting over Claudio as just as much of a technical wizard as he is with his selling and facial expressions throughout the match. He's truly a once in a generation wrestler and he's proved it going all the way through this tournament and making it to the semi-finals with a broken orbital bone.


#1 - Tomohiro Ishii

Tomohiro Ishii is an under-rated pick for wrestler of the year in 2023 in my opinion. He's one of the most consistently remarkable wrestlers in the world, and being 48 years old just adds to how awesome of an in-ring competitor his still is. He had two amazing matches this week, two of the best I dare say. His first as part of the NEVER six-man tag team champs as they defended against HENARE, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb in the main event of Korakuen Hall. He also took on Callum Newman the night after which was another banger.

The NEVER six-man title match was amazing, and possibly the best of the year. It was mostly the Ishii and HENARE show, as the two had an extended finishing stretch filled with headbutts, lariats, counters, dodges, more headbutts, forearms, and even more lariats. It was exhilarating to say the least and put over HENARE big time, as he nearly had Ishii beat multiple times with the Streets of Rage, the Rampage slam, and some nasty looking knees. Ishii managed to power through, however, and hit the Brainbuster for the win. This was a classic strong style fight that Ishii has become synonymous with and in a sold out Korakuen Hall it was always going to be magic.

His second match of the week against Newman was brilliant too, as he was faced with a who new challenge. Instead of a heavy hitting bruiser like HENARE, now he had to deal with a highflying and incredibly fast Newman. Callum was very impressive in this match, even if he was facing one of the easiest to wrestle guys in the company to get a good match from. Ishii beat the shit out of Newman just like HENARE, but instead of firing back with just strikes he made his comebacks with Os-Cutters, Spanish Flies and even tried for a Phoenix Splash (that failed to connect).

This was obviously a test for Newman after touring in Japan for a few months now, and although it not the hardest thing in the world to have a good match with Ishii, the crowd got behind him, chanting his name at multiple points in the match. It's clear that if all goes to plan that Callum Newman will be the second coming of Ospreay, something that New Japan will need in the future.


Only one more week left of 2023 and we've had some substantial changes to the top 20 on the leaderboard this week, with the likes of White, Sabre, and Vikingo all making their way up the list while Danielson holds on strong at the top, cementing his victory as the worker of the year!


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