Worker of the Week: Week 12
This week saw great wrestling from all over the world, with one of the most diverse lists of the year so far. Companies like GLEAT, AJPW, AEW, NJPW, and Stardom make up the penultimate list before a massive WrestleMania Weekend!
- Yukio Naya (Yuji Hino vs Yukio Naya, DDT, 21/3)
- Kenoh (Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura vs Kenoh & Manabu Soya, AJPW, 21/3)
- Jonathan Gresham (Mike Bailey vs Jonathan Gresham, Impact, 24/3)
- AZM & Hazuki (AZM vs Hazuki, Stardom, 26/3)
#10 - Waka Tsukiyama
The perennial underdog of Stardom and Cosmic Angel, Waka Tsukiyama, earned her first win of her 2 and a half year career on Sunday! Teaming with Tam Nakano and going against KAIRI and Nanae Takahashi at New Blood Premium. It wasn't a small task to undertake, but the pressure of having her career on the line gave her that extra motivation, leading to a big pinfall win over Nanae!
The match itself was nothing extraordinary, with standard tag team action and lots of pin break ups from Nakano, it saw Waka try, try, and try again to get the pin with a tiger suplex style roll-up. The pins looked quite bad as she never managed to keep the bridge, having to roll to the side and cover her opponent like she just did a schoolboy, but in the end her performance as a the ultimate underdog deserves at least one point in this weeks list.
#9 - Mike Bailey
Back on the list once again, Mike Bailey picks up two points for his third singles match with Jonathan Gresham this year. These two have really great chemistry and their matches never fail to disappoint, even though this may be the weakest of the three.
Wrestling in Bailey's home country of Canada on Impact's Sacrifice event, the match centred around both opponents legs, using kicks, chops, and submission hold to try and keep the other down after an amazing technical start consisting of clean arm drags into leg scissor headlocks. Mike's mat work was solid, but sprinkled in with some highflying and hard hitting action. it really showed what makes Bailey one of the best in the world.
The finish of the match was very unique too as Gresham locked in the figure four multiple time only for Speedball to quickly counter, tapping out Jonathan to win what was undoubtedly the match of the night!
#7 & 8 - Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis
Another couple WOTW regulars are up next, Aussie Open! These two can never seemed to have a bad match, and their tag bout with Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal on this weeks ROH on HonorClub show only lent that claim more credence than ever! They also had a solid match with United Empire teammate Jeff Cobb against Okada and Bishamon at the New Japan Cup Finals.
The combination of Kyle's speed, Mark's power, and both of their explosivity makes even the most simple and inconsequential of matches feel like a big deal, maximising their time in the ring. After a fairly slow start, with Mark getting beatdown at the beginning, Kyle manages to tag in and the two take control of the match with double team moves against the recently reformed team in Daniels and Sydal. Aussie Open were also on point with their selling in this match, never just standing in one position waiting for the next spot, but acting dazed and on jelly legs in-between moves which always help the realism of a match.
The six-man tag team match on the New Japan Cup Final was fast paced, all out action that helped put over Aussie Open as the #1 contenders for Bishamon's Heavyweight Tag Team championship. Kyle's kicks and chops really stood out in this match as well as his aggression on the outside, slinging YOSHI-HASHI into the barricade at terminal velocity. After a few failed attempts, Mark Davis managed to pin YOSHI-HASHI in tag team action after Kyle did so in singles during the New Japan Cup, solidifying their claim to the Tag Team championship!
A solid performance in two matches this week for Aussie Open giving Mark three points, and Fletcher four.
#6 - Yuji Hino
The KO-D Openweight champion, Yuji is back on the list this week, having a great match against fellow beefy boi, Yukio Naya. Successfully defending the title in a slugfest of a match at DDT's five hour long Judgement show in Korakuen Hall.
Not too much to say about the match itself as it was a combinations of chops, forearms, suplexes, and lariats, typical of the style. The match was just extremely well executed and paced that allow both wrestlers to shine at different points as they tested each others strength and fighting spirit with shoulder tackle trades and, uncommonly for this type of match, some big top rope elbows and splashes being exchanged too.
Hino showed a lot of fighting spirit in this match, which was a classic Japanese heavyweight struggle interspersed with big top rope spots to try and set it apart from the rest. A massive powerbomb that drove Naya straight into the mat would get him the dub and five points on this weeks list!
#5 - Yuji Nagata
Its the return of the Yujies this week apparently, and its another big boi title defence from Blue Justice Yuji Nagata! He faced off with the massive Shuji Ishikawa on the third night of All Japan's Dream Power series, defending his AJPW Triple Crown championship for the first time since beating Miyahara.
This was a great match that, though plodding at points, told a captivating story of Nagata being outsized for once, which is rare considering he's one of the bigger competitors in New Japan. It was similar to the Hino vs Naya match in that there were lots of struggles and tests of strength in different forms throughout the match, but Ishikawa would work over Nagata midsection for a good portion of the match, showcasing the size disparity between the two. Nagata sold really well in this match, probably due to him being gassed for real, as he would struggle to get Shuji up for big moves even though he could still get off most of his offence. Some big bumps on the outside saw Yuji in a very dire situation before a great comeback that saw big backdrop drivers from Blue Justice which eventually managed to keep the overbearing Shuji down for the three count.
An unexpected banger from two men in the twilights of their careers and one of my favourite title matches of the week! Yuji Nagata gets six points!
#4 - Kaito Ishida
The G-REX champion of GLEAT, Kaito Ishida, defended his championship against Bulk Orchestra member, KAZUMA SAKAMOTO in the main event of the G PROWRESTLING Ver.47 show on the 24th of March (broadcast date) in a knee and kick filled match that had everyone's thighs red by the end of it.
It was a great back and forth match that saw stiff kicks, shining wizards, and brutal knees take up the majority of the offence bell to bell, with Kaito bringing some flashy and impactful moves like a midair victory roll driver and neck breaking half and half suplexes in between his lightning quick kicks and Enziguris that sounded amazing (even though they slapped their thighs a lot, but im totally fine with that anyway).
The end saw a double down spot into a great, faced paced finish with pass bys, counters, and reversals leading to some convincing near falls. They would then go into a striking exchanged that evolved from forearms to slaps and finally Kaito caving SAKAMOTO's head in with multiple kicks to the head to a defenceless challenger that rendered him unable to compete and the referee calling for the bell to end a fantastic match!
#3 - Lio Rush
Lio Rush had an amazing match for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship at Tuesday's New Japan Cup Final against Hiromu Takahashi, which many people were looking forward to the whole tour. It didn't disappoint either!
The story centred around Rush's speed being superior to Hiromu's and Hiromu having to find a way to counter a problem he very rarely has. Lio definitely used this advantage, coming out of the gates hot, ducking and dodging Hiromu at every turn, but it wasn't long before Hiromu managed to get Rush's timing down and started to counter a lot of his offence, landing big moves of his own like the Victory Royal and the Timebomb. Lio still had a lot of heart in him though, kicking out of everything while making it to the top rope multiple times to hit the Rush Hour, but was unsuccessful each time. He even hit the Direct Drive (YOH's finish) in a bid to finally hit his own match ending move, which was a lovely gesture that fit the story, but it ultimately failed as well.
A great high speed match for the Jr. title that still had tons of story packed into it, making the long 20 minute runtime fly by.
#2 & 1 - Kenny Omega & El Hijo del Vikingo
Ok I'm putting these two together because it would be really hard to write anything substantial in just one segment let alone two.
I say that, not because this match didn't have anything substantial to it, but because how can one effectively convey such awe inspiring athleticism in words on a little computer/phone screen? There wasn't any phycology or limb work, but that's not all wrestling is, or has to be, so having the occasional "spot-fest" match isn't something that has to be looked down upon, especially when you have two of the best at that style of match in the world on your TV.
There were multiple times in this match where I thought either one of these guys could be dead right there and then (the top rope powerbomb reversal from Vikingo and the springboard 630 on the table), so when the finish came it was one of the first times I've ever been relived that a match was over, regardless of the outcome.
Truly one of the great Dynamite matches in the show's history and one that, hopefully, introduced El Hijo del Vikingo to thousands of new fans across the world, because as Kenny said after the match: "A big motivator in creating AEW was unity. Coming together for one common goal, an open door to a platform for the best pro wrestling." (Sports Illustrated)
Nine points for Omega, and the full TEN to Vikingo for an amazing AEW debut!
Here's the leaderboard after week 12 of Workers of the Week!