Coming off Wrestlemania week, this week was a lot calmer and concentrated in the amount of performances, with New Japan's amazing Sakura Genesis show being one of the best events of the year so far, taking up over half of this weeks list. On top of that we also had the start of AJPW's Champion's Carnival tournament and AEW's Battle of the Belts VI.
- Konosuke Takeshita (Konosuke Takeshita vs Tony Nese, ROH, 6/4)
- Lucha Brothers (Lucha Brothers vs QT Marshall & Powerhouse Hobbs, AEW, 7/4)
- Mike Bailey (Mike Bailey vs Jonathan Gresham, Impact, 6/4)
- Nathan Frazer (Dragon Lee vs Nathan Frazer, NXT, 4/4)
#10 - Athena
After successfully defending her ROH Women's World championship against Yuka Sakazaki at Supercard of Honor, Athena is not done with the TJPW roster as she faced a new challenger in the form of Miyu Yamashita on this week's Honorclub show.
This wasn't an easy defence for the champ as Miyu's stiff kicks had her on the back foot at the start of the match, but she managed to dodge all of the Pink Striker's devastating Skull Kick attempts at multiple points in the match. Athena would then get the advantage using the ringside environment, like the steps and the barricades to inflict a lot of damage to Yamashita.
The biggest spot of the match happened when Athena baited Miyu up the ramp, only to throw her off it into the gap between the stage and the crowd and land a massive cannonball from up high! Back in the ring the champion managed to evade another Skull Kick and lock in a Crossface in the centre of the ring to tap out the ace of TJPW!
A great heel performance from Athena just days after a great match at Supercard of Honor! One point for the ROH Women's champion!
#9 - Orange Cassidy
The workhorse of the AEW roster is back at it again this week with two matches under his shiny golden belt! His first was on Dynamite where he teamed with the Best Friends in a bid to take the AEW World Trios championship from The House of Black, and his second a AEW International title defence, fending off LFI's Dralistico on Battle of the Belts VI!
Riding into Dynamite in the most stylish way imaginable (in the back of Sue's van) Orange, Chuck, and Trent took the fight to HoB in a fast paced, all out brawl for the Trios titles. Orange really stood out in this match due to a great sequence with Buddy Matthews, where the two exchanged flashy offence like Buddy countering a DDT from OC and powering him into the turnbuckle for a massive snake eyes. Orange retaliated by Hurricanranaing Matthews to the outside only to get power bombed on the apron after Brody and Buddy caught him coming off the top rope. Cassidy managed to send all of the House to the outside and came crashing down on top of them with an assisted senton from the Best Friends!
The Dralistico match was good, but seemed more like a house show match than anything else. OC did his fun gimmicky offence, while Dralistico got off a few fun Lucha Libre maneuvers on the way to getting pinned with the Orange Punch. Overall a fun couple matches from Cassidy even if neither of them were too rememberable.
#8 - Yuma Aoyagi
A strong start to Yuma's Champion's Carnival tournament gets him on this weeks list. A big win over AJPW ace Kento Miyahara in Korakuen Hall this Saturday cementing his #8 spot!
The match kicked off with the two wrestlers dodging and evading each others moves as they've been facing off quite regularly this year in both single and tag team action. Yuma would eventually get the advantage on the outside after ramming Kento's head into the ring post and barricades over and over and taking the upper hand once action returned to the ring. He took this for granted however, as Miyahara would use Aoyagi's overconfidence against him and reverse the momentum in the corner leading to a big comeback from Yuma being the story of the rest of the match. Aoyagi would slowly work his way back to a level playing field against Kento, using the End Game submission to wear down his opponent, taking several Blackouts from the ace, but finally hitting the Rockstar Buster to pick up a surprising win in his first match of the tournament!
A strongly built match with great back and forth gets Yuma three points on this weeks list!
#7 - Jamie Hayter
Jamie added to her already incredible AEW Women's World championship reign this week on Dynamite, picking up a big win over former champion, Riho, in a stellar match.
Jamie's combination of selling and dominating offence created a wonderful back and forth match that made Riho look like a killer, but also made herself come across as a resilient and persistent champion, taking top rope hurricanranas, running double knees, and big crossbodies to the outside off the top rope!
Jamie also took it to the challenger with a particularly gnarly kick to the head of Riho while she was caught up in the ropes, as well as her signature running lariats that seemed to decapitate the first ever women's champion. The finish was great too, as Hayter failed to get the job done with a normal lariat, so she maintained wrist control and went straight into the ripcord HayterAde to keep Riho down for three!
A great hard hitting match in keeping with Hayter's recent title defences against some of the best joshi talent on the planet like Shida and Emi.
#6 - Hiromu Takahashi
Starting off the Sakura Genesis performances is the reigning IWPG Jr. Heavyweight champion Hiromu Takahashi who had a big challenge in front of him with the newest member of TMDK, Robbie Eagles!
The last time these two met one on one Robbie beat Hiromu for the title using the Robinson Special to tap out the Ticking Time Bomb in the MetLife Dome. This was the same strategy the Geezer of the Skies had in this match too with Hiromu's leg being the primary target. And by god was it the target. Robbie Eagles got the vast majority of the offence in this match, taking out Hiromu's leg every chance he got, as well as a scary Tope Con Hiro, with Takahashi selling it all perfectly. He was hobbling around trying to use his speed, but he physically couldn't, only getting some reprieve when he was barely able to hit big moves like the Victory Royale and the Timebomb.
Robbie would eventually synch in the Robinson Special that had the crowd on the edge of their seats waiting to see if Hiromu would submit yet again. Takahashi, however, would make it to the ropes and caught Eagles with a Timebomb 2 to pick up a shock win!
Great limb work from Robbie and amazing selling from Hiromu makes this one of the best matches of the week and gives Hiromu four points.
#5 - Shota Umino
Shota Umino challenged the technical wizard Zack Sabre Jr. for the NJPW TV title at Sakura Genesis in another brilliant championship bout on the show.
Shota came into the match with a lot more confidence and passion than a lot of his previous matches and it certainly translated into his in ring work too. After beating Zack in the New Japan Cup, Shota looked like he had a very good chance at knocking off ZSJ for the title with believable nearfalls and exciting roll-up exchanges that got the crowd biting on each count.
The main story of the match was Shota not being at his peak in terms of development. One of the main criticisms of him at the moment is his lack of originality. He comes out with Mox's Deathrider jacket, Tanahashi inspired gear, Naito-esque hair style, but most importantly using Moxley's Deathrider finisher that he managed to hit on ZSJ, but it failed to keep the champion down for three. This would led into Zack rolling up the Roughneck for the win and leaving Umino with a new challenge for him to overcome, becoming his own man.
A great performance from Shota non the less, with the crowd being more behind him than ever and looking like a million bucks in the ring, keeping the pace with one of New Japan's best.
#4 - Mercedes Mone
Mercedes' Japanese wrestling debut outside of the WWE is next on this list as she wrestled in a three way match, defending her IWGP Women's championship against AZM and Hazuki in a thrilling encounter that proved to the world that she can, in fact, hang with some of the highest of speed wrestlers Stardom has to offer.
This match was fantastic in both its speed and execution, with clever and innovative spots and interactions between all three wrestlers at the same time which made it stand out compared to a lot of other triple threat matches. Just the starting sequence with the three women effortlessly transitioning from roll up to roll up between each other set the stage for what kind of match it was going to be.
Mercedes worked well in this match putting submissions on both of the challengers at once, as well as running strikes into the corner doing big damage. Mone would try and set up for the Mone Maker multiple times, but was countered by the third women more often than not, which made for a interesting match dynamic throughout. She would eventually hit the Mone Maker on AZM, driving her into a prone Hazuki in the process allowing for her to retain her title. The way she hit the Mone Maker was a lot better looking this time in my opinion, even though some people though it looked sloppy, I saw it as being more brutal than the way she's executed it before.
A fun three way match that avoided most of the classic triple threat tropes you might see in a WWE version of the match. Mercedes makes her domestic NJPW debut and picks up seven points!
#3 - SANADA
The new IWGP World Heavyweight champion is #3 on this weeks list after taking out the finial boss of NJPW and one of his long time foes in Kazuchika Okada!
After leaving L.I.J. and joining with the newly named "Just 5 Guys" stable during the New Japan Cup, SANADA came into the biggest match of his entire career against Okada with a whole new look and entrance for the occasion. Coming to the ring with a more classic Japanese ace sounding entrance song and a sparkly robe covering up pair of short trunks with a fractal design, SANADA looked like a main event player for the first time, and he backed it up in the ring too.
This SANADA was a lot more fired up than normal, hitting moves with more intensity and pizazz and taking it to the champion like never before. The beginning feeling out stage was a lot quicker than their previous matches, as the bout would make its way to the outside and Okada would take control with a nasty DDT on the concrete floor. Back in the ring the two went hold for hold in a classic New Japan main event style counter wrestling sequence that saw SANADA fight out of the Money Clip multiple times as the champion tried to humiliate the Cold Skull as he had done many times before.
The finish was great, with SANADA countering a Cobra Flowsion with the Skull End, getting hit with the Landside, but coming back with a Rainmaker of his own. SANADA would try for the Deadfall, but got caught with an Enziguri. A Shining Wizard and a Rainmaker reversal into the Deadfall would finally spell the end for Okada's second reign, however, as SANADA would become the 6th IWGP World Heavyweight champion!
A great match by SANADA, finishing his story with Okada and the IWGP (World) Heavyweight championship!
#1 & 2 Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis
Are you tired of seeing these two on the lists every week? Well too bad. They deserve to be! Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis had by far the best match of the week, finally becoming the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team champions after defeating Bishamon for the belts at Sakura Genesis!
Early on in the match Fletcher hit a risky Moonsault to the outside, cracking the back of his head on the stand of the barricade, busting him open in what was an extremely scary accident. He powered through, however, getting back into the ring to deal some more damage to the champions, then tagging out so the ringside doctor cut tape up the massive gash in his cranium before getting right back into the action. And what action it was!
Both teams when 100 mph for the whole match, hitting tag move after tag move, never letting the other team get any rest. Aussie Open would hit all their signature tag moves like the Dental Plan and the assisted cutter of the top rope which had the crowd popping at every kick out. The crowd was going mental the whole match, and surprising were behind the challengers for the most part which was shocking to me at least, as Bishamon have been one of the most over domestic tag team New Japan have had in quite a while!
Overall the match was intense, with hard strikes and lariats, as well as thrilling counter and save sequences with Mark Davis coming in to save the weakened Fletcher on multiple occasions which only made the crowd hotter. This was truly the match that Aussie Open needed to connect with the Japanese audience as their fighting spirit was undeniable. Ten points for Kyle, for obvious reason, and nine to Davis for his composure and supporting role in the match!
Here's the updated scoreboard at the end of week fourteen: