Week seventeen was a relatively quiet one, but we still had some great matches from New Japan's Wrestling Satsuma no Kuni and Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2023 shows, as well as a few stand out matches from NXT, WWE, and AEW.
- DOUKI (DOUKI vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW, 27/4)
- Jeff Jarrett (Dax Harwood vs Jeff Jarrett, AEW, 26/4)
- Bandido (Orange Cassidy vs Bandido, AEW, 26/4)
#10 - Sammy Guevara
In the "final" match of the short Four Pillars Tournament for a shot at MJF's AEW World championship, Sammy faced off with Darby Allin on AEW Dynamite this week.
It was definitely a match one might call a "spot fest", with the overarching story being more focused on the lead up to the four way match at Double or Nothing, but still served as a great way to set up the tag match between the Four Pillars on next weeks show while delivering in the ring.
The match started with good, smooth chain wrestling, with some showboating from the egocentric Sammy G, before he took advantage with some heel tactics on the outside. He hit some fantastic moves, like a Moonsault from the apron to the outside while MJF cheered on his "best friend" from the commentary table. Guevara then got a table on the outside and hit an insane 630 senton through it on Darby! MJF would run down to ringside, and as the referee was distracted by Tay, and throw Allin's skateboard to him and Sammy did the ol' Guerrero and acted like he got hit with it, thus causing the ref to DQ Allin so Sammy would get the win!
This was a really story based match that had some great throwback spots mixed in with some more innovative ones too.
#8 & 9 - Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
KO and Sami had their first Undisputed WWE Tag Team championship defence on this weeks Smackdown where they defended against the former champions The Usos, in a Wrestlemania Main Event rematch!
This was by no means as good as their match at Wrestlemania, but still had some great action despite the annoying ad breaks that disrupted the flow of the match. The match itself didn't really have much story in or surrounding it regarding Sami and Kevin, but it was fast and had great intensity from both sides. Sami and Kevin really showed their tag team chemistry with a great finish that saw Owens hit the Stunner and get the hot tag to Sami who wouldn't waste any time Helluva Kicking one of the Uso (I have trouble remembering who's who).
Nothing too special, and not a match people will remember, but a great TV main event that had the crowd rocking by the end of it.
#7 - Carmelo Hayes
Carmelo Hayes makes his first appearance on Worker of the Week this week after a blow away match against Grayson Waller on this weeks NXT Spring Breakin', defending his NXT championship!
This match was much better than I imagined it would be, and I was really impressed by both men, but Carmelo's performance really stuck with me. The two started the match in classic fashion with quick and clean mat work, but switched to a more highflying and flashy set of spots that were insanely innovative. Melo hit a clean looking DDT with springboarding off the ropes from inside the ring that caught Grayson by the head, unawares. During the break Waller targeted Carmelo's left knee and it was a great way to set up a story mid match without necessarily taking the crowd and TV audience out of the bout for too long. The Aussie would also pull off some spectacular moves like the Rolling Stunner on Melo while he was in mid air, and an impactful Elbow Drop from the top rope through the table.
Carmelo sold the leg well most of the match, but fell into the same trap than many other young wrestlers do when it came to the end of the match, kinda forgetting about it and just going for the finish regardless. It was a good effort though, and I appreciate seeing stuff like this from the new NXT. The finish was right up my alley, however, as the champion took advantage of the challenger clipping the ropes as he tried the Rolling Stunner yet again, hitting him with Nothing But Net for the win.
#5 & 6 - Kevin Knight & KUSHIDA
Knight and KUSHIDA took on the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champions Catch 2/2 on Night 6 of NJPW's Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2023 tour, and claimed Jr. Tag gold in the process!
This was a really fun match that could have gone either way as Catch 2/2 were really on a roll as tag champs and could have easily kept the titles through Best of the Super Jrs. and set up a new pair of challengers along the way. The Jetsetters worked really well together in the match with KUSHIDA's technical prowess and Knight's hops making for a unique set of double team moves like Kevin and KUSHIDA rolling together and launching the latter into a Hoverboard Lock on one of their opponents.
On top of their tag team work, Kevin shone in this match as a solo wrestler, showing off his unbelievable Dropkicks and highflying moves. He did botch a few times, however, one leading to TJP being busted open just above the eye, but he did manage to get the match back on track each time by himself. There were some great nearfalls in the bout and KUSHIDA was great at setting these up, as he would help Knight guide the match from the offset.
The end of Catch 2/2's title reviving reign was amazing and helped put over both a new star and would revitalise a legendary career for KUSHIDA, who's not really made too many waves in Japan since returning to the company in June of last year.
#4 - Taichi
Speaking of title changes! Taichi comes in a #4 on this week's list after a brutal 40+ minute war with long time rival Shingo Takagi for the KOPW Provisional championship in a "Takagi-Style Triad Match" at Wrestling Satsuma no Kuni! The rules were that you had to win in three out of five different ways in order to claim the title: Submission, Pinfall, Count out, KO, and TKO.
This match was very similar to Shingo vs Henare just a few week before, but the story between Taichi and Shingo made for a much more emotional encounter that played off of Taichi's past and present which made the match even more compelling than it already was due to the physicality and the unique stipulation.
Shingo and Taichi just beat the shit out of each other with Gamengiri's and Bombers being the main ammunition used in this fire fight of a match. There were some great submission spots too, in which Taichi would desperately try and tap Takagi out with the Stretch Plumb, which was the submission move used by Taichi's trainer and AJPW legend Toshiaki Kawada, and the move that secured our Holy Emperor the win after keeping it on Shingo for what felt like an age and forcing the referee to call for the bell.
There were some really annoying inconsistencies in this match, however, that really brought my enjoyment of it down. For some reason Red Shoes would not initiate the standing ten count on a wrestler for no reason, even though that was one of the main focuses throughout the match. But I can't really fault the wrestlers involved for that. Even still it would have probably got Taichi the top spot on this week's list if it wasn't a problem.
#2 & 3 - Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis
I told you this week had some great tag team wrestling, and you can't talk about tag team wrestling without including the best tag team in the world today, Aussie Open! AO had their first IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team championship defence of their reign at Wrestling Satsuma no Kuni against another pair of Aussies, TMDK.
This match was perfect for what it was, just classic tag team wrestling, where every move felt like it mattered. Even in the early goings there would be simple yet highly effective movements in the ring that made Kyle and Mark feel like they were of one mind, for example, Kyle being sent to the outside and reaching from the floor to pull down the top rope to save Davis from a running attack from TMDK. It wasn't something that was a pivotal moment in the match, but the way it was executed made it seem real as Kyle wasn't waiting on the apron or against the ropes to do it, rather it was just a spur of the moment decision to save his tag partner.
The tag work was incredible, with both teams working flawlessly with each other both inter-tag team and intra-tag team wise, as you could see in one of the smoothest synchronized high spots I've seen in quite a while! Overall it was a typical Aussie Open banger, and a great way to start off their (hopefully long) Heavyweight Tag Team championship reign!
#1 - Hiromu Takahashi
Taking the top spot this week is the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champion Hiromu Takahashi, who defended his belt against Just Five Guys member, Yoshinobu Kanemaru on Night 6 of the Road to Wrestling Dontaku series.
What I loved about this match was how well Hiromu sold the fact that Kanemaru might actually have a shot at winning, even though it was obvious that Takahashi wouldn't be losing on his way to facing SANADA at Wrestling Dontaku for the IWGP World Heavyweight championship.
Hiromu came into the match with his nagging injury to his leg that was originally targeted by Eagles in his title match against him back at Sakura Genesis and the ever crafty and wise Uncle Nobu would continue the onslaught and take the champion to the very edge in a 30 minute barn-burner. Kanemaru's Figure Four attempts were perfect and Hiromu sold them like death, desperately trying to reach the ropes multiple times, fighting through the pain. When he did escape he would stubble around on the leg and fall over when trying to run, and favouring it when delivering suplexes and other lifting moves.
This kind of selling is something I rarely see and made the match that much more enjoyable. The hot crowd and the slow build help make the audience buy into the match which seemed like a forgone conclusion at the beginning. Not many wrestlers can pull something like that off, but Hiromu Takahashi is certainly one of them. Ten points to the IWGP Jr. champion!
Here's a look at the current leaderboard standings after this week!