Updated: Jan 19
The second week of 2023 is over and gave us some amazing performances from all over the globe! An amazing deathmatch, crazy ladder match, and some historic moments where just the highlights of the past seven days.
Honourable mentions for Week 2:
-Jordynne Grace (Jordynne Grace vs Mickie James, Impact, 13/1)
-Josh Alexander (Josh Alexander vs Bully Ray, Impact, 13/1)
-Trey Miguel (Trey Miguel vs Black Taurus, Impact, 13/1)
-Kaito Ishida (El Lindaman vs Kaito Ishida, GLEAT, 12/1)
-Kaito Kiyomiya (Kaito Kiyomiya vs Amakusa, NOAH, 9/1)
-Naruki Doi (Yuki Ueno vs Daisuke Sasaki vs Naurki Doi, DDT, 13/1)
#10 - Mickie James
At Impact's Hard To Kill event on Friday, Mickie James completed her "Last Rodeo" which was her own personal mission to become the Impact Knockout's Champion one more time. If she had lost any of her singles matches along the way she vowed that her in-ring career would come to an end. From the beginning in September in 2022, Mickie has faced off against the likes of Deonna Purrazzo, Mia Yim, and Chelsea Green on her path to her biggest challenge, Jordynne Grace, the Impact Knockout's Champion.
The match was intense the whole way through with James' passion and will to win evident at all times. She looked in the prime of career in the bout but also put over the insane strength of Grace with good selling, especially when she was caught in the champion's submissions. Mickie also showed a lot of intelligence in the match when she would get a near-fall, because she would always get right back on top of Grace hitting, or at least trying, big moves whenever she could which really added to the importance of the match.
Other than a weird spot where it seemed that Mickie tapped out while in Grace's Sleeper Hold, this was a perfect match from both women, but Mickie looked impressive and I can't wait to see how her title reign progresses this year. 1 point for Mickie this week!
#9 - Suzu Suzuki
Similar to Mickie James, Suzu Suzuki, one of the most 'prominent' joshis on the independent scene, also has somewhat of a challenge on her hands. Her ten deathmatch series continued this week as she faced Toshiyuki Sakuda in, you guessed it, a deathmatch!
This was one of the more brutal matches of the year so far with insane spots like Suzu getting a comically large needle stabbed through her cheek, and in retaliation stapling her opponents mouth shut, literally. They both wrestled like this for a while too, which gave an unhinged quality to the match that I've not seen in any other I've watched before. Other weapons included chairs, a board of safety pins, and what I can only describe as small coloured gems? or maybe they were metal? I don't know, but they definitely hurt.
Overall a really brutal match and even though Suzu didn't win she definitively proved that she's a tough SOB and a truly hardcore professional wrestler for a 19 year old woman.
#8 - Shun Skywalker
A big week for Shun Skywalker this week. Two really good matches in which he completely shifted the trajectory of the whole Dragon Gate promotion. Winning the top championship in the company and disbanding the High End unit, prompting major changes in the roster.
His first match was the Ten-man Elimination Match where the losing unit would disband. His team, Z-Bratz, vs High End. He scored the winning pin on YAMATO in a fast paced and exciting match typical of the Dragon Gate style. Coming into the match with a five on four advantage Z-Bratz were confident for the majority of the match until Kagetora made his big return in a last ditch effort to save his faction, but he wasn't enough to keep High End alive against Shun's brutal offence and menacing charisma.
His second match was against the Open the Dream Gate champion, Yuki Yoshioka, for the title. Shun dominated for the whole match, in all aspects. Starting with a fun little technical wrestling exchange in which Yoshioka seemed to be unable to stay on top for any significant amount of time. Then the match moved to the outside where the champ got beat down by Shun while his Z-Bratz teammates occupied the ref, allowing him to destroy Yuki with a chair. In my opinion this portion of the match as no better than a House of Torture match which really brought down my enjoyment of the match.
The last third of the match, however, was really awesome. Shun's character work really shone in this part and him no-selling all of Yoshioka's big moves really made him feel like a monster. His own moves also contributed to this, with an insane single leg running dropkick that looked like it took Yuki's head off. A really good performance from Shun this week even if I thought that the title match could have been made better by taking out all the goofy HoT type shenanigans.
#7 - Rey Fenix
It was hard to pick only a few of these guys to put on this weeks list, as I don't want to flood the list with all the competitors of the amazing Escalera De La Muerte match which capped off the terrific best of seven series between Death Triangle and The Elite.
Out of the Death Triangle team I think Rey Fenix really stood out with all the amazing dives and top rope moves he did including an amazing arm-drag on Matt at the start when he was climbing the ladder, as well as multiple tope suicidas and the hurricanrana on Nick from the top rope onto an ladder. He also helped set up loads of spots and made sure everyone in the match was safe, which is something not many people talk about in these types of matches.
The whole Best of Seven series was amazing and Fenix was obviously a massive part in that, so he gets 4 points this week!
#6 - Kenny Omega
My man does it again! Only one week after his all time great match against Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17 he puts on another MOTYC on 'free' TV for everyone to enjoy.
In my opinion Kenny's best contribution to this match was his selling. Him going through the table seeming aggravated his sports hernia that he was healing up from over his absence in 2021-2022 was great continutity. Also PAC working his hand by crushing it in a ladder and the smashing it with the infamous hammer while Kenny was trying to climb. This really added to the finish when Kenny was taking ages to grab the belts to win the match, putting doubt into the audience as to whether someone would have been able stop him.
If Kenny manages to keep this level of performance all year then he will almost certainly be Wrestler of the Year.
#5 - El Lindaman
The first appearance from a GLEAT wrestler this year, and if you don't keep up with the promotion, then I would advise you give it a go since their G-REX title matches always deliver and they're also free on YouTube so there's no excuse not to!
El Lindaman came into GLEAT Ver. 5 as the G-REX Champion, prepared to take on the winner of the G-Rumble, a Royal Rumble style match for a shot at the title the same night. The winner was Kaito Ishida who failed to take the title off Lindaman a few weeks before. Their match was so good and displayed the spirit and style of GLEAT perfectly. Lindaman busted out some amazing Suplexes of all kinds and a scary Tope Con Hilo which ended up sending him rows deep into the crowd.
Lindaman was so fast and intense, willing to put his body on the line throughout, which is evident by some of the moves he pulled off. One of those was a dangerous double foot stomp from the top rope onto the apron while Ishida was draped on the ropes (something I've never seen before).
Although Kaito's wrestling was amazing I still think that Lindaman outshone him even in defeat as his dedication to the company could be felt and seen in the way he wrestled.
#4 - Jon Moxley
The Moxley and Hangman feud has been the highlight of AEW programming recently and their match at the Kia Forum didn't disappoint. The two of them just beat the shit out of each other from the get go. Mox focused directly on the head as he knew it was a weak point for Hangman now. I loved the repeat of the spot that gave Page a concussion months earlier because it reminded people that the match could end at anytime, especially between these too, but also showed that Mox didn't care about Hangman at all.
Jon played to the crowd perfectly when he realised that the majority of the crowd was rooting for Hangman, and flipped them off making sure that the fans sitting on the fence knew who they were supposed to cheer for, which added to the heat of the match.
The end of the match was great, even though some people had reservations about Mox doing a fake concussion angle. In my opinion it continues the story and sets up a third match down the line, maybe at Revolution.
#3 - Bryan Danielson
Danielson's first banger of the year and this one was achieved by, primarily, making his opponent Takeshita look like a star. Bryan effectively showed how Take's size had an impact on the match and more specifically the moves he did in the match. He did this well when applying submissions like the Romero special taking a longer time than normal to sink in and struggling to lock in the Le Bell Lock.
He also managed to show this in the striking exchanges, selling for the chops like he had just been shot and taking a cheap shot on Take by going to his leg when they were having a chop battle. Not only did this show Bryan's in-ring IQ but also got the crowd behind Takeshita. There was the botched electric chair catch from Konosuke, but you can't really fault them as they got straight back into the match and most people forgot about it 10 seconds later.
A brilliant match from him, that I'm not done talking about, but Danielson's performance scores him 8 points this week!
#2 - Konosuke Takeshita
The other half of the match I was talking about with Bryan Danielson, Konosuke Takeshita had one of his best performances in AEW to date, and that's saying something!
Takeshita's movements and footwork in the ring is impeccable and he is never out of place for anything, allowing him to hit all his moves as cleanly as possible. His lariats, forearms, and chops make the most devastating sounds and I assume they feel as bad as they sound too. His intensity and fluidity mixed with his power and timing make his power moves some of the most impactful in the whole business, and to top it off he has this intangible chemistry with both his opponents and the crowd that make his matches feel like a life or death situation, with everyone hoping that he comes out on top.
Ok that's enough gushing about you Take-san, here's 9 points.
Unfortunate outcome for Konosuke in this match, but it's clear that AEW have big plans coming up for him. His segment before the match with MJF showed that the company see's him as a main event star, and I hope they're going to set up at least a match between the two in the near future.
#1 - Adam Page
Hangman's comeback match from his concussion was perfect. The build, as I said before, was perfect, and the story coming out of the match was gripping as Page walked up the ramp not knowing if he had taken it too far, seeming giving Mox a concussion of his own. What makes this story so engrossing is the similarities both men. Both of them are new fathers, both took a chance and joined AEW from the start, and both of them are former AEW World champions.
I think that this really came into Hangman's mind after the match, but during the match he was brutal and determined to get revenge on Mox for concussing him months earlier. The number of lariats in this match was quite frankly absurd and fit the story to a tee. It wasn't too far from what you would see out of a prime NEVER Openweight title match in New Japan.
Not much more to say on this match as I split it between two people this week, but I had to put Hangman at #1 this week because of the story during this match and it also being his first match in a long time, really deserving of the full 10 points this week!
Here's the scoreboard after week 2: