A fairly quiet week highlighted by a great Dominion show from New Japan saw very consistent, if not exactly blow away action, from a variety of different promotions. We got a banger Rampage card, and two DPW shows that delivered on the promotions history of great events. Capping it all off with a fantastic IWGP World Heavyweight title main event on Sunday.
- Claudio Castagnoli & Jon Moxley (BCC vs Bandido & Lucha Brothers, & BCC vs Tana, Okada, & Ishii, AEW 31/5, NJPW 4/6)
- Lucky Ali (Lucky Ali vs Jason Kincaid & Lucky Ali vs Jackson Drake, DPW 1/6 & 3/6)
- Willow Nightingale (Willow Nightingale vs Emi Sakura, AEW, 2/6)
- Jay Malachi (Jay Malachi vs Myron Reed, DPW, 3/6)
- Will Ospreay (Will Ospreay vs Lance Archer, NJPW, 4/6)
- Bishamon (Bishamon vs House of Torture vs Henare & O-Khan, NJPW, 4/6)
#10 - Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. showed incredible range in his wrestling this week, having matches on three different shows against three very different opponents.
His first match was against Rocky Romero on ROH TV which was a fun technical exchange with two of the more unique grapplers today creating some fun sequences and holds that managed to bring the pre-Dynamite crowd to a decent level of heat, with lots of limb work before tapping out Romero with the ground Cobra.
Second was a title match against AEW's Action Andretti on AEW Rampage. This was a great match that focused around Zack's ability to pick Action out of the sky and ground him, but without slowing down the pace of the match. The finish was good, with the champion targeting the arm throughout the match and transitioning into the Clarky Cat to finish the match.
The last match of the week was against Jeff Cobb at New Japan's Dominion 6.4 in Osaka-Jo Hall which was a rematch from Wrestling Dontaku. This was about the same quality as the Dontaku match and gave us the tekkers on a much larger opponent than the previous matches this week. The highlight of the match was the out of nowhere finish. Zack managed to reverse the Tour of the Islands into a crucifix pin for the one two three.
I really like Zack's three different approaches to his opponents as it gives him the ability to never been seen as the underdog going into a match even if they're much bigger than him.
#9 - Bryan Keith
Bryan Keith made his DPW debut this week, taking on another debutant in Kevin Blackwood at DPW No Pressure which aired on Saturday.
Having not seen too much of either man I was coming into this match with high hopes from all the praise I've heard around Keith's work on the indie scene, and he did not disappoint! Blackwood and Keith had a hard hitting slugfest that reminded me a lot of current day Pro Wrestling NOAH. The two of them would have amazing exchanges of chops and forearms before getting into intricate reversal sequences and hitting a big power move to cap it all off, then starting all over again.
Keith's intensity and fighting spirit was in full effect that night and got the crowd on their feet as he ended the match with an Emerald Powerbomb for the three count. A great showing that gets him two points on this week's list.
#7 & 8 - JD Drake & Anthony Henry
The Workhorsemen have been on a roll recently and are a massive part of one of the best Tag Team division in the US indie scene at DPW. The two had a pair of matches on DPW shows airing this week, one on the DPW vs Elevation Pro show against Mason Miles & Donnie Ray and the other at No Pressure where they faced Miracle Generation, who have been on the rise recently.
Both matches emphasised the teams aggression and brutality after they turned heel and viciously attacked Violence is Forever earlier in the year. Henry and Drake would deal with both teams in a similar fashion, taking it to the outside and just beating the ever loving shit out of them and successfully cutting the ring in half and making for some great hot tags by the opposition. They put over Miracle Generation particularly well in my opinion who's highflying offence made for a great contrast to the Workhorsemen's striking and double team power moves.
#5 & 6 - Flash Morgan Webster & Mark Andrews
After a losing effort for the Impact World Tag Team championship on Under Siege, Subculture had another amazing match on Impact Wrestling TV against the Motor City Machine Guns in the main event this week.
These teams had great chemistry, with both having a mix of technical and highflying offence that gelled perfectly. MCMG worked on top for a lot of the match and played the roles of the "heels", which only got Subculture more over as the match went on. Morgan Webster impressed with some innovative and flashy moves, like when he swung around the ring post into a Hurricanrana onto Sabin on the outside, for example. Andrews also had his moments, specifically no-selling a Doomsday Dropkick combination from MCMG and headbutting Shelley afterwards.
Subculture have been impressive in their Impact outings so far and their performances have really connected with the crowd so I hope they stick around, at least of a little while.
#4 - Master Wato
Master Wato is back on the list this week after having another great outing in the New Japan juniors division. This week he challenged Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship at Dominion on Sunday, but failed to reach the "Grandmaster" status he is so intent of achieving, as he took the loss to Hiromu after a great match.
The finishing stretch of this match was really dramatic (as it is for the majority of big NJPW matches) as Wato kept trying to get off the Tsutenkaku German with Hiromu escaping multiple times and hitting one of his signatures for a near-fall. Wato's corkscrew kick is one of his most useful and exciting moves in Wato's arsenal, as it can come out of nowhere to set up the Tsutenkaku German which was the case in this match. It kinda reminds of the V-Trigger, as it's a move that is never gonna finish a match, but its perfect at change the tide of a match in an instant.
Another tentpole match in Wato's career and it proved to anyone who isn't a Watomaniac that they should be! Seven points to Master Wato!
#3 - Calvin Tankman
Third on the list this week is the "DPW Gatekeeper", Calvin Tankman, who had an extraordinary hoss fight with the "Deadlock Demolition Machine" Bojack at DPW No Pressure.
These two guys went all out before the bell even rang, brawling in the crowd and slapping every inch of meat on their opponents bodies. There was an awesome spot where both men where sitting in the crowd chopping the shit out of each other with the crowd looking on in the background. Once in the ring Tankman and Bojack battled to prove that they're the stronger of the two, and Tankman definitely won that one. Chops and lariats where the main course of the match, but the insane suplexes and apron spots where the dessert that everyone was eating up.
The biggest spot of the match was Tankman intercepting Bojack on the top rope and hitting him with an awe-inspiring avalanche exploder suplex that landed Bojack on the top of his head. Calvin followed up on this quickly with the Tankman Driver and the back elbow for the win! This was a WAR and gets eight points in this weeks list!
#2 - Katsuhiko Nakajima
It was hard to pick who to give the points to from this amazing 45 minute draw between Kenoh and Katsuhiko Nakajima in Shinjuku-FACE, but I think the AXIZ member takes it this week.
These two went to war like Bojack and Tankman, but in a completely different way. As you can imagine this match consisted of a fair amount of kicks to put it lightly (which the kicks were not), and was a intense back and forth that reached the time limit. On top of all the kicks there was great storytelling involved in the match too, which isn't a surprise after all the two have been through in KONGO and meeting in the finals of the N-1. Nakajima didn't want to go full force on his former stablemate until Kenoh initiated a slap exchange, which Nakajima was hesitant to cooperate with at first because of his history of knocking people out with slaps. Eventually he relented, however, and took control of the match, but it was still not enough to keep Kenoh down for three.
This is definitely one of the best NOAH matches of the year and the fact that it happened at Shinjuku-FACE is so very NOAH, but nevertheless Nakajima gets nine points this week!
#1 - Yota Tsuji
The man of the hour, the saviour of New Japan, the GENE BLAST himself, Yota Tsuji is this weeks #1 worker, with a star-making first match back from excursion in the main event of Dominion 6.4 in Osaka-Jo Hall against IWGP World Heavyweight champion SANADA.
Right out of the gate Tsuji showed an insane amount of star quality and charisma in his entrance. With the smoke and theme making him seem like a legitimate monster, and once he made his way into the ring it only got better! He started the match with a massive midair spear on a leaping SANADA, following it up with a FOSBERRY FLOP of all maneuvers! Tsuji demonstrated his wide range of offence so well in this match and it really felt like he was one move away from winning throughout the whole match, from any position.
One thing I was struck with during the end of the match was how good he is already is at the classic big match finishing stretch, with him pulling off amazing counters like when he cartwheeled out of the Deadfall. That popped me real big. This was a brilliant start to Yota's New Japan career and made me extremely excited to see what he can do in this years G1.
Although he didn't win the title this time, it's only a matter of time before he is the top champ in NJPW and that time could be sooner rather than later. Overall Tsuji's performance this week was one of the best debut's I can remember in a long long time. TEN POINTS!
Here's the leaderboard after this week: