Going into this week there wasn't many matches that really had me excited, but it turned out to be very eventful and full of awesome matches, even if they were bittersweet in some aspects.
Honourable Mentions for Week 4:
-Bryan Danielson (Bryan Danielson vs Brain Cage, 25/1, AEW)
-Kevin Owens (Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens, 28/1, WWE)
-Roman Reigns (Roman Reigns vs Kevin Owens, 28/1, WWE)
-Sheamus (Men's Royal Rumble Match, 28/1, WWE)
-ASUKA (Women's Royal Rumble Match, 28/1, WWE)
-Rhea Ripley (Women's Royal Rumble Match, 28/1, WWE)
-Christopher Daniels (Claudio Castagnoli vs Christopher Daniels, 26/1, ROH)
-Wheeler Yuta (Adam Page vs Wheeler Yuta, 27/1, AEW)
#10 - Gunther
Gunther entered the Royal Rumble match on Saturday in the #1 position and made it all the way to the final two, in an extraordinary feat of stamina and endurance. He lasted over 70 minutes and had one of the best finishes to a Rumble match I can remember by having an amazing mini match against the eventual winner Cody Rhodes.
He eliminated 5 men in the match and made his presence known throughout, rather than doing what many "iron-men" do and lay in the corner for 50 minutes and jump back in to the final four. His short stint with Cody at the end was great, with loads of close eliminations and hard-hitting dropkicks and chops. Unfortunately Cody reversed a powerslam into a Cross Rhodes and eliminated Gunther, but he was made to look extremely strong, lasting all the way until the end and being in a competitive and extended exchange with the #30 entrant. Truly one of the best Rumble performances of all time.
#9 - Miu Watanabe
Miu had a fun match this week in the Max Heart Tournament alongside her team-mate Rika Tatsumi when they faced the team of Hyper Misao and Shoko Nakajima on Sunday.
Miu and Rika worked on Shoko's leg throughout the match but managed to keep the action fast and exciting at the same time. Her and Rika had some great tag team offence with the giant swing into the dropkick from Rika. My favourite spot was Miu throwing Rika into both Shoko and Misao for a double hip attack, showing off her insane strength that sets her apart from the rest of the TJPW roster.
This match really encapsulated the essence of TJPW; being lighthearted, fast paced, and a more character driven style, while still keeping the work rate high.
#8 - Adam Page
Before Hangman's rubber match with Moxley on the 1st of February he had competitive match with Mox's stablemate Wheeler Yuta on Rampage, opening up the show.
The match started out hot, with Yuta using his speed to catch Adam off guard with a dropkick. Hangman fought back, however, with stiff chops, forearms, and lariats, sending a message to Moxley in the process. One of the biggest moves in the match was an Avalanche Death Valley Driver from the top rope by Hangman followed up by some brutal German Suplexes to set up for the Buckshot Lariat.
Hangman was very calculated in this match, but kept up the energy of a slugfest the likes of which he would have with Moxley, and I think this is the big takeaway from the match. The final stretch was great with multiple nearfalls and Yuta countering the Buckshot in a very unique way with the modified Angle Slam. Yuta gets knocked to the outside but hangs on and does his signature rebound lariat set up, but Hangman has him scouted and gets in position Buckshot and hits it, finishing the match with a Death Rider.
This was a great set up for next week and kept the Mox/Hangman story hot even with Jon selling the injury from the last match.
#7 - Claudio Castagnoli
Claudio and Christopher Daniels went at it for the ROH World championship on the first Jay Briscoe Celebration of life event, which aired on Thursday.
This was a interesting match because Daniels worked over Claudio's throat, which isn't a body part you normally see targeted in a match. Daniels drove his neck into the ropes over and over, as well as locking the champ in different submission holds like the Koji Clutch. Claudio sold it amazingly, struggling for breath in important moments of the match, but still finding the energy to pull off big moves from underneath. He also seems to move around the ring slower and sells in-between moves which is a nice touch that Claudio does in his matches.
He finished the match with the Jay Driller in tribute to the late, great Jay Briscoe which was really touching, and I enjoy the fact that they're keeping the move strong in his memory.
#6 - Jay Lethal
Jay pulled double duty this week, wrestling on Dynamite and Rampage in the same night. His Dynamite match was by far the better of the two, but the trios match on Rampage was a fun, short trios match that does deserve a brief mention.
His match against Mark Briscoe was just sensational and even though he was crying before and after the match he really flipped a switch and was on top form in this one. Jay used his technical and high flying abilities to try and counter Mark's more brawler-like style, keeping him down on the match, wearing him out with submissions. Obviously this had little effect when Mark was wrestling for his brother that night.
Jay took so much offence in this match and helped show the world how amazing Mark is in the ring. I'm sure this is a match that he will not forget, and it gets him 5 points this week.
#5 - Emi Sakura
This was Emi Sakura's first match on AEW TV since 2019, and it did not disappoint. Facing the AEW Women's World champion Jamie Hayter in an Eliminator match on Rampage, Emi proved to everyone why she's one of the best joshi wrestlers of all time.
it was a match full of chops and stiff strikes, in line with Jamie's recent matches with Shida and Toni, but Emi put her own spin on it with some technical wrestling thrown in and great heel work, slapping Jamie and throwing her around on the outside and into the barricade. Sakura also came out with a whole different presentation, stripping away the Queen (the band) references, so hopefully this means AEW will use her on TV more regularly in the future because I think she could really elevate lots of the women on the roster.
#5 - Kazusada Higuchi
Higuchi came into DDT's Sweet Dreams! 2023 show as the KO-D Openweight champion ready to face the man he drew with in the 2022 D-Oh Grand Prix, Yuji Hino. Their match last year was an intense 30 minute chop fest where both men seemed to be unwilling to relent and that same mentality carried over to this match too.
They locked up and you could immediately feel the energy from both wrestlers. They traded shoulder blocks with each other, but neither of them would fall so they started the chop battle. In the beginning it was light and somewhat insulting chops from the two, but as time went on they got harder and harder until Higuchi was sent to the outside by a massive chop from Hino.
Its really hard to differentiate the two guys' performance in the first half of the match, but once they got back in the ring the pace of the match really changed, allowing Higuchi to get back into it for a while with headbutts to Hino, machine-gun chops in the corner, then a massive dropkick followed by a lariat. It was at this point that Higuchi knew his title was very much in danger of being taken from him so he had to take every chance he could, cutting off Yuji's big moves and powering through lariats and suplexes in a desperate attempt to keep the momentum in his favour.
Going into the final moments of the match Higuchi seemed like he had the upper hand after multiple headbutts, but Hino came in with a devastating lariat planting Higuchi on the mat. Higuchi made a big mistake after this, however, falling back into a chop battle and coming out on the losing side. This meant that Hino could lift him up into a final powerbomb to claim the title.
Still an outstanding performance by Higuchi, even in defeat, earning him 7 points this week.
#3 - Jamie Hayter
The other half of the AEW Women's championship Eliminator match is the champion herself, Jamie Hayter. As I said before in Emi's entry, this match was a slug fest and probably the second hardest hitting of the week, behind Higuchi vs Hino. Hayter's lariats and backdrop suplexes harken back to 90s All Japan which is something I think the American, or at least AEW crowds are starting to acclimatize to since its relatively knew to them on a large stage like national TV.
There's not too much more to say on the match other than it was super intense and the urgency from Jamie was certainly there, making Emi look like a legitimate threat, even to people who haven't seen her wrestle before. If Hayter can keep this run going then it will surely be one of the greatest title reign in AEW history, not just AEW Women's World championship history. 8 points for Jamie!
#2 - Yuji Hino
The new KO-D Openweight champion Yuji Hino picks up his first 9 points in Worker of the Week this week with an awe inspiring display of resilience and brutality. The amount of chops his gave and received must have been at least 100 and to power through all that punishment in a 20+ minute match is close to in-human.
Of course I did a basic rundown of the match for Higuchi's, but it bares repeating that this match was a chop fest and one of the most engrossing ones I've seen in quite a while. It wasn't just two people hitting each other's chests, it was the balance of power of the match itself. Hino always came out of the battles on top allowing him to have the upper hand for most of the bout which he was well aware of. There were points in the match where he purposefully initiated these battles, because he knew Higuchi couldn't resist trying to match him and prove that he's better than Hino, since the two went to a draw last year. Hino used Higuchi's self-doubt against him.
#1 - Mark Briscoe
Many people were surprised when this match was announced for Dynamite, not only because of Warner's ban of the Briscoes, but also because it was so soon after Jay's death. I had a feeling, however, that he'd want to get back in there as soon as possible.
The match was an homage to the life of Jay, but also a showcase for Mark too. His passion shone through, both for his brother and pro wrestling, putting on an amazing performance in the main event. His lighthearted antics with the redneck kung-fu got the crowd into the match which allowed him and Lethal to really put on a clinic. Lethal trying to keep him on the mat, but a combination of passion and intelligence helped the youngest Briscoe to power out of holds and evade pinfall attempts.
The Froggy Bow through the table on the outside showing his dedication to wrestling as well as his fearlessness in the face of what had happened to his family was so inspiring and brought the match to the next level. His determination to finish the match with the Jay Driller was my favourite part as he countered Lethal's attempts to foil his plan with lariats so he could set him up for it again and again until he finally got it. This match was special and I hope Mark plays a large in Tony Khan's ROH.
Here is the leaderboard after week 4: