Updated: Feb 8
This week was one of the best in wrestling that I can remember. Amazing matches coming from the US and Japan, from multiple promotions. Therefore it was also one of the most difficult weeks to rank. Any one of these wrestlers could have been on the top of the list on any given week, and the honourable mentions are extra honourable too!
Honourable Mentions for Week 5:
-MIRAI & Chihiro Hashimoto (MIRAI vs Chihiro Hashimoto, Stardom, 04/02)
-Saya Kamitani & Momo Watanabe (Saya Kamitani vs Momo Watanabe, Stardom, 04/02)
-Yuki Yoshioka & Madoka Kikuta (BxB Hulk & Kota Minoura vs Yuki Yoshioka & Madoka Kikuta, DG, 03/02)
-YOH (Hiromu Takahashi vs YOH, NJPW, 05/02)
-Yuma Aoyagi (Kento Miyahara vs Yuma Aoyagi, AJPW, 04/02)
-Darby Allin (Darby Allin vs Samoa Joe, AEW, 01/02)
-El Hijo Del Dr Wagner Jr. (El Hijo Del Dr Wagner Jr. vs Manabu Soya, NOAH, 05/02)
-Suzu Suzuki (Giulia vs Suzu Suzuki, Stardom, 04/02)
-DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Francesco Akira & TJP vs DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, NJPW, 04/02)
#10 - Taichi
The leader of Just 4 Guys had a thrilling match in front of his hometown at New Japan's New Beginning in Sapporo event on Saturday, facing off against United Empire leader, Will Ospreay. Will made some less than empathetic remarks about the end of Dangerous Tekkers, so Taichi challenged him to a match in Sapporo.
Taichi definitely brought out his frustrations in the match and put on one of his best performances of all time, implementing some of the classic All Japan style he learned from his trainer Toshiaki Kawada, after Ospreay rocked him with the Kawada Kicks. From then on Taichi was not afraid to drop Will on his head with the Dangerous Backdrop and a nasty Triple Crown Bomb, but also not afraid to take his fair share of the offence. He took multiple elbows just to fire back with one of his own rocking Ospreay.
Taichi took advantage of the cheering Japanese crowd, getting them on his side with a really clean, exciting, and fluid match where he not only brutalised Ospreay with grapples, but also put together satisfying striking combos with his lariats and Enziguris. As I said in the beginning, the level of wrestling this week was extraordinary so on any other week Taichi would 100% be picking up more than 1 point.
#9 - Samoa Joe
Once again, the King of Television, Samoa Joe put on a cold and calculated performance against the daredevil Darby Allin, to reclaim this TNT championship in a No Holds Barred match on Dynamite.
I loved the dynamic of this match so much. Both men designed for violence in their own unique ways, Joe with a calculated and sadistic mindset compared to Darby's reckless and masochistic one. They put on an extremely compelling 15 minute beatdown, drag-out brawl. Joe came into the match with confidence as he knew he could use Darby's recklessness against him and win without setting many things up himself. It was risky strategy where Joe had to put himself in compromising situations, but it payed off. Using Allin's thumbtack hoodie against him and baiting the defending champion into going through a table. Samoa Joe looked like one of the smartest wrestlers in the business today, which is sometimes more important than looking "strong".
Hopefully the start to another great title reign, Samoa Joe gets 2 points this week with many more to come, I hope.
#8 - Giulia
Giulia gets 3 points this week, coming off an intense and hard-fought win against rival Suzu Suzuki at Stardom's Supreme Fight event on Saturday. She successfully defended her World of Stardom championship in front of Stardom's first cheering show since February of 2020, exactly 3 years ago.
Both women went fast out the gate quickly transitioning from a small technical wrestling exchange in the beginning, to jumping straight into big moves and big bumps, both inside an outside the ring. The match was ripe with grapples, suplexes, drivers, and powerbombs which Giulia executed and bumped for perfectly, but for some reason I never saw anything further than the moves. There wasn't much emotion or meaning to the match and nothing seemed to have changed after the 1 2 3 which brought my enjoyment of the match down significantly.
Now this seems weird since I've put Giulia above Joe and Taichi, whos matches were very rich in story and character, but I think it just lends credence to the sheer physicality of this match and how perfectly performed it was, for what it was. Still a really good wrestling match, and worthy of 3 points for Giulia this week.
#7 - TJP & #6 - Francesco Akira
The team of Catch 2/2 put on another Jr. Heavyweight tag team classic with Just 2 Guys (DOUKI & Kanemaru) at the New Beginning In Sapporo show on Saturday, retaining their titles.
This was an original match that really showcased both of the United Empire members, emphasising their reliance on each other, but also highlighted Akira's improvement in the ring as a singles wrestler. The story going into the match was Kanemaru targeting TJP's leg in the days leading into the title match, trying to isolate the younger Akira and giving Just 2 Guys the advantage.
TJP sold this so well, struggling to deliver Catch 2/2's signature offence like the Leaning Tower and the Catch 2/2 knee strikes, after Just 2 Guys destroyed his leg on the outside, in the ropes, and not to mention using Nobu's technical limb work. Not only did this stop TJP's offence, it also affected his defence and ability to break-up pins for Akira. Even in between moves he was always favouring the leg and showed the signs of wear a tear after successfully completing moves too, which greatly enhances the believability of the match.
Akira was really given a chance to shine in the latter half of the match when TJP was more or less relegated from the action by Kanemaru. Only managing to break up a select few pins that would have had the Fireball down for the count and giving it all for one last dive to Kanemaru. It all came to a head when Akira managed to hit the Speed Fire and the Fireball to pin DOUKI and retain the titles.
The urgency in this match was world class and it really felt like a struggle for TJP and Akira to overcome their opponents (big shout out to Just 2 Guys who really brought it in this match too). Akira would have to come in and save TJP in the early going, with superkicks from out the blue, and by the end TJ would use his last quantum of energy to save Francesco. A nice full circle moment in the match which made it one of the best Jr. Tag matches of the past few years.
#5 - Jon Moxley
Another week, another Hangman vs Moxley match. Don't get me wrong, I love this shit and can't wait until the 4th in the quadrilogy.
Just like the other Mox/Page matches this one was as hard-hitting as any match you'll see, starting off with Mox rushing Hanger during his entrance and just beating the shit out of him on the outside and in the crowd, ramming him into and over the barricade to the roar of the crowd. Moxley gets colour before the match even started so you knew it was going to be a banger.
Interestingly, we saw a little bit of a more technical side from Mox in this match. Of course he still hit chops, lariats, and elbow strikes, but there were clearly more submissions being used by Mox like the Indian Deathlock, the Bulldog choke, and the Juji Gatame. Jon's best offering to the match was his selling. The blood over the eye was one thing, but you could see throughout the match that Hangman was just more aggressive and fired up than Moxley, especially in the later stages of the bout. It was only when Mox had some distance from Page that he could get off some big offence.
Even though Moxley won the match, it was clear that he only really survived Hangman, picking up a quick roll-up pin out of a Bulldog Choke from Hangman for the win in the midst of a brutal flurry of offence including kicking out of the Buckshot lariat. An extremely gutsy performance from Mox and it picks him up 6 points this week.
#4 - Kento Miyahara
After coming off a big loss to Yuma Aoyagi in his AJPW World Tag Team championship match, Kento Miyahara had to defend his Triple Crown title against him, in what was a real struggle of a match.
The match started with a classic lock-up into wrist-lock, dropdowns and leapfrogs, something I haven't really seen in a long time it feels like. They moved to the outside throwing each other into the barricades and ring post with Kento coming out on top for the most part, but still suffering more than he would have liked. This set the stage for the match to be, as I said before, a struggle. With each lock up the two would seem to be battling to see who could complete their moves, particularly when they were on the top rope. This gave so much more realism to the match, and also helped keep small and slow moments in the match important rather than just sitting in a rest hold for a few minutes to pad the run time.
Miyahara hit some awesome Blackouts after rallying back from an onslaught of German Suplexes from Yuma, which led him to trying the Straightjacket Suplex, only to get caught in Aoyagi's signature submission move, "End Game" (a Hammerlock guillotine choke), which he fire up from. After a few more devastating lariats he got into another struggle to hit the straightjacket suplex for a two count. Yuma rallied back hitting insane thrust kicks to the head and fishermen suplex's for some amazing nearfalls. Kento managed to dodge another kick from Yuma and in one last struggle, planted him with a final Straightjacket Suplex for the win after an amazingly intense and exciting finishing stretch.
Another great main even from All Japan this year as they're really grabbing my attention with Miyahara at the top of the card, which is no surprise when he has the words "Best of the Best" on the back of his tights. 7 points from Kento Miyahara!
#3 - Adam Page
Another great week for Hangman and another great match verses Moxley. He has a unique way of ramping up his energy with every match in a series.
This match was no different, with Hangman being especially brutal and having the proverbial high ground on Moxley for most of the match, hitting him with insane moves like the avalanche Death Valley Driver that he used against Yuta in the Rampage preceding Dynamite, which, while short, was a great call back that showed Adam's aggression shouldn't be misconstrued for blind rage towards Jon. Some of the most damaging offence from Page came from throwing Moxley into everything he could find around the ringside area and outside in the crowd. He put Mox through a table, launched his head into the turnbuckle from the apron, and just straight up throws him out the ring.
Hangman looked near untouchable in this match even though Mox did get some offence of his own in there and made it look like a competitive match. Page just seemed to be on a different level Mox on Wednesday and it was only his foolishness that cost him the match. 8 points to Hangman this week, setting him at the top of the WOTY leaderboard!
#2 - Will Ospreay
Ospreay comes back with a big win after his loss to Kenny at the Dome, picking it up against the hometown hero in Sapporo, Taichi.
As I said in Taichi's entry this match was a mix of Ospreay's classic high paced New Japan matches and the King's Road style that Taichi seemingly challenged him to mid way through the match. Will took this challenge to heart and really brought out some old-school moves like the Tiger Driver '98 which really brought out the fighting spirit in Taichi.
There's not much more to say about this match because it was just a classic Ospreay match so it was obviously extremely good, with him hitting flush kicks and an outstanding jumping hidden blade that looked like it took Taichi's head of his shoulders. It's a real shame that it isn't his ultimate finisher as I think it looks better than the Stormbreaker (even though I love that move too).
#1 - Hiromu Takahashi
Hiromu had his first defence of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship since he won it in the four way match at Wrestle Kingdom 17. YOH was the challenger and he put up one hell of a fight having one of his best matches of his career.
I think I'm one of the only people who really loved this match, so let me try an sell you on why it was so good, and specifically why Hiromu made this match great. And yes before you ask, it is about his selling (I think you're really starting to understand my taste in wrestling this week).
It started fairly basic. Lock-up, running the ropes, some brawling on the outside, and chops. Not too dissimilar to Miyahara's match I talked about before. The one thing that I picked out was Hiromu's use of his legs with his submissions early in the match, and targeting YOH's too with an innovative move where he rammed his feet into the mat like a DDT. And this was what YOH would decide to target for the rest of the match as well, managing to catch Hiromu off-guard with a basement dropkick, and he didn't relent from there. Throwing Hiromu onto his knees and locking in a knee bar completely changed Hiromu's offence and how he moved around the ring.
Hiromu got caught in a figure four from YOH and sold it so well, slapping the mat once and teasing doing it again, really making it seem like he was about to tap out. Every time YOH would try and lift Hiromu up for a move and fail, Takahashi would wince in pain as his leg hit the mat. There was this one nasty looking spot where Hiromu countered a Dragonscrew into a pin and his leg bent in a very un-natural way which only lent to the match. In fact the majority of Takahashi's pins and offence came from countering YOH's moves.
Near the end is when the Timebomb's knee really gave way and he was falling all over the place in a desperate bid to try and get away from YOH's moves. He even hit some crazy Butterfly Piledriver, if it even has a name, which will always score points in the innovation column for me. The final minute was amazing with an insane near-fall when YOH got the champion in the Euro-Clutch for one of the closest 2 count's I've seen in a while.
Hiromu really brought it in this match and so did YOH, but spots on the list were tough to get this week so hopefully YOH can continue this streak of awesome matches and get some points on the board soon! But for now Hiromu gets the full 10 points this week!
Here's the standings after Week 5 of Workers of the Week: