With Monday on the horizon, we have yet another installment of the Top 5 Matches of the week. Now first we have to go over who won last week’s vote.
In a close, but still decisive vote, WWE HIAC: Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles, manages to add to our interesting list of September matches.
This week we got our first highly touted New Japan show since the G1 Tournament, so do they tip the scales and run away with the week? Let’s find out.
5. Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Hazuki vs Mayu Iwatani
A win here is very crucial for Mayu Iwatani if she wants to tie it up with Kelly, otherwise she would be eliminated from the tournament and her opponent, Hazuki would take the top spot with nine points and potentially win the whole thing if things work out in her favor. The last time the both of them fought one on one was around February during the ROH Women of Honor tournament and Mayu would come out the winner of that match and Mayu wants to beat her again to show she’s on a whole different level now. Who will take the top spot of the standings, Mayu or Hazuki?
Hazuki is in my top 5 wrestlers of Stardom right now and this match here with Mayu just solidified my statement for this claim. This whole tournament, she has been one of the most consistent wrestlers in her matches with her sequences being on point, her moves are crisp, and how to handle a match lately has been outstanding that she should be under peoples radar. Hazuki right away was being aggressive with Mayu before the bell even rang when she attacked her from behind and kept rolling her up which failed, but she kept on the attack by throwing her around into chairs on the outside and even destroyed Mayu’s arm during the whole match and not holding back on her, I love this side of Hazuki.
This match is one of my favorites in my block next to Hazuki/Momo still being my favorite one, but this one was still pretty damn close with their chemistry in the ring together gave us a special match and it’s not even their last one for their block. They told a great story in the ring, executed everything almost flawlessly, seeing a more aggressive side of Hazuki in her previous two matches, and Mayu selling it all to make it look more dangerous than it probably is, but they were just on point with everything together. Hazuki was pulling out all the stops with having her in the Crossface, working on her arm, stiff Dropkicks and a Codebreaker, but it still wasn’t enough to take Mayu out as she hits the Dragon Suplex Hold and gets the victory to tie first place with Kelly Klein. After the match, she told the crowd that she was now in first place and hopes the crowd will still support her as she looks to win it all at the final.
Winner: Mayu via Dragon Suplex Hold
4. AJPW Royal Road Tournament: Jake Lee vs Kento Miyahara
This is an interesting match. When Jake Lee returned to All Japan earlier this year, he wanted a match with Kento. So Kento obliged a non-title match a few months ago, and even though Jake held his own at times, Kento outclassed him fairly easily. So in the matter of two or three months, how much has Jake changed his game?
Well the answer is quite a bit, but not quite enough. The pace of this match was much faster than their previous encounter, with Jake being more proactive in his offense. He chased Kento outside, whipped him into the guardrail a few times before Kento turned it around and we got his signature necklock against the ring post moment.
As I stated in their last match, Jake has a poise similar to Okada, but I also noticed more that he throws knees almost exactly like Jun Akiyama. Numerous knee lift variations and running Big Boots, kept Kento on his heels. Eventually Miyahara lands a few Blackouts and we start getting a vibe that Kento is on cruise control. That was Kento’s first mistake.
Kento goes for a few pinfall attempts after only Blackouts, and Jake kicks out. So the realization starts to wash over Kento that Jake is harder to beat. So he attempts the Shutdown German Suplex, but Jake breaks away and hits a flurry of kicks and knees. Kento lands a Blackout to the back of Jake’s head and hits the regular German Suplex Hold, but Jake kicks out at 2.
It’s at this point the crowd wakes up a bit more and you start believing Jake has a shot. Jake catches Kento with a big Running Knee Strike, but only for 2. Then we see Kento light up Jake’s face with a few more Blackouts and FINALLY hits the Shutdown German Suplex Hold, for the victory.
Faster paced, harder hitting and Kento definitely looked like that match was close. Jake will be a major player sooner than later.
Winner: Miyahara via Shutdown German Suplex Hold
Rating: **** 1/2
3. 205 Live Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs Drew Gulak
The Soul of 205 Live must now face the Brain of 205 Live as he defends his title in the rematch Gulak so expertly manipulated into happening. Can Alexander keep his undefeated-in-2018 streak going? Or will Gulak prove that when you step to him, you will tap out?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin! Alexander has the fans on his side while he circles with Gulak. Gulak is bothered by the chanting, but he grits his teeth as he continues to circle the champ. Kendrick swipes at Alexander, and Gulak goes for the GuLock! Alexander gets to the ropes quick, and Gulak lets him go. Kendrick and Gallagher play innocent, but Alexander circles with Gulak again. Alexander is keeping his eyes on Gallagher & Kendrick even as he ties up with Gulak. He puts Gulak in a corner as fans rally up, but then Gulak comes back out.
They go around, Gulak waistlocks, but Alexander standing switches. Gulak escapes and they circle again. Another tie up and Alexander gets a headlock. Alexander brings Gulak down to the mat, but Gulak powers out. Alexander runs him over with a shoulder, then puts Gulak back in the headlock. Gulak stands up and powers out again, but Alexander runs him over again. Cover, ONE, so it’s back to the headlock. Alexander grinds Gulak down more, but Gulak stands back up. Gulak puts Alexander in a corner, then whips him corner to corner. Alexander goes up and over, headlock takeover, but Gulak prevents a cover. They stand up again, and fans cheer for Alexander.
Gulak fights out and whips. Things speed up and Kendrick trips Alexander! Gulak pleads that things not disqualify the match, and the referee agrees. The referee EJECTS Gallagher & Kendrick! The Ungentle Men argue with it, but Alexander grins and laughs at their major mistake. Alexander then handsprings, headscissors and dropkicks Gulak down! Cover, ONE. Alexander keeps on Gulak with a chop, then another. Gulak walks to another corner but Alexander throws haymakers. Alexander bumps Gulak off buckles, then more buckles. He snapmares Gulak and dropkicks him in the head. Cover, ONE, but Alexander keeps his cool.
Alexander has the armlock, and fans still cheer him on. Gulak gets a ropebreak with his foot, so Alexander lets him go. Alexander comes back to wrench the arm, then kneels on it. Alexander “applauds” Gulak before stomping the arm! He wrenches the arm again, and traps it in a standing hammerlock, to fall back and tweak it! Gulak gets to ropes but Alexander is on him with a shoulder breaker. Alexander whips Gulak corner to corner, but Gulak reverses. Alexander slips out, forearms Gulak, but his step-in shot gets caught into an exploder!
Both men are down, but Gulak grits his teeth as he stands up. Gulak looms over Alexander, and stomps his stomach. He stomps more, then sits Alexander up to kick him. Gulak goes after Alexander’s arm now, but fans rally up for the champ. Alexander feeds off the energy and arm-drags, only for Gulak to arm-drag Alexander back down. Gulak grinds his knee into Alexander’s head and clamps onto Alexander’s shoulder. Alexander kcisk back with his legs but Gulak drops an elbow on the arm. Alexander chops back, but Gulak elbows him again. Gulak gives springboard stomps now, keeping Alexander down. Gulak drags Alexander up to then put him in a corner. He chops Alexander now, but Alexander boots back. Alexander runs but into a back elbow! Cover, ONE, but Gulak is right on Alexander with a chinlock.
Gulak grinds Alexander down, but fans rally up. Alexander works his way up, and jawbreakers! Gulak knees back but Alexander blocks the suplex. Alexander fights back and suplexes them both out, to land on his feet and suplex Gulak again! Both men are down but the fans are fired up. The referee checks on both men but they’re okay to continue. Alexander sits up first as the 10 count begins. Gulak follows as the count reaches 8. Both men enter at 9.5! Alexander grins, he’s actually enjoying this. They start brawling, and Alexander blocks to counter forearm. Alexander runs and runs Gulak over with lariats. He whips but Gulak reverses, only for Alexander to dropkick the legs out. Gulak hits buckles, but then Alexander kicks him back in from the outside! Alexander springboards for the clothesline! Cover, TWO! Alexander is shocked that Gulak survives.
Fans rally up and Alexander fires up. Alexander brings Gulak up, lifts, inside cradle! TWO, and handspring to Neuralizer! Gulak falls out of the ring, Alexander runs, and FLIES! Air Alexander hits! Alexander puts Gulak in, climbs back in, but ends up in a GuLOCK! Gulak has the body scissors but Alexander pops out to get the ropebreak. Gulak lets Alexander go, but the sleeper took a lot out of him. Fans rally as Gulak drags Alexander up for a big clothesline! Cover, TWO! Gulak drags Alexander back up, scoop slams him down, then says “For a better 205 Live, punk!” Another scoop slam, and Gulak is feeling good. Gulak drags Alexander up but Alexander slips out to shove. Alexander jumps over, sits down on the cover, TWO! Another clobbering clothesline! Cover, TWO!! Gulak was so close, but still so far from winning.
Fans continue to cheer Alexander while Buddy Murphy watches back stage. Gulak clubs Alexander out to the apron. He drags Alexander back up, and dragon sleepers on the ropes! Alexander fights out with uppercuts, then swing kicks. Gulak stays up, but Alexander sunset flips. Gulak rolls through but Alexander slips out of the bomb to Michinoku Driver! Cover, TWO!! Alexander is shocked that Gulak survives. Another 10 count begins, and Alexander drags himself to ropes. Gulak pursues at a crawl, but Alexander stands. Alexander chops Gulak, but Gulak eggs him on. Alexander chops him again, but Gulak wants more. They stand and Alexander gives another chop. Alexander says THIS is for 205 Live as he chops Gulak even harder.
Alexander whips corner to corner but Gulak tumbles to the apron. Gulak forearms Alexander back, then decides to go up top!? He never does this! But for the title, he hits a flying clothesline! Cover, TWO!! The title means this much to both men, that Gulak will do what he rejects. Gulak goes back to his real game as he slaps Alexander around. Alexander gets up but ends up in a GuLOCK! Alexander resists as fans rally for him. He rolls around and goes for ropes again, but Gulak drags him BACK in! Alexander gets back out of the body scissors, to then hoist Gualk up in the fireman’s carry, and Death Valley Drive Gulak into buckles! Both men are down but fans love it.
Alexander stirs as the 10 count passes 5. Gulak follows and gets to the opposite side. They both stare down from across the way, and run in for double boots! Alexander swings but Gulak SLAPS and SLAPS! Gulak wants another but gets an elbow! Alexander lifts, Lumbar Check!! Cover, Alexander wins!!
Winner: Alexander via Lumbar Check
Rating: **** 1/2
NJPW Destruction in Kobe: Bushi vs Kushida
Winner: Kushida via Back to the Future
AJPW Royal Road Tournament: Zeus vs Suwama
Winner: Zeus via Jackhammer
Rating: *** 3/4
Lucha Underground: Fenix vs Aerostar
Winner: Fenix via Black Fire Driver
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact Wrestling: Rich Swann & Matt Sydal vs Pentagon Jr & Fenix
Winner: Pentagon via Double Stomp/Fear Factor Combo
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW Destruction in Beppu: Tetsuya Naito vs Minoru Suzuki
Winner: Naito via Destino
Rating: *** 1/2
Raw: Drew McIntyre vs Dean Ambrose
Winner: McIntyre via Claymore
Rating: *** 1/2
AJPW Royal Road Tournament: Yuji Hino vs Ryoji Sai
Winner: Hino via FUCKING BOMB
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW Destruction in Kobe: YOSHI-HASHI, Jay White & Will Ospreay vs David Finlay, Toa Henare & Juice Robinson
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: *** 1/4
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Rachael Ellering
Winner: Time Limit Draw
NJPW Destruction in Beppu NEVER Openweight Title Match: Taichi vs Hirooki Goto (c)
Winner: Taichi via Last Ride
2. NXT UK & North American Championships Match: Pete Dunne (c) vs Ricochet (c)
A miscommunication during their tag team match with the Undisputed Era escalated the tension between the One and Only King of Flight and the Bruiserweight. They both did agree on one thing, though: they both wanted the belt the other man had. Both men are the second-ever champions to the belts they hold, but Dunne’s had his title for much longer. Will that matter when Ricochet does things no one else can? Or will his reign meet a Bitter End before it’s barely begun?
The introductions are made, both belts are raised and we begin this first-for-NXT main event! Fans duel without slowing down as the two men stare down. They circle and tie up, and Dunne gets a headlock takeover. Ricochet headscissors, Dunne pops out and there’s a role reversal. Dunne shows he can kip-up, too, and the two men stare down again. Ricochet and Dunne circle again, and fans compromise as they chant for ‘Both These Guys!” Ricochet gets a wristlock and a standing armbar, then back to the wristlock. Dunne and Ricochet struggle for control, and Dunne reverses. Dunne stands on Ricochet’s foot to trap it, then shoves him over. He goes after Ricochet’s arm but Ricochet rolls. Dunne gets him back down and traps the wrist inside his elbow. He then bends it even more and jams the fingers into the mat!
Ricochet gets up but Dunne has a finger hold. Dunne lifts and throws Ricochet to then grapevine snap the arm. He keeps torturing the elbow and wrist, but Ricochet gets up to reverse the hold. Ricochet has Dunne in a standing grapevine of both an arm and a leg, and then chinbars. Dunne resists, and Ricochet can’t put as much pressure as he can because of the damage Dunne has done. Ricochet shifts and goes for the toehold. He has a standing knee wrench, then drops another toehold. Ricochet ties the legs up for a modified deathlock! Dunne turns it over and turns it around on Ricochet. Figure four leg and then shift an armbar. He digs in his knuckles but Ricochet slips through to hammerlock Dunne. Ricochet uses an armlock recliner to cover, ONE. Dunne gets a takedown, then his own Indian Deathlock!
Fans applaud this amazing exchange. They continue to duel while Ricochet works his way out. But Dunne is on those legs again, and has Ricochet in a modified Queen Angelito. Dunne tortures each arm as he brings them back, for a modified surfboard! Ricochet pops out to a cover, ONE! Dunne has Ricochet trapped on the mat and grinds in his forearms. He gives Ricochet a hammerlock chinlock while fans duel red hot as ever. Dunne wants Rings of Saturn but Ricochet slips out, stands up and clubs Dunne’s arm. Ricochet drops a knee, but Dunne gets to ropes. Ricochet lets Dunne go but gets a BIG forearm smash! Dunne grins as he gets the better of Ricochet here. He stands on Ricochet’s hand and brings him up, but Ricochet fights back.
Ricochet chops Dunne, forearms, chops again, but Dunne gives him a kick. He chops again, then whips, but Dunne reverses. Ricochet slides off Dunne’s back, ducks under then handsprings and dropkicks! Dunne bails out but Ricochet builds speed to DIVE! This time Ricochet did mean to hit Dunne! Ricochet drags Dunne up and in, fans continue to duel, but Dunne runs. Ricochet dodges, handsprings, but Dunne blocks it! Dunne takes the foot and twists it for a toehold. Then he kicks out the arm! Fans reach a fever pitch as Dunne stalks Ricochet to a corner. Dunne kicks Ricochet while he’s down, then drags him into a hammerlock. Dunne ties Ricochet up, one arm trapped within his own leg for a modified Half Crab. Then he shifts to go after that arm itself, and bends a finger as far back as he wants it to go! Two fingers now!
Dunne twists the hand around, then the elbow and shoulder. Fans hope they “Fight Forever!” at this rate, as Dunne stomps Ricochet’s head! Ricochet rolls to a corner for safety, but Dunne doesn’t care. Dunne drags Ricochet up by his ear and jabs an elbow in. Dunne kicks Ricochet’s bad arm, but Ricochet comes back with a forearm! Ricochet gives another, even as Dunne kicks him. Dunne dodges the next, hammerlocks an arm, and stomps! Ricochet avoids it, but doesn’t avoid the slap. Dunne runs, but into the rolling thunder lariat! Both men are down but the fans are loving this. Dunne rolls to a corner while Ricochet gets himself fired up. Ricochet runs in for an uppercut, then a roaring elbow, then puts Dunne into buckles for the tiger feint kick! Springboard uppercut! Cover, TWO! Ricochet keeps his cool, he and Dunne are far from over.
Fans duel more as Ricochet fireman’s carry. Dunne slips out and lets Ricochet fall, but Ricochet avoids the kick. Dune goes up and over to then enziguri Ricochet! X-Plex but Ricochet lands on his feet, to shooting star! Cover, TWO!! “This is Awesome!” and “Fight Forever!” are the two chants fans can agree on. Ricochet hurries up top, aims, but Dunne gets over. Ricochet leaps over and pushes Dunne away. Only to roll into the armbar! Dunne adds finger torture, too! Ricochet makes it a cover, TWO! The Penalty Kick misses, but so does the standing moonsault! Dunne stomps away on Ricochet’s hand! Dunne grabs Ricochet but gets a knee! Ricochet drags himself up, springboards again, but into a forearm!! Dunne keeps going, X-Plex slam! Cover, TWO!? Ricochet shocks everyone as he survives!
Dunne snarls at Ricochet as he stands up again. He drags Ricochet up again, wanting to end this. Pumphandle, but Ricochet slips out to German Suplex! Dunne lands on his feet to Penalty Kick Ricochet! Then he runs, but into an enziguri! Dunne ends up outside again, and Ricochet builds speed again. Ricochet adjusts as Dunne evades, to then SUPER MOONSUALT! Dunne evades and Ricochet lands on his feet, to get a forearm! And an apron X-Plex! Then, pumphandle, but Ricochet slips out to REVERS-RANA! Cover, TWO!!? Just as Mauro says, “What in the Hell are Ricochet and Pete Dunne made of!?” The fans are loving it either way, and continue to chant “This is Awesome!” “Fight Forever!”
The two men fight on the mat, but then Dunne grabs both hands. Dunne stands on both hands, to STOMP both hands! Buzzsaw kick but Ricochet boots, Dunne enziguris again. Ricochet rolls but into a lariat! Dunne runs, but Ricochet ducks and handsprings, tornado DDT! Cover, TWO!?!? No one can believe what’s going on, but fans chant for “NXT! NXT!” Ricochet grits his teeth and refocuses himself while Dunne rolls to a corner. This puts him in a drop zone and Ricochet goes up again. Dunne sees him up there, and follows after. Ricochet intercepts and now they’re fighting up top. Dunne goes after the hand, but Ricochet uses his good one to fight back with body shots. Ricochet adjusts, for a SUPER STEINER!! Ax kick, to complete shot! Cover, TWO?!?! How?! Fans don’t care how, they give this a standing ovation.
The chant sounds more like “Bruiser-chet” now, but the One and Only isn’t done with Dunne yet. He positions Dunne, springboards into a TRIANGLE! Dunne squeezes as hard as he can while keeping himself up. Ricochet pushes himself around, shifts his weight and covers. ONE, but Ricochet shows his strength with a deadlift powerbomb! But Ricochet’s fingers are snapped! Then a Kimura wristlock!! Ricochet screams and shouts as he endures, but then powers his way back to a facelock. He deadlift suplexes for a brainbuster! Both men are down from exhaustion, and the fans are still chanting. A 10 count begins, and reaches 5 before either man stirs. Fans continue to duel, and both men lock eyes. Neither backs down, and they start brawling. But oh no, here come the Undisputed Era! They attack and ruin this match!
Winner: No Contest (Interference)
Rating: **** 3/4
1. NJPW Destruction in Kobe G1 Wrestle Kingdom Contract Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
Tanahashi versus Okada XIII, the thirteenth match over 8 years. Going into this match the record was 5-4-3 in favor of Okada, and one of Tanahashi’s wins was Okada’s farewell for excursion match. So all things considered, the rivalry is very even, but Tanahashi hasn’t been able to beat Okada in nearly 4 years. So do we see the briefcase change hands, or does Tanahashi get one step close to completing his comeback tour?
This match was a testament to old school psychology and pacing. Every spot mattered, every high spot had significance, and if you didn’t feel anything during this match….check your damn pulse, cause you’re probably dead.
Both men set the aggression early, with Okada taking a cheap shot during a break, instead of his usually calm and cocky chest pats. Tanahashi however kept going at Okada, even landed a Dropkick sending him to the outside, Tanahashi nails Okada with a Tombstone which almost gets him a countout victory,but follows up with a High Fly Flow, which might have been a mistake. Tanahashi starts favoring his left knee early and that gives Okada a target.
Low Sliding Dropkicks to Tanahashi’s knee seems to be the equalizer for a while. Okada also busts out a few leg submissions like a Seated Cloverleaf and Figure Four Leg Lock. When Tanahashi gets some distance, he manages to return the leg favor and Dragon Screw, as well as, Inverted Dragon Screw Okada’s legs.
A simple shocking moment was Okada hitting his Standing Dropkick in the corner, and Tanahashi gets his banged up knee caught and hangs backwards. Red Shoes tells the Young Lions to help him up, and that’s not something we haven’t seen in other companies with the referee helping someone out of ropes or a move. Okada jumps on Tanahashi quickly, and we continue this back and forth power struggle.
We get late in the match after Tanhashi has already hit two High Fly Flows and Okada hit a Rolling Rainmaker. Tanahashi is on the top rope, Okada keeps trying to take him down. Tanahashi fights him off twice, before Okada tries again, and Hiroshi rocks him. An open hand slap sends Okada slowly down to the mat, and Tanahashi hits the High Fly Flow as soon as Okada hits the mat. Okada slowly gets up, and gets hit with a High Fly Flow, then with a burst of adrenaline, Tanahashi pulls off one more High Fly Flow for the pinfall victory.
This match was a classic, with numerous callbacks. Hell they even called back to the last G1 match when Tanahashi was trying to crawl to the ropes for a High Fly Flow, immediately as the 30 minute call was made. So the layers, emotion, story telling and impact of every move were momentous. Powerful, fantastic match, gets my highest rating of the year.
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: ****** 1/4
Now the Cruiserweight match was solid, and made complete sense especially with Buddy Murphy getting a shot at Super Showdown. So I can’t complain about that. The NXT match was a fantastic match that would’ve easily been a 5 Snowflake match, if it was allowed to finish properly. But nothing can touch, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada.
It was just on a whole different level, and people really need to watch this.Also goes to prove why Kenny Omega is completely wrong in his little interview argument (be it work or shoot), Tanahashi’s matches tell a story, like wrestling is supposed to.