Short work weeks, and long weekends make for a nice way to recharge. Let’s see what matches Andrew managed to fit into his holiday schedule for the Top 5 this week.
Well folks in the States had Thanksgiving this past week, and the shows kinda proved it. Some generally uninspired or at the very least, average shows just kinda made the whole week feel like a food coma. Thankfully I enjoy Japanese wrestling and they don’t need no stinkin turkey, so what I watched of those shows still satiated my need for good wrestling.
Slowly getting to the end of the year, we added one more match to the November pool. Unsurprisingly, NXT Takeover dominated the votes but, Tommaso Ciampa vs Velveteen Dream, edged out the other matches.
Now let’s see what made the Top 5 this week.
5. MLW Heavyweight Championship Match: Shane Strickland vs Low Ki (c)
After dealing with Sami Callihan’s Death Machines for WarGames and general dismay the last few months, Shane finally gets his rematch. There’s the report that came out a little while ago that Strickland is being targeted by WWE, so this makes sense to get out of the way now.
It takes a little bit of time to get the match started since Salina de la Renta and Martinez are skulking about outside of the ring. The match was very much a game of cat and mouse. Shane tried to string some offense together, but Low Ki used ring positioning and rolling outside to his advantage.
Shane does manage to catch Low Ki when he was on the top rope and he falls forward headbutting the referee and knocking him out. Strickland jumps on the opportunity, lays out Low Ki, hits the Swerve Stomp, but there’s no ref. Shane looks towards the back, and a replacement ref eventually comes out, counts to 2 and then Low Ki kicks out. Martinez hops up to the apron to distract the referee, and Low Ki grabs Shane by the hair, ragdolls him a bit, pulls out some hair and cradles him for the pinfall victory.
The match wasn’t really what you’d expect, but this new thread of Low Ki trying to maim opponents before pinning them is unique.
Winner: Low Ki via Referee Distraction
Rating: *** 1/4
4. NXT UK: Toni Storm vs Jinny
Whether it’s the Lightning from Down Under or the Fierce Fashionista, The Mosh Pit Kid, Rhea Ripley, waits for the winner in the finals. How will the finals of this historic tournament take form after tonight?
The bell rings and fans sing for Storm. Toni and Jinny tie up and go around and around the ring. Jinny puts Toni in the corner, but backs off at 4. They circle again and tie up. Fans still sing for Toni as she and Jinny go around again. Jinny arm-drags but Toni holds on. They break as fans chant “Aussie Aussie Aussie! OI OI OI!” Toni and Jinny tie up again, and Toni gets a waistlock. Jinny resists as Toni lifts. Jinny breaks free to get a wristlock. She brings Toni down, but Toni gets up. Fans rally as Toni gets a headlock and takeover. Jinny endures the wrenching and rolls Toni over. TWO as Toni lets go. Toni goes after the facelock, but Jinny works her way out of that, back to a wristlock. Toni spins, bridges, rolls and reverses! Jinny endures as Toni wrenches more.
Jinny spins and throws a big forearm. Toni is rocked, and Jinny brings her in for a headlock. Toni powers out and things speed up, Toni boots Jinny down! Cover, TWO! Toni goes after the legs, for a deathlock STF! Fans chant for Jinny to tap but Jinny endures. Jinny works against the hold but Toni wrenches back hard. Jinny comes close, but grabs Toni’s hair. Toni wrenches Jinny more, but Jinny crawls for ropes. Toni rocks back and forth, but Jinny gets the ropebreak. The ref counts and Toni lets Jinny go, but with stomps! Toni stomps Jinny to a corner, then drags her up for big EuroUppers. Fans fire up with Toni as she runs in, but Jinny boots her away! Jinny gets Toni with the Japanese arm-drag, into buckles! Cover, TWO! Toni gets to the corner, but Jinny stomps a fashionable mudhole into her.
Fans rally up but Jinny keeps on Toni with a double chop. Jinny stomps another mudhole into Toni in another corner. She stops at 4, but whips Toni corner to corner. Toni falls short and face first. Jinny is on her with more stomps, then drags Toni up. Snap suplex and float over, TWO! Jinny grows frustrated, but she puts Toni in an armlock with chinbar. Jinny thrashes Toni around as fans rally up. Toni gets up but Jinny throws her down by her hair. Cover, ONE! Jinny seethes as she clubs away on Toni’s back. “This is MY NXT!” Jinny goes back to the armlock and chinbar, but fans rally up again. Toni fights her way back up, and arm-drags Jinny off! Jinny fires off strikes, but Jinny chops! Toni headbutts, they both go down!
Fans fire up and chant for “NXT! NXT!” Then fans rally up as the two stir. Jinny is on Toni with a forearm. Toni throws a forearm back. Jinny hits, Toni hits. They brawl to their feet, back and forth. Toni gets the edge, then blocks Jinny’s kick, for a trapped-leg German! Jinny crawls to a corner and Toni fires up. Toni runs in, big hip attack! Then Perfect Plex! Cover, TWO!! Jinny survives but Toni isn’t stopping. Toni climbs up, but Jinny stops her with a high roundhouse! Jinny climbs but Toni headbutts her away. Jinny hits back, then climbs up. Toni forearms Jinny and sends her down with another headbutt. But Jinny dropkicks Toni’s legs out, then hits a draping facebuster! Cover, TWO!! Toni survives and Jinny is at a loss for words.
Jinny rains down rights on Toni, then drags her up. Jinny slaps Toni, then reels her out, but Toni dodges and underhooks. But Storm Zero is denied by Jinny’s rolling ax kick! Cover, ROPEBREAK! Jinny is furious, and she stomps away on Toni. Fans sing for Toni as Jinny runs in. Toni goes up and over, gets Jinny with the German! Then STORM ZERO! Cover, Toni wins!!
Winner: Storm via Storm Zero
Rating: *** 1/4
3. NOAH Global League: Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Masa Kitamiya
Well this match decided who wins Block A. If Nakajima could beat his former teammate, he’d win, or if he loses, Naomichi Marufuji wins Block A. These two are also the last two challengers for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, so that adds something to prove.
Nakajima tries to play head games early with Kitamiya, but he eventually gets sick of his shit and just goes after him. Nakajima kept his patented grin on his face for most of this match. Bobbing and weaving with some well placed kicks and trying to stay away from the power of Kitamiya.
Right when the match looks like Nakajima’s to win, he lights up Kitamiya, goes to the corner for a big Penalty Kick, but gets hit with a huge Spear from Kitamiya. Kitamiya tries the Jailhouse Lock, but Nakajima manages to get the ropes. Kitamiya hits a few chops blocks and tries for a Saito Suplex, but Nakajima counters out of that.
As he still nurses his knees, Nakajima tries to put together some offense, but gets caught, grounded and stuck in the Jailhouse Lock one more time, and that’s all it took. The cocky Nakajima was knocked out by the tag partner he thought he was better than.
Winner: Kitamiya via Jailhouse Lock
Rating: *** 1/2
AJPW Real World Tag League: Takao Omori & Manabu Soya vs Jake Lee & Ryoji Sai
Winner: Omori via Axe Bomber
Rating: *** 1/4
NOAH Global League: Mitsuya Nagai vs Kenoh
Winner: Nagai via Nagai Lock
Rating: *** 1/4
Impact: Eli Drake’s Gravy Train Turkey Trot: Eli Drake, Glen Gilbertti, Katarina, Jake Crist & Rohit Raju vs Fallah Bah, KM, Alisha Edwards, Kikutaro & Dezmond Xavier
Winner: Fallah Bah via Bonzai Drop on Gilbertti (Disco has to wear the Turkey Suit)
205 Live: Gran Metalik vs TJP
Winner: Metalik via Sunset Flip Pin
NXT UK: Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai
Winner: Ripley via Rip Tide
2. DDT Pro Special 2018 KO-D Openweight Title Match: Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs Masahiro Takanashi
Well this is one of those situations where I was just looking for something and found this. I’m not overly familiar with DDT, but I figured I’d give it a watch.
Sufficed to say, it was a good thing to randomly watch this. DDT is known as the comedy place where Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega wrestled a blow up doll, but this match was pretty damn solid.
Takanashi has some interesting technical transitions for a Rings of Saturn submission, as well as, a few other interesting moves. He also seems to be a big fan of the Code Red, trying it from the apron, the top ropes and the normal style in the middle of the ring a few times before finally hitting one for a near fall.
Daisuke’s moveset is amusingly reminiscent of WWE wrestlers. Elbow Drop Macho Man Style, Pedigree and a Crossface all were busted out at some point, but to no avail. After Takanashi hit a Satellite Crossface, Daisuke worked through it and then hits a Huricanrana (an actual one, not a Frankensteiner) for the pinfall victory.
Much better than what I expected. A few transitions and spots were clunky, so they tried them again instead of moving away, so that dropped it down a little rating wise for me. But it was still enjoyable.
Winner: Sasaki via Huricanrana
Rating: *** 3/4
1. AJPW Real World Tag League: Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu vs Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto
Well YoshiKen finally got a win on the show before this, which hopefully turns around their early run of bad luck. Akiyama and Sekimoto haven’t wrestled as many matches as everyone, but have looked very good so far.
The fun part of this match, was the fact it looked like Uncle Jun was shooting a bit on Yoshitatsu. We have to keep in mind, Akiyama was trained in Baba’s All Japan and was a protege of the Four Pillars of Heaven, so he’s cut from a different cloth. A lot of stiff strikes, no selling, walking through moves and just lighting Yoshitatsu up, made the tone of the match shift.
Both teams pulled off their tandem moves, the Codebreaker/German Suplex from YoshiKen got a near fall. But the best spot is Sekimoto grabbing Akiyama while he’s trying the Exploder Suplex someone, German Suplexing Akiyama to help “assist” the Exploder. I don’t know if they have a name for it, but it definitely feels like the “I’m Helping” Tandem Suplex.
Kento tries his best to drag the team back, laying out Jun with a Blackout knee strike, but Yoshitatsu can’t make a tag and Sekimoto sends them both spilling to the outside. Jun hits the Wristclutch Exploder to give a heavily favored team their third loss. In a tournament where each team gets 10 matches, 3 losses isn’t a death knell, but it doesn’t leave much wiggle room.
Winner: Akiyama via Wristclutch Exploder
Rating: **** 1/4
We had a somewhat uneventful week, but hey it was a holiday, so I’m okay with it. However, the AJPW Real World Tag League Match, that is one of the best matches of the tournament so far. So I wouldn’t feel right to pick anything else over that one.
Should be interesting to see how people vote, since a lot of what’s on the Top 5 isn’t exactly heavily followed.