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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 1/10/2021

Now we all know there will be a few Wrestle Kingdom matches on this list, but there also might be a surprise or two. Check out the first Top 5 of 2021!

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Now we’ve got the first full official week of 2021, so I figured that was the best time to get the year started right! Let’s leave any 2020 wrestling weirdness in 2020, since America certainly hasn’t.

NXT, Impact and AEW had some bigger events to compete for spots with Wrestle Kingdom 15. I guess we should see how much non-NJPW made the list, right?

Let’s get to the 2021!

Quick Top 5:

  1. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: *****
  2. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Jay White
    Rating: **** 1/2
  3. Impact Wrestling Genesis: I Quit Match: Willie Mack vs Moose
    Rating: **** 1/2
  4. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay w/Bea Priestley
    Rating: **** 1/2
  5. AEW New Year’s Smash: AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Rey Fenix
    Rating: **** 1/2
  6. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori (c)
    Rating: **** 1/2

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Kota Ibushi
    Rating: **** 1/4
  • NXT New Year’s Evil: NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly
    Rating: **** 1/4
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Super X Cup Finals: Ace Austin vs Blake Christian
    Rating: ****
  • NOAH Higher Ground: GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs Hajime Ohara
    Rating: ****
  • WWE Raw: WWE Championship: Keith Lee vs Drew McIntyre (c)
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Super X Cup: Cousin Jake vs Ace Austin
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: EVIL vs SANADA
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • NXT New Year’s Evil: Rhea Ripley vs Raquel Gonzalez
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Jordynne Grace vs Jazz
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Super X Cup: Blake Christian vs Crazzy Steve
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Dangerous Tekkers (ZSJ & Taichi) (c) vs Guerillas of Destiny w/Jado
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • AEW New Year’s Smash: SCU & The Young Bucks vs TH2 & The Acclaimed
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • NJPW New Year Dash: BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Shingo Takagi vs Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO, Master Wato & Rocky Romero
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Super X Cup: Crazzy Steve vs Trey Lamar
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Great O-Khan
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW New Year Dash: Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI vs Tiger Mask IV & Yuya Uemura
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • IMPACT!: Jordynne Grace & Jazz vs Havok & Nevaeh
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: #1 Contender for IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Phantasmo (Super J Cup Winner) vs Hiromu Takahashi (BOSJ winner)
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Impact Wrestling Genesis: Super X Cup: KC Navarro vs Blake Christian
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW New Year Dash: The United Empire (Will Ospreay w/Bea Priestley, Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Yota Tsuji
    Rating: ***
  • WWE Raw: The New Day vs Miz & Morrison
    Rating: ***
  • Dragon Gate Open the New Gate: Ultimo Dragon & Taketo Kamei vs Kagetora & Don Fujii
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Sami Callihan vs Eddie Edwards
    Rating: ***
  • Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: KOPW 2021 New Japan Ranbo
    Rating: ***
  • WWE SmackDown: Tag Championships: Street Profits (c) vs Bobby Roode & Dolph Ziggler
    Rating: ***

5t. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori (c)

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Hiromu gets up and fans rally behind him as he shouts at Ishimori. Hiromu drags Ishimori up, runs, and LARIATS! Then a fireman’s carry, to CORNER DEATH VALLEY! Into the bare buckles!! Hiromu fires up more and he drags Ishimori up to a fireman’s carry, TIMEBOMB!! Cover, TWO!?! Ishimori survives but Hiromu won’t stop there! Hiromu drags Ishimori up, dragon sleepers and suplexes, then tucks him in, but Ishimori fights out to snapmare Hiromu into his own dragon sleeper! Ishimori lifts, Hiromu arm-drags free and then rolls to get the fireman’s carry back! Hiromu throws Ishimori into the dragon sleeper but Ishimori fights off the lift!

Hiromu still tries but Ishimori wrenches in mid-air, to the BONE LOCK!!! Hiromu endures as Ishimori cranks on the hold, and fans fire up as Hiromu moves around. Hiromu reaches but Ishimori drags him away again! Ishimori brings Hiromu, BLOODY- NO! Hiromu slips out, suplexes, VICTORIA!! Ishimori flounders around, Hiromu fires himself up again, and fans fire up with him! Hiromu drags Ishimori up into the dragon sleeper, then the suplex, TIMEBOMB MK. II!! Cover, HIROMU WINS!!

Winner: Hiromu via Time Bomb #2

 

5t. AEW New Year’s Smash: AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Rey Fenix

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Omega drags Fenix up, for a DR. WILY BOMB! High stack, TWO!?! V-TRIGGER!! Cover, TWO!?! Omega is furious, as is Callis, but the fans are loving this! Fenix is on the ropes, Omega takes aim and says BANG! Omega runs, V-TRIGGER! Omega hauls Fenix up, Electric Chair lift, but Fenix POISON RANAS! Both men are down again and fans are thunderous! Callis shouts at Fenix as Fenix goes to the ramp. Fenix glares at Callis but turns his attention back to the ring. Fenix slingshots, into a V-TRIGGER! Omega drags Fenix up and pulls him against ropes but Fenix enziguris free! Fenix step sup to springboard CUTTER!! Cover, TWO!?!? Omega survives and Callis is relived.

But Fenix has Omega, scoops, throws knees, FIRE THUNDER DRIVER!! Cover, TWO?!?! Omega survives again and Fenix is beside himself! Fans are electric as Fenix gives Omega some Danielson Stomps! Fenix throws off his elbow pads, goes to the corner and shouts to Latino Heat! FROG SPLASH onto knees!! Too much Latino Heat cost Fenix! Omega puts Fenix up top, climbs up, but Fenix resists and headbutts! Omega CLUBS Fenix, Fenix BOOTS back, then Fenix adjusts to somersault, but into a JAY DRILLER!! V-TRIGGER!! Cover, TWO?!?!? Fenix barely survives but Omega isn’t done! Electric Chair, ONE WINGED ANGEL!!! Cover, Omega wins!!!

Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel

 

4. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1: Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay w/Bea Priestley

From My Results:

Ospreay did show a more calculated attack, but so did Okada. Okada focused the back to try and take away the Stormbreaker, while Ospreay attacked different from different angles, but trying to stay ahead in the mind games. There was a beauty in what Ospreay did, since he took a few moments from the Kenny Omega saga, which seemed to spark a different Okada.

Respectably, Ospreay also wanted to beat Okada in the ring, so after a Brainbuster through ringside tables, Ospreay threw Okada back in the ring to try and win without any doubt. Oscutters, Spanish Fly, Money Clips and Tombstones, there was a lot of fun moments. We got to see Okada tap into who he used to be. The goading kicks to a downed Ospreay are a side of Okada that we haven’t seen in a long time.

Ospreay nearly pulled off a big upset when he got out of the Money Clip, hitting a Tombstone and Rainmaker of his own, but that wasn’t enough, but it did evoke something else. Almost as if Okada realized the Money Clip gimmick isn’t worth trying to continue to make work, he fought back, hit the Fire Thunder Driver that we haven’t seen in a while, and then kills Ospreay with a RRRAAIINNMMMAAAKKKERR! God I missed that move.

Winner: Okada via RAINMAKER

 

3. Impact Wrestling Genesis: I Quit Match: Willie Mack vs Moose

From My Results:

This had all the tones and feelings of the grudge match that it was. Willie and Moose went hard early, kept trying to intimidate one another and get in each other’s heads to get a quick quit. But this was not going to be over quickly and it was paced well, and the moves were meticulous, and the way they went from calling the referee in early to pushing him out of the way; just trying to inflict more damage was great.

Moose hit an Avalanche Go To Hell through a table, but Willie wasn’t going to die. Willie got some momentum a bit later, told Moose he’d have to kill him and that was a bit of foreshadowing. Moose was covering the TNA title belt and just chucked it at Willie’s head to give himself some space. Moose did make a reference to his EC3 match when he flipped off Willie right before a chairshot, but the point was the ending. Moose takes control, wraps the chair around Willie’s neck and goes to kill him, chair into chair style.  Rich Swann runs out and screams “What do you want”, Moose stares at him blankly and Rich says he’ll give him a title shot if that’s what he really wants, just stop the madness. Moose puts the chair down, and says “Thank You, I Quit”.

Winner: Willie Mack

 

2. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Jay White

From My Results:

The match started off like many other Jay White matches, with a lot of powdering, mind games and chatter. Everything in the match built off the past year and the previous interactions between the two. We got a glimpse of Jay pushing him to Murder Ibushi levels, and Jay did a great job at trying to counter punch the unpredictable Ibushi.

Ibushi challenged White’s manhood during an exhaustive exchange where even Gedo was telling Jay not to swing. A change of gear when Ibushi pushed Red Shoes, giving Jay the opening for a low blow; but Jay then made it his personal goal for the next minute or so to get revenge for Red Shoes. Jay’s running commentary is part of the enjoyment of this match. Even Jay avoiding his usual heel tactics when he tells Red Shoes not to count, as he was calling Ibushi to get back into the ring.

A Kamigoye and Phoenix Splash nearly put the match away for Ibushi, but Gedo pulled out Red Shoes and the match got dicey since this was around the 40 minute mark. Jay catches Ibushi with a Blade Runner, but Ibushi becomes the first person to kick out of the Blade Runner. A Kamigoye to the back of Jay’s head and then an exposed knee Kamigoye finally finished this match!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

1. Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 2: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Jeff Cobb

From My Results:

We started early on with a bit of an attempt to outdo one another. They traded power, they traded agility spots and it was just an impressive mixture of styles. Cobb tapped into a few Eddie Guerrero moments with his version of the 3 Amigos and then the Black Tiger Bomb. Cobb focused on Shingo’s back quite a bit, but Shingo persevered.

Takagi tried to stand up and trade before deciding it was best to focus the knees. Thanks to his pivot, when Cobb managed to pull off Tour of the Islands, Cobb couldn’t go for the cover right away since he landed heavy on the knees. This allowed for Takagi to get close enough to the ropes to break the pin and kick out on the follow up attempt at the pinfall.

Just never stopping with the action, big swings, big power, and this match was a lot of fun. Cobb really stepped up to meet Shingo’s energy and intensity, and it’s a good thing intermission is right after this, because this is probably match of the night. Takagi rocks Cobb with a Pumping Bomber, and then hits Last of the Dragon to retain the title. Just wow.

Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon

 

Thoughts:

So we got a few amazing “match of the year” candidates from New Japan, but not only them. Impact brought a story driven slugfest that was an amazing way to get us to Moose getting a REAL title shot. AEW also brought a solid effort with Fenix and Omega going at it again for the AEW championship.

Given the match was what I rated the highest, it still rings the truest with me, so Shingo Takagi vs Jeff Cobb, will be getting my vote. Also it has to be noted that Raw and NXT both had some solid efforts this week, just slightly missing out on the Top 5 because the floor to get in was pretty high.

Now I’m not expecting such an onslaught of high quality every week, this was a hell of a way to start 2021 in the wrestling world.


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