Match of the Month – January 2019
Masashi Takeda vs. Jun Kasai (FREEDOMS December 25 – dropped in January)
Masaya Takahashi vs. Takumi Tsukamoto (BJW January 2)
Kento Miyahara vs. KAI (AJPW January 3)
Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW January 4)
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr (NJPW January 4)
Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW January 4)
Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW January 4)
T-Hawk vs. Shotaro Ashino (Wrestle-1 January 5)
Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Kenoh (NOAH January 6)
LAX vs. Lucha Bros (Impact January 6)
Grizzled Young Vets vs. Moustache Mountain (NXT UK January 12)
Strong BJ vs. Violent Giants (BJW January 13)
Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE January 15)
Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE January 22)
Undisputed Era vs. War Raiders (NXT January 26)
Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT January 26)
- TIE: Masashi Takeda vs. Jun Kasai/Asuka vs. Becky Lynch
Confession time…I’ve not actually seen the Takeda vs. Kasai match. I don’t know why either because I love both guys but it was hidden away on a FREEDOMS’ Christmas show and I basically hand-waved 2018 at some point in early January. I did see Asuka vs. Becky though and it was pretty good.
- Grizzled Young Vets vs. Moustache Mountain
GYV vs. MM is the one match that came out of the UK Takeover show with genuine buzz. The rest of the show fell a little flat. Tonally GYV vs. MM was everything you expect from an NXT show. The fast pace, the near falls, the feeling of importance attached to the contest. It was for new tag titles. It had a sense of epic about it and it opened the first ever NXT UK Takeover in spectacular fashion. It was proof the UK version of NXT could live up to the real thing. It’s not vibe given off by the entire show but for 23 beautiful minutes it looked as if NXT UK was going to be golden.
- T-Hawk vs. Shotaro Ashino
Ashino is Wrestle-1’s incumbent ace but he’s also a real piece of shit. The crowd still rooted for him in this contest because T-Hawk is a member of the even shittier Strong Hearts stable. They’ve played the invading unit storyline better in Wrestle-1 than anywhere else and it’s gotten legitimate heat. Having Ashino seemingly overcome the odds to beat CIMA the month before only for T-Hawk to reveal he was the real threat has been great storytelling. It made sense to switch the belt and it was a great match too.
- Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet
Takeover, the night before the Royal Rumble, was a special event. There were several excellent matches on the card but this one stood out above all others due to a mixture of complex movez and subtle exchanges building up to the bigger spots. Ricochet has been excellent in NXT since joining, knowing full well there are few workers anywhere who can do what he does. Quite how WWE passed on him first time around (stating and I quote there were “too many guys like him on the roster already”!) remains a mystery. Across the ring is Johnny Gargano, who is basically the best wrestler WWE have on the books. I don’t think that’s a controversial opinion. The Ciampa feud has been a little overblown but the way its been weaved into other storylines has worked for me. The match with Aleister Black was great. This was better.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega
Main event of Wrestle Kingdom is a pressure situation. The difference between it and the main event at Wrestlemania is that WWE force their chosen guys into their big spots whereas Wrestle Kingdom is earned in the ring. Tanahashi has fought, tooth and nail, with broken bones and fucked up limbs to make sure he stayed on pace with the very best wrestlers in the world. And he didn’t have to do shit. He could have rested on those laurels and coasted in midcard matches where he’d have been mega-over anyway and done one main event a year and it would have been fine. But Tanahashi doesn’t do fine. Tanahashi does legendary. He’s one of a kind. One of the greatest wrestlers I’ve ever seen and he’s cemented that legacy by busting his bones way longer than people were expecting. He’s a fucking legend.