Match of the Month: March 2019
Hey, Arn here, I almost forgot about this and hence it’s somewhat late and almost into Mania weekend but before we launch into the 36-show insanity of Mania weekend here’s what tickled our fancy in March. Votes come from @ArnoldFurious, @theIanHamilton, @trinidadchainz, @iloikewrestling
Feb 28 (dropped in March): Masashi Takeda vs. Toshiyuki Sakuda (BJW)
March 2: Akito, Takeshita & Ino vs. HARASHIMA, Yoshimura & Ueno (DDT)
March 3: Ben-K & Big R Shimizu vs. KAI & U-T (Dragon Gate)
March 3: Kohei Sato vs. Shinjiro Otani (Zero1)
March 3: Momo Watanabe vs. Jungle Kyona (Stardom)
March 6: Kyle O’Reilly & Bob Fish vs. DIY (NXT)
March 7: Ringkampf vs. Yuki Ishikawa & Shigehiro Irie (wXw)
March 8: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata (NJPW)
March 8: WALTER vs. David Starr (wXw)
March 9: Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin (NJPW)
March 9: WALTER vs. Rey Fenix (wXw)
March 10: Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
March 10: Daniel Bryan vs. Kevin Owens vs. Mustafa Ali (WWE)
March 15: AR Fox & Leon Ruff vs. Workhorsemen (Evolve)
March 16: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr (NJPW)
March 16: WALTER vs. Jordan Devlin (OTT)
March 17: Minoru Suzuki vs. SANADA (NJPW)
March 19: Strong BJ vs. Violent Giants (AJPW)
March 19: Cedric Alexander vs. Tony Nese (WWE)
March 20: Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW)
March 21: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr (NJPW)
March 23: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)
March 24: Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA (NJPW)
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii (March 23 New Japan Cup)
They’ve had a better match beforehand but this was still a terrific bout between two mates wanting to one-up each other. Not only in the big spots but also in who can take the most ridiculous bump on the neck and who can pull out the most unexpected counter. I think Ishii’s armbar out of nowhere wins the latter. Big Kaz is used to getting big tournament wins and his re-ascent to the top of New Japan seems to be falling in line with their big New York show but for a moment there, just for a moment, maybe New Japan was finally going to put Ishii over for everything. Win here, take the title at MSG. Imagine that?
- Strong BJ vs. Violent Giants (March 19 AJPW Dream Power Series)
It’s finally happened. A match of the month contender that made the top five that I’ve not seen. So when it comes to writing about it I am going to struggle somewhat. I’ve seen it described as “tag team match of the year” by some and judging by the participants it was probably a war between four of the hardest working, hardest hitting, men in pro wrestling. I may have to check it out.
- Kohei Sato vs. Shinjiro Otani (March 3 Zero1 18th Anniversary Show)
Hey, Arn here, Zero1 supermark. I went into their 18th Anniversary Show expecting very little but getting two sensational bouts to close the show. This didn’t main event but maybe it should have. At one point Otani starts to request that Sato punt him in the spine and he obliges. Eight times. Each time leaving Otani grimacing and writhing in pain. But then he was back up and then back in position. Kick me again you motherfucker! You cannot kill me! Fuck you! Gaaah, I love it. Then he started marching into kicks like how Ishii marches into strikes. Sato then requesting Boot Scrapes! Like a madman. Then shoot headbutts. Like there’s no real winner here and the actual loser may die. Otani refusing to go gracefully into the night is one of the most wonderful things about pro-wrestling. I hope he never retires.
- Jordan Devlin vs. WALTER (March 16 OTT Scrappermania V)
I actually liked this better than the WALTER-Devlin match that won European match of the year in 2018. It had a better structure, a better narrative and, obviously, the most satisfying outcome. You can’t really have that match without the one that preceded it but this was better, for me. WALTER unleashed hell once again but time Devlin found a way to survive, taking the horrors of the first match and overcoming them. The only minor complaint is that WALTER ended up looking like a wimp for backing down from Stonecold Joey Cabray but it’s a minor issue in an otherwise classic follow-up to a very good opening salvo. There is unlikely to be a rubber match so Jordan moves on to Starr and we can put to bed this wonderful feud.
- WALTER vs. Rey Fenix (March 9 wXw 16 Carat Gold N2)
Apparently this one has been divisive online, although in the building everyone felt like they were seeing something quite special. There’s a school of thought that the best match of Carat weekend was WALTER/Starr if you followed the company but WALTER/Fenix if you didn’t. I just thought it rocked. Fenix getting decimated by WALTER’s big power moves but continually finding new ways to get into the fight. Usually involving multiple rope flippydoos. There’s a spot where he gets killed with a superbomb and it’s such a huge spot that Fenix’s mask flies off. WALTER having torn it to shreds earlier in the match. There was a wonderfully organic spot where a fan throws a mask into the ring so Fenix can replace the damaged one and carry on too. A highlight of a great weekender from wXw. Easily my favourite experience of the month and therefore a worthy winner of this MOTM award.