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Matches of the Month: January 2020

This year I am making it a goal to keep track of all the great wrestling I see. Each month I will post what I think are the best matches of the month. They will be unranked and in chronological order with my thoughts on each match. Wrestling is a subjective form of entertainment so this list is in no way the end all be all of what is good in pro wrestling. This merely serves as a reference point for anyone looking for good wrestling matches. There is so much wrestling out there and not enough time in the day that I’m sure I am bound to miss some matches but if you’re reading this and feel that I have left off a match please send it my way! I love discovering new matches and wrestlers that I was not knowledgable of. That is the great thing about pro wrestling, it is endless.

The new year for die-hard wrestling fans is a great time thanks to New Japan and Wrestle Kingdom. It is without fail that you will see some of the best pro wrestling of the year just four days into the new year. In 2020 we were not only spoiled with great wrestling from Wrestle Kingdom 14 but we also were treated to an extra day of it! We are truly blessed.

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Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi – IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: After spending 530 days on the shelf rehabbing a devastating neck injury, Hiromu Takahashi had a match for the ages with Will Ospreay, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion and some would argue one of the best wrestlers in the world today. Ospreay showed no regard for the reconstructed neck of Hiromu, striking the neck hard and often there were multiple times you wondered if the referee was going to stop the match. Ospreay and Takahashi know each other’s offense like they know their own. The sequence with Ospreay countering the belly to belly catapult back into the ring was absolutely beautiful. Go out of your way and give this a second watch, it is as good as the first. LINK: https://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00532_6_16 (Must be signed up for NJPWWorld to watch.)

Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kota Ibushi – IWGP Heavyweight Championship: This match was like a really good movie. Slow build in the beginning but you want to keep watching. The middle is heavy with twists and turns that force your eyelids to stay wide open. Just when you think you have the movie figured out it flips you upside down for more fun. If there is one single match that I can point to and say this is the kind of wrestling I enjoy it’s this match right here. The sequence where Kota Ibushi goes into a fugue trance is one of my all-time favorite moments in wrestling. LINK: https://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00532_6_18 (Must be signed up for NJPWWorld to watch.)

KENTA (c) vs. Hirooki Goto – Never Openweight Championship: If you like two dudes going out there and beating the shit out of each other than this is the match for you. The last few minutes and Kenta’s spine-tingling kicks made me cringe in pain. LINK: https://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00532_8_15 (Must be signed up for NJPWWorld to watch.)

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho: I added this match to the list because I thought it was solid ring work from Jericho who even at his age can still put out noteworthy performances. Couple that with Tanahashi, who despite his body breaking down on him, looks to be in phenomenal shape. My favorite part of the match came at the end with the submission from Jericho locked in on Tanahashi. The spot amplified the drama and with each passing second, you found yourself drawn in to see if Tanahashi would submit. Great stuff from these ring veterans. LINK: https://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00532_8_17 (Must be signed up for NJPWWorld to watch.)

Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada (c) – Double Gold Dash: For the first time in the history of NJPW one man was going to walk out as both the IWGP Intercontinental Champion and IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Okada, arguably the greatest Heavyweight Champion in the history of NJPW versus Naito, the rebel with a heart the size of the chip on his shoulder. The match had a solid start then out of nowhere it smashes the gas pedal and goes full throttle. Okada tried to weaken the knee of Naito smashing it onto a table but Naito refused to give in as an act of defiance. One man walked out of Wrestle Kingdom 14 2-0 and was my vote for Wrestler of the Month. LINK: https://njpwworld.com/p/s_series_00532_8_18 (Must be signed up for NJPWWorld to watch.)

The NXT UK brand returned to Blackpool for another TakeOver show. The first-ever TakeOver show was a massive hit and showed why more people should be tuning in. The second proved to be just as good and show that NXT UK is no one-hit-wonder.

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Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin: This match had everything from counter for counter chain wrestling, stiff striking, feats of strength, and tons of close pinfalls. Tyler Bate is quickly becoming one of my favorite currents wrestlers with his uncanny ability to continuously put out incredible matches playing the hero. Jordan Devlin isn’t too far behind as I’m a big fan of a cocky arrogant jerk you have to respect because they back up their words in the ring with their skill. LINK: https://watch.wwe.com/episode/NXT-UK-TakeOver-Blackpool-II-115547 (Must be signed up for the WWE Network to watch.)

Gallus (c) vs. Imperium vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Webster & Andrews – Ladder Match for the NXT UK Tag Team Championships: This match was an absolute car crash and I loved it. It may have been advertised as a Ladder Match but this had ladders, tables, chairs, stairs, and kendo sticks. I think what I most enjoyed about this match was all four teams had to follow a beautiful wrestling match from Bate and Devlin so they seemingly went out there and said, “Screw lets steal the show” and indeed they did. I have nothing but respect for all eight men putting their bodies on the line in such a manner. LINK: https://watch.wwe.com/episode/NXT-UK-TakeOver-Blackpool-II-115547 (Must be signed up for the WWE Network to watch.)

This month we were treated to Worlds Collide, an event pitting the best of NXT against the best of NXT UK. In typical NXT fashion, this show exceeded expectations and delivered some of the best wrestling we may see all year.

Angel Garza (c) vs. Isaiah Scott vs. Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin – NXT Cruiserweight Championship: I loved this match. All four men had ample time to shine and did a brilliant job of weaving offense attacking as many competitors at once instead of singling someone out. Travis Banks and Isaiah Scott may have been the lesser-known participants in the match but with their performances I expect their stock to rise with their respective brands. A great Fatal 4 Way with an ending no one saw coming. LINK: https://watch.wwe.com/episode/WWE-Worlds-Collide-NXT-vs-NXT-UK-117382 (Must be signed up for the WWE Network to watch.)

DIY vs. Mustache Mountain: An absolute banger of a tag team match. This match really became somewhat of a dream match once it was announced because fans knew they were undoubtedly getting a fantastic match. Things start off light and fun with some beautiful chain wrestling. Ciampa and Seven having a pose off and Seven showing the genius comedian he is made me smile from ear to ear. After mutual displays of respect, things get chippy as Tom Phillips said and both teams knew it was time to take care of business. From there it was a full blitzkrieg of tandem offense from both teams with the goal to see who can land a big enough maneuver to secure a three count. If you like edge of your seat action and solid tag team wrestling this is the match for you. LINK: https://watch.wwe.com/episode/WWE-Worlds-Collide-NXT-vs-NXT-UK-117382 (Must be signed up for the WWE Network to watch.)

Undisputed Era vs. Imperium: Dear lord what a match. It’s now eight days old and I’ve watched it maybe four times now and it still blows me away like the first time. Wolfe going absolutely limp was downright scary, thankfully it looks like he will be okay. If you think about it, the Undisputed Era and Imperium are a lot alike. Both teams are comprised of members who are the upper echelon of their brands. Both teams take their dominance very seriously. The difference lies where the Undisputed Era displays its dominance in arrogance while Imperium let their ring work speak for itself. Usually, I am not a fan of 8 (or in this case 7) man tag matches because I’ve been condition to think it will most likely be a jumbled mess. However, this match was a perfect blueprint on how to construct a match of this nature. The match was laid out like an album with decent sized bits of action spread evenly like the tracks on said album. Walter is just so cool to watch. Walter does so much doing so little you realize what a spectacle he is. Again I’m just blown away at how good both these teams are on rosters that are pretty much overflowing with talent. Watch this one more time, it’s worth it. LINK: https://watch.wwe.com/episode/WWE-Worlds-Collide-NXT-vs-NXT-UK-117382 (Must be signed up for the WWE Network to watch.)

That, my friends, covers all of my favorite matches for January 2020. Being that I am the only contributor to this site I am sure there are some matches that have been left off that you the reader felt deserved my praise. Trust me it is not a slight but rather proof that wrestling is booming so well right now that there is something different and enjoyable for everyone. Again use this post as a reference point for some easily accessible good wrestling but if you find something you think I should check out then send it my way on Social Media!

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