Isn’t it a pain when you get to the end of the year and you see everybody posting their opinions on match of the year contenders? People are listing off matches from February meanwhile you can’t remember what you had for lunch just yesterday! By the time December comes around, and those lists take over social media, January seems more like it’s 11 years away rather than a mere 11 months!
In this monthly recurring series, the residents of Wrestle Inn will offer you their recommendation for a single match you should seek out from the last month. We might not always highlight the “best” match; perhaps we’ll pick a hidden gem instead, or a match that you may not have heard of from a promotion different to what you usually watch. But, we can guarantee that all of these picks will be more than worth your time!
Trent Breward recommends:
Mei Suruga, Baliyan Akki, Chie Koishikawa and Hagane Shinno vs Lulu Pencil, Emi Sakura, Minoru Fujita and Chris Brookes, ChocoProLIVE! #110 (Gatoh Move, May 1st)
To celebrate Golden Week the crew behind the ChocoPro shows went into overdrive with a flurry of events inside their little wrestling room, and they kicked things off with an absolutely crazy 8 person tag match. It had everything: hilarious comedy, legitimately good wrestling, incredibly inventive and creative spots that utilised the unique environment, and an fantastic overarching story as Lulu Pencil struggled to break her streak of bad fortune while Chris Brookes grew increasingly frustrated with his tag partner’s inability to get the job done. Pro Wrestling is a joy to watch when it refuses to be held down by traditional restraints, and this is just a perfect example of that. Don’t sleep on ChocoPro, and don’t sleep on this match.
The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, & Ortiz) vs The Pinnacle (MJF, Dax Harwood, Cash Wheeler, Shawn Spears, & Wardlow), Dynamite (AEW, May 5th)
Of all the matches I could’ve picked from this month, I felt like I had to go with AEW’s first-ever “Blood and Guts” match from the May 5th Dynamite. Going into this match, I was a very casual AEW viewer. I’d pop on Dynamite now and then but didn’t follow the product on a regular basis. However, when I heard that they were doing a War Games style match called “Blood and Guts” on their regular weekly show, I had to tune in. And wow, was I impressed. There was so much going on that it was hard to keep track of but I really, really enjoyed it. The star of this match to me was Sammy Guevara. He started the match for the Inner Circle and just killed it with his intensity the whole match and flying around the two ring cage. This was just a violent and bloody encounter between two factions that absolutely hate each other. The capper came between Jericho and MJF with the throw from the top of the cage. An argument could’ve been made to save this for the pay-per-view because then it wouldn’t have been interrupted by commercial breaks. Several key things like the ring getting torn up and Jericho climbing the cage, were missed because of said commercials. However, for AEW’s first effort in a War Games match, this was very good and this particular match turned me into not only a regular AEW viewer but also an AEW fan as well!
Jake Lee vs Kento Miyahara, Champion Carnival Final (AJPW, May 3rd)
This year’s AJPW Champion Carnival was absolutely stellar, with the pick of the matches the climatic final itself. Jake Lee and Kento Miyahara are both world class wrestlers with an enthralling shared in-ring history. They’ve had many great matches against one another in recent years, with each building on the one before. In my opinion, this Champion Carnival Final is the best match they’ve ever had together, with it being gripping from start to finish. It was the longest match of the tournament, but it warranted every minute of your attention. Jake Lee’s new heel persona was fantastic in this match, as it clashed with Miyahara’s babyface ‘Ace’ character perfectly. The impressive visual of Lee biting on the top rope to avoid Miyahara’s Bridging German Suplex was one of the best of the year – making this a true must-see Match of the Year contender!
Libby Cadman Recommends:
El Phantasmo vs. Josh Alexander, Under Siege (IMPACT, May 5th)
As the forbidden door continues to swing open, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s El Phantasmo boldly swaggered into the IMPACT Zone and won a 6-way match to face newly crowned X Division champion, Josh Alexander, for the title. This presented him as the perfect villain for the hard-working face Alexander to knock off his high horse in his first defence. Both of these wrestlers performed with a slickness that only comes when a performer truly knows their character: where ELP tauntingly danced on the ropes, Alexander dominated on the mat with his technical style stamping through the gloating display of confidence and teasing moves of ELP. One highlight being when Alexander was rendered lifeless, hanging upside down on the ring post, and ELP began jeeringly clapping to the nonexistent audience. ELP charged across the ring only to stop short, casually jump on the ropes, and put his lethal boot straight into Alexander’s crotch. Alexander however fought back, ripped him from his above position, and threw him across to the ring, followed by echoing chest chops on the outside that sent ELP’s body and legs flailing in the air – a brilliant example of what sets these two competitors apart. If you have been watching NJPW and IMPACT, you’ll know both wrestlers have seemingly been on a trajectory towards the next phases of their careers and characters, however, the circumstances of the global pandemic had set their paths slightly askew. So this small but mighty clash certainly made lemonade out of lemons. Keep your eyes peeled for the rematch, folks, maybe even on Japanese soil…
Serena Deeb vs Red Velvet, Dynamite (AEW, May 19th)
The NWA Women’s championship was put on the line on Dynamite again with Serena Deeb defending against Red Velvet. As she had shown against Jade Cargill, Red Velvet is quite the seller, allowing Deeb to demonstrate a more aggressive side to her technical, methodical approach. Deeb brings something to the women’s division that not many others can, and her abilities meshed really well with Velvet. This match isn’t a big time commitment (around 10 minutes) but it packed a lot in and had a great finish that left both women looking incredible.
Young Bucks vs Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston, Double or Nothing (AEW, May 30th)
I swear, it’s not a coincidence that I chose two Young Bucks matches in a row for my monthly recommendation! I picked this match for two reasons. First, Moxley and Kingston are just too awesome together. They gave an outstanding performance, posing as the first credible threat towards the Bucks’ title run in quite a long time. I forgot that I was watching something that was predetermined. That’s just how GOOD this match was. Superb psychology and storytelling throughout. Finally, Moxley and Kingston’s entrance solidified how much I missed live crowds. Unleashing the pent-up energy we’ve been deprived of for well over a year, the sound of “Wild Thing” combined with the image of Moxley and Kingston wrecking everything in their way, as the crowd roared, sent a clear statement to the Bucks: Dior Playtime is Over.
Corey Michaels recommends:
Xavier Woods vs Riddle, Monday Night Raw (WWE, May 24th)
I’ll make myself clear here: I do not like Riddle. I do admit he has in-ring talent, but the star here is Xavier Woods. Often the less praised member of New Day, I had gotten that showcase for Woods I had been craving to see. While being on the roster for a long time and being in the industry for longer, this was the star-making performance Woods needed, and he absolutely excelled in every respect.
Kyle Sparks recommends:
Quinn McKay vs Angelina Love (ROH, May 7th)
There were better matches this month in terms of in-ring quality. There were better matches involving the women from multiple major companies. But I appreciated the ROH in-ring debut of Quinn McKay, and I wanted to make sure it got its due. McKay made her professional debut in 2018, and has worked for multiple east-coast independent promotions, but had settled into a role as a backstage interviewer and host for Ring of Honor, since debuting with the company in 2019. But as the company works to reboot its women’s division, ongoing antagonism from Angelina Love eventually forced McKay into her in-ring debut to defend herself. With a spot in the tournament to crown a new Women of Honor Champion on the line, as well as McKay’s own honor in the process, both women had something to prove. If Love lost to a relative newcomer, what would that say about her veteran status? And if McKay loses despite trying to stand up for herself and the future of the ROH women’s division, could she possibly go back to being “just an announcer?” The execution may not have been flawless, but the emotion was pitch perfect.