Month on the Mat: June

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!

Ryan Dilbert recommends:
Miyu Yamashita vs Yuka Sakazaki, CyberFight (TJPW, June 6)
Under the bright lights of the DDT/NOAH/TJPW supershow in Saitama, Japan, Yuka sought to yank the Princess of Princess Championship from Yamashita’s grasp in what turned out to be a certified show-stealer. Fierce chain wrestling filled much of the first half of the title bout before Yamashita and Sakazaki later cranked up the viciousness dial with no-mercy running lariats and elbows. This match and all its stormy, unbridled energy is further proof that fans should be paying attention to Tokyo Joshi Pro and its reigning cold-blooded ace. 

CiaranRH recommends:
Alex Coughlin vs Josh Alexander, New Japan Strong (NJPW, June 18th)
Strong is a veritable goldmine for gems like this. Alex Coughlin, still (somehow) a Young Lion, battling IMPACT’s X-Division Champion Josh Alexander, who was making his NJPW debut. It’s everything you could ask for in a New Japan match, a meaty clash of two powerhouses, with technical savvy sprinkled throughout. Coughlin could pound-for-pound be one of the strongest men on the NJPW roster, effortlessly throwing Alexander around, at one point dumping him with a criminally dangerous German suplex. In just 12 short minutes the two men deliver a taut match, both able to showcase just how damn good they are. Coughlin has all the potential in the world, and hopefully this is the first of many matches in the cerulean blue ring for Alexander.

Corey Michaels recommends:
Bobby Lashley (C) vs Xavier Woods, Monday Night RAW (WWE, June 21st)
Off the heels of Hell In A Cell the night before, Bobby Lashley was challenged by New Day member Xavier Woods, allowing yet more proof that Woods is every bit as talented as his teammates, Kofi Kingston and Big E. Lashley fighting in the Cell two nights in a row deserves mentioning here. Lashley, though victorious, helped Woods to continue shining brighter. That top rope dive to Lashley on the table is proof enough of that. I know the usage of the Hell in a Cell cheapens the gimmick pay-per-view and stales the taste for it as a feud ending bout, but this was an enjoyable match by two incredible superstars.

Credit: AJPW

Steve Howard recommends:
Josh Alexander (C) vs TJP, Impact Wrestling (Impact, June 3rd)
The X Division has taken an upwards turn in recent months and this 60 minute Ironman match was the best match in the promotion this year. Great technical wrestling, combined with high flying and tension. Ironman matches often end with drama in the closing seconds but due to the hold by Alexander applied you couldn’t see how this would not just fizzle out as the time limit approached. One great reversal from TJP later and sudden death overtime was needed. Alexander dominated in overtime and came out with the hard fought victory to retain the title after 62 minutes of engrossing action.

JJohnson recommends:
Shuji Ishikawa vs Yuko Miyamoto, Champions Night (AJPW, 26th June)
With a CyberFight Festival match already in this piece, I forewent the urge to recommend Jun Akiyama vs HARASHIMA and instead found my match elsewhere in the month of June: I decided on Shuji Ishikawa’s defence of the GAORA TV Championship against Yuko Miyamoto. This was from a show which was headlined by the thrilling Triple Crown three-way round robin decider, but it was this mid-card title match which caught my eye the most. It was notable for some nice, accomplished work on Ishikawa’s left knee, taking away some of his key offence. Miyamoto shaped his conventional move-set to target Ishikawa’s knee, by transferring his handspring off the ropes into a knee bar, in what was brilliant attention to detail. This match was sub-20 minutes and was really a battle of Ishikawa’s immense power and strength against the smart wrestling of Miyamoto. It was truly a superb under-the-radar match, and one to hunt down!

Credit: World Wonder Ring Stardom

Trent Breward recommends:
Syuri vs Utami Hayashishita, Tokyo Dream Cinderella (Stardom, 12th June)
Even if you don’t actively follow Stardom you’ve probably heard the hype surrounding this match, even earning a 5.5 star rating from Dave Meltzer, a first for women’s wrestling. Its methodical start set the tone, with the tension and action steadily ramping up to a fever pitch. By the end, Utami and Syuri were both throwing bombs in a desperate attempt to put the other down, landing big moves that brought audible reactions out of a usually quiet pandemic-era audience. Both women left it all in the ring, evident by the exhaustion etched across Utami’s face as she laid in the ring after the match. This is one of the greatest matches in Stardom’s history, and a watershed moment in Utami’s young but already impressive career.

Libby Cadman recommends:
Kota Ibushi Vs Yuya Uemura, Kizuna Road (NJPW, June 23rd)
NJPW scheduled a gauntlet where Young Lions, Yuya Uermura and Yota Tsjui, were pitted against the top talent of the company in a series of matches. As could be predicted, they lost every match, however its goal was to see the potential within the Young Lions and test the limits of their skills. In this match, fan favourite and always down bad Uemura faced off with the Golden Star, Kota Ibushi, in a match that tested Uemura’s ability to withstand ground mat style wrestling and innovative maneuvers that a fresher talent could simply not be prepared for. However, Ibushi turned up the volume and elevated this match even further by flipping the switch and showing us the infamous ‘murder Ibushi’, and therefore challenged Uemura to dig deeper into his soul than ever before. If you don’t know this version of Ibushi, this competitor is stone cold, requests throttling elbows to the neck, and turns moves on their head – exemplified by the finishing reverse Full Nelson that practically bent Uemura in half. Where Uemura shone as the ‘boy to man’ underdog, rooting for the day he doesn’t stand backstage puffing out self doubt, Ibushi showed a captivating dissonance between how ruthless he could be in ring to how respectful and kind he could be post match by offering Uemura sweet words of encouragement and thanks. Although this gauntlet could be deemed seemingly unimportant to the top talent, Ibushi has used this match to forward his character narrative approaching his match to regain the IWGP World Heavyweight title – this match is a must watch before then.

Thumbly Squeezed recommends:
Kenny Omega vs Jungle Boy, Dynamite (AEW, June 26th)
Kenny Omega’s cross-promotional reign has been nothing if not forward-looking, but turns out it needed a touch of throwback. Omega had been yet to have an impactful 1-on-1 title defense, but he and rising star Jungle Boy delivered one with no interference or objects or Don Callis-ness turning the tide. Omega played the role of the bigger badder man well with a brutal back suplex onto the stairs and a focus on hard strikes. This let Jungle Boy show off his athleticism and quickness as a counterpoint when trying to fire up and come back. The exciting upstart almost getting over on the heel champ, only to be beaten back at the last moment, is a classic wrestling trope for a reason, and when Jungle Boy locked on his Snare Trap submission and the crowd exploded he and Kenny had to know they’d nailed it. Omega getting out on his own (even if in a dastardly way) and putting the kid away for 3 completed a successful star turn for both men and cemented Kenny as champ in the ring in a way 100 Superkick Parties couldn’t. On this night he was not just the biggest schemer, but the best wrestler, while still showing us a glimpse that that won’t last forever.