Month on the Mat: July

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:
Chris Brookes vs Lulu Pencil, Gatoh Move (ChocoPro #137, July 22nd)
On the surface this feud was about a hat, but since September the story between Chris and Lulu has been one of the most captivating in wrestling. This might have been an Iron Man match, but in reality it would be a win for Lulu if she could just score one fall. To make up for the huge skill differential, she had to dig in deep and incorporate everything she had learned in her nearly two years in the industry. Chris is an excellent antagonist throughout the match, and the match itself is a perfect example of how pro wrestling can make you believe. As the thirty minute time limit nears and Lulu starts to get some momentum, you can’t help but be sucked into the emotion and passionately cheering for her to just get that one fall. A perfect example of using a match to tell a story.

Adam recommends:
Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe “Fight on the Farm” ROH TV Episode #511 (Ring of Honor, July 2nd)
Of all the wrestling I’ve watched in July (and believe me, it’s been a lot), this is the match that stands out to me the most. Sure, there may have been matches this month that stand out in terms of workrate but for a pure, straight up entertaining and unique fight, nothing can really beat this. Filmed on location at the Briscoes chicken farm, these two brawled all over the place. Mark Briscoe took some nasty falls during the match, including off the top of a camper van. Observing the chaos, Papa Briscoe was nice enough to ask “you good yet?” after a huge dive by Mark onto Jay off the roof of a giant chicken barn. I’ll never tire of seeing the Briscoes fight, either together as a team (which the whole point of this “match” was…Papa Briscoe wanted them to have a fight to work out their differences and start teaming together) or if they’re fighting each other. Of all the cinematic/on-location matches that have been done during the pandemic era, this is one I encourage everyone to check out – the whole match is available uncut on the ROH YouTube channel!

Credit: Ring of Honor

Hey_Brian recommends:
Jimmy Lloyd vs Drew Parker, Homecoming Night 2 (GCW, July 25th)
Drew Parker had himself quite a week: five matches in four days, including death matches on three consecutive nights, spanning two continents. There was no face or heel here; rather, this was two guys trying to one up each other on the offensive and outlast each other on defense. Jimmy Lloyd really has something, especially with that home field crowd, but those fans absolutely appreciated and respected Parker, too. There are a few (to put it gently) unique spots in this match, and if you’re watching this you’re watching for the beautiful and bloody spectacle, but there is emotion that radiates off of each wrestler through the crowd that really elevates everything to another plane. 

JJohnson recommends:
El Desperado vs Robbie Eagles, Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome (NJPW, July 25th)
In a show which had many a highlight, the match which stands out most for me was for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: a returning Robbie Eagles clashing with champion El Desperado in a battle of leg work. I love limb work matches – and this one was a great example. Despy targeted Eagles’ leg for the Numero Dos. Eagles targeted Despy’s leg for the Ron Miller Special. It was a logical battle of tremendous leg work, which played into the match’s finish, as both men looked to set up their submission finishers. The pair put on an unconventional junior match, one which displayed the immense talent of both men. It’s certainly a match to seek out!

Dave McAdam recommends:
Darby Allin vs Ethan Page, Coffin Match, Dynamite (AEW, July 14th)
I just freaking loved this match. There’s a pile of reasons why – here’s a few! Firstly, a coffin match is a bit of silly nonsense that I adore, and very fitting for Darby Allin. If you’re going gimmicky, you need to lean into the gimmick and that is very much what they did here. The match was full of wonderfully silly spots and kept the adrenaline going right up to it’s massive crescendo. That said, it wasn’t without drama. This was very much a blood feud and the two contenders were out for as much of it as possible. Darby is a star in AEW; this is not in question. Page is still making his name, and as a big fan of his I am so glad to see him bringing out performances like this. Ethan Page is a pro wrestler built for TV in my opinion, he has so much charisma and telling stories like this on Dynamite is where he shines. I came out of this match looking forward to seeing more of both men, which I would call a job well done on their part.

Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Corey Michaels recommends:
Nick Gage vs Matt Cardona, Homecoming Night 1 (GCW, July 24th)
I am totally out of my wheelhouse here. I didn’t know much about Zack Ryder in WWE prior to 2018 and I certainly didn’t know about Nick Gage. I’ve seen a few AEW death matches and I’ve watched the glorious spectacle that was the Barbed Wire Deathmatch between Terry Funk and Atsushi Onita – but this was something else. This was art that dipped itself too dangerously into reality. This was RVD vs Cena at One Night Stand 2006 turned up to 11. This crowd hated Cardona, who represented WWE in their eyes, and he played up to it perfectly, while beloved Nick Gage garnered respect from the bloodthirsty crowd. This wasn’t just a match, this was a theater performance, a spectacle, and a fight to survive that played on your expectations. This was a crimson painting that warranted many a mommy kiss from the medics for some severe booboos. A career change for Cardona, and just another night for the “MDK” leader. This match lived up to the hype.

Steve Howard recommends:
Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens, Smackdown (WWE, July 2nd)
You knew going in that with these two competitors you were going to get at least a very good match, but this was the best match they have had this year, a spot in the Money In The Bank ladder match adding to the importance. From the start this was fast-paced with great aggression from Owens, and Sami’s trash talking was hilarious. There were a number of high spots, with Owens being thrown from the barricade onto the announce desk and shoved over the corner of the ring through two tables. Owens came back putting Sami through the announce table and a ringside table, before finally hitting a pop-up powerbomb onto the ring apron – a throwback to his NXT debut. Sami was unable to answer the ten count as the announcers questioned how their long term friendship had come to this point.