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:
Jun Akiyama vs Konosuke Takeshita, Wrestle Peter Pan 2021 (DDT, August 21st)
Akiyama’s reign as KO-D Openweight champ ends with a beautifully savage title bout. Under the night sky in Fujitsu Kawasaki Stadium, Takeshita outlasted the invader, the legend, the weary gunslinger in a battle of clubbing knee shots and lariats. It’s as well-paced as it is physical, a taut main event that begs for a re-watch. DDT turns off a lot of fans (myself included) with its loony comedy leanings, but the main event scene has delivered all year as it did here in emphatic fashion.
Corey Michaels recommends:
Christian Cage vs Kenny Omega, Rampage (AEW, August 13th)
This was a match I had been looking forward to since Christian Cage first came into the company, having said he wanted to work with Kenny Omega, and what a match it was – it got close several times too. An oft-noted praised aspect of AEW is the payoff, and it worked here as Christian outworked everyone to become the contender for Omega titles, but contractually, it would be the Impact and TNA titles. A great homecoming for Captain Charisma would be in place, while Kenny Omega’s loss is soon to take effect in storyline as the gold-hoarder. All because of that damn chair.
Trent Breward recommends:
Maki Itoh vs Mizuki, Tokyo Princess Cup Day 6 (TJPW, August 14th)
Pro wrestling is always at its most interesting when it supplements great in-ring action with a good story, and the semi finals of the Tokyo Princess Cup brought just that. Not only did it showcase just how good these two women are at wrestling, but the tension was heightened because of two interwoven stories – one short term and one long term. Maki Itoh entered the match with a fractured cheekbone, which meant her normally devastating headbutts were a risky proposition. But she had to win no matter the risk, because Maki had spent years trying to finally get a win over her former tag team partner but always fell short. Storybook wrestling at its best.
Karl Fredericks vs Alex Coughlin, Resurgence (NJPW, August 14th)
Absolute fucking banger, Fredericks and Coughlin opened up Resurgence in the best possible way. The match was a continuation of Coughlin’s “challenge series”: LA Dojo vs LA Dojo, former Young Lion vs current Young Lion. I’m reminded of Cesaro when I see Coughlin, one of the strongest men that New Japan has, his dead-lift gut-wrench suplex never ceases to amaze. Whilst Coughlin’s strength amazes, Fredericks’ swag dazzles as he hits everything with a pinch of flair, seemingly hanging in mid-air when hitting the Super Mario elbow. The highlight comes when Coughlin knocks Fredericks head into the front row with one of the meanest standing lariats you will see in present day wrestling, wicked enough to make Stan Hansen proud.
Matt Hardy vs Orange Cassidy, Dynamite (AEW, August 25th)
Call it recency bias or just flat-out bias, I don’t care. This match was made for me – my favorite all-time performer meeting my top favorite in the game right now (check the name). Both true performers, they are re-emerging now that crowds are back and put on a perfect opener for the Dynamite crowd. Hardy bringing back his “DELETE” gesture in response to OC’s taunting sloth kicks brought everyone (me included) to a roar, as did Big Money Matt doing his OWN pockets spot only to then make it rain. They delivered on the action as well, with legit tense exchanges that saw OC break out a Swanton AND Twist of Fate before ultimately catching Matt off guard for the pin. Character, fun, and plenty of legit wrestling. What more could you ask for? All I want is more of this.
Matt Taven vs Vincent, Glory by Honor Night 2 (ROH, August 21st)
The culmination of a two-year long blood feud that was every bit worthy of the “Last Stand” moniker ROH gave it. A feud filled with various twists and turns because that has legitimately been one of the best things ROH has done since their restart last fall. Before the match even got in the cage, the violence ensued with a brawl around the former ECW Arena, a venue that has seen more than its share of hardcore wrestling shenanigans. Once inside the cage, the violence factor was just cranked up to maximum. Barbed wire was introduced as well as an AXE!! Yes, this match and this feud was so heated that Matt Taven introduced an axe into the contest to slice Vincent’s head open. Hellacious bumps on thumbtacks occurred from both Vincent and his cohort in The Righteous, Vita Von Starr. At the end, both combatants looked like they’d been the victims of a slasher film, covered in blood with carnage everywhere with Vincent ultimately standing triumphant in a victory that shocked many. If you’re going to watch one match from ROH in 2021, make it this one – a legitimate contender for most violent match in Ring of Honor history. You will not be disappointed.
Takashi Sugiura vs Masato Tanaka, Kawasaki Go! 2021 (NOAH, August 15th)
Intensity, ferocity and quality. Just three words to describe this immense, match of the year contender title vs title match. With Sugiura’s GHC National and Tanaka’s Zero1 World Heavyweight Championships on the line, the pair engaged in a war inside the wrestling ring. Pro Wrestling NOAH has forever been entwined with being high-octane and heavy-hitting, and this match speaks sheer volumes of what the promotion is fundamentally about. With the number of strikes, forearms, kicks and headbutts too lengthy to count, Sugiura and Tanaka crafted a match that was utterly remarkable given their respective ages. I just had to recommend this match as it’s truly up there with the very best of the year. Must-see in the greatest sense of the word!
Steve Howard recommends:
Kamille vs Leyla Hirsch, EmPowerrr (NWA, August 28th)
A historic event from The Chase in St Louis saw a fantastic NWA Women’s Championship match which must rank as the best match of both competitor’s careers to date. They told a great story early on with the powerful Kamille dominating the much smaller Hirsch. Hirsch fought back, showing her amateur style with some amazing German suplexes and submission attempts. However, the strength of Kamille was too much in the end as she clutched the win following a vicious spear. A fitting world title match and an important part of an emotional weekend of NWA action.