Month on the Mat: January 2022

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 was 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!

Scott Edwards recommends:
Miyuki Takase vs. Yurika Oka, Step and Go (Sendai Girls, January 8)
The best wrestling is when it is simple. That’s what you get in the Step and Go main event between Miyuki Takase and Yurika Oka. For those who don’t know, Takase is legitimately one of the best wrestlers in the world while Oka is one of the best young talents in all of Joshi. The mixture was perfect. Takase, a veteran who won’t be holding back, against Oka, who is on the final stage of her training before no longer being a junior talent. Takase did not hold back on any of her shots in this match, chopping and forearming Oka until she couldn’t handle it anymore. Or so we thought. The courageous manner of Oka led to a tremendous close that made this a must-see match that is free on YouTube right now. Back and forth, a match not nearly enough people have seen but more must moving forward. These two talents are special and ones to watch in 2022.

Brian Moore recommends:
Team Bandido (ASF, Bandido & Laredo Kid) vs. Team Gringo (Arez, Demonic Flamita & Gringo Loco), The WRLD on GCW (GCW, January 23)
It is hard to comprehend how a match with this shooting-star pace could be so smooth. This match features big spot after big spot traced over a clever pace and smart match construction. The heel team of Arez, Demonic Flamita, and Gringo Loco is both hilarious and aggravating, while Team Bandido’s bunch are dynamic faces, hyping the crowd with endless energy. Even on what was a very big night for GCW this match stood out.

Trent Breward recommends:
Masa Takanashi vs Choun Shiryu, ChocoPro Live #195 (ChocoPro, January 22)
For all of the chaotic fun that Ichigaya Square can produce, when things get serious the quality doesn’t drop. For over 30 minutes two fantastic wrestlers went hold for hold, each trying to break the other down. Masa went after Choun’s knee, trying to limit his innovative offence, but it didn’t stop the Interim Super Asia Champion from literally climbing the walls in an effort to get the upper hand and defend his title. These two were always going to put on a great match, but they managed to go above and beyond in their hunt for the gold.

Credit: NOAH

Molly Belle recommends:
Diamante vs Janai Kai, All Roads Lead Here (TERMINUS, January 16)
Hidden within an absolutely stacked card from the highly anticipated and inaugural TERMINUS event, you will find my match for the month of January. Featuring two badass women laying shots in STRONG for ten violent minutes, this bout served as a reminder of the capability and professionalism of Diamante and of the incredible potential of Janai Kai. Janai doesn’t shy away from stiff kicks, nor does Diamante with her gruelling submissions throughout. The action moves fast, but the story of violence shines with two authors we’ll be seeing in the ring for years to come.

JJohnson recommends:
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Go Shiozaki, The New Year 2022 (NOAH, January 1)
It was on January 1st 2022 when two of the best wrestlers in the world fought fiercely in one of Japan’s grandest venues. Is there a better way to start the year? Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiozaki have undeniable chemistry which oozes through every second of their work with each other. In their latest battle, the pair harked back to the historic Kobashi vs Misawa showdown in the very same venue (Budokan Hall), while creating their own moments of wrestling folklore. They wrestled with such imperious intensity, matching each other in a truly powerful, attritional clash. Tiring of writing about this match seems impossible – it was near perfection!

Corey Michaels recommends:
Jade Cargill vs Ruby Soho, Dynamite (AEW, January 5)
On the same episode where Adam Page and Bryan Danielson beat the living raspberry jam out of each other, another story led to its finality. I love Ruby Soho and initially wanted dearly for her to win, but the writing was on the wall. Plus, Jade’s child was in the crowd, waiting for momma to pick up the win. I’m legally not allowed to be against that and thems the facts.. Ruby’s a pro and Jade is growing in ways that no doubt will catch her already magnetic aura. Ruby may be a riot, but Cargill brought a storm.

Adam recommends:
Deonna Purrazzo vs Rok-C, Impact Wrestling (January 13th)
Happening on the first Impact after the Hard to Kill pay-per-view, Purrazzo was out to show that she was still the queen of the Knockouts division and was looking to take the ROH Women’s title, despite suffering a loss to Mickie James a few nights prior in a Texas Death Match. This was a good showcase for Rok-C on a national stage and she proved that she can hang with one of the top female wrestlers in the world right now. She nearly had Purrazzo beaten on numerous occasions, which would have classified as a huge upset. In the end, however, Purrazzo was able to come away with a victory and is now a double champion in what was one of the best Impact TV main events in months.

Credit: IMPACT Wrestling

Ryan Dilbert recommends:
Kento Miyahara and Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino and Suwama, New Year Wars (AJPW, January 3)
You can smell the acrid taste of hate through the other side of the screen when Aoyagi and Ashino lock up. It’s that intense animosity that powers much of this AJPW World Tag Team Championship match. All Japan’s four top talents bang heads in one of the promotion’s best tag bouts in years. Excellent team chemistry and storytelling all around. Come for the big-bomb lariats; stay for the super holy-smokes near-falls.

Thumbly Squeezed recommends:
Orange Cassidy vs Adam Cole, Dynamite (AEW, January 26)
No more Mr. Nice Sloth. Orange Cassidy showed a side of him we have yet to really see, bringing a consistent fire and going right at Adam Cole whenever possible. Cole was game for the challenge, because he’s amazing, and the battle raged on. Cole made use of the ol’ chairs and stairs to punish Cassidy’s hand to prevent the Orange Punch. For his trouble, he was then put through a table on a double-leg takedown and driven through two standing chairs himself. At the end, Orange Cassidy proved that the more he tries, the less he cares, as he displayed ZERO Fs in taking himself and Cole down through the entry stage together. Anyone who saw these guys have such chemistry while completely destroying each other will shrug off any notion of Cole’s loss being some burial, as the two clearly each elevated the other. And if that wasn’t enough, this match features one of AEW’s most watched recent moments – it’s when DANHAUSEN ARRIVED! Go back and watch it again or be cursed.

Steve Howard recommends:
Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns, Royal Rumble (WWE, January 29)
History came to the fore in this match, the build up had references to Moxley and before the match started, Seth cheekily came to the ring with a full Shield entrance, all leading to a compelling in-ring story. The match itself was excellent, even the DQ finish made sense after Seth tried to fist bump Roman and he lost control. The chair to the back and post match attack made me want a rematch at Mania – although with Brock winning the Rumble, this seems unlikely.

CiaranRH recommends:
Taichi vs DOUKI, TAKATaichiMania (JTO, January 10)

The DOUKI in this match is unrecognisable from the man that appeared in NJPW for the first time in 2019 (aside from looking exactly the same). DOUKI was treated as a meme, a mediocre at best wrestler. In this main event match, as he has done numerous times throughout 2020 and 2021, DOUKI cemented himself as a top flight talent. Fearless, DOUKI crashes and burns in spectacular fashion as he attempts to best his dear friend and big brother Taichi, however it is when Milano Collection A.T. rushes from the commentary desk to ringside to spur DOUKI on that this match truly reaches the next level. Be sure to check out the post-match promo from Taichi, perhaps the most heartfelt moment you will see in a wrestling ring all year, to fully appreciate this magical match.