Month on the Mat: May

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!

JJohnson recommends:
El Lindaman vs Shigehiro Irie, G PROWRESTLING ver.25 (GLEAT, May 18)
This has to be one of the most physical matches I’ve seen this year. El Lindaman (junior heavyweight size) wrestled Shigehiro Irie at his own game: puroresu goodness of strikes, chops, headbutts and power. The champion was the plucky underdog against his much bigger challenger, fighting with resilience and desire against the powerhouse. The packed Korakuen Hall was enraptured with excitement at what they were witnessing inside and outside of the ring. This had everything from rough and ready headbutts to gruesome piledrivers on the hard Korakuen floor, and all the strikes and heavy shots you could wish for in between. And, all for free on YouTube, this ticked all the boxes!

Alex Morrison recommends:
Adam Page vs Konosuke Takeshita, Dynamite (AEW, May 18) 
Takeshita has had some solid performances in AEW, but this was a star-making match. The back and forth was great, with Blue Thunder Bombs, The Last Ride and a series of near falls that had the crowd genuinely invested. The match ended with a Buckshot Lariat and a GTS, but Takeshita was well put over in a competitive match that felt reminiscent of Cena vs Angle way back when. 

Trent Breward recommends:
Maya Yukihi & Rina Yamashita vs Miyuki Takase & Ryo Mizunami, NOMADS’ Freelance Summit (NOMADS, May 20)
The NOMADS crew were looking to put on a big main event for their first ever show, and they more than delivered. There were no stakes or long term rivalries to settle, so the vibe was a mixture of a high class exhibition showcase along with just enough fun (with Natsu Sumire setting the scene at ringside during entrances). All four are among the best freelancers working in Japan right now, and their chemistry lined up beautifully as the mixture of styles all worked to complement one another and keep things fresh. A great first main event and overall showing from a group that will no doubt be putting on plenty of entertaining shows in the future.

Credit: NJPW

CiaranRH recommends:
DOUKI vs El Phantasmo, Best of the Super Juniors (NJPW, May 24)
6 minutes and 52 seconds are all you have to spare to enjoy the treat that is DOUKI vs El Phantasmo. ELP struts his egotistical self around the ring to kick things off, but once the Red Bull kicks in these two men simply do not stop. A sprint of deadly moves and moments that all segue-way beautifully into the best ending of the tournament, a quintessential example of pulling from history in the right way. Chef’s kiss.

Ryan Dilbert recommends:
Miyuki Takase vs. Itsuki Aoki, Catch the Wave 2022 Opening Round (Pro Wrestling WAVE, May 5)
A seven-minute sprint to ring in the first night of the Catch the Wave tournament. Takase and Aoki treat each other like tackle dummies. They club their forearms against each other’s chest bones. They scramble in desperation to score a quick pinfall. It’s all done with urgency and oomph. On this, the latest stop of Takase’s tour of the joshi landscape, she provides further evidence that we should all be watching more of her work.

Steve Howard recommends:
Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins, WrestleMania Backlash (WWE, May 8)
For the second month running, Cody and Seth had an amazing match, better storytelling than their match at WrestleMania and no less excitement, brimming with of nods to both men’s history and a spectacular springboard cutter from Cody. Normally, I don’t like feuds which run for three consecutive events but this is an exception and I cannot wait to see what happens inside Hell in a Cell.


Corey Michaels recommends:
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson vs Will Ospreay, Capital Collision (NJPW, May 14)
So many great things going on in this match for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship. Once the blood started flowing, adrenaline coursing with energy pulsated wildly as all four men collided like a nasty car wreck at a four-way intersection, in the best way. Tanahashi had a target on his back in a blood feud with Moxley, a cocky Ospreay with bitter intent towards Moxley, and Robinson who felt he had something to prove. As NJPW fires the gun for the new Bullet Club member, his start had to actually mean something. What better way than to take back that which his destiny may forever be linked to?

Scott E. recommends: 
Arisa Nakajima vs Riko Kaiju (SEAdLINNNG, May 13)
Arisa Nakajima has long been one of the best in the world, but if you follow me on Twitter, I firmly believed her 2021 was a complete letdown by her standards. Now 2022? It’s been a different story. After two great matches to close out April against Tsukasa Fujimoto, Nakajima continued her greatness when she faced Riko Kaiju with the Beyond The Sea Championship on the line. Kaiju is the junior of SEAdLINNNG and has done nothing but impress the more matches she has, this was no exception as she had the best match of her young career. Working with someone like Nakajima never hurts, but Kaiju was able to match the violence of the champion to stay competitive until the very end. Even in defeat, Kaiju was a real winner. One of the best Joshi matches of 2022 thus far.

Libby Cadman recommends:
Ace Austin vs Alex Zayne, Best of the Super Juniors (NJPW, May 25) 
If your eyes were on BOSJ this year, you may have recognised the arrogant yet charismatic Impact’s X Division champion Ace Austin, but it was my pleasure to get to know Alex Zayne for the first time. Totally intrigued by his look, once watching his matches I found myself endeared by him and his fluid style paired with brilliant bolts of acrobatic wrestling offence – plus his moves are named after Taco Bell menu items?! I was hooked. Together these two seemingly formed a bond that ran outside and into the ring. Charming fans all over Japan, and myself, it felt like an organic story of comradery had emerged in the tournament. So when it was finally time for them to face each other for those ever precious points, I found my hand clutched to my chest. Following a tough lock up, the spots started with respect and sense of familiarity – Zayne knowing to avoid Austin’s infamous sharp playing cards, only to have another at his disposal – but the match bled into a tense and ruthless palpable feeling as the energy ramped up. Could Austin bury those instincts in order to honourably face his friend? In the end, Austin’s slimy nature exploited the trust built between them and led to the win. Looking back now, this sign posted Austin’s inevitable (see what I did there) joining of Bullet Club. However, something tells me this friendship won’t be forgotten, and therefore this match is worth a watch for a story that will hopefully continue to unfold.