Month on the Mat: August

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:
Tomoka Inaba vs Ryuya Takekura, JTO/Tomoka Inaba & Aoi Produce 2 (JUST TAP OUT, August 6)
I’m not sure if I should feel guilty or elated after watching this. I’m still processing the whole thing. In the dingy Oji Basement MONSTAR In Kita City, Tokyo, an exhibition of agony unfolded. Inaba, the Queen of JTO champion, took on Takekura, a man at least twice her size. The result is primal, raw, grimy. It is the story of how much suffering Inaba can push through in pursuit of victory, one with the familiar David-versus-Goliath dynamic at play. Inaba is compellingly relentless, prey caught in the lion’s mouth who refuses to die. Absolutely brutal at times.

Adam Ryan recommends:
Jake Something vs Speedball Mike Bailey vs Alex Shelley, Homecoming (SMASH Wrestling, August 7)
SMASH Wrestling made their return from hiatus with a bang up show picking up pretty much right where they left off when they shut down in 2020. This match, originally advertised as Bailey vs Shelley, was one of the featured bouts of the night. Something was making his SMASH debut here and went all out, demonstrating giant power moves to counteract the offense of his smaller opponents. Lots of crazy spots; Something chokeslamming Bailey on the apron, Bailey hitting a giant moonsault to the outside on both guys and one of my favorite moments saw Bailey hit the Ultima Weapon on both for a huge near fall. Shelley was the glue here holding everything together and worked well with everyone. Without spoiling who wins, I’ll just say I’m just looking forward to seeing what else these three can do in the world of SMASH.

Kay Quinn recommends:
Ishin Iihashi vs Mochizuki Jr., The Gate of Adventure – Day 3 (Dragongate, August 10)
Mochizuki Junior, son of pro wrestling legend Masaaki Mochizuki, has been one of the fastest rising stars among the Dragongate rookies. However, all of his achievements were won with his father’s assistance, a point heavily criticized by his peers and particularly his fellow second generation wrestlers. After being challenged to a singles match by Iihashi, the son of wrestling couple Ishinriki and Juliana, this match was his chance to prove that he could stand on his own two feet. Both rookies gave it their all in this fast, hard-hitting showcase of their incredible potential and the results the Dragongate dojo can produce. A great rivalry in the making.

Credit: AEW

Corey Michaels recommends:
Dustin Rhodes vs Claudio Castagnoli, Rampage (AEW, August 26)

In his chase for world title glory in his post-WWE career, Dustin Rhodes has been a dependable talent to either put someone over or tell a great story. Claudio Castagnoli has followed the same path, but with more time on his hands, thus bleeds the urgency of The Natural. Southern wrestling meets Honor as both men worked to overcome one another. Dustin has the heart and fighting spirit while Claudio is of another world and perhaps he is not human. In the end the tenacity of Dustin Rhodes was not enough, but he gave the ROH Champion a fight to remember.

CiaranRH recommends:
YOSHI-HASHI vs Will Ospreay, G1 Climax 32 Night 16 (NJPW, August 13)
What is the biggest lie I could tell you, but you’d still believe me? I’ve got the winning lottery number. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is actually a masterpiece. How about YOSHI-HASHI might just be my G1 Climax MVP? Will Ospreay is my frontrunner for wrestler of the year, but YOSHI-HASHI was more than on his level. YOSHI-HASHI’s shoulder was seemingly hanging off; I couldn’t tell you if he performed one of the best selling jobs I’ve ever seen or the mad-man was actually working with a torn shoulder, but he deserves huge props either way for his convincing and stellar work throughout this entire match.

Credit: NOAH

JJohnson recommends:
Kenoh vs Hideki Suzuki, N1 Victory Day 5 (NOAH, August 19th)
NOAH’s N1 Victory has been one of a number of tournaments filling out this year’s tournament season, but it’s Kenoh vs Hideki Suzuki that stands out proudly. The words “war” and “attrition” are used a lot to describe wrestling matches, but those two words fit this match perfectly. It had a patient opening passage, Suzuki tested out his submissions on an aggression filled Kenoh. Then, the match exploded into a wince-inducing, blood-curdling battle of strikes, each one exploding more than the last. The final period of the match had some of the most dramatic catch-as-catch-can wrestling I’ve come across – a piercing exchange between two warriors. This was physical, dramatic and powerful. In a month of impressive tournament matches, this is the one to watch.

Steve Howard recommends:
Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso, Monday Night RAW (WWE, August 29)
The last few weeks have seen a marked upturn in the match quality on RAW and Smackdown, and this match has been one of the best. Hard hitting action alongside a great storyline with Jimmy Uso and the hilarious Sami Zayn at ringside. After biting near falls, Jey instructed Sami to use a chair on KO, only Sami hesitated allowing KO to hit a stunner and this thrilling match.

Trent Breward recommends:
Himeka vs AZM, 5 Star Grand Prix Night 7 (STARDOM, August 14)
This is your classic size versus strength showdown between two of the front runners in the Red Stars block. What really elevates it beyond many of its stylistic contemporaries is that Himeka has the agility to throw herself around and really accentuate AZM’s high-speed offense. The end result is a frenetic battle with AZM peppering the Jumbo Princess with everything she can, knowing that at any time Himeka could lariat the High Speed Champion out of her boots. It’s a clean and hard hitting affair, an absolute joy to watch and at just over 8 minutes long is easy to digest.