Month on the Mat: November

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!

Kay Quinn recommends:
Eita vs Takuma Fujiwara, The Gate of Destiny 2022 (Dragongate, November 6)
Dragongate’s most prominent super rookie returned with a bang in this excellent midcard highlight. 10 minutes of pure stunning spectacle that you will not regret checking out. The moves were fantastic and creative. The energy was off the charts. The story of Eita seeing himself in Fujiwara and testing him with his usual nastiness the emotional throughline that elevated the action. I honestly could not have asked for more. Seeing just how much Fujiwara has already grown during his excursion, I cannot wait for him to fully come back to Dragongate. If this match is anything to go by, that might well open up a new golden age for the promotion.

Ryan Dilbert recommends:
Syuri vs Maika, Hiroshima Goddess Festival (STARDOM, November 3)
Add another barnburner to Syuri’s collection during what has been a glorious red belt reign. Before her highly anticipated rematch against Utami Hayashishita at Stardom Gold Rush (go watch that match, too!), Syuri took on former Donna Del Mundo stablemate Maika in Hiroshima. Their battle thrives on urgency and high impact. It’s a meeting of unrelenting forces, a clash of gladiators with similar styles. Maika proves to be a tough challenger for the current queen of Stardom, and in the midst of wrecking Syuri with lariats, shows all of us she very much belongs in the main event scene.

Thumbly Squeezed recommends:
Bryan Danielson vs Dax Harwood, Dynamite (AEW, November 30)
My apologies to WWE’s men’s WarGames match, it was fairly usurped by an absolute clinic of pain. Both men pride themselves on telling real stories with wrestling that actually seems like it hurts (HINT: it often does). They did not hold back, trading shot for shot and suplex for countered superplex. The highlight for me was the most unique double-down showdown (headbutts, standing clotheslines and running lariats) I’ve ever seen. You owe it to yourself and to these two absolute badasses to go back and watch this, again or for the first time. 

JJohnson recommends:
Kazusada Higuchi vs Yukio Naya, D-Oh Grand Prix 2022 (DDT, November 18)
Do you want a hard-hitting, strike fest? Look no further. This was a war of strikes – as many knees, forearms and lariats as you could ask for. A match full of physicality and aggression. It was fitting of its spot as the final match of the D-Oh Grand Prix blocks, with it proving a history-making performance for Yukio Naya. DDT isn’t all about big men, but when the big men step into the ring, you can’t go wrong!

Credit: NJPW

Trent Breward recommends: 
Mayu Iwatani vs KAIRI, Historic X-Over (NJPW/STARDOM, November 20)
I generally try to pick matches that aren’t big time main events – but not only was this match a legitimate Match of the Year contender, it truly lived up to the name of the show. It was historic. Eleven years of Stardom essentially led to this moment, with over 7000 people in attendance to watch Two of the Three Daughters of Stardom wrestle the main event for the IWGP Women’s Title. Mayu and KAIRI were more than up to the task and put on an absolute blinder. Hard hitting, callbacks to previous matches, intensely emotional and well crafted to bring it all together into a truly special match. This is women’s wrestling at its best.

Adam Ryan recommends:
Mance Warner, 1 Called Manders, Matthew Justice and AJ Gray vs. Tommy Rich, Doug Gilbert, Chris Hamrick and Crowbar, Series of Survivals (JCW, November 19)
Let that legends team soak in for a minute. This was a weird mix of old-school Memphis style against modern hardcore/deathmatch wrestling. Rich and Gilbert put up a good fight, despite their glory years being far behind them. Crowbar looked a lot like the long lost brother of Professor Snape from Hogwarts and Chris Hamrick … well, he was Chris Hamrick. He did a lot of schtick, took very little bumps and was the first one eliminated from his team. The match split off into three different brawls with chair shots aplenty and mayhem abound in the tiny ballroom. Matthew Justice took a hellacious bump into a barbed wire covered door in one of the biggest spots of the match. Sure, the legends team was limited in what they could do and even though this match felt like an eternity, it wasn’t horrible. If you went into this expecting it to be a deathmatch fight then unfortunately your hopes got dashed, but it was fun for the novelty of seeing Tommy Rich and Doug Gilbert wrestle in 2022 more than anything else.

Alex Morrison recommends:
The Elite vs Death Triangle, Full Gear (AEW, November 19)
This was an event. The Elite returned to the ring after a long hiatus and boy were they up for it. This was The Elite at their best against people who are their equals, a goosebump inducing entrance followed by one of the best matches of the year. The crowd were here for this and they were loud.

Credit: WWE

Steve Howard recommends:
Sheamus, Drew McIntyre, Ridge Holland, Butch and Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns, Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Sami Zayn (Uso) and Solo Sikoa, Survivor Series War Games (WWE, November 26) 
This is my match of the month due to one word – storytelling. The last two minutes of this match led to so many emotions. Sami preventing Kevin from pinning Roman by grabbing the referee’s arm and stopping the three count, only to then give Kevin a low blow allowing to Jey hit the frog splash. Even after the match, the story continued, the look Jey and Roman gave Sami absolute perfection.

Corey Michaels recommends:
Katsuyori Shibata vs Orange Cassidy, Rampage (AEW, November 4)
Katsuyori Shibata and Orange Cassidy brought out the best of both characters and gave a match you’d expect from both men. Shibata was every bit The Wrestler and made Orange Cassidy fight for his life. I have good feelings about Shibata wrestling more now, and this just adds to the amazing collection of banger matches under Cassidy’s hat.

Ethan Vieira recommends:
Mina Shirakawa vs Saya Kamitani, Hiroshima Goddess Festival (STARDOM, November 3)
This match is the result of Mina’s long journey of self-improvement to not only make herself a better wrestler, but to gain the respect of the STARDOM faithful in the process. She may have not left the show with the title, but she gave it her all, including her body after Saya Kamitani destroyed her jaw with an ill-fated Phoenix Splash. But that very same moment, and the following heart-wrenching backstage promo, is what may push Mina Shirakawa to finally win the White Belt in 2023. This match was not just for a title, it was for the approval of the fans, and Mina certainly earned the approval and respect of everyone on this night.

CiaranRH recommends:
Catch 2/2 vs LiYoh, Super Junior Tag League Night One (NJPW, November 21)
Easily the best junior tag match of the year; if Korakuen Hall’s roof hadn’t been torn down so many times in the past, it surely would have been here. Francesco Akira and TJP have revitalized the always struggling junior tag division, their smooth chemistry and arsenal of unique offense injecting every match with extra sizzle. Catch 2/2 combined with the forever impressive Lio Rush, who immediately endeared himself as a star to his new Japanese audience, and a motivated YOH putting in a better performance than large parts of his Roppongi 3K run, gave way to the most must-see match this tournament has had in years.