Month on the Mat: February

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:
Kento Miyahara vs Yuma Aoyagi, Excite Series (AJPW, February 4)
It’s no surprise that Kento Miyahara vs Yuma Aoyagi was a great match. Incredible, in fact. In a battle for the Triple Crown they showed spirit and passion, building a match from a slow, patient start to a franetic, spellbinding closing stretch. Sometimes a wrestling match is made by the little details, this match certainly stands under that category. It takes a special wrestler to show believable struggle and fight in their work, something these two warriors managed to do in spades. AJPW is a promotion outside the current-day mainstream, but matches like this are undoubtedly up there with the very best any company has to offer.

Steve Howard recommends:
Callum Newman vs Nick Wayne, When The Man Comes Around (Progress, February 26)
My initial reaction was to pick Sami versus Roman and one of the best pieces of storytelling this century – but that would be too obvious. Instead I have chosen the incredible match that kicked off Progress Chapter 150 between two of the best young talents in the world. Reminiscent of Wayne’s match with Will Ospreay last year in GCW, the pace and spectacular moves had the crowd on their feet. It really is a must see match.

Fusa (Patreon subscriber) recommends:
Will Ospreay vs Taichi, New Beginning in Sapporo Night 1 (NJPW, February 4)

Credit: AJPW

Ryan Dilbert recommends:
Arisu Endo, Suzume & Rika Tatsumi vs Kaya Toribami, Hyper Misao & Shoko Nakajima, TJPW City Circuit Nagoya Performance (TJPW, February 18)
Personally, I think every match should start with Rika Tatsumi choking the absolute life out of some poor soul. This was an action-packed trios match with a foot-on-the-pedal pace, everybody putting a little extra stank on their offense. Everybody had a chance to shine; Suzume sped around, Arisu Endo flexed her muscle, Toribami had some of her best offense to date. Plus, you get that Tatsumi tear at the end. A veritable charcuterie board of wrestling action.

Kay Quinn recommends:
Jason Lee vs Yoshiki Kato, Rey de Parejas 2023 – Day 1 (DRAGONGATE, February 3)
A pillar of DG’s tag division meets the promotion’s most imposing new rookie in a classic brains vs brawn match. You might think you know what to expect from that setup, but Lee and Kato genuinely blew all expectations out of the water in an incredibly tense, hard-hitting battle that really showcased what both of these talents are capable of. There is no context needed for this one, just go check it out.

Ethan Vieira recommends:
7Upp vs MaiHime, 12th Anniversary Supreme Fight 2023 (STARDOM, February 4)
STARDOM started their year with an emotional rollercoaster, the fan favorite duo of MaiHime squaring up against the champions 7Upp. With their advantageous strength, MaiHime are usually on top of their matches but Himeka suffered knee issues and was forced out of the action, thus Maika had to valiantly try and fight the champions by herself. The match escalated into its final stage where Himeka spiritedly came back to the ring, every moment filled with more emotion with the hindsight development that Himeka’s is retiring. This match is proof of why we will forever love MaiHime, and I will always be grateful to have witnessed them team.

Connor Maze (Patreon subscriber) recommends:
Samoa Joe vs Darby Allin, Dynamite (AEW, February 1)

Credit: NJPW

Corey Michaels recommends:
Mercedes Moné vs KAIRI, Battle in the Valley (NJPW, February 18)
Mercedes Moné came into San Antonio a different wrestler than Sasha Banks, paying tribute to Bayley to Hana Kimura to Eddie Guerrero and silencing any doubters. An emotional match, she and KAIRI took each other to the limit in this reunion of combat. On a card stacked with greatness, this one stood out above the rest.

Thumbly Squeezed recommends:
Bryan Danielson vs Rush, Dynamite (AEW, February 8)
Oh sure, you’re thinking, how hard is it to find a Bryan Danielson match and say it had awesome wrestling. But this wasn’t catch-as-catch-can or slick submissions; rather, two men straight up trying to beat each other into submission. A brutal display of sheer forceful impact, Danielson endured every possible kind of blunt force trauma from Rush’s tree limb-like limbs. At one point, Rush hurled the American Dragon off the apron with a thud so hard it caused blood to splatter on the camera. Just as he did with Brock Lesnar back in the day, though, Danielson endured and returned in kind. This time around, he escaped with the 1-2-3.

James Carlin recommends:
Chihiro Hashimoto vs MIRAI, 12th Anniversary Supreme Fight 2023 (STARDOM, February 4)
Every big Stardom show moving forward needs to have MIRAI and Big Hash wrestling somewhere on the card. This match needs to happen again, either in STARDOM or Sendai Girls, there has to be a second face-off between the two.