It is arguably the best time in history to be a wrestling fan. We have more access to more incredible wrestling from all over the world now than ever before. How many of those wrestling companies do not have propaganda partnerships with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Almost all of them. So, for a little change of pace, let’s look at what they’ve been doing this week.
1. Jon Moxley won a championship in his first post-WWE match
A lot of things happened in Tokyo on Wednesday night at New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament final. Jay White defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi while wearing a My Chemical Romance outfit. Minoru Suzuki entered the arena to a visual kei song instead of his own legendary theme to support his stablemate Taichi. Chris Jericho sent in another video of him as a scary heavy metal clown. That’s all big news.
Here’s some more big news: Jon Moxley (formerly WWE’s Dean Ambrose) and Juice Robinson (formerly NXT’s CJ Parker) beat the crap out of each other for the IWGP United States Championship. Their match was emotional, brutal, reckless, exciting, and all kinds of other adjectives that just mean I was losing my shit watching it even though it was 5 am in Los Angeles and if I’d started yelling I’d get in trouble with my neighbors. A brawl this good was exactly what Juice Robinson and the US Championship both needed to remind audiences this is a title worth caring about! I really recommend checking it out.
2. Will Ospreay picked up his second Best of the Super Juniors trophy
The main event of Wednesday’s New Japan show was actually the final match in their annual junior heavyweight tournament: the Best of the Super Juniors. Between the Moxley/Robinson match and this final, it was well worth staying up all night and destroying my sleep schedule to watch live. The undefeated Shingo Takagi, winner of the A-Block, faced off against B-Block winner Will Ospreay, who first won the tournament in 2016. While I am still far from being the world’s most enthusiastic Will Ospreay fan, I can’t deny what a killer match this was. Takagi is an incredible talent, and while I was sad to see him lose on Wednesday, I’m very much looking forward to seeing him have a match against heavyweight Satoshi Kojima at this Sunday’s Dominion show. Also at Dominion, Will Ospreay will challenge Dragon Lee for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in what is sure to be a very exciting bout of athleticism and high flying.
3. Meiko Satomura kicked Yuu in the head
While technically Japanese women’s wrestling legend (joshi puroresu if you’re nasty) Meiko Satomura wrestled up and comer Yuu last week, it took a few days for the bout to get uploaded to the Sendai Girls YouTube page, so I’m counting it for this week. I never get tired of watching the 24 year veteran Satomura facing off with different highly promising young talents, and the former powerhouse of Tokyo Joshi Pro is no exception. Okay, yes, there’s only one camera angle, and sure, there’s no commentary. Who needs either of those things when you’ve got two badasses grappling, kicking and chopping the everliving fuck out of each other!? Do you like seeing strong women who are under 5’3″ working so stiff that you can feel their strikes reverberate through your own bones? Look no further. This match didn’t just slap: it stung. Yuu is heading to Pro Wrestling Eve this month, and I am excited to see more from her working freelance around the world!
4. Apples suck!
Every Wednesday night since April, New England’s Beyond Wrestling has aired a weekly show called Uncharted Territory. What does a weekly independent wrestling tv show look like in the era of live streaming? Uncharted Territory is held in the same Worcester, Massachusetts bar every week, and just feels like a wrestling show held in a great neighborhood bar. You see a lot of the same fans in the crowd every week. There are storylines, but they aren’t so complicated that someone watching or attending for the first time can’t understand everything that’s happening. It’s a perfect balance between local access wrestling shows and the kinds of cool bar shows that are popping up all over the world.
Uncharted Territory has hosted some of my favorite matches this year, and is just generally a really fun, solid show to watch on livestream for a couple of hours on a weeknight. This week had a main event of Orange Cassidy vs Shawn Spears (formerly WWE’s Tye Dillinger.) I was a little skeptical of Spears’ willingness to play ball with Cassidy’s whole schtick (being simultaneously extremely lazy and extremely successful), but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of silliness and good wrestling they ended up doing. Spears won dirty, using a rope for leverage. Rematch please!
5. Wrestling is for furries, actually
While Solo Darling and Allie Kat may not actually be bee and cat furries, and Davienne and Skylar’s team name of the Top Dogs may not be a dog thing, One of the most exciting things about Beyond is that they have both great intergender matches (check out Orange Cassidy’s title defenses against Jordynne Grace, Kylie Rae and Kris Statlander) and great women’s matches. I don’t think any US wrestling company this prominent does a better job incorporating women into their roster.
This week’s women’s tag match was no exception. The more I’ve seen of Skylar, Davienne and Allie Kat, the more I’ve liked, and Solo Darling is without a doubt becoming one of the best women’s wrestlers on the US indie scene. This was just a fun, solidly entertaining match. I will never get over Allie Kat’s goofy catgirl stuff, plus team Top Dogs did pull out a dog leash at the end of the match to get their win, so I can confidently say that yes, wrestling is for furries.
6. The greatest championship in the world changed hands four times
The hardest thing about not covering WWE this week, for me at least, is not getting to talk about the 24/7 Championship. It is fortunate that Japanese independent comedy wrestling company DDT has an even better championship defended with 24/7 rules. At DDT’s Wrestle Matsuyamania event on Sunday, the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship saw four title changes. Makoto Oishi won a gauntlet Battle Royal for it, but was swiftly beaten by a newcomer. Local politician Tokihiro Nakamura now joins the illustrious ranks of Ironman Heavymetalweight Champions (along with former champions: ladder, chair, camera crane, and a dachshund named Cocolo), but dropped the title almost immediately to Danshouku Dino. Dino, in turn, dropped the title to Makoto Oishi later in the show. When the WWE 24/7 Championship gets to that level, we will know we are really living in blessed times.
7. Wrestling should be awesome, and by “awesome” I mean “on fire”
Not everybody likes watching indie wrestling filmed in grimy gyms. Not everybody likes death matches. However, if you like both of those things, I really enjoyed Ciclope vs Miedo Extremo’s exploding barbed wire deathmatch from Sunday’s Vanguardia Celebrando 10 Años De Los Macizos event. I’m still very new to deathmatch wrestling, so this was the first time I’d ever seen anyone combine lucha libre style wrestling with barbed wire and light tubes. This was insane and definitely not for everyone, but if you like blood, glass, scaffolding and explosions? This is a highly recommended good time.
Honorable mentions: Great Sasuke doing a deathmatch tournament at almost 50 years old, Chris Dickinson’s impression of his grandma, Rocky Romero’s entire Best of the Super Juniors run.