Best Matches of the Week (5/1/22) – TJPW, NJPW, AEW, WWE, and More

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii and Other Best Matches from Week of 5/1/22
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Wrestling is the most athletic and diverse it’s ever been in the 2020s. With different styles across the world, all mixing and blending in different ways, as well as easy accessibility to everyone makes being a pro wrestling fan in 2022 very enjoyable. Every week, there are good matches all around the planet. There’s always good wrestling if one is looking to find it, and here we’ll be narrowing them down to the best. Entries can be from any promotion and will be in chronological order. Let’s take a look at the best matches of the week from 5/1/22.

Best Matches of the Week (5/1/22)

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Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, IWGP US Title: NJPW Wrestling Dontaku, May 1, 2022

Wrestling Dontaku was heavily praised this year. New Japan Pro-Wrestling has been in a creative rut since the pandemic hit, and this was the first full show that really felt like it clicked for them. Not everything was perfect, but there was a good ebb and flow to the show, with the last 3 matches, in particular, being outstanding. Of the 3, this was the best, coming right before the main event of Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito. Despite both being well past their physical prime, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii had another classic, for the vacant IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship no less, to add to the others they’ve had together. The first half of the match was very good, building to the eventual drama that would be the second half.

Due to exhaustion, both men began co-opting each other’s offense in order to catch them off-guard. It creates for great moments such as Ishii hitting a sling-blade, and Tanahashi hitting a brainbuster. The match was so good, that the crowd in the PayPay Dome couldn’t help but audibly gasp and cheer. This, after 2 odd years of clap crowds in Japan, is a breath of fresh air for NJPW fans, and puro fans in general. Go out of your way to watch it.

Women’s Trios Match: Monday Night Raw, May 2, 2022

While they don’t do them often enough, WWE’s TV shows always benefit from these kinds of multi-person matches. They’re a good way to get a lot of stories and feuds across to TV viewers in a succinct, action-filled match, and it certainly doesn’t hurt when everyone involved is talented in their own right. This was the case last Monday Night Raw when the team of Asuka, Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair, and Liv Morgan went against the team of Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley, and Sonya Deville. Asuka, for a woman who’s been completely out of action even training-wise for the last 9 months, was working at her usual blinding speed, and everything she did looked good. Liv Morgan played a good Ricky Morton, taking the heat from the heels and building for an eventual hot tag to Belair.

The finish was action-packed and frenetic, and Sonya Deville was the right decision to eat the pin, though Liv Morgan winning for her team was an interesting choice. Compound all of this with the fact that it was in front of the notoriously hot Greensboro Coliseum crowd, and you have a recipe for success. A very good match, and on free TV no less.

Cameron Grimes vs. Solo Sikoa vs Carmelo Hayes, NXT North American Title: WWE NXT 2.0, May 3, 2022

Since rebranding to NXT 2.0, the former black and gold brand has been somewhat of a shell of its former self. Bad angles, signature headache-inducing WWE production value, humiliatingly goofy vignettes, and poorly conceived characters that feel like they belong on either an episode of RAW in 1995 or Vince Russo’s dreams usually make for a very poor viewing experience. Funnily enough though, whenever they decide to do big specials such as Stand and Deliver or Spring Breakin that are more focused on in-ring action, those episodes are much more palatable and are usually received better. That was the case as last week, Cameron Grimes defended his NXT North American Championship in a triple threat match, against former champion Carmelo Hayes and Solo Sikoa.

While still mired in WWE’s terrible camera work, this match is very enjoyable. All 3 men are unbelievably athletic, and they show it here. Solo Sikoa was very, very over with the NXT crowd, and looked like an absolute beast in the latter half of the match, manhandling both men with ease. In the end, Grimes managed to retain his championship with a Cave-In to Sikoa as he held Hayes in a Fireman’s carry, but there’s a sneaking suspicion that this won’t be the last time Sikoa tries for a championship, whether it be this one or another.

Angelico vs. Yuya Uemura: AEW Dark, May 3, 2022

AEW Dark, while a fun show, usually isn’t a host of many competitive matches. Its main use is to pin the big TV star’s win/loss record with enhancement matches, whilst giving younger, lesser-known wrestlers a good payday and a bit of exposure, as well as the chance to wrestle someone who’s on TV. This isn’t a bad formula for a small YouTube show, but it’s also good that every once in a not-so-great while, they give us some good, enjoyable wrestling. Angelico, who wasn’t on TV much until just recently due to a torn meniscus that laid him out at the end of 2021, gave a very good outing to Yuya Uemura, the NJPW young lion on an excursion. It’s not a traditional AEW TV match, comprised mostly of just chain wrestling, but it’s a really beautiful match that only clocks in at about 9 minutes.

Plus it’s free on YouTube. Can’t beat that.

Ninja Mack vs. Kaito Kiyomiya, Owen Hart Tournament Qualifier: NOAH’s Dream On Night 1, May 4, 2022

If you’re looking for dynamic athleticism and crisp, hard-hitting action, then this match and the next are gonna be right up your alley. Of all the shoddy decisions Pro Wrestling NOAH has been making lately, they did right by Ninja Mack in his first match in the promotion. Putting him against their supposed future ace and golden boy, Kaito Kiyomiya, certainly indicated that they had a lot of faith and stock in Mack, and he did a spectacular job in delivering. Ninja Mack is easily one of the best high-flyers going today, using the same fast-paced, breakneck speed that you’d expect in a Blitzkrieg WCW match in 1999. Kiyomiya does a great job in his role as well, almost matching Mack in athleticism, and definitely outperforming him in aggression, something he sorely needs if he’s to be the future face of the company.

In the end, Kiyomiya took home the win, which he was always going to, but Mack is left none the worse from the loss. If anything, I’d expect there are some good things down the road for Ninja Mack in NOAH. One thing to look forward to for fans of that company, anyway.

Dante Martin vs. Rey Fenix: AEW Dynamite, May 4, 2022

As stated before, this match is of the same dazzling nature as the previous. If Mack vs. Kiyomiya is the better match, this is the more athletically gifted one. In most matches, you can tell what the next move is gonna be when someone is setting it up. Even if it’s gonna be a counter, you can anticipate it; not with this match, though. At no point during this 9-and-a-half minute match did anyone really know what was coming next except for the men in the ring. It’s even more insane to think this probably wasn’t even touching the iceberg as far as what they could do together. At some point down the road, a Top Flight vs. Lucha Bros match is a must when Darius Martin comes back.

The only thing that really subtracted from the match was the reverse one-man Spanish fly with both men landing on their feet. Not the spot itself, which was spectacular, but the moment of both men standing and looking at the crowd felt a little silly.

8 Woman, 2 Out of 3 Falls, Tag Team Match: TJPW GO GO DO IT, May 5, 2022

Anyone familiar with Japanese wrestling understands that the rookies never win against the veterans. Experience always wins out in the end, but it’s also in fighting against overwhelming odds that great wrestlers are forged. Usually, though, those matches aren’t competitive to the point of going 30 minutes like the multi-woman tag match from Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling’s Golden Week finale show, Go Go Do It. The team of Maki Itoh, Mizuki, Rika Tatsumi, and Shoko Nakajima took on the rookie team of Arisu Endo and her tag partner Suzume, (known as Daisy Monkey) Moka Miyamoto, and Yuki Arai.

The match only goes 2 falls, with the rookies obviously not getting one, but they still take the team vets to the limit. Both falls go to about 15 minutes, making the match half an hour-long in length. Obviously, the rookies don’t win in the end, they were never going to, but that’s also obviously not the point.

El Desperado & DOUKI vs Jun Kasai & Tomoaki Honma: JTO TAKATAICHIMANIA 2.5, May 5, 2022

If a messy, bloody brawl is what you’re looking for, look no further than this match. There’s really not much to say about it. The four men brawl in and outside the ring. All four of them bleed profusely, painting the baby-blue mat in a vibrant red like something out of a Jackson Pollock painting. They skewer each other, staple each other, and beat each other with chairs, trash cans, and kendo sticks. They put each other through tables (not gimmicked ones either) and basically just torture each other to the delight of the Korakuen Hall audience. It isn’t perfect; some spots near the end of the match are a little too complicated for their own good, more than likely due to the match being a good 5 or so minutes longer than it should’ve been, but still absolutely worth the watch.

Riho vs. Yuka Sakazaki, Owen Hart Tournament Qualifier: AEW Rampage, May 5, 2022

It was very nice to see a match in a major North American promotion with 2 Joshis that both felt like credible competitors and were over with the crowd. While much like the Dante Martin vs Rey Fenix match in the respect that it could’ve been more if given more time, this was still a wonderful little taste for American fans not familiar with the style. Riho, for once, didn’t have to play the underdog in a match and was allowed to showcase her technical prowess as well as her athleticism. She and her opponent, Yuka Sakazaki, chain-wrestled for the majority of the bout, only really opting for high-flying offense near the end of the match. Just a short, competitive, free TV match that everyone should go out of their way to watch.

Josh Alexander vs. Tomohiro Ishii, IMPACT World Championship: IMPACT Under Siege, May 6, 2022

Not only is this one of the best IMPACT Wrestling matches in recent memory, but it’s also one of the best IMPACT matches in a very long time. Josh Alexander and Tomohiro Ishii were always going to put on a good or great match, but I don’t think anyone was expecting quite how good this was. Ishii has been unreal with how many classics he’s been pushing out at the consistency he is, especially at his age and the given the shape his body must be in. Alexander is the perfect opponent for him, a man who in the last year or so of his career has been able to do no wrong in the ring, having memorable matches against the likes of Minoru Suzuki, Christian Cage, and Moose.

The match is a total heavyweight exchange; just bombs and suplexes left and right. Ishii comes off as the usual hunk of rock that he always does, and Alexander plays off him like someone who wrestled him a hundred times before. These two have wonderful chemistry together, and it would be a crying shame if we don’t get a rematch at some point before Ishii has to slow down even more than he already has. Perhaps in a New Japan ring? Alexander would fit well in that environment, and I can’t imagine there’s anyone out there who wouldn’t want to see that. Regardless, this match alone is enough for now and is definitely one of the best matches of the week.

Must-see content from IMPACT in 2022; who would’ve thought?

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