The 20 Best Matches Of The Month: July 2017 Edition
July will be a very New Japan Pro Wrestling heavy list due to the G1 Climax tournament and rightfully so. The way the G1 tournament is set up, it features the best young talent vs the best older talent in heated matches to get a future IWGP heavyweight title shot. The length, drama and emotion involved in the G1 Climax matches are must-see. Lots of impressive matches could not make the cut but there were also great offerings from WrestleCircus, Lucha Forever and AAW. Here are 15 recommended matches that missed the list this month:
-Zack Sabre Jr vs Timothy Thatcher- No Holds Barred for the Evolve championship at Evolve 88
-Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs Lio Rush- CZW Wired championship match at Wrestle Circus.
-Kazuchika Okada vs Cody- IWGP heavyweight title match at NJPW G1 In USA.
-The Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice- IWGP jr heavyweight title match at G1 In USA.
-Kenny Omega vs Mike Elgin- G1 In USA
-Keith Lee vs Matt Riddle- Rev Pro Live At The Cockpit
-Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii- G1 In USA
– Juice Robinson vs Satoshi Kojima- NJPW G1 Climax day 2
-Tama Tonga vs Mike Elgin- NJPW G1 Climax day 2
-Kota Ibushi vs Togi Makabe- NJPW G1 Climax day 3
-Hirooki Goto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi- NJPW G1 Climax day 7
-Drew Gulak vs Mustafa Ali- 2 Out Of 3 Falls on 205 Live
-The Hardy’s vs Cesaro and Sheamus- Ironman match for the WWE Raw tag team championships at WWE Great Balls Of Fire
-Zack Sabre Jr vs Fred Yehi- Evolve chamionship match at Evolve 89
-Austin Theory vs Trent Baretta- Evolve 89
#20. Tama Tonga vs Kenny Omega- NJPW G1 Climax day 4
2 Bullet Club members fighting for supremacy and the win means a lot in this tournament. Tama Tonga has been in the Bullet Club since the very start and that was brought up during the match. Omega got the fight taken to him from the floor to the ring and that’s when Tonga took to the mic. Tama asked what is this Supercliq and The Elite business? You are either with us or your not. That fired Omega up and he hit a snap dragon suplex and V-Trigger but only a 1-count! Tama brought back the Tonga Twist but that wasn’t enough and he went down to the One Winged Angel. Great match that looks to lead to a possible rematch in the future.
Match result: Kenny Omega won. ****
#19. Yuji Nagata vs Hirooki Goto- NJPW G1 Climax day 3
Nagata may be almost 50 years old but he is as stiff as ever with his kicks, even if Nagata has not done well in his final G1 Climax tournament ever. Goto wrestled almost like a heel, smacking around Nagata and trying to show he is truly better than “Blue Justice.” Kevin Kelly on commentary made mention of the sound of the precise strikes by Nagata. Goto escaped Nagata’s trademark armbar and they trade lariats. Goto’s discus lariat puts down Nagata and the GTR finishes a fantastic match.
Match result: Hirooki Goto won. ****
#18. EVIL vs SANADA- NJPW G1 Climax day 2
A meeting of fellow Los Ingobernables De Japon members and this really showed how great they are competing against each other and are equally dangerous. EVIL stole SANADA’s Skull End submission on the top rope early but SANADA was able to moonsault and transition into his own Skull End. Later EVIL locked in his new submission The Banshee Muzzle but it wasn’t enough somehow. SANADA countered the STO and won the match with a Moonsault, a tribute to his mentor The Great Muta.
Match result: SANADA won. ****
#17. Kazuchika Okada vs Juice Robinson- G1 Climax day 11
Juice received the biggest match of his career facing the IWGP heavyweight champion and he made it count in a big way. Okada seemed to take Juice lightly and it costed him, going 20 minutes and wearing down Juice still led to a comeback. Juice reversed a Rainmaker into a full nelson slam the got 2 from a huge gut-buster. Juice went for Pulp Friction but got caught in a Tombstone Piledriver but Juice surprised Okada with a spin kick and a powerbomb for 2. Finally Okada went for the Rainmaker again but took a straight punch to the face. Juice went for Pulp Friction and went right into The Rainmaker.
Match result: Kazuchika Okada won. ****
#16. Jushin Liger vs Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll vs KUSHIDA- Rev Pro Super J Cup finals
Rev Pro in the UK presented it’s first ever Super J Cup tournament and a more fitting winner could not be picked. Liger looked like he was crying behind that large mask at the end. The chemistry in this match from Scurll and Ospreay was amazing, Scurll even gave Ospreay his own Os-Cutter. Marty Scurll shockingly eliminated KUSHIDA first with a mousetrap rollup. Scurll brought the umbrella in but Ospreay grabbed it and hit Liger by accident, letting Scurll trap Ospreay in a mouse trap as well for 3. It was down to Liger and Scurll and Liger would not give in. A shouten palm strike and a Liger Bomb netted Liger another milestone victoy in his long career.
Match Result: Jushin “Thunder” Liger won the inaugural Rev Pro Super J Cup. ****
#15. Hirooki Goto vs Hiroshi Tanahashi- NJPW G1 Climax day 7
Goto has never achieved Ace status much less the IWGP heavyweight championship in his career and he seemed to take it out on Tanahashi early. Goto bended Tanahashi’s hand back in an armbar and delievered a vicious back drop driver. Tanahashi got frustrated and slapped Goto, coming back with a slingblade. Tremendous main event effort leading to the GTR countered into a spinning neckbreaker and the High Fly Flow. Goto may beat Tanahashi one day, that was not this day.
Match result: Hiroshi Tanahashi won. ****
#14. WWE United Kingdom title match: Pete Dunne vs Trent Seven vs BT Gunn vs Wolfgang- ICW Shug’s House Party 4 day 2
Dunne made his debut in Scotland’s ICW just a couple months ago and at one of ICW’s biggest shows of the year, Dunne put his WWE UK title on the line in a rarity. You could hardly have more worthy challengers, Wolfgang even dove over the top to the floor with a senton dive with all his size. Seven took a lowblow and pedigree from his British Strong Style stablemate Dunne for 2. Wolfgang hit the Howling on BT Gunn for only 2. Gunn hit a double Gunshot on Dunne and Wolfgang for 2. BT Gunn took brass knuckles from Wolfgang. Seven hit an avalanche Seventh Heaven piledriver on Wolfgang for only 2! The action is at a crazy pace. BT Gunn hit a brainbuster on Dunne for 2! Finally BT Gunn took The Bitter End from Dunne and Pete Dune retains, but it damn sure wasn’t easy.
Match result: Pete Dune retains the WWE UK championship. ****1/2
#13. Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA- NJPW G1 Climax day 4
These 2 faced each other last year and although the result is the same, SANADA continues to impress and is capable of hanging on a main event level. Okada really grinded SANADA down and saw what was coming, turning a leapfrog into a dropkick. SANADA went for a top rope Skull End but went right into a Tombstone Piledriver. Okada refused to tap to another Skull End and reversed a Sliced Bread into The Rainmaker. This will only get better and better the more Okada and SANADA wrestle each other.
Match result: Kazuchika Okada won. ****1/2
#12. Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii- NJPW G1 Climax day 5
Ibushi returns to the G1 Climax tournament and picks right up where he left off, going to war with NJPW’s best like Ishii. Things got brutal early, Ishii shook off Ibushi’s chest kicks and started throat chops. Ishii hit one of the best lariats in the business to great effect. Ibushi hit one of his own and hit a snap dragon suplex (like Kenny Omega *wink wink) but Ishii still gets back up. Ishii with a headbutt to the jaw but Kota pulled Ishii’s hands back for a pull-in knee to the face. The last ride ends Ishii’s night in a major hard-hitting affair.
Match result: Kota Ibushi wins. ****1/2
#11. Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr- NJPW G1 Climax day 3
A match we did not get to see in last years WWE Cruiserweight Classic became a reality in New Japan and it was a very memorable encounter. Ibushi has a kickboxing background and hit some serious kicks. Sabre eventually outwrestled “The Golden Star” and almost won with a tight rollup but transitioned right into an Octopus hold. Sabre also caught a backflip kick into an STF. Incredible back-and-forth between 2 different styles, Kota with a pull-in knee but caught in a flying triangle choke. Ibushi picked Sabre up and hit The Last Ride to win an incredibly hard fought match.
Match result: Kota Ibushi won. ****1/2
#10. Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii- NJPW G1 Climax day 1
To kick off the G1 Climax tournament, Goto and Ishii went out and had a match that was as fast-paced as ever for 2 heavyweights. In 14 minutes Ishii could not stop Goto with a lariat or hit the Brainbuster. Wild lariat on the top to Goto but the way Goto came back was on fire. Goto challenged Ishii right in his face and then came out on top with a GTR to the nose then to to the back of the head.
Match result: Hirooki Goto won. ****1/2
#9. Kenny Omega vs Minoru Suzuki- NJPW G1 Climax day 22
A match between 2 of the best villains in wrestling today. Omega seemed to be scared of the veteran early but he wasn’t scared 20 minutes later when he was hitting his knees off Suzuki’s face. The brawl went all the way to the crowds to start and Omega’s leg got trapped in the barricade. Bad Luck Fale helped Omega even the odds against Suzuki-Gun. Beautiful sequence when Suzuki reversed the One Winged Angel into a kneebar. V-Trigger but Suzuki with a one legged dropkick! Omega delievered 2 V-Triggers but his leg gave out on a reverse hurricanrana. Omega finally hit One Winged Angel in a classic.
Match result: Kenny Omega wins. ****1/2
#8. Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii- NJPW G1 Climax day 3
Makabe and Ishii went back to the NEVER openweight title matches they had and went all-out. Makabe may be getting older but he doesn’t show many signs of it, matching Ishii lariat for lariat and headbutt fot headbutt. Ishii moved out of the way from the dangerous King Kong Kneedrop. Only a 1 count off a hard lariat! Ishii wins with a brainbuster. Not many can have the kinds of stiff matches these 2 have had.
Match result: Tomohiro Ishii won. ****1/2
#7. Walter vs Matt Riddle- Progress Atlas championship match at Progress chapter: 51
This bout was more like an MMA contest than a showy wrestling title match. Walter is so large that his strikes have extra force and it looks nasty. Riddle somehow was able to gutwrench suplex Walter overhead. Riddle was worn down and could not finish Walter even with a Bro To Sleep into a bridging german suplex. Walter took Riddle down and locked in a rear-naked-choke for a massive win. These 2 have wrestled previously in Walter’s home of Germany in wXw but this was their best.
Match result: Walter won the Progress Atlas title. ****1/2
#6. The London Riots vs War Machine part 3- Progress chapter: 51
The 3rd and final battle between London’s best and one of the words best tag teams. Rowe grabbed the mic and made it No Disqualifications. Rowe is so tough he put his head right into James Davis’ forearms. All 4 men hit the biggest tower of doom out of the corner ever. Double spears by The Riots only got 2! Pop up powerbomb and suicide dive by War Machine for only 2! Big lads tag team wrestling at its finest with hot near falls. Fallout puts away Lynch for War Machine to pick up their first win over The Lomdon Riots.
Match result: War Machine won. ****1/2
#5. Kazuchika Okada vs Mike Elgin- NJPW G1 Climax day 4
Elgin got his shot against the IWGP heavyweight champion finally albeit non-title, and he made it a match we will never forget. Okada went for a crossbody over the barricade but got caught and slammed on the floor. Okada went for the leg with dropkicks and then went for one on the top but powebomb for 2! Elgin countered the Tombstone twice and hit a pop up Elgin Bomb for 2! 2 Rainmakers to Elgin! Elgin countered right into a Tombstone and a 3rd Rainmaker for 3. Awe-inspiring match.
Match result: Kazuchika Okada won. *****
#4. Matt Riddle vs Tomohiro Ishii- Rev Pro Super J Cup
Riddle and Ishii both excel at a sprint pace and were almost made to wrestle each other, this was the first time ever. The way Riddle hit Ishii with knee’s really rocked Ishii. Riddle took a vertical brainbuster off the top rope with huge impact. Riddle came back with Bro To Sleep. Ishii put Riddle away in 15 minutes with a Brainbuster. Heart-pumping exhilarating action.
Match result: Tomohiro Ishii won. *****
#3. Kenny Omega vs Mike Elgin- NJPW G1 Climax day 8
Omega hit a V-Trigger on the apron early. Elgin hit a buckle bomb and busted out a reverse hurricanrana. Omega took a powerbomb on the apron. Omega hit a V-Trigger to the back of the head then to the face for 2! Omega hit a Jay Driller pilerdriver for 2! Omega kicked out of a pop up powerbomn into an Elgin Bomb! Incredible match and one of the best you will see all year, Omega took 2 back drop drivers for 2 but a Burning Hammer finished it.
Match result: Mike Elgin won. *****
#2. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii- IWGP US title match at NJPW G1 In USA day 2
The finals of the IWGP US championship tournament concluded with a massive rematch from the New Japan Cup earlier this year. Omega clashes with Ishii’s hard-hitting style surprisingly well and this went over 30 minutes. Omega took things to the next level with a dragon suplex off the apron through a table, hurting himself in the process. Omega hit his knees and Ishii hit his lariats but Omega overcame with the One Winged Angel.
Match result: Kenny Omega became the inaugural IWGP US champion. *****
#1. Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi- NJPW G1 Climax day 1
Kota Ibushi came back to G1 on day 1 in a huge way, wrestling almost a perfect match with one of New Japan’s current top stars. Ibushi brought the fans to their feet with a Golden Triangle Moonsault to the floor. The match really escaladed though when Ibushi hit a wind-up lariat and a piledriver from the middle rope but only got 2. Naito was so resilient, hitting a flipping kick and winning with a second Destino. A match a lot of people will be talking about come best of the year talk.
Match result: Tetsuya Naito won. *****