There was so much wrestling in the month of May, an extra week of events are still being released now. From NJPW Dontaku, RevPro Live At The Cockpit, Lucha Forever, EVOLVE and a WWE and NXT Special, there was no shortage of live events. NJPW’s Best Of The Super Juniors and PROGRESS‘ Super Strong Style 16 tournaments were mostly all fantastic matches, making this list very hard to narrow down. A list of only 20 is no easy task after all the cards, comment or respond to me @DanNilesWrestle on Twitter if you have any thoughts, but on to the top 20 best matches of May.
#20. Travis Banks vs Jimmy Havoc, 1st Round Match-up at PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16
The popularity of Banks reached it’s peak not just in this tournament, but in this match with the best of PROGRESS. More of a brawling style of a match and one would think that would benefit Havoc but it actually went in the favor of Banks. Havoc went for a chair but Havoc caught it and used it for a kick on the floor. Havoc going out this early was a big surprise but Banks was the heavy favorite.
Awesome finishing stretch when Havoc repeatedly tried for the Acid Rainmaker but Banks kicked Havoc in the head a few times instead and won with a Kiwi Crusher. Banks really came off like a machine and a top star in the match and getting the win was huge. One of the most physical matches all year.
#19. Michael Elgin vs Zack Sabre Jr, SMASH: Have Ring Will Wrestle
Elgin came back to Toronto to take on the technical wizard in a rematch from AAW, this match was a technical back-and-forth that didn’t receive enough buzz. Very even match where Elgin can overpower Sabre but can make it even with the mat wrestling. A 22-Minute match where the crowd was left on their feet. Elgin hit such offense as a sunset bomb off the top and a tiger driver and still couldn’t win.
Sabre was able to hit a tornado DDT and lock in some submissions but Elgin was on fire with a tope rope falcon arrow. Huge moment when Sabre kicked out at 1 of a crucifix powerbomb. Fight forever chants from Elgin’s hometown crowd and an Elgin bomb finished an epic match.
#18. Donovan Dijak vs Josh Bodom, Revolution Pro: Live At The Cockpit
Bodom is the RPW Cruiserweight champion and is quite undersized but he takes it to Dijak and this has been a feud in Rev Pro for months, leading to a heated rematch where these 2 go full-tilt. Dijak has a temper and he uses it to his advantage, all over Bodom and looking to win early.
Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes right at the start of the match and a few minutes later but Bodom incredibly kicked out both times. Bodom did not have the strength to pull of the Bodom Breaker but he did hit the Bliss-Buster piledriver for 2. Dijak gives Bodom the middles finger, hits numerous strikes and Feast Your Eyes for the third time to finish a fight of a match.
#17. Pete Dunne vs Mark Andrews vs Mark Haskins, Triple Threat match for the PROGRESS World title at PROGRESS Chapter 48: Bang The Drum
Dunne has screwed over Haskins and Dunne in singles matches for the title and this was the time maybe Dunne loses, but that was not to be the case as Dunne was just more cagey. Double teams on Dunne and a crazy pace made this very fun to watch and it looked like it could end any time.
Andrews could not hit his patented Shooting Star Press but he did hit some great aerial offense and Haskins showed why he is the best pure transition wrestler today with his counters. Dunne got maybe his best win to date, hitting the Bitter End on Andrews on top of the back of Haskins and then a Pedigree on Andrews. Spitting in the face of the PROGRESS faithful winning that way.
#16. Matt Riddle vs Kyle O’Reilly, WWN Title Match at EVOLVE 84
Riddle has not been the champion of WWN Live for long but he is looking to establish himself as a top champion and this win helped a lot in doing that. Both respect each other and have a similar style in the ring, making for an easy to watch chess match. Kyle has the experience edge and it shows but Riddle can keep up, but he does go to the well too much like his up-kick and pays for it.
O’Reilly is a perfect fit under EVOLVE’s banner as a pure wrestling company and this is a match that needs to happen again. Numerous submission attempts are involved until Riddle hit a Tombstone piledriver and locked in the Bro-Mission for the win. These 2 have met in a match in PWG in the last but the chemistry seems to be naturally there for a great main event.
#15. Zack Sabre Jr vs Lio Rush, EVOLVE Title match at EVOLVE 85
A rematch from last month and a much better match with a better story told, Rush almost has Sabre’s number. Sabre stretched Rush out the last time but Rush was prepared and hit his trademark kicks and almost won with a frogsplash and the Rush Hour spanish fly.
Sabre was able to fight back from all of that and still outwrestle Rush. Sabre is an elite competitor because he can do moves you have never seen before and make it look so smooth, winning with another bridging O’Connor roll. Sabre has said on social media he would love a part 3, a rare case where the champion wants another piece of the challenger.
#14. Tyler Bate vs Matt Riddle, Semi-Final Match at PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16
Tyler Bate may be only 20 years old, but he had as many great matches this month as anybody and against a vast array of opponents like a former UFC fighter here. Bate decided to take his boots off and wrestle barefoot just like Riddle, giving this more of a big-fight-feel. Riddle was able to lock in an ankle lock on the bare foot of Bate early but Bate would be just as good, if not better than Riddle on this night.
Matt Riddle could not lock in the holds he wanted to and this was more of an exchange of big moves. Riddle hit a kick but Bate came back with a running front kick into 2 Tyler Drivers for the massive win. Even though Riddle is already the Atlas champion, he was seen as winning it all and this was Bate’s moment instead in a breakthrough match for both.
#13. Jinny vs Laura Di Matteo vs Toni Storm, Triple Threat match for the inaugural PROGRESS women’s title
The women’s Natural Progression Series all came down this in a 3-Way. Laura was a little bit of a wild-card in this match but she won all of her matches to get here, Jinny has the least amount of experience. Toni Storm was the most popular and was so physical in this match, looking to prove why she is the best female wrestler in the world. All 3 put on an amazing show in the first ever PROGRESS women’s main event on Day 2 of SSS16.
Di Matteo was energetic hitting many trademark fast-paced moves but Toni was not to be denied. Jinny was looking to antagonize both and that did not work out, getting a piledriver on the stage by Storm. Laura would hit a spinning DDT on the ramp on Toni and roll her in the ring to hit another one only for a 2-count. After a flurry with all 3, Toni hit another piledriver to make history.
#12. Marty Scurll vs Kyle O’Reilly, RevPro: Live At The Cockpit
Match started with a standoff but they took it to the mat for the next marvelous 23-Minutes. Kyle O’Reilly brought Sleazy Kyle back for a moment early but the arm-work of Scurll may be the best of anyone. O’Reilly went for a brainbuster but took a trip to Divorce Court and got his arm stomped on.
Kyle would come back with Axe And Smash and many strikes but Marty hit a brainbuster of his own! The match had a strange finish with Kyle raking Scurll’s eyes, leading Scurll to snap the referees fingers instead! A reversal of a rollup attempt right into the Chickenwing got the win for Marty. Big win and both praised each other for their passion after the match.
#11. The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) vs The Addiction and Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW/ROH War Of The Worlds in Toronto
Kenny Omega returned to his home-country of Canada with The Young Bucks for another 30-plus minute action-packed 6-man tag. The Elite have been having the most fun matches all year and this was just as great as the rest. Tanahashi took the brunt of the offense and mocking in the early-going.
Rise Of The Terminator dives from The Elite get the crowd rocking and the moves only get amped up from there. A superkick party, angels wings to Matt Jackson and a V-Trigger from Omega to Daniels was an amazing flurry. Omega hit a triple snap-dragon suplex and a triple superkick was broken up! High Fligh Flow and Best Moonsault Ever broken up! Daniels kicked out of a 450 Splash! Cody ran interference on Daniels and a V-Trigger, IndyTaker and One Winged Angel got the Elite the victory over the ROH world champion.
#10. Will Ospreay vs Jay White, NJPW/ROH War Of The Worlds on PPV
An unforgettable match in the career of Ospreay and White in one match. White has been on excursion in America and has been bringing the fight to everyone. Ospreay got the chance to show his abilities to a worldwide audience in this match. There was a moment near the end where they both just traded forearms like this was a true test for these men.
White has been developing his character and he almost wrestled like a heel, driving Ospreay into the ring apron and doing whatever it takes. “The Aerial Assassin” would hit his big moves like the revolution kick and won with a running Shooting Star Press to the floor and a turnbuckle Os-Cutter. Remarkable what these guys did in 15 minutes, imagine if it was a lot longer.
#9. Shane Strickland, Mr. 450 and Sammy Guevara vs Juventud guerrera and The Lucha Bros (Penta 0M & Rey Fenix), WrestleCircus Lucha Carnival
An insane spectacle in what high-flying and non-stop action means in today’s world. Hilarious spot when Strickland’s team all hit cutter’s and did Randy Orton’s pose in reference to Orton’s dive Tweet.
Crazy when Strickland took a powerbomb out of a hurricanrana and a frogsplash. Guevara ended up showing his true colors and walked away from his team,letting Mr 450 take a brainbuster, package piledriver and double foot stomp off the top rope.
#8. Donovan Dijak vs Keith Lee, EVOLVE 84
EVOLVE 84 opened with a bang, 2 heavyweights in a rematch where Lee won the last encounter. A dive 7 rows deep onto Lee made this quickly become something you had never thought you would see. This match has been described as being ambitious online and was it ever with Dijak hitting a reverse hurricanrana and diving like he was half his size.
Keith Lee is 350 pounds but he also somehow hit a hurricanrana. These big men tried different things and this style of match had it all. Dijak looked like he had his first big EVOLVE win but he took a massive Spirit Bomb off the top rope instead. What an amazing effort from these 2 and this match will not be forgotten by the end of 2017.
#7. Ricochet vs Will Ospreay, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 24
Last year Ricochet and Will Ospreay set the world on fire and got the world talking, they had a very similar match this year early in the BOTSJ tournament. The athleticism of both is world-class, the way they mirrored some of the moves they did last year with new flavor was a sight to behold.
Ricochet is more seasoned but Ospreay is just as fast, hitting so many unique moves to wow the crowd. Ricochet got 2 off some of his best and they traded, having their best match to date. Ospreay won just like last year but the feud rages on, it does not get any more evenly matched.
#6. KUSHIDA vs Ryusuke Taguchi, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 24
Taguchi won the whole tournament 2 years ago and what made this match so special was that Taguchi is an amazing pro wrestler when he isn’t doing comedy, bringing his absolute best against the young “Ace of the Juniors.” The brilliance of the counters was amazing and nothing would end the match until the near 30-minute mark.
Ospreay and others praised the match on social media afterwards calling it a ***** match. Taguchi tried a springboard only to get caught in an armbar in mid-air. Kushida would kick out of Taguchi’s best and lock in the hoverboard lock and transition into his new finisher, Back To The Future to go to the BOTSJ finals.
#5. Jeff Cobb vs Matt Riddle, Quarter Final Match at PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16
These 2 men have great athletic backgrounds and have wrestled and tagged before as The Chosen Bros but this is their best outing to date. The way Cobb can pick up Riddle and throw him side to side before ragdolling him in a suplex is unbelievable. The UK crowd was on fire for every moment. Riddle has a certain grappling style that gels impressively with Cobb.
The hoss-battle led to Riddle reversing a Tour Of The Islands into a rollup then catching Cobb in a Bro-Mission for the win. Cobb was given a please come back chant after this war.
#4. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate, United Kingdom Championship Match at NXT Takeover: Chicago
Everyone is still buzzing about this match and you will not see a more excited crowd for a WWE match all year long. Dunne is the perfect heel to Bate’s young babyface champion, this match could not have been any better and it was only 15 minutes.
Bate got Dunne up for about 50 revolutions in an airplane spin and hit a Corkscrew Senton for 2. Dunne hit a suplex into a powerbomb for 2. Bate went for a suicide dive but took a hard forearm on the way down and took the Bitter End for 3 in a classic match.
#3. Tyler Bate vs Travis Banks, PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 Finals
Bate and Banks had the best of their careers to date in a 30-minute match filled with left-turns and near falls. Banks had the crowd support and had the edge for much of the match, hitting 4 of his Slice Of Heaven kicks.
Bate had help from Trent Seven and Pete Dunne of British Strong Style until Banks got backup in the Commonwealth Catch Kings’Kid Lykos and Chris Brookes- halfway through the match. Bate could not win with any dirty tactics but he was resilient as ever. It took a Kiwi Crusher off the top rope to finish Bate in one of the best PROGRESS matches and moments ever.
#2. Hiromu Takahashi vs Dragon Lee, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors 24
Takahashi had not lost a match all year since winning the IWGP JR heavyweight title but he finally lost to rival Dragon Lee. The fast-paced action in this rivalry is second-to-none and great to see them trading wins.
Chop battle to start the match then Lee tossed Hiromu out of the ring with a hurricanrana and dove to the floor on him. Hiromu would hit his sunset bomb to the floor. They traded german suplexes 4 times until Dragon Lee hit a knee lift and double foot stomp off the top to the back of the head for 2! Modified Time Bomb is only 2! Canadian destroyer on Hiromu for 2! Finally the Phoenix-Plex on Hiromu seals the deal. Outstanding.
#1. Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega, NJPW Dontaku
The match they had in the New Japan Cup was already a ***** match so they had their work cut out but they brought the fight right away. Ishii ran at Omega at the ring of the bell and hit a Lariat for 2.
Omega would hit some innovative offense like a dangerous leg-trapped neckbreaker. Ishii tried everything and what makes the match the best of the month is Ishii’s eye-opening moves. Ishii is a brawler but he pulled off a reverse hurricanrana and almost won the match several times. Omega finally hit a couple V-Trigger knee strikes into the ropes and One Winged Angel in an exhausting match.
Thanks for reading, ring the bell!