Every month, our own Dan Niles compiles his personal 20 Best Matches list from around the world, from North America to Europe to Japan. Some are obvious best matches choices, some are dark horses, but they’re always fun to find some matches you may have missed the previous month! (DISCLAIMER: This list is subjective and is compiled exclusively by Dan Niles; there will obviously be matches he may have missed that you may feel deserve credit – we encourage you to list some of your best matches of the month in the comments section below to help add to the list! In regards to videos, we only show FULL MATCHES that are authorized by the promotions; video highlights are used where possible; we encourage you to seek out these matches through promotions VOD or streaming networks)
#20. Ilja Dragunov vs Daisuke Sakamoto, wXw 16 Carat Gold
When you get the “Muscle Monster” and the super intense Ilja Dragunov in the same ring you are going to get a fight and this broke down into a strike-fest early. Dragunov went all out in this match with Daisuke, crashing and burning after missing a middle-rope senton. Dragunov had to fight back from the power of the big man before a huge Saito Suplex changed the tide. This tournament is filled with highlight reel moments every year and Daisuke Sakamoto going down to the Torpedo Moscow is one of them.
#19. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger, NJPW 47th Anniversary
Taiji Ishimori challenged Jushin “Thunder” Liger to this special title match to solidify himself as the top Junior Heavyweight currently in NJPW and Ishimori passed that test. Ishimori wore a Liger-themed Bone Soldier mask for this bout but Liger would quickly stretch the champion in the Surfboard Stretch. Ishimori quickly transitioned to a Crossface and a Cannonball off the apron floored the legend. Liger made sure everyone would believe he could be champion one more time with a Brainbuster on the ramp and a top rope Frankensteiner. Even a massive palm strike and running Liger Bomb couldn’t wrestle the title away from Bullet Club’s hired gun in the Junior ranks. Ishimori nailed Liger with two hard Lariat’s and the Crossface put away the masked icon.
#18. wXw Women’s Championship: Toni Storm (c) vs Killer Kelly, wXw 16 Carat Gold
Toni Storm and Killer Kelly switched roles with the wXw women’s championship on the line, Kelly perfectly adapted to the hero as the first champion for the company and Storm as the cocky heel. Kelly is mocked and smacked so that brings out the aggression until the second ring of the bell. Storm connected with a headbutt and Kelly fires back with a bicycle kick! Storm missed a hip attack and crashed into chairs in the crowd so Kelly winds up for a Penalty Kick. The challenger survives a trio of German Suplexes and locks in a hanging Dragon Suplex from the top rope. Kelly kicks out of two Strong Zero Piledrivers and Storm is floored by running Shibata dropkicks in the corner. Killer Kelly unleashes her new finisher, Revolution (an arm-trapped Death Baller Driver), but it only gets a two-count and Storm retains with a surprise roll up.
#17. Pentagon Jr vs Ilja Dragunov, wXw 16 Carat Gold
A dream match and it only took place in Germany, the action was near breathless with both bringing their absolute best to the 16 Carat Gold tournament. Ilja tried his trademark backflip over the top rope to hit a Lariat but Pentagon saw it coming and Sling Blade connects. Dragunov pops back to his feet after a Superkick and a Backstabber, leaving Pentagon with no choice but to hit Fear Factor on the apron. Dragunov kicks out of the Pentagon Driver. Ilja almost has his arm trapped and snapped so downed elbows daze Pentagon Jr. Pentagon and Ilja had the crowd rocking all the way until the Torpedo Moscow.
#16. Kazuchika Okada vs Michael Elgin, NJPW New Japan Cup
This is Big Mike’s final big match with NJPW after his contract has expired and not renewed by NJPW. Elgin overpowered Okada’s early offense and chops bring “The Rainmaker” to his knees. Elgin’s Dragon Suplex and Tiger Driver only set fuel to Okada’s comeback. Okada hits a great combo with a dropkick, Buckle Bomb and Sitout Powerbomb but it’s only a near-fall. Okada’s Rainmaker is stopped by a Lariat from Elgin! Elgin made a big mistake by attempting to steal the Rainmaker and Okada hits a Tombstone Piledriver. Elgin manages a spinning backfist but a dropkick and The Rainmaker end Elgin’s run in the New Japan Cup.
#15. WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs Ali vs Kevin Owens, WWE Fastlane
Lots of innovation and excitement to spare in this Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship, Ali proved he belongs in the mix after leaving 205 Live last year for the Smackdown Live main events in short order. A pop-up dropkick stops Kevin Owens in his tracks then Ali hits a reverse Hurricanrana on Owens and follows it up with a Spanish Fly on Bryan. Lots of near-falls with Kevin Owens’ Stunner and Ali’s 450 Splash on the apron. Ali flew from the middle rope to the floor on Bryan for a Tornado DDT but Owens puts a stop to Ali’s flying with a Powerbomb to the apron. Rowan gets involved to help the champion and Ali jumps backward from the middle rope only to take a Flying Knee Strike out of mid-air for the three-count from Bryan.
#14. wXw 16 Carat Gold Finals: WALTER vs Lucky Kid, wXw 16 Carat Gold
Perennial underdog Lucky Kid gets his chest caved in right away by chops and the Choke gets locked in. WALTER is at his most unmerciful here, throwing Kid into steel chairs in the crowd with a back Suplex. Lucky Kid kicks out of a big Powerbomb so he gets chopped out of the ring for his efforts. WALTER goes down to Sliced Bread #2 and The Crossface is applied. WALTER escapes and tries for a Super Butterfly Suplex but he gets Powerbombed instead. WALTER kicks out of not one but two 450 Splashes! WALTER cannot fight out of the third Crossface however and the Austrian taps out as a star is born in wXW.
#13. Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay, NJPW New Japan Cup
Only the third meeting between Okada and Ospreay, once before at the NJPW 46TH Anniversary last year and previously in Rev Pro. That Rev Pro match earned Ospreay his contract with NJPW after Okada was so impressed by Ospreay’s performance and their chemistry has only grown exponentially since then. Ospreay tries to jump the barricade but he takes a European Uppercut instead, Ospreay comes back with the Sasuke Special. Okada went for the Rainmaker pose far too early and paid for it with a dropkick. Ospreay backslid into a Lariat with wrist control, showing how much he knows Okada inside and out. Ospreay gets cut off by a dropkick to the back of the head going for a Rainmaker of his own. Okada’s Rainmaker is stopped by a Spanish Fly. The counters are everywhere until Ospreay hits two Shooting Star Presses for a two-count! The Os-Cutter doesn’t connect but another big dropkick does and the Tombstone sets up the Rainmaker.
#12. SANADA vs Minoru Suzuki, NJPW New Japan Cup
SANADA and Suzuki have been brawling for months, leading to a massive SANADA victory after repositioning to the Skull End several times. Suzuki worked over the knee in the gaurdrail and applied Kneebars. Suzuki has some of the most physical forearms in the business and SANADA endured every shot. A TKO and the Muta Moonsault pin Suzuki.
#11. “Switchblade” Jay White vs Will Ospreay, NJPW 47th Anniversary
Jay White had a lot to prove in this match, a champion vs champion main event against the NEVER Openweight champion that main evented this Anniversary event one year ago against Kazuchika Okada. Ospreay gets suplexed into the ring post rib-first leading to an attack on Ospreay’s midsection. Ospreay decided to get more cheeky than usual after Cheeky Nandos when the IWGP heavyweight champion is hung upside down in the tree of woe and cuffed hard with palm strikes. White proves his intensity as champion by hitting a Saito Suplex and attempting to throw Ospreay backward out of the ring with another Saito Suplex. Ospreay almost knocks out White with the Hidden Blade elbow but Gedo distracts Ospreay leading to a low blow and the Blade Buster. White wrestled such a smart match, feigning a collapse when the Os-Cutter almost lands. Ospreay lands on his feet from a second Half And Half Suplex but falls to two Blade Runners in a row.
#10. WALTER vs Rey Fenix, wXw 16 Carat Gold
Talk about hard-hitting! “The Mexa-king” hits the mat after being almost chopped out of his mask. Fenix can only use his agility so much before being clubbed repeatedly by the MVP of the tournament. Fenix hit a moonsault and went for another but Fenix gets turned inside out off the top rope by a Lariat! Fenix gets Powerbombed off the second rope, forcing his mask to come flying off from the impact! Big Fenix chants from the German crowd as Fenix goes for a Cutter but gets caught in the Kojira Clutch. Fenix runs up the ramp to jump in the ring for a twisting Cutter! Fenix takes an apron Powerbomb and he kicks out of another but the Kojira Clutch is too much for the Luchador.
#9. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs SANADA, NJPW New Japan Cup
SANADA goes down to Dragon Screw legwhips and the Cloverleaf but SANADA refuses to submit to “The Ace” with the Finals of the New Japan Cup looming. Tanahashi goes for his trademark Fujinami tribute with the Dragon Suplex but a rope-assisted Magic Killer flatten Tanahashi instead. SANADA got his knees up from a second Moonsault attempt and a cradle leaves the fans gasping after a near-fall. Tanahashi bridges backwards for a victory roll but SANADA catches it and Tanahashi has no choice but to tap out to the Skull End.
#8. GHC Heavyweight Championship: Kaito Kiyomiya (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji, NOAH The Great Voyage In Yokohama 2019
Marufuji changed his pace in this match and he thought his new Keylock submission hold would be the key to victory, pun intended, but Marufuji still landed several huge kicks while the champion kept coming back for more. Kiyomiya saw the pIledriver on the apron coming and Marufuji gets backdropped hard onto the apron. Kiyomiya is worn down and just when his limbs can’t sustain any more punishment, the Tiger Suplex pins Marufuji for three.
#7. David Starr vs WALTER, wXw 16 Carat Gold
The first night of the annual wXw tournament featured the biggest match with the most hype of any match in the company. David Starr has basically become an honorary European with all of his traveling to Europe and he has never pinned WALTER despite several attempts. Starr attacks WALTER before the bell and it ends up being a mistake, WALTER moves from Starr’s Crossbody attempt and Start goes crashing into chairs in the crowd. Starr applied WALTER’s own Sleeper hold and smacked his hands away on the top rope for a German Suplex, completely using WALTER’s offense against him. Starr managed the Blackheart Buster and a massive Lariat but Starr is bleeding from the mouth at this point. WALTER taps out to the Gojira Clutch but WALTER had his foot under the bottom rope, fans boo relentlessly as WALTER locks in his own Kojira Clutch and Starr passes out.
#6. New Japan Cup Finals: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA, NJPW New Japan Cup
Okada and SANADA laid it all on the line for about thirty minutes until they had almost nothing left, that played into the finish big time. SANADA can lack a killer instinct in the ring at times but SANADA was full of reversals and fast-paced action in this main event. Okada damaged SANADA’s neck to set up the finish and it worked beautifully even if SANADA nearly left with the Cup held high for the very first time. SANADA countered the Tombstone into Skull End but the Muta Moonsault was stopped by Okada desperately grabbing the leg once the Los Ingobernobles De Japon member climbed the turnbuckle. Okada would not let SANADA hit the final blow so the Rainmaker seals the deal for Okada.
#5. Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW New Japan Cup
A match not too much different then their G1 Climax tournament classic in the past, Ibushi has his neck bent in ways no normal human should endure and the high-impact moves are as frightening as ever. Ibushi gets cut off when attempting the Golden Triangle Moonsault and a series of neck breakers put Ibushi in serious peril. Naito sends Kota Ibushi down on the apron with a Tombstone Piledriver! The Last Ride and Destino are only two-counts. A spectacle of a main event with a huge final sequence, Ibushi borrows Nakamura’s Bom A Ye, a Tiger Bomb, and Kamigoye finish Naito.
#4. Tomohiro Ishii vs Yuji Nagata, NJPW New Japan Cup
This match didn’t receive nearly enough attention or praise amongst all of the great wrestling this month and with two major tournaments taking place but this one won’t be forgotten during the best of 2019. Nagata smacks Ishii early and a huge smile forms on the face of “Blue Justice” as both know it’s going to be a war. Ishii takes the Exploder Suplex, Nagata takes every big chop. Near fifty-one-year-old Nagata almost wins the match with a Backdrop Driver, bringing the fans to a frenzy. Ishii survives a Super Exploder Suplex and the Brainbuster pins Nagata but Yuji Nagata shows he can wrestle a smash-mouth match just as good as anyone else in the entire wrestling business still.
#3. Tomohiro Ishii vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW New Japan Cup
Ishii pinned Okada in the G1 Climax tournament in 2015 and he hasn’t received a rematch since then against his CHAOS friend. Okada provokes Ishii and headbutts follow. Ishii gets spiked by a DDT but comes back with a Powerbomb. Okada hits the Tombstone but the Rainmaker is stopped by another big headbutt! Ishii plants Okada with an Avalanche Brainbuster. Ishii pops back to his feet after a dropkick but Ishii gets sent flying across the ring by a shotgun dropkick! Ishii completely no sells a Lariat but the Rainmaker is enough to finish this long-awaited rematch.
#2. Wonder Of Stardom Championship: Momo Watanabe (c) vs Jungle Kyona, Stardom World In Nagoya
Big match feels with Jungle in her hometown and receiving plenty of flowers and a big entrance. Momo Watanabe in her 11th defense at just eighteen years old is one of her best matches with an incredibly hot crowd. Jungle goes for the top rope splash one too many times to win the title and it comes back to haunt her. Momo Watanabe is Powerbombed onto the apron and a Sharpshooter nearly has the title changing hands. Watanabe came back with Tequila Sunrise but Jungle hits a Muscle Buster, the Watanabe a B driver! Peach Sunrise would finally end Jungle’s valiant challenge and Momo isn’t struggling one bit as the new “Ace” of Stardom since the departure of Io Shirai.
#1. OTT Championship: WALTER (c) vs Jordan Devlin, OTT ScrapperMania V
The story for this epic title match just made the match and payoff that much more extravagant, Devlin the hometown hero trying to win the belt back that WALTER holds with a tight goliath grip and WALTER isn’t afraid to walk away from the match either when the action gets too hot.
Devlin makes it a night fans will never forget with a Moonsault to the floor and 450 Splash for a two-count. Devlin double-stomps WALTER into steel chairs like his trainer, Finn Balor. A Slingshot Cutter is caught to the Clutch but the challenger escapes. Devlin kicks out of a Tombstone and clocks WALTER with a major headbutt! The OTT locker room prevents WALTER from leaving the building with the OTT championship and WALTER’s signature Powerbomb is a long near-fall! Devlin lands some serious body blows to the kidney’s and the combination sets the champion up for the Package Piledriver.
AND NEWWWWWWWW OTT WORLD CHAMPION pic.twitter.com/wixbUGBIcr
— Last Word on Pro Wrestling (@lwoswrestling) March 16, 2019