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Csonka’s Top 31 Matches of July 2018: Impact Invades, NJPW Dominates in G1 Season

August 1, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Moustache Mountain Undisputed Era NXT 71118

WELCOME back, back to the column that makes lists and hopes that you enjoy them. This week’s column will look back and the month of July 2018 and the top 31 matches I have watched for the month. I always hear a lot of people saying that they can’t decide what to watch because they do not have enough time to follow everything, so maybe this will help those of you short on time find some stuff to check out. Have fun, and always, thanks for reading. Also, if you saw matches from companies I do not regularly catch; feel free to share them with the others. The more wrestling we share, the more fun we can have. Thanks for reading! As always, consider this my play list of great matches, recommendations for the month. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.” FYI: I have started omitting results after requests from readers.

* 31. NJPW x Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK – Night Two: Jay White vs. Kyle Fletcher [****]
* 30. NJPW x Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK – Night One: WALTER vs. Yuji Nagata [****]
* 29. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 5: Adam Page vs. Kazuchika Okada[****]
* 28. From WWE Raw 7.16.18: Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns [****]
* 27. From NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco 2018: The Young Bucks vs. EVIL & SANADA [****]
* 26. From Impact Slammiversary 2018: Johnny Impact vs. Ishimori vs. Fenix vs. Petey Williams [****]
* 25. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 6: Zack Sabre Jr vs. SANADA [****]
* 24. NJPW x Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK – Night One: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada [****]
* 23. NJPW x Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK – Night Two: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada [****]
* 22. From Impact Slammiversary 2018: Sami Callihan vs. Pentagon [****]
* 21. From Impact Slammiversary 2018: Austin Aries vs. Moose [****]
* 20. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 1: Michael Elgin vs. EVIL [****]
* 19. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 1: Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White [****]
* 18. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 4: Kenny Omega vs. Hirooki Goto [****]
* 17. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 1: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki [****]
* 16. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 8:: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Tomohiro Ishii [****]
* 15. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 10, B Block Match: >: Kenny Omega vs. SANADA [****]

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14. From Night 8, B Block Match: SANADA vs. Kota Ibushi [****¼]: Ibushi finally falls as SANADA picks up the huge victory in a great match. This was the best match, by just a notch, on another really strong and enjoyable B block show. These two gentlemen are athletic freaks, an offered us a little bit of everything in this match from grappling, high flying, and even a bit of brawling. They delivered in the main event spot for sure.

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13. From NXT TV 7.25.18: Aleister Black vs. Tommaso Ciampa [****¼]: This was an absolutely great match that would have been at home on any PPV or Takeover special. It was intense, hard-hitting, had a great story and the action escalated the entire time as the match went on. I am not a fan of ref bumps and interference, but it worked here as now Gargano, who is obsessed with Ciampa, has to live with the fact that his actions basically gave his nemesis the title he so much wants for himself.

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12. From Impact Slammiversary 2018: LAX vs. The OGz [****¼]: When it comes to garbagy gimmick matches, I find them to be either very cliché/bland (Dreamer vs. Edwards) or really intense and fun. This was intense, fun, had a REALLY hot crowd and really delivered; I thought that it was absolutely great. Homicide & Hernandez looked tired halfway through, but they really picked it up and I thought that everyone worked hard and honestly, over-delivered here. This was the best Impact Wrestling match of 2018 so far. Homicide & Hernandez were heavily protected by the smoke and mirrors here, and I have no clue how they’ll do in regular matches moving forward, but they delivered here.

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11. From NJPW G1 Climax 28 Night 4: Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii[****¼]: This was an absolutely great match and another worthy chapter in their series of matches. It was dramatic, hard-hitting, played off of their previous matches very well and they smartly held off on the near falls until late in the match, and by that time, they had the crowd locked in and reacting big time to all of the near fall. In many ways, they worked a less is more formula, and when they did the big spots, it only added to the drama and pulled in the fans even more. These two are great and always deliver. It was no different here.

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10. From NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco 2018: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee [****¼]: This was a great match and exactly the style of match you expected and wanted from these two. It wasn’t at the level of their classics, but was really great and had the crowd invested the entire time and delivered on the crazy/danger level that they have become famous for. Unfortunately, it will likely be remembered only for the bitched Phoenix-plex and Takahashi injury.

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9. From NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco 2018: Juice Robinson vs. Jay White [****¼]: Juice finally wins the big one, in what I felt ended up a great match, if a bit of an overbooked spectacle for my tastes. The good news was that the crowd was completely behind Juice (something I had been worried about) and White had some really good heel heat on him throughout, but I thought that commentary really took away from the match, not adding to the story and that they largely came off as an annoyance. Juice continues to feel like a legit rising star, and while White continues to evolve and improve his game, he was a really good, ruthless heel here against super babyface Juice and after this, I am really excited for both men’s G1 run. They worked a smart match that was completely different than Lee vs. Takahashi, which it needed to be, and followed it up very well under some insane pressure. The Juice win needed to happen as he had been so close so many times, and I thought that overall it came off well.

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8. NJPW x Rev Pro Strong Style Evolved UK – Night Two: Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii [****½]: Oh sweet baby Christ, the baddest man on the planet vs. the meanest motherfucker alive; I’m in. You’ll often see me say “this match was exactly what it needed to be,” it’s a compliment and a version of keep it simple stupid. Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii was exactly what it needed to be, two bad asses kicking the shit out of each other to prove who was superior in front of a hot crowd over a championship. No one wanted to see elaborate grappling or a display of lucha flippity doos… ok correction; I want to see Minoru Suzuki & Tomohiro Ishii do some wild flippity lucha exchanges. Anyway, this was two dudes kicking the shit out of each other, showing complete disdain and absolutely no respect for each other. There’s this great part where Ishii takes control and starts doing those dickish little kicks to Suzuki. This is where Suzuki gets pissed and fired up and the real ass whoopings begin. Ishii is almost animalistic, while Suzuki opts to be a smarter and more tactical badass. Suzuki overcomes, even surviving/no selling a huge lariat before the sleeper and Gotch put away Ishii and we have a new champion. This was a beautiful symphony of violence.

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7. From WWE 205 Live 6.03.18: Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent main event that I fear will be greatly overlooked by many. These two guys were 1-1 in their feud and had showed some great chemistry in the past, and they took that chemistry and experience from those other matches and delivered a must see third act. It was violent, played to the stipulation extremely well, and captured their characters perfectly due to the work they did. Murphy is a bloodthirsty heel that was willing to send Ali to the hospital in order to win and get back to the title, while Ali is the best babyface, hands down, on the 205 Live brand. He’s flashy to please the fans, gutsy when he has to be, and so resilient that the fans can’t help but to get behind him. This was an absolutely must see match, if you skip it, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.

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6. From NJPW G1 Climax 28, Night 6: Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent match, with a hot crowd, great layout, and great work from both. Naito was really great here, subtly mixing up his signature offense to attack the hand of Juice. Add into that the fact that Juice is one of the best babyfaces in all of wrestling, and put in an absolutely tremendous performance in losing, and they delivered one of the best matches of the tournament so far. Juice is a really special performer, and the Korakuen crowd is always into him. Romero & Kelly were GREAT hereon commentary and added a ton to the match. Juice loses again, setting up a third challenger for his US championship.

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5. From The NJPW G1 Climax Night Two, Block B Match: Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr [****½]: On paper, Kota Ibushi & Zack Sabre Jr feel like two wrestlers that shouldn’t work together as well as they do, but each time they face, they completely wow me in how easily and effortlessly they work together. This was an absolutely excellent match, featuring a great mix of styles, a strong story involving them battling for which style would overcome, an invested crowd and as I said before, just another excellent outing from them. I found it to be on the level of their New Japan Cup match, excellent, and completely different from any tournament match so far. These guys are rather good at the pro wrestling thing. I need to see it again and again.

4. From NXT TV 7.11.18: Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain [****½]: These two teams had a great match in the UK, which gave us a title change and absolutely great moment after a hard-hitting match. They outdid that here as this was an excellent, Takeover level match. This match started as a wild balls to the wall sprint, and then broke down into Undisputed torturing Seven’s knee. This led to textbook heel vs. face tag team wrestling, with a great story and psychology. Seven eventually survived the onslaught leading to an amazing hot tag by Bate, who ran wild and looked to almost save the titles on his own until he was run into Seven, forcing the tag. It then developed into an emotional roller coaster, with Trent Seven delivering his best WWE performance to date. His selling and fire were magnificent and was beautifully juxtaposed against Undisputed’s raw aggression and determination to cause pain and win the titles. Bate selling leading to the towel being thrown in was also excellent, and commentary did an excellent job of selling his confusion whether or not to throw in the towel to save his mentor or not. The win puts over Undisputed as a ruthless, do anything they have to in order to win heels, and perfectly sets Mustache Mountain as the sympathetic babyfaces going forward. This was excellent.

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3. From NJPW G1 Climax 28, Night 6: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto [****¾]: You always here about how “styles make matches,” and there is a lot to that. These two work a very specific style and that style is pretty much the definition of strong style. There is nothing fancy here, just two hosses in a war, playing the ultimate game of anything you dish out I can take and give better. This was the style that people love in the NEVER matches, they delivered what everyone hoped for, had a hot crowd, and the drama was off the charts. Watch this match now.

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2. From Night Two, Block B Match: Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito [****¾]: Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito once again made magic in an absolutely incredible match that set an extremely high bar on night two on the G1. They started out with some fun character work, and slowly progressed into a great match as most would have expected. And then they picked up the intensity, and mixed in the callbacks to their previous meetings, adding layers and starting to build a story of two contemporaries trying to overcome each other. And then, then they flipped a switch and on top of alt he great things they were doing, started to deliver some scintillating exchanges and near falls that nearly made me jump out of my seat a few times. I thought going in Naito had a good chance of winning, they made me believe he was overcoming and winning, and most importantly, had the live crowd in the palms of their hands, they were into it and they believed Naito could win. These two guys fucking rule.

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1. From NJPW G1 Climax Night 10, B Block Match: Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii [****¾]: This was an absolutely incredible battle, I had a feeling that we were in for an absolute banger here, and they didn’t let me down. This was just a raw battle of one upsmanship, with both men looking to survive the best their opponent had to offer, and then on top of that, they suckered me in even more as they started stealing each other’s shit and that pulled in the crowd even more, who were into this the entire time and really added to it with a great atmosphere. Ishii is a machine, constantly delivering, and not only is he a badass, but I say again, his selling is completely underrated. When Ibushi is on, there are very few that are better big match performers. Every time you thought they hit their peak, they somehow kept going, surpassed it, and it never overstayed its welcome. This was one of the best matches of the tournament with ease, and a top-tier MOTY contender.

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”