wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Top 32 Matches of February 2020: Ospreay vs. Sabre, Omega vs. Pac, More

March 2, 2020 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Zack Will NJPW Ospreay

WELCOME back, back to the column that makes lists and hopes that you enjoy them. This week’s column will look back on the month of February 2020 and the top 32 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.”

* 32. From RevPro Live in Southampton 12 2.23.20: Connor Mills vs. Michael Oku [****]
* 31. From the NJPW Manabu Nakanishi Retirement Show: Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, and Hirooki Goto vs. Manabu Nakanishi. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan [****]
* 30. From Impact Wrestling 2.04.20: TJP vs. Vikingo [****]
* 29. From RevPro High Stakes 2020: Robbie X vs. Ricky Knight Jr. [****]
* 28. From NJPW New Japan Road 2.20.20: Sho & Yoh vs. Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi [****]
* 27. From NJPW Road to New Beginning 2.04.20: Sho, Yoh, Will Ospreay, & Okada vs. Kanemaru, Desperado, Taichi, & Zack Sabre Jr. [****]
* 26. From AEW Dynamite 2.05.20: The Elite (Kenny Omega, Hangman Page & The Young Bucks) vs. The Lucha Bros, The Butcher & The Blade [****]
* 25. From NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2020: Tetsuya Naito vs. KENTA [****]
* 24. From NXT Takeover Portland 2020: Dakota Kai vs. Tegan Nox [****]
* 23. From AEW 2.12.20: Kenny Omega & Hangman Page vs. SCU [****]
* 22. From AJPW Excite Series 2020: Susumu Yokosuka vs. Francesco Akira [****]
* 21. From AJPW Excite Series 2020: Kento Miyahara vs. Yuma Aoyagi [****]
* 20 .From AEW: Revolution 2020: Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley [****]
* 19. From RevPro High Stakes 2020: Michael Oku vs. El Phantasmo [****]

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18. From AEW Dynamite 2.19.20: Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. the Lucha Bros [****¼]: This was great, this did a good job of setting things up early on, slowly opened up and then let loose down the stretch with all the big stuff, some great near falls and the champions retaining gives us the match they have been teasing for weeks. Everyone delivered, the match had some great hooks throughout, fantastic and a good mix of high octane modern athletic wrestling and a really engaging story. It was one of the best AEW TV matches so far.

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17. From NJPW Road to New Beginning 2.06.20: EVIL, BUSHI, & Shingo vs. Big Tom Ishii, Hirooki Goto, & Robbie Eagles [****¼]: This was a great main event, the established pairing worked extremely well together again, and paid off all the work done on the tour with great action, great near falls, a tremendously well done closing stretch that thrived due to Eagles ‘ recent run of victories and multiple submission wins over BUSHI, which really made you feel he could and would win here. Great work by all six men here.

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16. From OTT Contender’s 17 Take Me To Your Leader: LJ Cleary vs. David Starr [****¼]: These two worked a great main event match, one where Starr retained with Han Stansen. Starr was tremendously giving here, as going into this, Cleary wasn’t on or near the level of Starr. But they built a really smart match, Cleary repeatedly came close to winning, but more than that, they developed the match smartly to make you believe he could beat Starr, and the success was that they made the fane believe in that story. I hadn’t seen much of Cleary prior to this, but Starr made me care about him

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15. From ROH Free Enterprise 2020: The Briscoes vs. Mexiblood [****¼]: This was an absolutely great, balls to the wall, sprint style tag match that played to the strengths of all four men. They delivered insane action at times, had the crowd locked in and invested especially down the stretch and the Briscoes continue to prove why they are the greatest, most under valued tag team in all of wrestling as they deliver an absolute banger with Mexiblood, who have been awesome in ROH so far.

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14. From NXT Takeover Portland 2020: Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic [****¼]: This was an absolutely great opening match, with great hoss spots, wild athleticism from both, some crazy near falls and a molten crowd that was into it the whole way through. This was another banger in their great catalogue of matches to be sure. I am thrilled that both finally got to shine in a singles match on the Takeover stage. I love the big lads

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13. From NXT Takeover Portland 2020: Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano [****¼]: This match ruled. It was everything I wanted from this Takeover match, great intensity and hate, they played off of the established feud extremely well and the action was absolutely great throughout as we got both Johnny Takeover and NXT Balor. Balor was a spectacular asshole, Gargano a tremendous babyface and the callbacks to how the feud started and unfolded were excellently done. It was not only about who was the better wrestler, but also had the heat of the established feud and story added in.

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12. From NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 (Night One): EVIL vs. Big Tom Ishii [****½]: EVIL continues to fall at the hands of Big Tom, going 0-9 all time against him in what was an overall excellent hoss fight. Big bombs, drama, amazing selling and fire up spots from Ishii combined with some really tremendous counter wrestling down the home stretch as they slowly pulled the crowd into the match with tremendous pacing and near falls. It was everything I wanted from this match, hard-hitting, raw at times in a real fight feel kind of way and while Ishii was far from 100%, the man continues to deliver when given the chance.

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11. From NXT Takeover Portland 2020: Undisputed Era vs. The Broserweights [****½]: The Undisputed Era deliver again on Takeover, and they did an excellent job of teasing that The Broserweights would fail and implode, leading to a hot closing stretch with some really well done near falls that pulled the crowd into it big time. There was a lot of innovative stuff combined with a foundation of classic tag team wrestling. This was an absolutely tremendous piece of business with all four delivering as expected. I absolutely loved this match.

10. From Stardom: The Way to Major League (2.8.20): Mayu Iwatani vs. Takumi Iroha [****½]: This was originally the anticipated Mayu vs. Sareee match, but Sareee “got ill/was pulled by WWE” so we got Mayu vs. Iroha. It sucked losing the originally announced match, but that’s ok because this fucking ruled the school. The story was simple, Mayu has a hurt shoulder, Iroha is smart and attacks it right away with some really intense and savage submission work. In between the submission work, there is some smooth as silk stuff that is fast, furious and really intense. Mayu is always great, but Iroha so tremendous here as all of her work as an intensity and purpose to it, no wasted motion here form her. Mayu was a tremendous underdog baby face here, but Iroha was just vicious as she brutalized her with submissions, powerbombs and put her away with the running three; fucking tremendous stuff.

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9. From AEW Dynamite 2.26.20: Kenny Omega vs. Pac [****½]: This match was absolutely excellent, they made excellent use of the time given to them, it never really slowed, the action was tremendous and it was a fitting end to their feud as Kenny finally ends his issues with Pac. The crowd was into it the entire time, they added a ton to it and the drama was well executed. They did a great job of playing off their prior matches, the action was compelling and this could have been a PPV main event with ease. They can also revisit this because Pac can point out that Matt saved Kenny from a countout

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8. From NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2020: Minoru Suzuki vs. John Moxley [****½]: This was an excellent, raw, wild and visceral brawl, different than anything else on the show with an unmatched intensity that played very well off of the established feud. Everything mattered, they paid off multiple shows worth of build when it mattered most in the big match and we got what I feel was a surprise winner here as Mox exists in this odd limbo between AEW & NJWP where he’s always awesome and does anything he wants. Suzuki was amazing here, I bought him winning big time and was actually shocked when he lost. This was a beautiful symphony of violence.

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7. From NJPW New Japan Road 2.20.20: Shingo vs. Big Tom Ishii [****½]:These two had an excellent match in last year’s G1,and to the shock of no one, they fucking killed it again. Shingo’s NEVER tile run is off to a hell of a start as he killed I tin his title win and then killed it in hi first defense. Shingo is an absolute beast, not just highly skilled but the snap and crisp in his execution is so damn clean, plus he can do the hossy brawling. Ishii is the baddest man in all of NJPW, no one can deliver and also take a beating like he can and not only does he do that well, but the way he creates drama and sells so damn well and it’s often ignored how good that part of his game is. This is the kind of match I want from the NEVER division, just great, hard-hitting action with guys brutalizing themselves and each other in a beautiful display of violence that culminates so well and plays off the match structure. I loved this, Ishii loses nothing in loss, Shingo is extra certified with the win and this is absolutely something to make time to see as soon as possible.

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6. From Dragon Gate Truth Gate 2020: Naruki Doi vs. KZY [****½]: Naruki Doi made his first successful defense of the Open the Dream Gate title with this match, while Kzy impresses again but falls to 0-3 in Dream Gate challenges. If you haven’t seen a lot of Dragon Gate lately, Naruki Doi at the age of 39 is sill fucking great. KZY played the survival game, taking insane punishment from the champion as Doi focused his attack on the neck. Doi was spectacular in his control segments, while KZY was a tremendous babyface, doing everything he could to survive and then thrive as he absolutely unloaded his arsenal on the champion, which wasn’t enough as Doi put him away with the muscular bomb. The thing for me that separated this match from a lot of many Dragon Gate main events was the fact that it had great intensity/viciousness to it while also trimming some of the fat that can hurt the DG main event style for me. I loved this.

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5. From NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 (Night One): Shingo vs. Hirooki Goto [****½]: In true Goto form, he succeeds and wins the NEVER title only to lose it right away once again. I love the idea of Shingo as the champion as it opens us up to a TON of matches with juniors & heavyweights alike. This was a beautiful war of hosses, similar in style to the EVIL vs. Big Tom match, and the exact kind of match you want from this championship. Goto delivered here, but Shingo is on an entirely different level in terms of kill and execution, and he’s the perfect kind of guy to elevate the championship plus it ensures us more Shingo singles matches. I love absolutely everything about this and along with EVIL vs. Big tom, they gave us a hell of a one-two punch to close out the show.

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4. From NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2020: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ryu Lee [****¾]: This was a very different, very intense Hiromu vs. Lee match. It was wild, played off of their history well, and it felt as if these two didn’t miss a beat, clicking right back into the amazing chemistry that they share, the intensity and drama were great, I loved the teases of the dragon driver and at the end of the day, this was another amazing installment in their storied feud; this was an absolutely tremendous piece of business and an absolutely must-see match.

3. From NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 (Night One): Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****¾]: This was an absolutely incredible match, Zack always delivers, Will always deliver and they came together and honestly made some magic here. The execution and pacing were excellent, they both made each other play into their games at time, Will as I mentioned showed that he has a lot more to his game than “FLIPZ & MOVEZ,” his selling was very strong and he never looked out classed on the mat with Zack. Zack’s control stuff is almost flawless, his selling was also great and this felt like, for lack of a better comparison, to be a modernized World of Sport style match, dragged into the present day and infused with the hard-hitting, fire filled stylings of a modern NJPW main event; it’s something very few could have pulled off. I also loved the throwback finish to the G1 as Zack continues to be Will’s kryptonite. This should have main evented the show.

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2. The From AEW Revolution: The Young Bucks vs. Kenny Omega & Hangman Page [****¾]: This was fucking phenomenal, as they played off of and expanded on the story going into the match with great emotion, the work was top notch, the near falls amazing and the Bucks leaning into the heel role out of desperation to win the championships and anger with Hangman being so over was absolutely the right call here. This was very much shades of the Bucks vs. Golden Lovers match, which was an overall amazing piece of business. Playing Kenny as the potential weak link following the iron match injury was also extremely smart. For me, this is hands down the best tag team match of 2020.

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1. From RevPro High Stakes 2020: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr [****¾]: This was the big rematch from NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo 2020, and had an electric crowd for the culmination of Ospreay’s seven-year journey to the championship. Early on, Ospreay tried to play into Sabre’s game, which frustrated the champion. The match then largely played out similarly to he NJPW match, with the crowd here being amazing and adding tons to this one. Will continues to show he evolution as a performer in this match, Sabre is so good and overlooked still by many as it’s amazing how he can adapt to working with such a variety of performer. The homestretch was spectacular, as the entire match built beautifully to it as they once again captured that modernized World of Sport style match in present day and mixed in with the hard-hitting, fire filled styling of a modern NJPW main event. The drama was excellent, the work was just beautiful and in the end, Ospreay overcame hitting Hidden Blade and Storm Breaker to finally win the championship. This was easily on the level of the Sapporo match, and if I was there live I could see going the full five on it.

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 95. On the show, Larry Csonka & Mark Radulich deliver complete breakdowns and reviews of AEW Revolution 2020 & WWE Super Showdown 2020 (plus talk of random wrestling things, bad tattoos, & Quentin Tarantino movies). The show is approximately 154-minutes long.

* Intro
* WWE Super Showdown 2020 Review: 8:05
* AEW Revolution 2020 Review: 1:10:55

* iTunes
* Spotify
* Stitcher
* Google Play

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.