wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Top 36 Matches of January 2020: Okada vs. Naito, Ospreay vs. Takahashi, More

February 3, 2020 | Posted by Larry Csonka
NJPW WK 14 N1 Okada

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 January 2020 and the top 36 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.”

* 36. From CMLL FantasticaMania 1.20.20: Caristico vs. Barbaro Cavernario [****]
* 35. From NXT UK 1.02.20: Ilja Dragunov vs. Alexander Wolfe [****]
* 34. From From NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool II: Gallus vs. Imperium vs. South Wales Subculture vs. The Grizzled Young Veterans [****]
* 33. From NOAH in Korakuen Hall New Sunrise (1.04.20): HAYATA vs. Yoshinari Ogawa [****]
* 32. From DDT New Year Special (1.03.20): Daisuke Sasaki & Soma Takao vs. Nautilus (Yuki Ueno & Naomi Yoshimura) [****]
* 31. From ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage 2020: Villain Enterprises (Flip Gordon, Brody King & Marty Scurll vs. Flamita, Bandido, & Rey Horus [****]
* 30. From ROH Honor Reigns Supreme 2020: La Faction Ingobernable (Rush, Dragon Lee & Kenny King) vs. Villain Enterprises (PCO, Brody King & Marty Scurll) [****]
* 29. From Zero1 (1.01.20): Masato Tanaka, Ikuto Hidaka & Takuya Sugawara vs. Strong Hearts (T-Hawk, Shigehiro Irie & El Lindaman) [****]
* 28. From Impact Hard to Kill 2020: Tessa Blanchard vs. Sami Callihan [****]
* 27. From NOAH in Korakuen Hall New Sunrise (1.04.20): Takashi Sugiura vs. Masa Kitamiya [****]
* 26. From Impact Hard to Kill 2020: Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards [****]
* 25. From WWE Worlds Collide 2020: Angel Garza vs. Swerve Scott vs. Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks [****]
* 24. From 3-2-1 Battle Presents Hindsight 2020: Daniel Makabe vs. Judas Icarus [****]
* 23. From The 2020 WWE Royal Rumble: The Women’s Royal Rumble Match [****]
* 22. From WWE Worlds Collide 2020: Imperium vs. Undisputed Era [****]
* 21. From AJPW New Year Wars (1.02.20): Hikaru Sato vs. Kagetora [****]
* 20. From AJPW New Year Wars (1.03.20): Hikaru Sato vs. vs. Susumu Yokosuka [****]
* 19. From NXTTV 1.15.20: Matt Riddle & Pete Dunne vs. Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews [****]
* 18. From Progress Chapter 101: Cara Noir vs. Kyle Fletcher vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. Paul Robinson [****]
* 17. From AEW Dynamite 1.22.20: Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. SCU (Kaz & Sky) [****]
* 16. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day Two): Roppongi 3K vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori [****]
* 15. From AEW Dynamite 1.15.20: The Young Bucks vs. Santana & Ortiz vs. Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. Best Friends [****]
* 14. From Tokyo Joshi Pro 1.4.20: Natsumi Maki vs. Sareee [****]
* 13.From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day One): Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer[****]
* 12. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day Two): SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr. [****]
* 11. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day Two): Chris Jericho vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi [****]
* 10. From Stardom 9th Anniversary (1.19.20): Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe [****]
* 9. From NOAH in Korakuen Hall New Sunrise (1.04.20): Kaito Kiyomiya vs. Go Shiozaki [****]

8. From NJPW New Year’s Dash 2020: Shingo & EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto & Big Tom Ishii [****¼]: This was an absolutely great hoss battle that never slowed and sets up Shingo to challenge Goto. The work was just so good here, the action had an awesome sense of urgency, and showed that when NJPW wants to, they can do quality tag team wrestling. It played perfectly off of the past singles battles these four had, and revisiting Shingo and Goto makes complete sense. I am all onboard Shingo getting a singles push. Plus we’re getting an EVIL vs. Ishii revisit as well. On a side note, while not perfect as they are also really valuable as singles performers, these two teams in the tag title mix would be rather great.

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7. From AJPW New Year Wars (1.03.20): Kento Miyahara vs. Jake Lee [****¼]: I am going to try and watch more AJPW in 2020, mainly because I feel I need to be watching more Kento Miyahara. Lee showed a great killer instinct in this match, while Miyahara was at times completely overconfident, and also a dick throughout with his offense. I thought that this match was absolutely great, the work all made sense, all built towards the finish and never felt long or draining to be as a viewer. The crowd added so much to this, the teases of the Shutdown German Suplex were awesome as the champion finally hit it to retain. Great, great stuff here.

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6. From WWE Worlds Collide 2020: DIY vs. Mustache Mountain [****½]: I loved the playful beginning, working to get the crowd interested until they amped things up, It was also a good buffer period from the previous match. From there, they beautifully escalated the action, the crowd was completely drawn into it, DIY didn’t miss a beat, Mustache Mountain continues to be great, and the little things they did from basic saves to miscommunications to cut offs to pappa Trent protecting Tyler with his own body all worked. Overall this was a tremendous piece of business and beautiful tag team wrestling that stole the show.

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5. From Zero1 (1.01.20): Yuji Hino vs. Yuji Okabayashi [****½]: This was a certified hoss battle and overall an excellent match as these two brutalized each other. There was no fucking around here, these boys were here to kill each other and fir as much as I love superkicks and flippity doos, I love a big beefy boy battle. Hino took a ton of punishment, got his eye busted up but Okabayashi couldn’t keep him down and finish him. Hino dug deep, fired up, and finally put Okabayashi away with the Fucking Bomb; this was awesome.

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4. From NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool II – Tyler Bate vs. Jordan Devlin [****½] : Heading into this show, this was the consensus pick for MOTN and they delivered an excellent piece of professional wrestling here. The work was so clean and effortless and their execution was head and shoulders above anything on the show so far. They built the match beautifully, the story of Devlin trying to overcome the ghosts of his past and loss to Bate was played well, the action consistently escalated and they went home at the right time, peaking perfectly as it never felt long. Bate picks up a huge rebound win, while Devlin finally gets to really shine in NXT UK.

3. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day Two): Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Taito [*****]: This was an absolutely magnificent main event, with an amazing atmosphere, Naito surviving and overcoming the odds and finally defeating the ghosts of WrestleKingdom’s past to hit the top. Whether it’s too late or not, we’ll find out but an absolutely tremendous story and moment here. Okada dissecting Naito, going back to the knee and then hitting repeated Rainmakers amped things up to am amazing degree, it also led to panicked counters and Naito’s knee injury preventing him from covering properly. Naito even busted out the Stardust Press, but even then couldn’t win and had to keep digging deep to finally overcome.

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2. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day One): Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi [*****]: Holy hell this was magnificent. These two are magic together, Will was excellent there, working a more aggressive heel role, similar to some of last year’s matches with Red & others where he knows his role to maximize a match layout. The work of Hiromu’s neck was the natural play and was done very well, as they told the return from injury story and resilience of Hiromu just about perfectly. The work was just so, so good, it all made sense, there were scintillating near falls and Hiromu breaking out a new finish to vanquish Will and complete the comeback story was exactly what it needed to be. I had extremely high expectations for this and they absolutely killed it here; the fist full boat of 2020, what a fucking emotional ride.

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1. From NJPW WrestleKingdom 14 (Day One): Kota Ibushi vs. Kazuchika Okada [*****]: This match was absolutely fucking amazing, incredible with great pacing that unlike Naito vs. White, never felt slow or dragged. It was violent, brutal and beautiful in all the right ways, Okada digging deep with red ink and other moves he hasn’t used in forever really showed his desperation, which was juxtaposed extremely well with Ibushi’s tenacity and at times rage in trying to win the championship. This was an absolutely special performance by both, it constantly built well and smartly to the closing stretch and when it got there was absolutely amazing. I bought into Ibushi winning big time, and while I wanted him to win, I knew in my heart it would be Okada, but Ibushi kept making me believe he could do it. The story was amazing, the action was absolutely of the charts and felt like a great hybrid of the Okada vs. Tanahashi & Nakamura vs. Ibushi matches encapsulated into one match. An absolutely amazing match.

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 87. On the show, 411’s Larry Csonka & Steve Cook break down the WWE management woes, the latest roadblocks for NXT Japan (DDT/NOAH), hit more news & notes and then talk TNA There’s No Place Like Home. Finally, Larry reviews NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo. The show is approximately 142-minutes long.

* Intro
* Corporate WWE/Management Woes: 3:35
* NXT Japan Road Blocks/DDT & NOAH: 34:45
* News Roundup (Beyond Wrestling to TV?, Harper Potentially to AEW, NJPW Back to US TV?, More): 48:45
* TNA There’s No Place Like Home Wish List: 1:05:35
* TNA Stars That Would Have Been Better Off Never Leaving For WWE: 1:41:55
* Larry’s NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo Reviews: 1:57:11

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– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.