wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Top 36 Matches of September 2018 From NJPW, WWE, NXT, ROH, EVOLVE, & More

October 3, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
NJPW G1 Climax 28 Okada v Tanahashi

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 September 2018 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 playlist 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.

* 36. From Dragon Gate Crown Gate 9.06.18: Big R Shimizu, Shingo Takagi, EITA, & Yashushi Kanda vs. BEN-K, Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, YAMATA, & BxB Hulk [****]
* 35. From wXw Fan Appreciation 9.01.18: Absolute Andy vs. Ilja Dragunov [****]
* 34. From Dragon Gate: Gate of Origin 9.09.18: Big R Shimizu, Shingo Takagi, BEN-K, & Yashushi Kanda vs. Naruki Doi, Jason Lee, Dragon Kid,& Kaito Ishida [****]
* 33. From wXw Fan Appreciation 9.01.18: Monster Consulting vs. Ringkampf vs. Aussie Open [****]
* 32. From Dragon Gate Crown Gate 9.06.18: Willie Mack vs. Shaun Skywalker [****]
* 31. From NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018: The Young Bucks vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny [****]
* 30. From NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2018: KUSHIDA vs. BUSHI [****]
* 29. From ROH Death Before Dishonor 2018: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Trent, Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero, and Chuckie T) vs. Bullet Club (The Young Bucks, Cody, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page) [****]
* 28. From Impact vs. UK 2018: Sami Callihan vs. Jimmy Havoc [****]
* 27. From Impact vs. UK 2018: LAX vs. Jody Fleisch & Jonny Storm [****]
* 26. From Rev Pro Live at the Cockpit 32: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Chris Ridgeway [****]
* 25. From WWE Hell in a Cell 2018: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe [****]
* 24. From EVOLVE 113: Façade vs. Harlem Bravado vs. Jon Davis vs. Josh Briggs vs. Anthony Henry vs. Jason Kincaid [****]
* 23. From EVOLVE 113: Shane Strickland vs. Tracy Williams [****]
* 22. From The CMLL 85th Anniversary Show: Penta 0M, Rey Fenix, & Caristico vs. L.A. Park, El Hijo de L.A. Park, & Diamante Azul [****]
* 21. From Impact Wrestling One Night Only: Bad Intentions 2018: Petey Williams vs. Michael Elgin [****]
* 20. From NOAH Naomichi Marufuji 20th Anniversary Show: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Hideo Itami [****]
* 19. From NXT TV 9.05.18: Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream [****]
* 18. From All In 2018: Adam Page vs. Joey Janela [****]
* 17. From Rev Pro: British J-Cup 2018 (Night Two): Flamita & Bandido vs. Aussie Open [****]
* 16. From Rev Pro: British J-Cup 2018 (Night Two): RINGKAMPF vs. LAX [****]
* 15. From Rev Pro: British J-Cup 2018 (Night One): RINGKAMPF (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs. CCK (Chris Brookes & Jonathan Gresham) [****]
* 14. From The CMLL 85th Anniversary Show: Rush & Cavernario vs. Volador Jr. & Matt Taven [****]
* 13. From The Stardom 5Star Grand Prix Final: Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita [****]

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12. From EVOLVE 113: AR Fox vs. Austin Theory [****¼]: This was a great match. The pacing was excellent, the crowd was into it big time, and they played the student vs. teacher dynamic well. And that was really the key here. The wrestling was really great, but Fox going from reluctant attacker to doing what he felt he needed to do played well and Theory was a great asshole throughout. The main theme was that Fox didn’t want to be doing this match, as he still sees Theory as one of his kids/students, and near the end that cost him as he was controlling and Theory begged off and asked for forgiveness. These are the kinds of performances that Theory needs. Also, AR Fox, really good at the pro wrestling thing. He makes so many things look effortless.

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11. From ROH Death before Dishonor 2018: Jay Lethal vs. Will Ospreay [****¼]: This was a great main event and one that easily stole the show. While many questioned giving Lethal a second run, he’s delivered big time in his run so far with a great match against Haskins, a great one here with Ospreay, and an excellent match with Gresham. Both Lethal and Ospreay delivered big time here, with Ospreay working a different, and more serious style on top of some of his usual flashy stuff. Ospreay has also put on weight and many have speculated that he’s on his way to heavyweight soon in NJPW and this may have been a test run for that. This was a great match, deserving of the main event spot, and easily the best thing on the Death before Dishonor show.

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10. From WWE 205 Live 9.19.18: Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak [****¼]: This was a 100% certified banger. They got the shenanigans out of the way early, forcing Gulak to fight on his own and allowing Alexander to take early control. Gulak’s heat segment was great, logical, and to the point. He makes everything look easy and effortless. Alexander showed great babyface fire in his come back, and the closing stretch was absolutely tremendous with Alexander once again retaining and moving on to face Murphy in Australia. The clash of styles, hard-hitting and ground-based vs. the athletic and flashy champion paired extremely well here.

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9. From WWE Hell in a Cell 2018: Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre vs. Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins [****½]: This was an excellent tag match and a 100% certified fresh banger. I absolutely loved this. Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre should have been tag champions months ago and proved that here. Of course, Ambrose & Rollins are awesome as well. This was an excellent match with a great pace, a really hot crowd, and an amazing closing stretch. This was the best main roster WWE PPV match of 2018; everyone killed it here.

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8. From All In 2018: Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon [****½]: This was an excellent match, with both guys delivering and extremely well in considering it was their first match together. It was a tremendous back and forth effort, with both guys delivering on a high level, and while we know that Pentagon is great, putting in such a great and competitive effort against the IWGP champion is a true feather in his cap, and he’s had a really great 2018 so far. From a pure wrestling standpoint, this was easily the best thing on the All in show and more importantly; it was believable that Pentagon could win. This was awesome, and the post match angle only added to the moment. The match was everything I wanted.

7. From NXT TV 9.19.18: Ricochet vs. Pete Dunne [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent main event with high-level work that could have headlined a Takeover special. Ricochet playing Dunne’s game early on, trying to prove that he was more than a really good flippy boy was a fun start, but one he regretted as Dunne took control with his torturous offense. Dunne’s heat segment was excellent as was Ricochet’s comeback. The work was excellent and had great sense of urgency throughout and the homestretch was simply amazing at times. These kids may make it in this business. But seriously, this was simply an excellent match and a true treat on a weekly TV show. While I can understand not being happy without a finish, it served a purpose in the build to War Games, and in no way did the crowd hate it. Make time for this one for sure.

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6. From ROH TV 9.12.18: Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham [****½]: This was an excellent piece of professional wrestling, playing off of their previous matches, and not only paying off the things they did there, but they also improved on them here as this was simply at another level than the previous matches. The best part about the match was no just how great it was, but you didn’t NEED to see the previous matches to get this, it stood alone on its own merits as simply a great match. In terms of a technical wrestling match, it was the best US based one I have seen this year. Those who follow Gresham already know that he’s a great wrestler and overall worker who is extremely consistent and when given the chance, never disappoints. But this was a star making performance, his best ROH match to date, and he had the crowd behind him, willing him to win down the stretch. If they continue to do nothing with him after this, fuck the Lizard Man. This was the best ROH TV match of 2018 and an easy top 5 ROH match for the year.

5. From NJPW Destruction in Hiroshima 2018: Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii [****½]: This was an overall excellent match, a notch below their previous efforts, but at the same time an absolutely awesome hard-hitting match that played off of and paid tribute to thier history extremely well. This was another absolutely excellent performance from Ishii, and while he had no real chance of winning, made the crowd believe and had them rooting for him, especially down the amazing home stretch. While it didn’t hit the highs of their previous matches, it was still an amazing main event and certainly delivered.

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4. From NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018: The Golden Lovers. Vs. Tomohiro Ishii [****½]: This was an absolutely excellent main event, worked at an insane pace and featuring four of the best in the world doing what they do best. I am all for allowing these guys to tear it up and this was on the level of the Lovers vs. Ishii & Ospreay. I loved this, there was no down time, no wasted motion, no bullshit, just tremendous action throughout with a hit crowd, good drama, excellent near falls and a beautiful homestretch. They could have easily overbooked the match with Omega & Ibushi tension or CHAOS angle stuff, which would have been understandable, but they instead allowed them to deliver an excellent match and then did the big angle post match. This was awesome.

3. From NJPW Road to Destruction (9.07.18): Golden Lovers vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay [****½]: This was a 100% certified fucking banger. Overall this was an absolutely excellent tag match, with a ton of drama and beautiful hard-hitting action. The pairings (Ibushi & Ospreay and Ishii & Omega) were awesome, and makes me want more tags and singles matches going forward. This match was so much fun, they had the crowd locked in the entire time, and this was a match that would have been welcomed on any bog tome show and could have headlined it. And we got it on a road to show. Go out of your way to see this one, it’s four of the best in the business delivering.

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2. From NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2018: Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay [****½]: This was an absolutely tremendous match, one that not only played off of their past matches, but saw a more motivated Scurll who abandoned all comedy and instead of just playing the hits, was completely focused on having a great match. They kept an amazing pace and the hot beginning felt fresh and completely different, and gave a great energy to things. Marty has had Ospreay’s number several times in the past, and tapped into that here, exposing Ospreay’s past neck injuries to overcome his longtime rival one more time and advance to the finals against KUSHIDA, and possibly send Osprey to heavyweight. This was excellent stuff.

1. From NJPW Destruction in Kobe 2018: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada [*****]: I have said it before and will say it again, the Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada feud will go down as one of the greatest in history. these two have delivered some absolutely amazing matches, and this one is up there as one of their very best. This one not only felt special, but it had a completely different sense of urgency to it with Okada battling to get back to the WrestleKingdom main event juxtaposed against Tanahashi’s desire and obsession to defeat Okada after around four years. You take that story, and add it into the work and story that they told in the ring (great layout, pacing, structure, selling, fire up spots, callbacks, just everything) in front of an absolutely molten crowd, and they once again created magic. This was another absolute classic from two guys who almost seem to do it with ease, with Tanahashi doing it once again, proving why he’s a legit legend and why he’s the ace of NJPW, even at a roughed up 41 years old; the man is amazing.

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”