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Hamilton’s The Lookup: Match Recommendations From August 2020

August 7, 2020 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
Hiromu Takahashi New Japan Cup

Welcome to a new feature I’m trying out – inspired by Larry’s old match-of-the-month columns, without going into anywhere near as much depth, this is going to be “me, looking back at matches that have been screened in the past month (or so).” So this month’s column is looking at matches that aired in July… It’s mostly match recommendations, pulled from my “big wrestling watching spreadsheet”… hence the pun. Points to you if you got it before I spelled it out!

So for this first edition, not everything is going to come from the prior month, for the obvious reasons, as some programming (I’m looking at you, ROH and NXT UK) have been airing clip shows for a while. There’ll be no spoilers in the blurbs either, so if you haven’t seen it, the result isn’t given away…

SHO vs. Shingo Takagi – New Japan Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall

From the first weekend of “New Japan shows with fans”, this was perhaps the stand-out match… and probably the best match in the promotion in the current era. SHO upset Shingo in the New Japan Cup… and had been angling for another shot at Shingo, but this time with gold on the line. Could SHO strike twice in a row, and leave Osaka with the NEVER title? ****½

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii – New Japan Cup

Big Tom! This was a dream quarter-final for those of us who’d mapped out various people’s routes to the New Japan Cup… and while the overall result may not have been what people expected, this was yet another feather in the cap of Hiromu, who’s managed to prove that while he may not be “officially” the top guy right now, he’s more than perfectly places to get that spot. Just don’t wince when he hauls up Ishii for a brainbuster… ****½

Minoru Suzuki vs. Yuji Nagata – New Japan Summer Struggle

I seem to be the low man on this, going ***¾ here (I much preferred their empty-arena New Japan Cup outing in June (****½), but these two in a singles match is never going to be a bad combination it seems. Plenty of snug-looking strikes always go down well, and while the Summer Struggle match looked to end with Suzuki putting Nagata behind him, I doubt anyone will be complaining if their paths cross again in the future.

WALTER vs. Kushida – NXT

This aired on NXT UK as part of their never-ending series of “best of”s and “superstar picks”… a throwback to the early days of the “Wednesday night wars” as WALTER made a trip to the States in a match that would have blown a lot of people’s minds two years ago. Regardless of the result, Kushida’s not been around much, save for the Cruiserweight title tournament… so take a look at this one from NXT UK on July 9 and wonder what might have been. ****

Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor – WWE Beast in the East

Another one from the NXT UK “Superstar Picks” shows, this is another throwback to a recent past that felt like a million miles away. Finn Balor was returning to Tokyo’s Sumo Hall as he looked to wrestle the NXT title away from a recently-debuted-on-the-main-roster Kevin Owens. Worked well, WWE really played up Balor’s past in Japan… which just about dovetailed with the Balor/WALTER storyline that they were teasing before covid. ****

Blake Christian vs. Alex Zayne – GCW Homecoming (Part One)

Sometimes, you just want to watch a wrestling match that’s easy on the eye. These two came in with a reputation, forged from a prior match for GCW, and they didn’t let us down. Plenty of flips, against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean on a scorching summer’s evening. ***¾

Chris Dickinson vs. Calvin Tankman – GCW Homecoming (Part Two)

Another one from the GCW weekender – and there’s a real clutch of new names who were about to break through on the independent scene before everyone had to hit pause. If that is his real name, Calvin Tankman is an apt name for the lad, because he is built like one. On top of his size, Calvin can move – and having seen a few of his matches in quick succession, there’s a lot of upside here in a big lad who can hit hard and move well. According to Cagematch, he’s only four years in, and if he’s able to get the reps in – against big names – he could very well find himself in the same flagship position as the “Dirty Daddy” Chris Dickinson does today. If you like big lads laying it into each other… seek this one out! ***½

Lee Moriarty vs. Wheeler YUTA – Beyond Two Weeks Notice

A pleasant surprise from Beyond’s first show in several months, this was an eye-catching slice of mat-based wrestling between two more names who are on the verge of breaking out. Considering how warm it was for this show, the fact that they kept the pace consistent made this one fly by. An easy ***¾ if there ever was one…

Calvin Tankman vs. Tom Lawlor – Paradigm Pro Heavy Hitters 2

I’ve yet to watch the entirety of this show (I cherry picked this match for a review on my own blog), but this was an enjoyable little scrap that could easily have been a clash of styles. Shoot-style can work on a wrestling show, as long as it’s sufficiently ring-fenced…

Tony Deppen vs. JD Drake – Synergy Pro For The First Responders

There’s a few names on the indies that I’m really into – so when Synergy put these two up against each other, it was enough to tempt me into plunking down for the Fite iPPV. Drake’s seemingly become a free agent following the demise of EVOLVE, and is a name I’m shocked hasn’t been picked up by WWE – I mean, he’s already worked NXT house shows… he should land on his feet, while Tony Deppen, when things spin up once more, is surely destined for brighter lights. Why yes, I am sour that the world situation’s meant that his European tour got cancelled… why do you ask?

Other’s Recommendations

For my own sanity, there’s a lot of wrestling I watch but don’t pay too much attention to. Certainly not enough to have any conviction to slap some stars onto it… so here’s some stuff from people who have!

The entire ROH show from July 25 – it’s episode 462 that’s currently on Fite.tv for free. Four Jonathan Gresham matches hovering around the **** range, and in under an hour too. Well worth your time…

While you’re at it, also watch episode 461 of ROH’s TV show. It’s a profile piece on Hana Kimura with her ROH matches and one that gives a glimpse into the person we cruelly lost a few months back.

From the Horror Show at Extreme Rules, Sasha Banks vs. Asuka and Seth Rollins vs. Rey Mysterio got a lot of plaudits… but please, turn off before the finishes!

Young Bucks vs. Butcher & Blade from Dynamite on July 22 – the connected facilities of Daily’s Place and TIAA Bank Field have given AEW plenty of wacky and wonderful settings for their shows in the current climate. This one wasn’t quite as all-over-the-place as Stadium Stampede, but was a wild brawl with a hell of a visual with the Blade getting superkicked… and then disappearing away on an escalator. Another one in the **** marketplace…

Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan – they’ve had two matches in July on NXT, both of them pretty good. I’ve preferred their older work in Beyond (and their Ambition shoot-style match in wXw last year), but these two seem to struggle to have a stinker against each other.

Blast from the Past

Dominic Garrini vs. Tom Lawlor – Prestige Wrestling Violent World
This one’s up for free on YouTube from this past March (but was recently released) – a match that’s almost entirely worked on the mat, and is all the more entertaining for it.