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Best Match Watched - 2020

Welcome to my Best Match Watched of 2020 celebration! We've got big stars appearing and a number of musical performances lined up tonight! Let's get this party started!

Oh wait, never mind all of that...let's just get onto the Big List of my favorite stuff of that I've watched this year. In chronological order:

Pre 1970's:

Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) Honorable Mention, Very good match with nice action and pacing. Simple story but, well worked.


1970s & 80s:

Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81)

Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82)

Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger (05/26/82)

Tiger Mask vs Bret Hart (07/30/82)

Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27/88)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27/88)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27/88)

Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24/88)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88)

Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26/88)

Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88)

Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08/88)

Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88)


1990s & 2000s:

American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Era of Honor Begins (2002)

American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels  - Round Robin Challenge (2002)

Daniels vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002)

American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002)

Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles -  Road to the Title (2002)

American Dragon vs AJ Styles -  All Star Extravaganza (2002)

Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe Final Battle (2002)

Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005)

Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans FIP Strong vs Evans (2005)

KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006)

KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006)

Low Ki (Senshi) vs Chris Sabin (TNA Bound for Glory 2006) Honorable Mention, An action packed match with 0 TNA bullshit to spoil it. Golden era X Division stuff.

Daisuke Sekimoto vs Manabu Nakanishi (BJW 2007) Honorable Mention, A very good to great match that told a great story that that fans & myself could believe. Precursor to the BJW Strong Style revival stuff.


2010 to present:
Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011)

El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki (same)

El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly "

Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan "

Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. "

Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico "

Cole & O'Reilly vs Sabre Jr. & Scurll "

Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter "

KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - All Together (2011)

Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011)

Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams ROH Pure Title tournament (2020)

Mark Haskins vs Alex Shelley (ROH TV 02/20): Honorable Mention, excellent chain wrestling by Shelley and a good fit for Haskins hybrid style. Crowd actually was into this match which can be tough for live ROH crowds nowadays.

 

-THE BEST of the BEST!-
Pre 1970's...well I only watched a few pre 1970's matches and well Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) was the best of the bunch. The rest of my picks are going to be a little more difficult so, I think I'll do a top 3 or top 5 for the others. Then...just maybe will I actually able to narrow it down.

1970s & 80s: Clearly I was all about NJPW in the 80's although I did dip my toe in AJPW a couple times later in the year. They had some good 6 man matches (British Bulldogs w. Kobashi), I didn't see anything that could touch NJPW.

Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81)
Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82)
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88)
Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88)
Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88)

1990s & 2000s: And now we enter the Ring of Honor K-hole I was lost in for awhile. Hey, I'm glad I took that journey. I was pretty ignorant of Year One ROH and got me excited to keep watching their current stuff. Plus is encouraged me to check out the sister company FIP which I've been digging. Also, I have made some purchases that have fill in some gaps in my DVD collection. I hope to be hitting up a couple of those for 2021. So, my list boils down to these:

American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002)
Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe (2002) - Perhaps a controversial pick against the Era of Honor Begins but, I think this has the action along with the story lines
Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005)
KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006)
KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006)

2010 to present: There's a good chunk from the wXw 2011 tournament here but, what can I say? It was a great show. Perhaps similar to the Ted Petty Invitational 2004.

Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011)
El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki
Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan
Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011)

 

The runners up:

  • Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) - a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals...distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect.
  • KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) - Felt like a late 1990's AJPW Four Corners tag classic
  • Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan - I think this match best encapsulates the awesome hard hitting style that both guys showed all 3 days. I didn't rate it as a classic at the time but, both guys have stuck in my mind all year.

Here's my top 3 and I'm just going by my gut:

  • Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) - This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry.
  • Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) - I got an out of body feeling when watching this match that was very similar to the first time I saw Kobashi vs Misawa's matches from 1997. Maybe it was the mild hype that lower my expectations but, this blew my mind.
  • Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. (wXw 2011) - As hard as Sasaki & Sami were in the tourney, these two went beyond that. Davey really only does one thing but, when he's in there with the right person it can be awesome. It has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes all with an aggressive pace.

Best Wrestler: Fujinami was killing it in '88. Tiger Mask given the right opponent was working magic. Sami, Yoshihito Sasaki, and El Generico were on fire during the wXw tourney in 2011. But I'm going to give it to American Dragon Bryan Danielson specifically for his work in 2002 in ROH. A natural baby face to Daniels' gimmick and Ki's natual demeanor, Dragon is relatable in addition to being a fantastic in ring worker. He has a grip of classic matches but, also elevates his tournament matches into something you want to see as well.

Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki was pretty much unknown to me other than a character in Fire Pro Returns but, he's a guy I want to be on the look out for in the future. Seeing as I got a 4 disc Best of BJW in 2006 set, the future might be pretty soon! But, I think the best surprise of this year was Full Impact Pro being pretty great wrestling. I watched their Unstoppable 2007 DVD a few years ago and for the first time a few years before that and it didn't "wow" me. I think my expectations were too high or something. As I watched it again, I saw stuff that I don't think I appreciated in the past. From that I've seen some really great stuff including Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans which is a lost "ROH" classic to me. I'm looking forward to getting back to FIP Fridays!

Looking forward to: Tackling the mountain of DVDs I've got - AJPW, BJW, NOAH, NJPW, ROH and more including FIP. Duh right? But I'm also swinging back to FMW and specifically 1998 which may be their very best year. I've already watched a handful of matches (although I'm not including them on this year's list) and I am NOT disappointed.

Thank you so much for reading this year! Its been a really crappy 365 days but, I hope I was able to give you a little bit of fun and inspiration. Let's hope for a better new year! Stay safe and keep watching wrestling!

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