Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only

Best Match Watched - 2022

G. Badger


I'm going to organize this years matches by what's 2010's AJPW and what's not.  Sorry for some inconsistency with the labeling of dates & promotions. I hope this helps folks find cool stuff to watch as well as stir up a little interest in going back and reading old blog posts. Its my version of Match of the Year and other year end award type stuff. Let's do the superlatives first.

Best Surprise

I think something I would say to start with would be the high quality of wrestling AJPW was putting out in 2011-2014. I obviously have some knowledge of this at the start of the year but I bought most of these DVDs on a hunch a few years back (probably longer if being honest). So I have been pleasantly surprised that I trusted my gut. It's been like the Full Impact Pro stuff from last year. So in a similar situation, I've been surprised in the quality of Zero One and BJW. Again, not much of a positive consensus was given at the time or thereabouts on this stuff. If anything, the impression I got was purchase at your own risk. I touched on this in my previous post, the bounty of material online and the ease of access to that has given my a taste of these promotions and I like it! With many of my projects, I try to find the stuff that I think is most interesting and disregard the rest. Saves me time and hopefully saves you the trouble. More Zero One and BJW for 2023. Best surprise is probably how much I enjoyed the Eddie and Steven Regal WCW TV matches. I don't look back upon Nitro fondly and with good reason but man there was some awesome stuff before the suits took all of their time away. Dean Malenko's the best at these 5-10 minute matches. His stuff with Regal and Guerrero were the best. I'd soured on Dean but these TV bouts were his specialty.

Best Feud

The Zero One vs NOAH stuff was really cool and had a very 2001 in-transition magic to it. I've watched MLW from around this time and it feels like this... Kinda like "What If this promotion, which was closer to latter day ECW, took off instead of ROH?" Even the 2003_stuff including the Differ Cup stuff feels very unlike NOAH in a very good way. So it wasn't the best feud exactly but an overlooked one in comparison to NOAH vs NJPW from '02-03. I think it has way more character than the NJ one. Burning vs AJPW was pretty darn great especially in tag settings. The best was Burning vs Masa Funaki's Stack of Arms stable...specifically Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki vs Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka. In honesty it felt like the only true feud night in & night out.

Underrated Wrestler

Naohiro Hoshikawa was simply awesome during the NOAH vs Zero One stuff. Never heard much about him but, he was a real stand out. Takashi Sasaki is another guy I never heard much about other than in name really. Man he's one of my favorite death match wrestlers now. He blends the wrestling and hardcore wrestling near perfectly. It reminds me of Tajiri in ECW in a way. Most underrated worker for the year is KENSO. Dude was mainly upper mid card but acted like a star and the fans responded in kind. When he was given a chance to shine he took the opportunity. KAI vs KENSO 2013 Champ Carnival is a very good example.

Best Tag Team

I love tag wrestling. AJPW had top shelf stuff. The 2003 Differ Cup and assorted other tags were the real high points of 2022. This is an easy one though. I gotta go with Atsushi Aoki (RIP) and Kotaro Suzuki. Their stuff in 2013 is some of the best stuff of the year. Even their stuff in 2012 NOAH was very good. I do have to give props to Junior Stars (Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka) as they were equally responsible for the awesome feud and boosting my interest in the team. A great later one to watch in 2013 is their 10/27 match vs Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie.

Best Wrestler

If we're looking at volume of excellent matches, Jun Akiyama, Go Shiozaki and Suwama are all very solid candidates for best wrestler of the year. Joe Doering is another very good candidate. His stuff in 2014 as champ is absolutely amazing especially his bout vs Shiozaki (more on that later). Doering before then doesn't make a big enough impression as a star. He's more like Suwama's big gaijin buddy until later. Suwama is a great ace and the face of of AJPW especially when the NOAH guys invaded in 2013. He has some real classic matches but also disappointed me in smaller bouts and even in some title fights. He reminds me of later Misawa in that regard. Not bad company to be in at but, maybe not for the greatest of reasons. Shiozaki has been the spark of AJPW in 2013 & 2014. He's brought an energy and intensity to every fight - singles, tags, six mans. That said he's one dimensional in that regard. That is how he's booked. We know that he can play plucky from his stuff in 2005, he can do powerhouse and heel stuff from his time in ROH & FIP. Here he's co-ace with Suwama and he does a great job. However every performance is coming from the same place emotionally. Akiyama is different from all of these guys as he's past his prime. He's Tenryu for the 2010's. He's tough, clever and mean. His style really harkens back to an older AJPW style now that his body won't allow him to perform as he once did. This may sound pretty silly but he actually tells stories in his matches. He makes little things matter ever if it just for one match. Like Tenryu or Fujiwara he sells a lot through his facial expressions at this point of his career. Not just selling as in "ow this hurts" but selling the story. He shows his anger, disgust, frustration. I think he's always done this but was maybe overlooked because of the types of matches he was able to do at the time. But I still wouldn't say he's the Best Wrestler for 2022. Akiyama is 2010's Tenryu and in that regard he's not really an underdog. He's still a big deal and the only BIG name in late 2013-14 All Japan. Takao Omori is my wrestler of the year. He wrestles/performs his story. That is to say, he's the heart & soul of All Japan. He wants to be there and in some ways I feel his goal was to always come back after the NOAH split and his time in Zero One. So when Akiyama, Kanemaru want to come back to AJPW and bring their NOAH pals, he doesn't want them there. He wants to be an AJPW wrestler and didn't come back for the money or notoriety or was forced to come there. But not just that, he does everything that Akiyama does. He along with Jun are bringing the old AJPW to the 2010's. You can see and feel it in how the matches are paced and structured. Akiyama will bring this most of the time but sometimes relies on routine, Omori always tries to work this older, richer style. A fantastic example is his 2013 Champion Carnival match against Shiozaki (04/25/13) or Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori (Vacant Triple Crown Title - 06/15/14).  All in all, I want to give Takao Omori the credit he is due. For his consistency, quality, stylistic choices, and  storytelling he is the Best Wrestler.

Now onto the big list of matches...

2010's AJPW (and related matches)

Honorable Mention:

Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Hiroshi Yamato (06/02/2013)


Near Classic Matches:

Jun Akiyama, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki vs Takao Omori, Manabu Soya & Kaz Hayashi (02/10/13)

Jun Akiyama vs KAI (04/29/13)

Suwama & SUSHI vs Go Shiozaki & Kotaro Suzuki (07/21/13) 

Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara (08/31/13 Diamond Ring) 

Joe Doering & Suwama vs. Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori (AJPW - 02/08/14)


Classic Matches:

Sanada/Soya vs Yuji Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto (03/21/11)

Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (03/17/13)  

Suwama vs Go Shiozaki (04/18/13)

Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (04/25/13)

Minoru Tanaka, Koji Kanemoto & Hiroshi Yamato vs Atsushi Aoki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki (04/29/13)

Jun Akiyama and Go Shiozaki vs. Joe Doering and Suwama  (06/02/2013)

Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13)

Go Shiozaki & Jun Akiyama vs. Suwama & Takao Omori (08/17/13)

Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) 

Jun Akiyama & Takao Omori vs. Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara (10/27/13)

Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori (Vacant Triple Crown Title - 06/15/14)

Joe Doering (c) vs. Go Shiozaki (10/29/14 -Triple Crown Title)

Burning Wild vs Xceed (11/29/14)

Doering/Shingo vs Hino/Miyahara (12/04/14 Fortune Dream)


Everything Else

Honorable Mention:

Bruiser Brody vs Jumbo Tsuruta (10/14/83)

Dory Funk Jr. vs Stan Hansen (AJPW 11/28/83) 

Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Genichiro Tenryu (NJPW 09/26/1993)

Lord Steven Regal vs Dean Malenko (WCW 08/19/96)

Naomichi Marufuji vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa  (ZERO1 03/02/2001)

Shinya Hashimoto & Yoshiaki Fujiwara vs Daisuke Ikeda & Takashi Sugiura (ZERO1 09/15/2001)

Ikuto Hidaka & Masao Orihara vs. Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Yoshihito Sasaki (Differ Cup 2003)

Kotaro Suzuki, Yoshinari Ogawa & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Atsushi Aoki, Bryan Danielson & Doug Williams (NOAH 10/25/08)

Aoki & Suzuki vs Marvin & Super Crazy - (NOAH 07/22/12)

Near Classic Matches:

Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho (WCW Fall Brawl 09/14/97) 

Kentaro Shiga & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Naohiro Hoshikawa & Tatsuhito Takaiwa  (ZERO1  09/15/2001)

Mitsuharu Misawa & Masahiro Chono vs Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue (01/10/03 NOAH)

Madoka & Kengo Mashimo vs Katsumasa Inoue & Daisuke Sekimoto (BJW 03/14/07)


Classic Matches:

Baba & Dory Jr. vs Hansen & Brody (AJPW 12/10/83)

Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio (WCW Halloween Havoc, Mask vs Title October 26, 1997) 

Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH 12/09/01)

Jun Akiyama & Akitoshi Saito vs Shinjiro Otani & Masato Tanaka (01/10/03 NOAH)

Jushin Liger & Takehiro Murahama vs. Tsubasa & Black Buffalo (02/1/03 Osaka Pro)

Samoa Joe vs Homicide (ROH Do Or Die – May 2003)

Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (ROH Glory by Honor II - September 2003)

Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (ROH War of the Wire - November 2003)

Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels vs AJ Styles (TNA Against All Odds 2006)

Takashi Sasaki vs Yuko Miyamoto - Scaffold and Light tube (BJW 03/14/07)

Takashi Sasaki vs Ryuji Ito: 300 light tube death match (BJW 07/08/07) 

Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe (Zero One 08/03/08)

Shiozaki, Suzuki & Aoki vs Otani, Hidaka & Hashimoto - (NOAH 05/09/12) 


All Time Classic Matches:

AJ Styles vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Main Event Spectacles 2003) 


Well there it is...AJ vs Danielson. Thanks folks, see ya in 2023!

...just kidding.

So the best match watched in 2022 was AJ vs Danielson at ROH Main Event Spectacles 2003. That's a known classic that lives up to the hype. That's awesome but  I'm flipping the script and picking something different :) A couple others come to mind from AJPW 2013:

Koji Kanemoto & Minoru Tanaka (c) vs Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Aoki (03/17/13)  
Suwama vs Go Shiozaki (04/18/13)
Akiyama & Shiozaki vs Omori & Suwama (2/3 falls 07/28/13)

Some from the Everything Else category that really stuck with me this year are:

Samoa Joe vs Homicide (ROH Do Or Die – May 2003)
Masato Tanaka v Togi Makabe (Zero One 08/03/08)

There might be some others that I raved about in my blog at the time so by all means believe those words. However scanning over both lists these ones really, really stuck out in my mind. The first Jr. tag match is on there because its the first in their series and just knocked my socks off. Suwama vs Shiozaki is the because it's their first meeting, there's so much tension and hype but it lives up to it sets the stage for ace vs conquering ace. Its a Champion Carnival match on the first night so both guys are fresh and ready to go. The 2/3 falls tag is there because it is a stipulation you just don't see anymore but was a staple of AJPW tags going back to the 70's. That was a conscious choice to use it here in order to help revive/restore a truer All Japan style (they use it in a Shiozaki vs Suwama match I didn't see as well). We see that in how this match is worked as well. Its my quintessential Burning vs All Japan  heavyweight tag. Joe vs Homicide is here because I'd didn't really see this get talked about other than Mcxal's awesome complete ROH blog. He and I match up with our views/ratings and he wasn't wrong. I didn't go one about this on my Joe post but it was because I couldn't not do it justice but, "Intense violent title fight" really is true. Tanaka vs Makabe falls into that category as well. It just did everything right for me. I said back in February, "more Southern brawl (with heel cheating) than a late 00's puro match. It had a couple hardcore spots but in the ways of later ECW/FMW plus it was intense and hard hitting as you wanted for 2008."

All that aside, my pick for the best match watched in 2022 is Joe Doering vs Go Shiozaki (10/29/14 -Triple Crown Title). As much as people had said Doering was channeling Stan Hansen, Shiozaki was channeling Misawa. If this period is about restoring the true classic AJPW style then I think they nailed it here. "It never felt like they were killing time or working a sequence. Because just when you thought they were going to do something expected, they did something else. Expect the unexpected is a phrase I kept in mind early on and it stayed relevant throughout. Don't anticipate some slick or cute match. Its nasty and a little rough around the edges at times but man! That's part of what makes it worth your time. A classic match and a fight worthy of the Triple Crown title."

So there you have it! Another year gone...Holy Cow! I feel like I watched a ton of wrestling this year by the looks of this list. Again, I hope this helps you out and if you're new around here, go check out my posts from 2022. And please join me in 2023!

Thanks for reading! It really means a lot to me and thanks to anyone who left me comments. I've got some good stuff planned for the new year. Take care everyone :)



Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...