10 Matches You Don’t Want To Miss From January

Every month I will be putting out a list of 10 match recommendations. Due to some companies TV or upload schedules being all over the place they are based off of air date. These are not a definitive ranked list of best matches, but they are somewhat ordered by how much I recommend them.

2018 is already off to be a great year for wrestling. I had a harder time cutting this down to just 10 than I expected.

1) Misaki Ohata – Arisa Nakajima

SEAdLINNNG – Now or Never – January 2nd

I don’t think this is going to be on a ton of top 10 lists, but for me there really isn’t any doubt. Misaki Ohata is my favorite wrestler in the world right now and Arisa Nakajima isn’t far behind. They shamefully get overlooked due to how much Stardom dominates the English speaking joshi wrestling fanbase. Extremely hard hitting mixed a lot of technical wrestling. This is a match that gets better with each rewatch. Two of the best suplexes in wrestling, and their movesets are perfect to counter each other. Watch for it again on next months list because the rematch will just as good. Since this match Misaki Ohata has regained her Regina di WAVE title from Yumi Ohka so the Feb 12th rematch in WAVE will be for the title.

2) Minoru Suzuki – Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP Intercontinental)

NJPW – New Beginning In Sapporo: Night 1 – January 27th

This match really is a masterclass in how to build a match around a limb. Took a bit to really get moving,with the slow start, and a lot of the time laying in submissions. All of those complaints though were well worth it in how it all built to an excent finish. Suzuki when he is in a serious role is just a terrifying old grumpy grandpa, and there isn’t anyone in the world who understands the small details of wrestling more than Tanahashi.

3) Minoru Suzuki – Hirooki Goto (NEVER Openweight)

NJPW – Wrestle Kingdom 12 – January 4th

49 year old Minoru Suzuki makes the recommendation list twice now. This match was easily my favorite coming out of the Tokyo Dome. The struggle of Goto having to overcome from behind dominated by Suzuki just connected with me more than anything else on what was a stellar show. An absolutely brutal hard hitting matchup showing that when Suzuki is away from Suzuki-gun interference he is still amazing.

4) Queen’s Quest (AZM, Io Shirai, Viper, HZK, & Momo Watanabe) vs Oedo Tai (Kris Wolf, Sumire Natsu, Kagetsu, Hana Kimura, & Tam Nakano) Unit Gauntlet Match

Stardom – 7th Anniversary – January 21st

I almost don’t know where to put this match. The first few sets of matches were not anything special. The middle section were matches that would have been good singles matches on any other show, but here they were more subdued. They were designed to set the stage for was an absolute firestarter final two matches. The HZK/Hana Kimura section really is where this match started really show what this match was about. HZK and Hana Kimura felt like they were trying to kill each other, and for their finish they nearly did. The final matchup with Momo Watanabe and Tam Nakano more than delivered on what was built before them. They felt like they were fighting for their lives. I’m not sure how this match would come across to someone without any of the background, but I think the tension in Korakuen speaks for itself. This match was all about getting Momo and Tam over huge with HZK and Hana also getting a good push as well. This match will set the direction for Stardom’s entire year.

5) Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight)

NJPW – Wrestle Kingdom 12 – January 4th

Nothing in wrestling has more of a big match feel than Okada/Naito. I know a lot of people are still down on the outcome, but the more time passes, the more I think it was the right decision. Naito winning would have been one of the biggest moments possible, but for NJPW’s overall direction this was the right one. If the finish was reversed it would have easily been my number 1. I really hope that my brain is in sync with Gedo’s here because I really want a Dominion rematch.

6) Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh) vs Young Bucks (Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson) (IWGP Jr Tag)

NJPW – New Beginning In Sapporo: Night 2 – January 28th

I have the most complicated relationship with the Young Bucks. I personally hate so much of what they are doing, but it’s working for many people. When they are more serious, and in big spots like this I love them. I keep flipping back, and forth if I like this match in Sapporo or the Tokyo Dome match more. Roppongi 3K haven’t been back long, but are already one of my favorite teams.

7) Takumi Tsukamoto vs 

Masashi Takeda (BJW Deathmatch)

BJW – Korakuen Hall – January 2nd

BJW giving Masashi Takeda the Deathmatch title might be one of the best things they have done in ages. Takeda is on track to become one of my favorites because he is such a good wrestler outside of deathmatches, but his love and passion lays in a ring filled with broken glass. I felt like if this match ended about 3 or 4 moves earlier it would have been better, but the crowd kept getting hotter, and hotter so what do I know? If your on the fence about the idea of deathmatches or think deathmatch wrestlers are just talentless hacks who can’t wrestle I recommend checking out anything involving Takeda.

8) Zeus vs Joe Doering (AJPW Triple Crown)

AJPW – AJPW New Year Wars – Night 1 – January 2nd

“Show me your power motherf—–r!” – Joe Doering. Two very large men throwing giant bombs, and pulling off moves that physics shouldn’t deem possible. Doering is just an inspiration after surviving brain cancer, and then following it up with run as Triple Crown champion. One of my favorite big man power matches I have seen in a while.

9) Miyu Yamashita vs

Reika Saiki (TOKYO Princess of Princess)

Tokyo Joshi Pro – Tokyo Joshi Pro 2018 – January 4th

This was quite the surprise that it makes the list. In the nicest way these two put the the best match they possible could at this point in their careers. I wasn’t expecting a ton from a Tokyo Joshi Pro match, but they blew away an expectations I had. A good power, and strike battle style match. No doubt in my mind Tokyo Joshi Pro has something special with these two. I’m not a fan of TJP, but any time either of them have a big match I am tracking it down.

10) Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas (NXT Championship)

NXT – NXT TakeOver:Philadelphia – January 27th

I kind of feel a little weird putting this on here because it clearly didn’t work for me like it did for most people. I heard the buzz around this match, and I decided to check it out. Last time I saw Almas he was a CMLL guest in New Japan as La Sombra at the start of 2015. It has been even longer with Gargano when I saw him live at a Dragon Gate USA show back in 2012. To say I wasn’t up to date would be fair. Now after hearing about it with a bit more context it definitely belongs, and probably should be higher. As a standalone match I thought it was good, but piecing things together I can see it was a better underdog story than I first gave it credit.

Wrestler of the Month: Kenny Omega

I had some debate whether I was going to give it to Minoru Suzuki or Kenny Omega. Omega put on two great matches with Chris Jericho, and Jay White for the IWGP US title that are on a lot of top 10 lists, and almost made mine. The Suzuki matches to me were more to my tastes though so in the end won out. The reason Omega makes it to Wrestler of the Month is the amazing post match after his match with Jay White. Being turned on by the Bullet Club and then saved by Kota Ibushi is going to be one of my favorite moments all year. I am very excited to see what the reunion of the Golden Lovers means for New Japan.

You can follow me on Twitter @DK1105 where you can read my ramblings about various promotions from Japanese wrestling.

Subscribe to my ongoing 2018 recommendation list here.