LONG STORY SPORT

My Favorite Things in Wrestling (October 2022)

It's time once again to talk about my favorite things in the pro wrestling world from the past month. There were a ton of things that got me excited in October, including Stardom's conclusion to the 5STAR Grand Prix, AAA's final TripleMania of the year, and TJPW's third annual Wrestle Princess event, so doing this list was difficult. But if you ask me, I enjoy it more when it's harder to pick just one winner per category.


This blog will once against feature winners for the following categories.

  • Wrestler (MALE)

  • Wrestler (FEMALE)

  • Tag Team

  • Faction

  • Favorite Match (MALE)

  • Favorite Match (FEMALE)

  • Favorite Show

  • Favorite Promotion

As always, I'll also include honorable mentions for each category, a list of all the previous winners dating back to January, and a list of all the matches from this past month that were match of the year quality.


All of this is completely subjective, so if you don't see your favorite in a given category, that doesn't mean you're wrong, it just means you're not quite as right as I am. Jokes aside, everyone has their favorite flavor in wrestling, and our favorites don't need to match up.


Without further ado, let's get this started.

 

FAVORITE WRESTLER (MALE)

Sami Zayn (WWE)
Photo Credit: WWE

While there were a few guys who had a strong claim to the throne this past month, including September's winner Kazusada Higuchi, I felt that if I didn't give it to Sami Zayn, I'd regret it down the road. As while I didn't see him wrestle a match that could stand up to the likes of DDT's top dog, he earned his spot today thanks to his other intangibles.


For anyone who's watched Sami at all, you would know that he is one of the best talkers in all wrestling, and he's been for years. He's shown an otherworldly brilliance as both a babyface and as a heel, something exceedingly rare in the industry today, and perhaps more impressive than that, he's also thrived while working under vastly different archetypes, from the gutsy underdog he was in NXT, to the conspiracy touting lunatic he was a few years ago. This is made all the more impressive as his sensei El Generico was a raving mad man who could barely string together three english words without incriminating himself as a cannibal.


But it's as Roman Reigns' lap dog and "Honorary Uce" where Sami Zayn has been at his best since he joined the fed almost a whole decade ago. His work with The Bloodline has made an already stirring storyline even stronger, thanks in large part because he's added a must-needed dose of levity. I for one love when wrestlers get serious, but when WWE does comedy the right way, there are few things in this sport that are more fun to watch.


Case in point, The Bloodline's now infamous segment from the October 28th edition of SmackDown. What started out as a highly dramatic sequence which say Jey Uso, a man who hated Sami Zayn more than life itself, basically question Roman Reign's leadership, turned into one of the most hilarious and endearing segments all year. I'll try not to over-explain what Sami Zayn said to turn the tide, because if I did, that wouldn't be very "Ucey" of me.


Sami Zayn is just the third man to win this award while not having a Match of the Year contender from that same month. The other two were Dragon Dia, who won in January, and MJF, who won in February.

Honorable Mentions:

  • El Phantasmo (Freelance)

  • Kazusada Higuchi (DDT)

  • Pentagon Jr. (AEW)

  • Shingo Takagi (NJPW)

  • Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)

 

FAVORITE WRESTLER (FEMALE)

Giulia (Stardom)
Photo Credit: Battle News

While there could be an argument about which guy deserved the male wrestler of the month, as far as I'm concerned there was no question that Giulia was going to win my favorite female wrestler. In fact, she all but wrapped up this award less than a week into October. The leader of DDM came into this past month as one of the few remaining wrestlers who could mathematically win Stardom's 5STAR Grand Prix. All she had to do was beat Suzu Suzuki in her final block match to earn a spot in the final.


Giulia was able to do just that, and she punched her ticket to the final, where she successfully defeated her arch-nemesis, Tam Nakano, to win the 5STAR one year after she was forced to sit out due to injury. Both her matches on October 1st were Match of the Year caliber, with the final against Nakano being my favorite match of the month, regardless of gender.


As if winning the 5STAR and earning a future title shot for the World of Stardom belt wasn't enough, she has since set herself up as one of the favorites to win the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, which is ongoing. She along with partner Thekla, collectively named "Mafia Bella", started their Tag League season with a massive victory over Natsupoi and Tam Nakano, who are themselves the Goddesses of Stardom champions. It remains to be seen if the fresh duo has enough chemistry to defeat some of the more seasoned tag teams, but a win over the champions is surely a confidence boost.


Since creating the female sub-category for wrestler of the month back in March, Giulia is the sixth from Stardom to win and the first to have not been born in Japan.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Mayu Iwatani (Stardom)

  • Mei Suruga (Gatoh Move)

  • Mio Momono (Marvelous)

  • Suzu Suzuki (Freelance)

  • Utami Hayashishita (Stardom)

 

FAVORITE TAG TEAM

Aussie Open
Photo Credit: NJPW

I think it's about time to talk a little bit about the boys from down under, Aussie Open. Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis have been a tag team for a number of years, but it's only been in the past couple where they've seen their stock rise dramatically, thanks in large part to their collaboration with the United Empire faction. And this is a terrific thing because these two absolutely rule.


Kyle Fletcher reminds me a lot of Will Ospreay from 2016. First of all, he's a dead ringer for the Billy Goat, the only difference being his accent, and he's got an impressive high-flying repertoire. On the other hand, Mark Davis is a lariat throwing, tobacco chewing, smash-mouth powerhouse in the same vein as guys like Sheamus or All Japan's Shotaro Ashino.


These two might have drastically different styles, but they mesh brilliantly. There are few things better in wrestling than watching Mark Davis nearly decapitate opponents while Kyle Fletcher is breaking gravity on the other end of the ring. Additionally, they have proven to have a terrific chemistry with several of the top tag teams in the scene today.


This past month, they had great matches against some of said top tag teams on the planet like FTR, the Motor City Machine Guns, and the Briscoe Brothers. They've proven once and for all that they belong in the conversation for best tag team in the world, and I'm looking forward to what they're going to do if they choose to appear in New Japan's World Tag League later this year.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Fukuoka Double Crazy (Hazuki & Koguma - Stardom)

  • Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kenoh - NOAH)

  • Mafia Bella (Giulia & Thekla - Stardom)

  • meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano - Stardom)

  • The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin - Freelance)

 

FAVORITE FACTION

Donna Del Mondo
Photo Credit - @toxic_thekla on Twitter

The last time Donna Del Mondo won this award back in March, the faction was flying into some uncertain waters. Syuri had all but announced that she would be leaving the unit to start her own, leaving Giulia without her number two behind her, and some fans became worried that others would follow. Some even believed that a "Marvel-esque" Civil War was imminent.


While a Civil War didn't ever break out, DDM would see more defections over the next several months. Not soon after Syuri left to create God's Eye, MIRAI elected to leave in order to learn under the reigning World of Stardom Champion. And of course, Natsupoi famously turned on Giulia to join Tam Nakano and the Cosmic Angels unit.


Losing three key members in quick succession could've spelt doom for the faction, but it's actually done quite the opposite. The collective actions of Giulia, Himeka, Maika, Thekla, and Mai Sakurai this past month have properly placed DDM back on top of the Stardom faction mountaintop. Giulia started the month by winning the 5STAR, as I mentioned earlier, on the same day Himeka and Maika walked away with their block's best match award.


Thekla then returned to action after spending a few months on the mend, and she and Giulia paired off as the "Mafia Bella" tag team for this year's Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, where Himeka and Maika will team up as MaiHime for the first in this same competition. Not only are both duos destined to go far in this tournament, but they both were named favorites by your's truly in my Tag League preview.


All in all, I'm impressed with how DDM has been able to recuperate from all their issues earlier in the year to where they are today. And who knows, with Giulia's upcoming match against Syuri for "Big Red", DDM could soon become even stronger than they are today.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Cosmic Angels

  • God's Eye

  • Los Ingobernables de Japon

  • The Bloodline

 

FAVORITE MATCH (MALE)

Ren Narita vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW Battle Autumn Night 9, 10/26)
Photo Credit: NJPW

One of the most exciting strike-fests of the year so far, Ren Narita and Tomohiro Ishii went to war for nearly 15 minutes in a first round tournament matchup to decide the first ever IWGP World TV champion. This wasn't just a coming out party for Narita, as the youngster outlasted the legendary Tomohiro Ishii, but it was also a match that harkened me back to some of the great NEVER Openweight slugfests from the mid-2010s.


Back then, guys like Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Minoru Suzuki, and Katsuyori Shibata absolutely beat the daylights out of each other. I know I'm not the only one to say this, but a major reason I fell in love with New Japan was because of some of those clashes. So it was so cool to see that style not only come back, but be done so well.


Narita might not look like much to the average wrestling fan, but he's a special talent. Trained by. the aforementioned Shibata, Narita modeled his wrestling style and character from the former NEVER Openweight Champion. His strikes are crisp. His suplexes are impactful. And his submission game is terrific. So who better to help show all of that to a large audience than Tomohiro Ishii, who's not only one of the best wrestlers on the planet for the past 20 years, but was also one of Shibata's greatest rivals. Ishii might be 46 years old and pretty worn down, but give him a match like this, and he'll thrive.


If you have the time, I'd highly recommend you all check this match out. The crowd was hot. The wrestlers were terrific. And the finishing stretch was a sight to behold.

Honorable Mentions

  • Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yota Tsuji (NJPW Royal Quest II Night 2, 10/2)

  • Atsuki Aoyagi vs. Rising HAYATO (AJPW Raising An Army Memorial Series 2022 Night 1, 10/2)

  • El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Rey Fenix (AAA TripleMania XXX: Mexico City, 10/15)

  • Lucky Ali vs. Andrew Everett vs. Mike Bailey vs. SB KENTo (DPW Carolina Classic, 10/15)

  • Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo (NJPW Rumble on 44th Street, 10/28)

 

FAVORITE MATCH (FEMALE)

Giulia vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)
Photo Credit: Tokyo Sports

Way back on March 3rd, 2021, Tam Nakano and Giulia had a hair vs. hair match for the Wonder of Stardom Championship that was so well done from both an in-ring and storytelling perspective, that it became the reason I started watching Stardom more often. That match was at least partially responsible for me starting my Stardom 101 series a year later, as well as these monthly recap posts.


A lot has changed since that match, however one thing that hasn't is the hatred these two share for one another. Both wrestlers have taken key members of each other's faction. Giulia stole Mai Sakurai from Cosmic Angels and Tam Nakano somehow got Natsupoi to leave DDM. So seeing these two make the finals of the 5STAR this year was totally appropriate.


As for the match itself, it was brilliant. These two beat the absolute tar out of each other; Giulia with brawling and Nakano with her strikes. What ended up lasting 17 minutes and 28 seconds felt like a breeze, with each wrestler raising the stakes to make things interesting. There was even a point where I felt that Nakano, a woman I hadn't pinned as a potential winner of the 5STAR, was actually going to take out Giulia again. However, in the end, Giulia was able to throw one bomb more than Nakano, and she sealed her long awaited victory.


The best thing about watching this match and this rivalry is that I know that these two have an even better match in them. And because Stardom's booking usually makes sense, I have little doubt that these two will run it back one more time in 2023, but this time for the World of Stardom belt. I for one can't wait.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

  • Giulia vs. Suzu Suzuki (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

  • Emi Sakura vs. Mei Suruga (DPW Carolina Classic, 10/15)

  • Giulia and Thekla vs. Natsupoi and Tam Nakano (Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League 2022 Night 1, 10/23)

  • Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita (Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League 2022 Night 1, 10/23)

 

FAVORITE SHOW

Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20 (10/1)
Photo Credit: Battle News

Probably one of the most dramatic events of the year so far, the final day of Stardom's 5STAR Grand Prix from October 1st lapped the field this month as my favorite show. Not only did this show feature an all-time classic in the main event between Giulia and Tam Nakano, but the card was littered with great matches. In all, three were good enough to be listed as Match of the Year candidates, listed below.


Aside from those matches, however, there were many others worth watching. Maika and Himeka had a glorious war of attrition, made all the better when you know that they're inseparable tag team partners. AZM was hilariously defeated in less than a minute by the gremlin Saki Kashima. Risa Sera got revenge for her World of Stardom title match defeat by beating Syuri in impressive fashion. Mina Shirakawa and Natsupoi had an emotional intra-faction clash. And Momo Watanabe and Hazuki, two former stablemates, had a terrific match as well.


Aside from all of that, Oedo Tai's leader Natsuko Tora, attacked Utami Hayashishita and announced that she was cleared to wrestle again after spending nearly 17 months on the shelf to round it all up.


Few shows this year, let alone this month, were able to juggle around so many exciting matches and yet not overdo it to the point of exhausting their audience. Sure there were some really emotional clashes here, but Rossy Ogawa was smart to space them apart from one another.


Honorable Mentions:

  • TJPW Wrestle Princess 3 (10/9)

  • AAA TripleMania XXX: Mexico City (10/15)

  • DPW Carolina Classic (10/15)

  • Stardom Tag League Night 1 (10/23)

  • NOAH Ariake Triumph - The Return - Pro-Wrestling Love Forever 3 (10/30)

 

FAVORITE PROMOTION

Stardom

Yep.


Once again, Stardom has won my favorite promotion of the month. The Joshi giant continued their incredible year in October, as they concluded the greatest 5STAR Grand Prix in history with a terrific final show, and also began what could end up being a great Goddesses of Stardom Tag League. Of the 19 match of the year candidates I listed from October, five came from Stardom and one featured Stardom talent in another promotion.


In between their two tournaments, Stardom also began the IWGP Women's Championship tournament. And while some matches were better than others, the planned final between Mayu Iwatani and KAIRI was not only the right decision, but will surely make for the best match when they clash at the first ever Stardom/New Japan joint event.


Aside from all of that, I had the pleasure of seeing Mayu Iwatani, my favorite female wrestler of all time, wrestle live at New Japan's Rumble on 44th Street event. It was a dream come true seeing her hit all the moves I've long enjoyed watching her do on tv. Also her theme song hits harder in person.


All in all, and stop me if I'm repeating myself, Stardom's reign on top of the pro wrestling world continues for another month. And if you haven't already, watch Stardom.


Honorable Mentions:

  • DDT

  • DPW

  • NJPW

  • WWE

 

BONUS

El Generico confesses to being a cannibal (featuring Colt Cabana)

This is a pro-Scott Colton blog.

 

PREVIOUS WINNERS


Wrestler(s)

  • January (Male/Female) - Dragon Dia (Dragongate)

  • February (Male/Female) - MJF (AEW)

  • March (Male) - Zack Sabre Jr. (NJPW)

  • March (Female) - KAIRI (Stardom)

  • April (Male) - Wheeler Yuta (AEW)

  • April (Female) - AZM (Stardom)

  • May (Male) - El Desperado (NJPW)

  • May (Female) - ASUKA/VENY (Freelance)

  • June (Male) - Will Ospreay (NJPW)

  • June (Female) - Miyuki Takase (Freelance)

  • July (Male) - Claudio Castagnoli (AEW/ROH)

  • July (Female) - Natsupoi (Stardom)

  • August (Male) - Will Ospreay (NJPW) (2nd)

  • August (Female) - Hazuki (Stardom)

  • September (Male) - Kazusada Higuchi (DDT)

  • September (Female) - Mayu Iwatani (Stardom)

  • October (Male) - Sami Zayn (WWE)

  • October (Female) - Giulia (Stardom)

Tag Team(s)

  • January - D'Courage (Dragon Dia and Yuki Yoshioka - Dragongate)

  • February - 37KAMIINA (Konosuke Takeshita and Yuki Ueno - DDT)

  • March - Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley - AEW)

  • April - FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood - AEW/ROH)

  • May - F.W.C. (Hazuki and Koguma - Stardom)

  • June - FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood - AEW) (2nd)

  • July - FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood - AEW) (3rd)

  • August - meltear (Natsupoi and Tam Nakano - Stardom)

  • September - The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster - AEW)

  • October - Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis - NJPW)

Faction

  • January - Prominence (Freelance)

  • February - House of Black (AEW)

  • March - Donna Del Mondo (Stardom)

  • April - Blackpool Combat Club (AEW)

  • May - God's Eye (Stardom)

  • June - Natural Vibes (Dragongate)

  • July - Blackpool Combat Club (AEW) (2nd)

  • August - The United Empire (NJPW)

  • September - The Bloodline (WWE)

  • October - Donna del Mondo (Stardom) (2nd)

Match

  • January (Male) - Go Shiozaki vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH The New Year, 1/1)

  • January (Female) - Mayu Iwatani vs. Giulia (Stardom Nagoya Supreme Fight, 1/29)

  • February (Male) - HARASHIMA & Naomi Yoshimura vs. Konosuke Takeshita & Yuki Ueno (DDT Ultimate Tag League 2022 The Final!!, 2/27)

  • February (Female) - AZM vs. Starlight Kid (Stardom Cinderella Journey In Nagaoka, 2/23)

  • March (Female) - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW New Japan Cup Night 13, 3/26)

  • March (Female) - Saya Kamitani vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom World Climax Night 2: The Top, 3/27)

  • April (Male/Female) - FTR vs. Briscoe Brothers (ROH Supercard of Honor, 4/1)

  • April (Female) - AZM vs. Mei Suruga (Stardom Cinderella Tournament 2022 Final, 4/29)

  • May (Male/Female) - El Phantasmo vs. Robbie Eagles (NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night 9, 5/26)

  • May (Female) - Syuri vs. ASUKA (Hana Kimura Memorial “Bagus”, 5/23)

  • June (Male) - Will Ospreay vs. Orange Cassidy (AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door, 6/26)

  • June (Female) - Miyuki Takase vs. Miyu Yamashita (DPW No Pressure, 6/5)

  • July (Male) - FTR vs. Briscoe Brothers (ROH Death Before Dishonor, 7/23)

  • July (Female) - Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch (WWE SummerSlam, 7/30)

  • August (Male) - Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 20, 8/18)

  • August (Female) - MIRAI vs. Suzu Suzuki (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix 2022 Night 5, 8/11)

  • September (Male) - Kazusada Higuchi vs. Konosuke Takeshita (DDT Who's Gonna Top? 2022, 9/25)

  • September (Female) - Mayu Iwatani vs. Giulia (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix 2022 Night 13, 9/11)

  • October (Male) - Ren Narita vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW Battle Autumn Night 9, 10/26)

  • October (Female) - Giulia vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

Show

  • January - Stardom Nagoya Supreme Fight (1/29)

  • February - Stardom Cinderella Journey In Nagaoka (2/23)

  • March - AEW Revolution (3/6)

  • April - ROH Supercard of Honor (4/1)

  • May - Hana Kimura Produce "Bagus" (5/23)

  • June - AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door (6/26)

  • July - WWE SummerSlam (7/30)

  • August - DDT Wrestle Peter Pan (8/20)

  • September - NJPW Burning Spirit Night 3 (9/5)

  • October - Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20 (10/1)

Promotion

  • January - Stardom

  • February - All Elite Wrestling

  • March - New Japan Pro Wrestling

  • April - Stardom (2nd)

  • May - New Japan Pro Wrestling (2nd)

  • June - Pro Wrestling WAVE

  • July - WWE

  • August - Stardom (3rd)

  • September - Stardom (4th)

  • October - Stardom (5th)

 

Every Match of the Year Candidate in 2022 from June (9/10s or higher)

(Note: Italics means it was my match of the month)

  1. Giulia vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

  2. Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

  3. Giulia vs. Suzu Suzuki (Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix Night 20, 10/1)

  4. Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood vs. Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis (NJPW Royal Quest II Night 1, 10/1)

  5. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yota Tsuji (NJPW Royal Quest II Night 2, 10/2)

  6. Atsuki Aoyagi vs. Rising HAYATO (AJPW Raising An Army Memorial Series 2022 Night 1, 10/2)

  7. Kazusada Higuchi vs. Shinya Aoki (DDT Get Alive 2022, 10/12)

  8. El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Rey Fenix (AAA TripleMania XXX: Mexico City, 10/15)

  9. Pentagon Jr. vs. Villano IV (AAA TripleMania XXX: Mexico City, 10/15)

  10. Emi Sakura vs. Mei Suruga (DPW Carolina Classic, 10/15)

  11. Lucky Ali vs. Andrew Everett vs. Mike Bailey vs. SB KENTo (DPW Carolina Classic, 10/15)

  12. Giulia and Thekla vs. Natsupoi and Tam Nakano (Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League 2022 Night 1, 10/23)

  13. Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita (Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League 2022 Night 1, 10/23)

  14. Kazusada Higuchi vs. Yukio Sakaguchi (DDT God Bless DDT 2022, 10/23)

  15. Ren Narita vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW Battle Autumn 2022 Night 9, 10/26)

  16. Mayu Iwatani vs. KiLynn King (NJPW Rumble on 44th Street, 10/28)

  17. Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo (NJPW Rumble on 44th Street, 10/28)

  18. Minoru Suzuki vs. Tom Lawlor (DEFY Kingdom Come, 10/29)

  19. Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kenoh (NOAH NOAH Ariake Triumph - The Return - Pro-Wrestling Love Forever 3, 10/30)

 

Most Match of the Year Candidates (As of 10/1):

1st. Will Ospreay - 16

2nd. Syuri - 11

T3rd. Mayu Iwatani, Tomohiro Ishii - 10

T5th. Giulia, Konosuke Takeshita - 9

T7th. Jon Moxley, Tam Nakano, Kazuchika Okada, Saya Kamitani, Shingo Takagi - 8

12th. El Desperado - 7

T13th. Kenoh, MIRAI, Starlight Kid - 6

T16th. AZM, Dax Harwood, Hazuki, Kazusada Higuchi, Tetsuya Naito, Suzu Suzuki, Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

Special thanks to WhoScored, Transfermarkt, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, Cagematch, and 1.02.JP for helping make me a more well-informed fan.


Featured Image Credit - Stardom


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