136. AJ Styles vs Minoru Suzuki (NJPW G1 Climax 2014)

Inside The Ropes magazine (in issues 24 and 25) recently printed a two part feature on the 100 Greatest Matches of the Decade 2011 to 2021 . The WWE matches included are nothing new to me…but their NJPW matches? Some of them I hadn’t watched during my new odyssey of NJPW World. So, I started from the beginning of the list! The list is in date order, not quality order, by. the way.

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135. Will Ospreay vs Zack Sabre Jr (NJPW New Japan Cup 2022)

There was one NJPW Meltzer-rated 5* match I hadn’t seen from 2022…Yet another Will Ospreay match, his bout against Zack Sabre Jr at the New Japan Cup tournament. Would it fall short of 5* perfection, as I feel most Ospreay matches do? Or would Sabre Jr temper William’s excesses?

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134. Will Ospreay (c) vs Kenny Omega (IWGP US Championship, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17)

Wrestle Kingdom 17 has been and gone…and the only match people are talking about is Will Ospreay vs Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Championship. Of course, this dream match was the bout to put bums on seats. Forget White vs Okada; that was old hat with an obvious outcome. Every wrestling fan I talked to suddenly had an interest in NJPW. It’s a bout that would bring in every type of wrestling fan. Could they live up to the lofty expectations? Almost…almost…

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133. Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW G1 Climax 23 2013)

Inside The Ropes magazine (in issues 24 and 25) recently printed a two part feature on the 100 Greatest Matches of the Decade 2011 to 2021 . The WWE matches included are nothing new to me…but their NJPW matches? Some of them I hadn’t watched during my new odyssey of NJPW World. So, I started from the beginning of the list! The list is in date order, not quality order, by. the way.

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132. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Minoru Suzuki (IWGP Championship, NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2012)

For ten years, there was a hole in my soul. For ten years, I was without a monthly wrestling magazine. I loved Power Slam back in the day, and no other wrestling mag would do. In 2021, I happened to be browsing the shelves of WHSmith and found Inside The Ropes, the spiritual successor to the hallowed Power Slam. Finally, that hole in my soul was slowly being healed with every issue that I purchased (handily, you can even buy a PDF version, so you don’t even have to leave the house to buy it! What a world we live in…).

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131. Zack Sabre Jr vs Shingo Takagi (NJPW New Japan Cup 2022)

So here it is…the last on Meltzer’s list of NJPW’s 5* rated matches! I haven’t managed to watch any AEW/ROH 5* matches, but I can watch WWE/NJPW ones!!! The clash between Zack Sabre Jr. and Shingo Takagi at New Japan Cup 2022 was the last one to strike off my list. And, unfortunately, I thought it was just an average match, not a patch on Sabre Jr’s earlier clash against Will Ospreay at the same event.

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130. Bret Hart (c) vs The British Bulldog (WWF Championship, WWF In Your House : Season’s Beatings)

Tis the Season to be jolly…well, I know Christmas 2022 has been and gone, but I’ve been busy, so only managed to watch one Christmas themed wrestling match! In 1995, WWE presented In Your House: Season’s Beatings. The only bout that prevented it from being instantly forgettable was Bret Jart vs The British Bulldog for the WWE Championship. We all know about their Summerslam 1992 classic, but this underrated bout is just as good.

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129. Kairi vs Mayu Iwatani (Women’s IWGP Championship, NJPW/Stardom Historic X-Over)

I am late to the show, but I eventually caught up with the (main event of the)  NJPW/Stardom Historic X-Over. Now, I’m sceptical about anything with the word ‘historic’ in its title. If something is historic, you don’t need to be told that, do you? Anyway, I was intrigued to watch anything involving Stardom. It’s a wrestling organization I am unfamiliar with, and this was my first step to rectify my lack of knowledge. And while I enjoyed Kairi (no sane) vs Mayu Iwatani, it didn’t blow me away…

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128. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka versus Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, and Chaparita Asari (4 on 4 Elimination Match, WWE Survivor Series 1995)

Before Stephanie McMahon revolutionised women’s wrestling (or at least that’s what WWE has programmed me to think), you’d rarely see substantial women’s traditional elimination matches at Survivor Series. Now, the women are given ample time to show they are just as good as, if not better, than the men. At Survivor Series 1995, the women were barely given ten minutes in their four on four elimination match. However, bolstered with talent from the (legitimately) revolutionary All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, the women made the most out of their limited time.

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127. The Road Warriors, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff and Paul Ellering vs The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard) and J.J. Dillon (Inaugural War Games Match, NWA The Great American Bash 1987)

After two awful War Games matches, it was time for a War Games match that did the gimmick justice! The WWE Network has a ‘Best of War Games’ feature, and the first match on that compilation is the first ever War Games match: NWA’s The Great American Bash 1987! If you can forgive the odd presentation, the WWE Network’s odd editing of the match (the first few minutes are missing), and a damp squib if an ending, this inaugural gimmick match encapsulates everything that was great about War Games…

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