Matches of the Month—March 2021

Andrew Stewart presents his favourite matches of March 2021…

Cody Rhodes & Red Velvet vs. Shaquille O’Neal & Jade Cargill—March 3rd (Dynamite, AEW)

It is hilarious, fitting and completely justified that this was the first notebook match of March. To say this was anything short of triumphant would be a gross understatement. While this match was obviously far better than it had any right to be, to even say it was bad would immediately expose someone as acting in bad faith.

The initial exchange between Cody and Shaq had me in tears (Shaq as well, for some reason) because I could not believe what I was seeing. While Shaq looked like he made the earnest effort, the real takeaway from this match is the rivalry between Red Velvet and Jade. I have loved Red Velvet in the ring since her initial debut, but there is an unexplainable magnetism to Jade Cargill. She exudes genuine star power, which is a rarity these days. While she has a ways to go in the ring, Jade’s pure talent and athleticism is something everyone should be buzzing about.

Also, Shaq took one of the best table bumps of all time… and that is not hyperbole. Cody was a fantastic general, but that is exactly what I expected him to be. Peak Pro Wrestling.

Tetsuya Naito vs. The Great O-Khan—March 4th (49th Anniversary Show, NJPW)

Not only was this the best match of O-Khan’s run so far in New Japan, but he also beat a (if not THE) top guy on his way to the second round of the New Japan Cup. I despised the fact New Japan followed up this enormous victory with a loss to a man that is a leech; a leech that, instead of sucking blood, sucks the joy out of my soul. That, however, was not the match worthy of discussion.

Naito is known for belittling and mocking his opponents before he unabashedly crushes their skull with a Destino. O-Khan takes this and dials it up to a point where it no longer can be described as a cheeky rib. O-Khan is insidious in the best type of way. I understand that O-Khan is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I will take a whole mug of that tea, please and thank you. The man understands professional wrestling and he understands maintaining an aura. Most importantly, he understands how to bring all of that to the ring. It isn’t a work-rate classic, but this match is definitely a window looking out toward the future. While a lot of the future of New Japan seems to be hazy at best, there is a light on the horizon.

Kota Ibushi vs. El Desperado—March 4th (49th Anniversary Show, NJPW)

I’ll be honest, the match was quite good, but that isn’t the reason it was memorable. Ibushi’s and Despy’s respective matches at Castle Attack far surpassed anything they did on this night…but El Desperado was challenging for both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships. While that is pretty spectacular in and of itself, he will forever be the last man in history to do so.

There are few people in New Japan that had a spectacular run in the last twelve months. The Empire’s tag team with Cobb and O-Khan, Minoru Suzuki and Shingo Takagi all felt like appointment viewing. El Desperado is the only other name that I would add to that list…Maybe Douki in BOSJ because he was a complete psychopath…but I digress. To cap off the previous twelve months with his first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and a challenge for both heavyweight titles is something special.

Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura—March 4th (NXT UK)

Meiko Satomura kicks Kay Lee Ray in the face - March 2021

It seems like every four to six months, there is a match on NXT UK worth talking about. Normally it involves a certain Austrian behemoth, but in this case, living legend Meiko Satomura is beginning to cement a legacy in NXT UK. This match was classic technical wrestling with an elevated physicality that has been lacking in a lot of the WWE women’s divisions. While the match itself is quite good, it is another one that should be highlighted simply for existing.

Keisuke Okuda vs. HYO—March 6th (Champion Gate Night One, Dragon Gate)

Dragon Gate is making its way out of the expected post-Final Gate lull. Again, this match should be highlighted not for the match itself, but what it stands for. Dragon Gate focuses on developing young talent more than any other company in the world right now. While Okuda isn’t THAT young, he is still fairly new to professional wrestling. HYO, on the other hand, is a very young man that has been molded in the Dragon Gate system.

This match was heavily laced with interference and shenanigans, but I’m attracted to the work of Okuda in any context. Dragon Gate has been developing what some refer to as a new “bantamweight” in-house style that is more grounded than previous generations. Along with the man in the next match on this list, Okuda is a poster boy for this generation.

Shun Skywalker vs. Kaito Ishida—March 7th (Champion Gate Night Two, Dragon Gate)

While Champion Gate is essentially a C-level show that suffers from a bit of atmospheric issues in terms of production, this match transcends any potential annoyance one may have. Copy and paste everything I said about young talent and exemplify it for this match. If you looked at the Skywalker and Ishida matchup on paper, you may have expected something different than what we got. What we got was two young bucks beating the absolute piss out of each other for over thirty minutes.

When it comes to pure in-ring talent, Shun Skywalker is one of the three best world champions in the entire industry. I would only put Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi above him…and he is inching closer to Ibushi on a weekly basis. Ishida is a star in the making and it is almost painful to be forced to wait until a babyface turn for that Open the Dream Gate Championship to be draped upon his shoulder. I fell in love with Dragon Gate late last year, and this match proves why it is worth the investment. Watch this match online, give the promotion a taste, and then proceed to purchase the Dragon Gate Network.

Tomoaki Honma vs. Minoru Suzuki—March 6th (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

They beat the hell out of each other and it absolutely ruled. That’s all.

Shingo Takagi vs. Kazuchika Okada—March 6th (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

Shingo Takagi charges into Kazuchika Okada - March 2021

Shingo has officially surpassed Okada as the guy you can count on to give you consistently memorable performances against any number of opponents. While I felt their G1 match last year was superior, I loved the fact that Shingo learned from his past mistakes, most notably getting choked out by the Money Clip. Shingo took Okada apart masterfully, and while I doubt I will remember too many specifics from this match, it is still necessary to catalogue excellent Shingo performances, even when they seemingly happen on such a regular basis. This was one of the first round matches of the New Japan Cup that everyone was looking forward to, and it delivered.

Utami Hayashishita vs. Saya Kamitani & Giulia vs. Tam Nakano—March 3rd (All Star Dream Cinderella, Stardom)

First of all, this is out of chronological order because it took about a week for All Star Dream Cinderella to make its way to Stardom World. Second, I purchased Stardom World specifically for this show because it seemed like a logical place to start.

Considering this is the coldest of cold introductions, I felt as though I could really only talk about these as a duo as I don’t know enough to dive into specifics. The fact of the matter is, this was some of the best women’s wrestling I have seen in a long time. These two headlining matches in particular sold me on investing in Stardom to a pretty significant degree.

While I had heard the name of Mayu Iwatani several dozen times and came across the odd clip, I had never taken the time to dive into the promotion as a whole. As I am sure is the case with many viewers, Giulia jumps off the screen, and her hair versus hair match against Nakano felt emotionally driven in a way a match like that is supposed to. Beyond her physical capabilities and charisma, she is now cosplaying as G.I. Jane…and as a child of the 90s…that is just the best. I highly suggest the streaming service as it is affordable and extremely easy to navigate. I am diving head first.

Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks vs. Clark Connors & Kevin Knight—March 6th (Strong, NJPW)

New Japan Strong started as an empty arena showcase event for some of the LA Dojo Young Lions and a few of the American wrestlers that were stuck in the country throughout the early months of the pandemic. It has evolved into a very enjoyable hour that almost always has one match that is worth checking out. If it had a hot crowd, it would remind me of the old WWE Network version of NXT.

Alex and Karl have been on the shelf for an extended period of time, which is unfortunate for Fredericks especially. Initially, it seemed as though Strong would center on him as the primary star. Well, everyone is healthy and this group of LA Dojo buddies decided it would be fun to beat the piss out of each other. An excellent openweight tag that reminds you why New Japan has one of the strongest dojo systems in the world. If you have New Japan World, go out of your way to check this out.

Kazushi Sakuraba & Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya—March 7th (Great Voyage 2021 in Yokohama, NOAH)

Plain and simple, this is a match of the year contender. With the top of the card in NOAH going from the best in the world to probably the worst in a major company, this was a return to form that reignited my excitement for the actual bright spots in NOAH.

Nakajima is one of my favorite wrestlers in the entire world, so I am always invested in anything he is involved in. However, all four of these men were in top form. Even though great Sakuraba performances are few and far between, this was the best I have seen from him in a while.

Blindingly violent, with what may be my favorite finish of all time, this match by itself is worth the subscription to Wrestle Universe. Kitamiya and Nakajima call themselves The Aggression, and I am not aware of any other tag team name that is quite as apt.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gabriel Kidd—March 7th (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

A couple of British boys doing Britwres things. This match went far longer than most would have anticipated, and while I never really bought that Gabe had any chance of winning, I enjoyed the ride. Beyond the technical skill, it is so rare that you get a singles match with a Young Lion going against an established champion. It was novel in its inception, as well as its work in the context of New Japan. Zack Sabre Jr. is the best in the world at what he does and Gabe was able to hang with him…and then some. These two will probably be feuding with each other in the not too distant future, and this match will be seen as the spark that started the fire.

The Young Bucks vs. MJF & Chris Jericho—March 7th (Revolution, AEW)

The Young Bucks hold MJF and Chris Jericho in stereo sharpshooters - March 2021

This match was the perfect version of exactly what I expected. While Revolution suffered from a bit of a mid-show lull, the beginning and end of the show were certainly memorable. When it comes to big moments, there has never been a tag team as consistently excellent as The Young Bucks. Throw in a thirty year veteran and a literal wrestling prodigy, it is pretty difficult to fail. The fact that this is the obvious first step in the dissolution of the current iteration of the Inner Circle is icing on the cake.

Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley—March 7th (Revolution, AEW)

It was an Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch in North America…need I say more? Yes, the final explosion was one of the worst botches in the history of modern wrestling, but AEW did the best possible job they could have in manipulating the context in their favor. The match itself was expertly worked in the way you would expect from Mox and Omega. The build to the first rope explosion, the double pop Moxley inflicted on Omega and the sheer brutality had me bouncing on the couch like a toddler. While the closing shots were diminished, the closing angle was literally perfect. Had Eddie Kingston ACTUALLY given his body for Mox, this would have been viewed as an all-timer.

Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole—March 10th (NXT)

This NXT Championship match was a return to form for both men. Adam Cole hasn’t really done much high level professional wrestling in the last few months and Balor’s Bloodsport-esque shoot style was beginning to feel a bit long in the tooth. This felt like a Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole professional wrestling match for a championship, and it was refreshing. The CWC is the worst environment in all of wrestling television and I have a hard time investing in matches on NXT television because I find it so incredibly distracting. This match was able to transcend the actively bad environment to make me feel like I was watching NXT for the first time in a very long time.

R.E.D. (BxB Hulk, HipHop Kikuta, Kazma Sakamoto, Kaito Ishida) vs. Masquerade (Jason Lee, La Estrella, Shun Skywalker & Kota Minoura)—March 13th, 2021 (Glorious Gate 2021 Night 5, NOAH)

Until one of these units disbands, it is almost a guarantee that a R.E.D. multi-man tag against Masquerade will make it onto a “best matches of the month” list. Of all the iterations of this match, this one was probably my favorite. These matches are a perfect mix of the Luchawres and bantamweight Dragon Gate house styles and every single character has a particular set of skills that are utilized in a multitude of different ways. La Estrella of Masquerade is already on the shortlist for rookie of the year and consistently produces sequences that you have almost definitely never seen before. Shun Skywalker is always incredible and Kazma Sakamoto has been brilliant in the role of indestructible monster. Watch Dragon Gate.

Rich Swann vs. Moose—March 13th (Sacrifice, Impact Wrestling)

Rich Swann is the definition of an above-average wrestler, but Moose seems to be in the opening stage of something rather special. Beginning with the Hard to Kill main event, where Moose was the obvious standout, he did more of the same against Swann. In reality, I am actually glad that Moose came up short in this match because Swann is almost certainly losing both the Impact and TNA World Championships to Kenny Omega at Rebellion on April 24th.

Seiki Yoshioka vs. Atsushi Kotoge—March 14th (Great Voyage 2021 in Fukuoka, NOAH)

While the GHC Heavyweight and National title scenes remain a pit of despair, the junior heavyweight title scene has been consistently good since the empty arena era of NOAH. Kotoge is a NOAH guy through and through, but Yoshioka is a relative newcomer. Kotoge is a very good wrestler, but Yoshioka is a special athlete. He moves like a beefier version of Masato Yoshino; a blistering pace and crispness that makes every single piece of physicality look legitimate. The match itself was fun, but it had a closing stretch that set it apart from any other match on the card.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay—March 14th (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

Zack Sabre Jr has a bloodied Will Ospreay tied up - March 2021

Ok…this may be recency bias…but I THINK this is the match of the year so far. This was the third in a trio of excellent matches, and while the previous two were fabulous, this one hit the next level. Sometimes Ospreay suffers from imposing his style on someone else; when the opponent can’t work around him, the match tends to fall flat. Shingo and Okada are the obvious exceptions, but ZSJ is officially a member of that group.

This was wrestled like two guys who are endlessly annoyed by the other and has watched them wrestle for over a decade…all of which may be true, so it makes sense that the chemistry would be special. This felt like a fight, but it wasn’t a brawl. This was performance art, but not contrived or choreographed. Expectations were high and they were blown out of the water. Go out of your way for this one.

Yuki Ueno vs. Yusuke Okada—March 14th (Day Dream Believer, DDT)

I am pretty much in love with DDT at this point and this match is a perfect illustration of why that is. Yes, Mecha Mummy and electric ass power is a part of DDT, but there is also some pretty fantastic Japanese strong style and/or King’s Road matches that occur on a regular basis, and they usually happen at the top of the card. Ueno is THE young guy in this promotion and Okada recently moved from the dark side of the moon that is All Japan. If you appreciate Japanese wrestling for the physicality, this match is for you. It was fast, brutal, and never came close to overstaying its welcome…in fact, I could have used ten more minutes of this match.

Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa—March 17th (Dynamite, AEW)

I don’t think it is hyperbole to say this was one of the most important women’s matches in the history of professional wrestling. There have been hardcore matches that reached this level of violence in other parts of the world. There have been tamer hardcore matches in the United States. I have never seen anything like this match in North American wrestling. This was not violence for the sake of violence, and every single moment felt earned. The way they built the brutality and drama to the point of crescendo was completely believable. I literally became overwhelmed with emotion when Rosa rolled Britt into the tacks in order to break up the Lockjaw.

Matches like this one are the reward for long term investment in professional wrestling. It was a magical moment that will be talked about for years to come and it felt like a turning point in a division that has been under a pretty intense level of scrutiny; good faith and bad. I didn’t see a single negative comment or criticism after this match, and that says a lot. In the words of Jon Moxley: “Beautiful, glorious wrestling violence.”

Jay White vs. David Finlay—March 18th (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

This New Japan Cup felt like it belonged to either Shingo Takagi or Will Ospreay from the beginning, but another important topic of conversation was, “who beats Jay White?”…Well, it was Finlay!

Finlay has been having a career best run since his return to New Japan post-pandemic break. He has been showing a degree of snap and fire since World Tag League that has led me to look forward to David Finlay matches, which was not something that used to happen often. Jay and David have known each other since the days at the dojo; any hardcore wrestling fan knows buddies beat the crap out of each other much more viciously than strangers ever would. While I would assume the styles of Jay and Finlay would mesh well, I didn’t expect it to deliver at such a high level. This was a standout match from what has been a pretty spectacular tournament.

Kazuyuki Fujita vs. Kenoh—March 21st (The Infinity, NOAH)

I honestly can’t believe I put this match on my list. I am adamantly opposed to the current title structure in NOAH at the moment, unless there is some kind of youth revolution that buries all of the old baldies in one fell swoop. While Cyber Fight has another old baldy in Jun Akiyama as the champion of DDT, Uncle Jun can still go. Mutoh is genuinely sad to watch and Fujita rarely looks as if he could be asked…but Kenoh has been having some tremendous matches with the old shooters (Kendo Kashin excluded). They just slapped each other around for about ten minutes and it was an absolute joy to watch. I abhorred the finish, which happened to make Kenoh look like an absolute dork, but if this means Kenoh can now kick Mutoh in the knees until his ligaments turn to dust and loses the GHC Heavyweight title, I am ok with it.

Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay—March 21st (New Japan Cup, NJPW)

Tone-deaf post-match angle aside, this match was fantastic. Shingo and Will are building one of the greatest in-ring rivalries in New Japan history. This match did not hit the heights of their BOSJ Final, and I would need to watch their match from last year’s G1 another time to decide exactly where this New Japan Cup Final should fall in the hierarchy. This match definitely felt like they were leaving something on the table, which seems like such an asinine thing to say considering the physicality involved throughout.

This tournament felt like it was Shingo’s since the first round; he had the hardest road and has undoubtedly been the hottest wrestler in the company…if not the world. That being said, it is obvious that New Japan sees unlimited potential in Ospreay, and it isn’t hard to see why from an in-ring standpoint. The Empire feels fresh, Shingo and Ospreay feels like a fresh rivalry and Ibushi defending against Ospreay feels fresh. This is not the last time we will see Shingo and Will in the main event. This will be looked back on as one of the rivalries of the decade; I would bet a lot of money on that.

Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus—March 21st (Fastlane, WWE)

Drew McIntyre DDT's Sheamus on a chair - March 2021

This should have been a WrestleMania match. This could have been a WrestleMania main event, and we would have been lucky to get it. That old trope of “friends hit harder” has been proven several times over with these two. I don’t watch Raw, so I haven’t seen this match four times in the last four weeks. I imagine I was able to enjoy it far more because of the degree of novelty. It was two beef bois beefing on each other and this is about as good as WWE can get in terms of a singles match. Drew and Sheamus are ABSOLUTELY the MVPs of the pandemic era in WWE and while Drew will probably get the moment in Tampa Bay he was robbed of last year, I have no idea what the future holds for Sheamus and that is unfortunate. However, this match, in this moment, was really awesome and proved why both of these guys should remain at the top of the card.

Kenny Omega vs. Matt Sydal—March 24th (Dynamite, AEW)

I mean…I don’t even know what to say. Sydal is wildly underrated in terms of modern influence and Kenny Omega is one of the best, if not the best in the world. I can’t wait to watch this match again in order to absorb every single second. This was the level of perfection I have come to expect from Kenny Omega, and the fact that I can expect perfection is an astounding feat on its own accord. The angle leading up to this match was actively goofy; the match itself was anything but. Kenny’s pace has slowed a bit since his heel turn, but when he works with someone as dynamic as Fenix or Sydal, I am reminded why I fell in love with him in the first place. This was innovative; that has always been what makes Kenny one of the best to ever do it. Only these two could have pulled this off in the way they did.

Darby Allin vs. John Silver—March 24th (Dynamite, AEW)

Darby has been SO much more grounded as a babyface champion than he was as a challenger. He still wrestles at a frenetic pace and throws his body around in ways I am not sure anyone should, but he is an absolute heat machine. Speaking of frenetic, John Silver is just that but in a completely different type of way. The John Silver hot tag is right up there with Nick Jackson and Rey Fenix in AEW. While Silver’s BTE antics with Brodie Lee and the Dark Order are what earned him a spot in all of our hearts, he is one hell of a wrestler. This, if I am not mistaken, was Silver’s first real singles match, so I wasn’t sure how his style would translate. Well, The Number One Mustard Boi proved he is the real deal. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat because I never felt Darby was in any danger of losing his TNT title, but I was engaged by this TNT title defence more than any other defences of Darby’s up to this point. While that definitely had something to do with Darby’s performance, Silver sent it over the top.

Bea Priestly and Konami vs. Giulia and Syuri—March 26th (Road to Yokohama Dream Cinderella, Stardom)

After taking the month to learn more about the promotion, and after the events of All Star Cinderella, THIS was the type of match I was looking forward to seeing. Stardom is meant to be the apex of the Joshi wrestling world, and while this match certainly wasn’t the most important, the fact that it was still so good proves Stardom’s place in the hierarchy. I really enjoy all four of these performers when they are really going after it, and in this match, it felt like they were going after it.

Even though Korakuen Hall has lost a bit of luster in my mind due to NJPW “killing the territory”, it is still special outside of that promotion. This match was four women proving they are at the top of their game in preparation for their next big event. Plain and simple.

Flamita vs. Bandido vs. Rey Horus—March 26th (19th Anniversary, ROH)

The first true Lucha Libre spot fest of 2021. This is the type of wrestling that got me back into wrestling because it blows my mind. I could not care less about the art of selling when some luchadores just decide to have the match of the night. Watch it. Keep this article open…click on “new tab”… now watch it…… I KNOW, RIGHT?! I have nothing else to add.

Jonathan Gresham vs. Dak Draper—March 26th (19th Anniversary, ROH)

Yes, Dak Draper made my notebook. Jonathan Gresham is no longer wrestling’s best-kept secret. Any knowledgeable wrestling fan is at least vaguely aware of his technical acumen. Draper is not known for his technical ability; he is basically the OVW prototype from 2003, but I mean that as a compliment. While Dak is good at what he does, it felt odd that he was becoming a player in the Pure division when that is obviously not what he excels in. Well, obviously, with the right guy, Dak can excel in this division. The size discrepancy in this match was comical, but it ceases to be funny when you see Gresham chopping down the giant sequoia. This was a perfect blend of old school and new school technical wrestling, and while I can’t say it was the match of the night, without the surprise inclusion of the Mexisquad three-way, it definitely would have been.

Shun Skywalker vs. Kazma Sakamoto—March 27th (Memorial Gate, Dragon Gate)

This was the best Dragon Gate match of the year so far. Not that the Ishida match wasn’t good, but it did have a couple of stops and starts. I knew the second after the final bell rang that this match was excellent. Shun has a reputation for being a high flyer, but I think most of that simply comes from his aesthetic. When Shun buckles down, he is as physical as the most physical wrestlers on the planet. Kazma was someone I didn’t know much about before Dragon Gate, but apparently, most people underestimated him as a strong mid-card monster heel that would perform well in multi-man tags. Well, Kazma Sakamoto is a damn singles star. His INTELLIGENCE in this match was wonderful to watch. The slightest corrections would give him the advantage over the human missile that is Shun Skywalker. While Shun doesn’t have the superstar charisma that many expect from the Open the Dream Gate Champion, his in-ring work has solidified him as a great champion up to this point. Dragon Gate is the best promotion nobody is watching. I suggest you remedy that.

Natsupoi vs. Starlight Kid—March 28th (Osaka Day & Night, Stardom)

I haven’t seen a women’s match like this one…maybe ever? I only just started watching Stardom this month, and perhaps this was a fairly pedestrian main event in the landscape of this particular promotion, but this doesn’t exist in North American wrestling. Natsupoi has probably been my favorite woman to watch throughout the month of March; her quickness and athleticism are unmatched, and Starlight Kid is the perfect wrestler to work around this style. The High Speed division is easily my favorite in Stardom because of the novelty, but most of what I have seen up to this point has been impressive.

Jun Akiyama vs. Kazusada Higuchi—March 28th (Judgement, DDT)

For those that think DDT is simply a joke, watch this match. This felt like a mid-nineties All Japan championship match…which isn’t surprising, considering Akiyama was very successful within that system. Yukio Sakaguchi and Higuchi are the DDT Tag Team Champions as Eruption, and up until now, I have felt Sakaguchi was the vastly superior performer. Sakaguchi is the Strong Style and Higuchi is walking the King’s Road. Considering Uncle Jun has walked that road many times previous to this, he brought everything out of Higuchi that I was hoping to see.

Out of all the old baldies under the Cyber Fight umbrella, Akiyama is the one that can genuinely still go. While the next KO-D Openweight Championship match WILL almost certainly be a joke, Akiyama looks and feels like one of the most legitimate champions in Japan.

Jacob Fatu vs. Calvin Tankman—March 31st (Never say Never, MLW)

Jacob Fatu holds up the CONTRA flag as Daivari watches - March 2021

I talk a lot about 21st Century Heavyweights; what that means is basically a true heavyweight that has the athletic prowess of a cruiserweight but knows exactly how to use all of those attributes at once in order to create a spectacle that is unmatched by most. Fatu is the ultimate 21st Century Heavyweight. The first live wrestling show I ever attended was at Reality of Wrestling in Texas City. Jacob Fatu showed up like a mercenary and murdered a guy—it might have been Bryan Keith, I don’t remember—but I DO remember leaving my seat when he hit that two-hop moonsault, because I have never seen a guy his size do what he did.

I discovered Calvin Tankman this summer through GCW once they returned from the initial pandemic break…again…doing things a guy this size should not be able to do. TOGETHER, they had the best match since the return of MLW Fusion. I wasn’t a fan of the finish… but hey, I am sure they will run this back. We saw glimpses of something that could be very special down the line as long as the two of them stick around.

Slade vs. Matthew Justice—March 31st (Signature Series, Beyond Wrestling)

Beyond’s Signature Series has been very good, certainly the best independent programming I have seen in some time; the Greatest Rivals Round Robin tournament being the standout event on the program. However… we had a mid-card match on this day that had absolutely nothing to do with wrestling. This was a literal hardcore massacre. I don’t believe I have seen Slade actually perform before this match, but I have seen Justice many times, and if ever there were a man that I would say “goes for it”… well, both of these goddamn psychopaths went for it.

I have never heard such a stunned silence from a crowd before; what’s more, the crowd was made up of independent wrestlers that have probably seen everything under the sun. This was genuinely uncomfortable to watch, and since I am an absolute ghoul, I thought it was AWESOME. Unabashed violence that felt completely legitimate from the second the bell rang. If you are a ghoul, you need to watch this, because you will be floored.

Christian Cage vs. Frankie Kazarian—March 31st (Dynamite, AEW)

Christian was the definition of an unknown quantity going into this match, but we did know that Christian and Kaz have had some bangers from their days in TNA. Little did I know this would turn out to be one of my favorite matches in AEW this month.

I talk a lot about novelty; novel concepts, characters and match dynamics are what excite me more than any other aspect of professional wrestling. While this match was not novel in a vacuum, it was most certainly novel in the context of AEW. Cody Rhodes is AEW’s “wrassler”, and while I love his southern style matches, his are really the only matches of that type we see on Dynamite. Christian and Kaz had an old school, worker’s worker type of professional wrestling match and beat the piss out of each other on the way there.

Not only can Christian still go, he felt like one of the more talented members on the roster. I have been fearful about several of the newest signings by AEW, Christian being one of them. I want AEW to feel ELITE, and matches highlighting Matt Hardy and Ethan Page on a weekly basis does not make me feel like I am watching something Elite. Beyond Christian, Kaz looked like an elite-level heel. Kaz was easily my favorite part of this match and it had me rubbing my hands together in anticipation for the eventual SCU split and official heel turn. This was a clinic and something one doesn’t usually see on Wednesday, so my Christian fears are officially squashed for the time being.

Best Friends vs. Kip Sabian and Miro—March 31st (Dynamite, AEW)

It is kind of incredible that this list began with Shaq and ended with Arcade Anarchy—two absolute triumphs in completely different contexts, but with a similar level of endearing absurdity. I think it is fair to say this entire feud was one of AEW’s weakest from start to finish. They obviously constructed the idea of Arcade Anarchy well in advance, but with the injury to Trent, I suppose it wouldn’t have been as impactful…and impactful this was.

While Miro hasn’t been used in the best possible way, any time he shows up on Dynamite, he looks like an absolute monster. This was no exception. In a match that is inherently a bit goofy, he strayed away from the gimmicks and focused on his attempt to destroy people. Chuckie T is actually kind of a plunder match master and Orange Cassidy…is, well…Orange Cassidy.

I hate to say Kip has kind of just been a guy, but he was also kind of just a guy here as well. Penelope Ford, on the other hand, had a major part in one of the spots of the night. Kris Statlander returning inside of a claw machine and punching out the plexiglass into Penelope’s face, only to then plow Penelope through an air hockey table…I mean…it doesn’t get much better than that.

Our alien friend was not the only return we had on the night. Just when it was looking like it was over for the Best Friends…in the distance, we see a light, no, two lights…a vehicle… A VAN! COULD IT BE?! (In my best Tony Schiavone voice) IT’S SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE! Trent hops out of the van, huge pop, runs buck wild, Best Friends get the win with their new Best Alien Friend and AEW Dynamite goes off the air with Trent and Sue giving each other a proud thumbs-up as Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?” plays in the background. The match itself was not the greatest, but good god was that closing one of the most emotionally satisfying things I have ever seen on a wrestling show. 8 stars. This is why we watch this goofy crap.

Written by Andrew Stewart

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