This week in wrestling, Cody Rhodes won the ROH World title, Carmella re-won the Money in the Bank briefcase during a big week for women in WWE, and New Japan invaded the US. Here are our favorite wrestlers this week. Who’s yours?
This week’s panel —
Alan 4L (Dr. Keith Presents host and Figure Four Weekly writer)
Joseph Currier (WrestlingObserver.com editor and Figure Four Weekly writer)
Zach Dominello (Columnist)
Okay, so reverting to one of the tried and trusted this week. With the man having seriously had more high-end MOTY level bouts in the last four years than is humanly possible — you have to wonder how long more he can do that. At some point he’s got to slow down, right?
Well, this week we got a glimpse of what the next stage of Tomohiro Ishii’s career could look like if that inevitably happens. At Korakuen Hall on the final Kizuna Road show, Ishii had a rare meeting with one of New Japan’s Young Lions — and boy was it a treat.
For whatever reason he’s not gotten to wrestle the Young Lions much, but if his dealings with Katsuya Kitamura are anything to go by, then that is something that the Stone Pitbull is made for. The back and forth between him and the muscled-up former amateur wrestler was tremendous and had Korakuen rocking until Ishii decided he’d had enough and took the rookie’s head off with a brutal match-ending lariat.
So whenever Ishii decides he’s done with classic wars, Young Lions watch out because you might be getting quite the tough assignment on a regular basis!
By Zach Dominello
Between Hiromu Takahashi and his pet kitty, and Okada’s affinity with In-N-Out Burger, picking my favorite wrestler this week was a tall order. But then I watched night one of New Japan’s “G1 Special in USA” and Michael Elgin pulled out something that made me laugh so much and for so long that the choice pretty much made itself.
The spot took place in the final stretch of the match with Kenny Omega. Kenny had Elgin down and did his usual gun hand gesture to Elgin’s head, but suddenly Elgin grabbed Kenny’s “gun” and pulled it to his head and shouted “DO IT!” — like some dramatic scene out of an action flick.
Not sure if it was intentional or not, but it was one of the funniest spots I’ve seen in a long while. And for that, Michael Elgin is my favorite wrestler this week.
By Joseph Currier
Kazuchika Okada’s main event against Cody Rhodes at the first night of the G1 Special exceeded my expectations, but that didn’t really surprise me. Okada has overdelivered in every big singles match he’s had this year.
What impressed me most was just how much of a superstar he is. That Okada is a special talent may be the most obvious thing in pro wrestling right now, but the aura that he has is incredible. There aren’t even a handful of others in the industry who carry themselves like him.
Okada always got really good reactions (with Hiroshi Tanahashi getting surprisingly subdued ones) whenever NJPW wrestlers would come over for shows with ROH, but it was always clear that Shinsuke Nakamura was the biggest star to the US audience. Okada has taken over that role as the NJPW Japanese wrestler that is most over with crowds in the US now that Nakamura is gone.
Kenny Omega may be the face of any NJPW expansion into North America, but Okada will be just as valuable. He could be the top guy in any country or promotion in the world at any point in time.