At long last, Buddy Matthews Week is here. With three ‘televised’ matches across three days, ‘The Australian Nightmare’ has well and truly arrived, appearing across multiple territories in just one week. Two of those three matches are included in this project, finally explaining why I originally opted to do this anyway. Elsewhere, NWA has their Crockett Cup build to complete and IMPACT Wrestling is headed towards another show I’m sure, probably a couple of them honestly.
Match of the Week
The week’s four best matches, regardless of promotion or show.
- Buddy Matthews vs. Ren Narita – NJPW Strong: Rivals 3/19/22
One of the best NJPW Strong bouts in recent memory, this exceeded my already lofty expectations. Buddy Matthews is my focus here and usually is, but Ren Narita had a standout showing, confirming what most already believed regarding his potential. This was a simple story told expertly, with the domineering veteran becoming increasingly frustrated at his younger foe’s unwavering confidence. In the end, Matthews closed the show with spite, scoring an emphatic win but elevating Narita in the process.
2. TJP vs. Buddy Matthews – MLW Fusion 3/17/22
Though overly long and stretched to its limits in terms of content, this was just so well wrestled that I can’t have it fall any lower. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why this could bore some but as one of the twelve people invested in babyface Buddy, I was engrossed even throughout the lulls. Not a particularly dynamic or interesting match, but just rock solid pro wrestling, with the kind of pacing and selling that pops me and me only. Also, Bud Matt.
3. The Motor City Machine Guns vs. BULLET Club – IMPACT Wrestling 3/17/22
While slightly hurt by a bizarre, likely botched finish, this was a tremendous television opener and delivered on the relative hype. Sabin and Shelley are always a delight together and that never changes, but they were paired with compelling dance partners on IMPACT. Chris Bey and Jay White have a really fun chemistry within BULLET Club and were very good here, combining with the tag team legends for an exciting tag team tilt.
4. Chris Bey vs. Blake Christian – NJPW Strong: Rivals 3/19/22
Moves, moves and more moves, this was nothing if not fun. Warts and all, these two worked so hard that I needed to get them on here somehow, swinging for the fences throughout and really thrilling the live LA crowd. Bey is the more charismatic half of this match but I must say, Christian has been awful prolific as of late. He’s not only everywhere but he’s working with a real motivation also, just desperate to steal every show he’s on.
Segment of the Week
The week’s four best segments, from backstage interviews to in-ring brawls.
- All Access: Hammerstone – MLW Fusion 3/17/22
One of the oldest plays in the wrestling playbook, I love stuff like this. Here, MLW took Alexander Hammerstone, their babyface champion, and simply told his story. Along the way, they added depth to his on-screen persona, humanising the hulking ace and giving the audience different reasons to root for him. I will say that unfortunately, I thought this was slightly out of place considering last week’s angle but nonetheless, I love the simplicity and thought that Hammerstone came across wonderfully.
2. Matt Cardona vs. Nick Aldis Head-to-Head Promo – NWA PowerrrSurge 3/15/22
I know that Nick Aldis can be incredibly divisive online, but I really liked him here. Adding a more straightforward edge to proceedings, he was a nice contrast with the more theatrical NWA World’s Champion. Don’t get me wrong, Matt Cardona was solid here also, but Aldis was the driving force in my view. Folks can laugh, but Aldis’ sheer sincerity when talking about this brand’s history is palpable, and it’s perfectly positioned in this particular programme.
3. Richard Holliday Pre-Tape Promo – MLW Fusion 3/17/22
Standing over Alexander Hammerstone’s blood, Richard Holliday cut a strong heel promo to kick off MLW Fusion. Holliday is trying admirably to add a sadistic edge to his character and thus far, I’d say the results have been mixed. Even still, it’s well worth trying, especially as Holliday’s familiar arrogance remains unmoved. This programme has been impressive so far, simple pro wrestling storytelling done well, with Holliday proving his worth as the promotion’s potential top heel.
4. Josh Alexander Backstage Interview – IMPACT Wrestling 3/17/22
Nothing much here, but it was a slim week in terms of strong segments, so here it is I guess. Nonetheless, I always enjoy Josh Alexander’s conviction in these promos, bringing that steady delivery each and every week. Alexander isn’t playing a character or trying anything extravagant, he’s just being a badass pro wrestler and with that, comes an authentic charisma and confidence.
Star of the Week
The top four stars of the week, excluding talent signed to the big two.
- Chris Bey
Shining bright in two of the week’s top four matches, Chris Bey was a lock for the top spot. Bey’s talent is and has been obvious, but he showed encouraging range here, leaning in two different directions for each match. The more traditional bumping heel on IMPACT, Bey spread his wings on Strong, matching Blake Christian’s acrobatics and impressing once again. I wish these showings meant more in terms of Bey’s overall position on the card but even still, he never fails to catch my eye.
2. Ren Narita
Producing a polished, mature performance against Buddy Matthews, Ren Narita further cemented an already widespread belief on Strong. Many have handpicked Narita as a future star and showings like this make that awful understandable, bringing such wonderful fire and physicality to each outing. That was especially present here, matching Matthews’ familiar intensity and producing one of my favourite NJPW Strong bouts thus far.
3. Nick Aldis
This is maybe a strange selection, but I’ve enjoyed Nick Aldis in this brief programme with Matt Cardona. Honestly, I liked much of his work opposite Thom Latimer too, so maybe I’m just a stan now or whatever. Seriously though, Aldis takes things seriously and does have a presence, so while he may not need another 1000 days as NWA World’s Champion, he clearly does have a role to play on Powerrr.
4. Blake Christian
More of the same from Blake Christian honestly, I just thought I’d feature him while I can, as I sense that before long, he’ll be ineligible for this category. Christian’s sheer output has been spectacular since returning to the indies, with this Strong match just one example of the style that’s earning him such high praise.
Show of the Week
The week’s television shows ranked in order, from best to worst.
- NJPW Strong
Back in the top form that we’ve come to expect, this was one of the year’s best episodes of NJPW Strong. Featuring an immense main event with AEW star Buddy Matthews, Strong wasn’t just a one match show either, actually going three for three in that regard. The opening trios bout was entertaining from start to finish, with Blake Christian and Chris Bey then doing every move imaginable, only raising that bar along the way. An absolute hit, from first bell to last.
2. IMPACT Wrestling
Bookended by strong action to open and close, this was a solid outing for IMPACT Wrestling. The main event, Josh Alexander vs. Matt Taven, was unlucky to miss out in the best match category and the opening tag tilt obviously delivered. Unfortunately, there were some lulls in the middle, which is usually the case with this product. In this particular case though, they kept things moving and nothing truly overstayed its welcome, so I think it’s a worthy 2-seed.
3. MLW Fusion
Though I loved the main event, I’m aware of its limitations from a ‘television’ perspective and unfortunately, there wasn’t much else here to enjoy. That’s not fair, as I clearly liked two of the programme’s promo segments but even still, this product struggles far more with its pacing than you’d expect. That runtime should be a feature, not a flaw. Instead, I’m often checking how long is left and to me, that suggests a lack of quality control that with only an hour to fill, is particularly frustrating.
4. NWA PowerrrSurge
No need to explain this really, as PowerrrSurge wasn’t an actual show. I mean, it had some matches but ultimately, was a way to steal a week before the PPV. That’s fine, it’s what PowerrrSurge is supposed to be I guess? Honestly though, I can’t be too spiteful as I was glad to see them do some kind of PPV build at all, as I’m used to them just sort of turning up and throwing some match graphics out there. Low bar I suppose, but at least I enjoyed the main event segment.
The Top Talent
The top four talents thus far, ranked by the best match, segment and star categories above.
- Jay White – 42 Points
- Chris Bey – 21 Points
- Matt Cardona – 20 Points
- JONAH – 19 Points
The Top Territory
The four promotions’ performance thus far, ranked by the best match, segment and show categories above.
- IMPACT Wrestling – 111 Points
- NJPW Strong – 95 Points
- MLW Fusion – 70 Points
- NWA Powerrr – 54 Points