We’ve reached the end of another newsworthy week in the world of professional wrestling. A lot of that news (mainly, WWE’s latest round of mass releases), unfortunately, reminded fans of the callous reality of the business (which is an overall reflection of the capitalistic society that we have to live in), but the strong in-ring work showed us why the sport is so compelling.
Between the weekly WWE shows and All Elite Wrestling’s annual Grand Slam special, we saw plenty of outstanding matches and a couple of momentous title changes, which makes choosing the best of the bunch a difficult task.
So, let’s not waste any more time and get to the standouts.
These three wrestling matches from this past week are worth your time.
Butch vs. Tyler Bate- Global Heritage Invitational (WWE NXT Sept. 19, 2023) (****)
Nearly five years removed from their last singles meeting, Tyler Bate and Butch renewed hostilities with a spot in the Global Heritage Invitational finals at stake. A lot has changed since these two battled over the now-defunct United Kingdom Championship, these two’s tremendous chemistry has remained intact.
This match didn’t last as long as their previous classics due to the tournament’s time limit, but they took advantage of the abbreviated duration with crisp, hard-hitting, fast-paced action. Both men kicked out of the other’s finisher, and it took Butch hitting The Better End to secure the clutch win over his longtime rival.
Butch now moves on to face Gallus’ Joe Coffey for the right to challenge Noam Dar for the Heritage Cup.
Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs. Eddie Kingston (c)- ROH World and NJPW Strong Openweight Championships (AEW: Dynamite-Grand Slam 2023) (****1/4)
For the last several years (and even longer than that, for a lot of people), fans have yearned to see Eddie Kingston reach the pinnacle of his profession, and that wait came to a cathartic end at Grand Slam on Wednesday.
Making the moment even more satisfying for Kingston, he took the Ring of Honor World Championship from archnemesis Claudio Castagnoli (Kingston’s NJPW Strong Openweight Title was also on the line) in Kingston’s home state.
If you haven’t checked this match out, you should give it a look at the very least to see Kingston’s crowning moment, but the scorching crowd heat along with the intensity and physicality between the two champions is a definite bonus.
Bryan Danielson vs. Ricky Starks- Texas Deathmatch (AEW: Collision Sept. 23, 2023) (****1/2)
Before wrestling (in the truest sense of the word) Zack Sabre Jr. at the aptly named WrestleDream pay-per-view, Bryan Danielson took on Ricky Starks in a rematch from All Out. This time, though, Danielson and Starks waged war in a Texas Deathmatch (a.k.a. a Last Man Standing match).
Much like the strap match in Chicago, these two beat the stuffing out of each other, with Bryan even blading to put over the brutality. Danielson and Starks get extra kudos for pulling this off without breaking the momentum with a bunch of pointless “count to 10” breaks.
In the end, Danielson got the win after wrapping a chain around his leg and hitting Starks with a Busaiku Knee, giving “The American Dragon” a boost going into his meeting with ZSJ.