We have now reached the SPOOKIEST part of the season, and the two major North American wrestling promotions celebrated its arrival in their own way. All Elite Wrestling dusted off their eeriest wrestler, Abadon, for a pair of matches, including one against Women’s World Champion Hikaru Shida.
WWE dedicated the next two weeks of NXT broadcasts to the creepy aesthetic with their Halloween Havoc specials. Plus, we’ll probably get some sort of “Trick or Street Fight” on Raw.
Even if you aren’t as into the festivities, there was plenty of great in-ring action to take in, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
These three wrestling matches from last week are worth your time.
Orange Cassidy and Kazuchika vs. Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli (AEW: Dynamite Oct. 25, 2023) (****1/4)
We don’t get to see New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kazuchika Odada in the United States very often, so it was a treat to see him make the trip over to team with International Champion Orange Cassidy against Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli.
The match gave fans a chance to see Okada and Danielson reacquaint themselves with one another, and seeing Danielson go after Okada’s arm as payback for Okada breaking Danielson’s at Forbidden Door (and to prevent the Rainmaker clothesline) established that these four weren’t going through the motions.
It also served as a good quasi-preview for the Cassidy vs. Castagnoli title match that’s coming up on Nov. 1, as Castagnoli scored the pin on Cassidy to earn that shot.
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Lyra Valkyria- NXT Women’s Championship (NXT Halloween Havoc: Night One) (****1/2)
Say what you will about NXT (though the show has slowly improved over the last year or so), but the brand has done a great job giving television time to its women’s division. Of course, it would be niceif WWE took these chances on the shows that it receives hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast, but that doesn’t discount what we see on Tuesdays.
At the recent forefront has been Becky Lynch’s reign as NXT Women’s Champion. Since unseating Tiffany Stratton in September, “The Man” has embarked on an ambitious quest to help elevate some under-the-radar talent. This has led to quality matches against Stratton, Tegan Nox, and Indi Hartwell.
At Halloween Havoc, Lyra Valkyria was next on the list. The Irish stars worked hard to live up to their main event billing, and their efforts led to one of the best women’s matches of the year. While that shouldn’t have surprised anyone given Lynch and Valkyria’s respective in-ring skills, Valkyria beating Lynch for the belt likely caught some people off-guard.
That said, it’s not surprising to see Lynch put over her compatriot, especially as the culmination of Valkyria facing her idol for a world title, and it helps that it happened at the end of a modern classic.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (c) vs. Kenny Omega- AEW World Championship (AEW: Collision Oct. 28, 2023) (****3/4)
With the AEW World Championship still in Jay White’s possession, neither Maxwell Jacob Friedman nor Kenny Omega would’ve walked out of the Mohegan Sun Arena with the physical belt. That didn’t stop either man from going all out in their title match on the Oct. 28 episode of Collision.
Everyone knows how great Omega is in these big matches, but Friedman — who has always been underrated in the ring relative to his promo skills — has met that same standard throughout his run at the top. Doing so as the company’s top heel and now its top babyface has made it all the more impressive.
This match got a little redundant toward the end with the pinfall counters, but that nitpick is microscopic compared to the abundance of outstanding spots we saw during the 30-minute runtime. The nearfall after Omega countered the Panama Sunrise was one of the best near-finishes of the year, for example.
In the end, Friedman got the win with the Heat Seeker and the Panama Sunrise, eclipsing Omega as AEW’s longest-reigning world champion.