Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW Wrestling Dontaku – 4th May
Everything about this match was just beautiful. The story of Okada needing the win to break Tanahashi’ record of 12 successful title defences, the continuation of one of the most incredible rivalries in recent memory, the past ace against the current ace. It’s everything you could ever want from wrestling, and a big screw you to all the ‘New Japan has no storytelling’ nonsense that so many people want to throw around after seeing a 10 second gif of an Omega/Okada match. Even if you don’t like the Japanese style of wrestling, the story itself is enough to pull you in.
Luckily the match was great, as are all the matches between the two. Okada taking on more of the cocky heel role against the always beloved and idolised Tanahashi. The champ looking down on the older legend, treating like he is no longer in his league. Tana may not be at the level he once was, but he is still more than capable of putting on a MOTY candidate when he wants to. The crowd reaction throughout added to the occasion and the sight of Young Boy Oka seeming to forget about his young lions duties to cheer on the legendary ace. Feeling every moment of this epic encounter.
After over 30 minutes, Okada proved his really is the new ace of the company after picking up the win with the rainmaker. This was a brilliant and truly exceptional match from two of the greatest in the history of New Japan.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs David Starr – Progress SSS16 Day 2 – 6th May
The second round of this years Super Strong Style saw a battle of two of the biggest names in independent wrestling right now in Zack Sabre Jr. and David Starr. Both are known for their technical ability and this quickly turned into a brutal grapple and strike heavy masterpiece that kept everyone enthralled throughout. There is an almost ungodly level of chemistry between these two and they seem to be destined to wrestle each other for years to come. Everybody knows about Zacks incredible year so far, but many are sleeping on what has really been a breakthrough year for Starr.
This was arguably the match of the tournament and will be up there as one of the best Progress matches of the year come December.
Tyler Bate vs Kassius Ohno – Progress SSS16 Day 2 – 6th May
The performance of Kassius Ohno is this years Super Strong Style was a pleasant reminder of exactly how good and how well thought of the former Chris Hero is. While he may not be setting the world alight in NXT, his second round match against Tyler Bate was an absolute slug fest. It’s amazing to think that Ohno has almost been wrestling as long Bate has been alive, yet you wouldn't know as Bate is wise beyond his years in the ring. Ohno has proven he can work with anybody, regardless of size and his best matches often come against those smaller than him. A Tyler Driver 97 gave the former WWE UK champion the win even though he had to pull out of the next round due to injury.
A truly incredible match and it was lovely to see Ohno being allowed to have great matches again in this environment.
Matt Riddle vs Will Ospreay – OTT Scrappermania
Keith Lee vs Tomohiro Ishii – Rev Pro Epic Encounters
WALTER vs David Starr – Progress Chapter 69: Be Here Now
Dragon Lee vs Sho – NJPW BOSJ Night 2
Zack Sabre Jr. vs WALTER – wXw Hamburg
Show of the Month
Progress Chapter 68: SSS16 Night 2
Progress Wrestling Super Strong Style is always a highlight of the year in independent wrestling, and this years tournament was as good as ever. All three nights brought high quality and entertaining action, but it was Night 2 that really stood out. With MOTY contenders from Sabre/Starr and Bate/Ohno, there was also the champion vs. champion collision of Banks vs. Walter and a great match with Keith Lee battering the crap out of Angelico.
From start to finish, Super Strong Style night two was the show of the month for May.
Wrestler of the Month
This years wrestler of the month is a man who said goodbye to the independents this month, Keith Lee. With the news of his imminent departure to WWE, Lee went on his goodbye tour all around the world. With matches in Rev Pro against Tomohiro Ishii, OTT against Minoru Suzuki, a run to the semi-finals of the Super Strong Style 16 in Progress and a brutal no rope match against Matt Riddle in Evolve, the Big Texan showed everybody this month why he will be so badly missed by the fans of independent wrestling. Whatever the future may hold for Keith, the world of the indies will forever Bask in his Glory.
What did you think were the best matches outside of the WWE this month? Let us know in the comments below!