Quick editor’s note. Yesterday, Joseph Montecillo showcased five of the best matches of June. Whether you’re a fan of dazzling acrobatics, bloody death matches, or sturdy tag bouts, it’s all there for you, the discerning professional wrestling fan. What’s in store today? Lucha! Joshi! Indies! A GCW Title defense! I’m not going to waste words here, y’all — there’s some good stuff to dig into, and you couldn’t ask for a better guide.
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Villano IV vs. Psycho Clown (AAA 6/18/22)
I can’t lie to you, that’s the highlight of this match for me. Even amidst AAA’s questionable production choices, those punch exchanges cut right through. There’s really nothing quite as invigorating as two very pissed off luchadores just teeing off on each other. Multiple times in this match up, things broke down into these very gritty and heated punch offs that helped put over the significance of the match.
On that end, AAA laid the groundwork well. Psycho Clown is part of the famed Brazo family, a dynasty of luchadores that Villano IV’s family unmasked decades long ago. The video packages before the match set up that dynamic well, and the two wrestlers build on that history with their fight here. Definitely one of my favorite matches out of Mexico this year.
Jon Moxley vs. Tony Deppen (GCW 6/18/22)
For one reason or another, I haven’t loved Jon Moxley’s reign as GCW World Champion. Its initial momentum was stalled by Moxley’s time in rehab, but even upon his return it never felt like Mox’s work as champion ever hit the same heights he achieved elsewhere in the world. The reign has felt like an odd misstep for someone who is otherwise the best wrestler going today.
Thank God for this match then. Moxley attacks this with the kind of focused viciousness that has characterized this fantastic year of his. He presents himself as the most important wrestler in the entire world, fully cognizant of the fact that he is a mountain to climb. Everything he does look good, and he’s gritty and violent in all the best ways.
Of course, that’s just what you’ve come to expect from Moxley in 2022. To take this match up a notch, there’s Tony Deppen. This might be the best I’ve ever seen Tony Deppen. He starts the match by getting right up into Mox’s face, refusing to be looked down upon as just another challenger. It’s a perfect tone setter for the massive task he’s taken on, trying to defeat the best wrestler in the world.
Deppen doesn’t just come in with a fiery demeanor, he also has a plan. That plan is to go after Moxley’s arm. It’s effective to a point, but then Deppen makes a fatal error in the closing moments of the match. Intentional or not, at one point, Deppen slaps on a Triangle Choke but hooks Mox’s good arm instead. Mox doesn’t stay in the hold for long and digs his fingers into Deppen’s mouth to escape the hold. The champion’s victory is set from there.
I couldn’t tell you whether that’s a mistake Tony Deppen the character or the performer made. What matters is that it fit the story of a hungry challenger making a simple slip up that allowed an all timer to take full advantage.
Adam Priest vs. Travis Huckabee (SUP 6/19/22)
Adam Priest has to be one of the most exciting and must-watch talents on the American independents right now. Every match, he demonstrates a real grounded and snappy approach to professional wrestling that just ticks every box in my mind. Beyond his mechanical excellence though, there’s a real strong charisma that he’s demonstrated can go either direction on the babyface/heel spectrum.
As for Travis Huckabee, he’s secretly the guy on the indies who helps make all the best indie darlings of the last couple of years. Wheeler YUTA, Lee Moriarty, Matt Makowski, all these men had excellent matches last year under the guiding hand of Huckabee. He’s an unsung star-maker and one of the best technicians on the indies today.
A match like is pretty much made for me, and given the names involved, it was always meant for greatness. I’m happy to report that I think they more than lived up to expectation here. This is a match filled with a lot of sharp, snappy offense. Slick chain wrestling exchanges, crispy striking, and even some charismatic character work from both men. Priest continues rising, Huckabee gets another top-level match against a new indie darling.
Mio Momono & Rin Kadokura vs. Takumi Iroha & Chikayo Nagashima (Marvelous 6/24/22)
I’ve written previously about how Mio Momono is one of the best women’s wrestlers in Japan. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much opportunity to expand on that as she’s spent this past year on the shelf with a back injury. Luckily, she’s back and her return match places all her best abilities on full display.
Momono is one of the most exciting and dynamic babyface wrestlers anywhere in the world. She has an instantly likeable demeanor that’s complemented by a fast and furious style that positions her as a scrappy fighter. It just felt so good watching her run circles around both Iroha and Nagashima in this match, searching for any opening to get the victory.
Of course, much of this gets built around Momono’s bad back getting worked over. In this, Momono shines with her sympathetic selling, and her keen sense of timing means that her comebacks always feel earned and explosive. It’s notable that working with Momono brought out the best in Iroha who put in one of her better domineering champion performances in this. The finishing stretch with Momono and Nagashima scrambling for a decisive win is the real highlight though. I bit on every fall, even though I knew the result was never really in doubt.
Kevin Ku vs. JD Drake (Southeast First 6/27/22)
If you’ve been following this monthly series, it might seem like there’s just a guaranteed spot for Kevin Ku on every edition. That’s not the case, it just so happens that he’s one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet working in independent promotions that don’t always get the most coverage. Quite simply, if you’re not keeping an eye on Kevin Ku’s work in 2022, you’re missing out.
Despite all that, I’d written previously about how his recent run on Southeast First Uncharted Territory has felt like a bit of a misstep. Even when paired against potential slam dunk opponents like Anthony Henry or Cole Radrick, something about Ku in the TWE Chattanooga arena didn’t feel right.
In this match against JD Drake, Ku solved the puzzle of this crowd. It finally felt like Ku had a real, earnest connection to the fans in attendance and that they truly cared to see him succeed. For his part, Ku puts in a great babyface performance here. It’s really a marvel that Ku’s so good at playing the undersized hero here as him and tag partner Dominic Garrini are so often cast as the dominant destroyers. Here, Ku milks the crowd’s sympathy for all its worth and when he finally makes his comebacks, the crowd is with him the entire way.
As for JD Drake, none of this is new to him. Much like Huckabee who I discussed earlier, JD Drake’s the guy who can help new generations of indie favorites to unlock their true potential. Drake is just such a confident, assured hand at pro wrestling. He’s brash and charismatic, he hits hard, and he’s an experienced hand at structuring compelling matches. He puts all that to use here, being the massive bully knocking down Ku at every turn.
A predictably great match from two of the best doing it today.