This week in wrestling, PROGRESS hosted Super Strong Style 16, the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors came to a close, the build to WWE Extreme Rules continued, and Minoru Suzuki had a match in an empty Tokyo Dome. Here are our favorite wrestlers this week. Who's yours?
This week's panel --
- Alan4L (Dr. Keith Presents host and Figure Four Weekly writer)
- Alan Boon (Columnist)
- Mike DellaCamera (Columnist)
- Zach Dominello (Columnist)
Jushin Thunder Liger
By Zach Dominello
Liger didn’t get a storybook ending in his “last ever” Best of the Super Juniors tournament. He did, however, gain a very satisfying win over Taichi in his final tournament match, and that makes him my favorite wrestler this week.
Sure, Liger going out strong, perhaps making the finals or even winning, would have been the better story, but who even knows if that’s what he wanted. Maybe his goal was to put the younger guys over in his last BOSJ. Whatever the case, his final match with Taichi was basically storytelling perfection (though it did take quite a while for the faces to make the save).
My distaste for Taichi knows no bounds, but he was booked as a pretty great heel throughout this year's tournament, getting dubious wins over fan favorites like Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, and Dragon Lee with the help of Suzuki-gun. He even had what is possibly the first match of his that I've legitimately enjoyed early in the tournament with Taka Michinoku. Taichi was booked as the perfect piece of s**t heel for Liger to overcome.
And overcome he did. After getting his costume and mask cut to shreds and beat on by Taichi and Suzuki-gun, Liger fought back with the help of KUSHIDA and Taguchi to become triumphant. It was simple, classic storytelling and I ate up every second of it.
By Alan Boon
The obvious answer to “Who is your favorite wrestler this week?” would be Travis Banks. The Kiwi continued his ascension to the top of the PROGRESS tree by winning Super Strong Style 16, and carried everyone there with him, but I figure I’ll have plenty of chances to write about Travis for this column.
Instead, I want to write about someone who came into SSS16 with possibly the quietest chatter but left having turned the sell-out crowd on all three nights into firm fans.
Your Favorite Wrestler’s Favorite Wrestler, the King of Taunts, The 104 Minute Man -- David Starr made an impact right from the time Jim Smallman started listing his nicknames (he has loads), even if he was shorn of his usual theme music by PROGRESS’ march towards respectability. He then put on a variety of performances, from hard-hitting strong style to out-and-out comedy, winning over even the staunchest doubter (I’m looking at you, my pal Chris) and earning a “Please come back!” chant for his efforts.
To those of us who have been watching Starr in CZW, wXw, RevPro, and so many others this year, this comes as no surprise. He’s been having top matches with top guys, and being one of the more fully-rounded professional wrestlers you’ll ever see. He’s a semi-regular visitor to the UK, where he works for Fight Club: PRO (as well as PROGRESS and RevPro), a solid part of the wXw roster in Germany, and works all over the north east and mid-west in the US.
At 26, and with two of his mentors either in WWE or WWE-bound, his upside is huge. Get on board the Starrship.
By Mike DellaCamera
The only member of British Strong Style yet to hold the WWE UK Championship is my favorite wrestler this week. Sure, he lost to Matt Riddle in six seconds and was "affectionately" called Trent Six at PROGRESS over the weekend, but Seven is, arguably, the backbone of BSS. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate get the headlines and most of the spotlight, but Trent is the one who makes the group work.
His mic work is quite far ahead of the other two, which is clearly why they let him carry most of the promos. It’s funny because I am not a fan of facial hair being a gimmick in wrestling, but as soon as Moustache Mountain became BSS everything changed. The "new" Trent Seven wasn’t about smiling and twirling his mustache, he was about beating people up and taking belts -- all while being pretty damn good at this wrestling thing.
I do want to take a second to shout out his hair, which is either the best or second best (sup Matt Sydal) in all of wrestling. I mean come on, look at that moss. It is beautiful and perfect and why can’t I have hair like that?
As he heads into his third Best of the Super Juniors final, KUSHIDA has already proven once again that he is one of the best in the game right now. He has had a sublime tournament with his bouts against BUSHI and Ryusuke Taguchi in particular standing out as two of the best junior class matches of 2017.
He’s always been technically sound, but his charisma is vastly underrated and his ability to convey grit, determination, and heart in his matches is on a level that few can lay claim to. By the time you read this it’s very possible he’s chalked up yet another classic with Will Ospreay (Editor's note: confirmed). KUSHIDA is one of those gifts that keeps on giving -- a true pro wrestling treasure.