Favourite Five

Five Awesome Non-WWE Matches At WrestleMania Weekend

Jack Irene runs down five matches you should see from Mania weekend that were not under the WWE banner.

Wrestlemania Weekend always delivers some of the most fun wrestling you’ll witness all year.

Having taken part in last year’s edition in New Orleans, I can say it’s something that every fan should experience at least. I had considered taking my second trip, but New York traffic pushed me away. However this was almost a non-factor as I saw the lineups released, making this year’s weekend the biggest of it’s kind.

From appearances of Rob Van Dam and The Great Muta to Ring of Honor’s name on the Madison Square Garden marquee, this was a weekend to be remembered, providing us with countless great matches. Here’s five that stuck out to me from the historic Wrestlemania Weekend.

1. Josh Barnett vs Minoru Suzuki – Josh Barnett’s BloodSport

Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport was the first event I watched as apart of this historic weekend. A very unique exciting card led to the headliner of the night, Josh Barnett taking on Minoru Suzuki. I didn’t go into this match with huge expectations, as I was not a fan of Barnett’s ring work in Impact in 2017. Of course the story was different here, Suzuki bringing out the best of him and Barnett really holding his own.

They would trade stiff shots in front of one of the hottest crowds of the weekend for twenty minutes. The crowd begged for more time, adding five minutes however the finish remained the same. Twenty five minutes later we were looking at a draw and a teased rematch for next year. I and many others would have no problem with this, the match was a classic. The passion and drama kept building till the end, as two legends put on a show. This match is easily a Match of The Year contender and will be praised for years.

2. L.A.X vs Rock ‘N’ Roll Express – Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3, Night 2

One of the best tag teams in the world received their dream match against one of the best tag teams of all time at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3 Part 2. These events are no stranger to unique match-ups however to nobody’s surprise it’s rarely New Japan level  work. This intriguing combo exceeded expectations, with LAX giving in their best effort from the weekend and The Rock and Roll Express turning back the clock.

In particular, Ricky Morton had a fantastic performance featuring a perfect suicide dive and a stunning Canadian Destroyer. Despite the jaw-dropping spots towards the end, LAX picked up the victory. Following the match, Robert Gibson tied the LAX bandanna to his wrist, officially passing the torch to a team that will only go up from here. Just one of the most fun spectacles you will see in professional wrestling.

3. Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi – G1 SuperCard

The lights were on and the stars were out for Madison Square Garden, but none brighter than the Golden Star himself against Tetsuya Naito. The two have displayed excellent chemistry in their past bouts and this was no different.

Naito was as tranquilo as ever early on as they built to some dangerous spots and even a Bom-ba-ye/Kinshasa from Ibushi for a near fall. The Garden was on fire for the New Japan stars, as Ibushi captured the IWGP Intercontinental Championship with his victory. The match went 21 minutes but felt like it could go double that with no issues. Great match and a great moment in MSG.

4. Will Ospreay vs Bandido – WrestleCon 2019 Supershow

In one of my most anticipated matches of the weekend, two of the best high fliers in the world met for a first time ever clash at Wrestlecon Supershow. In a feast of flight, the two men stole the show; delivering a phenomenal main event. Many were concerned that the match would not live up to the hype, as it occurred right before the monumentqal M.S.G show that both men were booked for. If they were holding back, you certainly couldn’t tell and this match left absolutely nobody disappointed. After Ospreay won, he gave a great passionate promo, identifying Bandido as one of the best wrestlers in the world. He’s not wrong.

5. WALTER vs Pete Dunne – NXT TakeOver New York City

On a card full of great matches, one managed to stick out to me as somehow exceeding the rest. The UK Championship bout between Pete Dunne and WALTER earned this praise from me, producing undeniably the stiffest match in NXT history. It was an absolute war, with Dunne taking the beating of a lifetime, ending his historic reign as champ. Dunne was forced to work a more fast paced style to evade the monstrous WALTER, which provided a great story and dynamic.

Most of the praise for this event was thrown towards the Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole match however I found the UK Title match more enjoyable. The match was more unique, with a hard-hitting British style rather than NXT’s typical formula as displayed in the main event. Therefore this felt a lot more fresh, and provided one of the best matches you’ll see on Wrestlemania Weekend.

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