Wrestling Inc's Top 5 Matches Of The Week: 12/15/2023

Welcome to another edition of Wrestling Inc.'s top five matches of the week! Just like the inaugural edition, five members of the WINC staff have selected their favorite match from the week of 12/8 to 12/14 (i.e. since last Friday's "WWE SmackDown"), though thanks to "WWE NXT's" Deadline PLE and Impact's Final Resolution, there was so much wrestling on the night of Saturday, December 9 that the vast majority of our picks took place that day. Our usual chronological order is a little wonky as a result, but keep in mind that this is not a ranked list — these are just our top five picks, which venture for the first time this week outside the bounds of WWE and AEW.

There's a lot of wrestling every week, and this week there was more than usual. These are the matches that you should go out of your way to see, even if you don't watch anything else.

Women's Iron Survivor Challenge, WWE NXT Deadline (12/9)

Last week, five women stepped up to compete in the second annual "WWE NXT" Women's Iron Survivor Challenge at the "NXT" Deadline premium live event. While this match, like the men's variation, is paired with a lengthy list of rules, this year's Women's Iron Survivor Challenge participants managed to deliver an enthralling performance filled with a mix of high-flying action and incredible feats of strength.

Blair Davenport and Fallon Henley started off the contest, with Tiffany Stratton, Kelani Jordan, and Lash Legend entering the field at their respective five-minute intervals. One of the highlight moments came courtesy of the match's powerhouse, Lash Legend. After nailing Jordan and Davenport with a double superplex, Legend slammed Stratton and Henley into the mat, before stacking the latter two up for a double pinfall. With Stratton and Henley now locked inside the penalty box, the Meta-Four faction acted as a human barricade to prevent them from exiting. When Henley escaped out of the opening above them, Stratton sent her crashing through the commentary table. Undeterred by the height, Stratton then took a huge dive off the top of the penalty box, wiping out the sea of talent below her.

Stratton and Legend may have provided the match's most memorable moments, but it was Blair Davenport who walked away victorious, scoring the match-winning pinfall on Henley with just 15 seconds left on the clock. Now, Davenport will move to face Lyra Valkyria for the "NXT" Women's Championship at "NXT" New Year's Evil on January 2.

Written by Ella Jay

Men's Iron Survivor Challenge, WWE NXT Deadline (12/9)

For me, great matches are most often a function of a good story, a strong match structure, and an authentic connection between the audience and the performers. The men's Iron Survivor Challenge match ticked all the boxes.

The match existed as part of multiple overarching storylines (the feud between Dijak and Eddy Thorpe, as well as the relationship between Carmelo Hayes, who didn't even make it into the match, and Trick Williams, who ends up winning it) but also contained multiple storylines that existed entirely between the bells. These were balanced by the structure, which (among other things) established a rivalry between Dijak and Josh Briggs that continued throughout the match and paid off at the end, and also expertly played off the differences between Williams, the come-from-behind underdog, and Bron Breakker, the dominant monster heel. And of course, Williams' comeback only hit home because of the incredible connection between Williams and the "NXT" crowd, who were not interested in anyone else becoming the men's Iron Survivor.

The finish was played perfectly, with Williams' chances looking bleak for almost the duration of the contest, only for him to pick up four consecutive pinfalls (one over each opponent) due to a set of unlikely but extremely believable circumstances, combined with a fantastic-looking jumping knee to Breakker's chin. I've criticized Williams before for appearing afraid of contact, but he leveled up in this one, and the roar of the triumphant crowd made it an actual shame that this match wasn't the main event. At this point, I think it's safe to say that against all odds, the Iron Survivor Challenge is a match format that really works, and this one was probably the best one yet.

Written by Miles Schneiderman

Motor City Machine Guns vs. Josh Alexander & Zack Sabre Jr., Impact Final Resolution (12/9)

The main event of Final Resolution (and the last match under the Impact Wrestling banner) saw Motor City Machine Guns battle Josh Alexander and Zack Sabre Jr. This was Sabre Jr.'s second Impact match this year as Alexander seemingly recruited him for a half-hour-long battle against the reigning Impact X-Division and Impact World Champions.

At a time when there has been little to no new content from the company in the last quarter of 2023, this bout stood out for several reasons. It's no easy feat going nearly 30 minutes at the end of the night, but these four men did just that and kept the crowd invested every step of the way. Sabre Jr. played the damsel in distress at first, but it provided the opportunity for Alexander and Shelley to pick up where they left off at Bound For Glory once "The Walking Weapon" was tagged in.

The collective's in-ring work spoke for itself as the Machine Guns demonstrated exactly why they were Impact's MVPs in 2023. From the combo maneuvers to their dueling submissions, it was surprising to see the veteran tag team come up short when Alexander planted Sabin with the C4 Spike out of nowhere for the pinfall victory.

Alexander has been one of Impact's flag bearers over the last few years and that will likely continue in the years to come under the TNA banner. A pinfall win over the reigning X-Division Champion may just lead us to a rematch at Hard To Kill in January. And with the "forbidden door" kicked open, we can only hope to see more ZSJ in TNA too for more instant classics.

Written by Colby Applegate

Ethan Page vs. Kenny Omega, AEW Collision (12/9)

While "All Ego" Ethan Page didn't get the win over Kenny Omega on last Saturday's episode of "AEW Collision," he still showed fans why he deserves to be taken a little more seriously within the company. Before the December 9 match, Page hadn't had a televised AEW match since the August 18 episode of "AEW Rampage." He's been working on Tony Khan's other promotion — Ring of Honor.

The match started with the two shaking hands, showing each other respect, followed by the popular test of strength. Let's be clear, this wasn't a squash match; even though Page was "nursing" a hurt arm, he still had some incredible offense. The former Impact star would hit several moves, including a DDT, an avalanche powerslam, and a scoop slam to his opponent. In one instance, Omega was about to do his Rise of the Terminator move, but Page stopped him with a wild dive that turned into a cutter. Page put up a good fight, but in the end, two Omega V-triggers and a One-Winged Angel earned him the win in the over 12-minute match.

In a somewhat bittersweet twist, this also might be the last match we see Omega compete in for some time, as he's on the shelf indefinitely due to diverticulitis.

Written by Kellie Haulotte

Swerve Strickland vs. Jon Moxley, AEW Dynamite (12/13)

Swerve Strickland and Jon Moxley simply have amazing chemistry with each other. This is the true gift of the AEW Continental Classic: Two guys that seem worlds apart in the promotion get to come together and make magic.

Swerve is coming off a tremendous November, which saw him choke Hangman Page into unconsciousness in one of the most talked-about matches of the year, and now he faced Jon Moxley as the two men currently reigning at the top of the Continental Classic's Gold League. Swerve was treated as every bit the star that Moxley is, with Moxley sneaking out the victory over the former WWE NXT Cruiserweight Champion with a rollup, and a handful of tights to boot. This now puts the most decorated deathmatch wrestler in AEW in Swerve Strickland's crosshairs. A rematch feels inevitable, whether in the block finals for the Gold League or in a much more bitter, brutal match like the one he had with Page in November.

It's this intrigue that makes wrestling special. Moxley and Strickland didn't just tell a story, they laid the groundwork for more stories to come. Swerve is a former CZW Champion, but often doesn't get to unleash that violent side that won over the bloodthirsty CZW fanbase. Maybe I'm just projecting, maybe I'm just fantasy booking, but when a match lights a spark in your brain like Swerve and Moxley did on Wednesday, it's hard not to let your imagination run wild.

Written by Ross Berman

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