Every Match That Dave Meltzer Rated Over 5 Stars

When it comes to professional wrestling journalism, not a single name is bigger than Dave Meltzer. Since the 1970s, he has reported on all kinds of happenings in the wrestling world, covering promotions big and small and often offering up his thoughts on matches, wrestlers, storylines, and more. His passion for wrestling eventually led him to establish the Wrestling Observer in the early '80s where he continues to serve as publisher and editor. He may not be everyone's cup of tea and he may rub some of his colleagues the wrong way, but he's no less a staple of wrestling history.

Over the years, Dave Meltzer's biggest claim to fame is his star rating system. Ranging from minus five stars to five stars, he's assigned scores to a myriad of matches from WWE, WCW, NJPW, and more for the past four decades. The overwhelming majority have landed somewhere within the aforementioned range, but as time has gone on, Meltzer has become more and more accustomed to breaking his rules for the sake of matches he's deemed particularly special. As a result, more than a few bouts have surpassed the five-star threshold.

Here are all of the matches that Dave Meltzer has awarded more than a five-star score.

39. Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole: June 1, 2019 - 5.25 stars

After working tirelessly to earn it, workhorse Johnny Gargano finally became WWE NXT Champion in April of 2019 after former champion Tommaso Ciampa vacating the title due to injury. While this was a momentous occasion for "Johnny Wrestling," it meant that he had his work cut out for him from here on out. The first person to challenge him for his title was the man he defeated to win it in the first place: the leader of the Undisputed Era faction, Adam Cole. The two would square off at the WWE NXT TakeOver: XXV event on June 1, 2019 in quite the hard-hitting contest.

Two of the best that the NXT brand had to offer at the time, Cole and Gargano threw everything they had at one another in the name of the gold. During their war, which stretched over half an hour, fans in attendance witnessed near fall after near fall and signature move after signature move, but neither man was willing to give up so easily. The match finally came to an end when Cole hit a Panama Sunrise and a Last Shot on Gargano that cumulatively put him down for the three count. When the dust settled, Dave Meltzer awarded the bout five and one-quarter stars.

38. WALTER vs. Tyler Bate: August 31, 2019 - 5.25 stars

While WWE's NXT brand was on fire stateside, the United Kingdom branch of NXT refused to be outdone. With a roster packed with some of the best workers in the world, it didn't take very long at all for "NXT UK" to start pumping out remarkable matchups shortly after its inception in 2018. It somehow managed to significantly up the ante for its TakeOver events, which have showcased some absolutely brutal yet amazing matches. Take, for instance, the second one ever, NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff, which saw Tyler Bate meet WALTER in the main event for the NXT UK Championship.

WALTER became NXT UK Champion in a match against Pete Dunne at NXT TakeOver: New York in April of 2019, kicking off a reign that would end at 870 days. Along the way he took on some tough competitors, with his first TakeOver title defense occurring against the first-ever NXT UK Champion, Tyler Bate. Their clash in Cardiff, Wales would go on for nearly 45 minutes as each tried to overtake the other, employing hard chops and big moves to do so. WALTER stood victorious in the end thanks to a devastating lariat, concluding a match that Dave Meltzer would award with a five and one-quarter star rating.

37. Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks: August 31, 2019 - 5.25 stars

By mid-2019, All Elite Wrestling was firing on all cylinders after only a mere few months in existence. Its singles and women's divisions were on fire, and its tag team ranks were just as electric. The division was led by the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), who helped found AEW, and the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix). It should come as no surprise that both sets of competitors created magic when they stepped between the ropes to face each other. To sweeten the deal for All Out 2019, they added ladders to the mix, and what ensued was nothing short of breathtaking.

From the moment the opening bell rang throughout the Sears Centre Arena, the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers went full-throttle in pursuit of the AAA World Tag Team Championships. Both teams put their chemistry and ingenuity on full display, amounting to some fascinating displays of aerial and mat combat. The bout also featured more than a few extreme spots, from a Canadian Destroyer through a table to some wicked falls from the tops of ladders. Fenix and Pentagon Jr. ultimately retrieved the titles, ending a battle that would earn five and one-quarter stars from Dave Meltzer.

36. Kota Ibushi vs. Minoru Suzuki: October 10, 2020 - 5.25 stars

September 19 of 2020 was the day that the 30th G1 Climax tournament kicked off, with a bracket comprised of 20 of the best and brightest on the New Japan Pro-Wrestling roster. It concluded just under a month later on October 18, and when it was all said and done, Kota Ibushi was crowned the winner. Make no mistake, though, it wasn't an easy road for him to stand victorious. Ibushi had to overcome some stiff competition who gave their all in  hopes of winning the tournament. Case in point: Minoru Suzuki, who gave Ibushi quite a run for his money in their Night 13 encounter.

Unlike most acclaimed wrestling matches out there, Ibushi vs. Suzuki during G1 Climax 30 was far from a technical masterpiece. Rather, the competitors traded stiff punches, kicks, and elbows, upping the intensity after every shot until the bout reached a fever pitch. Before long, Suzuki and Ibushi quickened the match pace, and while they did eventually tire, neither laid down for their opponent. In one final sequence, Ibushi succeeded at hitting Suzuki with an Kamigoye and put him away for the three count. Dave Meltzer gave five and one-quarter stars to this gripping tournament bout.

35. Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi: October 10, 2020 - 5.25 stars

Something must have been in the air during the 13th night of the G1 Climax 30, because Kota Ibushi vs. Minoru Suzuki wasn't the only match from it to break the five-star scale. That same evening, Kazuchika Okada and Shingo Takagi stood toe-to-toe, each with different goals in mind. Heading into the match, Okada had a 4-2 record in the tournament and hoped to keep his stats up. Meanwhile, Takagi had slid down in the rankings with a 3-3 record (via the Wrestling Observer), meaning that if he had any hope of getting himself back on track and increasing his point count, he have to bring the fight to the "Rainmaker."

Okada and Takagi kept things traditional to start things off, going from hold to hold as each felt out their opponent. Naturally, it didn't take long for both competitors to start pushing one another with big moves and hard strikes — even taking the action to the outside of the ring multiple times. For the most part, Okada and Takagi were rather evenly-matched, but, of course, only one man could come out of the battle as the winner. Upon locking Takagi in the Money Clip, Okada caused him to pass out and thus won the match. For their efforts, Dave Meltzer gave them a five and one-quarter star rating.

34. The Young Bucks vs. FTR: November 7, 2020 - 5.25 stars

On April 10, 2020, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson — collectively known as the Revival — were granted their WWE release. Having spent the past few years building a name for themselves as one of the most well-rounded tag teams in the world as part of "WWE NXT," many were disappointed with their main roster tenure. Thankfully, their departure from WWE gave them the chance to get their careers back on track and work with a whole bunch of teams for the first time. Although, the prospect of one particular matchup was infinitely more exciting than all others: the Revival vs. the Young Bucks.

Upon joining the AEW roster, it didn't take much time at all for the Revival — now known as FTR, with Wilder and Dawson renamed as Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood, respectively — to share the ring with Matt and Nick Jackson in a standard two-on-two contest. At AEW Full Gear in November 2020, the two white-hot teams put on a tag team wrestling clinic that more than lived up to fan expectations. The Young Bucks won and secured the AEW Tag Team Championships, but it was still a win for FTR in some form. The match earned five and one-quarter stars from Dave Meltzer.

33. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay: January 4, 2021 - 5.25 stars

For many pro wrestlers, one of the biggest achievements one can earn is to have a match — preferably in the main event — at WWE's biggest event of the year, WrestleMania. Meanwhile, one stage that's equally as prestigious to appear on is NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom, which is operates similarly to WrestleMania. It's a place for NJPW's top stars to go at it over honor and championship gold, etch their names in the history books, and send the crowd home happy. The history of Wrestle Kingdom is loaded with amazing matches, with Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay taking part in quite a few over the years.

At Wrestle Kingdom 15 on January 4, 2021, Okada and Ospreay — accompanied by Bea Priestley — stood across the ring from each other and went to war. For over 35 minutes, Ospreay took the fight to his former Chaos stablemate, with the "Rainmaker" battling back with ferocity. The two even crashed through the ringside announcers' table at one point, though it took more than that for either to quit. Finally, after a Tombstone Piledriver and subsequent Rainmaker Clothesline, Okada's hand was raised in victory — wrapping up what Dave Meltzer deemed a five and one-quarter star match.

32. Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White: January 5, 2021 - 5.25 stars

The night after Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay put on their barn-burner of a match, NJPW fans had another slate of Wrestle Kingdom 15 matches to enjoy. Given how impressive the first batch of contests proved to be, the night two crew had a lot of pressure on their shoulders. That went double for "Switchblade" Jay White and Kota Ibushi, who were scheduled to do battle in the main event with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on the line. Although, if they were nervous, it was impossible to tell considering the match they ultimately put on.

White and Ibushi's battle lasted just over 48 minutes, and in that time, they showed the world how you craft a Wrestle Kingdom main event. The bout moved at a quick pace, with White eager to put his opponent away as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, Ibushi proved time and time again that he wouldn't go down easy, much to the dismay of White. Hard strike after hard strike, big move after big move, and somehow Ibushi refused to stay down. As the 50 minute mark approached, he found his opening and defeated White with two Kamigoyes. Five and one-quarter stars came this match's way courtesy of Dave Meltzer.

31. Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER: August 22, 2021 - 5.25 stars

When WALTER won the WWE United Kingdom Championship from Pete Dunne at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool, it became apparent that the "NXT UK" brand was in for a dramatic shift. The stoic, hard hitting WALTER proved a major threat to all who opposed him, hence why he held onto the title for an impressive 870 days. Joe Coffey, Tommaso Ciampa, and more all fell before him, as did Ilja Draganov in their first title match encounter. It became increasingly clear that one would have to go above and beyond to dethrone WALTER, so that's exactly what Draganov did in their second match.

At NXT TakeOver: 36, Draganov and WALTER met with the NXT UK Championship on the line, and one had to wonder if Draganov stood a chance. Sure, he took WALTER to the limit in their previous bout, but could he actually beat him this time around? Using strikes, holds, and big crowd-dazzling moves, Draganov did everything he could to wear WALTER down, though the champion battled back with his unique brand of ferocity. However, by the time they reached the 22 minute mark, WALTER was spent, resulting in a submission victory for Draganov. Dave Meltzer handed both men a five and one-quarter star score for their efforts.

30. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: May 4, 2018 - 5.5 stars

After a brief stint in TNA, Kazuchika Okada returned to NJPW in 2012 and embarked on one of the most incredible feuds in the company's history against Hiroshi Tanahashi. In the years to come, they'd face-off in singles and tag team environments, securing back-and-forth victories over one another. Whenever the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was on the line, Okada and Tanahashi took their in-ring work to the next level. Their bout at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2018 was no exception, especially since if Okada won, he'd hold the record for the most successful IWGP Heavyweight Championship defenses with 12.

As two of NJPW's most talented competitors, fans in attendance and watching around the world got a true spectacle with this match. Chain grappling, hard strikes, action inside and outside of the ring, this match had it all. Not to mention, throughout the bout, Okada and Tanahashi displayed some strong character work that went a long way in adding to the drama of it all. It ultimately came to an end when Okada landed a devastating Rainmaker lariat that finally put Tanahashi down for the pinfall. This near-35 minute struggle amounted to a five and a half star score from Dave Meltzer.

29. Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi: June 4, 2018 - 5.5 stars

NJPW Best of the Super Juniors is one of the company's most buzz-worthy tournaments of the calendar year, and not hard to see why. Each one is loaded with the top junior heavyweight talent in the pro wrestling game, and each individual comes into it with a burning desire to prove themselves as the top dog in their weight class. Thus, the tournament typically gives NJPW fans some astounding matches every year, though some have turned out to be just a cut above the rest. One such example is the Best of the Super Juniors 2018 encounter between Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takahashi.

Taking place on the final night of the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors — June 4 — Ishimori and Takahashi's match takes a wild turn in short order. They take their fight up into the crowd where some precarious combat on the arena stairs occurs before they eventually make their way back to the ring. Upon reentering the squared circle the match only got more intense as the two exchange strikes, grapples, and aerial moves galore. Just shy of 35 minutes, Ishimori put his Takahashi away with a modified Emerald Flowsion, winning the tournament and concluding what Dave Meltzer deemed a five and a half star match.

28. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii: August 4, 2018 - 5.5 stars

NJPW's G1 Climax 2018 saw one of the company's top names, the then-IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and one of the best wrestlers in the world, Kenny Omega, accumulate an impressive string of wins. Tetsuya Naito, Tama Tonga, and others failed to claim victory over him, making for a strong tournament showing as the conclusion loomed. Hiroshi Tanahashi wound up winning the whole thing, but Omega had nothing to be ashamed of. After all, he put on one of the most talked-about matches of the entire G1 Climax tournament that year against NJPW staple Tomohiro Ishii.

Omega and Ishii's night 14 bout on August 4, 2018 emanated from the EDION Arena Osaka in Osaka, Japan — a venue where the fans in attendance would be in for a real treat. Stiff strikes and high-impact maneuvers would come to define this match, with the "Stone Pitbull" taking all that Omega had to give like a sponge. At the battle wore on, both men wound up bloodied, yet it did little to slow them down as they vied for victory. The overconfident Omega found himself on the receiving end of a Sheerdrop Brainbuster from Ishii that led to his defeat. Dave Meltzer gave this G1 Climax war five and a half stars.

27. Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi: August 11, 2018 - 5.5 stars

In the late 2000s into the early 2010s, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi took the wrestling scene by storm as the Golden Lovers. As a unit, the two rising stars would collect a handful of championships and overcome some strong competition, though their alliance wouldn't last forever. By 2014, Ibushi and Omega would go their separate ways and excelled as singles competitors. Given both of their remarkable abilities in the ring, they would thrive in various promotions and even cross paths as opponents now and again — just as they did during the 2018 G1 Climax tournament.

Between their undeniable talent and personal history, expectations were high going into Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi's August 11 matchup, so they made sure to deliver. They held nothing back in this match, pulling no punches and going for plenty of awe-inspiring moves that kept fans on their feet. Omega even hit Ibushi with a terrifying piledriver on the ring apron, but that maneuver, and the onslaught he maintained after it, weren't enough to put Ibushi away. After miraculously battling back for several minutes, Ibushi defeated Omega with a kneepad-free Kamigoye. This clash scored five and a half stars from Dave Meltzer.

26. Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano: April 5, 2019 - 5.5 stars

In the aftermath of the 2019 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, where it appeared that Johnny Gargano would once again feud with his former partner, Tommaso Ciampa, plans suddenly shifted. Ciampa required neck surgery, so he had no choice but to relinquish his NXT Championship and put his rivalry with Gargano on ice. With that, the main event for the impending NXT TakeOver: New York was uncertain, but it was made clear that Gargano would compete for the title as originally planned. Adam Cole later earned his place as Gargano's opponent, and so the stage was set.

To sweeten the pot for fans, Triple H declared Cole and Gargano would compete in a two-out-of-three falls match for the vacant title. This stipulation, coupled with the looming threat of Cole's Undisputed Era teammates, made victory unlikely for Gargano. Nevertheless, he put his best foot forward and didn't back down. Cole scored the first fall but Gargano was quick to answer with the second, and so the third fall would be the deciding factor. Despite the UE's interference and the match's generally draining nature, Gargano made Cole tap out to win the bout and his first NXT Championship. Dave Meltzer gave this barn-burner five and a half stars.

25. Shingo Takagi vs. Tomohiro Ishii: August 8, 2019 - 5.5 stars

Shingo Takagi arrived in NJPW in late 2018 and quickly became a standout junior heavyweight throughout 2019. That said, he wouldn't spend long in the division and jumped to the heavyweight class just in time for him to join the 2019 G1 Climax tournament — a decision that yielded mixed results. He scored a few wins along the way, but he also took some devastating losses against Jeff Cobb, Jon Moxley, and others. By the time Night 16 concluded, though, it wouldn't matter, since his match against Tomohiro Ishii was one of the best of the entire G1 that year.

Situated in the main event slot, both Takagi and Ishii brought their A-game for this one. The match began with a lot of back-and-forth striking and grapple attempts, leaving both competitors no choice but to turn up the heat. Before you knew it, they were throwing lariats and suplexes at each other with tremendous aggression, yet neither Ishii nor Takagi would give an inch. It ultimately took three Pumping Bombers and a Last of the Dragon to keep the shoulders of the "Stone Pitbull" to the mat for the three count. Takagi and Ishii's first-ever singles match warranted five and a half stars in the eyes of Dave Meltzer.

24. Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White: August 12, 2019 - 5.5 stars

Regardless of the block in question, the 2019 G1 Climax tournament supplied some entertaining and hard-hitting matches each and every night. Of course, like any other year, this month-plus-long NJPW wrestling extravaganza had to come to and end at some point, but the big question remained: how good could Night 19 really be? Well, Kota Ibushi and Jay White found themselves in the main event, so it goes without saying that fans anticipated a strong showing from both wrestlers. What they wound up getting, though, was nothing short of wrestling magic.

Right out of the gate, Ibushi found himself fighting an uphill battle against White courtesy of the Bullet Club. While the entirety of the group didn't stay at ringside, Gedo did, and he involved himself in the bout continuously to help out White. Nevertheless, Ibushi fought hard and did all he could to overcome his skilled and equally conniving opponent as well as his companion. His perseverance paid off, and with a third Kamigoye, Ibushi pinned White and won the G1 Climax for the first time. Dave Meltzer deemed this match five and a half star-worthy, and it's difficult to disagree.

23. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi: January 4, 2020 - 5.5 stars

The first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 took place on January 4, 2020, and what a night it was. NJPW's finest came out for this one, including Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, and Tetsuya Naito, and they all did their best to secure their spot on wrestling history while keeping the fans in attendance at the Tokyo Dome engaged with the action. For Hiromu Takahashi, though, the situation was a bit different. He had his eyes set on one of NJPW's richest prizes: the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. To earn it, he'd have to defeat the current champion, Will Ospreay, which proved much easier said than done.

Returning from a serious neck injury that took him out of action for over a year, Takahashi's comeback story carried the drama of this match. That meant those watching were already invested, but the in-ring action only bolstered their excitement. Takahashi and Ospreay kept things fast-paced, with the latter using his opponent's injury as a point of weakness throughout. Despite Ospreay's onslaught, Takahashi battled back and used his new finishing move, Time Bomb II, to win the bout and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. The action combined with the story earned this match five and a half stars from Dave Meltzer.

22. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi: January 4, 2020 - 5.5 stars

As mentioned previously, the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 was largely solid, with plenty of noteworthy matches taking place. To top it all off, Kota Ibushi would challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and, hopefully, even things up between them. Heading into the bout, Okada and Ibushi had wrestled against one another on three separate occasions, with the former taking home the win twice. With that in mind, Ibushi had everything to gain by overcoming Okada, but could he defeat his rival, end his fourth run as IWGP Champion, and take home the gold?

After feeling each other out, Ibushi took the early advantage with some stiff strikes and a few big moves, but before long, Okada swung the momentum back in his favor. The fight continued in and out of the ring with Ibushi attempting to regain the upper hand only for Okada to shut him down. This ended up backfiring when he triggered the emergence of Murder Ibushi: a trance-like state Ibushi enters where he's nigh-impervious to pain and dishes out a special kind of punishment. Miraculously, Okada endured this barrage and kept the fight going, eventually hitting Ibushi with a match-ending fifth Rainmaker. Okada successfully defended his title in a match Dave Meltzer awarded five and a half stars.

21. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi: March 21, 2021 - 5.5 stars

Debuting in 2005, NJPW's New Japan Cup is up there with the G1 Climax as one of the promotions most important tournaments. Not only does the winner earn a future championship opportunity, but they earn some serious bragging rights over those they've defeated in the process. The 2021 New Japan Cup saw 30 entrants attempt to claim victory, though the single-elimination style ensured the herd thinned very quickly. The finals took place on March 21 that year and saw Will Ospreay clash with Shingo Takagi in a physical, frenetic encounter for the ages.

Once the opening bell rang, Takagi and Ospreay would battle for a half and hour, leaving nothing up to chance. Power moves, submissions, hard strikes, and more were traded throughout, both inside and outside of the ring. Ospreay even hit a 450 Splash on Takagi that sent them both crashing through a ringside table, proving just how determined he was to win the tournament. Takagi tried to battle back, but Ospreay's offense proved too much. A Hidden Blade and a Stormbreaker brought the match to its conclusion and Ospreay's hand was raised in victory. Dave Meltzer found this war deserving of five and a half stars.

20. Syuri vs. Utami Hayashishita: June 12, 2021 - 5.5 stars

World Wonder Ring Stardom — often referred to simply as Stardom — is among Japan's premier women's professional wrestling promotions, and for good reason. Since its establishment in 2010, Stardom has hosted some of the most talented female athletes in wrestling, who've worked tirelessly to build the company from the ground up. Utami Hayashishita and Syuri, whose earliest Stardom appearances date back to 2018 and 2013, respectively, are two such names that have helped it gain traction over the years by going all-in whenever they step between the ropes.

On June 12, 2021, Hayashishita and Syuri faced-off at Stardom Tokyo Dream Cinderella Special Edition with the former's World Of Stardom Championship on the line. With neither willing to accept defeat, their match surpassed the 30 minute time limit, but the story doesn't end there. The match resumed with another 30 minutes on the clock, but neither woman would last that long. Their battle left them both exhausted and unable to answer a 10-count, thus concluding the match at just over 43 minutes in a double-knockout decision. Dave Meltzer scored it at five and a half stars and it remains the only women's match to break the scale.

19. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi: September 18, 2021 - 5.5 stars

The first day of the 31st G1 Climax tournament didn't disappoint, providing NJPW fans a strong set of inaugural A block matches. Zack Sabre Jr. and Tetsuya Naito put on an excellent match, as did Yujiro Takahashi and Kota Ibushi, but their efforts didn't quite measure-up to the main event of the evening. To close out the card, Shingo Takagi met Tomohiro Ishii one-on-one, and if their encounter from 2019 was of any indication, their bout in the 2021 tournament wouldn't be one to miss. Sure enough, the two competitors once again brought out the best in one another to create an astounding match.

From the opening bell, Takagi and Ishii made it clear that this match wouldn't be for the faint of heart. They poured on some heavy strikes and power moves from the get-go, cracking off suplexes and lariats to wear each other down. No matter what one of them did, the other consistently had a hard-hitting response, but something had to give eventually. In the closing moments of the match, Takagi hit a Pumping Bomber and later a Last of the Dragon to finally secure his victory over Ishii. Much like their previous G1 clash, Takagi and Ishii landed five and a half stars from Dave Meltzer.

18. Adam Page vs. Kenny Omega: November 13, 2021 - 5.5 stars

On August 31, 2019 at the All Out pay-per-view event, AEW crowned its very first AEW World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Jericho. He defeated "Hangman" Adam Page to win the gold, though it did little to quell Page's dreams of winning the big one. Over the next two years, he'd scratch and claw his way back into the AEW World Heavyweight Championship picture, eventually landing a title opportunity against Kenny Omega, who defeated Jon Moxley for it in December of 2020. The former Elite stablemates met at Full Gear 2021 in the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On top of having to overcome Omega, who built a reputation as one of the most skilled wrestlers of his era, to win the title, Page had to contend with some outside influences. First was Don Callis, who interfered a handful of times on Omega's behalf before Page took him out. Then came the Young Bucks near the end of the bout, though they didn't get involved. Rather, they displayed their support for Page before he finished Omega off with the second of two Buckshot lariats to become the new AEW World Heavyweight Champion. Despite the shenanigans, Page and Omega put on a remarkable match full of emotion that received five and a half stars from Dave Meltzer.

17. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi: August 6, 2022 - 5.5 stars

The 32nd G1 Climax tournament turned out to be nothing if not buzz-worthy. Aside from the fact that Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay to win his fourth G1 tournament, the event was chock-full of fantastic matches comprised of new and familiar wrestler pairings. One contest that falls into the latter category is the one between old rivals Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi. At the time of this bout, the two NJPW mainstays had battled one-on-one four times, with Ospreay winning three of those matches. Therefore, Takagi had a lot to prove heading into this encounter on top of advancing his place in the tournament.

Per usual, Ospreay and Takagi brought the goods as soon as the opening bell rang. Ospreay brought a strong combination of mat and aerial offense, while Takagi kept things relatively grounded with a more hard-hitting approach that also had them both running the ropes. Throughout the battle, they even stole each other's signature moves, but it wasn't enough to end the match. As the 22 minute mark came into view, Takagi found an opportunity to hit Ospreay with a Last of the Dragon and secure the win and a measure of redemption. Dave Meltzer awarded both men five and a half stars in the end.

16. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi: August 12, 2018 - 5.75 stars

As the final night of the G1 Climax 2018 approached, NJPW fnas watched with anticipation to see who would compete in the finals. Hiroshi Tanahashi secured his place as the winner of A Block and Kota Ibushi landed at the top of B Block, and the main event was on for August 12. If Ibushi had any hope of earning an IWGP Heavyweight Championship opportunity, he'd have to overcome Tanahashi — one of his "gods" alongside NJPW alum and WWE star Shinsuke Nakamura. Could he topple the wrestling titan he's looked up to for years? Or would Tanahashi reign supreme by the final bell?

Despite his reverence for Tanahashi, Ibushi didn't pull his punches during their in-ring encounter. He attempted to employ the high-speed offense that had historically worked so well for him before, but Tanahashi is a ring general. He knew how to dictate the pace of the bout, using strikes and power moves to keep Ibushi at bay. Tanahashi even took the full might of Murder Ibushi and all of the physical punishment he brings with him. In the end, it took three High Fly Flows for Tanahashi to defeat Ibushi and win the G1 Climax tournament. In all of its 35-minute glory, Dave Meltzer assessed the match at five and three-quarters stars.

15. Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: January 4, 2019 - 5.75 stars

With the G1 Climax tournament in the bag after his win over Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi had a guaranteed title match at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Kenny Omega had the IWGP Heavyweight Championship around his waist, so he'd be the one Tanahashi faced in the main event, and things got heated between them in short order. Deep digs at one another's wrestling style and ability littered the road to Wrestle Kingdom, making the marquee match incredibly personal. Omega asserted that Tanahashi's best days were behind him and that his in-ring style had grown antiquated, while Tanahashi felt Omega and his style were nothing more than flavor of the month nonsense.

Of course, the trash-talk couldn't last forever, so when January 4, 2019 arrived, both men were willing to support their case between the ropes. Despite the animosity between them, this match wasn't an all-out brawl lacking in technique. Rather, it had a fine blend of technical wrestling, strike exchanges, and aerial moves with just a pinch of melodrama on top for good measure. For nearly 40 minutes, Tanahashi and Omega kept pace with one another, until the former hit a second High Fly Low that brought on the end of the match and Omega's reign as champion. This stellar main event took home five and three-quarters stars courtesy of Dave Meltzer.

14. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega: August 13, 2017 - 5.75 stars

As the 2017 incarnation of the G1 Climax tournament unfolded, it became crystallized that the final match would pit Kenny Omega against Tetsuya Naito. Omega — who won the previous year's tournament in a clash against Hirooki Goto — was riding high off of a string of phenomenal matches against Kazuchika Okada, but Naito didn't care. All he knew is that he wanted a shot at Okada's IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and he was willing to go through the wringer to make it happen. Suffice to say, Omega was more than happy to make it as difficult as possible for him to earn the title match.

For roughly 35 minutes, Omega and Naito put together an exhilarating match. It started off a tad slow with some mind games between the two, but once it kicked off, it really kicked off. With each strike exchange, every shocking counter, and every near-fall, it became apparent just how evenly matched Naito and Omega were. In response, they increasingly took bigger risks, ranging from aerial attacks to piledrivers, though they only paid off for one of them. This onslaught, including four Destinos, hoisted Naito to victory in a bout that earned five and three-quarters stars from Dave Meltzer.

13. Shingo Takagi vs. Will Ospreay: June 5, 2019 - 5.75 stars

Prior to their encounter as part of the 2021 New Japan Cup tournament, Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi met in another high-profile contest. The 2019 Best of Super Juniors tournament saw the two in-ring masterminds each run through a string of challengers to make it to the finals, where they would collide on June 5. Ospreay's meteoric rise to the top of the NJPW ranks was well under way, and Takagi had steamrolled all who dared step up to him following his 2018 debut in the company. Therefore, one couldn't help but feel they were about to witness something special in this first-time-ever matchup.

Ospreay and Takagi started off the bout with some chain wrestling, keeping things methodical as they planned their next moves. Naturally, this doesn't last long and the match was soon overtaken with quick cruiserweight sequences, outside dives, and calculated strikes intended to limit the opponent's arsenal. Even though each maneuver took more out of them, they pressed on as the end of the match came into view. A string of high-impact moves topped off with a Stormbreaker paved the way for Ospreay's victory and the end of the 2019 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Dave Meltzer pinned five and three-quarters stars to this match.

12. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay: July 20, 2019 - 5.75 stars

For as impressive as it was, the battle between Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi wasn't the only breathtaking match the former would take part in during a 2019 NJPW tournament. Just over a month later, Ospreay would try his hand at the G1 Climax tournament, taking on the likes of SANADA and Kota Ibushi in the process. While he didn't make it to the finals, he did take part in one of the tournament's most impressive matches. On Night 7, he squared-off against Kazuchika Okada, who was equally determined to steal the show by any means necessary.

To add just another layer of excitement to this match, Okada was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and Ospreay was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, so while neither of their titles were on the line, pride and bragging rights certainly were. With this in the back of their minds, Ospreay and Okada fought tooth-and-nail to attain victory, each utilizing a varied offense that spilled outside of the ring more than once. In just under 22 minutes, though, the match came to a close courtesy of two Rainmakers from Okada, putting the punctuation mark on what Dave Meltzer considered a match deserving of five and three-quarters stars.

11. The Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers: September 5, 2021 - 5.75 stars

The Young Bucks-Lucha Brothers feud extended well past their All Out 2019 ladder match, with each team picking up wins of some kind. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, whenever these two teams would meet, other folks added to the mix. Over time, fans started to itch for a proper two-on-two contest between them once again. Thankfully, they got their wish on September 5, 2021 at AEW's All Out 2021 event in the form of a Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers steel cage match. As the title of the pay-per-view event promised, these teams did indeed go all out for this one.

With the AEW World Tag Team Championships on the line, both teams showed just how badly they wanted to walk out of the NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois with the gold. They all used the cage to their advantage, leaping off of it or turning it into a weapon to inflict pain. Thanks to Brandon Cutler, a shoe full of thumbtacks on the sole even made its way into the bout, and all four competitors felt its wrath. All in all, it was a wild, bloody match that could've gone either way, but when the smoke cleared, the Lucha Brothers stood victorious. Dave Meltzer gave this one five and three-quarters stars.

10. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay: January 5, 2022 - 5.75 stars

In the lead-up to Wrestle Kingdom 16, NJPW fans steadily got more and more to look forward to throughout the event. Pro Wrestling Noah took part, the overall card was stacked from top to bottom, and instead of the usual one or two, fans would get to enjoy three nights of action. That said, the third portion of the event had a lot to live up to following the final match of night two. The bout saw Kazuchika Okada — who defended his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Shingo Takagi in the main event of night one — put his title up for grabs in an amazing match against Will Ospreay.

Much like in their match at Wrestle Kingdom 15 the previous year, it didn't take the men long to get the show on the road. After some brief grappling to start things off, strike exchanges and power moves took over, increasing the intensity tremendously. Nevertheless, they each continued to weather the storm of the other and pull increasingly more devastating moves out of their respective toolboxes — including each others' signature moves. Once again, though, Ospreay failed to pick up a win over Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, but the match proved nothing to be ashamed of. It earned five and three-quarters stars from Dave Meltzer.

9. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay: August 18, 2022 - 5.75 stars

To close out the final night of the 32nd G1 Climax tournament, NJPW fans got to witness two of the absolute best in the game go at it between the ropes: Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay. Both men excelled throughout the event, with Okada scoring victories over the likes of Tom Lawlor and Tama Tonga, and Ospreay overcoming El Phantasmo and Yoshi-Hashi to advance. With those victories and more under their belts, these two rivals would clash under the bright lights of Nagano's White Ring. To the surprise of no one, the two NJPW staples pulled out all the stops in the name of victory.

Having locked-up several times before, Ospreay and Okada knew that they'd have to dig down deep if they wanted to take a win. Both competitors implemented a varied offense, ranging from chain grappling to big power moves that would usually end the match outright, but only amounted to near-falls here. As the half-hour mark came and went, fatigue clearly set in for Okada and Ospreay, yet they kept the battle going with hard strike and signature move exchanges. After putting in an incredible effort, Okada won with a Rainmaker, tying Masahiro Chono with four G1 victories. Dave Meltzer awarded this absolute war five and three-quarters stars.

8. Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat: March 18, 1989 - 6 stars

In terms of both overall match and storytelling quality, few rivalries can top Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Every time the two legends stepped in the ring throughout the first half of 1989, fans in attendance were guaranteed a fantastic match. Naturally, this makes Steamboat and Flair the perfect candidates to break the star rating system, but which match did it? It wasn't their encounter at the Chi-Town Rumble, nor their battle at WrestleWar '89. As a matter of fact, their March 18, 1989 match — the first in history to ever exceed five stars — didn't even take place on television.

After the Chi-Town Rumble and before Clash of the Champions, Steamboat and Flair duked it out at an untelevised National Wrestling Alliance show. Thankfully, a single camera in the Landover, Maryland crowd recorded the bout, which may very well be the only footage of it in existence. With the NWA World Heavyweight Championship hanging in the balance, Steamboat and Flair fought for over 30 minutes with the gold on their minds. However, only one of them could go home with it, and that man was Steamboat. Dave Meltzer scored the match at a then-unprecedented six stars.

7. Mitsuharu Misawa vs. Toshiaki Kawada: June 3, 1994 - 6 stars

Following Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat's house show match, pro wrestling fans wouldn't see another match break the star scale for another five years. When it finally happened, though, it couldn't have happened for a more appropriate pair of wrestlers: Toshiaki Kawada and Mitsuharu Misawa. The two All Japan Pro Wrestling mainstays had put on one instant classic after another throughout the early 1990s after spending much of the previous decade as partners. The arguable peak of their feud from an in-ring perspective came on June 3, 1994 during the 16th night of that year's AJPW Super Power Series.

As AJPW fans had come to expect from clashes between Kawada and Misawa, the match was as brutal as they come. There was no finesse, no thrilling displays of aerial expertise, just two men willing to punch, kick, slap, grapple, and throw their opponent around if it meant leaving the Nippon Budokan as Triple Crown Champion. This grueling, brutal fight extended just over 35 minutes and eventually concluded with easily one of the most wicked Tiger Driver '91s that Misawa ever pulled off, planting Kawada right on his head. Another rare six-star match from Dave Meltzer, and for good reason. 

6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega: January 4, 2017 - 6 stars

Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada's six-star encounter would prove difficult to top in the years to come, with no other match in the wrestling world achieving such a noteworthy score for over 20 years. That streak would eventually break in January of 2017 when two of NJPW's top talents, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, met in a match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 11. With that, one of the greatest rivalries and match quadrilogies in NJPW history would commence, and suffice to say, Omega and Okada got this started on a high note.

This match doesn't go off the rails too quickly, instead taking a more methodical approach. Both men know how good they are, and they're more than prepared to prove it to their opponent. As time goes on, though, Omega and Okada start to build up steam with strike combinations and explosive moves, showing off their skill between the ropes. The near-50-minute contest is loaded with near-falls, shocking counters, and a range of offensive strategies that will keep you glued to your screen from start to finish. One exciting final sequence culminating in a fourth Rainmaker lariat ended the match in Okada's favor. Dave Meltzer was right to hand this battle six stars.

5. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega: August 12, 2017 - 6 stars

With two stellar singles matches under their belts already, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega revved up for a third in no time. On August 12, 2017, they'd stand across the ring from one another as part of the 18th Night of that year's G1 Climax tournament. There was a lot riding on this big B Block match, particularly for Omega. Not only had he failed to score a decisive victory over Okada up to this point, but he only needed two more points to make it to the tournament finals, which a win in this match would grant him. Okada had no desire to help Omega out with either of these goals.

This time around, Okada went into the match with a clear neck injury, which Omega was more than happy to exploit throughout the match. Even still, it didn't prevent Okada from putting up a fight, proving to Omega that he'd have to dig deep if he wanted to win. He continually works the neck in addition to his typical offensive barrage, even dropping Okada with a Poisoned Frankensteiner that prompted medical attention. Ever the warrior, Okada battled back with ferocity, but he couldn't overtake Omega. A One-Winged Angel brought Omega his first singles win over Okada, concluding this bout that landed six stars from Dave Meltzer.

4. Kenny Omega and Adam Page vs. The Young Bucks: February 29, 2020 - 6 stars

Even though it only started in 2019, AEW already has a six-star match to its credit — the very first tag team match to ever pull in that score, no less. On February 29, 2020 at the AEW Revolution event, Kenny Omega teamed up with "Hangman" Adam Page to take on the Young Bucks. The odd pairing of Page and Omega defeated SoCal Uncensored (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) for the AEW World Tag Team Championships a month prior and successfully defended them on two occasions after. The Bucks were their third set of opponents, and they were determined to add the tag titles to their already expansive trophy case.

Regardless of their status as members of the Elite at the time, Omega and Page nor the Young Bucks held back during this match. Throughout the bout, Page's distrust of the Bucks (given their personal friendship with Omega) was on full display, amounting to him delivering some hard strikes and big moves that had a personal edge to them. In response, Matt and Nick Jackson didn't take it easy on either of their opponents whether they were inside or outside of the ring. Page ultimately won the bout for his team with a Buckshot lariat to each of the Young Bucks, wrapping up a thrilling title defense that Dave Meltzer awarded six stars.

3. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi: May 4, 2021 - 6 stars

On April 4, 2021, Will Ospreay took on Kota Ibushi for his recently established IWGP World Heavyweight Championship — the successor of the tenured IWGP Heavyweight Championship — at the Sakura Genesis event. When it was all said and done, Ospreay walked away the winner and the new champion, painting a huge target on his back in the process. Everyone on the roster was eager to get their hands on Ospreay and take his title from him, chiefly Shingo Takagi. On May 4, he'd challenge for the championship at Wrestling Dontaku 2021 and go on to tear the house down against Ospreay.

Even with Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb at ringside to cause all kinds of problems for Takagi, Ospreay didn't enjoy an easy title defense at Wrestling Dontaku 2021. As the champion fought hard to keep the gold around his waist, the challenger kept him on his toes with a varied, dangerous offense. From a Pumphandle Half Nelson Driver through a set of tables to a borrowed Oscutter, Takagi went to incredible lengths to hand Ospreay a defeat. However, his efforts were in vain, seeing as a Stormbreaker put Takagi away at just under 45 minutes. Dave Meltzer gave this one six stars, and rightfully so.

2. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega: June 11, 2017 - 6.25 stars

Sandwiched between their matches at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and the 2017 G1 Climax tournament was a Kenny Omega-Kazuchika Okada encounter at NJPW Dominion 6.11. Seemingly impressed by the match they pulled off at Wrestle Kingdom, Okada offered Omega an opportunity at his IWGP Heavyweight Championship, which Omega happily accepted. Determined to avenge his loss in their first bout, Omega walked into the Osaka-Jo Hall with fire in his eyes, and considering how close their previous match was, Okada knew he'd have to work hard to keep his extensive title reign intact.

If you thought that the Omega-Okada clash from Wrestle Kingdom 11 was impressive, then their Dominion 6.11 match will undoubtedly knock your socks off. From bell to bell, the two wrestlers kept up a brisk pace as they threw everything they had at each other. Flurries of strikes, expert grappling, jaw-dropping near-falls, and an overall tense atmosphere made this bout one for the ages. To top it all off, neither man was crowned victorious since Omega and Okada battled right up to the 60 minute time limit, resulting in a time limit draw. So far, it's the only match Dave Meltzer has given six and one-quarter stars, and it's not difficult to figure out why.

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega: June 9, 2018 - 7 stars

Just under a year after their third match, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega were booked to meet one-on-one for a fourth time. The highly-anticipated match would take place on June 9, 2018 at NJPW Dominion 6.9 and would be decided under two-out-of-three falls rules. To ensure we wouldn't get a repeat of Dominion 6.11, the match had no attached time limit, giving the two athletes all the time they needed to finish off their feud. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship was up for grabs here, and with Omega and Okada tied for victories, the stakes couldn't have been any higher.

As soon as the match was underway, Omega and Okada got to work with gold and glory in the back of their minds. It took over 28 minutes of incredible action for Okada to score the first fall, with Omega scoring the second nearly 20 minutes later. Excitement was in the air and the drama was at an all-time high. Who will score that crucial third fall? Overcoming their increasing exhaustion, Omega and Okada kept up the heat, taking each other to the limit. Finally, after countless V-Trigger knee strikes and a second One-Winged Angel, Omega won the match and the feud while ending Okada's historic 720-day title reign. So ends the first and, so far, only match Dave Meltzer has ever rated a staggering seven stars.

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