Originally published on FanByte as “Spitting in the GOAT’s Face: FanFyte’s Best of the Month, March 2022on April 5, 2022

Before we get into things, a little bit of housekeeping.

I’m lucky enough to be taking over the Best of the Month list that FanFyte featured through the tail end of 2021. Of course, the major change now is that instead of hearing perspectives from several writers, all these picks and thoughts come from a singular person. So just keep in mind that all these lists from this point forward come just one person’s opinion instead of drawing from a multitude of sources.

With that being said, I want to go into a little bit of what I want to achieve with this monthly series. Mostly, I just want to highlight some of the matches that may fall between the cracks of FanByte’s coverage every month. For example, March has seen a lot of writing dedicated to the matches from AEW Revolution, and of course, the WrestleMania build up. There’s always more to discover and find though, so here are four of my favorites from the month of March.

Arik Royal vs. Kevin Ku (ACTION 3/4/22)

Two of the best wrestlers in the southern indie scene clash for a major championship. Those that have been following Kevin Ku for the last few years already know about his dominance of the tag team scene on the indies alongside Dominic Garrini as Violence is Forever. With how well Ku held his own in 2021 while Dom nursed an injury, it became clear that Ku was more than just the other half of Violence is Forever.

This match plays on that dynamic perfectly with the big question being can Ku get the job done as a singles guy? Royal’s the perfect obstacle for him to have to overcome, with Royal entering this match with an over one-year reign as the ACTION Champion. That means that when Ku starts kicking away at the champion’s legs, he’s not only trying to chop down his larger opponent, he’s also chipping away at the grandeur of a dominant reign.

Ku is as hard hitting as they come on the indies, making him a real easy guy to get behind against Royal. Every advantage he has feels fought for, as Ku struggles to leave an impact as a singles wrestler in his own right. His moment of victory submitting Royal at the end feels like an immense accomplishment for the guy. It’s a  victory won through grit and hard work, a feel-good title win for one of the best out there today.

Negro Navarro & Judas El Traidor vs. Mr. Condor & El Gallego (ZONA 23 3/6/22)

I say it all the time when writing about lucha libre, but setting plays such a major role in it. Venues in Mexico are striking, distinct, and all dripping with charm and character. The Zona 23 junkyard is one such venue. Synonymous with deathmatch wrestling, its piles of debris and scrap metal leave an instant impression.

It’s a delightful backdrop for this tag match here. Negro Navarro is someone I know from his fun maestro-style matches working with Lucha Memes, while Mr. Condor is someone that came to my attention via his gruesome fist fight against Black Terry at the end of 2021. I couldn’t tell you a thing about Judas El Traidor or El Gallego.

What I can tell you is that this match rules. It’s filled with the kind of grimy, vicious violence that one expects from a lucha brawl in this kind of setting. Not really much in the way of wild high flying or dazzling set pieces, this shines through instead with thudding chops and solid punches right to the face. All that is strong enough on its own, that when light tubes actually start coming into play, they immediately bring a fresh sense of danger to an already hard-hitting match.

When it comes to modern lucha, I have a very primal palette. Give me old men capable of gruesome violence, and I’ll likely be pleased. This match delivers on that front, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Dominic Garrini vs. Isaiah Broner (ICW:NHB 3/12/22)

ICW: No Holds Barred’s signature set up sees a ring without ropes, replaced instead with chains strung up between the posts. This presents some immediate challenges for those working in this environment. It takes high flying and springboard maneuvers out of play as the chains are too loose to support one’s weight, and it means that it’s harder to create momentum without the ability to run the ropes.

These are all obstacles that could get in the way of a wrestler being able to escalate and control the pace of a match. Luckily for us all, Dominic Garrini and Isaiah Broner realized that the ideal way to overcome all these challenges is just to beat the shit out of each other.

This is a match built almost entirely around trading strikes. There are those that will find that a tired structure at this point, I’m not one of them. I can certainly see how strike trading can be cliched and lazy, but it’s still something I’m inclined to enjoy more than other types of wrestling. And when the strikes are this good, it’s hard not to be swept away for the ride.

It’s not without flaw though. This match threatens to fall apart when Dom grabs a guillotine choke and Broner’s attempt to escape comes across as flat and awkward. Luckily, Dom’s an experienced hand at this kind of thing. He follows up the botch by escalating the violence and taking this right into the finish.

Match about to come undone due to a botch? Go to the piledriver, works every time.

Bryan Danielson vs. Wheeler YUTA (AEW 3/30/22)

The most high profile of the matches on this list, but still one worth discussing.

The greatest of all time against one of my favorite up and comers in AEW. Given the names involved, there was pretty much no chance that I wasn’t going to enjoy this. Danielson had already worked his way through YUTA’s too most notable contemporaries in Lee Moriarty and Daniel Garcia, and this is the match to cap off that little series.

Unlike the Moriarty and Garcia matches though, there’s a little more meat on the bone for this encounter. The build showing YUTA trying to earn his way into the Blackpool Combat Club (or as they’re known in my heart, Regal’s Boys) might just be one of the most exciting things in wrestling for me today. It was already a thrill seeing YUTA abandon the Best Friends to walk straight into a slap from William Regal, and even more of a thrill to see him get a beating from the best to ever do this.

As much as I’m a fan of YUTA, it’s a match like this that really shows how far left he has to go. Clean as his work is, the strikes still aren’t quite there from him. On top of that, the timing for working on television hasn’t quite set in yet either.

Fortunately, the GOAT has YUTA covered in every way. When YUTA goes for Dragon’s own famed 12 to 6 elbows, Bryan puts a bit more oomph into his selling to compensate for YUTA not quite having the strike down. When YUTA starts making a big comeback as the commercial is going, Danielson cuts him off, reeling the action back in until YUTA can make the comeback when the broadcast is on. It’s those flourishes from a seasoned veteran like Danielson that really take this over the edge for me, even more so than things like YUTA defiantly spitting in the GOAT’s face. Although that bit rocks too, I can’t lie.

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