Dave Meltzer’s match ratings are a staple of the wrestling business. Since 1982, Meltzer has been assigning star ratings to every major match across the wrestling world.
Two hundred plus matches over the past 40 years have achieved the hallowed five star (or above) rating.
Here we look at every match in 2022 that achieved 5 stars (or more).
Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 2 – 5.75 Stars
Will Ospreay challenged Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Title in a high powered, aerial war at the January 4, Tokyo Dome spectacular. This match benefited from Okada tempering Ospreay’s illogical, acrobatic tendencies. The match was a slow starter but exploded down the home straight.
The pair cleverly built upon their previous contests and had callbacks which benefited the story of the bout.
Ospreay typically bounced from move to move and didn’t sell the gravitas of Okada’s offence. However, Okada was the opposite and his selling made the slight Ospreay seem like a legitimate threat to his belt.
Meltzer commented: “The sell job Okada did was unreal because he didn’t sell like a pro wrestler taking a head-butt but sold like a guy checking if his head was split open after a shoot head-butt.”
5.75 stars is high praise. At tad overrated perhaps, but the bout was undoubtedly a worthy headliner to New Japan’s biggest show of the year.
Cody Rhodes vs Sammy Guevara, AEW Dynamite – 5 Stars
Cody Rhodes’s final AEW bout was one of his best. Dave Meltzer agreed by awarding the contest Rhodes’s second AEW five star rating after his Double or Nothing bout versus his brother, Dustin.
With the TNT Title at stake, Rhodes and his opponent, Sammy Guevara battled each other in a well crafted, escalating Ladder Match with big bumps and risky moves aplenty. Guevara finally claimed the gold, ending a classic contest.
Said Meltzer: “If this was 25 or 35 years ago when we didn’t see multiple great matches a week, a performance like this in one night would have made someone into a big star.”
Perhaps in hindsight, it did. Rhodes upped his profile and earned a big money contract with WWE and instantly walked into a main-event spot. For his part Guevara has become an integral part of the AEW roster and a multi-time TNT Champion.
Great match that was well deserving of the five star treatment.
Will Ospreay vs Michael Oku, RevPro High Stakes – 5 Stars
Interestingly, Dave Meltzer also awarded five stars to this little seen RevPro match-up between Will Ospreay and Michael Oku. There were just 1000 fans in attendance at York Hall on January 29, 2022. However, those fans were rewarded with excellent action.
This was a rematch from their October 2021 battle with Ospreay’s Undisputed British Heavyweight Title on the line.
Their October contest ended in referee stoppage. The stipulation for their rematch dictated that it could not end via stoppage no matter what. That understandably led to a fiercely contested bout, full of intensity and heat. Ospreay retained the gold in a high flying war.
Said Meltzer: “This is an easy ***** match… because of the heat and storytelling aside from the high level of wrestling.”
That summed up this battle perfectly.
Will Ospreay vs Zack Sabre Jr, NJPW New Japan Cup, 5 Stars
In the quarter finals of the annual New Japan Cup, Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr clashed once more in another chapter in their thrilling series.
On this occasion Sabre Jr earned the victory via submission after locking on an armbar and leg-lock at the same time. Ospreay appeared to tap out, but the Englishman protested the finish and claimed he was attempting to punch out Sabre’s knee. Bizarre finish aside, this was a terrifically technical, ebb and flow thrill ride.
Meltzer said: “This match had the great technical wrestling of the pair’s previous match a few years back at York Hall, but was all about Ospreay’s selling and absolutely brilliant counter wrestling from both men.”
It was not an all time classic, but exciting with a hot crowd.
Zack Sabre Jr vs Shingo Takagi, NJPW New Japan Cup, 5 Stars
The second bout from the New Japan Cup to earn the five star treatment from Dave Meltzer was the semi-final contest between Zack Sabre Jr and Shingo Takagi.
Said Meltzer: “The original match story was Sabre countered everything Takagi was doing.”
Indeed. Sabre Jr reversed most of Takagi’s big moves and the pair traded counters in the style of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit at their most fluid between 2002-03.
Sabre Jr finally chocked out Takagi and earned a stoppage win, after a hugely dramatic encounter.
This match was deserving of the five star treatment and earned Sabre Jr his second New Japan Cup win, after also triumphing in 2018.
FTR vs The Briscoe Brothers, ROH Supercard of Honor – 5 Stars
Tony Khan’s first Ring of Honor event as booker was highlighted by a thrilling tag team contest between ROH stalwarts, The Briscoes and FTR.
This 27 minute all action contest had a little bit of everything: technical wrestling, brawling, blood, big moves, near falls and a high octane pace. The bout was worthy of any and all plaudits it received.
Said Meltzer: “This was a classic which reminded me of the best Midnight Express vs Fantastics matches.”
It’s hard to disagree with that assessment.
Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, Jake Hager, Angelo Parker & Matt Menard vs Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Santana & Ortiz, AEW Double or Nothing – 5 Stars
Said Meltzer: “This was nonstop mayhem and brawling… This was like an 80s Memphis brawl times ten.”
That’s a pretty accurate description of this 10 man tag team match-up. It was chaotic, full of insane spots and almost impossible to follow. Ladders, chairs, fire extinguishers; everything but the kitchen sink was involved in this Anything Goes arena-wide brawl.
The bout was reminiscent of the classic 1979 Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl, between Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee and Larry Latham and Wayne Farris and the 1981 version pitting Eddie Gilbert and Ricky Morton versus Atsushi Onita and Masa Fuchi. However, this 2022 iteration was unfortunately lacking in transitions and logic. Anarchy in the Arena was never dull but a five star classic seems like a stretch.
Jericho and Hager choked out Danielson to earn the victory for the Jericho Appreciation Society.
The Young Bucks vs Penta & Rey Fenix, AEW Rampage – 5 Stars
The June 3, Rampage hailed from LA, in The Young Bucks’ backyard. Meltzer stated in the Observer that Tony Khan let the Bucks choose their own opponents for the show. They selected Penta and Fenix whom Meltzer stated “are really their career best opponents at this point.”
The two teams worked at a breakneck pace and crammed so much into their allotted time of 14 minutes, that much of it failed to leave a lasting impression.
Strangely, AEW booked this match to be the opening contest on Rampage and burned the crowd out for the subsequent matches on the show.
Judged on it’s own merits though it has to be said that the timing of both teams was excellent and the contest was a lot of fun. However, the enjoyment factor will depend on how much you enjoy video game style matches, with big move and big move, with limited selling.
A slew of superkicks and the BTE trigger earned the Bucks the win in their hometown.
Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins, WWE Hell in a Cell – 5 Stars
The third major match of the Cody Rhodes/Seth Rollins rivalry is the first main roster WWE match to achieve a five star rating from Meltzer since CM Punk vs John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011.
Although WWE has produced plenty of classic bouts since, the Hell in a Cell war between Rhodes and Rollins is well deserving of it’s five star status.
Entering the bout with a torn pectoral muscle, an unsettling hush fell over the Allstate Arena when Rhodes removed his jacket. You could sense collective jaws dropping as fans witnessed the severe state of ‘The American Nightmare’s’ injury by the eye watering bruising covering his right pectoral region and arm. The Chicago crowd felt every bump and blow Rollins inflicted on Rollins and were awestruck when Rhodes withstood Rollins’ brutal assaults and nailed him with a Pedigree, three Cross Rhodes and a sledgehammer shot to pull out an unlikely, but incredibly dramatic victory.
Meltzer summed the bout up perfectly when he wrote that the show “will always be associated with the sickening bruising on the right side of Cody Rhodes’ torso.” Quite so. The injury led to authentic drama and emotion that cannot be produced artificially.
FTR vs The Briscoe Brothers, ROH Death Before Dishonor – 5 Stars
FTR and The Briscoe Brothers drew a line under their feud at the first Ring of Honor pay-per-view. Just like their clash at Supercard of Honor, the two teams stole the show.
With callbacks aplenty to their previous encounter, this two out of three falls encounter was a superlative encounter. Perhaps a shade inferior to their Supercard of Honor clash, this was nevertheless an outstanding piece of work from both squads. An absolute war from start to finish and they had the live crowd gripped throughout it’s 45 minute duration.
Said Meltzer: “FTR and the Briscoes had their second consecutive match of the year candidate.” It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Both contests will be in the mix for match of the year come year end.
Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay, NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 12 – 5.5 Stars
Will Ospreay notched his twentieth 5 star (and plus) rating from Dave Melzer after his 22 minute war with Shingo Takagi at the G-1 Climax.
Super stiff, innovative and packed with excellent athleticism, this was everything you would expect from these two. Takagi earned the win when he nailed Ospreay with Last of the Dragon for the clean pin.
Said Meltzer: “This was a creative off the charts match.”
That’s an accurate assessment as the bout played off their past wars, with strong psychology. This was another fine instalment in their series.
Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW G1 Climax 32 Finals – 5.75 Stars
Will Ospreay contined his fine run of form in 2022, by notching up his fifth five star (and above) rating of the year.
Ospreay clashed with Kazuchika Okada in the finals of the G1 Climax finals in a match which delivered everything and then some.
The bout started slow but upped the ante considerably and saw some big moves and incredible counters for all of it’s 34 minute duration. Okada pinned Ospreay after a Rainmaker to continue his excellent record against the Brit, in a match built around Ospreay’s inability to defeat the former five time IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
Meltzer described the contest as one of the “most dramatic and best storytelling matches in history.”
It is impossible to disagree with that assessment.
Will Ospreay vs Ricky Knight Jr, RevPro Ten Year Anniversary Night Two – 5 Stars
Will Ospreay notched up yet another five star rating in 2022 in a losing effort to Ricky Knight Jr. Prior to the bout, Knight Jr had vowed to never again challenge for the British Heavyweight Title if he lost, which rather telegraphed the outcome.
However, in an excellent story match, full of heat and exciting near falls, the York Hall crowd were off their feet when Knight Jr defeated Ospreay to claim the belt.
Meltzer stated: “The match was absolutely incredible from a storytelling standpoint.”
It was and it was a welcome passing of the torch and the perfect conclusion to a logical story.
Will Ospreay & Aussie Open vs Penta, Pac & Rey Fenix, AEW Dynamite – 5 Stars
A five star rating for a match devoid of logic and where selling took an extended holiday would appear to be a tad generous.
Will Ospreay & Aussie Open’s bout with Penta, Pac and Rey Fenix was a jaw dropping display of outstanding aeriels and athletic counters, but as a match lacked basic structure.
For his part, Meltzer said: “(It) was among the greatest matches in the history of the show (Dynamite).”
That would seem to be an exaggeration but there is no doubt the Cleveland crowd were well invested in the action and the match was entertaining, despite its issues.
Gunther vs Sheamus, WWE Clash at the Castle – 5 Stars
WWE’s Clash at the Castle, the first WWE UK stadium show in 30 years was heavily promoted around Drew McIntyre challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE Undisputed Universal Title.
However, it was McIntyre’s fellow Brit, Sheamus who stole the show in his bout with Intercontinental Champion, Gunther.
In a heated, stiff back and forth battle, reminiscent of Gunther’s battles with Ilja Dragunov in NXT, which both drew five stars (or more) in 2020 and 2021, the pair battled each other senseless in front of an electric Cardiff crowd.
Meltzer described the match as “one of the greatest main roster WWE matches ever on PPV.” That might be overrating the bout a tad, but it was a damn fine match all the same and well worthy of the five star treatment.
FTR vs Aussie Open, NJPW Royal Quest II Day 1 – 5 Stars
FTR notched up their third Meltzer five star rating of 2022 opposite Aussie Open on New Japan’s Royal Quest card hailing from London, England.
The teams headlined the card and stole the show with a superlative back and forth match-up that thrilled the fans packing out the Crystal Palace Indoor Arena.
Said Meltzer: “FTR’s win over Aussie Open was one of the three best tag matches I’ve seen this year, and it could easily be argued the best, and easy *****.” He added: “The match built and peaked perfectly… They went 31:53 and it just got better each minute and never dragged.”
With performances like these, it is baffling, FTR are not more heavily featured on AEW television, given their profile and excellent in-ring talent.
Rey Fenix vs El Hijo del Vikingo, AAA TripleMania XXX – 5 Stars
Mexico’s biggest show of the year delivered a thrilling encounter between Ray Fenix and El Hijo del Vikingo. Although the match was a series of dangerous and inventive spots rather than a logically paced encounter, it nevertheless delivered plenty of entertainment.
There were perhaps too many botches to justify a 5 star rating; however, the bout did deliver plenty of thrills and was a breathtaking display of athleticism. Vikingo won to retain the AAA Mega Heavyweight Title.
Meltzer said the match “delivered and then some.”
It was memorable, no doubt, even if five stars may seem a tad generous.
Will Ospreay vs Tetsuya Naito, New Japan Battle Autumn – 5 Stars
Will Ospreay notched his eighth, yes eighth 5 star (or above) rating from Dave Melter in 2022, for his clash with Tetsuya Naito during NJPW’s Battle Autumn tour.
Ospreay and Naito thrilled the notoriously difficult to please Japanese crowd throughout their ultra stiff, back and forth athletic contest.
Meltzer said: “The match surpassed their prior match and it was a match of the year contender.”
While that may be a stretch, the bout was a tremendously exciting battle, no doubt.
It’s easy to see why it would warrant the five star treatment from Meltzer.
Shingo Takagi vs Taichi, TAKATaichi 50th Anniversary Show – 5 Stars
In what is likely the final 5 star rating contest of 2022, Meltzer awarded five snowflakes to the bout between Shingo Takagi and Taichi at TAKATaichiMania, an anniversary show marking Taka Michinoku’s 30 year career and Taichi’s 20 year career.
Said Meltzer on the KOPW Title match, it was: “perhaps the best singles match” of Taichi’s career.
The topsy turvy Last Man Standing Lumberjack bout featured multiple falls of top class action and is easy to see why it was awarded the full five stars.
Great bout and a fitting contest to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Taichi’s debut with his greatest ever match.
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