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31 Days of Wrestling (12/21/18): T•IT•A F•IG•HT


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2018 produced for us.



TITA FIGHT! TITA FIGHT! TITA FIGHT!

Mercedes Martinez and Meiko Satomura have decades of experience behind them, a multitude of great matches in their repertoire, and strikes that could knock an eye out. Putting them together in a match could only mean greatness, and greatness—or as much of it that they could muster in 11 minutes—was had at Full Sail University.

Technical wrestling dominated the first half of this match, befitting Satomura and Martinez' mat expertise. The strength infused in each move and their individual ways of getting out of holds—hello, Martinez' shot to Satomura's ear—kept the energy of the match at a steady pace, until Martinez changed the texture of the action with her guillotine hold, then assault.

Martinez used her ring savvy and flexibility to cut off Satomura's momentum effectively at points. Her constant efforts to put Satomura away with her fisherman's buster was commendable; why prolong the match against someone who gets better as the clock runs on?

Satomura's energy, sudden bursts of speed, and wide array of offense pulled her out of tricky situations. The reason why Martinez' first two efforts at a fisherman's buster remained at that were Satomura's great counters, which she parlayed into her signature moves. The one time Martinez did hit it, Satomura was able to kick out thanks to that deep well of energy.

The crowd chanting "This is wrestling" was appropriate because, as short as it was, this match did offer a sliver of pure pro wrestling. There's an argument to be made about Martinez being the heel, no thanks to that tiny rope spot, but alignments didn't matter here. These were two women who spent years defining what wrestling was for other people through sheer skill, giving the crowd some damn wrestling despite fifty-bazillion camera cuts.

In the end, Satomura countered Martinez' beautifully-applied submission with an almighty Scorpio Rising to move on to the quarterfinals.

Relatively short at only 11 minutes, this match was expertly structured with hard-hitting strikes and technical goodness by two master storytellers. It's only right that the WWE included it in its Match of the Year 2018 collection under the name "Two of the Best:" here you have a veteran who conquers promotions around the world and another vet who takes long breaks between matches yet still wrestles better than a lot of people lacing their boots on the regular.

Being placed in the second round of the under-advertised 2018 Mae Young Classic diminished it slightly. The fact that it was in the second round also took away from the urgency of their movement. It was a bit of a sticking point for some fans that two veterans were placed together so early when they could, and had, made magic together. But the MYC and any tournament made by the WWE is always geared towards hyping up its own talents, and they maximized their arrangement with Satomura here by setting her up with Lacey Lane and Killer Kelly.

Satomura vs. Martinez is important to the MYC in that it's one of the handful of matches in its two year-history that had actual replay value. When Beth Phoenix said she hoped that the girls backstage were taking notes on it, she had a point. WWE Performance Center talents should aspire to work as cleanly, smartly, and efficiently as these two women, and hope that they can also put together an 11-minute match like this with little to no effort in the future.



19. The New King is a Queen (Danshoku Dino vs. Meiko Satomura for the KO-D title, DDT MajiManji 8/28/18)
20. Kenny Takes On That Hardcore Guy From TNA (Kenny Omega vs. Penta El Zero, All IN)

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