wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s Top 10 Matches of December 2016

January 9, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka

WELCOME back, back to the column that makes lists and hopes that you enjoy them. This week’s top 10 will look back and the month of DECEMBER 2016 and the top 10 matches I have watched for the month. I always hear a lot of people saying that they can’t decide what to watch because they do not have enough time to follow everything, so maybe this will help those of you short on time find some stuff to check out. Have fun, and always, thanks for reading. Also, if you saw matches from companies I do not regularly catch; feel free to share them with the others. The more wrestling we share, the more fun we can have.

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10. Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Kenny Omega & Hangman Page @ 12:16 via pin [****]: Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega & Hangman Page: This show felt like a stinker three-matches in, but then turned around and this right here kicked ass. This was all about putting focus on the Okada vs. Omega WK match, and the two had a lot of great back and forth here and also worked some great counters to each others signature stuff. They worked an excellent sprint here, no messing around, just balls to the wall action, delivering exactly what they needed to in their spot. The Okada vs. Omega was quite excellent, they are going to kill it at the dome. Page stepped up big here, looking as if he belonged instead of being an accessory, which he all too often is. But his role was to lose here, eating the tombstone and rainmaker from Okada. Post match, Omega left Okada and Gedo laying, standing tall and looking dominant prior to the big match. Crazed Kenny Omega killing folks is wonderful. This was an excellent co-main event, accomplishing the goal of heating up Okada vs. Omega as we closed in on January 4th. They did everything they needed to do, the only change I would have made would have been Omega picking up the win.

9. From WWE Roadblock: Thirty-Minute RAW Women’s Title Iron Man Match: Charlotte vs. Champion Sasha Banks [****]: Commentary plays up Charlotte’s PPV record as well as the fact that Banks beat her for the title in this building. There is allegedly no rematch after tonight. They stalled a big early, and then locked up and Charlotte took Banks down, using her size to control her. Banks would escape, fire back with chops as they started to pick up the pace. Banks applied the banks statement, but Charlotte escaped to the floor. Charlotte then went for a bunch of pinning attempts; Banks fought back and talked trash, noting that “your daddy loves me more.” Banks works the sleeper, taking Charlotte to the mat. Charlotte powered up and hit a stunner to escape, they then brawled to the floor; Banks hit meteora off the apron and then rolled Charlotte back in, covering for the near fall. Banks worked a straightjacket hold, which looked as if it sucked for Charlotte. Charlotte powered out, got some separation, but Banks connected with a series of clotheslines. Knee by Banks, and tosses Charlotte o the floor and then the suicide dive connects for Banks. Charlotte then trips Banks off the apron into the steps. Charlotte rolled Banks back in, worked her over and took the heat as she choked her out in the ropes. Charlotte picked up the intensity really well here, delivering knee strikes to a grounded Banks. Banks fought back and hit the high cross, but Charlotte continued to attack with knee drops. Charlotte then worked the skull fucker on Banks, and keeping the head scissors applied, but Banks scored a roll up for 2. Charlotte fought off the banks statement, cut her off, slamming Banks to the corner. Dropkick by Charlotte, but Banks keeps firing back and slams Charlotte to the buckles. Great fire up spot by Banks, she hits the charging knees in thee corner but missed the high cross; Charlotte hits natural selection for a near fall. Charlotte fights off the back stabber, slams Banks to the mat and heads up top. Banks cuts off the moonsault attempt, follows Charlotte up top and they trade strikes. Charlotte then comes off the ropes, hitting natural selection and goes up 1-0 with just over 10-minutes left. Charlotte kept covering and going for more pins, but Banks kept kicking out as Charlotte slaps her and talks trash. Charlotte hits the belly to back suplex for 2, but Banks then scores a cradle to even things up with 8-minutes left. Banks avoids the big boot, but Charlotte hits it on the second attempt. Charlotte looks for the figure eight, heads up top now and MISSES the moonsault; Banks locks in the banks statement and has to tap after banks rolls the hold. It’s 2-1 Banks with under 6-minutes left. Charlotte tried to fire up with chops, Banks fired up with crazy fists, but Charlotte attacks the knee and looks to dismantle it in the ropes. Charlotte then works the knee off the post, just brutalizing Banks and picking apart the knee. Charlotte controlled the final three minutes, destroying the knee of Banks. She finally got the figure eight, Banks reversed it, but Charlotte turned it back and Banks submitted in the final seconds to tie it up and send us to overtime.

OVERTIME: This is sudden death overtime. Banks can’t get to her feet, so Charlotte attacks the leg right away, tries for the figure eight, but Banks got a cradle for 2. Charlotte started to slam Banks around, but Banks got another roll up for 2. Banks hit the backstabber into the banks statement, and doing so busted her nose and mouth open and was bleeding. Charlotte countered into the figure eight, Banks struggled, but couldn’t make the ropes and tapped. They made a big deal about the no rematch deal in the build, and hope that they stick to it. They heave had some great matches, but they desperately need some time apart. They delivered again here, and while both were great, I feel that this was Charlotte’s best singles performance from bell to bell, ever. The work was smart, she was confident and it just all clicked for her here tonight. Charlotte’s aggressiveness played off of the selling and emotion of Banks made for a great closing stretch. Excellent work from both ladies, I really enjoyed this and felt that they delivered big time. On the rewatch, I felt that the structure and booking could have been better.

8. Best of Five Series For The Ultimate Opportunity: Cage [2] vs. Texano [2]: Texano attacks a bloody Cage, biting at the cut and spitting out the blood of Cage. Cage tried to fight back, spiking Texano with a DDT. Texano hit a series of kicks, they battled up top and Texano hit the superRANA. The slingshot senton followed for a near fall, great juice job by Cage. Cage sent Texano to the floor, followed with a great dive. They brawled on the floor, broke out some weapons, and Cage took Texano into the crowd. Suplex in the bleachers by Cage, but Texano fought back with a spinebuster. They battled back to ringside, and had great intensity. They again brawled into the crowd, superkick by Cage and then slammed Texano to the bleachers. Texano then sent Cage from the bleachers to the floor and followed with a high cross. Texano then slammed Cage into the rows of chairs at ringside, and followed with a chair shot to the head of Cage. Texano grabbed his bull rope and whipped Cage with it. Back in the ring and Texano scores a near fall off the cover. Cage avoids the slingshot senton, but runs into another chair shot. The crowd is great here, into everything as both guys throw bombs center ring; Texano locks in the cross face. Cage rolls into a near fall, Cage then avoids the powerbomb and hits the lariat for the near fall. Cage then got revenge, whipping Texano with he rope. STEINER SCREWDRIVER by Cage, and Texano is done. This developed into an excellent and intense brawl, hitting the high notes at the right time and kept the crowd the whole time. This was one of the best matches of the season and Texano’s best Lucha Underground performance to date.

7. From Evolve 74 – Dick Togo vs. Chris Hero [****]: Togo looks like Gedo tonight, I hope he uses Memphis heel tactics. At 47, Togo is in great shape. Togo didn’t allow Hero to bully him, taking him to the ground. Hero then methodically out grappled Togo, getting to his feet and then they went back and forth, Hero eventually went after the leg, taking Togo down. Hero started to bend Togo’s ankle the wrong way, back to the feet and Togo tried shoulder block, which failed. They then traded kicks to the face, Hero hit another and then the running senton. To the floor they go, Hero abused Togo with some forearm strikes, back in and Hero maintained his control. After some streaming issues, Hero hitter rolling elbow, but Togo survived. Togo then got planted with the piledriver for a near fall. Togo then escaped the tombstone piledriver. Stuff piledriver by hero, Togo goes all Road Warrior Hawk and no sells it and head up top. They battled up top, Togo counters the elbow but hits the DDT of the ropes for the near fall. Togo then looks for a pedigree, escape, elbow, tombstone by Hero but Togo kicks out at two. The crowd loves Togo. Togo fired up one last time, shoots Hero the bird and then they go back and forth beating the shit out of each other. PEDIGREE by Togo! Hero kicks out at 1!Thre superkicks by Togo, pedigree and then Togo up top… big senton by Togo and that gets the win. This was excellent, Togo never allowed hero to settle in and bully him around, which he does to everyone else. Togo was great as the veteran who takes no shit and was out for one last great war before it is all finished. Pairing him with Hero, who is my most outstanding in ring performer of 2016, and has been having four-star matches with everyone and their mother. Seriously, I think he worked Judy Bagwell in Marietta, Georgia.

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6. From ROH Final Battle – ROH Tag Team Championship Match: Champions The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes [****]: The Briscoes controlled early, even blocking superkicks, the crowd is very into this. Matt finally hit a superkick to cut off the Briscoes. The Briscoes were sent to the floor, a dive by Nick followed. The bucks took the heat, picking up the pace and working double teams before hitting apron bombs on the Briscoes. The Briscoes then cut off the attempted dives, suicide dive Jay followed, and Mark hit the Cactus Jack elbow to the floor. After a short period of control, The Bucks made the comeback and hit a tornado DDT onto Jay on the floor. Superkicks from both teams, more from the Bucks as they stopped the Briscoes’ attempts at double teams. Double team buckle bomb to Jay, but Mark makes the save. The doomsday superkick sends Mark to the floor. More bang for your buck on Jay, but it only gets 2. It breaks down into superkicks and some floor brawling, doomsday device stropped as Nick crotches Mark, Meltzer driver countered with a cutter from Mark. JAY DRILLER and then he froggy bow score a great near fall for the Briscoes. The crowd loves this. Mark then hits a blockbuster to the floor. Back in, doomsday device to Matt, but he manages to kick out. Nick makes a solo comeback with a series of kicks, MELTZER DRIVER to Mark, but Jay makes the save. Superkicks from the Bucks, but the Briscoes fire up after eating rapid-fire superkicks, the Bucks cover and retain.

5. WWE World Championship TLC Match: Champion AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose [****¼]: Frantic start with running wild to begin. Ambrose quickly introduced the toys, leading to them teasing climbing early. Ambrose sends AJ to the floor, beating him down with the toys and slamming AJ to the floor. Ambrose then climbed a ladder on the floor and teased the elbow drop. He also put a trashcan on AJ’s head, and they brawled though the crowd. AJ hit the dropkick on the floor and then a clothesline. They continued to brawl at ringside, and Ambrose crotched him on the barricade. Ambrose then charged at AJ, hitting him with a chair. Ambrose teased climbing but got cut off. AJ then hit Ambrose with the ladder, slammed him onto it and hit the knee drop. AJ set a ladder against the ropes but Ambrose catapults AJ into it and out of the ring. Ambrose then threw the ladder at AJ, looked to set up a table, but AJ attacked with a chair to stop that. AJ then hits a aide slam onto a open chair. He then laid the boots to Ambrose and also used the chair to beat down Ambrose. AJ set up some chairs, looked for a suplex but hit a dump suplex on AJ onto the chairs. HE DEAD (and his tights are ripped). Ambrose continued to attack, hitting the elbow drop with the chair. Ambrose then set up a table in the corner, but AJ fought back an hit a suplex through the table. They battled back and forth, up top and pulls AJ up with him, they battle up top and then to the mat, teasing finishers and Ambrose sends AJ to the floor. Ambrose hits the suicide dive, dismantles tables and AJ fights back, sets up a ladder on thee announcer’s table and then lays in rights and head butts. Ambrose climbs the ladder, elbow drop connects! Ambrose gets a ladder, into the ring and looks to climb but AJ is up and hits the springboard forearm to stop Ambrose. They both look to climb, trading strikes up top and then both fall to the mat. Ambrose fights off the clash and spins AJ into the ladder. AJ then stops Ambrose and gets sent to the floor. They brawl on the floor, with AJ hitting the asai DDT to the floor. AJ then lays Ambrose on a table, and hits the springboard 450 to put Ambrose through the table. AJ Styles, pretty good. Back in, and AJ looks to climb. James Ellsworth makes his way out now. AJ attacks him, and Ambrose saves him from a clash off the steps. Ambrose looks to climb, but AJ is back in and climbs with him. Ambrose then shoves him off, but Ellsworth shoves the ladder over as Ambrose climbs to stop him and Ambrose flied through tables. AJ climbs and grabs the belt to retain. I am not a huge fan of the finish, but it does make sense in terms of the story they had been telling. Ambrose was a bit of a dick this past week with Ellsworth , admitting that he used him to fuck with Styles. Also, Ellsworth has mentioned his record against Styles and holds a title shot. Ellsworth has now allowed his fame to get to him, believing if Styles is champion that he can beat him again and win the title. In my opinion, it hurt the match even if there is a good storyline explanation. With a better ending, focused on Styles and Ambrose, this woks its way into MOTY contendership (****½) The match was an excellent main event and Styles continues to get the very best out of Ambrose.

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4. From ROH Final Battle – ROH TV Championship Match: Champion Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee [****¼]: Fish is out due to a death in the family. (His mother passed during the UK tour). Fast paced beginning as you’d expect, I want to see Lee vs. Ospreay already. Lee and Ospreay did some nice exchanges here, Scurll cut off Ospreay with superkicks, but Lee took him out with a dive. Scurll then started to drop Ospreay on his head, Lee made the save. They then worked into some three-way spots, as Ospreay set Scurll up top, Lee sent Ospreay to the mat and hit the corner double stomp on Scurll. Sitout powerbomb by Lee onto Ospreay. Lee hit a RANA to the floor, but Ospreay landed on his feet. Ospreay hits the springboard forearm onto Scurll and then the dive onto Lee. And Scurll up top, Scurll escapes with kicks and Ospreay hits the cutter and then the shooting star press, but then Scurll locks in the chicken wing but Lee broke it up with the double stomp off the top. Really nice pacing, near falls and counters here, with Ospreay hitting the back handspring double PELE. Lee gets a near fall off of the German, and Scurll does the “finger break spot” on Lee. Ospreay hits the cutter on Lee, Scurll tosses Ospreay and applies the chicken wing on Lee to retain. That was exactly what I wanted that to be and what it needed to be. It was worked at a great pace, had a lot of cool moves and counters and in the end all three guys looked awesome. I am cool with the division being built around these three right now. This felt fun, fresh and very energetic. Sometimes you just have to allow the guys to do what they do best and do what the crowd wants and that was this match. It was insanely fun; everyone got to shine, and this really succeeded because Scurll was a great base for the highfliers. Also, Scurll and Ospreay had a collection of great spots from their previous feuds that they sprinkled into this. Everyone came off like a star here.

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3. From ROH Final Battle – ROH Championship No DQ Match: Champion Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly [****¼]: After O’Reilly’s request, Nigel made this a NO DQ match. They brawled to begin, with O’Reilly taking Cole down, working ground strikes an looking for submissions. They brawled to the floor, but when they returned to the ring O’Reilly worked knee strikes before being sent to the floor. O’Reilly landed on the previously injured shoulder, Cole took the heat once O’Reilly rolled back in. O’Reilly fired up, landing a series of kicks, and then ran off the apron and Cole hit him in the face with the ROH title. The cameraman was nice and made sure to show O’Reilly blading under the ring. Not much juice from O’Reilly, but commentary is selling this like a crazy Muta blade job. Cole then laid in shots with a trashcan, put it on O’Reilly and then superkicked it. Cole then laid in some chair shots, but it only fired up O’Reilly, who connected with kick. O’Reilly then suplexed Cole onto the chair, Cole flipped him the bird and spit at O’Reilly, who jumped into the arm bar. O’Reilly then beat on Cole with the trashcan, laid it in his lap as he sat in the chair and hit the dropkick off the apron. O’Reilly set up a table in the ring, laid Cole on it and went up top only for Cole to cut him off. They went back and forth; O’Reilly hit the belly to back suplex through the table for a near fall. They brawl on the apron, and they trade low blows. Guillotine by O’Reilly, but Cole jumps off the apron and they go through another table. O’Reilly then got the chain in a call back to their Dallas match; Cole is busted open here. Low blow by Cole, and then hits the last shot for a near fall. Cole then got a mystery bag, revealing thumbtacks. They teased the thumbtack spot, Guillotiner by O’Reilly but then transitions to the triangle, but Cole then powerbombs O’Reilly into the tacks. O’Reilly then hits the brainbuster, and lock in the triangle and lays in the tacks to do so and Cole finally tapped. That was an excellent math and a great way to and their feud. Cole used the NO DQ stipulation to be a dick and to just inflict more punishment. O’Reilly wanted No DQ because he wanted revenge and did not want to be DQ’d if he crossed a line. Cole was more than willing to use all the toys, but when it came timer to fight, show heart and overcome, he failed because he is a pussy/heel. O’Reilly was so hell bent on revenge that he was willing to lay in the tacks and roll in them just to punish Cole, get his revenge and win the title. In the end, good prevailed and closed out the story on a happy note. On one hand, the feud ending here and O’Reilly winning made sense, but on the other hand it feels a bit late, a common theme with ROH. Anyway, the main event was about what I wanted out of it; great pacing, O’Reilly finally overcoming and no bullshit. It’s a shame that the contract stuff killed this story in the end, and Cole won the title right back.

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2. From Evolve 75 – EVOLVE Tag Team Title Match: Champions Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi defend vs. Ricochet & Peter Kaasa [****½]: Williams and Kaasa to begin, Williams looked to ground the speedy big man. Nice pacing early, mostly basic stuff but they never allowed it to feel slow or lazy. Kaasa hit a suplex, but Williams worked the arm. Kaasa then sends Williams to the floor, tag to Ricochet, Yehi also tags in and quickly grounds Ricochet, declaring that Ricochet’s in big trouble. Super back and forth action from Yehi and Ricochet; Yehi makes the simplest things intense and important feeling. Ricochet picks up the pace, hitting the head scissors and a dropkick. Kaasa in now, hitting suplexes on Yehi and then the standing moonsault for 2. Ricochet then worked a series of double teams. Ricochet with kicks to the chest of Yehi before working a modified Gory special. Kaasa back in, more double teams on Yehi, but Yehi hits a lariat on Kaasa and tags Williams in. Williams and Kaasa traded chops, Williams cut him off before he could tag Ricochet back in. Yehi in to help Williams as they take the heat on Kaasa. Yehi worked the stump puller for a bit, Williams tags in and continues to ground Kaasa, hits the flapjack, he and Yehi continue to double team Kaasa, isolating him in their corner. Yehi works strikes until Kaasa hits a powerslam. Tag to Ricochet, but he’s cut off right away. He manages to pick up the pace, sends Yehi into Williams. Yehi counters the Regalplex, but Ricochet counters and finally hits it for the near fall Kaasa back in, it breaks down, double teams to Ricochet, shotgun dropkick by Yehi but Ricochet survives. Ricochet makes his own comeback, starts to run wild and then tags in Kaasa. They double-team Williams, but Yehi makes the save. Yehi sent to the floor by Kaasa, Kaasa then works over Williams, but is sent to the buckle. Ricochet returns, cutter to Williams, running shooting star follows but Yehi makes the save. Williams fires back on Ricochet with chops, Kaasa back in and misses the big elbow drop. Germans by Yehi on Kaasa, Ricochet back in and hits a knee strike to Yehi. Williams in, big break down into the signature move buffet and the crowd loves it. Kaasa hits a cross body, sending both he and Yehi to the floor. Ricochet and Williams go back and forth, with Williams turning Ricochet inside out with a suplex. Yehi works the guillotine on Kaasa, but he powers out into a northern lights suplex. Shooting star press by Ricochet for the near fall follows. William with the big DDT and Lariat to Ricochet. Kaasa back in, but Williams works the crossface. Kaasa misses the shooting star press, cross face by Williams, Yehi cuts off Ricochet and Kaasa taps. This was easily the best thing on the show at this point, and on of Evolve’s top matches of the year; just when I thought they were going too long, they got the crowd into it big time and kept them until the end. I also feel that this was a showcase for Kaasa, he’s always had potential, but to me this Is the first time (in Evolve) he’s come off like a star, he looked great here. Great work from all involved. The champions earn a hard fought title defense, giving us some cause to care about the titles. I need to see Ricochet vs. Yehi now.

1. World Tag League Final: Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa [****½]: After a largely forgettable tournament, the finals were a pretty amazing match, with everyone working hard and more than delivering to make the finals a memorable one. This was one of the best Guerrillas match, with Tonga working like the guy everyone was excited about before Loa came in. They worked a great pace for almost 28-minutes, with great near falls and big spots. Honma got powerbombed through a table, and then Tonga cut off the king kong knee drop with a gun stun, which was awesome. Loa almost died on the doomsday kokeshi, landing on his head. The kokeshi and king kong knee drop finally finished Loa; this was tremendously fun and we now have our challengers for the dome. This match exceeded all expectations, and would fit in as the main event of any major show it was so good. The Guerrillas destroying Makabe for the heat was the sort of aggression and fire I have been begging these guys to show forever, they came off as the bad asses they are intended to be and it was great, in every way. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma repeat as WTL winners, which is a first I believe. These two teams showed absolutely no chemistry last year, so this felt rather amazing that they actually had this match. Everything came together so well here, I loved this. The Guerrillas may have finally broke through, got over the hump or what ever else you want to say.