The Young Bucks vs. the Golden Lovers is one of those matches that has always been destined to happen. It was well known that it was a match that the wrestlers wanted (and promotions such as PWG hoped to put on), and the fans of both teams certainly seemed to hope to have it happen sooner rather than later.

With such hype though, it would be easy for the actual match to be a victim of the expectation game. You could even easily envision wrestlers such as these four trying to overcompensate too and then do wayyyyy too much in the match as a result.

Thankfully, the match went in a far more satisfying direction, as they actually decided to emphasize character work and emotion instead of just putting all of the emphasis on the action.

It was clearly the right decision.

Things started out simply enough. The Bucks came in with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. It would not be hard to see why given that they have been one of the most beloved teams in wrestling for years, but they have clearly been eclipsed in the attention department by the reunited Golden Lovers in recent months. Given that the Bucks were the actual people to instigate the match, it’s not hard to conclude that they needed this match more than the Lovers.

And they wrestled like it early on.

The Bucks were more cunning and ruthless with their tactics from the jump. The results paid off, as they got control first and did a lot of damage along the way. It seemed clear that if they stayed on that track and kept their eye on the true prizing of winning, they would be well on their way to victory despite any setbacks they may have encountered during the contest.

The first time they were truly tested in that way though, they failed. And that probably sealed their fate.

Matt had Kota down in the ring. He was all set to deliver a top rope dive onto him. Something stopped him though. You see, Omega was left prone nearby on a table propped up between the apron and the guardrail, and Nick was loudly encouraging his older brother to listen to the devil on his shoulder and dive onto Omega instead.

It was a moment in time that revealed a weakness in the Bucks on this night. Matt’s hesitation over this moment led to Kota having enough time to recover and save his lover. While that moment did not kill the Bucks’ chances, it became clear that they had an Achilles Heel at this moment in time.

Later in the match, a similar situation arose that revealed that the Bucks were not ready to win on this night. They had the clear path victory laid before their feet late. The Bucks had the momentum, and they were getting ready to finish Kota off with a More Bang for Your Buck.

Matt could have completed the sequence that had finished countless wrestlers in the past…but Matt did not do it. He was at the top rope, ready for the moonsault. The moment came and went though; with a moment’s pause to readjust himself, Matt opted out of near-certain victory and dove to the outside to put Omega through the table. Matt ignored his better angels and gave in to the feelings of frustration that he had for Omega.

That gave the Lovers just enough room to stay alive and keep it competitive. Sure, Kenny took a ton of damage on that one. But it was not the knockout blow that More Bang for Your Buck would have likely been.

That room was all the Lovers needed to stay alive and get the momentum back on their side.

It all built to this finishing sequence that was nothing short of beautiful. Kenny was struggling to go through with the One Winged Angel on Matt. Kenny was still full of love for his friends. It seemed like he was not going to go through with it, but Matt, having given in fully to hate on this night, told Kenny to just go ahead and do it. Omega delivered his finisher only for Nick to fly in out of nowhere to save the match.

Matt was down though and not likely to get back up. Nick made one last hopeless comeback. There was a fatalistic tone to what he was doing though. He had to fight back despite knowing defeat would soon follow. And follow it did. As Nick was dispatched of shortly after this moment and then Matt ate the Golden Trigger for the three. The Golden Lovers were victorious in their first match outside of Japan.

After a brief scuffle with Cody Rhodes after the match, Kenny got back into the ring to shake hands with the Bucks. Nick accepted.

But Matt refused and then walked out.

A lesser story would have had Matt turn cartoonishly evil in this moment. Instead, it was more nuanced. Sure, maybe Matt was angry with Kenny, but there was a hint of something else. Perhaps he was disgusted with himself? Not for asking for the One Winged Angel, but instead for not going for the best chance of victory twice in major moments.

Like almost all great first time matches, that post-match sequence made clear how much room there is for these two teams to continue their story. The rematch has an obvious hook and setup: can the Bucks focus enough and not be so up in their feelings? If they really want to prove they’re the best instead of proving something to Kenny, they are going to have to prioritize ruthlessness instead of the bitterness.

What else can there be said about this match that the story does not tell you already? Could the match have been tightened up a little? Probably. But that did not really matter. Yes, this was a match about two teams out to prove which was the better team. They just did so much more with it than almost any other attempt at this type of match ever.

This match redefined creative ambition. This match set the new bar for character development throughout a match. This matched proved that state-of-the-art physical action can simply be a complimentary feature of a match instead of its defining one.

This match was a labor of love. A match that proved bitterness is shortsighted that gets you nowhere. Sometimes hate can feel right in the moment, but it does not lead you to victory. This match was a beautiful reminder for everyone that in the end, Love Wins. (*****)



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