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Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#190 – 181)

December 15, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Evolution vs The Shield WWE Payback 2014

190. World Heavyweight Championship: Dolph Ziggler [c] vs. Alberto Del Rio – WWE Payback 2013

Dolph Ziggler cashed in Money in the Bank successfully on Alberto Del Rio the night after WrestleMania. He then suffered a concussion and missed a PPV, leading to this being his first PPV defense. The crowd is very hot from the start. Del Rio causes Dolph to take some early breathers outside as he comes at him aggressively. Dolph sells everything like the concussion is affecting him. Every shot from Del Rio targets the head. Big E steps in to help his buddy, only to get ejected even though it was Del Rio who went after him. The kicks to the skull from Del Rio are brutal. Out of desperation, Ziggler locks in the sleeper hold. Brilliantly, Del Rio’s counter to this sends Ziggler’s head into the turnbuckle. Dolph tends to over bump often, but it’s more subtle here as he sells the head. AJ Lee’s look of concern is perfect. He botches a Fameasser for a near fall. Del Rio comes back with a second rope reverse suplex for two. The fans bit on the near fall. Each Del Rio kick is getting more vicious. The crowd is turning on Del Rio as a medic checks on Dolph, who wants no help. Not only are the shots getting more vicious but they’re getting dirtier. He even kicks AJ’s Divas Title across the floor. Ziggler continues to fight valiantly and busts out the Zig Zag. He can’t cover due to the head trauma, allowing Del Rio to get up and kick him in the head again. That’s enough to crown a new champion in 13:49 For two guys that are more known for their skill in the ring, this was pure storytelling and it was masterfully done. Everyone completely bought into the sympathy for Dolph Ziggler, who gets a ton of credit for his selling being just right here. Alberto was great at slowly building towards getting more heelish by the move. Unsung credit goes to AJ Lee as well, who continued her brilliant night by reacting perfectly to everything that was going on. The best double turn since Austin/Hart at WrestleMania 13.

189. World Heavyweight Championship Two Out of Three Falls Match: Sheamus [c] vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Extreme Rules 2012

At WrestleMania 28, Daniel Bryan famously lost the World Heavyweight Title to Sheamus in a mere 18 seconds. It changed everything as the fans rallied behind Bryan due to feeling like he was buried. The two men got to have a rematch in a Two out of Three Falls stipulation at the following pay-per-view and delivered in a major way. They proved that had they gotten to do this on the Mania card, they would’ve stolen the show. Bryan got to look like the cunning heel who knew he was outmatch but used his wits to his advantage. Sheamus looked like the powerful fighting champion. In the end, after an outstanding 22:55, Sheamus retained the gold in what might have been his best singles match ever.

188. No Holds Barred Elimination Match: Evolution vs. The Shield – WWE Payback 2014

The Shield beat Evolution in a dream match at Extreme Rules 2014. The feud continued on and fans were as engaged as ever by the time Payback rolled around. They would meet again but with elimination rules. Many fans probably expected this to be a hard-fought battle with major eliminations. While it was vicious, violent, and indeed hard-fought, the result was surprising. After a 30:56 war of a main event, The Shield won by sweeping Evolution. Each member of the Shield eliminated one member of Evolution, showing they were equals. It was a masterful way to put them over, only for Seth Rollins to turn on the Shield the following night.

187. WWE Intercontinental Championship: The Miz [c] vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins – WWE WrestleMania 34

People didn’t talk about it enough, but these three had one of the best matches in Raw history during 2017. They got to do it again on the biggest stage possible with higher stakes. At WrestleMania with the Intercontinental Title on the line. Each guy had a cool entrance, with Miz getting impressive graphics, Finn Balor having a bunch of fans dressed in pride colors, and Seth Rollins as the Night King from Game of Thrones. They went out and had the third best Mania opener ever. It was filled with bell to bell action and it didn’t fall into the usual tropes of Triple Threat matches. Instead, they made sure all three guys were usually involved and gave us inventive spots while managing to provide callbacks to their history. The spot where Seth teased powerbombing Finn into the guardrail was perfectly done, as was Finn continuing to have a counter for Seth’s superplex/Falcon Arrow combo. Seth wowed us with the RVD like height he got on a frog splash he used to break up a Figure Four. Miz was fantastic at every single thing he does. He’s an all time great. In the end, just as Finn seemed to have the match won, Seth cut him off and won the title with the Curb Stomp on both men at 15:27. A fantastic match between three of the best in the world.

186. Lucha Underground Championship Aztec Warfare – Lucha Underground 1/7/15

To crown the first ever Lucha Underground Champion, we were treated to an Aztec Warfare match. It was similar to a Royal Rumble with a new entrant entering the fray every 90 seconds. However, unlike the Royal Rumble, eliminations could only occur via pinfall or submission. That little tidbit allowed for this to be better than any Rumble match in a long time. Also, the match was contested under “Anything Goes” rules. The luchadores were given the freedom to compete in and out of the ring. Talent wise, this was stacked, including the likes of Johnny Mundo, Prince Puma, Pentagon Jr, Ivelisse, Mil Muertes and many others. The action was non-stop for the most part, making the 53:24 move along quickly. They were also wise enough to build this around the storytelling from the first few episodes, making sure that rivalries were touched upon. Storytelling was such an important aspect of LU so it was nice to see it was a big deal even early on. Mundo and Puma, the two men who main evented the first ever Lucha Underground show, were the final two competitors, even though Mundo entered at number two. Their exchange was a blast and ended when Puma won with a 630 to become the first champion.

185. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Kenny Omega – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11

Before this ever happened, I joked that Dave Meltzer would find a way to give it six stars. He did. More on that later, though. This rightfully had a big fight feel. Like most Kazuchika Okada matches, I didn’t love the opening portions. It reminded me of the WK10 main event, where it felt like filler to just kill time. It wasn’t until a table came into play that things picked up. The spots were great, like Omega taking a back body drop through a table outside, or busting out an Ibushi moonsault. Omega joined Tanahashi and Naito as the only men to kick out of the Rainmaker. When you protect a finisher, everything just means so much more. It took several more Rainmakers for Okada to finally retain. I know I didn’t write most of the moves done in this match, but if I did, it would probably take up this entire list. I can’t commend them enough for the absurd pace they kept for 46:49. It was an incredible display of athleticism. I loved that Omega never got to hit the One Winged Angel, which was a great ace in the hole for the rematches. In the end, I think shaving some time off the beginning would’ve greatly benefitted this. The early portions didn’t add a ton, but that final two-thirds were wild. Six stars and best match ever? Not a chance. One hell of a match? Damn right.

184. WWE Championship Extreme Rules Match: Roman Reigns [c] vs. AJ Styles – WWE Extreme Rules 2016

Similar to John Cena, a lot of Roman Reigns matches feature a hot, vocal crowd. Especially when he’s going against someone that is as popular as AJ Styles. After their first title match got overbooked and ended like a wet fart, they were given another PPV main event, with an Extreme Rules stipulation. Since Payback, their rivalry had escalated and they worked this match to fit that story. They fought through the crowd, by the kickoff panel and AJ took a ridiculous back body drop through an announce table. AJ bumped like a madman, taking that spot, a sick powerbomb in the ring and being thrown into the barricade, apron and another table. Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and the Usos all got involved to help their respective buddies. Styles scored on the Styles Clash for a near fall that most fans really bought into. He hit a second on the chair and one of the Usos broke up the pin, making him the most hated guy in the building. My main gripe with this was that Reigns kind of superman shrugged a lot of the work done to him throughout the match to pick up the win at 22:12. This was better than I remembered. A great match and easily the best singles Reigns performance of the year.

183. WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Elimination Chamber: The Boss-n-Hug Connection vs. Fabulous Glow vs. Fire & Desire vs. The Iiconics vs. The Riott Squad vs. Samoan Slaughterhouse – WWE Elimination Chamber 2019

History was made at Elimination Chamber as six teamed entered the infamous structure to crown the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. In 2018, the women put on a great match inside the Chamber for the Raw Women’s Title. Usually, adding an additional six competitors would cause problems. Instead, it made everything better in this case. Things started with Sasha Banks and Bayley against Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. That was perfect since all four women were part of the previous women’s Chamber. Also, they were the best two teams. I loved so much about this. Carmella and Naomi had a short run that was fun. Nia and Tamina were surprisingly solid powerhouses who played their roles well. The always impressive Liv Morgan took huge bumps. Sonya and Mandy were great. The IIconics were awesome during the middle portion of this, completely owning it and showing outstanding character work. I appreciated the callback to last year with Sasha helping Bayley up onto the pod instead of kicking her down. Great character growth. It came down to the two teams who started it. Sasha fought through a bad shoulder to trap Sonya in the Bank Statement and win the titles after 32:55. One of the best Elimination Chambers in history.

182. NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte [c] vs. Bayley vs. Becky vs. Sasha Banks – NXT TakeOver: Rival

Women’s matches on NXT TakeOver specials are just that. Something special. At previous TakeOver events, both Bayley and Sasha Banks fell short in dethroning Charlotte but got another shot here. Becky Lynch made her TakeOver debut and was in an alliance with Sasha. That quickly dissolved with the belt on the line as Becky suplexed her nearly out of her boots early on. Four of the best female wrestlers on the planet just went all out in 12:28 of nonstop action. Some of what they do here had never been attempted by the Divas. The work here is so smooth and crisp, never missing a beat despite all of the moving parts. The underlying story of the Sasha/Becky partnership, the crowd being behind Bayley as the underdog, the dominant fighting champion and the history between former BFFs Charlotte and Sasha all came into play here. After seeing this, I knew that it was the best women’s match I had seen up to this point, though they would best themselves later in the year. My favorite thing is that they didn’t use the Fatal Four Way stipulation to have Charlotte not eat a pin or go with a fluke finish. Sasha pinned Charlotte to become champion, starting the best women’s title reign in WWE history.

181. NXT Tag Team Championship: Moustache Mountain [c] vs. The Undisputed Era – NXT 7/11/18

During the Royal Albert Hall shows, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong lost the NXT Tag Team Titles to Trent Seven and Tyler Bate. Citing luck and homefield advantage, Undisputed Era got their rematch in the friendly confines of Full Sail University, even though the fans there were pro-Mustache Mountain. Undisputed attacked before the bell, looking to get a cheap upper hand. The champions fought them off and took control until one big moment changed everything. Strong dropped Seven’s previously damaged left knee onto the steel steps. From there, this was an absolute master class of tag team wrestling. Undisputed worked the leg like sharks smelling blood. It was incredible. They deprived the fans of the hot tag to Tyler Bate at every single turn. Bate was a huge factor in the title change, so they couldn’t allow him to get in there. When it finally came, the place erupted and Bate did his thing. There’s a reason he’s one of the best in the world. However, Seven was still hurt and getting checked on by the medical staff. Bate found himself in trouble because of the two on one disadvantage and Seven got back on the apron to help his buddy. He tried his best but as the legal man, found himself back in submission predicaments. Despite his efforts and refusal to quit, Seven was in no man’s land. Bate waited and waited, but was forced to throw in the towel to save his partner’s career, yet lost the titles in 17:29. This is tag team wrestling, people. Utterly brilliant.