wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#210 – 201)

October 22, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NXT Takeover Rival

210. Falls Count Anywhere: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Raw 8/18/14

The rivalry between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins heated up after Rollins turned heel and broke up The Shield. While Roman Reigns ignored this mostly, Ambrose was out for revenge. The two collided at SummerSlam2014 was very good and probably the best lumberjack match ever. They managed to best it the following night on Raw in a Falls Count Anywhere match. It was filled with brutal spots, including a sick powerbomb onto a pile of steel chairs. After 18:50, Rollins came out on top and scored one of his many wins during this feud, though things would ultimately wrap up by the time Hell in a Cell came around before being reignited in 2015.

209. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Bragging Rights 2010

Neither title is on the line. Bryan was fresh off his first title win. Dolph tried taking things to the mat but got schooled. He hid behind Vickie outside, so Bryan just jumped over her to take him out with a knee. The hits kept coming, with Bryan hitting a stiff corner dropkick. Dolph took control, while Lawler made jokes at Vickie’s expense. Striker got in some jokes too, even though I recall him loving Vickie. Dolph kept the pressure on Bryan and grounded him. Bryan had an opening, but missed a dropkick and was back in trouble. He made a real comeback with kicks and knee strikes. His springboard single leg dropkick looked great. Both guys were bumping like crazy for one another. They went up for a super back suplex, but Dolph shifted and landed on Bryan. They both picked up near falls from it in a great sequence. Bryan escaped the sleeper and they collided on sick looking cross body attempts. After exchanging flash pins, Dolph hit the Fameasser, only for Bryan to get his foot on the bottom rope. Bryan escaped another sleeper, angering Dolph. He slapped Bryan around and talked smack, leading to him getting pulled into the LeBelle Lock for the finish in 16:14. Excellent opener and my personal favorite match of 2010. They came out wanting to steal the show and bumped like hell for one another. They put together a quality match with stiff shots, a hot crowd and great near falls. Awesome.

208. Best of the Super Juniors Finals: KUSHIDA vs. Ricochet – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Finals 2014

Before they both showed up in WWE, KUSHIDA and Ricochet were two of the best junior heavyweights in NJPW. 2014 saw them compete in the finals of the prestigious Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. They beat Ryusuke Taguchi and Taichi to reach the finals. Once there, they put on a classic. Although this 23:06 encounter started a bit slow, everything was crisp and once it kicked into high gear, there was no stopping it. It may have come as a surprise that Ricochet won given KUSHIDA’s history with the company but that only added to the greatness.

207. WWE Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: The New Day [c] vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The Usos – WWE TLC 2015

Another mediocre WWE Pay-Per-View that had one standout match. The opening match featured the New Day defending their WWE Tag Team Titles against both the Lucha Dragons and the Usos. Similar to TLC the year before, we were treated to a great ladder match that kicked things off. It was a bit messy at first, but they settled into bringing the big spots quickly. Not only did they do the typical ladder spots we’re used to, but they managed to do some new ones. Big E had a great moment when he basically bench pressed the ladder with both Lucha Dragons on it. Kalisto stole the show by hitting Salida Del Sol off the ladder and through another bridged ladder. That was honestly, the best spot I’ve seen all year, regardless of promotion. It was absolutely insane. Major props to both Kalisto and Jey Uso for taking the spot, especially considering Jey just coming off the injured list. Xavier Woods was golden on commentary, before getting involved himself because it’s NO DQ! As Kalisto neared the belts, Woods threw his trombone at him. This opened the door for New Day to retrieve the belt and retain at 17:56. Another great ladder match in a year for really good ones.

206. Money in the Bank: Cesaro vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Fandango vs. Jack Swagger vs. Wade Barrett – WWE Money in the Bank 2013

One of my favorite Money in the Bank matches ever. The action is non-stop and the performance by Cody Rhodes was tremendous. Having all heels made for an interesting dynamic, but in Philadelphia, the fans were hot for a few guys. Cody getting the crowd completely behind him was the show stealer and this should have led to a great Sandow/Rhodes feud and Cody as a major face. Not only were there great spots here but the teams working as a unit until the end and the interference were all very well done.

205. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW G1 Climax 24 7/28/14

Tetsuya Naito won the G1 in 2013. At Wrestle Kingdom 8, Naito lost his shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Okada, so this was the rematch. They start incredibly quickly, just bouncing off the ropes and each other. Okada dropkicks Naito from the top and to the floor. Okada takes over from there, and again, I have to point out how good he is when playing the cocky heel. Naito starts the rally but Okada is ready. He hits the elbow and signals for the RAINMAKA! Naito ducks it and hits a nice tornado DDT. Okada hits a dropkick to the back of the head though, as the back and forth continues. Okada hits a tombstone but again misses the Rainmaker, allowing Naito to hit a dragon suplex. Naito then again counters the Rainmaker into an arm drag, before getting his win back from the Tokyo Dome with the Stardust Press in 13:54. Everything that these two did looked crisp and they had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Okada is five times better than normal when he gets to play the heels role more and that was the case here. After a slow start, Naito has turned it up on the last two shows, delivering in a big main event performance here. The pace was fast, the counters were great and the match was exciting.

204. Lucha Underground Championship: Mil Muertes [c] vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma – Lucha Underground 3/9/16

To start Lucha Underground’s incredible second season, Mil Muertes held the Lucha Underground Title. He seemed unstoppable and sent back all challenges. The two biggest threats to the title were Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma, who were in the midst of a rivalry of their own as well as having their issues with Mil. It led to this awesome three-way match. Puma and Pentagon worked together early on but Muertes was too much of a beast for them. The champion even did a plancha, which we never see from him. Pentagon and Puma were not far behind with dives of their own. This match had so much going on, from the aforementioned aerial attacks to creative use of the environment to great brawling. Each guy played to their strength for the entire 11:56. Puma stole the show with a sick shooting star press off the guardrail. Near the end, they built to several near falls that the fans totally bit on. Pentagon went to break Puma’s arm but Mil speared him. He also speared Puma before using a double Flatliner to retain the title. Not only was this one of my favorite matches all year, it was the best triple threat match of 2016. A non-stop blast.

203. Number 1 Contender’s Tournament Final: Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor – NXT TakeOver: Rival

With Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a heated rivalry involving the NXT Title, a tournament was held to determine the next number one contender. Adrian Neville and Finn Balor were the final two men remaining, meeting at TakeOver; Rival. I’m not 100% sure but I believe it was a match against each other in Japan that got both men on WWE’s radar. There was a special feel to this that wasn’t simply because of the high stakes. This was the longest reigning NXT Champion in history against the guy that many, correctly, pegged as the next face of NXT. Finn brought out the “Demon” for the first time two months earlier and it rattled his opponents. Neville refused to be intimidated, looking at Finn as a man in paint rather than a “Demon.” There were little moments during the 13:45 of this match where Finn showed that he’s a different entity in the paint, like crawling/stalking Neville around the ring. I’d love to see more of that from him to differentiate the “Demon” from normal Finn. There were well placed near falls that weren’t overdone before Finn won with the Coup de Grace. This would be Neville’s last high profile NXT match before heading to the main roster and it worked as a passing of the torch in some ways. ****¼ With Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in a heated rivalry involving the NXT Title, a tournament was held to determine the next number one contender. Adrian Neville and Finn Balor were the final two men remaining, meeting at TakeOver; Rival. I’m not 100% sure but I believe it was a match against each other in Japan that got both men on WWE’s radar. There was a special feel to this that wasn’t simply because of the high stakes. This was the longest reigning NXT Champion in history against the guy that many, correctly, pegged as the next face of NXT. Finn brought out the “Demon” for the first time two months earlier and it rattled his opponents. Neville refused to be intimidated, looking at Finn as a man in paint rather than a “Demon.” There were little moments during the 13:45 of this match where Finn showed that he’s a different entity in the paint, like crawling/stalking Neville around the ring. I’d love to see more of that from him to differentiate the “Demon” from normal Finn. There were well placed near falls that weren’t overdone before Finn won with the Coup de Grace. This would be Neville’s last high profile NXT match before heading to the main roster and it worked as a passing of the torch in some ways.

202. WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Last Woman Standing Match: Becky Lynch [c] vs. Charlotte – WWE Evolution

I’ve seen some call this an overdone mess and others call it the Match of the Year. I’m not fully in either camp. I saw a match that had moments of being absolutely brutal and hated filled. I also saw a match that kind of fell into some of the tropes that hurt this stipulation in the past, like a lot of time spent counting women down in the early stages when the match clearly wouldn’t end and overkill at some late spots. Charlotte’s ability to get up from so much came across as the overkill. This isn’t a knock on her, as WWE has done it in almost every match like this, including with AJ Styles earlier this year. That out of the way, this was great. The violence level was high and we got some truly stellar spots like the announce table leg drop, stuff with the ladder, and some loud kendo stick shots. I loved how Becky didn’t become a coward late. When she couldn’t keep Charlotte down, she just moved on to try a bigger spot and it eventually worked with a powerbomb off the top and through a table outside, ending this at 28:38. One other issue was the officiating. Charlotte wasn’t truly up after getting buried in chairs, but was credited with beating the count. She got up further in the end, but lost. Strange. Still, a fitting end to a great rivalry.

201. WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The New Day [c] vs. The Usos – WWE SummerSlam 2017

SummerSlam 2017 was a night for tag team wrestling. Actually, all of SummerSlam weekend was, because the NXT Tag Title match in Brooklyn was lots of fun. At Battleground the previous month, these teams stole the show. This was even better. In the first match, Xavier Woods replaced Big E to help give it a more frantic pace. Big E replaced Kofi Kingston in this one, but again, it felt like Woods was the star. He’s in no way the weak link of the team like some thought a while back. He played the face in peril so well and his rope walk assisted Big Ending spot got me out of my seat. As for the Usos, not only did their heel turn freshen them up, but they busted out new stuff here. It was highlighted by their Alley-Uso assisted Samoan Drop, except Woods was tossed over the top and to the outside. Some superkicks and a series of splashes led the Usos to win at 19:12. The best Kickoff match in history. Also, kudos to the Usos for joining the Hardys, Edge & Christian, the Dudleys and the New Age Outlaws as four-time Tag Team Champions.