wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#230 – 221)

November 25, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Charlotte vs. Ronda Rousey – WWE Survivor Series 2018 Image Credit: WWE

230. Matt Riddle vs. Travis Banks – PROGRESS Chapter 52: Vote Pies 7/23/17

Heading into the big Alley Pally show in September 2017, Pete Dunne and Travis Banks got to pick opponents for one another. Dunne selected Matt Riddle for Banks’ opposition on this show and we should all thank him. They delivered a nonstop, action-packed 12:18. It was the Riddle formula, done as well as I can recall. Competitive mat work, intensity laced strikes and big spots. If you want to know how brutal this was, Riddle’s cornrows got knocked loose from being hit so hard. Banks survived the Bro to Sleep. Riddle survived the Kiwi Krusher. What would be enough to keep the other man down? They showed off seamless transitions when Riddle caught the Slice of Heaven into an ankle lock that Banks then turned into the Lion’s Clutch. In a great moment, Banks kicked out of a jumping tombstone at one, prompting the commentator to flat out say, “f*** off.” My only gripe with this match was the finish. Pete Dunne came out and caused a distraction that allows Riddle to win with a Gotch piledriver. Even so, it wasn’t a bad finish, as it kept Banks strong heading into a title match, while setting up Riddle as a challenger for him once he won the title. Stellar wrestling.

229. Charlotte vs. Ronda Rousey – WWE Survivor Series 11/18/18

I originally expected this to be the Mania main event. It was surprising that it didn’t even main event this show. Anyone who knows me knows that Charlotte ranks among my least favorite wrestlers in the world. But make no mistake, I know she’s good. Her week to week stuff lacks, but for big matches, she delivers. This was one of them. There was a level of intensity to this that was unmatched on the show. You’d think these two had a long rivalry. It felt like a fight and not just two people throwing out a collection of moves at one another. I saw some people complain about a few spots being sloppy late but I actually liked that. The match felt like a true struggle and when athletes get worn down, things aren’t going to be super crisp. It gave the match a more realistic feeling. At 14:10, from out of nowhere, Charlotte pulled out a kendo stick and hit Ronda for the DQ. A furious battle that was the best singles match of Ronda’s career to this point. Charlotte brought out her best for a big match. The post-match angle only helped add to make this special.

228. Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. – Lucha Underground Ultima Lucha Dos

Ultima Lucha Dos didn’t quite live up to its incredible predecessor, but the main event proved to be one of the best matches in Lucha Underground history. A match so big that it headlined their biggest show of season two over the Lucha Underground Championship. From the very first episode, Prince Puma was THE MAN of Lucha Underground and became the first champion. Rey Mysterio Jr. showed up early in season two and is pretty much the godfather of lucha. The face of Lucha Underground against the face of lucha libre. Puma wanted to prove he could beat the best and Rey wanted to show he could still hang. Early on, Puma’s ramped up cockiness showed when he outworked Rey. Outmatched in the speed and quickness departments, Rey had to utilize his veteran instincts. That was the story throughout and it was wonderfully told. Rey reached into his bag of tricks at times, like on a super reverse rana that we haven’t seen from him in a long time. Puma had counters ready, knowing Rey’s offense so well because Rey is his idol. He even hit Rey with his own 619, followed by a springboard 450 splash for a near fall. He stopped to basically apologize to his hero before trying a 630 and it cost him as he crashed and burned. Rey bested him shortly after with a diving rana at 16:37. I originally didn’t like the decision, but it set up a great season three arc for Puma. These two told a beautiful story and the match was full of twists, turns and counters at the right time. Awesome stuff.

227. PROGRESS Championship No Disqualifications Match: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Jimmy Havoc – PROGRESS Chapter 45: Galvanize 3/19/17

Jimmy Havoc defeated Pete Dunne via disqualification in their first title match. Havoc earned another shot at Chapter 44 and this one would be contested under No Disqualifications rules. That format is perfectly suited for the challenger. Knowing that (and because he’s a dick) Dunne jumped Havoc during his entrance. They brawled all around the Ritz, using weapons like a steel chair, the PROGRESS Title and even a frying pan. The violence escalated to include Dunne wrapping barbed wire around Havoc’s legs and stomping them, as well as Dunne stapling Havoc’s forehead, elbow and FINGER. That looked like it hurt so much. But, it was nothing compared to Havoc’s retaliation. He gave Dunne several PAPER CUTS in the webbings between his fingers and made it worse by pouring ALCOHOL on the wounds. It was legitimately hard to watch. They weren’t done. They traded shots with their forearms wrapped in barbed wire and Havoc hit a Canadian Destroyer onto thumbtacks. Will Ospreay got involved, continuing his feud with Havoc and costing him the match. Dunne nailed him in the ribs with a barbed wire bat and retained via Bitter End in 25:56. A magnificent hardcore match that only got bogged down by a bit of an overbooked finish.

226. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Time Splitters [c] vs. reDRagon – NJPW Power Struggle 2014

I’ve said before that I truly believe the best tag team in wrestling in the mid-2000s was reDRagon. On the other side, you have one of my favorite wrestlers in Alex Shelley and his partner KUSHIDA, entering as the reigning IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Other than those obvious reasons, I chose to watch this because they actually have a match coming up in a few weeks for those same belts. Before watching this, I saw their first match, which took place in August of 2014. The match was a bit of a disappointment and the Time Splitters retained. reDRagon returned with a force, winning the Super Junior Tag Team Tournament to earn another shot. That’s where we enter here. This was the match I wanted between these teams. You see, a lot of the IWGP Jr. Tag matches I’ve seen (which isn’t that many to be honest) are very spot heavy and, while that can be fun, it’s not something I want all the time. Here, they tease the high spots multiple times. Both teams stop the other from getting in big spots, so when those finally do hit, they mean more and get a better reaction. The focus from KUSHIDA and O’Reilly on the arms of their opponents is great and really makes me wonder if their interactions here sparked some intrigue to give them a big singles match the following year. The finishing sequence is excellent as a furious run is needed to win.

225. PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Matt Riddle [c] vs. WALTER – PROGRESS Chapter 51: Screaming for PROGRESS 7/9/17

Matt Riddle captured the PROGRESS Atlas Championship, a title exclusively for wrestlers over 205 pounds, in January. During his 175 days as champion, he made 11 defenses, across three countries. A successful defense came against WALTER, in one hell of a match at Chapter 46. They went out and bested it at Chapter 51. To know what this match was all about, just know that within the first minute, both of their chests were bright red. By the time it was over, Riddle’s looked like ground meat. They chopped each other from bell to bell and brought the kind of strong style match that would rival even the best ones NJPW could put on. Riddle got dominated at times, getting himself into trouble because he was simply outmatched. WALTER also brought his wits, as he wisely kicked out Riddle’s leg to setup an ankle lock. Well done. Riddle refused to die, so WALTER just had to try harder to kill him, finally hitting a series of powerbombs and applying a rear naked choke. Riddle knew it was over and tapped out after 11:38 of incredible action.

224. Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. The Undertaker – WWE WrestleMania XXVIII

Shawn Michaels is the special referee. This show needed this big match feel. It’s cool that the cell gets its own theme. They slug it out from the start and things spill outside. Undertaker starts by basically kicking Triple H’s ass. It’s a great reversal of last year’s match where Triple H beat the shit out of the Undertaker and he couldn’t walk out on his own. Steel steps come into play, where Triple H’s Pedigree is countered to a backdrop. To level the playing field, HHH gets a steel chair. He starts wailing away on the Undertaker and its shades of WrestleMania 27. Shawn even steps in to try and get him to stop. Undertaker stops Shawn from calling the match despite HHH demanding it happen. He shouts “STAY DOWN” but Taker won’t. HHH gets a sledgehammer, still wanting Shawn to call it. Taker refuses so he eats a sledgehammer but kicks out. Shawn takes it from HHH before he can do it again. Before Shawn can call it, Taker pulls him into Hell’s Gates! He kicks HHH low and puts him in the submission too. All three men are down as Charles Robinson runs in. Taker gets mad that a chokeslam doesn’t end it, so he does it to Charles too. Then, in one of the greatest near falls ever, Undertaker kicks out of Sweet Chin Music into a Pedigree. I remember watching live and totally biting on that finish. An angry HHH dumps Shawn outside and Undertaker sits up with a wild look on his face. He hits a Tombstone for another strong near fall. More brawling leads to a Pedigree near fall. Taker sits up and starts in with a chair himself. He beats HHH with it like this is Austin/Rock eleven years earlier. HHH sells like he’s dying but is forever a rebel so he crotch chops the Deadman. Shawn turns away as Undertaker hits him with the Tombstone and wins with the Tombstone at 30:53. Top notch storytelling from three legends. Parts of the early goings were slow but it worked out in the end. The Pedigree/SCM near fall was arguably the best ever. It didn’t technically end an era though.

223. Six to Survive: Fenix vs. Ivelisse vs. Johnny Mundo vs. King Cuerno vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Taya – Lucha Underground 6/15/16

In an effort to see who would earn a shot at the Lucha Underground Title at Ultima Lucha Dos, two teams of six competed a week earlier. The winning team would then meet here, in a six-person elimination match that took up the entire episode. There were some intriguing storylines from the star, like Taya and Johnny Mundo’s relationship, Taya and Ivelisse’s feud and the past between Fenix and King Cuerno. All six participants went at it, but the first elimination came within five minutes. Mil Muertes returned to the Temple and took out his rival, Cuerno, allowing Mundo to eliminate him. The interactions between Ivelisse and Taya were the low point of this match unfortunately. Taya got rid of her just shy of eight minutes in. She would go next following a Package Piledriver, leaving it up to three of LU’s top guys in Fenix, Pentagon and Mundo. These three were good together, but it wasn’t until after Mundo got eliminated that the match got taken to the next level. Real life brothers Pentagon Jr. and Fenix put on a spectacle of a show to close out the match. Their chemistry as opponents (and teammates) is top notch and it showed here. I won’t go into too much detail about their work here but it was very fast paced and pretty incredible. I would honestly put that final stretch between them up against any other ten or so minute stretch in wrestling this year. Pentagon got the win to earn the title shot following a Mexican Destroyer into a Package Piledriver, capping a 35:27 war.

222. Moustache Mountain and Ricochet vs. The Undisputed Era – NXT 6/27/18

Moustache Mountain, fresh off winning the NXT Tag Team Titles, were scheduled for a match against some local jobbers. It was going to be nothing special. The Undisputed Era jumped those scrubs and looked to put a hurting on the champions. Ricochet, gunning for a shot at Adam Cole’s North American Title, hit the ring and a six man tag spawned. We had recently been treated to basically the same match, but with Pete Dunne instead of Ricochet. Somehow, Ricochet came in and improved things. He played perfectly off his teammates by joining them in their signature spots and adding a flair to them. Tyler Bate was isolated for a good chunk of the match. Once he made the hot tag, this kicked into next gear. The match just throws a ton of great stuff at you for the remainder of the 13:31 runtime. Ricochet does some stuff here that is honestly jaw dropping. The spot where he avoided Total Elimination with a backflip will never not be impressive. He nearly won it with a 630 splash, but Kyle O’Reilly pulled Cole to break up the pin. Ricochet went after him, but got taken out by Roderick Strong and Cole pinned him to win one of the best TV matches in years.

221. Number One Contender’s Match: Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Raw 5/1/17

The Intercontinental Championship isn’t usually a focal point of Raw main events, but the night after Payback was different. With Brock Lesnar sitting at home with the Universal Championship, the IC Title took center stage (and it absolutely should more often with Brock’s schedule). Though they staked their claim for a shot at the Universal Title, former WWE Champion Seth Rollins and former Universal Champion Finn Balor got into it with The Miz and IC Champion Dean Ambrose, leading to this main event. Miz played his role masterfully in this, which is typical of him. He avoided action early, tried making deals with his opponents and literally hid behind Maryse. Seth and Finn brought the goods as well. It was Seth’s best performance of 2017 and Finn’s best since returning from injury. The final stretch was great, with lots of close calls, without going into the overused finisher kickout barrage. My only true gripe with this was that interference riddled this as it reached its peak. Samoa Joe ran in to take out Seth and just when Balor had it won, Bray Wyatt appeared and attacked him (that angle was randomly dropped for a while). Miz stole the win at 22:23 and got to face Ambrose in a lackluster rivalry. Regardless of what came next, this was excellent. It was the best match for the Raw brand since the split in July 2016. Yes, I’m even including PPVs, at least until the SummerSlam Universal Title match.