wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#320 – 311)

September 4, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Pete Dunne Kyle O'Reilly NXT 2018

320. Worlds Collide Tournament Finals: Tyler Bate vs. Velveteen Dream – WWE Worlds Collide 2/2/19

The concept of WWE’s Worlds Collide Tournament is a great one. Take wrestlers from their loaded rosters and put them in matches they wouldn’t usually compete in. The finals came down to Tyler Bate and Velveteen Dream. It’s something we had seen once before but Dream had grown exponentially as a competitor since then. He entered this match with his ribs taped like DDP. It was an interesting change of pace since Tyler Bate was the guy who had the injury going into the UK Championship Finals in 2017. Dream sold the hell out of those ribs throughout this 16:09 encounter. Even when he’d hit offense, he’d have to stop and regroup. Having him as the guy fighting from behind against the smaller Bate was an interesting and unexpected take that I loved. This felt important and you got the sense that both guys were feeling the effects of the tournament. That’s always key in the finals of any setting like this. Dream nearly passed out from a vicious Boston Crab but survived and weathered the storm of Bate offense. He won soon after with the Purple Rainmaker and used the title shot he earned to become North American Champion.

319. Best Friends vs. The Leaders of the New School – PWG Nice Boys Don’t Play Rock n’ Roll 3/18/17

Best Friends are Chuck Taylor and Trent Baretta, while LDRS are Zack Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll. This started as a brawl, with LDRS in control. Even after the Best Friends took over for a bit, it was LDRS using chairs to regain the upper hand. Trent played the face in peril, which was the best way to go. Not enough people talked about it, but Trent was a great babyface everywhere in 2017. From PWG to NJPW to Evolve and everywhere he stopped in between. LDRS were on a near Revival level of tag work in this one. Their tandem offense and the way they cut the ring off were so well done. It truly felt earned when Chuck finally got the hot tag. His run gave us “serious” Chuck. LDRS utilized stereo submissions on two separate occasions, with Chuck breaking up the second by powerbombing Sabre onto his own partner. As the match neared its conclusion, Chuck battled Marty to the back. Left alone with Trent, Sabre got overconfident. Trent took advantage with a cradle piledriver to pin the PWG Champion in 23:21! The pop for the outcome was crazy. Old school tag formula infused with current day offense. Heat segments can sometimes be boring, but this one was excellent, as was the entire match.

318. PROGRESS Title: Travis Banks [c] vs. Matt Riddle – PROGRESS Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life 11/26/17

Back at Chapter 52, Matt Riddle defeated Travis Banks. At Chapter 55, Banks dethroned Pete Dunne for the PROGRESS Championship, setting up this rematch. It opened Chapter 58 and delivered the goods. They started with mat-based grappling but quickly moved on to just chopping the shit out of each other. Banks didn’t just want to beat Riddle, he wanted to show that he could hang in his world. That Chapter 52 loss stung. The physicality continued, as Banks was suplexed into a row of chairs outside. Riddle racked up near falls with his best offensive shots, but Banks just wouldn’t stay down. They both got in good counters, with Banks turning the ankle lock into the Lion’s Clutch, and Riddle turned the Slice of Heaven into a rear naked choke. Banks nearly won with an avalanche Kiwi Krusher, only for Riddle to kick out at one. He added another and the Lion’s Clutch to retain at 17:20. The finishing stretch felt like overkill. Other than that, the match was the right blend of grappling and brutality that it needed to be.

317. Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 5/17/17

It’s one of the best rivalries in all of wrestling. Hiromu Takahashi and Dragon Lee waged war after war during Hiromu’s excursion in CMLL. Their previous two meetings in Japan both got ****½ from me. Hiromu entered this match on a major hot streak. He had dethroned KUSHIDA of the Jr. Heavyweight Title, beaten Dragon Lee a month later, beat Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi, before squashing KUSHIDA in their rematch. There was a big fight feel and they opened by just chopping the shit out of each other. Hiromu went after Lee’s mask, which helped him win last time. Lee learned from those previous outings, having counters ready for almost everything. At one point, he avoided Hiromu’s apron sunset flip and retaliated with one of his own. It was awesome. Hiromu went after the mask again and it nearly cost him when he got rolled up. He came close on a Destroyer and it led to some great near falls from both men. Lee managed to hand Hiromu his first loss of the year with the Phoenix Plex at 18:56. It wasn’t quite as good as their earlier battles thanks to a few sloppy moments, but also played off them very well. They hit their signature stuff and gave us the next chapter in their story.

316. WWE UK Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Jack Gallagher – PROGRESS Chapter 60: Unboxing Live! 2 – Unbox Harder

The pop for Gallagher was huge and it got even louder when it was announced this was a title match. Gallagher won the CWC qualifier they had in 2016, while their NYC match didn’t happen due to injury. Gallagher refused a handshake and slapped Dunne, setting the tone. This was a physical match, with vicious strikes and a brawl through the crowd and to the stage. When they got back to the ring, the trading of big offensive moves continued. Sitout powerbomb, tiger suplex, belly to belly, etc. Gallagher delivered his corner dropkicks, only to have one caught into a powerbomb. There was a great counter that led to Gallagher using the Captain’s Hook, which he borrowed from his partner The Brian Kendrick. Excellent stuff. Dunne bit his fingers to escape, survived a corner dropkick and hit the Bitter End. Gallagher kicked out, so Dunne seemed to go for another Bitter End, but turned it into a Tombstone to retain in an awesome 15:55.

315. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay [c] vs. Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka 2/10/18

If you want to understand the wackiness level of this rivalry, just know that the video package featured a ton of cats and a clip where these guys hand-fed one another. Yeah, it got weird. More often than not, Will Ospreay puts together nice looking moves, but lacks in a lot of the other things that make a match work. The way he screamed when Hiromu hit a belly to belly into the guardrail was comically bad. Thankfully, other than a handful of small issues like that, this was fantastic. These are two wrestlers who like to throw everything at each other and don’t seem to care about their well beings. The pace was quick and they went to war. It was a case of both men knowing how much punishment the other could take and being willing to take it to that level. Even if there wasn’t a ton of animosity in the feud, they grasped what needed to be done. We were treated to huge spots and creative counters, keeping the viewers on our toes. Like a lot of Ospreay matches, he survived a TON thrown at him. It bordered on overkill at points. Will used a big forearm and, after having it countered more than once, finally hit the Oscutter to retain in 20:05.

314. Guerilla Warfare: Candice LeRae, Chris Hero, Joey Ryan and Mike Bailey vs. Mt. Rushmore 2.0 – PWG All-Star Weekend XI Night Two

This got off to a very chaotic start. Roderick Strong cut a promo before he and Adam Cole took out the referee and ring announcer. The faces hit the ring and everybody just brawled. Things stayed chaotic with tons of dives and action throughout. Poor Joey Ryan had thumbtacks poured into his trunks and then got superkicked in the dick. Ouch. Some things worked better than others. A quadruple attack (three superkicks and a Strong knee) from Mt. Rushmore was good but the double Indytaker outside fell flat. Excalibur got targeted but didn’t give a fuck and dove off the stage where he does commentary. Once he got taken out, Cole and Strong posed when the lights went out. The crowd erupted as they came on and Kyle O’Reilly was in the ring. Kyle had a longstanding feud with former partner Cole and it was Strong that took the PWG Title from him a year earlier. He was involved in the match the rest of the way. Strong nearly killed Candice with a sick kick and an insane chair spot. Kyle and Roddy basically got taken out when they went through a table together. Finally, Matt Jackson got what was coming to him as Rick Knox and Joey Ryan combined on a doomsday device on him (Knox did the clothesline), Excalibur got him as well and then Hero laid him out with a thumbtack filled elbow pad to pick up the win. A great, chaotic main event that was pretty much exactly what it needed to be. Sometimes, the good guys do have to win and it should feel as big as it did here.

313. Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 27 7/23/17

The second Kota Ibushi was announced for the G1 Climax, this was one of the first matches that came to my head in excitement. I’d seen them wrestle just once before and it was incredible. Not putting this match in Sumo Hall, Osaka or Korakuen was a travesty, as it deserved one of those great crowds. Ibushi’s style is a fantastic blend of aerial skills and stiff strikes. That striking ability is right up Ishii’s alley, and within the opening minutes, they were already killing each other. Though Ibushi hits hard, Ishii brushed off his kicks like nothing. It wasn’t that they didn’t hurt, it just seemed like Ishii refused to show him that they did. If that makes sense. Eventually, it was Ibushi’s turn to no sell, which just led to a higher level of violence. They traded slaps, headbutts, and suplexes, with neither holding anything back. A string of absolutely brutal slaps led to an Ibushi lariat and his stiff knee strike. The Last Ride was all that was left to hit, which got him the victory in 17:14. When I see these two, I just want them to go to war for about 15 minutes, which is just what I got here. Not quite on the level of their 2014 outing, though still in the upper echelon of G1 27 matches.

312. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Kyle O’Reilly – NXT 6/13/18

Not just two of my favorite wrestlers in the world, but two guys who were having outstanding 2018s. Think about how great Pete Dunne is and how Kyle O’Reilly delivers each time out. Kyle’s kind of a goof, so people sometimes forget how skilled this man is. He hung tough and matched Dunne on the mat in the early stages of this one. As engaging as the mat work was, it was nothing compared to the hard hitting exchanges we got down the stretch. Since this went just 10:45, they were able to go all out and give us wall to wall action. There was seriously not a moment of downtime in this. More than once, we saw Dunne fire up after getting hit and come back with a shot of his own that was just as vicious. Kyle came close but wasted time talking smack. Dunne saw an opening and snapped Kyle’s fingers before hitting the Bitter End to retain. I feel like people overlooked this match but they shouldn’t because it was stellar. I love these guys. This was straight-up fantastic wrestling with no fluff. Two great wrestlers putting on a show.

311. Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW G1 Climax 28 8/4/18

These two had an incredible match in last year’s G1 that ranked in my top ten. What makes them work is that, not only are they two of the very best wrestlers in the world, but they’re willing to do serious damage to one another. I swear they both nearly broke their necks in their 2017 meeting. Here, Tetsuya Naito was sure to bring back his heel tactics. We hadn’t seen them in a while, but he used them against Juice Robinson and here against Kota Ibushi. There was some early knee work in this that failed because they kind of just went away from it. However, when Naito targeted the neck, this picked up and didn’t die out until the bell rang after 25:09. Focusing on the neck is perfect against a guy with a history of problems there, while also setting up Destino. They eventually just threw bomb after bomb at one another. Of course, Ibushi survived Destino since nearly everyone does now. Talk about a finisher meaning nothing. There was an insane number of unsafe looking spots throughout. Ibushi busted out Boma Ye for a near fall before finishing things off with the Kamigoye.