wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#330 – 321)

September 3, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
ROH Field of Honor 2015

330. WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Gran Metalik vs. TJ Perkins – WWE Cruiserweight Classic

When the Cruiserweight Classic participants were announced, I doubt anyone predicted this final. Most people expected the men they beat in the semi-finals, Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr., to be here. Instead, we got Gran Metalik and TJ Perkins. Both guys delivered great matches throughout the tournament and deserved to be here. Before the match, Triple H came out and introduced the Cruiserweight Title for the winner, upping the stakes of these finals. I appreciated that TJ was a different guy on this final event. There was no dabbing or anything like that. You could tell this was a serious match with important stakes. He wisely tried to ground Metalik but the Mexican star still got free for some of his signature stuff. He made sure to show that he could hang on the mat too, stretching Perkins a few times. The rest of this 17:48 match saw them trade some great moments. A highlight saw Metalik snap off a great rana off the apron and another came when Perkins caught a running shooting star press into the knee bar. TJ kept trying the knee bar, getting closer and close to winning. Metalik hit the Metalik Driver but the knee was too beat up to cover in time. He went for an avalanche version but TJ somehow countered into the knee bar to win the CWC. An excellent capper to a fun tournament. They wrestled an exciting, smart, back and forth match in front of a hot crowd. Too bad TJ is a tool.

329. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata – NJPW G1 Climax 27 8/1/17

One of the best things about the G1 Climax in 2017 was Yuji Nagata’s string of performances. In his final tournament run, he put on some of his best work in years. These two came out trading blows as you’d expect. Unlike their past matches, Nagata showed his age, getting worn out early. However, once Ishii started in with disrespectful slaps, everybody’s favorite dad fired up and dished out as much as he was taking. Nagata came into the match with no points and was giving everything he had to not finish the tournament without a win in his final run. It was now Ishii’s turn to sell Nagata’s strikes like death. Their exchanges down the stretch were remarkable. When Nagata scored with the brainbuster, everyone believed he had finally done it, but Ishii got the shoulder up at the very last second. That was it for Nagata, though, as he fell moments later to a brainbuster of Ishii’s own. This was a tremendous 13:59. On its own, this match ruled, but when you add in Nagata’s G1 story and his desperation to get his first win, you’ve got an absolute winner. I enjoyed this much more on my second viewing.

328. Kazuchika Okada vs. Roderick Strong – ROH Field of Honor 2015

The IWGP Heavyweight Champion visited Ring of Honor to face Mr. ROH. The kind of match that you expect when two companies work together. There were no titles on the line or any pre-existing feuds, it was just two of the best competitors on the planet facing off to see who is better. Things started out slowly, with both guys getting a feel for each other. Roderick Strong channeled his PWG heel persona, getting vicious with a back suplex on the guardrail. Strong did his homework and had the Rainmaker scouted excellently, countering it multiple times. That forced Kazuchika Okada to dig deep and bring out not one, but two Tombstones. Everything that these two men did, as usual, was just so crisp and well-executed. When Okada finally hit the Rainmaker, after four or five tries, it felt extremely earned, like he was just in a grueling match. The match went 17:23 and really got going once they passed the feeling out process.

327. Falls Count Anywhere Match: Hideo Itami vs. Mustafa Ali – WWE 205 Live 10/24/18

There weren’t many wrestlers more consistently good in 2018 than Mustafa Ali. I’m talking across all promotions. You might not have expected it, but his finest moments came in specialty matches. Meanwhile, since turning heel, Hideo Itami had also been better thanks to a more aggressive style. I loved that this match made good use of the stipulation. Far too often, we get Falls Count Anywhere matches that are just your typical Hardcore match. This one saw most of the action take place outside of the squared circle. The fight went into the crowd, onto the ramp, and they barely spent time in the ring. That’s a good thing. Both wrestlers found ways to incorporate creative spots, like Ali running up the steel steps for a tornado DDT. Special shoutout to Itami for being the only guy to sell moving the steel steps like they really weigh hundreds of pounds. They saved their best for last in this 15:22 war. Ali delivered one of the best 450 splashes you’ll ever see, putting Itami through a table outside. It got him the win and added another feather to his cap for having one of the best 2018s of anyone in wrestling.

326. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW G1 Climax 26 7/30/16

Not only was this a match with my two favorite NJPW wrestlers, but they are also two of my ten favorites anywhere. They had a great match in the 2015 G1 Climax, which is where I became a fan of both guys. Katsuyori Shibata was having none of Tetsuya Naito’s bullshit. He charged and kicked him in the face instantly before viciously throwing him into the guardrails outside. Once Naito turned things around, he targeted the bad shoulder and knee of Shibata. Disrespectful Naito made the mistake of spitting at Shibata and got his ass kicked for it. There was a rather lengthy submission spot in the middle that slowed things down a bit too much. It made sense but went for too long. I did love how it played into Naito’s newfound knee bar. Once that was over though, this got great. Stiff shot after stiff shot led to Naito coughing up blood after the final bell. Naito got the knee bar on and Shibata’s injury made his struggle more dramatic. Shibata fought free and slapped on the sleeper hold. He hit the penalty kick but knew how tough Naito was so he went back to the sleeper instead of trying for the pin. Naito passed out at 19:24 to end one of the best G1 Climax matches in 2016. Two of the very best just doing what they do best.

325. Weapons of Mass Destruction Match: Killshot vs. Marty Martinez – Lucha Underground 9/14/16

During the first two seasons of Lucha Underground, Killshot and Marty Martinez were two guys that had been underutilized. Killshot showed loads of potential in small doses, while Martinez absolutely nailed his insane creeper character. Given a main event opportunity in season three, they more than delivered. Marty stole Killshot’s dog tags (important to him due to his time at war) and their feud led to this. A “Weapons of Mass Destruction” match is basically a military-themed weapons match. Like any good brawl, this felt personal. Killshot attacked during Marty’s entrance and busted him open with a gun. They used their environment well, with most of the weapons coming into play and Marty taking ring announcer Melissa Santos (who he always creeps on) hostage. There was a death valley driver on a ladder, a superplex onto a crate, and a powerbomb from the ring through two tables outside. Nothing was off-limits. Marty’s sister, Mariposa, tried to interfere but got put through a table for her efforts. When Killshot’s double stomp failed to win things, he knew he had to up the ante. Killshot snatched his dog tags back from Marty as they fought atop a ladder. Standing atop it with Marty standing on a rung below, Killshot jumped off with a double stomp that sent Marty through a table to win an insane match at 22:21. Star making performances for two guys that deserved the chance.

324. The Golden Lovers vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Will Ospreay – NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome 12/15/18

For the most part, I sit out the final month of the year for NJPW. Most of their post-G1 Climax stuff is kind of just there and December means the World Tag League, which is uninteresting. However, the Road to Tokyo Dome show on 12/15/19 sounded interesting. Mainly due to this main event. Working as a preview for Wrestle Kingdom 13, it pitted Hiroshi Tanahashi and Will Ospreay against IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega and NEVER Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi. As expected, this was filled with great exchanges from four quality wrestlers. It felt like it was meant as a showcase for Ospreay, as he was given many of the hope spots and big moments. Fans were treated to plenty of awesome tandem offense, great near falls, and some of the best pacing in a tag match in recent years. Ospreay landed on his feet on a super rana was indeed a memorable moment. Not for the athletic move itself, which has been done over and over, but because of the camerawork. People overlook how much that can add to a match. Ospreay fell to the Golden Trigger after 28:46, wrapping up one hell of a tag team match to set up one of the biggest nights of the year.

323. Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 24 8/3/14

I couldn’t find the picture from the G1 24, so you get one from the G1 23. I didn’t expect much from this. While the G1 24 was the best tournament in history, Davey Boy Smith Jr. isn’t someone I associate with great matches. He delivered in a huge way to start what was one of the best G1 nights in history. Out of the gate, Tomohiro Ishii came out firing, setting the tone for what would be a hard hitting fight. Each shot from both guys was pretty damn stiff. Ishii is well known for this but I give Davey Boy Smith Jr. a ton of credit for holding his own. Both guys busted out cool suplex variations. The hot crowd added a ton to this. Smith nailed an absolutely beautiful German suplex for a close near fall before doing the same with a tiger suplex. The finish came as Ishii busted out a damn rana to counter a bomb. He followed with a lariat for a near fall that the fans bought into. A Brainbuster put away Smith in a blistering 10:24 that is wildly underrated.

322. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Katsuyori Shibata, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya & Maybach Taniguchi – NJPW G1 Climax 26 Finals

I certainly couldn’t find a picture of this one. NOAH vs. NJPW. It also always warms my heart to see Katsuyori Shibata teaming with the New Japan Dads. The crowd was invested for the entire match, which went only 10:54, but was packed with action. They came unglued when Hiroyoshi Tenzan got tagged in, even though this was right after Gedo royally blew Tenzan’s last G1 storyline. On the flipside, Go Shiozaki got booed mercilessly and seemed to love it. His interactions with Shibata were awesome. The intensity level of this match was off the charts and that is never more clear than when Shibata and Nakajima go at it. Shibata delivers a headbutt that sounds absolutely disgusting and he immediately gets busted open the hard way because of it. Nakajima hit Nakanishi with a brainbuster to win but it didn’t stop there. Shibata went savage after the bell and attacked the NOAH guys, leading to an intense pull-apart brawl that had the fans going nuts. Four-star match but closer to five stars if we’re talking about angle work. A seemingly unimportant midcard tag turned into a big turning point for a NOAH/NJPW feud that was also fueled by NOAH guys beating key NJPW guys during the G1 Climax. Too bad nothing really came of the feud.

321. WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander [c] vs. Buddy Murphy – WWE 205 Live 5/29/18

Long before they stole the show in Australia, Cedric Alexander and Buddy Murphy had a Cruiserweight Title match on 205 Live. In contrast to the Super Show Down outing in Buddy’s hometown, this was in Cedric’s home of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the early stages of this 20:08 affair, Murphy was interested in showing that he could match Alexander in terms of ring skill and athleticism. When Cedric began taking control, he got pissed. The “Juggernaut” came out. Buddy dropped him on the announce table and threw him into the guardrail. Of course, after Murphy beat on the champion for a while, he used his aerial ability and the heart he’s known for to rally. This guy was unbeaten for most of the year for a reason. Things escalated and the action only got better as they neared the conclusion. From trading big shots to desperation offense by the champion, this ruled. Alexander’s title reign was in more jeopardy than ever before. Maybe due to the energy from his hometown fans, Alexander withstood a lot and retained with the Lumbar Check. I love the story of Buddy being a killer against Alexander’s fiery babyface who just won’t quit.