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Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#350 – 341)

August 20, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja

350. Three And In Finale: Mark Haskins vs. Tyler Bate – PROGRESS These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends

With NJPW pulling Zack Sabre Jr. from the Wembley show, a new World Title contender had to be set up for that show. PROGRESS put on a “Three and In” series, where someone had to win three straight matches to get in. These were the only two left with a chance, so the winner would go on to face WALTER in Wembley. Bate came in with a bad leg and that was the story of the match. He’s been on a tear since 2017, but the injury held him back, giving Haskins an opening. Being the technical master he is, Haskins wisely went after the leg and Bate sold it beautifully. His one-legged kip-up was wonderful. It’s the little things and Tyler gets them. Usually, leg work in a match gets forgotten about but these guys went all in on it. Even with Bate as the clear favorite, the injury was handled in a way that made you believe he might not get it done. The big spots came later, including a Haskins Destroyer and Bate doing all he could to get an Airplane Spin going. The Sharpshooter counter from that move made for a great moment. Bate survived the hold and delivered the Tyler Driver ’97 to win in 19:14. Fantastic match. Top notch wrestling, from the psychology to the selling to the late drama. All of it worked.

349. World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus [c] vs Big Show – WWE Hell in a Cell 2012

On paper, this had no business working the way that it did. Sheamus was having a strong run as World Champion outside of his lame matches with Alberto Del Rio but nobody expected him to be this good against Big Show. That’s especially true since Show wasn’t doing much of interest during a 2012 that saw him have lame matches and turn heel. The main concept was that the Brogue Kick and WMD were both finishers that were dominant. Hitting either would mark the end. Show destroyed Sheamus at points here and it was a much different position for the champion at this point. Sheamus started turning things around and even hit White Noise. That and the chokeslam failed, furthering that it needed to be the Brogue Kick or WMD. Since those were built up, when Show caught the Brogue Kick and hit the WMD, fans were stunned that Sheamus got a shoulder up. The same goes for Show kicking out of the Brogue. Then, the finish was fantastic as Show slightly dodged the kick and knocked out Sheamus with the WMD to win the title cleanly in 21:18. This blew away expectations and was awesome.

348. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW Invasion Attack 2016

Kazuchika Okada was fresh off beating Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom to become the “ace” of NJPW. Tetsuya Naito was the hottest act in Japan and won the New Japan Cup tournament to earn this title shot. At 28 years old, Okada entered as a three-time IWGP Champion and had the world handed to him after a shit run with TNA. Naito, 33, had never held the title, ran into several setbacks, and reinvented his character completely to get to the top. Though the heel, Naito was the heavy favorite. Tons of Los Ingobernables de Japon merchandise dominated the crowd. Following a fair start, Naito’s running buddy BUSHI tripped Okada and Naito took to beating up Okada’s second Gedo. EVIL attacked Okada with a chair and Naito got in the driver’s seat. Okada would take out all three members with a cross body into the first few rows. In trouble, Naito was ready with a low blow to set up a Koji Clutch that nearly ended the match. Okada wouldn’t stay down and rallied. He called for the Rainmaker but Naito threw the referee in the way, opening the door for Los Ingobernables de Japon to jump in and attack Okada. Okada took care of them until a masked man showed up and laid him out. He revealed himself to be the returning SANADA, joining LIDJ. Okada still had fight but Naito countered the Rainmaker into Destino to win the title at 28:22. Naito disrespectfully threw the title in the air as the crowd went nuts. There were better worked matches in 2016, but not many that I was more invested in. The moment of Naito winning also helped put it above their rematch two months later. For the next 70 days, NJPW felt fresh. For one night, Gedo made the absolute right booking move.

347. WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte [c] vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Raw 7/25/16

There have been a lot of Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte matches. They’re almost always good, some great, but they never really got to the level of Sasha/Becky or Sasha/Bayley. Anyway, the first Raw of the new brand split era was one of the best in the history of the program. The best match of that night saw Charlotte defend the Women’s Championship against Sasha. Including her reign as Divas Champion, Charlotte was at the helm of the division since the previous September. During that time though, Sasha never got a one on one title shot until this night. Unlike all of the other times that the WWE bashes how important their matches are over our heads (especially during this feud), this naturally felt like a big deal and was treated as such. For 16:51, they had possibly their best match ever. As with most Charlotte title defenses, she had help at ringside, and Dana got involved quickly. To get rid of Dana, Sasha pulled a page of her idol Eddie Guerrero’s book and made it look like Dana went after her with the title. That just added a little something extra to this. The rest of the match saw them do the spots they’re known for and the fans thought it was over when Charlotte hit her finisher, but Sasha survived by grabbing the ropes. Charlotte survived one Bank Statement but tapped to a second after straight up telling Sasha that she would never beat her. The crowd reacted perfectly and the moment of Sasha realizing her dream was one of the best of the entire year. Sasha’s 2016 wasn’t nearly as good as her 2015, but this was an amazing sight. The feud would be run into the ground for the rest of the year and never reached this level again.

346. WWE Raw Women’s Championship Elimination Chamber: Alexa Bliss [c] vs. Bayley vs. Mandy Rose vs. Mickie James vs. Sasha Banks vs. Sonya Deville – WWE Elimination Chamber 2018

I came into this match highly skeptical. Bayley and Sasha Banks hadn’t been on their game for a while, Mickie James hadn’t had a great match in a long time, Alexa Bliss wasn’t putting on classics, and the Absolution girls were inexperienced. But dammit if these six women didn’t do everything in their power to have a great match. What I appreciated here was how WWE took a risk. Instead of going the obvious route like having Banks start and go the distance, they gave Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville a shot. Sonya and Bayley opened with a fine battle before Mandy joined in to team up on Bayley. I remember not liking this segment the first time around, but on the second watch, I felt the new girls did well. They got to work as a team and Mickie performed a dive off one of the pods, showing that they all belonged in this. I liked how it came down to Alexa being against Bayley and Banks. The ways she avoided them were creative and fun. Of course, that all went away when Sasha did her best Lion King and kicked Bayley off a pod. Great moment. In the end, Alexa used their issues against them to eliminate both and retain at 29:38. This was better the second time around. The action moved smoothly, they told several stories, and it was a fun half hour. The women bested the men in the chamber and again later that year at MITB.

345. WWE Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – WWE WrestleMania 32

For the first time since Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James a decade prior, a women’s match felt like it actually belonged on the biggest show of the year. This wasn’t just the company throwing women on the card for the sake of it, it was actually one of the more hyped and promoted matches of the show. Charlotte entered as Divas Champion, but earlier in the night it was revealed that the Women’s Title would be returning to replace it, so nobody started with the gold. Add in Charlotte wearing a robe made from her dad’s last WWE match and Sasha Banks coming out with Snoop Dogg and you’ve got the ingredients for something special. Once the bell rang, these women went all out for the entire 16:01 duration. It’s as if they knew the success of the future of the division hinged on their performances. There were some sloppy moments that kept this match from reaching the heights of their NXT stuff, though I give them credit for doing their best to cover them up. WrestleMania jitters and all. Sasha paid tribute to Eddie Guerrero more than once, giving this some emotional impact. Even Ric Flair got in on the action, taking a bump for Becky. Charlotte would go on to win with help from her dad in the worst booking decision of that year, on the worst booked show of that year. This was Sasha or Becky’s night. Still, it is the best women’s match in WrestleMania history.

344. Ladder Match: John Morrison vs. Sheamus – WWE TLC 2010

Remember the days of King Sheamus? Yeah, not many people do. This was also that odd time where people believed John Morrison was a legitimate WWE Title threat. On this night, the two added another chapter to their surprisingly fantastic rivalry, with a shot at the WWE Title on the line. A year prior, Sheamus won his first WWE Title in shocking fashion at this same event. This reminded me a lot of the Dolph Ziggler/Luke Harper ladder match at TLC four years later. It was a bruising big man against an athletic smaller guy. Morrison was much more creative with the ladder, pulling out some sweet offense that really fit into his role of being the parkour guy. The finish was cool as Sheamus took a huge spill through a ladder. When Morrison got close to winning, Sheamus somehow got up, showing how tough he is. It took one final kick from Morrison to keep him down long enough to retrieve the contract after 19:07. A star-making performance for Morrison that he followed up with a quality performance in a title match loss.

343. Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 26 7/18/16

Hiroyoshi Tenzan was disappointed when he wasn’t announced as part of the G1 Climax blocks in 2016. He is a former three-time winner and had competed in a record 19 straight G1’s. His friend and partner Satoshi Kojima ended up giving up his spot in the tournament to Tenzan, who was looking for one final magical run. This was the first match of the entire G1 Climax that year and it got things going on the right foot. Tomohiro Ishii matched up well with Tenzan and they had some great interactions in multi-man tags during the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Ishii didn’t seem to take the legend seriously at first, toying with him. That fired up Tenzan and things got heated to the point where the referee was tossed aside. They just dished out punishment on each other throughout the match, which lasted 14:08. There were several close calls as the match came to an end and while the things in the ring were indeed great, this got bumped to the next level by the stuff outside. The crowd was mental, badly wanting the Tenzan win, and Kojima nailed every facial expression as he supported his buddy. Tenzan won after using Koji’s lariat as a tribute to his friend and a moonsault. This felt way more important than a G1 opener. They badly mishandled the Tenzan’s last stand story as he would only win two matches the entire tournament. This was special though.

342. Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Shield – WWE Battleground 2013

Some folks were surprised at how well Cody Rhodes played the role of a top babyface in AEW. That didn’t shock me at all because he had all the makings of one in WWE and this feud showed it. He was phenomenal during it. The storyline was fantastic here, as jobs were lost at the hands of The Authority. However, Goldust and Cody had one more shot, with their dad’s job on the line as well, against the Tag Team Champions, The Shield. The match itself was fantastic, as these four had spectacular chemistry together. It also lasted just the right amount of time, going 13:54 and working as an ideal first outing between them. Dusty Rhodes being at ringside and taking out Dean Ambrose was an awesome moment. Cody put down Seth Rollins with Cross Rhodes to win, giving fans one of the most emotional moments of the entire decade. There are plenty of better matches on the list but this is right near the top of my personal favorites.

341. Hell in a Cell: Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon – WWE Hell in a Cell 2017

Kevin Owens attacking Vince McMahon was one of the best segments all year. It led to Shane McMahon taking on Owens inside Hell in a Cell. Shane jumped Owens during his entrance, which made me think they’d go the Seth/Dean or Taker/Foley route and climb to the top early. Instead, the match moved inside. Owens was a phenomenal heel, beating up Shane in front of his kids and taunting them. Though the segment in the ring took a long time, there were some cool moments. Shane’s SSP, Owens hitting the frog splash he used on Vince and Shane countering a Popup Powerbomb into a triangle choke were all great. And that was before Owens went through a table and Shane did the Coast to Coast dropkick. The fight went back outside, where Owens teased leaping off the cell, but he couldn’t bring himself to do what Shane is famous for. Shane followed him to the roof, where things got incredibly tense. Each move done there seemed like it would cause the roof to cave in. Owens took a table bump from about halfway up the cell. Shane probably could’ve won there, but wanted to inflict more damage. He climbed back up and went for the big elbow off the cell, only for Owens to be pulled to safety by SAMI ZAYN! Sami shoved EMTs and placed Owens on Shane for the finish at 38:43. It was long, but the drama and tension worked so well. Both men played their roles perfectly and the fight atop the cell made for some true nail-biting moments. This felt like something that belonged in this environment and the surprise Sami turn was a great ending.