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Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#430 – 421)

July 12, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor

430. NXT Championship Ladder Match: Finn Balor [c] vs. Kevin Owens – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn

Having the unenviable task of following a spectacular NXT Women’s Championship match, I think this main event more than delivered. Finn Balor and Kevin Owens had two prior matches, the first not being too great and the second being my favorite encounter of theirs. This lies in the middle, but closer to the second one. I appreciated that it was similar to the really good Ambrose/Rollins ladder match from a few months earlier in that it didn’t need to rely on tons of big spots. For most of the 21:37, Owens beat the hell out of Balor, doing whatever it took to best the unbeaten “Demon” and win back his prize. Balor, under the “Demon” paint, was able to dig down deep and persevere, surviving a lot, including the apron powerbomb that nearly killed Sami Zayn and even took out John Cena for a bit. When they did bring out the bigger spots, it was near the end, and felt very earned. The image of Finn hitting the Coup de Grace off the ladder before going back and retrieving the gold is something to behold.

429. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn – WWE Raw 4/11/16

Standing alone, this would be an indy fan’s dream match on WWE television. Though they met twelve years earlier, this was the first ever one on one match between AJ Styles and Sami Zayn. Just putting them together would be enough but this had an added edge. Styles had an upcoming one on one WWE Championship match, but if he lost here, Sami would be added and it would become a triple threat match. It started as a respectful battle but a big chop from Sami and vicious dropkick from AJ kicked it into next gear. Sami takes a beating better than anyone in wrestling, which was perfect here. AJ and his offense came off looking great and it had to for the casual audience to buy him as a threat to Roman Reigns in a few weeks. Each one of Sami’s hope spots were done well and I bought into him pulling off the upset more than once. Sami tried landing on his feet on a big sunset flip but ended up hitting his head. He still went for the Helluva Kick, only to miss and lose to the Phenomenal Forearm at the 16:52 mark. A great match between two of my favorites for the first time ever.

428. World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio [c] vs. Christian – WWE SummerSlam 2013

SummerSlam 2013 is probably the most underrated show in WWE history. Nobody seems to talk about it but it’s an all-time classic. It makes sense that the event also happens to be host to one of the most overlooked World Title matches ever. In the middle of the show, Christian and Alberto Del Rio reignited their rivalry from 2011. Del Rio may be canceled these days but this was a high point for him. It felt like Christian had no chance to win coming into this, yet they managed to make everyone believe that he’d pull out the win. They brought drama into a match that had no business having any. There were twists and turns and they got the crowd invested in it by the time the final bell rang. That came when Del Rio made Christian tap after an exciting 12:28. One of the most underrated and overlooked matches of the decade.

427. G1 Climax Finals: Kazuchika Okada vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – NJPW G1 Climax 8/10/14

The two top stars in the CHAOS stable met in the finals of the G1 Climax 24. I’ll probably say it a lot during this list but I believe that was the best G1 in history. Kazuchika Okada, winner of the 2012 iteration, faced Shinsuke Nakamura, who won the tournament in 2011. This was the kind of big match that NJPW is known for delivering. However, it was before their era of each main event having to go 30+ minutes. These two managed to put on a great outing in 23:18 that was still filled with drama and felt kind of epic. It’s an early stage of Okada formula, as the opening minutes aren’t all that interesting. However, it gets going soon after since they don’t have to stretch this out to 35 minutes. From there, it’s pretty much a non-stop thrill ride. Nakamura is turned inside out by the Rainmaker, giving Okada his second G1 Climax victory, capping the greatest tournament in wrestling history.

426. World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match: Kane [c] vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Edge vs. Rey Mysterio – WWE TLC 2010

At first glance, this might be a match that you don’t even remember happening. However, it is actually one of the more underrated TLC bouts in WWE history. Kane was riding his as World Heavyweight Champion but faced his toughest challenge. His current rival Edge, the man he took the title from in Rey Mysterio, and the company’s fastest-rising star in Alberto Del Rio. There were some creative ideas sprinkled in, like Mysterio using one of the stage prop tables as a catapult for offense. The main stories saw Kane trying to get revenge on Edge for abducting Paul Bearer and Del Rio constantly interrupting every chance Mysterio had at winning. Del Rio and Kane took some big bumps through tables near the end of this 22:42 encounter. Edge pulled down the title to mark a historic moment as it put him in rarified air with ten World Title reigns.

425. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Rusev – WWE Raw 7/13/15

Even though he wasn’t directly involved in this, the John Cena US Title Open Challenge was responsible for another great match here. A week after a fantastic battle with Cesaro, Cena awaited a new challenger. Rusev answered, looking to reignite their shit feud. Kevin Owens interrupted even though he had a shot in six nights. Cesaro came out next, looking for a rematch, leading to a brawl between the three. It turned into a number one contender’s match, where the winner would face Cena right after. What followed was 24:02 of some awesome action. They made good use of the Triple Threat style, bringing out some really cool spots (specifically Cesaro hitting a double German on both opponents). Owens would walk out near the end because he had an upcoming shot and decided he didn’t need this. The final few minutes between Cesaro and Rusev were tremendous, including a great moment where Rusev reached the ropes in the sharpshooter, only to have to pull Cesaro to the floor because rope breaks don’t work in No DQ matches. Rusev ended up hitting a superkick to win, in an anti-climactic finish. Cena was supposed to be the face but considering the effort Rusev put forth while Cena gladly sat on commentary (doing an uncharacteristically bad job), Rusev was the sympathetic one. That match would last only five minutes and end via DQ. Still, the one preceding it was great.

424. EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW G1 Climax 27 8/5/17

362 days. Coming into this match, that’s how long it had been since Kazuchika Okada was last pinned in singles competition. This was the fourteenth night of the G1 Climax and Okada was 5-0, while EVIL was 4-2. With Okada seemingly running away with the block, EVIL needed to win to stay alive. For the first time in a long time, it felt like Okada wasn’t in control of a match. Instead of his usual cross body over the guardrail spot, EVIL beat on him with chairs. He wasn’t allowing Okada to get going. Okada was forced to fight from behind because EVIL always had an answer for him. There was quite the big spot where Okada took Darkness Falls onto a pile of chairs in the crowd. It had to suck for him. When he beat the countout, it set up the traditional Okada closing stretch. High energy, great action and the usual Rainmaker stuff. After hitting one from out of nowhere, he subtlety positioned himself to land on his back so he could do his wrist hold stuff that everyone goes nuts for. I usually hate it, but liked it here because he was in serious trouble and because it finally backfired. EVIL ducked a third Rainmaker (like everyone else after eating two), but won the exchange by avoiding it again and hitting the STO to win at 22:47. Biggest win of EVIL’s career. Though the rematch for the Heavyweight Title disappointed, this was awesome and cemented EVIL as the MVP for the B Block of the G1.

423. Mae Young Classic Semifinals: Kairi Sane vs. Toni Storm – WWE Mae Young Classic 9/9/17

Throughout the Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane felt like a huge star. Toni Storm didn’t showcase a ton early, but delivered in the Quarterfinals and was set for this huge clash. A staple of the tournament was battles of size against speed, which came into play here. Storm had the power upper hand and used it to her advantage and wore down Sane’s arm. It was a solid strategy to take Sane’s biggest weapon, the elbow drop, away from her. Sane rallied and hit a huge cross body to the outside, smacking her face on the ramp and concussing herself. Still, she competed at a high level for the rest of the 12:23 and sold everything Storm did very well. Storm’s offense looked great, especially a vicious armbar and bridging Muscle Buster. Sane busted out a desperation spinning back fist and went to the top for the elbow. She clutched at it but risked it all to win and it worked. It was the best match of the tournament, featuring a hot crowd, smart work, and a real sense of urgency. It truly felt I was watching something important.

422. PROGRESS Atlas Championship: WALTER [c] vs. Matt Riddle – PROGRESS: New York

In their first match at Chapter 46, Riddle retained over WALTER. WALTER dethroned him at Chapter 51 in an even better bout and this was the rubber match. They began this with mat work that was fairly even. WALTER took to brutally laying in the chops. Never afraid to give back as much as he takes, Riddle responded with chops of his own. It’s a staple of their matches. In their second outing, WALTER had Riddle well scouted and it led him to victory. This time, Riddle was ready, doing just enough to alter his game and avoid a repeat loss. He started deadlifting WALTER and throwing him around, which is never not impressive. Both guys picked up near falls down the stretch that the fans totally bought into. Riddle’s first senton attempt caught knees, but his second worked. He went into the Bromission, adding a series of chops, to make WALTER submit and become a two-time Atlas Champion after 15:58 of action. Not quite on the level of their second match, but better than the first. They played off their previous outings and the sheer viciousness of their strikes was jaw-dropping.

421. Trios Tournament: Cage, Johnny Mundo and Taya vs. Dragon Azteca Jr., Prince Puma and Rey Mysterio Jr. – Lucha Underground 4/13/16

If you know anything about Lucha Underground, you’ll know that owner Dario Cueto loves his unique oddball teams. In that vein, he set up Cage to team with his rival Johnny Mundo, and Mundo’s girlfriend, Taya. The masked trio opposite from them was something of a Lucha Underground dream team. Azteca plays a big part in the overall lore of the series, Puma was the first champion and Mysterio is a lucha legend. This match allowed us to relive the great season one rivalries that Puma had with both Cage and Mundo. Puma played the face in peril and made the hot tag to Mysterio, though some of the biggest spots were still reserved for Puma and Dragon. That included Dragon hitting a mega rana on Mundo, who was sitting on Puma’s shoulders on the top rope. That was followed by a Puma 450 splash and Mundo somehow kicked out. The final few minutes of this 12:51 match just go at a breakneck pace. Miscommunication by the uneasy team led to Rey hitting 619, Azteca nailing a gorgeous tornado DDT and Puma winning it with a 630 splash.