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Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#450 – 441)

July 3, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Lucha Underground Cage Matanza Cuerto

450. NEVER Openweight Championship: Katsuyori Shibata [c] vs. Bobby Fish – NJPW Destruction in Tokyo 2016

While the prospect of Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kyle O’Reilly was higher on my list of matches I wanted to see, Bobby Fish getting a crack at Shibata sounded interesting too. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear good things about their ROH Television Title match on ROH TV before this one. Luckily, this match delivered. We got treated to some good old fashioned Shibata violence. Fish started by going after the leg but also targeted the neck and shoulder. He trained to attack any part that is available, which I actually like. Like all good Shibata matches, this was a manly, violent battle. Fish was great, yelling for the official to stop the match when he was kicking Shibata’s ass. I loved him shouting “FUCK YOU” when Shibata had him in the abdominal stretch. Shibata survived the Fish Hook and, being the absolute madman that he is, delivered a headbutt so severe that he instantly busted himself open the hard way. He won with the Penalty Kick at 16:48 to add another successful defense and great match to his resume. Fish succeeded in his first test as a heavyweight in NJPW as well.

449. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Roderick Strong – NXT 2/14/18

Before they were a short-lived team and before their rivalry involving Roderick Strong’s turn to join the Undisputed Era, we had this battle. There wasn’t a major story behind this one. Instead, it was just two of the best wrestlers having a banger of a match for a championship. Pete Dunne went after the arm and wrist of his challenger, while Strong attacked the back to set up for his array of backbreakers. They were given a lot of time, making it through two commercial breaks and lasting 14:10. Every second was used expertly. The pacing of the match was top-notch, as it never felt slow and plodding, while also never going too fast or feeling rushed. Dunne continually attacking the hand is something we’re used to from him, but he always finds ways to make it unique and interesting. He’s great that way. Roddy’s near falls down the stretch made us believe he might pull out the win, even if it seemed far fetched coming into the bout. Dunne retained with the Bitter End to cap a great match that was probably overlooked by most.

448. Kazuchika Okada vs. Naomichi Marufuji – NJPW G1 Climax 26 7/18/16

Fresh off of regaining his IWGP Heavyweight Title and starting a record-setting run with it, Kazuchika Okada entered the G1 Climax 26 with momentum. Standing in his way on night one was Pro Wrestling NOAH star Naomichi Marufuji. He came in with a game plan against the IWGP Champion. That included viciously destroying his arm at every turn. It was more violent and filled with vitriol than expected. He also threw the sick sounding chops that he’s known for. Okada, ever prepared for his opponents, had no idea what hit him. It made the entire match so much better because it was unexpected. Okada got in a handful of moments where he did his thing but the beauty was that this never felt all that competitive. That was the brilliance of it. Marufuji beat his ass and won in 19:06. It set up an even better title match down the line.

447. NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler [c] vs. Kairi Sane – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV

In the finals of the first Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane bested Shayna Baszler. However, Shayna made it to the top of the women’s division before Kairi and dominated as champion for most of 2018. They came into this tied in their series 1-1. Shayna was the vicious champion we’ve come to know. She wrecked Kairi’s leg at every turn. Shayna twisted, kicked, and stomped on the leg. It all looked brutal. The fight from Kairi as she rallied was great. She showcased the killer instinct Shayna said she lacked by busting out multiple Insane Elbows and it still wasn’t enough. When they went into battling Sane’s Anchor submission against Shayna’s Kirifuda Clutch, it was awesome. I loved the finish, too. Kairi went for a third Insane Elbow, but Shayna got her foot up and kicked her in midair. The way Shayna gets up after this is just gangster. She felt like she had Kairi where she wanted her. But, when she applied the Kirifuda Clutch, Kairi slipped free and countered into a pin to capture the title at 13:34. They told a terrific story in front of a molten crowd.

446. WWE Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Miz [c] vs. John Morrison – Raw 1/3/11

The first match on Raw in 2011 was probably its best. John Morrison, riding high as a babyface who beat Sheamus to earn a WWE Title shot, took on his former partner and the champion in a Falls Count Anywhere bout. Morrison, known for his parkour style, was a perfect fit in this kind of match. He dove off of the WWE logo on the stage early on, setting the tone. He also used his athleticism to take out Alex Riley and leave it to just himself and The Miz. They fought all around the arena and had the crowd engaged throughout. Miz kicking out of the Starship Pain because there was a slight delay in the cover made for a great near fall. In the end, The Miz retained and it was the high point in terms of in-ring quality during his title reign.

445. Cueto Cup Semi-Finals: Fenix vs. Prince Puma – Lucha Underground 8/16/17

A lot of the Cueto Cup didn’t deliver on the high expectations I had, but it got better as we reached the later rounds. The Semi-Finals saw Lucha Underground’s “Mount Rushmore” (at least in my mind) compete. Pentagon Dark, Mil Muertes, Fenix and Prince Puma. Though it came down to the four biggest stars, the Puma/Fenix matchup felt fresh. It had only happened once before, way back in season one. They played this match evenly, like you’d expect the two top babyfaces to be. However, Puma was no longer the straight face he was during his title run. He was more aggressive and it showed. Despite that, Fenix came the closest to winning after a brutal kick to the back of the head. Marty Martinez, Fenix’s rival, arrived to stalk Fenix’s love interest, Melissa Santos. Ever the good guy, Fenix took Marty out. Puma, no longer the straight face, took advantage and hit a Michinoku Driver. Fenix was resilient enough to survive that, but fell after a 630 splash at 10:27. This was as awesome as you’d expect from guys the caliber of Puma and Fenix, with story advancements to add to the action.

444. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Jordan Devlin – NXT UK 11/28/18

In 2019 and especially in early 2020, Jordan Devlin felt like he had finally broken out as a key player in NXT UK. However, one can probably look back to this match near the end of 2018 as the first time that he showed the world exactly what he was capable of. Pete Dunne’s WWE United Kingdom Title run was just a barrage of him delivering great matches. This was one of the more underrated, probably because it was in the early days of a brand that doesn’t get a lot of shine. It marked the first great bout for the brand. Not many bought Devlin as a potential winner but they worked hard to get the crowd invested and make you believe he might pull out the victory. Dunne hit the Bitter End but couldn’t get the cover because of damage to his lower back. I prefer that kind of drama to simply kicking out of finishers. Dunne eventually resorted to a triangle choke to retain after a brilliant 15:09. Tremendous wrestling.

443. Cesaro vs. John Cena – WWE Raw 2/17/14

There was a time when Cesaro was considered to have incredible potential. Early 2014 saw him on one of his biggest runs ever. That included a Valentine’s Day clean victory over then WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton. Three days later, he had the chance to make it two massive wins in a row when he took on John Cena. Seeing how Cesaro overwhelmed Orton, Cena did his homework and slowed the pace to start. That allowed him to dictate the pace. He also busted out rare offense like a sweet neckbreaker. The Denver crowd was behind Cesaro for the entire 21:13 of this match. When he did the Cesaro Swing, they came unglued. This was also one of the first times that he showed off the deadlift German suplex. Cena ultimately won but it was a coming out party for Cesaro. They’d best this outing when the US Title was on the line the following year.

442. Money in the Bank: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Money in the Bank 2018

There was a little bit of everything in this one. It was cool to see Raw and Smackdown women interact with one another, especially in the case of Ember Moon, who had never faced the girls from Tuesday nights. They did well to relive past rivalries, like Sasha/Charlotte, and preview ones coming up, like the big Becky Lynch/Charlotte moment. There was an exchange between Ember and Naomi that was a highlight. A few spots were incredibly dangerous (Charlotte violently pulling Lana off a ladder and a Natalya powerbomb come to mind) and one or two awkward moments. However, everyone played their role and was given at least one chance to shine. We’ve seen tons of ladder matches throughout history, so the fact that these women found creative ways to use them is a testament to how well thought out this whole thing was. In the end, after 18:26, Alexa Bliss pulled down the briefcase and then successfully cashed in later that night. For further storytelling aspects, go back and pay attention to how close Becky came to winning on multiple occasions, including being cut off by Charlotte. It plays into her heel turn. Anyway, the women outdid the men in both the Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank in 2018.

441. Lucha Underground Championship: Matanza Cueto [c] vs. Cage – Lucha Underground 6/1/16

THE UNOFFICIAL HOSSWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP! Matanza reigned as a dominant Lucha Underground Champion but Cage brought something that nobody but Mil Muertes was able to against him. He was just as big and even stronger. The action throughout this 13:29 main event was non-stop. They made sure to keep it going and be hard hitting the whole way. They traded getting up instantly after German suplexes until Matanza hit a swinging variation to keep Cage down for a bit. Cage impressed with a dead lift superplex on the large champion. One of the best things about this was Dario Cueto at ringside. He nailed every reaction perfectly. To close it out, Cage went for a barrage of strikes only to get caught in the Wrath of the Gods. This match was handled in a way where the viewers bought Cage as a guy who might actually be able to dethrone Matanza.

article topics :

Lucha Underground, Kevin Pantoja