wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#470 – 461)

June 30, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Batista John Cena WrestleMania 26

470. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family – WWE Main Event 4/8/14

When The Shield and The Wyatt Family first met at Elimination Chamber 2014, it was incredible. The two most dominant and fresh factions in the company, colliding in a huge way. They had a rematch on Raw in March (both matches will be on this list later) before getting a tiebreaking third contest on an episode of Main Event. For a brief time in 2014, Main Event was a show that featured some big matches and moments like this one. This match didn’t quite live up to what had been done previous but it was almost like they couldn’t do anything other than put on a great match together. There was plenty of action, including a scorching Roman Reigns hot tag segment. Things broke down for the wild encounter fans had come to know and love from the trios. Dean Ambrose scored a huge win for The Shield, hitting Dirty Deeds after 19:24. It remains, easily, the best match in Main Event history.

469. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Togi Makabe – NJPW Dominion 2013

On paper, the matchup of Kazuchika Okada and Togi Makabe sounds like a complete mess. They don’t come across as guys who would mesh well. And yet, they have better chemistry than a lot of guys you think would. This was an early title defense in Okada’s first major run as champion (his 2012 one could be considered a fluke by some). Cocky Okada didn’t seem to take Makabe seriously. He probably thought he was past his prime. In response, Makabe kicked his ass. Okada still took control and remained a step ahead, possibly due to his youth upper hand. Makabe got mad and powerbombed Okada through a table, giving the match its biggest spot. Okada managed to avoid the King Kong Knee Drop at every turn and eventually delivered the Rainmaker to retain his title after 25:24. Makabe struggled to wrestle with Okada so he went with brawling and it led to a hell of a match.

468. WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins [c] vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Samoa Joe – WWE Greatest Royal Rumble

At WrestleMania, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and The Miz delivered a fantastic match. A few weeks later, they got the chance to do it again. The difference? Throw in Samoa Joe and a bunch of ladders to up the ante. With four talents of this caliber, you just know you’ll be treated to some great moments. Everyone was given an opportunity to shine. Joe was the bruising brute. Balor showcased his athleticism. Miz used his cunningness. Seth was willing to go the extra mile to prove himself as Intercontinental champion. Everyone played their roles to perfection. There were some great, creative ladder spots. For example, usually someone would just hit their finisher off a ladder. Here, Miz hit Joe with a sick looking Skull Crushing Finale onto the edge of a ladder. It was a small change, but it made all the difference. Everyone was game to take bumps, making for a match where they all came across as being on a level playing field. And it never went over the top with the spots like some ladder matches suffer from. Balor came extremely close to winning, only for Seth to springboard onto the ladder and unhook the title right in his face at 14:34. A great finish to a great match.

467. The Black Lotus Triad vs. Pentagon Dark – Lucha Underground 11/30/16

Only in Lucha Underground, baby. Pentagon Jr. became Pentagon Dark at Ultima Lucha Dos. That night, he interfered in Black Lotus’ match with Dragon Azteca Jr. Lotus returned during season three with help from the rest of the Black Lotus Triad. The members? Along with Black Lotus herself, it was Doku, Hitokiri, and Yurei, better known as Kairi Sane, Io Shirai, and Mayu Iwatani, respectively. Yes, this match was Pentagon Dark against three of the best Joshi wrestlers on the planet. Doku wnet first and hit her dope elbow but went for it again and got caught. Pentagon broke her arm and next out was Yurei. Their exchange was very good and Pentagon broke her arm after a Package Piledriver. Then, shit got real when Hitokiri arrived. Their battle was nuts filled with choking, chairs, and Hitokiri leaping off of Dario’s office. She surprisingly beat him with a Canadian Destroyer after 26:09. Black Lotus came in at the end and broke Pentagon’s arm to cap it off. This whole thing spanned a single episode and it was awesome.

466. WWE Cruiserweight Classic Semifinals: Gran Metalik vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – WWE Cruiserweight Classic 9/14/16

Zack Sabre Jr.’s run through the Cruiserweight Classic left a lot to be desired and he was outshined by a lot of people. He still found himself in the semi-finals, kicking off a great show against Gran Metalik. Metalik came out firing by taking to the skies. Sabre weathered that storm and took it to the ground where he is at his most comfortable. However, Metalik showed that he could hang on the mat, which only frustrated Sabre. Sabre got more vicious in his offense as things progressed. He struck with his best PK of the tournament, complete with a Shibata reference from Mauro Ranallo. Metalik survived and scored on an awesome rana but then springboarded right into a triangle submission! Metalik got free and hit the Metalik Driver from out of nowhere to advance at 13:12. The best work of Sabre’s tournament run and nearly the best for Metalik. It got the show off to the perfect start with a match that featured great counter wrestling and told the story of Sabre getting more upset as time went on that Metalik seemed to have his number.

465. WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Jinder Mahal – WWE Clash of Champions 2017

I never got behind the Jinder Mahal push. When it started, I felt he wasn’t ready and I still hold that position today. His feuds with Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura were pure shit (though I attribute part of it to Shinsuke and Randy putting in lackluster efforts). However, it was the AJ Styles feud that helped turn some stuff around. Their match in the UK where AJ captured the title was very good and they bested it here. Styles understood the best way to work as Jinder’s opponent. He allowed Jinder to use his power and control a good portion of the match. AJ bumped and sold the ribs very well, making Jinder’s heat segment better than most others would have. When the Singh brothers got involved, it made sense and wasn’t overdone. It also didn’t lead right to the finish, which happened too often in prior Jinder matches. Jinder teased using the Styles Clash, but AJ countered into the Calf Crusher to retain after 22:57. The best match of Jinder’s career and it proved that he could deliver rather well in the right setting.

464. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi [c] vs. Ryusuke Taguchi – NJPW 45th Anniversary Show 3/6/17

Ryusuke Taguchi typically plays an undercard comedy guy, but he can turn into BIG MATCH TAGUCHI from time to time. His wackiness proved to be a good foil for the pure insanity of Hiromu Takahashi. In the tag matches to build this, Taguchi established the ankle lock and Hiromu had to avoid it at all costs. Hiromu got in control and stole some of Taguchi’s signature spots to get in his head. Taguchi’s had hope spots, but the champ kept preventing the ankle lock. When Taguchi finally applied it, Hiromu was prepared, countering into his own. They finished up with great counters and transitions, leading to the crowd getting way behind a fired up Taguchi. Despite that, Hiromu did his own firing up and retained after hitting the Time Bomb after 17:42. The story told around the ankle lock was great. Hiromu was taken out of his comfort zone and had to show he could hang in a different style of match. He could.

463. WWE Championship: Batista [c] vs. John Cena – WWE WrestleMania XXVI

The two biggest stars of the Ruthless Aggression era. I love the story of their rises to the top being almost identical, from the final two spots in the 2005 Royal Rumble to the WrestleMania 21 title wins to being top guys on their brands. Cena went for early covers and Matt Striker tried to sell it as he was desperate and doubtful about the outcome. Lawler and Cole shot that down because why tell stories on commentary? Batista dominated a lot of this since they were trying to tell the story that commentary wanted to ignore. Cena would find openings and do things like slap on the STF but it was never enough. The Attitude Adjustment near fall here was fantastic because it hadn’t been overdone yet and you bought that Cena might not be able to beat him. They repeated a variation of the spot that broke Cena’s neck at SummerSlam 2008. Before Batista could capitalize, Cena trapped him in the STF and made him submit in 13:38. A compact match that was filled with big time action and told a simple story. A super underrated Mania gem.

462. EVIL vs. SANADA – NJPW G1 Climax 27 7/20/17

Los Ingobernables de Japon explodes! This was one of the more intriguing matchups in that year’s G1 Climax. I’d like to credit Don Callis for pointing out something that made the match stick out more for me. He noted that while EVIL is Tetsuya Naito’s go-to guy, SANADA is more like his project. I got the sense they came out here vying to solidify themselves as the official number two in LIDJ. SANADA played the de facto babyface, with the crowd loving his athleticism and offense, while EVIL was more than happy to use chairs and a few more underhanded tactics. Still, SANADA did just enough to stay somewhat heel. They brought the big offense, including SANADA hitting a super cutter to the floor, nearly winning via countout. That led to some great exchanges, which showcased just how evenly matched Naito’s buddies are. When SANADA couldn’t win with the Skull End, he resorted to a moonsault to win in 15:46. They did the little things and delivered the goods in a match I had high hopes for.

461. PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Matt Riddle [c] vs. Trent Seven – PROGRESS: Orlando

I can’t help but love the PROGRESS Atlas Championship. Big lads wrestling is among my favorite things in all of wrestling. Trent Seven was one of the better heels on the UK scene, while Matt Riddle is wildly popular wherever he goes. After realizing he was outmatched on the mat, Seven took to chopping the shit out of Riddle. That just angered Riddle, who lit him up with brutal shots around the ring. Riddle was always a step ahead. If Seven chopped, Riddle chopped harder. If Seven hit a suplex, Riddle popped up and retaliated with his own. When Riddle survived Seventh Heaven (a spinning piledriver), Seven wanted to hit one off the middle rope. Riddle slipped out and came back with a jumping Tombstone for a great near fall. Seven kicked out at one after a crazy looking jumping piledriver, but Riddle pounced. He locked in the Bromission and Seven tapped out at 10:47. Before the match, Jim Smallman promised they would beat the shit out of each other and they delivered.