wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s Top 500 Matches Of The 2010s (#90 – 81)

February 27, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WWE Elimination Chamber 2019 Image Credit: WWE

90. TNA Tag Team Championship Match 5 in Best of 5 Series Two Out of Three Falls Match: The Motor City Machine Guns [c] vs. Beer Money Inc. – TNA Impact 8/12/10

Image Credit: Impact Wrestling

I couldn’t find the exact picture of it but for my money, this is probably the best match in TNA Impact history. There are times when TNA had something that stood out for them. It started with the X Division and their Knockouts Division was also top notch for a while. The tag division was another shining light, partially thanks to these two teams. Their Best of the Five Series is the stuff of legend. It came to an end on this episode of Impact in a spectacular match. Beer Money took the first fall with a sequence of moves that put Alex Shelley down. Just minutes later, MCMG tied it up by besting Roode. The last fall was filled with drama as these duos battled to see who was the best. MCMG pulled out the victory after 16:23 and won what could be considered the greatest “best of” series in wrestling history. It’s that good.

89. Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. Aleister Black, Ricochet and Velveteen Dream – WWE Halftime Heat 2019

Image Credit: WWE

This is such an absurd match on paper. Basically, NXT took their top six guys at the time and let them do their thing in the Performance Center during halftime of the Super Bowl. It was an unexpected announcement but I’m so glad they did it. This was arguably the most fun match of the entire year. Simply put, it was six stellar wrestlers doing what they do best and putting on a show. You had interactions that called back to old feuds like Aleister Black/Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole/Ricochet, and Velveteen Dream/Tommaso Ciampa. There were new interactions that had us salivating at the possibility of singles matches in the future. Everything moved along at a brisk pace, meaning there was never any slow down during the 16:15 runtime. Ricochet had one of the best hot tags you’ll ever see and it started an insane run of excitement going forward. The moment where Black, Ricochet, and Dream all posed together was awesome and it was just one of many. The finishing stretch is one of the wildest I can recall. Adam Cole got hit with pretty much everything his opponents could dish out, resulting in him eating the pin to cap something incredible.

88. Men’s Royal Rumble – WWE Royal Rumble 2018

Image Credit: WWE

Theoretically, the Royal Rumble sounds easy enough to book but it’s not. In an hour long match, there are often lulls and those can be tough to iron out. For the most part, the 2018 edition avoided that. Rusev and Finn Balor opened things, marking one of my favorite combos to start a Rumble in history. From there, we had a lot of strong moments. Heath Slater getting beat up by everyone who came out before he could even enter the match, only to throw out Sheamus in mere seconds. Andrade Almas and Adam Cole making surprise appearances. The Hurricane and Rey Mysterio returning. Another fun Kofi Kingston elimination avoidance. The final six gave us a new vs. old battle as Mysterio, Randy Orton, and John Cena faced off against Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Roman Reigns. This was a lengthy, dramatic exchange. It was even more drama filled when it came down to Reigns and Nakamura. The crowd was completely enthralled, desperate for a Nakamura win and a Roman loss. That’s just what they got after 66:02 of one of the greatest Royal Rumble matches ever. From the atmosphere to the strong pacing to the comedic moments to the final two, this Rumble had a little bit of everything.

87. WWE United Kingdom Tournament Finals: Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate – WWE United Kingdom Tournament 2017

Image Credit: WWE

Night two of the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament was a marked improvement on the first. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate were the MVPs, so them being in the finals was fitting. Dunne attacked Bate earlier in the night, injuring his shoulder and giving him a target. Bate refused to back down from Dunne, who was the focal point of the tournament. He went blow for blow with him as best he could. Bate was wise enough to avoid using the bad shoulder, even mostly using just one arm for a crazy lengthy airplane spin spot. Cesaro would be proud. Bate continued with big spots, including a one-armed powerbomb, fosbury flop, and 450 knee drop. Dunne hit the Bitter End for an excellent near fall. Bate survived an armbar and turned it into an awesome brainbuster. The Tyler Driver ’97 was hit to crown Tyler as the first UK Champion after 15:12. It was an outstanding first chapter to their rivalry that established Bate and Dunne as stars in the WWE and the perfect capper to the stories of both in the tournament. Dunne was the perfect villain, while Bate sold his arm well and drew lots of sympathy. Tremendous.

86. Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi – NJPW G1 Climax 28 8/11/18

Image Credit: NJPW

Probably the most highly anticipated match in the G1 this year. Best friends, tag team partners, and golden lovers. With this being the final match on the tour, in typical Gedo fashion, the winner would win the entire block. Kenny Omega began 6-0, yet dropped two straight before this. His overconfidence was becoming a problem. His recent struggles forced him to be more aggressive than he originally planned against his buddy. Kota Ibushi came in for a friendly bout and had to adjust. Omega didn’t even hold back in terms of going after his friend’s surgically repaired neck. It sounds weird, but I love that this didn’t feel like they tried to have an epic. Too often does a match feel like wrestlers tried too hard. Instead, this had a natural flow that made for one of the better outings from either guy in 2018. Omega’s V-Trigger to the back meant extra because of Kota’s bad neck. The Kamigoye kick out was special because Omega was the first man to do it and Kota is the only men to ever kick out of the One Winged Angel. Kota was dropped on his head several times, but weathered it all to hit a super Tiger Driver. He followed up with Kamigoye and advanced to the G1 Finals in 23:13. I love the G1 because it forces NJPW to cut the shit and give us sub-30 minute main events. This was brilliant, telling an excellent story and giving us non-stop action. Their chemistry ensured this clicked, they threw bombs at each other, and I loved the story of Ibushi having to match the surprising aggression of his partner.

85. WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins [c] vs. The Miz – WWE Backlash 2018

Image Credit: WWE

Seth Rollins made a strong case for being WWE’s top wrestler of 2018. So did The Miz. Actually, The Miz has been doing that for years now. Put them together and you got magic. The Miz had just moved to Smackdown, which had the United States Title. Add in how Seth only just won the Intercontinental Title about a month earlier and the outcome to this encounter was obvious. That often takes away from a match because it lacks drama. Nobody told these two. They completely made me believe Miz was walking out as champion on more than one occasion. Both times he nearly won with the Skull Crushing Finale were fantastic. He found creative ways to hit the move each time. I loved the spot where Seth missed the Kingslayer knee and hit the post. It looked and sounded brutal. Miz took instant advantage with a Figure Four and it came late enough in the match that Seth had already done some of his offense that required the leg so there was no selling issue. The finish was tremendous, with Seth finding a way out of a series of rollups to hit the Curb Stomp, complete with him stopping to sell, and retain in 20:30. An underrated gem. One of the best Intercontinental Title matches to ever happen. It was that goddamn good. Both men are incredible wrestlers.

84. WWE Championship Elimination Chamber: Daniel Bryan [c] vs. AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton vs. Samoa Joe – WWE Elimination Chamber 2019

Image Credit: WWE

The formula to create a great Elimination Chamber match is simple enough. Just make sure to do one important thing. Utilize everyone to the best of their abilities. That’s what this match did. Samoa Joe was eliminated first but he got to shine. He brutalized everyone and is always at his best in short bursts. Jeff Hardy had one of the biggest spots of the match with a ridiculous Swanton Bomb, doing what he does best before getting eliminated. AJ Styles sold well for everyone and bumped like crazy. The RKO he took to get eliminated was fantastic and helped build towards their WrestleMania encounter. Also, who didn’t love seeing Kofi Kingston eliminate Randy Orton, getting some revenge for 2009? That left the match down to Kingston and Daniel Bryan. It was such a great role reversal for Bryan, who was the fan favorite underdog in a great Chamber back in 2014. This whole segment was wonderfully done. From Bryan’s shock at Kofi not staying down to the near falls picked up by Kofi to the crowd’s reaction to every bit of it. It was special. You seriously won’t find much better than the Trouble in Paradise pop and shock at Bryan’s inside cradle counter of the pin. Kofi fought valiantly but tapped to the LeBelle Lock after missing a splash off of a pod in 36:51. Probably the third best Chamber in history.

83. Candice LeRae vs. Io Shirai – NXT TakeOver: Toronto II

Image Credit: WWE

My only question mark about this rivalry was that they tried to act like Io Shirai and Candice LeRae were longtime best friends. Other than that, everything about this was masterful. Then the match happened and took it to the next level. I loved this from start to finish. Candice, finally getting a chance to shine on a TakeOver, attacked before the bell because this was a heated rivalry. But within a minute or so, she was getting suplexed on the announce table. Io was ridiculously confident in everything that she did. That was combated perfectly by the babyface fire Candice showed. It was some of the best you’ll see anywhere. They continued to up the ante with each spot and built to something incredible. The big spots came at the right time, never feeling like overkill. When Candice kicked out of an avalanche Spanish Fly and the moonsault, Io lost her mind. She couldn’t believe it. Her answer? Slap on a Koji Clutch until Candice passed out at the 15:01 mark. It was a brilliant move as she realized Candice was too resilient. And the Koji Clutch was done in a manner that kept Candice’s hands from tapping so she had no choice but to pass out. Honestly, this was my personal favorite match of 2019. Simply outstanding pro wrestling from two of the best on the planet, regardless of gender.

82. Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz – WWE SummerSlam 2018

Image Credit: WWE

The most excited I’ve been about a match in years. Daniel Bryan and The Miz are two of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Everything they’ve done together has been golden. From the first season of NXT to Bryan winning the United States Title from Miz to their Talking Smack beef to the build for this match. Here, with eight years of background, they made it all work. The little things were perfectly handled. Miz busted out the Nigel clothesline which he used in their Night of Champions 2010 match. Miz used his cunning personality to take control and when Bryan rallied, it was by using the style he’s famous for. The style he chastises Miz for not using. When Miz did the “YES” kicks, Bryan leaned into them as if to tell Miz that his kicks are nothing more than cheap knockoffs. The tease of Bryan, wrestling master, tapping out to Miz, reality TV star, was so well done because it came right after Bryan kicked the ring post hard and was put in the figure four. I loved Bryan’s hatred for Miz coming out as he punched him in the head while using the Yes Lock. I loved Miz desperately biting Bryan’s hand to break the hold. And then the finish. Masterful. Miz was handed a foreign object by Maryse at ringside. Bryan went for a tope suicida and got hit with it, giving Miz the win in 23:22. How beautiful is it that Bryan took a risk and the smart, safe wrestler used it against him? Miz, the guy willing to do whatever it takes to win, like he told Bryan in the build, did just that and won. I may still be underrating this, that’s how good it was.

81. NXT Tag Team Championship: War Raiders [c] vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet – NXT TakeOver: New York

Image Credit: WWE

Who would have thought that the best tag match of 2019 would come from teams not named the Undisputed Era or the New Day? The winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, Aleister Black and Ricochet, took on the War Raiders to open this TakeOver and they set a high bar for the night. I often praise when teams use tag formula because it works and makes sense. This match mostly avoided it and that was for the better. I saw things in this match that still blow me away after multiple viewings. The cool character bits like Ricochet and Aleister sitting together, the dope tandem offense from the War Raiders, and the exhilarating finishing stretch. I swear, there were at least five to ten times that I thought this would end as it was filled with breathtaking dramatic near falls. They packed a ridiculous amount of action into the 18:39 runtime. In the end, the War Raiders retained with Fallout to cap what was an incredible tag team match. It was the best of the year and an insane way for Ricochet and Aleister to say goodbye to NXT.