wrestling / Columns

Revisiting Larry Csonka’s Reviews of PWI Matches of the Year

May 18, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
NJPW omega-vs-okada Kenny Omega Image Credit: NJPW

Steve Cook: Two years ago, 411mania & the rest of the Internet wrestling community lost one of its most foremost voices. The legacy of Larry Csonka lives on through his lovely family & friends, the writers who were motivated by him & the readers who were entertained by his work.

Last year, we looked back at some of Larry’s finest columns. While Larry was a tremendous columnist, he’s more remembered for his match reviews. I thought it’d be fun to look back at some of Larry’s match reviews this year, but wasn’t about to try & decide which of his reviews was the best. (For one thing, it’d take me the rest of my time here to read them all.) So, we’ll look back at some of the best matches that took place during Larry’s time as a match reviewer.

The following matches were voted Match of the Year by the readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated from 2005-20.

April 3, 2005: WrestleMania 21 – Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle

SC: Larry was doing the Tremendous Tirades gimmick for PPVs at this point. If you’re not aware, here’s a little tidbit: “Tremendous Tirades” was inspired by his pro wrestling persona of “Tremendous” Tom Lawrence, who wreaked havoc in the Carolina weekend warrior scene back in the early 21st century.

Tremendous Tirades Throwback: WrestleMania XXI

They jaw and here’s the bell! Slap to Angle! Angle takes him down and some sweetmeat work to start. HBK gets to his feet and the ropes and Angle breaks. Lock up and HBK with a headlock and take down. Angle rolls him and gets 2. HBK still has it locked in and then to his feet. Angle chants now and HBK still keeps the headlock on. Back suplex by Angle and HBK still hangs on! Angle escapes and HBK locks it in again. Angle rolls him and gets 2. Angle to his feet and off the ropes and HBK takes him down again as we get dueling chants! To the corner and Angle breaks clean. Lock up and a go behind and HBK takes Angle down again with the side headlock. Angle to his feet and reversals and a back elbow by Angle. Hip toss by HBK. Short arm scissors to Angle and HBK still in control. HBK still locked on Angle and he tries for the ropes. Angle picks him off the mat and HBK with a roll up for 2. Back slide for 2. Side headlock again and Angle is pissed. Angle to his feet and to the corner and Angle nails him with a right hand. They go back and forth and the ref tries to break them up. HBK with right hands now and they tie up like boxers. The ref pulls HBK off and Angle with an Ankle lock! Clothesline by HBK takes both men to the floor. HBK dismantles the Smackdown announce table. Angle up and HBK back in the ring. To the floor and they exchange right hands. Chops by HBK now and Angle with the Angle slam into the steel post! Angle breaks the count as HBK is down on the floor. Angle to the floor and kicks at HBK’s back. Back in the ring now and a suplex by Angle for 2. Body scissors now by Angle and he works him over. HBK up and chops to Angle. Whip to the corner and HBK turned upside down. Belly to belly to HBK! Another belly to belly to HBK and a cover for 2. Knee to the back and a pull of the hair by Angle. Into a rear choke now and HBK is hurting. HBK fights to his feet and Angle with a headlock still. HBK out and right hands to Angle. Chops to Angle. Right hands by Angle and they exchange blows. Clothesline by Angle and he covers for 2. European uppercut in the corner by Angle. HBK set on top. Angle up…HBK fights and Angle to the mat. HBK up…ELBOW DROP MISSES! STRAPS ARE DOWN! Angle slam reversed with an arm drag and Angle sent to the floor! HBK up top…FLTING CROSS BODY to Angle on the floor! He almost head planted himself and caught Angle with his knee in the face. HBK climbs in…. Angle up on the apron with him….he tries a German…elbows by HBK. LOW BLOW to Angle! HBK’s a dirty bastard! Angle sent to the table. ASAI MOONSAULT TO ANGLE ON THE ANNOUNCE TABLE! No breakage for those playing at home! Both men are down on the floor as the ref checks on them. The ref counts now and they crawl to the ring. Angle is bleeding from the mouth. They both make it in at 9. They crawl towards each other and get to their feet. Right hands by HBK. Chops now and a boot to Angle. Reversal off the ropes and a forearm by HBK. KIP UP! Right hands to Angle. Atomic drop. Clothesline to Angle. Slam to Angle! HBK up top…FLYING ELBOW! TUNE IT UP! Super kick caught! ANKLE LOCK! HBK IS DEAD CENTER! He fights and rolls out but Angle keeps it locked! HBK crawls…he gets the ropes! Angle stalks him… Angle slam reversed into a roll up NO! ANKLE LOCK AGAIN! HBK rolls him up for 2! ANGLE SLAM! 1…2…NO! Angle is pissed! Straps back on. STRAPS BACK DOWN! Angle up top…MOONSAULT MISSES! HBK goes up top… Angle runs up the ropes…SUPER ANGLE SLAM! 1…2…NO! DEAR GOD! Angle is pissed even more! He grabs HBK and yells at him and say he will tap! SUPER KICK to Angle! Both men are down. HBK crawls over to Angle and drapes an arm over him 1…2…NO! SO CLOSE! King blames the Smackdown ref. They are still down and HBK fights to his feet. ANKLE LOCK! PLAYIN POSSUM! He pulls him center, HBK rolls but no! Another time and still locked in! Back center and HBK is in pain! He tries for the ropes but NO! GRAPEVINE THE LEG! HBK tries to get out…he is screaming in pain! HBK tries everything to get out! HE TAPS OUT!

Winner: Kurt Angle @ 27:30 ****3/4

April 2, 2006: WrestleMania 22 – Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon No Holds Barred

SC: I won’t lie, this spectacle & “Match of the Year” don’t exactly go hand in hand to me. But the PWI voters spoke, and it was awfully tough for HBK not to win MOTY with them during the 2000s.

Tremendous Tirades Throwback: WrestleMania 22

HBK attacks! Chops to Vince and then slammed off the announce table. More chops and Vince is tossed onto JR and King! HBK with vicious rights and then he chokes him with a headset. “We want Bret” Chants already. HBK with a MIC shot to Vince. Into the ring we go and HBK has the Vince pic. He nails Vince with it! HBK talks shit and mocks Vince! SPIRIT SQUAD IS HERE! They beat down HBK! They do the parachute deal to him and then celebrate. Doane goes up top…MISSES the big leg drop! Johnny misses with the mega phone and then HBK nails them with it. HBK tosses Doane out onto all of the SS! Vince is back in and lays out HBK with a clothesline. Vince has a small cut over his right eye. He chokes HBK in the corner and then tosses him down. Vince has his belt now and whips HBK. He chokes HBK with it now, HBK fights back and then chops at Vince. Clothesline by Vince with the belt. He mocks HBK a bit, and then calls for Sweet Chin Music! HBK catches him and then fires away with rights and chops. Forearm by HBK, KIP UP! He has the belt and WHIPS Vince! Damn that is hard. Slam by HBK, and then he goes up top…ELBOW DROP! Tune up the band! Shane is here and NAILS HBK with a kendo stick shot! Shane has handcuffs and Vince decides to drop his pants. Kill me. Shane grabs HBK, but he nails Shane and makes Shane kiss Vince’s ass! LOW BLOW by HBK to Vince! Clothesline to Shane and he is on the floor now. HBK handcuffs Shane to the middle rope and then HBK takes the key, tosses it to the crowd and does the SHANE DANCE and beats Shane’s ass with the Kendo stick! HBK has a chair and back into the ring he goes. KILLS VINCE with the chair shot! The chair is FUCKED! Vince taps an artery and HBK tunes up the band…then stops. HBK grabs a LADDER now! He takes the ladder into the ring and rams it into Vince’s head! Vince took that flush. Tunes it up again…but HBK stops again! He goes to the floor and gets trashcans! Then a table! Shane tries to cheer Vince on as HBK nails Vince with a trashcan shot. He sets up the table, grabs Vince and puts him on the table. He then sets up the ladder and climbs. HBK then climbs down the ladder and tosses it to the floor. He gets a BIGGER LADDER, Jeff Hardy approved! In the ring and sets it up. He nails Vince more and then puts the trashcan over his head and then lays him back on the table. HBK all the way up top of the HUGE ladder! DX CHOP! SUPER ELBOW DROP THROUGH VINCE!!!!!! SWEET GOD ALMIGHTY! Both men are down and HBK is stirring! HE’S ALIVE! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELLS HIM! Trainers are ringside and HBK tosses out the big ladder, and makes the EMT’s stay away. Snot rocket on Shane and back to Vince. HUGE DX CHANT now. HBK yells at Vince and say she will knock his teeth down his throat and DOES with the superkick and that is all.

Winner: HBK @ 18:25 via pin ***1/2

April 23, 2007: Raw- John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels

SC: Larry wasn’t doing the weekly Raw review at this point in time, but he did include Raw in his “Wrestling’s 3 Rs”. As you’ll recall, the 3 Rs were Right, wRong & Ridiculous. There was also puRgatoRy, Ri-Goddamn-Diculous & Russo-Fn-Riffic, so there were a lot of Rs going on there.

Wrestling’s 3 Rs 4.27.07

BAH GAWD HBK WINZ~! – Let me start off with this, as most of you know I don’t hate Cena like a lot of people do. I will admit that there are times where he looks bad in the ring, but also John Cena has his nights, and those nights are becoming more regular now. Most of the time he holds up his end of the bargain, and without a doubt he did so here. The series of matches with Edge being a great example, the recent work with Umaga as well. He was on tonight, but memo to some of you assholes, John Cena did not carry Shawn Michaels. But he did a tremendous job doing what he is supposed to do. Now onto HBK himself, this man is amazing, let me say again, he is amazing. This man has a piece of shit back, his knees are shot, he needs time off and he went out there with John Cena and had a 56-minute match. Not only did they have a 56-minute match, but they had a 56-minute match without any blood, there were no run ins, there were no gimmicks used, this was a FUCKING wrestling match. And not only was it a wrestling match, but as mentioned, it was a 56-minute wrestling match! Let me tell you, I have been DYING for something like this for years! You see, I remember back watching the old NWA on Saturday’s. I remember seeing Flair and Windham go to a 45-minute time limit draw. I remember watching Flair vs. Garvin go the whole one hour show and Ronnie pulling it off just as the show went off the air. Now, these were not only great matches, but they were long ones that you had NO CLUE were going to go that long. It made it special. I remember seeing Ric Flair vs. Ricky Morton go 40-minutes at a HOUSE SHOW! Did I expect it? No, because I was young and Morton was a tag worker, but he took it to Flair and I thought Ricky was going to win, for moments I thought he could win. I love Iron Man Matches, I think Hart vs. HBK was great. I liked HHH vs. Rock and HHH vs. Benoit. But, if I really wanted to I could just wait until the last 10-minutes because I know I am guaranteed 60-minutes. The drama isn’t there, the art of going “Broadway” is almost dead. Almost. Ring of Honor has worked to bring this art back, with Samoa Joe and CM Punk and then recently (before injury) Bryan Danielson. ROH gave me that Broadway I had wanted, and NOW WWE has done it. I have been begging WWE and or TNA to do this for years now, I want to be surprised, I want to see a match go Broadway and I want to see something special, and damn if this wasn’t. They worked and built to the finish, and when HBK nailed the superkick and fell on him for the pin everything was great. Shawn Michaels is fucking great, John Cena was fucking great, this match was fucking great and in the end I was a happy man.

SC: In case you’re wondering about a star rating, Larry gave it ****1/4 on his review of John Cena’s Greatest Rivalries DVD set.

March 30, 2008: WrestleMania XXIV – Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

SC: I wasn’t as high on this match as most people were, certainly not as high as Larry was. But what the hell, Flair was one of Larry’s childhood idols and it was the Nature Boy’s last WWE match. I wasn’t going to knock him & others in the same boat for enjoying something.

411’s WWE WrestleMania XXIV Report

Flair has a new pimp robe and tights for tonight. They lock up and off the ropes, shoulder block by HBK and Flair is down. Lock up again, a hammerlock by Flair, HBK reverses it and then Flair reverses. Drop toehold and float over by Flair, but HBK gets back to the hammerlock. Back elbows by HBK, off the ropes and a hip toss by Flair and strut. They stare down, lock up and to the corner they go. Flair turns it, they shove and HBK slaps the shit out of Flair! HBK tells him he wanted it, he got it! Lock up and knees by Flair, chops in the corner, rights by HBK and then chops. Flair back with chops now. Irish whip, reversal and a boot by Flair. Off the ropes and a back elbow connects. Flair knee drop to HBK, Irish whip and HBK with a back elbow. HBK up top, Flair catches him! Flair tosses HBK off of the top. Flair up top! HBK over, eats a right and Flair with a cross body gets 2! Shin breaker by Flair, figure four try countered and Flair kicked to the floor. Baseball slide by HBK, and then the Asai Moonsault MISSES AND HBK LANDS ON AN ANNOUNCE TABLE! Flair back in and HBK lays on the floor holding his ribs. HBK struggles to make it back in, does and Flair lays the boots to him. Flair with a hard whip to the corner and then another. Back suplex by Flair and a cover for 2. Rights by Flair, butterfly suplex by Flair and a cover for 2. Chops by Flair, stalling suplex now to a good pop connects and he covers for 2. Boot by HBK, but more chops by Flair. They trade shots, boot by Flair, Irish whip and HBK comes out and gets a neck breaker. Flair charges HBK and then gets backdropped to the floor! HBK up top…MOONSAULT TO FLAIR ON THE FLOOR! Both men are down as the ref counts, the moonsault kind of missed upon seeing the replay. They make it back in the ring, Flair lays the boots to HBK and then chops away at him. HBK back with chops, off the ropes and the flying forearm by HBK. KIP UP! Atomic drop, rights, atomic drop and rights again and Flair flops down. A slam by HBK, he falls and then makes his way to the ropes. He goes up top…ELBOW DROP CONNECTS! HBK tunes up the band, the crowd is not happy with this. He holds up and Flair scoops him up, FIGURE FOUR BY FLAIR! HBK fights…and turns it! Flair lets go and they trade chops. Headlock takedown by Flair, counter, they do try the bridge up and don’t get it and Flair covers for 2. Shin breaker countered, sunset flip by HBK for 2. Chops by HBK, a whip and reversal and HBK with the corner flip back in and Flair chop blocks him! Flair goes for the figure four, roll up by HBK gets 2. Enziguri misses for HBK, figure four by Flair! HBK fights…shoulders down 1…2…NO! He pulls and tries to get to the ropes…but Flair pulls him back to the center of the ring! HBK turns it but Flair turns it right back and HBK finally gets the ropes. HBK lays the boots to him, keeps attacking the knee as the ref tries to back him off. Flair struts, and then eats a superkick! HBK covers 1…2…NO! HBK tries to get to his feet, to the corner, and tunes it up again! He limps over and tells Flair to get up! HBK is set, Flair struggles to his feet, yells at Flair again and LOW BLOW BY FLAIR! Flair covers 1…2…NO! Flair is up, grabs HBK but HBK locks in the inverted figure four! Flair fights, he tries to get the ropes and makes it! Flair pokes HBK in the eye after distracting the ref by pulling off the turnbuckle pad. Roll up with the tights gets 2 for Flair. They exchange chops from their knees, to their feet and more chops. More chops by Flair…SUPERKICK by HBK out of nowhere! HBK looks on at Flair, struggles to his feet and sets for it again. He doesn’t want to do it. Flair is up and calls on HBK! HBK says, “I’m sorry, I love you.” He then kills Flair with the superkick and that is all. HBK immediately hugs Flair after the bell rings and Flair is crying as he lays there.

Winner: HBK @ 20:45 via pin
Rating: ***** (I don’t think they could have done the match better. One or two small missteps do not matter here; this is possibly the most emotional match I have ever seen and a fitting send off for Flair. The era of Ric Flair is over, and for the first time in my life as a wrestling fan I have to accept the reality that he won’t be wrestling anymore. Thanks for everything Ric.)

April 5, 2009: WrestleMania XXV – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

SC: We’re back to the Rs for this one, and by now one of the extra Rs had been promoted to headline status. HBK continued his streak of getting ***** from Larry at WrestleMania.

Wrestling’s 4 Rs Tuesday Edition 4.7.09

Many times, we as wrestling fans can get over excited about an event. We can over hype it and then get pissed when OUR expectations are not met. I will say that heading into the big event that HBK vs. Taker was THE match I waned to see. Partly because I thought it could be great, partly because I have always wanted to see it on the big stage, and also because it was easily the best built feud on the card. And quite simply, this was an amazing match. The beginning was about what you’d figure, HBK avoiding the big man, using his speed, it was smart booking. I loved the part where HBK knew the dive was coming, bumped the ref and then sacrificed the cameraman. The best part was actually right after that, as he grabbed the ref, pulled him into the ring, and was praying for the count out victory. The desperation was evident as HBK was willing to end the streak in any way possible. From there they both survived each others finish, they “dug deep” and it developed into a heavyweight slugfest as Taker’s chest was being destroyed by chops. The finish was sweet as HBK went for the moonsault press, only to be caught and planted with the tombstone. The match not only lived up to, but it exceeded my expectations on every level. Some say that it can’t be a classic because we all knew that Taker was winning, but I disagree. The match was amazing, they told the story of two warriors, and they MADE the live crowd believe that HBK could win, and that makes it great. Taker is a guy that fights through injury, but once again put on a great performance. HBK is stuck together by duct tape and chewing gum, but he goes out there and shows why he is one of the very best once again. At their age, and with their physical condition factored in, I am constantly amazed at the matches they are having, but at this point I guess I shouldn’t be. Awesome match, awesome performances and it will be what this event is remembered for. I would also be missing something if I didn’t mention the performance of Jim Ross. I have said time and time again that NO ONE calls the big match better than Jim Ross and he did it once again here. He took a great, great match and made it EPIC with his call. It will be a sad day when Jim Ross hangs up the mic kids. Oh, and I went the full boat on it, it rocked my face. One of the best WM matches of all time.

March 28, 2010: WrestleMania XXVI – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

SC: Larry was pretty much doing everything at this point on 411 from wrestling news to MMA news to underwater basketweaving. He still found time to give his take on the big events though.

My Take On WrestleMania XXVI

Going into the match I had concerns. I loved last year’s match, and while I knew they KNEW how to have another classic, the facts were that they were both beat up, a year older, and lightning doesn’t always strike twice. I don’t want to compare the match to last year, as they were telling two different stories and having two different matches. I felt that they delivered, and had one hell of a match. I loved that they got the main event spot, I loved how they worked the match, they pulled me in, and I loved it. They went all out, and they didn’t disappoint. The end was great, with Shawn signaling to Taker and then slapping him, only to eat the JUMPING tombstone, a super finisher if you will to end HBK’s career. It was a great ending to a great match, and the after match with Taker showing his respect, and Shawn taking the long walk to the back was the perfect ending to the show. I highly doubt that this is the end, due to wrestling retirements being what they are, but IF this is the end for HBK, it sucks. What ever the case may be, I hope the man is happy, he deserves a break, even if it is for good. (****3/4)

July 17, 2011: Money in the Bank – CM Punk vs. John Cena

SC: Welp. I couldn’t find a Larry Csonka review for this classic matchup that seemed to be setting the stage for a new era of pro wrestling. Larry was focusing on news posting & podcasting during 2011 while others were handling show reviews. He did a podcast reviewing Money in the Bank 2011, but since I wasn’t on it I have no idea what he said. Who am I kidding? Even if I was on the podcast I wouldn’t remember what he said. If you listened to my drunk ass on most of those things you’d understand why. I’m going to assume that he liked the match since he voted Punk as Wrestler of the Week.

April 1, 2012: WrestleMania XXVIII – Triple H vs. The Undertaker

SC: 2012 saw Larry return to the ever-popular 4 Rs column, with some help from various folks as always. He covered the PPVs of course, and had plenty to say about this one.

While the first hour felt like a disappointment, when hour two began, it finally felt like WrestleMania. It started with Jim Ross’ appearance to commentate on the match, and even just in the set up announcing, it felt way more important. Shawn, Taker and Triple H entered, the cell lowered and you just had the feeling that shit was about to get real, and it did. Now like last year, I am fully aware that people are not going to like this match for one reason or another, but as JR would say, this was a damn fine piece of business. From the bell these guys came to put on a show, all three, and they did so maybe better than anyone can. That’s not a shot at other performers; it is a compliment to these three men. From the brutality and attack of Triple H, where he did cross that line to try and end Taker, to the fact that Shawn was so conflicted in whether to stop the match or not, it was clicking. The superkick from Shawn makes sense, due to the fact that Taker put him in Hells Gate, so that he would NOT stop the match. From there, we had scintillating near falls, including the superkick from HBK, which led into the pedigree, and the crowd bought that near fall HUGE. They had more from there, Taker finally was able to fire up and come back, with more hot near falls and they had the audience in the palms of their hands. The brutality was evident on the backs of Triple H and Taker, as the chair shots certainly left their mark, they were not out there to fuck around. Much like the end of the second Taker vs. Shawn match, Triple H had one last try at ending things, but was soundly stopped by Taker, and was backed off to the corner. He told Taker to fuck off, gave him the crotch chop, ate the tombstone and that was it. From the brutality, to the conflict that Shawn Michaels has to battle through, the near falls and the reaction of the crowd, this match delivered and in a perfect storm, made this finally FEEL like WrestleMania. To add onto what they did, the post match where the mutual respect was evident, Shawn helping Taker to his feet, the two of them helping Hunter to his feet and hugging it out as they left the ring was the perfect end to the story that they told, which in many ways played perfectly off of the stories they told with Flair vs. HBK, the two HBK vs. Taker matches, and last year’s Triple H vs. Taker match. This was simply outstanding. Also, poor Triple H, he wanted to bleed the hard way and allowed Taker to Harley Race the fuck out of him, and it just didn’t work the way they had hoped. But yes, Triple H, Taker, Shawn and Jim Ross worked in chorus to create a spectacular match, and that is all I have to say about that… (****1/2)

August 18, 2013: SummerSlam – John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan

SC: This stage of the Tremendous Tirades was a bit different from the past. Instead of a traditional match review with moves & stuff, Larry brought more of the Rs style to it. And yes, like the voters that year we’re ignoring the postmatch.

Tremendous Tirades: Summerslam 2013

As a wrestling fan, this match brings a smile to my face. Watching two guys that faced off in 2003 on WWE Velocity main evening Summerslam is quite awesome. Cena as we have seen has gone on to be the guy in the company, while Bryan put together a portfolio that was second to none during his time on the Independent scene. That is just cool in my book. I personally had a lot of high hopes for the match. Bryan is spectacular as a worker, and Cena has a history of delivering in big time matches with a variety of opponents. The only thing that worried me was the booking, which I think a lot of people would have agreed with heading into the match. The crowd was awesome for the match, and I particularly liked Bryan’s section of submission moves. The guy locks his shit in and makes it look real, as seen by the face of Cena. They sold both the resiliency of Bryan, and didn’t oversell the elbow issue of Cena, as to not make it an excuse. After a ton of great action, they paid off the prom from Raw as they slapped the shit out of each other repeatedly, and it was awesome! Also, they got that great near fall off of the small package I wrote about for weeks, which was another great pay off. And then Daniel Bryan connected with a charging knee strike (BOOM BA YAY) and…that was it! Cena went down, Bryan covered him and scored the win. John Cena showed respect, Triple H stayed out of the way, there was no shitty overbooking and Bryan got his moment to celebrate on one of the biggest shows of the year. I felt that this was every bit as good as Punk vs. Lesnar, two awesome matches on the show is always welcomed.

Match Rating: ****½

June 1, 2014: Payback – John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt Last Man Standing

SC: When I saw this MOTY result, I had to go back and watch the match & try & see what the people saw. I wasn’t a fan of the constant Usos/Wyatts involvement, nor of the spooky explosions towards the end. They put on a spectacle, but I have to assume that the two Daniel Bryan WrestleMania XXX matches split the vote.

Tremendous Tirades: WWE Payback 2014

Cena vs. Wyatt has been a disappointing feud in my opinion. The matches have not delivered, and the promos went from interesting and thought provoking to following a formula, with comedy and singing as the big go to material. Harper and Rowan were out there, but right at the beginning, the Usos came out to be in Cena’s corner. Cena and Wyatt survived each other’s finish early, the Usos and Wyatts got involved, and they brawled and hit dive spots, allowing Cena and Wyatt to battle alone. They apparently disappeared into the arena floor, because they were there and then gone. Wyatt brought a chair into the match, which both men used. We also had cameos from the table and steel steps, leading to close counts on both men. At one Point Wyatt rolled out to the floor, and Cena tossed the ring steps from the ring onto Wyatt. That had to suck. Wyatt survived, so Cena dove off the apron and jumped into a Sister Abigail into the barricade. Production missed it because they were in second screen mode, WWE rarely misses big things in production, but that was not good. Wyatt’s elbow is cut up from the steps being tossed at him. Harper and Rowan would return to save Bray from a count, and then attack Cena. The Usos also returned, and one tried a dove and had a table thrown into his face. Due to all of these shenanigans, the referee completely misses Bray taking a nap for a minute or so. Tables involved again, including Harper superplexing an Uso from the ring, through the tables on the floor. JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESUS! Bray hit the hoss Cross body on Cena, sending both through the barricade. This led to crowd brawling and then into a tech area, and Wyatt being AA’s into a production crate. Cena laid another one on him and stood on it, and that was all. It was wild, chaotic, creative, had a ton of moving parts; and it all worked and worked big time. They finally had the great match they were looking for, which I knew they had in them, but just never clicked earlier, mainly due to the booking. I had been very down on their previous matches, and the way that the feud had turned, but this was tremendous. Much credit to both guys, as well as Harper, Rowan and the Usos for their parts in the match. Their involvement was mainly to neutralize each other, and they did that well. It also continues their feud for the tag titles. I will admit that I am concerned with the booking going forward. Where does Bray go from here? Commentary harped on “Cena always winning the big matches,” which is all well and good. But at the same time, you’re also telling us that the other guy just lost the big match. I hope that they have a plan laid out for Wyatt heading out of this, but as for the match, great stuff here.

Match Rating: ****1/2

October 7, 2015: NXT TakeOver: Respect – Bayley vs. Sasha Banks 30 Minute IronMan Match

SC: Who would have thought that a women’s match would win MOTY before 2015? Definitely deserved. I decided to go back & watch this & Bayley vs. Sasha from Brooklyn to see which I would have voted for…I think PWI’s voters got it right. The Brooklyn match was more of a slambang affair, but the Ironman hit all the right notes and had one of the best Ironman finishes I’ve seen. A total chef’s kiss of an ending.

Csonka’s NXT TakeOver: Respect Review

I wrote about these ladies recently, and stated that while they had a completely awesome match at Brooklyn, they have their work cut out for them tonight because this stipulation can hurt more than help even the most seasoned performers. The crowd was red hot when the bell rang, and due to that they soaked it in and killed almost a minute, which I don’t mind. Play the crowd, milk the reaction that is there; they didn’t even have to do anything to get it was the best part. They started slowly, and then both started going for roll ups, cradles and the like, selling that they both wanted to be the first to get the initial fall. Bayley was working Japanese arm drags, and Banks landed badly on one of them (head and shoulder landing). They did some nice work countering each other’s signature stuff to play off of their previous matches. Sasha then played into the respect deal and offered a handshake, Bayley accepted and then Sasha hugged her and slammed her down by the hair. That was fun. They teased a ref bump, and Banks blocked the ref in the corner and used an eye poke, which led to the first fall at about 8-minutes in. That was a great heel tactic, leading to the first fall. Bayley was able to fight back and scored a pin off of the Bayley to belly at around 11-minutes in. Bayley went for the sliding kick under the ropes, but Sasha caught her and slammed her to the steps a few times, right in front of little Izzy and Bayley’s family. Nice touch. Sasha would take Bayley up the entranceway and slam her into the LED board, and that led to a countout at 14-minutes. 2-1 Sasha. Sasha made little Izzy cry during this by stealing her headband to mock Bayley.

The crowd got behind Bayley as Sasha continued her attack, and I felt that Sasha did a really good job of making the Full Sail crowd hate her. Bayley was able to tie it up 2-2 at the 17-minute mark (Bulldog roll up), and then tried to fire up and takeover the match. Bayley hit something resembling a flatliner for a near fall, and then went into her running corner attacks. Sasha posted herself as she had Bayley in the tree of woe, and fell to the floor. Bayley then attacked he hand of Sasha by slamming it to the steps in a throwback to the Brooklyn match. Bayley moved the steps and then jumped off with a clothesline. Unfortunately for Bayley, Sasha would kick her into the steps to turn the tide. Sasha went for a suicide dive, but Bayley caught her and hit the Bayley to belly on the floor. This led to a near fall. Bayley hit a run up Bayley to belly off of the second rope, but it was only a near fall as Sasha had her foot on the ropes. With under three minutes left they battled on the ropes, Bayley went for the reverse RANA but Banks survived by rolling through and hit a Banks to belly and then the Banks statement. Bayley fought to escape, rolled out but Sasha kept the hold. Sasha couldn’t lock her hands, due to the attack by Bayley, and Bayley then ripped at the hand to escape and slammed it to the mat. Sasha again tried the Banks statement, and locked in a ring of Saturn variation and pulled on the fingers and kicked at the head of Banks, who tapped in the final seconds. I thought that the finish was a great throwback to the Brooklyn match. I think that the stipulation took a little way from the match overall, as I would have preferred a single fall or just a regular, long match. I do feel that the tap needed to come a few seconds earlier, because it felt as if the crowd wasn’t sure of the finish when it happened, but that is a small issue. With that being said, I felt that both did an excellent job here. They created a great heel vs. face dynamic, the story was great, the work was great and you can’t buy the emotion that they got with little Izzy. The roster was in the entranceway post match to clap for the ladies, and Triple H and Regal had flowers for them. Banks broke down as the crowd chanted “thank you Sasha”. Triple H then hit the ring to congratulate Bayley, raise her hand and give her flowers. It made for a great moment and a spectacular way to end the show. Again, this is exactly the kind of thing we need on the main roster to make people believe in the women. They made this feel big time and important, and while not as great as the Brooklyn as far as the match goes, they created another great moment overall, which is equally as important. (****1/4)

August 21, 2016: SummerSlam – AJ Styles vs. John Cena

SC: Not surprising that two guys that had great chemistry with most people they wrestled fit each other like a glove. This was the match that made the few remaining non-believers in AJ finally take notice. You couldn’t deny it anymore. Larry never did, he watched TNA back in 02 and knew better.

Csonka’s WWE SummerSlam 2016 Review

They had a great crowd right away. We got a basic back and forth, Styles hit the dropkick combo but celebrated way too soon, allowing Cena to attack and repeatedly slam Styles to the corner. I think we’re getting INDIE CENA tonight, as he took a suplex on the apron. Back in the ring, Cena fought back with a high backdrop and dropkick for a near fall. They are basically telling the story of the first match here, but this time it is Cena staying a step ahead of Styles now that he knows what he’s getting into. Cena kept rolling, shoulder blocks and the proto bomb, leading to the five-knuckle shuffle. Styles countered the AA and hit a PELE, STYLES CLASH connects, but Cena powers out at 2 (I hate that it has become a transition move). Cena then hit the AA for a near fall. This all happened at 8-minutes in. Cena went for the super AA, but Styles countered into the torture rack and then into a powerbomb for a near fall. Cena countered the clash and then hit a toss up cutter for a near fall. AJ then countered the AA, fought off the STF and hit the ushigoroshi for the near fall. Styles then just beat on Cena, went to the apron and MISSED the springboard 450. Code red by INDIE JOHN scored a near fall. AJ countered the AA into a German suplex and a facebuster for a near fall. Styles went for the springboard forearm, but Cena picked the leg as he flew in and licked in the STF. Styles managed to counter into a crossface; Cena then powered up and went for an AA but Styles rolled into the calf crusher. Cena powered up and rolled back into the STF; this whole sequence has been great. Styles rolled into a pinning combo, and then hit the enziguri but Cena hit a tornado DDT for a near fall. Cena headed up top, hit the fameasser off the top but Styles kicked out. They went to the corner, Cena set Styles up top and looked for the super AA, Styles escaped and hit a springboard RANA off the ropes! Springboard forearm connects for a great near fall. Cena tried to power Styles p for the AA, failed but leveled him with a desperation lariat. He again went for the super AA off the ropes, Styles again fought but Cena hit it but Styles said fuck off with that shit and kicked out! Cena looked amazed that it didn’t work as Styles fought to his feet. Cena went for the AA again, Styles then hit the clash and rolled to the apron. Springboard forearm connects and Cena is DONE. This was an incredible match with the right finish and man winning and the match hitting the climax at the right time. They played well off of the first match, they set the stage that Styles could not only hang on his own but that he could take everything that Cena has traditionally put people away with, overcome it and win. AJ is a made man, give him the belt. They did everything right here, Styles and Cena have great chemistry together, and to me this was top tier MOTY level stuff. (****3/4)

January 4, 2017: Wrestle Kingdom 11 – Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega

SC: My hope someday is to love something in pro wrestling as much as Larry loved New Japan. I was a fan of the lady wrestlers back in the day, but got too many restraining orders to keep that going. In any event, Larry goes in deep here.

Csonka’s NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 Review

Omega does the Terminator entrance, playing off the rise of the Terminator spot he does in matches. No bullshit broom, Omega has a shotgun. The Bucks are at ringside. Gedo is with Okada. Slow beginning, Omega worked the arm and grounded Okada. Omega kept going for the hair early on, having no issue looking to use short cuts. Okada cut him off with elbows, but Omega grounds Okada once again. They are working some really nice and smooth back and forth to begin. Okada looked to pick up the pace, but Omega was able to counter away, they both teased their finish and Omega took a powder. Okada chased him to the floor, back in and Okada took control hitting a basement dropkick. Back to the floor they go, Omega tossed into the barricade and Okada plants Omega with the hangman’s DDT. Okada then grabbed a table, looking for revenge from the road to shows. Omega cut that off, but Okada tossed him over the barricade and hit the running cross body.

Back in the ring, Okada hit the slingshot senton and then worked the stranglehold. The neck breaker followed, but Omega picked up the pace and hit the kotaro crusher. Omega started to beat down Okada with clubbing blows, working the lower back. Okada fires back with forearm strikes, but Omega hits a RANA, Okada rolls to the floor and Omega hits the rise of the terminator dive. Omega then slams Okada off the apron as he keeps working the lower back. Back in and Omega about decapitates Okada with a missile dropkick. Omega works the modified camel clutch, Okada escapes and they did a double down. Okada attacks the legs, but Omega fights out. Okada hits the neck breaker and heads up top, but the splash eats knees. Okada to the floor after an omega back breaker, and Omega says fuck it and goes for broke…

SC: Larry included a couple of tweets from a Twitter account that later got suspended. This makes things a bit awkward in the later sections of the match, we’ll just assume that some big moves were hit. A good reminder for us reviewers that like to use gifs & tweets that those things don’t last forever.

SWEET JESUS MAN! Keep teasing that Kota Ibushi feud Kenny. But Omega’s not done yet, he and Okada back in, powerbomb by Omega for 2. Dead lift sitout powerbomb by Omega gets the near fall. And then, after some back and forth, this happened…

The Bucks checked on Omega, Okada then hits the missile dropkick and turns Omega inside out. Okada then hits the top rope elbow drop, rainmaker pose… Okada pulls Omega to his feet, but Omega gets to the ropes. Omega rushes Okada to the corner to counter the rainmaker. They battle up top…


OH SHIT OKADA’S DEAD! Omega drapes an arm on Okada, and gets the bear fall as Okada somehow survives.

On Omega’s performance – It’s not that you lose, it’s how you lose: Omega put in a hell of a performance, one he needed since he was losing. I feel that was a mistake after the last year of booking, but the match was so great, even if a bit too long; the thing is that most guys would have been DOA after the build and loss like this. Despite the fact that he lost, Kenny Omega is more over now than he was before the match. He put in an all time elite one-man performance, that does not mean carry job, that means that his individual work was on another level, it’s his performance you leave talking about. And the booking: Even more importantly than the performance of Omega, was the booking of the match. Omega never got to hit “his big move, the one winged angel.” That means that Okada never got to survive Omega’s best, kick out of them and show that he was truly better. Omega took Okada’s best, he survived his best and became one of the few men to kick out of the rainmaker; Omega took the best of the champion but we can’t say the same for Okada. When they meet again in a one on one setting, people will lose their shit when Omega hits the one winged angel. Greatest of All Time?: I’ve seen the label “Greatest of All Time” thrown around for this match, and once again if you loved this match that much I think that’s awesome, because it should make you happy when you see great wrestling. In my opinion I think it is a bit too soon to cal it that. “Best you’ve ever seen” I can easily buy, but to anoint it the GOAT feels like jumping the gun a bit, just like the people that want to shit on everything, claiming it the worst ever. I may look back on this in December, next year, five-years from now and it may resonate with me in an entirely different way; it’s excellent for sure, and obviously delivered. Don’t forget about that Okada fella: At the age of 29, Kazuchika Okada has been slowly but surely building what will be a hall of fame career, and depending on how much longer he can go (hopefully another 10 years or so), he may go down as the best big match performer ever. He does a on of little things (in particular his tremendous facial expressions) as well as things that call back to the builds of matches, and while a knock on him is slow and largely pointless opening portions of his matches, Okada puts together some of the best closing stretches I have ever seen. Do you know what I love about this match?: What I loved about this match has nothing to do with the outcome, the layout, the moves or necessarily the competitors. What I loved about this match is that it brought out some of the best and most passionate conversation I have seen in a long time, fans defending what they loved about it or hated, sharing genuine feelings of joy at times. As I always say, when the wrestling is great, there’s almost nothing better. I love that so many new fans found NJPW and tried to expand their wrestling palette. I love that so many fans exited their comfort zone and enjoyed an amazing show. I love that this match is making people consider what the greatest match they ever saw was. It’s shows and matches like this, that at the end of the day, make me love what I do for a living. Champion Kazuchika Okada defeated Kenny Omega @ 48:25 via pin [*****]

June 9, 2018: Dominion – Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega

SC: Okada & Omega winning this award two years in a row shows the shift in PWI’s readership over the years, along with the shift of how pro wrestling is consumed. Back in the 1990s, you never would have seen Misawa vs. Kawada, Liger vs. Pegasus or any hyped match from Japan win PWI’s Match of the Year. Not enough of the readership had seen those matches. At this point, New Japan was the hot thing among an internet-savy fanbase. The world wasn’t as closed off as it was in the 90s. Something to think about the next time somebody tries to tell you that wrestling fans don’t know anything that goes on outside of America. Maybe Johnny Casual doesn’t, but enough of the fanbase does to make a difference.

Csonka’s NJPW Dominion 2018 Review

Ibushi is out with Omega, and Omega looks to be in amazing shape. Gedo is out with Okada. They lock up and work for position, but end in a stand off. Omega looks to ground things, Okada counters and work a cravat. He now grounds things, but Omega quickly escapes. Okada grounds the action, Omega counters and looks to take control. Okada counters, and looks to work the leg, but Omega makes the ropes. They work to the ropes and Okada breaks clean. Omega then does the same and teases a V trigger; they work into counters, and tease signature moves and finishers before spilling to the floor, showing that they know each other very well. They trade strikes on the floor and Okada shoots Omega into the barricade and over. Okada charges and looks for the high cross but Omega catches him with a V trigger. Omega sets up a barricade and slams Okada onto it. Back in and Omega covers for 2. Omega grounds things, laying in elbow strikes and covers for 2. Omega follows with kicks, and Okada asks for more so Omega hits a sliding kick for 2. Omega lays in chops now, and follows with a back breaker, covering for 2. Omega keeps things grounded, working a camel clutch but Okada makes the ropes. They trade chops and strikes, with Omega maintaining control, just chopping Okada down. Okada hits a desperation flapjack, and follows with an elbow strike. The DDT follows for 2. The cobra clutch follows, but Omega dumps Okada but misses a plancha, an Okada then connects with his plancha. We’re 15-minutes in as Omega hits a RANA back in and follows with a baseball slide dropkick and Okada spills into the front row. Omega follows with a springboard high crossover the barricade, wiping out Okada. Back in and Omega hits the kotaru crusher for 2. The neck breaker follows and V trigger misses and Omega counters a German and hits a knee strike, but Okada counters the reverse RANA and hits a German for 2. Omega fights off a rainmaker attempt, takes Okada up top and follows him up. They work back to the mat and Omega takes Okada back up top and looks for a super dragon suplex, Okada fights, elbows free and then pulls Omega down and tombstones him onto the apron. Okada then dropkicks him to the floor and Omega flies into the barricade. Okada follows as Ibushi has a towel in his hand (interesting). Okada takes Omega back in ands hits a missile dropkick for 2. The ref checks on Omega, but Okada slams him down and heads up top. The elbow drop connects and Okada smiles as Omega rolls around in pain. Okada poses, but Omega recovers with a snapdragon suplex. Okada rolls to the floor and Omega hits the rise of the terminator dive. We’re 25-minutes in now.

Back in and Omega hits a missile dropkick to the back of Okada’s head, covering for 2. Omega looks for one winged angel but Okada counters out, V trigger and the bridging German from Omega gets 2. V Trigger by Omega, one winged angel countered, and Okada hits the dropkick and fires up. The rainmaker is countered and Omega hits V trigger and that gets 2. Okada counters into a RANA, and hits a tombstone. The rainmaker is countered but Okada gets the Bulldog sit-down pin for the first fall at 28:40.

Following the rest period, Omega needs to make the big comeback, but Okada dropkicks him to the floor. Okada follows him out and shoves Omega into the crowd. Okada follows with a draping DDT onto the floor. Okada rolls back in, looking for a possible count out. Omega breaks the count, tries to fire up but Okada just no sells his chops and strikes and hits a big boot. The cobra clutch follows by Okada, grounding Omega. Omega fights, works to his feet and hits a stunner to escape. He follows with chops, and hits a belly to back suplex. To he floor and Omega hits an apron suplex on Okada. Omega gets a table now, and slams it onto Okada and follows with a double stomp onto the table. He now sets up the table, but Okada posts him. Back in we go, Okada hits a slam, and Omega counters the senton. The Finlay roll is countered and Okada hits a DVD. Okada goes John Woooooooooo and now heads up top, but Omega cuts him off and lays in chops. He follows him up and the superplex follows. Omega sets, lays in forearm strike and hits the Finlay roll but the moonsault eats knees. Okada hits a sliding uppercut, but Omega hits a tornado DDT, Okada to the apron, and Omega follows. That table is still set up on the floor and Omega picks up Okada and looks for a German, Okada hangs on and fights, Omega lays in strikes, and tries again… transitions for a dragon suplex but Okada fights him off, and Omega hits a reverse RANA on the floor! Omega rolls in and looks for a count out. Okada barely beats the count and eats a V trigger but counters one winged angel into a tombstone! Omega counters the rainmaker into a uranage and both men are down. Omega pulls Okada up and lays in strikes, Okada fires back as they continue to trade. They go crazy fists, snapdragon by Omega, Okada fires back with a dropkick but Omega hits a dropkick of his own. Omega counters the dropkick into a powerbomb, V trigger, and Okada pulls the sit-down pin again but only gets 2. V trigger, piledriver by Omega and Okada somehow kicks out at 2. V trigger connects and now the one winged angel ties it up at 50:10.

Momentum has shifted as we enter into the final fall. Omega hits V trigger, but Okada hits the rainmaker for the double down. Okada turned him inside out on that one. After a delay, Okada covers for 2. They fight to their feet, Okada looks for a tombstone, Omega fights it off, and he teases one. Okada lays in strikes as both sell exhaustion. Omega collapses as Okada wanted the dropkick. Omega fights to his feet, Okada fights him off but Omega counters the RANA into the Styles clash for a great near fall, calling back to the ghosts of bullet Club’s past. Omega now sets for V trigger and connects, but collapses on the one winged angel attempt. Omega tries to fire himself up, sets Okada up top and looks for it again, but Okada counters, and Omega counters into a Gotch tombstone for another great near fall. Ibushi tries to fire up Omega, and Omega heads up top now. The Phoenix splash MISSES! Okada hits a dropkick Omega counters the tombstone and hits V trigger. Omega hits another and a third! Okada blocks the 4th and hits a dropkick and another. Rainmaker connects but Okada crumbles to the mat as does Omega; both are down and spent. We’re just past the one-hour mark. The ref counts as they struggle to their feet. They try to trade strikes, but there’s little on them. Omega hits a head butt, drags Okada up and Okada hits a rainmaker! He hangs on and pulls Omega back up and hits another! He looks for the holy trinity to finally finish things, but Omega counters into a German and hangs on as the crowd goes insane. The crowd is behind Omega here, hits another German, and hangs in and rolls for a third but Okada hits a German. He grabs the wrist and looks to finish off his foe, but Omega counters and hits a German. The reverse RANA follows by Omega! Omega drags himself to his feet and Okada cuts off V trigger with a dropkick. Omega counters rainmaker into the one winged angel! Okada is rocked, and we get a Rocky II moment as they try to drag themselves up by the ropes. Omega is up and V TRIGGER kills Okada. ONE WINGED ANGEL CONNECTS and we have a new champion! Kenny Omega defeated Champion Kazuchika Okada @ 69:30 via pin (2-1) [*****] Despite the fact that I had concerns going into this, as I feared that they were going to do something stupid like force q 90-minute match, I am pleased to say that this was an absolutely amazing match that more than lived up to the reputation and quality of their previous matches, delivering an absolute classic once again. I thought that the pacing was magnificent, it started off so well, and played up the fact that they knew each other so well from their three previous matches; they had so much to call back to and play off of and made the absolute most of it. The match was a roller coaster of emotions for the performers, the crowd, and to me as well. I also have to share high praises for Calls and Kelly, who killed it on commentary and added a ton to his match and the overall presentation. Professional wrestling is absolutely fucking beautiful when it’s done right and this was a perfect example of that as they worked a match that had 12,000 fans captivated and completely emotionally invested in the action and story that they were telling as they delivered a special moment for Omega and a beautiful end to Okada’s historic title run.

May 25, 2019: Double or Nothing – Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes

SC: Cody was a fan of Larry’s work and made a sizeable donation to his GoFundMe, which is still active as I type this and has received over $40,000. We thank everybody that’s donated over the past two years and invite you to if you haven’t already.

Csonka’s AEW Double or Nothing 2019 Review

Brandi is at ringside. Dustin is wearing a sleeveless red and black body suit, with half face paint. The crowd is hot to begin and they haven’t even touched. They lock up and Cody shoves Dustin away. Cody takes him down and then does the Stardust pose. Cody picks up the pace and hits the dropdown uppercut before dumping Dustin. The suicide dive follows, but Dustin fires back with a kick and apron cannonball. Back in and the bulldog follows. Dustin lays in corner strikes, jabs and then Cody powders. Back in and Brandi gets involved, allowing Cody to take control and covers for 2. He grounds the action, and then follows with dragon screws and covers for 2. Cody follows with the snap slam for 2. Cody again grounds the action, but Dustin fires up with clotheslines and an uppercut. He traps Cody in the corner and shattered dreams is countered as Cody pulls off the buckle pad and runs Dustin into it. Cody lays the boots to him, and Dustin rolls to the floor and Brandi spears him. The ref boots Brandi to the back. DDP arrives and carries Brandi to the back. Dustin is busted open as Cody follows with strikes. Cody wipes the blood on his chest and back in, covers for 2. Dustin tapped a gusher here as Cody lays in more strikes. Cody continues to control, whipping Dustin to the buckles. Dustin tries to fire up, but Cody hits a curb stomp for 2. Cody to the ropes and connects with a double sledge. He heads all the way up top now, leaps over Dustin and Dustin then catches him with the snap slam for 2. Cody then cuts him off with the figure four. Dustin fights, looks to roll the hold, and does. My God he’s a crimson mask as they make they ropes. Cody takes off his weight belt, the ref takes it and Dustin grabs it and pulls his tight down and whips Cody. Dustin follows with a code red for 2. The crowd loves this as they work up top and Dustin hits the superplex, and follows with the curtain call for 2. Cody fights off cross Rhodes with a low blow and disaster kick. Cross Rhodes follows but Dustin kicks out. Dustin is just dripping blood here, hits a head butt and he hits cross Rhodes and Cody kicks out. They trade strikes center ring, the crowd tries to rally Dustin and Cody ends up with a clothesline and that gets 2, but I think they were trying a Spanish fly but he slipped off due to the blood, but it looked fine. Cody hits Din’s fire and follows with cross Rhodes and finally finishes it. Cody defeated Dustin Rhodes @ 22:35 via pin [****½] I have been highly critical of Cody in the past, but he put in a great performance here, but not to be outdone, Dustin put in one of if not his finest performances ever at age 50, selling like a million dollars and bleeding buckets while convincingly hanging with his younger brother. It had blood, emotion, great heat and was different than anything else on the show; this ruled and both men kicked ass. I love the pro wrestling as the match and post match was beautifully done and excellent overall.

February 29, 2020: Revolution – Kenny Omega & Adam Page vs. The Young Bucks

SC: Larry & I shared a deep appreciation for tag team wrestling done right, and it’s about time a tag team match made this list! It probably says more about the booking of tag team wrestling over the years than the taste of PWI readers, to be honest.

Csonka’s AEW Revolution 2020 Review

A mixed reaction for the Bucks, but the fans love Hangman & Kenny. Nick and Kenny begin, locking up and working into counters until Nick follows with the springboard arm drag and grounds Kenny. They end in a standoff, shake hands and Hangman tags in. Matt joins him and they scramble on the ground and end in a standoff. Hangman refuses the handshake, spits at Matt and matt attacks with ground and pound. Kenny separates them, Nick tries to help and tags in. Hangman slaps Nick and Nick follows with kicks, Matt in and double teams follow. They dump Kenny and are embracing the heel heat. Double teams follow, they dump Kenny again and run wild on Hangman. Hangman counters back and targets the previously injured back of Matt and grounds him. Kenny tags in and follows with a backbreaker for 2. Hangman back in, dumps Nick and then dumps Matt. He whips him to the barricades, teases a powerbomb until Kenny stops him. Back in and they double team Matt with chops. Hangman continues to target the back pummel him with strikes until Matt hits desperation northern lights suplexes. Nick tags in, runs wild and follows with a RANA, knee strikes and the x-factor and moonsault to the floor. Back in and the sharpshooter follows on Hangman. Kenny makes the save and tags in. Matt cuts off the dive, RANA by Kenny and he follows with a tope that is cut off with an enziguri, back in and Nick covers for 2. Matt tags in and Kenny fights them off, dumps Nick and Matt spits at Hangman. Nick cuts off the tag and Matt piledrives Kenny for 2. Nick back in and grounds Kenny. Kenny fires back, hits a powerbomb and tags in Hangman. He runs wild with strikes, kicks and clotheslines. The fall away slam connects and he clears the ring. Boot to Nick, they trade and he dumps the Bucks. The top rope moonsault to the floor follows. Back in and he kills Nick with a lariat. He makes Nick tag in Matt, Matt joins him and the crowd is into Hangman killing him as they trade. Hangman follow with a big boot, Kenny in and double teams follow as Kenny hits the doctor bomb for 2. Hangman tags back in and Matt fires back, Nick follows with an enziguri and tags in. He follows with a flurry, superkicks and slingshot destroyer for 2. Hangman slowly fires back, but Matt attacks and Nick follows with Cheeky nados.I-95 follows and that gets 2. They dump Kenny and the Bucks look for superkicks until Hangman fights them off, takes out Matt’s knee and locks on the chicken wing Marty Scurll style. Nick flies in and the 450 follows for 2. They look for more bang for your buck, Hangman counters and Kenny joins in for the you can’t escape combo as Hangman follows with the blockbuster superplex for 2. V trigger by Kenny, Nick counters the German and Kenny follows with V triggers, snapdragons and the tiger driver 98 follows for a great near fall. Kenny hits V trigger in the corner and takes Nick up top on his shoulders until Nick hits a poison super RANA and Mat follows with northern lights suplexes on Hangman on the ramp. He tells Nick to get his ass up and the INDIE TAKER on the ramp connects! Kenny is left alone and eats superkicks, he’s down and the crowd hates the Bucks here. The double kamigoye follows for 1! Kenny is alive and eats another for 2. Matt lays the boots to the injured shoulder, rips off the KT tape and Nick isn’t happy with this. Matt doubts himself and the Meltzer driver is stopped by Hangman. He powerbombs Nick through a table at ringside. The buckshot trigger follows and ONLY gets 2! V trigger by Kenny and the one winged angel is countered by Matt, he follows with a superkick and Hangman and he hits one winged angle for 2! Hangman follows with buckshot lariats on both and picks up the win. Champions Hangman Page & Kenny Omega defeated The Young Bucks @ 30:20 via pin [****¾] This was fucking phenomenal, as they played off of and expanded on the story going into the match with great emotion, the work was top notch, the near falls amazing and the Bucks leaning into the heel role out of desperation to win the championships and anger with Hangman being so over was absolutely the right call here. This was very much shades of the Bucks vs. Golden Lovers match, which was an overall amazing piece of business. Playing Kenny as the potential weak link following the iron match injury was also extremely smart. For me, this is hands down the best tag team match of 2020.

SC: There you have it, almost every Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year from 2005-20 as reviewed by Larry Csonka. Reading his words about these classic matches reminded me of how excited he would get over great pro wrestling. It was quite infectious, as I’m sure you noticed while reading. Thanks for doing so, and please feel free to chime in down in the comment section or hit me up on social media with your thoughts about Larry Csonka or anything else on your mind. Also, the GoFundMe for Larry’s family is still active for those who’d like to donate.

Thank you, Larry.

article topics :

NJPW, NXT, WWE, Steve Cook