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Ring Crew Reviews: Top 20 Matches from 2012, part IV: 7-1

February 8, 2013 | Posted by Jack Bramma
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Ring Crew Reviews: Top 20 Matches from 2012, part IV: 7-1  

• In case, this is your time first reading, you might want to check in with part 1 (Odds and Ends), part 2 (#21-14), and part 3 (#13-8)

More ****1/2 Matches.

7. ROH World Championship: Michael Elgin vs. Davey Richards (c). ROH Showdown in the Sun. Elgin attacked Davey from behind the previous night and so Davey has a sore neck and back going into this match. Elgin is a mild heel as he’s in the House of Truth but a powerhouse and fans love impressive power moves. No shake from heel Elgin. They come out slugging as Elgin no sells a few shoulderblocks to start but runs into a dropkick from Davey. Elgin with a charge but Davey ducks and shitcans him out. Davey knocks him off the apron and follows out with a suicide dive. Davey brings him around ringside for some kicks to the chest but the crowd is tame for all this despite being a crowd spot. Davey puts Elgin on the apron and calls for the tornado DDT but Elgin counters with chops and a HUGE lefty LARIATO. Elgin covers for 1, 2, only 2. They slug it out as Elgin knocks him down and hits a hanging vertical suplex that he holds for a solid FORTY FIVE SECONDS!

• Elgin covers for another 2 count but that was awesome. Elgin with the UT leg drop on the apron and poses to mild boos as the crowd is still dead. Elgin with another 2 count. Elgin goes for the powerbomb but Davey blocks and hits a few headbutts. He goes for the steamroll but Elgin blocks and just DESTROYS him with a knee to the gut. Davey goes for the Damage Reflex but Elgin catches him in a BEAST fireman’s carry ribbreaker. Elgin covers for 1, 2, only 2. Davey is toast but Elgin stays on the offense with some forearms. Davey tries some fleeting rights and chops but Elgin Mans Up and chops his ass down. Davey fights back with a jawbreaker but Elgin no sells and hits a Northern Lights suplex for 1, 2, 2 ½. Elgin goes to the anchor hold to slow things down as Nigel compares him to Ivan Putski of all people. Davey tries to roll it over but Elgin rolls with him and stays on the hold. Davey flips out of a suplex and no sells a turnbuckle smash to hit the corner enzuigiri as Nigel questions Davey’s strategy of trying to match strength with Elgin. Davey heads up top for a missile dropkick curb stomp. He covers for 2. Elgin gets the boot up in the corner. He fights off a Davey suplex as they move to the man up portion of forearms that is all the rage for Davey but I just don’t dig. Davey with several forearms and an Exploder suplex for 1, 2, still 2. Davey with a pump handle but Elgin is too strong and fresh for that so Davey fires up with a step up knee in the corner. Elgin is all ENOUGH OF THIS TEAM AMBITION SHIT and starts clubbing the hell out of Davey.

• Davey no sells for a top rope superplex. Elgin fires up and no sells and Davey is amazed at having his own gimmick pulled on him. Elgin with a PELE and now the crowd is behind him. Davey tries no selling with a overhead German suplex but Elgin GETS BACK UP! Davey takes him down again with a LARIATO! Cover gets 1, 2, 2 ½. Now, we’re cooking. Davey goes to the AnkleLock but Elgin bails out to the floor. Davey follows out and tries the DR FG off the apron but Elgin blocks for the BRAINBUSTER ON THE FLOOR! WAIT A MINUTE! GUARDRAIL BOMB! 1, 2, 2.7! Elgin heads up for a CORKSCREW SWANTON! 1, 2, 2.999! Crowd is now chanting FOR Elgin. Elgin preps a bomb off the top but Davey counters to the Kimura. He hits a flurry of MMA elbows and cues up the MDK BOMB! Elgin blocks! Davey crotches him and they jockey for position up top. Davey takes over with an INSANE OVERHEAD SUPER DRAGON SUPLEX! Kevin Kelly: “JESUS CHRIST!” 1, 2, 2.999999999999! ANKLELOCK! Elgin lunges and makes the ropes. ELGIN! ELGIN! ELGIN! ELGIN! DAVEY! DAVEY! DAVEY! DAVEY! Davey now starts the DR FG’s but Elgin no sells and does the Voorhees situp. Elgin piefaces him away so Davey goes to the patented forehead kicks. Elgin fires up and comes back with MMA KNEES OF HIS OWN! Davey no sells back to the Kawada kicks. They trade some more with Davey getting booed in the sequence. Davey with a head of steam but Elgin follows for the O’Connor Roll—NO! CHAOS THEORY! 1, 2, 2.9999! SUPERKICK! GO FLASHER! NEARFALL!

• CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Davey struggles but makes the ropes. Nigel: “What a credit to the sport of professional wrestling we are seeing here.” Double KO spot as both as exhausted. Horrible transition as both just walk over to the top turnbuckle from the apron. Davey wins that exchange with a DSLW and hits a brutal double footstomp off the top. ANOTHER! 1, 2, 2.999! Davey goes for the forearm, IED combo but Elgin blocks so Davey takes him out with a LARIATO and a Gargoyle suplex. 1, 2, only 2. Crowd chants for ROH. Davey with the throat slash and goes for the DR FG enzuigiri but Elgin blocks. Davey comes back with more kicks but Elgin WILL NOT BE DENIED! ROARING ELBOW! INVERTED PERFECT DRIVER! NEARFALL! Nigel on commentary is now standing because he says he simply cannot sit down for what these two are doing. Elgin with a BuckleBomb but Davey no sells to hit a Pele. Elgin no sells that but Davey sunset flips through into the AnkleLock. Elgin counters and rolls into the CC! Davey cradles for 1, 2, 2.99999! Davey with a head of steam but runs into a CURB STOMP! SPINNING BACK FIST! LIGERBOMB! 1, 2, 2.99999999999999999999999999999999999999! NOOO! CROSSFACE!

• Nigel and KK are losing their minds on commentary. Davey tries rolling through but Elgin HANGS ON! Davey grabs the foot to escape back to the AnkleLock. Elgin lunges for the ropes but Davey pulls him back to the middle. Elgin tries booting him away but Davey wrenches the hold. Elgin’s going to have to TAP! NO! He throws Davey across the ring. Elgin fires up but the leg collapses. SHINING WIZARD! And that’s all she wrote at… NO! ELGIN NO SELLS AND SPITS ON DAVEY! DR FR ENZUIGIRI! 1, 2, THREEOHNOHEALMOSTGOT’IM! Another DR FG enzuigiri ends it at 26:20. We’ve seen all this from Davey before, but the true revelation is Elgin who shows he can go toe to toe with the master of no-selling for half an hour. I think the only selling in the entire match other than fatigue was Davey briefly selling the ribs on a knee and Elgin selling the ankle at the end. Given that, this is more blunt force trauma than artistry. It’s awesome, but when we’re splitting hairs for MOTY this is a shade low for that honor. ****1/2

6. Two-Out-of-Three-Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus (c). WWE Extreme Rules 2012. Sheamus blindsided DB with the pump kick at Mania in near-record time and DB blamed AJ for the kiss that didn’t miss. By the way, the video package and Dragon’s earlier interview show that this was still during a time when the Fed was trying to turn the YES chants against DB by having Sheamus and others co-opt them rather than just pound them into the ground by making them “uncool.”

• Sheamus is wearing a bright red “18 seconds” shirt just to stick it to DB about Wrestlemania. Sheamus gets a mixed reaction and crowd is split. Sheamus grabs a headlock and then plows over DB with a shoulder block to start. Sheamus grabs another headlock and goes for the takedown but Dragon head scissors out. Sheamus wastes no time in going for the pump kick but DB sniffs it out and dives back into the corner to avoid. See, that’s an awesome spot for (at least) two reasons 1. It messes with the smarks to rile them up 2. It plays on the storytelling of the first but also expands on it by having DB counter. DB grabs a wristlock and grinds Sheamus down. Sheamus counters and drops a few knees on the arm for 1. Crowd gets the YESYESYES stuff going. DB grabs a waistlock but Sheamus counters to his own. Cole: “Sheamus showing he can stick with Daniel Bryan in the technical part.” Oh ye of little faith. Sheamus with another shoulder block and the Finlay Roll for 2. DB tries a sunset flip but Sheamus rolls through and applies the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! It’s good thing Triple H put him on those Malenko tapes. DB gets the ropes but Sheamus tries to reapply so DB cradles him for 1, 2, only 2. Sheamus not liking this whole “wrestling” thing clubs him down and just BLATANTLYCHOKES him in the corner. DB with the backflip up and over and comes back with the flying burrito. Sheamus flops down so DB baseball slides him to the floor. DB goes for the busaiku knee but Sheamus catches him and spine busts him INTO THE BARRICADE! Brutal. Back in, Sheamus heads up top but DB crotches him. Cue the dueling chants as DB stomps a mudhole on Sheamus and NOW, WE GO TO SCHOOL, GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY STYLE!

• DB drops some knees and then grabs the hammerlock. DB holds it with his foot and then armbars the opposite arm and bridges into a cover for a fleeting 1 count. Cole: “Daniel Bryan has taken control of the World Champion.” Sheams tries elbowing his way free so DB knees him down and dropkicks his face. Sheamus continues doing his kickout at 1 shtick. DB with a few raucous Euro uppercts. DB with an O’Connor Roll for 1, 2, 2 ½. Dragon chokes him some and then tells the ref that HAS UNTIL FIVE much to the delight of his old school fans. When and if he ever busts out the Cattle Mutilation in a major match, the internet might explode. DB goes back to the arm breaker and hammerlock. Book: “Right now, Sheamus is working uphill and IT’S A LONG WAY UP, DAWG!” Sheamus again tries to elbow free and clotheslines DB down. Sheamus with a charge in the corner and a Million Dollar Kneelift.. He goes to the CLUBBINGBLOWBARRAGE on the apron and Dragon is toast. Sheamus with the Snap Ab Suplex and covers for 1, 2, only 2. Sheamus with a head of steam but DB dodges and Sheamus eats turnbuckle. DB punts the turnbuckle into Sheamus’s arm(!) and school boys him for 1, 2, 2.7.

• DB puts him up top and goes for the top rope rana but comes up dry. Sheamus with the shoulder block off the top and covers for 1, 2, 2 ½. Sheamus again goes for a charge but DB lowers the bridge and dumps Sheamus out. DB goes for the suicide dive but Sheamus gives him the CELTIC HAMMER to cut him off. Sheamus goes for the Razor’s Edge but DB sunset flips out for a near fall. DB wants the Labell Lock but Sheamus fights him off. They go through it again and this time Sheamus’s aggressiveness gets the better of him and he launches himself into the ringpost arm first. This would be a fantastic time to sell the arm. Dragon follows it up by throwing Sheamus into the ringpost arm first a few times. YESYESYESYESYES. This is a clinic on how to work the arm. DB wraps it around the ringpost now. Back in, DB boots the hell out of Sheamus’s arm and just generally detaches it from the socket but stops short of beating him with it. Sheamus gets the ropes but DB continues the onslaught past the 5 count and Chioda calls for the bell at 14:29 to grant Sheamus the first fall via DQ.

• I’m OK with that because it makes DB look like a crazed general who’ll lose the battle to win the war. As we start the last fall, Sheamus is DONE. He’s a sack of potatoes as DB hits the DROPKICK SUICIDA in the corner. DB applies the Labell Lock. Sheamus just sort of lays around and gestures in the direction of the ropes. SELL, YOU BASTARD! Instead, Sheamus passes out at 16:40.

• We’re at 1-1. During the break, the ref brings in the ring doctor to examine Sheamus and make sure that he’s physiologically capable of selling instead of legitimately sandbagging the psychology. The crowd gets the dueling YES/NO chants going as Sheamus struggles to his feet. Sheamus says he’s good to go for the last fall. As DB rushes in, Sheamus hits the desperation pump kick. He’s too out of it but delayed cover gets 1, 2, 2.999! DB up first and goes to the DRFGs and then a DRFG enzuigiri. Brutal as always. DB covers for 1, 2, only 2. Dragon heads up top but Sheamus cuts him off with the good arm. Nice. Sheamus wants a superplex but DB head butts him down and goes for the flying head butt. Sheamus moves and DB eats mat. DB goes for the DROPKICK SUICIDA again but collapses on himself in the turnbuckle. Sheamus no sells all the arm work to hit some CELTIC HAMMERS and a half-nelson backbreaker. Sheamus hits another pump kick to end it clean at 22:55.

• A tremendous match that hopefully just reinforces the obvious now. DB is the new Flair or new HBK and has the best broomstick in wrestling right now. The best part of this match was Sheamus laying around and DB chaperoning him through some arm psychology for about 15 minutes. I’ll credit Sheamus and point out that he at least tried to put over the beating DB gave him inbetween falls despite the seeming blatant disregard for doing so during the match itself but even that was better than Orton usually manages. Also, the kickout after the first pump kick made the match for me because it elevated Dragon to the level of getting to kick out of a face finisher. ****1/2

****3/4 Matches.

5. Three-Way Ladder Match for the PWG World Tag Team Championship: Future Shock vs. The Young Bucks vs. Super Smash Brothers (c). PWG Threemendous III. The Bucks jump everyone from behind to get us started. Big brawl to start. Stupe goes for a dropkick but Nick avoids to pose with the FRONT DOUBLE BI! Uno waffles him from behind and Nick gloriously sells it by jumping into the fourth row. Future Shock take out Matt with a combo and he bails out. SSB work over Nick and Future Shock take on Matt separately. Nick rolls to the floor to get a chair but Uno no sells a few chairshots to come back with chops and give Nick a backbreaker on the apron on the chair. Future Shock waffle Matt with a chair a few times. Matt no sells to hit a superkick on O’Reilly. Stupe drops Matt on the apron and hits a leg drop. Chaos here to start as the camera can’t follow all the action. Steen, on commentary, says that Uno threw a fan onto Nick Jackson which I suppose makes sense. Matt meanwhile is backdropped onto some chairs. Nick now flies out with a plancha onto O’Reilly. He preps something on the apron but O’Reilly counters to a backdrop on the floor. Cole throws Stupe into the ringpost. Cole and Nick now slug it out and O’Reilly takes over with kicks so Matt takes out BOTH members of Future Shock with a chair. CHAIR GUITAR!

• Stupe cuts him off with a yakuza kick into the chair. In respose, Nick gives him Snake Eyes on the apron. Uno takes over with more no selling and a Sabu chairshot. Matt goes for an MDK bomb off the apron but O’Reilly blocks just long enough to get settled and then Matt hits the powerbomb anyway onto probably several fans and chairs. Awesome. Fans are losing it already. The Bucks take centage stage to pose and sell a bit. CHAIR GUITAR… AGAIN! Cole gets a ladder, avoids baseball slides and waffles both Bucks with the ladder. Stupe flies out with a tope con giro and Matt eats a wheelbarrow suplex on the apron from Adam Cole. Uno baseball slides out onto Cole. O’Reilly missile dropkicks the ladder INTO Uno. SELL THAT! PWG chant from the crowd as everyone is down. O’Reilly sets up a ladder to climb but Stupe cuts him off with a dropkick. He and O’Reilly now kick it out and slug it out with forearms. Nick brings in a ladder and waffles both with the Joey Mercury spot. Dueling Fuck the Young Bucks/Let’s go Young Bucks chants. Uno cuts off Nick by tilting the ladder over so Nick improvises into a DOUBLE JUMP TOPE TO THE FLOOR! INSANE! Uno climbs up but the Bucks cut him off with a BLATANTLOWBLOW, Bucklebomb enzuigiri, Diamond Dust and Sliced Bread #2. Uno bails out to the floor to regroup. Cole is in though with an enzuigiri for both Bucks. O’Reilly hits a missile dropkick and now Future Shock is in control. Nick tries fighting back but eats a DDT/Wheelbarrow suplex onto a ladder combo. Nice.

• Future Shock now sets up 2 ladders. SSB cut them off with stereo chairshots. Uno stacks the ladder up and bodyslams Cole down on both. O’Reilly fights back with kicks on both but runs into a Bluechipper dropkick from Stupe. SSB no set up 2 chairs for a double foot stomp/backbreaker combo onto the chairs. The Bucks are back in and stack SSB in the corners on ladders. They go through a series of LARIATOS on the SSB on ladders and then hit a bulldog/LARIATO combo on both to finish it off. Nick gets a ladder for the Terry Funk ladder carousel. He goes for the waffle on Uno but he ducks and referee Rick Knox gets FUCKED UP! That was a MAN shot. Nick is busted open hard way on the side of his head. He gets the ladder again for the Funk Carousel and waffles his brother twice. Uno cuts him off by punching the ladder. Matt gets spinebusted into a lungblower. Uno starts the climb but he’s met by Cole at the top. Now, it’s Future Shock and SSB all on the 2 ladders. All get knocked off in an underwhelming spot. Cole and Uno ram the other parties into the corner only for Cole to superkick Uno. Stupe throws the ladder at Cole, so O’Reilly takes over with kicks and a Backdrop Driver. The Bucks are in to hit stereo superkicks on O’Reilly. They hit the tandem SPIKE TOMBSTONE on Cole. Brutal. Uno is back in to no sell and throw the chair around. Uno gets a table and sets it up on the floor. He calls for an AWESOME BOMB on Cole to the floor, but O’Reilly cuts him off with Kawada kicks.

• They hit a combo enzuigiri, brainbuster on a chair. Stupe avoids two LARIATOS with a kip up spot and then hits a moonsault on Future Shock. Slick. Stupe brings in another table as the Bucks recovers. Nick waffles Stupe with a hammer (from a fan?). The Bucks climb two ladders but Future Shock cut them off. They hit a double superplex OFF THE LADDER… THROUGH A TABLE ON MATT JACKSON! SSB clear away the carnage so they can, ya know, try to win the match by climbing a ladder and grabbing the belts. SSB trap Cole in a ladder and then stand the ladder upside down in the corner. O’Reilly fights back but gets belly to belly thrown INTO the ladder on Adam Cole. That was pretty awesome. The Bucks are back in. BLATANTLOWBLOW on Uno. Matt Jackson goes flying off with a springboard APRON DDT ON O’REILLY! HOLY SHIT! SPRINGBOARD FROG SPLASH ON O’REILLY THROUGH THE TABLE! Spots are coming fast and furious now. Matt Jackson sets up the Tommy Dreamer Home Depot ladder. Uno recovers to no sell more superkicks. Cole also lingers so they hit stereo superkicks on him and then FINALLY dump out Uno with stereo superkicks while he’s done. Stupe tries springboarding in but flies into a SUPERKICK FROM THE LADDER! YEAHHHHHHHH! The Bucks climb up. BUT WAIT! REFEREE RICK KNOX HAS COME OUT! He pushes over the ladder and both Bucks wipe out. The SSB want to hit dual splashes but Knox holds them off so HE can hit the splash. The crowd loses it. Wonderful booking there. The SSB set up a ladder and both pull down the belts to retain at 23:57.

• Wall-to-wall action here and more innovative spots and perfectly subtle (as subtle as you can get in this kind of match) set-ups for spots that don’t give away what we will happen. Yes, this follows the triple threat pattern of dumping out one guy or team in this case while the two others do some work in the ring, but every sequence, cutoff, and dump out here felt completely organic and not at all necessitated by a triple threat structure. I really love this match and wish I could put it even higher but this was a tough year for MOTY. ****3/4

4. Six Man Tag, TLC Match: Team Hell No & Ryback vs. The Shield. WWE TLC 2012. Only way to win is by submission and pinfall. No ladder climbing necessary. This was set up by the Shield interfering to help Punk retain the WWE championship against Ryback and Cena, then attacking such symbols of injustice and glass ceilings as Randy Orton and Kane. Daniel Bryan was guilty by association and by trying to rescue Kane so here we are. After a RED HOT old UWF brawl, classic Nitro ending on the go-home RAW, there was a good amount of buzz going into this.

• Would Ryback finally get a victory to retain some semblance of 50/50 or would the WWE correct the mistakes of Nexus and put them over in their first match?

• Despite the fact that the crew would have you believe DB is a jobber nobody with bad facial hair, he gets the loudest pop of the night as usual. Brooklyn loves Dragon. As Kurt Angle says, it’s true; it’s true. Shield’s music gets no reaction but their entrance through the crowd does. They come down the stairs and IT’S ON!

• Personally, I think The Shield is clearly a reference to Bane and his Foot Clan much more so than Joker despite Moxley’s history with that sort of thing.

• They peel off into a donnybrook ringside with everyone flying all over the place. The faces get the advantage early with Rollins eating some DB kicks and Reigns going into the stairs from Kane. Crowd starts up a FEED ME MORE chant as Ambrose works over Ryback in the ring. Rollins throws DB into the guardrail as Ryback no sells some chops. Ambrose is all WHY SO SERIOUS and chops him some more. Ryback chops him down instead only for Ambrose to chop him down. The smarks now cue up a GOLDBERG chant as he hits a Thesz press and choke tosses Ambrose into the ring. Rollins and Reigns join the party in the ring as they’ve temporarily cleared out Hell No and it’s 3 on 1. Ryback dumps out Rollins but Ambrose dropkicks him off the apron. Nice transition. Kane breaks out a ladder but gets it dropkicked back into him. Now, it’s 3 on 1 on DB as Reigns chokes away in the corner. They use the ladder as a low bridge and smash DB into pieces and toss him out. Ryback is back in and takes them all down again. He shoves the ladder down on Ambrose and Rollins only for Reigns to cut him off with a chair. Kane cuts him off with haymakers and the BLATANTCHOKE. DB starts the martial arts assault with a flurry of kicks. YESYESYESYESYESYES!

• Reigns gets whipped into the ladder and then DB follows with an IED. Kane covers Reigns for 1, 2, only 2. The brawl continues on the floor as DB is sent into the apron and then the ringpost. The crowd chants for tables now as Rollins flies off into an uppercut from Kane. Kane covers for another 2 count. Kane brings a chair in as a ladder. Kane sandwiches Rollins in the ladder and then hammers away with the chair. Ambrose cuts him off and hits a DDT ON THE CHAIR! Ryback in and steamrolls Rollins and Ambrose into adjacent corners with Harpoons. Ambrose tackles him long enough for Rollins to waffle him with the ladder. I love how there isn’t any token, lay down so I can hit my signature move crap so far. Everything is fast and furious and based on double and triple teams like it should be in a match like this – not on People’s Elbows, Worms, and 5 Knuckle Shuffles. Ambrose throws Ryback into the ladder a couple of times. MOARTABLES say the crowd as Ryback blocks a hiptoss into the ladder and takes out Rollins and Ambrose with Ho Trains. Ryback stacks them up on the ladder and hits another Ho Train.

• Ryback preps a… DOUBLE SUPLEX ON THE LADDER! AND HITS IT! Ambrose sells death. Ryback says it’s over. FINISH IT! He cues up the double Shellshock and that doesn’t come off ridiculous because Ryback has built part of his career on beating up two jobbers at a time, but perfectly Reigns cuts him off as a figurative slap in the face to the idea that they’re a bunch of nobodies to eat a symbolic handicap pinfall. Reigns stomps the hell out of Ryback and Ambrose takes over with the chair. Reigns drops the ladder on him and Ryback is DONE. Reigns eyes the SAT: “GET UP FOOLS! THIS MY TABLE NOW!” HELL YEAH! The crowd pops because they are finally going to get their tables. JBL: “This is no longer a match. This is an absolute mauling. This is thuggery.” They continue piefacing and facewashing Ryback like he’s NOTHING. Here it is. RYBACK UP HIGH! TRIPLE JACKKNIFE ON THE SAT! DB comes flying in with a plancha to score one for the faces. YESYESYESYES!

• But the numbers are too much until Kane jumps Reigns from behind. DB gets a chair and slams Rollins until Ambrose gives him a bodyslam on a chair. Nice. Cole is amazed at their superiority in the match and attributes it to having “too many” people in the match. Cole: “The problem is everytime someone gets some momentum going, The Shield has too many guys.” JBL: “NO! THEY DON’T HAVE TOO MANY GUYS MICHAEL! IT’S 3-ON-3! THEY WORK TOGETHER! THEY ARE BETTER THAN THE OTHER TEAM!” Rollins and Ambrose continue the chairshots on DB and talk trash. This is glorious. Rollins stacks up a table as Ambrose continues the assault with the chair. Rollins and Ambrose set the table up as a Rube Goldberg platform on the top rope as Ryback is still down. DOUBLE SUPERPLEX ON DRAGON! 1, 2, KANE BREAKS IT UP! Kane dumps out Reigns but Rollins and Ambrose are still left. JBL: “I don’t think anyone saw this coming. I think people thought that when you had Ryback, Kane, and Daniel Bryan, you were gonna see a little retribution. I don’t think anyone thought they’d see a BEATDOWN like they are seeing right now with The Shield.”

• Crowd is chanting that this is awesome as Kane now get throws into a table. Kane no sells the attack and throws Rollins out to the floor. FLYING CLOTHESLINE ON AMBROSE! Kane fires up and hits a few Ho Trains and a side slam on Reigns. 1, 2, Ambrose breaks it up. Ambrose sets up a chair but Kane CHOKESLAMS HIM ON THE CHAIR! 1, 2, broken up by Reigns. Kane is PISSED and chases Reigns out to the floor but Rollins clips the knees from behind. SPEAR THROUGH THE BARRICADE BY REIGNS! Kane is THROUGH and they bury him under some debris as Rollins and Reigns celebrate knowing it’s over. BUT WAIT! DB has Ambrose in the No Lock. Rollins breaks it up but now he’s in the hold as well! Reigns breaks that up but DANIEL BRYAN WILL NOT BE DENIED! NO LOCK ON REIGNS! Ambrose stops the hold and sets up a chair in the middle of the ring. They cue up a brainbuster on the chair but DB fights back with some STIFF kicks only to get cut off with a CURB STOMP ON THE CHAIR!

• Ambrose covers for 1, 2, RYBACK IS AWAKE! HERE COMES THE MONSTER! He blows through all of them with powerslams and backdrops. Ryback press slams Rollins out to the floor on Ambrose. Spinebuster on Reigns. Ambrose back in for the numbers game but gets Speared by Ryback. The crowd tries a Goldberg chant but it’s drowned out by an organic, legitimate FEED ME MORE chant. Meathook on Ambrose. FINISH IT! He goes for the Shellshock and hits it. 1, 2, Rollins breaks it up. Ryback stays on the offense but Ambrose tackles him with a chair. Ryback no sells and Spears Rollins into a ladder(!) and some surrounding chairs up the aisleway. Reigns jumps him from behind but Ryback fights back as the match is just going crazy at this point. Ryback goes for a powerbomb but Ambrose gives him a Sabu chairshot from across the building and Ryback is down. The Shield smother him with ladders and chairshots and finally Ryback is down… again. They pound him down and Rollins eyes the Tommy Dreamer/Home Depot Ladder as the camera pans up the crowd pops big time. Rollins heads up the ladder but Ryback comes to. Rollins has no place to go so he climbs UP the ladder away from Ryback. Ryback chases him down and throws him off the ladder THROUGH TWO TABLES! Meanwhile, Ambrose and Reigns are back in the ring putting the boots to DB. They set the table up as Ryback sells and struggles to make his way back to the ring. Avalanche Bomb on DB through the table. Reigns covers for 1, 2, 3 as Ryback is too late to stop it at 22:46.

• One of the first matches in months in the fed (since Brock/Cena) where it felt like anything and everything was possible. More importantly though, an exquisitely booked match with each of the face stars looking stronger in the individual exchanges and even temporarily stronger in the group but not stronger as a team and always losing the numbers game. This allowed EVERYONE to look strong, including and most importantly, The Shield as a unit. An underrated part of the match is that The Shield got no fire-up, emphatic kickouts – everyone of the nearfalls they took was because some member of their team broke up the finish. Everyone got their stuff in, everyone sold, and and it had the right finish. No interference, no crooked refs, no Dusty finishes, no new stable mates, no no-selling of a piledriver on the concrete, no crazy chicks knocking over ladders, as clean of a win as possible in a gimmick match. Damn near perfect. ****3/4

3. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c). 10/08/2012 AJPW. Crowd big into HT as usual though he has a taped up arm so look for that to come into play. HT like a cagey vet decides NOT to lock up and instead circle some more. AHA! They trade wristlocks and HT wants a dropkick but Suzuki moves out of the way and peppers him across the back just for a little lovetap. HT responds by taking him down and Suzuki goes to the wristlcok. HT transitions to a drop toe hold and floats into a headlock. Suzuki drives him into the ropes and gives him a few knees for a break. Suzuki now takes rear mount with a headlock. HT switches to his own and is REALLY impressed by this. Suzuki brings him into the ropes and smacks the hell out of him. C’MON, YOUNG BOY! HT counters a whip and hooks in the ab stretch. He starts working the kidneys with AIR GUITAR to heel heat. What’s that? Heel heat? For Tanahashi? Yes, that’s right. Some men take the low road and one of them is HT in sucker punching Suzuki in a resthold and then throwing him down. Suzuki mans up and goes batshit trying to choke the life out of HT. HT ties him up with forearms and a waistlock. HT tries some stiff forearms so Suzuki goes for a FLYING ARMBAR WHILE HANGING OFF THE APRON ON THE BAD ARM! Suzuki brings him to the floor and throws him into the guardrail and applies the armbar IN THE GUARDRAIL! Suzuki gets bored with that so he hammerlocks HT and throws him into the rail again and now applies the armbar AROUND THE RINGPOST! HT HAS NO ARM!

• The ref pulls Suzuki off like a madman so he calmly pleads ignorance and then boots the arm again. Back in, Suzuki gives HT some STIFF DR FG’s to the arm and then some SWISS DEATH for good measure to the arm. Suzuki takes pride in his carnage and then goes back to the armbar. HT keeps rolling through so Suzuki switches more to an omoplata before HT finally gets the ropes. Suzuki clubs HT around so HT comes back with forearms. HT tries sending Suzuki off but Suzuki grabs the hair and the denizens are all OOO and AHHH as Suzuki lays into HT with a headbutt. Suzuki hooks in a kimura but HT again escapes to the ropes. Suzuki decides just to stand on the arm. The crowd boos but Suzuki cleans out his ear and is all FUCK YOU, SPEAK UP! SUZUKI FOR WORLD CHAMP! Suzuki mounts again with the armbar and now starts to unwrap the tape. NOOO! YOU BASTARD, HE’S GOT NO ARM! Luckily, HT escapes to the ropes and Hulks up and goes to Suzuki’s breadbasket. Suzuki no sells and just destroys HT with a forearm into next week and more kicks to the arm. HT tries a rally so Suzuki no sells and palm thrusts HT down and goes for the kill with a running DR FG. HT blocks and grabs the leg. DSLW! WOOOOOOOO!

• Instantly, we’re back to a stalemate as Suzuki apparently tore his knee and is now helpless. HT Hulks up and hits ANOTHER DSLW. Suzuki tries no selling so HT clips the knee with a few dropkicks to the knee. HT Tanahashis up and punches some life back into his arm and hits a burrito on Suzuki. Suzuki now shakes some life back into his leg and kicks the bad arm a few times more. HT wants a German suplex to cut off but Suzuki counters and rolls through into a KIMURA! Suzuki locks it in and then begins BITING THE WRAP OFF THE ELBOW! HT bails out to the ropes to save his arm from getting amputated from the elbow down. Suzuki chops him around and hits the BOOT OF FEAR. Back to the Kimura. HT with some knees to escape so Suzuki counters to a Sleeper. HT armdrags him over and wants a LARIATO but Suzuki counters back to a FLYING ARMBAR! TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP! HT struggles with the pain but again gets the ropes. HT ducks behind and now he’s got the Sleeper to try and hold down the maniac Suzuki for a few minutes. HT bridges the Sleeper into a Sling Blade and the crowd didn’t exactly love that one. Suzuki tries going back to the armbar so HT hits a chop block and the HIGH FLY FLOW ON THE KNEE! HT tries a Texas Cloverleaf but Suzuki fights him off so instead it’s a Figure Four. Suzuki is caught dead to rights in the middle but stills talks trash to HT. Suzuki lunges for the ropes but HT pulls him back to the middle. AHHHHHHHHHHH! NOT THE KNEE! Suzuki Hulks up and is all BRING IT ON and he finally grabs the ropes after a solid 4 minutes in the submission. Crowd chants for Tanahashi as he hits another DSLW on the wrecked Suzuki. Suzuki dodges a LARIATO and tries his own but the knee is hurt too bad and the crowd loves that. HT with another LARIATO attempt but runs into a dropkick. Suzuki punches life back into his leg and now IT’S ON!

• They smack it out and Suzuki wins that by going to the bad arm and smacking HT some more. He ducks behind for a Sleeper. HT goes to reverse, NO! Suzuki locks it back in. SAKA OTOSHI! HT is fading. The ref is screaming at him to make a move or he’s going to stop it. TAP, TAP, TAP, TAP! HT Hulks up and makes the ropes. Crowd is loving every second of this. HT is DONE. Suzuki can’t even pull the dead weight up and starts talking trash to get his lazy ass up. HT stands up into a fury of smacks. He keeps trying to fall down only for Suzuki to pick him BACK up and smack him several more times. YEAHHH! Suzuki spins him around but HT counters to a DSLW attempt. NO! BACK TO THE SAKA OTOSHI! SWEET! Suzuki releases because it’s CRADLE PILEDRIVER TIME! HT fights it off temporarily. Suzuki gets him up again and this time has it for sure. NO! HT wiggles free and hits another DSLW. Crowd chants for HT again but might as well be chanting for the awesomeness that is this match. Suzuki tries a rally but HT clips the knee and hits a Sling Blade. HT heads up for the High Fly Flow but Suzuki gets the knees up and injures himself countering the move. NICE! Suzuki smacks HT off his feet but is too spent to take advantage. More smacks but HT escapes to the apron and ties Suzuki up with a desperation DSLW. HIGH FLY FLOW CROSSBODY! HT heads back up top for another HFF and hits it. He covers for 1, 2, 3 to retain at 29:24.

• There’s too much awesomeness to contain in this match. Suzuki puts on one of the best performances of the year easily in just terrorizing HT and making mince meat of his puny comeback attempts for the first 15 minutes straight. Tanahashi here is much closer to Flair than Cena like he’s looked in previous matches – he lets Suzuki be the story rather than his comeback as he keeps it to meat and potatoes with several dragon screw leg whips and his signature stuff. This is one of the only matches I can think of where I legitimately believed the match could end on a submission at any time – sleeper, figure four, armbar, kimura – and that to me is a huge compliment to the match’s drama. Hell, go crazy. ****3/4

Spots of the match: Suzuki being unable to run off the ropes but still managing a comeback dropkick and Suzuki countering a DSLW attempt with the mounted RNC.

***** Matches.

2. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada (c). NJPW 03/04/12. Crowd gets a quiet Naito chant going to start. Okada checks his ears to make sure he heard that right and then his contingent starts up a chant. Lively for a Japan crowd. Naito with a go behind and tries to bridge into a cover but Okada counters to a hammerlock. Naito rolls through and grapevines the leg. Okada switches to the arm and stays on an omoplata. Back to their feet, Naito tries a takedown and floating into a headlock but Okada ducks back and it’s a stalemate. They fight over a waistlock but Naito gets the advantage with the lying headlock. Okada with a slick roll through winds up on top with the same headlock. Okada torques the headlock to a pop from the crowd for some reason. Naito sends him off and Okada blows through him with a shoulderblock and revels in his handiwork. He boots him around like a peasant only for Naito to clip the knee with a few dropkicks. Naito with a snapmare and a standing Swanton. Naito rolls him into a NICE Tequila Sunrise to stay on the leg. Naito drags him to the center to switch to a stepover toe hold. He drives it into the mat for leverage but Okada gets the ropes. Naito tries staying on the leg and choping him around but Okada yakuza kicks him away and spikes him down with a TOMBSTONE! Naito sells a broken neck and writhes in pain and rolls out to the floor. THAT’S how you sell a Tombstone. The ref tells them to get it back in the ring but instead Okada traps his neck in the guardrail and procedes to sever his spinal cord by booting the vertebrae into pieces. Back in, Okada works an odd straitjacket, neck bridge submission that goes nowhere so he switches to a neckbreaker.

• Naito sells the neck well but Okada gloats a bit too much, so Naito Hulks up and starts smacking him around in the corner and stomps a mudhole. The ref calls for a break as the crowd chants for Naito again probably because he miraculously regrew a backbone and healthy neck. That’s some heavy black magic even for puro. Okada comes back with a not-so-Bluechipper dropkick. He sends off Naito and hits a flapjack. He looks to go for La Magistral but then switches to a crucifix facelock. Naito fights and makes the ropes. Naito fights back with rights to the breadbasket that Okada sells pretty animatedly considering there’s been no midsection work. Naito tries clipping the knee again but Okada sidesteps and delivers a senton. Cover gets 2. Crowd tries getting a rally going for Naito as Okada hits a ribbreaker. He goes for an elbow drop but whiffs and now sells the elbow big time. Of course, then he no sells to hits a stiff forearm to the face that staggers Naito. Okada goes for a charge in the corner but eats turnbuckle. Naito seamlessly floats to the apron and then SWEEPS THE BAD LEG! AND HITS A DROPKICK OFF THE TOP ON THE SAME LEG! Great sequence there. Naito sells the impact as well but recovers first and baseball slides Okada into the guardrail. Naito with a kneebreaker that Okada sells well and then Naito with a DROPKICK HOMICIDA that knocks Okada into the first row. We’re drifting into awesome now if Okada can keep with the selling. Naito follows him into the crowd and elbows right on the knee. Naito loses his mind and wraps the knee around the guardrail and smacks the hell out of him just to be a dick. Naito gets to the apron and… NOOOOOO! NOT THE KNEE! OHHHHHH! Naito DESTROYS the knee by dropkicking the guardrail into his knee that was wedged between a table. Brutal and the sick crowd loves it. Okada’s selling is making the heat if that wasn’t obvious.

• The ref starts the count and Okada hobbles back in to beat it at 14. He slides back in to another kneebreaker and dropkick to the knee. FIGURE FOUR! And it’s a beauty. Okada struggles but makes the ropes. Okada is toast and can barely stand. Naito goes in for the kill with a baseball slide but Okada staggers out of the way and Naito eats ringpost. Naito tries no selling and heads up top but Okada Hulks up and DROPKICKS HIM TO THE FLOOR! OKADA SELLS THE KNEE! Now, the Okada contingent stirs up a chant for him. Okada like a hero sucks it up and limps to the floor. The ref pleads with him to get it back in the ring. But wait. Okada gets Naito up. What’s that? NOOO! DON’T DO IT! THIS MAN HAS A FAMILY! TOMBSTONE ON THE FLOOR! OKADA STILL SELLS THE KNEE! The place is ooooing and ahhhing along now. Okada recovers to break his own count and now the ref is telling him to get in the ring or else he’s calling it off. Back in, Okada with a DDT and then hooks in the DID, Deep in Debt. Crowd chants for Naito to find his inner reserve. Because Naito’s arms are trapped, the ref awesomely cups his ear to listen for a verbal quit from Naito. Naito is maimed and looks ready to pass out but then lunges with his feet and grabs the ropes. Okada now with a slam and Macho elbow off the top and the knee is looking good. Okada syncs up with the hadouken energies as the crowd chants along. He wants the Rainmaker but Naito ducks under and rolls him into a KNEE HOOK! OKADA MAKES THE ROPES! NO! NAITO PULLS HIM BACK TO THE MIDDLE!

• Okada can’t stand the pain and almost taps and the crowd eats it up with a spoon. The ref can’t tell and checks with an outside official if Okada tapped but no go. OKADA MAKES THE ROPES! The crowd lets out a sigh of relief. Naito with a kneebreaker but Okada tries Hulking up with a few forearms. Okada clubs him into next week and Naito goes down. Okada sends him into the ropes but Naito comes FLYING out with a burrito! HE’S FIRED UP! ENZUIGIRI! SPINNING ENZUIGIRI! GERMAN SUPLEX! Cover gets 1, 2, 2.999. Naito with a rana off the top. Naito follows it up by spiking him down with the BRUTAL DRAGON SUPLEX! HOOKS THE LEG FOR 1, 2, 2.9999999999! Naito tries to bring it home with the Gloria. He heads up top for the STARDUST PRESS! NO! Okada rolls under. Okada tries taking advantage but Naito again clips the bad knee. He wants a charge but Okada gets the boot up in the corner. SCHWEIN NECKBREAKER! Okada covers for 1, 2, still 2. Okada with an FU and covers for 1, 2, kickout. Rainmaker attempt but NAITO DUCKS! SCHOOLBOY FOR 1, 2, 2.999999999999! Okada is ready to finish him with a German but instead sets up the Rainmaker again. NAITO DUCKS AGAIN! STANDING SWITCH! GERMAN ATTEMPT! NAITO LANDS ON HIS FEET! CROWD IS ROCKING AND REELING! Naito goes for the flying burrito again but gets caught in the RAINMAKER! COVER GETS 1, 2, 3 to retain at 28:53.

• Madness. Sheer madness. The timing of the comebacks and counters is so wonderful that it shows it’s not no selling that matters but WHEN you no sell and consequently when you sell as well. If you can’t get up for this match, I can’t help you. Other than just a few questionable moments in the early going in the back and forth, feeling process, this is perfection. Ordinarily, I like doing a spot of the match for the puro comps, but there’s so much here: the sweep to dropkick, the dropkick into the guardrail on the knee, the tombstone on the floor, the perfectly timed burrito, Okada almost tapping on the knee hook, and pretty much everything in the last 3 minutes. The whole match is the highlight. *****

1. Extreme Rules Match: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena. WWE Extreme Rules 2012 This all started the night after WM 28 where Lesnar returned to fill Rock’s void and F5ed Cena in his re-debut and kicked his hat into the dirt. Lesnar was brought in by Ace to “bring some legitimacy” to the WWE. Then WWE showed an awesome promo about 50 times that had kids everywhere including my friend’s son asking, “Dad, why is Brock Lesnar an ass-kicker and not an entertainer?” Because he causes other pro wrestlers to piss their pants and then forces them to carry his bags and gets his own Jimmy John’s-themed gear and a special title credit in the RAW intro. Meanwhile, John Cena was doubting himself after losing to Rock, Tensai, AND getting beat up by Lesnar. At the 11th hour, Edge dropped in and told Cena, in no uncertain terms, to WAKE UP. Cena responded by embracing his ground ‘n pound, thuganomics, Mean Street Posse roots and prepared for war with the MasterLock chain. Storyline-wise, Bling Bling Buchanan should have been the messenger from Cena’s past to remind him about his petty larceny character history, but not enough starpower.

• Cena charges in and Brock with a quick TD and some STIFF elbows to the face. Cena is already busted open and Lesnar BRINGS THE PAIN with a LESNAR-LINE. Cena tries a takedown but Brock counters and goes back to the GnP. Cena is TOAST and Charles Robinson calls for a break so the doctor can check on Cena’s hardway cut. Lesnar laughs at his carnage and points to his elbow for the denizens in the crowd. This is perfect already and while the doctor stoppage is so weak traditionally in wrestling, it works here because it reinforces Lesnar’s legitimacy angle and makes Cena seem like paper mache in comparison who needs doctors and refs to protect him. Cena charges again showing he’s not too bright and again Lesnar goes back to the GnP and pounds him into a pulp. Lesnar with a brutal knee and kicks Cena’s carcass to the floor. This is surreal considering how protected Cena is year-round and how stiff this is compared to most of what you see on WWE TV.

• Cena recovers and sneaks Lesnar and goes for the FU, but Lesnar easily reverses to a German suplex and one more. Cena fights back with forearms and then flies into Lesnar and they bump the ref. Cena tries another shoulderblock but Lesnar no sells and bulldozes him down. Crowd starts in with the LESNAR’S GOING TO KILL YOU chants. Lesnar with a few hammerfists and repeats his blood wipe gimmick from a decade earlier. Lesnar hooks in the Kimura and then just throws Cena into the turnbuckle. Most of this is fairly standard beatdown territory, but it just looks and feels real/legit in a way that only Vader could approach in his prime. Lesnar throws Cena to the floor and then casually smashes him into the barricade. Lesnar now steals Cena’s MasterLock chain and then reconsiders and tosses the chain away figuring that he doesn’t need it. Instead, Lesnar handcuffs Cena’s legs and ties him up with the chain. Lesnar with another devastating LESNAR-LINE and then hooks Cena in a Tree of Woe using the chain. Cena now legit looks like he’s hanging at the whims of a madman. This is incredible.

• Lesnar just randomly picks a bodypart and decides to attack the arm some more. Cole wants them to bring out the “meatwagon” for Cena. Cena tries no-selling death but Lesnar again shrugs off his stuff and heaves Cena like a discus into the steel stairs. Lesnar has decided he’s had enough fun and picks up Charles Robinson with one hand and carries him back into the ring. Lesnar: “Get your ass up.” Cena reaches for the chain and again Lesnar catches him with his hand in the cookie jar and tosses it away and wants to teach Cena a lesson. Cena goes for a desparation FU but Lesnar counters to the F555555! Unfortunately, Charles eats another bump and wipes out. Another ref comes out and counts 1, 2, only 2. Lesnar then shitcans him and starts destroying ringside. Other refs come out to try and contain the madman but Cole nicely puts over how Lesnar will not be fined for attacking refs. Book: “If I was an official, I’D STAY THE HELL OUTTA HERE!”

• Lesnar totes the stairs into the ring and then stands on them like a Viking king taking pleasure at his spree of violence over his new dominion. Cena tries fighting back and Lesnar applies the Kimura. Cena no sells and Hulks up and spinebusts Lesnar down on the stairs. Cena gets out to the apron and heads up top. Cena wants the top rope Fame-asser but Lesnar moves and Cena comes up dry. Lesnar recovers first and starts mocking Cena. Lesnar with a head of steam and pole vaults off the stairs INTO Cena and HOLY SHIT! He clips the top rope and both bomb out to the floor though we can’t see the impact. Lesnar is immediately clutching his knee and I fear the worst while watching this the first time when it happened. Luckily, Brock’s a Neanderthal and no sells a torn ACL. Lesnar Hulks up and seems even more energized at not ending his own career on the botch. Most normal humans would be scared at almost dying but in Lesnar’s mind it reinforces his near-invincibility. ANYWAY, back in, and I could be crazy, but it damn sure looks like they repeat the spot except with Cena cutting off Lesnar with a chainshot to get it right this time. Maybe Lesnar overshot the landing; maybe Cena missed his cue; who knows. Now, the Passion of the Cena is reignited and he Cenas up. He gets Lesnar up and hits the FU on the stairs. NONONONONO! The ref recovers to count 1, 2, 3 at 17:43.

• The finish has been discussed and dissected ad naseum and I could add in my 2 million cents or 2000 words but I’ll just say that I think the WWE landscape would have been infinitely more interesting with Lesnar still undefeated and Cena on a losing streak going into June. Now, come August, rather than having feuds over contract disputes and imaginary insults about someone’s children, Lesnar would be riding high, gloating about how he destroyed the WWE’s top dog and fears no one they have left to offer. FWIW, I’d still have Cena get his win back down the road, but not in the first match.

• Outside of the booking and the colossal botch, this is a perfect match. After all the video package hype and heraldry surrounding the signing, I wasn’t sure if Lesnar would be able to back it up – if he still had “it.” But they (he and the WWE) came through in spades. They allowed the match layout to be Lesnar pulverizing Cena like no one else ever for 20 solid minutes. For my money, this might be the best comeback match ever after a years-long layoff, other than HBK-Triple H.

• And to his credit, Cena himself was game to be made to look inferior physically in every way for the majority of the match. Comparatively in big matches against monster heels, Hogan made Vader and Giant both look like crap and the matches sucked and Hogan won, so be glad that Cena is giving in a way that Hogan wasn’t at times in his career as the top babyface.

• However, the most ripe comparison for me is Cena-Umaga at NYR 2007. Umaga is built up as a monster and dominates the match. Cena gets a fluke win via roll-up that still keeps Umaga strong. Unfortunately, the conclusion to that story is that Cena also wins the gimmick rematch at RR in relatively strong fashion. So for those of you hoping for a rematch where Lesnar wins, I wouldn’t count on it.

• This is my Match of the Year, even with the ending, botch on the collision, and questionable booking. ***** upgraded on subsequent viewing.

The 411: *10.0 is a default rating for the best of the year.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  10.0   [ Virtually Perfect ]  legend

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Jack Bramma

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