wrestling / Columns

Top 10 PWG Matches of the Decade

December 20, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Keith Lee Donovan Dijak

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Honorable Mention


10. Timothy Thatcher vs. Roderick Strong – 7/29/2016


This was brutally great stiff contest that it needed to be. Thatcher had the advantage early. Roddy had hit him low to get the advantaged. Roddy was striking the fuck out of him. Thatcher fought back with great physicality, intensity, and urgency. It felt like either man could win in the best way possible. Roddy was just able to connect on a few leaping knees to put him away first. This would have been a low key great indie sendoff for Roddy, and it will probably be the PWG MOTY. (****)


9. The Young Bucks vs. Dojo Bros – 12/1/2012


This was somewhat of an infamous PWG opener. It got crazy heated and featured some absolutely wild sequences.

The match’s structure was predictable but very effective. Dojo Bros ran through the Bucks in the way that only they could. The Bucks cut them off and did a fine if obligatory heat segment. Then Roddy made the trademarked awesome Roddy hot tag that he had been doing for years.

The Bucks made a last second comeback to give themselves a chance. The Dojo Bros over came that though and put them away cleanly. GREAT PWG style match. (****)


8. Akira Tozawa vs. Chris Hero – 9/5/2010

Image result for chris hero akira tozawa 2010"

This was a second round match in the 2010 BOLA. This is the kind of match that Hero needs to do much more of as far as I am concerned. It’s hard hitting and still predominantly focused on knocking the opponent out, but the high-energy/short-ish nature of the match makes it so much more entertaining to watch. Hero could not knock Tozawa out with elbows and kicks and eventually had to resort to the moonsault to finally finish him. The crowd was molten by the end of this one. This was a classic PWG match. (****1/4)


7. WALTER vs. Ricochet – 10/27/2017

This was fantastic. They did not try to swim upstream at all and instead just leaned in to the natural story of the dominant WALTER mauling the much smaller Ricochet.

For his part, Richochet did quite well trying to create openings for himself, both honorable and otherwise. The sneaky story of the match was that Ricochet kept getting progressively more and more willing to step outside the lines.

This culminated in a spot where he blatantly just back kicked WALTER in the crotch. WALTER shook it off though and managed to hold on to the sleeper he had just applied. The momentary distraction though gave Ricochet enough breathing room to reverse it into a fruit roll-up to pick up the win.

While WALTER should have obviously won to set him up challenging Ricochet on the next weekend, this was quite great other than that. WALTER is exactly the kind of focal point PWG could use right now to get out of the years-long funk they have been in. (****1/4)


6. Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee – 9/3/2017

This was a quarterfinal round match in the 2017 Battle of Los Angeles.

During an era of American pro wrestling with an inexcusable absence of heated and well-done feuds and storylines, all that fans can really latch onto are great matchups that appear in several different promotions. The freshest and most intriguing of all these modern indie rivalries has been the one between Donovan Dijak and Keith Lee.

This series of matches has not just had an incredibly consistent high level of in-ring quality, but it has far more importantly served as the defining introduction of these two wrestlers for a lot of fans and established them as two of the most exciting and fun workers going today.

The rivalry between the two of them, as we’ve come to know it on the indies, finally came to an informal* end at the 2017 Battle of Los Angeles.

*The lack of distinct closure is one of the marks of the modern American indie “feuds”

And what an end it turned out to be.

The match essentially had three recurring ideas throughout. For starters, this was going to be a match about throwing bombs and not about nuance and subtlety.

The second idea was that this rivalry had progressed to the point where each guy rarely passed on an opportunity to show up the other.

The final idea that was Donny D, on his way to the WWE, clearly wanted to make sure he got the “W” in their last match and acted rather dickishly sporadically throughout this final encounter.

The physical content of the match was mostly made up Keith and Donny using their biggest movez against one another. They threw out their biggest high spots. They did not hold back on their finishers. And they lavishly employed the “kickout at 1” spot.

That last aspect will easily be the most contentious component of the match. it’s an easy thing to dismiss out of hand and critics would be well within their right for doing so. That idea is way overdone in pro wrestling and many wrestlers have effectively killed it due to inappropriate usage.

These two mostly earned it though. They had a long rivalry together, and they decided to go all out with the kickouts on the biggest stage of indie wrestling. You cannot really blame them for that, and you cannot deny that it was incredibly effective with the live crowd (and a crowd that is prone to only caring for wrestlers when they are singing, dancing, and cosplaying as Attitude Era acts).

It also played well with the idea that Lee and Dijak were continuously trying to one-up each other throughout the encounter. Any moment where they could display their superiority over the over was grasped, and all those moments added to the overall intensity of the bout.

The last aspect of the match that needs to be discussed was the manner in which Dijak conducted himself. This was set to be his last match on the indies and could easily be his last match with Keith Lee ever (because WWE is weird). From the jump, he clearly had no intention of playing the nice guy. He was here to win, and he was more than fine with cutting corners to do so.

It made for a nice twist on their general match structure, made Keith Lee more sympathetic in his larger journey throughout the tournament, and paid off wonderfully in the final sequence of the match.

Dijak was on the metaphorical ropes. Keith had built up enough momentum that he had a decisive advantage. Dijak managed to pull out their matching tag gear from their one-night tag team from two nights earlier. He tried to say, “Let’s finish this as partners!”

If played straight and without irony, it would have been an incredibly forced and ham-fisted moment. These two did not disappoint though.

The moment Keith went to put on the gear, DIjak kicked him in the face. That was all the spurring Keith needed to put Dijak down for good and end their celebrated rivalry for the time being.

This was a fitting sendoff for Donovan Dijak, a damn fine ellipsis on the Dijak/Lee rivalry, and one of the most exciting wrestling matches on the indies of 2017.  (****1/4)


5. Biff Busick, Andrew Everett, & Trevor Lee vs. Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Super Dragon, Nick Jackson, & Matt Jackson) – 8/29/2015


This was a Guerrilla Warfare match.

Oh, you fucking know that I loved this one. It was a wild brawl for fifteen minutes or so with all sorts of crazy stunts. They timed all of the babyfaces’ comebacks perfectly. They gradually upped the violence more and more until the end. They never let up on the action or created any dead air. It was just great. It was a shame that we never got the Biff/Super Dragon match, but this was good enough. MR2.0 won cleanly after a tandem Psycho Driver on Biff. Great stuff. (****1/4)


4. Drew Galloway vs. Speedball Bailey – 8/29/2015

Image result for Drew Galloway vs. Mike Bailey from PWG"

This was a first round match in the 2015 BOLA.

The big man/little man deal happens to be a match-type I love, and it is the kind of match that both guys here excel at. You know how it played out. Galloway took the great majority of the match, while Speedball would sporadic short bursts of offense to keep himself competitive in the match (relatively). The key to the execution was the pace Drew set and the timing of the comebacks.

Drew methodically worked over Speedball while brutalizing him at the same time. Speedball’s comebacks initially were limited, but they progressively happened more and more while simultaneously increasing in impact. By the time they got to the finish, the crowd was frothing at the mouth to see the winner. My only disappointment was that it ended in a fruit roll-up. I thought they worked the match well enough that they could have gotten away with a cleaner win for Speedball. That is but a minor blemish though. This was fantastic. (****1/4)



3. Roderick Strong vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – 4/3/2015


This was for Roddy’s PWG World Championship.

Well, these two are allowed to wrestle forever. While it was not quite as detailed as their Evolve encounter, this was no less exciting or great.

It featured the same broad structure of their later match. Roddy dominated the match in the way that only Roddy can. Zack came back by going after the left arm. It then became a question of whether or not Zack could get the Jim Breaks Armbar fully applied before Roddy could put him away. In this battle, Zack could not get it done.

I loved this. It was exciting, executed some cool ideas, and it had a great crowd. (****1/2)


2. Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico – 1/29/2011

I remember thinking this match was great at the time, but it even managed to exceed that fond memory. The timing and the execution of their trademarked spots and reversals was just on another level here. Generico’s selling of the leg left a tiny bit to be desired in a few moments, but the injury played a big enough role down the stretch to make up for it. This is one of the best matches in either man’s career (possibly Claudio’s best singles match ever), and it’s also one of the best matches PWG history. (****1/2)


1. Peligro Abejas vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Cutler Bros. – 7/30/2010

Image result for pwg peligro abejas cutlers young bucks"

This is everything that I want from a professional wrestling stunt show. When it’s as well-executed as this, it’s just as entertaining and satisfying as any other kind of pro wrestling match. If you have never seen this match, you owe it to yourself to watch it. It’s one of my favorite matches ever. It was non-stop insanity with one of the best crowd reactions throughout a match in indie history. Generico and London successfully retained the titles after Generico gave Nick a turnbuckle brainbuster. (*****)



My list of 5-Star Matches

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PWG, TJ Hawke