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Friday, November 23, 2012

WWE's 20 Best Matches of the Decade (So Far)

Just wanted to exercise my brain a little bit and take a look at WWE's best work since January 1, 2010. I had considered doing something along the lines of WWE's Greatest Matches Ever, or whatnot, for an e-book, so this is just a little way to get some creative juices flowing.

Besides that, you see debates for the best matches of the 90s and 2000's, but I wanted to focus a bit more on the "modern era" so to speak. Turns out, WWE's had some gems in this period when you step back and ignore the middling crap we read about seemingly daily.

Here's how I'd rank the best of the best:

20. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (Extreme Rules, 04/29/12)
The 2/3 Falls match from Extreme Rules was far, far, FAR superior (I can't inject too many fars) to its WrestleMania evil twin, all 18 seconds of it. I was surprised they let Bryan get even a 'technical' submission on Sheamus in the second fall. Maybe it was to make up for the WrestleMania booking?

19. Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk (Survivor Series, 11/20/11)
Just a good back-and-forth wrestling match for the WWE Title, with no chicanery or overbooking. Between Howard Finkel's ring announcing, the raucous MSG crowd, and the old school storytelling, it just felt special. And hey, it's historic: Punk's year-plus reign as champion began here.

18. WWE vs. The Nexus (Summerslam, 08/15/10)
This one gets a bad rap because of WWE winning cleanly and relatively handily, but the upside was, for 35 minutes, fairly new talents got to hang with John Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge, and others. A PPV main event that shows that kind of faith, and is rewarded with dramatic work, is always a winner.

17. CM Punk vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw, 11/21/11)
24 hours after winning the title, Punk made his first defense against Ziggler, and it was a star-making performance that nearly blew up Twitter. The proclamations that Dolph had arrived were numerous, and this was a day after he'd worked 2 matches at Survivor Series (though one was short).

16. Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVIII, 04/01/12)
Some have hailed this as the match of the year for 2012, but I have 5 matches better than it. I wouldn't even call it the best match of the night. It wasn't even as good as their battle the year before (oops, list spoiler). Still, I did like the methodical storytelling and drama, even if I did feel a bit disappointed.

15. Kane vs. Big Show vs. Matt Hardy vs. Christian vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Dolph Ziggler (Money in the Bank, 07/18/10)
I dare say this was the best Money in the Bank match since the original version at WrestleMania 21, even beating out the Smackdown version from 2011, which just missed this list. Nothing was rushed, and there were plenty of crazy bumps to maximize the potential of these matches.

14. John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XXVIII, 04/01/12)
Say what you will about either man, but you can rely on them in the clutch to deliver the classic "Hero vs. Hero" epic battle, complete with slow build, millions of kickouts, etc. Sadly, nothing really came of Cena's "where do I go from here?" reaction in defeat, but maybe they'll address it this coming year.

13. Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXVII, 04/03/11)
The match that virtually saved a lousy WrestleMania. There were some who thought the slowed down ending, with Undertaker getting wailed on for 10 minutes before tapping Hunter, hurt this one, but I feel the opposite way: Undertaker preserved his streak out of sheer desperation.

12. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVIII, 04/01/12)
The crowd had largely died down through the night, thanks to a questionable first hour and the enthrall of Taker/HHH, but Punk and Jericho turned in a heated, fine-tuned performance. The best part was Jericho's desperation to break the Vice, and Punk's desperation to tap him in it.

11. John Morrison vs. Sheamus (TLC, 12/19/10)
Here's one forgotten by the passage of time. It was a ladder match with a WWE Title shot on the line, and it played like Razor/Shawn, except Razor was the violent bully of a heel. Rather than turn it into a spotfest, the match was about Morrison's ability to outwit the larger tormentor en route to victory.

10. Christian vs. Randy Orton (Smackdown, 05/03/11)
This one was washed in controversy, as Christian's heartwarming title win 2 days earlier was erased in favor of one of Vince McMahon's "fortunate sons." It's a shame, because it's a great match, probably Orton's best ever not involving weapons or other gimmicks. Still, it remains a sore point for some.

9. The Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble, 01/31/10)
Now THIS is how you do a Royal Rumble: comedy spots (Punk's spiel, Beth/Khali), star-studded confrontations (DX vs. Cena), stories (Shawn flipping out over blowing it, Edge returns to jump Jericho), and a big win for Edge in his return put this up there with the best Rumbles ever.

8. Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (Extreme Rules, 05/01/11)
See entry no. 10. Edge had vacated the gold upon his forced retirement, so buddy/brother Christian would face Del Rio in a violent, even bloody, TLC match laden with crazy spots. Edge prevented Del Rio from winning as Ricardo and Brodus Clay interfered, and Christian got the gold to a massive roar.

7. Christian vs. Randy Orton (Summerslam, 08/14/11)
For as badly as their feud began, despite the great match where the title changed, it climaxed in grand fashion with a no DQ, no countout brawl where Orton was at his psychotic, demented best. Orton's RKO on the stairs to end it was glorious. Perhaps each man's best singles match ever.

6. CM Punk vs. John Cena (Night of Champions, 09/16/12)
While I'm not Cena's biggest fan, I'll be the first to admit that he is a more than capable wrestler, and here's an instance where he proved so. Marred or not by the double-pin finish, it was good to see a pure back-and-forth battle where Cena could be at his best: making a strong comeback.

5. CM Punk vs. John Cena (Summerslam, 08/14/11)
This one's a little lost in the shuffle due to the Del Rio cash-in, as well as Kevin Nash's unwanted return, but it was typical, unfettered fare between WWE's 2 top stars. It was the second time in 28 days that Cena was pinned by the same man, albeit with mitigating circumstances, but still, that's something.

4. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules, 04/29/12)
This was less a match and more a spectacle. Lesnar's hybrid of sports-entertainment style work, plus his hard-hitting MMA instincts, were the ideal foil for Cena's main event experience, and willingness to die for the company. Cena's win may have been the only blight on a cinematic, chaotic battle.

3. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit, 05/20/12)
My narrow choice for 2012 Match of the Year, barring a classic coming out of TLC. Never before did I think I'd see 2 ROH Champions competing for the WWE Title on a PPV, but there they were, trying to outwrestle each other for the better part of 25 minutes, with a hot crowd to boot.

2. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI, 03/28/10)
The Heartbreak Kid's farewell wasn't quite as good as their match one year earlier, but it was damn close enough. The two WWE icons engaged in their typical epic for 25 minutes before Undertaker, goaded by a drained, spent Michaels, spiked him with a leaping Tombstone to end a great career.

1. John Cena vs. CM Punk (Money in the Bank, 07/17/11)
The riotous crowd, hot angle, and the notion that nobody knew what was going to happen when it was over (complete with anticipation) made this the epitome of a "five star classic". Cena held his own with Punk, and the result is WWE's best match of the decade so far. Does anyone dare doubt it?

1 comment:

  1. Great top three there - I agree with all three of them in some order. I also agree that HHH-Taker 2012 was horribly overrated. Good, yes. Match of the Night? No. Match of the Year? Not even close.

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