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Mathew’s Top 25 Matches of 2020: #25-21

The official start to Mathew’s Top 25 matches! Starting at the bottom, peep 25-21!

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Welcome to the Top 25 Matches of 2020! I’m sure you all have seen the honorable mentions in the previous article and probably thinking to yourself, “what could be on this list?” Well, we’re about to find out together. This has been a rough year for all of us, especially with American wrestling…and I guess the pandemic. This year will be a little bit different due to the circumstances as I usually do two top matches per wrestler but that’ll be lifted for this year, especially with a certain wrestler.

Let’s get down to it, shall we?


25. Kenny Omega and Adam Page vs. Young Bucks (AEW Revolution 2/29/2020)

– It’s no secret to those that know me that I’m not a big fan of AEW and find it to be very mediocre. However, I will give credit where credit is due whenever a good match is involved and this is the best AEW match they’ve produced. The build-up to the match has also been really well done with the tension between all four of them along with the tease of a possible betrayal between the champions. Once the match happened, they gelled well and gave us a good half hour of entertainment.

You’re probably asking yourself, “why is this in here and not Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks when that happened two years ago?” While it is true that it basically is the same match in terms of story, just a different partner for Omega. The real main difference for this is that this one was less sloppy compared to the other one and that was what hurt the quality of the match for me personally. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the Bucks and Omega, this was still a great match and Adam Page is someone I am a fan of, so I was glad to see he was able to keep up with their style of wrestling. Good storytelling, emotion, the conclusion, all-around fun time.


24. Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles (WWE SmackDown 6/12/2020)

– This was for the final round of the Intercontinental Championship and this was a match I didn’t expect to get the amount of time as they did since I was gonna assume they would give them ten minutes on television. I’m glad that’s not the case as they were able to deliver their best match together in the WWE. All of their matches have been enjoyable together and this match is just another one added to the books. It would go on for a half-hour and it made the title seem a little important like how it used to be back in the day, it reminded me of those matches.

The two may be getting up there in age but they have shown that they can still go and show why they’re WWE’s best in-ring workers. We got an actual wrestling match out of it and there was no dusty type of finish of anything, it was clean and that’s what made it better. When AJ finally won the Intercontinental Championship, I did have a small glimmer of hope that we would be getting these types of matches for the title. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case as it didn’t last too long but they did try it at the beginning, so that was at least. We were able to get one of the best matches for the title in a long time and that’s something fans will remember.


23. Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai vs. Rhea Ripley (NXT Takeover: In Your House 6/7/2020)

– NXT was another brand that has been a mixed bag compared to its glory years but this is what happens when you try to force change its magic to try and compete. There was been some great matches from time to time but the rest of the matches on this list were just better than NXT’s best. One match, however, was lucky enough to get on the list and it was the NXT Women’s Championship between Charlotte Flair, Rhea Ripley, and Io Shirai. I know a lot of people hate Charlotte from how much she gets pushed but it’s hard to argue that she is one of their top stars in the company. You had two of NXT’s best women with Io and Rhea going against WWE’s biggest female star, and they were able to get a great match out of each other.

Io Shirai was someone who reinvented herself over the past year instead of being another foreign babyface like Asuka and Kairi Sane before her, so she was able to get the slow build during all of that and it came into a full circle. All three of them would deliver great action and they would pull the surprise by giving Io Shirai the victory since people would assume Charlotte would either retain for a one-on-one rematch with Rhea down the road, or Rhea would get it back to redeem herself but that’s thankfully not the case. Io has worked hard in WWE and I know people said she should’ve won the title years ago but this moment felt more perfect to work her way up through the ranks and reinvent herself rather than getting it soon as she stepped into their doors. Great match and the right person won that night.


22. Undisputed Era vs. Imperium (WWE World’s Collide 1/25/2020)

– If this had a proper build-up and were able to do long-term storytelling, this probably would’ve been one of the best matches of the year with the story alone before getting into the match. We had the top heel factions of NXT and NXT UK battling it out for brand supremacy to see who was the real top heel faction. The two invaded their respective territories to help hype up the match for the past month at the very least. This alone was enough for the fans to get invested in it and to nobody’s surprise, the payoff in the short-term of things was worth it. Everyone involved in this match looked like a star and it made Imperium feel like they were exactly on their level, which is something you needed to do for this type of match.

The one big takeaway in this match was the unfortunate injury that occurred to Alexander Wolfe, causing him to be taken out for the rest of the match. Despite being a man down, WALTER would make up for the slack and wrecked everyone during his comeback after being taken out by UE. WALTER would get the win for his team, showing the world that Imperium is something you need to be watching. Undisputed Era is already well-established stars, so they didn’t need the win here to get over since they were already over. The right team won that night and we had a great match out of it, making all of Imperium look good in the process.


21. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi (Wrestle Kingdom 14 1/4/2020)

– Honestly, this match in general almost didn’t make the list, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I watched this live in the Tokyo Dome, high chance this wouldn’t be on here. This was the biggest match in Ibushi’s career than when he fought Nakamura five years ago and this was when he won his first G1 Climax leading into this match. The entrance Okada had before he came out was godlike, especially when you’re in the crowd to experience it live, it was just incredible and you know you have a star right in front of your eyes. Watching it on the television days after it happened would show the flaws of the match with how they paced it out.

But I’m not gonna talk about that version of the match and gonna focus on my live experience with it instead as I go forward with talking about it. The atmosphere for this match was intense, the moves were crisp, the story for it was top-notch between the two of them together. This was their best match together on a bigger level, and it showed that Kota Ibushi could potentially be an IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Kota would fail to win the match but still left a big impression on the fans, even coming close to winning. Kota is in the main event of the same night but against Tetsuya Naito, so let’s see if he can bring it home or at the very least, deliver another classic.

This will conclude the first five matches of my list and very excited to show the next five tomorrow. Till next time!

 


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NXT Minus 6: About that Cole-O’Reilly match…

It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

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It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

Exclusive: Kyle O'Reilly is ready to renew his career-long rivalry with Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver

6. I was jacked to 11 for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I was ready to give it a Tokyo Dome 6 stars. MOTY before the bell rang. A masterwork of storytelling. I correctly predicted it would be an unsanctioned match. Then the action started, and it quickly became “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans | WWE

5. After the first few acts of violence, it was apparent that the problem with the match would be the stipulation. The last NXT unsanctioned match was Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in 2018. That was 3 short years ago, but things move quickly in today’s world. There is very little chance an unsanctioned match can deliver the level of violence it promises as long as NXT is on the PG-13 Peacock.

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4. Fans are losing their minds over all the content Peacock is leaving on the cutting floor. A lot of it was offensive and would never work today, but that’s not the point. The fact is there’s only so much violence Peacock’s parent company NBC will tolerate from wrestling. Take the chain, for example. Other than the clothesline, it was practically useless. O’Reilly tried to make it work, but it fell flat. In an unsanctioned match, 20 feet of heavy duty chain should be all you need to decimate another human being.

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3. Maybe I’m a victim of my own wrestling memory. An unsanctioned match in Memphis in the 80’s would have been a bloodbath. Someone would have been hung over the top rope with the chain around his neck. Whipped across the back. Hog tied. Someone would have wrapped it around their fist for a few stiff shots to their opponent’s forehead. But that goes back to my original point. None of that would fly today even if NXT was only on the WWE network.

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2. I’ll go so far as to say the only violent-promising stipulation that interests me is Falls Count Anywhere. There is zero drama in wrestlers pulling chairs from under the ring. The chance to use the naturally occurring environment as a weapon still holds a world of suspense. Someone is going through windows, walls, off the stage, over the guardrail, stuffed in a locker. Honestly, I’m tired of people getting hit in the stomach with folding chairs. Of all the ways to hit someone with a folding chair, that’s the least practical. 

WWE Announces Multiple Injuries At NXT New Year's Evil - WrestlingRumors.net

1. I’m sorry to say Kyle O’Reilly versus Adam Cole didn’t deliver what I expected. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe I don’t need over-the-top violence to entertain me. Maybe I don’t need wrestling to keep pushing the envelope. Five of my top 6 matches of 2021 are straight up wrestling matches. Maybe all I need is two (or three or four) strong characters and a good story. Damn, I sound old. 


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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 4/11/2021

WrestleMania week is back in the usual form with a whole lot of wrestling, and not a lot of sleep. The article was delayed a little to allow for me to try and watch as much as I could given other coverages and plans I had. See what you think about the Top 5!

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WrestleMania week is back in the usual form with a whole lot of wrestling, and not a lot of sleep. The article was delayed a little to allow for me to try and watch as much as I could given other coverages and plans I had. See what you think about the Top 5!

Firstly, we have to assess which match won March, and what our current Match of the Year Pool looks like!

MOTY Pool:

  • January: NJPW New Beginning Nagoya: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • February: NXT Vengeance Day: North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs Kushida
  • March: NJC 3.21.21: NJC Finals: Will Ospreay vs Shingo Takagi

Shingo managed to stack the deck a little bit, and he pulled off having one of his matches win March! So we’re starting off with 2021 Year of the Dragon, and with another Ospreay match on the horizon, well – let’s hope that this week’s Top 5 blows some doors off!

The winning match from last week was AEW’s retirement tussle, AEW Dynamite: Christian Cage vs Frankie Kazarian, which might get lost in the wash this month, but we’ll see!

Now we get to the Top 5!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NXT Stand & Deliver Night 1: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa
    Rating: **** 3/4
  2. NXT Stand & Deliver Night 2: Unsanctioned Match: Adam Cole vs Kyle O’Reilly
    Rating: **** 1/2
  3. WrestleMania 37: Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
    Rating: **** 1/4
  4. WrestleMania 37: SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks (c)
    Rating: **** 1/4
  5. AJPW Champion Carnival 4.9: Zeus vs Kento Miyahara
    Rating: **** 1/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.10: Jake Lee vs Suwama
    Rating: ****
  • NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver Night 2: NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) vs Karrion Kross
    Rating: ****
  • WrestleMania 37: WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Daniel Bryan vs Edge
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Mystery Partner Triple Threat Tag Match: Ace Austin & Madman Fulton vs TJP & Fallah Bahh vs Josh Alexander & Petey Williams
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver Night 1: NXT Tag Team Championships: MSK vs Grizzled Young Vets vs Legado del Fantasma
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.11: Zeus vs Suwama
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • WrestleMania 37: WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs Drew McIntyre
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • IMPACT!: Eddie Edwards, Willie Mack & Rich Swann vs Good Brothers & Kenny Omega w/Don Callis
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.10: Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Bloodsport 6: Josh Barnett vs Jon Moxley
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.10: Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Hardcore Wars: Team Dreamer (Tommy Dreamer, Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann & Willie Mack) vs Team VBD (Eric Young, Rhino, Joe Doering & Deaner)
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.11: Kento Miyahara vs Shotaro Ashino
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • WrestleMania 37: WWE United States Championship: Sheamus vs Riddle (c)
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Title vs Career: Knockouts Championship: Jazz vs Deonna Purrazzo (c)
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.9: Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • WrestleMania 37: Bad Bunny & Damien Priest vs Miz & John Morrison
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • WrestleMania 37: Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
    Rating: ***
  • NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver Night 1: NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (c) vs Raquel Gonzalez
    Rating: ***
  • NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver Night 1: Pete Dunne vs KUSHIDA
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Matt Cardona vs Jake Something
    Rating: ***
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.11: Shuji Ishikawa vs Yuma Aoyagi
    Rating: ***
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Doc Gallows w/Karl Anderson vs Black Taurus w/Rosemary & Crazzy Steve
    Rating: ***
  • WrestleMania 37: WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs Rhea Ripley
    Rating: ***
  • AJPW Champion Carnival 4.9: Suwama vs Kohei Sato
    Rating: ***
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Number 1 Contender: Knockouts Hardcore Gauntlet: Rosemary vs Tenille Dashwood vs Jordynne Grace vs Alisha Edwards vs Havok vs Su-Yung
    Rating: ***
  • NXT TakeOver Stand & Deliver Night 2: NXT Crusierweight Championship Unification: Santos Escobar vs Jordan Devlin
    Rating: ***
  • Impact Wrestling Hardcore Justice: Crate American Bash: Johnny Swinger vs Matt Cardona
    Rating: ***
  • WrestleMania 37: WWE Raw Tag Team Championships: AJ Styles & Omos vs New Day (c)
    Rating: ***

3t. AJPW Champion Carnival 4.9: Zeus vs Kento Miyahara

From My Coverage:

Zeus and Kento have had great wars. There was a point a few years ago where Kento was Zeus’ hurdle, but after beating him for the Tag titles, he then gathered momentum. Zeus has beaten Kento for the Triple Crown before, has beaten him in the Carnival, and this has been one of the best rivalries of the last few years in current AJPW. Kento is of course the current generation Ace, and everyone knows that; but given Zeus’ track record and Kento’s stagnation the last year since losing the Triple Crown to Suwama, we could get something interesting.

The match starts with their usual sarcastic respect to one another during breaks and outside the ring moments. Given that they’ve had 2 5 Snowflake classics in the last 3 years, this had a lot to live up to. But at no point did it feel like retreading, since they are both in different positions comparatively, this felt like a whole new book, not an additional chapter. Zeus landed a lot of power spots while Kento combated everything with his Knees.

Kento’s usual attack of Blackouts from different angles rocked Zeus pretty hard. Zeus ate a few, grabbed a Chokeslam and they both landed for a rest spot. Zeus drives Kento into a corner, goes for an Outside-In Brainbuster and starts trying to end things. Kento goes for the Shutdown Suplex, Zeus fires out, a few big Lariats and a Jackhammer from Zeus…AND ZEUS WINS!

Winner: Zeus via Jackhammer

 

3t. WrestleMania 37: SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks (c)

From AJ’s Review:

Bianca catches some of Sasha’s high speed offense and does powerbomb pinfalls as Sasha kicks out of the first two, reversing the third with an X-Factor and taking control back with a Tornado DDt for another near fall. Banks now goes to the top for a Frog Splash. Sasha gets her anger and ruthlessness to wrap Bianca’s hair around her opponent into a Bank Statement and somehow, Bianca powers through and gets to the ropes before Sasha starts stopping on Bianca’s face after the break. Banks keeps going with the trash talking but Bianca shoves her into the corner post with some Shoulder Tackles and sets her up for a Superplex. Sasha fights her off and attempts a cartwheel kick before Sasha grabs the feet into a Tree of Woe position to land a Meteora. Sasha misses the first one, goes to a knee strike from the Tree as Bianca sits up so Sasha lands knees first into the turnbuckle and eats a 450 Splash for a near fall. Sasha tries to get control again after but gets whipped in the midsection with Bianca’s hair and after a fight to swing around, Bianca grabs Sasha up and lands the Kiss Of Death to win her first Women’s Championship in WWE.

Winner: Belair via KOD

 

3t. WrestleMania 37: Cesaro vs Seth Rollins

From Greg’s Consciousness:

  • This truly is the biggest match in Cesaro’s career–but it’s also one that would further cement Rollins as a Hall Of Famer.
  • I’ve been picking Cesaro here as I can imagine Rollins wants to make him in this one match.
  • Also, surprised that we haven’t seen everyone wearing white tonight, as we typically see a lot of at WrestleMania. It’s a welcomed change, I did all the black gear.
  • Nice to see that the Big Swing is a part of the match’s storytelling.
  • Corkscrew Splash! Seemed less effective that way–but more impressive.
  • Fans REALLY want to see Cesaro get the win, and I am with them.
  • Stomp into European Uppercut + 23 Rotation Big Swing + Neutralizer = CESARO WINS

Winner: Cesaro via Gotch Neutralizer

 

2. NXT Stand & Deliver Night 2: Unsanctioned Match: Adam Cole vs Kyle O’Reilly

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Kyle grits his teeth, gets a chair, turns it upside-down, and gathers up the chain. What is Kyle creating in his mind? Kyle brings the chain to the corner, piles it on, and then gets the chair. Kyle puts that chair around Cole’s leg, and then heads for the corner. Kyle flounders his way up the corner, but Cole gets up and uses that chair to SMACK Kyle off the top! Kyle falls to the mat, Cole gets sits the chair upside-down, and drags Kyle up. Cole puts Kyle in the ropes in the corner, gets around the corner and climbs up. Cole says he is always going to be better than Kyle! But Kyle LOW BLOWS Cole!! Payback for a moment ago, and Kyle gathers the chains again!

Kyle wraps his leg up in the steel, locks it in, and aims at Cole! Cole is on the chair, STEEL GUILLOTINE KNEE!!! Cover, KYLE WINS!!

Winner: Kyle O’Reilly via Steel Guillotine Knee

 

1. NXT Stand & Deliver Night 1: NXT UK Championship: Walter (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa

From AJ’s Review:

Ciampa not letting this momentum going to waste as he attempts a Fairy Tale Ending but gets coutner into a pin from Walter. Ciampa kicks out and actually lands the Fairy Tale Ending for another two count. Ciampa keeps going with the rapid offense but gets caught into a Sleeper Hold. Tommaso breaks it by manipulating Walter’s weakened hand and breaks out of the hold only to get a German Suplex and a heavy Lariat that Stan Hanson would love for a two. Walter tries to get strength back into his hand and goes for a powerbomb but Ciampa now counters it, biting Walter’s hand and putting him into a Fujiwara Armbar, pulling the fingers back of the champion until Walter goes to the ropes to break it. Walter LOOKS WEAK as Tommaso tries to go for Widow’s Bell but Walter backs up to break the attempt from the apron. More fighting continues on the apron as they get to the top rope. Ciampa finally gets an advantage as he uses and Air Raid Crash from the top rope for another near fall.

Both men begin to get up and start a chopping contest until Walter decides to use his weight advantage to get an upperhand, pinning Ciampa down in a knuckle lock but his hand gives out, breaking it. Walter going to any length to win and stomps on Ciampa head, going for back to back powerbombs to take Ciampa down only for another two count and frustration rising. Walter grabs Tommaso for another Sleeper but make sit a Sleeper Suplex and to make sure the match is sealed, he hits one last Chop to retain his United Kingdom Championship.

Winner: Walter via Chop

 

Thoughts:

Well damn, we had a lot of damn good to great matches this week. Some stuff I missed since I had some fill in coverage I needed to do, but it was nice to see Mania week back in old form. Do I agree with my rankings on the fact that Walter vs Ciampa should win the weeek? Yes I do. But arguments can be made for nearly any of the Top matches.

So this should be an interesting fight to see what ends up winning the week.


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