If a poll was taken amongst regulars of the pro wrestling section of the Bleacher Report, asking them what the feud of the year was, chances are the top choices would include names like John Cena, the Nexus, Batista and Rey Mysterio.
In the WWE, these names have been involved in the major feuds and biggest storylines of 2010. While it may seem hard to believe for some, none of those rivalries have been able to match the sheer intensity and brutality of the year-long feud between former Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions, Kevin Steen and El Generico.
The once fruitful partnership between two friends quickly turned into one of ROH’s most-talked about rivalries in recent memory when Steen assaulted Generico after losing to the Young Bucks at Final Battle 2009, the promotion’s very first live Internet pay-per-view event.
From the moment Steen attempted to seriously injure his one-time best friend with a steel chair, it was very clear that the bad blood between these guys would lead to a memorable series of matches and the level of violence would continue to be raised.
Steen’s transformation into a vile, brutal competitor with a magnified mean streak was due in large part to the influence of “The King of Old School” himself, Steve Corino. The former ECW Champion and ROH veteran took Steen under his wing and reinvigorated his own career in the process.
El Generico, on the other hand, found friendship and a fighting partner in ROH fan favorite Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana. It was Cabana who came to Generico’s aid at Final Battle, questioning why Steen, their mutual friend, would turn his back on them.
The battle lines had been drawn. Over the course of 2010, these two teams would have several matches under numerous stipulations.
They had a hard-hitting chain match at Glory By Honor IX and did battle inside a steel cage on HDNet, but their “Come As You Are Chicago Street Fight” from the Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies 2 event has easily been the most violent and bloody chapter in this rivalry.
Typically, most match of the year candidates are not described as violent, bloody street fights. This one will most likely not be included in many purists’ year-end lists, but there were few matches in 2010 that held my attention and captured my interest more than this one did.
The slow burn of anticipation for Steen and Generico to finally step into the ring with each other lasted several months. When they finally did, it was a tag team match at The Big Bang iPPV. That match ended in a disqualification after Steen used a steel chair.
It was clear that the normal rules of wrestling wouldn’t suffice to settle this feud, and a tag team rematch was booked for Chicago. This time, it would be a street fight and the bitter enemies would hold nothing back.
After waiting nearly 5 months, Steen and Corino would get to really let their violent side out against Generico and Cabana. With no rules and no limits, could Generico finally get his revenge against his one-time partner?
The simple fact that Steve Corino wore an all-white suit to a street fight was reason enough to believe that things were going to end up getting quite messy. By the end of the match, his suit is covered in the crimson stains of every competitor’s blood.
All four men take an incredible amount of punishment during this one. The fight starts in the aisle and spills all over the venue. At one point, Generico and Steen do battle atop a scaffold which results in a very devastating bump that nearly takes Generico out of the picture.
Tables, ladders, steel chairs, barbed wire baseball bats, broken beer bottles, guard rails and anything else these guys can get their hands on are used as weapons. This isn’t much of a wrestling match but it might be one of the best fights I’ve seen in some time.
The atmosphere in the venue is electric, only adding to the intensity on display. It reminds me of an old ECW match from the glory days of that promotion, when guys like Raven and Tommy Dreamer were beating the living hell out of one another and doing some very dangerous, hardcore spots in the name of crafting a well-told story.
Is this match a bit too extreme at times? For some, probably.
The chair shots alone are enough to make most wrestling fans cringe. These men take it much further than they really should, but they clearly are doing it as a way to build up this incredibly fierce rivalry.
Ring of Honor is not necessarily known for their extreme and violent product. Most of the time, ROH is associated with skillfully executed technical wrestling but a look at their history shows that when the time is right and the situation calls for it, they aren’t afraid to get hardcore.
This Chicago street fight earns its rightful place with some of the most brutal matches in ROH history. It stands side-by-side with the ladder wars and fights without honor as one of the bloodiest brawls the promotion has ever had.
Some may write this one off as nothing more than a garbage hardcore spot fest, but it stands for much more than that.
This is one of the opening chapters in what, in my mind is, undoubtedly the best feud of 2010. This is two former best friends and their newfound allies putting it all on the line for revenge. This is a perfect example of great storytelling in professional wrestling.
That night in Chicago, an already red-hot feud became even more heated when all was said and done.
The No. 3 spot in the best of 2010 series goes to Steen and Corino vs. Generico and Cabana from one of the very best ROH shows of the year, Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies 2.
Next month, my top 2 matches of 2010 will be spotlighted in this series. Make sure to keep an eye out for them. If you haven’t already, please do check out the first two parts of my top matches of 2010: