Wrestling: The Top 10 Matches of 2011 so Far
We are a little over halfway through the year and I thought it would be fun to throw together a list of the top 10 matches so far this year.
Keep in mind that this is being written before Money in the Bank and very easily could change after that PPV.
Also, while I do watch a lot of Indy Wrestling this list is limited to ROH, TNA and WWE because it's so hard to watch every independent show. I've seen every PPV from the big three this year, and most of their shows, so I believe that this list is at least the top 10 in that aspect.
Will the Undertaker's epic struggle with HHH at Wrestlemania top the list?
Or will Angle vs Jarrett find it's way into the mix?
Will ROH deliver on their claim of being the Best In The World?
This is The Top 10 Matches of 2011 So Far.
(On a side note, could I have picked a worse graphic.)
Honorable Mentions (A.K.A the Shelton Benjamin Award)
Every list needs some heartbreaks, so I'll list a few matches that fell just outside of the top 10.
Team Michinoku Pro (Great Sasuke/Dick Togo/Jinsei Shinzai) vs. Team Minnesota (1-2-3 Kid/Arik Cannon/Darin Corbin)- (CHIKARA King of Trios 2011)
I would argue that out of all the indy matches I've seen this year this was the best.
It was a good showing from everyone involved and had some great spots, but it didn't have enough style to get in the top ten.
I felt that in the middle it slowed down a bit, but that could be overlooked because it was a long match.
Everyone should check this match out because it's Chikara at it's best, but it falls just short of the Best of the Best.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio—Falls Count Anywhere (WWE Extreme Rules)
This, to me, was the surprise of Extreme Rules.
It was a good match that to me did what few matches do this day: tell a story. Wrestling is built on drama and this match had it.
It also made great use of the "Falls Count Anywhere" stipulation, with some amazing spots in the stands.
This match had it all. Great out-of-ring work, great in-ring work, a great face/heel dynamic, and a tip of the hat to a legend. It truly was a great match, but sometimes great just doesn't cut it.
Christian vs. Randy Orton—(WWE Over The Limit &Smackdown 5/3)
If I had made this list a week ago, one of these matches would have been on the bubble at 10.
But due to TNA's Destination X PPV, I had to knock these matches out. Despite that, I believe these were great match that showcased a good little feud that seems to be coming to a head this Sunday at Money in the Bank.
Over the Limit was by far their best match, but even it falls just short of the elusive top 10.
Bully Ray vs. AJ Styles—Last Man Standing (TNA Slammiversary)
Basically TNA's Best of the Rest match.
In my opinion this was TNA's most surprising match this year.
I was thinking I was going to get a match where AJ Styles carried an old guy around and hit a few great spots and won the match. But the entire contest was a back and forth, tug and pull, give and take brawl.
There were some problems, but this match was just plain fun. Add to that an ending that made me bust out laughing and you have an excellent match that falls just short of the mark.
JoMo vs The Miz (Falls Count Anywhere Match)
By popular demand I'll add this on.
I agree that this was a solid match that did a great job of opening the year with a bang. I like JoMo and I like the Miz and both showed why they are two of the top stars in the WWE.
I just feel that this match never got to the same level as the matches on this list, but still I found it quite fun it.
Smackdown Elimination Chamber
Another popular demand pick (who says I don't listen to the comments).
A lot of star power in this match and this was one of the highlights of what I thought was a very solid PPV.
That being said I feel that there were just a few flaws with this match that keep it from achieving the greatness of HHH/Taker.
(Please keep in mind that there were a lot of great matches so far this year and some matches can't make the list. That being said I do believe that this in my opinion is the best matches so far.)
#10 Immortal vs. Fortune—Lethal Lockdown Match(TNA Lockdown)
So lets kick off the list with what I feel was TNA's most up and down PPV of the year.
Christopher Daniels/Kazarian/Robert Roode/James Storm vs. Ric Flair/Matt Hardy/Abyss/Bully Ray
I am a big Christopher Daniels fan.
I feel he is by far the most underrated wrestler in the world today, and his return to TNA PPV did not disappoint.
From his BME on Abyss to his insane cross body off the top of the cage he was on point in this match. TNA's surprise of the year Bully Ray had a good showing, but make no mistake, the Fallen Angel stole the show.
There were plenty of great spots and the good mix of chaos that many TNA fans are use to seeing. Add in the return of AJ Styles in a moment that electrified the crowd and you have a defendant Match of the Year contender.
That being said I have to knock it down a few spots for a few reasons,
1) Flair hurt this match, between his botches, the way he slowed down the match, and his OVER the top blading.
2) While I like Lethal Lockdown, it can be a bit overly chaotic.
3) Other then Daniels, Ray, and Storm, I didn't feel anyone really stepped up in this match.
However, these are just nitpicks and over all this was a solid 4 star match from TNA to kick off the list.
#9 El Generico vs. Christopher Daniels (ROH Best in the World)
Hey look Christopher Daniels is back on the list.
All kidding aside, this was by far ROH's best PPV so far, and this match was a highlight of it.
El Generico, for those of you that don't know, is a Canadian wrestler that wears a mask, says he's from Mexico, and speaks in broken Spanish. He does a slight variation on the American Lucha Libre style.
In other words he's making fun of wrestlers like Amazing Red and Charlie Hass who put on masks and say they're from Mexico.
He also has one of the best entrances in ROH (Ole Ole Ole Ole!!!), and his fued with Kevin Steen was one of the best of last year.
This match was for the ROH TV Title and was the first match since Daniels made his heel turn at Honor Takes Center Stage.
He played his character perfectly. All night the NYC fans had been throwing down anti-TNA chants and he heard every bit of it.
Halfway through the match he turned to the crowd and busted out the Jarrett Strut. He did it better then Jeff "My Daddy Was A Booker And Gave Me Every Title Reign I Ever Had" Jarrett.
To me these two went out there and put a show on that was well worth the 15 dollars I paid for. Add in the great storytelling, the spots, getting to see heel Daniels again, and the Brain Buster finish from El Generico.
(If you've seen Mr. Generico, you know that it's refereed to as The BRAIN-BUSTAAAAAAAA!!!!!!, named due to the way Japanese announcers pronounced it when he hit it).
Overall this match was just fun. At the end of the day I will always pay to see fun wrestling that reminds me of why I became a fan in the first place.
#8 Jeff Jarrett vs. Kurt Angle—2 of 3 Falls Match(TNA Lockdown)
Let me start off by saying this—I hate Jeff "Broke 4,000 Guitars and Never Drew a Dime" Jarrett.
To me he symbolizes everything that's wrong with backstage politics and being pushed due to being related to someone in the business.
That being said this match, despite having stupid complex rules, Jeff Jerrett, and an overdone storyline, this match has to be on this list.
It was simply great.
It was probably the best cage match of the year. Despite the fact that it was a cage, single and submission match all rolled into one, I never thought it was too chaotic or crazy.
On paper this match was a lot crazier then it turned out to be, and that's a testament to how good of a wrestler Kurt Angle really is.
This match had a few spots that trully put it over the top, not the least of which was Angle's signature moonsault off the top of the cage.
Overall a great match and though it pains me to say it, Double J put on a hell of a show for the fans.
Now please, you and your wife stay in Mexico and stay off my TV.
#7 CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE Capitol Punishment)
What can be said about this match that hasn't been said before?
It was the glimmer of hope on a PPV that overall fell flatter then the YE-TAY Gimmick (I wanted to get one YE-TAY reference in here).
I feel that both CM Punk and Rey Mysterio are two of the best wrestlers in the world. While this match started out slowly there was a point in the middle that featured some of the best chain wrestling I have ever seen.
The finish was also a fury as Rey went for his 619 and was caught by Punk who proceed to hit the GTS for the 1-2-3, ending a streak of PPV loses that had lasted for over a year.
This match set up the Money In The Bank push for Punk who could be on his way, with the help of Senor Juan Cena, to knocking someone on this list off.
Two of the best in the world proved that they are just that, but the slow start keeps it from coming close to #1.
#6 HHH vs. The Undertaker (WWE Wrestlemania 27)
Alright, I may get some heat for this but I don't care.
Coming in at number 6 is this years edition of the annual Undertaker WM match. To me this was a lot weaker then either of his matches with HBK.
It deserves to be on this list for the sheer enjoyment that I got out of watching it, but I'll have it ranked lower then most.
That being said, 6 is a high spot when discussing the best of the best. Most men Undertaker's age couldn't put on an amazing match with one of the best back and forth endings so far.
There were plenty of near falls and false finishes that amped up the drama, but there was never an iconic moment. Add in the leaked result and I just can't put this match in the top 5.
#5 Eddie Edwards vs. Christopher Daniels (ROH 9th Anniversary)
So we've reached the top 5.
Starting off is a match that stole the show at Ring of Honor's 9th Anniversary, and a match that proves, face vs face feuds can work.
I've already talked about how good Daniels is, but let me talk about the man who forms part of one of the best tag teams in the world—Eddie Edwards.
Edwards has one of the best chops in wrestling (think a young Ric Flair) and an arsenal that balances high flying offense with great technical depth.
This match was quite the chess match.
There was a point in the match where both wrestlers hit a chain of 2 finishers in a row, and they sold their injuries from start to finish.
Plenty of false finishers and near falls, one of the best in-ring stories of the year, a pace that never died and never got too chaotic.
This was as close to a perfect match as your going to find these days without any build before the match.
If I had one complaint about this match it's that it didn't last long enough (by Ring of Honor's standards that is). This match could be in talks for Match of the Decade one day, but for now I feel it deserves it's spot at 5.
On a side note, this match wasn't Daniels at his best, but Eddie does a fantastic job making up for it.
#4 Austin Aries, Zema Ion, Low Ki, and Jack Evans (TNA Destination X)
There is a big gap between 4 and 5 in level of quality.
You go from a match that was very good but never great, to what I would call TNA's match of the year so far.
The entire contract series was fantastic. I can't name a single one of the matches that I didn't have rated above 3 and a half stars.
That being said this match shined so much brighter then all those and deserves to be on this list.
The pace of this match was fantastic from beginning to end.
You had Austin Aries (my pick the whole time) working a bit of a technical high flying style, Low Ki working his kicks, Zema Ion basically taking all the major hits, and Jack Evans doing what he's best at and hitting amazing spots around the ring.
This match reminded me why I became a fan of TNA's back in 2003, before the Hogans and the Russos, before the Stings and the Angles.
This was what TNA was, this is what TNA should be. That, in my opinion, is one of the best complements I can give this match.
This match made Destination X TNA's PPV of the year so far.
That being said, there were a few botches that didn't really matter at the end of the day. However, they do keep this from being the number 1 match overall.
#3 Christian vs Alberto Del Rio—Ladder Match (WWE Extreme Rules)
...And here's where I get heat.
In the minds of many people I just lost all credibility for ranking this match so high. I don't really care. In my mind this is by far the WWE's best match so far this year.
It had everything—drama, spots, a great build up, a favorite and an underdog. All the pieces for this to be a great match.
In one corner was a rookie who has been one of the best this year.
In the other you have Christian, one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and one of the best to never win a title.
Both men were taking sick bumps. They made great use of their surroundings and in my mind, this match cemented Alberto Del Rio as one of the breakout stars of 2011.
I do realize that I'm ranking this a little high because the mark in me was doing back flips when Christian got the belt. I experienced the exact same feeling I had when Chris Benoit (uh oh, someone said his name) beat HHH and HBK for the belt at Wrestlmania 20, in what I argue is the greatest WM match of all time.
But WWE completely botched this one by not using the confetti (hell TNA did it when Brian Kendrick beat Abyss, you couldn't at bust it out for this) and the fact that this wasn't the main event.
Equally as terrible was the fact that Christian's title reign only lasted 2 days. Now he loses every week to Super Orton, a man who hits an RKO out of nowhere every time.
Vince, you ruined a great moment for me.
But Vinnie Mac will not take away how much enjoyment I got out of seeing Captain Charisma climb that ladder and get that belt. Ladies and Gentlemen, THE CAPTAIN'S ABOUT TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
As an added bonus, I've been able to find an actual transcript of what was said backstage after Christian won the belt. So without further ado, here it is:
*Christian celebrating backstage*
Christian: Thank You! Thank You Vince!
*Christian hugs Vince and leaves*
Triple H: You didn't tell him he's dropping the belt in two days to Orton?
Vince: Let him have his moment.
Triple H: Isn't that a little cruel?
Vince: Hunter, what have I taught you all these years? Sometimes you gotta kick people in the balls.
#2 Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs. Kings of Wrestling (ROH Honor Takes Center)
Who says Tag Team Wrestling is dead?
Two of the best teams in the world brawled it out in the house that WCW built in Atlanta, Georgia.
It wasn't the Nexus Jobbers vs Santino and Koleslaw. It was the World's Greatest Tag Team vs the King's of Wrestling.
This match was everything great about tag team matches, my personal favorite type of match (To Live and Die in Dudleyville).
Let me give a tip of the hat to the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli). If the rumors are true and they are signing with the WWE, then I say good for them.
I'm sad to see them leave ROH, but it shows that maybe, just maybe, the WWE is trying to get an actual tag team division again. If the stories aren't true and they remain with ROH I'll be fine with that too.
Both teams left it all on the mat and when it was all said and done Hass and Benjamin had done something special. They had ended the almost year long title reign of the Kings.
That's something ROH does right—they have long title reigns that are never predictable. It's very interesting how they're able to do that in this day and age of predictable matches and outcomes.
Hass and Benjamin proved in this match that they truly are Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team in Wrestling's Greatest Tag Division. Yeah I said it, ROH has the best tag division in the world right now.
Good for them, finding a company that realizes that they are two great wrestlers that have improved their mic skills exponentially.
This match was worth every penny I paid to see in person. This is truly a must see match.
#1 Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards (ROH Best in the World)
Here we are, finally at Number 1.
It combined a great out of ring friendship, one of the greatest tag team duos of all time, and one of the best hype vids I've ever seen.
This match between the American Wolves for the ROH Title was perfect.
From the emotions of the match to the false finishes, from the back and forth action to the over the top finale, this is the match of the year.
I'm honestly willing to bet that 10 years down the road when I'm thinking of Match of the Decade this will still hold up.
In all honesty I'm having a had time describing this match, that's how good it was. From chain submissions (something you don't see in wrestling anymore) to Eddie's chops and Davey's kicks, this was perfect.
There were some sick spots and these two did something that's a lost art of wrestling—selling an injury from the beginning of a match to the end.
Within the first 5 mins of the match Edwards was put in an ankle lock and had his leg focused on. For the next 25 mins he sold that injury like a pro.
In my mind, this is what every friend vs friend feud should be.
Maybe you think I'm an ROHbot, but I'll say this—go watch this match. It'll be the best 25 mins of wrestling you'll see in a long time. At the end of it all, you'll know why I put it here.
ROH delivered a match that was worth every penny I paid.
So here's to you Edwards and Richards. You are currently the top dogs in wrestling as far as matches go.
Will you be dethrowned before the year is over?
Who's to say.
But for now I'll say this—"That Was Awesome!!!"
Closing Thoughts and Half Way Point Awards
I'd like to thank you for reading this. Please comment below and tell me what you agree with, what you disagree with, and your thoughts on how this year in Wrestling has been so far.
Let me finish off this article with a few mid-year awards for the big 3.
Promo of the Year (The Randy Savage Danger Zone Award):
WWE: CM Punk's Work Shoot (Raw 6/27)
TNA: Bully Ray, anything he says
ROH: Kevin Steen's Return Speech (ROH Best in the World)
Rookie of the Year (The Muhammad Hassan):
WWE: Alberto Del Rio
TNA: Austin Aries (sure he just got there but trust me, the mans amazing)
ROH: Michael Elgin
Worst Match of the Year (The Kennel From Hell Award):
#1 Jeff Hardy vs. Sting TNA Victory Road (Don't Do Drugs Kids)
#2 Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler WWE Wrestlemania 27
#3 Kurt Angle vs. Jeff Jarrett TNA Genesis "Double J Double M A challenge"
#4 Gunner vs. Murphy vs. Rob Terry TNA Impact 3/17/11
#5 Natalya vs. Layla vs. Michelle McCool vs. Eve WWE Elimination Chamber
Worst Release of the Year (The Luke Gallows Award)
WWE: Luke Gallows (I know he was released last year but I'm still upset about this BS release)
TNA: Generation Me (The Young Bucks)
ROH: I can't actually think of anyone they released, but they let TNA take over Christopher Daniels so I guess that's my pick.
Worst Gimmick (The YE-TAY AWARD):
WWE: Johnny Curtis (oh I get it, you have an Ace in a gold hole, like an Ace in the Hole, that's terrible)
TNA: Robbie E (this award may one day be renamed after him) is tied with Joker Sting
ROH: Don't use gimmicks
Booking Blunder of the Year (The Shockmaster Award, also called The "I Did It For The Rock" Award):
WWE: Christian's 2 Day Title Run
TNA: Jeff Hardy Being Champion...Ever
ROH: Loss of TV Deal (they got a new one but still)
Superstar of the Year (The Hart Award of Excellence):
WWE: CM Punk
TNA: Christopher Daniels
ROH: Davey Richards
Thanks for reading and don't forget to comment.