Saturday, December 26, 2015

Kevin's Top 100 Matches of 2015: #95-91

95. Cero Miedo: Pentagon Jr. vs. Vamprio - Ultima Lucha 8/5/15

Lucha Underground was easily one of the best things about 2015 in general. Pentagon Jr. was then one of the best things about Lucha Underground. When it came time to build his match for the big Ultima Lucha event, I was disappointed to see it set up to be against Vampiro. While I initially thought Vampiro was cool as a kid, looking back, he never seemed very good in the ring. Add in his age and his weight, and I felt like this was a waste of Pentagon. Boy did the two of them prove me wrong. In no way did I ever expect to see Vampiro on any top list of the year 2015. He was better than I ever expected in what is the most violent match on this list. Light tubes, flaming tables and blood were all involved. Normally, that isn’t my style but it fit what they wanted to accomplish here. Pentagon won after 14:20 when he put Vampiro through a flaming table, but that wasn’t the end. Vampiro demanded Pentagon break his arm before revealing that he was the mysterious “master” whose orders Pentagon had been following all year. Chilling stuff. If we were just talking pure angle, this would rank way higher as it was one of my favorite storylines all year. ***¾

94. NXT Championship: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Adrian Neville - NXT 1/14/15

This was the final leg in a trilogy between these two that spanned two months. In November 2014, they had a match for the belt that I loved before having an all-time classic in December at TakeOver: R-Evolution, where Sami Zayn captured the title. Sami missed time after the Kevin Owens attack but when he returned, Adrian Neville wanted his rematch. He got it on this night in the main event. Neville had to step into the role of challenger for the first time. They played off of their first two matches well, showing us a more aggressive Sami as well as one willing to do what it takes to win. His inability to do those things cost him dearly in their first match. They knew each other so well that their counters had counters and they just were so crisp with everything they did. At one point, Sami looked to be completely out of it following some ranas, only to sneak up and try for the Koji Clutch, perfectly showcasing how far Sami had come during this feud. Sami would hit the Helluva Kick to retain at 11:52 in a match that was shorter than their previous two, but still a great TV main event to cap their excellent rivalry. ***¾

93. Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo - Ultima Lucha 8/5/15

My second favorite major wrestling show all year was Ultima Lucha. The first night was solid but nothing special, however, it was night two where things really got good. It started with the opening contest between arguably the two most recognizable faces in Lucha Underground, Alberto El Patron and Johnny Mundo, kicked things off. Both guys had some good runs in WWE, but seemed to really thrive in the Temple. Thanks to the feud they had, this got to have a different feel than their match on an earlier episode. That was more based on competition but with Mundo’s heel turn and him throwing Alberto through a window, this match had a personal feel. It mixed solid wrestling with innovative brawling. They used everything from the environment around them including Mundo throwing dirt at El Patron from under the ring. It was just really refreshing to see two guys blend the competition with the heated rivalry so well. Mundo picked up a win after 13:37 thanks to the surprising arrival of Melina, who struck El Patron with his own title. Unfortunately, El Patron won’t be back for Season Two, though that does make this an even better win for Mundo. ***¾

92. ROH World Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs. Roderick Strong - ROH TV 9/9/15

Jay Lethal captured the ROH World Title in June of this year. His first defense was against Roderick Strong and they went to a one hour draw in a match that I didn’t think was great. Of course, coming out of a draw, there has to be a rematch, which occurred on ROH Television on this night. Here, it went 25:15, so they were able to work a bit quicker instead of dragging things out. The code of honor started things, but the match quickly escalated into something more physical. Lethal is a member of the House of Truth and they made sure to get involved. I didn’t mind it at first since they are a heel unit and interference should be expected. Due to their history, they managed to play off of their past matches, with both guys showing their prior knowledge of one another. They knew what to expect from each other and it made for some fine exchanges throughout. The final few minutes got really good as Strong kicked out of a belt shot and Lethal Injection, which Lethal sold like the most shocking thing since Brock ended the streak. A second Lethal Injection allowed Lethal to retain. I do wish he would have won cleanly in the end, especially considering how the third match in their 2015 trilogy would go down. Still, this was a marked improvement on their first title fight. ***¾

91. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa – NXT 10/28/15

He hasn’t been around for a while, but Chad Gable is already one of my favorite wrestlers. The guy just gets it and has picked up wrestling incredibly quickly, making the various Kurt Angle comparisons kind of accurate. His dynamic with Jason Jordan and their chemistry is just so good already. They’ve only just started teaming, but they work more smoothly than almost any other current tag team. This match gave everyone a little bit of something. Gable was a wiz on the mat while Jordan threw his opponents around. Gargano and Ciampa were no slouches either, getting their stuff in which got pops from the fans who know them well and from the people just being introduced. There were some cool little things like Gable casually asking Jordan if he should break Johnny’s arm like it was nothing. Despite never working each other, the match goes at such a breakneck pace, you’d think they wrestled countless times. The back suplex double team finisher got Gable and Jordan the win after 11:58 in the best tag team match on NXT all year. ***¾