Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kevin's Top 100 Matches of 2015: #90-86

90. No Disqualification Match: Adam Page vs. Jay Briscoe – ROH TV 10/21/15

At the start of the year, if you would have told me that Adam Page would appear on my Top 100 Matches list, I don’t think I would have believed you. However, this was very well built up, with Page targeting Jay Briscoe for a long time. This was a ballsy move since Jay had only been pinned once in about 1,000 days. These are the kind of No Disqualification matches I like. It wasn’t just a stipulation added to be there, instead they made sure to take advantage of it from the start. There was no adhering to the Code of Honor and rightfully so. While Cero Miedo is the most violent match on the list, I’d put this in the top five. It is just two dudes trying to hurt each other, as it should be. I saw a DDT on a chair, a double stomp through a table, a neckbreaker with a chair around Page’s neck and even a damn Jay Driller off the apron and through a table. Somehow though, Page kicked out of that, providing me with one of the more surreal near falls I saw all year. A second Jay Driller kept Page down at 16:21, but I’d say it was a star making performance for him. ***¾

89. Hell in a Cell: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell 10/25/15

I’ve been very vocal about the fact that I wanted nothing to do with this program. After their matches in 2002, I never really cared about it. Sure, when Brock Lesnar broke the streak I was shocked, but the build to the match didn’t interest me. When they decided to revisit it over a year and a half later, I cringed. To my surprise though, their match at SummerSlam was pretty good, but had a stupid ending. That of course led us to this. The final encounter, in the same structure were they had their very best match thirteen years earlier. In an era where blading is a big no-no, both men did so in this match pretty much because they have the stroke to do so. I’m a big fan of their original Hell in a Cell and this honestly nearly matched it. It was a physical war between two of the best in history. In a creative move, Brock ripped the mat and exposed wood. He ate a Tombstone on it but kicked out before putting down his rival with an F5 on the wood at 18:08. It was a fitting end to their feud, which is the only one I can remember Undertaker having where he never cleanly beat his opponent. ***¾

88. Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW G1 Climax 8/1/15

The IWGP Heavyweight Champion vs. the IWGP Intercontinental Champion. This wasn’t Shinsuke Nakamura as IC Champion either. When he beats an Okada or a Tanahashi, it’s not much of a surprise because he’s also one of the top guys. Hirooki Goto is a bit different and isn’t held in quite as high esteem, though he is a very talented performer. There wasn’t anything personal about this match or anything like that. It felt like exactly the kind of match it should have felt like. The two guys with the top belts in the company, vying to see who is better. I got the feeling that more was at stake than two G1 points. They went back and forth, having each other well scouted and they seemed to have counters for everything. My favorite thing about this was that Goto won cleanly. Just 16:45 of pure action and the top guy lost clean. No bullshit. Unfortunately, after winning the Tag Titles, making the finals of the New Japan Cup, beating Nakamura twice, winning the IC Title and beating Okada cleanly, the rest of Goto’s year kind of went nowhere. ***¾

87. WWE Tag Team Championship 2 Out of 3 Falls: New Day (c) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro – WWE Payback 5/17/15

My favorite WWE tag team match of the year. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro formed as a team on December 1st, 2014 and found instant chemistry that some teams of a few years could only dream of. The New Day struggled to get over as faces, but once they turned heel and got to let their personalities shine, they took off. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a heel turn save someone as much as it did for New Day. They dethroned Kidd and Cesaro in a solid match at Extreme Rules the month before this one. They upped the ante for the rematch, throwing in the Two out of Three falls stipulation. The first fall saw Cesaro and Kidd run absolutely wild. They did some things that wowed me, which you wouldn’t expect considering how often I’ve seen them work. They won the first fall before Kidd started to play the face in peril. They did a good job in seeming like the hot tag would come, only for Cesaro to not be there because he was taken out by Big E. That led to New Day evening the score. The third fall played back into Kidd and Cesaro’s strengths, but Xavier Woods snuck in and got three on a roll up to win at 11:55 despite not being involved in the match. The finish was the worst part about this as it just made the referee look like a fool. However, they did well in having a really fun match that played into the “New Day could only win with the numbers advantage” angle. ***¾

86. WWE and United States Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. John Cena (c) – WWE SummerSlam 8/23/15

Outside of a pretty dreadful feud with Rusev, John Cena spent 2015 having some of the best matches of his career and making the United States Championship important. With that title at its peak importance, he put it up against Seth Rollins and his WWE Championship in a match with huge implications. Seth busted out some near attire, adding to the big fight feel. He had the crowd firmly in his corner and proceeded to deliver. The night before, Seth was in the front row at NXT TakeOver and was brought to tears by the performances of Bayley and Sasha Banks. It seems like that motivated him to try and steal the show even more than usual because he was absolutely on fire here. The angle was similar to the one ROH ran earlier in the year, and even a spot where Seth did two suicide dives and then a third dive also reminded me of the Lethal/Briscoe match. While Seth was on his “A” game, I don’t really think Cena was. Parts of this were great, while others weren’t. The thing that kept this from reaching four star territory was the ending. Jon Stewart showed up to hit Cena with a chair, allowing Seth to hit the Pedigree and become a double champion at 19:26. There was potential for something special here, but the finish killed it. ***¾