Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Kevin's Top 100 Matches of 2015: #75-71

75. Falls Count Anywhere: Cage vs. The Mack – Ultima Lucha 7/29/15

While I talked about Alberto El Patron and Johnny Mundo opening night two of Ultima Lucha, this was the official opener of the festivities. Cage had been booked like a monster in Lucha Underground, which is fitting given his look. The Mack is just a bunch of fun. Fun is actually the word I would use to describe this. Clocking in at just 7:45, it is one of the shortest bouts on the list. It was just such a blast from bell to bell. If you asked me about my ideal Falls Count Anywhere match, I’d want one that never went in the ring, which is what happened here. In the short timeframe, they crammed a good amount of stuff in. There was a big table spot and an especially cool moment where Cage got hit with a cooler. Out spilled beers, so Mack chugged some and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Commentary sold the near fall like they were shocked because of how well the Stunner worked in the past. The finish to this was the most spectacular moment as Cage curb stomped Mack through a cinder block in an absolutely brutal moment. I didn’t expect too much from this and I came out blown away. ****

74. WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose – WWE Money in the Bank 6/14/15

A title reign built around shenanigans, false finishes and interference led us to this mach. Seth Rollins would face his rival, Dean Ambrose, in a ladder match. These two were no strangers to each other, having met in a Lumberjack match, Hell in a Cell match and of course, a plain old singles match two weeks earlier. On that night, Ambrose seemed to win the WWE Title but we got the dusty finish. Dean stole the title, setting the stage for this match, where Seth demanded he do things alone. No Authority, no J&J Security and no Kane. When the bell rang, we got to see a different side of WWE Champion Seth Rollins. For most of the 35:40 that this match took, Seth was an animal. He was a vicious heel in the same vein as early 2000’s Triple H. He attacks Dean’s leg and just comes off as a brutal and cunning heel, unlike the cowardly heel he had portrayed during his run. This wasn’t your typical high spot ladder match, instead taking me back to the Rock/Triple H ladder match from SummerSlam 1998. It seemed like two guys using the ladder as a weapon because they hate each other. Seth hit some sick powerbombs on the guardrail and ladder outside near the finish. Both Dean and him pulled down the belt in the end, but Seth landed with control and retained. With a better, more definitive ending and more selling from Ambrose, this would have ranked higher, but it was one of their better encounters. ****

73. Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – ROH Global Wars 5/16/15

Similar to another match you’ll see on this list later, Roderick Strong played the role of “Mr. ROH” against one of the top stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling. The Toronto crowd was red hot, knowing they were seeing something special and especially popping at the sight of Shinsuke Nakamura. In every appearance with ROH, Nakamura is over like a god. They adhered to the Code of Honor, following it with a start that you’d expect from two guys like this. They jockey for position and feel each other out, trying to gain the upper hand. Nakamura came with the bigger offense first, hitting some knee strikes, before Roddy turned things around and focused on Shinsuke’s back. On this tour alone, Strong had split matches with Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA, though coming into it, you kind of knew Nakamura would win. Still, Strong goes into an offensive flurry that includes a sick kick and backbreaker, bringing upon a near fall that I bit on even on my second viewing. He also avoids a Boma Ye by striking with a knee of his own in a pretty great moment. Shinsuke proves to be too much, winning after a Boma Ye after 17:02 of great back and forth action. ****

72. No Holds Barred: Timothy Thatcher vs. Biff Busick – Evolve 48 8/16/15

I haven’t been able to see the rivalry between Timothy Thatcher and Biff Busick but judging by the commentary in this, it was pretty heated. Thatcher inadvertently broke Biff’s thumb and when Biff returned, he injured Thatcher’s left ear, causing him to nearly go deaf on that side. That led them to this main event bout. Now, when you see the No Holds Barred stipulation, you may expect a hardcore match with weapons. Not here. The rule was in place so two badass dudes could go to war. Biff relentlessly attacked Timothy’s ear, seemingly trying to make him permanently deaf. He repeatedly went after it and even busted the Evolve Champion open at one point. A bleeding ear is quite the sight to be honest. Thatcher didn’t play his normal game, instead realizing that he needed to do what Biff was doing in order to survive. He started to target Biff’s thumb and the protective tape over it. In the end, he exposed the thumb and seemingly broke it once again. He instantly applied the Fujiwara armbar and Biff tapped out at 13:36. I know he’s only the list once, but I do love me some Biff and he’s my third favorite guy not in WWE, NJPW, TNA or ROH. ****

71. Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW New Japan Cup 3/15/15

Interestingly enough, despite taking place back in March, I only saw this match for the first time in December. It happened during a time when I had to cancel my New Japan World subscription. Going back and watching it led me to see that it was pretty damn good, which honestly isn’t too surprising. Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito are among my absolute favorites in all of New Japan. This was before Naito’s fantastic heel turn, so he’s still playing the white meat babyface that I’m not a fan of. For this match though, I was fine with it. It was two of the most athletic wrestlers, not just in Japan, but in the entire world going at it. They tried to one up each other at every turn though they come off as so evenly matched, nobody really gains an upper hand. It is only when Ibushi reaches into his bag of tricks and starts applying a more physical style that he takes control. His ability to hit hard is one of my favorite things about him. At the 14:14 mark, Ibushi wins with a sitout powerbomb and advancing to the finals, which he would win to earn a shot at AJ Styles and the IWGP Heavyweight Title. ****