Best of the 2010s: Top 40 WWE Wrestling Matches
In some ways, us wrestling fans are really spoiled. In other ways, not so much, but it depends what you enjoy most about pro wrestling. If you're in it for the stories and characters, that element isn't as strong in the modern day as it once was. If you're into that, you'd be best going to the WWE Network and firing up some shows from the acclaimed Attitude Era. But if you're into the jaw-dropping athletic ability and physical drama that can be provided in pro wrestling matches, I've got good news for you, buddy- we've got it in spades. The level of athleticism is higher than ever, with wrestlers going beyond what seems physically possible in order to get the fans on their feet, chanting those three magic words- "This Is Awesome!"
There was no chance in hell (hi, Vince) that I'd be able to do a top 10 matches for the 2010s. There's far too many great ones. So I upped the number a bit, and we're doing a Top 40 list! Yay! Like the music charts, but with wrestling matches! Except, we're not only dealing with what's hot now, we're spanning the whole decade, from 2010 right up to today.
Couple of disclaimers- I'm limiting this strictly to WWE matches. I do watch New Japan, but nowhere near enough to be an authority on the topic, and there's a ton of great matches that I wouldn't do justice. If I was to include NJPW, of the matches I've seen- the Okada/Omega trilogy would be there, as well as Jericho vs. Omega from Wrestle Kingdom, and Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi from this year's BOSJ.
I've seen everything AEW has to offer, but for the sake of fairness, I'm not including them either. If I was to include them, Cody vs. Dustin from Double Or Nothing, and Young Bucks vs. Lucha Bros from All Out.
The other main disclaimer- even though they received critical acclaim and exceeded Meltzer's 5 star scale, the Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano matches do not appear in my list. Rating wrestling matches is a subjective thing, and while Big Dave (not Batista) loved it, to me those matches jumped the shark. Way too much no-selling and carefully choreographed spots, didn't feel like I watching a fight in any sense. I feel like 2016 Will Ospreay would have told those guys to tone it down a little. That's not to say those matches weren't entertaining... it's like, I enjoy chocolate, but the Cole/Gargano series was like getting drowned in Willy Wonka's chocolate river.
With that out of the way, it's time for List-amania to run wild! Brother.
40. WWE Universal Championship- Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins- Summerslam 2019
I spent about half this decade waiting for a proper one-on-one Rollins vs. Lesnar match. They were paired together at Battleground 2015, but an Undertaker appearance ended it before it really got going. Then they had a match at Wrestlemania this year- it lasted about 5 minutes and felt more like an angle than a true main event match. So while it might not make everyone's top lists, I was salivating over the prospect of this and they delivered. Seth came in injured, but used his cat-like agility to avoid a trip to Suplex City. Eventually, the Beast was able to throw Rollins around and cause pain, but the Architect gutted it out. Extremely underrated.
39. WWE Intercontinental Championship- The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler- No Mercy 2016
The Miz? In one of the best matches this decade? Yep. Miz was at his slimy heel best in a title vs. career match. Ziggler played the underdog in one of the best performances of his career, finally prevailing in a heart-stopping battle. And the Spirit Squad were involved!
38. WWE United States Championship- John Cena vs. Cesaro- Raw 6th July 2015
Cena reinvented himself in 2015 with the US Championship Open Challenge. It allowed Cena, as a tenured main eventer, to work with any midcard talent that wanted to step up. Cesaro has been a workhorse for WWE since his arrival in 2012, and it was clear that he has the respect of Cena, going toe-to-toe with the champ in a Raw classic. Inhuman displays of strength from both men!
37. Raw Women's Championship- Ronda Rousey vs. Sasha Banks- Royal Rumble 2019
The former UFC champion Ronda Rousey turned heads and brought a lot of attention to WWE's women's division in 2018. She proved to be a quick study, having probably the best debut match anyone's ever had at Wrestlemania, teaming with Kurt Angle to face Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. She quickly won the title and defended it constantly, with one of her better battles occuring at the 2019 Royal Rumble. The Boss, Sasha Banks, had felt overlooked with the arrival of Rousey, and they had a physical, competitive match, where Ronda prevailed by the skin of her teeth. 10 months into her wrestling career and she held her own with a talent the calibre of Banks. Respect.
36. World Heavyweight Championship- Randy Orton vs. Christian- Summerslam 2011
Randy Orton is an excellent, excellent professional wrestler. He's so talented, and just about everything he does in the ring seems effortless. Because of the level of natural talent he has, though, sometimes Orton seems content to just do his shit and leave, not really kicking into a higher gear. That changed for the master of the RKO in 2011. Christian was motivated to prove he belonged at a main event level after his best friend, Edge, was forced to retire. He found great chemistry with Orton, and over the summer they had a series of fantastic, dynamic battles. This one stood out that touch more due to the No Holds Barred stipulation, and the finish- a RKO outta nowhere on a diving Christian- onto steel stairs. Ouch!
35. John Cena vs. The Rock- Wrestlemania 28
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the highest paid actor in Hollywood. He's a massive star outside of the pro wrestling bubble. There was a time there where- assumedly at the advice of his managers and agents- The Rock distanced himself a bit from his WWE past. But then he came back. And he had the biggest star in the WWE in his sights. With an entire year of build, Rock vs. Cena happened at Wrestlemania in Miami. It was a huge box offiice attraction, the atmosphere was electric, it was an incredible spectacle. After 20+ minutes, and a thunderous Rock Bottom, the People's Champ proved that he still has IT.
34. World Heavyweight Championship- Sheamus vs. Big Show- Hell In A Cell 2012
In 2012, it seemed like Big Show's best days were far behind him. Someone forgot to tell him that on one October night, though. The giant worked his ass off against the Celtic Warrior, and they had a good old fashioned HOSS BATTLE, with power moves and devastating strikes, a variety of false finishes, and an energetic pace throughout the duration. Definitely a hidden gem, but absolute quality nonetheless.
33. WWE Championship- Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston- Wrestlemania 35
One of the biggest stories of 2019 was Kofi-mania. Kingston wasn't meant to be in the main event spot. He was afforded a last minute opportunity a month prior when Mustafa Ali suffered an injury and couldn't participate in the Elimination Chamber. So Kofi stepped in- and the crowd rallied behind him like never before. Bryan ramped up his obnoxious heel tendencies, and Kofi rode the wave of momentum to a WWE Championship match at Mania... and it was lightning in a bottle. After 11 years in WWE, Kofi finally won the big one- and stole the show at Wrestlemania in the process.
32. Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy- TLC 2019
A late entry in the decade, but awesome all the same. It was the second match on the card- as Chris Jericho will tell you, usually a death spot on the card- and it was a match between two midcarders given a little basic build... and they proceeded to beat the crap out of each other with every strike imaginable. Black got legitimately busted open, but that only added to the intensity. Aleister Black was fairly established already as a former NXT Champion, and while Murphy had had some amazing matches as part of the Cruiserweight division on 205 Live, this felt like the Aussie's true coming-out party on the main roster.
31. NXT Tag Team Championship- Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era- NXT 11th July 2018
Moustache Mountain are comprised of Trent Seven and Tyler Bate. Their relationship is a unique one, as Seven helped train the young Bate, who was the first ever NXT UK Champion. Their unique dynamic was used perfectly as an emotional rollercoaster, where the vicious O'Reilly and Fish ripped Seven's knee apart so brutally that Bate couldn't bear to watch his mentor go through the potentially career-ending agony, and threw in the towel to save him. One of the best tag matches I've ever seen- and it was on a random episode on NXT. Exhibit A for watching the weekly shows, not just PPVs and Takeovers.
30. Kota Ibushi vs. TJ Perkins- Cruiserweight Classic
The Cruiserweight Classic tournament was the re-introduction of a cruiserweight division to WWE. The company signed several cruiserweight talents to help launch the division, but they also brought in visiting talent from around the world, including NJPW star Kota Ibushi. Ibushi's match with Cedric Alexander was raved about- and it was great- but I preferred this semi-final bout. As naturally heelish as TJP can be, he showed great babyface fire and heart here, and Ibushi, for his part, put it all on the line with some high risk moves and attempted to kick the soul out of Perkins' body. A finishing sequence which had Full Sail going banana was the cherry on this sundae.
29. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena- Extreme Rules 2012
The Brock Lesnar that returned to WWE on the Raw After Wrestlemania in 2012 was an entirely different beast to the young powerhouse that left the company in 2004. This was exemplified in his return match, a violent spectacle unlike anything WWE had seen for years. Brock decimated the franchise, John Cena, in a one-sided bloody beatdown. Fuck your PG Era, Brock was back and badder than ever.
28. Gauntlet Match- Raw 19th February 2018
This was over an hour of epic wrestling action on Monday Night Raw, and really launched Seth Rollins into the next level as far as being a babyface star. The stamina and athleticism that Rollins displayed was off the charts, and the crowd responded accordingly. One of the biggest highlights on Raw in recent years. Defeating John Cena and Roman Reigns back-to-back was a huge sign that Seth had arrived as a main eventer.
27. NXT Tag Team Championship- DIY vs. Revival- NXT Takeover Toronto
Classic tag team wrestling at its finest. Gargano and Ciampa had been chasing Dash and Dawson for months, and while they say familarity breeds contempt, it also breeds fantastic wrestling matches, as both teams had counters for counters, and were able to up the intensity to a fever pitch. DIY finally getting their moment in the sun, winning the tag titles was a moment of elation for the team shared by everyone watching.
26. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair- Survivor Series 2018
The chemistry these two displayed was off the charts. Charlotte was a late replacement after Becky Lynch got her face broken by Nia Jax, but the Nature Boy's daughter proved that she is one of the best by taking on Ronda head on in a highly physical battle. Both ladies gave as good as they got, and the only blemish on this was the DQ finish when frustration boiled over for Charlotte, who was unable to best the Rowdy One even after hitting her best moves. If Ronda comes back, this is a match that I would LOVE to see run back.
25. WWE Universal Championship- Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg- Wrestlemania 33
This is my favourite short match ever. It proves that you don't necessarily need 20 minutes to have an epic main event match- this was two monsters hitting their best shots on each other in an absolute thrill ride. I might be a little biased since I was there in person, and I'm a huge Brock fan, but to me, this was the match that Brock and Goldberg should have had at Wrestlemania 20. Play to your strengths! This has held up on many, many repeat viewings.
24. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family- Elimination Chamber 2014
The Shield had many awe-inspiring six man tag encounters throughout their run as a trio- I was actually debating whether to put their debut match, or one of the matches they had with Evolution in this list, but ultimately this one got the nod. The Wyatt Family were established as a destructive force in their own right, so when the factions collided, it felt like a massive deal. The Wyatts had power and size on their side, while Rollins brought speed and a daredevil nature, Ambrose had his chaotic balls-to-the-wall style, and Reigns was a heavy hitter as well. Altogether, a definite recipe for success.
23. Smackdown Women's Championship- Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka- Wrestlemania 34
Asuka was booked as the most dominant force ever in the women's division, amassing an undefeated streak that eclipsed what Goldberg had in WCW. She came into the Mania showdown with that streak intact to face the most decorated champion in WWE, Charlotte Flair. Despite playing hot potato with the Raw Women's Championship, Charlotte was booked as a very powerful force as well. When the forces collided and the dust settled, Asuka's streak would be broken. This attracted some fan backlash, but at least Charlotte and Asuka can say they stole the show at Wrestlemania.
22. Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan- Survivor Series 2018
Lesnar seems to shine the most when he gets to work against a smaller opponent that he can throw around with ease. It also helps if that smaller opponent is able to score credible offence against the Beast Incarnate. Brock and Bryan hit all the high notes of a David vs. Goliath battle, and although people feared for Bryan's health going against Brock's physical style, the Goat Faced Killer came out of it fine, although it made for incredible drama in the moment. The only slight knock on this, and the reason it doesn't make the Top 20... it was structured as if Bryan was the plucky underdog babyface, but he had turned heel the week before by kicking AJ Styles in the nuts and taking his WWE Championship. So were we meant to feel sympathy for Bryan or be happy he was getting his comeuppence?
21. Smackdown Women's Championship- Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair- Evolution 2018
Evolution was the first all-women's PPV (and to date, the only). Longtime rivals Lynch and Flair were set for a Last Women Standing match, and they delivered a war that wasn't just "good for a women's match", it was great as a stand-alone main event worthy match. As physical and hard-hitting as possible, Becky and Charlotte took a lot of risks and held nothing back. It was tremendous.
20. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro- 2/3 Falls- NXT 21st August 2013
You know the reputation that NXT has for bringing indie stars to WWE, and really incorporating that technical, fast-paced style into what they do? Cesaro and Sami Zayn were the first two to really break that barrier. It's because of the series of matches they had that NXT has the reputation it has today, and the 2/3 Falls match was perhaps the best example of that. The NXT Arrival match is better known because it aired on the WWE Network, but pre-Network, this was one of the best matches of 2013, and still holds up today.
19. NXT Championship- Sami Zayn vs. Neville- NXT Takeover R-Evolution
The previous entry was a match (and rivalry) that Zayn lost, beginning an almost two year character arc for the Underdog from the Underground. It was a very simple, yet effective premise- Sami couldn't win the big one. Challenging the dominant champion, the centerpiece of NXT, Adrian Neville, this was the culmination of that story. Neville was a face, but showing heel tendencies in disrespecting and downplaying Zayn's abilities. Zayn would get the last laugh though- with a loyal Full Sail crowd behind him, Zayn nailed the Helluva Kick and became the NXT Champion! The NXT fans lived vicariously through Sami in that moment as he overcame his demons and became the top guy on the black and yellow brand.
18. WWE Championship- Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins- Royal Rumble 2015
This was the first time I really saw something special in Seth Rollins. Lesnar and Cena were the established stars, but Rollins looked like he belonged in there. Brock was at his killing machine best, throwing around Cena, and Rollins, and J&J Security. Rollins would sacrifice his body with a huge elbow drop, driving Lesnar through the announce table, and later busted out the Phoenix Splash for the first time in his WWE career. Brock eventually retained, but Seth Rollins had arrived. For years, Vengeance 2002's Rock vs. Angle vs. Taker was my favourite triple threat match- this replaced it.
17. WWE Universal Championship- Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles- Money In The Bank 2019
I am a huge AJ Styles fan. But I had felt like Styles hadn't been at his best for quite a while. He wasn't having bad matches at all, but they just weren't quite as... phenomenal as earlier in his WWE career. I understand he's getting older and he had a long and storied career before he officially became a WWE Superstar, but the spark was missing a little. And then Styles faced Rollins, and the fire was lit under his ass. Two of the best in the world put all their cards on the table and went for it. This also added some prestige to the Universal Championship for me as well- as much as I love Brock, ultra competitive title matches aren't always his thing.
16. Raw Women's Championship- Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks- Hell In A Cell 2019
The first ever women's HIAC was a massive let-down. Charlotte vs. Sasha, and it... sucked. Minimal use of the cage, low level bumps, and neither woman could break a table to save their life. Thankfully, Sasha and Becky got their shit together and had an impactful and innovative Cell match, using chairs and kendo sticks to build various weapons of ass destruction embedded into the cage walls. There was a heightened level of aggression which suited the heat that the Becky/Sasha feud had built, and it was highly entertaining start to finish. Honestly, probably should have main evented the PPV over Rollins vs. The Fiend, but that's another story for another day...
15. Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles- Survivor Series 2017
Here's a scary thought- a couple of weeks before Survivor Series, the scheduled champion vs. champion match was Brock Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal. Thankfully, someone realised what a ridiculous and shit idea having Mahal in that position was (about six months too late, but I digress), and AJ defeated Jinder in London to win his second WWE Championship. Brock vs. AJ was a dream match for me, and it delivered. At this point, Brock didn't sell for anyone not named Goldberg. He ran through Samoa Joe with relative ease. He made Braun Strowman his bitch. So, for the much smaller Styles to survive the initial onslaught of the Beast and find openings to attack- it was edge of your seat action. AJ even came close to victory with the Phenomenal Forearm! Brock eventually picked him out of the air and dropped him with an emphatic F5 for the victory, but it was the most vulnerable that Lesnar had looked in a long time.
14. WWE UK Championship- Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne- NXT Takeover Chicago
Tyler Bate was the inaugural UK Champion at 19 years old, besting Pete Dunne in the finals. Dunne would get his rematch 4 months later on a NXT Takeover. Takeovers are always extremely high quality shows, so the Brits would have to bring their A game. And just to add a little more gravitas to the situation, the legendary Jim Ross was brought in to do guest commentary just for this match! Bruh. Bate and Dunne were more than up to the task, hitting all their best moves, and some more stuff that we had never seen before. Ultimately the Bruiserweight won, to start a record-breaking title reign, but both men can say that they stole the show at a Takeover. It actually may have been the MOTY for 2017, between two young men who were relative unknowns to the WWE Universe at the time.
13. WWE Championship- Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena- Summerslam 2013
Cena hand-picked Bryan to be his opponent at Summerslam. Why that was allowed, I'm not entirely sure, but things got personal in the build quickly when Bryan called Cena "a parody of a wrestler". So, it's the main event of Summerslam. Cena has a bursa sac on his elbow the size of a tennis ball, but he didn't let it affect his performance one bit. He used his power to wear down Bryan, and showed at points that he could trade wrestling holds, but it would be the debut of Bryan's running knee finisher that would hand the YES! man his first WWE Championship. He pinned Cena clean at a time when Cena barely lost at all, but NEVER clean. A classic in the annuls of Summerslam history.
12. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura- NXT Takeover Dallas
This was Sami's final NXT match, and Shinsuke's NXT/WWE debut. The match had zero build, really, just a quick video of Nakamura saying he would see Zayn in Dallas- but what happened next was wrestling magic. You could tell from Shin's entrance alone that he was special, but when the bell rang... Japanese strong style was brought to WWE. Nakamura was vicious in his striking attack, and Zayn appeared overwhelmed initially before calling on his trademark heart and fighting fire with fire, unleashing some stiff strikes of his own. In his first match, Nakamura made a huge statement- and it still stands today as the best match of his WWE career.
11. WWE UK Championship- Pete Dunne vs. WALTER- NXT Takeover New York
After beating Tyler Bate to win the WWE UK Championship, Dunne would hold that title until Mania weekend 2019. He had turned back every challenger with his vicious and cerebral style. Enter WALTER. His name is in ALL CAPS because you gotta put a little respek on it! He's a 300 pound Austrian who hits so hard, he might as well be shooting. He is known for his trademark chops that blast the soul out of his opponent's body. Dunne didn't make it easy by any stretch, but he would drop the title to the big man, in the best match across Mania weekend. Yep, this was better than everything on the Wrestlemania 35 card.
10. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H- Wrestlemania 30
This opened the show, and it was the best match on it. Triple H was the special guest referee in Bryan's Summerslam title win over Cena... and post-match he dropped Bryan with a Pedigree, allowing Randy Orton to cash in MITB and win the WWE Championship mere minutes after the leader of the YES! Movement achieved his dream. Triple H would explain the double-cross as "doing what's best for business" and referred to Bryan as a "B+ player". After Bryan "Occupied Raw", an enraged Triple H would vow to finish him at Mania and prevent him from ever winning the WWE title again. Of course, Bryan won, and it was only step 1 in Bryan going to the main event of Mania on the same night and beating Batista and Orton to win the gold, but the straight up singles match with The Game was the far superior match- and probably the last truly great match Triple H has had.
9. WWE Championship- AJ Styles vs. John Cena- Royal Rumble 2017
A fascinating note about this match- the entire match occured in the ring. There were zero outside shenanigans, just two of the best in the world going toe to toe and seeing who the better man is. Cena would claim the victory on this night by chaining two AAs together, tying Ric Flair with 17 world championships. Sometimes the Rumble undercard is just filler- this was anything but. A true classic.
8. NXT Women's Championship- Sasha Banks vs. Bayley- NXT Takeover Brooklyn
This was THE match that really got the Women's Revolution going, in my opinion. It was an extremely well crafted story- much like the Zayn/Neville feud, it was about Bayley's inability to let go of the hugs and the happiness and actually win big matches and championships. Although in this case, Bayley's adversary was a true heel, in all her glory as the Legit Boss, playing the uber-bitch role to perfection. Everyone was clamouring to see Bayley achieve her dream, and once it happened- following a crazy top rope reverse rana and a Bayley to Belly- the Barclays Center absolutely exploded. A classic wrestling match, regardless of gender, but it was the strides made in gender equality in WWE, as well as the great character work of Bayley and Banks, that made this pro wrestling perfection.
7. Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk- Summerslam 2013
Yeah, Summerslam 2013 was an awesome show to say the least. Two of the best matches of the decade, happening back-to-back on the same show? You betcha. It was a battle of Paul Heyman Guys, but Heyman actually turned on Punk the month prior, costing him the MITB briefcase by smashing him in the head with a ladder. When a furious Punk went looking for revenge, the Beast Incarnate was waiting. In a no disqualification match, the Straight Edge Superstar threw himself at Brock with reckless abandon, with a passion that really conveyed a desire to kick ass, size difference be damned. Lesnar had spent the last 18 months being this unstoppable force, and seeing a fired up Punk take it to him was incredible.
6. NXT North American Championship Ladder Match- NXT Takeover NOLA
At this stage, you would think just about everything that could be done with a ladder has been done. The TLC match debuted 20 YEARS AGO this year. Yet, with an eclectic mix of superstars, and a brand new championship on the line, six of NXT's best raised the bar to heights I never thought possible. It was the Takeover debut of Ricochet, who stole the match with his death-defying high-flying, Adam Cole would be the one to survive the carnage and become the first ever NXT North American Championship, and EC3, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain, and Velveteen Dream all got moments to shine. An absolute incredible ladder match, that instantly gave NXT's secondary title a ton of prestige.
5. John Cena vs. AJ Styles- Summerslam 2016
AJ Styles shot up the ranks in WWE in record time. For all of about two weeks, he was known as the "redneck rookie", but it was soon nixed, as it seemed crazy to refer to Styles as any kind of rookie, even in the context of being new to WWE. He was just way too good. Getting a marquee match against Mr. WWE himself, John Cena, showed that AJ had an extremely bright future in Vince's world. Both Styles and Cena connected with their biggest and best moves, and after AJ hit the Styles Clash and Phenomenal Forearm in succession, Cena took his second clean Summerslam loss of the decade. With that, Styles was a made man.
4. NXT Championship- Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas- NXT Takeover Philly
Gargano and Almas did everything they were physically capable of doing, and in doing so secured 2018 MOTY in January. Almas was a cocky heel, backed by his manager Zelina Vega. Vega had proved to be an invaluable asset for Almas- she used mind games to mess with Johnny Wrestling. Following the dissolution of DIY, Gargano's headspace was not good. At Takeover Brooklyn the previous year, Vega threw a DIY shirt at Johnny in the middle of the match, allowing Almas to pick up the victory and get a NXT Championship shot, which he later won over Drew McIntyre. This was Gargano's shot at redemption, but after 32 minutes, Almas got the victory. This match got 5 stars on the Meltzer scale, and while I don't always agree with his ratings, I think he was spot on in this case.
3. Unsanctioned Match- Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
The story of Gargano and Ciampa is the greatest in NXT history, and the best storytelling that WWE has done, period, in many years. They came in as unsigned indy guys, just to make up the numbers in the Dusty Classic tag tournament, but they impressed the right people and were soon signed to NXT contracts. Dubbing themselves #DIY, they were highlights of the tag division for several years, churning out classic tag matches seemingly monthly. And then, Ciampa turned on Gargano, and became the biggest bastard heel around. He attacked Johnny Wrestling after his heartbreaking loss to Almas, then cost him the re-match, which saw Johnny get fired from NXT per the match stipulation. So Gargano got a shot at revenge in an unsanctioned match, since he wasn't officially employed anymore. Gargano and Ciampa fought with a believable intensity, it was easy to get suckered in and believe these guys hated each other. The ending had a little poetic justic, as Gargano got the submission win using Ciampa's knee brace as a weapon in the crossface. With the win, Johnny got reinstated to NXT, and while the feud with Ciampa continued with more stellar matches, in my opinion, the first one holds up as the best of the lot.
2. Shawn Michaels vs Undertaker- Wrestlemania 26
Yep. Told you we were looking at the whole decade. The retirement of the arguable GOAT, Shawn Michaels, happened in early 2010. That Saudi Arabia match never happened, I tell you! I believe that HBK vs. Taker at Wrestlemania 25 is the greatest match ever, not just for the physical action, but for the characters and history involved. They were the first two wrestlers I ever saw, I've literally grown up with them, so everything that they do means so much more. In the build-up, Michaels was desperate and obsessed with facing the Undertaker and breaking his vaunted Streak after coming so damn close the previous year. Sequels rarely beat the original, and for me this was just a smidge behind WM25. But a smidge behind the greatest match ever is nothing to take lightly. HBK had a smart strategy of working over the legs, bringing Taker down to his size, slowing him down and causing his power moves to have less effect. Both legends show incredible heart throughout, and the finish is iconic- Taker appears to have compassion for Michaels, and a beaten and weary HBK rears back and slaps the Deadman in the face! This instantly blasts away any compassionate thoughts, and Undertaker drills Shawn with a leaping Tombstone, ending the career of the Heartbreak Kid.
1. WWE Championship- John Cena vs. CM Punk- Money In The Bank 2011
This match was awarded 5 stars, and it's yet another instance where I agree with the Meltz. Some matches are highly rated because of the atmosphere and the spectacle, like Rock vs. Hogan. Others get rated high due to their incredible workrate. Cena vs. Punk at MITB 2011 was the perfect mix of both. After CM Punk delivered his Pipebomb promo, he was the hottest star in the company. But in amongst all the "shoot" comments that got the Internet buzzing, there was a plan in place that gave WWE cause for concern- Punk had vowed to win the WWE Championship and leave the company. So, the reigning champ Cena had to walk into hostile territory, Punk's hometown of Chicago. On that night at the Money In The Bank PPV, the Allstate Arena treated Punk like a god. Every offensive move, massive cheers. Everything Cena did, massive boos. Cena and Punk had the crowd every single step of the way. Cena was busting out moves he hadn't done before. Punk was attacking with an enormous sense of confidence and poise. The scene got chaotic when Cena locked Punk in the STF, and Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace ran down, looking to do a "screwjob" finish on Punk (I know it sounds sexual, just, okay?). Cena intercepted Ace and knocked him out. He returns to the ring, Punk hits the GTS and wins the WWE Championship! Punk jumps the guardrail with the title belt, blows Vince a kiss and takes off into the night. That's as good as it gets.
By far, the longest blog post I've ever done. Even longer than the career retrospective piece I did on the Undertaker when I thought he retired after Wrestlemania 33 (what a sucker I was). Here's to more great wrestlers, moments and matches throughout the 2020s!
Until next time, take care,