7. Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne – NXT TakeOver Vengeance Day
Has there been a wrestling glow-up in recent memory greater than Finn Balor’s return to NXT? Going from an empty-eye smiler on the main roster, reminiscent of your brother’s high friend who’s always somehow in your kitchen to a rocknrolla psychopath with history’s biggest and meanest penis. Throw him in with one of wrestling’s best current technicians in Pete Dunne and baby you got a stew going.
Short of maybe Kyle O’Reilly, there’s no one out here stretching people better than Pete Dunne and for the most part this is a clinic of psychologically focused, ultra-convincing joint manipulation and counter-wrestling, broken up by brief flashes of stiff and sinister violence. Dunne catching Balor’s Coup de Grace into a triangle choke is a thing of beauty, likewise the glorious false finish of Dunne crocheting Balor with his own arm leading to a Bitter End.
While the first half may be a little too technical for some, the closing five minutes are classic Takeover main event, big desperate moves, albeit still held together with Dunne’s fixation on breaking bones. A connoisseur’s choice.
6. Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre – WrestleMania Backlash
Sometimes though, more is more, and this is a giant filthy cheeseburger of a match, three titans doing HORRIBLE things to each other in a match that skips the build and goes straight to armageddon. Some people say that Vince still hasn’t slept since this match, it is all his fantasies come true.
Just an endless carnival of thudding meat and a litany of things happening that shouldn’t be able to happen. Braun Strowman should not be able to hit a somersault plancha off the the ring apron, Drew McIntyre should not be able to hit a Michinoku driver to Braun Strowman, Braun shouldn’t be able to catch a claymore into a powerbomb through the announce table.
It’s so much, all the time, and all of it very dangerous-looking indeed. Silly wrestling. Silly silly stupid wrestling. Braun, you are missed.
5. Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro – WrestleMania Backlash
Spoiler alert: you’re gonna see a bit of Roman Reigns in the top 5, because, you know, he’s kinda the best thing in all of wrestling not called Adam Page. I will acknowledge Roman as the head of this particular table because his run’s been booked to pretty much perfection from SummerSlam, and a lot of that has to do with the choice of Roman’s opponents.
Every month Roman’s out here with the best indie stars of the generation and keeping up, Kevin Owens, a certain goat that we’ll get to, and of course, Cesaro, who hasn’t felt this important since 2014 and Jesus Christ it’s about time.
At WrestleMania Backlash, which zombies-aside was a glorious PPV, the big dog and the big Tony went 30 minutes and yes, this is what we’ve been asking for, we were right to want this all this time.
Some gorgeous fluid wrestling, paired with the well-executive storydriven moments we’ve come to expect from Roman Reigns matches, be it always great value Paul Heyman at ringside, the long-term Uso storyline, or simply the tribal chief’s poise and disdain for his opponent, even when that opponent is able to snatch him with an uppercut at a moment’s notice. Could have done without the distracting vampire teeth big Ces, but that’s my ONLY QUIBBLE.
4. Daniel Bryan vs. Edge vs. Roman Reigns – WrestleMania 37
Once this match starts it never stops, calling to mind some one of the greatest triple threats of all time, Seth Rollins vs John Cena vs Brock Lesnar, from the ringside goons getting involved before getting demolished, to the uneasy alliances to take care of the bigger threat, man that double submission spot devolving into duelling headbutts, such a punch-the-air moment of silly wrestling humour and desperate ingenuity. Like the NXT Tag triple threat we mentioned earlier, it’s another match hugely benefited by seeds of unpredictable doubt. Edge was the nostalgic favourite, Roman was the unstoppable champion, Bryan was the fly in the ointment, the pain in the ass, and those three stories wove themselves together seamlessly, with everyone looking like a superstar, right up until the finish which crowned Roman and the superstar who eats superstars for fucking breakfast, to be specific a pancake breakfast, stacks on stacks.
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