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The Riren 100 2010 Part 2

Posted in In My Head by Jack at 02:24, Jan 01 2011

By John Wiswell

74. Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi Vs. CIMA & Ricochet (aired November 12) ? Dragon Gate USA: Untouchable 2010
The best structured match to accentuate a new star that I?ve seen from Dragon Gate in some time. Arguably Naoki Tanisaki and Akira Tozawa have had showings in trios tags that topped this, but they went right back down the card, where this was clearly establishing Ricochet as the first American of Warriors International. He wasn?t a superman, but rather CIMA?s second, and so CIMA started out with his fun holds and blitzes, Ricochet only substituting in when Speed Muscle proved too much for the veteran. Even then Ricochet had some slick moves, but Doi cut him off and tossed him around. CIMA had to step back in for things like his Venus Palm out of nowhere, giving his younger partner just enough of an edge to stay on offense. And on offense, Ricochet was amazing. He orbited the ring, pulling out some novel throws, but largely relying on flying moves that were as crisp as anything PAC had been doing. The immaculate sprinting artists of Speed Muscle pulled him into sequences where he never did too much and could still shuffle with CIMA, eventually even saving the big guy. With all the cut-offs nobody stayed on offense too long, and all four guys being competent kept all the action riveting ? but that had another layer of impression, because Ricochet was hanging in with them. It bubbled until he got to put Dragon Gate?s premiere team away with the most amazing move of the entire match, topping three guys who are all famous for their athleticism. CIMA?s post-match jabbering about how much Ricochet had rotated was hilarious, but also warranted.

73. Chris Hero Vs. Akira Tozawa (September 5) - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles Night 2
You don?t usually see a bully like Hero?s character here met with a much smaller natural underdog who stares him down and gives no quarter. Tozawa grinning through his mouthguard after taking such a loud chop was one of the highlights of the entire tournament. He was such a pug, perhaps the best at that role in PWG aside from Davey Richards, relying on a few moves he knew he could do like Counter Shining Wizards and his Everest German Suplex, fighting back against an overwhelming powerhouse who could just as easily manipulate him on the mat. And as unyielding as Tozawa turned out to be, Hero made things work on all the fundamental levels, from palming his face on an early cover all the way to gawking in disbelief at a one-count in the final minute. Both men dug into the dynamic and fought with utter heart, almost bringing Tozawa to the level of a top guy. If only this Tozawa could be transposed to Dragon Gate.

72. Ayako Hamada Vs. Cheerleader Melissa (taped April 11) ? SHIMMER: Volume 32
Hamada?s finest SHIMMER match. No tables or chairs, just the intensity of catch-is-catch-can and a few dangerous moves both competitors struggled to avoid. Seeing her Moonsault through tables, it?s easy to forget how detail-oriented Hamada is. When she deadweighted out of the Kudo Driver she didn?t spring to her feet like most would, instead landing straight down and into the next motion in the realistic approach to wrestling motion that Joshi wrestlers often grasp better than anyone else in the world. In several of her failed pin attempts, Hamada would draped over Melissa and try to brute force her way into a fall, including their roll-up series which she fell out of and simply shoved down on her opponent. It wasn?t sloppy. It was simplicity. When it came to aesthetics, both ladies produced half a dozen impressive holds, like Melissa?s high Trailer Hitch variation. Hamada was the striking queen, but fed into Melissa?s big move counters so that it never went to lopsided, and she ate as grotesque a Curb Stomp as anybody could ask. The best all-around SHIMMER match I?ve seen since Amazing Kong tortured MsChif.

71. Giant Bernard & Karl Anderson Vs. Yuji Nagata & Wataru Inoue (September 26) ? NJPW: Circuit 2010 G1 Climax Special
Raise your hand if you thought it would be this good. Nagata made his 2010 a year of unexpectedly sincere performances, and this was among his best. He charged at the other corner, taking no crap, barking encouragement to his younger partner and never backing off of the giant gaijin. Nagata is reliably fun against Bernard because he?s so established that, despite the size difference, Bernard can struggle for power moves or (like he did in the G1) try to go technical. Here Bernard marshaled Anderson into some sensible tandem offense, but frequently had to intercede to prevent Nagata from steamrolling too much. Inoue was competent, not exceptional or particularly impressive, simply fitting into the formula and going after Anderson. It was Anderson that impressed, hustling on his feet and acting the miniature powerhouse under Bernard. Anything Bernard did, Anderson would cover, whether it meant hitting a Neckbreaker out of an opening, or neutralizing Nagata on the outside to help maintain dominance over Inoue in the ring. He was completely acclimated, mouthing off to the ref and abusing his opponents like the Mini Bernard many fans joke about. But being as good as Bernard on a smaller level is a great thing in New Japan.

70. Daniel Bryan Vs. Dolph Ziggler (October 24) ? WWE: Bragging Rights
Many wrestling journalists preferred the following night?s Raw match, but it didn?t have everything this one did. I was perplexed to hear people describe the next night?s crowd as livelier. Both nights were hot, but the PPV audience was rabidly behind Bryan from the outset. This also had the distinctly superior opening, setting up Bryan?s vault over Vickie Guerrero and into the Apron Knee Strike. It was flashy without being too dangerous and denied Ziggler any cowardice. He had to be aggressive to keep up with Bryan, bringing the best out in him. While I agree that Ziggler may bump and hit too hard for his own safety, it helps his intense matches like this one, where he seemed to take more damage than Bryan, a wrestler who excels at emphasizing weakness. Every combination they put together shone from execution, even the vintage double Crossbody Block spot that legitimately looked like it took the wind from them. They built up to the more established Ziggler losing his temper, with Bryan wisely scouting the Sleeperhold and grabbing that one opening for his LeBell Lock. In fifteen minutes the two of them turned in the best PPV opener of the year.

69. Yuji Nagata Vs. Go Shiozaki (August 10) ? NJPW: G1 Climax 20th Anniversary Night 4
Go thought he was Kenta Kobashi, trying to throw evenly with the veteran striker and tossing him into the corner for Machine Gun Chops. During those chops you could tell Nagata was thinking, after swallowing the pain, that he wasn?t going to let this bastard treat him the way Kobashi did in his GHC title match. Nagata thought this guy was like Hirooki Gotoh, which is more reasonable given how similar they are, right down to them being suckers for leg-based offense. When Nagata softened up Go?s knee, you knew eventually we was going to use that cut-off kick that always crumpled Gotoh, and sure enough it nearly dislocated the young man?s kneecap. Just like Nagata?s best matches against Gotoh, the weakness in Go?s leg opened up a lot of offense and hope for the veteran, and with someone as big as Go made it more reasonable that they would throw evenly later in the match.

68. Nick & Matt Jackson Vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe (April 10) ? PWG: Titannica
Most Briscoes/Bucks matches have lacked an essential spark. There was never enough animosity for the Briscoes? approach, they aren?t big enough to play Legion of Doom even against scrawny opponents, and the Bucks? insane flying didn?t mesh against the Briscoes the way it might have back in 2006 or 2007. This was the night when they finally clicked. The Bucks began by jumping them and showboating, and inside of a minute had the tables turned and were beaten around the building. Both sides avoided any plodding, with the Bucks gradually pulling out more effective offense to stay up with the challengers, and Mark Briscoe in particularly sparking in resistance. Mark has gotten crowds rowdy for his Red Neck Fu, but his Palmstrike has never been so deserving a nearfall. The Bucks cheating again in the end was suitable enough, uninspired but not so bad as to ruin the whole outing, especially since they?d established their character throughout without throwing the vibe of the match off until then.

67. AJ Styles Vs. Doug Williams (December 5) ? TNA: Final Resolution
One of the most rock solid matches in TNA all year. Both men were perpetually in aggressive character, not necessarily fighting out of holds but decidedly working and responding to each other. They were on an entirely different level from every other pair of wrestlers on the show, tensing their bodies for every kick and taking hard spills when it was time. If any match showed Kurt Angle?s positive influence on AJ Styles, it was this one, though this match also evaded something that marred the Styles/Angles matches of the same year. Those (which some will gripe about being absent from this list) went too deep into overkill and wore out their finishers. But in this match Williams was legitimately afraid of the Styles Clash, and Styles was desperate to avoid every varied attempt at the Chaos Theory. When Williams finally caught him with the Chaos Theory on the floor, Styles was simply done. They could have blitzed into a series of crazy kickouts, but instead Styles sold the big offense on the floor and was unable to defend himself, even against having his own move stolen. It was a humiliating loss that did the most it possibly could to establish Williams as a legitimate player.

66. John Cena, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Edge, John Morrison, R-Truth & Daniel Bryan Vs. Wade Barrett, Skip Sheffield, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Darren Young & Michael Tarver (August 15) ? Elimination Tag Match from WWE: Summerslam
Complaints about the ending distracted from how well this match was structured. This wasn?t just good. It was a great match with one team consisting of rookies, and only three of the fourteen competitors being regular main-eventers in the last decade. My biggest gripe was how they eliminated Bret Hart (you?d think he?d be smart enough to not use a chair), but it was a safe way to write him out of the match, and his punches and Elbow Drops were sharp. They started things off hot with Daniel Bryan?s return and the quick elimination of Darren Young, plugging him back in throughout the match to help build him as a star while not devaluing the key members of Nexus. Of everyone, Skip Sheffield came across as a total beast, resisting opposition like a brickwall and taking high-end offense from three opponents to go down. Barrett stayed back like a mastermind, and they reserved Gabriel for his executioner-like 450 Splash, while Team WWE disintegrated on longstanding issues with Edge, Jericho and Cena. Most of the match was the transparent result of guys doing multi-man matches on house shows, but everyone had their role and stuck to it safely. It went so well that it was actually surprising WWE didn?t use Nexus more following Summerslam, given they looked so much more reliable than expected. Altogether it was a cleaner plot than most Chikara Ciberneticos see, which is an achievement in itself for WWE booking.

65. Naomichi Marufuji Vs. Kenny Omega (July 25) - DDT: Ryogoku Peter Pan 2010
Ibushi's injury was a great disappointment, but Omega was probably the best replacement DDT could have provided. It was a match-up ROH would have given us had the history of recent years gone differently. Omega charged in, perhaps too exuberant, and the guys traded offense that almost seemed too big and too plentiful so early on, only slowing after the Apron Piledriver. Marufuji was not his mendacious NJPW self, rather trying to destroy this indy guy with rare indy offense. After a mid-match lull, Omega tried some of the most hair-raising offense of his career, including the Super Croyt's Wrath that, while impressive, I'd be happy to never see again for the safety of everyone involved. The same went for whatever Marufuji used to knock him out at the end. When it counted they reacted superbly to each other, like Omega's backflip off of a Basement Superkick, but you had to wonder if their chemistry wouldn't improve with ensuing matches.

64. Koji Kanemoto Vs. Hayato Fujita Jr. (May 30) ? NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors 17 Night 1
That Edward Cullen-looking kid can kick. New Japan imported that hot commodity match-up from the Japanese indies, and Kanemoto kindly let Fujita Jr. play equal rather than building him up. A build-up match would have been quality, but enough fans new the younger wrestler and they?d wrestled often enough to know how to present him as serious. They went blow for blow, even grabbing a Rocky moment and having both men tumble to the mat. By going even so often with the smaller, younger guy, Fujita Jr. came across as seriously tough, and when they went even in grapples, he seemed like the true successor to Kanemoto (sorry Mochizuki). Like with Kota Ibushi the previous year, Kanemoto brought his A-game in intensity and speed, and packed together a great outing in only fifteen minutes.

63. Naomichi Marufuji Vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (July 10) - Pro Wrestling NOAH: Summer Navigation Part 1
I could watch Marufuji Superkick Kanemaru for hours. Kanemaru was arguably in the best performance space of his life (his title defense against Delirious came very close to making this list). His greatest improvement is timing, knowing when to tense up and counter opponents as well as give into them. That was best displayed with his cat-like Apron Brainbuster reversal to Marufuji's Apron Shiranui - a reversal that was Marufuji-like in its deftness. His biggest weakness, not investing enough emotion when he goes all spotty, remains, but Marufuji is the king of masking and streamlining that. In that match, Marufuji was always in motion or scheming, adding that layer where Kanemaru usually doesn't have it. Marufuji lost little face after putting on such a match and the conclusion hinging on the two in such an uncertain struggle on the top rope. It still came off as a huge defense for Kanemaru with the eventual triumph of his Brainbuster (even if it took five or six tries).

62. Larry Sweeney, Eddie Kingston, Stigma, Jigsaw, Mike Quackenbush, UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked & Icarus Vs. Pinkie Sanchez, Claudio Castagnoli, AR$S, Tursas, Tim Donst, Sara Del Ray, Daizee Haze & Delirious (October 23) ? Torneo Cibernetico Match from Chikara Pro: Dark Ciberknetico
By breaking the premise they produced the best Cibernetico yet. This year the whole thing was driven by a story, of the heroes fighting the monolithic B.D.K. The drama was much higher than for the typical partner-versus-partner dynamic, and it prevented the flow-breaking lulls when familiar people encountered each other. Everything was moderated, so the evil on the outside?s interference wasn?t too obtrusive, the BDK?s antics weren?t too absurdly unchecked (Castagnoli even got himself disqualified eventually), and the guys who could go stayed in the longest and played out some fabulous pairings. When familiar wrestlers squared off it was as dramatic as ever, like the former members of Incoherence in Delirious and Hallowicked fighting it out, or Ultramantis Black trying to put his old drone down. Other wrestlers strove to create great moments or put on their best showings, particularly Icarus who hasn?t look like this in years, as a pure flyer getting manhandled through spots by Castagnoli. Quackenbush focused on Tursas as usual, showing off how unstoppable the giant is supposed to be and further setting him up for the finishing run with Kingston. Kingston was the golden boy, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Sweeney at the outset and knocking around the badguys when they got too much of an advantage. For people like me who were annoyed at having to watch Del Rey and Haze?s stilted offense bowl over larger men, seeing Kingston nonchalantly Backfist to the Future one of them while the other had him in a Sleeper Hold was a delight. The highlight was the ending, when Kingston finally knocked Tursas down, only to get a one-count. The crowd went from ecstatic to silent fear. I will say, though, as someone who likes the little things, Kingston getting his shoulder up because Tursas kept failing to cover him correctly made me just as happy.

61. Claudio Castagnoli Vs. Ricochet (September 4) - PWG: Battle of Los Angeles 2010 Night 1
The best one-sided beating since Umaga Vs. Spanky on Raw in 2008. Call it a glorified squash, but every moment of the match was worth watching. As Quicksilver put it, Castagnoli was ?using technical wrestling in an extremely violent manner,? staying in motion, wrenching and forcing Ricochet into increasing uncomfortable positions even in simple holds. When they locked up, Castagnoli absolutely engulfed him and forced him into the corner. Ricochet was left in awe of this force, sometimes trying to out-think him or use something amazing like the early escape from the Powerbomb and the late-match jump from Castagnoli?s shoulders to the turnbuckles. Because Ricochet was so nimble in all of his moments, it managed to keep a little more spirit, but the bulk was carried by effortlessly sound and strong Castagnoli carried himself. You had the guy who was incredibly light and adept at flying, and the guy who could toss him to the rafters if necessary, pulling out feat after feat, and never flinching from character. Though far from the most complex or dramatically plotted match, I would rather watch this three times in a row than most of the half-hour matches this year just once.

60. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi Vs. Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Aoki (June 26) ? Pro Wrestling NOAH: Rusher Kimura Memorial Show
You watch some Japanese tag matches and wonder why the partners are there. In this case Taguchi trying to attack Aoki?s leg wasn?t bad, but utterly paled in comparison to the animosity between Go and Tanahashi. From their opening exchanges and how Tanahashi reeled with the chops, to their mid-match flurry of minimalist counters, to their brutal final exchanges, in one outing they established what could have been the feud for the year. Given that this was a glorified commercial for the Go/Tanahashi singles match at the PPV, that was a good idea. To Tanahashi?s credit he built a couple of moments in for Aoki to attack his arm that actually made him seem like a star, but otherwise the match was all about two guys who could carry their respective companies battling for brand glory. Their partners seemed more like official seconds than most Heavyweight/Junior tags, not in the traditional fashion of getting kicked around by the heavier guys, but playing supportive roles under their own heavies. Even the ending was only made possible by Taguchi sneaking up behind Aoki and setting up the Frog Splash.

59. Davey Richards Vs. Roderick Strong (April 24) ? ROH: Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies 2
There hasn?t been a better instant when the bell rang in an ROH draw in years than when Richards threw a knockout kick at Strong?s face, leaned in preparing to drop for a cover only to hear the bell go off behind him. If this match is on the lower side of the Strong/Richards matches, it?s only because these two men bring out such intensity from each other. It?s the best of the Pearce Era time limit draws, for where Strong and Black always have fun throwing each other around in the clinch, Strong and Richards went at it from the beginning, stretching each other in trying holds. In retrospect a the TKO-count tease and count-out tease should feel like padding in a time limit draw, but the men went at it so furiously that when they were incapacitated it was earned and the crowd reflected it.

58. YAMATO, Shingo Takagi & KAGETORA Vs. Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi & PAC (taped May 28) ? Dragon Gate Infinity 177
Like the Haagen-Dasz Five of trios tags ? just the elements you want, none of the garbage, and a small container. Randall Nichols of http://mojo-wire-productions.blogspot.com/ joked to me that Doi selling for KAGETORA like this was like Cena selling for Miz ? the deserving newcomer getting over at the expense of the eternal face. Shingo did similar work for PAC, particularly in their late exchange where his power counters were re-countered and he wound up wiped out on the floor. PAC and KAGETORA both deserved this sort of treatment, moving briskly and showing just as much polish as the four more established men. That was no small feat, given Speed Muscle?s crispness and YAMATO?s charisma. Seeding in Yoshino chasing the champ and knocking him off to set up a future title match sealed it off as one of the best trios tags of the year.

57. Bryan Danielson Vs. Kaval (February 7) ? Florida Championship Wrestling TV
They?re the sort of wrestlers who deserve half an hour, but their most impressive match might be this ten-minute one. They approached each other with such seriousness, Danielson studying Kaval for openings. Kaval responded to the attacks with tangible pain, his facial expressions having come along drastically in the last few years. Another change from recent years was how light on striking they went, trading the old big exchanges for fewer blows that were highly brutal, punctuating their holds. Danielson exploring how much he could torque and abuse Kaval?s arms translated his indy technician character sharply into a WWE developmental match, keeping the holds novel while working them just fast enough that he could carry this against any major player above. Throughout it remained so tight, so on focus, even when the two were reeling in pain, that it was as good as any half-hour story told in the ring this year. I joked afterwards that it would be nice if these two were the future of WWE. At the end of the year, both were on WWE TV. Maybe we?ll get lucky and this aggressive technical style will flourish.

56. Naomichi Marufuji Vs. Prince Devitt (June 19) ? NJPW: Dominion
You knew this was Marufuji?s farewell. Who else was going to challenge him? KUSHIDA? Taguchi for a second time? AKIRA, when Kanemoto failed? Ibushi, who was injured and lost the BOSJ? If Devitt went down for the third time, even New Japan?s loving audience would have to discount him. He had to win, and luckily for New Japan, the crowd wanted him to. They started things off playing up the obvious title change, setting Devitt as a dynamo who now could out-maneuver Marufuji on the mat and in Irish Whip counters. After his big dive, he had it in the bag. And then Marufuji kicked him off the apron. Sneakiness had sort of been there in their second match, with Marufuji continually having to plan several steps ahead. This time he looked for traditional lulls, like Devitt?s showboating after his death defying dive. It was a challenger-like approach to a match he was destined to lose, and rather than hurting things, felt like it belonged. It belonged even more with leg-based offense that echoed the torture Kanemoto had put Marufuji through in that defense. While this slowed the match dangerously close to the Marufuji/Kondo zone from 2008, Marufuji kept returning to the leg in clever ways to keep the match alive until they?d built up Devitt?s explosive responses.

55. Kurt Angle Vs. D?Angelo Dinero (July 11) - TNA: Victory Road
A spartan match to follow up the fireworks of Guns/Beer Money, but Angle and the Pope were rock solid. It went methodically because Pope kept catching Angle, preparing basic offense and counters like his Hip Tosses or the mid-match Suplexes. Also a little uncharacteristic for Angle, but he treated Pope as the superior striker. Angle tends to act like a total superman and will usually out-punch people. In this match they barely struck at all, but when Pope (who has a legitimate boxing background) punched, Angle was stunned. What might have been dull pacing in other matches helped the story of a difficult opponent for the veteran, and because it was a big Angle match, built up to some big payoffs like the Top Turnbuckle Throw and Angle Slam false finish. If TNA were more competently run, this would have elevated Pope. As it was, they still managed to wrestle his best singles match to date, control the crowd after the tag title match had shown them everything, and not burn the crowd out for the main event (while still being better than that main event). What they did in their spot on the show is noteworthy on its own.

54. Daniel Bryan Vs. The Miz Vs. John Morrison (October 3) ? Triple Threat Submissions Count Anywhere Match from WWE: Hell in a Cell
Everybody was so ready for it to be terrible based on the convoluted stipulation that even after it was the best match on the show, they complained about it. Yes, it had a bad one-week build and the stipulation was weird. But that?s where proper criticism ends. The bell rang and all three men delivered. They started in the ring and built to roaming, with interesting spots set up including Miz?s Dragon Clutch in the handrail and the sequence with the equipment case next to the entrance. Most of the sequences were exceptionally paced and set up, like when Bryan and Miz struggled over Leg Scissors and Heel Hooks, kicking at each other and accidentally flailing into position for Morrison?s Starship Pain. Morrison impressed for his submission attempts, relying on the athletically impressive like the Tarantula and a Single-Leg Haas of Pain that looked slick and that he synched in at high angles. Naturally when they moved outside submission attempts slowed down as they were out of their environment and trying more to injure each other. I can nod at the complaint of Morrison going for the giant dive so soon after the Skullcrushing Finale on the floor, but the wrestlers were so engaged, and he looked unsteady enough (for him) that it hardly hurt the match. Instead it was arguably the best wild-style match WWE had all year.

53. Chris Jericho Vs. Edge (March 28) ? WWE: Wrestlemania 26
The build made us expect a very simple match with a big Spear and the returning good guy getting his revenge. Instead these guys got a lot of time and used the Spear as a gateway to a bigger story. Jericho avoided Edge?s big offense and found an opening with Edge?s leg. He picked it apart so well that the Single Leg Boston Crab actually seemed like a legitimate submission hold, where generally it?s just been a supportive hold for years no matter who turned it into a finisher. They put enough action into the match with big counters like the Codebreaker response to a later Spear attempt, while making Jericho a legitimately vicious aggressor.

52. Rey Mysterio Vs. Jack Swagger (July 18) ? WWE: Money in the Bank
Mysterio is the optimal opponent for many types of wrestlers, and Swagger hits most of the vectors: big, strong, athletic and with an amateur background. Mysterio had previously shown how to get the most out of such opponents against Angle, Lesnar and Benjamin. They furthered the Swagger/Angle comparisons by sampling even more of Angle?s offense, like the charge up the turnbuckles into a throw. To Swagger?s credit he pulled off nearly everything well, and when something went wrong like the Pop-Up Powerslam, it still looked brutal. He abused Mysterio both with power game and technique, going after the injured leg early but realizing he?d need a varied game when the attack didn?t succeed at the outset. Naturally Mysterio bumped like a madman, though Swagger also took Mysterio?s comebacks smoothly. All the legwork built up brilliantly in just ten minutes for Mysterio to borrow his old friend?s loose boot trick and survive the title defense. While Mysterio is out of Eddie Guerrero?s shadow, it was a great reference and the best possible response to the ankle injury storyline. It was only a shame, then, that they squashed his reign moments later with Kane?s run-in.

51. Christopher Daniels Vs. Tyler Black (September 10) ? ROH: Fade to Black
I bow to every complaint about this. A half hour time limit in the main event of an ROH show is weird, and when it leaves the total DVD with a runtime of two hours it?s weirder, and when the story of the match was Black investing more and more into wanting to defeat this guy, ending with him walking out instead of giving ?five more minutes? is cheap. But I try to give a fair viewing to the wrestlers within their match. They did not decide that there would be a half-hour or a non-finish, and the match they fought within that timeframe was excellent. Daniels had the fire of a twenty-year-old, buzzing through Black with slick offense and complicated pin attempts, almost scaring him to the back. When Black tried to bail and berated the audience, Daniels snuck behind the curtain and blindsided him mid-escape. And as Daniels poured more and more into the match, Black got rightly angry. He?d already wrestled this guy to one draw, and now he?d leave without being one-upped? So he went from some of his best petty antics, like the John Cena references, to burning through all his high-caliber offense and dropping Daniels to the floor multiple times to keep this guy down. At one point he would settle for a countout, but by the end he was hunting for a pin. ?Five more minutes? would have made a much more suitable ending, even if Strong arrived to ruin the overtime. In terms of draws, I grasp the complaints. But the match wrestled stands. Both guys were so ?on? for those thirty minutes that you shouldn?t dismiss it.

50. Chris Hero Vs. El Generico (March 20) ? ROH: Epic Encounter 3
Physically, Hero should win this match one hundred times out of a hundred. He?s taller, heavier, stronger, and maybe as fast as Generico. With confidence in his knockout power and after scouting all of Generico?s key offense (clued to by catching him in a Moonsault, interrupting the Yakuza Kick and counting the Brainbuster), he came into the match expecting it to be easy. If Hero weren?t so charismatic, and Generico weren?t such a superb whipping boy, it would have been boring. He bullied Generico from the start, then struggled to keep him down, gradually losing his cool. After the near-countout, Hero stomped on his back and yelled for him to ?Stay down! Stay down!? They never flinched from their characters and built in the spottier-but-still-Steamboat-like comebacks that have helped Generico remain so relevant, including an amazing series of escapes and counters on the outside that led to Generico getting tossed into the barricade. The traditional story wasn?t as exciting as McGuinness/Black I from 2008, but built up to a comparable series of exciting kickouts. It was the sort of story that Generico should have won, but given what they were booked to do, it was a great match.

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