A Modest Response: Part 2 of 2

This is the second part of A Modest Response‘s Top 25 Matches of the Year so Far, featuring about half of the Pulse Wrestling staff. For Part 1 click here.

16. Money in the Bank 4/1 – This is from Scott Keith’s Wrestlemania 23 Rant, just like the last match in Part 1.

Money In the Bank: Jeff Hardy v. King Booker v. Finlay v. CM Punk v. Mr. Kennedy v. Matt Hardy v. Randy Orton v. Edge

The brawl begins immediately, of course, and Finlay hits everyone with a dive to the floor. First climb attempt from Edge is stopped by Matt. Then Finlay and Orton attack each other on the ladder. Jeff and Kennedy pair off next, while Booker finds the Little Bastard’s stepladder under the ring and stops to cut a promo about it. Edge tries to suplex Punk onto a ladder while Booker hits everyone with spinebusters and chooses to Spinarooni instead of doing anything. The Hardyz reward that with a ladder to the face. Well, he had that coming. They try to disfigure Edge with ladders, and sadly I miss a couple of minutes while the pizza arrives. Back with Edge spearing everyone, but Punk is the smart one and moves, and Edge meets the post. Punk follows with the old Terry Funk spot, spinning the ladder on his shoulders and taking people out until Edge spears him to break it up. And works well, because Punk takes out two guys on the way down with the ladder. Edge, our Alpha Dog for the match, brings the biggest ladder into the ring and makes a go of it, but his hetero life partner Randy Orton pushes him off. Jeff takes him out and with Edge on the ladder outside…he climbs up the giant ladder and splashes him THROUGH the ladder, breaking it (and Edge) in half. Holy CRAP. I think I just pooped.

Edge gets stretchered out, which is always a good sign for this sort of match, and Orton uses the moment to RKO the competition. Punk prevents him from getting to the top and sets up his own ladder, which I guess has sentimental value or something, and we get the climbing race. This leads to Orton bringing him down with an RKO, and that leaves Booker standing, and climbing. Orton tries the same thing with him, but takes a Bookend for his troubles. Booker climbs, but Matt uses some well-timed emotional blackmail by threatening Sharmell. Hey, that’s a pretty good strategy. Twist of Fate takes Booker out and Matt climbs, but Finlay pushes him over and Matt takes a pretty sick flat back bump off the ladder. Finlay follows with an Emerald Frozen on the ladder and it’s his turn to climb, but the Little Bastard volunteers instead. That’s just too silly for Mr. Kennedy to deal with, so we get some midget abuse. Finlay uses the sacrifice of his faithful midget to lay Kennedy out with the ladder and climbs again, but now Punk returns and dropkicks him off it again. Up the ladder, but Kennedy follows him up, and then when that fails, spears him in the jaw with a ladder and climbs up himself and wins it at 19:10. Lacking the big spot to finish, but a typically good trainwreck match to start off the night. And I pity whoever has to follow. ****

17. The New Breed vs. The Originals 4/3/07 – This is Rob Blatt’s best review of the best match on ECW on Sci Fi thus far, from the 4/3 edition of Blatt vs. ECW.

The New Breed over the ECW Originals
Sabu and Striker are in the ring before we go BONZO GONZO. I guess they were waiting for the commercial break to be over before they really got into some shit. Who cares about actual tag rules? It’s extreme! The Originals use weapons to get an edge on the New Breed… naturally. Sandman splashes Striker over the top rope to the floor, RVD splashes Thorn in a similar but more aesthetically pleasing manner, followed by a Sabu triple jump onto Cor Von.

There’s a table in the ring and Burke has control of Dreamer. Striker hits Dreamer with the trash can top and the New Breed quadruple team Dreamer and keep the Originals at bay. Big “New Breed Sucks” chant. Hey, the crowd cares, that’s a good thing, right?

Dreamer gets a DDT and hangman’s neck breaker at the same time on Burke and Striker and that gives the Originals time to take control again. RVD and Sabu hit a rolling thunder / springboard leg drop on Striker. Lots of quick ins and outs here, which lead to a nasty tree of woe on Burke complete with a drop kicking of a chair into Burke’s face. Dreamer hits a spine buster on Striker on a trash can. A chair is set up in the corner while Sandman and Cor Von are in the ring, which leads to the POUNCE. PERIOD.

This is the f*cking match that they should have had Sunday night. It’s clear to me that they were told to keep it safe at Mania not to upstage the Money in the Bank match.

Damn, this is like an actual old school ECW match. I suppose it helps that the Originals are involved. I don’t think Burke and Thorn have the capacity to call a match like this. Thorn takes a chair to the face and gets setup on a table. Rob Van Dam and Sabu both hit leg drops off of the top rope through the table. Striker gets back body dropped out of the ring and Sabu takes a double running knee from Burke face first through the table! Damn!

A three count ends the match and I’m officially impressed with the match. A shame they couldn’t show off their talent like this at Wrestlemania.

18. Jay Briscoe and Erick StevensMark Briscoe vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico 4/14/07 – This and the next need to appear on DVD soon, but here’s the live review from me.

Jay Briscoe and Erick Stevens vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico

. Jay is extremely angry at Steen for attacking Mark Briscoe’s injured head last night and continually attacks him even when Steen isn’t the legal man. Jay is absolutely great and gets over huge with the crowd by stiffing the hell out of Steen and Generico. Stevens continues to earn a name after the previous night, managing to do the Briscoe tackle with Jay and getting his Choo Choo corner charge to a big pop. Steen shows why he is so impressive, mixing his power, head drops, and speed, while Generico keeps the crowd involved in every motion he makes.

This was going along normally until the heat sequence began on Jay Briscoe. When it did, the No Remorse Corps came out and powerbombed Erick Stevens into the guard rail. Erick, showing no Resilience, had to be helped to the back, leaving Jay alone to endure a beating.

Jay continually fought back, drawing hope spots, but was outnumbered. Who would help Jay? Could Stevens return? Would the Claudio, disrespected by Steen the night before, come to aid his enemy Jay? Mark wasn’t in the building, but surely someone would aid Jay.

Well, Jay finally manned up and got a double count with his opponents when Mark Briscoe emerged from the crowd to the pop of the night, ignoring ROH officials and owner Cary Silkin and taking his place in Jay’s corner. The hot tag was a huge pop and everyone was on their feet. Mark hit his usual high speed, high impact offense and Steen and Generico were in trouble, but every time his head was touched he went down in a heap.

This continued until Generico managed a Yakuza kick in the corner on Mark, which was way too stiff, and Mark, manning up, totally no sold it and went at his attacker again. He knocked his opponents to the floor and Jay followed, but Steen managed to spear Jay into the guardrail, putting him down and giving Steen and Generico a chance to hit a Package Piledriver and Brainbuster respectively to get the pin on Mark Briscoe.

Kevin Steen and El Generico defeat Jay and Mark Briscoe (Pin, Package Piledriver and Brainbuster, **** ¼)
This was the best booked match I’ve ever seen. The crowd was rabid for The Briscoes and everyone in the building turned on Steen. This is an angle executed to perfection. WWE wishes they could get this level of real emotion from the audience. Must see.

19. Takeshi Morishima vs. Nigel McGuinness 4/14/07 – This one isn’t out on DVD yet, but here’s my live review from Edison’s most recent show.

ROH World Title Match: Takeshi Morishima (c) vs. Nigel McGuiness

Morishima, the beast, has completely outmatched everyone in size that he’s faced in Ring of Honor thus far except for Samoa Joe. That match would be his one loss. When he faces Nigel McGuiness, he faces someone nearly as big as Joe, but the night before Nigel learned brute force isn’t enough to topple the giant; Morishima was able to withstand several of Nigel’s patented lariats. Tonight Nigel went with a better rounded offense that included Nigel flying to the floor with a cross body on Morishima. The usual array of lariats was in effect from Nigel as well, keeping down Morishima with brutality. Takeshi’s speed wasn’t bad itself, and they had quite the brutal back and forth match.

Eventually Morishima hit the backdrop driver for two. After that Nigel managed a jawbreaker lariat that seemed to be the finish, but wasn’t. This was followed by another backdrop driver, but Nigel totally no sold that and want for another jawbreaker lariat only to be caught with a third backdrop driver for the finish. Even knowing what was going on, I bought every false finish.

Takeshi Morishima retains the ROH World Title against Nigel McGuinness (Pin, Backdrop driver, **** ½)
Worth the price of admission alone and better than Morishima vs. Samoa Joe. That about covers it, yes?

20. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels 4/23/07 Raw – Here’s Allen Noah’s thoughts on the match that Matthew Michaels nominated as match of the year.

Some times in life things are not as they appear to be. For example, if you were to go an entire day without eating, a McDonald’s cheeseburger may taste as good as a filet mignon from a critically acclaimed restaurant. Not having the taste of food in your mouth for quite a while tends to skew your perception of how things taste. While McDonald’s cheeseburgers are in fact delicious, they don’t hold a candle to filet mignon.

What do cheeseburgers and filet mignon have to do with wrestling? More than you may think. The wrestling that we have seen on our television screens each week for the past few months, whether WWE or TNA, is essentially as bad as it has been for quite some time. The matches are quick and the quality is often poor. When a match like the 60-minute affair that John Cena and Shawn Michaels had on Raw comes along, which under normal circumstances would be a McDonald’s cheeseburger, it suddenly turns into filet mignon. Was it a good match? Sure. But compared to other 60-minute matches of the past, it does not hold a candle. Just because a match went 60-minutes does not mean that it is a 5-star classic. It takes a great deal of stamina and athleticism to go for that long and both participants should be respected for their efforts, but that does not make it a classic.

21. The Briscoes vs. Murder City Machine Guns 4/28/07 – Here we have the prolific Eric Szulcewski with his Ring of Honor Short Form, one of his rare forays into ROH that seem to reinvigorate his work.

Mark Briscoe and Jay Briscoe over Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, Tag Title Match (Pinfall, Mark pins Shelley, double-team top-rope leg drop):

And here we go! We have an ongoing thread in the Super-Secret Writers’ Forum regarding Match of the Year Candidates, a thread that’s been polluted by Fingers nominating every single WWE PPV main event (Fingers, watch the matches more than once before you start spouting this stuff, please). I put this one in there, for good reason. It was magnificent. Everything that Aaron and Andy are saying about the Briscoes is true (although slightly overestimated; they’re great, but not transcendent yet). They really are that good, especially when they’re up against quality opponents. The match flow was perfect, the spot moves made sense. It wasn’t as good as the tag match last August (Strong-Aries/Daniels-Sydal), but that’s damning with faint praise. It was captivating. All four guys busted their butts. Even the comedy spots worked perfectly. And I think I finally learned how to tell the Briscoes apart (Mark is the one with the tattoo on his back, I think). Full credit to the Briscoes for coming out after the show and signing autographs. They know how much the ROH audience appreciates them. Please, let them stick around in ROH, because I don’t want to see them ruined. They’re something truly special. Just their ability to double-team is a master class in action, and when you add their other evident abilities on top of it…like I said, they’re something special. My recorded comment after the pinfall was this: “Start coming up with as many superlatives as you can about this match.”

The highlight of the match was what I call the Tribute To Chris Benoit. Sabin had one of the Briscoes in a Sharpshooter, while Shelley did a very good Crippler Crossface on the other. The crowd really went nuts over that. In fact, Shelley and Sabin consistently garnered more heat than the Briscoes. Like I say later on in Angle Developments, the ROH crowd is changing in make-up. There are a great many more atypical people going to ROH shows now, and they know Sabin and Shelley from TNA. The crowd response was a bit of a surprise until I realized that fact.

There was something that did distract me from the match, and I brought this up to Flea when we talked on Sunday. As the match went on, I started getting more and more upset at Vince Russo, Dutch Mantell, and the “creative forces” behind TNA. By the end of the match, I was almost frothing at the mouth with a desire to go down to Orlando and bump them off. Why? Because I was focusing on Chris Sabin and his body language. Whenever Sabin walks out on Impact or on PPV, he gives off that same vibe as someone going into work on Monday. TNA is a job to him, somewhere where he makes his money, and he’s learned to treat it that way. Here, he was having fun, and he was communicating that sense of fun to the audience. It was a delight to watch him in this match. I got upset at TNA for what they’ve done to that sense of fun, something he used to have. The guy’s 25 years old and he’s already jaded thanks to those rat bastards. Competing in ROH with a friend like Shelley, against quality opponents like the Briscoes, gets that passion flowing again. Sabin’s not the only one that happens to, either. It’s the atmosphere that Gabe creates inside of ROH. A wrestler feels that, and thinks, “Okay, I’m going to job, but I’m going to have fun doing it.” The better performers can communicate that sense of fun, joy, and love for wrestling to an audience that they know appreciates such gestures and such passion, and responds to them in an appropriate way. On Saturday night, Chris Sabin was a wrestler in love with wrestling again. Thank you, ROH, for giving that back to him, and damn you, TNA, for the shit you’ve put him through with Kevin Nash and the denigration of the X Division.

22. The Undertaker vs. Batista 4/29/07 – There are a couple of singles matches that might be more deserving, but none of the matches on this tier will likely win Match of the Year and I wanted to honor these two’s effort in pulling such a difficult match type off with their limitations. Here’s it is from Keith’s Backlash Rant

Smackdown World title, Last Man Standing: The Undertaker v. Batista
Taker charges in with a boot and an elbow to start, but Batista catches him with an elbow and slugs away. Taker gets the flying clothesline and goes old school, but Batista catches him with a sloppy powerslam for the first count attempt. Taker is up, so Batista chases him to the floor and they brawl out there. Taker smartly throws a kick at the taped leg of Batista, and when that works quite well he stays on it. Batista gets to the apron, where Taker kicks him in the head and then guillotines him, and Batista is up at 8. Batista sends him into the stairs and they head back in, but Batista tries to go up and gets caught as a result. Taker brings him down with a superplex, and there’s something you don’t see from him every match. Both guys are up at 7, but Batista less so. They exchange punches and Batista catches him with a clothesline, but Taker is up at 8. Another clothesline, and Taker is up at 4. Slam and legdrop from Batista is a 6. Taker tosses him to break up the momentum and gets the announce table ready, but Batista manages to whip him into the railing. That gets 6. Batista wants the powerslam, but Taker reverses to a backbreaker and now Batista is forced to take the 7 count. Stairs to the head for some blood and a 5. UT pounds on the cut and finally gets back to that table, putting him through it with a legdrop. That only gets 9, however. Taker is none too happy with this, and they head back into the ring again. Corner clotheslines from Taker and Snake Eyes, but Batista has a rush and spears him instead of selling it. That gets a 7, and Batista hits him with a spinebuster right away. Taker gets up, so he gives him another one, then picks him up for a third. That’s good for a 9. Demon bomb, but Taker powers him into the corner to break and chokeslams him. Both guys are down, and it’s 9. Taker slugs away in the corner, but with a touch of irony gets powerbombed, mimicking all the times he’s done that to opponents. Taker is up at 9 after the crowd freaks out a little bit, so Batista grabs a chair and simply hits him with it. Well, that works. No count, as he follows with another try at the powerbomb, but it backfires as Taker backdrops out of it. Tombstone follows, but while it’s good for a pin in a normal match, it doesn’t keep Batista down for 10. He exits stage right to buy some time and they brawl up the ramp and slug it out on the entranceway. Batista spears him through the crash pad and the stage falls over, and both guys are counted down and out as a result.
(Undertaker draw Batista, double countout, 20:24, ****) Silly finish, to be sure, but the match was super-intense and instead of the boring standing around that plagues most matches of this type, it had the guys hitting power moves and then recovering quickly for another one.

23. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Edge vs. Randy Orton 4/29/07 – This is the last Scott Keith Rant and WWE Match to make the list and it’s for Backlash.

RAW World title: John Cena v. Edge v. Randy Orton v. Shawn Michaels

Four-way trashtalk to start and the faces clean house, but Shawn immediately turns on Cena and throws chops in the corner. Cena comes back with a fisherman’s suplex for two, but Shawn gets a neckbreaker and Team RKO storms back in and dumps them. Edge and Orton slug it out, and Orton dropkicks him to the floor, where Cena adds a cheapshot and sends him back in. Edge gets tripped up by Shawn, but Cena comes over for the brawl and Edge baseball slides everyone. Shawn slams him on the floor and heads up for a moonsault onto the rest of the gang. Back in, it’s Edge and Shawn, who clothesline each other. Cena also comes back in, via the top, with a legdrop onto both of them in a neat spot. That gets two. Orton catches Cena with a lariat and stomps on everyone, then gets rid of Edge and Shawn and goes after Cena. Backbreaker gets two. Garvin Stomp and kneedrop get two. Cena comes back and slugs away in the corner, but charges and hits the post and he’s out again. This brings Shawn back in, and he throws chops at Orton and gets the flying forearm, only to walk into a leg lariat from Edge that gets two. Orton rolls Shawn up for two. Edge and Orton decide to stop and collaborate, whipping Shawn into the corner and stomping away on him. Cena crawls up and they launch him into the table to get rid of him again for a while. Rated RKO take turns on Shawn in the corner and get a double backdrop, and it’s a double boston crab. Not sure how that would work if Shawn decided to tap. Cena breaks it up and starts throwing shoulderblocks, and that gets rid of Shawn. Backdrop suplex for Edge and the five knuckle shuffle follows, but now Shawn and Orton team up and pull Cena out of the ring and into the post. Shawn sends Orton into the post too, just because you can’t trust him. He tries to piledrive Orton through the table, but Edge saves with a chair, and then turns on his own partner as well. Treachery RULES. Back in, Edge charges with the chair, but gets caught in the STFU as a result. It’d be really great if Cena could actually learn that move someday. Edge makes the ropes, so Cena catches the returning Orton instead. Shawn saves and cradles Cena for two, then gets the forearm and makes the comeback with atomic drops on everyone. Edge and Orton get the heave-ho, and Shawn goes up, but has to stop and take out Edge. Flying elbow for Edge instead, and another one for Orton seems likely to follow, but Cena follows him up and tries an FU off the top. Edge and Orton team up to bring them both down and it’s a four-way car wreck. Edge tries the FU on Edge, but Shawn breaks it up, so Orton hits Shawn with the RKO. Edge DDTs Cena for two. Edge tries to spear Cena, but runs into Orton, and Cena FU’s Edge, but Shawn superkicks Cena…who falls onto Orton to finish. Whew. Now THAT was a finish.
(John Cena d. Edge, Randy Orton & Shawn Michaels, Cena pin Orton, 19:16, ****1/4) I would have preferred to see a four-corners format so we could have done away with the silly “One guy gets tossed to the floor and lays there for four minutes” thing, but all the different little stories told and the reversal sequences made for a tremendously entertaining match that I almost wanted to stop recapping and watch a lot of times, which is a good sign.

24. The Briscoes vs. Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Sydal 5/12/07 – Here’s a great match, reviewed by me here for ROH’s first PPV taping, “Respect is Earned.”

Match 5: The Briscoes defeat Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Sydal (**** ½, Pin, Springboard Doomsday Device)

This started out a bit slow, but once it got going, it was pure gold. This is a guaranteed Pay Per View match and the spots and timing are phenomenal. Get the PPV for this match. It’s better than anything the WWE have done all year and probably the Briscoes 4th or so best match. Tag wrestling lives.

25. Morishima and Danielson vs. Nigel and KENTA 5/12/07 – Here’s a second amazing match from ROH’s first PPV taping.

Match 9: Bryan Danielson and Takeshi Morishima defeat KENTA and Nigel McGuinness (Submission, Cattle Mutilation, ****)

Great 90s AJPW style tag match with some more spots thrown in. If you’re a WWE fan only, you’ve never seen anything like this that I can recall.

The match was built on tag formula stuff, with Nigel taking a viscious assault such as standing under Morishima while ‘Shima hit a Yokozuna style butt splash. The assault continued until Nigel was able to hit a Tower of London on the behemoth and KENTA kicked the crap out of everyone.

KENTA and Danielson’s stages of the match were fantastic as they showed why they are two of the best in the world and they built superbly off of their previous matches with counters and reversals to standard spots.

Nigel gets back in and is extra stiff, as he kills both Dragon and ‘Shima with lariats, including a top rope lariat into the crowd on ‘Shima. Meanwhile, Danielson goes for a flying headbutt on KENTA, but KENTA’s playing possum so Danielson eats boots. KENTA hits his running knee and the Go To Sleep, but Morishima, back in, breaks it up with a urinage suplex.

KENTA gets beat down for a few minutes until Nigel comes in. Nigel hits the Jawbreaker Lariat on Morishima and KENTA does a pop up falcon arrow on Danielson, but a Jawbreaker Lariat try on Danielson is countered and Danielson seriously injures Nigel’s arm in the process. That was wildly cool.

KENTA and Dragon are up and striking. KENTA wins, but Dragon meets him up top for a backdrop from the top and Cattle Mutilation. A counter sequence follows. Danielson goes for the MMA elbows, but is lifted to Go to Sleep, but Danielson blocks and hits a Dragon Suplex. Another Cattle Mutilation as Morishima attacks Nigel’s hurt arm. KENTA is forced to tap.

What a great sequence. Slightly sloppy in the middle, but the great sequences more than made up for it in this primer for ROH Main Eventers.

After the match Morishima takes out Danielson with a backdrop driver and lariats Nigel when Nigel hands him his title. Show over, countdown over.

And there you have it, the Top 25 Matches of the Year so far. Thanks to the staff for being generous enough to let me post their work. Hope you enjoyed and mail me some alternate picks and your favorites of those matches listed above.

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