Day 102: Top 5 Favorite Matches of 2020
Despite the fact that I’ve been back on the wagon for one full year, I still don’t know shit about wrestling. I just know that I watch a lot of it and if I use cool lingo, I can pretend write about it. And it’s been a weird year to be a wrestling fan. We went from the Royal Rumble being in front of 42,000 fans, to allegedly 60,000+ at Super Showdown, to 0 at Wrestlemania. Now I can’t picture a live wrestling match not in front of digital fans or freezing Jacksonvillians. In the meantime, this year gave us a plethora of batshit insane matches. It should be noted that I obviously didn’t watch every match this year. My scope is extremely limited, as I didn’t expand to NXT or AEW until October. So this is a list of matches that I saw myself. That New Japan match that Dave Meltzer gave 12 stars is not going to be on the list. Also, you’re definitely not going to agree with this list. I love me some gimmicks and bollocks. I was actually considering putting the Money in the Bank match on the list. That’s how bad this list is. With that in mind, here’s the Top 5 matches that put the biggest smile on my face this year:
5) Ladder Match For The IC Title – Jeff Hardy vs Sami Zayn vs AJ Styles [Clash of Champions]
When this match started, I was not a believer in AJ Styles or Sami Zayn. By the time AJ threw a mini ladder at Sami’s head like a javelin, I was completely and utterly sold. All 3 of these guys had a lot to prove. With their careers in twilight, they had to show that they can still pretend to be young. They did that and then some. By the numbers, this was a solid ladder match. I was convinced that in 2020, nobody could do something in a ladder match that I hadn’t seen before. I won’t spoil it any further, but the lengths that Sami Zayn went to get an advantage made my jaw drop. This match kind of got lost in the shuffle of a milquetoast card to a PPV that nobody asked for. I feel like years from now, people will dust it off and realize how much goddamn fun it was.
4) Hell in a Cell For The Smackdown Women’s Championship – Sasha Banks vs Bayley [Hell in a Cell]
I had gotten stoned for the first time in over a year. While I was trying to deal with that, Bayley betrayed her best friend with a brutal barrage of chair shots. It blew my freakin mind. Usually the heel that turns on the heel becomes a babyface, but this wasn’t the case. Sasha did nothing to become babyface. This shit was wholly personal. And my drug-induced mind concocted an epic grudge match at Hell in a Cell. Problem was, the PPV was almost 2 months away, so obviously they weren’t going to do that.
Welp. I was right for once.
Of all the storylines written in 2020, this one drew the most heat. You could feel the tension through your television screen. And they drew it out for the full 2 months so that they could have the perfect blowoff at Hell in a Cell. Their spots were on point. It was made painfully clear how much they wanted to hurt each other. It was total poetry. I couldn’t have written it better myself.
3) Wargames Match – Undisputed Era vs Danny Burch, Oney Lorcan, Pat McAfee & Pete Dunne [NXT Takeover: WarGames]
You can read my full review in the WarGames Roundup. There’s not much more I can say. Lock 7 of the best up and coming wrestlers in a double steel cage with a former NFL Punter and you somehow get chef kissing perfection. Don’t ask me how it works. I’m not a professional. They are. Let them do the work. And then enjoy.
2) AEW Tag Titles – The Young Bucks vs FTR [AEW Full Gear]
I wish I knew more about this match. I wish I knew more about the guys involved and the lengths they went through to pull this match off. In a time where tag team wrestling is becoming stale, these guys got together and crafted the perfect match. It was a labor of love, as apparently this feud has been going on for 4 years. They wanted to make the most epic blowoff match possible and they did so with ease. No gimmicks, no creative weaponry, this was bonafide wrestling heaven. They fought tooth and nail through injuries and dusted off the playbook to pull off some tag team moves that I hadn’t seen done in ages. But don’t listen to me. Just fucking watch it right now. I’ll wait.
No, seriously. Watch it.
1) Firefly Funhouse Match – John Cena vs John Cena (?) [Wrestlemania XXVI]
I highly doubt you expected this to be number one. You probably also didn’t consider this an actual match. But deep in the throes of being a frontline worker in the new and frightening pandemic, whatever the fuck this was put a smile on my face that lasted for a week. Faced with booking a Wrestlemania without the fans, it was clear that the WWE would need to think outside of the box. But I don’t think anybody would expect that they would do this. It was 20 minutes of insanity, horror, surrealist comedy, cap-tipping fan service and a full-on character analysis of the most popular Wrestler of his generation. It dug deeper and deeper into the psyche of John Cena, poking at his darkest fears. Of being a total flop in his debut. Of him becoming a beefcake monster. Of being laughed at for his lame rap gimmick. Of becoming a heel, despite the fact that the fans actively rooted against him. Of him always doing the right thing, being Captain America, but still having his legacy shat on. Steal a WWE Network password or make a fake email for a trial or just fucking subscribe. Do whatever you can to watch this segment. Because I guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like it before. If anything, do it to see Devil Puppet Vince saying, “This is some good shit”.
In execution, the “match” wasn’t perfect. But what makes it so special is that the WWE had the testicular fortitude to actually do it in the first place. Right before the main event of the biggest spectacle of the year with the fate of their future viewership at stake, they had the balls to air a 20 minute surrealist fever dream. Just let the weight of that settle for a second. And in my humble opinion, the gamble paid off tenfold. Given the circumstances and backstory, it’s my favorite segment that the WWE has ever produced. You most likely disagree with me.
Okay. Cool. List done. Now can we please move the fuck on to 2021?