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Can’t Knock The Hustle: The Matches That Made Me (Part 4 – The 2010’s To Now)

Can’t Knock The Hustle: The Matches That Made Me (Part 4 – The 2010’s To Now)

Before I get this going, I do want to make mention of the WWE Draft. I definitely have some opinions on the things that went down, but with WWE’s silly idea that the Draft selections won’t officially take place until October 22nd, I’ll have to wait and see what happens. Moves will still be made. Titles can, and probably will, change hands. There will be plenty of time to formulate my flows when it comes to the Draft. For now, though, I will put the finishing touches on my series, The Matches That Made Me.

I’ve looked at the 1980’s, the 1990’s, and the 2000’s. Now, it’s time to look at the rest of my years of fandom, going from 2010 and bringing us right into 2021. For those of you that are new to the series, I will be listing my FAVORITE wrestling match from each listed year. Those matches may or may not be what I feel was the BEST match in that year. They’re simply, for one reason or another, what I loved more than anything else, and what has helped to make me the professional wrestling fan that I am today.

Let’s do this.

John Cena vs CM Punk (Monday Night Raw – June 7th, 2010): Okay, okay… this one is kinda sorta cheating. However, it’s my column, and I’ll cheat if I want to… cheat if I want to… cheat if I want to. You would cheat, too, if this was written by you.

The inclusion of this match doesn’t have much to do with the match itself. It has everything to do with what happened to end the match, and everything that happened after the fact. As Cena and Punk were doing their thing, they were interrupted by the “rookies” from the just-completed season one of the NXT competition show. Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Skip Sheffield, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Darren Young, and Michael Tarver shocked the wrestling world by coming to the ring and destroying everything in sight. They beat Cena and Punk down, but they also beat down Luke Gallows, Matt Striker, Jerry Lawler, and Justin Roberts. The group tore the ringside area apart, and did the same to the ring itself, stripping it down to the wood, nuts, and bolts.

It was unlike anything I had ever seen in wrestling, especially in the world of WWE. If we’re being real, it should have created eight big-time superstars. Four days later, the first cracks started to show, as WWE had no choice but to fire Daniel Bryan after sponsors were upset over Bryan strangling Justin Roberts with Roberts’ own necktie. That crossed a line of violence in a family-friendly program. With the group’s (given the name of The Nexus) biggest name gone as soon as they were put together, it was downhill from there. Less than seven months later, the group would be disbanded, split into two mini-factions (The New Nexus and The Corre), but by then, everyone had already stopped caring.

For one night, though, they were the talk of the wrestling world. I remember watching this episode of Raw like it was yesterday. My roommate and I were in shock, with our jaws on the floor. It was such a well done angle that I can vividly remember message boards and social media sites were full of posts wondering if what we just witnessed was a shoot or not. You’re doing something right if modern-day wrestling fans, cynical to their very cores, can watch something and still question if it was supposed to happen or not.

John Cena vs CM Punk (Money In The Bank – July 17th, 2011): Now THIS was a Cena vs Punk match where I actually remember the in-ring action! This was, of course, the famous storyline where we got the “Pipe Bomb” promo and Punk’s threat of leaving the company with the WWE Title if he won it here. Everything that Punk and Cena said and did had the WWE Universe eating out of the palms of their hands.

In 2021, we know that Chicago wrestling crowds are on an entirely different level than any other city on the planet. Back in 2011, though, there was still a lot of folks who weren’t hip to that game yet. This was the show, and the match specifically, that opened the eyes of the uneducated. Punk received one of the loudest face pops you’ll ever hear in your life. The fans in Chicago loved them some CM Punk, but they might have hated John Cena with equal, if not more, passion. Cena’s music hit for his entrance, and the heel heat he got was so loud that said music was drowned out for a bit. Even before the opening bell, I was HYPED for this one.

I don’t care about the “flaws” in the match like others do. I’m not going to say this was the greatest match of all-time or anything, but all the “good” more than made up for the “bad” here. A couple botches and rough spots aren’t going to ruin your fun. This is Punk at his WWE best, Cena at his usual big-game best, and a crowd that is as raucous as any you’re going to witness. So much fun.

John Cena vs Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules – April 29th, 2012): A third consecutive John Cena match? Yes, a third consecutive John Cena match? Big whoop, wanna fight about it?

When Brock Lesnar made his shocking return to WWE on the night after WrestleMania 28, the game changed for everyone in the company. This was an entirely different Lesnar than WWE fans were used to. He seemed bigger, badder, meaner, and more menacing. Quite the statement considering he was one of the most physically imposing wrestlers to ever step foot in a ring during his first run with the company.

I watched this match while on a Skype call with the rest of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable crew, and this was when we first came up with the name YOLO Lesnar. It was during the spot where the ring steps were in the ring, and Brock charged at them and used them to jump off of, barreling into Cena, who was standing on the ring apron. In doing so, Brock got caught up on the top rope, and very narrowly missed disaster in an ugly spill to the floor below. After a moment of selling a knee injury, Brock popped back up, smiling and celebrating. You only live once, indeed.

This match was stunning to watch. It was Brock’s first match back with WWE in eight years, so we didn’t know what to expect. What we got was violent, rough around the edges, and more MMA than pro wrestling at many points. We’ve certainly gotten used to that formula by now, but it was jarring to see nine years ago. WWE was never exactly known for being the hardest-hitting action in the wrestling world, after all.

I was a big fan of Brock’s during his first run with the company, but this match allowed me to have a newfound love and appreciation for him and his work. He is must-see television for me, even now. Having him win titles today upsets a lot of fans, but it makes sense to me. He SHOULD be winning titles, because even in a predetermined sport, it’s going to take a special man with a special effort to beat Lesnar, who I’m still not sure is 100% human.

John Cena vs Daniel Bryan (SummerSlam – August 18th, 2013): Four straight John Cena matches?!? Like the great philosopher William Drayton Jr. has said once or twice… YEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH, BOYEEEEE.

In all my years of watching wrestling, I’m not sure I’ve ever been as emotionally invested in a wrestler during a storyline as I was with Daniel Bryan in this era. I don’t need to explain this to you. Many of you were right there with me. He was so good in the ring, and was such a likeable character/person, that we wanted to see him succeed against all odds in the land of giants with equally giant personalities.

Even if you were to strip away the entire “Yes Movement” aspect here, this was a fantastic match. Cena had grown into an in-ring performer that was able to switch his style up a bit depending on his opponent. He focused more on his power game, almost on the verge of bullying, when he faced people smaller than he is. Obviously, Daniel Bryan fits into that category. On the other end, this was one of the most “Bryan Danielson” Daniel Bryan matches we had seen from his WWE tenure. A lot more “independent-friendly” offense here. Bryan dished it out, and Cena sold it like crazy.

Like the previous entry on this list, I watched this match while I was sitting on a Skype call with my podcasting squad, and we all rode the roller coaster of emotions. I remember being somewhat cynical that DB would pick up the win, so I was pleasantly thrilled when it happened. As we were all talking, one of the guys asked a question, almost sounding half-joking, but it started to let the air out of our proverbial balloon.

“Why is Triple H still in the ring?”

Triple H, the Special Guest Referee for the match, was still standing in the background as Daniel Bryan was celebrating his victory. A celebration which went on and on, including pyro and Triple H doing “Yes!” chants. Then, we heard the music of the Money In The Bank briefcase holder, Randy Orton, and my immediate comment is still emblazoned in my mind.

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“FUCK!”

I saw the next few moments coming as soon as Orton came out. Next thing you know, Triple H spins Bryan around, kicks him in the gut, and plants him with a Pedigree in the middle of the ring.

“FUCK!!”

Orton enters the ring, hands the briefcase to Triple H, and the bell rings to start the match. Orton covers Bryan and wins the WWE Title, mere minutes after Bryan won it.

“FUCK!!!”

WWE had really pulled the rug out from underneath Daniel Bryan. This match is included here because it was able to take me on the aforementioned roller coaster of emotions, and isn’t that what it’s all about? Say whatever you want about how WWE really and truly felt about Daniel Bryan in 2013, but this was prime storytelling.

Randy Orton vs Batista vs Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania 30 – April 6th, 2014): Even now, seven-plus years after this match took place, there is debate about just how much of this story was planned ahead of time. You have those who SWEAR it was WWE’s plan all along to dangle the carrot in front of Daniel Bryan, let him have it for a moment, and then take it away from him, all in an effort to build fan support for him to get to the final destination of WrestleMania 30. Then, you have those who SWEAR that WWE’s plan was to treat Daniel Bryan as a bit of a secondary player, because that’s how they viewed him, but that the WWE Universe’s unwavering support for him eventually changed the mind of Vince McMahon (and anyone else in charge), getting us to the final destination of WrestleMania 30.

What side of that debate are you on?

Honestly, I lean toward the latter. Just look at the 2014 Royal Rumble. Batista, fresh off of his return to the company, won the Rumble, immediately making him a heel in the eyes of the fans because he wasn’t Daniel Bryan or Roman Reigns, who got a temporary “face turn” simply by being in the final two. Rey Mysterio, the 30th and final entrant in the match, got booed out of the fucking building. Rey… Mysterio… booed. If you have any foresight whatsoever, you know what the crowd reaction is going to be if they don’t get Daniel Bryan winning the Rumble. If that’s not your plan, that’s fine, but at the very least, put a heel in the 30th spot! Why would you do that to Rey Mysterio?!? As far as Batista goes, he was still positioned by the company as a face, but was getting booed against Alberto Del Rio, of all people. Do you know how upset fans have to be to boo you when you’re feuding with Alberto Del Rio? A month after the Rumble, Batista was officially turned heel. The most noteworthy part of his heel run? Him wearing blue ring gear at Payback, going from “Bootista” to the “Bluetista” nickname. After a largely forgettable run in the new edition of Evolution, Batista would leave the company in June 2014 after reported creative differences and issues with pay.

None of that made any sense. I think the plan was to have Batista as the triumphant returning face, and even Batista himself is on record saying that was a bad idea. When the “plans” at the Royal Rumble didn’t go the way WWE thought they would, I believe that’s when Vince and his cronies had to make some decisions about some changes. The reactions for Bryan were growing more and more fervent with each passing week, and those reactions couldn’t be ignored anymore, especially once they began to “hijack” the rest of the shows. Once the ball got rolling, it gave us this WrestleMania main event.

Bryan, of course, would win the World Heavyweight Title here, delivering one of wrestling’s all-time best “feel good” moments in doing so.

However, roller coasters gonna roller coaster. Two months after WrestleMania, Bryan would be stripped of the title because he needed to have neck surgery. Roller coaster down. He would return to the ring in January 2015, and although he wasn’t back to where he once was, he would go on to win the Intercontinental Title in a Ladder Match at WrestleMania 31. Roller coaster up. A couple weeks later, he would be forced to relinquish the title due to concussion issues that eventually forced him to retire. Roller coaster crashed.

Thankfully, he has been able to resume his in-ring career, and has done some really good things since returning. No matter what happens, WrestleMania 30 will always be special to me.

Sasha Banks vs Bayley (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn – August 22nd, 2015): It really is amazing to think about what Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair have done for women’s wrestling. I’m not saying that women’s wrestling has changed solely because of them, or even that they were the first to get the wheels spinning for change to be made, but what they have done, specifically, has been incredible.

This match had all the ingredients needed to be a classic. A face that is easy to love, along with a heel that is easy to hate, a molten hot crowd, a simple-yet-effective storyline, and chips the size of boulders sitting squarely on the shoulders of the competitors. I’ve said it in my columns before, but I don’t know of many wrestlers in all the years that I’ve been watching this great sport who are as outwardly competitive as Sasha Banks is. When she’s wrestling, you can see in her eyes just how much she wants to have the best match on the card. It doesn’t matter who she’s facing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the first match or the last… she is willing to do any thing at any time to make what she’s a part of look great. She’s been like that for as long as I can remember.

In case you haven’t figured it out with my writing through the years, I put a lot of emphasis on how important a great crowd is when it comes to great matches. Subpar matches can definitely be elevated by a raucous crowd, but at the same time, some really good matches can become forgettable due to a subdued crowd. The fans in Brooklyn on this August 2015 night were already wild before this match ever happened. Jushin Thunder Liger wrestled in the opening match of the show, and that was an incredible thing to witness. The super over Vaudevillains, with the SUPER over Blue Pants in their corner, finally reached the top of the tag division in NXT, winning the Tag Team Titles from Blake and Murphy. Apollo Crews made his highly-anticipated NXT debut. Samoa Joe got the crowd going to an entirely different level. Then… we got Sasha and Bayley.

I’m not sure that people really knew what to expect in this one. Yes, Sasha and Bayley were doing great character work and had been putting in good work in the ring, both against each other and against other opponents, but this was an elevation for both of them. It was the biggest match of their careers, on the biggest stage, with the most amount of pressure on them. Right away, it was pretty clear that the pressure wasn’t going to get to them. Things started off at a high level, and they only got better as the match went on, before building to one of the best finishes you’re going to see, women’s match or otherwise.

When you really look back at it, the entire “women’s evolution” we’ve seen in WWE could’ve been something different entirely if this match didn’t turn out well. Imagine if Bayley and Sasha went out there and stunk it up, in a match full of botches and awkward moments in front of an indifferent crowd. Not even counting the way that women’s wrestling has been pushed in WWE over the last six-plus years since this match happened, just think about Sasha Banks and Bayley themselves. As members of the main roster, they have combined for six Raw Women’s Title reigns, three Smackdown Women’s Title reigns, two Women’s Tag Team Title reigns (with each other), and a Money In The Bank victory. How much of that, if any, never happens with a poor showing in Brooklyn that night? Just something to think about.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover: Dallas – April 1st, 2016): The last several years have provided a ton of opportunities for us, the wrestling fans, to witness something that we never thought we would see before. CM Punk returning to wrestling fits in that category. Vince McMahon and The Ultimate Warrior doing business together again, leading to a WWE Hall Of Fame induction for Warrior, also fits. The Undertaker losing at WrestleMania is another one. Vince McMahon buying WCW, leading to bringing in people like Eric Bischoff and the nWo to work for him, is another choice.

One of my favorite things that falls into the “I never thought I would see this” category is Shinsuke Nakamura signing a WWE contract. Nakamura is one of the most prolific talents in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling. If you count the Inoki Genome Federation’s version of New Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight Title, Nakamura has four reigns as champion, putting him behind only Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tatsumi Fujinami, Kazuchika Okada, and Kensuke Sasaki for total reigns in NJPW history. He is also a five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, putting him second to only Tetsuya Naito for total reigns, but Nakamura has held the title for more overall days and has more than twice the amount of successful title defenses as Naito has. Throw in a reign as an IWGP Tag Team Champion, a reign as the IWGP U-30 Openweight Champion, a reign as the National Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion when it was defended at New Japan events, a G1 Tag League tournament victory, a G1 Climax tournament victory, as well as a New Japan Cup tournament victory, and you have an all-time legend in the puroresu world.

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Vince McMahon and WWE didn’t exactly have a long and storied track record when it came to signing and pushing Japanese wrestlers. Yokozuna was the first officially recognized World Champion in the history of the company to be billed from Japan, but of course, he wasn’t Japanese at all. By the way, Yoko remains the only officially recognized World Champion in the history of the company to be billed from Japan. When the company did have a Japanese wrestler under contract, it was someone you knew wasn’t going to get a big push for one reason or another. Tajiri, the members of Kai-En-Tai, Kenzo Suzuki, Yoshi Tatsu, Great Sasuke, and Hakushi are all examples of that. Now, when it comes to Japanese women, everything is different, from Bull Nakano to Asuka to Io Shirai and so on, but that’s a different discussion.

The point I’m trying to make is that it was an absolute stunner when it was revealed Nakamura had signed on the dotted line. It was almost surreal to watch Takeover: Dallas and see the man himself come to the ring, accompanied by one of the best entrance themes that has ever existed. Going back to what I said in the previous entry, I love that both Nakamura and Sami Zayn wrestled with chips on their shoulders. Nakamura was really trying to show the “average” wrestling fan why it was such a huge deal that he signed with WWE, and Sami was desperate to show that he was also one of the best wrestlers alive, and not just that one guy who was facing Shinsuke Nakamura. They wrestled with those chips for the entire 20-minute match, working to try and one-up each other the whole time. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

Argue all you want about what Nakamura’s main roster tenure could’ve/should’ve/would’ve been, but on that debut night, he had “absolute megastar” written all over him.

Big E & Xavier Woods vs The Usos (Hell In A Cell – October 8th, 2017): New Day vs The Usos is going to go down in history as one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history. Not greatest tag team feuds. Greatest feuds. Period. Full stop. We’ve seen them face off in all sorts of different variations. Face Usos vs Heel New Day, and also Face New Day vs Heel Usos. Gimmick changes, entrance music changes, ring gear changes… they’ve feuded through just about everything.

Then we got to see them face each other inside Hell In A Cell.

Obviously, the WWE product has changed a bit from the time Hell In A Cell was introduced to modern times. Back when the match was introduced, blood was a relatively common, and welcomed, thing in wrestling matches. When people stepped into Hell In A Cell, we knew it would be a bloodbath. Now, wrestlers have to be a lot more creative inside the Cell. Luckily for everybody involved, the Usos and New Day are very creative individuals.

This was the 36th televised Hell In A Cell match in history, but only the third two-on-two tag match. That really helped the four men involved, as even the littlest of things seemed fresh and innovative. The double-teams were fun and new. There was more than enough physicality and brutality in the match, even without having all four men spilling blood everywhere. Just an incredibly enjoyable modern take on the Cell match.

In the end, this is one of the ten best Hell In A Cell matches to ever happen. I’d even push it a little more and say that, in my opinion, it’s one of the five best Hell In A Cell matches. Don’t debate me.

Seven-Man Gauntlet Match (Monday Night Raw – February 19th, 2018): I’m a little biased here, because I was sitting in the front row for this one. If you watch the episode, I’m on camera almost all night. White Sean John t-shirt and black Shinsuke Nakamura beanie. You can’t miss me.

Anyway, this was the match on the go-home episode to the 2018 Elimination Chamber event. Seven men were set to enter the Chamber that year… John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, The Miz, and Elias. The winner of the match would earn themselves a Universal Title match at WrestleMania 34. Those seven men were announced for a Gauntlet Match on this episode of Raw. With this being the go-home show, everyone was expecting that this would be a simple Gauntlet Match, perhaps one with a quick ending or something screwy.

Boy, were we all wrong.

The match ended up going nearly TWO HOURS in total. Seth Rollins was in the match for over an hour to start things off, defeating Roman Reigns after 20 minutes and then defeating John Cena after another 36-plus minutes before being pinned by Elias at about the 65:30 mark. Think about that for a moment. He pinned Roman Reigns and John Cena in back-to-back matches. While Rollins was already a star long before this, that performance helped to re-establish him as a major singles player after spending most of the last year working as a tag team guy, winning the Raw Tag Team Titles with Dean Ambrose at SummerSlam 2017 and then winning those same Raw Tag Team Titles with Jason Jordan on the Christmas Day episode of Raw four months later. He looked incredible here, showing off some amazing cardio work and the heart of a champion.

Even after Rollins was eliminated from the match, it was still entertaining, with Braun Strowman finally winning it a few seconds before the 107-minute mark. A wild ride that came completely out of left field, as the saying goes. Those are some of the most entertaining times in wrestling.

Cody vs Dustin Rhodes (Double Or Nothing – May 25th, 2019): Storytelling, storytelling, storytelling.

This was a very special match on a very special show. Double Or Nothing 2019 was AEW’s very first pay-per-view event, and they had to DE-LIV-ER right out the gate or there would be some major question marks thrown their way. Cody vs Dustin was the seventh match of the night, and the previous six all rated somewhere from “good” to “very good” in the eyes of many. This match, though… this match ended up being AEW’s very first true-blue classic match.

Fair or not, both of these men came into the match with labels that had negative connotations. Cody was viewed as a “good hand” that could give you perfectly serviceable performances, even going a bit higher than that, but he wasn’t going to be someone that could be involved in Match Of The Year contenders. Dustin, on the other hand, had just celebrated his 50th birthday, was two years removed from being any sort of full-time performer, and five years removed from being a regular performer on television. We had no idea what kind of match we would get from them.

In what would go on to become a staple of AEW shows, a hot crowd helped to set the tone for everything that night. Cody was already viewed as a hero for being one of the men responsible for creating AEW to begin with, while Dustin wasn’t being viewed as someone who was over-the-hill, but as someone who still had a lot left to give that his previous employer failed to recognize. That hot crowd helped to bring something special out of both men, but especially out of older brother. This was the best match Dustin Rhodes had been in since Hell In A Cell 2014 when he and his brother teamed up to successfully defend their WWE Tag Team Titles against The Usos. The last time he was involved in a singles match that even remotely approached this was alllll the way back at WCW’s Spring Stampede pay-per-view in 1994 (!!!) when he lost a Bunkhouse Match to Bunkhouse Buck (!!!!!).

Seriously, Dustin looked like he was 20 years younger out there. He bled buckets, but he kept up with Cody, 16 years younger than him, every step of the way. Everything these two did had a purpose, and the crowd in Las Vegas ate it all up. So, so, so much fun.

Roman Reigns vs Jey Uso (Hell In A Cell – October 25th, 2020): As of the day I post this column, Roman Reigns will have been the Universal Champion for 402 days. In those 402 days, he has successfully defended the Universal Title 16 times, including five times on free television, beating a total of nine different men in that overall span. He has competed in two different Hell In A Cell matches in that span, to go with an Extreme Rules Match, a Last Man Standing Match, a Steel Cage Match, a TLC Match, and a Triple Threat Match with no rules, and that isn’t even counting the Triple Threat Match where he won the title in the first place. It has been an epic reign so far.

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This match against Jey Uso has been my favorite bit of the entire thing.

As I’ve said in the past, good performances and good storytelling can overcome a lot of things in wrestling. One of the things it can overcome is a match where the result is never in doubt. There wasn’t anyone alive who thought Jey Uso was going to beat Roman to become the new Universal Champion, but the story those two were telling was something beautiful to sit back and watch. There was so much emotion in everything they were doing, and that level of emotion increased tenfold here.

You remember the final moments of the match. Reigns had beaten Jey nearly to the point of unconsciousness, and was about to finish him off with the ring steps. Before he could do it, Jimmy Uso would show up on the scene, begging Roman to stop. Jimmy would use his and his brother’s real names (Jon and Josh, respectively) in an effort to make Roman snap out of it, trying to show him that this is family in the ring with him. Roman would go on to show remorse, even beginning to openly weep in the middle of the ring, saying that he didn’t know who he was anymore. They went to shake hands, only for Roman to pull Jimmy in and lock him in a Guillotine Choke. Just as Jimmy was about to pass out, Jey had to scream out that he quit, in an effort to save his brother. Just like that, Roman had won the match.

Honest to God, it was one of the best endings to a match I’ve ever seen in my life. Going into the event, there was still some questions about whether or not the new heel persona for Reigns was going to work. This silenced almost all of those questions, and here we are today, with the momentum still going strong.

Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega (Dynamite – September 22nd, 2021): The match is only two weeks old, so there’s no need to really go into detail on what happened. Just know that this is one of, if not, the best wrestling matches to ever take place on free television. I’ve already discussed my love for Daniel Bryan, but this match made me fall in love with what Bryan Danielson can do in the ring all over again.

No, I don’t care that the match wasn’t saved for a pay-per-view, and no, I damn sure don’t care that the match ended in a time limit draw. AEW is pushing to make Dynamite seem like a must-see show every week, and putting matches like this on goes a long way in doing that. Making it a draw only sets up a rematch for some point down the road, whether it’s at the Full Gear pay-per-view in November or at some other point in time. You gave the fans something they wanted, and then you basically promised them something even bigger and better for the future. That’s just smart business, any way you want to slice it.

Well, there you have it. The “Matches That Made Me” series has now come to an end. I eagerly anticipate one of my columns in 2030, when I can revisit the entire series and get caught up. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and/or to tell me about the matches that made you the fan you are today. Hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.

Weekly Power Rankings

  • Bryan Danielson vs Nick Jackson: There is a new fire that burns in the eyes of Bryan Danielson these days. He seems to be enjoying the hell out of himself, and thrilled that he gets to go out there and do things “his” way again. This was a great match, with both men looking very good. It was their first singles match, and only their second match together of any kind, following a PWG Tag Team Title match in 2009 when Danielson teamed with Roderick Strong to face the Bucks. I’m not advocating for a Nick Jackson singles run or anything, but he looked like he could make that work if it needed to happen.
  • Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks: I understand why it was done, but I certainly wouldn’t have had this huge rematch on a random episode of Smackdown. If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t even have the rematch at Crown Jewel, because fuck those events, that’s why. As I said in my last column, I would’ve just put the women on opposing brands (which they did), and allowed their rematch to be pushed back so that it was a bigger deal whenever it happened, whether it was at WrestleMania or whatever. With that said, this was still a blast. They just “click” together in the ring. Some folks didn’t like the way the match ended, but it made sense with what WWE is looking to do over the next few weeks, so there’s that.
  • Armed Anderson aka Double AK aka Glock Lesnar aka The Natural Born Killa aka Shotgun Every Night: Out. Of. Nowhere. The memes… my goodness, the memes.
  • Sammy Guevara: Everybody knew Sammy had a bright future in AEW. I’m not sure people thought he would be a champion this soon, but here we are, and Sammy is the new TNT Champion. Some very fun matchups are set to come out of this, and that’s always a good thing.
  • WWE Draft Shaking Things Up: Like I said before, I’ll have a column with my thoughts on the WWE Draft once all the dust has settled and all the moves officially go into effect on October 22nd. For now, though, I’ll just say that it’s always a good thing when the Raw and Smackdown rosters get shaken up. We’ll get some fresh and “fresh” matches out of it, so hooray!
  • Jungle Boy vs Adam Cole: There have been a lot of complaints about the “homegrown” talent losing to the “WWE guy” right away, but I think this one made sense. Jungle Boy got to look good in a 15-minute match against one of the top workers in the business, and he was heavily protected in the loss after Cole hit him with a low blow to get the win. What’s the problem? You’re not bringing guys like Cole, Danielson, Punk, etc. so that they can lose. Also, can you imagine bringing those huge names in and only having them face guys like Billy Gunn, Dustin Rhodes, and Matt Hardy just so people’s feelings don’t get hurt? Smell the ratings when Dynamite is main evented by CM Punk vs Paul Wight next Wednesday!
  • Bianca Belair vs Charlotte Flair: With Bianca heading to Raw, this is going to be a huge feud moving forward. We got a little taste of that here. Bianca has come a long way since February 2020, when she faced Charlotte on an episode of NXT. Back then, Bianca looked like she was going to be a huge star. Now, Bianca is a huge star. There’s a big difference. I also liked the finish, as Becky Lynch’s interference prevented either Bianca or Charlotte from “jobbing” to the other.
  • King Of The Ring & Queen’s Crown Tournaments: Tournaments! Two running at the same time! I always enjoy these types of things.
  • Bron Breakker: Well, it sure didn’t take long for Bron to receive a shot at the NXT Title, did it? He’s facing Tommaso Ciampa on the Halloween Havoc episode of NXT on October 26th, and there’s actually a good amount of people who feel like he might win. Joe Gacy will be facing Ciampa next week, and if Gacy wins, he will be added to the Halloween Havoc match. The only reason to do this would be to have Gacy be the one to take the pin on the 26th, which is fine with me. Logic would indicate Gacy would take the pin from Ciampa, but can you imagine if Gacy takes the pin from Breakker?
  • Toni Storm & Juice Robinson: Congratulations to Juice Robinson and Toni Storm on getting engaged recently after dating for nearly a year-and-a-half.

This Week’s Playlist: “Blessed & Free” by Kane Brown & H.E.R… “Poke It Out” by Wale, Cool & Dre… “DIM MY LIGHT” by Problem & Snoop Dogg… “Box In The Ocean” by Alessia Cara… “Bluebird” by Alessia Cara… “I Miss You, Don’t Call Me” by Alessia Cara… “Somebody Else” by Alessia Cara… “Best Days” by Alessia Cara… “Sweet Dream” by Alessia Cara… “Voice In My Head” by Alessia Cara… “Apartment Song” by Alessia Cara… “Last One Standing” by Skylar Grey, Eminem, Polo G & Mozzy… “Dad Vibes” by Limp Bizkit… “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit… “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit… “N 2 Gether Now” by Limp Bizkit & Method Man… “My Generation” by Limp Bizkit… “My Way” by Limp Bizkit… “Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle)” by Limp Bizkit… “Rollin’ (Urban Assault Vehicle)” by Limp Bizkit, DMX, Method Man & Redman… “Cold” by Static-X

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