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[2018-06-19-WWE-Smackdown] Daniel Bryan vs Big E. vs Samoa Joe vs The Miz vs Rusev

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Gauntlet match to decide who is going to be the #1 Contender to the WWE Title.

 

My goodness. This match was unbelievable. Daniel Bryan might be, as of June of 2018, the best wrestler on the planet.

 

This completely overshadowed the also incredible RAW gauntlet match this year, and much of that had to do with two things:

 

  1. It felt more cohesive - many have a hard time considering a gauntlet match like a single unit, instead being seen as many smaller matches, but in this case it more than earned the right to be looked at as a whole. It had an overarching story to all the segments and it keep its quality at a constant.
  2. Daniel Bryan is the greatest of all time (sort of). He just went all in and made not only Big E look like a bazillion buckes, with lots of crazy exchanges, but also Joe never looked as good in WWE as he did in this match - Bryan takes a beating like no one else (being dropped on his head and nearly dying helps in a more morbid way) and his comebacks feel so fucking natural. The finish to the segment vs Joe and to the Miz segment were so smartly worked that sometimes you gotta give it to WWE and say they can do stuff perfectly.

 

Those two main points, coupled with strong performances from The Miz and a ridiculously over Rusev - and a new feud appearing on the horizon - made for one of the best TV matches of the year, and a strong contender for best of the decade.

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Awesome match with Bryan and Big E giving us a hot, fast paced start with some great moments. Gotta love how Bryan having three fully viable finishes means he has so many ways to work towards the finish of a match, here being him getting a sudden win with the Running Knee. With Joe coming in to brutalize Bryan made for a good next step in the story and with a clever little twist to end the match in order to protect both guys. Bludgeon Brothers vs. Bryan has no interest from me but whatever I guess. Miz coming in for the quick win on Bryan is absolute brilliance and only stoking the fires for the inevitable clash. The Miz vs. Rusev was actually much better than expected with Miz showing off why he's really one of the best heels of our generation both in and out of the ring.

 

Great TV match that built upon itself to make for a hot streak of action. Wouldn't quite put it over the RAW gauntlet earlier this year as that had higher highs but the compact, concise nature of this mixed with everyone playing their roles to perfection made for wonderful television.

 

****1/4

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Big E vs. Bryan was a fantastic opening to the thing - Big E was absolutely awesome with his work over Bryan, the best he has EVER looked. Bryan's selling was simply phenomenal & overall they told the story of Big E's power vs. Bryan's in ring smarts & "technicality" so well. It was the Fight of the Century next, and it was just great. Joe looked like the killer that he is & Bryan rocked the babyface role the way only he can. The Miz coming after the Bludgeon Brothers attack was PERFECT. Him throwing Bryan out of the ring like a prick was a wonderful cherry on top of the cake. Sadly the Miz vs. Rusev finals portion of the match wasn't very interesting in my eyes, a couple of awesome singular spots, but overall certainly the weakest segment of the package. Even though that one wasn't interesting, overall this was such a tight package. Fantastic performance by Bryan, Big E looking the best he ever has, Joe being a boss. Hell yea. ***3/4

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More than a very good match -- which it certainly was -- this was textbook wrestling television. They passed a lot of time in entertaining fashion, set up the next big show and teased longer term rivalries. It was like the WWE version of an All-Japan six-man from the '90s. The first two Bryan segments were terrific and a further reminder that he's still as good as anyone in the company. I want to see him against almost anyone, not just the obvious dream matches. And I dig the slow burn to him and Miz. The Rusev victory was a nice cherry, even if that last segment was merely fine.

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Yep, this was just solid stuff throughout. Bryan holding the first part together was perfect, Big E looking competitive with a top guy, Joe looking great and taking a countout, them giving us another step toward Miz/Bryan without really giving us any substantive action between the two was smart, the finish was fun, and I actually thought Miz vs Rusev over delivered given what they were following... the whole thing hit on all levels. Excellent television wrestling. ****

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