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Top 20 Pro Wrestling Matches of the 2010s


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****1/4

20. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WWE, 4/6/2014)

A pretty special match since it tackles the implicit size bias prevalent in the WWE as well as the general perception of what a champion should look like. Injured people's hero Bryan attempts to overcome the odds against the clinical corporate man HHH.

19. The Revival vs. #DIY (WWE, 11/19/2016)

Great mix of the old school tag formula(s) and modern offense with some additional twists and turns thrown in. Includes some really creative and smart spots.

18. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 8/13/2016)

A competitive and hard fought bomb-fest with great knee selling and heel vs. heel vibes.

17. AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki (NJPW, 8/1/2014)

Heel vs. heel but with an interesting caveat as Suzuki's brutality turns Styles sympathetic. Neat arm psychology and drama.

16. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (WWE, 8/17/2014)

Best squash ever. Lesnar is an absolute monster and Cena plays the overwhelmed ace role well. 

15. Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler (Stardom, 2/23/2017)

Excellent ace vs. invading shooter match. Really good contrast of styles and back vs. arm psychology.

****3/8

14. Black Terry vs. Barbaro Cavernario (Cara Lucha, 6/11/2016)

Great mixture of elegant matwork and disturbing brawling in a clash between a tough as nails veteran and in his prime phantom. 

13. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (WWE, 4/29/2012)

A completely unique match considering the usual style of the promotion. The cocky MMA versed fighter returns to WWE and simply mauls the superhero ace like never seen before. Excellent pacing and fantastic arm selling and fire from Cena. The finish is controversial but narrative wise, it works wonderfully. 

12. Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi (NJPW, 2/3/2019)

This is slow and long but actually manages to hit the epic mark so many NJPW main events this decade have strived yet failed to reach. The focus on character and psychology with clever incorporation of huge bombs and consistent selling is probably the recipe for success.

11. Minoru Suzuki vs. Toru Yano (NOAH, 11/3/2016)

A super compact and intelligent underdog tale. This decade needed more matches like this. 

****1/2

10. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (WWE, 8/23/2015)

Another Lesnar classic. A violent and dramatic big match spectacle with multiple all time great visuals. 

9. The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan/Kane/Ryback (WWE, 12/16/2012)

The best 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' story I've ever seen in wrestling. Creative and violent.

8. William Regal vs. Kassius Ohno (WWE, 3/21/2013)

An aggressive master vs. disciple match with high end body part psychology. A Regal clinic. 

7. Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani (Stardom, 12/22/2016)

The best women's match this decade. Arrogant ace vs. fiery underdog challenger with huge bombs, limb psychology and drama.

6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 8/12/2017)

Great payoff to a year of good matches where the top challenger ruthlessly exploits a weakness of the ace to finally come out on top.

5. El Hijo del Santo/Villano IV vs. Angel Blanco Jr./El Hijo del Solitario (TXT, 2/25/2012)

Classic, old school minimalist lucha brawl with a ton of blood and a great fighting veterans vs. bloodthirsty youngsters story. 

****5/8

4. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WWE, 3/28/2010)

Tremendous combination of action, psychology and storytelling. HBK's hubris and desperation attempt to overcome Taker's toughness, leading to a finish that might be the best of its kind.

3. Rey Hechicero vs. Charles Lucero (Monterrey, 8/4/2013)

Terrific title bout based around age and style differentials. Slick matwork and a highly dramatic 3rd fall.

2. Daisuke Ikeda/Takahiro Oba vs. Makoto Hashi/Kengo Mashimo (Futen, 10/24/2010)

Great mix of insane violence, comedy, matwork and struggle. Scenes of Ikeda, the experienced warrior, refusing to go down without a grueling fight are genuinely epic. 

****3/4

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WWE, 3/29/2015)

A match that had everything working against it and almost seemed destined to fail but ended up being one of the greatest heavyweight clashes of all time. Epic character work, selling, violence, stiffness, a compact layout and a great upcoming ace vs.  invincible champion story. Even the silly finish works on some level.

 

General thoughts: Quality of wrestling was not as good as it was in the 2000s. WWE and some more obscure cards generally delivered the hits. The top 10 are all time classics though so it's not all bad. 

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