Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Top Ten Things: May PPV Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at!  

Today I'll be talkin' wrestling (What a shock), specifically the ten best PPV matches to have taken place in the month of May.  WWE's PPV calendar has only included May for the past 20 years, but those two decades have yielded some veritable classics.  I've also included a trio of New Japan matches, from their annual May event Wrestling Dontaku.  .....And that's enough of an intro.  Let's get to it!

10. The Rock vs. Triple H - Judgment Day - 5.21.00

The Rock-Triple H saga had been raging on and off for three years by this point and this Iron Man match was more or less the climax of the feud.  The first of its type since Bret vs. Shawn four years earlier, this match was very different from its predecessor; instead of a methodical mat-based contest it was a wild brawl with a total of 11 falls.  Triple H was on a roll in mid-2000, having grown into an excellent ring general heel, while The Rock was in peak form as the new face of the company.  The finish was significant due to the surprise return of The Undertaker, who had vanished in late '99 after walking off RAW (in reality due to a groin injury).  Sporting a new biker persona, Taker attacked DX just before time expired, and inadvertently cost The Rock the WWF Title.

9. Steve Austin vs. Dude Love - Over the Edge - 5.31.98

One of the most fun Attitude Era matches was this Falls Count Anywhere match that raged all over the arena.  The Austin Era had begun and Vince McMahon was doing everything in his power to get the WWF Title off of him, including appointing himself as guest referee, Gerald Briscoe as guest timekeeper, and Pat Patterson as ring announcer.  Austin however had persuaded the Undertaker to act as ringside enforcer, keeping Vince honest.  The battle included several crazy spots on the "car wreck" entranceway set, including Dude being hip-tossed through the windshield.  Late in the match Dude Love accidentally knocked out Vince with a chair, and Taker chokeslammed both of Vince's stooges.  The finish came when Austin hit the Stunner before counting his own pin with an unconscious Vince's hand.  This was one of the more creative brawls of Austin's main event run.

8. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - Judgment Day - 5.20.01

In 2001 the two best technical wrestlers in the WWF began a rivalry that would last nearly two years on and off.  After a 14-minute gem at WrestleMania 17 and a 30-minute Submission match the following month, Angle and Benoit faced off at Judgment Day in a Three Stages of Hell match, where the first fall would be a standard match, the second would be submission-only, and the third would be a Ladder Match for Angle's Olympic Gold Medal.  Benoit would quickly win the first fall (probably too quickly) but Angle came back to take the second and third (with help from Edge & Christian) in a tremendous match.  The two would resume their feud in late 2002 and add several other classics to their respective resumes.

7. Prince Devitt vs. Low-Ki - Wrestling Dontaku - 5.3.12

This Jr. Heavyweight Title match stole the show at the 2012 Dontaku PPV, starting out meticulously but gradually ramping up the intensity and high-risk offense.  Both guys showed why they're more than just small spotfest wrestlers, as this match was full of drama and psychology.  In the second half of the match they broke out the innovative offense and quick reversals, and after twenty minutes (not to mention both guys kicking out of each other's finishers) Low-Ki won with a Ki Krusher.  One of several New Japan classics from the future Finn Balor.

6. The Shield vs. Evolution - Extreme Rules - 5.4.14

One of the best feuds of 2014 culminated in this enormous six-man tag at Extreme Rules, between the dominant anti-establishment trio known as The Shield, and Triple H's reformed stable of former WWE Champs, Evolution.  This rivalry reminded me of the old Road Warriors vs. Four Horsement battles, and this match was a crazy melee that went all over the arena.  The final moments of the match saw Seth Rollins leap off the loge entranceway onto his enemies, in the bout's most memorable moment.  With four of the six men occupied outside, Reigns finished Batista back in the ring with the Superman punch/Spear combination to end a fantastic brawl.

5. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii - Wrestling Dontaku 2017

The highly anticipated rematch from the 2017 New Japan Cup tournament saw Omega and Ishii cut a furious pace from the outset, each man laying into each other during the opening stretch.  Omega eventually took control, unleashing high-risk offense such as a stunning plancha off the top rope to the outside, and signature moves like his reverse 'rana.  But Ishii began using Omega's own offense against him, astounding the crowd with his own versions of the reverse 'rana and the One-Winged Angel.  After 24 minutes of dazzlingly crisp action, Omega finally avenged his earlier loss to get the win, vaulting him back into Title contention.

4. Sting's Squadron vs. Dangerous Alliance - WarGames - WrestleWar - 5.17.92

Probably the best or second-best all-time WarGames match took place in 1992, as Sting led the all-star team of Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes and Nikita Koloff against the excellent Paul Heyman stable The Dangerous Alliance - Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton and Larry Zbyszko.  The action in this match was non-stop and brutal, and as the cage filled up the offense got more and more creative.  Eventually one of the turnbuckle bars came loose and Sting used it on Eaton's arm to get the submission.  A wild, excellent multi-man brawl, and everything you'd want out of a WarGames match.

3. Kurt Angle vs. Edge - Judgment Day - 5.19.02

An early MOTY candidate for 2002, this bout put both men's hair on the line and featured some spectacularly crisp wrestling, with loads of dramatic near-falls in the closing minutes.  Edge then accidentally speared the referee, causing the official to miss his subsequent cover.  Angle took advantage to slap on the anklelock, but Edge kicked Angle into the ropes and caught him on the rebound with a match-winning small package.  This tremendous match kicked off Kurt Angle's era of baldness.

2. Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki - Wrestling Dontaku - 5.3.13

This was a masterful display of wrestling psychology, as the brash young Champion Okada ran into a salty, sadistic brick wall known as Suzuki.  The veteran worked the crap out of Okada's arms for the first half of the match, twisting him into pretzels, and in the second half came within a hair of choking him out.  Suzuki's overconfidence eventually cost him as Okada mounted a last-minute comeback, hitting two Tombstones (one with the Gotch cradle variation) and the dreaded Rainmaker for the win.  Fantastic stuff.

1. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan - WWE Over the Limit - 5.20.12

In my opinion the best match of 2012 was this forgotten gem - Punk vs. Bryan for the WWE Title.  These two were given a nice cushy 25-minute slot, and man did they deliver.  Spectacular mat wrestling, counterholds, submissions galore, false finishes; everything you could ever want in a great wrestling match.  This is the closest WWE has ever come to emulating the groundbreaking work these two routinely produced in Ring of Honor.  Punk and Bryan would face each other twice more on PPV that year, but this was the standout of the bunch.  A stunning display of classic pro wrestling.

There's your list of the greatest May PPV matches.  Comment below with your picks!

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