It was 2014, I’d just turned 25, and I was so hungover that I legitimately thought that I might die. And so, as my final pop culture meal, I decided to watch WrestleMania 30. I hadn’t watched pro wrestling steadily since 2004, but I figured “Why not? Death looms.”
I’ve been watching it ever since.
This list details five matches that I think are underrated. Yes, they’ve probably gotten some praise, but not enough. And yes, I probably should watch promotions other than WWE. Look, I’ll get to it. But for right now, let me just bask in five matches that have sustained my love of sweaty dude headlocks over the past three years.
Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar: Hell In A Cell 2015
I get the feeling that Brock liked working with Undertaker because Undertaker wouldn’t complain when Brock tried to rip his spine out. And I think Undertaker liked working with Brock because their matches felt, I don’t know, a little more real? They fit so well together, and it comes off as less of a grudge match and more of a “This town’s not big enough for the two of us. LET’S PUNCH!”
This might be my favorite Hell in a Cell match. It’s the perfect length, and it’s just two dudes slamming into each other. There aren’t a lot of gimmicks, and it really feels like a final match between the two. At the end, you think to yourself “The only way they could top this is if one literally killed the other, and since I doubt the WWE will air a Murder Your Co-Worker match at Survivor Series, this is the best that we’re gonna get.”
WWE Championship Match: Elimination Chamber 2017
Elimination Chamber matches usually last around thirty minutes, and holy shit, do you feel every one of those minutes. Especially in the bad ones, where, despite the fact that they’re in a giant bird cage, nothing happens for so long that you wish some of the wrestlers would just walk away. Not here, though. Every wrestler pulls their weight, especially AJ Styles, who is the Hermes of the WWE.
A lot of people complained about there being some extra padding in the chamber, but I totally support that. I don’t watch wrestling hoping “Yeah! Chain link fences! I hope it takes years off of their careers! I hope that their passion is ripped away by nights like these!” I want my living action figures to go as long as they possibly can, and be able to walk when it’s all over. Hell, add more padding next time. As long as it’s a good match, this could be PILLOWS, BLANKETS AND CHAIRS match, and I’d be fine with it.
Triple H vs Dean Ambrose: Roadblock 2016
Triple H has faced two other members of the Shield (Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins) at WrestleMania so far, and neither of those matches has come close to the spirit that this match had. It reached a fever pitch, and it’s times like those where I consider myself lucky to be a fan of the finest pretend fighting sport in the world.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens vs Enzo and Cass: SummerSlam 2016
Enzo and Cass were at their most popular, and Jericho and Owens had just started teaming together, and this match is just a solid example of tag team wrestling. Everyone’s personality is on full display, and I never feel like I’m getting sick of anyone’s shtick, which happens super easily with four guys that ceaselessly yell their catchphrases at every opportunity.
Intercontinental Title Match: Extreme Rules 2016
The Miz has gone from being a guy that I’d never want to see again back in 2014 to being a guy that I want doing snide commentary in every match in 2017. When he’s not doing some equally snide wrestling moves, that is. In this, he fought Cesaro (who is unfailingly good), Kevin Owens (who, when given the right circumstances, is the best in the company), and Sami Zayn (who deserves better. So, so, so much better.)
This Fatal 4-Way is constantly moving and ceaselessly entertaining. All 4 dudes feel like they could win at any time, and The Miz winning at the end is the ultimate “DAMMIT.”