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Stay At Home, Watch Wrestling: Vol. 2

By Joe Baiamonte, published on 21st April 2020
Photo credit: All Elite Wrestling

So, we hope yesterday’s debut of SAHWR (not really catchy enough, that abbreviation, is it?) proved to be a welcome distraction for you all and that you now also have a newfound appreciation for just how much WCW was able to fuck up. That promotion’s dedication to turning chicken salad into chicken shit was almost admirable, in a way.

Anyway, with WWE’s Money In The Bank and AEW’s Double or Nothing still on the horizon over the coming month, we thought we’d venture down memory lane to remember a few of the matches that made previous incarnations of these PPV’s worth watching in the first place.

The All Elite crew really stacked the deck in Vegas last May while WWE have a myriad of MITB related content for us to pull from the archives. So we hope we chose well enough for you all today. We think we did alright…

AEW Double or Nothing: Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes

OK, just ignore the fact whoever uploaded this to Youtube did so with the title ‘Cody Rhodes vs Goldust’. This, in this writer’s humble opinion, was the MOTY in a walkaway for 2019 which, when you consider the ropey track record brother vs brother matches have in pro wrestling, is some achievement.

The reinvention of Dustin Rhodes as the fired up veteran with more than one point to prove has been one of AEW’s greatest success stories in the promotion’s embryonic history. The Natural has storytelling and psychology flowing from each pore, making it even more of a crying shame that WWE never capitalised on that in his final few years with the company, when they were content for him to remain backstage or cause a few shenanigans with R Truth here and there (which, admittedly, does sound like a lot of fun).

Here, the Rhodes boys did The Dream proud. A more emotional battle you are unlikely to see in a long, long time and a testament to both men that, in an era where athleticism and high spots are king and queen, they relied solely on blood, guts and raw, visceral intensity to get this fight over as an instant classic.

Take this bout and place it in any era and it fits. A timeless piece of art befitting of any generation.

AEW Double or Nothing: The Lucha Brothers vs The Young Bucks

We’re not necessarily religious types here at WT, but God bless tag team wrestling. Especially when it’s this fucking good.

That the Bucks and the Luchas can tear the house down on any given night without a prior moment of notice is hardly surprising; Between the four of them, they are one of the most talented quartets in all of pro wrestling right now, whether in singles or tags. That they continue to evolve and find new, death defying ways to drop our collective jaws is the stuff of legend. A legend that was firmly cemented at the MGM Grand last May (before they decided to scare the shit out of us three months later with the Escalera De La Muerte match).

Here, while there are no ladders involved, there’s still more than enough chaos and carnage to keep you on the edge of your seat from bell-to-bell. It’s also yet another bout that sends a wave of relief crashing over us when we realise that Pentagon and Fenix opted for the loving embrace of AEW instead of the ‘Beloved in NXT – Forgotten About on Raw/SmackDown’ career trajectory that would have surely befallen them in WWE.

WrestleMania 22: Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Rob Van Dam vs Ric Flair vs Bobby Lashley vs Finlay vs Shelton Benjamin vs Matt Hardy

Before MITB was it’s own separate entity, dedicated PPV event and all, it was the Chris Jericho created official stunt show of WrestleMania between 2005-2010.

This match, the second edition in the franchise, is one which doesn’t seem to get nearly enough love. Perhaps not surprising given that the marketplace for these matches has long been oversaturated, despite their usual quality. Also, it happening FOURTEEN YEARS AGO (HOW!?) probably doesn’t help it’s cause much, given that’s now pretty much an entire generation ago.

But seriously, just look at the talent involved. Ladder aficionados Matt Hardy and RVD, a fresh faced and hungry Bobby Lashley, Fit Fuckin’ Finlay, MITB stalwart Shelton Benjamin and ACTUAL RIC FLAIR.

This match deserves every star in the ratings universe for Flair’s ‘superplex off the ladder injury/dramatic return’ spot alone, before you get into any of the other action or the, as always, white hot Chicago crowd.

Back when WWE knew how to pace a WrestleMania card, this match fit seamlessly into the show on a regular basis and, this oft forgotten gem established the franchise as more than just a flash-in-the-pan.

It’s just a shame we forgot to put it in yesterday’s edition to celebrate 4:20 with one of RVD’s biggest ever career wins.

Money In The Bank 2011: WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs CM Punk

An obvious choice? Maybe. A necessary one? Absolutely.

The last WWE main roster match to be awarded all five snowflakes from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer, this once again proves why Chicago is the greatest wrestling city in the world, why CM Punk being retired from in-ring competition since 2014 is utter shite and why Big Match John is still one of the most important institutions in WWE history and should forever be protected at all costs.

The pipe bomb promo that led to this sensational main event and the subsequent Summer of Punk in 2011 has been repeated and deified ad nauseam over the last nine years, much like this bout, but it really is this bout that helps solidify the Pipe Bomb’s importance. Had Punk and Cena played out a match that was merely good or just average or, worse still, a total flop, the closing moments of Monday Night Raw on 27th June, 2011 would have been an isolated moment in history, rather than the beginning of something much more important.

Cena and Punk’s chemistry was always off the charts good, whether it was here, SummerSlam a month later or the Road to WrestleMania Raw in 2013. Their styles meshed and contrasted perfectly: Cena – the prototype WWE Champion, all big grins, garish t-shirts and cereal commercials. Punk – The anti-establishment, perennial indie darling who became a household name main event WWE Superstar in spite of himself. The story wrote itself and the pair of them played it out beautifully.

This being (relatively) modern day WWE, the full potential of the leftovers from this outing were never properly realised and Punk would soon be hotshotting between feuds with Miz, R Truth, HHH and a returning Kevin Nash before finally recapturing world title gold from Alberto Del Rio in November, by which point a significant amount of his heat had cooled off. However, we’ll always have the Summer of Punk and, more importantly, we’ll always have July 17, 2011.

By Joe Baiamonte, published on 21st April 2020
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