Top Ten Wrestling Matches of 2007
In December of 2007, I sat down and compiled my list of my top ten matches of the year. It's fun to look back on what I said then, as two years have actually made a huge difference on my tastes and standards when it comes to wrestling. So here's the official SamoaRowe's Top 10 for 2007, with new comments in italics.
So, here's my Top Ten list of 2007 as it stands now. I just want to note that I haven't finished Good Times, Great Memories, and I haven't seen Manhatten Mayhem II or Man Up yet. I also fell asleep ten minutes into Cena/Michaels II, so I don't have any solid opinion on that one yet. Anyhow, here's the list:
10) Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima (ROH Fifth Year Festival: New York City)
I pegged this one at ****1/4. It was a great power match, and I marked out a lot while watching it. This only lost points because I felt it went from "feeling out" to "going home" very quickly, so the match didn't feel complete in that sense. Still, a pleasure to watch, and the beginning of an awesome run for Morishima in ROH.
Looking back, I'd probably keep this match on the list. It was a match that I was genuinely excited about, due to Joe and Morishima's prior encounter where their personalities were just so combustible that they couldn't even stand rejecting one another's offer to go first during an exit. My points on the merits and demirits of this bout stand today.
9) Takeshi Morishima vs. Claudio Castagnoli (ROH Death Before Dishonor V Night 1)
You know those matches where a title is on the line and you know for sure that the champion is going to retain? This could have easily been one of those matches, but it wasn't. For starters, Claudio was built up strongly before this event, winning the Race to the Top tournament. Then the match took place, and Claudio brought a crazy fight to the dominant Morishima, pushing him to the very limit. Sadly, Morishima was able to regain himself long enough to hit a single backdrop driver on Claudio for the win. Anticlimatic finish aside, this match was magic, and landed at ****1/4.
I'd probably bump this one off the list now for two reasons. 1) I saw more DVDs from 2007 later on and Morishima had better title defenses (especially against Bryan Danielson). 2) I was at this show so I was incredibly biased. My adding this match to the list reminds me of the Patton Oswalt bit where he picks on the local film critic on the evening news for naming an event that took place a couple blocks from his house as the "cultural event of the year."
8) Takeshi Morishima and Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness and KENTA (ROH Respect is Earned)
Now we're enterting ****1/2 territory. This was the main event of ROH's first ever pay-per-view, and they didn't hold anything back and threw the top four stars they had out there to quickly establish personalities and roles for a new audience. We learned right away how ruthless Morishima could be, how agile KENTA is, and how intelligent and crafy Danielson is. What stood out here was the emergence of Nigel McGuinness as a top star to the new audience, as he appeared to be hurt and out of the match, but quickly got bandaged up to return and prove to us all what a tough competitor he is. I loved this match, it set the pay-per-view era off on the right foot.
I definitely overrated this tag match. Don't get me wrong, it was a great match, but probably just in the **** range. I was a bit caught up at the time because this was the main event to Ring of Honor's first pay-per-view, so I was overly eager to like the match and stir up some positive word of mouth for the company.
7) Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Matt Sydal and Claudio Castagnoli (ROH Respect is Earned)
By this point you're probably rolling your eyes over how ROH-heavy this list is, because I could give two shits. I call it like I see it. The Briscoes spent the entire year stealing show after show and pushing the limit (later in the year I would actually argue they pushed things too far, but that's a story for another day). Sydal and Castagnoli were a thrown together team for this one, but displayed some incredible chemistry and took the fight to the Briscoes. Speaking of the Briscoes, they were on fire here, and delivered some of the most breathtaking double team spots I've ever witnessed. I've said it before, but I'm not going to apologize for loving a spot-fest, which this was, if it is done well and makes me cheer. ****1/2.
I think I overrated this one by 1/4*, but otherwise I stand by what I said. This probably would've been knocked down to #10 or so, but I would definitely keep it on the list.
6) John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Wrestlemania 23)
This match got a lot of criticism due to Cena getting a lot of punishment to the knee and then no-selling it later in the match. This gripe didn't bother me that much, because the no-selling lead to a thrilling back and forth contest between two guys who set out to add a new chapter to both their respective legacies. This was the kind of outstanding singles Wrestlemania main event that we hadn't seen in several years and was a welcome return. ****1/2
I overrated the hell out of this match. I'm going to blame it on the fact that back then I really wasn't watching enough wrestling to be putting a list of this nature together in the first place. Not only did the one hour rematch on Raw blow this one out of the water, but this was an imperfect match. I was nice to Cena on the selling issues back then, nowadays I'd be a bit more picky. I'd probably only call this ***3/4 today.
5) Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. El Generico and Kevin Steen (ROH Death Before Dishonor V Night 1)
The Boston street fight was a war unlike the city had ever seen. It started with brawling through the crowd and ended up a series of devastating bumps in the ring. The hatred between these two teams was reaching scary levels of believability as the chair shots and broken tables began to add up. From what I've heard, the ladder war from Man Up topped this war, though reviews of the later match lead me to believe that they went too far with the violence. At least here, every spot and moment built and built until the final sickening moment when Steen dropped a Briscoe with the package piledriver onto the ladder. Steen and Generico got the upset and a moment of glory. ****1/2.
I stand by everything I said about this match. Having said that, I'd probably bump this one lower or off the list completely in favor of switching it with the Ladder War these two teams had at the Man Up pay-per-view. The Briscoes also had an all-around better match with Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin at the Good Times, Great Memories event, and that would definitely make this list now.
4) CIMA, Shingo, and Susumu Yokosuka vs. Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito, and Masaaki Mochizuki (ROH Supercard of Honor II)
Now we are entering the ****3/4 territory. These six men set out to match the quality of the Dragon Gate six man from the original Supercard of Honor, and they came pretty damn close. The delight here was seeing them trying to have an awesome match, but not the same spot-fest from the year before. There was a lot of storytelling in this one, as well as a great mixture of styles with the inclusion of Shingo and Mochizuki. This was a match that I felt I could watch repeatedly, not get tired of it, and notice something new each time. A true classic.
Since I originally wrote this, I have watched this match repeatedly and have indeed noticed something new each time. This Dragon Gate six-man doesn't get the respect that the one from the original Supercard of Honor got, but I think it's every bit as good but for obviously different reasons. I might even consider upping this to the full ***** monty.
3) John Cena vs. Umaga (WWE Royal Rumble)
My first impression after watching this match was that it was the MOTY and nothing would touch it. I turned out to be wrong, but I was still blown away by this. For starters, I don't really care for Umaga, as a character or a worker. That should tell you how much I enjoyed this match then. It was a last man standing match, and they worked the gimmick to perfection. They utilized their surroundings fantastically, including a nasty Umaga splash on the announce tables. What really put this over for me was the climatic finish, with Cena incorporating the broken ring ropes to trap Umaga in the STFU. I said it then as I'll say it now, this match deserves to be talked about for a long time. It was the best WWE match of 2007. ****3/4.
It seems like only three years later, NO ONE is talking about this one anymore. That is partly due to the general apathy towards Cena among the IWC and the fact that Umaga fizzled out. Still, this was a great match, I don't regret anything I said about it.
2) Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson (ROH Driven)
These are two guys I will never get tired of seeing them wrestle each other. Each time they bring something new to the table and have a completely different great match. When I first heard about this one, people immediately said it was the best match they'd had yet, and I didn't believe it. I had trouble buying that it would top their match from Unified in 2006. How wrong I was. The aggression. The drama. The way both men got put over. A lot of people complained that Nigel was buried in 2007, all the while overlooking how he was put over huge on the pay-per-views. He looked stronger in defeat than most wrestlers look in victory. This lived up the hype and deserves to be talked about for a long time. ****3/4.
I'm glad I was so high on this match in retrospect. Not only was it a great match, but it was the one that put Nigel McGuinness back on the map. Nigel had broken out in 2006 as a wrestler who delivered great matches in high profile situations. Then for several months he was pushed back down the card, lost some luster, and people started to think he was a flash in the pan. Then, this match came out of nowhere (it wasn't advertised for the event it took place on) and within a couple of months Nigel was the ROH Champion and on his way to a successful reign.
1) Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer (ROH Supercard of Honor II)
Nigel/Danielson almost knocked this one out of it's place. In the end, there were just too many factors putting this one over. It was the culmination of a year-long feud. It featured a wreslter I don't usually enjoy (BJ Whitmer) but dazzled me anyhow. It helped complete the transformation of Jimmy Jacobs into a disturbring psychopath. And it was brutal. The match took place in a cage and both men destroyed each other and both men were put on the shelf as a result. Jacobs tore up his knee and lost a tooth. No match in 2007 was more memorable or meaningful to me than this, so here it stands, as SamoaRowe's MOTY. ****3/4.
As far as quality storytelling and action/drama goes, I would still rank this match at #1. However, in the grand scheme of things, it didn't really make much of an impact. BJ Whitmer didn't get as over as this feud should have made him and within a few months he was in limbo as a member of the Hangmen 3 stable and eventually just left ROH to little fanfare. Jimmy Jacobs went on to bigger, but not always better things. His role in the Age of the Fall received mixed reviews for the entirity of that stable's existence, though his 2008 feud with Austin Aries was among the year's best. I still love this match, but it's been completely forgotten.