Again, I’m sticking to the mainstream (WWE, TNA, ROH) for my 2012 honors and awards. And, again, I’m not fucking Meltzer. I’m not telling you what was the best, I’m just sharing my opinions and would love to hear all others! Here we go!
Top Ten (Mainstream) Rasslin’ Matches of 2012
Honorable Mention: James Storm Vs. Bobby Roode (4/15 & 10/14), Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena (4/29), Daniel Bryan Vs. Sheamus (4/29), CM Punk Vs. John Cena (9/16), Kevin Steen Vs. El Generico (12/16).
Bobby Roode had one of the best title reigns in TNA’s short history, and it came to an end with one of the best matches he’s had in the company. TNA made a star in Austin Aries in 2012 and this was the stamp that solidified his place in the company, in the wrestling world. Of course, they fucked it all up a few months later but hey, it’s TNA.
9. Daniel Bryan Vs. Santino Marella Vs. The Big Show Vs. The Great Khali Vs. Cody Rhodes Vs. Wade Barrett – Elimination Chamber, February 19
So many great stories were told in this match: Bryan being the chicken shit heel champion, Big Show getting his brutal vengeance on Bryan, Barrett being a dominate recluse, Santino actually being a credible wrestler (of course, they didn’t follow up on that one), Cody one-upping Show, Bryan still being able to win in the clutch… Khali being fucking worthless. All those stories came together and gave, in my opinion, the most entertaining Elimination Chamber of the past couple years. I concede that it takes awhile for this match to get going, but the final ten minutes are so damn money it makes up for it.
A classic case of two fantastic workers upping their game for WrestleMania. Many people felt their Extreme Rules match was superior and I call those people morons. The “Best in the World” angle leading in was great. The “exploiting Punk’s family” part of it was meh. Whatever the feeling on the build, the quality of the match itself can’t be questioned. I can’t be the only one who saw utter brilliance in these two wearing matching Best in the World gear for this match. It’s the little things, people! In the end, both guys looked like a million bucks and the finish just further cemented Punk’s title reign. A true bonus was the mark out moment I had when Jeri locked on a legit Lion Tamer.(Seriously, how awesome was Punk’s entrance?)
Proof that spot fests can tell a story. A sprint from the start, all six men in this match played their part perfectly and gave us beautiful chaos. This was a best-case scenario for The Shield’s debut and made each member look great in their own way. Kane and D-Bry both had moments of greatness and showed their chemistry as a team. Without question, this was the best the E has used Ryback to date and it illustrated that he does have some actual potential.
6. Kevin Steen Vs. El Generico – Showdown in the Sun (Day 1), March 30
I said numerous times before that these two set a modern standard for “hate” as it pertains to professional wrestling rivalries and this may be the best match they’ve had in their storied feud. Generico charging Steen before the introductions could be made served as the proverbial gunshot to begin this contest. This Last Man Standing match saw both men endure absolutely brutal pain and push each other to the limit. It added another great chapter to their already fabulous story and, in winning, allowed Steen to move to the next, and ultimate, level in Ring of Honor. These two closed the year, and their book, with a fantastic ladder match, but this bout from WrestleMania weekend was their true diamond of 2012.
5. Austin Aries Vs. Bully Ray – Sacrifice, May 13
I’m hard pressed to think of, in recent memory, a match that was less than 15 minutes that told this great of a story. This was Aries star making performance in TNA and is what led him to winning the company’s top prize. Bully Ray played his part in this match rightly and, in many ways, made Aries in this bout. A five-star classic this will not go down as, but I had such a great time watching it and it really sticks out to me as one of the year’s most memorable matches.
4. Davey Richards Vs. Michael Elgin – Showdown in the Sun (Day 2), March 31
In finalizing this list, I sat down and watched a collection of highly touted matches from the previous twelve months that, for whatever reason, I missed… This was one of those matches. Now, I’m not fond of ever giving Davey Richards credit for anything but sweet sassy molassy this match was something to behold. The raw physicality and toughness these two exhibited, while still maintaining to tell a story, was unbelievable. Michael Elgin has been a rising star on the independent circuit for a couple of years now, but this match was his Aries-Danielson, his Sabu-RVD, his star-making performance. Well done, vanilla midgets. Well done.
3. AJ Styles & Kurt Angle Vs. The World Tag Team Champions of the World – Slammiversary X, June 10
This one may be a little higher than necessary, but being there live I’ve got a semimetal attachment to this one. Having time to go back and rewatch, though, I can say that this was an exceptional tag team match. Given who was involved, that shouldn’t really be a surprise. Daniels and Kaz did their thing, Kurt Angle was Kurt fucking Angle, and AJ Styles did what he does best; some crazy shit. For what was advertised as “TNA’s biggest show ever(!),” it was appropriate that TNA was able to showcase some of the great action that once made them seem like a possible alternative.
(Oh, AJ! You so crazy!)
Guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan Danielson (along with Samoa Joe, Chris Hero, etc.) were who I followed all through high school and college but I never actually thought I would ever get to see them do their thing on the grand stage. That being said, this match meant so much to me. The ubiquitous nods to their time on the indies throughout the match (the curb stomp, D-Bry’s setup for the Mexican surfboard, “I have ‘til five!”) all warmed my little smark heart. It was just a special match for the teenager that still resides somewhere within myself. The quality of the match itself was outstanding; possibly the best I saw in 2012.
1. Triple H Vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania XXVIII, April 1
This is the only match I have on the list that does not stand on its own. There is so much one has to know and understand to fully appreciate just how incredible this match is. It’s one that I couldn’t really explain to someone; you just have to get it. From my view, though, this is one of the greatest professional wrestling matches I will ever see.
Thanks for reading!