Kiyoshi Tamura v Hiroyuki Ito (U-Style, 8/18/04)
I watched this towards the beginning of the year and it instantly became one of my favourite shoot-type matches ever. Watching it again, it's just as balls-to-the-wall great as I had remembered. Ito comes out SWINGIN' and trying to rip some of Tamura's limbs off because he has NO FEAR and doesn't give a shit that he's wrestling Kiyoshi Tamura. He manages to force Tamura into the ropes to break a couple sub attempts, and Tamura finds himself losing two points early as a result. Tamura has to step up big time from there and the total slugfest that ensues is fucking fantastic. By the end they're completely spent and hurling kicks at each other, which is when Tamura spots a weakness in Ito - his ribs - and starts trying to punt his lungs into the eleventh row. When I watched this the first time I was dying for Ito to break the half-crab. This time I knew he wouldn't, but I was still willing him on anyway. Great match.
Black Terry v Multifacitico (Mascara Contra Caballera) (IWRG, 4/17/08)
Black Terry's easily my pick for best in the world this year, and this is a Terry performance that's pretty close to the best Terry performances of 2010. Multifacitico is perfectly tolerable in his role, and for all I know he's a really good technico (this is the first Multifacitico match I've seen), but this is something you watch for the rudo, because the rudo is Terry and Terry is phenomenal. He's a total beast in the first caida, beating Multi from pillar to post, dragging him around the arena looking for things to hit him with, splitting him open and biting the wound, just abusing this kid like the grumpy old pitbull that he is. When he's not torturing him he's adding great little selling touches, like trying to punch Multi at the bell and Multi putting his championship belt up to block it and Terry selling it like crazy. Multi evening things up in the second caida after such a short comeback is the kind of thing that a lot of people are turned off by in Lucha, but one guy taking the fall "quickly" because he knows he'll be a little more fresh for the next one is an explanation that makes way more sense to me than just about everything in current day Japanese wrestling. Third caida is the "all in" caida, and where Multi gets his revenge shellacking of Terry. Multi is no Black Terry, so you don't get the sense he truly wants to rip his head off and piss down his throat like you get with Terry, but Terry as the wounded wolf that'll still bite your hand off is another role he's great in, so there's always that. Some big time nearfalls down the stretch to boot. Black Terry is the motherfucking boss.
Genichiro Tenryu v Tarzan Goto (WAR, 7/6/97)
This was totally bizarre and crazy and stiff and awesome. It's basically WAR in a nutshell. Goto is such an asshole in this, from the matwork at the beginning that he seems to be doing just to be a dick about it, smugly look at Tenryu any time he comes out on the better end of an exchange, to jabbing people in the throat with a bottle, to smashing said bottle over the referee's head after he's failed to smash it over his opponent's (ref' gigs himself HYYYYUGE, btw), to literally cutting Tenryu's boot off so he can work over the bare foot. He's also the ugliest motherfucker this side of Sarah Jessica Parker, with a forehead and arm that looks like a scratching post due to how often he's taken the blade to himself. When I'm watching guys with shredded up foreheads I always get a kick out of seeing what otherwise-harmless action causes them to burst open at the seam. With Dusty Rhodes a toothpick would do the trick. With Abdullah the butcher a sneeze is enough to get the plasma flowing. Goto throws a couple headbutts in this and blam, there's your juice. Granted, these are some mean headbutts, which they'd need to be to not look feathery light next to the lariats and point-of-the-toe-to-the-eye-socket kicks and straight up punches both guys are throwing, because those are some MEAN strikes, but still... Goto has a carved up head and he bleeds and bleeds with little effort. Tenryu is as grumpy and pissed off and contemptuous as a Tenryu fan would like, and holy fuck does a Tenryu fan need Goodhelmet to drop that Tenryu set ASAP. There's one moment at the start where he backs Goto into the ropes and gives him a clean break, but then right afterwards Goto doesn't return the favour and instead slaps the spit out of his mouth, and Tenryu's look of sheer "Oh motherfucker are you serious?" is tremendous. Tenryu is also the motherfucking boss.
Dustin Rhodes & The Young Pistols v The Fabulous Freebirds & Badstreet (WCW Saturday Night, 6/15/91)
Well this was a total blast, built almost entirely around stalling and shtick. They go 50 minutes without making any contact, man. Not really, but this is some awesome stalling and horseshit on the Freebirds' part. Hayes is particularly spectacular, preening and posing and trying to start clapping chants for HIMSELF, only to wind up being the recipient of a "FAGGOT" chant here and a "FREEBIRDS SUCK" chant there. The spot where he starts clapping and stomping to get the crowd behind him before realising nobody's actually going along with it and finally slowing his clap to a halt with this amazingly pathetic "Hey, what gives?" expression is so great. He's a man that's just looking to be accepted, that's all. There's another moment where Hayes and Garvin are annoyed with Nick Patrick's "quick count", and so they show him how it should be done, slowly clapping "one............two............three", that way he'll know how to do it next time. Of course you know what's coming. Garvin pins one of the Pistols, and sure enough Nick Patrick gets down to count: one........ and Garvin's up pissing and moaning and Hayes is over to complain about the count, now because it's too *slow*. This time they tell him to speed it up, clapping one, two, three much faster. Again, you know what's coming. Smothers gets a sunset flip on Garvin, Patrick's down with his sped up count, and the Freebirds lose their shit. I actually don't recall ever seeing that spot done before. I mean, I knew what was gonna happen, but that's the thing about shtick; you can see it coming and you pop big for it every time. Badstreet, who's Brad Armstrong under a hood, doesn't even get involved until around the 15 minute mark because Hayes and Garvin want to save him for when they have control. He's the beast they'll let out the cage when the time is right. And, by the way, the transition spot into Smothers playing FIP is a fuckload of greatness that's capped off with a trademark Michael Hayes left hook. Garvin also boots him clean in the teeth with a NASTY Yakuza kick at one point and Tracey sells it by flying off the apron and careening into the guardrail. Finish is nothing to shout home about, but as far as matches that go 20 minutes without doing much of anything, this is pretty much a classic. Seriously, give me this shit ALL day.
Doug Basham v Mark Jindrak (WWE Velocity, 3/26/05)
For four minutes, this was pretty much perfect. Bulk of it... or as close to "bulk" as you can get in four minutes... is Basham working Jindrak's leg, and I don't think I've ever seen someone work a leg by bodyslamming the opponent ONTO the ring ropes, but Hell, Doug does it here and it looks cool as shit. Jindrak's really good at selling it all, too. He also hits a monster backdrop and throws a wicked left hook at the end, which Doug sells perfectly in return. Easy way to spend four minutes.