The Shield v The Wyatt Family (Elimination Chamber, 2/23/14)
Yeah, this was fucking outstanding. Other than general "that match is awesome and you should watch it yesterday" praise I'd managed to not read anything about it, so I really had no idea what to expect. So much about it was amazing, though. I can see someone thinking the early stuff was too "contained" with not enough out of control ass stomping, but the whole match had a genuinely volatile feel to it and you knew that once shit kicked off nobody was going to be able to stop it. This was the wrestling match equivalent of throwing a bunch of Pez into a bottle of Coke, and it's the ref's job to try and put the lid on before the furniture's ruined. But of course it eventually all broke loose like you knew it would, and that whole stretch was incredible. Everybody got to look great here, but Ambrose and Harper were maybe the stars. Ambrose is such a crazy fucker; everything he does looks so frantic and desperate. He jumps on Bray and clings to him like a limpet throwing wild punches and slaps. I've made the Terry Funk comparison before, and I'm not the first one to make it and I won't be the last, but he really has a bunch of Funkisms, especially in his selling. He also paces around on the apron like a caged animal and shit talks any time someone gets close to his corner. Harper was fucking killer as a hillbilly hunting dog wiping guys out and gifting the corpses to Bray (who I loved as a swamp rat Charles Manson orchestrating everything). The bit where Ambrose tries to run in and Harper meets him at the pass by booting his teeth through the back of his head might've been the best moment in a match littered with amazing moments. Was this the first time he busted out the redneck tope? Because the crowd reaction was practically that of disbelief. He has the look of Brody with none of the shitty wrestling ability. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it was Rowan that was the star. He looked awesome with his slugfest punches (him and Reigns had one of the meatiest "yay/boo" punch exchanges in ages) and throwing guys around. At one point he grabs Rollins by the hair and, with one hand, drags him over to the corner like he was a sheep carcass. I also love how rather than going to a chinlock or whatever he just squeezes a guy's head by digging his knuckles into their temples (and Ambrose getting free by biting his fingers was great). I have a massive broner for Roman Reigns. No kidding. It's Aaron Ramsey/Thierry Henry levels of man crush and I'm not ashamed to admit that. He has a fucking ungodly amount of charisma and presence. You notice it even when he's standing on the apron doing nothing. The final segment where he has to go it alone against all three Wyatts - which is a super cool role reversal considering that's the kind of thing The Shield have been doing to other teams since they showed up - was really fantastic and pretty much booked to perfection. Bunch of other bits that I loved: Rollins' huge flip dive, Reigns and Rowan with the best double clothesline spot in ages, Bray's face as Reigns powers out of Sister Abigail, Rollins dying on the table spot, folk scattering as Ambrose and Bray fight in the crowd, so on and so on and so on. Just an awesome match, right up there with anything else this decade. Wouldn't have it #1 on a best US multi-man tags list, but I wouldn't think anybody else was nuts if they did.
Dean Ambrose v Sheamus (Smackdown!, 5/9/14)
I guess this is my first look at full-fledged babyface Ambrose, and yeah, I want every second of it. As frantic and desperate as he was in the six-man, he's even more so in this. He does a Lou Thesz Press that just looks completely wild and reckless, like a ferret trying to claw your eyes out. He hits a rebound lariat that looked legitimately organic and better than every rebound lariat Nigel McGuinness ever threw. I don't think I've ever seen a top rope chop block before, but Ambrose does it here. He also took a manly shitkicking. Seriously, Sheamus is just stiffing lumps out of him and Ambrose keeps coming back in the scrappiest ways possible. Ambrose is also injured coming in (because of an Evolution gang mauling on RAW, I think), and he makes awesome "fuck my whole life" faces after everything thrown at him. Not that it makes much difference, because he will not stop coming forward. Finish is great. Ambrose knows he's dead to rights but is either too proud or too belligerent to accept the countout. And holy shit was the final Brogue Kick an exclamation point. This is right on the level of the best WWE TV stuff this year.