2021: A Year of Wrasslin’ In Review

Wrestling can be many things, whether it’s traditional, strong style, deathmatch, Pure Rules, comedy, and so the list goes; it doesn’t have to be just one thing, some endless monolith of wrestlers doing the same shit, over and over. And preventing any kind of sport, or entertainment, or both, from evolving is just bad news if you want it to grow over the years and continue on through the generations properly.
Not everyone is going to like one style of wrestling all over the world, nor should they. Everywhere we go, even sometimes from one state or province to the next, let alone across countries and contents, there are many different cultures, why should we ever expect wrestling to be a uniform thing across all those same lines? Foolishness.

This list is not about the best wrestling matches in 2021 according to a strict set of rules, it’s about one person’s favourite matches throughout the year according to a wide variety of reasons. This list is in no particular order. I’d watch every one of these again, on any given day. I love them all equally, as if they were my little violent children.
[GCW appears a lot on this list, as does AEW. The likes of Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, NXT, and WWE, as well as the much smaller promotion No Peace Underground, all make their presence known, too.]


Effy v ParrowEFFY v. Parrow
Last Daddy Standing Match
No Peace Underground’s Fear the Gay Agenda (11/06/2021)

This match is important because it happened during Pride Month and features two prominent LGBTQ2SIA wrestlers, EFFY and (Mike) Parrow. It’s nothing special as a traditional wrestling match, which doesn’t matter anyway because this is No Peace Underground, where the no-ring deathmatch rules. For what this match was meant to be it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be: a brutal feat of endurance. Phenomenal Pride opening to the match too with EFFY making Parrow wait out an elaborate, confetti-laced entrance to Elton John.

EFFY braved a vicious beating from Parrow. There’s one spot where Parrow just tosses EFFY at the steel gates separating the wrestlers from the crowd and EFFY sells it so well; in reality, EFFY was probably half reacting to the very real pain. Then there was just so(!) much(!!) glass(!!!) shattered between the Daddies. The stipulation to win the match was you had to knock your opponent down, sit on the Daddy throne, and wait for the 10 count. After Parrow and EFFY clobbered each other for near 20 minutes, going outside momentarily to destroy each other in the open air and on concrete, the bigger of the two men claimed the Daddy throne after EFFY couldn’t make it back to two feet before a 10 count.
Absolute queer classic. Eat it, bitch.

Mox v BarnettJon Moxley v. Josh Barnett
GCW presents Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 6 (08/04/2021)

From a Battle of the Gay Daddies to a knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight between two equally sexy straight Daddies, Jon Moxley versus Josh Barnett is next on this list because it is an absolute shit-kicker of a match. This one’s a lot more technical than EFFY v. Parrow, given the prior match was a no-ring deathmatch and a big part of Bloodsport is deeply fixated on the pro wrestling part of wrestling. Though the technicality involved between Mox and Barnett is no less brutal.

One thing that’s so exciting about this match is that Moxley doesn’t have to do this kind of thing anymore, but chooses to out of a love for wrestling and fighting, which shows. After Mox got out of WWE he came alive again, and it’s endlessly enjoyable to watch him have fun doing what he wants now, like a caged animal let free into the wild again. On top of that, he’s paired with Barnett here—a certified bad ass who holds a 35-8 mixed martial arts record—so it offers the audience a physical war.
These two men bring a mix of brawling, submission, and bone-rattling suplexes, like witnessing two gladiators thousands of years ago at the Colosseum. They bleed buckets and they love every minute of it. Barnett comes out on top but Mox gives him a wicked fight before it’s all over, and they show one another respect before they walk off the canvas.

GCW Art of War GamesTeam MDK v. Team 44OH!
WarGames Match
GCW’s Art of War Games (04/09/2021)

Have you ever seen beautiful, organised chaos? Those who witnessed GCW’s Art of War Games and the War Games Match between Team MDK (AJ Gray, Alex Colon, EFFY, Mance Warner, Matthew Justice, & Nick Gage) and Team 44OH! (Atticus Cogar, Bobby Beverly, Eddy Only, Eric Ryan, Gregory Iron, & Rickey Shane Page) have seen such things. This match was pure adrenaline and gritted teeth as the rival teams took out their frustrations and allegiances out on one another.

There were a number of great sequences throughout this match. Matthew Justice is a wild bastard and will always find a way to take a big dive off something, so his splash off the cage was expected yet still awesome as hell. Even wilder were a couple big spots later. Alex Colon pulled a Spanish Fly on Atticus Cogar off the scaffold into the ring and it was a thing of beauty. It’s the finish that comes off the most devastating and excellent at once with Justice and Mance Warner tossing Rickey Shane Page off the scaffold through glass, allowing Nick Gage to pin RSP as the MDK crew surround the ring and cage proudly. A gnarly finish that looked damn cool.

Britt v Thunder Rosa - Lights OutBritt Baker v. Thunder Rosa
Lights Out No DQ Match
AEW Dynamite: St Patrick’s Day Slam (17/03/2021)

The match at AEW Dynamite: St. Patrick’s Day Slam between Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa set a bar for excellent No DQ matches on television, and not just between women, either. Obviously a big focus of the match was that it was the first main event on Dynamite featuring women. (And that’s important because AEW should’ve been doing this already; that’s a chat for another day.) But the fact Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker each came out swinging for the fences here and put on an amazing match set the bar for wrestlers of any gender who are going to go out on national television, in any company, to put on a wild match that pushes the limits.

The match gets off to a hard, fast start, and it’s not long before Rosa and Britt are absolutely belting each other. One of my favourite moments is on commentary when Tony Schiavone says “I hate to see it come to this brutality,” perpetually playing the good buddy character to Britt. Later, Britt takes a powerbomb bump on thumbtacks, stunning everybody. Both women are busted open, though absolutely the good doctor takes the worst of that. It’s the Fire Thunder Driver off top rope through table to the outside by Thunder Rosa for the big win that was so amazing; an absolutely fantastic move. These ladies took care of each other in the ring and put on a show that rightly impressed many in the industry.

Walter v Dragunov 2WALTER v. Ilja Dragunov
NXT TakeOver 36 (22/08/2021)

WALTER versus Ilja Dragunov at NXT’s Takeover 36 had a great story going into the match extending from their last incredible bout, which was on last year’s list. WALTER is a beast of a human being, and Dragunov can take more punishment than most in the ring, so they make an extraordinary pairing. Also there’s lots of good history there, which always increases the excitement and intensity of a match. Now that it came to a big Round 2 between these opponents it was a guaranteed barn burner. This one didn’t disappoint for a single second.

Big early moment in the match comes when WALTER slaps Dragunov off top rope to the outside, then moments later he powerbombs Dragunov on the apron. Just a vicious attack. Generally, Dragunov, once more, takes an inhumane level of physical punishment at the hands of WALTER. But Dragunov really takes it to WALTER with the backfists and pummelling WALTER with various blows at a certain point in the match. Just when you think it can’t continue, it does, and the story is all the better for it, as Dragunov weathers a fucking battering to take the title off WALTER with a fiercely won submission hold for a stunning, emotional finish. Could watch this one endlessly, alongside their first bout.

NXT WarGames 2021Team 2.0 v. Team Black and Gold
WarGames Match
NXT WarGames (05/12/2021)

The WarGames format is an easy match style to mess up if a large group of wrestlers can’t navigate the terrain or work coherently to tell any kind of story with that many folks causing chaos across two rings. NXT has put off several great WarGames matches, including the one that made it to last year’s list, and GCW did a marvellous job putting off their own War Games for being an ‘indie’ company. While I’m not sold yet on Bron Breakker, and I’m fascinated the company put the belt on him already, this WarGames match certainly did good things for Bron’s character. It was also a nice chance for Johnny Gargano to show off his skills before the next step in his interesting career.

Gargano and Hayes get things moving with a nice start. Gargano’s early slingshot spear through the ropes was awesome. The match largely becomes the Johnny Wrestling Show for the initial ten minutes or so; no complaints from me, I love the guy. My favourite moment of the match : Gargano and Dunne wrenching in face-to-face submission holds while kicking their opponents in the face; awesome spot! Also, LA Knight climbing inside after being locked out was a nice little tough.
Again, the whole WarGames match between these two teams really helped build up Bron, except for the botched bolt cutter entrance which did not make him look strong, just stupid. Aside from that one moment it really did set Bron up for the rest of his climb up the mountain.

Cole v O'ReillyAdam Cole v. Kyle O’Reilly
Two-Out-of-Three Falls Match
NXT TakeOver 36 (22/08/2021)

Amazing to think that Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly are both back together again in a completely different company, doubly so because of their slobberknocker at NXT’s Takeover 36 in a Two-Out-of-Three Falls Match.

The match has a solid pace from the start and it’s immediately a hard-hitting contest between the two rivals. Cole sells O’Reilly’s first pinfall so damn well with surprise, and O’Reilly’s pin on Cole was a great reversal of the Panama Sunrise, too. A while later during the Street Fight for the second pinfall there’s a gnarly trash can spot on Cole in the chair; good stuff. Eventually O’Reilly sells the hurt ribs so good when that becomes part of the story. The long second fall is great with Cole getting the pin, pushing it to the 3rd fall in the steel cage, and the whole transition to the 3rd fall was played very well, incredibly unique, with Cole assaulting a bruised, broken O’Reilly. It built up a greater story as O’Reilly seemingly cannot surmount the beating he’s taken, even getting handcuffed inside the cage just to snag a one-armed submission hold on Cole and win the final fall for the big win. Great mixed reaction from the crowd, who clearly mostly wanted Cole to get the win. This match made O’Reilly look like a warrior for anybody who didn’t already know it.

Hangman v DanielsonBryan Danielson v. Hangman Adam Page
AEW Title Match
AEW Dynamite: Winter is Coming (15/12/2021)

Hangman Adam Page is one of those stars that AEW has helped shine brightly after booking him in a long character arc, culminating with him beating his old tag team partner Kenny Omega for the company’s top male championship. He’s already over, he already looks tough, and we know he can wrestler with a versatile style that crosses brawling with high-flying and athletic moves. Then you take Hangman and set him across the ring from a legend like Bryan Danielson, and you raise the Hangman’s worth even higher than it was, while simultaneously giving the AEW audience an instant classic that guarantees at least another rematch (that was incredible).

This match was an old school time limit draw but with the talents of a newer breed of wrestler. The hour doesn’t drag, either. Against all odds, Hangman and Danielson keep the pace chugging along. Fabulous heel work, as usual, by Danielson. And the whole bout is a powerful, hard-hitting match that rarely slows down.
Some great moments include Hangman’s catlike landing on Danielson’s top rope German suplex attempt but then he’s unsuccessful avoiding it later. There’s an excellent, brutal sequence on the outside of the ring with Hangman hitting a Deadeye on Danielson to the ring apron before Hangman splashes and crashes through the table after Danielson moves out of the way. The match ends with a great finish, cutting off as the two are battling rather than two opponents lying beaten up in the ring as time limit expires which is a very overplayed time limit draw situation. This match may not be for everybody, but it tore the house down for most of us.

Cage MatchThe Lucha Brothers v. The Young Bucks
AEW Tag Team Titles Match
AEW’s All Out (05/09/2021)

The Lucha Brothers versus the Young Bucks for AEW’s Tag Team Titles at All Out was a proper feud blowoff in a salad steel cage. The rivalry between these two amazing teams is one of AEW’s cornerstone feuds from the company’s inception, an important group of characters for the company in its initial phase.
The Lucha Brothers deserved this ages ago and hopefully after Fenix comes back from his recent injury they’ll clinch the titles again eventually. They’re an entertaining tag team who can work with a variety of different teams and styles. Tough as fuck, too; clear again from Fenix’s recent injury which miraculously didn’t result in a broken limb. Put them with the Bucks and it’s guaranteed magic, one way or another.

The Bucks and the Lucha Bros each made sure this match was a super kick party, for real. One great spot later in the match features them all trading kicks in a frenzied moment. There are lots of big spots but they were warranted because it was a cage match for the titles and the feud called for it from two wild teams. Also, the spots were all built up well, in my opinion. The entire match is bloody and brutal, in the best way. The thumbtacks spots were great and even made a hardcore spot deeply emotional when Penta tried to protect his little brother Rey from getting kicked in the face with a bunch of tacks. All in all, a wonderful story told about a longtime rivalry, and it’s beautiful to have AEW bring this all together inside the cage.

Callihan v OmegaSami Callihan v. Kenny Omega
Impact World Title Match
Impact’s Slammiversary (17/07/2021)

You don’t like Sami Callihan? Good for you. In this match between Callihan and Kenny Omega, for the Impact World Title, Sami proves, as he’s done before, that he can match up with many types of wrestlers. He’s under-appreciated and over-criticised. Similarly, Kenny again proves he’s able to adapt his highly technical wrestling style into a hardcore environment; helped his persona as this belt collecting wrestling god, able to fight any kind of wrestler on their turf. Putting Sami and Kenny together was a stroke of genius and it provided quite the entertaining matchup between two people with vastly different in-ring styles.

There are lots of tough folks who went up against Kenny while he was champion but Sami is a different breed who doesn’t particularly care who he’s wrestling or what their credentials are; in a way, it felt like Kenny and Moxley, just a bit different. One of my favourite moments of 2021 in pro wrestling is when Sami quips “Wrestling!” as he sits on a chair and applies a chin lock to Omega, spitting in the face of those who think hardcore/deathmatch wrestling isn’t another form of the art that is wrestling, right before he gets back to giving Kenny the deathmatch business. Not sure if Sami’s Nick Gage pizza cutter spot was homage, but it was fun. All around a hard-hitting No DQ match that might as well have been billed a deathmatch, even if there was no glass to be found. The end of the match is just total viciousness with brutal tacks spots then a One-Winged Angel from Kenny to Sami into the tacks for finish. An A+ brawl.

Bianca v SashaBianca Belair v. Sasha Banks
SmackDown Women’s Title Match
WWE’s Wrestlemania 37: Night 1 (10/04/2021)

Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks built up a wonderful program against each other heading into Wrestlemania 37, then they delivered on one of wrestling’s biggest stages around the world, giving Banks another shot to show off why she’s regarded so highly and offering Belair the chance to etch her name in the history books. On top of the stellar match they gave us, they made history as the first two Black women to compete in a one-on-one championship match at Wrestlemania. The tide is slowly changing in the wrestling world, but it still needs to change more! Thankfully we have a match like Banks v. Belair to help lead a charge for more of it.

The match is an incredible display of athleticism from Banks and Belair throughout. The match particularly showcased Belair’s power very well, and her suspended suplex spot on Banks was absolutely killer. There are some great uses of Bianca’s hair in a few spots. The brutal whip she gave Banks left a nasty welt, almost a laceration on Sasha’s midsection that was more visible the longer the match went on. Them’s championship scars! The story told during Bianca and Sasha’s match was excellent, concluding in a huge win for Belair that would make the most hardened fan emotional.

Suzuki v DanielsonBryan Danielson v. Minoru Suzuki
AEW Rampage: The Buy In (15/10/2021)

What else can you say about a match between ‘The American Dragon’ Bryan Danielson and Minoru Suzuki a.k.a Murder Grandpa? These two men beat the dog shit out of each other. No other words suffice.

The whole bout is full of hard-hitting forearm smashes and blistering chops that leave Danielson and Suzuki bruised across the chest and face. The forearm from Suzuki to Danielson taking the latter off his feet was bonkers, knocking Danielson down and legit opening a cut on his face. You do not fuck with Minoru. Lots of back and forth exchanges; not for the wrestling fan who only likes American-style pro wrestling, definitely 100% for those who like the Japanese strong style complete with the back-and-forth devastating spots to no-sell spots.
In this match we see Suzuki showing, once more in 2021, that he’s more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with the world’s best and hardest hitters, young and old; Murder Grandpa is one of the most accurate nicknames the Internet’s ever provided for a wrestler. Danielson refuses to be dismissed, going out in that AEW ring week after week to prove he came to the company to kick asses. Amazing match that was a dream for many.

Arez v Ninja MackArez v. Ninja Mack
GCW’s War Ready (23/10/2021)

Ninja Mack versus Arez is, for me, the sleeper match of the year. Lots of folks who only pay attention to AEW and WWE are kidding themselves if they think they’re seeing all the best wrestling matches in any given year, because GCW particularly has been killing it, not to mention there are lots of other indie companies out there featuring great, underrated talent. Arez is fantastic, though I have to say Ninja Mack is a major talent who continually impresses me and the audiences at GCW.

There’s an awesome style matchup between Arez and Mack that makes this meeting between the two inherently interesting. A bunch of fast, exciting sequences get the adrenaline flowing. The match’s story gets going full bore with the mask pull off on Mack by Arez. The crowd chanting “Youre an asshole” at Arez was perfection, showing why the passionate GCW crowds make up such a big part of the company’s atmosphere. Arez plays hard heel slapping Mack and then puts on Mack’s mask to mock him. After that the match, briefly, turns into a brawl.
The match told a great story in the ring, especially with Ninja Mack losing the mask and in turn losing confidence to hit a big move without the mask, if only for a little while. Big, nasty bump comes when Arez pulls Mack under the bottom rope into first row chairs. We feel like Mack might not be able to make a comeback here. But the finish is AWESOME! Mack misses a big top rope move but lands perfectly in ninja pose behind Arez, then applies a rear naked choke to Arez who taps quickly. Great camerawork by the GCW crew to capture the moment, too. Arez v Mack is in the top five best indie pro wrestling matches of the year.

Punk v KingstonCM Punk v. Eddie Kingston
AEW’s Full Gear (13/11/2021)

The genuine animosity and contempt between Eddie Kingston and CM Punk made for a hard-hitting match that was believable; this was a fight more than a wrestling match. Punk and Kingston had a built-in story that many—who have only paid attention to mainstream pro wrestling on TV over the past couple decades—doubted would work without a longer setup. Yet it worked wonders. Wrestlers like Kingston and Punk have had a storied career outside the big money wrasslin’ entities like WWE. That’s a larger reason why AEW has resonated with so many because it isn’t afraid to acknowledge all the other companies out there, specifically the prior history of their performers. So there was a long story being told here that started way before AEW ever existed as a kernel of an idea.

The spinning back fist opener out of nowhere on Punk was just a chef’s kiss of a start, and perfect character work for Kingston in a single move. All led to a physical, bloody brawl between the two men. The match made Punk look tougher than he has in years upon years, and it helped maintain Kingston’s no bullshit image; Punk had to work for the win on Kingston. “What a goddamn fist fight,” says Jim Ross after the bell, encapsulating all of our collective thoughts in a single sentence. Slobberknocker, indeed.

Ol MancerThe Briscoes v. Second Gear Crew (Mance Warner & Matthew Justice)
GCW Tag Team Titles Match
GCW’s War Ready (23/10/2021)

Though the Briscoes versus OGK for the tag titles in Ring of Honor was a stellar match, their match against SGC’s Mance Warner and Matthew Justice for the GCW Tag Team titles is my personal favourite of the two because it is a brutal, fun match between two beloved teams. This one kept the adrenaline flowing from beginning to surprising end.

There’s a great, classic Mancer spot with him faking a jump over the ropes just to step through them, sit on the apron, and give Dem Boys a poke in Dem Eyes. Love to see it! In general the match has good, believable violence throughout, including awesome tag team work with all kinds of wild combos from each team. The bout avoids being a spot show, too, which is occasionally my criticism of GCW matches when they’re No DQ. Yes, there are big spots, but this match was more about the brawling than anything else. Best spot: the Briscoes try to suplex Mancer from the inside to the outside and through a door, but Justice intercepts their attempt by spearing Dem Boys and all four men go through the door together; Ole Mancer takes a wild bump particularly here.

This tag match had a strong story, as SGC were the home promotion boys going up against a couple invaders. Ended on a major finish with the Briscoes coming into GCW as outsiders and taking the belts off SGC. There’s also lots of fodder for a rematch between these teams. You know Mancer and Justice want to bring that gold back home, not only to SGC but to GCW.

Deeb v ShidaHikaru Shida v. Serena Deeb
AEW Dynamite (27/10/2021)

Hikaru Shida versus Serena Deeb is an excellent feud that, as of this writing, isn’t over just yet, and we just recently saw them go head-to-head for another battle. Shida’s a natural babyface whose determination and athleticism is always believable. Serena doesn’t play a typical wrestling female heel. She doesn’t go for any over-the-top theatrics, rather being a typical technical kind of wrestler and trying to take apart one of Shida’s limbs, working on her with a chair, and so on. Perfect that Deeb’s wearing Bret Hart colours in this match, too. She’s an old school wrestler in a lot of ways. She’s been misused at times in her career, significantly so in WWE.

Shida’s suplex from outside to inside using turnbuckle was wicked and another example of her power. The match includes a lot of hard-hitting moves, especially from Shida. The spot with the chair moved so Shida uses stairs to drop kick Deeb was a nice touch and felt improvised; whether or not it was doesn’t matter because they made it LOOK that way. At one point Deeb goes full-on Bret Hart, using the ring post to do a figure-four leglock on Shida. Then she goes 100% nasty heel following Shida’s win, keeping the feud alive with enjoyably sick pleasure.

GCW ToS 666Alex Colon v. Atticus Cogar
Final Round: No Canvas 200 Light Tubes Death Match
GCW’s Tournament of Survival 666 (05/06/2021)

To start the whole thing off, Alex Colon’s entrance with Markus Crane (RIP) and Danny Havoc’s music, while Nick Mondo was in the ring, was beautiful. You don’t expect to get tears in your eyes at a deathmatch, yet here we are! Deathmatch wrestlers really know how to show their own the love that’s deserved. A wonderful beginning before the blood, glass, and barbed wire started to flow.

Colon’s bloody before he’s in the ring anyway, but then Cogar works him over good right off the bat until Colon responds with a nasty bodyslam on glass and barbed wire outside the ring. Cogar is artfully psychotic while Colon’s a perpetual bad ass who’s tougher than a bag of galvanised nails.
Plenty of big spots and brawling ni this match. The air raid crash spot by Cogar on Colon was absolutely fucking wild, pulled off with jaw-dropping precision. Nick Gage on commentary is legendary: “I dont even know what a troll is.” We get a brilliant exchange between Nick and Joey Janela as Nick says “I fucking hate jelly beans” and Joey replies: “Fuck jelly beans, we need to focus on whats about to happen here.”

Big, brutal finish and a great threepeat for Colon as winner of GCW’s Tournament of Survival for the third year in a row. Colon’s a deathmatch beast and never fails to put on a spectacular show.

Gage v CardonaMatt Cardona v. Nick Gage
GCW World Title Match
GCW’s Homecoming: Night 1 (24/07/2021)

This match had one of the wildest atmospheres I’ve felt, and just through the screen, at any indie wrestling show; it’s unimaginable how it felt to be there in attendance with Cardona in enemy territory and the GCW fans behind their man, the god of this shit, Nick Fucking Gage.
Hate him or love him, Cardona played a solid heel in GCW, though the best was here opposite Gage. Gage, after Arquette, Cardona, and Jericho in 2021, showed that he’s a king of deathmatch wrestling because he can take anyone and help them through one for their first time; Arquette only had a bad time because he was relatively ignorant to the realities of a deathmatch, especially one against Gage.

Cardona took great punishment throughout the match as Gage looked like a kid in a candy store while brutalising his opponent. And it has to be said that Gage knows how to do business. He was willing to put Cardona over; he didn’t have to, and yet he laid down on the mat for Cardona to get the win. It goes to show how well Gage knows how to tell a story, and he’s not afraid to put someone else over, even someone who’s not a deathmatch regular. There is an amazing old school heel reaction to Cardona’s win by the crowd as they pelted the ring with bottles after the bell rang, and it was just the best end that could’ve been imagined; fuck what Dave Meltzer says.

ROH Death Before Dishonor 2021Brody King v. EC3 v. Demonic Flamita v. Bandido
ROH World Title Match – Four Corner Survival Elimination
ROH’s Death Before Dishonor XVIII (12/09/2021)

Admittedly the first little bit of this match is slow, and until EC3—no shade, I dig him—is eliminated the match doesn’t quite get going full steam. That being said, the exchange(s) between Brody King, Demonic Flamita, and Bandido, as well as the final face-off between Brody and Bandido, are fantastic. An interesting mix of styles, all around.
Flamita gets the ball rolling with his heel magic which works well, though after that the match stalls a little. EC3 and Brody do get a brief moment to trade shots in the ring; Brody particularly looked awesome here because EC3 isn’t a small man, the guy’s like a slab of chiseled granite, and Brody tossed him around for a moment or two, showcasing his size and strength. King’s a monster and should, to a point, be booked as one. He doesn’t need to be untouchable, and he’s taken his share of Ls on his way up the mountain, but his power ought to be respected in matches. Just one reason why this match makes it to this 2021 list.

After EC3’s booted via DQ, the big bear Brody has to go up against Flamita and Bandido who form an uneasy alliance for the time being to take out the bigger opponent, and that whole combo puts this match on the list. The absolute battery of Brody by way of a Doomsday Canadian Destroyer is a spectacle; they don’t land it perfectly, but the way King sells it is downright killer. A bit later Brody hits his All Seeing Eye (a Samoan driver), a move he hadn’t used since coming to Ring of Honor, and does he ever make it look great. There were complaints by folks online about the finish of the whole match between King and Bandido when Bandido pulls King into a series of rolls followed up by an Oklahoma roll pin to seal the deal. This was a classical, technical win after Bandido essentially wore King out. It’s a wrestling story as old as time, done in a different way, which is appreciated in today’s wrestling landscape.

Tay and JayTayJay (Tay Conti & Anna Jay) v. The Bunny & Penelope Ford
Street Fight
AEW Rampage: New Year’s Smash (31/12/2021)

Yet another AEW match on this list featuring women who took a No DQ match and spun it into gold. The Bunny and Penelope Ford, while they haven’t appeared in a Street Fight like this yet, are somewhat edgier characters than Tay Conti and Anna Jay, in spite of Anna being part of the Dark Order. So a Street Fight is not something you’d expect of team TayJay. That’s why it was perfect, and it helped Anna and Tay look tough. Also, it helped Bunny appear tougher and even crazier than she already did before.

So many moments during this match that will make anybody wince. When Penelope’s moonsault doesn’t break the table resulting in a stiff bump for Tay it’ll produce audible reactions of pain from most viewers, and the beer bottle smash to head followup on Tay is vicious, too. Neither one of these ladies is idling during this bout, and there are so many stiff shots throughout. Anna’s superplex onto tacks with Bunny is a wildly nasty spot, all of which leads up to a submission hold by the former on the latter with barbed wire wrapped around her wrist (a la Mox), making her appear a wonderful maniac.
Women who wrestle can go just as hard as the men, they only need to be given the opportunity. AEW needs to book more women’s matches every show, and we need to see more No DQ matches in feuds featuring women where they’re called for, because these four ladies prove that they can deliver the brutality necessary when it makes sense for a story.

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