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Top 25 Matches of 2010
From a triumphant stand against an invading army to the final showdown between two ring legends, these are the bouts that defined WWE in 2010.
A final brawl between two sworn enemies. A brutal war in a five-ton cage. A rematch of the biggest bout of 2009. These were the conflicts that wowed the WWE Universe in 2010, but which of these matches was the most exciting? The most dramatic? The most awe-inspiring? WWE.com witnessed every bout contested in a WWE ring this year and deemed these the 25 finest.
BEAT THE RICH
Say what you will about Alberto Del Rio, but the man knows how to make an entrance. Arriving on SmackDown in June in a luxury car, Del Rio shocked the WWE Universe when he immediately defeated Rey Mysterio and then injured the masked man's arm a few weeks later. But The Master of the 619 would not stay down for long. Challenging his snide rival on the Oct. 8 edition of SmackDown, the former World Champion humbled the aristocrat, delivering him his first loss in an exhilarating main event. But while Mysterio won that battle, the war between these two men rages on.
Recruited by John Cena as a last minute replacement for an injured Randy Orton, Evan Bourne could've blown it in the big main event tag team match against Sheamus and Edge. Instead, the high-flyer soared to new heights, helping the Legendary star snuff out The Celtic Warrior and The Rated-R Superstar in a bout that had the WWE Universe shaking the rafters. Targeted due to his smaller stature, Bourne had to weather an offensive storm to stay in the match, but refused to quit and ultimately nailed Sheamus with the Shooting Star Press for a well-deserved victory.
WOULD BE KING
On his 61st birthday, Jerry "The King" Lawler came within a rung of winning The Miz's WWE Championship in a heartbreaking TLC Match. Going down on the Nov. 22 edition of Raw, the bout was the WWE Hall of Famer's first-ever opportunity to win the coveted title and he fought like it was like his last. After battering The Awesome One, Lawler was literally inches away from achieving the impossible when he was suddenly stopped by his own broadcasting partner, the underhanded Michael Cole. The cowardly act allowed The Miz to steal the win, but the WWE Universe knew who the better man was that night.
Rey Mysterio proved all of his critics wrong when he won the World Championship at WrestleMania 22 in 2006. He did it again at Fatal 4-Way in 2010. But after taking Jack Swagger's coveted title at that event, Mysterio had to contend with the brash jock's power and technical skill in a thrilling singles match at July's WWE Money in the Bank. A classic battle of speed against size, The Master of the 619 won the contest after reversing an ankle lock. There was no time to celebrate as Mysterio was attacked by Swagger and Kane, but for a moment the little man was a giant.
MEETING HER MAKEOVER
This will forever be remembered as the year Michelle McCool and Layla lost their damn minds. After linking up in late 2009, Team Lay-Cool made life hell for every Diva in the WWE locker room, including Beth Phoenix. After weeks of accusing The Glamazon of not being ladylike, Michelle was forced to defend her Women's Championship against Beth in the first-ever Extreme Makeover Match at Extreme Rules in April. A unique bout in which beauty products like lipstick and hairspray could be used as weapons, the brutal match was won by The Fabulous Firebird, but the embarrassing loss did nothing to squash the inflated egos of Team Lay-Cool.
MEN OF STEEL
February's Elimination Chamber was a night of highs and lows for John Cena. After defeating Sheamus, Triple H, Ted DiBiase, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton in the unforgiving structure, the Raw Superstar had a brief moment to bask in his sixth WWE Championship victory. But mere minutes after surviving this hell, Cena was interrupted by Mr. McMahon who announced that the Legendary star would have to immediately defend the title against Batista. Battered and broken, Cena was easy pickings for The Animal, but the resilient Superstar knew he'd gain retribution against his ego-driven rival soon enough.
GOING TO EXTREMES
With the demise of ECW in February, the ECW Championship has become defunct, but the title was a coveted prize through its final days. Held by Christian for the better part of seven months, the championship was at stake in a heated Royal Rumble showdown between Captain Charisma and Ezekiel Jackson in late January. With the massive Jackson desperate to make his mark on ECW history and Christian unwilling to give up his legacy, the brawl went back and forth thanks to Jackson's size and the champion's experience. In the end, however, it was experience that won out as Christian found victory with the Killswitch.
RED HEAD REDEMPTION
A master of the art of movement known as parkour, John Morrison was in his element when he battled WWE Champion Sheamus in a Falls Count Anywhere Match on Raw on Sept. 13. Using his body like a projectile weapon, The Monday Night Delight was close to stopping The Celtic Warrior before Chris Jericho, still bitter about losing to Morrison the previous week, interfered in the bout and bashed The Shaman of Sexy with a steel chair. The sneak attack cost Morrison the match, but his spirited performance still earned this bout a spot amongst the year's most memorable.
Chris Jericho may be a weasel, but he rarely backed down from a challenge. This willingness to prove that he's "the best in the world at what he does" brought the nefarious competitor to "WWE Superstars" in March where he locked up with Goldust in a match that lacked the promotion of a big event, but delivered just the same. A rare encounter between two bona fide veterans, the bout was a veritable seminar on what it takes to make it in WWE. Tense and dramatic with enough close calls to keep the WWE Universe on their feet, the match was won by Jericho, but both men left the ring looking like true Superstars.
REY OF THE DEAD
No Superstar has overcome the odds quite like Rey Mysterio, but The Ultimate Underdog truly had his work cut out for him when he stepped in the ring with The Undertaker at Royal Rumble in January. With The Deadman's World Heavyweight Championship on the line, the SmackDown Superstars left their mutual respect at the door and brawled like lifelong rivals with a score to settle. The action got particularly heated when Mysterio scored with a blistering 619 that busted The Undertaker's nose, but The Demon from the Death Valley ultimately unleashed his dark side and delivered a monstrous Last Ride for the win.
At Hell in a Cell in October, Daniel Bryan defended his United States Championship against The Miz and John Morrison in the first-ever Triple Threat Submissions Count Anywhere Match. A wild encounter to say the least, the bout found the three Raw rivals battering each other throughout the stands of the American Airlines Center in Dallas in a frenzied attempt to make someone tap out. The match's most thrilling moment, however, occurred on the entrance ramp where The Monday Night Delight recklessly launched himself from the top of the set onto his opponents. Ultimately, Bryan won the bout, but the highlight reel belonged to Morrison.
As partners, they were one of the most successful and popular tag teams in WWE history. As rivals, they waged brutal battles that left both men forever scarred. But it had been years since Edge and Christian locked up when they finally faced off on the May 17 edition of Raw. With the WWE Universe anticipating this battle since Christian made his return in early 2009, the match was heavily hyped and still managed to deliver the excitement. Although the contest was heated, Edge ultimately scored the win, but the fans are already begging for a follow-up.
BEST IN SHOW
The term "dream match" gets thrown around often, but there's no better way to describe the showdown between Shawn Michaels and Rey Mysterio from the Jan. 29 edition of SmackDown. Clashing for the first-time ever on the Friday night show, the two WWE icons delivered exactly what the WWE Universe expected out them: a fiery, dramatic match filled with some of the most unbelievable athleticism ever displayed. By all accounts, the encounter could have been a timeless classic, but outside interference from Batista, Triple H and Undertaker sullied the bout. Nevertheless, this rare clash between HBK and The Master of the 619 was something to behold.
The Hell in a Cell was designed to settle scores. Constructed out of solid, unforgiving steel, the structure is built so that no one gets in and no one gets out. It was this finality that led WWE Champion Randy Orton and his rival Sheamus into the Devil's Playground at WWE Hell in a Cell in October. Although it was his first journey into the dangerous environment, The Celtic Warrior showed no fear as he battered The Viper with a steel chair and a series of Brogue Kicks. It would be WWE's Apex Predator who struck last, however, nailing an RKO on top of the steel steps for the win.
OVER THE TOP
Twenty-nine men and one woman entered January's Royal Rumble over the course of an hour and battered each other in a war of attrition for the opportunity to compete for a World Title at WrestleMania XXVI. As expected, it was nothing short of epic. With CM Punk preaching to the crowd between eliminations and Beth Phoenix becoming only the second female to compete in the Rumble, the event was full of shockers. But it was the unexpected return of Edge as the 30th entrant that truly sent the WWE Universe into frenzy.
For years, Daniel Bryan had the reputation of a talented performer who never hit it big in a major North American promotion. All that would change, however, on the first episode of WWE NXT when he was put in a match with reigning World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho. Looking to show the WWE Universe what he was made of, the skilled newcomer brought the fight and dove out of the ring with such fury that he slammed into the announce table. The brutal maneuver cost Bryan the match, but it was clear that this future champion was ready to shine.
So much was on the line when John Cena faced Nexus leader Wade Barrett at October's Hell in Cell. If the Legendary star won, the invading band of rebels would have been forced to dismantle. But if the former WWE Champion fell, he would become a member of the black and yellow brigade. Cena losing seemed unthinkable, but after a vicious match and a well-planned sneak attack by Nexus recruits Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris, the Raw Superstar was defeated. The months that followed under Barrett's thumb would be some of the most difficult of Cena's career.
Kane's reign of terror over SmackDown began at Money in the Bank in July. Fighting it out with Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Drew McIntyre, Christian, Matt Hardy, Dolph Ziggler and "Dashing" Cody Rhodes in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match, The Big Red Monster displayed the resiliency of a horror movie villain as he took every shot thrown at him and kept coming for more. The most brutal shot, however, was delivered to McIntyre who was smashed through a table by a diving Kingston. This daredevil maneuver helped level the playing field and allowed Kane to scale the ladder and grab the briefcase.
BOURNE TO FLY
2010 was a breakout year for the wildly talented Evan Bourne. An aerial expert with agility to spare, the Raw Superstar wowed in the ring, but didn't pick up a major singles victory until Fatal 4-Way in June. Taking on the nefarious Chris Jericho, Bourne used his speed and determination to keep pace with the former WWE Champion right from the bell. Despite suffering a barrage of brutality, the high-flyer stayed focused and found his opening after a botched superplex. With Jericho down, Bourne nailed a spectacular Shooting Star Press and pinned the international legend, making it clear that a new star had arrived.
In WWE's first major stand against the invading Nexus, John Cena assembled a motley crew of Superstars that included WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hit Man" Hart and a returning Daniel Bryan to combat the seven members of the ruthless horde in a huge Elimination Tag Team Match at SummerSlam in August. Although the bout was crucial, Team WWE nearly fell apart due to bickering teammates Chris Jericho and Edge and an interfering Miz, who was bitter at not being picked. Still, John Cena stood strong to eliminate Wade Barrett and send The Nexus a message - WWE will not back down.
HEARTBREAKING AND ENTERING
The Undertaker walked into the Elimination Chamber in February ready to defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Chris Jericho, John Morrison, R-Truth, CM Punk and Rey Mysterio. He did not prepare for the man hiding underneath the structure. Intent on receiving a rematch against The Deadman at WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels secretly entered the 16-ton chamber and attacked Undertaker, ensuring that he would not be champion on The Grandest Stage of Them All. HBK's daring stunt worked as Jericho stole the victory and an enraged Deadman accepted Michaels' challenge for an epic return bout.
EDGE OF DARKNESS
Don't let CM Punk's charming demeanor on the Raw broadcast team fool you. The man is a creep. For proof, revisit The Straight Edge Savior's disturbing behavior during his memorably rivalry with Rey Mysterio in 2010. From intimidating the masked man's children to sending his Straight Edge Society after The Ultimate Underdog, Punk did whatever he could to unnerve his fearless rival. Although the Chicago native's tactics rarely worked, he did get to Mysterio at Extreme Rules in April. Enlisting a masked assailant to blindside The Master of the 619, The Straight Edge Savior stole a victory and showed the WWE Universe how devious he can be.
Long simmering tensions between John Cena and Batista exploded in 2010 in a series of epic encounters that culminated in a harrowing "I Quit" Match at WWE Over the Limit in May. With no rules, the two beasts battered each other across Detroit's Joe Louis Arena before they reached the top of a muscle car parked on the entrance ramp. Hoisting the massive Batista on his shoulders, Cena threatened to toss The Animal if he didn't surrender. But after Batista cried for mercy, the powerful Superstar still delivered a monstrous Attitude Adjustment, sending The Animal through the stage below and out of WWE for good.
When a rare Champion vs. Champion Match featuring United States Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler was announced for Bragging Rights in October, the WWE Universe knew they were going to witness a battle. But few were ready for the instant classic that followed. Intense, frenzied and vicious, the bout featured two of the most gifted Superstars of their generation competing at the peak of their abilities for a breathless sixteen minutes. And although it was Bryan who won the match that night, both men left the ring knowing that the future belongs to them.
18 AND WOE
The conflict between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker wasn't a rivalry - it was an obsession. After falling to The Deadman in one of the greatest bouts in WrestleMania history, HBK did everything he could to get a rematch and ultimately put his career on the line just to face Undertaker. With so much at stake, Michaels was determined to break The Deadman's storied WrestleMania winning streak, but nothing could stop The Demon from the Death Valley. Defiant to the end, HBK fell in his final stand, but he left behind a legacy that the WWE Universe will never forget.
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