Meltzer’s Classics: John Cena vs CM Punk (17/7/11)

John Cena vs. CM Punk - WWE Championship Match | WWE
Credit: WWE

Unlike most of the matches I’ve covered in Meltzer’s Classics, I watched this one live. Back in 2011, CM Punk sat down and cut the now-infamous pipe bomb promo, calling out WWE and Vince McMahon in a shocking and real way. It felt like a game-changing moment, and it set up a storyline where the whole world knew his contract was expiring after Money in the Bank 2011. On what could have been his final show, he was put up against the WWE champion and the man Vince crafted in a test tube, John Cena. Surely he couldn’t win… right?

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Meltzer’s Classics: Kaientai Deluxe vs Super Delfin, Gran Hamada, Tiger Mask IV, Gran Naniwa and Masato Yakushiji (10/10/1996)

More bad screenshots.

We recently watched the Dragon Gate match that, arguably, introduced lucharesu to a broader audience in America, so this ten-man tag feels like a natural follow-up. For Dragon Gate were far from the first company to blend lucha and puro (there is a reason for the proliferation of masks in Japanese wrestling), and they weren’t even the first to use it to put together wild multi-man tags. In fact, we’re heading back to 1996, where Great Sasuke’s Michinoku Pro was doing something surprisingly recognisable to a modern day audience.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (23/3/97)

Oral History of WWE's Greatest Match: Stone Cold vs. Bret Hart at ...
Time to catch-up with this one. Credit: WWE

Do you want to know a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this match before. Austin vs Bret, widely considered one of the greatest WWE matches of all time and somehow I’ve never taken the time to sit down and watch it. Why? Fuck knows, but I guess now is as good a time as any to fix that flaw in my personality.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Kyoshi Tamura vs Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (27/6/98)

Yes, it’s a screenshot of the video.

We should kick this off by making it clear that shoot style and MMA are not my expertise. I can appreciate both in the right context, but ultimately, I know nothing about them, so any dip into that realm is coming purely from a pro-wrestling perspective. All of which means you must be desperate to hear what I think about Tamura vs Kohsaka, a RINGS match from 1998.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Do FIXER vs Blood Generation (31/3/06)

It’s impossible to point to one match that has influenced the way American indie wrestling has gone in the 21st century, but, if you had to, you could do a lot worse than wag that finger in the direction of this one. For a large percentage of the audience, this was the first time they’d been introduced to a Dragon Gate style tag as that blend of lucha and puro was brought to the USA. Christ, there is a reason Dragon Gate USA became a thing while the last Meltzer’s Classic I did happened ten years after this, and if you can’t see the links, you ain’t looking. It changed a lot of stuff, and yet, this is the first time I’ve ever seen it. So, the question is, does it hold up to modern eyes?

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Meltzer’s Classics: The Young Bucks and Adam Cole vs Ricochet, Will Ospreay and Matt Sydal (3/9/16)

The hype around this six-man chaos led to many people checking out the high-octane style of PWG for the first time. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s fair to say that it’s been incredibly influential on how wrestling has gone in the last few years and matches like this helped push it to a wider audience.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi (4/1/15)

Image result for ibushi nakamura
That’s got to hurt. Credit: NJPW

Towards the end of 2014, Kota Ibushi announced that he was moving to New Japan’s Heavyweight Division. Kota was no stranger to Heavyweight competition, he’d competed in the 2013 G1, but he’d done so while still officially a Junior (much like Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi did this year). Now, he was only wrestling the big boys, and for his first challenge? He went after Shinsuke Nakamura’s Intercontinental Title.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi (1/10/05)

https://pm1.narvii.com/6415/d272d7aaa28b4ddc6f342cb08defd1a2850d3d10_hq.jpg
Credit: ROH

It’s 2005 and Ring of Honor is the hottest independent wrestling company in America. One of the jewels in their crown is Samoa Joe, a man in the prime of his career who had spent 21 months with their title in 2003-04. Meanwhile, over in Japan, NOAH is in a similar spot, and the legendary Kenta Kobashi had just finished up a two-year-title-reign which cemented his already hefty legacy. When Kobashi signed up to do some dates with ROH, the chance to face him off with Samoa Joe must have been the easiest booking decision they ever made.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Tomohiro Ishii vs Tomoaki Honma (14/2/15)

NJPW on AXS (December 4) Review: Ishii vs. Honma
Going to war. Credit: NJPW

I started watching New Japan regularly in January 2017, so the idea that Tomoaki Honma was having five-star matches only a couple of years before is rather baffling to me. Honma wasn’t awful when I first tuned in (his injury has since seen him drop down to that level), but if you’d asked me to rank the roster, he would have been near the bottom.

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Meltzer’s Classics: Shingo Takagi vs Masaaki Mochizuki (11/1/15)

Dragon Gate Gate of Destiny 2015 (November 1) Review
Credit: Dragon Gate

Let’s dive into another five-star classic as we look back at Shingo Takagi going head to head with Masaaki Mochizuki. I say it’s five-stars, but I’ve seen a few places say that Dave has never officially bestowed the rating on it. Truthfully, I don’t care. I want to watch and write about Shingo because he’s my boy, so if it’s bothering you, imagine it says wrestling classics at the top rather than Meltzer’s Classics. Better? Good.

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