We’re already through the first half of 2014! It’s certainly been an interesting year with some big moments, classic matches and more, but what’s been the best of the bunch so far? Sam & I decided to give out some mid-year mentions and discuss some of our favorites from the first 6 months of 2014. We’ll be talking about our top wrestler, tag team, promotion, event & 5 matches each that we thought were the best of the best so far this year. As always, we encourage healthy debate here at 4CRwrestling.com, so click the Twitter links next to our names at the top of this post and send us your thoughts not only on our lists, but what YOU thought were some of the best things from the firs part of 2014! So without any further ado, it’s time for the ‘4CR Mid Year List’!
Wrestler of the Mid-Year
If you aren’t watching CMLL then you probably are unfamiliar with this man. Well you should fix that because you are missing one of the most dynamic wrestlers on the planet right now. For me he’s the best wrestler on the planet. Hechicero is now working in CMLL on a regular basis but he isn’t any spring chicken. Hechicero was in one of the best matches of all of last year against Charles Lucero and was voted #11 in the Voices of Wrestling MOTY Poll. In some of his early CMLL trios matches from this year he elevated them almost solely by himself. Then En Busca de un Idolo happened. He would have been in the top 10 prior to it but then he got in the mix with guys like Dragon Lee, Cachorro, and Cavernario, who’ll probably end up in my top 20. Hechicero has had lightning fast matches with these competitors taking wacky bumps, throw some flashy moves, and work some twirly matwork. He doesn’t rely on one tactic to entertain and that for me makes him the #1 wrestler of the half year.
Billy- Tomohiro Ishii
I just don’t know how he can’t be the man getting this honor, at least on my ballot. Daniel Bryan was a lock until seemingly the day after his biggest win ever, but there’s been no one singles competitor on the planet who’s raised his stock more and put on a string of matches like Ishii. He started to make his case for 2014 with a fantastic feud with Tetsuya Naito, which saw Ishii win the NEVER title. He’s defended his title successfully against Tomoaki Honma, KUSHIDA and Kota Ibushi (which you may see pop up in the next section of this list. It seems that Ishii is being positioned to be a main event player in the near future and for good reason. He’s living up to his potential and leaving little doubt as to why many, including yours truly, are already calling him 2014’s Wrestler of the Year.
Matches of the Mid-Year
Billy’s Top 5
1) Antonio Cesaro vs Sami Zayn (NXT Arrival)
This was a tough decision as there’s been an incredible amount of amazing matches this year once again, but I found myself continuing to come back to the grand finale of the Zayn/Cesaro NXT feud. This match is absolutely amazing and is damn near flawless. The storytelling is great, the action is phenomenal and it did elevated both men. It was the ultimate showcase for Sami to show those who may not have ever watched NXT before the Network launched what he was all about. It also convinced the power that be in WWE that Cesaro was ready for the next level. Two of the world’s top workers, doing what they do.
2) The Shield vs The Wyatt Family (WWE Elimination Chamber)
The build to this was amazing, goosebump-inducing stuff. WWE’s two most dominant forces were on a collision course and when it finally went down, it didn’t disappoint. Often times, when a match is hyped to the degree that this one was, it’s almost impossible for it to live up to the expectations of the fans. This war met and exceeded all of those.
3) Titán vs Virus (Mexican National Welterweight Championship, CMLL 1/28/14)
Titán and Virus put on a beauty of a match back in January. Virus is kind of like a lucha William Regal and he helped guide the still young champion through a brilliantly worked title defense. Virus brought the mat work and made Titán elevate his ground game. The champ dazzled with his high flying and the whole thing came together wonderfully. And what about that somersault plancha to the floor by Virus?! Good storytelling, great work and my favorite lucha match of the year thus far.
4) Young Bucks vs reDRagon (ROH World Tag Team Chamionship, ‘War of the Worlds’)
All I’ll say is this is the tag match of the year and if you haven’t seen it, you must. NOW.
5) Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt (WWE Royal Rumble)
There were a few matches that could’ve occupied this spot on this list but I didn’t want people to forget about this. Plus, it’s still one of my favorites of the year. Great pacing, as they started slower and built to a great finish. Match was intense and hard-hitting throughout and Bray winning was a little surprising at the time–although in hindsight, it really shouldn’t have been. Wyatt’s first great match and it was probably mostly due to Bryan’s frenetic style.
Sam’s Top 5
1) The Shield vs. The Wyatts (WWE 2/23)
After all the hype I wasn’t sure if this match could ever match it but I suppose I never really should have questioned it. They didn’t start this one hot and heavy but instead threw some gnarly punches which did my heart some good. Felt like when both teams had their time to shine early they both used teamwork but in different ways. The Shield was tagging in and out like a machine while the Wyatts were trading off mauling duties. There is something about Ambrose that I both love and hate. His wild and crazy offense fits perfectly with his character but it barely looks like he’s even making contact with the target. Maybe I’m just a prick since I rarely see comments feeling that way. Love how this turned into a decent, simply moving along sort of match into complete chaos. You’ve got Ambrose and Wyatt brawling into the crowd, Harper doing a dive, Rollins being chucked threw a table, just craziness. This match in the most fantastic of ways; Reigns, a man who has been built up as a potential one man wrecking crew, being put to the test against the Family and comes oh so close to dismantling them only for family to put an end to his conquest.
2) Negro Casas/Cavernerio/Dragon Lee vs. Virus/Cachorro/Hechicero (CMLL 5/23)
There are many times where CMLL takes a ton of awesome guys and never really matches them together in these trios matches. Well here, probably the worst worker in the match is Dragon Lee, and he’s still really good. The two veterans, both well over 40, are two of the best on the planet. They didn’t mind showing why here. Really no one minded showing how awesome they were and that is what made it special. You like workrate? You should like this. This match has the most unreal bump of the year. Okay, it is real so I guess that is false. The moment? Cachorro hip tosses Dragon Lee to the floor. Watch it and tell me you don’t hop out of your seat. I’ll know you’re lying to me.
3) Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT 2/27)
Glad I went back to this one because it was even better than I remembered. Felt like the legwork was more or less shrugged off the first time around but this time I totally bought the adrenaline angle. Starts hot, cools off but is still interesting in the middle, then gets hot towards the end. Fantastic. You’ve got some callbacks to the first match with the big dive early on and the jumping DDT that gets snuck out in this. Like that was the most bad ass part of the match. Insanity. Then you’ve got the freaky Cesaro strength spots. Loved the set-up to the big swing where Cesaro soaks in the moments prior and gets caught so when he gets another shot he goes right for it. Cesaro looks like a brute and Zayn plays a beautiful underdog.
4) Cesaro vs. John Cena (WWE 2/17)
Power spots, sweet counters, and going a million miles an hour? Yep, this match has all that. Cesaro got a ton in this one and looked fantastic throughout. Looked like the younger hungrier guy with Cena looking like vet with some of his counters. They built to the Big Swing beautifully. Everyone wanted it but they just kept teasing it. They put two rad counters out to the Big Swing and got “Aww” from the crowd that when it actually got hit the crowd erupted. The ending was just brilliant stuff with the Cena lariat followed by that roll into the AA.
5) KUSHIDA vs. Jushin Liger (NJPW 6/6)
Well, well, well. WELL, WELL, WELL! I saw the hype and I just didn’t know if it could possibly meet it. Well, it did. Love Liger’s attack on Kushida’s leg and the youngster trying his darnedest to reach the ropes like he was trying to escape the cage of velociraptor. A very cranky velociraptor. Also that table spot…YAY! I had zero problems with the selling of the leg since I could totally buy the old “adrenaline” reasoning with the way he still kept tabs on it and when he peaked the damage became increasingly more prevalent. Loved that Kushida’s comeback actually meant something in the end. The dropkicking the arm. Really snapping down on the armbar which after you watch a dozen indie guys make it look like the worst thing ever was nice treat. The ending itself was some blissful stuff. The way the kimura got scrambled into the middle of the ring and how Kushida sunk it in. Real intense stuff. So yeah, Liger has piss in his Cheerios and Kushida is rather awesome selling leg damage and working IT!
Promotion of the Mid-Year
This is more of default victory. No other promotion is being crazy good in my opinion. So by default I’m just going to give it to the promotion that I enjoy almost every time I watch it. Virus has put on a couple quality title matches at this point. Negro Casas started things off right against Titan. Then we have En Busca de un Idol. There have been several awesome matches to come out of it with a bunch of quality workers that I can’t wait to see what they do after the tournament. Oh and there’s always Rush going after Casas at some points in the year.
Billy-Ring of Honor
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or on the podcasts, you know my affinity for ROH. There’s admittedly been some bad periods over the last few years but they’ve had a tremendous 2014 so far. They’ve excelled both in-ring and creatively, had some huge shows, look to benefit from a budding relationship with New Japan and have done their best to erase any missteps over the last few years. Here’s to hoping that they can sustain that momentum and finally offer a true, big-time alternative to WWE.
Show of the Mid-Year
There have been very few complete shows this year. Shows that are good from beginning to end. This felt like one of those shows. I’m not sure if there were any matches worth placing on a VOW MOTY ballot but there were several really good matches which is more than most shows this year can say. Cesaro versus Sheamus started the official PPV off right. They had two big matches which delivered in Bray against Cena and the Shield taking down Evolution. The rest of the card either met or exceeded expectations. Even the Diva’s title match, a title not often being allowed to do anything, put on a short but different type of WWE women’s match. With a small crop of shows to choose this on edges the rest out.
Billy-ROH/NJPW ‘War of the Worlds’/NXT Takeover (tie)
I honestly couldn’t pick one over the other here. These 2 were both tremendous shows that will hold weight when it comes time for the end-of-year voting here on 4CRwrestling.con, as well as other places too. ROH & NJPW put on a fantastic show in New York, featuring a pair of MOTYC’s in the reDRagon/Young Bucks & triple threat IWGP title match. Add in a strong Cole/Liger ROH title match and you’ve got a winner of a card.
As for Takeover, I said when it went down that top to bottom it was the best show that WWE has produced all year. I’m continuing to stick to that sentiment, especially after a second watch. From the pre-show to the main card and on to the post-game wrap up, it was put together wonderfully and came off great. A star-making match for Tyler Breeze against the incomparable Sami Zayn, a classic women’s title match & a strong main event made for a great night of wrestling on the WWE Network. The entire atmosphere of the event felt huge and it gave us the best WWE event of 2014.
Tag Team of the Mid-Year
There have been several decent tag teams in WWE but Usos are the top. They are an indie tag team toned down for WWE. That makes them about 20x tighter than those other teams. They throw superkicks. They do good dives. They put together fun matches. Yep, the winner is them.
Billy-The Young Bucks
It feels almost clichè to mention them in this category but I can’t deny what they’ve done once again in 2014. Matt & Nick have had great match after great match on 2 sides of the globe this year and have held titles in virtually every promotion they’ve been in. Hard to argue with the resumé of the still reigning best team on the planet.
So, what did you think? Like I said, feel free to send us some feedback on our Twitter feeds or use the official 4CR Twitter feed. This hopefully was a good synopsis of the year so far–it definitely is shaping up to be a stellar year in wrestling once again! It’ll also be interesting to look back on this list when we do our year-end awards and see how much of this list is incorporated into that. Things change so rapidly and workers are constantly striving to be the best, so we may see new wrestlers elevate their game in the second half of the year. With that, we may very well see a slew of matches that outdo the ones on this list! No matter what, be sure to just have fun with wrestling as we make our way through the rest of the year and we’ll do this again in January!