2017 was a great year for wrestling. Whether you enjoy WWE, NXT, NJPW, ROH or any other promotion, there were many excellent matches to choose from. I’d like to watch every match from every promotion, but that’s impossible. WWE puts out 8 hours of TV every week (11 or more if there’s a PPV) so they occupy most of my wrestling time. While WWE put out their own list of the top 25 matches of 2017, I decided to whittle it down to five. Starting today through next Friday (skipping Christmas) I’ll post one match a day and explain why it made the list (not THAT list). Enjoy!
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#5 Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream – NXT TakeOver: WarGames
Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream had the best build on the War Games card and told one of the best stories of the year in WWE. Velveteen Dream wanted Black’s respect, and he was going to do anything to earn it. Dream tried getting inside Black’s head, attacking him and costing him matches. Nothing worked. With no more options to choose, Dream only had one left thing to do. He laced up his boots, put on his airbrushed tights and had a match of the year candidate.
Most guys in WWE can put on a good match but too often those matches don’t have a story behind it. One of my favorite things about NXT is that they focus on storytelling, which makes the pay-off match that much better. In a lesser man’s hands, Velveteen Dream would be a caricature. In 22 year old Patrick Clark’s hands, it’s a work of art. While Dream is a flamboyant, over the top character, Aleister Black is the polar opposite. He’s reserved, quiet and let’s his in ring work do the talking. When you put those two characters together, there’s a chance for magic, and that’s what we got at TakeOver: WarGames.
The psychology of the match was great and the actual wrestling was even better. I also loved how these two didn’t rely on kicking out of finishers to keep the match going. While that can be effective, if it happens too often it takes your mind out of the match. Dream gave it everything he had, but just like everyone else, he fell to the Black Mass. Black giving Dream the satisfaction of saying his name after the match was the perfect ending.