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Greatest/Favourite Near Fall


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I am a big fan of storytelling in matches. I like to be slowly hooked by a match and allow myself to buy into what story the wrestlers are attempting to tell. My favourite part of these matches, and indeed the pay off for me are near falls.

A well worked near fall can make a good match great and a great match amazing. There is an art to the near fall that I feel is lost somewhat in todays high speed big bumping matches. 

So, my favourite near fall of all time is perhaps also the greatest near fall of all time. Undertaker vs HHH hell in a cell, end of an era. The story telling leading to this match was sublime.

Taker; ageing, battered, defiant yet determined to defend his streak to the bitter end; they really should have morphed him into an Old Man Taker character here. Grey that hair up, grow that stubble in.

HHH; perhaps the only man left capable of ending the streak. Aggresive, ruthless, The Game. 

The premise was simple:

“your time has passed and only I am worthy to end it”

The match itself was the perfect choice for this encounter, two veterens of Cell matches. 

And the final twist; ol HBK, retired by the Taker, best friend of HHH. Conflicted, torn, resolute. Until Taker dared to lay his hands on him. 

BOOOOOOOOM, superkick, BAAAHHHH GAAWWWWDDD, pedigree. 

1 2 ...... NO NO NO NOT THE STREAK,  FUCKING HELL HE KICKED OUT HE FUCKING KICKED OUT.

There it is. The greatest near fall of all time. This is the first and only time I thought the streak was over. And that in itself is testament to the skill of Taker and HHH. No one even entertained the thought that three F5’s would put the Taker down. But that near fall? Nothing short of magic.  

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That Sweet Chin Music into Pedigree on The Undertaker is my favourite near fall and I can’t even think of anything that comes close. 

I was lucky enough to be able to attend that Wrestlemania and at that moment I genuinely thought that was it so when he kicked out it was fantastic and just generated so much emotion out of me that I didn’t think pro wrestling could. 

There was one Sweet Chin Music from HBK on Undertaker at WM 26 that had me thinking the streak was over. Undertaker sold it beautifully too.

Those quartet of matches were pretty fucking special, weren’t they? Might have to watch them all again at some point this week.

Edit - Just had a look on YouTube and here is a ‘top 5’ video which contains both of these nearfalls. I’d imagine for those watching the HIAC live on TV that having JR call it makes the whole moment that little bit more special. His reaction when Shawn kicks Taker is great.

 

Edited by Mr Kennedy
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I didn't buy the nearfall in the Cell in the slightest. I didn't give Hunter any chance of winning before the match or during the match and when that interaction happened I didn't believe for half a second that "screwed by guest ref" would be the way Taker's famed streak would end.

Conversely, the Tombstone in the Mania 27 match fooled me completely. The way they set that up made it look for all the world like the Undertaker was a dog on his last legs and Triple H was about to put him down. Even though before the match I had given them no chance of flushing the streak away for Hunter.

But if we're going for favourite, then it's got to be about emotional investment. So, it's definitely Bret kicking out of the Perfect-Plex.

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47 minutes ago, HarmonicGenerator said:

Same series of matches but different incident for me. It’s Triple H’s Tombstone at WMXXVII. That was the moment I thought it was over, completely sucked in.

When I read the thread title, this was the first that came to mind. After he hit the BURIAL DRIVER~, I was convinced he'd ended the streak.

The aforementioned sweet chin music into the Pedigree was also a superb near fall, but unlike the previous year I didn't think for a moment that Taker was losing.

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43 minutes ago, HarmonicGenerator said:

Same series of matches but different incident for me. It’s Triple H’s Tombstone at WMXXVII. That was the moment I thought it was over, completely sucked in.

I was just about to post the very same. I remember myself and about 5 friends sitting on the sofa and when Triple H went for the tombstone, we all thought "ok, so Tombstone reversal and Taker gets the flukey win here", and I vividly remember everyone leaping up when he hit the move thinking that was the streak ending. Absolutely sucked in by it, especially with the story the match was telling. 

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Orton getting hit by Bryan's knee before Batista dived in to steal the pin, and then kicking out is a memorable one. First time anyone had kicked out of Bryan's knee if I remember correctly.

Okada getting his foot onto the rope after Omega finally hit the One Winged Angel in their Dominion 2017 match sticks out too.

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The Tombstone by HHH on the Undertaker mentioned by others above I'd say is my favourite near-fall.

A couple of honourable mentions, the first is not exactly a near-fall but it was in a TLC match between Edge & Ric Flair for the WWE Championship on Raw in January 2006. It would have been foolish generally to think that anything over than an Edge win would occur, but in the final few minutes there was a spot when Edge was near the top of the ladder only for Flair to grab the other end to tip the ladder away from him causing Edge to fly off over the top rope and through a table on the outside. A pretty meaty bump to take. And as Flair started to climb the ladder towards the belt there was no movement at all from Edge, Lita hadn't yet jumped in and Flair was halfway up the ladder I legit thought he was actually going to win it. It was only when he got his fingertips to the belt that Lita interfered, got taken care of and Flair went back to the ladder and the inevitable happened, Edge getting back up, knocking Flair off the ladder and climbing up to retain his title.

Another one is from the Elimination Chamber 2012 was when Santino Marella was one-count away from winning the World Championship from Daniel Bryan. Now this on the face of it sounds utterly ridiculous, a low to occasional mid card comedy wrestler coming out of the last PPV before Wrestlemania winning one of the two big belts in an Elimination Chamber match to defend it on "the biggest stage of all" having defeated Daniel freakin' Bryan? But sitting back and watching the match, taking into account Marella's participation in the match came through an upset victory on Smackdown and being billed the big underdog, that he was booked to go down to the final two with Bryan having hung in with Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett & Big Show being eliminated, avoided a splash by Bryan in a corner and then hit the Cobra on him. Going for the pin, the "one, two... ooooooohh!" from the crowd in attendance was one of the loudest I've heard in the past decade. Just a few seconds after kicking out, Bryan got Marella into the LeBelle Lock and it was over, but again for a brief moment before that I felt, and thousands in attendance, thought he'd won. It's worth remembering that prior to that match, no one had kicked out of the Cobra before, and indeed no one had kicked out of it after that match. Yes, the Cobra was kicked out of only once during Santio's time on the WWE roster as an active competitor. Most wrestlers would die to have their finisher protected so well by the bookers.

 

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The tombstone spot was excellent I agree but it did not hook me at all. I think the reason being that it was a staple of the attitude era for opponents to use one anothers finishers in the build up to the end of a match. 

I still stand by the fact that Brock should never have ended the streak. I am by no means a “the streak should never have ended” type of guy but I feel humanising Undertaker year by year as be clung to his last reason for wrestling would have been a phenomenal story. 

“Come back with your shield, or on it” comes to mind. 

 

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