Finlay v Matt Hardy (Smackdown!, 6/19/07)
This was outstanding. I haven't really gone back and re-watched that much of Hardy's run from around this time, but I remembered it being stellar -- he'd come out every week and have bossy matches with everybody. I've called him WWE's 00s version of Tito Santana before, where you could honestly stick anybody in there with him and you'd get something at least fun. Stick Finlay in there with him and you get way more than that. This was kind of structured similarly to the Undertaker match I talked about yesterday, where they work fairly even and lay in the strikes before Finlay eventually takes over and goes after a body part. He went after the ribs in the Undertaker match, his beatdown was great, and Undertaker's sell job was greater. Here he goes after Matt's leg, his beatdown is EVEN GREATER, and Hardy's sell job is EVEN GREATER STILL. First half has some amazing moments where Finlay will just haul off and do something brutal and Hardy will sell it in an awesome way. Matt goes for an armwringer, so Finlay cracks him in the ear with a STIFF forearm, and Matt's jelly-legged sell was just out of this world spectacular. Fujiwara-ish, even. They do a cool spot where they're on the outside and Hornswaggle grabs Matt's leg from under the ring, and when Matt turns his attentions back to Finlay he gets mowed down with a lariat even Hansen would be satisfied with. Second half of the match is where it gets really great, though. Matt goes up to the middle rope, but Finlay grabs his leg and yanks him off, and when Matt lands he clutches his knee right away. Finlay paints a bullseye on it and tries to cripple him. He takes off Matt's knee brace, twists the knee in really awkward ways (there's a standing figure-four thing that looked way nastier than any other figure-four I've ever seen), stomps on it, jumps on it, kicks the leg out form under him; just a straight up dismantling. When Matt rallies back there's a real sense of desperation to everything he does. Finlay charges him in the corner and Matt gets the leg up, but it's not a typical 'boot out of the corner' counter. He more or less throws his good leg up there and hopes for the best, and afterwards he collapses in a heap in the corner. It all has a make-or-break feel to it, and his selling in general is as about good as any leg selling you'll see. Finish is great. Hornswaggle comes in and distracts the ref', so Finlay whacks Matt in the leg with the shillelagh. Looks like Finlay is going to sneak away with the cheap victory, but Matt catches him with a flash one-legged Twist of Fate for the win. Probably a top 10 match of Matt's career. Wouldn't say it cracks the career top 10 for Finlay, but it might be one of his 10 best of the decade, and that's still some awfully classy company.