WWE's cowardly, lazy, dumb and numbing approach to the TV match finish sucks sh*t harder than an aeroplane toilet because the finish creates so much narrative scope.
A good promoter can determine the extent to which they want to get a talent over by how they absorb the loss, much less if they win. The kick-out at one; the kick-out at 3.1; the refusal to quit, the willingness to endure pain over humiliation; the need to unleash a super-variation of a finisher to put a particularly spirited opponent away: there is much minutiae to explore within the clean finish.
WWE refuses to recognise this intelligence and instead thinks you will say things like "The baddie ruined that match, so I absolutely must tune in next week to see them receive their comeuppance!" as if we're all six years old and glued to Coliseum Video.
A good match finish gets everybody over.
A great match finish accomplishes something even grander.
NB - Peak NJPW obviously boasts several incredible finishes, but the sad fact of the matter is that they don't like the use of still images, even if it puts their brilliance over.
10. Hangman Page Vs. Lance Archer - AEW Dynamite, February 9, 2022
Hangman Page had already passed his first test as AEW World Champion, and it was a daunting one. The money is in the chase, and there were few better title pursuits than his slow-burn mental health arc.
He defeated Bryan Danielson after first taking him to an hour in a match that, across its famed duration and seminal quality, cast Page in the mould of a bloodied traditional territorial champ with the smarts, guts and stamina to prevail.
As daunting as it was, he was there in there with Bryan Danielson across 90 minutes. If those matches dipped even slightly below the **** threshold, they'd have been disasters.
The real challenge facing any World Champion is in how they hoist a cold, filler challenger to their level - and Page passed it with a phenomenally intelligent spot of in-ring storytelling against Lance Archer.
Everybody knew that Page was winning. Page was smart enough to change the question. It wasn't a question of if, but rather a question of "how?"
During a bloody, brutal Texas Death match, Dan Lambert took the top rope off. How was Page going to hit the Buckshot Lariat? And how much did this story beat put over the finish, incidentally?
Page answered it by dropping some errant barbed wire, forcing the ref to pick it up, and using Paul Turner as a platform on which to launch into the Buckshot and blast Archer through two ringside tables.
Cold challenger, red-hot match: champion sh*t and cowboy sh*t.