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2019 Match of the Year: Cody vs Dustin

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Masterpiece. One of the greatest wrestling matches I’ve ever seen.

The story leading up to this was so excellent—I actually voted for this as feud of the year. Cody told an especially brilliant story with regards to this not just being brother against brother but a clash of two different eras—the modern era, fighting for recognition and legitimacy against the previous generation which seems to refuse to go away year after year for nostalgia’s sake. Cody wants to put down this bygone era like an old dog on the farm that needs to be taken out behind the shed. It works on a couple levels: as a very compelling metaphor to give the match an air of added significance, but also as an attempt by Cody to depersonalize this match for himself because perhaps he couldn’t bear it otherwise. The idea that when he brings the hammer down on the throne, he’s not just smashing the idea of the nostalgia act or of a bygone era…he’s trying to forget that he’s about to fight his older brother. And you feel that in his tears.

This match is so good, I didn’t even need to go back and rewatch it to talk about it because what’s special about this match is how it makes you feel. I don’t think I specifically remember a single moment of this match—I couldn’t name you a “spot” to save my life but what I remember is that it all meant something. It meant SO MUCH. It was the most basic, fundamental wrestling you’ll see in 2019 and it all felt life-or-death because it was *treated* as important. Every golden oldie each man pulled out of his hat heightened the drama because both men sold us on the idea that every one of them could be the last—and the idea that if it was, *so much* was at stake for both men. It was everything a brother vs. brother match should be: deeply personal and emotional, reluctant vs. vengeful, and about more than just brother vs. brother. And Cody paying tribute to The View Never Changes and tearfully telling Dustin “I need my older brother,” offering the same love and acceptance their father offered Dustin 25 years ago when he apologized for never being there for him and asked him to be *his* tag team partner, was as emotional as it gets.

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