The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) from WWE 2014

harper

This was a 2/3 falls match for the Usos’ WWE Tag Team Championship.

What more could you possibly want from a match?

While an absolutely amazing match on the whole, this battle really stands out for Luke Harper’s individual performance. It makes perfect sense that the historically overlooked wrestler in every promotion would deliver such an amazing performance to so little fanfare.

Despite how good everyone was in this match, Harper single-handedly elevated this to all-time status. He was all over this place in this one and did everything in his power to make everyone look like their best selves. It was the kind of performance that should become the stuff of legend and solidify Harper’s spot as one of the very best going today.

Part of what made his work so great was that Harper’s character actually informed the structure of the match. Harper was an incredibly calculated competitor. If you gave him time and space to think before he acted, he was able to get or maintain the upperhand.

A quick flurry of offense from The Usos early in the match resulted in sending The Wyatts to the floor. Rowan wanted to charge right back in. Harper held him back though and calmly worked to get full control of the match instead of letting Rowan rush into a mistake.

During that control, a fluke tag-out by Jey resulted in Jimmy tagging in and going right to the top rope. That gave Harper just enough room to calculate the best course of action. He allowed Jimmy to dive, but he easily avoided it and then immediately pounced to kick Jimmy’s head off with a big boot to get The Wyatts the first fall.

The next time an Uso tagged out, Luke would not be so lucky. Instead of giving Luke time to think, Jey immediately just grabbed onto him and locked in a pinning combination to snag fall #2. Harper was not down though for long and he managed to maintain control of the match right after that.

Harper may have been in control after that fall, but he now had things to worry about. That fall did not just mathematically even things up for the champs. Now, they had a clear successful strategy that they could pursue. They had to take advantage of their speed to nullify Harper’s calculated movements. Harper’s size gives him a slower reaction time and thus provides openings for The Usos. Victory was in sight for champs.

Just doing that was not enough for The Usos to retain and topple the mighty Wyatts. Harper did not go down easily, as he led his team on by adapting to what his opponents were giving.

In one of the biggest sequences of the match, Harper managed to send Jimmy to the floor which gave him just enough time to wipe Jimmy out with his massive tope suicida. Harper’s weakness then immediately flared up again. He saw Jey take out Rowan on the floor. Instead of charting out a logical course of action, he reacted by going right back to the tope well. Jey predictably blocked it and Jimmy then was almost able to keep Luke down for the three as a direct result.

That sequence really summed up the brilliant and thrilling final third of the match. The Usos had their speed. Harper had his wits and size. There was a certain amount of luck though at this point. Whoever had the superior numbers at the right moment was going to likely be the winner. The Usos had momentum, but The Wyatts were proving most resilient.

The Usos did not let the Wyatts’ resilience get to them. They delivered all their big movez and Jimmy even hit the Superfly Splash. They just kept going for the W. The problem was that the Wyatts were too strong of a team on this night to be taken down by the regular stuff. The Usos endured though and finally managed to isolate Luke just long enough to connect on a double Superfly splash to keep him down for the three.

When you combine Harper’s amazing performance with an incredible in-ring story and a white hot crowd, you have yourselves one of the best matches of all time. Everyone owes it to themselves to watch this match. Everyone owes it to Luke Harper to more loudly celebrate his abilities. This was pure beauty. (*****)

 

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