Match of the Year

April/May Match of the Month

I think I will do these bi-monthly now, to have a bigger amount of matches to talk about per post. April was a big month, with NXT and WrestleMania. EVOLVE had a ton of matches with a lot of hype, but I didn’t actually watch them yet, so they don’t appear here. Also, I didn’t take the best notes on what I watched, so I’m sure there’s a few 4-star matches I forgot about, but that’s alright.

***** Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Takeover: Dallas. April 1, 2016

This was as close to a perfect match as you can get. If you haven’t seen it, you need to go out of your way to watch it. Everything about it was so great, and a red hot crowd gave it a big match feel. It was Nakamura’s debut and Zayn’s farewell, and was an emotional night with an emotional match.

****1/2 Asuka vs Bayley
NXT Takeover: Dallas. April 1, 2016

These two had a tough draw, trying to follow Zayn/Nakamura, but they did a great job at telling their story, with Asuka as dominant as ever, and Bayley never giving up.

****1/2 Sasha Banks vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch
WWE: WrestleMania 32. April 3, 2016

This was a crowning moment for the women of the WWE. The debut of the new title and the dumping of the word “Diva” would have been a lot less important if these three hadn’t delivered a great match. Fortunately they did, and the revamped Women’s division kicked off on a high note.

****1/2 No Mas Match: Sexy Star vs Mariposa
Lucha Underground. May 4, 2016

Wrestling is, at it’s core, a method to tell a story. The Sexy Star story has been questionable, to say the least, but it ended in the best and most satisfying way possible. This ranks as one of the best Lucha Underground matches ever, not just for the in-ring work, but because it’s story. It was violent, it was bloody, and most importantly, it was passionate.

****1/2 Will Ospreay vs Ricochet
NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors. May 27, 2016

The most talked about match in years, I wrote a whole post on this match. It’s pretty amazing, and everyone should go watch it.

****1/2 Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA
NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors. May 21, 2016

An amazing way to open the Best of the Super Junior tournament, highlighted by an insane flying armbar counter from KUSHIDA. That spot alone gives this match an extra half star.

****1/2 Aj Styles vs Roman Reigns
WWE: Extreme Rules. May 22, 2016

An escalation of their previous match, these two put on one hell of a performance. The hardest thing they had to do was convince us that AJ could win, and they did that with the second Style’s Clash.

****1/2 Intercontinental Fatal Four Way
WWE: Extreme Rules. May 22, 2016

Cesaro. Sami Zayn. Kevin Owens. And, uh, The Miz? This was a fast paced multiman match with three of the best workers in the business. And the Miz more then held his own. He’s one of the best characters in WWE, and the threat of him winning put everyone on edge.

**** Samoa Joe vs Finn Balor
NXT Takeover: Dallas. April 1, 2016

Joe looked looked like a vicious monster in this match, throwing Balor all around the ringside area. The match was hurt by the frequent stoppages, as Joe got busted open with the first strike of the match, and the ending was a tad anti-climatic, but everything before that was excellent.

**** Intercontinental Title Ladder Match
WWE: WrestleMania 32. April 3, 2016

This was your typical WrestleMania multiman ladder match. It’s hard to go wrong with these, and the surprise winner made for a nice “WrestleMania Moment.” The Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens story interwoven throughout also helped.

**** KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay
NJPW: Invasion Attack. April 10, 2016

Like most KUSHIDA matches, this was technically perfect, though without a lot of emotion. Ospreay brought a bit of something special though, including some innovative selling of his injured arm.

**** Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
NJPW: Invasion Attack. April 10, 2016

This would be rated a bit higher, but there was just a little too much interference for me. But the crowd was red hot for Naito’s heel antics, and we got the much anticipated Rainmaker to Destino counter.

**** Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn
WWE: Payback. May 1, 2016

These guys had a tough time after a scary situation in the previous match. But the first WWE 1 on 1 match between these two delivered big time, and got the crowd back into the show.

**** AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns
WWE: Payback. May 1, 2016

AJ is so good, and Reigns more then held his own. Reigns is best when he can throw guys around, and this match was a great showcase for both guys. Reigns really came into his own as a tweener character here.

**** Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii
NJPW: Wrestling Dontaku. May 3, 2016

Ishii and Naito have a great clash of styles, and always put on an enjoyable match. The struggle between the brainbuster and Destino at the end was particularly awesome.

Edited because I forgot about Ospreay/Ricochet and Sexy Star/Mariposa

March Matches of the Month

March was a better month for good wrestling then February, though nothing stood out as a real Match of the Year. There weren’t a lot of big shows in March, most of the month building to the big shows in April. Still, a solid month.

****1/2 HHH vs Dean Ambrose
WWE: Roadblock. March 12, 2016.

This match gets an extra half star because of the crazy close false finish after Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds. A really good match that made me jump out of my seat when I thought Ambrose won, and I can’t ask for much more then that.

****1/2 Mil Muertes vs Fenix
Lucha Underground: March 16, 2016.

A fitting conclusion to their year long rivalry saw Fenix come out on top is a bloody and exciting match.

**** Finn Balor vs Neville vs Balor
NXT: March 2, 2016.

This was a lot of fun, but nothing really stood out. A paint-by-the-numbers 4 star match between two really good wrestlers.

**** Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito
NJPW: New Japan Cup. March 4, 2016.

A great match of clashing styles. Ishii’s intensity and stiffness against Naito’s speed and indifference made for fun match, with Naito countering the Brainbuster with Destino for a cool finish.

**** New Day vs Chris Jericho & AJ Styles
WWE: Monday Night Raw. March 7, 2016.

An exciting tag match that showed off the strengths of everyone involved. AJ in particular was on point, hitting is high flying moves perfectly.

**** Samoa Joe vs Sami Zayn
NXT: March 9, 2016.

A nearly hour long match is really hard to do. Some people didn’t like this one, but I thought it was really good, keeping my attention the entire time.

**** Mil Muertes vs Prince Puma vs Pentagon Jr
Lucha Underground: March 9, 2016.

A crazy exciting match with great spots and told a great story. I would go higher if it was a bit longer.

**** Tetsua Naito vs Hirooki Goto.
NJPW: New Japan Cup. March 12, 2016

The finals of the New Japan Cup saw Naito win an excellent match that built up both wrestlers. Goto kept winning with creative roll up, unable to hit his Shouten Kai finisher. Naito went through Yoshi-Hashi, Ishii, and Toru Yano, all members of CHAOS. They had a great near fall when Goto finally landed Shouten Kai, but it wasn’t enough. Afterwards, Goto joined CHAOS, bringing the tournament full circle.

**** Aztec Warfare
Lucha Underground: March 23, 2016.

Better then the Royal Rumble in every way. One of the best battle royal matches I’ve ever watched.

Match of the Year Candidates: Lesnar vs. Rollins vs. Cena

Brock Lesnar made his return Monday night on Raw, so it’s only appropriate to go and look back at one of the best matches of the year, the Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble. Brock has been the most exciting wrestler this year, and he’s only had two matches. Early this year I made a list of my favorite wrestlers right now, and Brock topped the list. He might still top the list and he hasn’t been on TV in two months.

But it takes more then one person to make a great match, especially when it’s a triple threat match. Rollins is great as the slimy heel, and Cena can be great as well, so expectations were high for the match. But I don’t know if anyone thought it would be this good. (more…)

Match of the Year Candidates: Tanahashi vs. Okada

Wrestle Kingdom 9 was one hell of a show back on January 4th. It’s the show that finally got me into the New Japan product, and introduced me to some of my favorite wrestlers. It also had two potential Match of the Years. You know it’s going to be a good year for wrestling when people are talking about Match of the Year four days into the year.

I talked about Nakamura vs. Ibushi last time from WK9. This time it’s the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP title.

Match of the Year Candidates: Nakamura vs. Ibushi

Well, not a damn thing is going on right now in the world of professional wrestling. WWE has descended into a post-Wrestlemania slump, nothing is happening with New Japan until the end of the month, and while Lucha Underground and NXT remain excellent, that’s only two hours a week. Even my favorite wrestling writer, Grantland’s The Masked Man, is writing about basketball.

So with nothing better to do, I’m going to revisit my potential Match of the Year candidates in chronological order. I’ll go through the participants, the story leading to match, and then a recap/analysis of the match. The first match to be considered happened all the way back on January 4th, at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 9.