Previous 2016 Match of the Year entries:

 

Yesterday, we launched the countdown with a breakdown of the poll’s origins, how scoring works and of course, our voter pool. You can read that entry at voicesofwrestling.com/2017/01/24/2016-match-of-the-year-intro-honorable-mentions. We also counted down matches #100 through #76 and those can be viewed at voicesofwrestling.com/2017/01/24/2016-match-of-the-year-100-76

Today, we’ll continue our Top 100 countdown with a look at the matches that ranked #75-51.

#75
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Minoru Suzuki 12/2
NOAH

Overall Points: 15
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 2nd

I’ve already written about this match twice, but I will never get tired of it. Minoru’s performance stands out in my mind; especially since he was only going to work one more match in NOAH after this. These guys did an amazing job of building the match in a way that really made you question if Katsuhiko was going to win. The selling was incredible and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire 37 minutes. -JoJo Remy

#74
Matt Riddle vs. Chris Hero 3/20
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 15
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 4th

Maybe my favorite “bully Hero” vs. “unique youngster” match of the year. Riddle finds neat ways to counter Hero’s brutal attacks, and Hero works like the toughest boss battle at the end of a video game. -Eric Ritz

#73
Fenix & Pentagon Jr. vs. Tommy End & Chris Hero
9/3
PWG

Overall Points: 15
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 5th

On the nights that feel like jazz masters showing how much they can do for the rabid fans, this was the greatest exhibition to me. Hero’s year was probably the closest to Styles in terms of always delivering, and he’s having as much fun doing so here as I saw. The duo of Fenix and Pentagon produces tremendous spots, including the ol’ back flip off the top of your partner’s shoulders to the outside chestnut. A lot has been made of Hero’s versatility, and it should be, but End also shows that he’s ready for anything too. A blast. -Travis Woloshyn

#72
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose
12/4
WWE

Overall Points: 16
Total Votes: 5
Highest Vote: 3rd

This is the hidden gem match on WWE’s calendar this year. The entire TLC event was a surprise hit late in the year and this match was stole the show. The Elsworth ending was predicable but was executed very well! -Miles Francis

#71
Roderick Strong vs. Matt Riddle
7/16
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 17
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 3rd

For a short time I called this my match of the year. One of Riddle’s longer matches of 2016 that goes back & forth & features a lot of action & amazing spots. Roddy brought his A game here. -Devon Hales

#70
Trevor Lee vs. Brad Attitude
12/30
CWF Mid-Atlantic

Overall Points: 17
Total Votes: 6
Highest Vote: 5th

Sneaking in right at the bell, this match was the blow off to the best feud in all of wrestling in 2016. Trevor Lee’s title reign has been filled with long matches, but here he had 30 minutes to beat Attitude or he lost the title, and while Lee could be disqualified, Attitude couldn’t. The set up for, and use of these stipulations was brilliant, and helped to create an atmosphere in the building that was truly special. A back and forth match that played off of years worth of storylines, and paid off a six month build between Lee and Attitude, this was also a rare example of a match where seemingly complicated stipulations, ref bumps, and even a quasi-screwjob finish, all contributed to making a match a classic. Think Over The Edge 98, but with better ring introduction music. -Dylan Hales

#69
Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle
8/19
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 18
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 2nd

I was at this match live, loved it, and I may have loved it even more on video. Both live and tape had advantages. Live I could really feel the thud of all of the strikes. These shots didn’t have the snap of a Low-Ki kick, they thumped, the sound when they landed wasn’t sharp it had a real bass to it. On tape you can really see the close up of the mat work, I could tell that Thatcher was mauling Riddle’s foot, but on video you can really see him try to separate the toes and turn the ankle. Thatcher has been hit and miss lately, but having this kind of harrowing violence in his grappling is where he is at his best. There is no test of skills, this is a mean guy trying to use grappling to maim the guy across from him. The no holds barred stipulation came in to play mostly with a lack of rope breaks, there was a bunch of innovative cool looking spots around no rope breaks, including both guys locking in kneebars and rolling off the apron to the floor, and Thatcher using the ropes to choke Riddle out and break a triangle. Finish was also an awesome use of the ropes, as Thatcher hung Riddle by the arm into a hangman’s cross armbreaker. Great stuff, right up there with my favorite Thatcher matches ever, and the best Riddle match of his young career. -Phil Schneider





#68
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Jonathan Gresham
7/31
Beyond Wrestling

Overall Points: 18
Total Votes: 2 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

The culmination of a series of matches between the greatest technical wrestler in the world and a pretender to the throne. Fighting for their pride, perhaps for their very sense of self, these men tear each other to bits in what is perhaps the smartest match of the year. -Brock Jahnke

#67
Mustafa Ali vs Isaias Velazquez
6/10
Freelance Wrestling

Overall Points: 18
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 4th

Storytelling at its best as Ali finally captured the Freelance title. Not only was this an amazing display of skill on the mat, but the interaction between the wrestlers and the crowd drew everyone into the story. Such a great match. -Mike (Papa) Hales

#66
Aztec Warfare II
2/11
Lucha Underground

Overall Points: 19
Total Votes: 2 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

I loved Aztec Warfare III, and it seems like I enjoyed the story of Sexy Star winning the big one more than most. But I think that Aztec Warfare II was the better-constructed match, full of great spots, very few slow or uneventful portions, and the amazing moment of the return of Dario Cueto and the debut of a new monster heel. This was my first look at Matanza (and the man behind the mask) and I couldn’t have been more blown away – his laying waste to damn near every important character in the promotion was a spectacular visual and really set into motion the storylines for the rest of the season. Fantastic stuff. -George Thompson

#65
Maximo vs. Kamaitachi
1/1
CMLL

Overall Points: 19
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 5th

Maximo Sexy does drama better most. Shows how you can sell the leg without kicking it to the curb. Kamaitachi is obviously and insane person but also is a compelling jerk. Seems like it has been forgotten and I like to believe it is because it is just a match with excellent execution on their ideas without differentiating itself enough in structure. For me though, the execution is too good to ignore in a match where your hair is on the line. -Sam DiMascio

#64
Katsuyori Shibata vs Chris Hero
11/11
RPW

Overall Points: 19
Total Votes: 5
Highest Vote: 2nd

This was just two guys beating on each other, and it was beautiful brutality. Chris Hero had an incredible 2016, wrestling some of the best matches in the business all over the world, and Shibata spent his year just whooping on people in NJPW. Stiff, stiff match for the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship, and it was just a fight. The no-selling of moves helped to tell the story of the match, and some of the strikes were just painful to watch. Shibata retains, and Hero looks like a monster in defeat. -Abbey Arthur

#63
Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet
12/12
OTT

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 2 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

Ospreay and Ricochet, divisive though they may be, encapsulate a lot of what I love about pro wrestling. I like that genuine sense of surprise when they do something I didn’t think was possible. It’s a cliche, but it’s like seeing a real life superhero fight. Similarly, Over The Top Wrestling, which I just started attending in 2016, has reinvigorated me as an indie wrestling fan. The sense of energy in the dingy-but-communal Tivoli Theatre, the variety of homegrown and international stars, the unapologetically Irish sense of humour – it all feels like it’s speaking my language (not literally, I barely passed my Irish exams back in the day). With their December clash in Dublin, Ospreay and Ricochet defied gravity just a few feet from my face, and in one case, flew over my section of the crowd in a moment that caused me to nearly leap out of my skin. Despite being highly intoxicated on cheap cans of cider, as is OTT tradition, this match had me enjoying wrestling with an almost childlike glee. -Barry Murphy

#62
Akira Tozawa vs. Eita
5/11
Dragon Gate

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 3rd

The best match of the severely underrated and underreported 2016 King of Gate tournament, a dramatic 20:00 draw that was nearly topped exactly one month later by the same two men in their Block B decision match. Tozawa was the MVP of the tournament, with three MOTY caliber bouts in seven tries, with the Eita matches serving as the turning point for Eita’s year. -Joe Lanza

#61
Isami Kodaka vs Masa Takanashi
1/31
DDT

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 3rd

This felt more like a fight than a wrestling match. Kodaka was laser focused on Takanashi’s leg and Takanashi was laser focused on Kodaka’s neck. I wasn’t as familiar as I might normally be with either man, but they quickly made even me realize that Takanashi was trying to set Kodaka up for a Canadian Destroyer. The ability to tell that story with the barriers of language and unfamiliarity is truly amazing. Ultimately, the finish was a little flat, but the work during the rest of the match was too great to ignore. -Aaron Bentley

#60
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
8/3
WWE (CWC)

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 5
Highest Vote: 4th

I loved the ways this match tied into Gargano and Ciampa’s storylines in NXT and Gargano’s storyline in Evolve. At the time, Gargano was fighting off Drew Galloway in Evolve, and Gabe Sapolsky worked his obligations in NXT and the Cruiserweight Classic into Gargano’s feud with Ethan Page. Meanwhile, Gargano and Ciampa looked like they were setting up a Ciampa turn on Gargano. This match seemed to feed into that, and Gargano’s injuries in this match then tied into their title match against the Revival at TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn. You don’t get the best 2 out of 3 falls match between Gargano & Ciampa and the Revival without their match at TakeOver: Back to Brooklyn, and none of this works without the story about camaraderie and respect their slugfest told. -Kim Wong





#59
Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
4/3
WWE

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 6
Highest Vote: 5th

Despite the somewhat problematic execution of WWE’s Women’s Revolution, the division’s three best wrestlers were given a marquee billing and ended up delivering easily the match of the night. Charlotte walking the ramp in a re-tailored version of one of her father’s robes was only outdone by Sasha Banks being rapped to the ring by her cousin, Snoop Dogg, while wearing gear inspired by her idol, Eddie Guerrero. While not a flawless match, all three women worked their socks off and hit a massive home run that had the world talking, cementing women’s wrestling as a serious endeavour in the WWE and making talk of women main eventing a future Wrestlemania seem slightly more plausible. -Matt Waters

#58
Sexy Star vs. Mariposa Martinez
5/4
Lucha Underground

Overall Points: 20
Total Votes: 6
Highest Vote: 4th

Sure, this wasn’t the most snug work in the world. The technical prowess of these two, especially together, leaves a lot to be desired. Yet, somehow, these two women went out and put on a violent feud-ending spectacular that stole season two of Lucha Underground. It was hard not to think of ECW’s violent, arena-wide brawls in the ECW Arena as these two gave us a modern update of that style match and everything about it just clicked. By all means, it shouldn’t have. The story leading into and out of it was a disaster. Sexy Star often looks lost and a page behind her opponents. Mariposa has managed to greatly underperform in her role for the company. Yet, somehow, some way, these two clicked and gave us one to remember. Even Matt Striker was good in this match. Melissa Santos added to the match from her chair at ringside. Vampiro got the crowd and the viewers at home fired up. Everything about this delivered in ways I could not possibly have seen coming. Full of visually striking moments, tremendous crowd response, and unforeseeably brutal action, this match is one of the year’s best. -Jeremy Sexton

#57
Kento Miyahara vs. Kengo Mashimo
4/9
AJPW

Overall Points: 21
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 2nd

At the beginning of 2016 it didn’t look like All Japan was going to have a stellar year. Hell, there were serious worries that the company might have to shut down after all the talent they lost in 2015. The wrestler who was given the ball to run with it was Kento Miyahara. Miyahara had a stellar year and had many, many great matches headed by – in my opinion – his 30 minute time limit draw against Kengo Mashimo. Mashimo came to be an absolute asshole while the newly crowned Triple Crown champion had to suffer from Mashimo’s methods which included working over Miyahara’s fingers. The specialty of Miyahara proved to be him working from underneath and with the fierce beating Mashimo laid on him the table was set for Miyahara to come back in a fiery finishing stretch barely escaping from Mashimo’s Mudo as the match ended. -STRIGGA

#56
Jun Akiyama vs. Kento Miyahara
7/23
AJPW

Overall Points: 21
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 2nd

The company reviving Triple Crown run of Kento Miyahara reaches its peak with him putting the final nail in the coffin of a 2+ year long feud with Akiyama, his mentor. The best of Miyahara’s title reign and despite an under the radar level of hype (this took place on the same day as a G1 Show) this makes a strong case as one of the best in Japan in 2016. -Dylan Harris

#55
Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr.
4/2
WWNLive

Overall Points: 21
Total Votes: 5
Highest Vote: 2nd

Up until June this was my clear Match of the Year, and for my money was the best match in Dallas over WrestleMania weekend. Presented as a contest between the mat based genius of Sabre, and the striking genius Hero, the match also benefited from an incredible live setting which saw half of the crowd cheering for Hero and the other half for Sabre. Hero’s taunting of the Sabre sections, the viciousness of his biggest shots, and the definitive nature of the finish give this match a little more depth than the other excellent WWNLive (Evolve) matches this year that just barely missed making my ballot. -Dylan Hales

#54
Tetsuya Naito vs. Michael Elgin
7/24
NJPW

Overall Points: 22
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 2nd

This is my favourite under-the-radar match from 2016. Elgin’s selling of his knee was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in terms of limbwork effecting a wrestler’s offence, in part because Elgin is so strong that he could purposely screw up power moves without endangering himself and Naito. He sure kept trying to get them right, though, and it ended up biting him. Or, more accurately, smashing his head into the mat. Pete Dunne wasn’t around, so there was no actual biting. -Jeff Martin

#53
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Prince Puma
7/20
Lucha Underground

Overall Points: 23
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 3rd

Misterio absolutely looked like he turned the clock back in this match. It wasn’t quite 1992 AAA, but he looked more crisp and athletic than anyone had reason to expect at this point in his career. Ricochet himself is no slouch either. This was a dream match that actually delivered on the dream. -thecubsfan

#52
KUSHIDA vs Kyle O’Reilly
5/21
NJPW

Overall Points: 23
Total Votes: 7
Highest Vote: 6th

I’m a sucker for both of these guys, especially KUSHIDA’s use of the double wristlock. Their match the year before was my match of the year, and this was just a step behind in my opinion. -Sean Ross Sapp

#51
Shingo Takagi vs. YAMATO
7/24
Dragon Gate

Overall Points: 24
Total Votes: 3 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

Dragon Gate’s biggest matches sometimes fall short. It’s nothing against the workers. I don’t blame them for trying to create epics during their five big shows each year. When they deliver, they deliver big. This one delivered big, folks. YAMATO vs. Shingo had been built up beautifully, stemming from YAMATO’s split from VerserK and Takagi reigning over Dragon Gate like a tyrant. There was a huge shift in the momentum of the company when YAMATO finally spiked Takagi with a Galleria and won the match. A true epic, and a top tier Dragon Gate match.  -Case Lowe





Top 100 (Through 51 matches):

PlaceMatchDatePromotionOverallTotal VotesFirst Place Votes
100TJP, Johnny Gargano & Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll & Tommy End 4/24/2WWNLive920
99Timothy Thatcher v Drew Gulak Evolve 11/1211/12EVOLVE930
98Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles 5/15/1WWE930
97Chris Hero vs Trevor Lee 4/94/9AAW930
96Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll 1/241/24PROGRESS1030
95Heidi Lovelace vs. Princess Kimberlee 3/193/19CHIKARA1120
94Kento Miyahara vs. Daisuke Sekimoto 5/255/25AJPW1130
93Yuji Okabayashi vs. Ryota Hama 1/241/24BJW1130
92Arik Royal vs. Andrew Everett 12/3012/30CWF Mid-Atlantic1130
91Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii 8/38/3NJPW1130
90Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA 4/104/10NJPW1140
88Caristico vs Volador Jr. 4/64/6ELITE1220
88Sasha Banks vs Charlotte 10/3010/30WWE1220
87Tag Team Apocalypto 12/1512/15TNA1220
86Jushin Thunder Liger vs KUSHIDA 5/35/3NJPW1230
85Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar 11/2011/20WWE1240
84Lio Rush vs. Jonathan Gresham 9/249/24ROH1320
83Chris Hero vs. Timothy Thatcher 6/106/10EVOLVE1320
82Charlotte vs Sasha Banks 11/2811/28WWE1340
78Shuji Ishikawa vs. Danshoku Dino 10/2310/23DDT1411
78Chris Hero vs Tracy Williams 3/193/19EVOLVE1411
78Kellie Skater vs. Mercedes Martinez 11/1211/12SHIMMER1411
78Broken Matt Hardy & Brother Nero vs. The Decay Delete or Decay 9/89/8TNA1411
77Black Terry vs. Barbaro Cavenario 6/116/11Cara Lucha1420
76Delta vs. Galactar 11/2711/27Monterrey1430
75Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Minoru Suzuki 12/212/2NOAH1520
74Matt Riddle vs. Chris Hero 3/203/20EVOLVE1530
73Fenix & Pentagon Jr. vs. Tommy End & Chris Hero 9/39/3PWG1540
72AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose 12/412/4WWE1650
71Roderick Strong vs Matt Riddle 7/167/16EVOLVE1730
70Trevor Lee vs. Brad Attitude 12/3012/30CWF Mid-Atlantic1760
69Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle 8/198/19EVOLVE1820
68Zack Sabre Jr vs Jonathan Gresham 7/317/31Beyond Wrestling1821
67Mustafa Ali vs Isaias Velazques 6/106/10Freelance Wrestling1830
66Aztec Warfare II 2/112/11Lucha Underground1921
65Maximo vs. Kamaitachi 1/11/1CMLL1940
64Katsuyori Shibata vs Chris Hero 11/1111/11RPW1950
63Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet 12/1212/12OTT2021
62Akira Tozawa vs. Eita 5/115/11Dragon Gate2040
61Isami Kodaka vs Masa Takanashi 1/311/31DDT2040
60Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa 8/38/3WWE (CWC)2050
59Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte 4/34/3WWE2060
58Sexy Star vs. Mariposa Martinez 5/45/4Lucha Underground2060
57Kento Miyahara vs. Kengo Mashimo 4/94/9AJPW2130
56Jun Akiyama vs. Kento Miyahara 7/237/23AJPW2140
55Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr. 4/24/2WWNLive2150
54Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin 7/247/24NJPW2240
53Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Prince Puma 7/207/20Lucha Underground2340
52KUSHIDA vs Kyle O'Reilly 5/215/21NJPW2370
51Shingo Takagi vs. YAMATO 7/247/24Dragon Gate2431