Previous 2016 Match of the Year entries:

The Top 100 countdown continues with matches 26 through 11 including a brutal Wrestle Kingdom bout, two heated Joshi battles, the CWC final and more!





#25
Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata
1/4
NJPW

Overall Points: 62
Total Votes: 12 (1 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

Most of the Wrestle Kingdom 10 card lacked in a way that Wrestle Kingdom 9 didn’t. It wasn’t until this match, the seventh of nine on the card, that the show picked up. As I mentioned earlier in the list, I love the rivalry between Tomohiro Ishii and Katsuyori Shibata. It’s a manly feud featuring two guys beating the hell out of each other. Just like their G1 Climax 23 match (which I gave five stars), they came out and went to war from the opening bell. This was a prideful tight fight. There was a point where they literally asked for harder strikes from their opponent. The things they normally do seemed like it wouldn’t be enough so we had moments like Ishii busting out a missile dropkick. Both men collapsed to the mat in exhaustion a few times because they were giving everything for the title. I saw so many stiff strikes and headbutts here that I can’t believe they went so hard for the entire 17:19. It felt like two guys willing to kill each other and that’s a great quality in a title match. After tons of great moments, Shibata won with the Penalty Kick to capture his first singles title in NJPW. He got his moment on the biggest stage possible and it was awesome. NEVER Title matches feel so different from IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Title matches in the best way. Shibata and Ishii embody what that title has become and I could watch them beat the shit out of each other until the end of time. -Kevin Pantoja

#24
Aja Kong vs. Meiko Satomura
4/8
Sendai Girls

Overall Points: 62
Total Votes: 13 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

Aging greats, lifelong rivals, the very pinnacles of a style collide in the twilight of their careers. A score of young women sing for their heroes, these goddesses, as they prove their dominance, fighting against time, against each other, against themselves. John Darnielle said it best: “Some things you will remember. Some things stay sweet forever.” -Brock Jahnke

One of the most special matches I’ve experienced live. Watching Aja Kong gradually turn the clock back to 1993 as the match progressed was something unforgettable. She was pushed every step of the way by one of the best in the world (of any gender) Meiko Satomura. A wild hard hitting clash which saw the face of Sendai Girls topple her greatest rival. -Alan Counihan

#23
Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
4/1
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 64
Total Votes: 11 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

This was perhaps the best match I’ve ever seen live, in what may have been the best three day stretch ever for a pro wrestler by Ospreay. -Joe Lanza

Will Ospreay has been everywhere in the world this year. He’s lit up Sumo Hall, he’s owned York Hall, and he’s made his presence felt in the Hammerstein Ballroom. However, Ospreay did his best work in Eddie Deen’s Ranch in lovely Dallas, Texas. This match felt like a big deal, bigger than most matches on the indie scene in today’s day & age. Rob Naylor & Lenny Leonard did a brilliant job making the call for what will go down as one of the most important matches in WWNLive history. A number of things contributed to Ospreay’s rollercoaster year, but this is what kicked it into hyperdrive. Without a doubt, not only was this one of the best matches in 2016, but also one of the most important when looking at the landscape of pro wrestling. -Case Lowe

#22
Io Shirai vs Mayu Iwatani
12/21
Stardom

Overall Points: 66
Total Votes: 12
Highest Vote: 2nd

A “hate-filled sprint” might seem like a bit of a misnomer, but that’s exactly what two of the best women wrestlers in the world provided us with to close out the year in STARDOM. These two ladies put on a match that was at once super-fast paced but also incredibly violent, as Iwatani tried in vain to make her former partner pay for betraying her. Io was always a bit confident and full of herself as a babyface anyway so she made a very easy transition to full-on heel, abusing poor Mayu and generally making it clear she doesn’t she her on her level. Mayu came tantalizingly close to proving her wrong but in the end couldn’t quite keep her down, and for as fantastic as this match was one gets the feeling they could even top it if they meet again in 2017. -John Carroll

This is how you do a god damn title match. Excellent chain wrestling. Brutal, high impact moves. Drama. Emotion. Hate. Love. Speed. Power. AMAZING athleticism. I’m sure I’m forgetting some of the things this match had because this was basically just a boatload of amazingness. Io is quite possibly the best in the world right now and holy hell if Mayu isn’t far behind. This match showed why. Just incredible. -Iain Seaton

#21
TJ Perkins vs. Kota Ibushi
9/14
WWE (CWC)

Overall Points: 67
Total Votes: 16
Highest Vote: 4th

This match turned TJP into a superstar (for at least one night). Ibushi was the favorite but TJP stuck with him at every step. Big nearfalls and moves in front of a rabid crowd, overall playing into the larger story of TJP overcoming all odds and winning the CWC. -Kevin Hare

WWE’s Cruiserweight tournament during the summer was awesome. They told stories about the people in the tournament, and allowed them to go out there and do what they do best. Kota Ibushi is one of the best in the world when he’s really motivated, and TJ Perkins is just as good. They had a stellar finals match which made TJ Perkins a star…well, until he went to Raw, but that’s another story. This match was awesome and one of the big highlights of the CWC as a whole. -Bryan Rose

#20
Yuji Okabayashi vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani
7/24
BJW

Overall Points: 68
Total Votes: 9 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

This match is simply two bulls colliding repeatedly to see who gets to be on top, and in this case it was the younger and hungrier bull on this night that managed to just barely defeat his elder. The build-up to Kamitani’s win was excellent, with Kamitani coming just short of winning the big one in the finals of the Strong Climb against Shuji Ishikawa a few months earlier before he finally got over the hump here. This match had that special Guy Currently At The Absolute Top vs. Young Guy Who Is Trying Like Hell To Overthrow Him feel in the same way as, say, Jumbo vs. Misawa once did, and it really added a ton to the match. Simply put, these two beasts throwing bombs was everything I love about pro wrestling. -John Carroll

Hideyoshi Kamitani was on his way to finally break out, but before that breakthrough which would come a few months later, he hit a roadblock in Shuji Ishikawa. This match was all about heart, as young Kamitani just wouldn’t give up against veteran brawler Shuji Ishikawa. Young Kamitani was the recipient of some of the nastiest most stiff strikes imaginable, but he kept fighting through the pain. The finishing stretch was one of the best booked finishing stretches in wrestling in 2016, as Shuji just kept hitting move after move on Kamitani, who kept kicking out. But the expected hope spot never came, as Shuji basically had to kill Kamitani to end the match. Kamitani knew he was done for, many strikes before he couldn’t kick out, but this was all about showing guts, determination and most of all heart, as Kamitani kept kicking out despite knowing he was done for. Referee Frank Atsushi does a tremendous job in the finishing stretch, almost pleading to Kamitani to stop kicking out. Atsushi jumps around & screams like he’s witnessed a murder, which just adds another layer on top of this incredible untraditional bully vs. underdog match, where the bully wins decisively but the underdog looks incredible in defeat. -Morten Hansen





#19
Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi
1/24
NJPW

Overall Points: 68
Total Votes: 12 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

There are sections of other Lee/Kamaitachi matches which were better than this, but nothing felt like it meant more. They pulled off a match that felt ten years ahead of it’s time, and turned their Mexico only rivalry into something that’ll link both men for the rest of their careers. -thecubsfan

I am one of those uncultured heathens that professes not to ‘get’ lucha, and as such I wasn’t particularly familiar with either man when this started to get serious hype. Watching this match was a complete revelation, and made me feel like I was in the ECW Arena discovering Rey Mysterio Jr and Psicosis for the first time. There were some dazzling displays of athleticism in this, and they were all strung together to create such a compelling and intense match. I am so completely AMPED for what these two will do at the New Beginning. -Jack Stevenson

#18
La Park vs. Rush
7/14
ELITE

Overall Points: 68
Total Votes: 16
Highest Vote: 3rd

This was wild. Match was actually stopped for excessive brawling in Arena Mexico. These two didn’t care and kept going. Reminded me of the wildness from a Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah The Butcher match where the action would just end up everywhere else but the ring. It was fantastic! -Alfredo Esparza

Often times the most memorable matches are the most unexpected. It is not as if Rush and LA Park having a great brawl was unexpected. Rush and LA Park having a wild, emotionally charged brawl (with blood!) in sterile Arena Mexico for the directionless ELITE promotion, was quite the surprise. Rush and Park broke about a dozen Arena Mexico rules during the course of their brawl and legitimately had their time cut off early (but kept working their match anyway), which provided a real sense of danger. We still have not gotten the apuesta match these two have teased for years, so this match will have to settle for being known as one of the most effective set ups for an apuesta match that never happened. -Paul Cooke

#17
Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi
3/4
CMLL

Overall Points: 75
Total Votes: 12 (2 First Place Votes)
Highest Vote: 1st

I can’t remember exactly what made me decide to watch this match but everyone and their mother was ranting and raving about how good it was. I just re watched it prior to making this list and while narrowing my list of 50 down to a top ten and this match definitely holds up. I felt exactly like I did when I watched it the first time and was repeatedly saying “I remember that” as certain spots were hit during the match. This match is definitely must see and if you don’t watch too many matches from Mexico do yourself a favor and watch this match because it will blow your mind and give you a new appreciation for wrestling outside of America. -Nathan Neumann

The seeming last hurrah to one of the greatest in-ring feuds in wrestling history ends with a bang as most would want it to, as everyone left satisfied one last time at the daredevil antics of these superstar talents. Watching the Fantasticamania match then this makes you salivate at what 2017 will bring for these two. -Dylan Harris

#16
Gunner Miller vs Chris Hero vs Jimmy Rave vs Anthony Henry
8/6
Empire

Overall Points: 83
Total Votes: 13 (3 First Place Votes)
Highest Vote: 1st

This is the best pro wrestling match I’ve ever seen live, which also happened to main event the best event I have ever seen live. It’s also the best multi-man match I’ve ever seen. A four way elimination tournament final, the match saw the hometown hero who had struggled on the first night of the tournament, win out over the biggest breakout star in Southern wrestling, the best wrestler in the South, and the best wrestler in the World. The match built off of stories developed not just during the event itself, but also ones that carried over from the SCI in 2015. It’s actually hard to believe the amount of things that were paid off in this match, but even as a stand alone bout the momentum shifts, big spots, pacing, drama, and crowd heat, place it comfortably among the elite matches of the last five years. -Dylan Hales

My best live wrestling experience of the year. I stood for the entire match, not easy for a man of my age and health. All four participants played a vital role in the match. The story telling and ring psychology added depth. A true classic. -Mike (Papa) Hales

#15
Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi
7/24
WWE (CWC)

Overall Points: 90
Total Votes: 17
Highest Vote: 3rd

Instead of analysis, I’m going to give you a transcript of me watching this match. “Hey, I bet this will be decent. Oh man, this is pretty good. Oh, shit. OH. Shit. OH SHIT. OH SHIT OH SHIT OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT.” -Jeff Martin

This will no doubt be the first of many love letters I write to the CWC over the next few years. As a self contained ‘series,’ there may be nothing in wrestling like it again. I could have written about maybe five or six different matches in this slot but, for me, Cedric Alexander vs Kota Ibushi encapsulates much of what I loved about the CWC. The action was there, obviously. Both guys are so effortless in their athleticism, and everything flows so well, that this could have easily been the tournament finals and no one would have blinked. But like all the top level CWC matches, the ‘music between the notes’ made this. In particular, the moment when Cedric thought he had Kota put away – only to be thwarted by a kickout at 2.9. His stunned face was so perfect, so in sync with what fans were feeling, that your heart genuinely hurt for the guy. He was something of an underdog against the unbeatable yet still beloved international superstar; and you just wanted him to pull it out of the bag. As well as being a great self contained match, this also serves as a great allegory for the CWC as a whole, when you review what Cedric has done on TV since the tournament concluded. -Barry Murphy

#14
The Revival vs. DIY
8/20
WWE (NXT)

Overall Points: 91
Total Votes: 16
Highest Vote: 2nd

These two produced the best tag team feud in WWE history. Is there anything in wrestling better than a proper heel and babyface southern tag match? This is about the best version of that style that you can have. -Steven Graham

Too often we give credit to the match that pays off on the happy ending, shading the one that set all of it up. For as happy as you were when Gargano and Ciampa won the titles in Toronto on Survivor Series weekend, it is because of everything in this first match and making you wait to pay it off. -Jeff Hawkins

#13
Trevor Lee vs Andrew Everett
6/18
CWF Mid-Atlantic

Overall Points: 92
Total Votes: 13 (3 First Place Votes)
Highest Vote: 1st

This promotion has been delivering high end matches. This is another one. This one goes 40+ and feels like it went 15. Lee’s early work on top was really good just going after the arm while mixing up with some nasty leg kicks. Some other neat touches was Everett’s hope spots. They were done really well and sprinkled throughout. It really gets going when Everett is bleeding. Lee starts working the cut like a good pro wrestler should. Everett is really good working underneath. I loved how the finish played into the early limb work. I’m also a mark when the wrestler continues to go after his submission finisher. Great stuff. -Pete Schirmacher

I think a list that doesn’t recognize Lee in some way is not representative of a large part of what made the year special. While the Wilkins match got the press and was special and unique, this match was better bell to bell, and shows off Lee (and Everett) as a truly premier wrestler. I truly believe that what Lee did in 2016 is as close as we’ve ever seen to someone recreating what Danielson did in 2006. -JR Goldberg

#12
Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
5/22
WWE

Overall Points: 123
Total Votes: 30
Highest Vote: 3rd

Everything AJ did was gold in 2016. From Y2J to Roman to Cena to Ellsworth to Ambrose. Roman probably had his best all around year as well. This is what I pictured an extreme rules match to look like, factions or not, & the added interference of both the Usos, & Gallows/Anderson fit smoothly. -Michael Anderson

You could say this was AJ Styles’ WWE coming out party of sorts. Their first contest was certainly a treat, but filled with a lot of the WWE overbooking to setup a rematch. This was just an absolute war and a top 3 Reigns performance in his career. The dynamic of AJ being an underdog and Reigns being a dismissive cocky prick suited this perfectly. Although AJ didn’t walk out champion, it was the match that set him up for his current WWE title run and showed he is a guy that can be on top. -Lawrence O’Brien

#11
John Cena vs. AJ Styles
8/21
WWE

Overall Points: 135
Total Votes: 31 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

I considered this to be a classic between these two and shows how valuable Cena putting someone over can be. It helped make Styles credible for his forthcoming title reign. It’s a great example of a modern WWE-style match. This match was so great that nothing after this on Summerslam could follow it, although the stuff was pretty bad anyway. -Dave Musgrave

It wasn’t the work in this match that set it apart, though that was often great. It was the real life story of AJ Styles, the best wrestler to never work in WWE, finding himself on the big stage against the biggest name, and winning. I was rooting for the man, not the character. Cena, as he always does, played his part perfectly. This is the only match on my list that was aided by something that happened after the contest was over. Styles, dejected, took off his Never Give Up armband, and left it behind in the ring. Finally, for the moment anyway, he had been passed by. -Aaron Bentley





Top 100

PlaceMatchDatePromotionOverall PointsTotal 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
50Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens vs The Miz vs Cesaro 5/225/22WWE2450
49Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito 5/35/3NJPW2450
48Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi 2/142/14NJPW2460
47Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz 10/910/9WWE2670
46Chris Hero vs Marty Scurll 6/196/9PROGRESS2740
45Final Deletion 7/57/5TNA2760
44Chris Hero vs Matt Riddle 11/1311/13EVOLVE2941
43Negro Casas vs. Rey Hechicero 04/244/24Monterrey3160
42Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Chris Hero 05/065/6EVOLVE3160
41Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Sami Callihan 1/221/22EVOLVE3390
40Chris Hero vs Tomohiro Ishii 11/1011/10RPW3390
39Shuji Ishikawa vs Kazusada Higuchi 9/259/25DDT3650
38Kazuchika Okada vs. Naomichi Marufuji 7/187/18NJPW4071
37HARASHIMA vs. Shigehiro Irie 12/2512/25DDT4251
36Go Shiozaki & Yuji Okabayashi vs. Yuji Hino & Daisuke Sekimoto 6/146/14Fortune Dream4381
35Hair vs. Mask Double Risk Survival Six-Way Cage Match (5/5)5/5Dragon Gate4471
34Black Terry vs. Wotan 8/218/21Chilanga Mask4652
33Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay 11/2711/27PROGRESS4681
32Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll 1/161/16RPW5290
31Masato Yoshino, Akira Tozawa, T-Hawk, & Shachihoko BOY vs. Shingo Takagi, YAMATO, Naruki Doi, & Kotoka vs. Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, Big R Shimizu, & Kzy, Dragon Gate 2/42/4Dragon Gate5381
30Kazuchika Okada vs. Naomichi Marufuji 10/1010/10NJPW53120
29Will Ospreay, Ricochet and Matt Sydal vs. Adam Cole and The Young Bucks 9/39/3PWG55100
28Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn 7/247/24WWE58120
27Young Bucks vs. Addiction vs. Motor City Machine Guns 9/309/30ROH58121
26Trevor Lee vs Roy Wilkins 2/272/27CWF Mid-Atlantic6291
25Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsoyuri Shibata 1/41/4NJPW62121
24Aja Kong vs. Meiko Satomura 4/84/8Sendai Girls62131
23Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. 4/14/1EVOLVE64111
22Io Shirai vs Mayu Iwatani 12/2112/21Stardom66120
21TJ Perkins vs. Kota Ibushi 9/149/14WWE (CWC)67160
20Yuji Okabayashi vs. Hideyoshi Kamitani 7/247/24BJW6891
19Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi 1/241/24NJPW68121
18La Park vs. Rush 7/147/16ELITE68160
17Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi 3/43/4CMLL75122
16Gunner Miller vs Chris Hero vs Jimmy Rave vs Anthony Henry 8/68/6Empire83133
15Cedric Alexander vs. Kota Ibushi 7/247/24WWE (CWC)90170
14The Revival vs. DIY 8/208/20WWE (NXT)91160
13Trevor Lee vs Andrew Everett 6/186/18CWF Mid-Atlantic92133
12Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles 5/225/22WWE123300
11John Cena vs. AJ Styles 8/218/21WWE135311