Previous 2016 Match of the Year entries:

It’s all come down to this. The final 10 of our 2016 Match of the Year countdown. Before we reveal the final 10, we’d like to thank each and everyone of our record 117 voters. We’d also like to remind you that if you want a ballot next year, reach out to us with a link to your website, blog or podcast. We’d also like to thank everyone who has went to VoicesofWrestling.com this week as well as those who reacted to the list on Twitter, Facebook or our forums. See the reactions across multiple platforms, people counting down their favorite matches, discovery of new wrestlers, promotions or matches. We do this entire list not to stroke our own egos or make it seem self-important but rather to expose and uncover the very best in pro wrestling in a given year with the hopes that even one person discovers something new.

This year’s winner will join our illustrious list of past Match of the Year winners:

  • 2012: Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin (3/31, ROH)
  • 2013: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (4/7, NJPW)
  • 2014: AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki (8/1, NJPW)
  • 2015: Kota Ibushi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (1/4, NJPW)




#10
Kenny Omega vs. Hirooki Goto
8/14
NJPW

Overall Points: 136
Total Votes: 26 (1 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

This was the first match in 2016 that I truly loved, and I never saw another much I loved more. It started with the brilliance of Omega still selling the work on his leg from the night before. He immediately tried to destroy Goto, perhaps because he had been worked over so badly only 20 hours prior to this match, and it appeared he might be successful, until Goto found an opportunity to attack the bad left leg. That put the combatants back on more equal footing. The next ingredient in my love affair with the match was that the crowd was all in on Omega from the beginning, but throughout the match, he was just awful enough to Goto (spitting in his face) that the crowd went from lustily booing Goto to eagerly cheering for him. Along the way, Omega shouted out Rick Rude with a gyrating neckbreaker (one of only two gaijins to make a G1 final before Omega), and then started trying to use every move of the men he’d beaten on his way to this point: Ibushi’s Last Ride powerbomb and Phoenix Splash, Devitt’s Bloody Sunday, and Styles’ Styles Clash. However, only his own One Winged Angel was sufficient to win. While Omega was the start, Goto was fantastic too. But, as usual, he just didn’t have enough. -Aaron Bentley

I can’t lie: I might be the biggest fan of Hirooki Goto on the whole world. He breaks my heart everytime he gains momentum and loses in the end, but I just can’t help myself. He’s bringing me incredible highs and unbelievable lows, but isn’t that what wrestling is all about? And yes, I should get my heart broken once again. It’s a running joke that I let Goto advance to the finals in my personal G1 pick’ems every year, but this year it became REALITY. New Japan did it once again, they surprised me and lit my heart on fire. Will they do it this year? Is it FINALLY the year of Hirooki Goto? No, of course it isn’t, but it’s fun to pretend, it’s fun to suspend your disbelief. The match itself was amazing, but it being the main event with one of my favourite wrestlers potentially going to the Tokyo Dome Main Event really put it over the top. -Florian Schreiber

The journey both Goto and Omega, neither of whom could have been considered ‘main eventers’ at the time, had been on to reach the G1 Climax final made this match feel so important for both men. Neither man could rely on their pasts to win, with Omega kicking out of Goto’s Shoten Kai and Goto taking all the damage of an ‘Ibushi’ Phoenix Splash, a ‘Devitt’ Bloody Sunday, and a ‘Styles’ Styles Clash. The past couldn’t get him the win, so Omega seized his own future, landing a One Winged Angel, and earning a ticket to the Tokyo Dome main event in the most dramatic and exhausting way. It’s fair to say, Omega had a hell of a G1 Finals weekend. -Oliver Court

#9
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
8/12
NJPW

Overall Points: 149
Total Votes: 23 (2 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

This was an absolutely amazing match; they played the time limit draw perfectly, and did the classic finish where someone hits their finish and has the cover but the bell rings at 2, I loved this finish and reminded me of Flair vs. Windham. The match beautifully built all the way to the finish, with great drama and the finish is awesome (a great play off of one of my favorite finishes between Windham and Flair). The emotion was off the charts and the crowd was insane for this, really adding to he great work from both. Okada had some lackluster performances in the tournament, also delivered two of the tournament’s best matches. I love the wrestling. -Larry Csonka

The ninth (tenth, if you choose to count a 2010 encounter with Okada working as a young lion) bout between the two served as a postscript to their epic four year story, which wrapped up roughly seven months earlier in the Tokyo Dome, and would have been my MOTY if not for that Dome match. This was their second G1 encounter, and like the first several years earlier, it ended in a draw. Both of the G1 draws featured incredibly dramatic closing moments achieved in totally different ways. In this bout, it was a frenetic closing stretch as both men desperately tried to beat the clock, each man knowing that only a win would advance them to the G1 final, with the unforgettable finish of the clock striking 30:00 a fraction of a second before Okada kicked out at 2.9 after a High Fly Flow. That moment, which amounted to less than one second, encapsulated four plus years of this rivalry. -Joe Lanza

You know that great book which you feel was flawless. It tells a great story where each chapter builds on the previous ones, with the final chapter culminating the story perfectly.When they announce, that that book is releasing a sequel, you think to yourself, the story has already concluded, what next? And then the sequel ends up being as magnificent as the first. That was this match. I thought what more could they possibly do? The answer was have another classic. The callbacks and the amazing finishing sequence make this in my opinion the BEST DRAW OF ALL TIME. Tanahashi hit the high fly flow, but at 2 not only did the time limit expired, but Okada kicked out too. The time didn’t run out on Tanahashi, it just ran out. I can’t wait for the next time these 2 lock horns. -Wrestling Guru

#8
Trauma I vs Canis Lupus
9/4
IWRG

Overall Points: 184
Total Votes: 20 (8 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

A mask vs. mask match that more felt like livelihood vs. livelihood. One of the more gruesome matches I’ve seen in quite some time, and emotionally charged to boot. So many dramatic lucha nearfalls keep you on your feet during this one as well as the hope that one or both of the guys doesn’t bleed out before the end of this thing. Canis Lupus’ final fall comeback that just fell short en route to losing his mask was incredible and one of the better tecnico performances you’ll see. Top that all off with Lupus proposing to his fiancee after unmasking and you have one of those emotional lucha classics on your hands. -Lawrence O’Brien

Not just the best wrestling match I’ve seen all year, but one of the best matches I’ve ever seen full stop. This is the absolute antithesis, in every way, of the decent, technically superb but utterly forgettable 15 minute RAW match.  One of the most transcendent, gritty as all fuck examples of the sheer bludgeoning emotion and meaningfulness of lucha at its best – a violent, completely gripping blow off of an apuestas match with some of the most believable nearfalls and ultraviolet brawling I’ve been witness to for years. You don’t need the fucking backstory, you don’t need to speak Spanish, you don’t need to know much about these guys. They hate each other. They’ve hated each other for a while. This is it. This ends it. Someone has to win. I don’t have too much to say about the work, because it’s not a match I relate to for work reasons. This is a purely emotional, completely visceral attraction. There’s blood, there’s guts, there is gratuitously violent callbacks to the intersection between indigenous belief and imperialist Catholicism (if you wanna go that far, which I obvs do)… yeah, there’s all that, but for me there is something more here, something kind of fleeting and inspirational and beautiful I can’t fully explain and probably don’t fully understand, but it gestures at a kind of catharsis that I don’t know if I’ll ever experience in my own life outside of this. I watch this match and for a little while I’m not full worry or fear or anxiety. I’m just right there with these guys and I don’t want to be anywhere else. There is no music can reach that place, no film, no novel. And lord knows I’d struggle without those mediums too. But if I’m honest, its only wrestling, and wrestling as committed, as well crafted and life affirming as this that moves me in that way. I’m not unique in this (or any) regard, and I don’t expect everyone to be as into this as me. But at least watch it if you haven’t already. -Daniel Baker

Perhaps the greatest Lucha brawl in decades with a finish to the third fall built in the first fall as well as one of the more creative and dramatic usages of a medical attention spot I can remember. The post-match of this epic war featured for my money one of the most emotional and unexpected endings to a grudge I can remember. After a months long feud and an already beloved mask match the fallen Canis Lupus offered his longtime girlfriend the honor of removing his mask. Followed by a shocking wedding proposal. She said yes and Trauma I wasn’t the only winner on this night. And neither was Canis Lupus and his girl. After this Apuestas classic we all won. -Dylan Harris

#7
Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay
5/27
NJPW

Overall Points: 186
Total Votes: 35 (2 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

This is like watching a match from twenty years in the future. A level of timing, acrobatics and coordination that wouldn’t look out of place in the Bolshoi ballet. Nothing can match this in terms of forward-thinking progressive wrestling in 2016 and this is an easy MOTY. -David Forrest

A controversial match for sure, but one that is representative of the times. What they set out to do, they did incredibly. Ricochet and Ospreay both got a lot of press out of this and it likely opened up other doors for them. To that end, the match is one of the few of the year that transcended that moment in time. -Greg Parks

No one match generated as much frenzied discussion in 2016 as this one did, and it was genuinely really cool to see so many people so vocal about their passion for wrestling and their beliefs as to what it should be like. Personally, I reckon pro wrestling should be fun and flippy and feature about 10/20 different moments that make you squeal with excitement, and hence I loved this an awful lot. You hear ‘Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay,’ and you know what it will be like, but nothing could have prepared you for how gleeful and innovate and crazy this was. Two astonishing, world class athletes having such a colossal amount of fun. I don’t know how well this will hold up in years to come, but at the time it was just the biggest thrill to experience. -Jack Stevenson

#6
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles
1/4
NJPW

Overall Points: 189
Total Votes: 29 (3 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

At the time this legitimately felt like a dream match between two enormous stars. Looking back it will certainly be remembered for being both men’s final Tokyo Dome outing (for the time being) and their fist-bump at the end became even more significant in hindsight. Nakamura worked over Styles’ fabled bad back early. They built to some amazing sequences and a huge 450 Splash from Styles for a sick near-fall 19 minutes in. The most memorable spot saw AJ counter a Triangle into a modified Styles Clash for another tremendous near-fall. Given how protected the Styles Clash was in NJPW, this was a really big moment. Nakamura sold a Bloody Sunday like absolute death and looked to be finished, but he summoned the strength to hit two murderous Bomayes to finish things off. The build to the climax was excellent and by the time the match was over there was no doubt that you had just witnessed two mega-stars engaged in an epic, and important, battle. -Ben Carass

A slower build, which suits the 18-year veteran Styles well. The high flying shenanigans are in still in his repertoire but he’s picked up a few new tricks along the way that don’t jeopardize his chances as much. There’s also a franticness to this match. You can see it in their movements and counters. AJ’s a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion so in his mind, this is beneath him. But Nakamura’s swallows his final piece of Bullet Club lead and Styles quickly needs to coat check the ego. He does beautifully with a Styles dropkick (one of the best still) but when he plays opossum in the corner, he pays for it with a backbreaker and a sick high knee strike in the corner. Styles sells the back with the suplex lift attempt and goes low with the snap suplex in the corner. He works over Nakamura’s leg, trying to weaken the Boma Ye, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Once Shinsuke connects with that murdering second-rope Boma Ye, the momentum shifts. AJ lands his own Boma Ye and goes old-school with the Firebird Splash and Nakamura goes old-school with the cross armbreaker counter. A one-armed Styles Clash from AJ isn’t enough to dethrone the foppish king. He hits the Bloody Sunday set-up to another Styles Clash…wait, fuck that, Super Styles Clash is the better decision. But his ego comes back to haunt him and after Nakamura counters off the top with the Landslide, he nails AJ with one of the most brutal Boma Ye knees to the back of the head, followed by a second Boma Ye to retain. -Brennan Patrick

In recent months, we’ve seen the Nakamura who relies heavily on just being Nak to get matches over. On this night, he was paired with arguably the best wrestler on the planet and stepped back up to being the Nakamura we know he can be. Damn near flawless performance from both men in what turned out to be essentially their swan song in NJPW. -Billy Carpenter

#5
Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii
8/6
NJPW

Overall Points: 304
Total Votes: 41 (6 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

I loved that Ishii forced Okada to wrestle an Ishii match, and didn’t allow him to dictate the pace or establish rhythm. That disruption of the usual routine made for one of my favourite moments of the year, when Ishii interrupted the Rainmaker pose (not to mention the camera pull-back) with a huge, contemptuous chop. Beautifully done. -Ioan Morris

2016 saw (arguably) two of the best entries in the legendary rivalry between Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi, but I strongly believe that Okada’s best match in 2016 didn’t even involve Tanahashi. His match against fellow CHAOS stablemate Tomohiro Ishii from the G1 Climax was an instant classic for so many reasons. While he might not get the recognition, Tomohiro Ishii has been one of the best wrestlers on the planet over the past few years, and he always shines brightly in the G1 Climax. If you put him in a big singles match, he ALWAYS delivers, and that was (once again) the case here. Okada was, of course, awesome here as well, and his role in this match can’t be understated. The action was just amazing from start to finish, with Ishii going right after Okada at the opening bell, and forcing him to wrestle his type of match. It was just an exciting match to watch, as it was filled with so many awesome, hard-hitting moments. Something else that I think really added to this one was the location. Osaka has garnered a reputation over the past few years of having some of the absolute best shows in the G1 Climax. It’s the same place where Ishii had his famous match with Katsuyori Shibata in 2013, and he had another amazing performance here, as he defeated his CHAOS stablemate (and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion) in one of the biggest wins of his career. -Sean Sedor

Ishii is at his absolute best in the underdog role vs. the ace. My favorite NJPW match of the past 5 years (and possibly ever) is Ishii vs. Tanahashi from the 2013 G1. This match brought out similar emotions in me. Whenever Ishii hit a big move or kicked out of something, I jumped and fist pumped and lost my mind. Just a perfect wrestling match. -Kevin Hare

#4
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
4/1
WWE (NXT)

Overall Points: 531
Total Votes: 67 (13 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

This was the dream match I never knew I wanted until they gave it to me. Everything about this felt like a monumental event to me. By the time Sami Zayn’s entrance had finished, I had a feeling I only ever get during the very top tier of UFC title fights. The anticipatory shakes and nerves before the match begins, the hopeful anxiety of what is about to happen. I felt that way sitting in the crowd for Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen’s rematch. I felt it before Shogun and Machida’s first encounter. And I felt it waiting for Shinsuke Nakamura to make his debut in a WWE ring. The crowd was absolutely molten from the first second and never let up. This gave us the dreadful “Fight Forever” chant, but in that moment, it felt earned. This was a match I never wanted to end. They could have had a routine, WWE-style main event match, but they gave us something special. This was the Shinsuke Nakamura we’d all come to love in New Japan, uncut and unfiltered. That’s not to downplay Sami Zayn’s role in this match at all, as he was more than up to the task and delivered a heck of a performance himself. This match was a moment in time that I will never forget. That’s why it’s my match of the year. -Jeremy Sexton

“Blah, blah, blah, not even the best match of the weekend, yadda yadda.” I’ve heard plenty of that, and that’s the beauty of subjectivity. Each person’s view of a match of the year is something different than someone else’s. Unpredictability is a big part of what makes wrestling exciting to me, and we don’t get a whole lot of it. Sometimes we do, but it ends up resulting in fart noises. At no point did I doubt the outcome of this match until these two went at it in the ring and made me question the outcome. That’s how incredible they were. Zayn was already on the main roster, it was his farewell — and Nakamura’s welcome — I still had doubts as they kicked out at 2.9. An unbelievable match, and worthy of the top spot. -Sean Ross Sapp

A thousand questions and expectations were resoundingly answered and joyously exceeded. Nak provided a debut for the ages from the second he hit the strobe lights. He went on to deliver big time from the bell on. Sami was also great of course in the best match of his career, playing the graduate not wanting to leave school without one more heartfelt performance. His post match curtain call showed how much he meant to the faithful and they were important here as well. In a world where too many crowds are “going in to business for themselves”, they produced the one and only organic and earned “fight forever” chant in professional wrestling history. -Travis Woloshyn





#3
The Revival vs. DIY
11/19
WWE (NXT)

Overall Points: 540
Total Votes: 68 (12 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

Indie darlings Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa finally getting their triumphant moment of validation against the standard bearers of the NXT tag team division in front of a white-hot Canadian crowd who bit on every single false finish was borderline orgasmic. All three falls of the stipulation were worked effectively, everybody did their jobs and all the stars aligned perfectly for them. And my word what a chop block from Dash Wilder! -Matt Waters

Tag team excellence. Any match the Revival had on a Takeover this year could easily be on this list. But the emotion going into this match takes this one to another stratosphere. The tension of DIY’s last chance at the titles, the memory of their previous failure to get the tag titles before, plus a slight undercurrent of tension between Ciampa and Gargano from the Cruiserweight Classic created a perfect storm of emotion going in. And then these two teams tore the house down, having an incredible match full of fast-paced action. And the near-falls in this match had me jumping out of my seat. Tag team wrestling at its absolute zenith. -Suit Williams

Quite possibly the best tag team match I have ever seen. From the callback spots to the emotion and getting behind DIY as a team in the match was one of the most fun I had watching a match while it was airing. On top of that, I have an emotional attachment to Gargano and Ciampa from when I saw them on indies. I have bought many merch from them, took many pictures with them and I remember asking Gargano right after his WWE tryout how it went. Seeing them get that big moment and one of the most talked about matches of the year was a great moment. The Revival I hold that they are the best tag team in the world. They take old ideas from 80’s tag team wrestling and spin them around to make them feel fresh. You can plug any tag team established or just put together and they will put on a great match that highlights them and their opponents to the best of their ability. -Brandon Wagemann

When tag team wrestling is at its best, it is the best art-form of wrestling on the entire planet. This match topped their TakeOver: Brooklyn match, and then some. It’s one of the best tag team matches I’ve ever seen. These teams provided every possible callback in the stratosphere and THEN some. We had an ode to the Hart Attack, Johnny Gargano with the best performance of his life, plus the 2/3 Falls format being used to not only pace the match proper, but taking the escalation to the point where it broke the speedometer. I watched this once, bordering on 5 stars. When I rewatched the match, it was better than my other MOTY pick and better than the original “close to 5” watch I did. When you also add in the amazing crowd, the limbwork on Gargano, the belt spot with Dawson making Gargano’s injury even worse while making me think that’s the ultimate Revival trump card bridging to a win, was out of this world. But nope. The teams were going to top that and every piece of the puzzle of greatness being nearly complete as a match. Swapping finishers, the kickouts, which led to one of the neatest finishes ever. Revival grasped onto each other, hand in hand, pleading not to give up. The Top Guys were out, with a simultaneous tap. Thus making think, especially on rewatch, that this had to be my MOTY. -Trask Bryant

#2
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
1/4
NJPW

Overall Points: 542
Total Votes: 55 (25 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

Kazuchika Okada went from shitting the bed with Yoshi-Hashi to being the best big match wrestler in the world in the span of 4 years. As a pair, Okada and Tanahashi have been incredibly helpful to me, personally, over the years, as they’ve been my number one match in the VOW poll every year that I’ve participated. It makes it so much easier to fill out the ballot when the most important slot doesn’t require any thought. Okada and Tanahashi are both all-time great pro wrestlers, but together they become super wizards of the mat, casting spells of… I’m tired of this analogy, but you get the point. They’re great. They have great matches. Match of the Year. -Jeff Martin

At the time, I called this the greatest match I had ever witnessed and I’ve been through it all : Misawa vs Kobashi , Flair vs Steamboat , Midnights vs Rock n Roll, Liger vs. Benoit, Bret vs Shawn. Nothing beat this match for me…until…well that’ll have to wait until next year. New Japan PuroCast listeners voted this match the 2016 Match of The Year and how can I argue? -Damon McDonald

When their 2015 Dome main event concluded, the main takeaway was that (a) they’d come back the following year, and (b) build on it to its natural conclusion. Kazuchika Okada left the Dome in 2015 in tears, in 2016, he left with his hand raised. The greatest series of matches in the 2010s had its defining match at Wrestle Kingdom 10, and nothing matched it for pure drama and advancing the story from its previous matches, whilst also achieving its aim of making Okada THE MAN in New Japan. He had beaten Hiroshi Tanahashi before, but this was THE WIN over him in THE VENUE. The pivotal moment I still remember over a year later was Okada gripping onto Tanahashi’s wrist to make sure he did not slip away this time from the Rainmaker that was coming his way. 2016 was full of great matches, but try as the rest might, nothing reached the apex of the greatest rivalry of the last few years. -Martin Bentley

Not only is this my favorite match of 2016, this might be my favorite match ever. The storytelling in the ring was some of the best that I’ve ever seen. The most powerful moment of the match came when Okada attempted the Rainmaker, only to be met with a hard slap to the face. Both men fall to the mat, but Okada maintains his hold on Tanahashi’s wrist. His spirit may have been broken a year earlier, but now he’s stronger than ever. Okada brings them back to their feet and he proceeds to massacre Tanahashi with three Rainmakers, never breaking the hold he has over Tanahashi’s wrist. This would become a recurring moment in Okada’s big matches from this point forward. This was a moment where other wrestlers would have given up, but not Okada. He held on, powered through, and found the way to defeat Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. Not only did Okada retain his title, but he took another title from Tanahashi. With this victory, Okada cemented himself as the ace of New Japan. This amazing match wasn’t just a five star classic, it was the signal of a new era. -Kelly Harrass

This match is in contention for greatest match I’ve ever seen. I loved this match from beginning to end. This match had the pageantry, drama, storytelling, action, not knowing what was going to happen, and so much more. The emotion and fire shown by Okada and the smarts and wisdom shown by Tanahashi made this match incredible. It wouldn’t of mattered the result but Okada finally cementing his place as the New Japan’s ace was an incredible sight to be had. -Danny Kuchler

January 4th 2012, I watched my first ever NJPW show. At the end of that show Kazuchika Okada, the returning young boy, challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi to a match at New Beginning. At the time it just felt like an angle to set up another challenger, little did I know it was the start to one of the most greatest feuds of the era. I’ve had the pleasure of watching this entire feud from the very first match in real time. Every time these two went at it I couldn’t imagine how they could possibly out due their previous matches, but somehow some way they did. Fast forward 4 years later and we are at the epic final conclusion of an epic story. Okada, after being embarrassed the year prior by his rival, finally put himself past him to become the new ace of NJPW. This match had everything from callbacks to epic memorable moments to an amazing finishing stretch. On top of all that, the emotion was unparalleled. It was the final chapter of the feud that has pretty much defined my fandom of NJPW. Plus from a vanity perspective the cherry on top was that my favorite wrestler in the world Okada finally cemented himself as THE MAN. This was in my honest opinion the perfect match for me and one of the greatest matches I have ever witnessed. It made the last four years of following NJPW completely worth it. -Christopher Duarte





#1
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega
8/13
NJPW

Overall Points: 589
Total Votes: 68 (12 First Place)
Highest Vote: 1st

Wow. Just…wow. It was here that Naito staked his claim as wrestler of the year but also importantly it established Omega as a serious competitor who could ditch the comedy and ascend to unparalleled heights. -Sean Orleans

This match is completely engaging the entire time, from when Naito and Omega step into the ring until the end. Omega had a good G1, but this performance made the world realize that he could take it up to the next level and perform like the best wrestler in the world whenever he wanted to. They worked in great outside spots, built to an incredible finishing stretch, and even dropped in cool little easter eggs for fans that have followed Omega for a long time, like the Croyt’s Wrath. -Kevin Hare

The doubts and fears about Kenny Omega’s future going into G1 Climax were silenced with his performance in this match. After Omega swan-dived over the barricade and onto Naito on the other side, the crowd was enthralled by this very unique matchup. Naito and Omega were on fire here, getting across the desperation to finish their opponent before the time ran out as it had the night prior for Okada and Tanahashi. I’ll never forget screaming ‘Croyt’s Wrath!’ after Omega dropped Naito into the move, and the climactic One Winged Angel sealed off a performance that made me truly believe in Kenny Omega as a New Japan main eventer. -Oli Court

Kenny Omega is the master at having 30-minute epics that somehow feel like they’re only 15 minutes long, and there was no greater example of it in 2016 than this battle he had with Tetsuya Naito to decide the winner of the G1 B Block. With the crowd 100% behind Naito, adding a ton to the atmosphere, Omega and Naito put on a match truly worthy of the stage they were on. It had the highlights you would expect from a match of this level, like Omega’s absolutely insane dive, but also quiet character work early on (including a long SPITTING EXCHANGE~!!) that reminded you both men could do literally everything. Few matches last year combined substance and style like this one, and it more than deserves recognition as one of the best bouts of 2016. -John Carroll

Naito was a favourite heading into the G1. Almost nobody predicted Kenny would win wrestling’s most prestigious tournament, and as good as Omega is, one couldn’t predict how far he’d go to cement his spot in the finals. A mark of how smart a worker is was how often Kenny conserved his body and managed expectations with paisley tights and comedy heading into a tourney where he proved he was truly among the world’s best. -Chris Charlton

You’d struggle to name two men who performed better in 2016 than Kenny Omega & Tetsuya Naito and they both brought everything to the table here. This was two wrestlers at the absolute top of their game having an all out WAR in the semi-finals of the G1, in front of a molten hot Sumo Hall crowd. I was exhausted just watching it. Just a remarkable contest, honestly. -Iain Seaton

I love Kenny Omega, I love Tetsuya Naito, but who would advance the finals of the G1? It was pretty much set in stone that the winner of this match would win the whole thing. They both had momentum on their side, Naito having a great first half of the year, while Omega finally cut loose and had an amazing tournament himself. It was intense and just so much fun to watch two guys who really capitalized from Nakamura, Styles, Gallows and Anderson leaving and proving that there really is nothing to worry about. -Florian Schreiber

This is the match that made Kenny Omega the most important gaijin in Japan since Stan Hansen. Walking into this final day of the G1 Climax, Omega had a respectable position near the top of his group. People expected that he’d lose to Naito, the current hot hand in the promotion, but he’d walk away with his head held high. Then he had one of those once in a lifetime matches where his legacy was cemented. There are so many superlatives that have been thrown around to describe Kenny Omega’s year, and I’d argue that all of them are deserved. Perfectly executed, and timed knowing the forced limitations of the round-robin stage format, Naito and Omega ensured that the next day we knew we entered a new era of New Japan. -Michael Spears

Match of the Year coverage continues next week as we delve into the numbers of this year’s countdown including the unprecedented split in first-place votes between matches #2 and #1 as well as a study of which wrestlers had the best individual years. In the meantime, join our discussion at the VOW Forums or via Twitter @VoicesWrestling.

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
10Kenny Omega vs. Hirooki Goto 8/148/14NJPW136261
9Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazchika Okada 8/128/12NJPW149232
8Trauma I vs Canis Lupus 9/49/4IWRG184208
7Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay 5/275/27NJPW186352
6Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles 1/41/4NJPW189293
5Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii 8/68/6NJPW304416
4Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn 4/14/1WWE (NXT)5316713
3The Revival vs. DIY 11/1911/19WWE (NXT)5406812
2Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi 1/41/4NJPW5425525
1Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega 8/138/13NJPW5896812