It’s finally here! The beginning of Voices of Wrestling’s “2013 Match of the Year” list. You’ll notice in the title that this is numbers 50 through 26, wait, what? I thought you guys were only doing a top 10 like you did last year?

Well, we did too, that was until we had an overwhelming diversity in the number of matches voted for in 2013. This was deliberate, as my colleague Joe Lanza wrote in this introductory piece (definitely read  before getting into the list). Last year, we had four voters and while it was still cool to put that list together, we were four like minded people. The lists were essentially the same 13 or so matches just put into different order.

This year, however, Joe and I decided to broaden the range of voter and the voter base expanded to 25 and more than the pure quantity, we tried to find voters from all walks of life from lucha experts, Dragon Gate reviewers, to our live show correspondents. The goal was exactly what you’re seeing here, to have the widest scope of matches from all across the world possible.

We were going to do just a top 10 or 15 but what fun is that? We complied all this data and all of our voters put in the hard work, so why not give some credit to those matches on the outside looking in. The overall goal of this entire project is simply to bring great matches from the year 2013 to you. Matches you may not have seen, may not of heard about, wrestlers you’ve never watched and so on. If just one person watches a lucha match and gets hooked or had no idea professional wrestling existed outside WWE and TNA, well, we’ve done our job.

Before we begin, I’d like to bring attention to how the poll works and what the “points” section below each match means. This section was copied from Joe’s introductory piece, which, again, you should read first, it details how the project began as well as a detailed list of our awesome voters.

How The Poll Works

Each voter was sent a ballot and asked to vote for their ten best matches of the year, ranking them from 1-10. We used the same weighted balloting system used by Major League Baseball for their Most Valuable Player voting, with a first place vote worth 14 points, and a descending 9-8-7… scale from there.

The points for each match are then added, with any ties broken in the following order:

  1. Most total votes
  2. Match which received the highest singular vote on any ballot

As an example, two matches tied in points, but with one match appearing on more total ballots, would not require the second step tie breaker. The match on more total ballots would rank higher.

If two matches were tied in points, and remain tied by appearing on the same number of ballots, with one match having a second place vote as its highestvote with the other having a high vote of third, the match with the second place vote would win the tie breaker.

Each voter was also encouraged to add short blurbs explaining why they voted for each match. These blurbs are what will give our articles flavor as we release the results.

Any worked match on earth during the Observer calendar (December 1 2012 – November 30 2013) was eligible. We chose to use the Observer calendar because we knew many potential voters work very hard all year compiling lists of their favorite matches based on that time frame.

Lastly, I’d like to thank all those who participated in this year’s Match of the Year vote. Each and everyone of you did the hard work, we’re just hear to display it. Thank you again. Now without further adieu, here are matches 50-26 in the Voices of Wrestling “2013 Match of the Year” voting.

T-#49

KENTA vs. Takeshi Morishima
NOAH
“Great Voyage in Osaka”
January 27
6 points

“NOAH had a rough year this year. NJPW pretty much dominated Japanese professional wrestling in 2013 but NOAH had some really shining moments. This was one of them. Takeshi Morishima is a force to be reckoned with. Former ROH World Champion, he has wrestled some of the greats in this industry. As has KENTA, who was longing to capture something that has eluded him his entire NOAH career: the GHC Heavyweight Championship.

His match with Morishima was definitely one of the best wrestling matches of the year as it showed that the master of the Go 2 Sleep could outwrestle just about anyone. KENTA went on to claim the GHC Heavyweight Championship and etch his name in the record books along with legends such as Kenta Kobashi.”

-Ant, 4 Corners Radio

T-#49

Manabu Soya/Takao Omori vs. Jun Akiyama/Go Shiozaki
AJPW
“Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku”
March 17
6 points

“This match was incredible. From bell to bell it’s intense. Soya took a beating like a man. Seemed like Akiyama and Shiozaki’s goal was to deliver enough blows to the head that Soya would get concussions galore. I don’t know why Soya felt the need to drape his head onto the guardrail TWICE but he did. Crazy bastard. Akiyama looked like an unstoppable force. He pretty much forced Soya to hit him and then he murdered him. Akiyama lands the nastiest headbutt sequence I’ve seen in AWHILE. The finishing stretch may have gone on too long for some but by gosh the crowd was nuclear for it. Dead crowd and it wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful. Didn’t see this match being THIS amazing. Blissful, stiff, violence.”

-Sam DiMascio, 4 Corners Radio

T-#47

Masato Tanaka vs. Tomohiro Ishii
NJPW
“Road to New Beginning”
February 3
6 points

“Ishii’s match with Tanahashi in 2013 may have been the match to cement Ishii’s status as a star rather than a niche player. However, it was his brutal match with Tanaka in the January that helped transport him to another level in terms of being someone that the fans could get behind. It was a stiff affair to say the least, more so than Ishii’s outing with Shibata, or Shibata’s second match with Goto. In fact at times it was too brutal bordering on becoming difficult to watch. However, while walking that fine line, Tanaka and Ishii managed to bring Korakuen to its feet and change the perception of an undercard talent for the better to produce what seemed to be at the time a top three match of the year.”

Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Wrestling


T-#47

Rush/Rey Escorpion/Maximo vs. Negro Casas/Terrible/Shocker
CMLL
“CMLL on Televisa”
June 28
6 points

“Rush vs. Negro Casas is my feud of the year and this is their most spirited six man in a series of consistently vicious and entertaining matches. Everyone shows an extreme level of hatred in this match and the kicks Rush give are absolutely vicious. The complimentary players play their role well and Shocker has had his best year in 2013 than in over a decade. Maximo has also transformed from a comedy first character to someone you don’t want to piss off. This is a thrilling six man tag that escalates numerous feuds.”

Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

T-#45

Fujita Jr Hayato/Kenou vs. Jinsei Shinzaki/Great Sasuke
Michinoku Pro
“20th Anniversary”
November 4
7 points

“For my money the best match in Japan in 2013, though I imagine that would strike most New Japan fans as an insane statement. Still, this is a match everyone should watch, and a match that I imagine would be loved by damn near everyone. This has cool highspots, great matwork, tough ass veterans, flashy and exciting young guys, and a tremendous build to it. This is the first match I’ve seen in years that was worked like something from a 90’s All Japan show, which is not at all what I was expecting. Probably the best performance I’ve ever seen from Shinzaki, but really a great performance across the board.”

-Dylan Hales, Wrestling Culture Podcast & ProWrestlingOnly.com


T-#45

Shingo Takagi vs. YAMATO
Dragon Gate
“Dragon Gate Infinity 306”
August 23
7 points

“Shocker of the year. Maybe the most shocking thing to ever happen in Dragon Gate. With a Kzy box attack and a YAMATO frankensteiner, Shingo’s Dream Gate reign came to an abrupt end. The whole thing was awesome, perhaps the best Dream Gate match since the belt was on Mochizuki (well, aside from CIMA vs K-ness), and the best finish to any match…ever.”

Lee Goodfellow, PWPonderings.com & Calling Spots


#44

El Generico vs Kenny Omega
DDT
“Never Mind”
December 23
7 points

#T-41

Kevin Steen vs. El Generico
ROH
“Final Battle”
December 16, 2012
8 points

“This is how blood feuds are supposed to end. From the beginning of the match where the hated rivals don’t exchange holds but blows all the way to sick spots throughout the contest aimed at hurting the other guy, this is the prototypical blowoff match. Add in the background of the feud and the insane final spot and this is definitely one of the best matches of 2013”

-Rich Kraetsch, Voices of Wrestling

#T-41

Shingo Takagi, Cyber Kong, Chihiro Tominaga & Super Shenlong III vs YAMATO, Akira Tozawa, BxB Hulk, Kzy & Mondai Ryu
Dragon Gate
“Dragon Gate Infinity 304”
August 1
8 points

“AMAZING. We haven’t seen a match like this since Blood Warriors vs Junction Three concluded. Going in I thought the Akatsuki-can-win-by-two-count rule was kind of stupid, which may have been the most inaccurate assumption in history. This was confirmed about two minutes in when Korakuen was going insane for Tominaga rolling up Kzy, damn near winning the thing. Just read that sentence again. Tommy hasn’t managed to achieve that kind of reaction…ever, this stipulation was a stroke of genius and made it look like the underpowered and understaffed babyfaces could win it at anytime. Tozawa continued his Kobe World form and was the clear MVP of what may well have been the match of the year (off the top of my head I think it actually comes in about second for me). The new generation have often been out shined by the older wrestlers in the past year, but this showed that the future of Dragon Gate is in safe hands.”

– Lee Goodfellow, PWPonderings.com & Calling Spots

#T-41

Shinsuke Nakamura vs La Sombra
CMLL
“CMLL on Televisa”
May 31
8 points

“A great match at a great time. Disrespectful champion Nakamura meets a proud challenger Sombra and gets caught. This match improved and expanded on their one from January, thanks to extra time and Sombra’s personal improvement in the interval. The crowd bought into this and lost it when a Mexican guy finally beat a Japanese guy for one of their titles. This felt like Sombra’s elevation to national start; it hasn’t quite worked out that day, but what they tried later makes some sense after this match.”

– thecubsfan, luchablog.com

#40

The Shield vs Cody Rhodes & Goldust
WWE
“Battleground”
October 6
8 points

“This is probably the best work of Cody’s career up to the point of this match and Dustin got to show why he is a great wrestler. It was also some of the best Shield stuff in months. Dustin’s peril segment was top-notch and Cody’s win at the end got a great reaction at the theatre.

Rollins and Reigns played off of them well and Dusty put so much more into his role than almost anybody could. I hope they do a title match at HITC with the title change as that could really get Cody and the whole act over to the next level.”

-Dave Musgrave, Wrestling Culture Podcast

#39

CIMA vs K-ness
Dragon Gate
“Dragon Gate Infinity 293”
April 4
9 points

T-#37

Titan vs Polvora
CMLL
CMLL on CadenaTres
January 1
9 points

“This was flawless and was put together masterfully. It had just about everything you could want with awesome wacky lucha submissions, great dives, top rope moves and a nasty finish. These two put it all on the line and kicked off the new year with a bang. This was the first of my two 5-star rated matches of 2013 and I highly recommend it.”

– Rob, ProWresBlog

T-#37

Kevin Steen & El Generico vs Young Bucks
PWG
“DDT4”
January 12
9 points

“PWG has always has an illustrious feel to it. I’ve called it the top independent promotion of 2013 and with matches and shows like this one, it is hard to argue that fact. PWG’s DDT4 tournament is a tag team tournament to showcase some of the best tag teams in wrestling today. In the final match The Young Bucks who are, arguably, the best tag team in the world right now took on Kevin Steen and El Generico in Generico’s final PWG match before getting called to the WWE NXT roster. This match was a great back and forth match showcasing all four men’s strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a fan of tag team wrestling, you should seek this match out and see for yourself why PWG is known to contain fantastic wrestling.”

– Ant, 4 Corners Radio 

#36

Antonio Cesaro vs William Regal
WWE
“NXT”
November 21
10 points

“This came in right at the bell, a true Christmas miracle. It’s a shame that a lot of voters probably either won’t think to include this because of it’s air date, or turned in ballots before watching it, because this was an absolutely incredible match. I am a sucker for sharp, interesting and expressive matwork, and this match had that in droves, but more importantly it actually served a purpose. Regal’s selling was great, and Cesaro as a cyborg-like wrestling machine was fitting. I loved the psychology of Cesaro going after the leg and Regal going after the power as a last ditch effort. The hope spots and comebacks were excellent and the butterfly suplex/Regal Stretch tease was maybe my favorite sequence in wrestling all year. Cesaro probably had more matches in my top fifty than anyone in wrestling this year, but this was his crown jewel.”

– Dylan Hales, Wrestling Culture Podcast & ProWrestlingOnly.com

#35

Masacara Dorada vs Negro Casas
CMLL
“Guerreros Del Ring”
June 2
10 points

“Negro Casas is an extraterrestrial or a magic creature or some sort of demi-god. I used to believe he would eventually grow too old to have some of the best matches of the year every year, but now I believe he’s actually not a human being and will go on having great matches long after you and me are gone.

I picked this match over a similar great one versus Valiente or the very different one with Rush because it’s a big smoother and more of a complete match than those, but they could easily be in this spot as well. Dorada brought in this match with an incredible aerial performance in front of a hostile crowd.”

– thecubsfan, luchablog.com

#34

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Testuya Naito
NJPW
“G1 Climax”
August 11
11 points

“I had a hard time ranking this one. Personally, I think this was Tanahashi’s performance of the year. This was Wrestlemania 13 and Tanahashi was Bret Hart. The only problem is, Tetsuya Naito is NOT Stone Cold. Maybe one day it’ll all click and he’ll be the guy. But right now, he’s super talented, but he just doesn’t have the selling, the expression or the fire to be the guy. Watching this is where I realised, it’s not even the no-selling to do moves, it’s just all so unconvincing. Which is a shame, because if the selling was there, this probably would have been my MOTY. The fact I liked this so much despite the flaws probably says as much. The match itself was pretty enthralling, the pacing was perfect, the crowd were awesome and were, for one night at least, fully behind Naito. This could have been Bret/Austin, but instead it’ll probably be more Flair/Sting. But I still really liked it.”

– Chris Bacon, PWPonderings


#33

The Shield vs The Undertaker, Kane and Daniel Bryan
WWE
“Raw”
April 22
11 points

“Two weeks prior, Undertaker wrestled a match I almost put on this ballot against CM Punk, and rumors of his physical state made this match seem likely for an angle. It was, but the injured parties weren’t Taker here. Either he’s healthier than he’s letting on, or he was brave, because he was as much a part of this match as any of the other five combatants, taking a monstrous spear from Reigns in the process.”

– Tom Holzerman, The Wrestling Blog

#32

The Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio
WWE
“Smackdown”
January 11
12 points

“The story telling in this was phenomenal. ADR worked the arm early then hit Big Show with the steel steps near the end to help put him down. I loved him throwing the table on Show to win this. It made total sense because he’s a giant and ADR was unlikely to get him otherwise. The heat was very good and they threw in some decent spots and both guys were quite good. ADR and Ricardo sold the win so well. I also really liked ADR saving himself by rolling out of the ring. That was a really nice “catch” so to speak and it added to the match. Overall it was a pretty awesome match and surely to be one of the better ones of the year. Definitely check it out!”

– Rob, ProWresBlog

T-#30

YAMATO vs Ryo “Jimmy” Saito
Dragon Gate
“Dragon Gate Infinity 314”
September 12
14 points (1 first-place vote)

T-#30

Volador Jr vs Rey Escorpion
CMLL
“CMLL on CadenaTres”
January 29
14 points (1 first-place vote)

“Everything the best match of the year should be. Both guys giving 110%, busting out everything in their repertoires & the crowd going crazy for everything in the third fall.”

– Rob Viper

#29

Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata
NJPW
“Dominion”
June 22
14 points

“Shibata made his return this year by being incredibly stiff and painful to watch, in a good way, and his series with Goto exemplified that this year. This match was another case of brutality with stiff kicks, slaps, and headbutts.

The running dropkick to the face always makes me cringe, and this one in particular was painful to watch. Being stiff is the norm in Japan but Shibata takes it to another level that’s just incredible to witness.”

– Bryan Rose, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“The Shibata Vs Goto series of matches can best be described as “Fuck you! Hit me!” Stiff strikes, stiff kicks and of course, stiff headbutts. These matches were not for the weak of heart or those who fear for the concussions these two men surely received. The 22nd June show is the best of the bunch in my mind. The hot Osaka crowd gives it that little push above the other matches.”

– Jamie O’Doherty, Dramatic DDT


#28

Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio
WWE
“Payback”
June 16
15 points

“By far my favorite WWE match of this year. Probably the best storytelling work they have done in a good five years. The double turn was executed to perfection with Del Rio actions evolving throughout.

Looked truly brutal which aided in the crowd giving sympathy for Ziggler. Everyone performed their roles perfectly.”

– Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling


#27

Johnny Gargano vs. SHINGO
Dragon Gate USA
“Open the Ultimate Gate”
April 6
16 points

“This was the shocking Gargano heel turn, where unable to put away the tough as nails Shingo, he resorted to choking him out with a rope. This got real old school heat from the fans, and the post match shenanigans set up about a half dozen potential future matches. The work itself was intense and worked at a hard pace, but the creative & shocking finish put it over the top.”

– Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

#26

Prince Devitt vs. Gedo
NJPW
“Kizuna Road”
July 5
17 points (1 first-place vote)

“Gedo didn’t wrestle much this year, but when he did, he was great. He does all of the little things well, and was in top form here as the gatekeeper to Okada against Devitt. He had Korakuen Hall in the palm of his hands, as hot as they were for any match all year long, with his sleazy heel shortcuts, but doing so while working as a face. Gedo kicking out of the Bloody Sunday, and Okada nailing an interfering Karl Anderson with his great dropkick may have produced the two biggest pops of the year in Korakuen. They had everybody believing Gedo could really win, which is preposterous in hindsight, but the work was that good. The perfect example of a great corwd taking a great match to an entirely different level, and credit Gedo & Devitt for working a match that dragged real emotion out of the people.”

– Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

“The best mixture of Japanese/American style wrestling as of now. And the dropkick by Okada during the match created probably the biggest POP of the year.”

– yottsume, yotsumeneko


Follow the 2013 Match of the Year project at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/columns-2/2013-match-of-the-year/