The moment you have all been waiting for, the final 15 in the Voices of Wrestling 2013 Match of the Year countdown! The diversity seen in the earlier lists aren’t as prevelant here, we see two promotions World Wrestling Entertainment and New Japan Pro Wrestling dominate the ranks with WWE chipping in seven matches including one top five. NJPW has six representatives in the final 15, but an amazing four in the top five. Mexico is also well represented with two matches in the top 15, but we no longer see the influx of additional Japanese promotions or any representatives from the American independents. This is especially interesting given our 2012 Match of the Year came from Ring of Honor.

If you’re just jumping into the series, I suggest you head over to http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/columns-2/2013-match-of-the-year/ to see our previous articles including Joe Lanza’s intro which gives you insight not only on how we compiled this list, who voted, why some 2012 matches are in here and much more.

For those of you who are all caught up, let’s get to it… your top 15 matches of 2013. Enjoy!

#15

William Regal vs. Kassius Ohno
WWE
“NXT”
April 10
32 points
Total Votes: 6  – Highest Rank: 2nd

“Had a true big match feel going in and delivered on all accounts. Lots of stiff shots during this match, especially when Ohno was putting the boots to Regal. Great deal of storytelling and Regal once again showcasing why he is one of the best to have never received big time recognition.”

-Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling

“Regal is truly one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and him being able to work as well as he can at this stage in his career is a testament to that. The way he works Ohno’s hands and they way he sells the brutal strikes from the opposition is remarkable. Ohno selling the hands really accentuates the work done on them. The way he can’t lock in his submission because of it is great and him snapping his fingers back into place was one of the more gritty moments that happened in 2013 wrestling.”

-Sam DiMascio, 4 Corners Radio

“This was great and what I loved was some of the simple touches, like the delayed snapmare by Cesaro or the way that Regal hooked the feet on the surfboard. Really stiff with cutting edge limb-work and submissions from both guys. The only criticism I might have is Regal dying a little too much with the selling at the end but Cesaro holding off and then going after him made him look more savage and it was something different. But otherwise, I wish there was more than this in wrestling.”

– Dave Musgrave, Wrestling Culture Podcast

“The best match, from the best show in wrestling in 2013, and it featured a semi-retired guy, against a guy who would be out of a job just a few months later. I will go to the wall for any match built around selling a body part or damage and this is a match built around dueling injuries, with Ohno’s hand having been shredded by Regal and Regal’s head/ear having been caved in by Ohno. The selling throughout and little touches from both guys were great and completely consistent. Even better all of the work mattered more and more as the match went on, with both guys unable to work their finishes at key moments, before Regal eventually was able to KO the KO kid.”

– Dylan Hales, Wrestling Culture Podcast & ProWrestlingOnly.com

“William Regal has been a standout in technical wrestling for quite some time. He’s been an inspiration for many wrestlers such as Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, and the man he faced in this match… Kassius Ohno. The two of these men had a classic in NXT that was hard to be rivaled. The emotion, ring psychology, and the general wrestling in this match was excellent. If you’re a fan of Regal and Ohno/Hero, you should definitely check this match out. If you’re a fan of wrestling, you need to check this match out.”

-Ant, 4 Corners Radio

#14

The Shield vs. Team Hell No/Ryback
WWE
“TLC”
December 10, 2012
33 points
Total Votes: 7 – Highest Rank: 4th

“There was a lot of nervousness going into this match — how would WWE handle The Shield? We found out quickly, sky was the limit for these guys. Just an awesome match bell-to-bell with non-stop action and a great story being told. The Shield as the ultimate “team” doing whatever they could to get out of the ring alive, some high spots, an insanely hot crowd, this match had everything you could possibly ask for in a debut.”

– Rich Kraetsch, Voices of Wrestling

“This match skyrocketed on rewatch. It is amazing to look back a year and see how protected Ryback once was and how Daniel Bryan was still yelling NO! at the audience. Great spots fill this chaotic match and the early signs of Roman Reigns being a future star first came to the surface in this match. The Shield has had a great year overall and this was their official coming out party.”

– Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

“The quirkiness of the Observer calendar has allowed entry of one of my favorite crazy trios brawls ever. The Shield’s first match in WWE was as memorable as any debut, and it provided a template for their mind-numbingly hot run throughout the next year. I don’t know which bump was more memorable, Kane’s through the barricade on the debut of Roman Reigns’ spear or the utter hossing of Seth Rollins off a ladder at the hands of Ryback. Either way, it was an incredible match.”

– Thomas Holzerman, The Wrestling Blog

“The best debut match for The Shield that anyone could have hoped for. The TLC stipulation was exactly the scenario needed to put over how chaotic and dangerous their early battles were to be. Meanwhile Ryback still came out looking strong, Kane was brought back to life with his effort and Bryan worked great with his new opponents. A crazy spectacle of a match.”

– Jamie O’Doherty, Dramatic DDT


#13

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
NJPW
“Wrestle Kingdom 7”
January 4
35 points (2 first-place votes)
Total Votes: 4 – Highest Rank: 1st

“On January 4th Okada and Tanahashi capped off one of the best shows of the last few years by putting on what was very close to a classic. At the time the finish was criticized due to Okada not winning the IWGP Heavyweight title following his success in the 2012 G1, but in hindsight it set the stage for two matches that were able to achieve classic status.”

-Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“This was my first exposure to Okada and Tanahashi and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most entertaining matches I’ve seen.”

-Kevin David

“This match is just as good as the other matches that took place this year, only problem is I felt deflated after the match because Okada lost when it seemed like he was totally going to win the belt. A personal minus regarding this match, sure, but that’s how I felt. Still an excellent match with great heat, which is tough to get in a stadium like atmosphere like the Tokyo Dome.”

-Bryan Rose, Cubed Circle Newsletter

#12

John Cena vs. CM Punk
WWE
“Raw”
Feburary 25
35 points
Total Votes: 11 – Highest Rank: 5th

“Punk and Cena having their WrestleMania main event match for free on RAW. As as a person who doesn’t order PPVs (and doesn’t deeply watch WWE), this was really nice treat up to and including the piledriver. Both guys know how to have epic good matches and it was just a surprise they were allowed to have one on this occasion.”

-thecubsfan, luchablog.com

“There are a lot of people who criticize John Cena. Personally, I don’t have a problem with the guy. A lot of complaints stem from the fact that he cannot “wrestle” like others on the roster. This match, which took place on the February 25th edition of Raw, showed the critics and skeptics that John Cena could go in the ring. His match against CM Punk was a standout match of the year and probably the best non PPV match the WWE put on this year (not counting NXT). Punk pulled out a piledriver, something which we don’t see in WWE anymore, and the two had a match which made its way onto the 50 Years Of WWE DVD. I think that’s an accomplishment in itself.”

-Ant, 4 Corners Radio

“I challenge anyone, anywhere to find a better match on RAW…EVER. It had everything. If this match headlined WrestleMania, we are talking about one of the best matches the WWE had ever produced. Punk v. Cena is the best rivalry the WWE has put together since The Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels.”

-Larry, Voices of Wrestling

“For a match that had such a foregone conclusion as this one did, both performers did their best to hide the fact that destiny dictated Twice in a Lifetime. Then again, the combatants were two guys who always had great chemistry with each other, even before they were joined at the hip in 2011. This match will be remembered for the taboo moves each wrestler pulled off, but either way, it set the tone for what RAW main events would become in 2013, taut, psychological thrillers set across 2 or even 3 segments with big endings.”

– Thomas Holzerman, The Wrestling Blog

“Heck of a match here. This was a legit main event and had awesome heat. This felt like a big deal and was a big deal. Tons of cool stuff here. Punk did a nasty piledriver and Cena busted out the hurracanrana. This was great stuff and was well done.”

-Rob, ProWresBlog

 #11

Charles Lucero vs. Rey Hechicero
Monterrey
August 4
37 points (1 first-place vote)
Total Votes: 4 – Highest Rank: 1st

“A match between the least known great technical wrestler and a great technical wrestler from a couple decades prior is forever memorable for one crazy dive. This is a really good wrestling match leading up to the moment, and a really dramatic one following the spot, but the transformative moment of Rey Hechicero attempting to remodel the front row with his skull elevates this match. Rey Hechicero is a tremendously skilled luchador who doesn’t appear on TV all that much. He doesn’t dive head first into topes all that much, but he made it count this time.”

-thecubsfan, luchablog.com

“Lucha title matches are a personal favorite style of mine and this utilized that template in a classical sense rarely seen since the days of El Dandy vs. Angel Azteca. Escalation plays a vital role in making this match work and this match builds up from the opening matwork stanza to culminate with big moves and one of the craziest spots I have ever seen in the third fall. The opening mat work is presented with that extra flair of snugness and flash that puts this match above a level of most of its contemporaries. Lucero dominates this portion but gets in trouble when Hechicero goes for broke in the second and third falls. Predictably, these risks cost him and he plunges himself straight into a row of chairs head first in an insane dive early on in the third fall. From these depths, he must overcome the odds to defeat his rival and win a title in the process. A match where I was totally invested even though I have seen less than ten career matches from each competitor.”

-Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

“The best lucha title match of the year, in a year with a few really good lucha title matches. I have watched literally thousands of matches this year, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything from 2013 that covered the range this match did. This was set up by a trios and singles match in the weeks before it which were also solid, but not close to this level. While there was some sloppiness, it actually added to the match in some ways, and aside from that this was nearly flawless. Lucero worked almost as a traditionalist against the flash of Hechicero, with momentum swings that were really organic and based around that theme. The third fall was pretty insane with dueling splat bumps (the first of which is one of the more psychotic bumps I’ve ever seen), Lucero being awesome selling the shock of not being able to put Hechicero away after it, and some great moments at the very end with Hechicero almost defiantly trying to step into a leg lock finish and then scrambling desperately to block the lungblower that set up the finish. Really an outstanding match.”

– Dylan Hales, Wrestling Culture Podcast & ProWrestlingOnly.com

“This match was a treat and a half. I’m not sure if there is a wrestler I’ve enjoyed more from my limited viewing than Hechicero. The man’s submissions bring sexy back. He grabs limbs does a cyclone and makes his opponents say uncle. First fall is swanky matwork. Both guys can do it but in their own way. Hechicero walking up the ropes with his hands to take Lucero down with the headscissors was SWEET AS FUDGE!I mean it could have took me out of the match but it didn’t. I think there was one strike in the first fall and it was a dropkick that I thought was gonna take off Hechicero’s head. DAMN! Second fall took it a notch down in the cool as hell matrasslin’ but whatever. Lucero wasn’t out there to do the cool stuff. He was out there to be effective and cause that’s what he does. Not bad by any means but just not at the cool level of FALL #1 nor did it reach the DRAMA of FALL #3

Third fall is something else. Hechicero takes the nuttiest, and I mean NUTTIEST,of bumps. Looks like they might have to legitimately stop it. People are coming out and I have to imagine they are saying “WELL DAMN DUDE CALM YO SHIT! We might need to stop this before someone dies” Then Lucero wants to show he can go BOOM and does a splat on the floor. Now those people that thought Hechicero was hurt are still out here and they’re still questioning health. Yes I am making up dialog. SO MUCH DRAMA! We get an ending and it feels so right.”

-Sam DiMascio, 4 Corners Radio

Countdown continues on Page 2