#5

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi
NJPW
“G1 Climax”
August 4
83 points (2 first-place votes)
Total Votes: 13 – Highest Rank: 1st

“Although the match won the MOTY at Tokyo Sports Puroresu Award 2013, I thought the match was within expectation. It’s too bad that Nakamura has been producing so much “instant classic matches” that the fans’ expectation has to be set so high for him. Still, putting that aside, the beast mode Ibushi we saw against Daisuke Sekimoto 5.4.2010 was far more ‘unleashed’.”

-yottsume

“Less consequential than any other match that made my top 10, I really loved the style clash this match provided with the overall persona and weirdness of Nakamura trying to ground the flash and athletic display of Ibushi. This match failed to play into the perils I have with most Ibushi matches of limb work being blown off. The ending sequence was really dynamic and Nakamura’s finishing knees were vicious.”

-Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

“It’s a strange thing to say, but while still contributing to the night as a whole Nakamaura/Ibushi suffered from being on one of the greatest shows that I have ever seen. It wasn’t that the match couldn’t match up with the very best that the night and G1 had to offer, but the one-count overkill during the rest of the show brought down those integral spots that Nakamura and Ibsuhi implemented in their match, lowering my perception of it on the night. Rewatching and looking at it not as the main event of the G1’s fourth night, but as simply a match of the year candidate, the technical accuracy showcased by Nakamura, and the more controlled flying from Ibushi put this match over the edge as one of the most well put together matches of the entire G1 and of 2013 as a whole.”

-Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“Just well performed, paced and super entertaining match. The clash in styles between Nakamura & Ibushi allowed for some interesting & well done storytelling.”

-Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling

“Action movies often offer some entertainment value but often the perception of how good the action movie is isn’t based solely on how many explosions there are. Also coming into play is how engaging the characters are and how all these explosions are assembled in the film. Nakamura vs. Ibushi is a magnificently put together action movie of a match. Ibushi is the underdog that is nearly impossible not to root for while Nakamura is our bully. Nakamura can be a world class wrestler when he so chooses and he chose so in this match throwing incredibly stiff strikes that could be felt through viewing screens. Well put together, action packed, strikes that induce cringes, and characters that create a reaction from the viewers makes this a true top match of the year.”

-Sam DiMascio, 4 Corners Radio

 “From the great August 4th G1 show, in a year full of great finishes (Cesaro/Zayn, Bryan/Cena SummerSlam, Okada/Tanahashi 10/14, Shingo/Gargano 4/6 all instantly come to mind), this may have been my favorite. Ibushi has come so far from his breakout year in 2007, when he was a finesse guy who ran through the same spots match after match and basically had the same bout over & over. There is a toughness to his work now that I never thought we’d see from him. The story here, with the kickout at one and Ibushi basically knowing he was dead but forcing Nakamura to kill him, was just phenomenal stuff. Ibushi really took a big leap into the elite tier this year of all around workers, and this match is the best example. Nakamura, who can sometimes be uneven in his performances, also had a great, great year and this was his best work.”

-Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

“The best possible match these two could have had with each other. It was everything I hoped and then some. The closing stretch was as gripping as wrestling got this year.”

-Alan4L. Figure Four Online

“If I could just name the entire G1 Climax as my No. 1, I would do it. Instead, I’m left spoiled for choice. It was tough to choose but my match of the year is Nakamura Vs Ibushi. Nakamura was a star for the entire tournament. Ibushi meanwhile showed no problem moving up to heavyweight status for the G1 and fit in with ease. This was a dream match come true and was as great and dramatic (excuse the pun) as I hoped it would be.”

-Jamie O’Doherty, Dramatic DDT

“Amazing to think that this match could very well be the best match of the G1 Climax, but I believe it absolutely is. Ibushi, the best high-flyer in the business coupled with Nakamura who is a story style worker but can mold and alter his offense to fit with just about anyone and you have gold. The ending sequence alone is one of the best I’ve ever seen, Nakamura hitting Ibushi with everything he has, Ibushi kicking out at 1 showing the fighting spirit and Nakamura just clocking him one more time in a symbolic DUDE STAY DOWN. I love this match.”

-Rich Kraetsch, Voices of Wrestling

#4

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii
NJPW
“G1 Climax”
August 4
84 points (2 first-place votes)
Total Votes: 13 – Highest Rank: 1st

“This is pretty much my ideal wrestling match. It was short, stiff, aggressive and action packed from start to finish. This was the 2013 pro wrestling version of Don Frye vs Yoshihiro Takayama and was just completely different than anything I have ever seen. My blood was pumping watching this and I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. This was only the second match to earn a 5-star rating from me this year and it was unforgettable. This is pro wrestling.”

-Rob, ProWresBlog

“If you want to see a match where two guys destroy each other for fifteen minutes, here you go. A devastating match that probably shortened both of their careers. One of the most stiffest matches I’ve witnessed.”

-Bryan Rose, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“If Okada/Tanahashi was the match to exemplify the long, winding mainevent puro match, filled with precision limb work and big near falls, then Ishii and Shibata showcased the complete opposite end of the genre’s spectrum. Its storytelling it was far more entrenched in the idea of “fighting spirit” and uber stiff work than it was limb work and twenty minutes of build. However, the extremes that this match showcased, with a white hot G1 crowd and the second explosive win for Tomohiro Ishii of the tournament, put it over the edge as the match to epitomize the super stiff “it’s supposed to be worked” match done right.”

-Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“Sometimes, two men hitting each other as hard as they can possibly hit each other can be amazingly entertaining. Not always, but this was done extraordinarily well.”

-Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling

“This was the highlight of this year’s G1 Climax tour which had some of the best wrestling I have ever seen. The opening was crazy intense and I loved the work in between as well. They got a lot of mileage out of kicks and clotheslines to finish the match. Intensity is one of my top priorities in a wrestling match and this one had it in spades. Both guys were at the top of their game and this was like nothing else I’ve seen in a long time. As hard-hitting and intense as a match can be and just as much state-of-the-art.”

– Dave Musgrave, Wrestling Culture Podcast

“On first viewing, I didn’t have this at a MOTY level because I thought it was too short. Then on a rewatch, I realized how ridiculous that was, because with the way this was worked it would have been pretty silly to go any longer than they did. This was a FIGHT, the highlight of an incredible breakout G1 for Ishii, and the best Shibata match of the year in a year where he had a bunch of matches just as stiff & intense as this one. I felt like I got punched in the mouth when it was over.”

 -Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

“Wild out of control slugfest. Does exacty what it says on the tin. Ends at the perfect moment.”

-Alan4L, Figure Four Online

“An incredible slugfest. Shibata’s MMA background and history with New Japan gave him an extra edge that made his matches a treat to watch. Put him in there with a big, grumpy lump of a man who himself is on a career high and you got yourself something special.”

-Jamie O’Doherty, Dramatic DDT

#3

Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena
WWE
“SummerSlam”
August 18
85 points (1 first-place vote)
Total Votes: 13 – Highest Rank: 1st

“As much as people don’t like John Cena, he really knows how to put on a great match in the WWE style of wrestling.”

-Kevin David

“I have watched this match four times now, and it gets better with each viewing. Initially I was a little disappointed at the lack of scientific and body control work that I thought would dominate the match. This match took a much more bomb throwing tone than I would have imagined. With repeated viewings, I have begun to appreciate the uniqueness of the moves each competitor especially Cena added to his repertoire during this match. All of the intangibles within this match molded beautifully. Hot crowd, good guest ref work within the match by HHH and a gutty, injured riddled performance by Cena. Cena getting pinned clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring was a defiant moment that was worked as a star making vehicle for Bryan.”

-Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

“Pay-per-view may have taken a backseat to free TV in terms of match quality in WWE this year, but that doesn’t mean WWE didn’t make you pay for some gems. This match was pitch-perfect. They worked in throwbacks. They tried new moves. And when Bryan hit Cena with the Busaiku knee, the joint exploded.”

– Thomas Holzerman, The Wrestling Blog

“No matter what anyone can say about how the cash in/post match shenanigans ended up going, this was a phenomenal match. If this match didn’t quite people that questioned Cena’s ability to perform, I don’t know what will. Cena worked Bryan’s style without it coming off as a cheap imitation. Very well performed.”

-Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling

“Maybe the best “video game” match I’ve ever seen, and a rare main event match that had a “changing of the guard” feel to it. For back-and-fourth, high drama, big spot, near fall heavy wrestling, there are few matches you will ever see at this level. The best match of a great year from Bryan, and another classic Cena title match.”

– Dylan Hales, Wrestling Culture Podcast & ProWrestlingOnly.com

“This was a fantastic match and Cena is a class act for putting him over like that. Daniel Bryan was the best wrestler in the world on this night. This match built so well and the finish along with all of Bryan’s offense was just stellar. The MITB cash-in did get heel heat in my mind at the time but the eventual lack of pay-off in the feud was disappointing. But the same could be said of Cena vs Punk at MITB 2011 and that is one of the best matches you could see and couldn’t be ruined by the follow-up. The same applies here in my mind.”

– Dave Musgrave, Wrestling Culture Podcast

“Throughout the entire summer of 2013, Daniel Bryan was the People’s Champion. He was the most over guy on the roster and no one could touch his popularity. John Cena, the current WWE Champion, hand picked Bryan to be his opponent at SummerSlam. The two had a great build to the match and the match itself did not disappoint. John Cena brought out his best and Daniel Bryan did the same. At the end of the day, regardless what happened post victory, Daniel Bryan beat the face of the WWE clean in the middle of the ring. No shenanigans, no interference, but a clean, great wrestling match.”

-Ant, 4 Corners Radio

“Just an absolutely classic WWE title match. One of the best ever. Bryan at the peak of his powers and Cena giving a career performance.”

-Alan4L, Figure Four Online


#2

Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
NJPW
“King of Pro Wrestling”
October 14
114 points (3 first-place votes)
Total Votes: 13 – Highest Rank: 1st

“This match was very, very very very good. I don’t think it reached the level of the previous two, however. With that said it was still ****3/4 which is kind of amazing. New Japan’s had such a great year a ****3/4 match sometimes won’t even make a top 5 of someone’s list. I think it also goes without saying that this is one of the best feuds in decades, only Flair/Steamboat matches the kind of quality matches these two have had this year.”

-Bryan Rose, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“Personally the best Okada/Tanahashi match in these two years. Tanahashi’s sling blade(spinning sitout sleeper slam)→Dragon Suplex combo in that match was the most beautiful sequence of the year.”

-yottsume

“I have been less impressed with this series of matches than most. This match to me took all of the elements I enjoyed in other matches between these two, and added new wrinkles. I thought the opening mat work was engaging resulting from Tanahashi’s leg “injury” and his work on Okada’s arm. That set the template for the match with Okada having to rely on other weapons in his arsenal and him reaching down to uncharted depths. I really want to see heel Tanahashi after this performance and this match established Okada as the co-man in New Japan.”

-Chad Campbell, Place To Be Nation

“As far a workrate is concerned this was the best of the six Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kazuchika Okada matches period. Okada seemed to “get it” more here than in any other match I’ve seen him in, even more so than the number one match on my list. The work was off the charts, but without the title change and aura of the April 7th match it simply couldn’t reach the same heights. Regardless, in most years it would be at the top of my list.”

-Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“This was art, pure and simple. I’m sure everyone else will have a better detailed blurb, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this match.”

-Billy Carpenter, 4 Corners Radio 

“Most fans were uneasy about New Japan rushing into a sixth match up between these two just two months after the fifth encounter at G1. I admit that I was one of those fans. Well, we were all wrong to doubt the decision, as they produced their best match yet in their unreal series. This match added all sorts of new wrinkles to the feud, most notably Tanahashi doing a very heelish fake knee injury spot early in the match. The finishing stretch was the best yet between the two (which is the highest compliment possible, since they always have fantastic closing stretches), and they even got this cynical reviewer to mark out and pop for the finish. A masterpiece. They saved the best for last. Five stars, and i’d go higher if it existed.”

-Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

“Flair-Steamboat in Chicago. The greatest feud in wrestling of this era culminates in an absolute masterpiece.”

-Larry, Voices of Wrestling

“The culmination of the series and their best offering so far. So well laid out and perfectly paced.”

-Alan4L

And your winner of the Voices of Wrestling 2013 Match of the Year as voted on by our esteemed panel…

#1

Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
NJPW
“Invasion Attack”
April 7
138 points (6 first-place votes)
Total Votes: 13 – Highest Rank: 1st

“Although no match is perfect, this was about as close as you’re gonna get. This had excellent wrestling, excellent heat from the crowd and the storyline leading to the match and the finish were perfect as well. Okada needed the win to cement himself as a top player in New Japan and it worked. Considering 4 of my top 10 involve these two it’s pretty safe to say this is one of the best feuds in a long, long time.”

-Bryan Rose, Cubed Circle Newsletter

(I will write something here)

“What more needs to be said about this match. If you’ve seen it, you know. This is the perfect wrestling match in front of a rapid crowd on the biggest stage of the year. These moments don’t come around often. Okada stakes his claim as the guy in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Tanahashi’s performance is nothing short of impeccable — just an unbelievably well done match from these two men. The second this match was over it was put on the top of my 2013 Match of the Year list, no single match in this unbelievable year (featuring perhaps the best month in wrestling history) could knock it off. “

-Rich Kraetsch, Voices of Wrestling

“Okada/Tanahashi IV is a unique match at the top of the list, as the work and layout both were both second to their match many months later on October 14th. It also wasn’t performed in front of the hottest crowd of the remaining seven matches either. However, when looking at the relationship between crowd reaction, match layout and the significance of the title change as a whole, Okada and Tanahashi showcased pure mastery on April 7th. Of all the matches that I saw this year none were able to capture as great of a big match aura and sense of grandeur as these two did at Sumo Hall on Mania weekend.”

-Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter

“The amazing things about this match & the rematch will probably be said by many others. Plain and simple, the chemistry & performance that these two men provide is better that any other in the world currently.”

-Eamon Paton, Inspire Pro Wrestling

“The 4th chapter in this tremendous story provided us with an absolute classic match. First off, the crowd was super-hot for this. The match built beautifully with tremendous storytelling, call backs to earlier encounters & great psychology. The in ring work was top notch and until the KoPW match between the 2, this was my MOTY.”

-Billy Carpenter, 4 Corners Radio

“At the time I thought that there was no possible way that this match could be topped for MOTY. Because 2013 was so amazing, I ended up ranking it third. The best match of a loaded WrestleMania weekend.”

-Joe Lanza, Voices of Wrestling

“Every time they step in the ring together, it becomes wrestling canon.”

-Larry, Voices of Wrestling

“This match was my number 1 for the longest time this year and with good reason. Both men, who are stars in NJPW, put their bodies on the line for this epic match. They faced at Wrestle Kingdom 7 and that match was amazing but this match was just better. Tanahashi was atop NJPW for quite some time and had a stronghold on the top spot until Okada came along. His victory over Tanahashi was something that shocked me but after seeing what he has done this year, it was the right decision. Both men should be respected for what they’ve done for NJPW and this match.”

-Ant, 4 Corners Radio

“I didn’t think anything would top this in 2013 – it was that good. Would be my MOTY in most years.”

-Alan4L, Figure Four Online

“Maybe I’m biased for watching this live and others not, but this was the career defining win for Okada, more-so than the first title win. I often value the atmosphere of matches about as much as the in-ring, so seeing Okada get the win he should have got puts this one over the top for me.”

-Chris Bacon, PWPonderings

“The Tanahashi vs Okada rivalry has been remarkable and Okada’s title win from April stood out the most for me.”

-Jamie O’Doherty, Dramatic DDT

Let’s take a quick look at how individuals performed, these stats are courtesy the wrestling stat man himself, Chris “mookieghana” Harrington:

Aggregate Person Rank

  • 1. Hiroshi Tanahashi (397 points in 8 matches)
  • 2. Kazuchika Okada (305 points in 4 matches)
  • 3. Daniel Bryan (176 points in 6 matches)
  • 4. Tomohiro Ishii (150 points in 3 matches)
  • 5. John Cena (133 points in 5 matches)
  • 6. CM Punk (131 points in 3 matches)
  • 7. Shinsuke Nakamura (124 points in 5 matches)
  • 8. Katsuyori Shibata (98 points in 2 matches)
  • 9. Kota Ibushi (85 points in 2 matches)
  • 10. Antonio Cesaro (74 points in 4 matches)
  • 11. Roman Reigns (63 points in 6 matches)
  • 11. Seth Rollins (63 points in 6 matches)
  • 13. The Undertaker (59 points in 2 matches)
  • 14. Dean Ambrose (53 points in 4 matches)
  • 15. Kane (49 points in 3 matches)
  • 16. Brock Lesnar (48 points in 1 matches)
  • 17. William Regal (42 points in 2 matches)
  • 18. Sami Zayn (42 points in 1 matches)
  • 19. Volador Jr (39 points in 3 matches)
  • 22. LA Park (38 points in 1 matches)
  • 20. BxB Hulk (38 points in 2 matches)
  • 22. Dr Wagner Jr (38 points in 1 matches)
  • 20. Akira Tozawa (38 points in 2 matches)
  • 26. Rey Hechicero (37 points in 1 matches)
  • 25. Ryback (37 points in 2 matches)
  • 26. Charles Lucero (37 points in 1 matches)
  • 24. La Sombra (37 points in 4 matches)
  • 28. Ricochet (35 points in 2 matches)
  • 29. Alberto Del Rio (34 points in 4 matches)
  • 30. YAMATO (33 points in 4 matches)
  • 31. Kassius Ohno (32 points in 1 matches)
  • 32. Naruki Doi (31 points in 2 matches)
  • 33. Sakuraba (29 points in 1 matches)
  • 37. Randy Orton (24 points in 1 matches)
  • 35. Michael Elgin (24 points in 3 matches)
  • 35. El Generico (24 points in 3 matches)
  • 38. Virus (22 points in 1 matches)
  • 38. Guerrero Maya Jr (22 points in 1 matches)
  • 40. Rey Escorpion (21 points in 3 matches)
  • 41. Karl Anderson (20 points in 1 matches)
  • 43. Stuka Jr (19 points in 1 matches)
  • 43. Namajague (19 points in 1 matches)
  • 43. Rey Cometa (19 points in 1 matches)
  • 43. JoshAlexander (19 points in 1 matches)
  • 42. Prince Devitt (19 points in 2 matches)
  • 43. Okumura (19 points in 1 matches)
  • 48. Dolph Ziggler (18 points in 2 matches)
  • 49. Kevin Steen (17 points in 2 matches)
  • 50. Gedo (17 points in 1 matches)
  • 52. SHINGO (16 points in 1 matches)
  • 52. Johnny Gargano (16 points in 1 matches)
  • 51. Negro Casas (16 points in 2 matches)
  • 54. Shingo Takagi (15 points in 2 matches)
  • 55. Ryo “Jimmy” Saito (14 points in 1 matches)
  • 55. Hirooki Goto (14 points in 1 matches)
  • 57. Titan (13 points in 2 matches)
  • 58. The Big Show (12 points in 1 matches)
  • 60. Testuya Naito (11 points in 1 matches)
  • 59. Rush (11 points in 2 matches)
  • 62. K-ness (10 points in 2 matches)
  • 62. Polvora (10 points in 2 matches)
  • 62. Cody Rhodes (10 points in 2 matches)
  • 62. Young Bucks (10 points in 2 matches)
  • 62. Goldust (10 points in 2 matches)
  • 67. Masacara Dorada (10 points in 1 matches)
  • 61. KENTA (10 points in 4 matches)

There you have it. Thank you again for everyone who participated in the voting, expressed a desire to vote or just support this project or Voices of Wrestling this past year. We couldn’t have done this amazing project without each and every one of you!