Welcome to the third annual Voices of Wrestling Match of the Year Poll.


The brainchild of VOW co-owner Rich Kraetsch, it all started in 2012 with a modest four person panel of myself, Rich, VOW’s Larry, and Billy Carpenter of 4 Corners Radio. We each selected our ten best matches of the year, wrote short blurbs on why each match was selected, and combined the lists to come up with a collaborative top ten. The first ever VOW Match of the Year list ended up looking like this:

  1. Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin, 3/31 (ROH)
  2. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki, 8/8 (NJPW)
  3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada, 6/16 (NJPW)
  4. Johnny Gargano vs Akira Tozawa vs AR Fox vs Ricochet, 11/4 (DGUSA)
  5. El Generico vs Kevin Steen, 3/30 (ROH)
  6. CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan, 5/20 (WWE)
  7. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada, 2/12 (NJPW)
  8. The Undertaker vs Triple H, 4/1 (WWE)
  9. Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega, 8/18 (DDT)
  10. Kota Ibushi vs El Generico, 10/21 (DDT)

A fine list of matches, but a list that was the product of four voters who for the most part have very similar tastes in wrestling. There was a ton of crossover on the four lists, and while an impressive variety of five different promotions ultimately ended up being represented in the top ten, we were basically dealing with a small pool of voters that essentially watched and enjoyed the same pool of matches over the course of the year.

For 2013, I approached Rich about expanding on his original idea by extending invites to dozens of other wrestling critics. Each year in the world of film, we see end of year media/critic polls ranking the top films of the year. There is nothing like those critic polls we see in film that has ever existed for wresting matches. With that in mind, we sent ballots to dozens of journalists, bloggers (promotion specific & otherwise), radio hosts, podcasters, experts, friends of the site, and critics who we knew loved wrestling, had a reputation for having a solid base of knowledge and strong opinions, and had quality endeavors that we could help expose to our readers in exchange for participating. We knew not everybody would respond, but we were quite pleased with who did, and we feel like the results did bear out the variety of matches and wrestling styles that we were seeking. 25 total voters responded by voting for over 90 matches from 23 different promotions.

The 2013 Top Ten:

  1. Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, 4/7 (NJPW)
  2. Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, 10/14 (NJPW)
  3. Daniel Bryan vs John Cena, 8/18 (WWE)
  4. Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii, 8/4 (NJPW)
  5. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi, 8/4 (NJPW)
  6. Tomohiro Ishii vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, 8/2 (NJPW)
  7. Brock Lesnar vs CM Punk, 8/18 (WWE)
  8. Undertaker vs CM Punk, 4/7 (WWE)
  9. Antonio Cesaro vs Sami Zayn, 8/21 (WWE)
  10. Dr. Wagner Jr. vs LA Park, 5/11 (TXT)

Check out what I wrote in last year’s introduction piece:

“We hope to look back at our 2013 pool of 25 voters as too small of a sample, as we now do at our original pool of four. The more diversity, the better.”

That pool of 25 does in fact look small today, as this year’s poll garnered responses from 67 total voters, who voted for 156 matches from 35 different promotions:

  1. NJPW (32)
  2. WWE (32)
  3. ROH (15)
  4. CMLL (12)
  5. Dragon Gate (9)
  6. PWG (6)
  7. SHMMER (5)
  8. Lucha Underground (4)
  9. AJPW (3)
  10. CZW (3)
  11. AAA (2)
  12. AAW (2)
  13. DGUSA (2)
  14. DREAMWAVE (2)
  15. EVOLVE (2)
  16. IWA-MS (2)
  17. PROGRESS (2)
  18. RPW (2)
  19. TNA (2)
  20. wXw (2)
  21. AIW
  22. Arena Fusion
  23. Beyond Wrestling
  24. BJW
  25. Chikara
  26. Chilanga Mask
  27. DDT
  28. FIP
  29. Legend Pro
  30. OMEGA
  32. SHINE
  33. Stardom
  34. WMC
  35. WSU

The Voters

Here are the 67 voters (with their credentials), all of whom worked very hard, re-watched dozens of matches, and took their ballots very seriously. We thank all of them for their hard work. We’re proud of who who chose to participate, and we believe this impressive list of names helps give the poll instant credibility:

The Original Four

  • Joe Lanza (@voiceswrestling) – That’s me. Voices of Wrestling Podcast co-host, VOW co-owner, and proud scribe of the WWE Superstars reviews that none of you bother to read. Follow my personal account (@JoeMLanza) for lots of Tweets about TV shows, college basketball, and MLB.
  • Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling) – VOW co-owner, the mild mannered and sane half of the VOW Podcast, and the man who came up with the original idea for this poll.
  • Larry – The VOW PWG reviewer. Not much else is known about this man of mystery other than he is a proud Miami Hurricane who may have met Joe Lanza at an ECW show in 1996 without either of us realizing it.
  • Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy) – 4CRwrestling.com/4 Corners Radio

The Rest

  • Jahmale Hepburn (@TrollTeller) – Dailymotion.com/JAHMAL1111
  • Fujiwara Armbar (@fujiwaraarmbar) – VOW puro reviews. Visit his blog here: fujiwaraarmbar.blogspot.com
  • Dave Hatton (@ThatDaveGuy) – VOW contributor/That Wrestling Blog
  • Pocket Volcano (@PocketVolcano) – PWPonderings.com
  • Larry Csonka (@LarryCsonka411) – 411Mania.com. May or may not have over 8000 NFL rushing yards.
  • Jeff Hawkins (@Crapgame13) – Shake Them Ropes/ Voices of Wrestling
  • Chris Harrington (@mookieghana) – indeedwrestling.com. Wrestling’s stat guru. 
  • Jason Felix (@Felix824) – VOW contributor. whywouldanyoneradthis.com
  • Danny Kuchler (@GetInTheRing123) – shoutengine.com/GetintheRing/
  • Thomas Holzerman (@tholzerman) – wallsofjerichoholic.blogspot.com
  • Sean Sedor (@sasedor2994) – The Wrestling HUB Reviews Blog
  • Greg Parks (@gregmparks) – pwtorch.com/Pro Wrestling Torch
  • Steven Graham (@StevenGrahamTWS) – PWO-PTBN Podcast Network, www.facebook.com/pages/PWO-PTBN-Podcast-Network/1495440050725136
  • Kris Zellner (@KrisZellner) – Wrestling Observer Newsletter & Death Valley Driver
  • Kelly Harrass (@comicgeekelly) – PanelsOnPages.com
  • Liam Azogui 
  • Pete Schirmacher (@titansowrestlin) – PWO-PTBN, Titans of Wrestling
  • Bryan Rose (@br26) – Voices of Wrestling/Cubed Circle Newsletter
  • Sean Flynn (@spiffie6123) – VOW Monday Night RAW reviewer
  • Damon McDonald (@mcdonaldmichael) – Voices or Wrestling
  • Paul Cooke (@stomperspc) – crossarmbreaker.com
  • Rob Viper (@RobViper13) – highspots.com
  • Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes) – Shake Them Ropes/Voices of Wrestling Main Event reviewer
  • Ryan Clingman (@RyanClingman) – cubedcirclewrestling.com
  • Case Lowe (@_InYourCase) – Sincere Shootin’ Podcast
  • Dylan Hales (@DylanWaco) – Wrestling Culture Podcast http://placetobenation.com/wrestling-culture/ , occasional voicesofwrestling.com contributor, regular guest on PlaceToBeNation.com pay-per-view reaction show panel, professional podcast guest. The only things that run longer than his plugs are his blurbs (stay tuned).
  • Devon Hales (@kingmotivatorh) – Wait, there’s two of them? God help us. wrestlingvirtues.blogspot.com
  • Dave Musgrave (@puropotsy) – Puts up with Dylan Hales as the co-host of Wrestling Culture Podcast, which likely makes him a saint.
  • Eddie Burke (@EddieAlCapone) – 3countblog.tumblr.com
  • Alan4L (@Alan4L) – Host of the DKP show at F4W/Wrestling Observer, writer for Fighting Spirit Magazine and contributor at Fightgameblog. 
  • Jeremy Peeples (@Jeremy_Peeples) – F4Wonline Lucha Underground Recapper/Hardcore Gamer/Jay Reviews Things Blog
  • Joe Gagne (@joegagne) – Joe vs. the World/Funtime Arcade. Wrestling Podmass on VOW. And his most thankless contribution to the wrestling community, time stamping the never ending and always meandering Voices of Wrestling Podcast.  
  • Phil Schneider – segundacaida.blogspot.com
  • Warren Taylor (@TeddyNoir) – Voices of Wrestling
  • Ben Carass (@BenCarass) – Cubed Circle Newsletter, Co-Author. cubedcirclewrestling.com
  • Zachariah Dominello (@TheKoalaMask) – koalamask.com
  • Josh Katzker (@AmplifiedToRock) – The Brothers of Destruction Podcast, tbodpodcast.wordpress.com
  • Rob Reid (@R_Double_1997) – Voices of Wrestling, ROHWorld
  • Jeff Martin (@HEATcomic) – heat.rentathugcomics.com
  • Chad Campbell (@bigboysplaywcw) – placetobenation.com
  • STRIGGA (@STRIGGA) – Cagematch.net / Purolove.com
  • Oliver Court (@OliCourt14) – Voices of Wrestling contributor
  • TJ Hawke (@TJHawke411) – 411mania.com, @Free_Wrestling, @Old_New_Japan, @AllTheAllJapan
  • Matt Gerardi (@gerardi) – The A.V. Club
  • Sam DiMascio (@SammyJ_D) – SpandexAreStillCool.wordpress.com, 4 Corners Radio
  • Ryan Davis (@RyanDavisKOW) – kingofwrestling.weebly.com
  • Rob Barry (@RobsBrutalWorld) – robsbrutalworld.wordpress.com
  • Dante Kinney (@Dante_J_K) – VOW NJPW 2014 Year in Review contributor
  • Maia Nolan-Partnow (@myster) – Voices of Wrestling Total Divas reviewer, VOW WWE PPV team reviews
  • Greg (@Answertheten) – Answering the Ten Count podcast
  • Michael Anderson (@Beastmike)
  • The PDT Podcast With Rick & Junior – pdtpod.com
  • thecubsfan (@luchablog) – luchablog.com
  • SenorLARIATO (@SeniorLARIATO) – The Indy Corner/Steel Cage Monthly. He also graciously provides the tremendous gifs you see in most VOW reviews.
  • Mike Falcone (@mikevsphilly) – Contributor to Dr. Keith Presents on WrestingObserver.com
  • Bill Thompson (@WordsAreKeen) – Blue Thunder Driver, matchaftermatch.wordpress.com
  • Taylor C. Mitchell (@MrTCMitchell) – Voices of Wrestling
  • Alfredo Esparza (@therealalfredo) – luchaworld.com
  • Willow Maclay (@willow_catelyn) – pushcesaro.blogspot.com
  • CJ Roy (@cjroy89) – Push Cesaro, @Push_Cesaro
  • Allan Blackstock (@allanblackstock) – Wrestling Eye Podcast
  • Mike Sempervive (@Sempervive) – Wrestling Observer
  • Kevin Wilson (@PuroCentral) – puroresucentral.com

How The Voting 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, if two matches are tied in points, with one match appearing on more total ballots, it will not require the second step tie breaker. The match appearing on more total ballots would place higher.

If two matches are tied in points, and remain tied by appearing on the same number of ballots, the match with the highest singular vote will win the tiebreaker.

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 from December 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 was eligible. We chose to use the Observer calendar (December ’12 – November ’13) last year because we realized that many potential voters work very hard all year compiling lists of their favorite matches based on that time frame for WON Awards purposes. In an era where a large chunk of wrestling footage is now available either live or with very short turn around, we are moving away from the Observer calendar and towards a standard 12-month January – December voting period. The 13-month year was necessary this year in order to include December 2013 matches that were ineligible last year.

Our long term goal is to become the most comprehensive, inclusive, and respected MOTY poll in all of wrestling, and to continue to cross promote the great ventures of our voter pool while hopefully exposing fans to matches that they otherwise never would have discovered.

It’s time to reveal which matches were the best of 2014. In a series of articles that will follow over the next week, we will reveal the matches that finished 120-51, 50-26, 25-11 and 1-10. Here are the bouts that failed to crack the Top 120 (under four points):

1 point:

Nakamura/Okada vs. Tanahashi/Naito (12/23/13)12/23Road to Tokyo DomeNJPW
Big E vs Jack Swagger (2/23)2/23Elimination ChamberWWE
reDRagon vs. Young Bucks (03/08)3/8Raising the Bar Night 2ROH
Kimber Lee/LuFisto vs. Jessicka Havok/Nevaeh (5/31)5/31Prelude to ViolenceCZW
AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole (9/6)9/6All Star Extravaganza VIROH
Jimmy Havoc vs Zack Sabre Jr. (01/26)1/26Chapter 11PROGRESS
The Usos vs. Goldust/Stardust (9/21)9/21Night of ChampionsWWE
Lucha Underground 10-Way (10/4)10/4Lucha Underground
Astral vs Electrico (10/12)10/12Domingos Arena MexicoCMLL
Marty Scurll vs. Martin Stone (10/18)10/18Revolution Pro Uprising 2014RPW
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (10/26)10/26Hell in a CellWWE
Timothy Thatcher vs. Joe Graves (11/29)11/29Kratos vs. DutraPREMIER
The Young Bucks & ACH vs. The Addiction & Cedric Alexander (12/7)12/7Final BattleROH

WWE’s fall season of stagnation led to the emergence of two new main event-level acts. While the finish fell flat, this felt like a changing of the guard kind of match for 99% of it as WWE had the chance to main event with Cena vs. Orton and instead chose the young blood to close out the show. Ambrose and Rollins delivered a highlight-filled match that firmly established Rollins as the top full-time heel on the roster.” 

– Jeremy Peeples on  Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (10/26)

Timothy Thatcher, Biff Busick and Drew Gulak helped reinvigorate my interest in U.S. indy wrestling where I am more invested in the promotions more than I have been since 2007-2008. Unfortunately, working in front on snarky crowds like ROH and EVOLVE can result in the matches being great in spite of themselves. This was my favorite Thatcher performance of the year as it is in front of crowd that didn’t know what to expect and tried to clap along with opening chain wrestling. Once they realized the wrestlers were going to manipulate THEM, they allowed them to and ended up becoming heavily invested in the overall storyline of the match. I also love the fact that Graves was someone I had never heard of before but turned in a gritty performance here and now is someone new for me to seek out.”

-Chad Campbell on Timothy Thatcher vs. Joe Graves (11/29)

Over the past year or so Jimmy Havoc has evolved into one of the best characters in wrestling, taking the PROGRESS title hostage and invoking pure hatred from the rabid crowd who are desperate to see him lose. One of the best things about Havoc’s turn to the dark side has been how nuanced a story it has been, which this match was a great example of, playing on Havoc & Sabre’s friendship not only with each other, but with the special referee Marty Scurll. Inevitably, nefarious shenanigans played into the finish that saw Havoc retain the title he would hold for all of 2014, but the match delivered beforehand was top-shelf stuff.”

SenorLARIATO on Jimmy Havoc vs Zack Sabre Jr. (01/26)

2 points:

Ricochet vs. YAMATO (5/5)5/5Dead or AliveDragon Gate
Reed Bentley vs. Chris Hero (3/9)3/9Sunday Bloody SundayIWA-MS
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles (10/13)10/13King of Pro WrestlingNJPW
reDRagon vs. Time Splitters (12/7)12/7Final BattleROH
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Okabayashi (1/13)1/13Legend Pro
Kellie Skater/Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Ray/Leon (4/14)4/14SHIMMER Vol. 64SHIMMER
Cachorro vs. Dragon Lee (5/2)5/2Super ViernesCMLL
Prince Devitt vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (5/18)5/18Chapter 13: Unbelievable JeffPROGRESS
Adam Cole vs. Michael Elgin (6/22)6/22Best in the WorldROH
Josh Prohibition vs. Matt Cross (6/29)6/29AbsolutionAIW
Kortiz vs. El Brazo Jr. (8/24)8/24Mania No. 1WMC
Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (10/23)10/23NXTWWE
Akira Tozawa & Shingo Takagi vs. Masaaki Mochizuki & Don Fuji (5/5)5/5Dead or AliveDragon Gate

Dueling chants are often a thing that is forced by a crowd who wants to be snarky or make themselves feel like they’re part of the show. In this match that was not the case. Tag champs Skater and Nakagawa (3G) have been the real main event of SHIMMER for over a year, and routinely put on the most heated matches of each show, with a crowd almost uniformly behind them. But in this match they faced Ray and Leon (Mascaras Voladores), a team nearly as beloved for their intricate highflying and combination maneuvers. The match was unsurprisingly dramatic, but to be in a crowd of people who were passionately cheering on their favorites, while still loving their opponents wholeheartedly was a wonderful experience. A room full of people standing on their feet exulting in the joy of professional wrestling being done to the highest of standards. The SHIMMER aces 3G held their belts, MV left with their heads held high and chants of “please come back” ringing in their ears, and the fans in the Eagles club let out the deep breath they’d held in for the last 10 minutes of the match.” 

-Sean Flynn on Kellie Skater/Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Ray/Leon (4/14)

I had a really hard time deciding my #10 match. I had a few things in consideration, including two great Minoru Suzuki matches, but this Open the Dream Gate match just edged those two out. This was a really special match. You had two guys that were hitting their stride and about to enter the prime of their careers, and because of that, the stars aligned and they put on this incredible match. Ricochet was in the midst of being the hottest wrestler on the planet and YAMATO once again showed that he’s one of the very best in the world.”

-Case Lowe on Ricochet vs. YAMATO (5/5)

The AJ Styles Reclamation Project of 2014 had many great matches in it, but as much hype as the Minoru Suzuki gets mostly for its simplicity, there’s something truly noteworthy about Styles/Tanahashi. Jeff Jarrett’s presence here takes some shine off of Styles, but luckily, Jado and Gedo are creative enough to find a way to get rid of Jarrett that doesn’t detract from the match.”

-Jeff Hawkins on Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles (10/13)

The two best rookies of 2014 and they go all out in this match. Dragon Lee might have a death-wish. Really fun match. Cachorro combining some great technical moves with a killer tope suicida while Dragon Lee takes his usual crazy bumps and then gets the win with the Phoenix-plex. A great 10-minute match.”

Alfredo Esparza on Cachorro vs. Dragon Lee (5/2)

3 points:

The Briscoe Brothers vs. Young Bucks (8/22)8/22Death Before Dishonor XIIROH
Flamita vs. Jimmy Susumu (5/5)5/5Dead or AliveDragon Gate
Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen (5/10)5/10Global WarsROH
Tommy End vs. Big Daddy Walter (10/4)10/4World Triangle League 2014 – Day 3wXw
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (12/11)12/11NXT Takeover R EvolutionWWE
Delta & Guerrero Maya Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario & Hechicero (12/16)12/16CMLL on Cadena TresCMLL
Shane Hollister vs. Eddie Kingston (9/12)9/12Defining MomentsAAW
Angelico/Jack Evans/Australian Suicide vs Chessman/Daga/Pentagon Jr. (02/09)2/9Sin LimiteAAA

“The standout AAA trios match of the year for me. No referee bullshit, no silly run-ins, just six guys going all out and incorporating the hot feud (Suicide/Pentagon) into a Dragon Gate style six man tag full of hot nearfalls and cool spots. Built better than usual for an AAA match leading to a hot finishing sequence with a great Daga dive and Pentagon Jr. murdering people as only he can. This led to similar matches throughout the year with the same tecnico team but this was the cream of the crop.”

– RobViper on Angelico/Jack Evans/Australian Suicide vs Chessman/Daga/Pentagon Jr. (02/09)

Much like we’ll talk about for next year, although in a much bigger scale, this was like the most recent WrestleKingdom where these two had a hell of a match to top and they did it. Always love the hot Milwaukee crowd, which has always been a great crowd for ROH shows. I voted for this because I felt that the tag work they did is everything that I love in pro wrestling and love about tag team wresting and the art of it, in a 2014 presentation.”

-Mike Falcone on The Briscoe Brothers vs. Young Bucks (8/22)

We all know that AJ Styles had a fantastic 2014, and one of his best matches was against Adam Cole, who’s a guy that has so many upside. Cole is just so awesome in so many ways. In 10 Years Time, he could legitimately be a major star in WWE. He’s everything you want in a pro-wrestler. He had a great match with AJ Styles on this show. Definitely one of the best matches from ROH all year, definitely deserving to be included in this list.”

Sean Sedor on AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole (9/6)

The 19-year old Flamita (19!!!) had a breakout year, and his definitive performance was this match against the severely underrated veteran Susumu. This was worked at a breakneck pace, which is exactly what you want out of a Brave Gate match, with state of the art flying, and breathtaking mid-air counters.”

-Joe Lanza on Flamita vs. Jimmy Susumu (5/5)

Follow the 2014 Match of the Year project at https://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/columns-2/2014-match-of-the-year/