Welcome to the 2014 Voices of Wrestling Match of the Year countdown. If you haven’t already, please check out our earlier posts in the contest including the introduction which informs you who voted on the list, how we tabulate winners and much more.

Introduction and Honorable Mentions

#121-51 (Part One)

#121-51 (Part Two)


Matt Cage vs. Christian Rose
August 2
Adversity (DREAMWAVE)
14 total points (1 first place vote)

“These two have faced each other multiple times in multiple places. However, their match at “Adversity” had incredible build behind it, plus it was not just the story of a challenger vs a champion – Christian Rose had gone unpinned and not submitted since his DREAMWAVE debut three years prior. Slowly but surely, Matt Cage went from victory to victory before announcing when he would cash in his “Good as Gold” briefcase. With that, the stage was set. These two are masters of all the little details as well as the big ones, and I’d encourage wrestling fans to give this match, as well as DREAMWAVE itself, a chance.”

-Pocket Volcano


Kellie Skater/Tomoka Nakagawa/Jessicka Havok/Madison Eagles vs. Portia Perez/Nicole Matthews/Kimber Lee/Cherry Bomb
October 19
14 total points (1 first place vote)

“This year was absolutely packed with high quality in-ring work. Hell, the G1 alone probably had more four stars matches than WWE had in the entirety of the 1990s. Just being awesome in the ring is not enough for me to think of a match as being the Match Of The Year~! There has to be some real storytelling involved with the excellent wrestling. And in the best of all worlds, a definitive conclusion to a story that has been told for a while now. This match, starting as a SHIMMER title match between champion Nicole Matthews and Tomoka Nakagawa kept building and building as interlocked feuds crashed the match until it became an eight person tag. The ending of the match was at least two years in the making with Portia Perez finally facing all of the people she had antagonized for so long. As the last SHIMMER match of 2014 it felt like a very long chapter was finished, and new stories for 2015, some already in progress, some yet to begin, were ready to take shape. When one match can nearly wipe the slate clean for a promotion, make the fans lose their minds, have some excellent ring work, and still be easily recalled months later in great detail…chant it with me…MATCH OF THE YEAR! MATCH OF THE YEAR!”

-Sean Flynn


Jay Lethal vs. ACH
August 23
14 total points (Highest Vote: 5th)

“A shockingly great match. Had no idea that either of these guys had this kind of match in them. Lethal puts in a performance comparable with the best champions in history, allowing the match to build at a perfect pace. ACH gives the ultimate babyface performance.”


“A match so good, a match so fun to have you just by the edge of your seat with near falls, that the fact that it ends with no finish is something you look past. Voted for this for the action and how much these two drew in that crowd to buy every single thing they did as a believable finish between the dominant champion and ACH’s fire leading to near falls, including one with Lethal getting his foot on the rope as just the most “2.99999999” pinfall I’ve ever seen. They paced it perfectly where knowing they were going 30 minutes, but yet they gave no indication that they were “slowing it down” (tm Jim Ross) for the finish. They just went out there as two madmen.”

-Mike Falcone

“Matches like this are why I re-watch everything I can before sending in my ballot. ACH vs. Jay Lethal wasn’t even on my radar and when I was done watching it, my ballot was in shambles. I had to figure out a way to get this match on there. Unbelievable action from start to finish, 2.9999 near falls that make your heart skip a beat and ACH being one of the best damn babyfaces in the business. This is one of my favorite Lethal performances of all-time and he’s playing the veteran champion role to perfection. Great match that deserves a spot on a MOTY list.”

-Rich Kraetsch


Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
August 18
14 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

“Now I know this match didn’t have a true finish, but the cinder block spot was pretty innovated and neat. More importantly, these guys tore the house down and had an insanely great brawl. There are too many great spots and wild moments to count, but this was my favorite WWE TV match of the year. Unfortunately, it was also the last truly great WWE match since the company’s floundered tremendously since then. Still, this was a really great match and one of my favorites of the year.”

-Devon Hales

“Beautiful in ring chemistry that began down in FCW culminated in this match on RAW. The cult hero-attitude era throwback-effortlessly cool Dean Ambrose was hurt, and needed revenge. His brother Seth Rollins took a chair to his back and ended the only family he ever knew and in that pain grew hatred. He still hasn’t gotten his revenge, but this is the best moment this feud has had thus far as Rollins and Ambrose took it to themselves to push the boundaries of what you could do within the confines of PG era WWE and still appear dangerous while also being technically sound. The match doesn’t have a lot of down time and it’s made up a series of escalating spots that ends with cinder blocks, but the rhythm in they created in those spots was fantastic. There was no time to set up props because the match was always continuing. Ambrose has always went into murder mode when he and Seth get near one another since the Shield broke up, and that’s how it should be, as these two combustible wrestlers meet again and again throughout the years they are sure to create more magic, but their finest moments in 2014 were here in a Falls Count Anywhere match as one man’s emotions seeped out of him in full force, and another just wanted to put down a former ally and friend.”

-Willow Maclay


The Shield vs. Wyatt Family
March 3
15 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“I think the Chamber match was slightly better, I am going to take a match with a clean finish over something that is undergirding for an angle when all else is equal. Still this was damn close, the work was great. I love faceish Ambrose he is like a crazy ECW Terry Funk, everything he does is the right kind of intense and out of control. His Thesz press looks like a guy on PCP flinging himself at a cop. I loved his bridged figure four, and Harper’s double stomp to break it up was disgusting looking. Plus that rebound clothesline looked spectacular, loved when Nigel did it, love it from Ambrose. I liked the 2 on 3 dynamic of the finish, but was a bit iffy on Rollins motivation, and his acting. Felt like he hit his lines a bit hard. Still when your only complaint about a match is the vocal acting, it is pretty damn great”

-Phil Schneider

“Others are going to point to their Elimination Chamber match in the voting, but for me this is a more impressive achievement. In front of possibly the most hostile crowd in Raw history, these six guys were able to stop the crowd from its unending chants for the late CM. Punk and drag them into caring about this match, kicking and screaming the whole way. Add in the significance of this being the first sign of Rollins being upset with Reigns and Ambrose and for me this is a top 10 MOTY.”

-Sean Flynn


Time Splitters vs. Young Bucks
June 21
Dominion (NJPW)
16 total points (Highest Vote: 4th)


“The tag team match of the year. The Year of the Young Bucks as the most talked about team in professional wrestling came to a climax at New Dominion. The two teams have phenomenal in ring chemistry, and Kushida in a Marty McFly jacket is money.”

-Jeff Hawkins

“Between coining the “Meltzer Driver” and touring the world, the Young Bucks have had an phenomenal year. Their best tag match, arguably, came against the Time Splitters. It’s rare to open a show with a match this good.”

-Chris Harrington

“These two teams have had so many four-star matches in 2014 ( both together and with other teams) but this was my favorite and I think it stands out from the pack. From the working over of Shelley’s arm to the crazy near falls, it checks all the boxes for an awesome Junior Tag match on a big stage.”

-Damon McDonald

“Hey guys we don’t need to move a million miles a minute and hit our quota for flips in a match. We can target Shelley’s arm and have the Time Splitters work comebacks so the fans become sympathetic towards them, well guess what it works! The Young Bucks had a great portfolio in 2014 wherever they went, be it PWG, ROH and NJPW. This however is The Young Bucks best match in 2014 and one of the best matches in the careers for both teams. All 4 guys went back and forth and they also had time so this wasn’t a sprint and you could appreciate the pace of it all. Faces in peril segment, The Young Bucks being pricks and and an Osaka crowd that was rocking the whole match. Sounds like the ingredients for a successful Junior Heavyweight Tag match to me.”

-Rob Barry

“This was easily the Tag Team Match of the Year. The Young Bucks have been putting together a remarkable resume over the last three years by winning essentially every single tag team championship that matter in pro wrestling (ROH, PWG, CHIKARA, DGUSA, and NJPW), but they have been toiling around in New Japan having really good matches with the likes of the Time Splitters and Forever Hooligans, yet haven’t had that knockout Match of the Year contender match that sets the world on fire. Until June 21st of 2014. And heck, the Time Splitters are no slouches here either. KUSHIDA has had a criminally underrated 2014 from both a singles and a tag team point. This was not your typical spot fest with no substance that fans that don’t like fun wrestling would label it as. The most underrated aspect of the Young Bucks’ game is their selling. People want to label them “spot monkeys” that “don’t sell”. That was maybe appropriate of the Bucks in 2012 or earlier, but the Bucks in 2014 are actually really good at selling. They’ve let their matches breathe after big spots before going to the next one and add in some psychology. And the More Bang For Your Buck finishing maneuver has gotten to a place all finishers dream to go, to have opponents figure out fun and clever ways to counter it.”

-Taylor C. Mitchell


Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
January 4
Wrestle Kingdom 8 (NJPW)
17 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)


“I loved the hell out of this match. First of all, Okada is so smooth, he really is a complete package. He has the size to be a heavyweight, but he is incredibly athletic (the height he gets on his diving elbow drop was unreal) and just is a natural. Naito is no flake either and their chemistry is palpable. Also, I love that Okada protects his finisher. How many wrestlers with a strike as a finisher use it constantly throughout the match? Even the greats like Mutoh, Sasaki, Misawa, Kojima, etc. are all guilty of it, but while Okada went for it a number of times he only hit it once. And that was all he needed. Naito on the other hand was always ready for it, and it took two tombstone piledrivers to make him hurt enough to not be able to reverse it. Nothing here seemed wasted, it was always leading up to the ending that never seemed excessive… never went over the top with big moves. If this is the future of New Japan, I think they are in pretty good hands.”

-Kevin Wilson

“In my opinion, this is one of the most underrated matches of the entire year. It’s not a mystery though, it happened in early January, it was the lame-duck match on this show (having been beaten out of their main event spot by Nakamura/Tanahashi) but all that doesn’t matter because when this match was over, we had easily one of the best matches of the year and arguably Naito’s coming out party. Back and forth action, Naito holding his own, Okada needing to constantly be on his game, it had a big main event feel, if it was only a “main event”. Okada finally wins with the Rainmaker but it’s not easy as Naito holds his own and sets the stage for what was his breakout year in 2014.”

-Rich Kraetsch


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Timothy Thatcher
September 13
18 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“Of all the matches involving the mat wrestling brigade of Drew Gulak, Biff Busick, Timothy Thatcher, Zack Sabre Jr., ect. this match from EVOLVE was a cut above the rest. Sabre Jr. had a great year and by my estimation, is the best of that particular bunch when it comes to crafting intelligent and interesting matches focused on submissions and British inspired pinning combinations. Sabre Jr. pulled out an array of neat submissions, set ups, and counters and brought an additional level of selling that separated this match from the pack.”

-Paul Cooke

“I wasn’t sure if this match would make my top 10, and admittedly, there’s a number of matches that I could place here and be fine with. But this match presented a style that I absolutely love and Sabre & Thatcher put on one of my favorite bouts of the year.”

-Billy Carpenter

“Thatcher’s quickly made a name for himself as one of the best technical wrestlers on the indies and had the perfect foil here in Zack Sabre Jr. They told a great story on the mat, Thatcher getting frustrated that he couldn’t gain the upperhand over his more experienced and travelled opponent, leading to Zack locking in a disgusting submission for the finish.”


“Two craftsman plying their craft in the best way possible. As technically sound of a match as one will find in 2014, but at the same time there’s some primo storytelling taking place. Thatcher is the brawnier man, using power and strength to impose his will upon Sabre. Yet, more often than not Thatcher finds himself on defense because Sabre uses his speed to get away from the power of Thatcher. Absolutely tremendous selling from Thatcher, and a Rolling Deadlift Gutwrench Suplex spot that is aces. Doesn’t overstay its welcome, and is worked in such a way that both men come out looking like world beaters.”

-Bill Thompson


Drew Gulak vs. Biff Busick
April 27
To Infinity (CZW)
19 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

“One of the best indie matches I have seen in years. I love that there are a few guys out there that have switched from being influenced by All Japan Pro-Wrestling to being influenced by World of Sport. This match was filled with really cool grappling and matwork. Gulak controlled most of the match (he was the champion after all), and Busick did a lot of nice hope spots and comebacks. A real refreshing match, and if this is what the future of indie wrestling holds, then we are in store for some great stuff to come.”

-Steven Graham

“Man there is some weird stuff going on in CZW. The land of Wifebeater and Nick Mondo is apparently putting on almost Jack Briscoeish long mat based title matches. These guys hit the mat hard for 10 or so minutes and it is really great. Gulak can make simple things like go behinds and headlocks look really good, and Busick is a strong looking guy who has some nice powering out counters. Gulak has some nice douchey cheapshots too, kicks to the temple, biting the fingers, twisting the ankle and knees. He controls the match, and Busick does a nice job working from underneath, making some big comebacks and near falls, but Gulak always finds away to take over. Happy to see some indy wrestling I can get behind and get excited about.”

-Phil Schneider

“I’m a sucker for elaborate mat work that is fought over. A sense of struggle in wrestling is sort of a forgotten art, but the trio of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and Biff Busick have brought back that style of wrestling. This is my favorite of those matches. Gulak puts on a performance in the match that rivals Suzuki’s in the G1 match with Styles. His aggression on the mat and violent cheap shots made the match a must see. This is probably Busick’s best performance of the year too with his selling underneath.”

-Devon Hales

“As recently as a week ago I had this pegged as my MOTY, but it lost a hair on rewatch. Still I knew this would finish in my top ten, and I thought it was definitely the best indie singles match of the year. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this was the fact that coming into it I couldn’t have possibly cared less about either Gulak or Busick and by the time the match was over I was vowing to scour the internet to make sure I got my hands on every single match these two had in 2014. Here is what I wrote about it at the time, all of which I stand by now.

“This was one mildly annoying “fighting spirit” spot right before the finish away from being my clear cut MOTY. Even with it, it still feels like it should be in the conversation, and this is definitely the match that has made me come completely around on Gulak. I am a little nervous about heaping a ton of praise on this without others watching it first because I don’t want to set the bar too high, but Gulak had a Jim Breaks-like vibe to him here, and the close quarters nightclub setting only added to that. In fact this whole match felt like a modern version of a late 70’s WOS match.

I absolutely loved all of the grappling in this. Some of it was just really simple stuff that looked violent, while some of it was flashier, but the key is that it all featured the sort of struggle you want out of this kind of matwork. I thought what they were able to do with the various headlock throws, and operating from that base, was really impressive, and the way they would come up for highspots and then go back to the ground felt really organic and added to both the groundwork and the big moments.

There were tons of little things I loved in this that I could point to, but what I liked the most is that Gulak was a champ who was in control for the bulk of the match. The tired “your turn, my turn” staples of “big time” indie wrestling were practically non-existent here. Busick got his runs, but everytime he made one, Gulak would find a way to cut him back down to size. You could argue that Gulak changed up the body part attacks too much, and that Busick’s leg selling was weak down the stretch, but it’s not like Busick was on his feet a ton after the big leg attack, and I actually liked the idea that in a long match Gulak was forced to change tactics to stay alive.

I thought Gulak taking over with a blind side lariat after Busick tried to get nasty with a chop was brilliant, loved all of Gulak’s offensive attack, thought the Gulak jackhammer variation as a cutoff spot was awesome, marked out for the Busick hilo hope spot, and thought the curbstomp, followed by an elbow drop near fall from Gulak was the sort of low key near fall that indie wrestling matches drastically under utilize. I was also really happy they didn’t go with the senseless head drop suplex off the top they teased, and in fact they went back to Busick’s injured ribs as a bit of a counter to stop it. Again, the aforementioned Busick fighting spirit spot right before the finish irked me a bit, but even that was not nearly as bad as it could have been, particularly because Gulak put it to a quick rest and then killed him off with the Gotch Piledriver he’d been desperate to hit all match. This was an excellent, excellent match.”

-Dylan Hales


Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
July 26
G1 Climax – Night 4 (NJPW)
20 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)


“In many respects, Honma was to the 2014 G1 what Ishii was to the 2013 version of the tournament – a tournament underdog who got over by producing great match after great match. However, while Ishii accomplished that by standing toe-to-toe with his competition, Honma embraced his role as underdog. There is a clear hierarchy and structure to this match. Honma fights to keep up with his more accomplished opponent while Ishii dishes out his usual doses of brutality. The selling by both wrestlers stands out, as does the great near fall reactions they are able to elicit. The work is tight and brutal without being over the top. Honma gave one of the great underdog performances of the year (or any year) during this excellent match.”

-Paul Cooke

“I may not have had more fun watching any pro wrestling match this year than I did during this one. I loved their match in May, and this one outdid it. I got sucked into pulling for a Honma upset, and I probably would have even if I knew the result beforehand. One of the best matches in NJPW all year.”

-Rob McCarron

“Honma is 10 pounds of charisma in a five pound bag, which is being held by a guy missing a pinky finger. ALLEGEDLY. Ishii looks like the guy missing a pinky finger from every martial arts movie ever, and appropriately he beats the ever-loving shit out of Honma.”

-Jeff Martin

“Tomoaki Honma replaced Kota Ibushi in the G1 Climax after Ibushi suffered a severe concussion. Honma went 0-10 in the G1, yet was arguably the most over wrestler in front of every crowd NJPW encountered throughout the tournament. This was the match that the fans were hottest for Honma with an anticipation that he might actually pull off the miraculous victory. Honma goes toe to toe with Ishii and ever hits the Kokeshi Headbutt! Ultimately to no avail, but this was a fun match to watch.”

-Taylor C. Mitchell


Kyle O’Reilly vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
August 31
Battle of Los Angeles – Night 3 (PWG)
20 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

“Like counters? Like counters of counters? Like counters of counters of counters? this is your match. A great introduction to Sabre for a smart American audience, and a perfect opponent for O’Reilly’s style.”

-Jeff Hawkins

“One major independent development of 2014 was the rise of Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and Biff Busick, and their hyper-realistic mat-based offence. This ‘O Reilly/Sabre Jr. match from PWG’s 2014 Battle of Los Angeles wasn’t quite that. However, what Sabre Jr and ‘O Reilly did in their BOLA match in Reseda was incorporate an amalgam of some of the best features of that style, as well as some that defined ROH in the mid and late 2000s. The mat work was meticulous, the strikes exchanges crisp, the spots creative, and the resultant match one of the greatest of the year – arguably the best of either man’s career.”

-Ryan Clingman

“These two were no strangers to each other after a series of tag matches and one prior singles match. These two put on an absolute clinic during the biggest weekend for indie wrestling in 2014. It’s exactly what you’d expect from the two combatants.”

-Case Lowe

“Whereas Sabre and Adam Cole cleverly played off their stylistic differences for a great, often comedic match the night before, Sabre and O’Reilly built their BOLA bout around their similarities. The result was a heated mirror match full of the stiff strikes and submissions you’d expect from these two. The mirror spots are great fun—at one point, they sobat each other for 20-seconds straight, collapse, get up, exchange some more high kicks, end up back to back, and finally end the sequence with simultaneous huge slaps to the face. And the ending is absolutely wild, from Sabre’s flying cross arm-breaker off the top to the modified Michinoku Driver (accompanied by Chuck Taylor screaming, “Oh what the fuck?! He killed him!”) and vicious stomps that finally put Sabre down. A great, tidy match from two guys who have huge futures ahead of them.”

-Matt Gerardi


Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
May 3
Wrestling Dontaku (NJPW)
22 total points (1 first place vote)

“Noticing a trend with Ishii? He’s unquestionably my 2014 Wrestler of the Year. This is one of those matches where you are 100% one guy is going to win, but they had such a fun, hard hitting match that I did not care. This was unique in that it was two of the biggest Underdogs having an amazing tough guy war.”

-Jason Felix

“This is such a wonderful match up. Two guys who are masters of getting that underdog heat. The crowd gets behind both of these two like almost nobody else on the roster. It’s that energy from the crowd, and the always enthusiastic Japanese announcers that takes this match from amazing, to f**king amazeballs. Of course, Ishii being a monster, and Honma being a fantastic, highly underrated worker doesn’t hurt.”

-Zachariah Dominello

“This was an awesome match, loved every minute of it. Ishii has been on a real hot streak for about a year now, and Honma is always up for doing crazy stuff in big matches. Honma isn’t really at the same level as Ishii, and he showed it in this match as he was going for the most nutty versions of his moves to try to put the better wrestler down. Ishii was brutal as always (in a good way), nailing Honma with lariats and headbutts, and he put Honma away in very convincing fashion. This match was man-sized in every way.”

-Kevin Wilson


Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
April 6
Invasion Attack (NJPW)
22 total points (Highest Vote: 4th)

“Remember how last year was all about Tanahashi vs. Okada, they had all of these great matches over the IWGP title and they simply delivered each time out? Well in 2014 replace the IWPG Title with the NEVER Title and replace the performers with Tomohiro Ishii and Tetsuya Naito and that’s what is happening. These are great men and once again delivered a MOTY contender. They could have feuded all year and had a match every month and I would have been completely fine with it.”

-Larry Csonka

“This is a great one-two punch with the 2/11 match. Naito does some heel work here and that actually could be a great role for him. His preening for the crowd after some cool offense was great, especially when stopped by a monstrous headbutt from Ishii. These guys hit each other with everything in this match making Ishii’s win with the huge brainbuster that much more important.”

-Dave Musgrave

“I wrote about it more in depth here (http://pushcesaro.blogspot.ca/2015/01/a-quick-njpw-primer-for-wrestle-kingdom.html) but the thing that stands out most to me was Naito’s performance during this trilogy. The fact that he was willing to switch gears mid-match to become a heel despite the let down of his WK8 run and risk losing more momentum is something that deserves more praise.

I’m picking the third match though because it has the best of everything. Great performances, heel Naito, hot crowd, possibly the counter of the year (Ishii’s DDT out of a suplex), brilliant callbacks to previous matches (headbutts playing off of the prominence in the first match) and an unexpected twist that throws everything you know out the window (Naito’s submission attempt). Here’s hoping Naito gets another big push and Ishii can heel up and storm 2015 like he did the first half of 2014.”

-CJ Roy


Jun Akiyama vs. Takao Omori
June 15
Dynamite Series – Night 1 (AJPW)
22 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

“With all the NJPW love out there. People have a chance to overlook other promotions. All Japan had a solid year in ring. I thought this was their MOTY. This was a basic story of Akiyama working over Omori arm and in turn trying to take out his biggest weapon. All the moves made sense and the action got to breathe. Omori was really good selling it.”

-Pete Schirmacher

“Jun Akiyama has been one of my favourites for a long time, and he had a great 2014 that probably wasn’t on most people’s radar because it happened in All Japan. Grumpy old man Jun Akiyama trying to crush the dreams of Takao Omori (an old man of moderate temperment) told a fantastic story, particularly the limb work to take away Omori’s most powerful weapon, the Axe Bomber.”

-Jeff Martin

“As many have stated in recent months, All Japan had some tremendous matches in 2014. Two of them involved Akiyama and Omori. I liked the Champion Carnival between them very much, but I thought their Triple Crown match was a little bit better. This really was heavyweight puroresu at its finest between two guys in their mid 40s who tore the roof off of Korakuen Hall. What made the match special was Omori finally being able to win the “big one”.”


“Every year Akiyama is a guy who gets lost in the shuffle, but has that one home run match that reminds you how great he can be, and this is it. Here you have two old vets, working in a dead promotion, for the Triple Crown and they decide to build one of the most logical, intense and violent matches of the year when they easily could have coasted on a tenth of the effort.

The story of the match is basic, as it’s all about Akiyama destroying the arm of Omori in order to take away his finish and force him to change his game. That would have been enough for me, but the individual performances were so great, and the way they set that up with Akiyama taking a lariat to the back of his legs while he was standing on the apron triggering his “fuck I’ve gotta destroy this old bastards arm” mode of attack was outstanding.

Akiyama is just a great bastard in this, ripping at Omori’s arm throwing these cheap kicks at it every chance he has, whipping him from pillar to post, et. And man is Omori’s selling of all of this great. Tanahashi v. Okada from Invasion Attack had the same general story last year, but it annoyed me that Okada didn’t really try to deviate from offense with his wounded limb even if he did a generally strong job selling the damage. Here Omori’s dead armed selling was great, and his comebacks were all quick flurries, usually nasty kicks because his wing was shot.

This had great build to it and included some great spots down the stretch, including a nifty reversal into a piledriver from Akiyama, a really cool near fall off of a guillotine, and an awesome, brutal looking Fujiwara armbar spot. Throughout all of this the demeanor and facial expressions of Akiyama were incredible, something that stands out a ton in a Japanese scene where even the good workers often lack those intangibles. In the end Omori ends up going for the kill shot lariats because that’s all he’s got, but only after he had no choice, and after Akiyama had killed himself unloading his entire clip into Omori. Brilliant match.

That’s right, in the year of New Japan my top Japanese singles match was a battle between two forty something vets, who have a reputation of having had somewhat disappointing careers given what expectations were for them. In fact this is not only my top singles match from Japan, for my money it was the top singles match in the world in 2014, and a match that utilized the same theme of last years Voices of Wrestling Match of the Year Poll winner to superior effect, albeit on a much smaller stage.”

-Dylan Hales


Ricochet vs. Kota Ibushi
June 21
Dominion (NJPW)
24 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)


“The WWE inexplicably not signing Ricochet was a wrestling fan’s dream-from matches in WWN, PWG, Lucha Underground, and this gem from NJPW for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. The best high flyer in the world doing what he does, and Ibushi telling a compelling in-ring story makes for a beautiful piece of pro wrestling. I want this match 6 more times in 2015.”

-Jeff Hawkins

“If you like quick paced, high flying action with a story then you’ll love this match.”

-Danny Kuchler

“Here are two of today’s greatest high flyers putting on a showcase. The thing about these two, yes, they amazing high flyers who both perform jaw dropping feats of skill, like Ricochet land on his feet after a top rope standing Frankensteiner by Ibushi. Incredible! But, both of these guys are also very talented technical workers, which they don’t often get credit for. Plus, we also saw the rare Phoenix Plex, which I mean, come on! Awesome match!”

-Zachariah Dominello

“This was a dream match for fans of high flying wrestling. These two have owned the Wrestling Observer Newsletter “Best Flying Wrestler” award for the last five years while amazing fans with their athletic abilities all over the world. The fact that these two globe trotters hadn’t wrestled each other in a match until 2014 is incredible in itself, but it is easy to assume that this match in 2014 was way better than any match we would have watched in 2009 between Ricochet and Ibushi. These two are veterans of the ring now and it shows in this match. The match starts off with an athletic rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Anything you can do”. If watching these two men try to outdo each other in the first few minutes of this match didn’t get you off your seat then you might need to check your pulse. This was a highlight reel of “Best Spots of 2014”. Ricochet landing on his feet after a springboard hurricarana from Kota Ibushi off of the top turnbuckle. Ricochet with the Flying Tope over the corner turnbuckle. And finally Kota Ibushi killing Ricochet with his Phoenix Plex which he only pulls out of his back pocket on rare occasions when he knows he needs to do something devastating to put his opponent away a la Kenta Kobashi’s Burning Hammer.”

-Taylor C. Mitchell


The Millennials (Eita & T-Hawk) vs. Shingo & Akira Tozawa
July 20
Kobe World (Dragon Gate)
25 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“You got Tozawa/Shingo as this unbeatable tag champs against the young upstarts in Eita/T-Hawk and usually Tozawa is the one who gets picked on the most and beaten the most but not in this match as T-Hawk decides to focus his assaults on Shingo and the Kobe faithful is rocking for this!”

-Jahmale Hepburn

“High. Flying. Antics.”

-Chris Harrington

“Dragon Gate showcased just how good they were in 2014. Their booking was simply phenomenal, their roster continued to grow and develop better than anyone else, and their match quality continued to be at an elite level. No match from the promotion topped this. Dragon Gate’s biggest show of the year was treated to this superb Open the Twin Gate match. Great, emotional match that just surpassed the thirty minute mark.”

-Case Lowe


Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi
March 6
42nd Anniversary (NJPW)
25 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

“The “forgotten NJPW main event” of 2014 was an interesting match to revisit for a number of reasons. While Kazuchika Okada in 2013 had one of my favorite years for a wrestler ever, his stock fell with me during 2014 as NJPW tried to re-position him as the future babyface ace of the company. I think we have enough evidence at this point to know that the man looks like one of the best in the world when he’s controlling a match but his match quality takes a noticeable dip when he’s working from behind. As a big Okada fan, I spent a lot of 2014 being underwhelmed by his matches. Checking out this match again reminded me why I fell in love with Okada in the first place though.

Okada controls the majority of the match and wisely targets Ibushi’s neck. This accomplishes two things: it sets up The Rainmaker as the finish, and it provides a nice structure to the match that does not involve working over Ibushi’s legs. Seemingly countless wrestlers try to work over Ibushi’s legs in big singles matches, which is foolish for a number of reasons. If Ibushi starts to sell his legs very well, he’s going to have to remove almost all of his most exciting/over movez. If Ibushi decides to use said movez anyway, then he’s ignoring all the work done on his legs and that makes the whole match feel like a waste of time. Working over the leg(s) of Ibushi is a lose-lose situation. With his legs intact, Ibushi is able to make all of the exciting comebacks he’s known for.

These two proved to have natural in-ring chemistry and topped their 2013 effort in DDT. With 2015 already showing Ibushi to be on the rise, I would not be surprised if Okada vs. Ibushi becomes a major main event rivalry for NJPW in the coming years. I would be very excited for that.”

-TJ Hawke

“I feel like this one flew somewhat under the radar, not being on a PPV and occurring earlier in the year, but it was one of the most exciting matches I saw in 2014. Okada controlled for the majority and Ibushi’s hope spots were timed perfectly, the crowd building to a fever pitch for the highly intense finishing stretch. Ibushi shows great confidence and aggression when working as the underdog and I feel it’s a big part of his appeal, beyond the simply amazing things he can achieve in the ring.”


“There are some matches that you “need to be in the know” or follow the product to get, and those are the matches that get left out because many do not follow the company. But this match played to both audiences very well. For the non-NJPW viewer, it is simply a tremendously laid out, paced and performed match. For the followers of NJPW, this was one of those matches that played off of what these guys normally do, what they do best, but then just when you’d think you knew what would happen, they’d curveball you (in a good way) and do something completely unexpected. This was absolutely awesome, and Kazuchika Okada continues to be the man. Don’t get me wrong, Ibushi more than did his part, but Okada is doing some next level shit.”

-Larry Csonka

“I thought this match started way too slow and didn’t go long enough. Why did I start with the negatives? Because the finishing 5 minutes of the match were the best finishing 5 minutes of a match I’ve ever seen. These two put on a clinic of scientific wrestling, mixed with Ibushi’s high flying, mixed with reversals, and counters and near falls. Ibushi fell just short, as he seems to be poised to make huge strides in the heavyweight division in 2015.”

-Jason Felix


Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
July 26
G1 Climax – Night 4 (NJPW)
27 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)


“Shibata not even acknowledging Tanahashi as he made his entrance set the match up on a high note. Shibata out wrestling Tanahashi mixed in with the realistic strikes from Shibata and Tanahashi working from the underdog slot and the exhaustion from both guys was expressed after the match particularly from Tanahashi who had a hard time doing the post-match promos!”

-Jahmale Hepburn

“The most perfect of rivals in a promotion that doesn’t really do simmering blood feuds managed to cough up one worthy of the ages. Playing on public perception of Shibata’s delinquency and Tanahashi’s seniority, the company created a world in which the mild-mannered babyface could conceivably HATE the returning Shibata and want him to be held down and away from the title picture. In ring, the match lived up to its delicious billing. The two are stylistically disparate but the story supports this discrepancy, using style and visual identity as great signifiers for philosophy and outlook. Worth watching just for Shibata’s spinning back chop. OWCH.”

-Fujiwara Armbar

“Sometimes all it takes is one killer spot to elevate a match from good to great, and in this case it was the violent spinning throat chop that leveled Tanahashi. I will never forget that spot, and this was the first of two tremendous singles matches that made up one of the most heated feuds of 2014. This wasn’t even the best match of the G1, but most years it would’ve be good enough for MOTY.”

-Joe Lanza

“There was some real-world beef going into this match, and it surfaces right away with the two wrestlers exchanging huge slaps. You can really see that heat burning in Shibata’s belly during this match, fueling his more-savage-than-usual elbows in the corner and spinning backhand. Apart from the pure fire on display here, there are loads of clever spots that play on the signatures of both men. What really puts it over the top for me are the thrilling scrambles that bookend the match: opening with Tanahashi panicking and rolling out of the ring as Shibata looks to kick his head off, and closing with Tanahashi doing anything possible to escape the GTS in a frantic series of reversals that recalls the G1 Climax 23 match between these two.”

-Matt Gerardi

“My vote for rivalry of the year. Tanahashi and Shibata took their legitimate gripes (Puro Yottsume’s on his blog translations of the two are essential http://yottsumepuroresu.blogspot.ca/) and built two amazing matches out of it but this first encounter was once in a lifetime. It was incredibly exciting because you just didn’t know what was going to happen here and how far they might go.

The camera work in NJPW doesn’t get mentioned enough and it was a definite standout here. The entire entrance sequence with Tanahashi passing Shibata, eyes closed, is one of the greatest filmed moments in any medium this year.”

-CJ Roy


Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano
April 4
Open the Ultimate Gate (DGUSA)
29 total points (Highest Vote: 4th)

“I’m a sucker for drawn out storytelling and that’s exactly what this DGUSA main event was. Everything in this match had purpose and related to something that had happened in the past year, this was near perfection from two guys who don’t get enough credit as wrestling storytellers. Sure, Ricochet is known for flips and Gargano has his fair share of high spots as well but you won’t get that here. What you’ll get is the story of Johnny Gargano, who turned heel the year prior, dodging Ricochet for a full year before finally having no choice but to give him a title shot. Gargano uses every trick he’s used in the past year that has allowed him to win and it doesn’t work. The fans knowing this, start chanting “You can’t beat him.” Eventually, Gargano couldn’t beat him and Ricochet was your new champ after a hard fought battle. God, this was great.”

-Rich Kraetsch

“The culmination of a tremendous long term story, this match had great work, intricate callback spots, and was worked in such a way that it really rewarded the hardcore DGUSA fan for investing time and effort in following the stories and character developments. The inside word is that these men spent two nights together planning out every detail of the bout, and the result was one of the best matches in DGUSA history. It was a privilege to watch this unfold live.”

-Joe Lanza

“Hey, the WWNLive WrestleMania weekend wasn’t a total failure – it produced this match. In a weekend plagued by iPPV issues, a broken ring that delayed the EVOLVE show by 45 minutes, and, well, Teddy Hart, one thing should be remembered in a positive light. Ricochet and Gargano put to bed their year-long rivalry and did so as only they could, in an instant-classic. Gargano’s 873 day reign as champion was put to an end by a man who was just starting to build his incredible 2014 resume.”

-Case Lowe

“A match over a year in the making with countless layers of story telling throughout the build and told throughout the match. This was the ascension of Ricochet to being the crowned king of the Indies in 2014. The slow degradation of Johnny Gargano into madness by the end of this match as he was unable to put away Ricochet was a mastery of the artform.”


“Despite all the negative responses the WWNLive Show over WrestleMania Weekend got (and a lot of it was well deserved), this was one of the major bright spots. Ricochet & Johnny Gargano are two guys who seemingly always deliver in big match situations, and this case was no different. These two just work so well together, and Gargano’s nearly 2 1/2 Year Title Reign being on the line just added so much more to it. I feel like this is one that people will tend to forget, but it definitely deserves the attention.”

-Sean Sedor


The Jimmys vs. The Millennials
September 23
Summer Adventure Tag League Finals (Dragon Gate)
30 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“If you like fast paced Dragon Gate tag action, this was that style done to perfection. Mindblowing athleticism, precision and timing from start to finish. Whilst all four wrestlers in this match deserve credit, Jimmy Kagetora should be singled out for the performance of a lifetime. He wrestles like a man possessed and busts out some crazy offense.”


“The Young Bucks might get the (well deserved) buzz this year, but this was the tag team match of the year – in a year where there were a ton of GREAT tag matches. It pains me that more wrestling fans have never seen it because it is head-and-shoulders above any tag match this year.”

-Damon McDonald

“People like to say everyone on the New Japan roster has their role, where you may be at a certain level on the card but you fit into the overall picture. Dragon Gate is different, in the sense that certain wrestlers are given the chance to shine in certain situations. Kagetora, who didn’t do a ton during 2014, wrestles miles over his head in the Summer Adventure Tag League finals. The cartwheel DDT is one of the best spots of the year.”

-Joe Gagne

“Without a question my favorite tag team match of the year. You had two teams that have perfect chemistry put up a match that was just exciting. Key spots were the great built for a hot tag and Eita holding Yoshino in his Numero Uno submission for almost a minute. Best near submission spot I had seen in years.”


“While it might not have the story beats of T-Hawk and Eita’s other great 2014 matches, what, for me, elevates this non-title tournament match ever-so slightly above the likes of T&E vs. Shingo and Tozawa is its pace. This thing is nearly breakneck from start to finish, and even when it slows down in the ring, the fired up crowd keeps the drama high. A lot of that hinges on Eita having gotten his Numero Uno armbar over as an effective finisher (and using it to get a submission win over the Jimmyz in the first round of the tourney). Once he locks it in about halfway through the match, the crowd goes nuts as Kagetora looks for a way to break it up. The look on Eita’s face right before Kagetora enziguri’s him into another dimension is priceless. The only thing I’d ding it for is the surprise roll-up finish, but it works given the context: Jimmyz pulling out a surprise upset on the champs (who would later retain their titles in a rematch with a similar finish).”

-Matt Gerardi

“I haven’t seen some of these guys since they were slumming in IWRG with MMA shorts. I really have nothing interesting to say about them now. This match was just very good. It built over time, there were a lot of great near falls and fun submission matches, and the finish caught me by surprise. I didn’t care much about this match going in but they got me by the end.”



Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii
August 1
G1 Climax – Night 7 (NJPW)
31 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)


“So after 4, ****1/4 or better, matches, one being the Styles/Suzuki classic, what could Nakamura and Ishii possibly do to follow all of that? The answer is, have the second best match of the greatest tournament in the history of the business and put on a match worthy of headlining the best show of the entire year. Nakamura and Ishii can have great matches with just about anyone and putting the two CHAOS members against each other was pure gold.”

-Ben Carass

“Now this is where picking a Top 10 got really hard for me. For #9, I’m going back to Night 7 of the G1 Climax. This is the third match on my list that involved Nakamura, and that just shows how awesome of a year he had in 2014. Here, he went up against his CHAOS Stablemate Tomohiro Ishii. It’s hard to imagine that anything could follow Styles vs. Suzuki, but this came pretty darn close. Just an awesome match from start to finish. I’m such a Nakamura fan, and Ishii is just fantastic. There’s no reason not to love this match.”

-Sean Sedor

“Two of the best wrestlers in the world in a battle.”

-Chris Harrington


The Briscoe Brothers vs. The Hardy Boyz
April 26
Chaos in Cameron (OMEGA)
31 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“The last real remaining dream match in tag wrestling, the team of the early 00’s vs. the team of the late 00’s. It gets a little goofy with the adherence to both ROH and TNA story, but it’s a fun match.”

-Jeff Hawkins

“If there ever was a dream tag team indie match, this was it. This also continued the best feud of the first half of the year with Matt Hardy and Jay Briscoe. What was neat about this was that since it was an OMEGA show, The Hardy Boyz were the faces. It was also really intriguing here that Jeff Hardy was there to support his brother and had no real beef with The Briscoes and vice versa. This match had a hot crowd and built to a great story of Matt overcoming the odds in the end. This match is the best The Hardy Boyz have looked in years.”

-Steve Graham

“A super heated southern tag. A total throw back to SMW. They used to compare the Hardy’s to the Rock N Roll Express. Here they deserved that moniker.”

-Pete Schirmacher

“A great throwback to the old vs. new matchup that can provide some amazing moments in wrestling. These two teams worked a traditional southern tag formula but updated it with 2014 spots and a cohesive storyline. They also was able to have a great crowd that was willing to watch the action unfold. I think the Brisco Brothers did a great job when placed as a tag team in 2014 and this was their highlight for the entire year.”

-Chad Campbell

“This might be the best “theatrical” match that we got all year. They didn’t bust out super innovative moves at 100MPH or work with technical precision. These teams created emotion through storytelling aspects and the environment. Before the match even begins, Briscoes come out and attack the Hurricane which brings on the Hardyz. There was probably going to be heat on the Briscoes regardless but they made sure to make it even more. Then you have the Hardyz as your hometown heroes in a full high school gymnasium.”

-Sam DiMascio

“This match shouldn’t be great, but it is. It’s not that the Hardys and the Briscoes aren’t great tag teams, they very much are. Rather, it’s that this is a gimmick heavy match. There’s a run-in and an injury angle. Usually those are factors that lead me to not liking a match. Yet in this match they are positives that greatly enhance what was already a really good match. Matt Hardy is the ring general, he’s the mind behind the layout of this match. And laid out tremendously the match ends up being. They get the most out of Jay Briscoe, pissed off redneck. He’s absolutely vicious in this match, and he comes across like a real star. At the same time the heat segments built around Matt’s babyface selling are pulled off with great aplomb. Mark is present for hard hitting offense. And Jeff, well Jeff does his thing and does it well, and then he becomes Willow. It shouldn’t work, it really shouldn’t, but when Jeff becomes Willow the story this match is telling about the need for teamwork comes together and provides a great capper for a great match.”

-Bill Thompson

“When I first watched this match back in early June my immediate reaction was to say, “I thought this was pretty incredible and a serious MOTYC.” Over the course of the year it sort of slipped down my depth chart a bit, largely because the details of the match started to fade from my memory. As part of the process of voting I went back and watched about forty matches, all of which held up to some degree. But the only one that I found myself completely absorbed with, and losing my mind over just as much the second time around was this match.

In some ways this is unsurprising. As those who follow me on Twitter know, I thought The Briscoes had an absolutely incredible year, with four of the top five U.S. based tag matches of the year under their belt. I voted them my tag team of the year in the Observer Year End Awards, and The Briscoes v. Matt Hardy feud which was an unappreciated component of this match, was one of my top three feuds of the year in those same awards. This match was a legitimate dream match, featuring two of the top teams of the last twenty years wrestling each other for the first time, and it took place in the Hardyz hometown of Cameron, North Carolina, giving it the feel of an old Jim Crockett Promotions classic with Jeff and Matt as Ricky and Robert, and The Briscoes as a crazed band of redneck invaders from a post-apocalyptic future, looking to kill the hometown heroes. This match also had a bit of an added benefit in that the original version of this I watched was a handheld which really emphasized the insane crowd reaction, whereas the version I “re-watched” was pro-shot with rock solid commentary that put over some of the nuances of the match, including the significance of Matt’s feud with the Briscoes.

Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the unique nature of the match makes it stand out a ton and adds to it’s MOTYness, what really makes this a great match is the performances that took place in the ring. It is rare to see a tag match where all four parties talents are used to their fullest, the strengths of each played to in exactly the right way. Here we got that. We got to see Jay as the violent, psycho, ring general and force of nature. We saw Mark bust out the redneck Kung-Fu, while also coming across as the sort of underdog on his own team when it came time for key Hardyz nearfalls and hope spots. Matt Hardy put in one of his best performances in years during the heat section, where he sold his ass off, timing his comebacks well, and generally milking everything for what it was worth. And Jeff was the star that needed to be there for the key moments, presented as both the victim of Briscoes violence, and the conquering hero, even as he let his brother get the big moment at the end of the day. All of these individual performances took place within the context of a great, well put together Southern style tag, which also featured many of the staples of modern tag wrestling (big spots, compelling nearfalls, wild bumps, et.).

Here is the original review of the match that I wrote moments after I watched it over seven months ago:

“In part this was great because it was a dream match of sorts, that took place in a setting that was technically indie, but had the feel of a mid-80’s Crockett War between the Rock N Roll Express and your heel bruisers of the month. I don’t say that to diminish the Bricoes at all because they were amazing from the get go, with the pre-match beatdown attack on Hurricane Helms, and Jay Briscoe holding court on the mic like only Jay can. This match had a lot of the staples you want out of a strong tag match. There were really good extended heat sections, good comebacks, solid offense, good pacing, et. But what really amazed me was how well they were able to integrate everyone’s schtick and cram in the injury stuff with Jeff in a way that seemed cliche, but actually kept building and building to add to the drama. Jay was an absolute menace in this as everything he did looked rock solid, and he carries himself with such a violent presence, that he comes across as a sort of small framed Stan Hansen. I also loved the way he bumped and reacted for the Hardy offense early. Meanwhile we got some cool variations of Mark’s signature spots which both Hardys played off of well. The big spot with Jeff crashing on the plancha leading to Matt going it alone was well done, and I thought the Briscoes control segment was very good. Still the match didn’t get great until the stuff with Willow happened which sounds completely insane because it seems like it would derail the match and yet it absolutely didn’t. Instead of that sequence leading directly to the finish it led to another Matt in peril segment that was even better than the first, followed by Jeff returning for the hot tag and an extremely exciting and unpredictable finishing run. I absolutely loved the near fall on the twist of fate, as well as Mark breaking up the pinfall on the twist of fate/swanton combo which was completely unexpected. I also thought the Briscoes coming back with their own explosive combo that saw Matt held in place by Jay in desperation, while Mark went up to hit the big bomb, was pretty outstanding stuff. Even better was the finish itself which kept both teams strong, but was also decisive enough and a true “team” effort from the Hardys. Really an amazing match both because of the atmosphere, the effort of the teams, and the fact that it made seemingly overbooked “stuff” a valuable asset for the match.”

On rewatch this lost nothing at all. In fact if anything the match was better the second time around. For months I have made the argument that there was no blowaway, obvious pick for MOTY. In some respects that remains true. But after rewatching dozens of matches, this was one of two that stood apart from everything else. In the end I placed one match ahead of it, a decision I don’t at all feel comfortable with even now. Really this was a coin flip – I don’t have a number 2, I have a 1a. and a 1b.”

-Dylan Hales


Go Shiozaki/Kento Miyahara vs. Jun Akiyama/Takao Omori
December 6
Real World Tag League Finals (AJPW)
32 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)


“This match took place on the eighteenth anniversary of the greatest match in professional wrestling history. Like this match, that match was the finals of the All Japan Pro Wrestling Real World Tag League. The other common denominator to both of the matches was Jun Akiyama.

In 1996 Jun Akiyama was an up-and-comer teaming with the biggest star in the promotion (Mitsuharu Misawa) against the veteran all-star team of Toshiaki Kawada and Akira Taue (who also happen to be my pick for greatest tag team of all time). Here he was part of the veteran all-star team and the match was largely built around his feud with the All Japan’s current up-and-comer Kento Miyahara. Probably the feud of the year in Japan, these two have an interesting in ring dynamic, which is built in large part around Akiyama being a grumpy old prick and Miyahara being the little engine that could. This match was probably the best example of this out of all of their encounters in 2014, and given the significance of the date and event it also doubled as a match that represents the complete nature of the career of Jun Akiyama, cementing his status as one of the greatest in ring workers of all time.

As for the particulars of the match? While it did have a modern feel to it, in many respects it came across as a throwback to the All Japan tag classics of the 1990s. The match built slowly, but nothing felt like filler, and the early feeling out stage served to establish the roles of each man. When Akiyama decided to lay Miyahara out with a pair of DDT’s on the floor the match kicked into another gear, and from there developed into a match built around the dominating presence of a mean spirited, veteran team, and whether or not the young guns could survive long enough to fire back. The timing of their flurries, the teasing of the big comebacks and their near falls were all done perfectly. Credit should also be given to Go, and especially Omori, who was every bit as vicious and cranky as Akiyama in this. Still this came down to a classic AJPW finishing stretch with Miyahara surviving an escalating run of big bombs, before ultimately being put down by an Akiyama exploder. In doing so he came out looking better in defeat than he likely would have stealing a win, after getting isolated, targeted, and destroyed by two pissed off old warriors for twenty minutes.

You can find matches this year that had more action, better spots, stronger selling, better big moments, et. but the depth of the story told here both about the career of Akiyama, the career of Miyahara, and their feud, is something that I didn’t see in any other match in 2014.”

-Dylan Hales

“Jun Akiyama is a dick, and the world is a better place because of this simple fact. He’s ornery, surly, and he’d rather Slap a dude in the face than eat his morning breakfast. Takao Omori isn’t a dick, but he’s a grizzled vet who in his twilight years has turned into a fantastic worker. He can sell like crazy, and at the same time he’s a very underrated hot tag. Across from the vets are Go Shiozaki and Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki is really at home in tag matches, and this match cements that idea in my head. His weaknesses are hidden and his offense looks better than it ever does in his singles matches. Being in a tag match allows Miyahara to sell his caboose off, and sell away he does. The longer the match goes the more it seems as if each move hit has killed him. Yet he gets back up, and that’s where the struggle of the match is sold. A long battle is fought, and when it is over all four men are exhausted. So was I, because this match contained too much greatness for my simple mind to process.”

-Bill Thompson

“Any Japanese wrestler that thinks they are the best wrestler in the world is gonna need to show Jun Akiyama some receipts. Seriously. There is no AJPW without this man. Throughout the year he has made a star out of Miyahara. Shiozaki and Omori are amazing in this bout as well.”

-Dante Kinney

“This match centres on Kento Miyahara’s quest to prove himself against Grandpa Jun, and that grumpy old prick not having any of it. Miyahara would attack Akiyama at any opportunity, even at the expense of his team’s advantage over Omori, and ultimately forced Akiyama to go to Super Saiyan Grumpiness. Which is a thing, shut up. At that point, the end was nigh, and everyone knew it. The finishing sequence was white hot, and was aided by the visual of Shiozaki desperately trying to intervene while Omori, knowing Akiyama’s rage couldn’t be stopped, kept Go tangled up on the outside.”

-Jeff Martin

“This match was the definition of how you make somebody in a defeat. While all four guys in this match played their roles perfectly, and it really showcased four of the best from three different generations, this was really all about the Akiyama-Miyahara show. And what a damn show it was. The sheer fire Miyahara showed here was easily as good as every other instance of this type of story this year, and Akiyama is tailor made to be the grizzled veteran who just isn’t going to let this kid take his spot at the totem pole just yet. This match just me so hyped at 1am I didn’t even contemplate sleeping till three.”

-Rob Reid

“Akiyama and company vs Miyahara and company is a great ode to the old days of Jumbo vs Misawa. But instead of riding the wave of having become the top company in the world, this is basically trying to rebuild the descendent of that company. Business wasn’t top-notch for AJPW after the re-launch but the action was and this is at the top of that list. Miyahara is going to be their star and everyone else is great here too, especially Akiyama. At one point he does two crazy DDT’s on the floor that put this match in the stratosphere. If you haven’t seen this you’re missing out.”

-Dave Musgrave


Rush vs. Negro Casas
August 1
Juicio Final (CMLL)
32 total points (1 first place vote)


“I guess this match wasn’t a match of the year in the traditional sense where you give it the 5 snowflakes & talk about the changes in momentum, great nearfalls & taking the crowd on an emotional rollercoaster. In fact, you could argue this was nothing more than a squash match. But to me this was the best match held in the year because it featured two things you just don’t see very often in wrestling any more: 1) The end of a feud resembling what the feud was itself rather than two guys just going out to have a good match & ignoring what the build up meant to the viewers & 2) A genuine torch passing moment. This match was all about the young star of NOW Rush just taking apart the star of THEN Negro Casas much the same way he had been doing for 18 months prior. He beat the crap out of him. In this match he took it to the lengths we hadn’t even seen before. In the end he could have easily hit his finisher and beat Negro. Everyone knew it. Instead – he low blowed him. A trick Casas has used many times in his career to win big matches & the ultimate insult to the fans who wanted to see a clean finish. They knew Rush was going to win, they just didn’t want it to be that way. So Rush made it so. The perfect closing chapter to one of the greatest feuds so far this decade.”


“This was a caballera contra caballera match that was built up by some of the most hateful lucha libre of the year as these two men just went to war on each other for months. Rush was a huge but dangerous douchebag here just destroying Casas early on with strikes before nuking him with his patented diving dropkick in the corner. Casas though was in his element here working as the cagey veteran who was doing whatever he could to survive the young savage and having some great tecnico comeback spots. Rush though was too tough of a foe for him as he would put Casas away then punted him right in the balls for good measure. Casas was also great in the post match selling his defeat while Rush was getting trash hurled at him by his adoring public. The one thing that this match needed was blood but there is a ban on that at Arena Mexico which is sad.”

-Kris Zellner

“A red-hot feud for a little over a year ends with a hair match between a legend and a very angry young man. This was great as it was basically Rush destroying Casas to end their feud.”

-Alfredo Esparza

“It hurt to leave out some other matches from this list, but it didn’t seem right to have a top 10 of 2014 and not find a spot for Rush. Rush had a strong year without having an epic match, just a lot of matches which might make a top 25 and a strong presence on weekly TV. If he got to have the back and forth match with Negro Casas (and the one sided squash with Shocker to swap), Rush probably finishes much higher on the list. Still, this was super memorable. Negro Casas can defy age. Negro Casas can not defy Rush. Rush destroyed Casas in a one sided beating seen almost nowhere else – and it worked better here, because the guy getting beat was actually sympathetic. Casas only gets one brief glimpse of hope but still humiliated at the end. The old dirty trick master is run over by brute force, and Rush ends up as an unbeatable monster.”


“Rush might be my favorite straight-up brawler in the world right now. There’s just such a tangible malice, pleasure, and smugness behind his brutality, and when the target is a performer of Negro Casas’ caliber, those strikes look more real and cringe-inducingly painful than just about anyone else’s. This lean, mean blow-off to a great feud was a star-making main event for the young luchador, practically an extended squash over a legend among legends. Negro Casas spent most of the match selling his ass off, making the ascendant Rush look like the baddest man on the planet. And the youngster lived up to the rare opportunity the veteran was affording him—moving with speed and purpose, mugging to the crowd like an all-time great heel, and coming off like a million bucks. The dirty finish is a bit of a bummer, but judging by the trash that hit the ring soon after, it did its job: making Rush one of the most hated men in CMLL.”

-Matt Gerardi

“A great hair vs hair match that is criticized as not being epic enough for the blow-off to an epic feud. I don’t worry about that as I don’t see it as the blow-off, seeing as how they still had their feud going for the tag title match at the Anniversary show. This match was short for some people but to me that made it no-frills. Great intensity with Rush showing why he is one of the best in the world with Casas putting him over and showing why he is one of the best of all time.”

-Dave Musgrave


Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt
January 26
Royal Rumble (WWE)
32 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“Daniel Bryan totally cut off WWE’s attempt to push him down the card in this match by having Bryatt’s first great match. Complete intensity here and Wyatt going over got him to the next level while Bryan was so great that he still ended up having to be in the main event mix at Mania. They should have been the title feud after Mania and hopefully that could happen if Bryan gets the title this year.”

-Dave Musgrave

“I liked this match way more than either of Bryan’s matches at WrestleMania. When you consider that the company is scared to death to put Wyatt in anything other than tag or gimmick matches, Bryan carrying Wyatt to a match of this caliber might be the best Bryan performance of his entire WWE tenure to date.”

-Joe Lanza

“Prior to his match at the Royal Rumble versus Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt had a half-dozen televised singles matches under his belt as a member of the main WWE roster. None were particularly long and none were exactly featured bouts. His match versus Bryan was his first big challenge and the match delivered in a big, big way. The show opener was one of the more physical, non-gimmick matches in recent WWE history. Bryan wrestled with his usual level of intensity and brought the big time moves, including a pair of great topes and an awesome tornado DDT from off the ring apron. Wyatt’s catch and reversal of another Bryan tope into Sister Abagail was a spot with a high degree of difficult that they pulled off beautifully. The ending – although really, the entire match – put over Bray so strongly that for one night at least he looked like a potential future superstar.”

-Paul Cooke

“This match was nearly perfect to end the Daniel Bryan and Wyatt Family storyline. These two went out for over 20 minutes(with Daniel Bryan recently getting over a concussion might I add) and completely tore the house down. Not only was the story told during this match, but this was one of the only matches on the card that felt important.”

-Ryan Davis

“Daniel Bryan really can pull the best out of everybody and anybody can’t he. This match was so well put together with Bray utilising his explosive offense, his best characteristic, to cut off Bryan every time you thought he was finally going to pull off his big comeback. Bray catching Bryan in mid-air from a dive then hitting him with a Sister Abigail into the barricade may well have been my favourite spot of the entire year. This match made Bray feel like a star. That was quickly destroyed later in the year, but for a month or two Wyatt legitimately felt like something really special, and the total package. This match was the primary reason for that.”

-Rob Reid

“One of the more violent matches I can remember in the WWE, especially for a match without any weapon shots. Really a coming out for Wyatt who is a fun character, but hasn’t had an in ring performance like this. Loved the stiffness in this match, the curb stomp by Bryan, the crazy DDT, the big kicks, he felt like he was trying to kill Wyatt even more the he did during the cage match. Meanwhile Wyatt was a brutal force, lots of credit to Bryan who was bumping huge on the clotheslines and elbows, but also Wyatt’s ringpost smashes and headbuts felt like the kind of thing that would cause concussions. Plus that ending was truly nuts, felt like the right escalation of a move for this kind of match (alot of time the WWE super move thing comes off forced), and the smoothness of the catch into the barricade Sister Abgail was great, it looked like an organic counter a crazy man would come up with.”

-Phil Schneider


Titan vs Cavernario
July 29
CMLL on Cadena Tres (CMLL)
33 total points (1 first place vote)

“Whenever two young luchadores with seemingly unlimited potential hook up to produce a match that defies their ages, comparisons to Rey Mysterio Jr.’s eye-opening matches versus Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera from mid-90’s AAA are unavoidable. Titan (24 years old) and Cavernario (21 years old) may or may not be the Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis of this generation, but their July 29th CMLL Middleweight title bout from Arena Mexico was about as good of a match as you will see from two wrestlers whose combined ages were a mere 45. Titan’s flying performance in this match was world class. The springboard DDT from inside the ring to the arena floor he hits during the 2nd fall was one of the best spots of the year and a testament to the ability of both wrestlers. The match shunned both the traditional and current CMLL title match structures for a layout that was completely unique and effective. The sky is the limit for these two very talented wrestlers.”

-Paul Cooke

“Both guys go balls out here taking death bump after death bump for the approval of the small Arena Mexico crowd & I wouldn’t have it any other way! They had a great trios match the week before where Cavernario caught Titan in La Cavernaria to make him submit and it played a huge role in the finish of this match where Titan had to use a miracle escape to get out of Cavernario’s hold and the stunned rookie rudo fell prey to Titan’s Titanics moments later.”


“CMLL’s En Busca de un Idolo tournament has produced the best string of matches in the promotion, especially when you start factoring in all the matches put together because of the results of the tournaments. This was Cavernario’s title oppurtinty for winning this year’s tournament, and proof Cavernario was only starting to show what he could do in that competition. Titan held on to his championship in a match with a crazy amount of big spots by both men, some good submissions spots near the end, and Cavernario just being insane. There’s no better gimmick fit that the crazy caveman and this wrestler, and he wrestled this match with the ferocity of an unhinged barbarian. This was a battle, and maybe not even the best one they had this year – an untelevised rematch was said to possibly be even better.”


“Awesome 3rd fall. First two falls aren’t too shabby either, but the third fall was just insane. Barbaro Cavernario doing this top rope splash to the floor. Titan doing his usual great dives. Barbaro Cavernario sneaking in and trying to get the win with La Cavernaria and Titan breaking out of it in his own amazing fashion. Titan getting the win with his Titanics finisher. Two young Guadalajara stars truly being showcased.”

-Alfredo Esparza