Follow the rest of our 2014 Match of the Year countdown at http://www.voicesofwrestling.com/category/columns-2/2014-match-of-the-year/

25

Cavernario vs. Rey Cometa
September 19
81st Anniversary (CMLL)
33 total points (1 first place vote)

“A caveman puts his hair on the line against King Comet. What’s not to love?”

-Chris Harrington

“Barbero Cavernario is my favorite wrestler of 2014 and this match is his masterpiece in my opinion. All the intensity he brought to the lightning matches in the En Busca de Idolo tournament matches, but it’s 2/3 falls with major stakes. All of the spots hit and Cometa was totally on his game as well, coming off like Mexico’s Tetsuyo Naito. This stole the show for me at the 81st Anniversary Show for CMLL.”

-Dave Musgrave

“Cavernario is my new favourite luchador, because he’s a wrestling caveman, and that’s fantastic. From the opening sequence on the stage, this match was two guys throwing bombs at each other as they desperately tried to avoid a meeting with the barber (not Brutus, Hogan’s got him on retainer for ass-shaving duties). The match was exciting, and Ray Cometa’s selling of the post-match head-shaving was heart-wrenching and solidified this match’s place in my top 10.”

-Jeff Martin

“Cavernario makes a lot of appearances on the list. Every big match he had was fantastic and this was no exception. He’s a great sort of heel for a promotion filled with flyers: he’s good at catching them, good at knocking them down, and good at doing his own crazy flying spots when the moment calls for him. Some of his other matches got a little bit more time and a bigger spotlight – this was on the biggest show of the year but not treated well leading into it – but everything went right for Cavernario here and he had a great opponent to work with. The run of fun Rey Cometa matches over the last few years could not have been predicated before it started. Cometa’s always had the ability, but he seemed unlikely to ever get the opportunity – until he did get somehow opportunity and has delivered every singles time. Cometa nailed his big spots and the pro-rudo crowd fell in love with Cavernario. The diehard fans knew him already, but this opened him up to a much bigger audience.”

-thecubsfan

“A quickie feud by CMLL to get another stip match on their Anniversary show. They went with the hot newcomer and one of the most underrated high-flyers in Mexico and it paid off.”

-Alfredo Esparza

24

Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton
April 6
WrestleMania XXX (WWE)
36 total points (1 first place vote)

“Drama, drama, drama. It was captivating for many reasons. Could Daniel actually win the title against a clearly stacked deck? What would everyone do with a Batista win? Is Orton truly the face of the company? It felt like two matches in one.”

-Michael Anderson

“I’ll admit to being a huge mark for Daniel Bryan. And I know this is sports entertainment and the outcome is predetermined. That said: Daniel Bryan’s performance at Wrestlemania was awesome, especially now that we know how injured he was working. And I will admit to getting a little misty when he took those titles.”

-Maia Nolan-Partnow

“Being in the Superdome for this match was legitimately one of the most awesome moments of my life. The crowd loved Bryan and were fully behind him, and when he won the WWE Championship, his story was paid off in the most satisfying way. Really special moment at the end of a dramatic match.”

-Oliver Court

“This is arguably Daniel Bryan’s second best match of the night, but a huge part of how I judge a match is the overall context and storyline and Batista tapping out to finally give Bryan the WWE title outright was a huge moment. The culmination of Bryan’s rise, this match has to be included in my top ten.”

-Josh Katzker

“I have never been so frustrated with a build up to a match like I was with Daniel Bryan’s journey to WrestleMania XXX, but I’ve also never felt the level of satisfaction I did when Bryan won the title. Of course, WWE can say that it was all just well planned storytelling, but clearly Daniel Bryan wasn’t meant to headline WrestleMania XXX. Yet he did, and it made for not just one of my favourite WrestleMania moments, but one of my favourite moments in all of professional wrestling.

Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top of the WWE is something that, if certain people had their way, simply should not have happened. Fortunately, due to Bryan’s hard work, the right timing and some unexpected factors, it all worked out perfectly in the end. Not including what happened post WrestleMania XXX that is. The opening match between Bryan and Triple H was also excellent, and of course played a massive role in the title match. For me, the two matches were really just one long match.”

-Zachariah Dominello

23

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
April 6
Invasion Attack (NJPW)
37 total points (2 first place votes)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1mjyn9_hiroshi-tanahashi-vs-shinsuke-nakamura-njpw-invasion-attack-2014_sport

“I loved this match. Nakamura’s selling of the leg was tremendous. Tanahashi kept on going after it. Eventually Tanahashi switches up his game plan down the stretch and it costs him because Nakamura gets the win. Nakamura’s selling in this was amazing. I came out of this thinking he was the best in wrestling at it.”

-Pete Schirmacher

“New Japan never ceases to amaze with how well they are able to construct these epic matches. The diversity in their approach to putting together big matches and fulfilling on the promise is rivaled by very few promotions during a hot period, if ever. They never fail to deliver. An absolute destruction of Nakamura throughout the match that ends with him finally pulling through and winning his title back was something else.”

-Larry

“This is a feud that has created some very good to great matches in my opinion, but never that one classic. That has changed with this match that played off their entire 2014 series and had Nakamura controlling the tempo for the betterment of the overall quality. I think a case for Nakamura as Wrestler of the Year can use this match as a shining example as while I thought Tanahashi was also very good in this match, Nakamura was one another level and allowed the match to reach new heights.”

-Chad Campbell

“I’ve seen so many matches between the two, but this was the one where I just sat there and thought “There is no way this match could’ve been any better”. Tanahashi killing off Nakamura early on, him trying to destroy Nakamura’s knees, but Nakamura still fighting back while his face was contorted with pain was just brilliant. If you’re a fan of both man and if you’ve followed their rivalry over the years, you’ll find elements of many former matches in this match. Great match story, great selling, fabulous match.”

-STRIGGA

22

Hechicero vs. Cavernario
June 20
Super Viernes (CMLL)
37 total points (1 first place vote)

“The En Busca tournament this past summer was fantastic. There were several names that stood out including Hechicero, Cavernario, Cachorro, and Dragon Lee. The former two, however, were the unrivaled stars of the tournament. After the spent much of the tournament working excellent sprints with everyone else, they made it the finals for a much anticipated match-up. What really stood out about this match was how varied of a worker Cavernario is. His selling, bumping, and work underneath was just as good when he was on offense hitting high impact moves. Ultimately, this was the perfect match to end a great tournament.”

-Devon Hales

“A lot of people are casting votes for the finals of the best tournament of 2014. So will I. For me the most fun I had watching wrestling in 2014, was watching CMLL’s En Busca de un Idolo tournament. Yes the G1 Climax probably produced more high end matches, but at the end of the day it was CMLL who put on a tournament that helped to establish and create several new stars, most especially the two finalists Cavernario and Hechicero. I have been high on both guys for a few years now, but watching both of them use the En Busca tournament to emerge from the pack as legitimate best in the world contenders was a real treat, and they busted their ass to go out on an incredibly high note.

Cavernario had used the tournament to establish himself as the ultimate nutcase wrestler, using his splash from the top to the floor (my WON Awards Move of the Year) regularly among other things, where Hechicero was the super innovative mat technician, who would also bump huge and break out the mean streak tactics to control the match. This match started off as a good match, building on the established roles and skills of both men (crazy rudo v. technical rudo), and was perhaps on it’s way to being a great match. Then Cavernario crashed and burned on a corner tope.

At that point the match should have gone off the rails, but instead the veteran Hechicero improvised and they ended up working the spot into the story of the match, turning a potential disaster into a key transition, and changing the tone of the match in the process. In fact the match was actually BETTER because of the mishap. Cavernario became a de facto underdog babyface, trying to survive a relentless assault from the more calculated veteran. We eventually got the big Cavernario spot on the floor, as well as Hechicero throwing every bomb he had at Cavernario, only to succumb to the caveman’s extremely well protected finisher in the end, but not before seeing a complete, exciting, and almost miraculous match, given how easily things could have gone south after Cavernario’s botched dive.

I watched this match live on my phone while walking home from work. I was so into this tournament and both of these guys that I was screaming along with the action, walking into ditches and parked cars, being gawked at by locals, and stopped by confused police officers trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. They had me on the hook for this thing that much.

There were better matches than this in 2014, possibly even ten of them. But in a year with several dozen matches right around the same level, a match of this importance, between two of the three best wrestlers on Earth, that has me risking life and limb, blowing off cops, and falling into holes, has to make my ballot.”

-Dylan Hales

“This was the finals of “En Busca de un Idolo” tournament, which is the best tournament in wrestling you will probably see all year. They did such a great job of elevating four newcomers (Hechicero, Cavernario, Cachorro, Dragon Lee) and keeping everything either fun or awesome, that it’s a must watch from start to finish.

As for the finals, this match was great. Early on, it looked like it would be a solid match, but not great. Then, Cavernario crashes and burns on a tope and you think the match will fall apart. From there, Hechicero takes control and they work this classic plunky babyface versus bad-ass heel match. They just told a great story of overcoming the odds. Cavernario’s splash from the top turnbuckle to the floor felt even more insane than normal in this context.”

-Steven Graham

“This is about as fitting a finale to En Busca de un Idolo as I can imagine. The two best wrestlers in a field of good wrestlers put together a match that was as good as anything all year. What made this match increasingly impressive isn’t simply that it includes great wrestling but to this match switching on a dime to an extremely different dynamic and one that completely works. There is a lot of fun stuff in the early going but it becomes more than fun once Cavernario misses his through the corner tope. Once that happens Hechicero takes it upon himself to become the bruiser and force Cavernario to wrestle from beneath. The way Hechicero tosses Cavernario around with reckless abandon all but reaffirms BAD GUY position. When you throw in gnarly strikes and stepping on hair then he becomes the baddest of guys. While Hechicero deserves so much credit, Cavernario was right there with Hechicero and had great hope spots and bumped around for the veteran. The finishing run was thrilling; just a beautiful bow on this dramatic finale. This match could have worked in three fall segmentation but I think they really weaved it all together without it.”

-Sam DiMascio

“These two had an earlier match in the En Busca de Un Idolo that was just as good but had a 10-minute time limit to it. This one had no time restrictions and both guys were awesome. Hechicero showcased his great technical skills while Barbaro Cavernario continued to impress by hanging with him and also being a rare bird by staying in character throughout. The finish was great as Cavernario used La Cavernaria after breaking out of whatever Hechicero was going to do. Note to future luchadores, don’t let Hechicero grab your arms. It won’t end well. This match gets bonus points because of the two trainers (Negro Casas and Virus) ringside providing some great reactions throughout the match as they rooted for their students.”

-Alfredo Esparza

21

Masato Yoshino vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
January 16
Open the New Year Gate (Dragon Gate)
39 total points (1 first place vote)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1al5dx_masato-yoshino-c-vs-masaaki-mochizuki-dragon-gate_sport

“I thought this was a really good match, bordering on MOTY type stuff except for some minor issues here and there. The arm work for the first third of the match was really well done and kept the crowd engaged. Yoshino tried his best to kill off a few of his biggest moves but not his big match finishers so it didn’t come across as burying them, although Yoshino has enough moves he didn’t need to keep doing the Lightning Spirals. The match was definitely exciting though and fast paced, no real downtime and the crowd really stayed into it. Mochizuki was a legitimate threat and was up to the challenge so it never felt like a lopsided match. Overall I enjoyed it, it was fun to watch, sometimes a little overkill is ok. Definitely worth the view.”

-Kevin Wilson

“Non-stop, bell-to-bell, full tilt action that never felt rushed or out of control. After watching this match you felt exhausted – a whirlwind sprint full of near falls and crazy spots that had you wanting the ride to never end.”

-Damon McDonald

“This was as good as Dragon Gate gets in terms of atmosphere and big match feel. The crowd, the wrestlers, the seconds, the commentators…. everyone involved treats this as a HUGE deal. The action matches it and then some.

It’s a wonderfully paced championship bout with both guys emptying out their arsenals. Mochi becomes the first man to kick out of the top rope Lightning Spiral but it’s not enough as he eventually succumbs to a relentless Yoshino.”

-Alan4L

“I just had someone ask me “Mochizuki still having great matches?”. The answer is yes. Mochizuki is as good as ever and had a great night when he was facing Yoshino. What I liked most about Yoshino’s reign was that most matches started slowly and became more intense and faster with the minute. That is exactly what happened here and after both guys destroyed each others arms they had an awesome final minutes.”

-STRIGGA

“If you want never say die spirit and limb work that actually leads to something well do I have a sure fire gift here. Head kicks that rattle a brain, one of the best lariats of the year by someone not named Kazuchika Okada and a ridiculous amount of near falls sold this for me. Yoshino had to empty his whole clip onto Mochizuki who literally was a headhunter here to do a job and take a title. Plus you have a molten hot Korakuen crowd that takes this match to a whole ‘nother level. Not MOVEZ but submissions, heart and soul are what make this one of the best Dragon Gate matches of 2014.”

-Rob Barry

20

Charlotte vs. Natalya
May 29
NXT Takeover (WWE)
41 total points (1 first place vote)

“I don’t usually watch NXT, but after this match aired, my husband sat me down in front of the network and made me watch. He was right — this was hands down my favorite match of the year, not just because the wrestling was A+ but because it signaled — CLEARLY — that there is real talent in the Divas division and these woman are worth booking like wrestlers. Now if only WWE would listen to that message.”

-Maia Nolan-Partnow

“Daughter Of A Legend. Niece Of A Legend. Both competitors went at in a match that rejuvenated our interested in the Divas division. Charlotte gets the win for the NXT Divas title.”

-The PDT Podcast With Rick & Junior

“American Women’s Wrestling found a new star with Charlotte Flair.”

-Chris Harrington

“This match was my pleasant surprise of the year. Charlotte was thoroughly unimpressive to me up until this point, but once she started going hard to the mat with Nattie, she showed a whole different skillset that took her from “David” to “Ric” almost instantly. The progression in this match was superb as well.”

-Thomas Holzerman, or TH if you will

“On WWE TV, the women’s matches are an afterthought at best and embarrassment at worst. In NXT, they’re treated like serious athletes and that setup worked wonders for this match. With Ric Flair and Bret Hart on the outside, Charlotte and Natalya had one of the best women’s matches on WWE TV ever. Charlotte came out of it looking like the best female worker in the world, and Natalya had a career-defining match that proved she’s as good as any hype she’s ever received.”

-Jeremy Peeples

“The Hart vs. Flair family storyline put this one over Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks from R Evolution for me. While Charlotte and Sasha’s bout was more impressive, the story of Charlotte proving herself worthy of the Flair lineage by resurrecting the rivalry with the Harts was much stronger and the entire match was built around building that narrative to the crescendo of Charlotte’s title win.”

-Jeff Martin

19

The Shield vs. Evolution
May 4
Extreme Rules (WWE)
46 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“Star power, & big time players. They all brought it. Seth Rollins truly has no fear. The “Bootista” movement was real.”

-Michael Anderson

“The Shield was the hottest act going into 2014, and the when the programs of Orton and a returning Batista didn’t catch fire, the WWE called an audible and programmed and Evolution reunion. Three veterans who each at times have been accused of being unmotivated were game for this all out brawl all over the arena with three up and comers on the roster. The aftermath was handled poorly, but that shouldn’t detract from the match on its own merits.”

-Jeff Hawkins

“Even though The Shield had pretty much set an impossibly high standard for trios matches in the 16 months prior to this match, I didn’t think that the first match between the two rival stables would be this good. And yet, each participant brought something worthwhile to the table. The finishing sequence with Rollins wiping out Trips and Orton (and Ambrose) from the mezzanine level to the jump cut into the ring with Reigns finishing Batista with the spear could have been the best match end of the year.”

-Thomas Holzerman, or TH if you will

“I honestly never thought that a match involving Evolution would be in anyone’s Match of the Year list, but that just shows how great The Shield really was. Everything about this match was awesome. It just worked so well, and it was yet another bright spot in WWE’s 2014.”

-Sean Sedor

“This match was a straight-up fun brawl between these two teams. For the fans, it was the meeting of two once-in-a-generation groups in Evolution and The Shield. The new dogs went over, as they should have. Historically, this match will be remembered as one of the final six-man matches featuring The Shield before Seth Rollins went his separate way, joining Triple H and The Authority despite The Shield conquering Hunter’s group two PPVs in a row.”

-Greg Parks

“This match was clearly part one of a story that would be finished at the next pay per view, but I think it was the better of the two matches. It was worked at a much faster pace and didn’t rely so much on weapons and staggering around to set up the next spot. The Shield looked great in their victory and it left open the chance for Evolution to deserve a rematch seeing as two-thirds of the team was out of the ring at the time.”

-Kelly Harrass

“The height of the Shield’s abbreviated babyface run was this match against the three veteran heel members of Evolution. Perhaps the Shield’s last great six-man tag team match, this one was structured in a classic style and executed extremely well. The Shield’s opening salvo got the match off to a hot start. Triple H bumped for the Shield members before Evolution took control by utilizing quick tags and working in a more physical than usual manner. Rollins shined during this segment in his role as the isolated member of the face team. The Shield comeback was well timed and energetic. Even the crowd brawling segment was done in a more thoughtful and ultimately more effective manner than the lazy way it is often performed in modern WWE matches. In a year where there were an abundance of great six-man tags, the Shield and Evolution might have produced the best one of all.”

-Paul Cooke

“The WWE for all of its creative faults this year produced some great matches in 2014, particularly in multi-man situations, almost all involving the Shield. Building off of their matches with the Wyatts months prior, which were stellar in their own right, the Shield and Evolution brawled to the finest match the company held all year. Perhaps in the future, after some of the spots in this match such as Ambrose’ table dive have been overused as they already have, it won’t be looked upon as fondly as it is now, but for 2014 eyes this was my favourite trios match of the year, not only for WWE, but for all the world.”

-Ryan Clingman

“The Shield dominated 2013 with a seemingly endless array of fantastic matches that saw them become the greatest three man unit since the original NWO, only with a far higher standard for in-ring work. Evolution reformed and out of the ashes of Batista’s failed singles push, we got a fast-paced six man war that went all over the building. Youth prevailed over experience in a match that deserves to be viewed by everyone with a WWE Network subscription.”

-Jeremy Peeples

18

Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki
August 8
G1 Climax – Night 11 (NJPW)
49 total points (1 first place vote)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2368jq_g1-climax-24-block-b-match-kazuchika-okada-vs-minoru-suzuki_sport

“This match did a great job of standing out in a G1 packed with amazing matches and that’s in no small part thanks to Suzuki, who took Okada out of his usual match formula and forced him to bring out his aggressive side. Some great limb work from Suzuki, coupled by some excellent selling from Okada. There were lots of little touches that I loved in this match, such as Suzuki faking Okada out and hitting a sickening leaping kick to the face, or the way Okada had to use his left arm to support his right as he made the pinfall after hitting the Rainmaker with his damaged limb. Also, you’ll never hear a bigger reaction for a closed fist as you do in this match, Suzuki delivers it with such impact and it really stands out amongst all the chops and forearms and elbows.”

-SenorLARIATO

“Talk about a match that I’ve heard very little about. This was tremendous. Suzuki is such an incredible professional wrestler when he wants to be. Here, he’s murdering that little punk Okada with forearms and kicks and arm bars. He’s laughing and sticking his tongue out like a maniac. It’s really awesome work. Okada decides to work stiffer which is a necessity with Suzuki and gets a huge win on a big stage. This is probably the most underrated match all year.”

-Devon Hales

“Like acting, wrestling is at its best when every last little detail is a specific choice to help tell a specific story. For me, Minoru Suzuki is the very best in this respect and he was at the absolute top of his game here. Okada is no slouch either. While perhaps being lost in the context of the G1, both recalled moments from their 2013 matches and carried that history into this match, making it my absolute favorite of the year.”

-Josh Katzker

“A masterful performance from Minoru Suzuki. He pushes the young star to his limit, and in this situation where Okada has to beat him to advance to the G1 Final – he makes him EARN it.”

-Alan4L

“While the praise was mostly focused on AJ Styles and Kazuchika Okada post G1 Climax, one of the wrestlers that fell under the radar in some respects was the ever consistent Minoru Suzuki. And on day 11 of the tournament, he showed just how great a performer he still is when he put on a fantastic match against Okada.

Suzuki can be one of the best in New Japan when it comes to working on a body part, and Okada is equally one of the best when it comes to selling an injured body part as well. This made for a great dynamic as Suzuki relentlessly went after the right arm of Okada, restraining much of his offense throughout.

While a few matches from the tournament helped make Okada look like the angry, driven challenger that was ready to take back the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, this one arguably did the best job of doing that, as he used the story of his hurt arm to put on a fiery and exciting comeback in one of the companies finest matches of the year.”

-Eddie Burke

17

Ricochet vs. KUSHIDA
June 8
Best of the Super Juniors Finals (NJPW)
49 total points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ywoce_njpw-best-of-super-juniors-2014-finals-ricochet-vs-kushida_sport

“If you want crisp work, athleticism and two guys determined to make the finals of the Super Juniors tournament mean something look no further. KUSHIDA in quite possibly his best match ever and Ricochet working like he was auditioning for the role of a lifetime in New Japan. We invited you from an outside promotion but if you screw up you will never come back. Ricochet excelled and even got the fans behind him. KUSHIDA survived the 630 and Benadryller before ultimately being put away but not before showing his enormous heart. This was a master class from both men as it felt like a chess match and kept building as the match progressed. These 2 had the crowd in the palm of their hands and delivered an instant classic. The tournament may not seem like a huge deal anymore but do not tell that to KUSHIDA or Ricochet.”

-Rob Barry

“As I said with a previous Ricochet match, I think he gets too much crap as a pure “flyer” when he’s actually a really good worker. This match was more evidence of what he’s able to do with the perfect opponent in KUSHIDA. Sure, there are some high spots here and there, there’s some flips, some dives over the ropes but at no point are any of those the focal point of the match. Instead, KUSHIDA working the arm is the centerpiece. Best yet, when the dives and what not happen, they mean a lot more in the overall context of the match. This was a great match and the perfect end to a solid tournament. You legitimately had no idea who was going to pull out the victory which made every single nearfall that much more important and meaningful. ”

-Rich Kraetsch

“In a great year for tournament finals across Japan (this, G1 Climax, NOAH’s Global League, Zero1 Fire Festival, Dragon Gate Summer Adventure Tag League) this one stands out as a masterpiece. KUSHIDA arrived as a formidable entity in 2014, working a style reminiscent of the late great era of 90s NJPW juniors who could mesh flying with grappling. Ricochet, kept away from much TV visible to non-Japanese until his signing with Lucha Underground, is like a lesser-sighted big cat; rare, breathtaking and practically impossible to convey in terms of how impressive the visual can be.”

-Fujiwara Armbar

“I typically am not a fan on Junior Heavyweight matches. All the flipping, diving, reversing, avoiding, running, dodging just gets old really fast. That being said, I loved this match. KUSHIDA worked the arm and Ricochet sold the arm…the entire match. He varied his offense to work around the injury and they saved the flipping and diving to specific points, which made it mean something. Fantastic match.”

-Jason Felix

“This match did one thing really well; it completely subverted my expectations. I was thinking this would be more high-flying, but what we got was a really technical match that was centered around KUSHIDA trying to take out Ricochet’s arm. These two put on a fantastic match, worthy of being the finals to this tournament.”

-Kelly Harrass

“Two of the best junior heavyweights squared off here and it was just amazing. Ricochet pulled off some great stuff, including the Sasuke Special that I think he does better than the guy it’s named after. The dude can not only fly, but he fluid at the same time and that makes him special. Fantastic high flying match with great dramatic intrigue concerning the BOTSJ finals.”

-Bryan Rose

“Despite a short stay in NJPW, Ricochet took part in some highly exciting matches for the promotion, with the best coming against Kushida at the BOSJ Finals. The pace at which these two wrestled each other was terrific, and the moves they hit were about as fluid, graceful and athletic as you’re going to see in 2014.

The manner in which Kushida looked to lock in the kimura lock made for an exciting element of the match, and made way for some great reversals and sequences throughout. Everything between these two men just clicked, and added with a hot crowd that were behind every moment, this was an excellent match from start to finish.”

-Eddie Burke

“After this match took place, Ricochet was a lock for my Outstanding Wrestler of the Year award. His performances had been fantastic in the first half of the year and this one was on another level. KUSHIDA was a guy who I think has been limited by his role with Time Splitters. Though he shines, the Jr. Tag division doesn’t provide him with enough opportunity to meet his potential. His BoSJ run showed what he’s really made of and his performance here was his best of the tournament, propelling him to a brief stint as the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion.”

-Josh Katzker

“The BoSJ Final was a very dramatic match with an unpredictable outcome, which made the crazy high-flying spots and the nearfalls following them very exciting. Both men looked like absolute stars coming out of this one.”

-Oliver Court

16

Virus/Cachorro/Hechicero vs. Negro Casas/Cavernario/Dragon Lee
May 23
Super Viernes (CMLL)
55 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

“This is my vote for best Lucha trios of the year. This match fell right in the middle of the awesome En Busca tournament therefore it features a lot of the same guys. With the addition of Virus and Negro Casas, it was obvious this was going to be at least fun. Then they stole the show with some out of this world great exchanges and sequences. In some ways, this might be the most fun match of the year as well as one of the better multi-man matches of the year.”

-Devon Hales

“As great as The Shield vs Wyatts trios match was, this was next-level. The four top young guys with Cavernario, Hechicero, Cachorro and Dragon Lee got to combine their magic from the Idolos tournament with Virus and Casas, their coaches and two of the top wrestlers in the world. Toward the end I thought to myself that Dragon Lee was the one guy not getting a chance to shine and then he was the star of the rest of the match. The finish was a little messed up but otherwise pretty much a perfect match.”

-Dave Musgrave

“A great all action Lucha match. Everyone got a chance to shine. It knocked the Wyatts/Shield 6 mans off my list.”

-Pete Schirmacher

“This was the best lucha trios match in wrestling in 2014, and one relatively mild flub of a finish away from being my number one or two match period. The match was sort of an addendum to the En Busca de un Idolo tournament, but here we got the two coaches teaming with the absolute best of the best of the tournament, to form super units. In fact you could easily argue that six of the ten best workers in Mexico were in this match, including four of my top fifteen workers in the world for 2014 (the other two guys would make my top forty at absolute worst).

One reviewer characterized this as “CMLL does 90’s Minchinoku Pro” and I think that is pretty much dead on. But what was notable about this was that in a match with tons of great sequences, spots and pairings, it did not lack the pacing, violence and urgency you want out of a true trios classic. In other words this was both a collection of cool stuff, and a match that built, with impressive performances from all parties. We got some spirited “team leader” stuff from Casas, all of the biggest spots each guy has in their arsenal, a lunatic bump from Dragon Lee, Cavernario standing out as a ring general, and tons of great moments in between.

This was a rare match where you have six great workers who compliment each other so well that nothing in the match felt flat, and at no point did you wish you were getting more or less of one of the parties involved. It’s impossible to say who the best guy in this was, and for a match of this quality, with workers this strong, that makes it a top five pick.”

-Dylan Hales

“Fun match. The mid-point of the En Busca de Un Idolo competition with the final four teaming with the two maestros. Cachorro was on Team Casas, but due to 3 of the 4 finalists being on Casas team, they move him over to Team Virus. There was also the underlying Casas-Panthers family rivalry going in. We get to see Hechicero in there with Negro Casas! We also get to see Barbaro Cavernario celebrate by tossing Zacarias El Perico in the air!”

-Alfredo Esparza

“Whenever someone asks me why I think CMLL is the best promotion in the world and there’s really no one that comes close I know I can point them to this match. It’s a perfect summation of the strengths of CMLL, without any of the weaknesses. Six super workers in one match wrestling a trios match that is impeccably orchestrated. There’s oodles of fun to be had here, and this match has a little bit of something for everyone. There’s Casas the showman, Hechicero and Virus the mat technicians, Dragon Lee the high flyer, Cavernario the wild beast, and Cachorro the steady hand. In one match you have the past, present, and future of CMLL, and it is glorious to watch. Well timed dives, excellent mat work, and everything a Lucha fan could want are present in this match.”

-Bill Thompson

“The “all-star break” trios match between rounds of the En Busca de un Idolo usually is more about ‘suggesting’ who the fanbase should be supporting into the finals. This year, everything fell together perfectly to put six great wrestlers together, and they just had a super match instead. There were a lot of great matches in this tournament, but this was the one I thought best – six guys working together to give everyone their moments, the rookies all looking like soon to be stars and Virus & Negro Casas looking like they were as young as the rookies. The finish itself has some iffy moments but there were so many intricately connected sequences that I’m willing to let one bad one slide.”

-thecubsfan

“This is my favorite Lucha match of the year, yes it may not match the historic and emotional nature of Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero for the masks but this is glorious. Cachorro continues to be a great rookie, Hechicero and Virus continue to be technical masters, Dragon Lee is one of the best luchadors in the world and on the level of Cachorro and Cavernario is a man possessed and Casas still is going at a high level for a man in his 50’s. This match gets extra points for Lee getting hip tossed to the floor in one of the nuttiest spots of the year. Great back and forth, intensity and hatred and one of the best trios match this year and even better than the fabled Shield vs. Wyatt Family matches. These six men are the the spine of CMLL and a few of them are the future. The pace is relentless, the submissions are crisp and everything builds to a satisfying conclusion.”

-Rob Barry

“What happens when you combine six of the best wrestlers in lucha? One of the best matches of the year. It is hard to nail down why this match was so great. It simply had nearly everything I could want out of a wrestling match. There is fantastic matwork, intense exchanges, and while being full of action the match definitely builds so it doesn’t feel like a series of JUST awe-inspiring moments. The first fall is great at getting the match into gear. The second ramps things up to include more lightening quick exchanges as well as Cavernario busting out the splash to the outside. The third fall though? Stunning. For all the talk that people want “state-of-the-art” professional wrestling, but I can’t think of a more jaw dropping array of action than was offered here. Dragon Lee takes the craziest bump of the year, Cavernario kicks Hechicero’s head in, and Cachorro attempts to murder people with topes and powerbombs. Absolutely love a fall where it is extended past the first pin and they do that here in just a super way. It is hard to be better than this.”

-Sam DiMascio

15

Titan vs. Virus
January 28
CMLL on Caneda Tres (CMLL)
60 total points (1 first place vote)

“A masterful match with two of the best. Match built perfectly spot to spot and featured a lot of innovative counters including callbacks to spots when Virus used to wrestle as Damiancito El Guerrero in the minis division. Stuff like that isn’t placed in matches by accident, it’s there because Virus makes sure it is. Even folks who are known to dislike “the lucha style” seemed to come around on this as a legitimately great match.”

-RobViper

“A brilliant mix of traditional lucha mat wrestling, innovative submissions, high flying, and drama allowed Virus and Titan’s January CMLL Middleweight title bout to go nearly wire-to-wire as 2014’s best match. There is no wrestler in the world who is able to make a wrestling match look all at was as smooth, effortless, and stunning as Virus. The way he controls the match and brings Titan along through the opening fall mat work is excellent stuff, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Virus’ aggressiveness in attacking the leg to open the 2nd fall, his bumping for Titan’s offense and his high-end moves (including a beautiful somersault senton to the outside) all help take his performance in this match to the next level. If that wasn’t enough, Virus even works in a few spots that harken back to his days as a mini and his feud with Cicloncito Ramirez. While Virus’ performance in this match is outstanding, Titan is not merely a spectator. This match is the best of Virus’ four title matches from 2014 thanks in large to Titan’s contributions. His selling and fiery comebacks got the Arena Mexico fans solidly behind him. Titan is one of the best flying wrestlers today and his high-end flying offense contributed immensely to the match’s success. This is a match that lucha and non-lucha fans alike can definitely appreciate.”

-Paul Cooke

“This was some awesome stuff. It had some fun mat wrestling cool highpots and the match was great at building drama. The final caida was so engrossing.”

-Pete Schirmacher

“This was for the Mexican National Welterweight Title and it was a total breakthrough match for Titan who in his series of matches with Negro Casas cemented his status as one of the top young guys in Mexico but this series with Virus featured his best overall showing. Virus is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world and a fantastic rudo who always makes his opponents look great. The great matwork early on led to a hot finishing run where Titan was hitting some huge highspots especially his somersault senton.”

-Kris Zellner

“Virus is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and any opportunity he has to have a singles match with time, it ends up being tremendous. This was the best of these this year. Titan has really established himself as a guy that can at least be carried to greatness. One of the cool things about 2/3 falls matches out of Mexico is the way things can be built up. The first fall was some really good mat work. The second fall played up Titan being a face in peril, which led to the third fall of big bumps, dives and nearfalls. A great example of lucha libre title matches at their best.”

-Steven Graham

“I loved this match on first watch, but I admit that it was a match that I went back to re-watch because I was confused as to why so many people were so high on it. I was particularly interested in looking to see if I could figure out why so many people who have only a passing interest in lucha seemed to love this match. I still don’t have an answer for that one, but I can say that it probably benefited more from a second look more than any other bout I considered for my ballot.

There really isn’t a ton to say about this that others probably couldn’t say better, but the dynamic of the veteran mat master Virus v. the young highspot heavy star Titan really worked well. It doesn’t hurt that Titan is solid on the ground, and Virus has some great spots, but really it was the contrast between these two and what they bring that made the match. For example Virus countering Titan’s flashiness was a key element of the match, as was Virus trying to hold court in the center of the ring in the first fall to play to his advantage as the superior technician. Of course this dynamic built really well over the course of the three falls, so that when Titan was able to win at Virus’ own game it felt like a huge accomplishment, something that almost would have seemed impossible in the first fall.

There were several rock solid lucha title matches this year, but this was the best of the bunch. This should not be surprising as Virus and Titan are probably the two best lucha title match workers of the last two years, with Virus especially being an all time great at this style of bout.”

-Dylan Hales

“Titan defended the Mexican National Welterweight Championship against Virus in the traditional 2 out of 3 falls match here against Virus. Virus made his pro wrestling debut 4 years before Titan was even born, so this was a good match of a 46 year old veteran challenging for the young 24 year old’s title. I haven’t watched modern Lucha libre until this match was suggested by TheCubsFan on Twitter. I had affinity for the 90’s Lucha libre that we saw in WCW, ECW, and AAA, but haven’t watched a single match since. Once I saw the perfected art of Lucha Libre painted all over the CMLL canvas by Titan and Virus in this match I was hooked. I watched Wrestle Kingdom 7 and vowed to watch NJPW more to the point that in 2014 I watched more Japanese wrestling than I have in my entire life. Well, this match began my watching of CMLL and 2015 is going to be the year I watch more Lucha Libre than I ever have in my life. I loved the combination of grappling and high flying that Titan and Virus displayed here. If one single match makes you a fan of an entire promotion then it becomes a vivid memory and deserves to be noted as a top match of that year.”

-Taylor C. Mitchell

“This match just took place a few days into 2014 and yet it was clear it was going to end up being one of the best right away. Outstanding performances by both men who have become part of a core group of CMLL luchadors producing great stuff on a regular basis. Virus is the old technical master, Titan is the high flying youngest, but both men showed they could play against type and borrowed from each other. Titan was able to keep up with Virus’ holds and borrowed one of his finishes from decades past, while Virus went into crazy suicidal mood with an unforgettable senton to the floor. There were a lot of other great title matches in CMLL this year, this one was just more complete, varied, and satisfying in the end.”

-thecubsfan

“This here is pretty darn great. First fall is full of wonderful Virus matwork. Enjoyed Virus bossing Titan around in the second fall. The second fall also includes Titan brushes off a ton of damage but nothing that hurt too much. Third fall though…NUTTY! Virus getting launched into the air, the moonsault that didn’t look like the opponent was the dumbest man on the planet, and Virus doing a senton outside the ring. Also dug the counter wrestling that was being busted out. Not gonna go super long but yeah I thought it was great.”

-Sam DiMascio

14

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
September 21
Destruction in Kobe (NJPW)
70 total points (2 first place votes)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x26ed7t_hiroshi-tanahashi-vs-katsuyori-shibata_sport

“Some people are really disappointed with the handshake after this match because it potentially means the most exciting rivalry this year is effectively ended after only two singles matches now that the two have buried the hatchet and respect each other.

It doesn’t matter if any future matches between the two can reach this level, we witnessed an incredible moment between two athletes. They mended bridges just THROUGH WRESTLING ONE ANOTHER. This is basically an affirmation that wrestling is a great art and nothing anyone says can take that away.

Besides, Shibata and Tanahashi are still going to murder each other.”

-CJ Roy

“I flipped back and forth on whether or not to go with the Destruction in Kobe match, or their G1 Climax war. I went with this one, due to the closure provided. Short story even shorter: these two have/had real heat and NJPW found a way work it in to their story. Tanahashi normally tries to shy away from anything too stiff but he was more than willing to ratchet up the violence for his nemesis. The handshake at the end was just awesome.”

-Dante Kinney

“I really thought long and hard about Tanahashi vs. Shibata, but it had to be in my top 5. The tremendous backstory combined with their G1 matches in 2013 and 2014 made this match so special. The legit heat outside the ring was transfered inside the ring and brought out the best in both guys.”

-STRIGGA

“What I really liked about this match, besides the top-notch wrestling, was the backstory. Tanahashi and Shibata have a real history together that has not been the smoothest. Tanahashi has spoken out against Shibata’s style of wrestling, and about Shibata leaving NJPW in the past. It all culminated into one hell of a match. The funny thing is, it turned into the kind of match that Tanahashi has been outspokenly against. Very stiff, very physical. The kind of match that pushes the line of what is real and what is show.”

-Zachariah Dominello

“Shibata takes the Ishii model of making a pro wrestling match feel real and amplifies it by 100%. Some of the shots he nailed Tanahashi with were absolutely sick, none more so than a spinning back-fist that had me shrieking in disbelief. They story of the match though wasn’t about how hard they were hitting each other, this was a bitter, personal rivalry which dates back ten years when both guys were breaking onto the main New Japan roster. Tanahashi resented Shibata for leaving when business was bad and resented him coming back when the company had turned around, which was in no small part thanks to his own greatness.Tanahashi also criticized Shibata’s in-ring style in his autobiography, which added another layer to an already gripping match. The post match was also great, with both men embracing each other and Shibata thanking Tanahashi for “saving New Japan”.”

-Ben Carass

“This is a match that, while fucking fantastic, was taken to another level with the background story between these two. It was the story of the flashy pro wrestler who carried the promotion to new highs and the “shooter” who left the promotion when it was down and out. The clash of styles, Tanahashi blasting Shibata in his autobiography, and the added bonus of an off-the-chart pro wrestling match put this in my top 5 of the year. I had it just below Meltzer’s Five Stars, but it was damn close.”

-Damon McDonald

“Tanahashi is great. Shibata is unique. Amazing stuff.”

-Chris Harrington

“ This was every bit as awesome as their G1 match, in my opinion. They worked this match with so much skill, a feeling of hate and a feeling that they were literally trying to prove who was the best. Sometimes a match is so good that you almost don’t know what to say, and this was that kind of match. I love when wrestling is just presented in its pure form of two men battling to see who is better. While some have felt that Tanahashi was slowing down, I would have to greatly disagree. This is required viewing. They even shook hands post match, and the crowd went wild for that. This was not just because of a reaction to a great match, but because these guys have had legit heat for years and seemingly came to an understanding after a true MOTY candidate.”

-Larry Csonka

“These two are life-long rivals and have great chemistry together, but they wrestle so rarely that it is easy to forget how great they are. They kept the match (relatively) short and to the point, and Shibata’s strikes made me cringe on more than a few occasions. They’ve had similar matches in past G1 tournaments but I think this is the best in their series.”

-Kevin Wilson

13

reDRagon vs Young Bucks
May 17
War of the Worlds (ROH)
72 total points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv49EzytTug

“The best tag match in the world in 2014 and everything that is right about junior wrestling. Innovative, intensely paced, and crisp, a 13-minute sprint with the two best teams in the world in 2014 ends with a decisive title change and plenty of ancillary goodies like Filthy Tom Lawlor looking like a veteran manager on the outside to separate this match from a pack of great tag bouts throughout the year.”

-Larry

“The best tag team match of the year, contested between possibly the two best tag teams in the world, on one of the best shows of the year. The Bucks offense fits perfectly with reDRagon’s counter style, and these teams had several other tremendous matches over the course of the year.”

-Joe Lanza

“As a huge fan of both New Japan and ROH, this entire night was super special for me, and this match was undoubtedly the highlight. Just junior tag team wrestling at its very finest.”

-Rob Reid

“As far as I’m concerned, this was the leanest, best match these two world-class teams put on in 2014, and given the profile of this crossover show and the critical reaction to this particular bout, I’d call it the match that rocketed The Young Bucks to “Team Of The Year” frontrunner status. It was just two months earlier that The Bucks squeaked out a win for ReDragon’s ROH titles, and in that first meeting, these teams laid down the blueprint for their later show-stealing matches. With this second meeting, they tightened and refined the formula, taking each and every spot up a notch while peppering in new, frankly mind-blowing moments, like Nick Jackson breaking up a guillotine choke with a 450 splash and that ridiculous sequence where The Bucks forced O’Reilly to tombstone his own partner (prerequisite GIF: http://i.imgur.com/UBSYV85.gif). The spotfest is topped off with a smart finish that plays on Matt Jackson’s broken hand, an injury that was previously casted and helped the Bucks steal the first match.”

-Matt Gerardi

“I was in attendance for War of the Worlds, so there was no way I wasn’t going to put this on my list. I knew this match was going to be great, but what took place exceeded whatever expectations I had. Just an awesome, action packed match from start to finish. The Young Bucks are awesome. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly are awesome. This whole match was awesome!”

-Sean Sedor

“There weren’t two better tag teams in North America this year (sorry Hardy Boyz). In front of a rabid Hammerstein crowd, these two teams showed just how good they are. reDRagon used this match to solidify themselves as a top act in ROH, while the Bucks simply used this opportunity to reassure everyone that they’re one of the best tag teams in the world. This match, amazingly, only went 12:47. It’s a sprint, and as a result, one of the best matches of 2014.”

-Case Lowe

12

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kota Ibushi
May 25
Back to Yokohama Arena (NJPW)
72 total points (1 first place vote)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1wmaqj_never-openweight-title-match-tomohiro-ishii-c-vs-kota-ibushi-njpw-5-25-14_sport

“Following the Ishii/Ibushi brawl after a multi-man tag at the 2014 Tokyo Dome show, few would have expected anything other than a physical match from them at the ‘Back to Yokohama Arena’ show in May. However, the extent of the physicality was widely unforeseen, with Ishii emerging after the match bruised, spitting blood, a haematoma forming atop his head. Of course to say that such brutality was wholly justified in a predetermined pro-wrestling match simply due to the duo putting on so great a match would be either naïve or sadistic, but, as brutal as it was, Ishii and Ibushi worked hard, and ultimately produced a memorable and enthralling styles clash.”

-Ryan Clingman

“This is my kind of match. Very similar to Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro (2/27), this match saw two contrasting styles. This saw Tomohiro Ishii, the baddest man walking God’s green Earth, square up against the toughest Jr. heavyweight on the planet, Kota Ibushi. This match differed from the aforementioned Zayn vs. Cesaro for one reason, Ibushi went strike-for-strike, hold-for-hold with Ishii. He bit back at the Stone Pitbull. Ibushi’s incredibly underrated striking game was on full display here. This match was awesome. Simply awesome. Hopefully this is sign of things to come in 2015 as Ibushi moves up to the heavyweight class.”

-Case Lowe

“This match was so brutally stiff. I remember yelling “stop chopping him in the throat!” at my laptop the first time I watched it.”

-Kelly Harrass

“This was for the NEVER Openweight Title. Ishii is a guy who I have loved for years even going back to the Far East Connection days in Michinoku Pro in 2001-02 and his resurgence over the past few years has been very fun to watch. Kota is an amazing talent who I remember when he was a rookie in DDT thinking this guy is going to be big and he has done that and then some. Kota is known for being a tremendous highspot wrestler but he brings the pain here as well as his stiff headbutt busting Ishii open was a message that he wasn’t going to take his crap lying down. The story of the bloody Ishii having to fend off Kota and all of his high impact offense then coming back to kill him with his brainbuster was very well done.”

-Kris Zellner

“This match was billed, by me, as “the match I am looking forward to more than any other match on the face of the planet.” I was looking forward to this match since the G1 in 2013, hoping that they’d book this match at every single PPV (I remember Dave Meltzer had said that when Ibushi was signed, that he was facing Ishii at the Power Struggle iPPV November 2013. That match didn’t happen and I was sad.) Anyways, while this match was amazing. I was a tad bit disappointed because I EXPECTED the greatest match in wrestling history. There were a couple sloppy spots where Ibushi was accidentally dropped on his head. The Ishii top rope lariat that sent Ibushi on to the back of his head from the top rope took the match a little too far, where I worried Ibushi was going to be dead by the end of the match. Those couple of negatives, but the rest was wrestling gold.”

-Jason Felix

“Early on, for me, Ishii was making a case for Wrestler of the Year, simply based on the great performances he was having. Not only was Tomohiro Ishii excellent, but so was Kota Ibushi. Ibushi for me was a guy that was fun to watch, but was way too formulaic in his match structure. He has vastly improved, and is becoming scary good. I can see why there was interest in him from just about everyone.”

-Larry Csonka

“A really entertaining match, as Ishii matches tend to be. There were a few sloppy moments but it didn’t really take away from the match as it came across as both wrestlers just trying anything to get the advantage. Ishii got busted open hard-way at some point as they were knocking the stuffing out of each other, and there really was no downtime in the match at all. They were just throwing bombs through the entire match. Good stuff from both men here.”

-Kevin Wilson

“Ishii was the worker of the year for a lot of people, and for good reason. He can work with anyone, and he can take more punishment than anyone. He doesn’t worry about his place on the card, or how many people will see him. He just delivers.

This is the match that definitely made Kota look like a true heavyweight. Not sure how someone who is considered a flyer can be so malleable in the ring depending on the opponent. He looked like a one million euros, here.”

-Dante Kinney

“If Ibushi vs. Nakamura from G-1 2013 was Ibushi’s christening by New Japan and Ibushi vs. Okada was Ibushi showing he belonged in New Japan than this was saying Ibushi has arrived full time and he can make the jump to heavyweight whenever he deems fit. It also helps that he is in the ring with what many people consider one of the best wrestlers in 2014, Tomohiro Ishii. Stiff shots, headbutts, lariats and nutty back and forth make for a ridiculously entertaining match. Normally people want Ishii to work the underdog role but I’m just fine with him dishing out punishment and being dealt punishment evenly. No one thought Ibushi had a chance but he made you believe with every bit of offense he delivered. He showed he could stand toe to toe with a Stone Pitbull and even make that Stone Pitbull bleed. Ishii is making a secondary title mean something, the man makes the title not the other way around. He elevates the NEVER Title every time he steps through those ropes and these performances enhance that goal.”

-Rob Barry

“Ishii was in too many great matches in 2014 for him to not make my list. This was the best of those matches. Both guys take some dangerous bumps that are jaw droppers when you see them. Then Ishii bleeds. Then there’s that brutal brainbuster that might be the best brainbuster I’ve ever seen. Awesome war.”

-Devon Hales

“Tomohiro Ishii is a strange case for me because I want to love his matches so much more than I actually do. I find that too many of his big matches (outside of the G1) go overboard with the strikes and “tough guy” sequences that I do not find particularly interesting. This is very much a personal criticism though, as his matches and style are *very* over with the live crowds and basically everyone else who watches him on tape. I mention my lack of love for him, because this was one the few non-G1 matches that he had this year that I unconditionally loved.

Ishii is often put in a position where he has to work from behind, and I think he’s just way, way better at beating people up. This match with Kota Ibushi represents everything I would love to see from Ishii on a more consistent basis. These two had an absolutely wild match that features all the violence you would want from an Ishii match with the added dynamic of a smaller, flippy guy adapting to the style. I loved this match, and it was my favorite from Japan in 2014.”

-TJ Hawke

“This is my #1 match of 2014 because it captivated me more than any other. Ibushi was fired up for this one, willing to give as much punishment to Ishii as he was recieving, while Ishii was his usual stiff, brutal self. Some of the bumps taken in this match were ridiculous, and the selling was immense. Every strike and every spot looked like it hurt, and probably did. It wasn’t the best technicaly performance of the year, but it was the craziest, most balls-to-the wall match, and that made it so enjoyable.”

-Oliver Court

“Tomofrickinghiro Ishii. What an amazing talent. Tough as nails. Best selling in the business. Genius at playing the underdog, despite being an absolute monster in the ring. And then Kota Ibushi, one of the great high flyers, but also a technically gifted wrestler. Ibushi is constantly proving himself capable of hanging with the big dogs, or in Ishii’s case the pit bull. This match is a great of example of how to lose and look exceptional doing it. These two absolutely destroyed each other over the Never title. Ibushi came up short, but my god if he didn’t look like a million bucks by the end of this one.”

-Zachariah Dominello

“As seen from his performance at this year’s Tokyo Dome show, there is something about having the outstanding high-flyer from the wacky DDT promotion, Kota Ibushi, playing a tough guy role that just works. His selling and facial expressions are so great when put in heated matches like this and he nailed Ishii with a stiff headbutt which only added more drama to the match when the doctor came out to check on Ishii. The finish was like Kobashi/Hansen on steroids, as Ibushi took a sick bump from a standing top rope lariat.”

-Ben Carass

11

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena
August 17
SummerSlam (WWE)
75 total points (1 first place vote)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRXdMnjkoAE

“WWE hasn’t been the greatest at being unpredictable while making sense at the same time. This year, they executed it greatly, twice, with Brock Lesnar. Brock vs Cena was a match in which the result may not have been surprising, but how the victory came certainly was. In what comes close to being a squash match, I stared at the screen waiting for the Cena comeback to happen. It didn’t, as John was crushed in the greatest match of 2014.”

-Rob McCarron

“This is solely based on the live experience. This match completely subverted the main event formula and left me legitimately amazed by how a match went that, something that is extremely rare. Everything about this, from Lesnar shrugging off the early AA to the look of glee on his face as he murdered Cena was pitch perfect. We may never again see a WWE main event that looks like this.”

-Sean Flynn

“When this match happened, there was almost no modern American equivalent to compare it to. 16 minutes of Brock destroying the top star in the company. As Dave Meltzer wrote, “The crowd was pretty freaked out by this.” It was a brutal, physical match which remains an emblem of how unique the Brock Lesnar character can be.”

-Chris Harrington

“Not a masterpiece of wrestling but they did a great job telling a story.”

-Dave Hatton

“Talk about an extended killing of a Main Eventer. Lesnar cackling and laughing in between torturing Cena with German Suplexes Throw and F5’s mixed in with Heyman’s maniacal laughter wins this for me.”

-Jahmale Hepburn

“This was perhaps the most polarizing match of the year. I loved it, I gave it ***** when it was finished and was criticized from many circles for doing so. I don’t really care, this was a match constructed perfectly to tell the story WWE wanted to tell. In the greatest squash match of all-time, Brock Lesnar completely turned the table on WWE’s long-time superstar, gave him a beating like he’s never received before and made the crowd gasp which every subsequent suplex. This was Brock Lesnar, the beast, ripping apart of the flesh of his prey and doing it with a smile. Don’t let the piss-poor follow-up cloud what was a spectacular story and match. ”

-Rich Kraetsch

“This should be an all-time memorable match because of how it went down. It was perfect for what it was trying to be. Alas, it won’t be. “

-Mike Sempervive

“What made this match interesting was whether Cena would be able to walk out of LA, much less walk out of LA as champion. Brock didn’t disappoint.”

-Michael Anderson

“This match is rare to say the least. We saw John Cena, the face of the WWE for nearly a decade, walk into the Staples Center and pretty much get squashed by Brock Lesnar. You will not find many matches quite like this one.”

-Ryan Davis

“The booking of this match afterwards has been brutal but I don’t that should take away the amazing uniqueness and specialness of this match while happening live. Sting vs. Vader at Great American Bash 1992 is another great match but one that has been the poster child of discussion for a top face letting a heel get a dominating win. Sting got a multitude of more offense in that match as Cena got here. At some points the German Suplexes seemed comical in their quantity, but Brock threw each of them with such ferociousness and Cena sold each one wonderfully, the entire overall arc and brutality of the match stayed in tact. The greatest squash match of all time.”

-Chad Campbell