Previous 2016 Match of the Year entries:

The brainchild of VOW co-owner Rich Kraetsch, Voices of Wrestling’s Match of the Year countdown started in 2012 with a modest four person panel of Joe Lanza, Rich, VOW’s PWG reviewer “Larry”, and Billy Carpenter of 4 Corners Radio. Now in our fifth illustrious year, Match of the Year has grown to 117 voters with 239 matches emanating from 49 different worldwide promotions.

Earlier today, we launched the countdown with a breakdown of the poll’s origins, how scoring works and of course, our voter pool. You can read that entry at voicesofwrestling.com/2017/01/24/2016-match-of-the-year-intro-honorable-mentions.

Now, we begin our Top 100 proper with a look at the matches that ranked from #100-76.

#100
TJP, Johnny Gargano & Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll & Tommy End
4/2
WWNLive

Overall Points: 9
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 3rd

This was the most fun wrestling match of 2016. On paper, there was no way that this wouldn’t deliver. Spoiler – it totally did. Any match where Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay jump off balconies gets an immediate thumbs up. Elsewhere, Tommy End and TJP traded blows and Marty Scurll and Johnny Gargano showed off their technical abilities. This was a perfect way to cap off the most successful and exciting WWN Wrestlemania Weekend. -Case Lowe

#99
Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak
11/12
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 9
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 7th

This match was different from any match on the card and any that I have ever seen. Stripping the ring down to the wooden planks and still bumping on that was a gutsy display from both men. Thatcher suffered a legitimate concussion due to this one, proving just how brutal it was. Stokely’s reaction seemed to serve as an avatar for the audience, because no matter who they supported, each move was met with cringing from the fans. -Rich Laconi

#98
Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles
5/1
WWE

Overall Points: 9
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 6th

I didn’t watch this live and on it’s own I thought it was completely awesome. Loved the early part of this match with Styles peppering Reigns with shots and Reigns getting more and more frustrated. His shit talk after the big shoulder block was great, and I loved how he would blast Styles every time he took charge. That flying forearm through the table was one of the best individual spots in WWE history, Styles had such insane height, the impact was crazy and the table collapsing was organic and not set up looking at all. I can’t remember a table spot I liked more. Shane and Stephanie coming in was dumb, but pretty minor in the overall structure of the match. As much as I loved that table spot, post restart there were two spots which were almost as cool. Reigns superman punching Styles in midair was nutso, the timing was perfect and it really looked like he beheaded him. I also loved Reigns dive into the pile and how Styles followed that up by sneaking into the crowd and knocking him off. Loved all of the near falls here, as I totally bought into a couple of them, Reigns is great at knowing right when to kick out. Styles was awesome in this, but fuck Roman Reigns is great, he really felt like he let Styles wrestle his match. -Phil Schneider

#97
Chris Hero vs Trevor Lee
4/9
AAW

Overall Points: 9
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 4th

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#96
Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll
1/24
PROGRESS

Overall Points: 10
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 6th

#95
Heidi Lovelace vs. Princess Kimberlee
3/19
CHIKARA

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 3rd

The pre-match promo by Lovelace sets up this Grand Title match wonderfully: the two competitors are friends, best friends, and it’s wonderful and all that a woman has won the title and it’s Heidi’s friend…”but it should’ve been me.” Thus Lovelace has already started shading herself toward the heel side in this putative face-face matchup. That dynamic permeates the match itself, with Lovelace hitting stiff strikes with her knees and feet, punishing Kimberlee and attempting to grind her down, only to be outlasted and answered with Kimberlee’s trademark suplexes. The psychology may be well-worn, but Lovelace and Kimberlee embody it incredibly well and deliver a dramatic and emotional title match while doing so. -Glenn Butler

#94
Kento Miyahara vs. Daisuke Sekimoto
5/25
AJPW

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 6th

Miyahara had a superb year as Triple Crown champion and several of his other title defenses very nearly cracked my top 10, but this bout with Champion Carnival winner and Big Japan mainstay Daisuke Sekimoto was clearly the best of the bunch for me. Sekimoto is the very definition of a credible outside threat, a muscular, stocky monster of a man who you fully believe is capable of beating anyone on any day. His Championship Carnival win produced several great matches, one of them against Miyahara himself, but this rematch was better than all of them. Miyahara survived a barrage of offense from Sekimoto before finally putting him away with his Shutdown German Suplex hold, and honestly, All Japan’s ace surviving a barrage and coming out on top is a pretty apt metaphor for the promotion itself in the past few years! -John Carroll

#93
Yuji Okabayashi vs. Ryota Hama
1/24
BJW

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 5th

A throwback match. A simple in-ring story, performed with perfect timing and consistent consequence. Had me off my seat as much as any match all year. -Brian Elliott

#92
Arik Royal vs. Andrew Everett
12/30
CWF Mid-Atlantic

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 4th

Watching this match live was an amazing experience. I was so impressed to see all that Royal can do in the ring and what a great character he can be. The ebb and flow in this match made it very compelling. -Mike (Papa) Hales

#91
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii
8/3
NJPW

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 3rd

The G1 Climax always produces spectacular matches, to the point where it becomes a challenge to pick matches from that tournament for lists like these, because there are just so many awesome matches. One match from the most recent G1 Climax that got lost in the shuffle was Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii. These two had a spectacular match in the 2013 G1 Climax that helped solidify Ishii as a major player in New Japan. This match was just as awesome as that encounter over three years ago. These two have only had a few singles matches together, but they have some incredible chemistry. The action in this match from start to finish was amazing, and if it wasn’t for a noticeable botch in the second half of the match, this would have easily cracked my Top 5. Both guys really shine when it comes time for the G1 Climax, and this match was a perfect example of that. It might have gotten lost in the shuffle with some of the matches that occurred later in the tournament, but this was certainly one of the best matches from the most recent edition of the G1 Climax. -Sean Sedor

90
Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA
4/10
NJPW

Overall Points: 11
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 7th

Will Ospreay’s first appearance in NJPW was a video of him announcing that he joined the CHAOS stable and challenging KUSHIDA for the Jr. Heavyweight Title. Not a bad way to make your in-ring debut with a company. Ospreay came into this match in the midst of a string of awesome performances in the first half of 2016, while KUSHIDA has been the MVP of the juniors for a long time now. It hasn’t even been close to be honest. Onto the match, KUSHIDA had a game plan and made it work. He viciously attacked the arm, starting by kicking it in the middle of an Ospreay handspring. It worked on two levels because it took away some of Ospreay’s offense while setting up the Hoverboard Lock. Ospreay tried to handspring again but couldn’t due to the limb damage. Because Ospreay is a freak of nature, he did a handspring off the ropes WITH NO HANDS! It was brilliantly bananas. Ospreay went for the Rainmaker but KUSHIDA countered into the Hoverboard Lock and with the arm damage so bad, Ospreay scrambled to the ropes. Sometimes Will’s selling isn’t good but when he wants to, like here, it can be masterful and it makes all the difference. After some incredible exchanges, KUSHIDA won with the Hoverboard Lock at 15:11. Ospreay gave it his all but couldn’t overcome the champion’s great strategy. This had it all. Hard strikes, high spots, intensity, a hot crowd, selling, storytelling and the list goes on and on. -Kevin Pantoja

#88
Caristico vs Volador Jr.
4/6
ELITE

Overall Points: 12
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 3rd

First singles match in over 5 years between two of my all-time favorites in front of a hot Arena Mexico crowd. For the 15 minutes you were transported back to the hot CMLL period in 2010 when Mistico turned rudo and had some wild matches with Volador. Both guys brought their A game & worked a perfect match building to the classic La Mistica finish which the crowd popped huge for. -Rob Viper

#88
Sasha Banks vs Charlotte
10/30
WWE

Overall Points: 12
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 3rd

The chemistry between Charlotte and Sasha is at an all-time level and this feud has produced as many great matches as any feud in WWE history. -Steven Graham

#87
Tag Team Apocalypto
12/15
TNA

Overall Points: 12
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 2nd

This is one of the most creative matches in a while and one of the most fun matches this year. When your match has a ton of the North Carolina wrestling scene, the Hardy Compound, Swoggle, Volcanos, The Broken Hardys, The Bravados, with ton of fun in hopes to declare the best tag team in space and time, and has Three Count (kinda); how can it not be a Match Of The Year Contender. -Head Cheese

#86
Jushin Thunder Liger vs KUSHIDA
5/3
NJPW

Overall Points: 12
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 4th

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#85
Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar
11/20
WWE

Overall Points: 12
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 6th

There is one quantifiable measure that I judge all wrestling matches on, by how much it made me feel nine years old again. Some might argue that this is more of a “moment” than a match, but it had a referee, there was bells, there was a decision and I lost my fucking mind when Goldberg hit that spear. For that fleeting moment, I forgot that I had a shit job, credit card debt and will probably die of a heart attack at 32, so what the fuck more can I ask for from a match? -David Forrest

#84
Lio Rush vs. Jonathan Gresham
9/24
ROH

Overall Points: 13
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 2nd

Despite neither really be given the time and space to truly develop distinct personas in ROH, their work in this match proved ho much of a story they can tell in the ring without any mic time and no storyline. Their current inclusion in MCMG was still months off during this match and like other entires on this list, Gresham and Rush are a pair who can tell different stories in the ring no matter how many times that they square off with each other. Gresham’s mat technique is dazzling and paired with Rush’s athleticism, they two are a sight to behold together. -Rich Laconi

#83
Chris Hero vs. Timothy Thatcher
6/10
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 13
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote:3rd

#82
Charlotte vs Sasha Banks
11/28
WWE

Overall Points: 13
Total Votes: 4
Highest Vote: 7th

The high point in a series of great matches between these two women. The ending sequence with Sasha submitting Charlotte with a Banks Statement around the handrail was a truly memorable moment in 2016! -Miles Francis

T-#78
Shuji Ishikawa vs. Danshoku Dino
10/23
DDT

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 1 (1 First-Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

A perfect example of working within the established rules and context of a promotion. An impressive mixture of hard-hitting wrestling, absurd comedy, and emotional storytelling. The psychology of the match is incredibly tight and layered, playing off a past singles match, well-built escalation of moves, and accepted realities of the promotion. Ishikawa is a monster and proves it in the form of no-selling Dino’s grappling and lighter groin-based offense, and dishing out incredibly stiff knees and elbows. Dino sells his pants off (literally) and has impeccable timing and character work throughout in what might be his career performance. It’s the seemingly disparate elements meshing so well with sound psychology and hard work that make this one so special. -Drew Wardlaw

T-#78
Chris Hero vs Tracy Williams
3/19
EVOLVE

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 1 (1 First-Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

This was a fantastic, hard-hitting match that further established Tracy as the future of the company while showing that Chris Hero is the best wrestler on the planet. -Jake Mandell

T-#78
Kellie Skater vs. Mercedes Martinez
11/12
SHIMMER

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 1 (1 First Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

Stories in wrestling are considered to be stretched out if they last six months. It is a near miracle when something takes a year to come to fruition. Well, this match was the culmination of a story that started in May of 2009 when a lanky Aussie doing a Crash Holly gimmick (minus the scale) debuted in SHIMMER. LuFisto was the first to lay a beating on Skater, but many more would follow. With each return the fans took to Skater a little more. She was growing physically and in experience. One day the fans started to cheer for her, and she became in many ways the heartbeat of the company. Her journey from laughingstock, to respected competitor, to ace of the company as part of her team with Tomoka Nakagawa, was the narrative that ran through the company year after year. When Kellie had chances to claim the big belt the crowd lived and died with her efforts, but after multiple attempts it seemed she was destined to always be the bridesmaid, never the bride. All the way to the very last second, as Kevin Harvey started to announce the winner of this match, the crowd was as ever supportive of Skater no matter the outcome. When her name rang out through the Logan Square Auditorium as the winner and new champion there was not a dry eye among those fans who had been there for her journey. The result became even more poignant when she gave what appeared to be a retirement speech at the end of the weekend. Seven and a half years from beginning to end. The entire journey encapsulated in a single match. I’m always going to take the best story over the most perfect work, and I saw nothing this year that could top the way this made me feel. -Sean Flynn

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T-#78
Broken Matt Hardy & Brother Nero vs. The Decay – Delete or Decay
9/8
TNA

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 1 (1 First-Place Vote)
Highest Vote: 1st

The Hardys’ reinvention was THE wrestling story of 2016. When Broken Matt deleted Brother Nero and reassimilated him into House Hardy, there was some cause for concern that there wouldn’t be as compelling a feud waiting for them as partners than there was for The Final Deletion, but as we eventually learned to expect from everyone involved in the Broken Matt story, The Decay managed to punch above their weight. If the Hardyz have been overachieving, and if the mere production and broadcasting of this is overachieving for anything produced under the aegis of TNA, then The Cay have FAR overachieved. Decay is a slow process. Decay is a process of corrosion, the slow conversion of something used and loved to something useless and cast aside, acted on bit by bit by its environment. Decay is a process of ever-increasing senescence, a growing weakness that you can try to outrun with doctors, medicines, new technologies, but in the end decay is going to hunt you down and make the kill. Decay is a process of decomposition, the process by which a person becomes a collection of bones holding up a shell of rotting flesh, picked at by still-living things from bacteria to insects to vermin. Decay is, indeed, the process of fading away. Deletion is quick. Deletion is an annulment. Deletion is an expungement. Deletion comes as quickly as the stroke of a key, the strike of a pen, the gesture of an arm, the slice of a knife. Deletion comes as quickly as the count of a referee. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Moments of grace serve to sustain us in our darkest moments. A eucatastrophe delivered from outside ourselves serves to sustain the fragile connections we struggle to maintain between our isolated brains and the outward world. In The Final Deletion, Broken Matt is saved from sure destruction by a majestic candle delivered by Reby, enabling him to set fire to the nefarious Brother Nero, enabling indeed the completion of the deletion. In Delete or Decay, Broken Matt is saved from sure destruction at the points of Janice by the sacrifice of Brother Nero, displaying his willingness to disregard his vessel in the name of protecting the sanctity and safety of King Maxel. Delete or Decay shows an acute understanding of the alchemy of professional wrestling, its ability as an artform to dazzle, to entertain, and occasionally to edify. We make these moments of grace for each other; as quickly and as deeply as moments of dissension can divide us, moments of grace can unite us in the bonds of fellowship. If Brother Nero can redeem himself, maybe we all can. -Glenn Butler

#77
Black Terry vs. Barbaro Cavenario
6/11
Cara Lucha

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 2
Highest Vote: 3rd

Another crazy fight with a couple of different filming angles available. Must be something about old wrestlers named Terry, because this guy is a marvel. THIS is how hard he works at a flea market! Imagine the damage Terry would take and dish out if he had a TV gig. The fancam lets us see how hard the hits are, and it makes me jealous of those in attendance. -Eric Ritz

#76
Delta vs. Galactar
11/27
Monterrey

Overall Points: 14
Total Votes: 3
Highest Vote: 5th

This is my second favorite mask match of the year. This was a great year for lucha indies in terms mask matches. This was a match I watched recently and I was so enthralled with the performances of the guys. Not only were the performances were great what made the match extra great was the finish made the fans riot. Only in Lucha can you make a crowd go that crazy and funny thing is that isn’t the first time it happened as that also happened at a caralucha show where the fans rioted for a mask match. -Brandon Wagemann