VoicesofWrestling.com - Voices of Wrestling 2015 Match of the Year

Welcome to the fourth annual Voices of Wrestling Match of the Year Poll. Earlier this week, we kicked off the countdown with a look at the poll’s origins, our record-breaking voter pool and our honorable mentions. Yesterday, we started the Top 100 with a look at #100-50 and matches #49-25. Today, we look at matches #24-11 before announcing the final ten tomorrow (Friday, January 29).

Follow Voices of Wrestling’s 2015 Match of the Year countdown:


Kamaitachi vs. Dragon Lee
December 4
40 overall points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

An all out war of explosive spots, some of which had never been attempted before, this was the best and most exciting possible spotfest I could imagine. I fully admit to not being a huge fan of this style in general, but in a feud that’s lasted over a year, saw titles won, masks lost and a neverending desire from the Japanese export to finally win the big one against his greatest rival and avenge his lost mask that represented a ghost weasel along with his name in México. There was no need for a feeling out process here, this was a big match and these guys knew each other so well, wrestling dozens of times at this point and in the first 15 seconds they go full throttle, breaking out an incredible Topé Suicida into a Brainbuster against the floor and wall. Amazingly there were even more insane bumps taken by Dragon Lee on the floor including a sick Powerbomb. Everything was timed amazingly, none of the standing around prevalent at times in high flying matches, this was two guys who had full trust in each other who were going to attack with no hesitation or waiting no matter what and it absolutely paid off in a beautiful way. There was great booking too as Kamaitachi showed off his great acting chops as he won the match with Dragon Lee’s foot on the ropes. He celebrated as if he’d won the Super Bowl and provided his biggest fan in the crowd who’s madly in love with him to freak out in joy. Sadly for them Máximo Sexy and the Box y Lucha Commissioner put a stop to that and demanded the ultra rare 4th fall, killing it and allowing D-Lee to take advantage. Kamaitachi punching out Máximo after the match remains a highlight of the year personally, but for most people these exciting performances will win the day. With such great matches, praise, and general happiness there’s little wonder why Kamaitachi would rather stay in México to get a win over his two rivals rather than heading home and the scary NJPW junior scene. -Dylan Harris

It was Lee’s fourth defense of the title he won from Virus on April 5. All four were against Kamaitachi. And all four were victories. In fact, including one-fall bouts, Lee went 7-3 vs. his Japanese rival. In traditional two-out-of-three falls matches, it’s an even more dominant 5-0 – including his mask-vs-mask win in March. But, despite the lopsided results on paper, there wasn’t a feud that brought me more non-stop action, excitement, and consistent joy than this one. Every time these guys wrestled I watched with high expectations, and they either equaled or surpassed them, with this one being my favorite. Short of joining Cirque de Soleil, I’m not sure what other wince-inducing moves the two could incorporate. Between them, I’ve seen enough flat back bumps from the apron to the floor, and cruise missile suicide dives into guardrails, for a lifetime. And, much like my criticisms about the Tomohiro Ishii’s of the world, and that style, they also go for this type. Too much can be way too much. But, also like Ishii-type matches, you also have to call a spade a spade when they’re done incredibly well. And, considering their experience level, these guys were amazing all year long. -Mike Sempervive

All the matches in this series are all great action matches. This is a great action match too, with Kamaitachi’s crazy new senton to the floor and Dragon Lee’s opening tope standing out for me among twenty huge spots. This slips ahead of the other matches because they had the barest addition of a story, and it’s enough to pull the crowd in even better. The fourth fall bit, something done here once in a great while, works great for the match – Kamatiachi’s definitely great enough to win the title, and yet it’s fair enough to restart it. (Maximo being the one to point out the foot on the rope, and that actually going somewhere, adds a bit more.) This was a great conclusion to their feud in Mexico because it seemed like there was no more they could do, but it’s tough saying that definitively when they’ve done so much. -thecubsfan


Will Ospreay vs Matt Sydal
June 14
Revolution Pro Wrestling
44 overall points (1 First Place Vote)

I saw this match live. Since then I’ve been hoping for some sort of Groundhog Day situation where I just go back and relive that in perpetuity. It’ll never happen, and that makes me sad. -Iain Seaton

The match that confirmed that Sydal was back as a major player on the independent scene, and also the match that elevated Ospreay as a star coveted by promotions worldwide… and it nearly didn’t happen. Sydal was in the process of reapplying for his Japanese visa, which nearly stopped him from being able to make the show, and he ended up paying his own fare to make it. Instead of feeling tired and slacking it, Sydal put on arguably the match of his career, slipping into a pseudo-heel role against the super-popular Ospreay, and sneaking a fall in the Best of Three encounter. Ospreay had been criticised for the quality of his limb work, but this was the match where it finally clicked, as he gutted through the pain convincingly to battle back against his more experienced opponent and claim victory. And given Revolution Pro’s relationship with New Japan, this was the right place and time for Ospreay to deliver his most complete performance to date. -Martin Bentley

The best match I’ve ever seen live. This was a two-out-of-three falls match and I doubt there has ever been a better match (outisde of Mexico) that has used the gimmick better. It helps if you’ve seen the previous two matches between Sydal and Ospreay, as they are heavily referenced here, with Sydal playing the cocky import believing that he is simply better than the scrappy Brit, and fairly easily winning the first fall. Ospreay battled back with his excellent babyface fire, and both men pulled out some jaw-dropping moves that I’d never seen either attempt before. Ospreay’s victory here was another amazing performance in a terrific year for him, and Sydal brought out the absolute best in both Ospreay and himself. -Oliver Court


Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Shuji Ishikawa
March 31
Big Japan Wrestling
48 overall points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

Sekimoto had a great year but his best work was done unseating Shuji Ishikawa as BJW champion back in March. The brutality of this match has to be seen to be believed. Shuji looked like he was trying to kill Sekimoto to prevent him taking the belt. -Arnold Furious

This is the ultimate challenger performance by one of the best babyfaces in the world, Daisuke Sekimoto. Sekimoto musters all the fighting spirit he has but the champion, Ishikawa, always seems to have the answer. Ultimately, a poorly timed show of ego on Ishikawa’s part absolutely ignites Sekimoto and the Korakuen Hall crowd finally gets the offensive outburst from their hero for which they’ve been clamoring. When the challenger finally becomes the champion, the arena explodes like few arenas did last year. -Aaron Bentley

What ya get when you got a giant of a guy by today’s Japan standards dropping folks on their domes while throwing in knee strikes mixed in with a guy who’s literally the heart and soul of the STRONG BJ? Chances are I’m talking about Ishikawa vs. Sekimoto from Korakuen. Ishikawa delivering bombs even resorting to do moves on the floor to stop Sekimoto from winning was cool stuff but the Korakuen faithful and even the STRONG BJ seconds willing Sekimoto to overcome Ishikawa made this excellent. -Jahmale Hepburn


Kazuchika Okada vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
August 15
New Japan Pro Wrestling
48 overall points (Highest Vote: 4th)

This match was a stark contrast to the two CHAOS member’s G1 final the year previous: Okada was jaded, more cocky, more disrespectful– and meaner. The final sequence of this match was eye-wateringly tense, but Nakamura got his win back and proceeded to the finals. -Ru Gunn

These two had an incredible match in the Finals of the 24th G1 Climax (one of the best matches in 2014). When the blocks for the 25th G1 Climax were released, and it was revealed that Nakamura & Okada were in the same block, everyone (myself included) got excited for the rematch, and it definitely delivered. It had some really great action throughout, including a Nakamura reversal into a cross armbreaker that was really cool to see. There was a lot riding on this match, as the winner of this match won the block, and in a way, Nakamura was an underdog here, having missed a match in the tournament due to an injury, which basically meant he had to win out to go the Finals. Just an incredible effort from both guys here. I’m not sure which Nakamura/Okada encounter I like more, but there’s no question that their second battle was on par with their first. Nakamura’s win here sets up a rubber match down the road, but with the news that broke following Wrestle Kingdom X, who knows if that third encounter will ever happen. -Sean Sedor

The rematch was also really good. Loved the ending and how fluid it was. I could watch these two battle all day. -Michael Anderson


Kevin Owens vs. John Cena
June 14
53 overall points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

I liked the finish of their first match better, but as far as match quality, this one beat the previous month’s offering by a nose. The anticipation leading into this one, given Owens’s win over Cena at Elimination Chamber, was off-the-charts. Owens was able to shine against Cena like few others, and was really the kickoff to what became known by some as Cena’s Indie Fantasy Camp later in the year. This series of matches with Cena didn’t shoot Owens into the stratosphere, but it gave him instant credibility to the WWE Universe. -Greg Parks

While not as revered as the first Owens vs. Cena match from May’s Elimination Chamber, their June/Money in the Bank match is every bit as good and dare I say… better. Elimination Chamber was all about the shock: the shock of indie Cena, Owens bursting onto the scene, the finisher kickouts. It was a great match, don’t get me wrong but this one took their feud to a new level and the match had so much more substance than Elimination Chamber. Owens evolved from the guy who shocked the world to a guy who legitimately proved himself a worthy competitor, on Cena’s level. This was also the debut of Cena’s Canadian Destroyer proving that indie Cena wasn’t just a fluke. With tremendous expectations in hand, Owens/Cena blew them out of the water en route to one of my Top 10 matches of the year. -Rich Kraetsch

This match is a different kind of Match of the Year contender for me. This match wasn’t as good as their match at Elimination Chamber the previous month which makes me like it so much. Because their previous match was so great, they decided to do something different in this match. Both Owens and Cena brought a few new moves and moments in this match. Did I think that they were better than what they did in their first match? No, I don’t, but that doesn’t make this a bad match, it makes it a good match that has a completely different experience when you watch it. -Ryan Davis


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Roderick Strong
April 3
Pro Wrestling Guerilla
55 overall points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

A uniquely technical match, with Sabre putting on perhaps the best single technical performance by a wrestler and Strong continuing his strong 2015 with a complete style capped off with some heavy brawling. These two have very different styles that manage to work better together than any other pair with completely varying styles in the world perhaps. A literal jaw dropping match to conclude a great show. -ChampJulius

Sometimes those wacky Reseda folks just take a liking to someone immediately. Zack Sabre Jr. definitely falls directly into that category. He also happens to be arguably the best technical wrestler on the planet. Roderick Strong is the most hated man in the company and also happens to be in the middle of a career resurgence. You see where I’m going here? This was two wrestlers just hurting each other for extended periods of time as the crowd lost their minds. That’s my kind of match. -Iain Seaton

Strong vs. Sabre Jr. was one of the best in ring rivalries of 2015; the two tore down the house twice in front of vastly different audience and each was an amazing match. However, the world title fight in Reseda is the better of the two matches by a hair. The dynamic of Roddy needing the win to validate himself over a man that the crowd proclaimed as the next champion in the early stages of the match made for a fantastic story. The normally composed Sabre Jr. let the crowd’s adulation get to his head and the British star showboated just enough to fire up the threatened champion. Strong did his damndest to knock Sabre out but unfortunately knocked some sense into him. ZSJ went to war with Strong’s arm and cleverly used target strikes to soften it up, but he could never properly apply his pet armbar to submit Strong. Roderick countered it twice; the final time by picking ZSJ up and dropping him on his head for a knockout win. -Warren Taylor


Katsuyori Shibata vs Kota Ibushi
July 29
New Japan Pro Wrestling
55 overall points (Highest Vote: 2nd)

The Fukuoka International Center was far from the most glamorous of buildings to play host to the 2015 G1, but in spite of this, Kota Ibushi and Katsuyori Shibata not only put on one of the best sub-15-minute matches of the year, but also my favourite match of the 25th annual G1. Sure, some will point to arguably egregious one-counts and no-sells throughout the match, but within the context of the G1 and Ibushi’s 2015, which saw him adapt to the styles of most everyone he worked with as well as anyone in the company, those spots simply made the match that much better. -Ryan Clingman

The opening of this is pretty awesome. I’m sucked into this right off the bat. The only thing that snaps me out of how incredible it is was Ibushi’s pussy elbow strikes. Love Shibata’s bring it stance. Marked out huge for Shibata’s counter to the Pele’ Kick. I hated the rapid fire no sell spots. Crowd ate that bull shit up though. Shibata just delivered one of the nastiest Death Valley Driver. The slap into a sleeper followed by a penalty kick was fucking sick. -Pete Schirmacher

There is just so much to love about this match. It is absolutely must-see and one of my all-time favorite matches already. Katsuyori Shibata and Kota Ibushi are two of my favorite New Japan performers and putting them together just made magic. Shibata is known for his hard hitting style, while Ibushi is not one to shy away from that kind of fight. That’s exactly what this was. Two guys having a fantastic war of strong strikes. The things they do in the match are all smartly executed. Ibushi does a Penalty Kick, which pisses off Shibata, who responds with a loud kick of his own. Ibushi again amazes with his effortless ability to blend strong style with his high flying athletic skill. One minute he’s laying into Shibata and the next he’s hitting a standing corkscrew moonsault. This was similar to the phenomenal Ishii/Shibata wars in the past, but had its own identity to differentiate it. Shibata would deliver a ridiculous slap before applying the sleeper hold and winning with the Penalty Kick. At 13:25, it is the second best under 15 minute match that I’ve ever seen (Ishii/Shibata from the G1 23 is the best) and is one of the matches you should instantly watch when signing up for New Japan World. If this would have happened in Korakuen or in front of the Osaka crowd, it could have elevated it to the full five stars. -Kevin Pantoja


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Roderick Strong
July 10
59 overall points (1 First Place Vote)

In a comeback year for EVOLVE, this match stands out above the others for me. It exemplifies what EVOLVE’s style can be at it’s best and most engaging. Yes, the grappling is all well and good and the exchanging of holds is interesting in and of itself, particularly when you’ve got someone innovative like ZSJ doing it. But this, like many of EVOLVE’s better matches, got great and went to the next level when it became a fight. Strong brought that aspect to all his EVOLVE matches this year and not only did it bring the best out in him, it brought the best out of the style. -Chris Bacon

This was beautiful and brutal at the same time. Some of the stomps to the head and shots given were just nasty, I think I was grabbing my ear after certain points in this match. You could truly feel Zack Sabre Jr being a bit disoriented by the end. Roddy going for the leg and Sabre for the arm worked well and it all built to a great finish. Roddy tried all he could but Sabre continued to be resilient, fighting until he made Strong tap out. -Sean Garmer

Strong had as good of a 2015 as just about anyone in the business and holy shit what a fucking war this was. Sabre’s 2015 was just a tad behind Roddy’s and these two went on to have a magical match featuring everything you would want to see from these great performers. This was Strong’s last match with EVOLVE and he didn’t take the night off as he took Sabre to absolute limit before falling in the end. -Kris Zellner


AJ Styles vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
August 14
New Japan Pro Wrestling
71 overall points (1 First Place Vote)

The consensus going in was that Tanahashi was winning the block, and I still had that feeling here. But would they be able to put on a match and make me believe AJ could win? That was going to be the task. So yeah, this kicked all kinds of ass. These two work well together, using a nice back and forth formula early (both working the leg at times) before they went to the floor to do some of their trademark stuff. We got a ref bump, and AJ looked to take control with a low blow. Then, not to be outdone, Tanahashi hit a low blow of his own to even the odds. I didn’t mind this because it was mid-match, had no impact on the finish and was a point in where Tanahashi could get even with AJ for his attempted cheating. I discussed in earlier reports how important it was for AJ to get the calf killer over as a secondary finish, because doing so would make for a great near finish in a bigger match. They did that and it worked here when Styles did get the calf killer on Tanahashi, the crowd bought it well. They both battled to try and hit the clash, which Tanahashi hit and AJ kicked out. He then looked to finish things off with the high fly flow, but Styles got up the knees to stop that noise and then turned things around as he hit a frog splash (basically the HFF) and the bloody Sunday. Styles would go for the clash, but Tanahashi escaped and hit some dragon screw leg whips (playing off of the earlier work) and finally the high fly flow, and that was all. This was one of the tournament’s best matches, from two of the tournament’s best performers. The final five minutes or so was simply spectacular. This was everything you want and expect from a big time main event. -Larry Csonka

The two best big match wrestlers of the decade went to battle in what was not only the best match of the G1 Climax, but the best match of the year. With a stopwatch in my hand, I was standing on my feet for the last five minutes of this match sweating as these two men tried to finish off each other before they clocked in at that 30 minute time limit. The crowd was absolutely on fire with every major spot in the match including Tanahashi hitting AJ Styles with his own Styles Clash, a move that has literally ended careers and has become the most devastating finisher in all of pro wrestling. Styles managed to kick out of the move, but was eventually put away by Tanahashi, thus eliminating Styles from the G1. These two men painted a pro wrestling masterpiece on the canvas that night and I don’t know if I’ll ever see a match better than this one. -Taylor C. Mitchell

Start to finish, this match was clinical and never once lost my attention or took me out of the moment with a botch or illogical sequence. Both men’s signature offence was presented as deadly, with Styles desperately trying to fight off Tana’s dragon screws while Tana fought out of the Styles Clash, and even hit his own version, in some very compelling action that only built and got more dramatic as it advanced. Making the match determine the winner of the block only made it that much more exciting. -Oliver Court


Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
May 20
81 overall points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

Sometime in the Fall heading into Winter it became cool to dismiss Sasha Banks due to her getting stuck in a bad comedy act on the main roster and being reduced to two minute screwjobs. Here’s the problem: she’s the lynchpin that made the others in the “NXT 4” finally click on a large scale to the tv audience: Charlotte was in a carry job with Nattie and having a hard time maintaining any semblance of heel or face; Becky was a headbanger throwing up hand signs that was finally showing a bit of life as a heel and Bayley was in need of evolution and reclamation having been beaten clean by everyone from Charlotte to Emma. Sasha is the common denominator, “rehearsal” time or not. Her interplay here with her former Team BAE partner really gave the whole “hard worker but needed a vicious streak to find myself but now I’m back on the side of angels” backstory and in-ring story some juice. This match has emotion, drama, and women trying to tear the others’ arms off and it’s great. So while Becky is now hitting another gear on the main roster after also languishing a bit there, this is what got her to the dance. It also solidified Sasha as a main event level heel who had skill and cunning to win clean, something the main roster can’t seem to get right with the men, let alone Sasha. -Jeff Hawkins

Everyone knew about the NXT women, but this was where many of those same people recognized just how good Becky Lynch was, and in turn what a leader and a ring-general Sasha had actually become. Loved both going in, loved both even more going out. Becky’s suplexes and her fantastic sells, even through her own hope spots and comebacks, was special. Sasha played the perfect cocky heel, as always, and the two just gelled. Only one spot that almost came apart, but it was saved (floor catch), and the NXT crowd was in rare form as they got behind the match and its participants. Becky’s emotion and reaction to the standing ovation after the defeat was among the most palpable moments of 2015. It basically MADE her for much of that audience. -Jason Martin

Fans knew how great Sasha Banks was, but only those who knew the former Rebecca Knox knew how amazing she was and could be. At “Unstoppable” even in defeat, Becky Lynch got a standing ovation and proved herself to the NXT fans. Out of all the women’s matches on the NXT Takeover Specials in 2015 this was my favorite. -Jen


Atlantis vs. La Sombra
September 18
84 overall points (2 First Place Votes)

Driven by three consecutive mask vs. mask main events, CMLL’s Anniversary show has become the best big show spectacle this side of WrestleMania. And, in hindsight, with Sombra leaving for NXT, I can’t complain much how this match turned out. Odds are, the current Manny Andrade would have had to unmask, anyways, so Atlantis not losing his mask (and Sombra getting the payoff that went with it) ended up being the best way to go. Lucha outsiders like me pop when we hear “mask vs. mask.” You know you’re getting a clear finish, as well as all of the grand pageantry, and raw emotion, that goes with the stip – especially when it comes to the mask of legend, where there’s a real question over who would win. The match itself, which was really good, was almost just icing on the cake – but was also the reason, with everything that surrounded it, that I think it’s a cinch to be in everyone’s elite of the year. -Mike Sempervive

Atlantis having one of the best matches of the year while defending his mask (and, really, at least * to *1/2 better match than the best match he has the entire rest of the year) is so normal at this point, even as it’s completely remarkable. This shouldn’t have been possible the first time, it keeps on happening. There were a few more smokes and mirrors with Rush this time around, but Sombra and Atlantis made the match feel big on their own and delivered a more big spot oriented match than should’ve been expected. An NXT contract essentially created three lucha match of the year candidates this year, so thanks Triple H? -thecubsfan

An incredibly momentous match in nearly every aspect. Atlantis’ mask – if not before this match, than certainly afterwards – is the most valuable prize in pro wrestling. Going into the match, La Sombra was positioned as the top young masked star for a promotion whose lifeblood is marketable masked wrestlers. The stakes were hefty, even by already lofty mask match standards. La Sombra and Atlantis succeeded in transferring that anticipation and intrigue into a match that felt both dramatic and incomparably important. Rush was excellent as Sombra’s second, adding more value to the match than any other non-match participant this year. The falls were laid in a noticeably thoughtful manner. Rush’s interference near the conclusion of the first fall – when Atlantis has La Sombra pinned – not only backfires, but also results in Rush being removed from ringside. With the usual Los Ingobernable numbers game neutralized and already trailing by a fall, La Sombra rather easily takes the second fall to emphatically re-establish the uncertainty surrounding the winner which was the match’s greatest selling point. The third fall is a great modern CMLL apuesta match final fall filled with big moves and near falls. Rush’s reappearance in the waning moments of the match was well-timed and the finish carried a heavy dose of drama without being heavy handed about it. Atlantis – at 54 years old – was crisp and on point with his offense in a match that that contained no noticeable missteps. In my eyes, the unpredictability of the outcome and the way the match was laid out to maximize that uncertainty puts this ahead of the very good Ultimo Guerrero/Atlantis mask match from a year prior and places it firmly as the best mask match since Atlantis defeated Villano III on March 17, 2000. -Paul Cooke


John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
May 31
96 overall points (1 First Place Vote)

Owens was such a special force in NXT, he needed a big match for his debut. This was the match. Cena proved himself to be one of the best workers this year. He isn’t smooth by any means, but works his ass off and always manages to stay at the same level as his opponent. Owens proved himself in this match as someone special, and the clean finish cemented him as a solid upper midcarder. The follow up was typical WWE, but at least on this night it felt like something special had just happened. -Bryan Rose

The NXT champ went over CLEAN on the biggest star of the 21st Century. And that NXT champ was Kevin Owens. To make it that much better, the match was an instant classic. Owens is the best pure heel in the business, and looking at it from the point of view of the millions of WWE fans who don’t watch NXT, came out of obscurity and beat the reigning hero. In his debut. The in-ring work was off the charts and the storytelling was next level stuff. -Alex Wendland

A combination of the story, and in-ring work, on a big stage, while the face of the company put another talent over. -Brad Shepard


AJ Styles vs Kazuchika Okada
July 5
New Japan Pro Wrestling
103 overall points (Highest Vote: 3rd)

This was definitely a quality match, both wrestlers were just on fire in 2015. I liked Bullet Club getting involved and then exiled, it wouldn’t have worked if Styles had lost and they did nothing to try to help since that wasn’t their style. The end stretch was so good, no near falls, just lots of reversals and smooth action that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. A match any fan of New Japan needs to see and a fitting way to end this mega show. -Kevin Wilson

There isn’t a better closing stretch in 2015 than the one that Okada and Styles put together for this match. I would put that up against some of the most polished fight scenes in all of entertainment this year and I would still say that this closing stretch was better. That being said, the five star closing stretch was just one part of a fantastic match. Styles and Okada killed it at Dominion. -Kelly Harrass

Good lord, what a series of counters at the end, just absolutely breathtaking. This match was all about conquering for Kazuchika Okada. He needed to conquer AJ Styles in this type of situation, he needed to conquer the Bullet Club, and to win back the IWGP Heavyweight Title to continue his redemption story. The match built to various small crescendos throughout and then went to another level with that blistering finish. AJ and Okada have such great chemistry and I don’t think anyone knows how to counter the Styles Clash better than Okada. Okada was able to pass a major checkpoint in his journey after this one. -Sean Garmer


Shingo Takagi vs. Masaaki Mochizuki
November 1
Dragon Gate
140 overall points (2 First Place Votes)

Those who speak poorly of Dragon Gate often do so because they don’t like or appreciate the specific performance aesthetic of many of the promotion’s matches. This was not a “Dragon Gate” match in that sense. There was no room for comedy or shtick. These were two men competing at the highest level. Mochizuki’s age played into the story of the match and made his performance that much more impressive. -Josh Katzker

This match, to me, is everything wrestling should be about. The athleticism, the symbolism, and the passion added up to create an outstanding display of professional wrestling. Masaaki Mochiuzki, who entered the ring that night in Osaka at age 45, put on one of the single greatest performances I’ve ever seen inside of a wrestling ring. He’s had many, many great matches, but none better than this. His counterpart, Shingo Takagi, put on what may very well be his best performance ever that night. Since leaving his Monster Express buddies and forming VerserK, Takagi has unleashed a mean streak that no one has seen from him before. He bullied Mochizuki in this match. Belittled him. Takagi was set out to prove that no old man, not even the iron man of Dragon Gate, belonged in the squared circle with him. After battling for just under 25 minutes, Takagi was able to put him away with his signature Last Falconry. Mochizuki humbly accepted defeat after being defiant towards the Open the Dream Gate Champion for so long. At the end of the day, not only is this the best match of 2015, but it is one of the best matches I have ever seen. -Case Lowe

45 year old Mochizuki delivered a performance in this match that Dave Meltzer called “greater than any Shawn Michaels performance ever”. While that point is certainly debatable, there’s no arguing that this was an all time classic performance by Mocchy. Right from the very moment the bell rang, he got out of the gates in a manner which instantly let you know this would be special. It was far from a one man show as Takagi was simply outstanding as the cocky, vicious heel looking to put the old man down once and for all. There were so many great moments spliced through the match which added to the story being told and by the time they got to the final chapter of the match, they had the crowd going absolutely bonkers. Stiffness, drama, storytelling, charisma, and a middle aged man doing dives – this had it all. -Alan Counihan

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