It’s that time of year again when readers, listeners, and viewers are bombarded with reviews from the ending year. WELL ONE MORE ISN’T GOING TO HURT YA! In fact, we here at Pro Wrestling Iowa are here to help. The following are the best matches from this year that I have seen. Trust me, I’m sure there are a lot of other great matches that I haven’t seen. You’ll probably even disagree with my picks. Hopefully, I put a few on here that you haven’t seen. I encourage you to (legally) seek out each and every one of these matches for your viewing pleasure. I will only link matches or clips from Youtube to avoid encouraging pirating matches.
10. Pentagon Jr. & Fenix vs Tommy End & Chris Hero
PWG – 2016 Battle of Los Angeles – 9/3/16
The 2016 version of the annual Battle of Los Angeles was one of the best Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has ever had with Night Two being the best. Brothers Pentagon Jr. and Fenix from Lucha Underground fame took one two of the hardest hitting MFers in all of wrestling: Tommy End and Chris Hero. This match played to both teams’ strengths. Hero and End delivered elbows and kicks while the brothers from LU displayed some heart stopping acrobatics. Just a heads up, this isn’t the only match from Night Two on this list.
9. TJ Perkins vs Kota Ibushi
WWE – Cruiserweight Classic Live – 9/14/16
The entire cruiserweight classic was filled with instant classics. There was no fat to cut from a single round save one match (thanks a lot, Ho Ho Lun). However this is the only entry the Cruiserweight Classic gets on this list which may cause a bit of a stir. How could you not put Ibushi versus Cedric Alexander on there, jerk!? While it may not be a popular choice it is a necessary one. TJP vs Kota was an amazing LIVE match. Ibushi, who was probably the CWC MVP, facing off against Alexander was taped which takes a little bit away. Live matches always have more pressure. That’s why TJP and Ibushi make the list for the best CWC match.
8. The Young Bucks vs The Addiction vs The Motor City Machine Guns
Ladder Wars for ROH Tag Team Championship
ROH – All-Star Extravaganza VIII – 9/30/16
Ring of Honor does not throw ladder matches around like WWE. They certainly don’t continue to put tag teams in ladder matches against one another because they miss the days when the Hardy’s, Edge and Christian, and the Dudley Boyz were damn near killing themselves each night. When the Young Bucks, Addiction, and MCMG were put into this match it was something special before the bell rang. Three of the best tag teams in the world in an incredibly dangerous match when they were clearly trying to prove themselves. This was easily the best tag ladder match of the last 5+ years and worth watching repeatedly.
7. The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
Title vs Career
WWE – No Mercy – 10/9/16
If someone were to come up to you in January of 2016 and told you that not only would Miz and Ziggler would once again be feuding over a secondary title, but they’d be doing it on a Smackdown only pay per view then I’m sure you would’ve needed surgery to repair your eyes from the excessive eye rolling you would’ve done. These two not only had a great match filled with a lot of twists and turns, but they had arguably the feud of the year. Ziggler’s continued clawing for the Intercontinental Title was at its peak when he put his own career on the line to goad Miz into one more match. With all that pressure on a possible blow-off match it would be hard to deliver what was expected. Not only did they deliver, but they exceeded expectations.
6. Kenny Omega vs Hirooki Goto
NJPW – G1 Finals – 8/14/2016
The 2016 installment of the G1 Climax was truly one of the best stories in all of professional wrestling that just so happened to be filled with some of the best wrestling. At 37-years-old it would be easy to assume that Goto’s days of putting on classic matches might be behind him. However, this legend met possibly 2016’s best wrestler in Kenny Omega. An incredibly hard fought bought in August was nearly outdone by a rematch on October 10th at NJPW’s King of Pro-Wrestling. Check them both out.
5. Ricochet vs Will Ospreay
NJPW – Best of the Super Juniors – 5/27/16
The match that divided the world. Clearly, many old school purists (Cornette, Vader, etc.) absolutely despise this match. Criticism from grumpy old farts saying the match was too choreographed to make sense or enjoy. To that I say:
The match itself in a vacuum is amazing. Knowing the history between the two and seeing they’re each trying to prove they’re the best high flyer in the world makes it even better. If you don’t enjoy this match on some level then you may want to stop watching wrestling now. There’s only more of this to come.
4. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
NJPW – Wrestle Kingdom 10 – 1/4/16
The earliest addition to the list came from two of the most consistent performers. The King of Strong Style had done everything there is to do in New Japan Pro Wrestling including making their Intercontinental Championship on par with their World Title. The combination of the two now WWE-contracted wrestlers was absolute magic. The continued tease of the Styles Clash (which was protected heavily in Japan and seen as a titan killer) and false finishes made for something truly special.
3. DIY vs The Revival
2 out of 3 Falls for NXT Tag Team Championship
NXT – Takeover: Toronto – 11/19/16
It’s been fun to see people on Twitter constantly harass Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer about why this match wasn’t five stars. Who cares about the rating? This stuff is completely subjective. I LOVED THIS MATCH. It had everything you could want. A backstory of DIY always coming up just short to The Revival. A stipulation with the 2 out of 3 falls. A championship at stake. Great psychology that The Revival are known for. And a beautiful payoff with DIY finally conquering their Everest and winning the titles. A great moment from a great feud.
2. The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs Ricochet, Will Ospreay, and Matt Sydal
PWG – 2016 Battle of Los Angeles – 9/3/16
This match is possibly the best match in the history of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla which is saying a lot if you know even a few guys that have occupied the halls of the Legion in Reseda, California. This match had everything you could want from these six men and even more. Filled with superkicks, “Suck it’s,” flips, dives and, of course, ADAM COLE BAYBAY! I really cannot do this match justice by telling you what happened and why to watch it. Read the names in the match. That should be enough.
1. Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito
NJPW – G1 Climax – 8/13/16
These two men might’ve eclipsed Okada and Tanahashi as the best NJPW has to offer. Naito’s leadership of Los Ingobernables de Japon has been remarkable. His entire freaking year has been remarkable. From his treatment of ring announcers to the commentary team to NJPW’s titles has been incredibly fresh and new. At the same time, Kenny Omega stepped in for a departing AJ Styles from the Bullet Club and no one missed a step. The formation of The Elite with Omega at the helm has been some of the most entertaining wrestling NJPW has put on since the original formation of the Bullet Club. Needless to say that these two were/are having career years when they met during the G1 Climax. It’s incredibly interesting that these two met for such an amazing match with both parties being different variations of villains. On August 13, 2016, the two most entertaining wrestlers in Japan met and absolutely killed it.
There you have it! My top ten favorite matches from 2016. Do you have a match that didn’t make the list? Have an obscure one I need to check out? Maybe you just want to tell me I’m wrong. That’s all welcome! Feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter @ravenluke and let me know what you think.