I feel the need to have something up here every day to have some sort of build to the list, but I’m not really good at that, so today I will give you a fun fact instead. The Arctic fern makes a round trip of 44,000 miles (70,800 km) per year, making it the most well traveled bird in all the land.
100. Jun Kasai vs Violento Jack (FREEDOMS 7/13)
Bet you didn’t expect a deathmatch to be the first match on this list, huh? Well frankly I didn’t either, but this match was fantastic. This match had more psychology and well built to spots you really don’t see in deathmatches anymore. We should also take moment to appreciate the fact of scissors being used in this match, because while simplistic it is such a brutal tool to use within the realm of pro wrestling that it truly makes the match feel ~DANGEROUS. The finishing stretch to this match is up there with the best of this year, which is enough for me to give it the #100 spot.
99. Yuji Okabayashi & Yasufumi Nakanoue vs Hideki Suzuki & Yoshihisa Uto (BJW 5/30)
My goodness, this match is the shit. I think it comes in to just less than five minutes, but the hatred between Nakanoue and Suzuki is just next level stuff. Nakanoue is like the annoying, pestering person that sometimes you wish you could just slap, well Suzuki does that then some and it is just brutality personified. Another fun fold to the match is that Okabayashi kind of takes a backseat despite being the Strong Champion here. At one point though he also slaps Nakanoue to get his shit together which did not come off as cheesy like that spot often does in wrestling, which is just a jam.
98. Chris Hero vs Jeff Cobb (PWG 5/20)
This match was a personal dream match for me and it did not disappoint. You have Cobb coming in as the newbie to PWG and Hero playing the bully vet role he plays so well. Cobb takes no shit and just wants to throw Hero around like a Nerf Football. I specify Nerf here because Hero just kind of floats in the air before just crashing into the ground, it really is quite magical. Hero having to bust out multiple elbows and piledrivers to put Cobb away really solidified Cobb’s spot on PWG’s roster.
97. Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles (WWE Smackdown 2/11)
That’s right, the best Jericho/Styles match was one that happened on a random Smackdown in February and it was awesome. I have no idea how Jericho had this match where he was legit really good and has just stunk it up in ring the rest of the year. Styles as we all know is arguably the best in the world and it shows as it only took him two weeks to have his first great match in a WWE ring. Say what you want about the booking of this feud as a whole, but this match and the finish were done in a very smart way,
96. Tommaso Ciampa vs Chip Day (AWE 1/10)
AWE at this point are known for hot crowds and next to nothing on tape which is honestly a lovely combination. Lucky for all of us this match escaped the depths of hell and what we got was just fun shit. Chip Day remains the most underrated man on the scene and this was a part of the nearly year long tour Ciampa and Gargano had on the independents before settling in WWE for good. The match was built around crowd interaction and combined with the STIFFEST OF CHOPS makes this match a sight to behold. Great match that you get invested in because the crowd is so invested, it’s contagious.
95. Timothy Thatcher vs Matt Riddle (EVOLVE 8/19)
Thatcher’s 2016 was a tale of two Thatchers. On one hand, you had such subpar matches against pretty capable talent, but then sometimes went out and just had amazing stuff sometimes against the same wrestlers, it was bizarre. Here, we have Thatcher and Riddle working a No Holds Barred match and it truly feels like a big fight. Despite the result of the match being not the smartest move, this was probably the second most brutal submission of the year which is must see by itself.
94. Sekimoto/Suwama/Suzuki vs Twin Towers & Kazumi Kikuta (BJW 1/02)
If Big Japan does two things right, it is hatred and very hard hitting, so naturally this match had both of these in strides. You have Suwama adding extra fire to the fuel as he is the Triple Crown champ here and everyone wants a shot at that thing. Kikuta is very young so naturally gets hit by everyone very hard which pisses off his buddies Kohei Sato and Shuji Ishikawa. Shame Suwama was injured following this because defending the Triple Crown against Big Japan outsiders would have been a very fun story. Do not let what could have been take away from this match, because it is still very much worth watching.
93. Kaji Tomato vs Kengo Mashimo (K-DOJO 8/20)
Mashimo might be the wrestler I look forward to watching the most, which seems absurd but is true. Kaji, despite his surname being that of something utterly disgusting, is one of the most sympathetic babyfaces in all of Japan so Mashimo destroying his leg made for an awesome story. Tomato also sells the leg like death and only used it when absolutely necessary to save his title and in the end it was all for nothing. Wrestling is art lads.
92. Drew Gulak vs Timothy Thatcher (EVOLVE 10/16)
You know how earlier I said Riddle/Thatcher had the second most brutal submission of the year? Well boom say hello to your #1. These two have had countless matches with each other over the years, but this one was actually quite different. Thatcher tapped in to his deathmatch roots and Gulak is wearing jeans, so you know this shit is serious. They even brawled onto the streets of Ybor City so by legal obligation I had to have this match on the list. One of the most unique matches EVOLVE has ever held and one of Thatcher’s best of the year.
91. Tank Nagai vs Hiro Tonai (K-DOJO 1/10)
LIMBWORK TO THE MAXIMUM. This match, despite having a few audio issues (at least the version I watched) still managed to captivate me from beginning to end. Both Nagai and Tonai worked on each other’s limbs like there was no tomorrow when in fact January 11th is an actual date. Add that in with some of the general K-DOJO charm and you have a hell of a match here. Honestly, Nagai might be the most underrated wrestler in Japan at the moment at least for my money’s worth.