France has the most timezones of any country in the world, with TWELVE!!
70. Kento Miyahara vs Daisuke Sekimoto (AJPW 5/25)
Sekimoto winning the Champion Carnival definitely caught me by surprise earlier in the year, so it was awesome to see him and Miyahara to have a longer version of the awesome sprint from the final day of the carnival, this time with the Triple Crown on the line. This match is was made Sekimoto a force to be reckoned with in All Japan, as he took Kento to his absolute limit here. I would also say this was Miyahara’s first title match that truly felt epic and spawned a whole line of them, so this also has historical significance in the context of 2016 All Japan.
69. Takashi Sugiura vs Minoru Suzuki (NOAH 12/03)
Let me tell you about this match right now. No way that all or even most of you will like this due to the very long forearm exchanges, but it just feels like a war to me in all honesty. Sugiura had just left Suzuki-gun and was kicking Minoru out of his territory. You had actually really good crowd brawling compared to most Suzuki-gun centric matches in NOAH, the absolutely brutal forearms from both guys and at one point they start throwing legit punches. That is not an exaggeration at all, near the finishing stretch Suzuki and Sugiura just start throwing hands and it is truly magical, so really it had to do nothing else but not be bad to get on the list at all, but it ended up being great stuff and one of NOAH’s best of the year.
68. Shuji Ishikawa vs Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW 4/10)
The Strong Climb tournament produced a ton of great match, but perhaps none greater than this (ok, maybe one). You had Kamitani fighting as the underdog from underneath against the much larger and more experience Shuji Ishikawa, and if there is one thing I love in my professional wrestling, it is a well done David vs Goliath story. Add in the BJW staple of just being stiff as all hell and honestly how could I not love this match?
67. Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi (NJPW 1/24)
These two always created magic together and this match was no different. This match had the new environment of actually happening in Japan which made for almost a completely different match from the two. The major difference was that this was a near twenty minute one fall match, so both just went balls to the wall for all twenty minutes. Kamaitachi picking up the win in his home country also made for a nice little touch as well as the crowd being super hot for him.
66. Fenix & Pentagon Jr vs Heroes Eventually Die (PWG 9/03)
Big bullies vs lucha guys is honestly the stuff dreams are made of. Take into account that Fenix and Pentagon can also brawl with the best of them and you have an incredible match. Fenix jumping and moonsaulting out of Pentagon’s hands may be my favorite spot of the entire year and it just needs to be seen to be believed because it is incredible.
65. Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Minoru Suzuki (NOAH 12/02)
This was for the GHC Heavyweight Championship and practically for the honor of NOAH. You had newly crowned champion Nakajima come in and have to defend his title against the best final boss in wrestling history, Minoru Suzuki. Much like the Sugiura match, you had the really good crowd brawling as well as just stiff shots thrown around for lack of a better term. This match was also missing about eight minutes (out of a total 37) which honestly helped it more than hurt it in my eyes. From the best I could tell, the clipping just took away some of NOAH Suzuki’s more tired tropes, so this was a nice breath of fresh air for all of us. Also an incredible finishing stretch that makes Nakajima look like THE MAN in NOAH.
64. Akiyama/Sai/Zeus vs Miyahara/Lee/Nomura (AJPW 11/12)
This is a real oddball, especially being fairly high up on the list but let me explain. Naoya Nomura gave the second best performance of his career in this match and was just absolutely demolished by the opposing team. Nomura showed the fighting spirit that All Japan relied so much on in the 90’s and it was just an incredible thing to watch. Not to mention you have world class guys like Miyahara and Akiyama in there and Lee, Zeus and Sai also being excellent, this was one hell of a surprise of a great match.
63. Matt Riddle vs Chris Hero (EVOLVE 3/20)
Would argue with anyone that Riddle/Hero had the best trilogy of matches anywhere in the world this year, and this was just the first of the classic series. This was Riddle’s first real test in an EVOLVE ring going up the veteran and Hero and he did not look out of place in the slightest. The shots were stiff, the action was fast and the finish was out of nowhere and a huge momentum boost at the time for the still new Matt Riddle.
62. Team IOU vs Chip Day & Murder One (AWE 7/17)
This was my second favorite match I saw live all year and it was just pure insanity. You had the intensity of a sprint with the pure hatred of a blood feud mixed in with a brawl, it was like the match was tailor made for me. This was for IOU’s tag titles and you could tell that all four of these guys just worked with URGENCY through out the entire thing. While I think the finish was not the best thing in the world (from a booking standpoint) there is no denying that these two teams have incredible chemistry together and this was just a good old fashioned fight.
61. Fred Yehi & Gary Jay vs Jason Cade & Aaron Solow (FIP 2/12)
In a world where WWN hosted a whole tag team tournament for their newly introduced tag titles, it kills me that these two teams were not a part of that. They went out there and just killed it for nearly half an hour and it never felt like it. Yehi/Jay have insane chemistry as a team and they may be two of the most unique workers in the entire world. Add in the highflying of Cade and Solow and this match was far and away the best FIP match this year. I am hoping for big things in 2017 for all four of these guys, as really the sky is the limit for them.