60. Will Ospreay vs Mike Bailey (Rev Pro 6/12)
Mike Bailey being banned from the US for five years was a big blow to the US indie scenes, but he went on over to York Hall and just tore it up with Ospreay. These two had what is probably the least talked about high flying spectacle of the year. Bailey is much more quick and smooth than he was even in 2015 which was definitely his breakout year. Nonetheless, this match has everything you could have wanted from the dream match and I hope we see a rematch in 2017, because this is a match up that needs to happen more than once.
59. Minoru Suzuki vs Ryo Kawamura (Ryo Kawamura Produce 7/02)
I’m telling you guys, Suzuki has been really good in his two year absence from New Japan, thank goodness that is over though. Ryo Kawamura literally works an underdog boxer gimmick and sometimes even goes by Rocky Kawamura, so he is quite the endearing character especially around the immortal badass that is Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki busts Kawamura open with an ink pen and it just gets UGLY from there in the best possible way. Kawamura makes a great babyface comeback, but his fighting spirit just isn’t great enough to go toe to toe with the great Suzuki.
58. Kento Miyahara vs Kengo Mashimo (AJPW 6/15)
This was a follow up to the great Champion Carnival match (which I will talk about later) and for Miyahara’s Triple Crown. Mashimo having the great year in Japan is something I don’t think anyone could have seen coming as he has just been THERE for so long, but he and Miyahara created magic TWICE. In this instance, Mashimo worked over Miyahara’s limbs and there were several spots where you thought he could have gone on and won it. Miyahara has the best comeback in wrestling right now, so it was just great to see all the little things that happen in this match. I recommend if you watch this, go and watch their Champion Carnival match from April first, lots of callbacks here.
57. Drew Gulak vs Mike Quackenbush (Chikara 12/03)
I watched the Facebook version of this match which was just one cam and no commentary, just the crowd and the wrestlers. I would recommend that is the version you watch as well, because you can just feel the emotion in Gulak’s last match in the promotion against the Quackenbush. Say what you want about Quack and his tendency to yell at Starbucks on Twitter, but he brought the goods here and then some. People will get mad at me for comparing a Chikara match to BattlArts but it was and you will have to live with that now, plus it had EMOTION BABY. Great stuff from both and I could get down with Quack wrestling 4 great matches a year.
56. Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW 1/04)
I watched this live, it was five o’clock in the morning and it may be the most brutal match to ever take place in New Japan. These two went out in the freaking Tokyo Dome and tried to kill each other via lariats, chops, kicks and headbutts of the shoot variety. The story of this match was the brutality and Shibata coming out on top was the right call, of course you need to watch this match.
55. Takashi Sugiura vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH 3/19)
THE NOAH MOTY, finally! This match is Sugiura kicking Nakajima’s ass, Nakajima making a spirited comeback and just getting demolish in the end. The match also has the most disgusting accidental chairshot from 2016 in it as Nakajima is just pouring blood at the end of it, which did add sympathy for Nakajima in multiple ways. If you like your wrestling stiff, this is the match for you. Just know that since it is NOAH it went 33 minutes long thank you and good night.
54. Yuji Okabayashi vs Hideyoshi Kamitani (BJW 7/24)
Kamitani wanted to dethrone Okabayashi here, and my goodness did they have a great match on top of that. There are only so many ways to say that a match was stiff as all hell, but this match was stiff as all hell. Kamitani had an incredible run of great matches that unfortunately ended as soon as he won the title here from Yuji, which is a shame. On the plus side, he is only 24 and is really good already, so I only expect big things out of him in 2017 and beyond.
53. Maximo Sexy vs Kamaitachi (CMLL 1/01)
Another candidate for greatest match from 2016 that hardly anyone talked about all year, this was tremendous. I don’t know why, but Maximo always seems to have an incredible January before being just a good wrestler the other eleven months, but this was incredible. The Hair vs Hair stipulation adds the drama and these two wrestlers added perfectly timed spots on top of near perfect execution. This was also the first non Dragon Lee match you could look at and go, “You know what, Kamaitachi may be one of the best in the world”.
52. Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles (WWE Extreme Rules 5/22)
This match was just absolutely incredible. Getting Big Match Big Dog and AJ Styles in the same ring with no restrictions could only produce greatness and it did in strides. Styles working like he was 25 as opposed to nearly 40 is the greatest thing in the world and him bumping for all of Roman’s offense like death was such a cool sight to see after waiting so many years for AJ to come to the WWE. If you want something that feels brutal but WWE standards with arguably the two best wrestlers on the roster, look no further than this.
51. Sasha Banks vs Charlotte (WWE Hell in a Cell 10/30)
The first women’s Hell in a Cell match and it was the main event, so naturally these two went out there and tried to kill each other. The violence never really escalated here as it was just foot on the gas the whole time with both of them taking some of the most brutal spots in wrestling this year. The finish involved Charlotte just throwing Sasha into a table multiple times as hard as she could and it never broke. Intentional or not, it came off as violent and really what more could you ask for in wrestling!?