40. Chris Hero vs Trevor Lee (AAW 4/09)
This match lived up to the show’s title, as it felt like an EPIC confrontation. This honestly felt like this match could have taken place in CWF Mid-Atlantic as a part of Lee’s tremendous title reign there and it would not have felt out of place in the slightest. Hero was the standard great Hero we are all much too familiar with, which just added that much more to this match in my eyes. The AAW crowd treated this match as something special and the end result was this, absolutely tremendous match and easily AAW’s MOTY in their best in ring year in quite a long time.
39. AJ Styles vs Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler (WWE Smackdown 12/27)
Yes, I knew as soon as this happened this was going to make this list and it was going to place very well. In a year which several wrestlers had tremendous year, this match may be enough to push AJ Styles to the top of that list. You have Dolph Ziggler, who for lack of a better term has fluctuated in in ring quality for the better part of a decade and Baron Corbin who despite showing improvement on a week to week basis is still not that next level yet. Well, in my eyes this match pushed Baron to the next level and made him look like a legitimate threat to the world title. This match had great three way spots, great drama, Ziggler and Styles bumping like madmen and Corbin being an absolutely monster while also taking his fair share of big bumps. Tremendous match that just kind of came out of nowhere and was also on the Smackdown that beat Raw in the ratings. Career making performance for Big Breakfast as well as GOAT confirmed match for Styles.
38. Drew Gulak vs Zack Sabre Jr (EVOLVE 11/13)
Not much to say about this one besides strikes and submissions. These two gave a near perfect performance on the mat for this one, and anytime they got pissy they started throwing slaps and forearms. I honestly can not think of what I would want from my wrestling more. Will note, if you are not a fan of this style, I don’t see this match being the one for you but you know different strokes and all that.
37. Yuji Okabayashi & Go Shiozaki vs Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Hino (Fortune Dream 6/14)
*to the tune of the classic hit “Shots” by LMFAO featuring Lil Jon* CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS SEKIMOTO HITS THE GROUND AND THEN WE GET SOME CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS THEY BOW TO KOBASHI CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS EVERYBODY CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS CHOPS.
36. VerserK vs Monster Express vs Dia.HEARTS (Dragon Gate 2/04)
This match is just a thirty minute shot of adrenaline and it is most certainly a rush. Even knowing as little about Dragon Gate as I do, I still appreciated this match a ton and realized that the stakes were quite high. Big R is the best wrestler ever for his finisher alone and you have everyone doing everything and it is great. I’d think even those that do not like Dragon Gate would like this match, but watch it for the main man Big R.
35. Tracy Williams vs Chris Hero (EVOLVE 11/12)
This felt like Hero passing the torch to Williams here. Hero gives Williams his lumps, yet Tracy is not backing down and delivers his shots even harder than usual which is always a hoot. Tracy getting the win here felt like a huge moment, even bigger than when Riddle beat Hero eight months prior to this. This match lets you know that even with Hero leaving EVOLVE, it is in capable hands inside the ring.
34. Kento Miyahara & Jake Lee vs Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi (AJPW 9/19)
Nine minutes of pure hatred here. Everyone brought their A game here and it honestly felt like one of the mid-upper tier All Japan tags in the 90’s, this was special. The funny thing here is that everyone are actually in the same group, but Nomura/Aoyagi wanted to put Miyahara on his ass for being the clear star of the group. Worth watching just to know that All Japan’s future is in plenty capable hands, but may also be the best performances of Aoyagi, Nomura and Lee’s careers.
33. Trevor Lee vs Andrew Everett (CWF MA 7/06)
Lee is the ace of CWF and he is best friends with Everett, so naturally the story here was the steady escalation of violence to take each other to their absolute breaking points. Lee busting Everett open here just adds another element to this match as when Lee sees blood he just goes wild. Lee has had great performances all year, but this is the cream of the crop here. Absolute must see (And you can watch it HERE)
32. The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler (WWE No Mercy 10/09)
Career vs Title match, absolute lesson in storytelling here. Miz using the Spirit Squad and Maryse do not feel like they take away from the match, they feel like additions to a story that does not ruin it as excessive interference sometimes does. Miz working over the leg is done to greatness here that makes Ziggler’s win feel earned here without ignoring everything in the match. Probably the best story within a WWE match all year, probably.
31. Chris Hero vs Dick Togo (EVOLVE 12/10)
This was a dream match at this point in their careers and you would have never thought it could happen. Hero was wrapping up his greatest year ever while Togo had just recently returned from a four year hiatus, so what were the odds they wrestled in the US!? Well, apparently Gabeman has dreams and I have dreams and we share dreams, and this was a great one. Togo can still go and Hero is the right guy to tango with. Yes, I am finishing this post with the word tango.