30. Kazuchika Okada vs Naomichi Marufuji (NJPW 10/10)
This match built on the great match they had at the G1 Climax and it felt like something special. You had the New Japan guy vs the NOAH ace, so stakes were quite high. Marufuji being the shit out of Okada and Okada not really knowing what to do is an excellent story in my eyes, as Marufuji has a decade of experience over him. The crowd was hot the whole time and this was the best match on top of New Japan’s best show of the entire year. Also, Okada should use the Emerald Flowsion more.
29. Rush vs LA Park (Elite 7/14)
This is the bloody brawl to end them all. These two went around Arena Mexico and just broke every single rule in the book (literally, they broke Arena Mexico’s actual rules). This was peak Rush and peak LA Park doing what they do best, which is beat the ever loving shit out of their opponents, considering these are two of the three best brawlers in Mexico you know what you are getting here is truly great.
28. AJ Styles vs John Cena (WWE Summerslam 8/21)
Yes this was the second match between the two, but this one truly had the dream match tropes that you wanted to see. It was a bomb throwing contest in every sense and it was a spectacle to be seen. Styles kicking out of the super AA is the point where you know that he is going to be the guy with Big Match John not being on TV as frequently. Styles getting the win here is truly earned both from a shoot and story perspective and has made his run on top of Smackdown that much more must see since the brand split. Take nothing away from Cena though, he was truly ELITE on this night as well.
27. Matt Riddle vs Chris Hero (EVOLVE 10/16)
Hero wants to prove that he is still the guy in EVOLVE and does not want to lose to Riddle again within the same year. TJ Hawke put it best when he said that these two just made wrestling look so easy because of their skill level being so high (you can read his review HERE) and that is really the only way you can describe these two. Hero evening up the score 1-1 here is great and set up a rubber match for the ages for the next month.
26. Chris Hero vs Tomohiro Ishii (Rev Pro 11/10)
Hero never getting to be in the G1 and wrestling the guys of New Japan is quite unfortunate, but I think this makes up for it a little bit. Ishii has his Ishii pants on and Hero wants to beat the hell out of him, so naturally you get a fantastic match between the two here. They take each other’s best shots and it is really the only type of match you would want from these two and York Hall was the place to do it in. Hero putting Ishii over after the match was also excellent in its own right.
25. American Alpha vs The Revival (WWE:NXT 6/08)
Definitely the best match between these two teams this year and it was exactly what you would expect. Revival with their classic antics and AA fighting from behind despite being the champions coming in. This is where The Revival really started picking up steam as the best tag team in the world just because of how smart they act in the ring. Revival surprising AA with a win and becoming champs again here was done to perfection and is essential viewing for any wrestling fan (as the entire Top 25 is).
24. Charlotte vs Sasha Banks (WWE Raw 11/28)
This was under Falls Count Anywhere rules and what they produced was absolutely golden. You get what is essentially a lucha brawl main eventing a random late November and it being amazing. I don’t think anyone ever anticipated this match in a WWE landscape ever and for them to do it and do it well is something that should truly be remembered. The submission ending with Banks locking in the Bank Statement through the handrails is probably the coolest moment on the main roster all year.
23. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll (PROGRESS 1/24)
These two wrestled each other a ton this year all around the world and while they were all mostly good, this one absolutely blew me away. It was No Holds Barred and also for Ospreay’s title here and Scurll just went in on him. It reminded me a lot of the Scurll/Dieter match from 16 Carat but this one was even more sinister Marty. This match is also the start of Will’s descent into madness in Progress so add that in with everything else you get here and you have an absolute Progress classic.
22. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW 8/03)
This was just like practically every other Ishii/Tanahashi match, which is to say it was fantastic and MOTYC. This one had Tanahashi dishing out some lumps to Ishii but Ishii was just not having it. I’ll take these two having a match with each other once or twice a year for the next ten years, because it is that great of a match up.
21. Gargano/Perkins/Ibushi vs Scurll/End/Ospreay (WWN 4/02)
This was the six man tag that is now a tradition at Mercury Rising and boy did it deliver. You had one team in Gargano, Perkins and Ibushi that were all on EVOLVE 1 versus the team that is the future of wrestling in End, Scurll and Ospreay and they just created something special. It’s funny to think how four out of six of these competitors have went to wrestle under the WWE umbrella this year and two of them have even went on to win gold! The Ospreay/Ibushi interactions are everything you could ask for and felt like a passing of the torch to acknowledge that Ospreay is the future of highflying. The in sync moonsaults off the balcony is something that must be seen, as to me it is one of the defining moment in a wrestling match all year.