20. Matt Riddle vs TJ Perkins (EVOLVE 9/11)
This was Perkins’ last EVOLVE match, and I can’t possibly think of a higher note to go out on. This was worked exactly how you would want it to be and the finishing sequence is honestly a thing of beauty. Perkins putting Riddle over was absolutely the right call and made Riddle even more of a credible threat than before considering he ended up beating the winner of the entire Cruiserweight Classic.
19. Gunner Miller vs Chris Hero vs Anthony Henry vs Jimmy Rave (SCI 8/06)
This match was a perfect culmination to the Scenic City Invitational and honestly what puts it over the top as a true Show of the Year contender and that is coming from someone that was not there live. The final was contested under elimination rules and there was so many stories and callbacks to 2015’s final that it is just hard to ignore. Miller/Hero was the final two and made the eventual winner of the whole tournament, Gunner Miller, feel like a legit established star at the end.
18. Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr (WWN 4/02)
This was the opener of Mercury Rising and good lord did it start the show with a bang. These two went out there and absolutely killed it. Hero was off the charts here and ZSJ is incredible as a babyface underdog with no chance of winning. Hero absolutely demolished him here and Zack’s comebacks were all well timed and executed to near perfection, making for an incredible contest.
17. Tomohiro Ishii vs Kazuchika Okada (NJPW 8/06)
This was worked at an incredible pace and honestly different than every other Okada and Ishii match from 2016. Ishii wanted to demolish his CHAOS brethren, but Okada was not going down without a fight and he gave him a fight. This match avoided some of their more basic tropes and they just went all out for fifteen minutes. This in my eyes is probbaly a Top 10 G1 match ever, but I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
16. Meiko Satomura vs Aja Kong (Sendai Girls 4/08)
These two just GO together, it is incredible. Even a decade and a half later these two still managed to find a way to just absolutely kill it with each other and it was amazing to see. This match was just two grizzled vets doing what they do best and honestly can you ask for anything more than that?
15. Kota Ibushi vs Cedric Alexander (WWE CWC 8/10)
This was Cedric Alexander’s career defining match, as in this match literally changed the course of his career. A year prior to this match taking place, Cedric was honestly just lying low in ROH until getting out of his contract in mid 2016. Fast forward a few months and he has a match under the WWE umbrella with arguably the most touted talent of an entire generation. At the end of the match, even at defeat, the crowd chants for Cedric to be signed and HHH comes out and thumbs up in approval. Say what you want about HHH being a vanity promoter or whatever but it can’t be argued that this was not one of the most emotionally satisfying matches of the entire decade, just a masterpiece.
14. Timothy Thatcher vs Chris Hero (EVOLVE 6/10)
This is their best match together. Sure you can argue that Mercury Rising 2015 they had the crowd (which they certainly did) but this had the in ring work of a classic as well. These two just went to war and bust out moves you have never seen from them. Thatcher works best when forced out of his element a little, and this match with Hero did exactly that. Also one of the craziest headbutts of the year is in this match, it’s awesome.
13. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Zeus (AJPW 4/24)
This is the definition of a hoss fight, because my lord you have some big lads here. Both are strong, agile and very strong. They work at a frantic pace despite going nearly thirty minutes, and the combo of death that Sekimoto has to hit on Zeus to win the Champion Carnival is just that, a combo of death. If you watch just one All Japan match from 2016, make sure you watch this one.
12. The Miz vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn (WWE Extreme Rules 5/22)
Just going to go ahead and say it, this is the best WWE Fatal Four Way ever and please do not @ me because THIS is how you do a Fatal Four Way. You have four guys out there busting their ass to make each other look great and the result is this. You have so much continuity here (Miz/Cesaro, KO/Zayn, Zayn/Cesaro) that it is kind of insane how all these stories were in this match but never made it too convoluted and never took away from the big picture. This is how you do a four way with “psychology” thank you and good night.
11. Heroes Eventually Die vs Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr (EVOLVE 1/22)
Ahh, at one point this was my #1 MOTY, but so much good shit happened it just barely missed the Top 10 which is a shame as you could argue it is the greatest tag match to ever take place on American soil and I could buy your argument (though I don’t believe it myself). Everyone here, besides maybe Hero, gave their best performance of the year and it was just amazing. Hero/End had instant chemistry as a team and Callihan/ZSJ made for a great team to take an absolute beating. I can’t imagine we get this match if Thatcher is in it just because I think Thatcher is much more of a technical minded guy now, but my goodness Callihan was the perfect replacement here. Easily one of EVOLVE’s Top 5 matches ever.