Best Matches of January 2017

A look at the best matches from the world of professional wrestling in January 2017.

Honourable Mentions: 

Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice (NJPW WrestleKingdom 11) **** 
Matt Riddle vs ACH (Evolve 76) **** 
Eddie Edwards vs Bobby Lashley (30 Minute Ironman, Impact Wrestling Jan 26th) ****
Volador Jr vs Ultimo Guerrero (NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania Night 7) ****
Roderick Strong vs Andrade 'Cien' Almas (NXT Takeover: San Antonio) ****

15. DIY vs Authors of Pain (NXT Tag Titles: NXT Takeover: San Antonio) 

A great big guy/small guy dynamic here. This match gives you an idea of what AoP can be when given the right opponents. Tommasso Ciampa was tremendous here. ****

14. Matt Riddle vs DUSTIN (No DQ, Evolve 77) 

This reminded me of an old school arena wide brawl. Matt Riddle is great. He can adapt to any type of match and he has only been wrestling for just over 2 years. He was a UFC fighter, he has a very likeable personality and, tremendously, he comes out to Regulator by Warren G. He would be in NXT now if he wasn't such a fan of the sweet Mary Jane. Really fun match. ****

13. Bobby Roode vs Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Title, NXT Takeover: San Antonio) 

A match that felt like a main event should. Both men carry themselves like main eventers and they told a really great story here. I will admit that the wrestling quality here is probably a touch below the Strong v Almas match but having watched it again this is the superior all-round match. ****

12. Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns (Universal Title, No DQ, Jericho In A Shark Cage, WWE Royal Rumble) 

I had a lot of fun watching this. My level of Reigns hate is not as deep as some others so I can see that given the right opponent he can have great matches. There were some great spots here including that tower of chairs, which looked like it sucked to take. ****1/4

11. Pete Dunne vs Mark Andrews (WWE UK Tournament Night 2) 

This was a great example of what the UK scene has to offer right now. The whole tournament did a great job of highlighting UK talent and it didn't even involve Sabre Jr, Ospreay or Scurll among others. Andrews did his high flying and Dunne did his heel dickhead thing and it was great. Pete Dunne's ceiling is really high. ****1/4

10. Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jr (RPW High Stakes) 

This is a long match, 40+ minutes in fact, but the wrestling is top quality. It veers off into shenanigans towards the end which holds it back from being even better. These 2 could have a great match in their sleep at this stage. ****1/2

9. Katsuyori Shibata vs Hirooki Goto (NEVER Openweight Title, NJPW WrestleKingdom 11) 

Oh lordy, this was stiff. It's one of those matches that looks like it hurts. It told a great story with Shibata chastising Goto for not being able to win the big one and Goto basically saying 'fuck you, I'll beat you'. Really great match. ****1/2

8. South Pacific Power Trip vs Ringkampf (PROGRESS Chapter 43: Tropic Thunderbastard) 

New Zealand vs Germany. International wrestling is hot right now. Travis Banks' technical game is on point. Also, Walter and Axel Dieter Jr are a great tag team. ****1/2

7. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate (WWE UK Tournament Final) 

An absolutely fantastic way to end the tournament. They made stars out of both men and established a top notch story over the 2 nights that set a clear heel/face dynamic. It's some of the WWE's best work in a long time with regards to building talent. In addition to that the in ring work was fantastic from both men. ****1/2

6. Katsuyori Shibata vs Matt Riddle (British Heavyweight Title, RPW High Stakes) 

This is a near perfect matchup. Shibata, who has a very stiff, realistic style, and Riddle, who was a UFC fighter with an accompanying style, just mesh so well. There is a fighting spirit spot in this where Riddle German suplexes Shibata, Shibata gets up and German's Riddle, who gets up and German's Shibata leaving both men on the floor. There are some strikes in this that look so real. It's just a really great match. WWE, please hire Riddle. ****1/2

5. Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr (Evolve 77) 

Hero's last match before returning to NXT and it's a belter. The story going in is that Sabre can beat anybody except Chris Hero and this is his last chance. It's exactly as good as you would expect. It's hard hitting, technical wrestling of the highest order. There is a spot where Hero gives Sabre a Pedigree as a nod to him leaving and Sabre kicks out at one, which get's a huge pop. Sabre basically kicks out of everything because he needs to beat Hero. It's superb. ****1/2

4. KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title, NJPW WrestleKingdom 11) 

This was fantastic. Some absolutely great cruiserweight wrestling and some crazy looking spots, including KUSHIDA catching Takahashi in a picture perfect armbar on the outside. It's a thing of beauty. It's a great start to the new gimmick for Takahashi and a wonderful wrestling match. ****1/2

3. Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP IC Title, NJPW WrestleKingdom 11) 

These 2 are just world class performers. Naito's gimmick might be the best in wrestling today. He only cares about major matches, not even taking his t-shirt off on minor shows, and his lack of respect for the title, throwing it all over the place, is great heel work and the thing that pissed off Tanahashi to get this match. It's a superb display of professional wrestling and story telling and features everything that you need in a top notch wrestling match. It really is an all-round class piece of wrestling booking. ****3/4

2. AJ Styles vs John Cena (WWE Title, WWE Royal Rumble) 

These 2 have such a great chemistry that anything other than a great match is near impossible. Styles is one of a handful of people who could have a good match with anyone or anything. One of the best things about this match was Cena's exasperation at Styles' ability to kick out of everything he threw at him. His facial expressions were incredible and for one of the first times he started getting angry. The fact that he had to subtly work heel to get the job done was a story in itself and added a lot to this match. Overall I would say that this was around the quality of their Summerslam match, which was also fantastic. ****3/4

1. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (IWGP Title, NJPW WrestleKingdom 11) 

This might be the most obvious number 1 I've ever done on one of these lists. I've said this before but it's been a long time since I've seen a match that had me so enthralled by everything that was happening in the ring. Both men deserve all the credit in the world for putting together a match so ambitious and engrossing. Some of the spots are incredibly shocking, namely the top rope dragon suplex and table bump to the floor. They worked a pace that got progressively more frantic as the match went on and desperation set in and some of the strikes, Omega's knees in particular, looked incredibly real. In short it's one of the best matches ever. Period. *****