101 Best Matches of 2017 (25-1)

We are into the meat of the list now, the best matches in what could well be the best year for matches.  The first three parts of this list can be found herehere and here

25. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii (IWGP US Title) - NJPW G1 Special in USA Night 2

This was the final of the tournament to crown the first IWGP US champion and it was a hell of a way to establish the belt. It was the third match between these two in 2017, but only the second highest on this list, and all three of them are of the highest calibre.

24. Kenny Omega vs Michael Elgin - NJPW G1 Climax Night 8

This is exactly what you would expect from a New Japan main event. Hard hitting strikes, big moves and a fantastic finishing sequence. Elgin hits some brutal looking back drop drivers at the end. He also picks up the surprise win. This is a tremendous match.

23. Hiromu Takahashi vs Dragon Lee (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title) - NJPW New Beginning in Osaka

This match was absolutely fucking mental. The amount of crazy spots on show here are too many to list. There is a sunset bomb to the floor, Lee jumping over the rope to give Takahashi a rana to the floor, and Takahashi reversing a rana into a nasty looking powerbomb on to the apron. What's even better is that the wrestling between the spots is excellent too. 

22. Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak - PWG Battle of Los Angeles Night 3

This was a spectacular match. I know a lot of people preferred their matches in Evolve, but for me this one was better. Some of that is because I feel like matches come across better in PWG and part of it is because it was better. This is one of those matches that has everything in it. High spots, finisher kick outs, tons of near falls, a great crowd and real drama. It's fucking great.

21. Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP IC Title) - NJPW Dominion

This was a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 11, and the culmination of their story. These are two of the best big match wrestlers in the world and it is once again shown here. The structure and pacing are excellent, as is the story that they tell. Tanahashi finally gets the title from Naito, after Naito had tried to use it as currency to buy stuff from the shop.

20. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi (IWGP IC Title) - NJPW Power Struggle

Hiroshi Tanahashi may be approaching the portion of his career where he has to slow down a bit and suffers from more injuries but you wouldn't know it from watching his matches. Every single time he is put in a main event situation he delivers. Kota Ibushi is a singular talent too. This match marries athletic prowess with in ring storytelling to create a fantastic title match.

19. Hardy Boys vs Young Bucks (ROH Tag Team Titles, Ladder Match) - ROH Supercard of Honor XI

This match is exactly as crazy and enjoyable as you hope it is. How the Hardys can do this at this stage in their career is beyond me. This took place less than 24 hours before their return at WrestleMania too so they took part in 2 ladder matches within the space of a day. This is reminiscent of the TLC match at WrestleMania 17 in terms of the well thought out spots and table bumps. It's a joy to behold.

18. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW Dontaku

These two had a great year against each other and this was their best match. The unwritten rule is that when Omega doesn't wear a shirt he puts in the fucking beast performances. This is everything you should expect from two of the best wrestlers in the world. Everyone is aware of how good Omega is but Ishii is a monster and his hard hitting style is just great fun to watch. This is superb stuff. 

17. Travis Banks vs Tyler Bate (SSS16 Final) - PROGRESS Chapter 49: Super Strong Style 16 Day 3

This was a perfect way to end one of the best tournaments I've ever seen. The fact that there was a clear face/heel dynamic with the crowd fully behind Banks and vociferously booing Bate added so much to this match. There was a run in but even that added to the match. They teased the screwjob finish when the other members of British Strong Style turned up to attack Banks but he was saved by CCK, who got a hero's ovation. The rest of the match was a superb back and forth that had both men refusing to give in. It's some of the best storytelling in wrestling this year, tied to some superb in ring work.

16. Ilya Dragunov vs Walter (16 Carat Gold Final) - WXW 16 Carat Gold Day 3

This is the final of the 16 Carat Gold tournament and what a final it is. It tells the story of Dragunov fighting with everything he has while Walter mercilessly chops the shit out of him. Dragunov's chest looks like raw meat after the match due to how much chop damage he sustains. The crowd is brilliant throughout and erupts when the pin takes place. It's a brilliant example of how to do pro wrestling well.

15. New Day vs The Usos (Smackdown Tag Titles, Hell In A Cell Match) - WWE Hell In A Cell

This feud was the best thing on WWE TV for a few months and this was the perfect way to top it off. Every match they have had has been great and this was the best of the lot. They used a whole host of spots that haven't been seen before, which is impressive given the amount of cell matches there have been. This was the best cell match since Undertaker vs HHH at Wrestlemania 28. Superb.

14. Trevor Lee vs Chip Day (CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title) - CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 102

I only check out CWF Mid-Atlantic when I get a match recommendation and it is always, without exception, a Trevor Lee match. His run with this title, which he won in February 2016, is full of long, well wrestled matches but this is my favourite of the lot. It has an old school Southern vibe to it which is combined brilliantly with a more modern style. It has mat wrestling, chain wrestling and stiff strikes and the longer it goes, the better it gets. I can't recommend this enough.

13. Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi - NJPW G1 Climax Night 1

What a way to top off the first day of the G1 this was. The fact that this match is at 13 speaks to the quality of the matches this year. This is a spectacular match. Naito goes after the neck, softening it up for Destino, but Ibushi doesn't take kindly to it and kicks the shit out of him. There are some excellent moments in this match with both men trying to outdo each other. This is the perfect example of why I wish Ibushi would stick around for longer. Superb.

12. Kento Miyahara vs Shuji Ishikawa (AJPW Triple Crown) - AJPW 45th Anniversary

It's good to see All Japan starting to rebuild as their '90s run, with Kobashi, Misawa, Akiyama & Taue, is one of the best in professional wrestling history. This hearkened back to the matches from that time, while adding a modern twist to make this something very special. The story here was Miyahara trying to win back his title and having to go through absolute hell to get there. The strikes were brutal and Ishikawa straight up fucking murdered Miyahara with a Fire Thunder Driver on the apron. Watch this match for that insanity alone. This was superb, both from a wrestling and storytelling perspective.

11. AJ Styles vs John Cena (WWE Title) - WWE Royal Rumble

These two have such great chemistry that anything other than a great match is nearly impossible. Styles is one of those wrestlers that could have a great 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 in years he got angry. The fact that he had to subtly work heel to get the job done was a story in itself and it added a lot to the match. I would say this was as good as their SummerSlam 2016 match, which was also fantastic.

10. Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin (IWGP IC Title) - NJPW New Beginning in Osaka

This match is the perfect example of a match where everything that happens is done for a reason. New Japan is a company that is pretty much incomparable when it comes to the way it lays out its main events and this is definitely no different. Naito does a fantastic job of selling for Elgin which makes him look like a real threat to the title. This means that even in defeat Elgin looks great. A simple premise that is expertly executed.

9. KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay (BotSJ Final) - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Final

Well, this was spectacular. You expect insane aerial moves from Ospreay, and you get that here, but he also did a great job of selling in this match. He has really developed into a well rounded, fully developed talent. On the other side KUSHIDA is fantastic. He is capable of putting on great matches with anyone. This is an absolutely spectacular way to end a tournament and a match I highly recommend to everyone.

8. Kazuchika Okada vs Katsuyori Shibata (IWGP Heavyweight Title) - NJPW Sakura Genesis

Okada had spectacular matches against everyone in 2017 and it's because his style meshes so well with everyone. In this match he took a hell of a beating before fighting back against the odds to retain his title. This match, like all Shibata matches, was incredibly stiff. Unfortunately that led to Shibata's retirement following this match. At one point in the match Shibata hits Okada with a sickening headbutt that be clearly heard on the broadcast and following the match doctors discovered a bleed on Shibata's brain. It is a sad way to end a career especially as he had made his way to the top of the card but he did get to go out on this unbelievable match.

7. Authors of Pain vs DIY vs The Revival (NXT Tag Titles, Elimination Match) - NXT TakeOver: Orlando

The NXT tag division has put on the best match of the show so often that it has become expected. The dynamic between the three teams is done perfectly and the story they told is incredibly well done. There wasn't a part of this match that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I know there are people that thought the last 5 minutes were a bit below the standard set before them but I think that they were perfect in establishing AoP as the brutal heels that they are. Tremendous stuff all round.

6. Zack Sabre Jr vs WALTER - PWG All-Star Weekend 13 Night 2

Heading into these PWG shows this was the match that I was most looking forward to, but even I didn't think it would end up this good. It starts off as a wrestling match but it becomes a war, with both men throwing absolutely everything they have into it. WALTER's chops in particular are brutal. Sabre Jr's striking skills are sometimes forgotten because he is such a good technician but he got to unleash everything here. The finish was great too with Sabre going for the European Clutch, that he has won a ton of matches with, only to bridge into a sleeper that ended his night. This was a genuine match of the year contender in most years that you should check out if you can.

5. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega - NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night 18

Here we are. The third match, but first on this list, in this peerless rivalry. This was different to the previous matches as they were playing with a 30 minute time limit. That meant that they just went for it from minute one, throwing everything they had at each other until one of them couldn't get up any more. The story was Omega working over the neck of Okada as it had taken a beating not only during this tournament but throughout the year. For the first time in this feud Okada was the one that was having to fight back from overwhelming odds and it added an extra layer to the story. This was another future classic that deserves to be watched by all wrestling fans.

4. Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito - NJPW G1 Climax 27 Finals

There is absolutely nothing to choose between this and the Omega vs Okada match, so much so that I tossed a coin to see which got the number 4 spot. This is as perfect a way to end the tournament as you could possibly hope for, with both men on the top of their game. They wrestle in the ring, out of the ring, on the apron, anywhere they can. They pull absolutely everything in their arsenals, from Destino to the Stardust Press and One Winged Angel to the Dr Wily Bomb, and the crowd absolutely eats all of it up. They are loud throughout and it adds to the atmosphere no end. Even the referee, Red Shoes, was losing his shit. The match builds to a crescendo expertly and when it ended I was just left in awe at what I had just seen. This is the epitome of big match wrestling. 

3. Tyler Bate vs Pete Dunne (WWE UK Title) - NXT Takeover: Chicago

This match was absolutely incredible. It showed how hot the UK wrestling scene is right now and the fact that the combined age of these two men was 43 is mind blowing. That's only 3 years older than AJ Styles. These two have the potential to be the future of the wrestling industry and this match is all the proof you need. The crowd are behind it from the off and it pushes it into a level that isn't often seen. This match is a perfect example of why I love wrestling and in most years it would have walked away with my match of the year but not this year. It's spectacular.

2. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (IWGP Title) - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11

We are at the stage of this list where I think you know which matches are coming. I'm not going to be contrary for contrary sake. I believe that Okada vs Omega is the best in ring rivalry for a long time. This match had me enthralled by everything that was happening and both men deserve all the credit in the world for putting together a match that was so ambitious and engrossing, and managing to pull it off flawlessly. They knew when to include big spots into the mix, such as the top rope dragon suplex and the table bump, and they worked at a pace that got increasingly frantic as the match went on and desperation set in. Some of the strikes looked incredibly real and overall it was one of the best pieces of wrestling I've ever seen. But...

1. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (IWGP Title) - NJPW Dominion

...There was also this. The Judgment Day to Wrestle Kingdom's Terminator. Their first match at Wrestle Kingdom was a 47 minute masterpiece so how do you raise the stakes? You have a one hour time limit draw. This match is a perfect example of how to keep people on the edge of their seat for every minute of a match. It's hard to say if this is actually better than than the Wrestle Kingdom match but I am giving it the nod. Most hour long matches are pretty slow affairs, but that wasn't the case here. In the first match Omega couldn't hit the One Winged Angel but he hit it here, only for Okada to get his foot on the rope. There was a spot where Okada went for the Rainmaker only for Omega to collapse due to tiredness, causing Okada to miss the move. The story telling that was weaved into the match structure was phenomenal. These two had incredible years in 2017 and this is the pinnacle of that.