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2017 PW Awards: Top Ten Matches of the Year

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In a year that actually trumped what was an incredible 2016, our 17 panelists had their hands full when it came to picking their top five matches of 2017. Of the 37 matches that received votes, we’ve cut it down to the ten that garnered the most. We’ve attached some quotes from our writers that were specifically written for these awards and some taken from this very site throughout the year to help remind us just how impressive these ten matches were. 

Winner: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (Wrestle Kingdom 11, January 4th)

“It’s so rare that you get a long build to a match of this magnitude where both competitors have been kept apart in terms of singles competition. That unprecedented anticipation culminating in what these two left in the ring that night was simply outstanding. I remembered muttering the words “that was the best match I’ve ever seen in my life” after it came to a close. I still stand by that statement one year later.” – Dave Reno

Runner Up: Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne (NXT TakeOver: Chicago, May 20th)

“With the UK Championship on the line, Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne easily put on the best match of the year on WWE programming when their worlds collided at NXT TakeOver: Chicago just moments ago. The back and forth battle between two of the best and brightest out of the UK was only elevated with Good Old JR coming out to join Nigel McGuinness on the call.” – DR (5.20)

3. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega II (Dominion, June 11th)

“This match didn’t quite get to the level of the first for me but I didn’t expect it to come even close. It definitely surpassed my expectations, delivering some moments that really elevated a feud that I thought may have already reached its peak. The sequences at the end really had me on the edge of my seat and even though I usually don’t like outside interactions in matches of this caliber, I thought the sequence with Cody, Bullet Club and the towel added even more depth to an already spectacular match. Name two wrestlers who could compete at this pace and keep your attention for sixty full minutes than these two. I’ll wait.” – DR

“I liked this match much more the first one. Better paced, amazing last ten minutes.” – Frank Anguiano

4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (Royal Rumble, January 29th)

“AJ Styles vs. John Cena was another tremendous bout, very similar to their match at Summer Slam. Nobody should’ve expected anything less, AJ is arguably the best in ring performer in WWE today and John Cena always delivers in big match situations. It’s nice to see that after a decade, most of the misguided flak that Cena received was put aside for the moment and he got the recognition that he certainly earned.” – Jim LaMotta (2.2)

5. Kazuchika Okada vs. Katsuyori Shibata (Sakura Genesis, April 9th)

“Since making his return to New Japan in 2012, Katsuyori Shibata has been out to not only prove but also redeem himself to the fans and locker room. He had won the fans and locker room over in 2016 with his NEVER Openweight title series with Yuji Nagata. With everyone now on his side Shibata was more powerful than ever and this was his moment to shine. Headlining at Sumo Hall in front of over 10,000 fans, challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately this possibly ended up being his final match. Out to give the best match he possibly could, Shibata suffered a brain injury that immediately put his career on hold. He’s remained out of action since April and has made just one public appearance to inform fans that he’s still alive. This was an extremely unfortunate circumstance that likely ended what was one of the greatest redemption stories in modern-day wrestling.” – Robert McCauley

6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega III (G1 Climax Day 18, August 12th)

“This was beautiful storytelling done in all the right ways and is exactly why people praise the booking of New Japan.” – RM (8.12)

7. Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream (NXT TakeOver War Games, November 18th)

“They should show this match to everyone who walks into the WWE Performance Center for the first time. Matches like these should be the end goal.” – DR (11.19)

8. Authors of Pain vs. D.I.Y. vs. The Revival (NXT TakeOver Orlando, April 1st)

“Absolutely insane match. I realize the crowd is unhappy, but like I’ve said, #DIY and Revival are headed to the main roster. The Authors are just made to look unbeatable. Whoever is the team that beats them is going to get a massive win and it’ll just be a huge moment. This just makes long-term booking sense and is the early Match of the Year, in my opinion.” – Shawn Mareane (4.2)

9. Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania 33, April 2nd)

“With their brutal showing at WrestleMania 20 now a distant memory, Lesnar and Goldberg needed to go a little longer than the squash match at Surivor Series. They did everything they could to give the fans just under 5 minutes of pure ultraviolence and they ate up every second of it.” – DR (4.3)

10. Asuka vs. Ember Moon (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, August 19th)

“The epic reign continues, but I’ve never seen Asuka come so close to a loss in the ring. This was a big time fight and all eyes should be on what comes next as the most historic streak goes on. Who can possibly dethrone Asuka if not Ember Moon? Even though she didn’t win the match, Moon received a massive standing ovation from the NXT universe. She seems to have a special gift for turning the crowd around from barely interested to fully engaged. These two competitors are outstanding, and it’s going to be interesting to see where they go from here.” – Joey Martinez (8/19)

Honorable Mentions: Dante Fox vs. Killshot (Ultima Lucha Tres), Minoru Suzuki vs. Sanshiro Takagi (DDT: Street Wrestling in Tokyo Dome), Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell), Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm (Stardom: 5 Star Grand Prix), WALTER vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PWG All Star Weekend 13), Travis Banks vs. Tyler Bate (PROGRESS Super Strong Style 16 Final)

screenshot – NJPWWorld

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