By Sal D.
2016 saw a ton of really great matches in the WWE. In the spirit of the New Year, here's my top 10 list of the greatest matches from the last year.
10. Sasha Banks vs Charlotte (C) vs Becky Lynch
Triple Threat Match Women’s Championship -Wrestlemania 32
The greatest women’s match in Wrestlemania history was also one of the greatest matches in 2016 for both the men and the women. All 3 girls showcased their talents and put on an incredible display of athleticism and storytelling. The crowd was into this match, and you truly did not know who would walk away with the championship. This match would have been ranked higher if not for involvement of the Nature boy, but still warranted a spot on this list.
9. John Cena vs AJ Styles (C) vs Dean Ambrose
Triple Threat Match WWE World Championship - No Mercy
Although strangely booked as the opening match on the card (I’m sure someone had to catch a flight), the match itself was incredible. Smackdown Live’s Top 3 performers put on a clinic with everything from high flying action to stiff brawling to innovative combination moves. The double submission spot when AJ taps out is great because both Cena and Ambrose can lay claim that they won. I have a feeling AJ will make this list again…
8. Kota Ibushi vs Cedric Alexander
2nd Round: Cruiser Weight Classic
The Golden Star is considered one of the best in the world. Cedric Alexander proved he’s on par. The match had everyone in attendance and at home on the edge of their seat and could’ve easily been the Final, had the brackets played out that way. Ultimately, Ibushi did not sign with the WWE, but Cedric did, just like the crowd chanted for at the end of this classic.
7. The Miz (C) vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro
Fatal 4-Way Match Intercontinental Championship – Extreme Rules
To me, this is where it took off like a rocket for The Miz in 2016. Miz’s body of work in 2016 will be remembered for his scathing promos, but his in-ring performances were some of the best in the company and certainly his career. The match told a great story, including the in-fighting between KO and Zayn (more on that later). Sami hits a Helluva kick on Cesaro only to be pulled out of the ring by Owens. Miz sneaks in to get the pin? Brilliant.
6. The Miz (C) vs Dolph Ziggler
Career vs Title Intercontinental Championship – No Mercy
There is still no reason why this match didn’t close the show, BUT, booking aside, this match was a roller coaster of high drama and incredible selling. With Dolph posting on social media that he hired a new agent to handle “other career opportunities,” the Universe was split down the middle trying to predict the winner. Who would’ve thought that Dolph vs Miz in 2016 would not only steal the show, but set the bar for the rest of 2016.
5. Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa
1st Round: Cruiser Weight Classic
What a hard hitting affair this was! The fact that these two are tag partners and brought it like that was amazing. Go back and watch the definitive moment in the CWC and try not to tear up at the end when Tommaso put his arm around Johnny after they just went to war to close out the 1st round.
4. AJ Styles vs John Cena
No titles, no stips, no extra people. Just 1-on-1 for bragging rights. The match that saved Summerslam was AJ’s greatest performance in his short WWE career and one of Cena’s best. So why not #1? 2 reasons: it lacked the drama of the top 3 and don’t leave your wristbands in the center of the ring unless you mean it.
3. Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura
NXT Takeover: Dallas
The Underdog from the Underground and the King of Strong Style had the best match of the weekend, and that was WITH Wrestlemania 32 throwing 7 hours of wrestling at us the following night. Credit to both these guys who never once stepped foot in a ring together and still laid out an absolute classic. The trading forearms spot was a little bit too long, but that’s the only critique I can come up with for Nakamura’s NXT debut and Sami Zayn’s NXT swan song.
2. The Revival (C) vs #DIY
2 out of 3 Falls NXT Tag Team Championships - NXT Takeover: Toronto
Often times, 2 out of 3 falls matches can be predictable and cumbersome, but that was not the case in this match. Both teams told a beautiful story that culminated in double submission spot for the final fall. The journey leading up to this match set the table, and we all jumped out of seats when Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano won their first championships in a WWE ring. Kudos to the agent for this match as well because the tie-ins to the previous match at Takeover: Brooklyn II were intricated flawlessly. Here’s hoping both of these teams will someday showcase their talents at Wrestlemania.
1. Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens
Billed as the Final Chapter in this long and storied rivalry, this match had everything anyone could ask for. “Final Chapter” aside, maybe these two will “fight forever”…here’s for hoping. This program in WWE dated all the way back to NXT: R-Evolution almost 2 years ago! The revival of this rivalry began at Royal Rumble, and this was the culmination of seven months of these guys beating the hell out of each other at every turn.
This match took place immediately after the WWE draft, and the only thing that would’ve increased the drama, is if Sami was drafted to Smackdown. But regardless, I like slow burning, drawn out storylines, and these two made every bump in this match feel important. And the bumps they took were sick. That brainbuster DDT on the apron? I still can’t believe I witnessed that. But for me, the finish was the best part. One Helluva kick was not enough. Sami held a prone Owens up as the hatred bubbled through his veins. Knowing he needed to finish his rival once and for all, Sami delivered a devastating 2nd Helluva kick and pinned his bitter enemy in the center of the ring. To me, that’s the reason I’m a fan. Get me emotionally invested and take me on a journey. Don’t matter where I’m going, I’ll just enjoy the ride.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to like, share and retweet!
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