2016 has been a transitional year in the world of pro-wrestling. There’s a feeling that things are in flux and old certainties are becoming less concrete. The stories told of 2016 in years to come will be about the WWE’s continued failure with Roman Reigns, the rise of AJ Styles, the slow fall of TNA and the ascent of a new era of women’s wrestling. We should thank our lucky stars, then, that this year also managed to be an unmissable 12 months when it comes to actual wrestling.
As much as we like to look back wistfully to the Attitude Era days of Austin 3:16 and D-Generation X, the one thing 2016 has over the past is sheer in-ring quality. We’ll not open a can of worms by naming names, but today’s wrestlers leave nothing in the ring when it counts. There are also more ways to watch wrestling than ever before. Whether it’s the online networks of WWE or NJPW, the television of Lucha Underground and TNA, or the DVD business of PWG so many options are vying for our time. We wish we could watch it all.
But every year comes to an end. If you’re a lapsed fan looking for what you might have missed or just an avid viewer wanting to reminisce, we’ve got you covered. Join us as Cultured Vultures counts down (in no particular order) its ten best wrestling matches of 2016.
10. The Miz Vs Dolph Ziggler (No Mercy)
“At this point in their careers, The Miz and Ziggler are incredibly unlikely to become main event tent poles for WWE. They are, however, better than they’ve ever been”
9. Bayley Vs Asuka (NXT Takeover: Dallas)
“The psychology was great, the story going in helped make it special and both performers were selling like they’d been doing it for decades.”
8. Kota Ibushi Vs Cedric Alexander (Cruiserweight Classic)
“I’m just going to call this how I see it: there are multiple sequences in this match that are nearly flawless.”
7. Tetsuya Naito Vs Kenny Omega
(G1 Climax Semi-Final)
“What do you want from a great wrestling match? Good pacing? Dramatic spots spaced through the bout? Shocking counters that redefine what a human body can do? All here.”
6. John Cena Vs AJ Styles (Summerslam)
“Both men cranked things up to eleven, throwing their entire wrestling arsenals at each other.”