We’re 9 whole days into 2017 and I’m back for one more time to count down my favourite ‘somethings’ from 2016. This time its my top 5 favourite matches from within WWE and NXT. The quality of wrestling was much improved in 2016 with WWE marketing wrestling ability as a reason to actually watch a show. Rather than just mega personalities, which is weird because you kind of want both really.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler – No Mercy
The Mix verses Dolph Ziggler was probably the best feud that the WWE have done all year, especially post brand split. It had all the emotions and the unpredictability you could ever want and on top of that, it was a really good wrestling match as well. This is the sort of feud we live to see in the WWE. You don’t see it enough these days, but when you do. It’s great.
The Miz was on absolute fire before No Mercy with his worked shoot promo against Daniel Bryan. Meanwhile Ziggler was proving that fans do still care about him and cutting earnest, impassioned and meaningful promos. The whole thing was great, it just all came together perfectly.
John Cena vs. AJ Styles – Summerslam
AJ Styles has had quite a few fantastic matches in 2016. Obviously he had that classic against Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10 (but that’s eligible) but within WWE he’s had quite a few too. He’s had two great matches with Roman Reigns and two great matches with John Cena as well. It’s the second match with Cena that makes the list.
Yes it was a great match. Styles is amazing and Cena has proven time and again that he can in fact put on a show. Yet it’s not just the standard of wrestling that is the reason this match makes the list. It’s the fact that Styles beat John Cena for a second time. Not only that, he beat him completely clean.
Cena is such a big name in the WWE that when he does put someone over it is a huge moment. Most fans were expecting the usual, Cena loses once and then wins 8 rematches to prove a point. That didn’t happen! Styles won and it made him a made man. It was fantastic to see.
Since then Styles has only gone up in the world of WWE and is currently the WWE World Champion, will he eventually lose to Cena. Yes, does it matter? No. It was a great match. A great moment. And it meant so much for Styles’ career.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn – Takeover: Dallas
I’m not entirely sure there has ever been a better debut match than the one Shinsuke Nakamura had at Takeover: Dallas against Sami Zayn.
Nakamura came into NXT with all the hype in the world surrounding him. When his entrance music hit the building (myself included) exploded. Did he and Sami Zayn deliver the weekend stealing match we had been promised? You’re God damn right they did!
Nakamura was pure charisma from start to finish and NXT fan favourite Sami Zayn always delivers. The 20 minute onslaught delighted fans around the world, despite the fact that it looked like both Zayn and Nakamura could step it up at least a few more levels than they actually did.
The match had plenty of back and forth and both wrestlers were over 110% with a rabid NXT crowd. The stiff, hard-hitting knees, kicks and punches were absolutely brutal from both men. It was a truly awesome moment. One I’m delighted I was involved in.
Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg – Survivor Series
Granted it only lasted one minute and twenty-six seconds, but holy hell what a moment. No one saw that coming. No one. If you say you did I’m going to call you a liar.
Two spears and one Jackhammer. It’s over.
“But how can it be your number two match of the year when it was so short?” Well, voice in my head. It’s really simple. Literally nothing this year has made me feel, the excitement, shock, anger, bewilderment and frustration that the decimation of Brock Lesnar did.
I was stunned. At first I was livid, but I quickly realised that when wrestling makes you feel the way this made me, like a kid who just met Santa putting presents under the tree, then it has to be a good thing. This match came pretty close to matching the feeling I had when I saw Seth Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank contract at Wrestlemania. It was huge.
The length, seen by some as the reason it shouldn’t be on the list is actually the reason it is. Had this been a 15 minute slog in which Goldberg won. I doubt it would have been any good. Now I’m desperate to see a rematch! Never thought I’d want a rematch of Goldberg verses Lesnar after Wrestlemania 20…
NXT Tag Team Championship: The Revival vs. #DIY – Takeover: Brooklyn 2
Over the last 2 years I have become a huge fan of tag team wrestling again and it’s mainly down to a couple of teams. Dash and Dawson of The Revival, American Alpha, New Day, #DIY and Enzo and Big Cass. For of those teams are recent NXT alumni and the reason I enjoy them so much is because NXT, like with the Women’s division a year or so back, just seem to get it. The Revival specifically though, just seem to understand how to put on great matches. Why do I single them out? Well, because they’ve had great matches with all of them (excluding New Day).
It might come as a surprise that I’m picking this match, rather than their rematch at Takeover: Toronto. A match that was actually listed by WWE themselves as the best of the year! Granted, it was an absolute stonker as well, with that amazing feel good moment when Gargano and Ciampa won the gold. Yet in my opinion, Brooklyn 2 was better. In reality the Toronto match is actually my second favourite of the year and maybe I should have ranked it, but I wanted to mix up the list a little and feature some other matches so I had to compromise.
So why do I prefer this match? It’s simple really. I just believe that there is so much more going on during it. Yes the wrestling is amazing. The chemistry between these two teams is sensational. The false finishes, the perfect timing. It all adds up into an excellent bout. The same can be said for Toronto too.
What makes this match so great is the countless directions that could result from the result. So many potential storyline options all leaving you on the edge of your seat. Are Ciampa and Gargano going to win the big one in WWE or will they fall short and Ciampa turn heel so they can feud. After all they’d had a great match in the Cruiserweight Classic and a feud spawning from that look almost inevitable. At the same time, if The Revival lose what will happen to them? Will they be called up to the main roster to bulk out Smackdown’s tag team division? Afterall, we were just weeks after the WWE Brand Split and anything was possible.
When you’ve got great wrestling and you don’t know what the finish will be, that makes for a brilliant moment. I think the Toronto rematch while excellent, had a more predictable finish so thus has to drop down ever so slightly. Plus, and I’m just being honest, I’m a huge mark for The Revival and I just love to see them win.