Match Of The Year
ZAH: This, to me, is probably the toughest choice out of all of the categories. There were a LOT of really great matches this year, so choosing one is not the easiest call. I think that a MotY candidate needs to have the crowd firmly invested, tells a great in-ring story, and (normally) an actual storyline to go along with it. At the end of the day, I think the match I popped the most for was AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura from NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 back in January. Styles challenged for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship as the leader of The Bullet Club. It was also the first time these two had ever had a singles match, so the anticipation was there, as well. The match was incredible from start to finish and really set the tone for the entire year.
Mike Rickard: Enzo and Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens (SummerSlam). These four guys proved tag team wrestling can be as exciting as any singles match. An excellent match from start to finish and although Enzo and Cass have been misbooked, they continue to win the fans’ approval thanks to their promos and work in the ring.
Adam Zimmerman: Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar (Survivor Series). "Match Of The Year" is an award often associated with long, epic, "war of attrition" style matches but aside from sports entertainment, I happen to be an MMA and old school "wrasslin" fan. That being said, in my opinion, squash matches have their place in the business. Sometimes a wrestler can get over by having a dramatic "broadway" (as they used to call a 'time limit draw') with an opponent but sometimes they can get the same result by a "squash" or a 30 second KO, in the MMA world. Dominating a top ranked opponent happens occassionally in the WWE nowadays but it's still pretty rare and I don't believe anyone expected a "monster" like Lesnar to get in no offense and get completely dominated in 90 seconds. For that reason alone, I make this match of the year.
The Big Rybowski: This was a bit recent, but my vote goes to AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose from TLC. I'm a sucker for "big spots" and this match had no shortage of those. From start to finish, this match played out like a non-stop highlight reel, which for a match that lasted over 30 minutes is very impressive. The two best spots were probably Styles' 450 Splash to the outside on a tabled Ambrose, or Ambrose's flying elbow off a ladder from one announce table to another. It should be said that I'm not a huge fan of Dean Ambrose, but this match was possibly the best I've seen from him. The ending of the match with James Ellsworth interfering was not the way I wanted to see it end, but it didn't take away from what was the most exciting start to finish match of 2016.
Canadian Bulldog: My Match Of The Year probably isn't at the top of everyone's list.... but it really hit the spot for me. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens at Battleground was a blowoff match that contained years and years of history, and built on a recent series of matches in NXT and WWE to boot. In many ways, it demonstrated that these two "young veterans" represent the future in WWE and took their time to ensure that their epic rivalry ended the right way.