This is what it’s all about – the “wrestling” part of professional wrestling. Guys squaring off to fight it out, settle their differences, and entertain thousands (millions?) of fans. But only ONE match can be called “Match of the Year.” Which one earned top honors? Read on to find out…
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): For a pure match and the excitement in watching it, my choice is the Fatal 4-Way between Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze at NXT TakeOver 2 in September. This match had so many fantastic moments and false finishes. Several times it looked like Zayn or Breeze especially were going to leave with the title, just to come up short. Everyone involved were just spot on and the timing was impeccable — just a great match between four guys going all out to deliver. I’ll give honorable mentions to Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania, The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber along with Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro at the first NXT TakeOver show.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30 – classic wrestling at its finest. These two told a great story, did fantastic work between the ropes, and executed a near-flawless main-event level match. Were there other great matches? Sure – Sami Zayne vs Cesaro, the NXT Fatal-Four-Way, The Shield vs. The Wyatts, The Shield vs Evolution, and countless others. But for a wrestling purist, nothing hit closer to home that Triple H and Bryan. Great work, fellas.
Danny Bixby (@DannyJBixby): Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. In my mind, this match only barely squeaked out ahead of The Shield vs Evolution at Payback, mostly because of the storyline surrounding it. This was the major turning point for the Shield. This was their first major contest as full out babyfaces after turning from being unstoppable heels since their debut. And the fans were dying for it! This match gave people what they wanted: A compelling reason to fight (Wyatts cost The Shield a shot at the title in the chamber) and six performers who gave everything they had to the match. Even Erick Rowan, the weakest link in the bunch, looked legitimate in this contest.
Nathan McCarter (@McCarterN): Don’t get me wrong, I love the WWE. However, no match they put on compared to the litany of top flight matches NJPW put on in 2014. Standing atop that list is AJ Styles vs. Mioru Suzuki. The match started quickly and with the typical hard-hitting action of NJPW that we’ve come to expect. Styles and Suzuki had each other scouted well, and that resulted in many smart reversals. The psychology of the bout was second to none. Even the run-ins by the Suzukigun and Bullet Club stables made sense for the bout. False finishes brought us to our feet, and the back-and-forth battle enthralled us. Over the course of the year there have been better stories – Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – but none topped Suzuki vs. Styles from an all-around aspect: story, selling, psychology, and in-ring performance. It was a complete match that highlighted an astonishing tournament. It was the apex of 2014.
Justin Kendall (@JustinDKendall): The Authority vs. Team Cena. Let’s not kid ourselves, this was Team Ziggler. This match seemed to be setting up one of two babyface endings. Super Cena saves the day again or Ryback eats the Authority. Neither happened. Big Show made his 32nd turn and knocked out Cena who was then eliminated. And Ryback fell to Rusev. Dolph Ziggler was left in a 3-on-1 predicament against Kane, Luke Harper and Seth Rollins. WWE finally allowed Ziggler to steal the show as the sole survivor (with an assist from Sting). It was a jump-out-of-your-seat moment for longtime Ziggler fans and a satisfying end to the Authority’s rule.
A little bit divisive here at BTR! Tell us what you think earned top honors in the comments section below. And make sure to read all our Best of 2014: Professional Wrestling picks and see what we thought about the year that was!