AUTHOR’S NOTE: Before we get going with the 50 Best Of 2017 I thought I would mention that there were several great trilogies this year (Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak and Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada for example), so I decided to put them together on the list to fit a better variety of top-level matches…but I will mention which of the rematches was the best in the list. I tried to include the matches with the most drama and emotion, whether it be expressed through strong-style testing of wills or the best all-around performances. It wasn’t easy to compile a top 50 with all of the 5-star matches this year but it sure was fun to watch all of it! You could argue some matches could be ranked higher or some aren’t included at all, but this was the best year ever in match quality from around the globe for me personally, no matter how you rank it. Enjoy! (And if we missed anything you enjoyed, let us know in the comments section)
50 Best Matches of 2017: Part 1 (50-26)
#50. Aleister Black Vs. Hideo Itami, NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 3
When you have two in the ring against each other on a big stage when they both love stiff strikes, it’s going to be a war and this didn’t disappoint. Itami played a fantastic heel and wore down Black with holds to slow the pace down. NXT knows how to book what fans want to see and WWE fans got one of the most intense matches of the summer. Itami made one mistake and took Black Mass.
#49. Ricochet Vs. Keith Lee, EVOLVE 80
What a clash of styles with Ricochet’s constant high-risk moveset against the 350 pound “Limitless” Keith Lee. Ricochet was shocked at the agility displayed by Lee with a dropkick and leapfrog like a Junior Heavyweight. “The Future Of Flight” dove into a Spirit Bomb on the apron in a wild moment. Lee couldn’t capitalize and was on the receiving end of a 630 Splash.
#48. South Pacific Power Trip Vs. Doom Patrol, EVOLVE Vs. PROGRESS: More Than Mania
A meeting between one of EVOLVE Wrestling’s best teams and PROGRESS Wrestling’s best teams on WrestleMania weekend. TK Cooper broke his ankle later in the year performing a corkscrew moonsault that he does in this match to the floor. These 2 teams had a rematch this Summer as well in EVOLVE Wrestling but Doom Patrol winning the first match was spectacular. A Choke Bomb combo off the top rope by Chris Dickinson and JAKA finished Travis Banks after a flurry from everyone.
#47. Jay Lethal Vs. Silas Young, Last Man Standing, ROH Death Before Dishonor XV
Lethal and Silas battled for 6 months but it really escalated at ROH War Of The Worlds UK in a brutal Last Man Standing Match and at Death Before Dishonor. Lethal won the first at Best In The World but Silas won with a Death Valley Driver off the top rope through a table in the rematch. The final bout featured Silas tying a zip-cord to Lethal’s hands off the top of a ladder and both fell to the floor but Silas won again.
#46. Mustache Mountain (C) Vs. CCK, PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Ladder Match, PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun
The trio of Travis Banks, Chris Brookes and Kid Lykos battled Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate for most of the year and it culminated in one of the craziest Ladder matches in recent memory. Seven gave Lykos a Dragon Suplex on a ladder. Seven was tossed into another ladder with an exploder Suplex. Bate was finished with a back body drop off the top of a ladder onto another ladder.
#45. Drew Galloway Vs. Will Ospreay, WCPW Championship, WCPW Exit Wounds
As great as any big man Vs. small man match you could watch, although the roles are reversed and Ospreay is the heel chopping down Drew and diving to the floor on him. WCPW’s best ever match was for the WCPW championship before becoming DEFIANT Wrestling. It took Drew three Future Shock’s in a row to dash Ospreay’s title chances.
#44. Marty Scurll (C) Vs. Lio Rush, ROH TV Championship, ROH 15th Anniversary
I wanted to list this higher but this year was so incredible it still deserves several re-watches and the crowd was as hot as any ROH crowd has been since the Gabe Sapolsky era. Rush was breaking out in ROH after opening lots of eyes and took Scurll to the limit with Frog Splashes and a Spanish Fly. “The Villain” wrestled a Junior Heavyweight style with Rush but out-wrestled him in the end with a Chicken Wing crossface.
#43. Michael Elgin Vs. Matt Riddle, AAW Epic: 13th Anniversary
These guys hit each other as hard as any other match all year, Elgin with forearms smashing Riddle’s jaw and Riddle returning the favor with kicks. Elgin used a Buckle Bomb and spinning back fist to try to wear out Riddle in AAW, Glory Pro and PWG but “The King Of Bro’s” tapped Elgin with the Bro-Mission twister.
#42. New Day (C) Vs. The Usos- WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Hell In A Cell, WWE Hell In A Cell
WWE has been excelling with tag team wrestling in 2017 and they let the seasoned Smackdown Live team finish their rivalry in Hell In A Cell. The Summerslam kick-off match was outstanding as well. The tag team moves are more innovative every match with these teams after years of experience together, a Uranage/Backbreaker for instance by Big E and Woods to the floor. After the kendo sticks and handcuffs were used, Big E was pinned after multiple Uso Splashes.
#41. Kenny Omega (C) Vs. Juice Robinson, IWGP United States Championship, NJPW Destruction In Kobe
The way NJPW built up Juice for this match was nothing short of brilliant. After a year as a popular crowd pleaser he started to receive big matches and even pinned Omega in the G1 Climax tournament with a surprise victory roll. Omega tried to take Juice down a peg with a suplex out of the ring to the floor and several V-Trigger’s. Juice hit Pulp Friction finally but Omega kicked out, although the entire building believed Robinson had the title won. They fought on the top rope only for Juice to go down to a One Winged Angel off the top rope.
#40. Brock Lesnar (C) Vs. Samoa Joe Vs. Braun Strowman Vs. Roman Reigns, WWE Universal Championship, WWE Summerslam
The biggest Heavyweights on Raw gave it everything in this match that consisted of as much outside action as it did in the ring. Lesnar was taken out early with Powerslams through the announce tables by Strowman and stretchered to the back. The door was open and Samoa Joe had a couple Coquina Clutch windows but the chaos continued. Braun looked the best he has ever looked and seemed poised to win the championship. Roman ended up going for a Spear on Lesnar and Brock caught it in mid-air for an F-5.
#39. James Davis Vs. Rob Lynch, PROGRESS Atlas Championship #1 Contender’s Match, PROGRESS Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless
This match didn’t gain as much hype as many other Marquee matches this year but the story told and wild action was unforgettable. Rob Lynch and James Davis have been a tag team as The London Riots for 5 years in the United Kingdom and this ended up being Lynch’s final match ever. Both are near-300 pounds so when they started the match with Suicide Dives into the 3rd row, it was going to be a thriller. Lynch missed a Spiral Tap off the top rope and held his shoulder in agony so Davis took advantage and pulled back on the arm and submitted his best friend. Lynch revealed afterwards on the microphone that he was in too much pain and couldn’t support living through pro wrestling. Davis broke their trademark cricket bat over his back to signal the end of The London Riots and Davis earned the Atlas title shot.
#38. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) Vs. Roderick Strong and Authors Of Pain Vs. Sanity, War Games, NXT Takeover: War Games
Weapons were used and nine bodies were left lying around two rings with the return of War Games after seventeen years. Sanity’s Killian Dane stole the show with agility unbecoming of a man his size and hitting a coast to coast in one ring into a garbage can. A Superplex of the steel Cage into everyone and the Super Collider in between both rings were the highlights. Eric Young grabbed a steel chair but Cole delivered a Shining Wizard for the win right into the chair.
#37. Kazuchika Okada Vs. Tiger Mask W, NJPW 45th Anniversary
Tiger Mask W was inspired by New Japan Pro Wrestling anime and Kota Ibushi got to make his return in unique circumstances playing the character. Ibushi vs Okada is a dream match made a reality at the NJPW 45th anniversary show. The match went 30 minutes and showed how much intensity Kota can bring to the ring, the trading of forearms was spectacular. After The Golden Triangle Moonsault and trying big moves, Okada stood talk after The Rainmaker.
#36. Pete Dunne (C) Vs. Travis Banks, PROGRESS World Championship, PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase The Sun
Banks Vs. Bate in the PROGRESS Wrestling Super Strong Style tournament just missed the list but when Banks finally received his title shot at Alexandria Palace, it was an emotional and breathtaking match. Dunne was the PROGRESS World Champion for almost one year and defeated a who’s who of independent wrestling until he decided he wouldn’t defend the Championship until September against Banks. The rivalry between CCK and British Strong Style came to a head with interference and a sledgehammer to Banks. “The Kiwi Buzzsaw” kicked out and tapped out Dunne with The Lion’s Clutch.
#35. Zack Sabre Jr Vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW G1 Climax
Zack Sabre Jr entered NJPW as the British Heavyweight champion for Rev Pro, the EVOLVE Wrestling champion and the PWG Champion. Sabre is under 200 pounds yet due to his accomplishments as one of the finest in the world, he went to the G1 Climax tournament instead of the Junior Heavyweight division. Tanahashi was grounded for most of the match and his history of shoulder problems didn’t help. Tanahashi was submitted to the Jim Breaks armbar in a huge moment, as a UK wrestler just tapped New Japan’s “Ace.”
#34. War Machine Vs. London Riots, PROGRESS Chapter 51: Screaming For Progress
This was the third meeting between War Machine and The London Riots after two matches tore the house down with War Machine winning. Ray Rowe, Warbeard Hanson, James Davis and Rob Lynch all have the same mindset to a match and that’s reckless abandon. Suicide dives into the crowd and devastating powerbombs all within a fifteen minutes match until the Catapult Spear combination lead The London Riots to victory and their last great tag team win.
#33. Zack Sabre Jr Vs. WALTER, PWG All Star Weekend 13
WALTER outweighs Zack Sabre Jr by 150 pounds but that doesn’t stop Sabre of trying to work on WALTER’s arm and locking on armbars and triangle chokes. The German sensation was having none of that and layed in some of the loudest and cringe-worthy chops possible the entire match. What an amazing finish with Sabre going for a second victory roll but bridging right into a sleeper. None were more intense and engulfing to watch than this.
#32. The Hardys (C) Vs. The Young Bucks, ROH World Tag Team Championships, Ladder War, ROH SuperCard Of Honor Xl
The Young Bucks and The Hardy’s are such similar teams that when they have a ladder match for the first time, it’s fireworks. The Young Bucks are the younger and more crazy team but they were inspired my Matt and Jeff Hardy so the spots were creative and insane at the same time. Matt Hardy was bleeding from his head right before WrestleMania in a ladder match for the WWE Raw tag team titles. Jeff got sent into a ladder on the floor and The Young Bucks reigned supreme as the maybe the best tag team in any promotion.
#31. Shane Strickland Vs. Travis Banks, Inaugural Lucha Forever Championship, Lucha Forever: Dawning Of Forever
“The King Of Swerve” met “The Kiwi Buzzsaw” in Lucha Forever’s inaugural championship match and even though the company is no longer in business, this match shouldn’t be forgotten. For over 30 minutes Banks and Strickland wrestled at a breakneck pace, with multiple finishing moves and even the referee was taken down by the end. After Strickland took ever Slice Of Heaven he could, the Swerve Stomp off the top rope earned Strickland the Lucha Championship to go with his CZW, DEFY and Wrestle Circus titles.
#30. Matt Riddle (C) Vs. Keith Lee, WWN Championship, Last Man Standing, Evolve 94
What is mind-blowing about this match is the pace and the way Riddle and Lee used the stipulation to their advantage. Riddle took a Spirit Bomb in the opening moments and a Go To Sleep that he usually uses. Keith Lee got dropped on his head on the apron by a Fisherman Buster. After both exhausted their moveset and stamina, Lee won the WWN Championship with Ground Zero off the top rope.
#29. Pete Dunne (C) Vs. Jimmy Havoc, PROGRESS Championship, No Disqualification, PROGRESS Chapter 45: Galvanize
Jimmy Havoc returned to PROGRESS Wrestling after a long time on the shelf and was a new man, accepted by the fans and out for what he felt was his Championship. Dunne and Havoc had a bloodbath of a blow-off with Dunne using barbed wire to stomp into the back of Havoc’s knee’s. Havoc hit a stomp off the top on a table but Dunne refused to lose and retained with The Bitter End.
#28. Rey Mysterio Vs. Marty Scurll, Rev Pro Summer Sizzler
It was remarkable to watch Mysterio turn back the hands of time and deliver a performance like this. “The Villain” is in the Cruiserweight ranks in Rev Pro so this match was booked to give Marty a big win and have Rey Mysterio in Rev Pro for the first time. Mysterio used classic moves not seen since WCW and a nice of known moves like the 619. Scurll pinned Mysterio with a reverse version of The Bird Of Prey.
#27. Kazuchika Okada (C) Vs. Minoru Suzuki, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo
Suzuki got the most out of everything in his matches with Okada this year, a Kneebar was applied for minutes but Okada would not give in. The rematch in the G1 Climax tournament went to a 30-Minute draw and was masterful as well in the way Suzuki used his old-school technique. Okada countered the Sleeper and retained the hardware with The Rainmaker lariat.
#26. Tyler Bate (C) Vs. Pete Dunne- WWE United Kingdom Championship, NXT Takeover: Chicago
WWE’s best match all year with both really getting to really go full-tilt in front of a red-hot Chicago crowd. Dunne couldn’t finish it with an Ex-Plex on the apron and Bate couldn’t retain with a top rope Spiral Tap. With the crowd on its feet, Bate went soaring over the top but caught and elbow on the way down on the floor. Dunne made The Bitter End his ticket to greatness and championships this year.
Join us tomorrow for the second part, as we count down #25 through #1!