A couple weeks ago I started to put together a list of the best pro wrestling matches of 2017. I realized that the WWE didn’t have many spot on the list, so I compiled a list of best WWE matches of 2017.
Since I got that post out of the way for American mainstream wrestling fans, I finished my original list that is unsurprisingly heavy on New Japan matches.
Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are the three-best wrestlers in the world and had impressive matches in New Japan this year. They take up a good portion of the list.
Which Okada/Omega match tops our list?
Here are our top ten pro wrestling matches of 2017 (and a few honorable mentions).
Before we get into the list, i want to say that these are matches we’ve watched this year. I wasn’t able to see a couple Pro Wrestling Guerilla shows this year, so highly-rated matches like WALTER vs Zack Sabre Jr. and the three-way tag team match with Penta El Zero, Ray Fenix, Young Bucks, Matt Sydal and Ricochet aren’t on my list…because I haven’t seen them. I heard great things, but I couldn’t add them. Maybe I’ll find them online soon or stop being cheap and buy the PWG DVDs.
- Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak – PWG Battle of Los Angeles Day 3 – September 3rd
- Authors of Pain/Roderick Strong vs SANITY vs Undisputed Era – NXT Takeover: War Games – November 18th
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi – NJPW Power Struggle – November 5th
- Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW King of Pro Wrestling – October 9th
- John Cena vs AJ Styles – 2017 Royal Rumble – January 29th
- Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW G1 Climax Day 11 – August 1st
10. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate – NXT Takeover: Chicago – May 20th
A lot of people liked Dunne vs Bate’s first match in the finals of the UK Tournament, but their match at NXT Takeover: Chicago stands out much more. Nothing on that show could touch it. Everything after it felt a tad flat.
9. Kenny Omega vs Tomoro Ishii – NJPW Wrestling Dontaku – May 3rd
Any other year, Omega would be the best wrestler in the world, but Okada slightly edged him out. Omega and Okada both had a stretch of unbelievable matches from January through the Summer. Omega’s stretch ended with his odd G1 match with Toru Yano (it’s worth a watch just to see how strange it was). Ishii is one of my favorite wrestlers and is stiff as hell. The Stone Pitbull had an unbelievable match with Omega. I loved it.
8. Brock Lesnar/Braun Strowman/Roman Reigns/Samoa Joe – Summerslam 2017 – August 20th
This was the eighth best match of 2017…and the best in WWE this year. It was just a bunch of bulls out there smashing each other in a china shop. A lot of action, big moves and tables broken by Lesnar’s body. Vince McMahon knows what to do when he has a bunch of big dudes in a match, and this match proves it. I wish it built to a better Strowman/Lesnar match at No Mercy, but maybe the Strowman/Lesnar/Kane match at 2018 Royal Rumble will make up for it.
7. Tetsyua Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW G1 Climax Day 17 – August 11th
Naito is probably the third-best wrestler in the world. Tanahashi showed why he is still ‘The Ace’ of New Japan. He has been hampered by injuries this year, but even with a bad biceps injury, he had a spectacular match against Naito at this year’s G1. I can’t wait for Naito/Okada at Wrestle Kingdom XII.
6. KUSHIDA vs Will Ospreay – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Day 14 – June 3rd
I’m a big KUSHIDA fan and if he were six inches taller, the dude would be on an Okada-level…he’s that damn good. Due to his size, he’s pretty much stuck in the junior heavyweight division. I’m not disappointed since he can have awesome matches with guys like Will Ospreay. This is the only NJPW junior match on the list, but there were plenty of very good matches in that division this year. Many barely missed the cut on getting included in the ‘Honorable Mention’ section.
5. Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega – NJPW G1 Climax Final – August 13th
As I said before, Naito and Omega are the #2 and #3 guys in the world. It was a no-brainer that these guys would tear the house down at the G1 Climax final. Omega was going for a repeat as G1 winner. It was a great match, awesome spots and got over the fact that these guys will destroy their bodies to win the G1…it’s that damn important. Everyone should watch this match before the Naito/Okada match at the Tokyo Dome.
I also want to talk about Los Ingobernables de Japon for a minute. Everyone in the states are all-in on The Bullet Club, but LIJ is the far better stable of guys. Sure, there isn’t a gaijin (foreigner) in the group, but I could see that coming this year. Naito, SANADA (who has all the tools to be a top guy), EVIL, BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi (and Daryl) are the best faction in pro wrestling today.
4. Kazuchika Okada vs Katsuyori Shibata – NJPW Saukra Genesis – April 9th
In any other year, this match would have been the best match of the year. The outcome of the match is very sad, since Shibata was my favorite wrestler, and this might be his final match. He suffered brain swelling and temporary paralysis after giving a stiff headbutt to Okada. He made a surprise appearance at the G1 Finals since and looked a lot smaller and only said a few words on the mic and left. If this was Shibata’s final match, it was a spectacular last match.
3. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega – NJPW G1 Climax Final – August 13th
This is more commonly referred to as Okada/Omega 3. It was really, really difficult to follow their first three matches. It is only personal preference that someone could rank their three matches. Some could have this one as their favorite, especially if Omega is your favorite guy. It was a testament to these guys that they could pull this off after the grueling G1 schedule. I’m not sure what thee guys could have done to top their first to matches…or if anyone ever will.
2. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom XI – January 4th
I watched this match live in the middle of the night and loved every second of it. When it ended, I didn’t think anything could top it. The crowd was built up throughout the match and every reversal and big spot popped the Tokyo Dome. The spot where Omega is backdropped onto a table on the outside is about as crazy of a spot you’ll see in any major promotion. There was a lot on the line here. Can Omega parlay the first every gaijin to win the G1 into winning the IWGP Heavyweight title at the Tokyo Dome show? Will Okada (the top guy in New Japan) lose at the biggest show of the year? The ending was great and came at the perfect time.
1. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega – NJPW Dominion – June 11th
As I just said, after the end of Okada/Omega 1, I never thought anyone could top it…I was wrong. These two guys had the world watching their rematch. They had so much pressure on them and they freakin’ delivered. The final twenty minutes of the match was possibly the most intense storytelling I’ve ever seen in the squared circle. Can Omega get revenge on Okada? Can Omega hit a one-winged angel on Okada? This match was fantastic and it flew by. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t watched it, but I was blown away when I realized how long this match actually took in real time.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.