It’s about that time! With just over a month left in 2017, the IWC is about to be buzzing with a bunch of talk about “Best Superstar of 2017” and “Best Match of 2017.” And guess what? We’re no different! With Survivor Series officially in the books, we have seen every Big Four PPV of 2017 and it’s safe to say that it is probable the following list is an accurate representation of the best matches of 2017 (unless Jinder vs. AJ at Clash of Champions turns into an instant classic). We are fully entrenched in what is affectionately referred to as “The Work Rate Era” of wrestling where in-ring work is just as important, if not more so, than character work and huge, oily muscles. That means we’ve had a lot of great wrestling this year. Without further ado, here are the 10 Best WWE Matches of 2017. *DISCLAIMER* This is an opinion based list. I look forward to hearing your opinions about how my opinions are terrible *groan.*
Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate in the United Kingdom Championship Tournament Finals, The Usos vs. The New Day at Hell in a Cell, Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 33, Both Money in the Bank Matches, War Games, Alexa Bliss vs. Charlotte at Survivor Series, the Elimination Chamber Match…….this is a really hard list to make, leave me alone.
10. Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano: NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III; Meltzer Rating: 4.25/5
Starting off this list is a match that seemingly came out of nowhere and started off the night in a HUGE way for the third NXT Takeover hosted in Brooklyn. This was Johnny Gargano’s first Takeover match since the heart-wrenching breakup of #DIY at Takeover: Chicago and Cien’s first Takeover since he aligned himself with Zelina Vega and began his career resurgence, which ultimately led to his first NXT Championship. From bell to bell, this match was filled with technical brilliance, a compelling story, and a fantastic finish. As Johnny Wrestling was seemingly about to finish off Almas, Zelina Vega threw a #DIY shirt at Gargano, distracting him, allowing Cien to take over and score the win. Gargano’s look of devastation while holding the shirt was brilliant. It furthered the story of Gargano and his former partner Tommaso Ciampa in such an effective way despite the latter not even being in the building that night. Watching this match back will make you salivate at the impending feud between the two former members of #DIY and further illustrates that the brand new NXT Champion is well deserving of his new title.
9. The Authors of Pain vs. The Revival vs. #DIY: NXT Takeover: Orlando; Meltzer Rating: 4.5/5
Keeping in the NXT vein, it wasn’t hard to believe that the teams that ruled not just NXT, but all of WWE in 2016 would continue their Tag Team brilliance. This match served as a farewell to the Revival, the beginning of the end for #DIY, and the coronation of the Authors of Pain as the top team in NXT. Filled with great moments like the alliance of the Revival and #DIY and the swift destruction of said alliance, this match was Tag Team fun from start to finish. The AoP proved that they were no longer green, lumbering giants and that they could actually put on a great match and the other two duos further solidified themselves as gods of Tag Team wrestling. It’s a shame that injuries would keep us from seeing more of the Revival this year or the Gargano vs. Ciampa feud, but it’s certainly something to look forward to in 2018, as is the inevitable call up of the AoP to the main roster. Those 2 monsters against The Bar? Sign me up.
8. The Usos vs. The New Day: SummerSlam Pre-Show; Meltzer Rating: 4/5
I don’t know which is more of a shocker…that this match is so low on the list or that Dave Meltzer only gave it 4 stars. Of course, a 4 star match is nothing to be upset about, but this match was SO good. This match just barely edges out the teams’ awesome encounter at Hell in a Cell, but this match made the cut because I was there at the Barclay’s Center to see it live and, man, was it INSANE! FALSE FINISH CITY! These two teams, obviously upset that they were not on the main card, used their additional time to full effect and put on a legitimate Match of the Year candidate which furthered their campaign for Feud of the Year as well. These 5 guys just can’t put on a bad match together. When I say “FALSE FINISH CITY,” the match could have realistically ended 5 or 6 times and the crowd would have been happy. But no, these guys had more high spots and drama to deliver to the crowd. A guillotine Uso Splash, a pop-up Samoan Drop to the outside to Xavier Woods…this match had moves I had never seen either of these teams pull out before. It was pure brilliance and an excellent start to SummerSlam.
7. Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami: NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III; Meltzer Rating: 4.25/5
This, along with another few matches to be mentioned later (foreshadowing!), instantly made two stars. Maybe not as much as the matches to be named later, but this match featured 2 men who needed to have great showings and those men delivered. Aleister Black was going up against his first real threat since joining NXT and Hideo Itami had to make up for lost time which was lost due to injuries. Bar-none, this is the stiffest match of the year. Every kick, knee, elbow looked absolutely DEVASTATING. The story of Itami wanting respect and Black’s response of “you need to earn it” was told beautifully in the ring. It was a fast paced slugfest that anyone can enjoy. And that final Black Mass….oh man. I think Hideo is still shook from that.
6. Asuka vs. Ember Moon: NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III; Meltzer Rating: 4.5/5
This might be my Rivalry of the Year. These two women are so innovative in the ring that they could wrestle each other until the end of time and we would still see something new each match. Their styles compliment each other so well, it’s uncanny. Ember Moon came SO close to winning the NXT Women’s Championship on multiple occasions, but she couldn’t quite pull it off, noticeably failing to hit Asuka with The Eclipse every match. When she finally did hit it in this match, everyone thought that was it. But Asuka kicked out and the crowd EXPLODED. Ember’s look of pure shock looked incredibly genuine. No matter what she did, she couldn’t defeat the Empress of Tomorrow. This match also shed some light on the character that is Asuka. Feeling her championship slip away from her, she began to employ some heelish tactics that she never really had to pull out before. Asuka picked up the victory, but no woman lost on that day. As head of the NXT Women, Ember Moon is primed to have a breakout 2018, and don’t be surprised if Asuka is RAW Women’s Champion before WrestleMania.