Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote each of the 2016 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Match along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
(1) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas (26 percent)
(2) Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Revival at NXT Takeover: Toronto (18 percent)
(3) AJ Styles vs. John Cena at SummerSlam (16 percent)
(4) AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10 (8 percent)
(5) Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens at WWE Battleground (5 percent)
Others: 27 percent
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: First off, a big thanks to Zack Zimmerman for compiling the majority of the list of nominees for this category. There was such a buzz surrounding Nakamura vs. Zayn with fans who were familiar with their work. The atmosphere was truly incredible and they delivered a wonderful match that connected with that audience in a major way. Everyone has their own way of assessing matches, and while that special atmosphere means nothing from a technical standpoint, it still gave it the extra oomph to push it past the excellent tag match between DIY and The Revival for me.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: Not having the strongest memory, I have to give my vote here based on the feelings I had during the match. With that, I enjoyed DIY vs. The Revival from NXT Takeover: Toronto more than any other match this year. The story, the build, the pacing, and the payoff all hit their crescendo at the same time and made for one of the best tag matches I’ve ever witnessed.
John Moore’s Thoughts: There may have been better matches from a technical perspective, and the ones involving Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano were better worked overall, but I’m going to go with American Alpha vs. The Revival at NXT Takeover: The End. This match cleaned up what was already a stellar encounter at NXT Takeover Dallas. This also cemented The Revival as a credible and entertaining tag team. This match is what started the Revival craze as far as nearfalls are concerned. Almost every nearfall and pin attempt was believable. I also watch most of this year’s PPV’s takeovers with groups of people and this match kept the eyes glued to the TV. Honorable mention goes to Sexy Star vs. Mariposa in the “No Mas” match. That was a very unique and pretty revolutionary match when you think of it. It was a bloody brawl and masterful payoff to a dark and deep storyline.
Jake Barnett’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed John Cena vs. AJ Styles at Survivor Series. The match felt big, and it delivered both in terms of athleticism and drama. The story they told was unexpected, and it was one of the few times we’ve seen John Cena pull out all the stops and still fall short to an opponent that was presented as an equal. Styles winning clean sent him on the path of capturing the WWE Championship, and set up a return match that will carry the load for Smackdown in 2017 at the Royal Rumble.
Darren Gutteridge’s Thoughts: The bloom may have come off the rose for NXT a little this year, but it still provided all of my contenders for Match of the Year in 2016. Ultimately, Zayn vs. Nakamura beat out competition from a plethora of NXT Tag Title matches simply by living up to its billing of a “Dream Match”. Nothing made me more excited this year than this match at Takeover: Dallas – it was a perfect storm of anticipation, an engrossed crowd, and instant, unstoppable chemistry. It was a match, so good I’d be OK if it never happened again, lest they risk turning in something less (which would be almost a given at this point).
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: When looking at match of the year, I tend to go through my memory banks and try and pick out my favorite matches from each company that I watch regularly. When it comes to WWE, my first thoughts always go to WrestleMania as you can usually expect the best matches from the company to be “on the grandest stage of them all.” Not this year, aside from the Women’s triple threat, it was kind of a bad year in ring at ‘Mania. In ROH they had the incredible ladder wars between The Bucks, MCMG and The Addiction. My personal favorite matches have been from the Progress Wrestling company out of the UK especially Mark Haskins vs. Johnny Gargano, and Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay. However, my Match Of The Year vote goes to Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura from NXT Takeover:Dallas. Not only did it reach my lofty expectations going in but it surpassed them and more. Having seen a limited amount of Nakamura at the time, I understood his ability and charisma from this one match, and the emotional sendoff for Sami Zayn from NXT was just phenomenal. Add that to the grueling and action packed match and it wasn’t topped for me all year on the global stage.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: I am biased. I know this match wasn’t the greatest match of 2016, but for me, it felt like a religious experience. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas was a highlight of my own wrestling fandom. From the entrances of Zayn and Nakamura, the the final moment of Zayn’s NXT goodbye, I was on the edge of my seat. As the fans screamed “fight forever” I could hardly say a word. It was one of my favorite live wrestling moments ever and it’ll be one of my favorite matches for a long time.