2021 is dead and gone, and good riddance! It’s a new year, and a great time to start looking back at some big stuff from 2021 in order to look forward. Big shocker, The Pandemic is still raging, and most of us sane people were still inside more than not, enjoying things like televised wrestling matches, books TV, and HBO Max films. I probably watched more wrestling last year than many previous years simply because I dropped WWE late in 2020, and started replacing the 6-7 hours of time with smaller independent companies. I’ve had a blast watching stuff from Impact, ROH, AAA, NJPW, and even GCW and have gained an immense respect for a lot of the independent scene.
I haven’t done something like this for a while, honestly since a worked for a videogame website a decade ago, but I used to love end of the year top ten lists! When you look at the title, there is a BIG emphasis on the word “MY”, this is, by no means, and objective list of THE TEN DEFINITIVE BEST WRESTLING MATCHES OF 2021, just a set of matches I enjoyed last year. I will be honest – I don’t watch much WWE anymore, the matches from them I have on here are ones I heard praise for after the fact. My lists will always be AEW, ROH, and MLW heavy simply because that’s what I watch- so keep that in mind.
Without further ado, let’s take a look!
Big E vs. Bobby Lashley (From Monday Night RAW)
When I saw that BIG E had won the WWE Championship on a random episode of RAW, I knew I had to see it. Honestly the match was just okay, but the amazing reception from the crowd made it all worthwhile. It’s one of those matches where what it represents means more than the wrestling itself. As I write this, he has already lost the strap, but for that one moment a guy that was a huge fan of the New Day from nearly day one was super happy!
Rich Swann vs Kenny Omega (From Impact Wrestling Rebellion)
One of the first big things to happen after the so-called “forbidden door” was flung wide open was a champion vs champion match between Omega and Swann. Rich Swann is very underrated, and wrestled an amazing match against Omega, only losing the belt after a half dozen V-Triggers. Omega started his “belt collection” here, eventually holding as many as four belts at one time. This match showed everyone that literally anything was possible at any time in 2021.
MLW Battle Riot (From YouTube)
I’m a big sucker for Battle Royal type matches and especially Rumbles. This one was pretty awesome due to featuring some crazy cameos like Savio Vega reprising his role as Kwang the Ninja, and whoever was playing Kim-Chee, the former manager of Kamala and other monster heel gimmicks. The final two of this match was, of course Hammerstone vs Mads Krueger, solidifying Hammerstone as the next rival to Fatu’s reign. All this, and it was free!
Bryan Danielson vs Minoru Suzuki (From AEW Rampage)
Speaking of amazing free matches, when WWE tried to play games against AEW on a Friday night, trying to torpedo ratings, Tony Khan aired an extra hour of the show on YouTube featuring an amazing match between Suzuki and Danielson. Suzuki has been everywhere this year, and the fans have been treated to some amazing matches, but this was honestly my favorite.
Kenny King vs Shane Taylor (From ROH Final Battle)
From my review:
“I’m always a sucker for a solid “hardcore match” as long as it doesn’t turn into a CZW Deathmatch, so seeing Kenny King and Shane Taylor beat the hell out of each other for nearly twenty minutes was crazy. Aside from the main event, this was my “match of the night”.”
WALTER vs Ilja Dragunov II (From NXT TakeOver: 36)
WALTER vs Ilja Dragunov I was incredible, and who would have thought the second one would be EVEN MORE hard hitting and amazing. With Dragunov’s win, he has solidified himself as THE babyface in NXT UK.
Thunder Rosa vs Dr. Britt Baker (From AEW Dynamite: St. Patrick’s Day Slam)
Everyone used to crap on AEW’s women’s division. Back before Covid-19 forced a ton of new talent to start building skills on AEW Dark, they had some “green” girls on that were slow to get any momentum. I would say this St. Patrick’s Day episode of AEW Dynamite was the turning point, and solidified Britt Baker as the badass she is, as well as elevate Rosa past her standing. I hope we see a rematch in 2022, and I hope Mick Foley has something to say about it!
The Young Bucks vs Lucha Brothers (From All Out 2021)
From my review:
“Holy Smokes! What a match! When you take away the main things that make up the Lucha Brothers main arsenal, such as dives to the floor and hot tags, there’s always this fear they won’t be able to deliver, but how wrong I was. I should have known, considering the incredible stuff done in Lucha Underground as singles stars, but AEW has always kept them in the background a tad – that is until this show. I won’t go out and say this is “the best cage match ever!” like others have stated, but it’s definitely up there. Some of the spots were things I’ve never seen before, and Rey Fenix taking a dive from the top was crazy. I would say if you were to watch a single match from this show, it better be this one.”
Jacob Fatu vs Alexander Hammerstone (From MLW Fightland)
From my review:
“This has got to be the biggest main event that Major League Wrestling has had ever since I have known about them. when you have two guys that have had possession of their respective belts for over two years each, one can imagine how impressive it’s going to be to see one of them win it all. Granted, the COVID-19 global pandemic made sure that was the case, but it doesn’t diminish eithers accomplishments. The match was a winner takes all, no disqualification, utter beat down that ushered in the new era for the company more so than anything else this year. I’m normally not a giant fan of huge muscular wrestlers karma but Alexander Hammerstone has that definite “it factor” that means he will likely be a gigantic superstar in the future. Some like to compare him to Hulk Hogan, which may be a bit presumptive, but I can definitely see it. Despite wrestling about half of the match after blowing out a tendon in his leg, Hammerstone clinched his victory and made history.”
Kenny Omega vs ‘Hangman’ Adam Page (From AEW All Out)
Taken from my review of Full Gear:
“Full Gear was set to be the culmination of a long-term storyline AEW have been working on for the better part of two years. While other companies routinely have stories about how people may or may not be kneeling at each other, or movie tie-ins involving golden eggs, AEW has built up Hangman Adam Page as “the guy” for a while not when most of us had no idea that was going to happen. I honestly was not sold on him at first, but as this storyline has gone, I’m a huge fan.
Basically, Page was given the very first AEW title shot against Chris Jericho and lost. He started drinking, had some Tag Team success with Kenny Omega, then started drinking even more. Eventually they lost those titles due to Page’s sloppiness and perceived drinking. He lost some opportunities and friends due to scheming around trying to regain his spot and hit rock-bottom. He aligned with a band of misfits that had just tragically lost their leader due to a freak illness, and they built each other up. He came close to getting his shot at Omega a few times, and lost it, but he didn’t give up. He kept trying and finally is holding the big gold belt! It’s impressive AEW let it go so long, and many fans loved it.”
Thoughts for 2022:
What a complete change in landscape we had in 2021 – honestly both good and bad. On the bad side – NXT basically got destroyed, in favor of an inferior product that will HOPEFULLY get better, WWE continued tons of releases, and ROH is on hiatus. One the good side, the forbidden door blew wide open, bringing dream matches many never thought would occur, and crazy signings that sounded like the most wishful of thinking in 2020 happened. AEW is on a roll, and most companies are running full throttle. Here’s hoping 2022 keeps up the momentum that 2021 has brought – I’d love to see something like All In 2, with every company participating in a big super show. fingers crossed!