2016 has been a whirlwind of a year for WWE. While 2015 was a torrid year for the company, 2016 has been much kinder. This is due to some of the best signings in recent memory, NXT’s world-class display and a string of unforgettable matches. Today we look back on the best matches showcased by WWE this year. Here are the Top 10 WWE Matches that took place in 2016.
10. Sasha Banks VS Charlotte (Monday Night RAW, July 25th)
This match from the July 25 edition of RAW proved to be the pinnacle of this feud. Two years ago both Women were in NXT jump starting their careers, two years later they were main eventing WWE’s flagship show. Perhaps the most memorable match from Monday Night RAW this year, one cannot forget the suicide dive spot by Sasha Banks. As fans often reminisce that spot to a similar one from Lita VS Trish Stratus 12 years ago. In addition to this the finish to the match truly made it monumental, especially for Sasha Banks as she won her first WWE Women’s Champion. In a bout that emphasized the capability of Women’s wrestling today, both women left it all in the ring that very night.
9. The Miz VS Dolph Ziggler (Backlash)
It is hard to deny or argue that The Miz has been brilliant in 2016. This year has proven to be the peak of his career, as two Intercontinental Championship reigns have justified that. Also in addition to his in-ring work he has also been the best heel on WWE TV this year. More specifically when it came to his in-ring work his matches with Dolph Ziggler exemplify exactly why The Miz’s 2016 has been awesome. At Backlash in September the two faced off for the Intercontinental Championship in a classic encounter. In what can be described by Jim Ross as a “Slobber Knocker” the match had a fantastic methodical pace. Back and forth sluggish affair with some brilliant spots to go with it. Furthermore the finish to the match was so heelish, it did not bother too many fans, Simply because the match itself was brilliant.
8. Sami Zayn VS Kevin Owens (Battleground)
In my opinion both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens are two of the best workers in WWE. The current WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens has graduated a great 2015 with a blast of a year in 2016. On the other hand Sami Zayn has provided the absolute best when called upon, both superstars truly are potential leaders for the future in the company. Their feud has been the best of 2016 and their series of matches proved so. Most noteworthy their bout at WWE Battleground was solid and a nice way for the two to part ways, for now. This is most certainly not the end of the Zayn & KO rivalry as I hope 2017 turns a leaf for both superstars.
7. AJ Styles VS Chris Jericho (Wrestlemania 32)
Is there anything these two did wrong this year? AJ Styles arrival in the WWE was very much welcomed, the Phenomenal one was finally in the promise land! The first feud of his WWE career was against none other than Chris Jericho, the absolute best all round veteran in the company today. Their match at Wrestlemania 32 was in my opinion very much underrated, as I believe it was one of the best on the entire show. Asides from Y2J winning the match that ultimately culminated the feud, Styles first ‘Mania match was great. Props to both veterans for their work together and overall this year.
6. Becky Lynch VS Charlotte VS Sasha Banks (Wrestlemania 32)
The terms “Women’s Revolution” has been tossed about too vaguely in recent months, however this Triple Threat match defined the term. As a Professional Wrestling fan of 16 years, this is the best Women’s Wrestling match I have had the privilege of watching. Three of the best female performers in the company showcased their world-class credentials on the grandest stage of them all. The moonsault from Charlotte was picture perfect and has been instilled in my memory ever since. Also the match saw the crowning of a new Women’s Champion in the WWE, something that ushered in a new era for the Women’s division. All three women produced the match of the night at Wrestlemania 32. Perhaps the greatest women’s match of all time.
5. Team RAW VS Team Smackdown (Survivor Series, Men’s Elimination Match)
While in recent years Survivor Series had been a major letdown for WWE, Survivor Series 2016 raised the bar. Of course no one can forget Goldberg’s destructive return to the ring but lets not forget about Team RAW VS Team Smackdown. For the first time in over a decade brand warfare returned to WWE, as RAW took on Smackdown in a Survivor Series Elimination match. The likes of AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho were sure to make a great bout. Finally it was great to Bray Wyatt take the rub of the traditional Survivor Series win, something he fully deserved.
4. AJ Styles VS Roman Reigns (Extreme Rules)
Now 2016 has not been Roman Reigns’ best year but no one can deny his great work with AJ Styles. The two headlined two different PPV’s with their match Extreme Rules being a hell of a contest. From this bout it was easy to see Styles brought the best out of Reigns and really got his work rate going through the roof. Also in my opinion it was the best Reigns has performed all year which is a credit to him as well as Styles, who has had a cracking 2016. Obviously not everyone could appreciate Reigns following this match but fans appreciated the match itself. This is another match of the year candidate featuring AJ Styles, proving that 2016 truly was “Phenomenal” .
3. AJ Styles VS John Cena (Summerslam)
This past summer AJ Styles and John Cena finally crossed paths. Two of the biggest names of the past decade in Professional Wrestling finally met and what a treat it was! While their match at Money In The Bank was great no one can argue their match at Summerslam was even better. Each time the two met the WWE Universe sprung to life and a force of energy echoed throughout the arena. This feud created such a special reaction from the crowd unlike any other. Also their match at Summerslam was widely considered match of the PPV and rightfully so, it was off the chart. In what was such a high-profile match both AJ Styles and John Cena put on a world-class display, which justified the class between both athletes.
2. DIY VS The Revival (NXT Takeover Toronto)
2016 has been an absolute stunner for NXT. Most noteworthy the Tag Team division on the brand has been on another level. The team of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder (The Revival) have been one of the best, if not the best tag team in WWE this year. The Revival’s best work from this year came against Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, also known as DIY. While their first match at NXT Takeover Brooklyn was special, NXT Takeover Toronto proved to be the pinnacle of the Tag Team division in NXT. Both teams met in a Two out of Three falls match where DIY captured the NXT Tag Team Champions. In what was one of the most innovative Tag Team matches in recent memory, DIY and The Revival proved why NXT is on the map in professional wrestling.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura VS Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover Dallas)
NXT Takeover Dallas: The King of Strong Style Arrived. After speculation in the new year, Shinsuke Nakamura made his WWE debut at Takeover Dallas where he faced Sami Zayn, in what was the match of the year. It had everything a wrestling match should have: An electric crowd, Two of the most over wrestlers and a world-class wrestling match itself. While there was no backstory heading into the match, fans were simply eager to witness the arrival of Nakamura. In addition to this many knew it was Zayn’s final match in NXT, as he was already appearing on the main roster at this point. However that did not take the spark off what was a truly incredible match and marked the arrival of Shinsuke Nakamura to WWE. Furthermore it also marked the absolute pinnacle of NXT as a brand in the industry today.