To be in the Match of the Year is the goal of every professional wrestler.
Everybody wants to be in the best match of the year, and nobody wants to be in the worst.
Pro wrestling pundits make a lot about the wrestlers themselves. And we like to talk about numbers, business, storylines, and ratings.
But it’s the action in the ring that keeps us coming back.
Check out our picks for the Best (and Worst) Match of the Year.
Let’s work our way up from the bottom.
Worst Match Of The Year — Seth Rollins (C) Vs. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (Hell In A Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship), WWE Hell In A Cell
It doesn’t get any worse than this.
I can’t knock the guys in the ring. Both Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt tried. Hell, everybody in WWE tries. Except that Lesnar guy.
But sometimes no amount of action in the ring can overcome moronic storytelling and nonsensical booking.
To recap, the Fiend was throwing everything at Seth Rollins. Chairs, toolboxes, and a ridiculous Tom & Jerry-sized mallet. No, seriously. It was ridiculous from start-to-finish.
But it’s the finish where everything fell apart. It was the biggest, most high-profile week pro wrestling has had in years. And it ended with a DQ finish.
In Hell In A Cell.
On a technical level, it’s possible there were worse matches in 2019.
But this was, without question, 2019’s Worst Match of the Year.
Runner-Up — Goldberg Vs. The Undertaker, WWE Super Showdown
We’ve talked about this before but seriously. How embarrassing.
Just how incredibly embarrassing.
It’s bad enough that we had two elderly people doing battle in a WWE ring, and what made it worse was how close they could’ve come to literally dying.
Goldberg knocked himself silly early, spearing himself straight into the ring post. And then he couldn’t lift the Undertaker for the Jackhammer suplex.
And worst of all, he made Undertaker look even older and more past his prime when he couldn’t hold up his end of the Tombstone.
Just a terrible, terrible outing for two guys whose legacies deserve better. And who should never have been in the ring together in the first place. It’s not the worst match of the year, but not for lack of trying.
(Dis)Honorable Mention — Brock Lesnar (C) Vs. Cain Velasquez (WWE Championship Match), WWE Crown Jewel
Long story short, Cain Velasquez didn’t know what he was doing. And Brock Lesnar had no interest in showing him.
It started off as a crappy finish to the first SmackDown episode on Fox, and it ended as an incredibly crappy match at Crown Jewel.
Velasquez was completely exposed, and Lesnar couldn’t see anything but the big bag of money with a dollar sign on it. It’s not worst match of the year, because the expectations were low to begin with. But that doesn’t make it any better.
Best Match Of The Year — Cody Vs. Dustin Rhodes, AEW Double Or Nothing
This was a match that didn’t need weeks of TV to build. In fact, it didn’t have any TV for its build.
There was nothing to build to this contest between brothers but a series of YouTube videos. And yet it made AEW a legitimate promotion almost all on its own.
The match was bloody. And it was brutal. The sight of blood literally pooling from Dustin’s head is one of the most iconic visuals in pro wrestling since another famous Texan bled a gusher.
Dustin Rhodes proved that, at age 50, he isn’t past his prime. And Cody proved why he’s the face of All Elite Wrestling.
There were great technical matches this year. And there were incredibly emotional matches this year. Cody vs. Dustin had it all.
And it’s 2019’s Best Match of the Year.
Runner-Up — Adam Cole (C) Vs. Johnny Gargano (2-out-of-3 Falls for the NXT Championship), NXT TakeOver: New York
You could argue that Cole and Gargano’s rematch from NXT TakeOver XXV was the superior technical match.
But this one had all the elements of great pro wrestling. Athleticism, emotion, and storytelling. Gargano had his back against the wall early and had to gut it out to pick up two straight falls to beat Cole. And claim the NXT Championship.
Storytelling was key to this match as well. Gargano had an absolutely hellish year, as he constantly came up short in the big match.
WWE likes to talk about WrestleMania moments, and this was Gargano’s big moment. Finally getting the big one.
With some of the moves these guys pulled, they’re lucky to have come out of it alive. That’s business as usual for a TakeOver special. The emotion is what puts it over the top.
In any other year, this would be 2019’s Best Match of the Year.
Honorable Mention — Team Ciampa Vs. Unisputed Era (WarGames Match), NXT TakeOver: WarGames III
Speaking of guys pulling out moves that should’ve killed them.
You’d be hard pressed to find more simultaneously cringe-worthy and awesome action in any other match.
Adam Cole was, again, lucky to come out of this one alive. As was Tomaso Ciampa, who only just recently returned from career-threatening neck surgery. The surprise inclusion of Kevin Owens as Team Ciampa’s mystery partner was the theatrical icing on the cake that made this one an instant classic.
It’s hard to go wrong with a WarGames match in NXT. And, just like the TakeOver specials themselves, these contests just keep getting better.
Definitely a solid contender for 2019’s Best Match of the Year.
Feature image courtesy of Cody’s Twitter account.