The guys at Voices of Wrestling were kind enough to allow me to participate in their 2014 MOTY poll, which just concluded today with the reveal of the Top 10. The entire countdown can be accessed here.
My ballot with provided blurbs below, along with some general thoughts.
I find it interesting to look where the matches I voted for finished in the grand scheme of things and what high-placing matches I didn’t vote for, simply because it gives me an idea of what I might be overlooking, what I might value more or less than others, ect.
There were 156 matches that received votes. The 10 matches on my ballot placed between #1 and #60 on the actual poll. It skewed a bit towards the upper end with the average placement of the matches on my personal ballot being between #24 – #25 which is largely a result of having the top two matches somewhere in my top 10. I am not arrogant enough to think that I am right and everyone/most everyone else is wrong, so I was pretty pleased to see that my entire top 10 was in the overall top 60, seven were in the top 30, three were in the top 10, and both #1 and #2 appeared on my ballot. I liked the fact that my ballot landed in the meaty part of the list; I have no desire to be an outlier. I watched 95% of the matches voted on (missed that Stephanie/Brie Bella epic along with one or two others) so its sort of nice to know that my opinions generally fall in the same realm as other fans.
Was obviously pulling for Titan/Virus and was hoping it would get into the top 10, but #15 is nothing to sneeze at. Sort of surprised at the Ishii/Honma NEVER title match finishing ahead of their G1 match. The two NXT matches in the top 5 were not in my top 50 overall for the year, so that’s probably where I differed most from the consensus. I liked both of those matches, just not to that same level. No surprises in the top 3 although I would have thought the Wyatt/Shield match would have finished ahead of Nakamura/Okada.
10. Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Timothy Thatcher (EVOLVE – 09/13)
VOW Poll Placement: #44
Of all the matches involving the mat wrestling brigade of Drew Gulak, Biff Busick, Timothy Thatcher, Zack Sabre Jr., ect. this match from EVOLVE was a cut above the rest. Sabre Jr. had a great year and in my estimation, is the best of that particular bunch when it comes to crafting intelligent and interesting matches focused on submissions and British inspired pinning combinations. Sabre Jr. pulled out an array of neat submissions, set ups, and counters and brought an additional level of selling that helped this match rise above the pack.
9. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE – 01/26)
VOW Poll Placement: #27
Prior to his match at the Royal Rumble versus Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt had a half-dozen televised singles matches under his belt as a member of the main WWE roster. None were particularly long and none were exactly featured bouts. His match versus Bryan was his first big challenge and the match delivered in a big, big way. The show opener was one of the more physical, non-gimmick matches in recent WWE history. Bryan wrestled with his usual level of intensity and brought the big time moves, including a pair of great topes and an awesome tornado DDT from off the ring apron. Wyatt’s catch and reversal of another Bryan tope into Sister Abagail was a spot with a high degree of difficult that they pulled off beautifully. The ending – although really, the entire match – put over Bray so strongly that for one night at least he looked like a potential future superstar.
8. Titan vs. Cavernario (CMLL – 07/29)
VOW Poll Placement: #26
Whenever two young luchadores with seemingly unlimited potential hook up to produce a match that defies their ages, comparisons to Rey Mysterio Jr.’s eye-opening matches versus Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera from AAA in the mid-1990’s are unavoidable. Titan (24 years old) and Cavernario (21 years old) may or may not be the Mysterio Jr. and Psicosis of this generation, but their July 29th CMLL Middleweight title bout from Arena Mexico was about as good of a match as you will see from two wrestlers whose combined ages were a mere 45. Titan’s flying performance in this match was world class. The springboard DDT from inside the ring to the arena floor he hits during the 2nd fall was one of the best spots of the year and a testament to the ability of both wrestlers. The match shunned both the traditional and current CMLL title match structures for a layout that was completely unique and effective. The sky is the limit for these two very talented wrestlers.
7. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE – 05/04)
VOW Poll Placement: #19
The height of the Shield’s abbreviated babyface run was this match against the three veteran heel members of Evolution. Perhaps the Shield’s last great six-man tag team match, this one was structured in a classic style and executed extremely well. The Shield’s opening salvo got the match off to a hot start. Triple H bumped for the Shield members before Evolution took control by utilizing quick tags and working in a more physical than usual manner. Rollins shined during this segment in his role as the isolated member of the face team. The Shield comeback was well timed and energetic. Even the crowd brawling segment was done in a more thoughtful and ultimately more effective manner than the lazy way it is often performed in modern WWE matches. In a year where there were an abundance of great six-man tags, the Shield and Evolution might have produced the best one of all.
6. Negro Casas & Shocker vs. La Sombra & Rush (CMLL – 07/18)
VOW Poll Placement: #60
CMLL (really, lucha in general) is not known for their tag team matches. In 2014, however, the promotion produced the best tag team contest of the entire year in anywhere in the world. Ostensibly a vehicle to build to the Rush vs. Negro Casas hair match, this CMLL World Tag Team title bout turned into a standout match on its own by virtue of its heated and frantic pace. The first two falls properly set the tone for the third fall which is filled with whirlwind action, frenzied saves, and a lot of good old fashioned lucha brutality.
5. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma (NJPW – 07/26)
VOW Poll Placement: #42
In many respects, Honma was to the 2014 G1 what Ishii was to the 2013 version of the tournament – a tournament underdog who got over by producing great match after great match. However, while Ishii accomplished that by standing toe-to-toe with his competition, Honma embraced his role as underdog. There is a clear hierarchy and structure to this match. Honma fights to keep up with his more accomplished opponent while Ishii dishes out his usual doses of brutality. The selling by both wrestlers stands out, as does the great near fall reactions they are able to elicit. The work is tight and brutal without being over the top. Honma gave one of the great underdog performances of the year (or any year) during this excellent match.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW – 08/10)
VOW Poll Placement: #2
The final match of the 2014 G1 Climax between Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada had all of the elements of a big time match going in. It was a tournament final, the first high stakes meeting between the two stable mates, and the headline match of a major Dome show. Okada and Nakamura wrestled a match that felt just as grandiose and important as the circumstances surrounding it. From the opening feeling out process on, this was a match that felt appropriately epic. Nakamura gave an outstanding performance including a flying arm bar that might have been the best single spot of the match. Okada wrestled with a rarely seen intensity. The finish in which Okada used three straight Rainmaker lariats to ensure that Nakamura would not get up was one of the best finishing sequences of the entire year.
3. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WWE – 04/06)
VOW Poll Placement: #8
When discussing all-time great openers, Daniel Bryan and Triple H’s show opening bout from WrestleMania 30 certainly needs to be in the discussion. Granted, the stakes were higher than your normal show opener, but the match was a great example of how to put together an epic match without emptying the entire bag of tricks. While the match had the structure and feeling of a classic Bryan match, the often derided Triple H was terrific in adapting to Bryan’s flavor of wrestling. This might have been the best match and performance of Triple H’s career. The two wrestlers created doubt to what should have been an obvious conclusion and in the process, had the WWE’s best match of 2014.
2. A.J. Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki (NJPW – 08/01)
VOW Poll Placement: #1
One of the more endearing qualities of pro wrestling is how greatness will often come from unexpected places. Nestled innocently in the 8th position on the 10-match Korakuen G-1 Climax card, the first time matchup between A.J. Styles and Minoru Suzuki started without much in the way of expectations and ended up as one of the year’s best matches. Suzuki’s attack on Style’s hand and fingers was both unique and immensely entertaining. Styles shined while on offense and defense. His comebacks were well-timed which, along with the fun submission reversal sequence in the latter portions of the match, helped elevate the drama to the next level. In all, Suzuki and Styles produced a high impact, dramatic match that is amongst the best of both men’s long careers.
1. Virus vs. Titan (CMLL – 01/28)
VOW Poll Placement: #15
A brilliant mix of traditional lucha mat wrestling, innovative submissions, high flying, and drama allowed Virus and Titan’s January CMLL Middlweight title bout to go nearly wire-to-wire as 2014’s best match. There is no wrestler in the world who is able to make a wrestling match look so smooth, effortless, and stunning as Virus. The way he controls the mat and brings Titan along through the opening fall mat work is excellent stuff, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Virus’ aggressiveness in attacking the leg to open the 2nd fall, his bumping for Titan’s offense and his high-end moves (including a beautiful somersault plancha to the outside) all help take his performance in this match to the next level. If that wasn’t enough, Virus even works in a few spots that harken back to his days as a mini and his feud with Cicloncito Ramirez. While Virus’ performance in this match is outstanding, Titan is not merely a spectator. This match is the best of Virus’ four title matches from 2014 thanks in large to Titan’s contributions. His selling and fiery comebacks got the Arena Mexico fans solidly behind him. Titan is one of the best flying wrestlers today and his high-end flying offense contributed immensely to the match’s success. This is a match that lucha and non-lucha fans alike can definitely appreciate.