I’ve finally reached the finish line, and we conclude my annual WWE awards articles series by awarding what the best match of WWE was. If you’re just coming across this article and didn’t get to the rest, here were the other categories:
OMG Moment of the Year – Given to the single most shocking or surprising moment in all of WWE this year. Genuine shock factor is stressed here.
Return of the Year – Given to the best return of a superstar(s) that no one saw coming.
Tag Team of the Year – Given to the most consistent and best-performing tag team of 2017.
Promo/Segment of the Year – Given to the best promo or segment in all of WWE.
Newcomer of the Year – Given to the superstar either new to the main roster or put in a different role who’s performed the best in 2017.
Rivalry of the Year – Given to the best rivalry between two opposing entities in WWE this year. The rivalry has to span at least two matches in order to qualify.
Superstar of the Year (Men’s) – Given to the best overall performing superstar on the men’s roster.
Superstar of the Year (Women’s) – Given to the best overall performing superstar on the women’s roster.
Match of the Year – Given to the best overall match of the year in 2017.
MATCH OF THE YEAR
And the nominees are….
1. Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman – Universal Championship (Summerslam)
This was about as chaotic a match as you’d expect a world title match with four athletic behemoths get. I had the fortune of being live at the Barclays Center to witness the spectacle, and boy let me tell you something, there really wasn’t anything like watching all of those big men absolutely destroy each other. Braun Strowman set the tone early, by powerlsmaming Brock not through one, but through two announce tables, and that already set the crowd ablaze. Then, Samoa Joe played conservative by trying to put everyone he could find into sleep, and Roman stayed on the aggressive, spearing men through barricades.
Brock Lesnar retaining the championship was probably the right decision here, but at the same time, many were wondering if Braun or Samoa Joe would potentially upset, because many noticed that the results for this match were being kept under wraps and the finish was being highly protected up until the match. In any case, this was a spectacular main event to what was an otherwise average Summerslam.
2. AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena – WWE Championship (Royal Rumble)
It was title number 16 on the line for John Cena. For AJ Styles, it was respect and becoming the official new face that runs the place. These two entities had a heated exchange of words leading up to the match, with Cena believing that AJ would fail in his endeavor and that he could never replace what Cena means to WWE, while AJ claimed that a new era is upon us in WWE and that they can make it without him. It was a true styles clash (no pun intended), as these two entities put on a damn near perfect match.
They played up previous spots from their impressive match at Summerslam the year prior, and it turned into a war of attrition as the two just kept kicking out of what each man had to offer and both men refused to say die. In what was another impressive call back to the finish of their Summerslam match, AJ goes for the Phenomenal Forearm, but instead it is reversed mid-move, and Cena hits an AA, but to make sure that AJ is down for good, he rolls over and delivers the AA once again to hammer home the point, and Cena makes history at the Rumble. While all know his title reign afterward would amount to nothing as he’d lose the title to the next PPV literally 3 weeks later, this match was the culmination of an incredible feud between Styles and Cena and will go down as one of the greatest WWE Title matches in the history of the industry.
3. John Cena (C) vs. AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz vs. Baron Corbin – Elimination Chamber Match – WWE Championship (Elimination Chamber
Probably the least talked about match on this list, but still an impressive outing nonetheless. The Elimination Chamber took a one-year hiatus before returning as a Smackdown-exclusive PPV. The actual chamber was revamped in a way which removed all of the steel-linked chains. I was actually afraid that it would ruin the match because gentrifying a match that is supposed to be as brutal as the Elimination Chamber can do little good. I was proven wrong, as all six competitors proved capable and were still able to put on a great affair. The triple threat dynamic between Ambrose, Styles, nd Cena helped carry things along to begin things, and it helped that all three men feuded with each other to end 2016, and they carried that chemistry into this match. Corbin didn’t add much, but he was able to make an impact before getting eliminated early in the bout.
Bray Wyatt was obviously the star of the match, being able to survive onslaughts from every one of his opponents and having the most defining moment of his career, pinning John Cena and AJ Styles cleanly in successive fashion en route to winning his frst WWE Championship in a moment that people waited for so long to see. Just like Cena, Wyatt’s title reign didn’t amount o much as it came to a crushing end at the hands of Randy Orton in a completely disgusting excuse for a WrestleMania WWE Title match. That said, if you want to see creativity at work, you need to check this chamber match out. While it’s certainly not the same without the steel, it didn’t take away from the match in the slightest. In fact, it was better than most of the EC matches that proceeded it.
4. AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar – Champion vs. Champion (Survivor Series)
Can you sit back and picture AJ Styles being Jinder Mahal in this match? No seriously, imagine for a second that AJ wasn’t successful in getting the title off of JInder and imagine what kind of match we would have had Jinder remained champion. The small/big guy dynamic here was worked up to a tee here, as AJ was getting thrown around like a ragdoll to start, and a part of me was fearful that Brock was just going to squash AJ. Despite that, AJ was able to utilize his quickness and aerial assaults to get Brock uncomfortable. AJ also targeted Brock’s lower extremities for the majority of the match. You could tell Brock was game for this match, because he rarely sells a body part in a match like he did in this one so early in the match, and he had some extra bark in his German suplexes.