Hello and welcome to my end of the year Best Match Watched list! Its like your Match of the Year lists but isn't limited to matches that took place this calendar year. Obviously, right? I haven't watched much of anything from 2021. Let's take a look at the first part of this year's viewing.
Tiger Mask vs Pete Roberts (09/10/82 NJPW)
Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06/98 FMW)
Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW)
Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW)
Tetushiro Kuroda vs Masato Tanaka (06/19/98 FMW)
Hisakatsu Oya vs Tetsuhiro Kuroda (12/12/98 FMW)
Abdullah Kobayashi vs Daisuke Sekimoto (07/22/05 BJW)
Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Rave & Shingo (FIP New Year's Classic 2007)
Tyler Black vs Roderick Strong (FIP Heatstroke '07 Night 1)
Honorable Mention Tag Matches - Gotta show some love to the tag matches that just missed the cut:
Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Black Tiger & Pete Roberts (08/27/82 NJPW)
Jado & Gedo vs Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (05/05/98 FMW)
Hayabusa &Tanaka vs W*ing Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki (05/27/98 FMW)
BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe (FIP Third Year Anniversary)
And let's see what the second half of 2021 had for us:
Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (Dangerous Intentions 2008 FIP)
Erick Stevens vs Go Shiozaki (Heatstroke 2008 FIP)
AJ Styles vs Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (Aftershock Hopkins 2015 ROH)
Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong (Fallout 2008 FIP)
CM Punk vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003 ROH)
Jun Kasai, Men's Teioh, Y. Miyamoto & Jaki Numazawa vs Abby Kobayashi, T. Sasaki, MASADA, Shadow WX (01/02/07 BJW)
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (Turning Point 11/09 TNA)
Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (02/03/83 NJPW)
Strong BJW vs Suwama & Takumi Soya (03/20/12 AJPW)
Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (06/02/83 NJPW)
Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/14/83 NJPW)
Jay Lethal vs Kenny King (Global Wars Toronto 2018 ROH)
Genichiro Tenryu vs Ashura Hara (04/12/86 AJPW)
Sting vs Kurt Angle (Empty Arena Match Impact 2009 TNA)
Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle (Turning Point 11/09 TNA)
-Re-watch honorable mentions:
These don't count towards my BMW but I give high recommendations.
Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong (Battle of Los Angeles 2011 PWG) Classic match
Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (Titannica 2010 PWG) Classic match
Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid (04/21/83 NJPW) Classic match
-Wrestler of the Year -
Wrestler of the year is between Roderick Strong, Hayabusa, AJ Styles and Tiger Mask. AJ and Hayabusa had some really awesome battles the first half of the year. Styles just shined in everything I saw him in. Tiger and Roddy were ubiquitous in 2021 though. Strong was the ace of FIP and although I won't count his PWG matches but he killed it there. But you might have guessed, Tiger Mask is the wrestler of the year. Tiger Sayama had fantastic matches in a variety of styles and with a variety of opponents. Beyond that he was so damn innovative and had battles that looked & felt 10 and even 20 years ahead of their time.
-Feud of the Year-
Hayabusa/FMW vs Team No Respect had some really great encounters but fizzles out with the multi man matches. Erick Stevens vs the world in FIP was pretty damn compelling stuff and he had some of FIP's best singles bouts in the process. Homicide vs Corino was only a couple matches but was some of the most intense stuff of the year. Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask was the best feud though. But the match quality and intensity of each match really elevated it above all else.
-Match of the Year -
In all honesty, its tough for me to pick anything that rose above the rest. Everything listed was fantastic but I really had to go through my notes and blog posts to remind myself what was an all-time classic match. I think I'm going back to the first half of the year. Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW), Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW), and Daisuke Sekimoto vs Abdullah Kobayashi (07/22/05 BJW) are my single match picks. Sekimoto vs Abby Jr. is very stylistically similar to the FMW bouts. The best tag match is the Sekimoto & Okabayashi vs Suwama & T. Soya from All Japan 2012. But I really recommend Roddy & Jack Evans vs Jimmy Rave (RIP) & Shingo in FIP as well. All that said the best match watched of 2021 was Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) due to the historical depth and the "deep" selling by Gannosuke. The wrestlers ' past, the stakes, the story of the match itself. It is comparable to a Misawa vs Kawada classic while still being FMW. That's a perfect combination for me. And one that I didn't know existed. If I was actively following FMW in 1998 and saw this when I was 14, I would have been flipping out!
-Closing Remarks -
I'll be frank: Check out the 6 disc Tiger Mask DVD set. Check out some of the FIP DVDs before they are gone. I really feel like those are going to be lost to time just for the mere fact that other FIP reviews are so hard to find online. And I'm not seeing much variety of DVDs on eBay. The BJW matches are also nearly lost media in my view. They just haven't gotten the hype that AJ, NOAH & especially NJPW have gotten. All of the above are for sale at Highspots. Not shilling here but trying to get you pointed in the right direction if you're wondering. Of course, check out what you can online as well. My goal for the blog is to provide some kind of record of wrestling soon to be forgotten. Its imperfect and biased but hopefully it encourages people to look to the past, give something a chance or even a second look.
Thanks so much for reading! I hope that I've given you some enjoyment as well as some inspiration. Keep exploring! Stay safe folks and see you in 2022