Well, damn that was a mad, mad year for wrestling. Whether it was Will Ospreay pumping out match of the year contenders like wrestling twitter pumps out s**t or the glorious continued rise of MJF to the position of the longest reigning AEW world champion, there’ve been plenty of memorable moments in wrestling this year. Also, if there seems like a low amount of Will Ospreay on here, check out a different list where I ranked his best matches. Anyway, without further ado, here are my picks for the best matches of 2023!
Best Wrestling Matches of 2023 – Top 10
10. Damage CTRL vs Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Shotzi and Biance Belair – Wargames Match (WWE Survivor Series: WarGames 2023)
Now for as much as women’s wrestling has suffered at times this year, the women’s wargames match from Survivor Series was an absolute treat. Now, in spite of Charlotte’s permanent bored face syndrome there’s some lovely spots and moments. These include Becky and Charlotte emotionally reconciling mid match, the moonsault off the top of the cage and Bayley employing a teleporter to keep Damage CTRL in the match. Oh, and it’s also got Iyo Sky in a bin jumping off the top of the cage in both a neat callback spot and a hilarious use of a bin. Overall, a very solid match often carried by Bayley.
9. Bad Bunny vs Damian Priest – San Juan Street Fight (WWE Backlash 2023)
This match absolutely proves that WWE’s decision to host more events abroad will be vindicated as the Puerto Rican crowd were molten all night but never more so than with two of its most famous sons duelling in a San Juan Street Fight. The energy is 100% from the entrances with Puerto Rico hollering out one of Bunny’s songs as he wheels a shopping trolley of weapons to the ring. And it never slows from there with falcon arrows through tables and plenty of Judgement Day and LWO interference. I mean listen to the pops for Savio Vega and Carlito…. Anyway, for what it was it was good but sometimes a hot crowd can turn good into excellence….
8. Christian Cage vs Darby Allin – 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the AEW TNT Championship (AEW WrestleDream 2023)
What was it with WrestleDream and producing fantastic matches? I say this because the show’s main event of Christian Cage vs Darby Allin was an emotional rollercoaster in the best possible way. Also, it once again proves that Darby Allin will be lucky if he has a back and the ability to walk at the age of 40 with some wince inducing spots like him being body slammed back first onto the steps. And all of that doesn’t even factor in the hilarious amounts of melodrama with Nick Wayne siding with the father who stepped up as well as Adam Copeland debuting with AEW to absolutely obliterate Luchasaurus and Wayne. Overall, a great match to end a great show.
7. Bryan Danielson vs Zack Sabre Jr (AEW WrestleDream 2023)
I don’t know what’s better: this match or Nigel McGuinness and Jon Moxley’s hilarious commentary. Anyway, there’s plenty to enjoy here as this match is years in the making with a very simple idea at its core: who is the best technical wrestler in the world? This sees Zack Sabre Jr tie up Danielson like he’s a dominatrix while Danielson just tries to survive. Also, that spot where Sabre Jr looks like he’s going to submit Danielson while McGuinness and Moxley are losing their minds on commentary is a spot of the year moment. And that doesn’t even mention the finish where Zack feels cheated that Danielson knocked him out instead of submitting him. Fantastic match overall…
6. GUNTHER vs Sheamus vs Drew McIntyre – Triple Threat Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship (WWE Wrestlemania 39 – Night Two)
Insert Big E GIF here… Because if 2023 was the year of anything, it could be argued that it was the year of big meaty men slapping meat. Just take the phenomenal IC Title Triple Threat at Wrestlemania 39. I could describe the match in detail but that would boil down to all three men beating the ever loving piss out of themselves, with Sheamus’s chest being especially bashed up. Also, the ending spot of Gunther powerbombing Sheamus onto McIntyre before delivering a Splash is excellent and god damn can GUNTHER just not lose the IC Title anytime soon? Either way, one of the very best IC Title Matches of all time.
5. Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa vs The Usos (WWE Money in The Bank 2023)
Now this may be a controversial pick given what happened the next month at Summerslam but this was the Bloodline at its utter peak. Also, it just illustrates the point I made about Backlash and foreign crowds as the UK crowd are molten hot as usual. There’s just so many callbacks including Roman attempting a double stack pin only for both Usos to kick out as well as Jey low blowing Reigns while kicking out with the referee not looking. Also, it feels like this was Jey’s cathartic revenge on Roman with him finally pinning Reigns and gaining a measure of closure (as long as you ignore the Tribal Combat Match at Summerslam) Massive congratulations also go to Paul Heyman for his reactions on the outside…
4. Swerve Strickland vs Hangman Page (AEW WrestleDream 2023)
Whose House? Swerve’s motherf**king house. Because if it wasn’t the year of big meaty men slapping meat, it could quite easily have been Swerve’s year with him absolutely proving to be the main event standard. Take this match in Swerve’s backyard of Seattle as proof. There’s plenty of brilliant spots like a Swerve Stomp onto the apron as well as some heartstopping nearfalls for both men before the pleasant surprise of Swerve winning. Also, it helps that his entrance makes him look like a boss mostly thanks to Nana and the crowd losing their minds over him. Arguably Swerve’s best match of the year until a certain show called Full Gear came around….
3. Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair – Smackdown Women’s Championship (WWE Wrestlemania 39 – Night One)
Now, there will probably be some pushback from fans for this match being this high on my list however rewatch and tell me it isn’t one of the best matches, men or women’s, of the year. With the pair’s prior matches being good but not that memorable, this match absolutely solidified Ripley as a main event talent. Just take the finish which is an avalanche RipTide to send the crowd wild. Also, this is a stiff as hell match with both women not pulling any punches, though that’s not too surprising with Charlotte. Anyway, thankfully this match undos the previous mediocre matches and actually cements Rhea as the star we all know her to be.
2. Swerve Strickland vs Hangman Adam Page – Texas Death Match (AEW Full Gear 2023)
Once again, I’m being forced to ask who’s house? Swerve’s motherf**king house. Simply put, this match is an orgy of violence with Swerve going full Terminator halfway through and just no selling staple gun shots. Also, the fact Hangman just rushes Swerve and gives him a Buckshot Lariat from the off just sets the violent, violent tempo for the match. And that doesn’t even mention some of the more gruesome spots like Swerve delivering a death valley driver onto a concrete block on the apron or the fact the Hangman gets hung with Swerve barely being able to stand. This match won’t be for everyone but holy **** It is a fantastic match which will be an example of deathmatch wrestling for years to come.
1. Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay – IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Match (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17)
And perhaps predictably, my pick for the best match of 2023 is Will Ospreay vs Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 17. Simply put, everything is phenomenal, from the story going on that Omega felt Ospreay had failed to live up to his standard so he came back to take back his throne or just the fact this was a legitimate dream match. There’s so much to love here like Kenny doing the Here’s Johnny spot, the fact this is the closest to Bullet Club Leader Kenny we’ve had in years and also the rapidly escalating high spots which keep the audience invested until the end. A very, very worthy candidate for best match of the year and an example of why 2023 was truly the year of Will Ospreay….