The staff of Top Rope Press put our collective heads together over the past couple of weeks to come up with the best that 2016 had to offer. When it came to the best pro wrestling match of 2016, Styles vs Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from WrestleKindom 10 on January 4, 2016, in The Tokyo Dome won hands down.
This was a dream match. NJPW had kept these two men far away from each other during AJ Styles’ tenure with the promotion. When the match was announced, it really seemed like this was going to be a once in a lifetime bout. Two of the best wrestlers in the world facing off at one of the premiere wrestling events in the world for one of the most prestigious championships in the business. Fans could not wait.
Then, when we heard the news of AJ leaving NJPW after WrestleKingdom 10, we pretty much knew that this would be the only time we would ever see these two men face off in the squared circle. Then, the rumblings of Nakamura leaving NJPW started right before WrestleKingdom 10, and we were all wondering what the hell was going on.
What ended up happening was magic, and it was one of the best matches I have ever seen.
Styles and Nakamura told a beautiful story in the ring that night. While fans knew that AJ wouldn’t win due to his leaving, that still didn’t stop him from going all out in the match. Nakamura met him head on, and the two beat on each other mercilessly. AJ threw everything he had at Shinsuke, but Shinsuke hit him with probably two of the most vicious BomaYe knee strikes I’ve ever seen him deliver to win the match. The fist bump at the end, that show of respect, made it all the more special.
AJ and Shinsuke both landed in WWE in 2016. AJ is the current WWE World Champion, Nakamura the NXT Champion. Who knows? Maybe 2017 will see these two face off in another stellar match.
Styles vs Nakamura wasn’t the only great match of 2016. The runners up definitely gave this bout a run for their money.
Click next to continue with our look at the best wrestling matches of 2016.