2017 has been a fantastic year for wrestling. I’m aware it’s not over yet but the end of October is when people’s eyes start heading towards Awards Season and the re-watches for MOTY start to kick in. With that in mind here is a list of possible contenders for Match of the Year. It’s only the European ones and I’ve ruthlessly culled a dozen or so matches that in any other year would have been low-end contenders. Aside from the top two I’m not even sure how to put these in any sort of order. So it’s basically a watchlist for anyone interested in European graps and voting for matches in the Voices of Wrestling MOTY list or other awards.
Fight Club Pro
Dunne & Moloney vs. Seven & Bate ****1/4 (Jan 7 Wrestlehouse)
Slipped under the radar. Dunne when FCP still cared that he was a defined heel.
CCK vs. Nixon Newell & Kay Lee Ray **** (Feb 10 All the Best)
A reminder that Nixon Newell is really great at pro wrestling. One of the best intergender matches I’ve seen all year.
Will Ospreay & Mark Haskins vs. Moustache Mountain ****3/4 (Mar 18 First Female of FCP)
A stunning, blow-away match just because Will Ospreay felt like having fun in the Fixxion. Probably the best match FCP have put on all year.
Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs. British Strong Style ****3/4 (Apr 14 DTTI N1)
The best match the Elite had on their UK tour. The BSS trios match hadn’t become dull or repetitive at this point and was still hitting the high points.
British Strong Style vs. Sami Callihan, Marty Scurll & Jimmy Havoc ****1/2 (Apr 16 DTTI N3)
One of my favourite shows of the year but one so consistently good that no one match stood out. I’ve picked this one for consideration but it wasn’t the best match BSS had that weekend, let alone that year.
Alpha Female vs. Melanie Gray **** (Jan 14 Back to the Roots)
One of the most brutal women’s matches ever recorded. Alpha Female busting Mel open hardway with punches.
Axel Dieter Jr vs. Marty Scurll ****1/4 (Jan 28 London Calling)
Dieter at his level best, an utter prick, and soundly thrashing Scurll in front of a partisan crowd, eager for a title switch.
WALTER & Axel Dieter vs. Massive Product ****1/4 (Feb 24 Dead End)
Sensational tag match, only slightly overshadowed by Ringkampf having a better match at Progress vs. SPPT the previous month.
WALTER vs. David Starr ****1/2 (Mar 10 16 Carat Gold N1)
Completely overshadowed by Ilja/WALTER but a fantastic addition to this feud. Starr just cannot beat WALTER. This is as close as he’s come so far. Another in a string of great WALTER matches.
Ilja Dragunov vs. WALTER ***** (Mar 12 16 Carat Gold N3)
The culmination of a wonderful 16 Carat weekend. One of the most visceral matches I’ve ever seen. The best live wrestling experience of my life. Should be on your list. If you’ve not seen it, watch it. May be slightly underwhelming without the tournament lead in.
WALTER & Timothy Thatcher vs. Massive Product ****1/2 (Oct 8 World Tag League N3)
The culmination of another tournament. wXw really know how to pull these things off!
Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne ****1/4 (Jan 15 UK Title Tournament Final)
WWE made two stars in one night. Probably won’t get a look in because their Takeover match was better.
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Gabriel Kidd **** (Jan 16 Loaded)
Kidd went from being a happy go lucky shlub to being a contender thanks to this excellent performance against one of Europe’s best. Sabre isn’t used enough to help get young talent over, this is proof he’s perfect for the role.
Will Ospreay vs. Rey Mysterio Jr ****1/2 (Aug 23 WCPW World Cup)
Who really thought this was going to be *THIS* good? Rey brought his work boots and tried to keep up with Ospreay. It was a sight to behold. In the darker days of BritWres this would have been hands-down match of the year and turned Will into a legend overnight. As it stands; another day at the office.
Will Ospreay vs. Mike Bailey ****1/2 (Aug 24 WCPW World Cup)
And the next day he went and had a better match with Speedball! Ospreay is a ridiculous creature. Mike Bailey is superb.
Marty Scurll, Pete Dunne & Travis Banks vs. Will Ospreay, Shane Strickland & Ryan Smile ****1/2 (Jan 8 Live at the Cockpit 12)
One of the best trios matches in a year loaded with them in BritWres. The heels posed for photos in mid-match and the carnage of the breaking down sequence was incredible.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Matt Riddle ****1/4 (Jan 21 High Stakes)
Imagine being a BritWres promotion and putting on this insane match before anyone else in the world? And then having it be a once in a lifetime deal thanks to Shibata getting injured.
Josh Bodom vs. Will Ospreay ****1/2 (Apr 13 Epic Encounter)
A common theme this year has been Will Ospreay trying to make amends for a reduced UK schedule by routinely killing himself when appearing on British shores. None more so than here, where he did everything possible to get Bodom over. Josh’s best match, ever.
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Chris Brookes ****1/4 (Aug 18 Summer Sizzler)
Arguably Zack’s best title match since picking up the strap for a second time. Brookes was an unexpected challenger and it was a cracking little match. Unlike the longer, overblown Sabre bouts, which have divided fans.
South Pacific Power Trip vs. WALTER & Axel Dieter Jr ****1/2 (Jan 29 Chapter 43)
The first realisation that SPPT, and Travis in particular, were destined to have a huge year. WALTER however was outstanding here, in the first of many excellent performances in 2017. His treatment of poor TK Cooper was monumental. A trashing the likes of which I’d not soon forget…if he’d not tortured others to a greater degree.
Mark Andrews vs. Will Ospreay ****1/2 (Mar 19 Chapter 45)
Arguably the best Progress chapter show, ever. Highlighted this insane match where the rope broke so Mark switched his finish up to the Kudo Driver. Ospreay nearly killed himself, again.
Matt Riddle vs. WALTER ****1/2 (March 26 Chapter 46)
These two have had a fucking war in 2017. Every match has been good. They had a couple of blinders in wXw (Carat and Shotgun) and a couple in Progress. For my money this is the second best bout they’ve had in 2017.
Matt Riddle vs. Jeff Cobb ***** (May 28 Super Strong Style 16 N2)
Oh my. This was something special live. I was totally blown away. I have not watched it back so I don’t know if it loses anything on tape but I thought I was going to die. Best match Progress have put on all year.
Travis Banks vs. Tyler Bate ****3/4 (May 29 Super Strong Style 16 N3)
It’s a bummer for these guys, having to follow Riddle/Cobb the night before. They succeeded in having a blinder, if that’s any consolation, and it’s arguably the second best Progress match of 2017.
War Machine vs. London Riots ****3/4 (Jul 9 Chapter 51)
This match was fucking immense. They had a tornado tag match the previous year that was amazing. This might have been even better. Progress has used War Machine better than anyone.
WALTER vs. Matt Riddle ****3/4 (Jul 9 Chapter 51)
The best match of the incredible WALTER/Riddle series. A contender for best match of the year from Progress. Certainly their best match outside of Camden.
Matt Riddle vs. Travis Banks ****1/2 (Jul 23 Chapter 52)
Progress was really very good during the summer months. This would normally be an easy MOTYC but as it stands it’s an also-ran.
Mark Haskins vs. Mark Andrews ****1/2 (Feb 4 Martina’s Gaff Party)
Haskins wasn’t supposed to be this good, this healthy, this soon after a serious neck injury in 2016. This match with Andrews was incredibly good. The best match from a cracking weekend of graps in OTT.
Trent Seven vs. Wolfgang **** (Feb 5 Square Go)
Seven finally dethrones Wolfie as champion. It’s three months too late to make a difference and ICW soon wreck their upper card with bizarre heel turns and overbooking. We’ll always have Square Go 2017 lads.
Travis Banks vs. Shane Strickland ****1/4 (Apr 18 Dawning of Forever)
LF’s first ever show and it was highlighted by Travis Banks being really great at wrestling. Something that would showcase most of their early shows.
Travis Banks vs. Matt Riddle ****1/4 (May 25 Catch Me Outside)
I was at this show. This match was so far above everything else on it that it stood out. Another terrific Travis match, only slightly ruined by having soggy trousers from Viper spilling beer on me.
Dean Allmark vs. Jody Fleisch ****1/4 (Aug 12 6th Anniversary Show)
Don’t know who Dean Allmark is? What this match. It’s on Highspots.
Mike Quackenbush vs. Johnny Kidd ****1/2 (Sep 2 King of Trios N2)
What a technical masterpiece this was. Kidd came out of retirement for it. Quack hardly ever wrestles. How is it this bloody good?
British Strong Style vs. Sendai Girls ****1/2 (Sep 3 King of Trios N3)
Although BSS trios matches had a lessened effect during the course of the year this one was an exception. Who knew that Pete Dunne vs. Meiko Satomura was a dream match? It was. It was great.
Of course there are others but these are the shortlist I present to you as representing the best Eurograps of 2017. Send your own lists and recommendations to @arnoldfurious on the Twitter Machine.