As the premier wrestling promotion in the world, the WWE’s roster features some of the most exciting and talented professional wrestlers around. These superstars usually put up some amazing matches, but once in a while, they combine together to produce unforgettable matches. In this article we list down five of the best in ring performances of 2016 and highlight why they left such a lasting impression on us. The list is in no particular order and just features the best of the best the WWE has offered us this year.
1)Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (Payback)
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owns are two of the brightest talents on the WWE roster. The former NXT duo has shared a long storied rivalry, which finally culminated in a grudge match between them at the WWE pay per view, Payback. Several critics are earmarking Payback as one of the best pay per views of the year and the match between Owens and Zayn is a big reason for that.
The storyline of their rivalry was filled with seething hatred and vicious brawls and all of that came to a head at Payback. The two superstars had a technically excellent wrestling match, high on intensity and aggression, which displayed their amazing physical prowess and skill sets.
The match featured fifteen minutes of nonstop action, which had the crowd on their feet, as they cheered both of them on. Kevin Owens eventually emerged victorious after a spirited performance from Sami Zayn by delivering a bone shattering Pop up Powerbomb. However, both the superstars were winners that night.
2)WWE Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte (WrestleMania 32)
WrestleMania is the WWE’s flagship event; it is the biggest pay per view of the year and the one where history is usually made. Suffice it to say history was made at this year’s edition of WrestleMania as well. Surprisingly, it was the divas who stole the show. With a main card which featured the likes of Triple H, The Undertaker, Shane McMahon and Brock Lesnar, not many would have guessed that the divas would put up the best match of the night.
The winner of the triple threat match would be crowned as the WWE Women’s Champion, as the WWE was retiring the Divas championship after WrestleMania. Charlotte entered as the defending Divas champion and had to contend against the talents of the brash Sasha Banks and baby face Becky Lynch.
The trio put up an excellent in ring display, which included high risk maneuvers, some epic reversals and crippling submission moves. The highlight of the match however, was Charlotte’s gravity defying moonsault from the top rope, as she took out her opponents outside the ring.
After interference from Charlotte’s father and WWE legend Ric Flair, she secured the victory via submission as she got Lynch to tap out to her figure eight leg lock. The match made WWE history as undoubtedly the most high profile women’s match in history and announced to the world that the divas were no longer there for promos and show pieces, but were highly accomplished wrestlers as well.
3)WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens (Royal Rumble)
This is Kevin Owens’ second entry on our list and it’s not hard to see why; the man certainly knows how to put up a show. His Last Man Standing Match for the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose was as memorable as it was brutal. Due to several perfectly executed spots in the match, this match ranks as an all time classic.
The duo had shared a very well scripted rivalry over several months and had traded the title back and forth. The rivalry finally culminated in a Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble, as Ambrose aimed to defend his title against KO.
The match featured chairs, falls through a table and several near count outs. Ambrose’s kick out after a brutal fisherman buster through the table especially got the crowd on their feet and they cheered him on further after he was subjected to a pop up power bomb immediately after. However, Ambrose refused to stay down and rallied all his determination to finally send Owens crashing through a stack of tables to keep him down for the count of ten. It was a fitting finish to an epic brutal match and the crowd at the Amway Arena in Orlando loved every moment of it. Both competitors laid it all out in the ring and the match is truly a match of the year contender this year.
4)WWE Intercontinental Match: The Miz vs. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (Extreme Rules)
Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Cesaro have lit up the WWE like few others since their debuts. They have shared the ring countless times this year on Raw, Smackdown and on several pay per views, however the excellence they showcased during their Fatal Four Way at Extreme Rules stands out. The match simply stole the show at the pay per view and is another match of the year contender.
Featuring several innovative spots, counters, reversals and epic moves, the match was elevated beyond the usual by excellent performances from all those involved. The Miz patiently waited for the perfect opportunity to strike as the Owens, Zayn and Cesaro put up an exhibition for the fans.
The character development highlighted during the encounter, with Miz’s sneakiness and Owens’ and Zayn’s intense hatred for each other was also perfect and told a story few other matches have told. Eventually, it was Zayn’s rivalry with his former NXT best friend, which caused him a momentary lapse in judgment and allowed The Miz to sneak in for the victory. This one is a classic for the ages.
5)John Cena vs. AJ Styles (Money In The Bank)
They are two of the biggest names in pro wrestling history and were the leading faces of rival promotions for the best part of fifteen years. This was definitely a dream match most of us thought they would never see. So to actually witness it live was a dream come true for many wrestling fans.
John Cena and AJ Styles finally met at the Money in the Bank pay per view and it was one hell of a match. Despite not being a technically excellent match of the year contender, the occasion had a sense of drama and aura which elevated it above the rest of the card.
The match had it all. Near pin falls, reversals and some high impact maneuvers thrown into the mix. Cena went in with his typical high impact style, while Styles tried to out wrestle his opponent. However, the match was tarred with the outside inference of The Club and they eventually determined the outcome of the match. Styles won in a tainted manner, but this does not mean that the two athletes put up a hell of a performance in the ring. Not one for the wrestling purists, it was still nonetheless a magnificent match and one of the most memorable encounters of the year.
So there you have it, our list of the five most memorable in ring performances of 2016 so far. Let us know if you agree or disagree with our picks and which other performances you would include in it.