Welcome to the list of top ten AEW matches from 2021, as voted for by a selection of wrestling commentators and AEW fans. Each voter submitted their top 10 list and these are the results along with comments from myself, Gareth, and others who contributed in the voting process. As well as some statistical analysis, as is our specialty here on Pro Wrestling Musings.
10: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Rey Fenix (New Year’s Smash) – 90 points.
This was arguably the perfect TV wrestling match. It wasn’t too long and it packed so much in with various mind-blowing sequences throughout. The level of creativity in this match was exactly what you’d expect from two of the most creative geniuses in wrestling. And yet, you never knew what was coming next.
It was interesting to see Rey Fenix get more of the offence in this, Kenny Omega’s first title defence as a heel champion. Omega, however, had more of the meaningful offence dominating Fenix with strikedowns and grapples as Fenix danced and dived around to avoid Kenny’s offence.
The number of reversals in this match really tell the story of why this match was so exciting and the creativity involved in those reversals made it what it was.
@Caro_Taro from Wrestle Inn said; “Kenny Omega nailed his performance and showed everyone why he deserves to be the Belt Collector of wrestling. Rey Fenix is one of my favourite wrestlers and he more than proves his worth in this, a standout match.”
“An athletic showcase between two of the best in-ring athletes of all time.” - @GoodVsBadGuys.
“Kenny’s first title defence and he had the perfect dance partner.” - @CammyIbuki.
“Omega’s chemistry with Fenix is plain to see with so many transitions performed sublimely.” - @PeterEdge7.
10: Young Bucks (c) vs. Eddie Kingston & Jon Moxley (Double or Nothing) – 90 points.
This was the perfect match to have on the first show with a full crowd in over a year. The detestable Bucks juxtaposed with the two guys, in Eddie and Mox, you love more than anyone.
A classic and simple babyface vs. heel story told masterfully. Eddie’s selling proved he’s on the level as the others in this match as a performer. It was Eddie who really held it together and his hot tag might be the highlight of this match.
The match was very even despite a slight advantage for the Bucks who did control the pace of most of this match with submissions and strikes. Eddie and Mox fought back with explosive offence, however. Utilising strikedowns and grapples after reversing the Bucks’ attacks.
The difference, ultimately, was those devastating BTE Triggers at the end of the match which was the only thing that could take Mox out.
@Sir_Sam from the AEW Match Guide Podcast said; “I have never seen a match more perfectly juxtapose the overwhelming power of a top singles stars with the importance of teamwork in tag wrestling.”
“The worst guys you know vs. the absolute lads, rolling into Daily's Place with the best ring entrance of the year for a raucous fight that felt equal parts wild brawl and traditionally styled tag. Great fire and selling from the faces, rampant bastardry from the Bucks. This was the moment wrestling finally came in from the cold following 15 months of empty arena misery.” - @andyhmurray.
“These two teams could hardly be more different, but the clash of styles made this match unbelievably compelling.” - @sherantsmtl.
9: Eddie Kingston vs. Bryan Danielson (Rampage) – 93 points.
This match really felt like the making of Eddie Kingston as a top-level contender in AEW, despite losing. Eddie stood toe-to-toe with Bryan Danielson, and the stats show this.
When it comes to meaningful offence Eddie delivered more. But he just found himself locked in a hold he could escape, and that was the difference here. Despite losing, Eddie looked like a killer in defeat.
This match is so hard to put into words. @AndyHMurray from WhatCulture does a much better job than I could, so I’m just going to repeat what he wrote; “A flawless wrestling match. Danielson was the perfect opponent for Eddie as he possesses traits Kingston will never develop.
Bryan is clean, surgical, domineering. He knows counters to your counters to his counters. Kingston doesn't - but he's a defiant, never-say-die, gut-it-out motherf*cker and its impossible root against him, particularly when stood opposite such a pure wrestling machine.
No spot went harder than Kingston flipping a middle finger while passing out in Danielson's triangle choke this year. A phenomenal conclusion to the closest AEW has come to producing a classic King's Road war.”
“I think this match will become one I show people who want to get into wrestling.” - @Sir_Sam.
8: Minoru Suzuki vs. Bryan Danielson (Rampage Buy-In) – 105 points.
This was a match any New Japan fan has seen a hundred times, but in the best way.
And yet, it was only the second time we’d seen this match. The first since 2004. And it was happening in an AEW ring on a YouTube buy-in. Everything about it was so familiar and yet so strange at the same time.
The crowd in the arena bought into it perfectly and their lust for violence and the talent did not disappoint.
The stats for this one really does not tell the story. It was less about what these men could do and more about what they could stand to take. That’s what ultimately decided this match.
@AndyHMurray from WhatCulture said; “This felt mythical. Almost dreamlike in its atmosphere, it was pure gladiatorial combat - and theatrical without being gaudy. Two master craftsmen who commanded the room and both felt ten feet tall, never doing too much, knowing that in this setting, it was more important to do the little things right than overindulge.”
“A dream match that over delivered.” - @mannyboy3298.
“Phwoar. Get in there, my son.” - @TheDamnImpicat.
“A tough, hard-hitting match. It perfectly shows off Bryan Danielson's versatility in the ring against a veteran in Suzuki.” - @Caro_Taro.
7: CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston (Full Gear) – 126 points.
If Eddie vs Bryan was the making of Eddie as a top guy in AEW, this was where Punk really stood up to the plate and, in doing so, he had to tap into that darker side of himself.
Eddie took Punk to places he’d not been in AEW as of yet, and that alone was enough to put Eddie over in this match. Punk tapped into what he knew and that is what got him through this match, even if that was things he’d learned in another place from a certain former rival. Punk used everything he said Eddie doesn’t have. He used hi