The 20 Best Wrestling Matches of 2021

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What a year it's been for the headline-grabbing world of professional wrestling.

At the start of the year, the three biggest wrestling feds in the business maintained their safety measures via crowd-less shows. But even still, WWE, AEW, and Impact Wrestling still put on worthwhile shows full of incredible matches and jaw-dropping outcomes. And as the year rolled on, crowds were welcomed back into the buildings that played host to those aforementioned companies' energetic TV tapings and PPVs.

And that's where the most excitement was derived from thanks to shocking returns, major debuts, amazing promo battles, and so much more. Wrestlers made their way to other organizations thanks to the "Forbidden Door," up & coming Superstars got their hands on major championships, and the overall match quality for the year stayed at an all-time high.

Speaking of match quality, it's about time for yours truly and The Wrestling Classic to look back on the very best bouts of the year. There was so much in-ring greatness to reflect on, which is why both of us decided to break up our list into honorable mentions and 20 matches that deserve to make our official list.

So without further ado, let's look back on the very best wrestling bouts of 2021!

Honorable Mentions

05/30 - AEW Double or Nothing

Adam Page vs. Brian Cage

07/18 - WWE Money in the Bank

Big E vs. Drew McIntyre vs. John Morrison vs. Kevin Owens vs. King Nakamura vs. Ricochet vs. Riddle vs. Seth Rollins (Money in the Bank Ladder Match)

06/03 - Impact Wrestling: Before The Impact

Josh Alexander vs. TJP (Ironman Match)

04/14 - AEW Dynamite 

Young Bucks vs. Pac & Pentagon El Zero M

08/22 - NXT TakeOver 36

Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’ Reilly

04/10 - WWE WrestleMania: Night 1

Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro

10/18 - WWE Raw

Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair

02/14 - NXT Vengeance Day

Finn Bálor vs. Pete Dunne

05/16 - WWE WrestleMania Backlash

Bobby Lashley vs. Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre

10/27 - AEW Dynamite

Serena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida

04/30 - WWE Smackdown

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan

01/05 - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15: Night 2

Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb

05/05 - AEW Dynamite: Blood & Guts

The Inner Circle vs. The Pinnacle

09/22 - AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam

1. Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Daneislon

For many years, Kenny Omega has arguably been considered the best wrestler in the world. On the flip side, many people have believed for more than a decade that Bryan Danielson might be the greatest wrestler in the world. When Bryan Danielson decided not to re-sign with the WWE, the fans really began to get excited about the idea of Danielson facing off against Kenny Omega.

When Bryan made his debut at All Out 2021, the first person he targeted was Omega who was the AEW Champion at the time. They officially were set to face off at AEW Grand Slam in Arthur Ashe stadium. The two worked tremendously together and knew how to counter each other's offense. Their styles meshed very well with the only downfall being it ended with a 30-minute time-limit draw. This left no definitive winner meaning the rematch is inevitable and we can't wait. - Justin Dhillon

04/10 - WWE Wrestlemania: Night 1

2. Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair

Sasha Banks is no stranger to making history and that's exactly what she did alongside Bianca Belair at Wrestlemania. They were the first two black women to main event at Wrestlemania as they were the final match of night one. Bianca Belair won the 2021 Royal Rumble which granted her an opportunity for any Women's Championship at Wrestlemania. The majority including myself wanted Bianca to challenge Smackdown Women's Champion Sasha Banks and that's exactly what she did.

The build-up had its flaws but the match felt special once we got there. These two put on a banger that really could have gone either way. The weather conditions caused the stadium to be less produced which really put the focus on the match more. The hair whip from Bianca to Sasha could seemingly be heard from miles away. Bianca had her moment with the victory but this was also a moment for Banks as well. They ended up winning an ESPY for this match too, so that says a lot. - Justin Dhillon

04/07 - NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver: Night 1

3. Walter vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Walter easily commands everybody’s respect and sparks fear into most of his opponents whenever he steps foot into the ring. When he locked up with Tommaso Ciampa here, Ciampa played the smart game and put any fears he may have had to the side by working over Walter’s massive hand.

That story thread played throughout the match as Walter’s chops got neutered at points and made his hand much weaker as the match wore on. It felt so good watching Ciampa chop down the big man at several points in this match and it felt just as good witnessing Walter counter his foe with vicious chops & big boots. This was a war between two brutes with differing offensive styles that proved to be immensely satisfying. - Elton Jones

09/05 - AEW All Out

4. CM Punk vs. Darby Allin

It was one of the biggest highlights for me when CM Punk made his triumphant return to professional wrestling on August 20th for the debut episode of AEW Rampage. There was a time when wrestling fans believed that CM Punk would never return to wrestling since leaving the business in 2014, especially before AEW became an option. The first person he would wrestle in seven years was Darby Allin at All Out.

The decision wasn't shocking as Punk had mentioned he wanted to work with a lot of the younger talent prior to his return on Twitter. This was a classic old-school match that was very reminiscent of a classic between Bret Hart and 1-2-3 Kid on Raw from 1995. It was the seasoned veteran returning against the young rebellious up-and-comer. The combination of Punk returning to the ring and them actually having a great storytelling match made this one unforgettable. - Justin Dhillon

10/21 - WWE Crown Jewel

5. Edge vs. Seth Rollins - Hell in a Cell

Over the years, fans always drew comparisons between Edge and Seth Rollins. Edge was forced to retire in 2010 and Seth Rollins would get signed by the WWE in 2012. Although they crossed paths throughout the years, the idea of them wrestling each other seemed impossible due to Edge's health. When Edge made his return to wrestling in the 2020 Royal Rumble after being cleared to wrestle, it was no longer just a dream match but a rivalry that could truly happen.

The feud lived up to expectations and the promos were top-notch. They would wrestle first at Summerslam where Edge would go over and then again in Madison Square Garden where Rollins would win. The Hell in a Cell match at Crown Jewel was the blow-off to their feud and it was an epic battle. There were callbacks to their previous matches and it was the perfect way to end the feud with Edge coming out on top. - Justin Dhillon

04/11 - WWE Wrestlemania: Night 2

6. Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan

The Tribal Chief Roman Reigns has dominated the Universal Championship scene since winning the belt in the end half of 2020. When Wrestlemania came around the odds were stacked against him when he had to defend the title against not only Edge but also Daniel Bryan. Edge had won the Royal Rumble which earned him the championship opportunity. Daniel Bryan weaseled his way into the match after Edge ruined some of his championship opportunities on the road to Wrestlemania.

It was a cool story since Edge and Bryan were both formally formed into retirement due to injuries and Roman Reigns was forced to take a lengthy hiatus due to his battle with leukemia and concerns over the pandemic, yet they were all in the main event of Wrestlemania here. The match was a roller coaster ride where everyone had the advantage at some point. In the end, Roman Reigns with the help of Jey Uso's distractions was able to pin both Edge and Bryan at the same time. - Justin Dhillon

10/21 - WWE Crown Jewel

7. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair

The anticipation for the Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks rematch at Summerslam was real. However, when Sasha Banks was absent from the event without explanation, Becky Lynch made her surprise return to defeat Bianca Belair for Smackdown Women's Championship in 26 seconds. This all led to a triple threat match between the women at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.

The way Becky Lynch won the belt left you believing that Bianca Belair would get her redemption. The fact that Sasha Banks missed her match at SummerSlam also left you thinking that maybe she could win here. The fans were behind all three women and they had an awesome match. In the end, it was Becky Lynch barely getting away with the victory to retain her championship. - Justin Dhillon

01/06 - AEW New Year's Smash: Night 1

8. Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix

Kenny Omega won the AEW Championship at Winter is Coming after winning the World Title Eliminator tournament that concluded at Full Gear. Rey Fenix was meant to wrestle Omega in that tournament but was injured so the match never happened. Due to those circumstances, Fenix was granted a championship title shot against Omega at the New Year's Smash special episode of Dynamite.

This was an awesome athletic battle between two of the most highly praised wrestlers of the modern era. Their styles clashed perfectly and they told us a great story. Fenix came in with some creative offense. I don't think anyone believed that Fenix was going to win but this match was a spectacle and totally lived up to the hype. - Justin Dhillon

05/30 - AEW Double or Nothing

9. Kenny Omega vs. Pac vs. Orange Cassidy

The road to this Three-Way Match was a strange one - due to Pac knocking out Orange Cassidy with a stiff sitdown powerbomb during a #1 Contendership Match for the AEW World Championship, plans were changed on the fly as Kenny Omega came out to disrupt the match and cause a DQ. What was originally set to be a one-on-one match between Omega and Cassidy at Double or Nothing got changed as it went on to include “The Bastard.”

And it honestly came off so much better because of that extra participant. All three men wrestled at a fast pace that was actually easy to follow thanks to the amazing chemistry shared between them all. The three-man spots were awesome (that 450 Splash from Pac to Cassidy, while he was on top of Omega, was wild!) and the near falls really made it seem as if Omega’s reign as champion was set to come to an end. This was a banger of a three-man affair. - Elton Jones

11/13 - AEW Full Gear

10. MJF vs. Darby Allin

MJF and Darby Allin are two of the appointed four pillars of All Elite Wrestling. What are the four pillars you may ask? It's the four young up-and-coming stars that AEW believes are the future of the company. Therefore when MJF started claiming to be the most important pillar of the four, this prompted Darby Allin to confront him. MJF made it a goal for himself to break the straight edge of Darby Allin mentally. This even meant attacking the Stinger when Darby wasn’t around.

This ended up playing a role in their match when Darby refused to break mentally and use his skateboard to gain the advantage in their match at Full Gear. MJF would then cheat using his diamond ring for a punch before executing a headlock takeover for the victory. Personally, this was the best match of the night because it was just an old-school wrestling match that told a great story. - Justin Dhillon

11/13 - AEW Full Gear

11. CM Punk vs. Eddie Kingston

As great as CM Punk’s return to wrestling has been, it felt like something was missing. Punk was happy to be back and working with the young talent that he wanted to work with. However, there just wasn’t anything we could sink our teeth into. All of Punk’s feuds felt short, quick, and lacking purpose other than he wanted to wrestle that person because he was ecstatic about being back. That was until Eddie Kingston and he crossed paths.

The first promo between the two when CM Punk expected an apology was straight fire. It got everyone invested in the two wrestling at Full Gear. It wasn’t much of a wrestling match but more of a fight. It was also the first time since his return that we saw CM Punk get booed by some fans as well. Although the rivalry didn’t continue like I hoped it would, this match gave us the fire we were looking for since Punk returned. - Justin Dhillon

11/13 - AEW Full Gear

12. Kenny Omega vs. Adam Page

This match felt like it was two years in the making. It was the conclusion of the “Tale of Hangman Page.” When All Elite Wrestling started, Hangman Page was in the first-ever AEW Championship title match against Chris Jericho which he lost. From then on forward, Adam Page kind of had a downward spiral personally and professionally. He split from the Elite even though he ended up having a lengthy tag team title reign with Kenny Omega.

He found friendship with the Dark Order. Finally, he got the opportunity to challenge Omega for the Championship again. These guys have had outstanding matches in the past and this was no different. It seemed as if it could go either way but two buckshot lariats later, Hangman Page became the new champion. The Young Bucks gave him a nod of approval which really made the entire story come full circle. - Justin Dhillon

09/05 - AEW All Out

13. Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers - Steel Cage Match

The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers have had many unforgettable matches over the years and this was no different. To be honest, this one was outrageous but in a good way. The match took place inside a steel cage to avoid any interference from members of The Elite. This match also wasn’t under regular tag team rules of course, so it allowed the Lucha Brothers and Young Bucks to thrive by getting creative.

They got creative for sure as you would expect. The moment when Matt Jackson pulled out a sneaker with thumbtacks at the bottom, you knew there was a lot of thought going into this match of how to make it stand out. These four guys went all out. There was color and a ton of mind-boggling false finishes. Regardless of how one might have felt about a spot here or there, this match left an unforgettable impression on us. It even had a happy ending with Lucha Brothers becoming the tag team champions. - Justin Dhillon

03/17 - AEW Dynamite

14. Thunder Rosa vs. Britt Baker - Lights Out Match

It’s crazy to think this match took place this year too as it feels like it happened so long ago. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa were embroiled in a long-term feud that wasn’t even about the championship that led to this match. This was also the first time the women would main event AEW Dynamite.

A Lights Out match is a falls count anywhere with no count outs and no disqualifications so essentially there were no rules for this match. These women went all out and beat the hell out of each other. There were all the usual weapons involved and both women even got busted open. The blood of Baker covered her entire face and really was one of those iconic images that wrestling fans won’t forget for a long time. Thunder Rosa picked up the victory but the DMD was really made in this match. - Justin Dhillon

08/22 - NXT TakeOver 36

15. Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov

Walter and Ilja Dragunov had what many consider the match of the year for 2020. This was the official rematch for the UK Championship. Ilja earned another championship title match after winning a triple threat match. This time around it was taking place on an NXT Takeover event rather than on NXT UK. It was originally scheduled for NXT UK but due to an unfortunate hand injury for Walter, it was postponed for Takeover.

This was a hard-hitting, strong-style match that was hard to watch at times. These two really were trying to beat each other up. The story here was that Ilja Dragunov would not quit or give up no matter how much abuse he took. The bruises were visual and they added to the match. In the end, Dragunov was able to end Walter’s over 800-day reign which was shocking because not only does Walter rarely lose but he tapped out on top of it. This sequel lived up to the expectations the fans had from the original match. - Justin Dhillon

12/15 - AEW Dynamite

16. Adam Page vs. Bryan Danielson

Bryan Danielson ended up winning the championship eliminator tournament which meant he was next in line for an AEW World Championship title match at Full Gear. The American Dragon did not wait to challenge the new AEW Champion Hangman Page. The championship match was set for the annual Dynamite special “Winter is Coming.” This would be Adam Page’s first title defense and Danielson first shot at the championship.

They had an awesome hour-long match that went the time limit draw. Bryan showcased more violent characteristics whereas Page came off as a resilient champion. These two both sold their injuries throughout the match and the near falls were all believable. Bryan Danielson has continued to prove in AEW that it’s almost impossible for him to have a bad match. - Justin Dhillon

05/04 - NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: Day 2

17. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi

NJPW has found yet another pair of Puroresu greats that never have a bad match with each other. And that duo is none other than the high-flying Will Ospreay and the brick shithouse known as Shingo Takagi. With the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the line, both men put on an amazing clinic full of high-impact action for close to 45 minutes.

Not only did Ospreay & Takagi revisit some of their previous match moments, but they also mixed in some new elements to freshen up this encounter. There was a dope table dueling spot, brutal arm work from Ospreay, and some jaw-dropping power-man maneuvers from Takagi. NJPW has found its modern-day super rivalry on par with Okada/Tanahashi in this one. Ospreay retained his title here after putting on a classic with his biggest rival to date. - Elton Jones

10/15 - AEW Rampage

18. Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki

Tony Khan was so dead set on taking viewers away from an extended edition of WWE SmackDown that he ended up booking this dream match on The Buy-In for an episode of AEW Rampage. And thank god he did ‘cause Bryan Danielson and Minoru Suzuki tore into each other for everyone’s perverse enjoyment. Every chop, kick, and elbow shot looked like it legit hurt ‘cause it most likely did.

Because of all those strikes, the crowd’s energy was off the charts from start to finish for this hybrid of a wrestling/MMA match. Wince-inducing submissions were also exchanged and cocky taunts on behalf of the crazed Suzuki really put this match over the edge as a clear highlight of the year from AEW. This one needs a Part Two as soon as Suzuki gets the chance to head back over to the States. - Elton Jones

06/30 - AEW Dynamite

19. MJF vs. Sammy Guevara

The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle had feuded for a good part of the beginning of the year. MJF and Sammy Guevara are the two young promising future main event stars of their respective groups. Therefore, when it was announced that they would meet each other in a singles match on Dynamite, it was inevitable that this PPV-worthy match to main event the show.

These two had a very competitive back-and-forth match with a ton of memorable spots. The somersault over the barricade by Sammy onto a standing MJF for example was a sight to see. I was shocked that the tombstone off the top rope wasn’t the finish but it took a distraction from Wardlow and a chair shot from Shawn Spears to help MJF beat Sammy. - Justin Dhillon

01/04 - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15: Night 1

20. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay

This list would feel incomplete without a Kazuchika Okada entry. Although I didn’t watch a lot of New Japan this year, I did watch both nights of Wrestle Kingdom. Will Ospreay was really coming into his own in NJPW as this year kicked off. He left CHAOS and began his own stable known as “The Empire.” Soon enough he would challenge his former comrade Okada to prove himself as the superior being and with the intention to end his career.

The match started off slow with some solid technical wrestling but once things picked up after a table spot, they never slowed down. It was Ospreay’s arrogance that would cost him the match when Okada picked up the victory. Although this match went longer than it should have, it was still very good. There wasn’t too much finisher spam at the end, which has become a norm for big Wrestle Kingdom matches. - Justin Dhillon

And as always, make sure you hit up The Wrestling Classic on all his socials so you can let him know how you feel about his match picks. Ya dig? Oooh Yeah!

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