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The 7 Best Wrestling Moments of 2017

2017 was a banner year to be a wrestling fan. The WWE stepped up their game with some great matches and returns, and New Japan Pro Wrestling came closer to becoming an international superpower, giving the WWE some competition it hasn’t had in close to 20 years. With all the excellent matches in either league, there were an infinite amount of memorable moments, but in honor of Macho Man Randy Savage, we’re picking the cream of the cropLet’s look at seven of the moments of 2017 that made this year special.

7. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega 3-Match Series

On January 4, June 11, and August 12, Kenny Omega wrestled the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada in a trilogy of matches that are considered three of the best matches of all time. What made these matches amazing was the overarching narrative of the feud. Omega consistently tried to land his finishing maneuver, the One-Winged Angel, on Okada with varying degrees of success. He couldn’t do it in their first meeting, resulting in Okada’s victory. Omega nailed it at their second meeting, but Okada’s foot was on the ropes. This led to the very rare time-limit draw. Finally, in their third meeting, Omega was finally able to execute the hold in the middle of the ring, scoring a victory. With one win apiece and one draw, the ultimate match to determine who the best of the two will be nothing short of epic.

6. First Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match

This past summer saw the first ever WWE Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match. The rules are simple: climb the ladder, grab the briefcase, get a contract to fight the Women’s champion anytime, anywhere. Thanks to some help from her “manager” James Ellsworth, Carmella became the first “Ms. Money in the Bank.” With the first Women’s Hell in a Cell match a few months earlier, this reiterated the confidence the WWE has in their women’s division, and that it’s only going to grow in 2018.

5. Goldberg’s Return

Sometimes, you don’t realize what you really need until it’s reintroduced in your like years later. That’s what Goldberg’s return run was for wrestling fans. For fans old and new, those brief six months domination by Goldberg, culminating in a Universal title match at Wrestlemania showed that real-life superheroes can and do exist.

4. The “Retirement” of the Undertaker

After being defeated by Roman Reigns at this year’s Wrestlemania, The Undertaker slowly folded up his legendary overcoat, took off his hat and left them in the ring as he slowly walked away. While nothing has been officially announced, it was heavily implied that this was the swan song of one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time. The future may be uncertain for “the dead man,” but the emotions brought out by that moment will be remembered for years to come.

3. AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar

After a truly intense match, The Universal Champion Brock Lesnar defeated the WWE Champion AJ Styles in this year’s Survivor Series. Since his return in 2012, Lesnar has dominated almost every person he has stepped into the ring with. However, for the fifteen minutes that he was in the ring with “The Phenomenal One,” Lesnar was shown that the competition in the WWE has only gotten better. After almost pinning him with a 450 splash and making him submit to the calf-crusher, Styles eventually succumbed to Lesnar’s devastating F-5. Even though there had to be one winner, both are already legends in the making.

2. The Reunion of The Shield

From 2012-2014, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns were the most dominant faction in the WWE, the Shield. When Rollins betrayed his teammates in 2014, it set all three on separate paths to becoming the Architect, the Lunatic Fringe, and the Big Dog respectively. Each path eventually led each to a run as the WWE champion. However, this fall the Shield put aside differences and united once more against a common enemy, picking up exactly where they left off.

1. Chris Jericho Challenges Kenny Omega

Kenny Omega is arguably the best wrestler in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and of course the same can be said for Chris Jericho in the WWE. At 47 years old, Jericho had one of his best years ever in 2017 both teaming and feuding with Kevin Owens. That’s why it was a shock among wrestling fans around the world when Jericho, who has said he would never wrestle outside the WWE, challenged Omega to a match for Omega’s IWGP United States Championship at the annual WrestleKingdom show on January 4 in the Tokyo Dome. Labeled “The Alpha vs. Omega,” this match represents the best of WWE vs. the best of New Japan, something fans never thought could happen. If the match lives up to the hype, fans are in for something special.

It’s been a long year, but there have been a lot of great moments within it. What was your favorite wrestling moment of 2017? Let me know on Twitter @donnielederer or sound off in the comments below.

Images: WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling

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