Last time we took a look at some of the greatest tag matches of 2021, and although we had to make a few tough choices, we’ve decide to tackle the greatest singles matches of the year and this task wasn’t at all any easier.
AEW has showcased some of the greatest talent since its inception in 2019 and that means wrestlers from the indie circuit as well as WWE expats flooded the AEW locker room and as the year wore on, to put forth some pretty impeccable pieces of art in the form of pro wrestling matches.
Some of the selections below may seem odd at first, but I wanted to showcase as many of the talented wrestlers in AEW and point out some pretty epic moments from some stand-out talents and legends, and not all of them were main event matches or high profile matches, which is important to note.
Sometimes eight is not enough, but with looming deadlines and other projects lined up, there was no way I could have made a list any bigger, but overall, the matches showcased in AEW are essential to the sport of professional wrestling…many on the roster putting forward their best every time out.
As we learned last night at Rampage New Year’s Bash, in the Street Fight pitting Penelope Ford and the Bunny vs. Tay Conti and Anna Jay, these performers risk it all, and go above and beyond in their delivery, which at the moment is much more than we can say for their counterparts currently over in WWE…the ceiling there evidently providing limits and constraints to the talent there.
So without further ado, let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we dear readers? Here are 8 of the greatest singles matches of the year over at All Elite Wrestling…
8. CM Punk vs. Darby Allin – All Out on September 5th
CM Punk came into the company with quite the bang and that was after a long time away from the business. He came back and from day one, had his eyes on one of the best in the company and in the business right now, a pillar of AEW, Darby Allin.
The match was everything it was expected to be and delivered on all fronts, thus making CM Punk’s in-ring debut a memory for the annals of pro wrestling history.
7. Adam Cole vs. John Silver – Dynamite on Nov 5th 2021
Adam Cole’s debut was just as huge for so many wrestling fans. An indie wrestling legend and one of the biggest NXT performers of all time, his debut in the company was a massive one and a statement for the pro wrestling industry overall.
John Silver is an extremely talented wrestler and very physical, and yeah he’s good for a laugh, but John Silver reminds me of legends like the Dynamite Kid and Chris Benoit…that quick, snappy, aggressive style of wrestling that has been a tad watered down by some in the industry.
John Silver is a wrestler to watch out for certainly and in this match his delivery, conviction and ability to tell a story, shone through big time. Hope to see these two in a match again sometime soon.
6. Hangman Page vs. Bryan Danielson – Dynamite Winter Is Coming on December 15
Adam Page is a wrestler that paces himself. He won’t hit hard for the duration of time that he’s in the ring, but he can surely go. This was proven when he and Bryan Danielson went the 60 minute time limit for this one.
Danielson for his part seems to be like a fine wine…getting that much more impressive with age. His promise to deliver the physical matches he wasn’t allowed to deliver in WWE because of the constraints set upon him there, came through in this match…he delivering on that promise that he first made when entering AEW. Looking forward to the rematch, as I’m sure so are you, dear readers.
5. Miro vs. Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship – Dynamite on Sep 29th 2021
Miro was an exceptional TNT Champion. A truly fantastic villain that reminds one of epic movie villains like say Tong Po, JCVD’s nemesis in Kickboxer, or perhaps even Chong Li…Van Damme’s nemesis in Bloodsport. Miro found himself within AEW and he has delivered.
So much so that I didn’t think that Sammy Guevara was going to take his title that night, but he did, in a very physical match-up that fired on all cylinders. When this match ended, you knew for sure you saw something special…a passing of the torch and a new beginning for the Miro character that we haven’t yet seen flourish into its next phase, but I’m excited to see where he takes this.
4. Dante Martin vs. Frankie Kazarian – AEW Dark (Taping) On November 5th 2021
Dante Martin! Well, it’s all in his name, isn’t it? This promising young talent delivers every time out, and yes, also on AEW Dark. Not many AEW viewers—the casual viewer if you will—watch Dark, but they should, as they’d be privy to matches like this one, pitting young talent vs. the legendary Frankie Kazarian. A masterpiece.
3. Bryan Danielson vs. Minoru Suzuki – Rampage: Buy In on October 15
Bryan Danielson made this list three times (as you’ll see if you keep reading…which I hope you do), and there’s very good reason for that. In the three matches on this list, he put forth a clinic and with one of the greatest Japanese masters of the sport ever, Minoru Suzuki. These men could have been 90 and still they would have found a way to deliver us quite the match.
2. Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker (Lights Out Match) – Dynamite St. Patrick’s Day Slam on March 17
This match has been written about in detail over the year. Just myself, I’ve written about it for a bunch of different publications and that’s because it was a game-changer.
I’ve written often about WWE’s reluctance to push the envelope, and that’s why I won’t get into it here, but these two women pushed the envelope, thus opening the door for the Tay Conti and Anna Jay vs. Penelope Ford and The Bunny match from the New Year’s Bash on Rampage last night…trend setters they are and/or were on that night—St Patrick’s Day 2021, and a showing of talent, dedication, grit and innovation was seen; that can no longer be found in WWE unless something changes drastically.
I applaud most of the women of the WWE roster and always will, but right now, the AEW women’s roster is showing through action rather than talking about being the best and putting forth hesitant wrestling matches as their WWE counterparts are doing, and last night’s AEW match and this one here between Baker and Rosa proves just that.
1. Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega – Dynamite Grand Slam, on September 22
These men faced each other in ROH and although we’d seen them square off in the ring before, this was a magical moment for Danielson, Omega and pro wrestling fans overall. Best match of the year for sure, and the two acted as if they never spent all the time apart from working together that they evidently did. Flawless.
Now, I hinted at a few debuts in this piece—debuts that changed the game of pro wrestling overall—which brings us to our next topic and the last in the best of the year series. Join us next time as we take a look at the Top Moments in AEW for 2021.