When trying to figure out what should top this list, it quickly became clear that the answer was actually kinda easy. While I loved a lot of wrestling over the last twelve months, the match that defined 2021 took place at GAEAISM. Not just because of what happened in the ring, but because of everything that came together to make it. Marvelous and Sendai Girls could have so easily dropped the ball on this one, the multiple delays and an injury to Takumi Iroha disrupting their plans, but they did nothing of the sort. After a build packed with brilliant tag-team matches and a gauntlet that was booked to perfection, it finally went ahead, and everything was in place for a hell of a main event.
That disrupted build might have even played to their advantage, as when this came around, it felt like the most important match of the year. The ceremony surrounding the whole of this anniversary event was brilliant, but they particularly nailed it here, as both team’s entrances raised goosebumps. With possession of the AAAW titles on the line, the thought of Mio Momono raising the Marvelous flag and her teammates reaching out to touch it still makes my heart beat faster all these months later. That excitement was palpable, and it peaked with a match that, to put it simply, fucking ruled.
Because when the bell rang, those months of tags and gauntlets paid off. These six knew exactly what they were doing, the Marvelous pairing of Mio and Mei quickly trying to overwhelm Big Hash, attempting to take out their opponent’s biggest weapon by scampering around her, desperately rolling her up. It was the start of a series of perfect beats as the two sides went back and forth, eliminations coming thick and fast, as they did everything they could to gain an advantage. When Marvelous got it, though, they failed to make it count, Rin and Mio going two on one against Chihiro only for Rin to be taken out. Not that anyone had any complaints about that. It left us with the match this entire feud had been building to, Big Hash vs Mio, with everything on the line.
And that’s where my reaction to this gets interesting. Because, in the moment, I wanted Mio to win more than anything. Hashimoto is brilliant, but Mio has become my fighter, someone I will always cheer for, and I needed to see her draped in those titles. Of course, that is the perfect way to watch a wrestling match as I was firmly in her corner, living and dying on every move as she battled like a demon. Momono seemed impossible to kill, at one point raining headbutts down on Hashimoto, finding a way to hurt this brick wall of all a woman. It was her time.
Except, she didn’t win. Hashimoto hit one of the sickest German Suplexes you will ever see, spiking her on her head, and that was that. It was brutal and sudden, and it felt like all the air went out of my body. I was gutted. And fuck me do I love that. I don’t mean to sound like a masochist, but that feeling is why I care about wrestling or football or whatever. Yea, it’s always better when the people you’ve thrown your lot behind win, but the joy is in the moment, good or bad. Everything about this match was perfect except for the result, and the idea that would somehow ruin it is wild to me. I just love that I got to go on that journey, screaming on one of my favourite wrestlers and seeing her come oh so close. Twenty minutes after it was done, I was already fantasy booking her future, thinking about how next time she’d get her.
Every year I start putting together these lists and thinking about the things that make me love wrestling: the nonsense and the joy, the people involved (not all of them), those I’ve met because of our shared love, and the fact that it’s not like anything else in the world. However, when you chip it all away (and this is hardly a revolutionary thought), all I really want is for it to make me feel something. From start to finish, this made me feel all the things, and that’s why it’s my match of the year.