Hello again, Rajah faithful! For the past month the denizens of the Rajah Forums have been pooling their collective brainpower towards one goal: crowning the very best WWE match from the year 2017. This has not been an easy task. While 2017 didn't have many matches that you could call all time classics, it still had an incredible amount of quality to go around, (and there ought to be with 85 hours of programming a week.)
So over the next few weeks we'll be unveiling the countdown of the top 25 matches according to this venerable website, with write ups from the man who organized it, and former host of the Cewshcast, PsychoSoldier, as well as some guest write ups from other forum members.
Remember, if you'd like to comment on these picks, or be involved in the process of choosing next year's, just click the link below and head on down to...
Money in the Bank Briefcase
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Money in the Bank 6/18
What used to be a yearly staple sneaks it way back on the list after a brief absence, and while it's easy to put a Money in the Bank Ladder Match in a Match of the Year list, this one definitely earns its keep with strong storytelling backing up the usual innovation.
As usual, Money in the Bank provides spots galore. But this time its well-paced and not as chaotic as normal, without sacrificing the big bumps you expect from these matches. And the investment starts before the bell even rings when Baron Corbin annihilates Shinsuke Nakamura seconds into his entrance. This was a bold move as not only are you taking Shinsuke out of a good chunk of the match, you're robbing many fans of their first time witnessing his entrance live. As someone who was in attendance, the one thing I was most looking forward to was seeing Shinsuke live after all these years, and I wanted the full package. By the crowd reaction, many others felt the same. But what's important here is it set-up for one of the biggest reactions later on.
But before that point, there is plenty meat to tear into from all the competitors. Ziggler is somewhat of an unsung master of ladder matches, as his ring awareness and attention to build allows him to maximize his spots and help an otherwise basic manuever hit with more oomph. AJ Styles' influence is somewhat minimal with great reason, but he still manages to squeeze in a couple crowd-rockers, like essentially using a ladder to complete an Ushigaroshi on Kevin Owens. But the former "Mr. Wrestling" rivals AJ Styles in the department of bump sponging, and he clearly takes the most punishment here. That said, whenever he and Sami Zayn get near a ladder, you can expect to see something new or fresh, like tossing someone onto an open ladder from the turnbuckle.
Speaking of Sami, while his story might not have been the focus of the climax, he was definitively the star of this match. Before Shinsuke's reemergence, he completely controls this match. He is ever-present and resilient, and the crowd is firmly behind him more with each passing moment. He looks the strongest and comes the closest besides AJ and the eventual winner. He was the source of the biggest bumps, such as the wicked Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the ladder and his Half-and-Half Suplex on the apron. In retrospect, it may have even been the best option to let him win the briefcase after such an incredible performance, but again, this wasn't his story.
This was about Shinsuke Nakamura fighting to prove his place on the WWE throne, AJ Styles proving that he was the man he'd have to get through first, and Baron Corbin absolutely ruining it all for maximum heat. Outside of that last moment, you see where the seeds were planted well before the Royal Rumble. When Shinsuke's music hits as Baron tries to claim the briefcase, the arena explodes. Nakamura heads straight for the ring, ready to crack open several cans of whoop-ass on the man who tried to rob him of his shot. He destroys Corbin with ease, followed up by a meddling Ziggler and a plucky Sami. They all eat knee, boot and/or elbow and get tossed aside. Even a deathly Kevin owens manages to stir up enough interest to get a knee to the face. With everyone out of the way, Nakamura is free to set up the ladder to victory. Or so he thinks as one of the greatest moments of 2017 takes place - when AJ Styles puts his hand on the other side of the ladder and shares an intense stare with the King of Strong Style. And this was the moment when the Smackdown main event of WrestleMania was penned officially after hearing that crowd reaction.
The rest is pretty obvious. AJ and Shinsuke have a brief classic as a teaser to what their match could be like under the guise that it would actually happen for something as little as the Money in the Bank Briefcase. They eventually reach the top of a ladder and vie for the opening to grab the prize, but Baron Corbin pushes the ladder over like any smart man would and grabs the briefcase for himself. To his credit, Corbin looked wonderful throughout the match, getting in some heavy spots and really putting over the destructive force he's supposed to be. He earns enough of his way towards the briefcase despite the flop to come soon after. Had there been a better victor or perhaps a more satisfying finish, the match might have made it to a more meaningful spot, but for what the talent provided, it deserved at least more than an honorable mention.