2023 has to be one of the best years in pro wrestling history, with an astonishing number of matches getting that coveted five-star rating.
A 5-star match is decided by Dave Meltzer, a journalist and founder of the Wrestling Observer. He is considered the most prominent wrestling critic, with his match ratings having great weight within the community.
In this article, we’ll detail every five-star match to take place in 2023, with more added as extra incredible matches take place up until the end of the year.
Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay (Wrestle Kingdom 17)
Despite not having the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line in this match, Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay was still the most anticipated match on the card.
Ospreay is quickly becoming one of the best wrestlers of all time at the age of just 29, earning a record number of star ratings in his career even surpassing Omega himself.
It has been 4 years since Kenny Omega left NJPW to help form his own promotion – All Elite Wrestling – and the fans in the Tokyo Dome could not have been more excited to see the Best Bout Machine returning to their shores for another match.
The pre-match press conferences provided some extra fire for the match but it wasn’t until the duo stepped into the ring that fans truly saw what Will Ospreay and Kenny Omega were truly capable of.
The match itself was incredible. Brutal strikes and fantastic counters saw a fast-paced match between two all-time greats march into “Match of the Year” contention just four days in.
Kenny Omega picked up the win after paying tribute to Kota Ibushi with a Kamigoye before launching a bloodied Ospreay into the match with a One-Winged Angel. He won the IWGP United States Championship for the second time, indicating he will be staying in NJPW for some time now.
The Elite vs Death Triangle
The final match in the much-lauded “best of 7” series between The Elite and Death Triangle also proved to be the best.
All six men battled in a high-intensity sprint to the finish, battling constraints as they put on one of the greatest Dynamite matches of all time.
There are not enough words to describe the insane spots and bumps took in the match. Each man put their life in their opponent’s hands, and it made for one incredible, five-star worthy match.
Turning this final match of the series into a ladder match was a stroke of genius, playing into all six men’s streets and giving a satisfying conclusion to the series for the AEW Trios Championship.
Adam Page vs Jon Moxley – AEW Revolution 2023
While not usually a fan of the Texas Death Match, even Dave Meltzer recognised the genius of Page and Moxley, awarding their Revolution bout an impressive five-star rating.
Both men pulled out all the stops to inflict as much violence on one another as humanly possible, Chains, chairs and barbed wire were the order of the day, with Moxley even stabbing at the head of Page with a regular kitchen fork.
In the end, it was Adam Page who won the day, forcing his opponent to tap out by hanging him by the neck using a chain. A gruesome end but one that hopefully gives a satisfying end to the feud.
MJF vs Bryan Danielson – AEW Revolution 2023
The second match of the night to earn the five-star rating from Dave Meltzer, but the only one to shatter it, was the main event.
In the final match of AEW Revolution 2023, MJF defended his AEW Championship against Bryan Danielson in a 60-minute Iron Man Match, a true test of his pure wrestling skills.
Well, he passed the test with flying colours. This match was given a 5.75 star rating, and was declared the best Iron Man Match ever by many pundits.
MJF won the bout in overtime, in a match lasting 67 minutes. It added another accolade to his growing list, showing the world he could truly hang with the all-time greats like Danielson.
Kenny Omega vs El Hijo Del Vikingo – AEW Dynamite, 22 March, 2023
One of the best AEW Dynamite main events ever saw Kenny Omega vs El Hijo Del Vikingo, in a rare singles match for the Best Bout Machine.
The match saw some incredible moves done by El Hijo Del Vikingo, bringing some of the incredible talent seen in AAA over to AEW. He hit moves nobody had ever seen before, bouncing off the ropes and spinning in the air, mesmirising the fans.
The highlight was when Vikingo hit Omega with a springboard 630 splash through a table on the outside, something never seen before in an AEW ring. This match deserved a five-star rating just for that.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs The Usos – WrestleMania 39 Night 1
The first ever five star match from Dave Meltzer to main event WrestleMania is Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs The Usos, in the end of the first night at WrestleMania 39.
The huge victory in the main event of WrestleMania was the culmination of a multi-decade long story, that saw the pair go from the dank gyms in Montreal, all the way to the main event of WrestleMania.
Sheamus vs Drew McIntyre vs GUNTHER – WrestleMania 39 Night 2
Possibly the best Triple Threat match of all time occurred on the second night of WrestleMania 39.
Gunther defended his Intercontinental Championship against two more of Europe’s finest – Sheamus and Drew McIntyre.
In a hard-hitting encounter, Gunther overcome both opponents in a classic match. It was only the fourth five-star match in WrestleMania history, but the second in 2023.
Aaron Henare vs. Shingo Takagi – NJPW Road To Sakura Genesis 2023
Aaron Henare managed his first five-star match in his career, facing off with former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Tagaki.
As the match was happening on one of the “Road To” shows, nobody expected much between the two NJPW wrestlers.
However, they pulled out all the stops for the classic match that will be watched for years, as Aaron Henare’s introduction to stardom.
Blackpool Combat Club vs The Elite – AEW Double or Nothing 2023, 28 May, 2023
The main event of AEW Double or Nothing 2023 earned a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer, and added to the growing list of AEW’s top matches.
The bout saw eight men battle it out in an Anarchy in the Arena, a no holds barred match that saw both teams brawling throughout the arena, in a variety of different set pieces.
The bout pitted the Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danieslon, Claudio Castagnoli, Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta) up against the newly reformed The Elite (Kenny Omega, Adam Page, Nick and Matt Jackson).
Wheeler Yuta pinned Kenny Omega to win the match, after Don Callis and his new client, Konosuke Takeshita, interfered to turn heel and help the Blackpool Combat Club win the match.
Master Wato vs Titan – BOSJ Final
Master Wato proved all the doubters wrong by winning the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, having the best match of his career so far.
However, he wowed fans all over the world with the match, which has been mentioned as a match of the year candidate. He defeated CMLL’s Titan in the final, after both men won their respective blocks over the past few weeks.
The pair wrestled a shocking match that got a five-star rating, making it Master Wato’s first 5 star match of his career.
Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay – Forbidden Door 2023
I’m not going to write anything about this match.
It simply would not be fair to spoil the greatest match in wrestling history (that is, until the rematch at All in).
Go and watch this match. 6 Stars. The scale is broken already. Ospreay is the best wrestler of all time. Kenny is second.
Dave Meltzer rated this match 6 stars, making it one of his highest-rated matches ever.
FTR vs Bullet Club Gold – AEW Collision, 15 July 2023
One of the greatest tag team matches in history took place on AEW Collision, with FTR vs Bullet Club Gold.
FTR defended their AEW Tag Team Championships in a two-out-of-three falls match, taking on the duo of Jay White and Juice Robinson.
Bullet Club Gold defeated FTR the week prior to earn a title shot, and neither team disappointed in this nearly one-hour long match.
It equalled any of the FTR vs Briscoe matches, proving 58-minutes of fantastic tag team action.
In a match that will surely get a five-star rating, Bullet Club Gold earned the first fall through Jay White’s Blade Runner, before some innovative offense from FTR took all he had to kick out before three.
FTR eventually pulled one fall back, with a huge Shatter Machine onto Juice Robinson to make the score 1-1.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kento Miyahara – NOAH One Night Dream
Two of Pro Wrestling NOAH’s top stars battled it out in a match of the year contender at the One Night Dream event.
It was a hard-hitting match with an incredibly engaged crowd, who willed both men into a five-star match that blew the roof off Korakuen Hall.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kento Miyahara was given a 5-star match rating from Dave Meltzer, making it NOAH’s first 5-star match of 2023.
Tetsuya Naito vs Will Ospreay (G1 Climax 33 Semi Final)
Despite a scary kick seemingly knocking out Tetsya Naito near the end, he put on a five-star classic against Will Ospreay in the G1 Climax semi final.
Will Ospreay vs Tetsuya Naito in the G1 Climax 33 went just under thirty-minutes, and saw both men pull out all the stops to try and book their place in the final.
Naito controlled the pace early on, using his Tranquilo style to slow the pace down and frustrate the British star.
He locked Ospreay in a series of submission to apply torque to his shoulder, trying to nulifiy his variety of finishing moves that rely on it.
Naito even tried to hit the Stardust Press, after feeling the admiration coming from the crowd. Of course, he did not hit it, but this did set up the chance that he could use the move to beat Okada in the final.
The final stretch of the match was incredible, but saw Ospreay accidently knock Naito out with a kick that Naito failed to dodge.
Instead of avoiding the kick, a miscommunication lead to Testuya Naito leaning into the kick. Ospreay’s boot hit Naito’s head with a clunk, and he collapsed three times trying to continue with the match.
Every the professional, Will Ospreay took control of the match and loudly handed instructions to Naito on how to finish the match.
In the end, he ended up doing various versions of the Destino to himself, with the dead weight of Naito not knowing where he was while perched on Ospreay’s shoulders.
This match is one of the highest rated matches of the year, and the 19th greatest NJPW match of all time (according to Cagematch) – truly a five-star classic.
Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada (G1 Climax 33 Final)
Once again, Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito delivered on the biggest stage possible.
On a fairytale rune on what seems to be the tail end of his career at the top, Tetsuya Naito showcased exactly why the fans have grown to love him.
The leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon made an impressive run to the final of the tournament, wrestle two five-star matches in a row in the semis and final match.
His battle with Kazuchika Okada was legendary, epic and every adjective in between. It drew comparisons from their Wrestle Kingdom 14 classic, and came 16-years after the duos first match together.
With an incredible playing along at every step, Okada vs Naito told a fantastic story. Naito was not as quick as he once was, but used all his knowledge and cunning to stay cool and outwit The Rainmaker at every turn.
Naito managed to avoid all of Okada’s devastating finishers, and going for all his own (although he predictably missed the Stardust Press, as usual).
It took three consecutive Destinos to put down Kazuchika Okada, before Tetsuya Naito had his hand raised as the winner of the 33rd G1 Climax Tournament, and his third title victory so far.
Shingo Tagaki vs Will Ospreay – RevPro 11 Year Anniversary Show
Just one day before his match against Chris Jericho at AEW All In, Will Ospreay put on another classic against Shingo Tagaki.
Of their six matches, they have never gone below five-stars – sometimes even getting that coveted six-star rating.
While this match had nothing innovative, it was still hugely popular with the English crowd. It was a “greatest hits” of their previous matches, showcasing the immense skills of both.
After the match, Will Ospreay was challenged to a match by Zack Sabre Jr, before being attacked by Chris Jericho.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.