Since the early '80s, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has given star ratings to wrestling matches in his weekly writeup. In that time, his ratings have become the benchmark of match quality among a certain segment of the wrestling viewing audience. Traditionally, matches are graded on a five star scale, and in years past, it was incredibly rare for a match to get the coveted achievement. In fact, from 2007 to 2010, not a single match was given a grade beyond 4.75 stars.
But in 2017, the floodgates opened. Starting with Kazuchika Okada's title defense against Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11, a whopping ten matches were awarded 5 stars or higher by Dave Meltzer. This includes four that broke beyond 5 stars into the 6 star territory.
In short: 2017 was spoiled for match quality, and it was arguably the year that broke Big Dave's star rating system. The ten wrestlers on this list played their part in breaking it into tiny little pieces with their next-level wrestling.
Big Mike is no stranger to the 5 star club. In 2012, the former Ring of Honor world champion earned his first 5 star rating challenging then-champion Davey Richards. Since then, Elgin has made waves in PWG and especially New Japan, where he debuted in 2015. Elgin's career resurgence in Japan has seen him face off against world-class talent such as Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, and Minoru Suzuki, and his matches have made him a crowd favorite overseas.
It took five years, but Elgin finally achieved his second 5 star rating, challenging Tetsuya Naito for his IWGP Intercontinental Championship at New Japan's New Beginning in Osaka in February. Don't let the quality of his opponent fool you; Elgin is legitimately one of the best big men in the world. His sheer strength and power is something to behold, even in a world with towering behemoths such as Braun Strowman and other giants. If WWE is Vince's land of big, sweaty men, New Japan and other companies are the land of Big, Sweaty Men who are arguably the best wrestlers in the world.