Dave Meltzer and his star ratings are the topic of many heated conversations around wrestling as they have been for decades now.
With the first five-star match happening in 1982, a further 192 have attained that status or achieved even greater success. With All Elite Wrestling joining the wrestling world in 2019, we have a look at the eleven AEW matches to gain five stars or more…so far!
Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes – Double Or Nothing – May 25th, 2019 – 5 Stars
The first match in All Elite Wrestling history to receive the hallowed five stars from Dave Meltzer was an absolute bloodbath between the Rhodes brothers. On AEW’s first night Cody and Dustin Rhodes undoubtedly stole the show as Dustin put on a career-defining show.
In the run-up to the match, Cody told the story of trying to end his older brother’s era of wrestling. Complaining that he and his peers had to live up to the perceived impossible standards set by those in the ‘Attitude Era.’
Before the match even took place, Cody ensured headlines were made as the Prince of Pro-Wrestling took a sledgehammer to The King Of King’s throne. As for the match itself, Brandi Rhodes made her presence felt at ringside hitting Dustin with a bottle of water and then a spear before being ejected by the legendary man in the middle, Earl Hebner.
The packed crowd in Las Vegas grew louder and more vociferous as the match went on with the brothers taking their turn to inflict pain on each other. In the end, with both men covered in Dustin’s blood, a third Cross Rhodes was enough to give Cody the victory.
After the match, in one of the most emotional promos ever, Cody told his opponent he didn’t need a partner or a friend, but he did need his older brother. The brothers then embraced with this moment setting up their tag team bout with The Young Bucks at Fight For The Fallen.
Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks – All Out – August 31st, 2019 – 5.25 Stars
The first AEW contest to break the Dave Meltzer five-star scale was a tag team war from the inaugural All Out pay-per-view in September 2019. One year on from the spiritual precursor to AEW, All In, The Young Bucks found themselves sharing the ring with the Lucha Brothers, Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix. This bout was no ordinary match as the pairs of brothers faced off in an Escalera De La Muerte match for the AAA Tag Team Championship.
The match itself was all action for nearly half an hour as two of the best tag teams on the planet risked everything. Highlights included Penta hitting an incredible Destroyer on Matt Jackson off the top of a ladder through a table in the ring.
Not to be outdone the younger brothers Nick and Rey leaped off ladders in stereo driving both Matt and Penta through tables. The scariest moment came when Nick was pushed off a ladder by Penta sending Jackson all the way to the floor. On his way down his foot caught the top rope meaning he plunged headfirst through one of the two tables at ringside.
Ultimately the Lucha Brothers retained their titles, going on to have the longest reign as AAA Tag Team Champions in history.
Kenny Omega and Hangman Page vs. The Young Bucks – Revolution – February 29th, 2020 – 6 Stars
So far the highest-rated AEW match on the Dave Meltzer scale, and the highest-rated tag team match of all time in any promotion by some distance.
Omega and Page had come together to form an unlikely tag team despite both being members of The Elite. Although as time wore on Page’s relationship with the group and in particular The Young Bucks grew more fractious by the week.
At Revolution in early 2020, the last AEW pay-per-view pre-pandemic era, a disillusioned Page joined forces with Omega to face The Bucks in a thirty-minute barnstormer of a match. In what was Omega and Page’s third title defence they took the Jackson brothers to the absolute limit.
As the advantage flew back and forward, Omega and Page looked every bit the polished tag team as they hit combination moves and set each other up for their trademark offence.
With The Bucks showing flashes of their arrogant Bullet Club selves, they took control until Page was able to powerbomb Nick through a table. The crowd in Chicago became more unglued with each near fall before Hangman Page finished the match with a cathartic Buckshot Lariat. The best tag team match of all time according to Dave Meltzer.
Best Friends vs. Santana and Ortiz – AEW Dynamite – September 16th, 2020 – 5 Stars
Now for something completely different. The only AEW 5 star match to take place entirely out of the confines of the squared circle. It might be the only 5 star match anywhere to have taken place entirely out of the confines of the squared circle.
The two teams met in the main event of Dynamite in what was the finest example of a parking lot fight that has ever been. Santana and Ortiz entered with what has become their big match trademark Dead Presidents-inspired facepaint. In many ways, this fight was perfect for the pandemic era as AEW were still running shows with no crowd in attendance.
Highlights included Trent being powerbombed on the top of a car by Ortiz and then the Inner Circle members slamming him through a windshield. The end of the fight saw Orange Cassidy emerge from the trunk of a car nailing Santana with a chain-assisted Orange Punch.
Best Friends won the match when Trent finished Ortiz by delivering a Crunchie through a board on the back of a pick-up truck. And there’s not any other 5 star matches that can say that.
The Young Bucks vs. FTR – Full Gear – November 7th, 2020 – 5.25 Stars
Fans of The Young Bucks YouTube series, Being The Elite, will know that this match was on the cards for years. It all began with FTR being an unkind acronym directed towards the team then known as The Revival.
For many fans, a match between these two teams was a dream that would harken back to the glory days of tag team wrestling where The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and The Midnight Express sold out arenas across the United States.
The problem was, FTR was part of WWE while The Bucks began building AEW. That problem was solved in May 2020 when the newly christened Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler drove their truck right onto AEW Dynamite.
For weeks, the teams had a somewhat uneasy alliance. The Bucks and FTR even teamed up at Fyter Fest 2020 to defeat the Butcher, The Blade, and the Lucha Brothers. However that all changed in August 2020 on what was supposed to be Tag Team Appreciation Night. With Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express present, FTR attacked Ricky Morton and cemented their alliance with Blanchard.
Success followed less than a month later when FTR unseated Hangman Page and Kenny Omega as AEW Tag Team Champions. All of this was leading to their inevitable showdown with the Jackson brothers, and at Full Gear, the fans finally got their wish.
The old adage ‘styles make fights’ had never been more apt with both teams trying to wrestle their style. FTR successfully slowed The Bucks and their frenetic style down for much of the match. With Harwood and Wheeler focussing their attention on Matt Jackson’s already injured ankle. In the end, however, FTR’s hubris was their undoing.
Straying away from their ‘no flips, just fists’ mantra, Cash Wheeler attempted a springboard 450 splash but missed Matt. The elder Jackson brother then dropped him with a superkick with the injured ankle for the win and the titles.
Kenny Omega vs. Rey Fenix – New Year’s Smash Night 1 – January 6th, 2021 – 5 Stars
In many ways, Rey Fenix has been AEW’s stand-out competitor since the company began in early 2019. He received his first AEW Championship match on the first AEW Dynamite of 2021. The luchador had a tough test against a champion with a new attitude but who is no stranger to a 5 [or even 7] star match, Kenny Omega.
Since Omega won the championship in December 2020 and forming an alliance with long-time friend Don Callis, Omega had reverted the villainous ‘Cleaner’ persona he first exhibited after he joined Bullet Club in NJPW.
Coming one week after the hugely emotional Celebration of Life for the late Brodie Lee, Omega, and Fenix put wrestling front and centre once again in what was a difficult time for the company.
Omega made his size and strength advantage count as he tried to ground the high flyer. But despite Omega’s best efforts, Rey Fenix could not be subdued as he threw his body at Omega like a weapon. Fenix survived onslaught after onslaught from Omega, even catching the champ with an incredible superkick for a near fall.
In the end, Omega finished the fight in the same way he’s finished so many others, putting Fenix away with the One-Winged Angel.
The Young Bucks vs. Death Triangle – AEW Dynamite – April 14th, 2021 – 5 Stars
The Young Bucks lead the way in five star [or above] matches in AEW with six, but Rey Fenix is not too far behind. And with the luchador teaming with Death Triangle partner Pac, another classic was on the cards for this AEW Tag Team Title match.
The Bucks were now back to their arrogant best after reforming The Elite with Kenny Omega, The Good Brothers, and Don Callis. Death Triangle earned their title shot by winning the Casino Tag Team Royale at Revolution in March. The addition of Pac in the place of Penta El Zero M gave a new twist on what had become a classic formula between The Bucks and the Lucha Brothers.
The match was jam-packed with high flying action as you’d expect. Fenix nearly won the titles following a frog splash and then Pac nearly won the match with a Black Arrow. However, Death Triangle was undone in the end like so many teams before them as they were guests of honour at a superkick party.
The Young Bucks vs. Lucha Brothers – All Out – September 5th, 2021 – 5.75 Stars
Death Triangle may have come up short in April but when Fenix teamed with his brother Penta El Zero M at All Out when they faced The Young Bucks for the AEW Tag Team Championship, it was a different story entirely.
The Bucks and The Lucha Brothers have engaged in some classic bouts during their careers but a year after their last 5 and a quarter star masterpiece, the two teams up the stakes and achieved the second-highest-rated match in AEW history when they fought inside a steel cage.
The two teams pulled out all the stops in one of the greatest cage matches of all time with The Bucks even using wrestling boots adorned with thumbtacks to try and finish off their rivals. The brutal bout was ended with a piledriver onto Nick Jackson which also brought about the end of The Young Bucks’ 302-day reign as AEW Tag Team Champions. The era of Zero Miedo had well and truly arrived in AEW.
Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega – AEW Grand Slam – September 22nd, 2021 – 5 Stars
The biggest show in AEW history was kicked off with perhaps the biggest match in AEW history as AEW World Champion Kenny Omega took on Bryan Danielson in a dream match that many thought they’d never see.
At All Out, just weeks before AEW Grand Slam, Bryan Danielson changed wrestling forever when he debuted for AEW, appearing at the very end of the pay-per-view to confront Kenny Omega and The Elite.
Not skipping the queue for a title shot, Bryan Danielson challenged Kenny Omega to a non-title bout simply to find out who The Best Bout Machine really is. Omega was hesitant to accept but eventually did so with New York City the host and 20,000 plus AEW fans the witnesses for one of the finest half hours in wrestling history.
The bout kicked off proceedings in Arthur Ashe Stadium, a venue more suited for serves and volleys rather than knee strikes and chops. But the latter was on offer in abundance in the mat classic between two stars that have defined their generations.
Perhaps fittingly, the bout ended in a time limit draw, with the question of the better wrestler still unanswered.
The Superkliq vs. Jurassic Express & Christian Cage – Full Gear – November 13th, 2021 – 5 Stars
From a mat classic to anything but.
Bryan Danielson was not the only surprise at All Out. Minutes before The American Dragon was unleashed on AEW, Adam Cole shocked the system and reunited with The Elite following his WWE departure. Cole’s first act in an AEW ring was to superkick Jungle Boy, and given the events of Full Gear, he perhaps wishes he hadn’t bothered.
The alliance between Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage has only been bolstered in recent weeks due to their battles with The Elite. With so many men involved and so many weapons close to hand, the six-man tag team match for Full Gear was made Falls Count Anywhere.
A wild brawl ensued with the two teams fighting all around the stage area and around the ring. Thumbtacks and tables were both used but in the end, it was the chair that proved pivotal.
Christian Cage set Matt Jackson up for the move he made famous – the one man con-chair-to on the stage. However before Cage could strike the final blow, he metaphorically handed over the torch when he literally handed over the chair to Jungle Boy who asked to strike the final blow, winning the riotous melee for his team.
Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Adam Page – Full Gear – November 13th, 2021 – 5.5 Stars
Are you ready for some Cowboy Sh*t?
The match years in the making and the crowning glory of Hangman Adam Page is the highest-rated singles match in AEW history at five and a half stars.
The story between Page and Omega stretches back all the way to 2016 when Adam Page first joined Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling. There he stood in the shadows of the rest of The Elite as the celebrated All In show and then the formation of AEW began to take shape.
Hangman had the chance to break out on his own and claim his place in history as inaugural AEW World Champion when he met Chris Jericho at the first All Out in 2019. Page’s destiny went unfulfilled that night and sent the cowboy on a long and winding road to Full Gear 2021.
Hangman Adam Page has not gone without success in AEW. Page and Omega made a great team as has already been documented on this list and their run as AEW Tag Team Champions was not inconsiderable. As the story of the team unravelled, it appeared Omega had his sights on bigger things while Page just unravelled.
A crisis of confidence set in for Page after he lost to Kenny Omega at Full Gear in the final of the AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament. That win set Omega off to become AEW World Champion and a complete change of attitude while the defeat just set Page off to the bar.
Hangman found an unlikely gang of supporters and friends in The Dark Order. They attempted to raise Page’s spirits but Hangman seemed to walk away from them after losing a massive tag team bout that would have seen Hangman face Omega at All Out for the title.
After some time away – in reality, to spend with his newborn child – Page returned on the 6th of October edition of AEW Dynamite where he won a Casino Ladder Match to finally claim his title shot from Omega.
The match itself saw the best of both combatants as they traded moves and blows that both men know so well. In a drama-filled conclusion, The Young Bucks limped out after their own efforts in the evening to stand once more in Omega’s corner like so many times before. In the end, the Jackson brothers could only nod with acceptance that Hangman’s time had come as he floored Omega with two Buckshot Lariats to finally become AEW World Champion.