Top 10 Best Pro Wrestling Matches of 2018

This year, we have had a chance to witness great professional wrestling matches that were highly praised by pro wrestling journalists Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller and fans alike. The match quality of these ten matches were very rare ten years ago or even further and in today’s age of pro wrestling, it is common to get a great match at least once or twice per month. There are many that I have seen that were from various promotions such as WWE, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling and I will rank them all in my personal top 10 matches of 2018.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler (Summerslam)

I was in the crowd for this match at Summerslam and It was a great opener for this long Pay Per View. Rollins and Ziggler has had many matches throughout the year, but this match is their best match of every match they have had this year. There was a mix of everything in this match from the drama, to the athleticism between these two, and the energy of the crowd. There was a few points during this match where I was convinced that the match was over and that Ziggler would retain the Intercontenential Championship but Seth regained the championship in this awesome match.

9. Undisputed Era vs. Ricochet, Pete Dunn, and War Raiders “WarGames” Match (NXT Takeover: WarGames)

Last year, the WarGames match has finally made its way to WWE after many years where the fans would wonder when it would happen and it has finally arrived on WWE’s developmental brand NXT. Last year, it was three teams in this match but that changed this year when the rules reverted to the classic two teams of four. The feud between these two teams has been building up since the summer and the payoff was this excellent match as it was nonstop action from the start of the match to the finish. The War Raiders also showed off how fast these two can move despite being larger than all of the other men in the ring. There was also a camera shot during the match where the two teams are on opposite sides facing each other in the style of Captain America: Civil War. There were also weapons used during this match such as tables, trash cans, chairs, and kendo sticks and the most memorable spot of the match was when Ricochet did a reverse 450° senton from the top of the cage to everyone in the ring. Ricochet’s team got the victory after he pinned Adam Cole of the Undisputed Era to end this fantastic War Games match which is far better than last year’s version of the match.

8. Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy “Hell in a Cell” Match (Hell in a Cell)

It has been a long while since I can say that I liked a Randy Orton match and this is one of them. I have been a fan of both Orton and Hardy for a long time, but they both did not have a good match at all this year before this match. This is Jeff Hardy’s first match inside the Cell and it did not disappoint at all. There were a few moments during the match where it turned into a psychological horror movie such as when Orton proceeded to place a screwdriver right through his open earlobe and twisted it. That was very gruesome to watch as it took me a few minutes to resonate what I have just witnessed. The match ended as Jeff climbed to the top of the inner part of the cell with a ladder, used his hands to go to the middle of the cell like it is a monkey bar, and proceeded to do a body splash to Orton while he is laid on the table but as Jeff fell, Orton moved out of the way and Jeff’s head came crashing through the table as Orton then got the pin fall for the victory.

7. Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas (NXT Takeover: Philadelphia)

This match is the first WWE five star rated match by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter since John Cena vs CM Punk back in Money in the Bank 2011 and this match delivered in every aspect. Not only that it convinced me that Gargano can headline a WWE event one day, but it also proved the critics wrong about Almas at the time since his run as NXT Champion has gotten mixed opinions. Johnny did everything that he could to win this match and the crowd was behind him as well. In fact, there were many times during this match that there was a standing ovation to both of them due to their performances and they were very deserved. Almas got the win, but before the show ended, Tommaso Ciampa returned from his knee injury to attack Johnny thus resuming their feud which was delayed due to Tommaso needing knee surgery.

6. Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW Dominion)

This match has been building up ever since their WrestleKingdom match from last year and the slow build has been worth it. These two has had matches on that show along with the G1 Climax as well and every match they have had, outperformed their previous one. It is the modern day Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat with these two as they tore the house down at Dominion this year. This match was a two out of three falls with no time limit and these two went all out during the one hour and four minutes of this classic. During this match, Omega has attempted to use his signature move “one winged angel” many times as Okada has found a way to counter it each time. The only time the move went through is during the final fall of the match as Kenny Omega not only won the match, but also became the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion as well. This match is as brutal as it comes and you will not find a hard hitting match like this anywhere else other than New Japan Pro Wrestling.

5. Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali (205 Live 7/03/2018)

205 Live from the beginning until the summer of 2018 has been a long afterthought as well as it’s division. Enzo Amore was the best superstar of the division for a while as well until his release and since then, 205 Live has been rebuilding itself and the first match to do that was this one. Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy had a no-disqualification match and it was awesome. From the high flying spots, to the innovative ways to preform high flying moves off of the table and even steel steps, and much more spots that has kept my attention to the screen as I was watching it and the fans in that arena as well loved it too and this was the beginning of the relaunch of the Crusierweight division from this point on.

4. Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon (WrestleMania 34)

This match is my favorite WrestleMania match this year and many peope whether if it is inside the wrestling bubble or outside of it (You know, the casual fans and the MMA fans) was curious to see how Ronda Rousey would do in her first ever match in WWE and she delivered in this awesome tag team match in which she teamed with Kurt Angle to go against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in a mixed tag team match. Kurt and Triple H had control for most of the match as this was also Kurt’s first WrestleMania match in 12 years and once Ronda got tagged in, she did not hesitate to charge right at Stephanie and also Triple H with a fury of strikes and judo throws. The match finished once Ronda made Stephanie tap out to the arm lock as both Ronda and Kurt celebrated after the match finished.

3. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch “Last Woman Standing” Match (Evolution)

What WWE had done with the women for the last few years has been incredible. Starting way back in NXT when the women’s matches started to be taken more seriously, to WrestleMania 32 when the Divas Championship has been retired for a new Women’s Championship. Now we are at the stage that women are now on the main event of Raw, Smackdown, and even select Pay Per Views and this all lead to the first WWE all women’s Pay Per View, Evolution. Charlotte and Becky Lynch has been feuding since the summer when Becky turned heel at Summerslam. They both had a last woman standing match on this show and it was spectacular to see these two go to war in this match and not hold anything back. My favorite spot during the match is when Charlotte applied the Figure-8 leg lock on Becky as the ladder was also in between both of them. These two gave it their all and I believe this is the best women’s match I have seen this year.

2. Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW WrestleKingdom 12)

The idea of this match came from Jericho as he wanted to make pro wrestling’s version of Mayweather vs. McGreggor and once it was announced that Kenny Omega accepted the challenge, the anticipation has blew up very high. Jericho and Omega is a dream match that we did not know that we wanted and it delivered. It was also great to see Jericho wrestle a completely different style since he is used to the WWE style for the last 19 years and this was also his return to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Everything with this match from the brutal table spots, to Jericho picking up a camera and started flipping the crowd and the referee with the finger, to Omega’s brutal V-Trigger knee strikes, and with Omega’s high flying arsenal. These two had the match of the night that night as the drama and the story of the match has not slowed down at all from the start to the finish. It also gave Jericho his first ever five star rated match by Dave Meltzer.

1. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa “Unsanctioned” Match (NXT Takeover: NOLA)

The match in the year in my opinion and one of the best matches in WWE in the last five years. This match felt like an old school NWA “Lights Out” match from 1980 as the vibe of those matches from that time were transferred to this match. Just like those matches in the past, The referee is only there to make the three count and the other rules are out the window as the referee is not allowed to stop it. Johnny and Ciampa’s feud started way back in Chicago in 2017 and their first match was very crazy. The ring mat was also exposed during this match for the wood to be shown and other than that, there were more dangerous visuals that happened during the match inside and outside the ring and these two put their bodies through war during the match. Johnny did not want to give up at all or hurt Ciampa at all and even his wife did a run in and tried to convince Johnny to end the match. This is also the longest match in NXT history clocking in at 37 minutes. Johnny won this match by submission, but that was only the beginning of their great rivalry.

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Jeff Hardy: then and now..and “test run” with certain wwe wrestlers

I wrote a little bit about this a few months ago, so I will repeat a few points right off the bat.

WWE loves to give talent a “test run” in the main event scene before giving them a real run at the top. They have been doing this for years and are continuing the stance in 2012. I will simply list a few examples.

While it was under the elder McMahon, Hulk Hogan was given a “test run.” Remember, he fought Andrew the Giant well before Wrestle Mania III. The man passed with flying colors, went to do other business, and Vince McMahon knew he could trust him. A year later, Hulkamania was running wild folks.

Ultimate Warrior was given a few “test runs” as IC champion and teased some major feuds for him. Obviously, fans were ready for him to take the top spot. At WM VI, they trusted him enough to be one of the few men to beat Hogan clean and win the title.

Shawn Michaels feuded with Bret Hart over the WWE Title at Survivor Series in 1992. Not 1997! Earlier in the decade, HBK was given his “test run” as IC champ and some matches near the top of the card. He did great, so WWE trusted him with the top spot. Years later, the company was all about Shawn.

The Rock, Stone Cold, and many others all got little “tastes” of the main event scene before being given the ball officially. WWE must know if guys can be trusted on top. You rarely see somebody just thrown into the main event and STAY there. Here are a few recent names to think about folks:

Alberto Del Rio – he got a “test run” leading into WM 27. He did great, so WWE trusted him with the title months later. As we saw, Edge beat him, Del Rio built himself up a little bit more, and got his moment at Summerslam later on in the year.

John Cena – in 2003, he was given a little bit of a run against Brock Lesnar. He did a fine job, went on to feud with Underaker and Kurt Angle afterwards, then started his rise to the top. WWE knew they could trust him after he passed his initial “test.”

The Royal Rumble is often used for “lesser known” talent to get a shot at the WWE or World Title. I won’t name names, but just look at the Rumble history. Take a look at the title matches! Clearly, some of those are not major matches – just a way to “test” guys out in the main event scene for a few months.

Dolph Ziggler got a chance last year against Edge to shine. Since then, he has been a constant mid-card to upper mid-card to SOON main event wrestler. All because WWE gave him an opportunity, and he did well. Again, I could go on and on, but the fact remains. From Randy Orton to CM Punk, most big names are given a little “test” before officially given the main event spot.

Others tried but failed. William Regal was pushed to the moon in 2008 and was hugely over as a heel, in great shape, and firing on all cylinders…then failed his 2nd Wellness test.

Carlito, Chris Masters, Shelton Benjamin, and MANY others were given a chance. Even The Brian Kendrick was in a WWE Title match on PPV! Either fans did not buy into them or they flopped for others reasons. Nonetheless, WWE was giving new stars a chance to shine.

That brings us to Jeff Hardy.

Hardy had some successes during his first WWE run, but this a new ball game. When he came back to WWE in 2006, it was clear the company had big ideas for him. He was given some vignettes, and major buzz was around his return. Within a few months, he was the IC Champ. After a nice run, he and Matt Hardy had a fun tag team title run in 2007. That was a “nostalgia” run which was destined to be very short-lived.

During all of this, WWE had to be very hesitant in “pushing” Jeff too much. Obviously, it was because of his past drug/behavior issues. Some fans love to just ignore these things, but you can’t. When you run WWE as a publicly traded company, somebody’s life style is a huge, huge factor. By the time, Hardy was catching on with the fans again in 2007, WWE had no choice but to give him a chance.

In 2007, the following stars got injured and/or missed time: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho (already gone), Ric Flair, John Cena, Undertaker, Edge, and many more. WWE HAD to give a new star a huge run to the top of the card. Their roster was becoming thinner and thinner. Hardy was worth the shot.

In a rare sight, he defeated Triple H clean at Armageddon 2007 to become the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. With Randy Orton in the middle of a long title reign, Jeff had no shot of winning the gold. However, this was all about gauging the audience’s reaction to Jeff Hardy as a main event player. If it bombed, no big deal. He would be moved back down the card. It it caught fire, WWE knew they could always go back to him down the line.

In the weeks leading up to Royal Rumble 2008, the video promos and actions of Jeff Hardy MADE him into a star. During that time-frame, he was a made man. The fact is that Orton was not going to lose his title just a few months away from WM24. With John Cena coming back later on that night, Hardy had to lose. While some cried foul on that decision, it was a MAJOR win for Hardy. He proved he could hang with the “big boys.” he was no longer just some bit player in WWE. Jeff was a major player that money could be made from down the road.

After yet another suspension and a WWE Draft in the summer of 2008, he was moved to Smackdown for the push of his lifetime. Again, he was not just given the title on his first chance. He had to EARN it. He had to FIGHT for it. He had to scratch and claw for it. Losing time after time to Triple H on pay-per-view may seem ridiculous, but it was something that HAD to be done for this story to be properly told.

Fans were just dying for him to get the title at this point. In yet another rare sight, Jeff Hardy defeated Undertaker on a Smackdown episode in late 2008. The momentum was gaining. Fans were loving his chase. People wanted something “new” for the Blue Brand. When Armageddon 2008 rolled around, Edge was defending his WWE Title against Triple H and Jeff Hardy in a triple threat match. This was the final PPV of the year and just the right time to pull off a ‘shocking’ move.

Jeff Hardy pinned Edge to win the WWE Title.

It was never going to be a long reign. It was never going to be some huge run. It was always going to be a nice, little moment for Hardy fans that dragged fans into the following year. Hardy was not going to main event a WM event. Again, his history and tainted past would not headline WrestleMania. However, Hardy was champion. WWE does this kind of thing a lot to close December.

You saw it with Daniel Bryan last year. He was given his “test” with the World Title and did a good job. In 2009, Sheamus was given the WWE Title for a short “test run” on the top. Look at where those two are now…top of their game.

In late 2008, it was Hardy’s turn. Again, his title run was never a long-term project. It almost reminds me of Austin Aries in TNA right now. The momentum was just so large, it had to be done despite other plans. As most remember, Hardy lost the title to Edge a month later. Jeff went onto feud with Matt (brother) for a few months before going right back to the main event scene. Now, WWE TRUSTED him. He had passed his tests with flying colors. No more need to beat around the bush…Hardy was OVER!

He feuded with Edge once again to win back the WWE Title to begin the summer. After that, he had an epic feud with CM Punk where they traded the title back and forth up to Summerslam and Hardy’s final WWE match days later. It may seem like I am over-exaggerating when I state this, but I am dead serious…

In mid-2009, Jeff Hardy was one of the top stars in the entire industry. Behind John Cena, Undertaker, and DX, Jeff Hardy was THE man on WWE TV. If you did not live through that year, you would think I am lying. I’m not. Just three years ago, he was in the main event scene (closing PPV events as well), selling more merchandise than over 95% of the roster, as over as any other top star, and WWE Champion.

That is what makes today so sad to see Jeff Hardy in an Orlando sound-stage in front of 1,000 NON-paying tourists each week for 1.0 television ratings. My, oh my…