So we finally come to the end to another great year of wrestling so time to pick my favourite matches and whilst last year I had a very New Japan heavy list, this year I’ve tried to spread it out a bit more and include matches from all the main promotions I’ve been watching.
I actually found it to be surprisingly easy to put this years list together as there were a number of matches that really stuck with me that I could think of right away. The interesting thing is how this list is more about the general impact and lasting effect these matches had on me than the actual rating I gave it, which is why you may see a ****1/2 higher on the list than a ***** one.
Also as usual this list is completely subjective and not necessarily definitive as opinions can change over time, but this is how I feel in this very moment.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto (NJPW G1 Climax Day Day 6)
Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali (205 Live 3/7/18)
Kenou vs. Kaito Kiyomiya (NOAH 6/1/18)
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori (NJPW BOSJ Final)
Masashi Takeda vs. Isami Kodaka (BJW 20/6/18)
10. Fans Bring the weapons Hardcore Match: Jiro Kuroshio vs. Seigo Tachibana (W-1 6/5/18)
There are a boatload of matches that I rated higher than this including my honourable mentions, but this was such joy watch and really stuck with me, so I felt I had to put on this list. It’s one of those matches that really over-delivered and went from being just a bit of fun comedy to something pretty darn awesome. One of the funnest matches of the year and whenever I think back to it, it makes me smile.
9. TLC Match – Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Asuka (WWE TLC 2018)
I wanted to put at least one WWE main roster match here and whilst there wasn’t really many matches that I loved and I could have easily placed the Murphy/Ali match in this spot. This one felt like the right fit. The women’s division has delivered a lot strong stuff stuff this year and this final PPV main event of 2018 was one of it’s biggest highlights. An awesome TLC match with good spots, a raucous crowd and a certain edge of brutality. Plus you get the feel good of Asuka finally winning the Women’s title for the first time and the continual set-up of the potential first ever women’s Wrestlemania main event.
8. GHC Heavyweight Title Match: Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH 4/10/18)
Sugiura has had a great title run this year and this was one of my favourite matches from it. Dickhead Nakajima has been an absolute blessing, he’s found a persona that really clicks with him and it was in full swing here, providing Sugiura with his biggest challenge to overcome as he takes a battering and almost get knocked out at the end only to catch Nakajima in anklelock in one last ditch effort which helps him successfully retain. A great struggle with terrfic work from both men and good helping of stiffness.
7. Unsanctioned match: Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa (NXT Takeover New Orleans)
As a stand-alone match this was fantastic, but all the events that spiraled afterwards have really dampened the matches impact, I honestly thought at the time that this was a perfect payoff to the feud and there really was no need to keep it going like they did even though I’ve still somewhat enjoyed what has come after it.
That being said at the time I loved this match. I watched it surrounded by friends, all of us eating up the great drama and brutality and then completely praising it once all was said done. An incredible contest with a great atmosphere, just a shame about the aftermath.
6. Triple Crown Title Match: Kento Miyahara (c) vs. Zeus (AJPW 29/7/18)
This match is the perfect example of emotional investment trumping everything else and I was honestly surprised when most people didn’t seem to be as high on the match as I was. I was personally more than excited to see Zeus finally win the big one so I really bit into the drama and nearfalls and felt the excitement of it all, I haven’t re-watched the match since seeing it live, so maybe my opinion will go down on re-watches but at the time I really thought it was brilliant and presented a great feel good moment for Zeus to win the triple crown in his hometown.
I know alot of people prefer the second match they had but I watched it recently and despite still being great, my investment was no where near the level it was for the first one and it just goes to show the difference that really connecting to a match can have.
5. NXT Title Match: Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Cien Almas (c) (NXT Takeover: Philadelphia 2018)
So whilst the Gargano/Ciampa was dampened by the aftermath, this one was lessened by watching it around someone who was a debbie downer on wrestling. Despite their negativity though, it was impossible not to be completely engaged in this superb match-up and it’s clear to see why so many came out praising it to the hilt. Yeah it’s a tad excessive and I originally preferred Gargano/Ciampa but this match has held-up better in my mind and is certainly one to be remembered from two of the best performers that the company has.
4. GHC Title Match: Kenou vs. Takashi Sugiura (c) (NOAH 26/6/18)
My favourite match of Sugiura’s title run and favourite overall NOAH match this year. It was Kenou that Sugiura had taken the title from, so Kenou was here to try to take it back. What ensues is a heckuva battle with some great nearfalls that in the final moments justdescends into them just slapping and elbowing the shit out of each other until Sugiura finally puts Kenou down. Just some real good stuff all around.
3. W-1 Title Match: Shotaro Ashino (c) vs. Manabu Soya (W-1 14/3/18)
This has some of the best limb work/selling of the year which really helped elevate this terrfic match that sees Soya put on one of the best performances of his career as he overcomes Ashino and puts an end to his dominant title reign. They had a couple of re-matches later on in the year where Ashino would win back the belt. But this one really stood-out and has a lot to love.
2. IWGP Heavyweight Title 2 out of 3 falls match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW Dominion 2018)
Speaking of dominant reigns coming to an end, this year saw Okada finally get dethroned in a 60+ minute epic that added another fantastic chapter to their feud. Of course it also sparked all kinds of discussions and arguments like all their other matches but if you were one of the many deeply invested in the feud Like me, then this match was a special one. I personally loved it and was very happy to see Omega finally win the title in a very fitting manner (even if his run hasn’t been all that great so far). A phenomenal final match to one of the greatest title reigns ever.
1. G1 Final: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (G1 Climax 2018 Final)
Yeah this is a very generic pick, but that’s because it’s another brilliant G1 final that is up there with the absolute best of them. Both these guys have had a terrific year and I could have easily put quite a few of the matches they have separately had in this list and so of course the one between them ends up being their best. I love Ibushi but this is one of them first times I’ve ever fully rooted for Tanahashi and I look forward to seeing how his match with Omega will turn out.
With an incredible atmosphere and excitement at a high, these guys delivered big time. Truly awesome stuff and my top match of 2018.
So that’s the list and think there’s a good variety there with each match having unique traits that make them stand-out among all the other great matches that have happened this year(and there has been a lot).
2019 already looks like it’s gone some promising things to come, so let’s hope it manages to deliver and keep up the quality.
Thanks for reading and have a happy new year. 🙂
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