Mathew’s 2018 Top Matches list continues! Let’s see what ends up 20th through 16th.
Welcome back to my Top 25 Matches of the year list and as you saw yesterday, I posted my first five matches from my list and I’ll keep doing five a day until December 31st which will be the final five to end the year.
If you haven’t seen the first set of lists, there will be a link in here and I’ll do it for the other days just in case people started following didn’t see the previous ones. Anyway, let’s not waste any time and get ready for our next five sets of matches.
20. Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH Global Junior League 10/4/2018)
– Takashi Sugiura was the unsung champion of 2018 and I say this as Takashi has had a fantastic reign with each title defense being different and giving us unique stories for him to tell once he won it in March. This match was mostly about Nakajima who went through a major transformation ever since he lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship last year and looked to be considered a failed experiment due to not being a big draw like NOAH would hope. During this year, Nakajima would go through a transformation from being a vanilla babyface with great wrestling ability to an aggressive heel with a new appearance and still just as badass in the ring as ever. Nakajima was one who took Takashi to his limit in this match with how aggressive his style has gotten this year and he took out all that frustration onto the champion to show the fans this is the ace they could’ve gotten if they didn’t give up on him last year to let him grow. If Nakajima were to win here, this would’ve been the perfect way to do so along with a big middle finger to the fans but it didn’t work out that way since Takashi was able to make Nakajima tap out in the match and have that final defense under his belt until he lost it to Kaito Kiyomiya in December. This is the Nakajima that fans should definitely fear since he has shown how dangerous he can be and if he keeps it up in 2019, he will take that title back. Definitely check out Takashi’s GHC Heavyweight title defenses as all of them were a treat to see and how a heavyweight champion should look.
19. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (WWE Evolution 10/28/2018)
– I think a lot of people knew this match would be on here somehow as it’s on a lot of peoples lists as not only the best women’s match of 2018 for some people, but also probably the best match when it comes to the WWE’s main roster scene. There’s no doubt that Charlotte Flair had the best year in wrestling when it comes to just the women as she performed at a high level and I know people wanna say Becky Lynch because of her new change in character, but it sadly doesn’t change the fact that the first eight months of 2018 had her in the background while Charlotte was making history and delivering quality matches and while I do applaud Becky for finding her voice and now being on the top draws on SmackDown and WWE as a whole, can’t call her number one for the overall year.
The two had an explosive rivalry with Becky Lynch stepping out of Charlotte’s shadow finally to show that while she’s better than her, she can carry the division by herself without her. Becky eventually defeated her for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell and held out on her own with the title where the two would have the final chapter of their feud at WWE’s first all women’s pay per view, Evolution where they would wrestle in the first ever women’s Last Man Standing Match. They made full use of the stipulation of the match with the use of weapons, wrestling, and having the crowd loving it that it boggles my mind that this match didn’t close out the show since it would’ve been the better way to close it up instead of Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella. Becky would retain the title against Charlotte to prove that she’s all on her own from here and there was definitely respect shown between the two. Fantastic match and I hope these two women keep this momentum going for 2019 to help that their division to new heights.
18. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Ben-K (Dragon Gate Champion Gate in Osaka 3/4/2018)
– This was the second Dragon Gate show I covered and I said this match would be on my list and I meant it since it was a great match that still holds up nine months later. Masaaki Mochizuki had an underrated title reign with the Open the Dream Gate Championship with some solid performances in his matches, but this is the one that stood out the most in his series of title defenses in this reign. Mochizuki would defend the title against a future star of the company, Ben-K and this was the first time seeing him in singles competition to see how he would do in the main event level if we were to one day win the championship, which blows my expectations out of the water and made me a fan of him right away.
Ben-K looked strong in this match and even in the end when he lost the match by TKO instead of actually tapping out to make him look like a star. Will Ben-K win the title one day? I think he will since both times he went for the title this year showed he will be a huge success and it all depends on when they want to pull the trigger, especially since PAC came back and is not the current Open the Dream Gate Champion, so it all depends on how they plan it out. If you haven’t check out Ben-K before, this is the first match I would show people so they get a familiar idea of what he’s all about. My favorite Dragon Gate match this year and one that should be talked about when it comes to this company.
17. Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW Best of the Super Junior XXV 6/4/2018)
– This one is my favorite junior heavyweight match this year and definitely deserves a spot on the list for sure during this first time ever match-up. This was the finals of the 25th annual Best of the Super Junior tournament where the winner of this match will earn the right to challenge Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at Dominion a few days after this show. Both Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takashi almost downright killed each other in this match with them pulling out all of the stops right in the beginning in the match with Taiji making Hiromu roll all the way down the bleachers and landing on the floor.
This match felt a little too dangerous for peoples tastes since it looked like they could’ve been seriously hurt if they weren’t careful with any of the moves that they pulled off in this match, but luckily that both of these men made it out of the match in one piece because nobody likes to see a wrestler injured or having their careers cut short by one mistake. Hiromu would eventually defeat Taiji in an incredible match to finally also defeat Will Ospreay to bring Mr. Belt back home after being separated from him for an entire year. Unfortunately, Hiromu wouldn’t hold the title long as he injured his neck when he fought Dragon Lee and landed on his head wrong on a Phoenix Suplex. I don’t know if he will be able to return or not and it’s a real shame to hear since he definitely had a lot more left to offer for the business and to see it cut short like this would be heartbreaking. I do hope for a successful recovery at the end of it all and thank him for giving us excitement for the junior heavyweight division.
16. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Money in the Bank 6/17/2018)
– “But this feud was underwhelming and awful!” Technically it was but at the same time, it wasn’t the worst feud during AJ’s run. Both AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura fought at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in a much-anticipated dream match where Nakamura was the victor before the two would depart to the WWE. Fans were excited to see them one day fight on the big stage and it happened when Nakamura won the Royal Rumble to earn that right to finally fight AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. A lot of fans were disappointed since it wasn’t like their Wrestle Kingdom match that many considered a classic, but I’ll get to that later since this was the first step to Nakamura turning heel once he lost to AJ Styles.
The two would meet in the ring at least three more times where the next two ended in a no contest and then Nakamura would get a win to tie it up which lead to the Last Man Standing Match. This match was their best WWE match together as it had the story from the rivalry, incorporated their skills mostly to try and take each other down rather than heavily rely on the weapons. I do wish Nakamura won this match since this would’ve been the right time for him to win the championship, but they wanted to advertise the WWE 2K19 game with Styles on the cover, so it would’ve been a bad move to take the title off him while giving him that honor. I was gonna use AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan from TLC instead but I decided not to since while that one was the much better wrestling match, this was the overall package if you were to compare the two, but still great and should check it out if you haven’t.
So why did this feud technically bomb to a majority of the fans? I think it’s because of the fact that a lot of people had their expectations set way too high when this rivalry was being developed. I liked it a lot more since I didn’t compare it to their match at New Japan because they’re two different companies who have different aspects on how they do their business and style of wrestling, if people were going to expect something similar or better then that is their doing for assuming. Also, you gotta understand that Nakamura is way past his prime and even has been for a couple of years before he left New Japan except for his matches with Styles, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kota Ibushi since that was the only time during his final run where he had great matches while the rest of it was pretty much just him there. His charisma was mostly the only thing keeping him over at this time and he can have a great match from time to time around this point of his career, but how he used to be isn’t him anymore and this is his own doing, which I don’t blame him since he wanted to tone it down. But, this was still a great match and definitely a top one for a Last Man Standing Match as a whole if I were to do a top 15 for this type of match.
That’s it for this set of matches and thank you very much for tuning in to read them. I know some are confused about the placements of the matches and everything, but again it’s all opinion based and my reasoning for each one is posted up there. I hope you all enjoyed the read and tune in tomorrow as we look at our next five matches. See you all then!
The Paradox of the Wrestling War in 2021
The IWC has been talking about a certain Friday Night and what numbers matter. Tommy Starr chimes in with his perspective on this “war”.
“War is peace… freedom is slavery… ignorance is strength.” These are among George Orwell’s key three slogans in his novel 1984, which exemplify the ideology that when one has the power to lull individuals into false senses of security, they will blissfully ignore truth and reality to serve a perpetual agenda.
Since the inception of AEW, wrestling media has insisted on this idealistic narrative of a born-again “Monday Night Wars” comparative to that of a bygone era of professional wrestling that has not been seen since and will never be seen again. For one reason or another, modern wrestling fans have bought into this impractical religious doctrine hook, line, and sinker, despite statistical evidence that contradict this ideology.
To put this in perspective, if there is a genuine wrestling “war” in the wrestling market today, it is not merely a war of the companies of AEW vs. WWE, rather it is a frivolous war between the oppositional fans of AEW and WWE. The center of authority that continues to drive this animosity amongst the opposing fan bases rests at the helm of the wrestling media and the individuals within the business itself. The manipulative narrative of the wrestling media and wrestlers in the business have managed to perpetrate a falsified creed that AEW and WWE are “at war.” It is interesting to note that this blanket statement hedges the particular element of what both companies are at war with. The common implication is the war of competition, particularly competition for viewership. And while this narrative carries some validity, it misses the key detail of what this abstractive war revolves around. It is a waging fight among AEW and WWE fans to try and claim superiority over the other, despite the apparent truth that both sides are failing to expand beyond their niche audiences. Hence, neither party can credibly claim any form of superiority. In essence, this religious irrationality to suggest that one company is directly “winning” over the other continues to miss the essential endgame of what winning a war truly looks like.
In the business world, “smart companies” understand and invest in long-term strategies of acknowledging that when they lose small battles, they allow their opposition to enjoy those smaller victories; meanwhile, they do not allow those battle losses to obstruct their long-standing progress. So contextually, AEW would be wiser to accept that their Friday night edition of Rampage show running head to head with SmackDown lost in overall viewership numbers by approximately 288,000 viewers, despite the fact that not only was SmackDown running on a different network due to Fox coverage of the 2021 American League Championship Series, but that AEW Rampage had actually gained viewership from the previous week by about 15.14%. Instead, wrestling media continues to propagate that overall viewership is subordinate to what truly matters in this equation, that being the key male 18-49 demographic. What this discounts is that when one analyzes actual numbers, both shows essentially tied in the target 18-49 demographic at a 0.24.
A strategic business owner obsessed with “winning wars” understands his opposition’s leader and avoids engaging in projecting irrational and petty beliefs in order to stir up his or her army. Rather, it would be wiser to quietly and cautiously observe the opposition’s decision-making to effectively counter-program and capture the attention of potential consumers. This does not bode well for Tony Khan when he engages in social media warfare with the opposition to try and stoke a fire that merely exists in a metaphorical fantasy. All the while, the rival niche audiences partake in nonsensical arguments over which organization “won” a war that has not, does not, and will not exist, despite a genuine hope that professional wrestling will ever reach that level of popularity again worth necessitating a war.
A true and authentic wrestling war in today’s culture should be the fight to reassemble a lost and/or new audience. Per discussion of a lost audience, that insinuates both parties fight for the admiration and trust of disgruntled audiences that have since tuned the product off from their habitual consumption. Arguably, this can be seen as a lost cause, considering most of these wrestling fans have long since distanced themselves from professional wrestling. However, a business that can successfully earn back that trust of disassociated consumers is a fruitful investment. Catering to loyal and clinging fan bases may be short-term goals, but they are not expansive business strategies. And based on the weekly viewership numbers, ratings, and key demos for both parties, AEW and WWE continue to cater short-term appeal to their niche audiences instead of investing in long-term strategic outreach to new audiences. The art of mastery on this level is a war worth fighting for.
Casey, C. (2021, October 18). Who won Friday night’s ratings battle between WWE smackdown and AEW Rampage? WWE. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://comicbook.com/wwe/news/wwe-smackdown-aew-rampage-oct-15-ratings-war-who-win-tied-demographic-smackdown-wins-audience/.
Feloni, R. (2014, August 14). 33 war strategies that will help you win in business. Business Insider. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/war-strategies-to-win-in-business-2014-8.
Thurston, B. (2021, January 15). Key demo and total audience: What are they and how much do they matter? Wrestlenomics. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://wrestlenomics.com/2020/07/14/key-demo-and-total-audience-what-are-they-and-how-much-do-they-matter/#:~:text=With%20a%20new%20head%2Dto,advertisers%20to%20the%20programs’%20networks.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: October 2021
From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!
From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!
We’re more than halfway through October, and you know what that means! It’s time to make a list of my five favorite wrestlers! It’s either do this or write about the latest wrestling news, and as fun as it is to talk about television ratings, this seems more productive at the moment.
5. Mercedes Martinez
This trophy is a reminder to EVERYONE that I'm here to win.
The REAL prize is the @IMPACTWRESTLING knockouts title!!
Soon mi gente….SOON.#RUGGEDandTHUGGED #BRASSCITYOG #TheRealDeal pic.twitter.com/qsTt1spTxs
— Mercedes Martinez (@RealMMartinez) October 15, 2021
It’s considered impolite to discuss age. At least it used to be. I’m not sure anything’s considered impolite anymore based off of what I read on the Internet & see on television. People have pitched manners out the window as they’ve become accustomed to not worrying about getting punched in the face. There’s a point I’m trying to get to here, and that point is that it’s nice that women’s wrestling has arrived at a place where I can write about somebody that’s been wrestling about as long as I’ve been an online wrestling journalist, and they’re kicking ass & taking names. Makes me feel a bit less creepy.
Martinez’s return to the indies & emergence in Impact Wrestling has gone well. What Impact is doing with her isn’t exactly rocket science: have Mercedes Martinez destroy everybody in her path to a title shot, and make people believe that whoever the champion will be between Mickie James & Deonna Purrazzo will have a difficult test on their hands. Simple, right? Throw in the incoming debut of the IInspiration, and it’s pretty easy to get excited about the Knockouts Division & where it’s headed.
4. Bron Breakker
Yes, the name is pretty awful. Yes, NXT 2.0 isn’t exactly setting the world on fire after a few weeks. But it’s tough to deny the talent of the son of Rick Steiner. Dude has the physicality & the speaking tone of his father & uncle. Not quite the size of Rick or Scott in later years, but if genetics are any indication he’ll get there. It won’t be long before he’s NXT Champion, heck, I’m kind of surprised he didn’t get drafted to Raw or SmackDown already. He’s got money written all over him.
As for that pesky name issue…names aren’t as big of an issue as we like to think they are. Dolph Ziggler would have been future endeavored years ago if bad names held talent back. You also have to keep in mind that WWE will probably change his name before he gets to the main roster. No need to sweat the small stuff here. This guy will be a star somewhere under some name. Probably for the best the longer he holds off using the Steiner name, given how the wrestling business works.
3. Junior Dos Santos
Junior dos Santos’ first moments as a pro wrestler pic.twitter.com/KIhpYZOsCi
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) October 16, 2021
If you’ve followed mixed martial arts for any length of time, you know that most fighters’ careers don’t end in a blaze of glory. Fighters want to keep fighting, and even if the losses keep stacking up they still think they’re one win away from getting back to the top. Young fighters are looking to make their names, and beating the brakes off of fighters with track records is a good way to do that. At age 37, JDS has entered that phase of his MMA career. He’s lost four straight fights, all via TKO, all to younger fighters looking to make a name. He could keep doing that, or he could move on to something else while his name still has value.
Why not pro wrestling? Granted, I seem to be one of the few people writing words on wrestling websites that actually like AEW’s angle with American Top Team & Dan Lambert, but JDS is the perfect fit for something like this. He’s a large human being, wrestling fans by & large know who he is, and he has the type of athletic ability that should transition well to pro wrestling. He’s lost a few fights, but the people he lost to are doing pretty well in UFC’s heavyweight division. I’m willing to give it a chance. Also, when the inevitable AEW vs. WWE shootfight rumble happens, AEW’s going to need him around.
2. Roman Reigns
CM Punk exists:
Roman Reigns: pic.twitter.com/ue88BFYlVh
— Public Enemies Podcast (@TheEnemiesPE3) October 15, 2021
It’s like we said years & years ago: Turn Roman Reigns heel and people will start to like him. I don’t know why the idea took so long to enact, but WWE finally turned Roman Reigns heel and people have started liking him. How about that? Amazing how these things happen. Roman’s charisma has become much more apparent in his role as the Tribal Chief, Head of the Table, Big Dog, Island of Relevancy or whatever else they’re calling him this week. The interactions between Roman & Brock Lesnar have made for good television, so good that I think even Patrick O’Dowd is on the Paul Heyman bandwagon these days.
That all being said, I think I’m enjoying his off-screen character more than his on-screen character these days. Reigns has taken the baton from Seth Rollins & become Mr. WWE Defender, and does it in a way that’s less whiny than what Seth used to do. Perhaps a bit delusional, but much more convincing. Who would win in a shootfight between Roman & CM Punk is completely irrelevant, as last I checked none of these people were shooting in WWE or AEW rings, but he managed to make people care about it somehow. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
1. Bryan Danielson
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) October 16, 2021
I know we’re supposed to care first & foremost about what company somebody works for these days. So I’m sure there are some of you out there that have decided that the man formerly known as Daniel Bryan has to be washed up and no longer one of the best wrestlers in the world. Or he’s unfairly putting his life on the line outside of the welcoming bosom of WWE. Nah, it’s probably just the easy “B+ player” talking point that most of the same folks went with when Bryan was still with WWE.
Me, I just care about what’s going on in the ring. Whether other people like it or not has never been one of my main problems. As I’ve pointed out before: I don’t get paid by any of these companies, and I don’t get paid by other people to shill for them. All I know is that it’s a joy to have Bryan Danielson back on my television, and his matches have been as good as expected. It really doesn’t take all that much to make me happy, just good wrestlers doing good things.
Cook’s 2021 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 7
Cook's pick record is looking as bad as Romeo Crennel's NFL head coaching record. Maybe he gets the ball rolling?...
3 Man Weave: Oreos & White Women
The Weave is back on full alert with Deshaun Watson speculation, MLB Playoff talk and our NBA season preview!
Down The Wire: Week 6 NFL Recap
Tom and Dave dive into the best and worst of Week 6 in the NFL, along with a few QB...
Chairshot Radio: Hockey Talk- And So It Begins 
The 2021-22 NHL Season is officially underway and Patrick & Dave are here to recap some of the biggest stories...
Cook’s 2021 NFL Gambling Picks: Week 6
The only thing worse than Cook's string of picks, would be certain head coaches life choices. Some people will never...
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Injustice (2021)
We have another Nerds review, and this one on the normally vaunted DC Animated Universe! Dave and Rey decide to...
Bandwagon Nerds #101: DC Fandome 2021
DC takes over the Bandwagon as Patrick, Dave, Rey and PC Tunney break down the day that was DC Fandome...
Mitchell’s Hyrule Puro-Resu News Report! (10/17/21)
HPW Media questions Link and his family!
Andrew’s Judgmental Album Reviews: Twelve Foot Ninja – Vengeance (2021)
Well the JAR was dropped into Australia and hot damn this band is unique. Their new album Vengeance really explores...
BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Free Guy (2021)
The Nerds tackle the new Ryan Reynolds movie Free Guy! It did surprisingly well at box offices and has been...
The Outsider’s Edge presents The Crown Jewel Preview Review
Rance and Kyle are back to talk preview WWE Crown Jewel and discuss the G1 Climax!
Andrew’s G1 Climax 31 FINALS Day Results & Match Ratings: 10.21.2021
Kota Ibushi looks to 3-Peat, Kazuchika Okada looks to win his first G1 in 7 years! Who will win?
Andrew’s IMPACT Results & Match Ratings: 10.21.2021
Bound for Glory is on Saturday! How does IMPACT! hype us up for one of their crowning PPVs of the...
Mitchell’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Results & Report! (10/21/21)
Will history be denied in the Climax?
Mitchell’s WWE NXT UK Results & Report! (10/21/21)
Happy third anniversary!
Chairshot Radio: Five Rounds Fallout for UFC Vegas 40
Rey Ca$h and Mags bring you #HeadTrauma Thursdays, as Mags talks about the biggest stories coming out of the UFC...
The Paradox of the Wrestling War in 2021
The IWC has been talking about a certain Friday Night and what numbers matter. Tommy Starr chimes in with his...
Mitchell’s WWE Crown Jewel Results & Report! (10/21/21)
Who ascends to the throne?
Mitchell’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Results & Report! (10/20/21)
B Block's final round!
Mitchell’s AEW Dark Results & Report! (10/20/21)
Another Best Of!
Coverage7 days ago
Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Results & Report! (10/15/21)
AEW Coverage6 days ago
Mitchell’s AEW Dynamite Results & Report! (10/16/21)
AEW Coverage7 days ago
Mitchell’s AEW Rampage Results & Report! (10/15/21)
Entertainment5 days ago
Andrew’s Judgmental Album Reviews: Twelve Foot Ninja – Vengeance (2021)