Mathew begins his Top 25 of 2018 matches! Scroll down and see if your favorite matches are on the list.
Hello and welcome to my list of Top 25 Matches of 2018! From now until December 31st, I’ll be posting five matches a day that was my personal favorites of this year. If you saw my honorable mentions from yesterday, that might give you a clear idea of what might be on here. And if you haven’t, there’s a link in here somewhere for you to click on.
Also remember, this is all opinion based and my words shouldn’t be taken as gospel for my countdown since we all have different tastes in what we look for in matches. I also had to balance this out a little, otherwise, we would have like Kento, Okada, Tanahashi, and Ibushi matches taking over 75% of the list and it wouldn’t be fair to just about everyone that has busted their asses all year, so I’m picking about 2-3 of people’s best matches to make it more balanced but still amazing matches regardless.
So let’s get down to it and list our first five matches.
25. Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali (205 Live 7/3/2018)
– “A 205 Live match made the list?!” Is probably what you’re thinking right now but 2018 was definitely the year that the Cruiserweight division pulled a 180 and got much better than 2017. 205 Live focused more on the stories of the matches while giving us basic storylines. Also making clear who the top people in this division were, Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali. they would have a series matches over the course of the first half of the year where the rivalry would conclude in a No Disqualification Match being their best outing together.
The two opponents were creative with their ability along with how they used the steel steps in the matches which is something I hardly do see in wrestling, especially the Superplex from the steel steps in the angle that they did it with. Mustafa Ali won with a Tornado DDT when he jumped off the steps and I know some people were thrown off with that ending but I actually thought it was fitting because it gave you that feeling of the match can happen at any given moment if you were caught off guard and the damage they’ve done each other, it makes sense that any big move would make you lost if not careful. This match was a ton of fun and both of these guys had a great year in the WWE. If you were skeptical about 205 Live last year, I definitely would try to give them a second chance as they’re slowly getting better with a new focus.
24. Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll (NJPW Sakura Genesis 4/1/2018)
– Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll have a history together wherever they wrestled. Whether it’s in the United States, United Kingdom, or Japan, they would fight everywhere and most of the time Marty would be the victor in these types of matches. Will was the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion at the time after defeating Marty, KUSHIDA, and Hiromu Takahashi in a Fatal Four Way at Wrestle Kingdom, with Marty stating that Will couldn’t defeat him one on one and wanted to fight him for the championship.
This one is probably my favorite outing between these two since the story with them got more personal between them along with the progression that these two wrestlers experienced in their careers that you can see how much they grew over the years. They knew each other so well that they would counter most of their big moves back and forth as we also saw a more aggressive side of Marty when he made Will bleed and stomped on his face, making it look like it was a dead body or something. Will would eventually overcome his rival and get that big win for Marty to retain the championship. My favorite match from both of these men this year and definitely one to remember in their rivalry.
23. Natural Vibes (Kzy, Genki Horiguchi, & Susumu Yokosuka) vs. MaxiMuM (Jason Lee, Naruki Doi, & Masato Yoshino) (Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2018 5/6/2018)
– Natural Vibes made their debut this year after Kzy wanted to branch out of Tribe Vanguard to explore on his own and made this group where they would have their first match for the Open the Triangle Gate Championships against MaxiMuM at the Dead or Alive 2018 show.
These were the types of six-man tag team action that make me enjoy the company since it was face-paced, well executed, and just great tag team action from all six of these men as it was just seventeen minutes of non-stop action. This was probably my favorite title reign of 2018 as each match with Natural Vibes defending their titles always gave us something creative and fun with each title defense, and they would even break the record with most defenses with that title by retaining it six times before they dropped it at Final Gate recently. Out of all the matches they had for this belt, the time they won it was the more memorable one and how it all started for Natural Vibes. If you’re a fan of tag team wrestling, I highly recommend this one as it was my favorite six-man tag match this year.
22. Tessa Blanchard vs. Brian Cage (WrestleCircus The Show Must Go On 2/17/2018)
– I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of intergender matches since most of the time they’re a bit over the top or unbelievable at times, but this match right here made me very impressed. The main event of this WrestleCircus show had a title for title match with Brian Cage defending his Ringmaster Championship against Tessa Blanchard, who was the Sideshow Champion and this was probably my favorite intergender match.
The match told a story and was believable with Brian Cage dominating most of the match with Tessa being the underdog type of wrestler to get the crowd behind her and when Tessa was able to get a comeback, the crowd would just explode with excitement. Tessa is normally known for doing intergender matches and is considered one of the better females to do this type of stuff and this match showed me why that was the case. Brian Cage is also a beast in the ring as he can go very well for his size and showed he can work with anyone regardless of size and gender. Tessa had a tough fight and while she came close a few times, Brian Cage would pick up the win to become a double champion. They would have a rematch later on in the year at Bar Wrestling and while that was good, this match was far better and more memorable. If you’re a fan of intergender wrestling, I highly recommend this one or if you’re not and need convincing, I would start out with this one.
21. Ilja Dragunov vs. John Klinger vs. WALTER (wXw 16 Carat Gold 2018 Night 2 3/10/2018)
– Originally, this was set to be a one on one match between WALTER and John Klinger for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship at the main event of the wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament, but there was a change in the match as it was now going to be a Triple Threat Match with the returning Ilja Dragunov being added into the match. The crowd for Ilja was electric when he made his way to the ring and this was the first time I’ve seen Ilja Dragunov as I immediately became a fan of him once this match was over along with the company for that matter since it was the first time watching wXw as well.
All three of these men played their roles well in the match and it was more of the crowd that made it all the more better with their cheering for a much better atmosphere that it seemed like a fantastic time live. Ilja would eventually win the match after 20 minutes of great action to become the new champion during his return and the ovation he received was unreal. If you haven’t checked out Ilja Dragunov yet, he’s a great wrestler with fantastic charisma to be one of my favorites in 2018, also wXw is a fun promotion to follow with their own streaming service that’s recommended.
Thank you guys for reading the first five matches on my list, I’m sure you were shocked by the picks, agree, or disagree with some of them which are fine and would love to hear your response. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the next five, who do you think makes the cut? See you all next time!
NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions
Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.
Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.
Our two new champions could not be more different…
6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]
5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…
4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.
3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper.
2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.
1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.
Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021
It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…
It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.
It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!
5. Samoa Joe
A gentle reminder that Samoa Joe is one of the greatest talkers in the game pic.twitter.com/p4TZeZIAV7
— Kenny Majid – A Kenny For Your Thoughts Podcast (@akfytwrestling) April 15, 2021
I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.
Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.
In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!
4. Kris Statlander
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) April 15, 2021
AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.
Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.
Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.
Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.
3. Tay Conti
Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.
Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.
This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.
2. Bianca Belair
We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.
You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.
Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.
Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.
1. Darby Allin
Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.
The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.
What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.
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