Mathew brings you the last set in his 25 Best Matches of 2018! What matches topped his list?
Welcome back to my list as we have reached the final countdown and I’m not talking about the song, as we now talk about the final five matches off of my list. This one was difficult to position to see which one of these five did I like more compared to the others, but all five of these matches were worthy for the Top 5 spot.
I’ll also be providing links for the previous twenty for those that missed any of them or are just catching up now and I recommend you check them out before continuing forward. So who makes the cut for the final five? Let’s find out.
5. Zeus vs. Kento Miyahara (AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series 2018 10/21/2018)
– Bet you were wondering when Kento Miyahara was going to make it to this list, huh? Well, it’s no surprise that he’s in the top five with the series of matches he’s had this year and once again proving why he should be on peoples watch list. Around sometime in July, Zeus defeated Kento Miyahara to win his first Triple Crown Championship which was long overdue and the two would fight in a rematch after Kento won the Oudou Tournament to earn this opportunity in one of the top billed matches for the year.
This match brought back the King’s Road style of Japanese Wrestling and what is King’s Road style, you ask? King’s Road is a combination of their Japanese style mixed with Southern wrestling from the ’70s and ’80s due to the partnership they had with NWA at the time. Both Kento and Zeus represented it in such a well matter that they proved that they’re the top two guys in the company right now and that they could lead the company to new heights. Kento defeated Zeus to reclaim his belt to become a four-time Triple Crown Champion and I do wish Zeus had a longer and more successful reign with this run due to it being the first one, but Kento is the ace of the company for a reason and Zeus is at the point of his career that he can be bigger than the belt due to how popular he is. Kento told Zeus after the match that they’ll both lead AJPW to a better tomorrow and they’ll do it together as they shook hands and the crowd would chant for not the two of them, but All Japan. Such a great moment for the company and a great match to top it off.
4. WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher (PROGRESS Chapter 62: Fear No More, Come To Dust 1/28/2018)
– First, I wanna say congratulations to WALTER for being the only one to make it on the list three times and I normally keep it to just two for the most part but it’s hard to deny that WALTER had a phenomenal year and he had a much better match then the two previously mentioned on this list and it was against his Ringkampf partner, Timothy Thatcher. The two would fight off at PROGRESS for the Atlas Championship to start off the year and if you wanted to see a brutal fight, then look no further since this delivered. Remember when I said WALTER just shows no mercy to his opponents? Well, he would take it to an extra level in this match and to his own partner no less, hate to see how it would go if they were enemies instead. At the same time, this is probably how they would want it due to the amount of respect they have for each other that they didn’t wanna hold anything back.
The match has mat wrestling and just the two beating each other up any chance they get with WALTER mostly chopping him down as many times as he can like he does with many of his opponents, but why change it since his chops are deadly and very effective since they show results. Timothy is someone that is great in the ring and has so much knowledge to give to fellow wrestlers with how intelligent he is that he’d be a great coach whenever he decides to retire. Even when Timothy took a big beating throughout the match, he would have an even match with WALTER as the match got closer to the end but WALTER would retain the championship in my favorite UK match. The bruises left on Timothy after the match would just tell the story for you.
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi (NJPW G1 Climax Finals 8/12/2018)
– Last year, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi would have a near classic at Power Struggle and now they’ll deliver another classic along with being my favorite New Japan match this year. Instead of them fighting for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, they would fight at the finals for the G1 Climax where the winner will fight Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the Tokyo Dome. Just even the entrances were a great moment where you see Kenny Omega walking with Kota Ibushi to the ring and on the other one, you have Hiroshi Tanahashi being accompanied to the ring by Katsuyori Shibata, which alone was a fantastic sight itself to see.
So what makes this match so good? The storytelling in the ring is top notch, the wrestling was crisp, the emotion in the match was unreal, and the atmosphere of the ring was breathtaking. This was also the best Tanahashi has been in a couple of years and it’s no surprise why he won the MVP of the year during the Tokyo Sports Awards, plus he also showed he can still go despite his body still being broken. Tanahashi would do what people didn’t think would happen as he won the G1 Climax once again when he defeated Ibushi and was carried by Shibata after the match to make another great moment while Kenny stared up at his future opponent. Another big part of this was Ibushi does see Tanahashi as a god of professional wrestling and no matter how good he’s gotten since the last time they fought, he still couldn’t be able to defeat him when it mattered. We got Hiroshi Tanahashi taking on Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 13 where it’ll be tradition vs evolution in the match, but will Kenny be able to do what his Golden Lover couldn’t do or will both of the Golden Lovers fall to Tanahashi? It’s a match I’m looking forward to and we wouldn’t have gotten it if we didn’t have this incredible match to set it up.
2. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Velveteen Dream (NXT Takeover: Wargames II 11/17/2018)
– What was not to love about this match? This match had that old school feel that paid homage to that type of wrestling you would see back in the NWA glory days but they would evolve it in a way to adapt to how wrestling is now and guess what? They were able to make it work. This was also Velveteen’s first shot at the NXT Championship who has been on fire lately since last year when he fought Aleister Black at the last War Games Takeover, so kinda ironic how a match of his with the same show name made it back on the list and higher no less. Velveteen’s charisma is off the charts and he would always find ways to make each Takeover he’s apart of win or lose, but he puts his name in people’s mouths for doing stuff like this and that’s his ultimate goal, to get people talking about him and we hear him loud and clear.
I was also worried about the direction of Tommaso Ciampa after his rivalry with Johnny Gargano since I didn’t want it to be like he would be forgotten or dropped down on the card after his feud, but I’m glad that wasn’t the case since he’s still the top heel in the brand and he has a legit opponent for his next title defense. The mind games they played at the beginning were great, the wrestling was spectacular, the overall story of the match went exactly how it should go. There was one moment in the match where I thought Velveteen was going to win the title when he hits the Purple Rain Maker after hitting a move to the outside as the crowd was getting ready to get off their feet, but Ciampa still found a way to kick out. The near falls while a little bit too much also had the right timing for the ones that needed it the most but Ciampa would retain the title and another classic is in the books. Ciampa would even call Velveteen a prodigy of sports entertainment and I would like to say that he is too, so that’s a great compliment given to The Velveteen Dream. The perfect balance of both professional wrestling and sports entertainment, what more can you ask for?
1. Kento Miyahara vs. Naomichi Marufuji (AJPW Champions Carnival 4/30/2018)
– Once I saw this match live when it happened, I knew this was my match of the year and was going to have a difficult time being topped for a lot of reasons. This match also had a lot of concern for the All Japan locker room due to Naomichi Marufuji being apart of Pro Wrestling NOAH and if you know the history between the two promotions, still some bad tensions there and Jun Akiyama, the current president and booker of All Japan Pro Wrestling of all people was the one who invited him to come to this year’s Champions Carnival despite him working for the other promotion. So why did Jun invite him? I think it’s more of trying to find peace or a middle ground between NOAH and AJPW, and he fought the way to do that was to invite him to their biggest tournament to show that there could be some unity between the two promotions. Marufuji would even fight Jun at the final day of B Block and the story of that match was unbelievable as it should be seen by everyone who knows the history of these two promotions or even just a fan of these two wrestlers. To everyone’s surprise, Marufuji would win his match to advance to the final round and he would now fight the winner of A Block and Triple Crown Champion, Kento Miyahara.
I thought this was another incredible chapter to the AJPW/NOAH storyline that they had panned out for this Carnival and for Marufuji, his performance was like how he was when he wasn’t all battered and bruised since he showed he can still fight on a top level and he had the perfect opponent for him to take him to that level. This match is mostly on here for the storytelling between the two promotions but the wrestling in this one itself is also a sight to behold as everything was just crisp and the strikes they did to each other were deadly with each move done to them. Marufuji would be the winner of this year’s Champions Carnival to many surprises as well since I’m sure a lot of people expected Kento to win his first carnival, but it was Marufuji and NOAH for that matter that won the tournament. I thought it was a great move as Marufuji is a fantastic wrestler and I felt like it was needed to mend that bridge between the two and was a step in the right direction. The two would have a rematch a month later for the Triple Crown Championship this time and while a great match, their first encounter was hard to top and still holds the best bout for their year and since Kento did defeat Marufuji that time around, they’re tied one and one, so I hope a rematch can happen soon for 2019. Can AJPW and NOAH finally make peace with each other and work together more often? Only time will tell with what they wanna do next. Incredible story, incredible match, the history is all you need to be invested, and my favorite match of 2018.
I wanna thank you all for following me on this journey of me counting down my favorite matches of the year!
I’m sure some of them surprised you while some were expected but not in certain positions you’d be expecting. 2018 was still a great year for professional wrestling and I hope to see the ball still running for 2019. Tune in all I’ll be providing more Stardom content, the return of my Wrestling Quickies, and more of the promotions I cover along with some new ones if there’s time. Hope you all have a Happy New Year!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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