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!
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE Monday Night RAW (4/22/2019)
Tiffany offers her real-time takes on WWE Raw, including AJ emerging as #1 contender and Bray Wyatt…emerging…
Tiffany takes a look back at WWE Raw in the first (official) edition of Tiffany’s takes!
At Greg DeMarco’s suggestion, we’re trying something new, so let’s see how it goes starting with Monday’s edition of WWE Raw!
WWE Universal Championship
The Seth Rollins Era of RAW kicked off with two HUGE triple threats to determine just who would be the first challenger for Seth Rollins’ Universal title. I LOVED the interaction between Triple H and Rollins, it felt KIND of like the old Authority, but they were on more equal terms. Everyone coming out to run their mouths was funny considering that, except for Styles, Rollins had faced and beat all of them either one on one or as part of the Shield.
The first Triple Threat was AMAZING and could’ve easily been the main event. Styles vs Mysterio lived up to the Dream Match hype, so poor Joe felt like a third wheel, and the final sequence was amazing.
After that, the second triple threat was pretty much a ‘meh’ for me. Corbin stealing the win from McIntyre wasn’t surprising and would probably lead to a feud if one of them was a face. Other than that, it was just blah.
I’m honestly surprised that Styles won tonight. Styles vs Rollins is a Big Four level match and I don’t see why it’s being put on a B-PPV, especially Money in the Bank, but we’ll see but it should be a great match.
Naomi vs Billie Kay
I’m not sure what to make of this match. The IIconics running their mouths took longer than the actual match. That said, I’m glad that the Women’s Tag Titles aren’t exclusive to SmackDown after all, but since Naomi doesn’t have a partner, I don’t see what the point was.
Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
You can, too!
Be like Elisa and get yours at:
Bray Wyatt’s Promos
Well, we’ve finally gotten an answer to who was behind the creepy puppet promos and it was resident creep Bray Wyatt. This was just super fucking creepy and the fact that they were spoofing PBS children’s programming was just…ugh. This is another ‘wait and see’ but honestly, I’d burn the tape and forget that promo ever happened.
With Owens being a babyface now, apparently Zayn feels he needs to be an extra obnoxious heel and nothing is more obnoxious than forcing people to sit through your vacation photos. That said, this new gimmick seems to be a clapback about all the ‘Unhappy Wrestler’ reports that the dirt sheets are so fond of reporting. The most intriguing part of the segment was the staredown between Cedric Alexander and Zayn because that’s a match I’d love to see.
Cedric Alexander vs Cesaro
Well, either the Bar is no more or Sheamus will be joining Cesaro on RAW as soon as he’s back from injury. Either way, we got a FANTASTIC match between Cesaro and Cedric Alexander. I’m very disappointed that Alexander lost, but he definitely showed that he can hang with the vets.
The Usos and The Revival
Jimmy and Jey didn’t have a match this week, but we got another tease of a feud with the Revival along with a bangingly funny promo that managed to be a little self-deprecating, but still fun.
Viking Raiders vs Lucha House Party
What’s Viking for ‘squash’? Seriously, that was a brutal as hell non-match (bell never rang). Sadly, the crowd was either worn out from all the good matches thus far, or they had no idea what to make of the Viking Raiders, which is a more interesting name than ‘Viking Experience’.
Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins
Talk about success going to your head! Ryder and Hawkins have only won two matches as a re-formed team, but the way they talk, you’d think they’ve been hugely successful and relevant for the ten years they’ve been in WWE, or Ryder has, anyway. I honestly want Viking Experience to squash the hell out of them because they are annoying me.
Becky Lynch vs Alicia Fox
So the Becky Lynch vs Lacey Evans feud has barely started and I’m already over it. I don’t like Lacey Evans and don’t like what she claims to represent. I’m also confused as to why Alicia Fox, who supposedly went AWOL after showing up to a house show drunk in an incident that cost Arn Anderson his job, was give a match against the RAW Women’s Champion on her first night back. I’m glad that Becky won, but WWE is risking making her look bad by letting Evans get the jump on her with that horrible finisher of hers. Hopefully, this will end at Money in the Bank.
Robert Roode vs Ricochet
With Aleister Black sadly gone to Smackdown, Ricochet was left on his own on RAW against Robert Roode and his porn-stache. The match was really good, and I’m glad to see Roode regain his edge, but I just couldn’t get into it and I’m mad Ricochet lost, but I don’t think it’ll hurt him long term, but we’ll have to see.
The Rollins Era kicked off with a bang and did a pretty good job of delivering on the potential of the Shakeup with the two Triple Threats. I’m not really sure giving us Styles vs Rollins so soon is a great idea, but it’ll definitely be a huge match.
I think Rollins will be fine as THE Man on RAW, even without the Shield, he’s come a long way from where he was in 2015 and it shows in his confidence in speaking to Triple H. Gone is the whiny, over-confident, eager-to-please, Seth Rollins of 2015. 2019 Seth has hit rock bottom and found his way back to the top with the help and support of the fans and his Shield brothers and became a better person for it. He doesn’t NEED Triple H’s approval anymore and that made their interaction much more interesting.
Click in tomorrow for SmackDown coverage and Use your head!
WWE Week in Review April 15-April 21, 2019, Non-Shake Up Edition
Aside from all the Superstar Shakeup action, what happened on the non-main roster WWE shows? Tiffany breaks it down!
Aside from all the Superstar Shakeup action, what happened on the non-main roster WWE shows? Tiffany breaks it down!
Gran Metalik vs Ariya Daivari vs Mike Kanellis vs Akira Tozawa: I have no idea why this match happened since it wasn’t an official #1 Contender’s match, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great match and Daivari winning it was a HUGE surprise to me, and I can’t wait to see if he can back up his mouth.
The fact that Mike Kanellis had the match won and it was stolen by Daivari revives my hope that Mike Kanellis will be turning babyface, especially since Cedric Alexander has been drafted to RAW. I think Kanellis has what it takes to be a great underdog babyface, he just needs the right opportunity to do it and 205 being without its other TOP babyface is the perfect opening.
Oney Lorcan vs Cedric Alexander: One thing I hated about this match is that the feud leading up to it wasn’t given more time. This could’ve been a blockbuster non-title feud if WWE had left Cedric on 205 Live, where he belongs.
All that said, it was a fantastic match and it gave Cedric the send off from the fans that he deserved, I just wish it hadn’t happened because I think the cruiserweight guys are going to get lost on RAW and SmackDown, which is what 205 was supposed to keep from happening.
Gallus vs Humberto Carrillo and Raul Mendoza: This week’s shows were done at WrestleMania AXXESS, which is why 205 Live’s own Humberto Carrillo got to team up with his sometime partner, Raul Mendoza, to take on Gallus in a fantastic match that actually went better than expected, in my opinion. Matches with wildly different styles can be a slow going trainwreck, but this was a wonderful match to watch and drives home that Gallus aren’t just big blowhards, they’re also great athletes. I was a little disappointed that Carrillo and Mendoza lost, but it’s clear that NXT UK has big plans for Gallus, which I’m thrilled to see unfold.
Kassius Ohno: As someone who HATES it when people mispronounce things, I applaud Ohno for his pronunciation correction. Other than that, I wasn’t impressed by the promo. Ohno’s playing the role of arrogant heel very well, especially discounting Ligero because someone who has a crazy schedule can’t possibly put on a quality match every night, is just silly for an indie guy to say. Guess we’ll see what the Leeds Luchador has to say.
Dunne vs Walter: I think I’ve been pretty clear about the fact that I’m a big Jordan Devlin fan, so I was thrilled with his promo on Dunne vs WALTER. I’m still hopeful that he’ll get another title shot, whoever has the title.
Dave Mastiff vs Kona Reeves: This was an odd one because Kona Reeves hasn’t exactly been a NXT mainstay since his debut and his job this week seemed to be becoming Dave Mastiff’s dinner. To give the Keanu Reeves wannabe his due, he did try to compete, but the Black Country Bomber was a little too big for him. Mastiff winning wasn’t a shock, but it needs to lead to something bigger sooner or later.
That said, I’m intrigued by the possible Mastiff/Wolfgang feud being teased. A brawl between two huge men, who can move like cruiserweights sounds like a lot of fun.
Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster: So, the challenge has been accepted and we’ll get The Flying Welshmen vs Moustache Mountain next week!
Rhea Ripley vs Kacy Cantanzaro: This should’ve been a great rematch from the Mae Young Classic, instead Kacy got squashed like a bug by Ripley, who seems to have a bigger chip on her shoulder than normal. At least Kacy has a…friend, of sorts, in Piper Niven, who scared Ripley off.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Amir Jordan and Kenny Williams: Did that just happen?! Did I just watch Jordan and Williams, the most unlikely to succeed tag team get a win, even on a technicality, over the NXT UK Tag Champs? Did that just happen?! It did and it was FANTASTIC! I’ve become a big fan of Jordan and Williams, and while they didn’t get a pinfall victory over the champs, the fact that GYV took the loss rather than be pinned is enough for me! Go Lucky Bad Boys!
Velveteen Dream vs Buddy Murphy: I think I’ve said before that I’m not a Velveteen Dream fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s talented and he definitely showed it against Buddy Murphy. I was a little puzzled by Murphy going back to NXT and I still am, but it was a great match by both guys and that’s really all that matters.
Street Profits vs War Raiders (or whatever they’re called): This is another ‘What’s going on here’ moments because the Street Profits haven’t been on NXT all that much, but they’re getting a title shot next week. I guess the Undisputed Era is going to have to wait for another go.
Johnny Gargano vs Undisupted Era: At least Gargano got the hero’s welcome he deserved as NXT Champion. I do like Cole’s whining that Gargano got lucky, completely ignoring the fact that he and Gargano knew that they would have to beat the other man twice to win, it was funny, as was Gargano’s pointing out that Cole was being an idiot for the same reason. It’s nice to have a smart face that can rile up the heel once in a while.
I also liked that we got more signs of unrest in UE with Gargano and Regal stirring the pot. I’m stoked for Gargano vs Strong, especially to watch Cole seethe.
Dominik Dijakovic vs Aaron Frye: There’s not much to say about this since Dijakovic hit one move and it was done. The promo was much more interesting given that Dijakovic has Velveteen Dream in his sights.
Aliyah and Vanessa Borne: I love these two because they’re so obnoxious, but not in the annoying way the IIconics are and I loved their excuses for Aliyah’s loss last week. I can’t wait for next week’s tag team match since it seems like Candice LeRae seems to finally be being treated as more than Gargano’s perpetually worried wife.
Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane: This was such a good match and allows Sane to be written out of NXT to got to SmackDown, while maintaining Baszler as a heel. It also paves the way for Baszler vs Shirai by having Shirai by having Shirai save her friend, even if it meant Sane lost any more chances at the title. It was the perfect way to end the Baszler/Sane feud while creating a new feud, so no complaints.
Shield’s Last Ride
After six and a half years, two reunions, two betrayal, and twenty-three cumulative championship reigns, the Shield has come to the end of the road…at least for now. Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are heading to different shows, while Dean Ambrose has chosen to walk away from WWE and find a new path. In honor of the moment, WWE chose to air Ambrose’s last WWE match and let the WWE Universe say goodbye to one of the greatest factions in the history of Professional Wrestling.
Advanced Warning: If you haven’t figured out that I’m a huge Shield and Dean Ambrose fan, I’m not sure where you’ve been, but I will be a blubbering mess and this might not be very coherent, but I will not apologize for that.
Elias: Gotta love Elias’ never say die attitude towards performing. He managed to throw PLENTY of shade at the Shield and everyone else. Him being a primadonna to Balor about the interruption was fun and we found out Balor can wrestle in a leather jacket, but he still needs a more supportive jock strap. Balor getting the win wasn’t a surprise but it was a really great, if odd match due to some spots.
Riott Squad vs Bayley and Ember Moon: God, I’m going to miss the Riott Squad together! Why did WWE have to split them up?! Them ‘singing’ with Elias was hilarious! The match against Ember and Bayley was great, but I missed what Liv did to get expelled from the match, and costing her team the win. Still, great match and we get to see a great potential team in Bayley and Ember.
Shield Promo: For old time’s sake, we got a vintage Shield promo. It doesn’t matter what they said, because it was just nice to get that promo.
The Shield vs Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, and Baron Corbin: Well, it’s come down to this. After six and a half years, the Shield rode into battle together one more time.
To be honest, this match was too hard to watch. The Shield renewed my active interest in WWE, rather than just half-heartedly watching it when I remembered or not at all. Dean Ambrose has been my hero since I laid eyes on him because he wasn’t what I expected a WWE Superstar to look or sound like. I was intrigued and then I fell in love, in a platonic, non-creepy, sense, with him. My online friends will attest to my cheering, ranting, raving, and screaming for Dean when it looked like he was getting gypped by WWE. That renewed interest lead me to becoming a writer about wrestling, something I never thought anyone would ask me to do. The idea that the man that reactivated my interest and love in wrestling is leaving, even if it’s just for now, has been hard to take and accept.
That said, it was a great match, with everyone hitting their best moves. The fact that it was about the Shield as team, rather than Ambrose, which lead him to letting Seth get the pin and making the final speech about Roman, Seth, and the Shield, rather than himself, makes me respect Jonathan Good all that much more.
I wish Dean all the best, he’s come a long way from his days of nearly bleeding to death for $20 and it looks like he’ll have a great future ahead of himself, whatever happens, but I fervently hope that I will see him again in a WWE ring. Thanks for the memories, Dean, and ALWAYS believe in the Shield!
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