Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 29, 2018 16:41:12 GMT -5
For the fourth year in a row, my annual year end list of the best matches is complete. Things are a bit different this time around. For one, I had to scale back on what I watched. With my personal life, school, and work ramping up, there was no time for a lot of wrestling. I cut the number of promotions I watched from 15 down to about four, with three of them being represented on this list (sorry Lucha Underground). I've also gone back to 100 matches. It was fun doing 130+ but now, anything past 100 that got at least **** will be an honorable mention.
I will also be including a way to compare previous years. For each match I post, I'll include the matches that finished in that slot in prior years. This way you can decide for yourself what the best #100 is, or what the best #72 is, or the best #1, etc.
So settle in for a look back at a really fun year for wrestling. Disagree, agree, do whatever you must, but hopefully, you enjoy.
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 29, 2018 18:23:36 GMT -5
Honorable Mentions Part One *These are the notable matches I gave at least ***3/4, but weren't quite as good as the Top 100. They're listed in chronological order.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Roman Reigns [c] vs. Samoa Joe - WWE Raw 1/1/18 - ***3/4 NEVER Openweight Championship Hair vs. Hair Death Match: Minoru Suzuki [c] vs. Hirooki Goto - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 - ***3/4 IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Marty Scurll [c] vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 - **** IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship No Disqualifications Match: Kenny Omega [c] vs. Chris Jericho - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 - ***3/4 NXT Tag Team Championship: The Undisputed Era [c] vs. The Authors of Pain - NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia - ***3/4 Women's Royal Rumble Match - WWE Royal Rumble - **** IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks [c] vs. Roppongi 3K- NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo - ***3/4 IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega [c] vs. Jay White - NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo - ***3/4 WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round: Kalisto vs. Lince Dorado - WWE 205 Live 2/6/18 - ***3/4 David Starr and Matt Riddle vs. Pete Dunne and Trent Seven - PROGRESS Chapter 63 - **** WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round: Jack Gallagher vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE 205 Live 2/20/18 - ***3/4 AJ Styles vs. John Cena - WWE Smackdown Live 2/27/18 - ***3/4 New Japan Cup First Round: Kota Ibushi vs. YOSHI-HASHI - NJPW New Japan Cup - ***3/4 New Japan Cup First Round: Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - NJPW New Japan Cup - **** Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - WWE Fastlane - ***3/4 New Japan Cup Semi-Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Juice Robinson - NJPW New Japan Cup - ***3/4 WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Semi-Finals: Drew Gulak vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE 205 Live 3/20/18 - ***3/4 No Disqualifications Match: Chris Brookes vs. TK Cooper - PROGRESS Chapter 65 - ***3/4 Number One Contender's Match: Akira Tozawa vs. Buddy Murphy vs. Kalisto vs. TJP - WWE 205 Live 3/27/18 - ***3/4 Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins - WWE Raw 4/2/18 - **** Buddy Murphy vs. Kalisto - WWE 205 Live 4/3/18 - ***3/4 Deonna Purrazzo vs. Madison Eagles - SHIMMER Vol. 100 - ***3/4 WWE Smackdown Women's Championship: Charlotte [c] vs. Asuka - WWE WrestleMania - ***3/4 Toa Henare vs. Tomohiro Ishiii - NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku 4/23/18 - ***3/4 John Cena vs. Triple H - WWE Greatest Royal Rumble - ***3/4 WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - WWE Greatest Royal Rumble - ***3/4 WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins [c] vs. Finn Balor - WWE Raw 4/30/18 - ***3/4 Super Strong Style 16 Finals: Kassius Ohno vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - PROGRESS Chapter 68 - **** Buddy Murphy vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE 205 Live 5/8/18 - ***3/4 Dragon Lee vs. SHO - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 5/19/18 - **** Dragon Lee vs. KUSHIDA - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 5/19/18 - ***3/4 Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA - NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 5/19/18 - **** IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito [c] vs. Chris Jericho - NJPW Dominion - ***3/4 WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins [c] vs. Elias - WWE Money in the Bank - ***3/4 Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks - WWE Money in the Bank - **** WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match: AJ Styles [c] vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - WWE Money in the Bank - ***3/4 Number One Contender's Gauntlet Match: Big E vs. Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz vs. Rusev vs. Samoa Joe - WWE Smackdown Live 6/19/18 - **** Buddy Murphy vs. Hideo Itami vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE 205 Live 6/19/18 - ***3/4 Jordan Devlin vs. Will Ospreay - PROGRESS Chapter 72 - ***3/4 WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Quarterfinals: Jack Gallagher vs. Zack Gibson - WWE UK Championship Tournament - ***3/4 WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Finals: Travis Banks vs. Zack Gibson - WWE UK Championship Tournament - **** Three Way To The Grave Match: Fenix vs. Jeremiah Crane vs. Mil Muertes - Lucha Underground 6/27/18 - ***3/4 The Golden Lovers vs. Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito - NJPW When Worlds Collide - ***3/4
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 30, 2018 0:47:20 GMT -5
Honorable Mentions Part Two
Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - NJPW Strong Style Evolved UK - ***3/4 RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro ishii [c] vs. Minoru Suzuki - NJPW Strong Style Evolved UK - ***3/4 IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi [c] vs. Dragon Lee - NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco - **** Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada - NJPW G1 Climax 7/14/18 - ***3/4 WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Rusev - WWE Extreme Rules - **** Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White - NJPW G1 Climax 7/16/18 - ***3/4 Juice Robinson vs. Kota Ibushi - NJPW G1 Climax 7/19/18 - **** Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax 7/19/18 - **** Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax 7/21/18 - **** PROGRESS World Championship: Travis Banks [c] vs. WALTER - PROGRESS Chapter 74 - ***3/4 Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - NJPW G1 Climax 7/26/18 - **** Kenny Omega vs. SANADA - NJPW G1 Climax 7/28/18 - ***3/4 Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - NJPW G1 Climax 8/4/18 - ***3/4 EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada - NJPW G1 Climax 8/5/18 - ***3/4 Matt Riddle vs. Tyler Bate - PROGRESS Coast to Coast - ***3/4 Juice Robinson vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax 8/8/18 - ***3/4 PROGRESS Tag Team Championship Thunderbastard Tag Team Series: CCK [c] vs. Sexy Starr - PROGRESS Coast to Coast - ***3/4 SANADA vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax 8/11/18 - ***3/4 WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship: Carmella [c] vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte - WWE SummerSlam- ***3/4 WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship No Disqualifications Match: The Bludgeon Brothers [c] vs. The New Day - WWE Smackdown Live 8/21/18 - ***3/4 WWE Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins [c] vs. Kevin Owens - WWE Raw 8/27/18 - **** NWA Championship: Nick Aldis [c] vs. Cody Rhodes - All In - ***3/4 Mae Young Classic First Round: Killer Kelly vs. Meiko Satomura - WWE Mae Young Classic - ***3/4 IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega [c] vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW Destruction in Hiroshima - **** WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Samoa Joe - WWE Hell in a Cell - ***3/4 AJ Styles vs. Andrade Almas - WWE Smackdown Live 9/18/18 - ***3/4 WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander [c] vs. Drew Gulak - WWE 205 Live 9/18/18 - **** G1 Climax Briefcase: Hiroshi Tanahashi [c] vs. Kazuchika Okada - NJPW Destruction in Kobe - ***3/4 Mark Haskins vs. Matt Riddle - PROGRESS: Hello Wembley - ***3/4 The Golden Lovers vs. Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed - **** Mae Young Classic Second Round: Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Toni Storm - WWE Mae Young Classic - ***3/4 Mae Young Classic Second Round: Mercedes Martinez vs. Meiko Satomura - WWE Mae Young Classic - ***3/4 IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega [c] vs. Cody vs. Kota Ibushi - NJPW King of Pro Wrestling - ***3/4 BUSHI and Shingo Takagi vs. Roppongi 3K - NJPW Road to Power Struggle - ***3/4 Cedric Alexander vs. Gran Metalik vs. Lio Rush vs. TJP vs. Tony Nese - WWE 205 Live 10/17/18 - **** Mae Young Classic Quarterfinals: Mia Yim vs. Toni Storm - WWE Mae Young Classic - ***3/4 WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre [c] vs. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins - WWE Raw 10/22/18 - ***3/4 WWE Mae Young Classic Finals: Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm - WWE Evolution - ***3/4 NXT Women's Championship: Kairi Sane [c] vs. Shayna Baszler - WWE Evoluion - ***3/4 WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Daniel Bryan - WWE Smackdown Live 10/30/18 - **** Noam Dar vs. Zack Gibson - NXT UK 10/31/18 - ***3/4 Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. - NJPW Power Struggle - ***3/4 Andrade Almas vs. Rey Mysterio - WWE Smackdown Live 11/6/18 - ***3/4 WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Danny Burch - NXT UK 11/7/18 - ***3/4 PROGRESS Tag Team Championship: Aussie Open [c] vs. Calamari Thatch Kings - PROGRESS Chapter 78 - ***3/4 PROGRESS World Championship: WALTER [c] vs. Mark Haskins - PROGRESS Chapter 78 - **** NXT Women's Championship Two Out of Three Falls Match: Shayna Baszler [c] vs. Kairi Sane - NXT TakeOver: War Games II - ***3/4 War Games: Pete Dunne, Ricochet and The War Raiders vs. The Undisputed Era - NXT TakeOver: War Games II - **** WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy [c] vs. Mustafa Ali - WWE Survivor Series - ***3/4 WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Jordan Devlin - NXT UK 11/23/18 - **** Ilja Dragunov vs. Tyler Bate - PROGRESS Chapter 80 - ***3/4 Number One Contender’s Match: #CCK vs. LAX - PROGRESS Chapter 80 - ***3/4 NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto [c] vs. Kota Ibushi - NJPW World Tag League Finals - ***3/4 Buddy Murphy vs. Gran Metalik - WWE 205 Live 12/12/18 - **** WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bar [c] vs. The New Day vs. The Usos - WWE TLC - **** AJ Styles and Mustafa Ali vs. Andrade Almas and Daniel Bryan - WWE Smackdown Live 12/18/18 - ***3/4 Steel Cage Match: Aleister Black vs. Johnny Gargano - NXT 12/19/18 - ***3/4 WWE United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura [c] vs. Rusev - WWE Smackdown Live 12/25/18 - ***3/4
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 30, 2018 9:06:30 GMT -5
100. WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins [c] vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Samoa Joe – WWE Greatest Royal Rumble 4/27/18
At WrestleMania, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and The Miz delivered a fantastic match. A few weeks later, they got the chance to do it again. The difference? Throw in Samoa Joe and a bunch of ladders to up the ante. With four talents of this caliber, you just know you’ll be treated to some great moments. Everyone was given an opportunity to shine. Joe was the bruising brute. Balor showcased his athleticism. Miz used his cunningness. Seth was willing to go the extra mile to prove himself as Intercontinental champion. Everyone played their roles to perfection. There were some great, creative ladder spots. For example, usually someone would just hit their finisher off a ladder. Here, Miz hit Joe with a sick looking Skull Crushing Finale onto the edge of a ladder. It was a small change, but it made all the difference. Everyone was game to take bumps, making for a match where they all came across as being on a level playing field. And it never went over the top with the spots like some ladder matches suffer from. Balor came extremely close to winning, only for Seth to springboard onto the ladder and unhook the title right in his face at 14:34. A great finish to a great match. [****]
*This is the final match from the Greatest Royal Rumble. *It is the final appearance of Samoa Joe.
2017 Match #100:IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega [c] vs. Baretta – NJPW Power Struggle 11/5/17 2016 Match #100: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Marty Scurll – PWG All-Star Weekend 12 Night One 3/4/16 2015 Match #100:WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match – WWE WrestleMania 3/29/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 30, 2018 22:27:18 GMT -5
99. David Starr vs. WALTER – PROGRESS Chapter 69: Be Here Now 5/20/18
Across three countries, WALTER entered this match with a spotless 9-0 record over David Starr. That became the story of this 13:43 contest. And even with that level of success, WALTER still had something to lose. He had just relinquished the Atlas Title in effort to get another World Title shot. If he did that and just lost right out of the gates, it was all kind of for nothing. Starr learned from the past and came in with the plan to attack WALTER’s legs. He looked to cut the big man down to size. For the most part, it worked. Starr dominated by suckering WALTER in, then wearing down the leg. Even when WALTER would get something going, his leg would give out and he couldn’t capitalize. The only thing WALTER could combat Starr with was a barrage of stiff shots. He hits hard enough that even without working legs, he had a legitimate chance to win. It was so interesting to see WALTER in this position. I loved how he would just use a brutal chop or something to escape a submission. When Starr went for a Sharpshooter, WALTER pulled him into a small package to win, basically stealing a match where he wasn’t the better man. The struggles continued for Starr, who couldn’t best WALTER even when he had a brilliant strategy. [****]
*This is the final match from PROGRESS Chapter 69.
2017 Match #99:PROGRESS Atlas Championship: Matt Riddle [c] vs. Trent Seven – PROGRESS: Orlando 3/31/17 2016 Match #99: 10 on 10 Elimination Match: Team Raw vs. Team Smackdown – WWE Survivor Series 11/20/16 2015 Match #99: Jay Lethal and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. reDRagon – ROH Field of Honor 8/22/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 31, 2018 0:07:31 GMT -5
98. SANADA vs. Tetsuya Naito – NJPW G1 Climax 8/8/18
Whenever the G1 Climax blocks are announced, several matches catch the eye each year. Even in a G1 with an all-time great B Block, this match probably stood out as the most intriguing. Yes, more than Omega/Ibushi, anything involving Sabre, etc. Tetsuya Naito is the man of Los Ingobernables de Japon, but SANADA has always felt like the future. The guy who is “next.” EVIL beat SANADA last year and faced Naito two years ago, but he’s always been the enforcer of sorts, while SANADA is like a project to Naito. On the tags during the G1, SANADA kept avoiding the fist bump from Naito. He accepted here, only for Naito to pull him in and get the action started. From there, we were treated to 19:52 of great storytelling. They showcased their knowledge of one another with smart counters. SANADA wasn’t intimidated and returned the favor when Naito spat at him. There were mirror image moments that made it seem like Naito was wrestling his younger self. At one point, SANADA even hit his own Destino. He also had Naito’s Destino scouted, countering and avoiding it at every turn. Naito finally hit it to win. I loved the mentor/mentee dynamic and the action was top notch. The post-match promo with all the LIJ members and injured Hiromu Takahashi’s jacket was emotional and worth checking out. [****]
2017 Match #98:WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Neville [c] vs. Austin Aries – WWE WrestleMania 33 4/2/17 2016 Match #98:No Holds Barred Match: Hangman Page vs. Jay Briscoe – ROH Death Before Dishonor XIV 8/19/16 2015 Match #98: Michael Elgin vs. Tomoaki Honma – NJPW G1 Climax 8/1/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 31, 2018 19:05:10 GMT -5
97. Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns – WWE Raw 7/16/18
With the question of Brock Lesnar’s SummerSlam opponent hanging in the air, the July 16th episode of Raw gave us something interesting. Six men would compete in two triple threat matches, with the winners of each meeting the following week to determine Brock’s challenger. Three of those men met in this Raw opener and it was a certified banger. Though Drew McIntyre was still relatively new to Raw, he got to dominate the early stages. He threw Finn Balor around with ease and even launched Roman Reigns more than once like he weighed nothing. It felt like the kind of breakout performance you want from a guy like Drew. Even when Finn and Roman got going, Drew still came across like the biggest star. He busted out an incredible dive that stole the show. I appreciated Drew bringing a chair into play. These matches don’t have disqualifications, so more people should do that. The same goes for Finn returning the favor a few minutes later. Finn had Roman beat with the Coup de Grace, only for Drew to interrupt the pin. Roman came back to win via Spear on Finn in a wild 22:02. Great battle between three of the best. I wish it parlayed into a Finn/Drew feud for the summer, but we got one at the end of the year. [****]
2017 Match #97:PROGRESS World Championship: Travis Banks [c] vs. Keith Lee – PROGRESS Chapter 56: La Danse Macabre 10/29/17 2016 Match #97:IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA (c) vs. ACH – ROH Conquest Tour 3/12/16 2015 Match #97: Taiji Ishimori vs. Zack Sabre Jr. –NOAH Global League Finals 11/8/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 31, 2018 21:06:58 GMT -5
96. Mark Davis vs. WALTER – PROGRESS Chapter 63: Take Me Underground 2/11/18
WALTER is the best BIG BOY in all of wrestling. That’s undisputed by this point. However, Mark Davis of Aussie Open feels like one of the more unheralded big lads in the business. PROGRESS’s Atlas Championship is for these kinds of wrestlers, but WALTER’s title wasn’t on the line here. Instead, it was just a chance for Davis to show that he could hang with the best. Early on, it seemed like he couldn’t. WALTER destroyed his chest. We’re talking about four chops and Davis’ chest was legitimately bleeding. Each chop and strike to the chest after felt more brutal than the last, knowing how damaged the skin already was. It became such a dominating performance that the simple act of Davis knocking WALTER down was met with a huge ovation. Each time Davis got a rally going, WALTER had a chop prepared and it felt like Davis was right back on the verge of death. He survived a ton and dished out a solid amount back. However, once he got put in the rear naked choke, he had no choice but to tap out. 11:54 of Mark Davis getting tortured, yet still delivering a star making performance. [****]
*This is the final appearance of Mark Davis
2017 Match #96:IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito [c] vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW Dominion 6/11/17 2016 Match #96:WWE Cruiserweight Classic Qualifying Match: Fred Yehi vs. TJ Perkins – Evolve 61 5/7/16 2015 Match #96:IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA (c) vs. Ricochet – G1 Climax Finale 8/16/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Dec 31, 2018 23:00:10 GMT -5
95. NXT Women’s Championship: Ember Moon [c] vs. Shayna Baszler – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans 4/7/18
At TakeOver: Philadelphia, Ember Moon retained her title against Shayna Baszler in what felt like a stroke of luck. That match was good, but never got into great territory. They made sure to fix that in this high profile rematch. At 12:55, it only went about two minutes longer than their prior match, but did a ton more with it. They immediately played off the past. Ember tried to start with a dropkick like she has before, but Shayna sidestepped it. She had done her homework. In fact, the way they played into the storyline of the feud made this click better than most (it’s a staple of TakeOver matches and why they work so well). Ember got beat up, but turned the tide on Shayna by stomping on her arm. It was a dose of her own medicine and something that could potentially humble the challenger. In one of the coolest things you’ll see anywhere, Shayna banged her shoulder into the ring post to pop it back into place. That’s what winning meant to her. They’ve sold the Eclipse as a match ender, so it worked that the only time Ember hit it was outside. She couldn’t win that way. Her next attempt at one inside got countered as Shayna powered her into the Kirifuda Clutch. Ember fought as hard as she could and lasted a while, before passing out. Shayna was champion and Ember was off to Raw. They killed it and Baszler officially entered that top tier of women in NXT history. [****]
*This is the final appearance of Ember Moon.
2017 Match #95: The Chosen Bros vs. The Monstars – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 9/1/17 2016 Match #95: Cedric Alexander vs. Michael Elgin – AAW Cero Miedo 9/1/16 2015 Match #95:Cero Miedo: Pentagon Jr. vs. Vampiro – Ultima Lucha 8/5/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 1:13:09 GMT -5
94. Money in the Bank: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Ember Moon vs. Lana vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Money in the Bank 6/17/18
Last year’s women’s Money in the Bank matches were a mixed bag. I liked the one at the PPV, but the Smackdown rematch didn’t work as well. Thankfully, this year’s installment left no doubts. There was a little bit of everything in this one. It was cool to see Raw and Smackdown women interact with one another, especially in the case of Ember Moon, who had never faced the girls from Tuesday nights. They did well to relive past rivalries, like Sasha/Charlotte, and preview ones coming up, like the big Becky Lynch/Charlotte moment. There was an exchange between Ember and Naomi that was a highlight. A few spots were incredibly dangerous (Charlotte violently pulling Lana off a ladder and a Natalya powerbomb come to mind) and one or two awkward moments. However, everyone played their role and was given at least one chance to shine. We’ve seen tons of ladder matches throughout history, so the fact that these women found creative ways to use them is a testament to how well thought out this whole thing was. In the end, after 18:26, Alexa Bliss pulled down the briefcase and then successfully cashed in later that night. For further storytelling aspects, go back and pay attention to how close Becky came to winning on multiple occasions, including being cut off by Charlotte. It plays into her heel turn. Anyway, the women outdid the men in both the Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank. [****]
*This is the final appearance of Ember Moon, Lana, Naomi, and Natalya. *It is the final match from Money in the Bank.
2017 Match #94:Money in the Bank: AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – WWE Money in the Bank 6/18/17 2016 Match #94:Lucha Underground Championship: Matanza Cueto (c) vs. Cage – Lucha Underground 6/1/16 2015 Match #94:NXT Championship: Sami Zayn (c) vs. Adrian Neville – NXT 1/14/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 10:05:04 GMT -5
93. WWE Championship: AJ Styles [c] vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Smackdown 10/30/18
Crown Jewel turned out to be quite the mess for the WWE. I’m not getting into the politics of it all, because that’s been discussed a lot. The key for this list was that Daniel Bryan (and John Cena) refused to work the show. To get out of it, WWE decided to have Bryan get his scheduled WWE Title shot on the Smackdown beforehand. Thankfully, fans were still allowed the AJ Styles/Daniel Bryan match we deserved. When AJ is in overly long feuds, his matches haven’t delivered. See: Nakamura, Owens, and Joe. The shorter programs are where he works best. Bryan’s knee was the focal point throughout and he sold the hell out of it. It was a great way to set up AJ’s Calf Crusher, which he’s established well during his title reign. They didn’t have to resort to a ton of near falls to get the drama going, they did it with how well these two were able to wear each other down. Submissions were traded late in a fashion that was smooth and gripping. It was hard not to be fully enthralled in what they were doing. AJ won by making Bryan tap to the Calf Crusher in 22:03, capping what may have been the best match on Smackdown since the brand split back in 2016. [****]
2017 Match #93:PROGRESS World Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Travis Banks – PROGRESS Chapter 55: Chase the Sun 9/10/17 2016 Match #93:IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW Dominion 6/19/16 2015 Match #93: Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo – Ultima Lucha 8/5/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 14:04:07 GMT -5
92. Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA – NJPW G1 Climax 7/26/18
The handsome battle! This was a first time ever meeting that excited and intrigued me for a few reasons. One, they’re both among the best and most interesting wrestlers in NJPW. More importantly though, they’re similar. SANADA is kind of a young Kota Ibushi in that he’s athletic, wrestles a hybrid style, had an unusual route into NJPW, and is pegged as a future star having big performances on a consistent basis. We saw how evenly matched they were during an opening standoff exchange that would make Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn jealous. Most of what they did in this match was fluid. There was a now infamous spot on the ramp that was truly awkward, but I don’t think it was the huge deal people made it out to be. They had one another scouted, from Ibushi finding clever ways to stay out of the Skull End to SANADA avoiding Kamigoye at every turn. With neither wrestler being dominant the way an Okada or Omega are, it added to the drama as nobody knew who would pull out the win. They threw bombs at one another late, yet couldn’t put the finishing touches. SANADA avoided another Kamigoye and trapped Ibushi in the Skull End. Ibushi faded and SANADA capped a huge win at 22:23 with a moonsault. To add to the greatness of the moment, this was in SANADA’s hometown. A fantastic clash between two guys who are very similar. [****]
2017 Match #92: Keith Lee vs. WALTER – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 9/2/17 2016 Match #92:Gift of the Gods Championship: Fenix (c) vs. King Cuerno – Lucha Underground 1/27/16 2015 Match #92:ROH World Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs. Roderick Strong – ROH TV 9/9/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 15:57:05 GMT -5
91. WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament First Round: Hideo Itami vs. Roderick Strong – WWE 205 Live 2/6/18
The best thing to happen to 205 Live was the firing of Enzo Amore. Drake Maverick took over as General Manager and set up this tournament, which was just filled with great matches. This was the one I anticipated the most. Hideo Itami has been a favorite of mine since I first saw him in ROH over a decade ago and the same goes for Roderick Strong. This was Strong’s first match for the company outside of NXT. Despite not being known to everyone and despite this being a crowd kind of tired by this point, they worked their asses off to get them invested. They hit each other hard, brought out some stellar sequences, and gave us some dramatic near falls. Strong showed why he’s the “Messiah of the Backbreaker,” busting out some vicious ones. The near falls down the stretch had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Strong went into a flurry capped with End of Heartache for the upset in 17:01. Not being a regular roster member, Strong winning came as a surprise. Him having a great match was less than a shock, as he was one of the best wrestlers anywhere in 2018. [****]
2017 Match #91:PROGRESS World and Tag Team Championships: British Strong Style [c] vs. Ringkampf – PROGRESS Chapter 47: Complicated Simplicity 4/23/17 2016 Match #91: Johnny Gargano vs. TJ Perkins – WWE Cruiserweight Classic 8/24/16 2015 Match #91: Chad Gable and Jason Jordan vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa – NXT 10/28/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 18:39:27 GMT -5
90. WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns [c] vs. Finn Balor – WWE Raw 8/20/18
Brock Lesnar wasted a ton of time with the Universal Title. Thankfully, they finally put it on Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. The following night, we got what they should be doing with the title. Defending it in a high profile match. It was two years later, but Finn finally got his rematch for the title he never lost. These two have had good matches in the past, but this was the best. As the smaller man, Finn took a fair amount of punishment, yet he still got in a lot of offense. Reigns made the mistake of toying with Finn a bit as if he didn’t take him seriously. That led to Finn firing up and bringing the crowd to their feet. The match needed that because the Brooklyn audience had their attention on something going on in the stands. From there, it was non-stop greatness. Finn’s dropkick being cut off by a Superman Punch and then him cutting off a Spear was a great sequence. Braun Strowman arrived when Roman seemed to have it won, ready to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. That distraction set up the Slingblade and we nearly got the Coup de Grace. Alas, Roman avoided it and retained after a Spear at 19:51. Their styles work incredibly well together and I’d love a PPV match between them when our "Big Dog" returns. [****]
2017 Match #90:GHC Heavyweight Championship: Katsuhiko Nakajima [c] vs. Brian Cage – NOAH Summer Navigation 7/27/17 2016 Match #90: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 7/28/16 2015 Match #90:No Disqualification Match: Adam Page vs. Jay Briscoe – ROH TV 10/21/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 1, 2019 21:09:44 GMT -5
89. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne [c] vs. Roderick Strong – NXT 2/14/18
Before they were a short-lived team and before their rivalry involving Roderick Strong’s turn to join the Undisputed Era, we had this battle. There wasn’t a major story behind this one. Instead, it was just two of the best wrestlers of 2018 having a banger of a match for a championship. Pete Dunne went after the arm and wrist of his challenger, while Strong attacked the back to set up for his array of backbreakers. They were given a lot of time, making it through two commercial breaks and lasting 14:10. Every second was used expertly. The pacing of the match was top notch, as it never felt slow and plodding, while also never going too fast or feeling rushed. Dunne continually attacking the hand is something we’re used to from him, but he always finds ways to make it unique and interesting. He’s great that way. Roddy’s near falls down the stretch made us believe he might pull out the win, even if it seemed far fetched coming into the bout. Dunne retained with the Bitter End to cap a great match that was probably overlooked by most. [****]
2017 Match #89:PROGRESS Atlas Championship: WALTER [c] vs. Matt Riddle – PROGRESS: New York City 8/12/17 2016 Match #89: Chris Hero vs. Tracy Williams – Evolve 72 11/12/ 2015 Match #89:Hell in a Cell: Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell 10/25/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 2, 2019 9:06:35 GMT -5
88. NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era [c] vs. Mustache Mountain – NXT United Kingdom Tournament 6/26/18
I love the Royal Albert Hall. It’s one of the coolest looking venues anywhere for wrestling. To start this show there, we got an NXT Tag Team Title match that began the best trilogy of tag matches in 2018. Mustache Mountain got off to a strong start, but Trent Seven quickly got isolated and the focus of the offense from the champions was on his arm. Kyle O’Reilly deserves a ton of praise for his year. Whether it was teaming with Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, or Roderick Strong, he was stellar and had chemistry with all three. When Tyler Bate finally got his hot tag, we were treated to a display of what makes this man so special. He’s way better than anyone his age has any right to be. The spot where he had Kyle on his back and dead lift German suplexed Strong at the same time was out of this world. STRONG BOI THINGS. The teams met in a six man tag (also involving Cole and Pete Dunne) a day prior, so teasing the finish from that show was a great idea. Just when it looked like Undisputed would retain, they had a miscue. It opened the door for a Mustache Mountain barrage that led to them winning the titles in 11:36. The pop for the title change was one of the loudest anywhere all year. A true feel good moment. And these teams were just getting started. [****]
2017 Match #88:NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka [c] vs. Ember Moon – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III 8/19/17 2016 Match #88: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA – NJPW G1 Climax 7/18/16 2015 Match #88: Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada – NJPW G1 Climax 8/1/15
Post by The Kevstaaa on Jan 2, 2019 10:47:57 GMT -5
87. Hiromu Takahashi vs. SHO – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 6/2/18
Like the G1 Climax, the Best of the Super Juniors tournament featured a vastly superior B Block. While the A Block’s only highlight was Taiji Ishimori, B Block had Hiromu Takahashi, KUSHIDA, El Desperado, and Dragon Lee to name a few. The breakout star was SHO. As a member of Roppongi 3K, SHO is a consistently entertaining part of the tag division. Getting to work alone, he had several standout matches in this tournament. With the B Block wrapping up, these two threw everything at each other. There was a level of intensity in this match that you wouldn’t expect considering their lack of history. Most guys in a blood rivalry wish they could match this. Hiromu was desperate to win the block after a rough year, while SHO was out to prove he could hang with the top guys. SHO hit German suplexes and powerbombs, but learned it takes a lot to keep Hiromu down. He also survived a fair amount of offense. The finish also played into the rest of the match. SHO was trapped in a triangle choke, but refused to quit and attempted to powerbomb his way out. He hit two, but collapsed on the third and lost in 16:19. An intense clash that told a wonderful story. [****]
*This is the final appearance of SHO.
2017 Match #87: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Jushin Thunder Liger – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 5/18/17 2016 Match #87:SMASH Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Mark Haskins – PROGRESS 5000 to 1 6/26/16 2015 Match #87:WWE Tag Team Championship 2 Out of 3 Falls: New Day (c) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro – WWE Payback 5/17/15