As Rushonrock enters a new era, we welcome Wrestling Royalty’s Andy Spoors, as well as father son combo John and Reese Burrows, to share their top matches of 2018 following this weekend’s first PPV of the year.
Seth Rollins entered the history books by surviving over an hour in a gruelling gauntlet match. He may not have won the entire match but he showcased just why he earned the nickname “Cross Fit Jesus”.
9 Extreme Rules
Steel Cage Match
Brawn Strowman vs Kevin Owens
In a year to forget for KO, this may have been an unfortunate high spot (literally). Owens experienced a Mankind moment of his own, falling from the top of the cage before crashing through the announce table.
8 Wrestlemania 34
WWE Championship Match
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
This highly anticipated match may not have lived up to its full potential in some people’s view, but a shocking heel turn by Shinsuke provided a Mania moment that will live long in the memory.
7 NXT: Takeover Philidelphia
NXT Championship Match
Andrade Cien Almas vs Johnny Gargano
An astonishingly fast paced yet hard hitting brawl that highlighted just how much of a talent Almas is going to be.
6 NXT: Takeover War Games II
War Games Match
Pete Dunne, Ricochet and War Raiders vs Undisputed Era
A high octane and spot filled entry, filled to the brim with talent in the harshest of environments.
5 WWE Evolution
Last Woman Standing Match for WWE Women’s Championship Match
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair
The last couple of years has seen women’s wrestling in WWE burst into the limelight. As a result, the sports entertainment leader laid on an all women’s PPV in the shape of Evolution.
As explosive as the division has become, 2018 ended up about one woman. Becky Lynch. Having endured a few years in the shadows of others, the ‘Irish Lasskicker’ ensured all eyes were on her.
After finally capturing the Women’s Championship, this back and forth bout not only showcased Flair and Lynch, but showed how far the women of WWE have come.
A hideous table bump to finish, brought an end to a match that proved women can headline a PPV and maybe, just maybe, a Mania main event is within touching distance.
4 NXT: Takeover War Games II
NXT Championship Match
Velveteen Dream vs Tomasso Ciampa
In many aspects, Velveteen Dream may have been the breakout superstar of 2018, if not the outright star of the year.
Given a chance to shine in a title match, Dream put on a performance well beyond his three years of experience in the industry. From his Hollywood Hogan ring attire to paying homage to some of the greatest finishers in history. Dream did what Dream doest best and stole the whole damn show.
It takes two to tango, with Ciampa indulging in mind games and providing the ying to Dream’s camp and flamboyant yang, providing a balance that set this match on fire. The result was ultimately immaterial, as Dream’s arrival to the top of NXT was confirmed. Welcome to the experience, the dream has begun.
3 UK Championship Tournament 2018 – Royal Albert Hall
NXT Tag Team Championship Match
Undisputed Era vs Moustache Mountain
The birth of NXT UK came in the hallowed Royal Albert Hall. Over the course of two nights, UK fans saw the historic announcement of a new British WWE brand, but this match was the only thing on the minds of fans.
Birmingham duo Tyler Bate and Trent Severn captured the NXT Tag Titles on home soil to a stunned crowd reaction. The back and forth throughout the match showcased both teams and just how polished the UK’s exports have become. As the ref counted to three for the Brummie pair, the noise from the crowd sounded more akin to football fans celebrating a last minute winner. The roar even managed to crackle and pop the usually pristine WWE audio levels.
2 NXT: Takeover New Orleans
Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa
The second entrant from Takeover New Orleans. Frankly, all of the matches on that card could appear on this list but Johnny fighting for his job back in NXT quite rightly took the main event on the night.
The culmination of an 11 month build-up following Ciampa’s betrayal, the Smoothie King Center came unglued as the former tag team partners brutally tore in to each other.
NXT has made a habit of making stars out of ‘indie guys’ by concentrating on stellar matches. From the promo before the match to the story told throughout, this fight showcased why the yellow and black brand is so hot right now.
Wince-enducing DDTs, near falls and a huge reaction for the ultimate victor, this unsanctioned brawl will go down as one of the best in NXT history. (Special mention to the preceeding two matches in the series between the two, each remaining as fresh and as exciting than it’s predecessor)
1 NXT: Takeover New Orleans
North American Championship Ladder Match
Adam Cole vs EC3 vs Killin Fain vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream
Quite simply this match had it all. Debuts, ladders, high flying action, show stealing spots and a brand new championship belt.
With an international crowd in the Old Easy, the atmosphere reached fever pitch in this, the opening bout of the night. EC3 and Ricochet debuted in the most testing of circumstances just one night from Wrestlemania. All six men were allowed time to shine, with Ricochet’s first move setting the tone in the form of a shooting star press from the top rope to outside the ring.
Ladder Matches constantly have to find new ways to reinvent themselves and this cornucopia of action more than delivered. Adam Cole emerging victorious amongst a strew of broken bodies solidified his future as a star of the industry.