I thought I’d start keeping a log of my favorite matches throughout the year. However, because I don’t watch EVERYTHING and sometimes end up watching things late due to only getting them on blu-ray (looking at you PWG) or just not knowing about it until later there will probably be additions throughout the year. There will also be spoilers since these are matches that have already happened.
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 01/04/18 – Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Marty Scurll © v Will Osprey v KUSHIDA v Hiromu Takahashi
This match was a great showcase for some of the best Junior Heavyweights in the world right now. Each man had opportunities to shine. It’s pretty clear to me that Hiromu is SUPER over at the moment since he got a huge pop when he went on offense. KUSHIDA was pretty great too, but I’m almost at the point where I’d like to see him try out the Heavyweight division. I thought the ending was perfect because Osprey always loses to Marty so it was nice for him to finally get a victory over him on such a large stage.
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 01/04/18 – United States Heavyweight Title Match (No Disqualification): Kenny Omega © v Chris Jericho
I’ve already written at length about the build and the match and it was a great way to kick off 2018. A much different match than what I’m used to seeing from Kenny and a very ruthless Jericho made for a very fun match.
NWA Empty Arena Match 01/15/18 – Tim Storm v Jocephus
I wasn’t sure what to make of this one when it was announced. I’ve been reeled in by the NWA relaunch and how low key it has been so far. This was a fun brawl in the empty Impact Zone and I think it helped re-establish a good gimmick match type the NWA can use going forward. The bump that Storm takes at the end is very painful to watch. I’m hoping that more talent gets brought on board since it’s largely just been Storm, Jocephus, and current champion Nick Aldis.
New Japan Pro Wrestling New Beginning in Sapporo Night 1 01/27/18 – Intercontinental Title Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi © v Minoru Suzuki
Tanahashi came into this match pretty banged up and accepting the challenge of a sadist like Suzuki was probably a bad idea. The match told the story of a champion that would not quit even though he probably should have. Suzuki worked on Tanahashi’s bandaged arm and battered knee to the point where the referee had to stop the match because Tanahashi couldn’t break free of the submission hold he was in. Suzuki cut a chilling promo while the Forever Ace of New Japan was stretchered out of the ring made for a very powerful image.
NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia 01/27/18 – Extreme Rules: Adam Cole v Aleister Black
In my opinion this match told two stories: Adam Cole can take a beating and Aleister Black doesn’t need weapons since he is one. This was a pretty good “hardcore” match and Cole and Black meshed together well. It had some pretty decent spots that seemed to make the notoriously blood thirsty Philly crowd happy (see above photo). I’m not going to lie, but I popped when Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish showed up and hit Black with the Total Elimination finisher that The Eliminators used to do. A very small ECW chant may have broken out in my apartment.
NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia 01/27/18 – NXT Championship Title Match: Andrade Almas © v Johnny Gargano
This is another that I’ve written more about, but I loved this match. It followed the Cole/Black match, which was going to be a tough act to follow, and surpassed it. I think Gargano is the best babyface that the WWE has right now and I loved how Almas has been salvaged after a very rocky start in his NXT run.
WWE Monday Night Raw 01/30/18 – Sasha Banks v Asuka
This felt like it could be an opening chapter of their rivalry. Sasha struggling to remain relevant even though Asuka won the first women’s Royal Rumble and the appearance of Ronda Rousey could make for a compelling story. Sasha wrestled this match with a chip on her shoulder and wanted to prove more to herself that she is still relevant. This was my favorite Asuka main roster match and I thought their chemistry was good. If WWE decides to call an audible and put the Raw Women’s title on Sasha and we get a rematch at Wrestlemania I would definitely be on board. You’d have the story of Sasha Banks, who has never successfully defended the Women’s title after winning it, against the unstoppable inevitability of Asuka. I can’t think of a bigger stage to tell that story.