In the world of professional wrestling, 2018 has been a monumental year. We have seen so many great matches and incredible story arcs develop. From groundbreaking events like ALL IN and WWE Evolution, we have seen a change in the landscape. Now this list is only matches that I have watched. And I will list them from best to the greatest. Because there isn’t a bad match on the list. So let’s not waste any more time. Here is Part 1 of The Laracuente Ledger’s Top 18 PPV Wrestling Matches of 2018.
I discuss the matches a bit more and speak about their significances on today’s corresponding episode of The Laracuente Ledger Podcast.
I’ll start this list with some matches that could have very easily found their way onto this countdown. Matches like
- Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy, Hell in a Cell. The image of the screwdriver through Jeff’s ear will forever be engrained in my mind.
- Flip Gordon vs. Jay Lethal, ALL IN. The reemergence of Black Machismo was something that was awesome to see. And having the “Genius” Lanny Poffo accompany him was a fitting and wonderful tribute to the late great Macho Man Randy Savage.
- Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey, Survivor Series. This match along with another in the list helped build towards the main event of Wrestlemania 35. And helped create one of the most memorable moments of the year.
No. 18: Mustafa Ali vs. Buddy Murphy, Survivor Series
For me, this match showed the incredible renaissance that the WWE Cruiserweight Division underwent following the travesty that was Enzo Amore. Buddy Murphy’s win over Cedric Alexander at Super Showdown could have taken this spot as well. Especially given that Murphy will the Championship happened in his home country of Austrailia. But for me, this match showed the world just how immensely talented the men now working the 205 Live roster are. It was an incredible showing and thus deserved a spot highlighting just how good it was for both men and the division in general.
No. 17: Every Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles Match
Now I understand that this is somewhat cheating the listing system but at the same time watching each match in this saga was like reading chapters in a great book. AJ Styles and Samoa Joe are two of the best this business has ever seen. And their performances throughout this feud were remarkable. Both men gave everything they had every time out and yet still managed to find a way to deliver more as the story progressed. It is a testament to the brilliance of both men as professional wrestlers.
No. 16: Ricochet vs. Adam Cole, NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4
Ricochet and Adam Cole are two of my favorite wrestlers in the world to watch. And their chemistry and work rates are incredible, to say the least. This matchup told a great story and showed off the gifts and talents of both men in a significant way.
No. 15: Ronda Rousey’s Debut Match, Wrestlemania
This match is different than every other one on this list because of its significance. Ronda Rousey is a mainstream star, and everyone knows her name. It is because of that name that there was quite a lot of fanfare outside of the wrestling community about her debut in WWE. However, inside the wrestling community, it was questioned to no end. Could she handle the spotlight? Could she make the transition from the MMA world to pro wrestling? Would this be another Brock Lesnar situation where she would only show up 4-5 times a year if the money were right? Yet this match was arguably one of the best matches at Mania. And every time out Ronda has improved. And if rumors are to be believed she will be apart of the “First-Ever” Women’s Main Event in Wrestlemania history.
No. 14: Women’s Money in the Bank, Money in the Bank
This year’s Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was a joy to behold. The women in this match knew they wanted to steal the show. And that is exactly what they did with the caliber match they put on. The men’s MITB ladder match main have gone on last, but the Women’s MITB match was the main event.
No. 13: Velveteen Dream vs. Tommaso Ciampa, NXT Takeover War Games II
Tommaso Ciampa has become one of the greatest heels in the wrestling business today. And likewise, the Velveteen Dream has organically grown to be one of the most over babyfaces in NXT. So when these men collided at NXT Takeover War Games II, it was magic. On paper, this matchup seemed like a decent bout, but the magic put on display was something else altogether.
No. 12: OGz vs. LAX, Bound for Glory
The first matchup on this list to not take place under the WWE banner (but not the last.) I only recently returned to watching Impact Wrestling after many years away from it. But that is a discussion for another time. But in watching Impact again, I was able to watch the build-up to this feud between the LAX that I knew many years ago, now being called the OGz. And they were taking on the new LAX. This matchup, in particular, was the culmination of the rivalry by most standards, and boy did it leave a lasting impression. Being competed under the “Concrete Jungle” stipulation (which I had no idea what that was.) This match was wrestled in the most dangerous environment I had ever witnessed in a pro wrestling match. The men would compete in a match where the ring mat was taken off, and the ring boards were completely exposed. And as the men took bumps, the boards would shift and rise. Watching this I was captivated and fearful for the men in the match. And this shows that even for someone how has seen a lot of wrestling like myself. And a lot of crazy stuff, I grew up with the original ECW and CZW, there are still things I have never seen before.
No. 11: AJ Styles vs. The “NEW” Daniel Bryan, TLC
Let me start by saying AJ Styles is PHENOMENAL (yes pun intended), but it is still true. And yet this version of Daniel Bryan’s character is some of the most compelling performance art that has been seen on WWE tv in quite some time. These two men have unique chemistry due to their outstanding ability at pro wrestling. And it’s that chemistry that would be put on full display. Not to mention the promo that Daniel Bryan cut before this matchup on “WWE Now” at the expense of Mike Rome and Cathy Kelly was utter brilliance. And it extended once that bell rung.
No. 10: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, NXT Takeover Chicago/NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4
Arguably the feud of the year under the WWE banner, Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa was a masterful work of art in story-telling. These two men have put on some of the best matches I’ve witnessed in a long time. And even better than the matches has been the build. This story, this feud has been on-going for more than two years and is still as hot as ever. And although they are both technically heels at present moment the story of Johnny’s demise at the hands of Ciampa is something that should be on the big screen winning Oscars.