As you’ll see from our extensive honourable mentions section, there was a lot of excellent wrestling this year.
One of the best things clear from our list is the sense of diversity. Great shows came from a variety of promotions all around the world, with both mainstream and independent stars showcasing their abilities on a variety of platforms.
Of course, a great wrestling show isn’t always just about the in-ring action. Sometimes an event revolves as much around what it represents, as we saw on several occasions this year. In other cases, an end of year contender can come out of nowhere, slapping together an awesome card and letting the wrestlers do their thing.
Variety is part of what makes the industry so great, and with that in mind, let’s take a look at our (many) honourable mentions:
- NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia – the site of WWE’s first 5-star match since 2011
- wXw 16 Carat Gold Day 2 – one of the year’s best crowd reactions, as Ilja Dragunov shocked everybody, returning to win the title.
- EVOLVE 102 – a real highlight of WrestleMania weekend, featuring a particular highlight in the form of Riddle vs. Ospreay.
- OTT ScrapperMania IV – An Irish supershow, featuring homegrown boy Jordan Devlin vs. Zack Sabre Jr., a Riddle/Ospreay rematch, and a couple of New Japan’s biggest stars.
- WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament Day 2 – a mini-TakeOver in its own right, featuring an emotional tag title win for Moustache Mountain.
- NJPW G1 Special in San Francisco – a strong card from top to bottom, main evented by warring stablemates Kenny Omega and Cody (but also the sad site of Hiromu Takahashi’s serious injury.)
- PWG Battle of Los Angeles Day 2 – a series of hard-hitting tournament matches, followed by an exciting six-man tag team showcase.
- PWG Battle of Los Angeles Day 3 – thought by many to feature the greatest final in BOLA history.
- PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley! – a landmark show for UK wrestling, and one fittingly full of big matches and moments.
- NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed – title changes, grudge matches, and a 5-star tag team main event. What’s not to enjoy?
- Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2018 Day 1 – a strong show overall, chiefly remembered for an excellent main event featuring PAC.
10. NXT TakeOver: Chicago II
Where: Allstate Arena – Rosemont, Illinois
What: The aftershock following the earthquake that was TakeOver: New Orleans (or perhaps its darker sequel) but also a damn good show in its own right. Also one of the more conservatively booked TakeOver events, in terms of results rather than action.
The Good: Things got off to an excellent start with one of 2018’s real sleeper hits – the Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a fast and frantic opener. Ricochet and Velveteen Dream brought psychology and athleticism in equal measure, while Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano delivered another untouchable main event – this time with the opposite result.
The Bad: The two singles title matches on the show weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly paled in comparison to the rest of the card – particularly Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan, with the two men not really on the same page at times.
Star of the Show: Tommaso Ciampa. One of 2018’s biggest and best heels avenged his New Orleans loss in unscrupulous fashion here, making for a completely unsatisfying end to the show. In a good way, of course.