How will you remember professional wrestling in 2018? Really, you can go a myriad of ways with it – optimists will remember the things that made them happy, while pessimists will remember the teeth-gnashing rage they felt on the daily. Hipster fans will blend the two, telling you about how the thing they watch that you don’t is awesome, while everything mainstream that you enjoy isn’t worth their time. Damn hipster fans. Wish I could be just like them.
But in all seriousness, the year 2018 was a truly unique one in professional wrestling (HISTORIC, some branding officers may say), a truly dizzying and astonishing year in many different facets. In the social media age, news travels fast, and we’re spurred to react to loads of stimuli that crosses our news feeds. That, along with the abundance of wrestling events that we get up for, causes us to develop a bit of wrestle-fatigue. That’s the reality of pro wrestling in 2018 – it’s supply and demand gone berserk, with the supply sometimes smothering the demand.
As we look ahead to 2019, let’s take a gander back at the year that was. Here are my picks for the moments that best defined professional wrestling in the previous 365 days.
10. All Of The TakeOvers
From Tommaso Ciampa’s crystallization as professional wrestling’s essence of evil, to Johnny Gargano’s mental and emotional descent, to great match after great match after great match, NXT TakeOvers have become the most anticipated wrestling cards on the calendar. Picking the worst TakeOver of 2018 is like picking which among five different-coloured Tesla Model S cars is the least-luxurious.
The Gargano/Ciampa feud made for one of the most captivating and intense rivalries in years, while Velveteen Dream’s big-match aura and character work assure him future stardom (in theory). The likes of Aleister Black, Ricochet, Kairi Sane, The Undisputed Era, Pete Dunne, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Shayna Baszler, etc, have filled out those several-hour blocks with breakout performances of their own. Add Mauro Ranallo’s volcanic, once-in-a-generation commentary (the void on SmackDown is still felt), and you’ve got five killer shows, all of which will dwarf the WWE pay-per-view from the same weekend in terms of critical reception, a trend that will only continue.