WWE
News

10 Best WWE Matches Of 2018

No-DQ brawls, chaotic multi-man scrambles, and massive moments on the Grandest Stage of Them All...

It's been a hugely eventful year for WWE, but will mainly be remembered for things that happened outside of the ring.

But amidst all the reluctant involvement in global political scandals, NXT beginning to spread its wings over the wrestling world, and the women's revolution moving into a higher gear, we've seen some damn fine matches too.

Weirdly, WWE's so-called 'developmental territory' has provided us with the year's most memorable matches - but that doesn't mean nothing of note happened on the main roster. Far from it, in fact.

We've seen epic no-DQ brawls, chaotic multi-man scrambles, and massive moments on the grandest stage of all. Now it's time to look at the best of the best, including a few honourable mentions:

January brought us the historic first-ever women's Royal Rumble match, a significant and dramatic start to 2018.
At the SmackDown exclusive pay-per-view, we were treated to a 'six-pack challenge' in which AJ Styles retained the title, frustrating a desperate John Cena in the process.
WrestleMania kicked off the main portion of the show with an excellent triple threat match between Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and The Miz - a bout then followed by the equally exciting SmackDown Women's Championship bout between Asuka and Charlotte Flair.
The latter half of the year featured Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell - a match that was gruesome in entirely the right way.
Finally, it's important to mention Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey's clash at Survivor Series, a wonderful blend of technicality and intensity.


Before we move onto the list proper, I should point out that no 205 Live matches were taken into account - but if they had been, Mustafa Ali and Buddy Murphy would definitely have been in with a strong chance.

10. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose Vs. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre - Hell In A Cell


WWE


Although certainly a bout full of good wrestlers, The Shield vs. Ziggler and McIntyre seemed confined to the background when the Hell in a Cell card was finalised. Up against two HIAC matches, Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair, and Alexa Bliss' rematch with Ronda Rousey, it seemed likely to be forgotten.

Instead, this actually turned out to be the best match of the night (although not the best moment, which surely must be Becky's title win). The quartet put on a match that successfully blended traditional tag team psychology and modern flair - all wrapped up in a WWE sports entertainment bundle.

If this bout has a weak point, it's the storyline. Braun Strowman's sudden heel turn (and lightning-fast recruitment of Ziggler and McIntyre as his cronies) wasn't really the direction anybody wanted to see Raw's main event scene move in. Also, I'm not sure if this bout holds up too well on repeated viewing, simply because the four men involved have clashed a seemingly infinite number of times in 2018.


9. Becky Lynch Vs. Charlotte Flair Vs. Asuka - TLC


WWE


The unquestionable highlight of the latter half of WWE's year was the SmackDown women's division, kickstarted by Becky Lynch's newfound attitude at SummerSlam. One of the most exciting instalments came at the last pay-per-view of the year, December's TLC show, where Lynch was joined by Asuka and Charlotte Flair in one hell of a main event.

This was the first women's TLC match in WWE history, and while the weight of expectation may have hindered less talented competitors, all three Superstars rose to the occasion. We were treated to a spectacle of violence and intensity, all capped by Asuka's well-deserved SmackDown Women's Championship win.

The finish was a divisive one, which maybe prevented this match from climbing higher on our list - but Ronda Rousey's involvement at least made sense, furthering her beef with both Charlotte and Becky.

8. Seth Rollins Vs. The Miz - Backlash


WWE


Backlash was probably WWE's weakest pay-per-view of the year not held in Saudi Arabia - an uninspiring card culminating in a very poorly-received main event between Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. It might, therefore, be surprising to remember that it got off to a very hot start indeed.

The Miz has never been primarily praised for his in-ring ability, preferring to get over with heelish antics and top tier promo skills. However, the A-Lister is one of the main roster's most experienced and consistent performers, particularly when it comes to getting the best out of the infamous WWE style.

Paired with the obviously flashier Rollins, Miz more than held up his end of the bargain in a wonderful opener. The pair worked together seamlessly, taking us along for a ride peppered with an excellent series of sequences and near-falls.

7. AJ Styles Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - Money In The Bank


WWE


I think it's fair to say that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura's feud was a somewhat disappointing one. Their match at WrestleMania simply couldn't live up to the massive hype surrounding it, and Nakamura's subsequent heel turn didn't lead to the push we all wanted.

The unquestionable high point, however, came in the form of a bone-crunching Last Man Standing match at Money in the Bank. The naturally slower pace of the stipulation may not have been either man's forte, but they adapted very well indeed, structuring the bout around a series of set piece spots.

The announce table was used inventively at multiple points, as was the (often ridiculed) storyline arc of Nakamura targeting Styles' crotch. The WWE Champion had his revenge, blasting his challenger with a vicious low blow before crushing both his opponent and the announce table with a Phenomenal Forearm.


6. Seven-Man Gauntlet Match - Raw, 19 February 2018


WWE


Just when we thought we had Raw figured out...

Most of the year, WWE's flagship show is criticised for its predictable nature, but occasionally - as we saw on February 19 - fans are thrown a curveball. Astonishingly, over an hour-and-a-half of the show was dedicated to a seven-man gauntlet match featuring a collection of top stars.

Not only that, but it was brilliant.

The MVP was, of course, Seth Rollins. WWE's marathon man wrestled the bout's first three falls, lasting a combined 65 minutes. Not only that, but each segment was excellent - with two jaw-dropping victories over Roman Reigns and John Cena preceding a cheap Elias win over an exhausted Seth.

Elias was then dealt with by Finn Balor, who in turn was seen off by the nefarious Miz. A happy babyface ending was the cherry on top of the cake, with Braun Strowman stomping out to crush his terrified rival.

5. Daniel Bryan Vs. AJ Styles - TLC


WWE


One of the best things about Daniel Bryan's unlikely return to wrestling is the fact that it opened the door for numerous dream matches - some of which have already taken place.

The current WWE Champion faced AJ Styles on numerous occasions this year, shockingly taking his title and turning heel on a seemingly routine episode of SmackDown. Their rematch at TLC was even better.

Of all WWE's main roster matches this year, Bryan vs. Styles was the closest to a 'classic' excellent wrestling match. There was no outside interference, no distracting bells and whistles - just two of the best wrestlers in the world with a lengthy timeslot to play with.

That's not to say this was a straight-laced technical encounter either. Yes, there were examples of mat-based wizardry, but the storytelling was as much a part of this bout as the moves. Bryan's legendary babyface run may have helped us all forget that he's a phenomenal heel, but here he certainly reminded us. Styles, for his part, played the angry, vengeful babyface to a tee.

4. Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle Vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H - WrestleMania 34


WWE


It sounds like hyperbole to brand this match the best debut in wrestling history, but is it wrong?

One of 2018's biggest stories has been the speed and ease with which Ronda Rousey has taken to professional wrestling. Her first outing at WrestleMania 34 wasn't just a sign of things to come - it was generally received as the best match of the night.

Admittedly, Ronda was joined in the ring by Triple H and Kurt Angle, as well as Stephanie McMahon, a heat-generating machine on even her worst days. On the other hand, the former MMA megastar demonstrated abilities that shouldn't be picked up on so quickly: a very real sense of pace and timing, and a raw physical charisma throughout.

We knew that Rousey would have the athletic ability for pro wrestling, but how many athletes have looked totally out of place inside the squared circle? This wasn't a rookie being walked through a basic match; this was something special.


3. Men's Royal Rumble - Royal Rumble


WWE


Yes, it's easier to enjoy a Royal Rumble match than pretty much any other stipulation. Its very format provides a perfect template for drama, suspense, comedy, and shock value. But with that in mind, prior to this year's event, how long had it been since we saw a great Rumble - not just an entertaining one?

I think you'd have to go back to 2010 - 2016 and 2011 had their moments, and 2012's closing stretch between Jericho and Sheamus was good, but not since 2010 had we seen a truly top-tier Royal Rumble. (The less said about 2014 and 2015 the better...)

The first ever women's Royal Rumble was fantastic, as well as important, for obvious reasons. But I think the men's counterpart was better as an all-round spectacle, blending all of the qualities that make for a great January showcase.

We had shock returns in the form of Rey Mysterio and The Hurricane, surprising debuts courtesy of Andrade "Cien" Almas and Adam Cole, and a classic ironman performance from Finn Balor. Heath Slater and Sheamus provided comedy, but things got appropriately serious down the stretch.

The final showdown should live long in the memory, as should Shinsuke Nakamura's fantastic victory - last eliminating two of wrestling's biggest stars in John Cena and Roman Reigns.

2. Brock Lesnar Vs. Daniel Bryan - Survivor Series


WWE


For a match announced at the last second, this was outrageously good.

Okay, I'll admit that its quality shouldn't come as a surprise, given the fact that it featured Daniel Bryan and a motivated Brock Lesnar. But for a heel vs. heel contest with minimal build, their Survivor Series clash was even better than it should have been.

The early stages of the match were incredibly deflating - but that was the point. Lesnar utterly dominated Bryan, wiping away his pre-match cockiness and sparking concern for his condition among sizeable chunks of the audience.

Bryan's comeback, when it came, was one of the most electrifying moments of 2018, as the fans (and, seemingly, WWE themselves) forgot his heel status and willed him towards victory.

Ultimately Lesnar was simply too much for the WWE Champion, and while the opposite result would have made for a stratospheric reaction, that shouldn't take away from the fact that this bout was simply captivating.

1. Becky Lynch Vs. Charlotte Flair - Evolution


WWE


As I'm sure you're aware, this match was the most highly-anticipated bout of WWE's first ever all-women's pay-per-view. - but even without the surrounding significance, it would very likely have topped our list for 2018.

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair was intensity personified - so much so that the fact WWE had the babyface/heel dynamic totally backwards didn't even matter. Faced with a Last Woman Standing stipulation (another WWE first), and backed by a vociferous, passionate crowd, the pair completely made the most of their platform.

Few matches this year have been quite as hateful, with champion and challenger tearing into one another for almost half an hour. There were no smoke and mirrors either; each risky spot was executed in terrifyingly full-blood fashion - as it had to be, given the intensity of their feud.

Even on a card as strong as Evolution turned out to be, Becky and Charlotte were the unquestionable stars - and, for our money, put on the best main roster match of 2018.

Share this post

10 Best WWE NXT Superstars Of 2018

10 Best WWE NXT Matches Of 2018

Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]