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10 Best WWE Superstars Of 2018

It's been an eventful year for WWE, but who emerged the best?

It's been an interesting year for WWE's main roster. Despite being packed full of talent (to a historic degree), quite a few have struggled to elevate their standing in the eyes of the crowd - with a few notable exceptions.

Part of the problem could be the general excellence of NXT. Each of 2018's TakeOver shows knocked it out of the park, arguably overshadowing the following main roster PPVs in the process. In WWE's 'developmental' system, it seems as though the Superstars are given a greater degree of creative freedom - as well as a more concise timeslot to avoid over-saturation.

Still, I don't want to make it sound as though 2018 has been a poor year for the main roster's various Superstars. We have seen unquestionably great moments, from title wins to shocking turns, with a handful of fantastic matches along the way.

Before we begin the list, it's important to remember a few honourable mentions:

Shinsuke Nakamura: followed a strange trajectory in 2018, winning the Royal Rumble before losing at WrestleMania. A big slump followed (despite his US title win) but the initial burst at the start of the year is worthy of merit.

Carmella: is one of 2018's most improved in-ring performers, while maintaining her natural charisma and charm - whether as a heel or babyface. Her title feud with Asuka was hampered by bad booking (and the inclusion of James Ellsworth), but her cash-in on Charlotte remains a highlight of the year.

Braun Strowman: continued to get better this year, and is now one of WWE's biggest Superstars in a figurative sense as well as literal. Unfortunately, his momentum was sapped after winning Money in the Bank courtesy of a very unwise heel turn. At least he goes into next year a babyface again.

Drew McIntyre: looks set to be a major player in 2019, but his push began in earnest recently, so he just misses out on the list.

Finally, since we're not including the 205 Live roster on this list, it only seems fitting to mention the three most impressive stars of the brand - Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, & Buddy Murphy.

10. Asuka


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Asuka sneaks onto this list by virtue of enjoying a very good start and finish to the year. She won the inaugural women's Royal Rumble match, before heading to WrestleMania 34 to have a very good title match with Charlotte Flair?

The only issue? She lost. Usually, that wouldn't be such a big deal in itself, but there are two key factors at play. One: her unbeaten streak was over (although at least it was to a strong opponent). Two: the rest of 2018 was largely horrible for Asuka.

The Empress of Tomorrow is probably deserving of a higher place on this list given her ability, and it's good to see her end the year as SmackDown Women's Champion - but everything between April and December was painful for fans of the most dominant champ in NXT history.


9. Roman Reigns


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When Roman Reigns announced that he has been battling leukaemia before vacating the Universal Championship and taking time away from WWE, the sad news shook the wrestling world to its core. Hopefully Roman will return and continue to succeed, perhaps in front of a more receptive audience.

Before his year was cut short, Reigns may have enjoyed a more successful time were it not for Brock Lesnar. The Beast Incarnate looked certain to drop the title to Roman at WrestleMania 34, but defeated The Big Dog in a shocking upset.

Still, despite having his own plans disrupted by Lesnar's, Reigns continued to do what he does best, plugging away with consistent performances despite the constant negative crowd reactions. If anything good can come from his sad news, it's that we've gained a sense of perspective. He may be the very opposite of an indy darling, but he's still a damn good wrestler, and we'd all love to see him continue.

8. Alexa Bliss


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Midway through 2018, Alexa Bliss suffered something of a crowd backlash, perceived by some to be over-pushed. It's easy to see where this frustration comes from, with great talents like Bayley and Sasha Banks wasting away on the undercard of show after show.

However, it's also easy to see why Bliss may be favoured by WWE. She's a fantastic heel, and one of the best promos in wrestling today. She may not be on the Four Horsewomen's level in the ring, but she's more than capable of delivering her half of a story - evident in her recent title feud with Ronda Rousey.

Her Money in the Bank cash-in was a genuinely surprising and dramatic moment, and while her WrestleMania feud with Nia Jax was dragged down by rather blunt storytelling, it still showed her ability to work well with poor material.

7. The Miz


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The Miz, as we all know, is one of WWE's most consistent and entertaining performers. He has turned his safe in-ring style into a heelish character trait, and continues to dominate non-wrestling segments with his top-tier mic skills.

However, 2018 also saw Miz impress in the ring - and although match quality isn't necessarily his game, he took part in some entertaining matches. He was part of an exciting WrestleMania opener alongside Finn Balor and Seth Rollins, and also put on the only well-received bout at Backlash - a long and dramatic singles match against the Architect.

His hotly-anticipated feud with a returning Daniel Bryan maybe didn't ignite as many hoped it would, but even with Bryan now heel, I've got a feeling that this may not be the end of their lengthy storyline.


6. Ronda Rousey


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Some people have a natural affinity for professional wrestling, and as we learned this year, Ronda Rousey is absolutely one of them. Eyebrows were raised when she strode into the women's division at the Royal Rumble and cast a shadow over Asuka's victory, especially with fellow MMA fighter Brock Lesnar alternating between crushing wins and lengthy absences.

WrestleMania 34 changed all that, with Rousey putting on the most flat-out enjoyable match of the night alongside Kurt Angle, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. She immediately demonstrated a knack for presence and timing in the ring, and even the weakest part of her game (promos) have improved as the year has gone on.

It still seems slightly surreal that such a global sporting icon is now a regular part of WWE's roster, but hopefully 2019 doesn't see Ronda's star fade. Booking her to walk the line between special attraction and average Joe will be tricky - but it's impossible to argue that she hasn't exceeded expectations so far.

5. Daniel Bryan


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Bryan's 2018 has been book-ended by two massive moments: his return and his shocking heel turn, the latter leading him to win the WWE Championship from AJ Styles.

The return itself, although one of the most organically exciting moments in WrestleMania history, fell a little flat in terms of its execution. Bryan was unwisely paired with Shane McMahon, and the pair trundled to a routine victory over the beloved heel team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It felt like a better, simpler story could have been told.

We got that towards the end of the year when, after a few months lurking unspectacularly on the SmackDown upper-midcard, Bryan shocked us all. He snatched the title from Styles (thanks mainly to a callous low blow), before turning his back on the fans. Since then, his heel antics have been deranged and hilarious in equal measure, and he's also delivered hugely in the ring - as pay per view matches with Brock Lesnar and AJ Styles have proven.

4. Charlotte Flair


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For pretty much the entirety of their time on the main roster, Charlotte Flair has been seen as the most successful of the Four Horsewomen - but also the one who had to work hardest to win the favour of the fans. Sasha Banks and Bayley were already adored from NXT, while Becky Lynch's popularity has totally erupted in recent times.

Charlotte, though, never felt as much of a natural favourite, despite (or perhaps because of) her title-winning success. Gradually, though, that's changed over the years - and 2018 has arguably been the best of her career so far. Alongside Asuka, Charlotte put on one of the best matches of WrestleMania 34, even if the result left a lot of people disappointed.

After losing the title to Carmella and taking some time off, she returned for a feud with Lynch that has absolutely defined the year. Initially, keeping Charlotte face risked a Roman Reigns-esque crowd reaction, given Becky's outrageous popularity. However, after a while, WWE tweaked their booking and introduced shades of grey to their characters. This culminated in a hell of a Last Woman Standing match at Evolution, and a bone-crunching TLC bout also featuring Asuka.


3. AJ Styles


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AJ Styles has long been thought of as consistency personified, be it as the standard bearer of TNA, New Japan's all-conquering gaijin, or the newest addition to WWE's top tier. However, this year he actually got a chance to prove it beyond doubt.

WWE entrusted Styles with a 371-day reign, the longest in the history of the blue brand, stretching from an episode of SmackDown in 2017...to an episode of SmackDown in 2018. The beginning and end were both excellent, AJ winning the title from Jinder Mahal to a massive reception in Manchester, England, and losing it in the face of Daniel Bryan's shocking heel turn a year later.

The stuff in between was a little bit hit and miss - but Styles' performances were always of a high level. Booking may have let him down from time to time, as feuds with Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe showed promise, before fizzling out amid strange finishes and rematch after rematch. However, as an ambassador for both his brand and the biggest title in wrestling, AJ's work has been exemplary.

2. Seth Rollins


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While AJ Styles was churning out matches of consistently high quality on SmackDown, Seth Rollins was the saviour of Monday nights. The former Shield member may not be in the best place at the time of writing - embroiled in a confused and confusing feud with Dean Ambrose - but for most of 2018 he's been able to bring the best out of everyone he's faced.

Rollins has had great matches with everyone from The Miz to Finn Balor to Elias to Dolph Ziggler (and I'm not talking about the now-infamous Iron Man match, hampered by the crowd's "enthusiastic" counting).

Although no longer Intercontinental Champion, it's hard to think of a more fitting IC title holder than Rollins. He's a true workhorse, as proven by his marathon-man performance in February's gauntlet match on Raw, and helped carry Raw as its de facto top champion during Brock Lesnar's long absences.

1. Becky Lynch


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There could be no one else, really.

Becky Lynch's purple patch hasn't yet stretched on for as long as AJ Styles', or featured as wide a variety of opponents as Seth Rollins' - but from the moment she snapped and attacked Charlotte at SummerSlam, the Dubliner has been the hottest thing in wrestling.

Becky has been a beloved babyface since the beginning of her main roster career, but it was a heel turn that pushed her to the next level - even if nobody actually wanted to boo. Her flash pinfall over Charlotte at Hell in a Cell made her champion, and the rivalry peaked in wonderful fashion at Evolution.

Lynch's misfortune in the build-up to Survivor Series only galvanised the support around her. Nia Jax's stray fist may have cost her a marquee match with Ronda Rousey, but rumours suggest that it could lead to something far bigger down the line - maybe even a WrestleMania main event.

It's been an astonishing rise for Becky, and one filled with such passion and fury, that it's hard to see her flame being extinguished in the new year.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

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