50 Defining WWE Images Of 2018

It's been a particularly eventful year for WWE; let's take a look back...

WWE are very much in the business of creating memorable moments. The merits and drawbacks of such a process can be debated until the cows come home, as can the question of whether true storytelling has been sacrificed along the way.

One undisputed plus, though, is the fact that it has created a whole host of memorable images over the past few years. 2018 was no exception, and may even have been the most 'moment'-filled year of the company's recent history.

Of course, images only tell a part of the story - but they also provide a context of their own. It's also very interesting to look back over the year with the benefit of hindsight. Some moments become especially significant, while others have faded into the background. Some are now bittersweet, while others take on extra importance with the passing of time.

So let's take a look back at 50 of the most defining WWE images of 2018, from WrestleMania moments to shocking occurrences on otherwise routine episodes of Raw and SmackDown.

50. Attitude Revisited


Some 20 years after they originally clashed in the Attitude Era, Steve Austin gives Vince McMahon a Stunner - part of the opening segment of Raw 25.

It was an exciting start to an otherwise criticised show, with many fans in the Manhattan Center angry over a lack of action at the historic venue. This segment - which took place in the show's other portion at the Barclays Center - was also strange in that Austin was never given the opportunity to cut a promo.

49. Miz's Big Night


Miz clutches the Intercontinental Championship, having dethroned Roman Reigns at Raw 25.

Initially, it seemed as though Miz was going to win with the help of henchmen Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, only for the referee to eject them from the arena. Undeterred, the challenger hit a second Skull Crushing Finale to capture his eighth Intercontinental Championship - the second most in history, behind only Chris Jericho.

48. Far Too Sweet


D-Generation X exchange 'too sweet' gestures with Finn Balor and The Club, having formed an unofficial allegiance at Raw 25.

Although a unique moment, it was criticised by many online for burying The Revival. Wilder and Dawson played the fall guys, and were comprehensively beaten down by several of the babyfaces.

47. The (Actual) Greatest Royal Rumble


Shinsuke Nakamura celebrates winning the 2018 men's Royal Rumble, having last eliminated John Cena and Roman Reigns.

This capped a Rumble match thought by many to be among the best of all time, and secured Nakamura a title shot at WrestleMania 34. Just two years prior, the former NJPW star had departed for the Performance Center. A memorable NXT debut against Sami Zayn would seal his arrival.

46. Quite The Interruption...


Women's Royal Rumble winner Asuka looks on alongside Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss, as Ronda Rousey crashes her party and points to the WrestleMania sign.

Rousey's arrival provided the exclamation point to a historic match, the first ever women's Royal Rumble. The former UFC megastar had been rumoured to be an entrant in the bout itself, but the no. 30 spot was instead filled by Hall of Famer Trish Stratus.

45. Marathon Man


An exhausted Seth Rollins looks to make a pinfall attempt on John Cena, midway through the marathon seven-man gauntlet match on Raw.

It was eventually won by Braun Strowman, but Rollins' performance captured the headlines, defeating Roman Reigns and John Cena in successive contests, before being eliminated by Elias. Altogether, he lasted an hour and five minutes in the ring.

44. Caught In The Middle


Sasha Banks and Bayley scale the walls of the first ever women's Elimination Chamber, trapping defending champ Alexa Bliss in the middle.

The champion would successfully retain her title, last eliminating Sasha Banks after Bayley was betrayed by her opportunistic best friend.

43. Superman Stops The Monster


In the closing stages of the men's Elimination Chamber match, Roman Reigns winds up for a Superman punch on Braun Strowman.

Reigns won the match, securing a Universal title shot at WrestleMania - but many were unhappy with the result, given the fact that Strowman had eliminated every other competitor in the bout.

42. Ready For Asuka


Asuka graciously congratulates Charlotte Flair, the champion having snapped her undefeated streak at WrestleMania 34.

Charlotte's victory was perhaps one of the biggest shocks of the event, with many expecting Asuka's undefeated run to continue. Instead, she tapped out clean to the Figure Eight, before taking the mic after the match and proclaiming that Charlotte 'was ready for Asuka'.

41. Not Your Ordinary Debut...


Ronda Rousey scoops up Triple H in her debut wrestling match, a memorable mixed tag at WrestleMania 34.

Ronda would triumph alongside tag partner Kurt Angle, defeating the team of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Her brutal submission victory over the Raw commissioner (and overall excellent performance) delighted and surprised everyone.

40. Squash Match John


Undertaker and a visibly shaken John Cena face off prior to their WrestleMania 34 match. It wouldn't last very long.

Cena had spent much of the build to WrestleMania angling for a spot on the card. After failing to win the Royal Rumble, and losing in the Six Pack Challenge match for the WWE Championship at Fastlane, he set his sights on calling out The Undertaker. An apparently reluctant Deadman refused, only to appear in New Orleans and comprehensively defeat Cena in a surprisingly short match.

39. Fight For Your Dreams


Daniel Bryan officially completes his return to wrestling, entering at WrestleMania 34 for a tag team match alongside Shane McMahon.

One of the biggest stories of 2018 was the announcement that Daniel Bryan had been officially cleared to return to the ring. His comeback match came in tag action at WrestleMania, teaming with Shane McMahon to defeat the heel team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

38. Bad Loser


In the aftermath of a much-hyped rematch, Shinsuke Nakamura low blows AJ Styles after losing to him at WrestleMania 34.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura's title match certainly wasn't a bad one, but couldn't quite live up to the hype generated by their initial bout at Wrestle Kingdom 10 two years prior. Nakamura won that match, but Styles gained his revenge in New Orleans - before succumbing to a shocking heel turn from the challenger.

37. They Grow Up So Fast


Braun Strowman celebrates alongside fellow Raw Tag Team Champion Nicholas, having just won the titles from The Bar at WrestleMania 34.

Strowman had promised a mystery partner for his tag title shot at 'Mania, with fans guessing everybody from Neville to Batista. Instead, he plucked a young boy from the crowd, seemingly at random, and steamrolled his way to victory. The child turned out to be the son of WWE official John Cone, who refereed the match itself.

36. Eat, Sleep, Retain, Repeat


Brock Lesnar leaves WrestleMania 34 alongside Paul Heyman, having decimated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship.

'Mania had a strange, deflating ending, as Brock Lesnar surprisingly defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship. The Beast Incarnate was reportedly criticised for his quick exit, which brought WrestleMania 34 to a close curiously light on fanfare.

35. Paige Steps Away


At the Raw after WrestleMania, an emotional Paige announces that she must retire from in-ring competition.

Having not competed for several months, instead accompanying Absolution stablemates Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Paige announced her heartbreaking retirement due to injury. She would remain on our screens for the rest of 2018 however, being announced by Shane McMahon as the new SmackDown general manager.

34. Bobby's Back


Bobby Lashley interrupts Elias at the Raw after WrestleMania, returning to WWE for the first time in ten years.

Lashley had spent the past few years as part of IMPACT Wrestling's main event scene, winning a boatload of titles in the process. He returned to WWE as a babyface, but turned heel after brutalising Kevin Owens, and has since taken on Lio Rush as a manager and mouthpiece.

33. Carmella Cashes In (Eventually)


At the SmackDown after WrestleMania, Carmella cashes in her Money in the Bank briefcase - despite the momentary confusion of senior official Mike Chioda.

Carmella won the MITB briefcase midway through 2017 and held onto it for a long time, with several cash-in attempts thwarted before she could officially do so. She eventually defeated Charlotte Flair, the Horsewoman having been weakened by an attack courtesy of the IIconics, who were making their first appearance on the main roster.

32. Who Hit First!?


Paul Heyman celebrates alongside his prone client at the Greatest Royal Rumble, part of a controversial finish to Lesnar's Universal Championship defence.

WWE's first major show in Saudi Arabia was controversial for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest points of contention in kayfabe was the finish to the Universal Championship match. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar crashed through the wall of the steel cage, and appeared to simultaneously hit the floor. It was determined that Lesnar had touched down first, but the referee was later made to apologise for his decision on Raw.

31. The Greatest Show


Braun Strowman celebrates with the Greatest Royal Rumble trophy and Greatest Royal Rumble Championship, having won the Greatest Royal Rumble at Greatest Royal Rumble.

The largest Royal Rumble ever was a curious one for sure, featuring a sumo wrestler named Hiroki Sumi - an unknown name in the pro wrestling world. It was also the scene of Titus O'Neil's infamous fall, which saw him trip and slide under the ring during his entrance. Strowman was the eventual winner, last eliminating Big Cass.

30. Rest-hold City


Samoa Joe wears down Roman Reigns with one of several long holds, part of a poorly-received main event at Backlash.

Reigns would win clean, sparking waves of online criticism - not just for the result, but also in response to the quality of the match, which many felt was bogged down by numerous long rest-holds from Joe.

29. Blissfully Unaware


At Money in the Bank, Alexa Bliss attacks Ronda Rousey with her recently-won briefcase, just prior to cashing in on Raw Women's Champion Nia Jax.

Alexa's cash-in was another result that attracted criticism, given her numerous successes in her relatively short time on the Raw brand, and the fact that it came so soon after she decisively lost the title at WrestleMania. On the other hand, it can be seen as a clever piece of booking, protecting both Rousey and Nia, while giving Ronda a clear heel to defeat for the belt at a later date.

28. Monster In The Bank


Braun Strowman signs off Money in the Bank in style, having bested seven other men to clinch the briefcase.

Although he captured the briefcase as a babyface, Strowman would later be turned heel - an obvious attempt to give Roman Reigns somebody to feud with en route to an eventual title victory. Many felt as though this cut short Braun's momentum as one of the most popular Superstars on the main roster.

27. Three...Two...One...


Time expires at the end of regulation, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins' Iron Man match ending with a score of 4-4. However, Raw GM Kurt Angle would soon be on the scene to order a period of sudden death overtime.

The story of this match should have revolved around the stamina and tactics of both men, but actually became infamous due to the crowd, many of whom obnoxiously counted down with the onscreen timer every minute. Ziggler eventually won in overtime, with help from tag partner Drew McIntyre.

26. Becky's Breaking Point


Becky Lynch snaps, viciously attacking new SmackDown Women's Champion (and best friend) Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam.

Originally, Becky was pencilled in as Carmella's sole challenger at SummerSlam - only for a returning Charlotte Flair to earn a title shot too. Fans felt as though Lynch was being overlooked yet again, and she apparently agreed, turning heel and beating down her best friend in the aftermath of Flair's victory. Despite crossing over to the dark side, the Irishwoman's popularity quickly soared, becoming one of the stories of 2018.

25. 'I'll Be Your New Daddy'


Samoa Joe mockingly addresses AJ Styles' wife and infant daughter in the middle of their WWE Championship match at SummerSlam.

Joe's feud with former TNA rival Styles took on a deeply personal tone, with the challenger often addressing and taunting the champion's family. This culminated at SummerSlam, where Joe's words provoked Styles into getting himself disqualified - thereby handing the heel a mental edge in their feud. Ultimately, though, AJ would emerge on top.

24. Prolonging The Inevitable


Alexa Bliss tries in vain to submit Ronda Rousey, part of a quick and decisive Raw Women's Championship match at SummerSlam.

Few thought that Alexa Bliss would escape from SummerSlam with her title reign intact, but the ease with which Ronda Rousey defeated her took many by surprise. The challenger even offered Bliss her back at one point, easily escaping a rear naked choke attempt from the champion.

23. Unseating The Beast


Roman Reigns celebrates with the Universal Championship, having finally defeated Brock Lesnar in the main event of SummerSlam.

Reigns' eventual victory over Brock Lesnar was a long time coming, but wasn't exactly a straightforward one. Money in the Bank holder Braun Strowman came out to the ramp before the bell, announcing his intention to cash in on the winner. He was incapacitated by Lesnar before the end of the bout, allowing Roman to take advantage of confusion and scoop the Universal Championship.

22. Turning The Screw


Randy Orton prepares to inflict unspeakable pain on Jeff Hardy, a memorable part of their grisly Hell in a Cell match at the eponymous event.

The quality of Orton and Hardy's Hell in a Cell match may have come as a surprise, given the age of both men heading into the bout. It turned out to be a grim (but entertaining) affair, memorable for two big moments: the Viper's insertion of a screwdriver into Jeff's earlobe, and the final spot, which saw the Charismatic Enigma fall from the ceiling of the cell through a table below.

21. Becky Does It


Becky Lynch celebrates with the SmackDown Women's Championship, having just defeated Charlotte Flair at Hell in a Cell.

Becky's triumph at Hell in a Cell capped a surprisingly straightforward victory, as she reversed an attempted spear from Charlotte into a flash pinfall. It seemed to be the culmination of a wave of crowd support for the Relent-Lass one - but her popularity continued (and even grew) as the year drew to a close.

20. The Beast Is Back


A returning Brock Lesnar kicks the Hell in a Cell door off its hinges, crashing the main event between Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman.

The ending of Hell in a Cell could be seen as a disappointing one, ending an otherwise strong event on a sour note. Brock Lesnar returned to interfere in the Universal Championship match between Reigns and Strowman, kicking the door off its hinges and attacking both men - which resulted in a disappointing no contest.

19. Champ Down Under


Buddy Murphy celebrates in the midst of a raucous hometown reaction, having won the Cruiserweight Championship at Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia.

WWE's Super Show-Down event was a mixed bag, but one of the undisputed high points was Buddy Murphy's emotional hometown victory over Cedric Alexander - securing the Cruiserweight Championship in the process.

18. Last Time Ever...


The Brothers of Destruction sportingly raise the hands of D-Generation X in the aftermath of Triple H's victory over the Undertaker. The peace wouldn't last long, as Super Show-Down went off the air with a twist.

Having defeated Undertaker with the help of Shawn Michaels, Triple H's feud with the Deadman appeared to be over - only for the Brothers of Destruction to attack DX during the post-match celebrations. A tag team rematch was set up for Crown Jewel, signifying HBK's return to the ring.

17. A Heartbreaking Announcement


Roman Reigns embraces Shield stablemates Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins on Raw. In an incredibly sobering segment, Reigns revealed his battle with leukaemia, relinquished the Universal Championship, and announced that he'd be stepping away from the ring for the time being.

In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the year, Roman Reigns opened Raw by speaking openly about his battle with leukaemia, revealing that it would cause him to step away from the ring for now. Using his real name, he vacated the Universal Championship but vowed to be back, before embracing his Shield stablemates at the top of the ramp.

16. Dean's Dastardly Decision


Dean Ambrose furiously attacks Seth Rollins on Raw, despite the pair having just defeated Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre to become Raw Tag Team Champions.

Hours after Roman Reigns' heartbreaking announcement, Rollins and Ambrose won the Raw Tag Team Championship (with a little help from an interfering Braun Strowman). However, the moment was soured as Ambrose shockingly turned on his tag partner, viciously beating Rollins down and leaving the arena alone.

15. Toni Time


Mae Young Classic winner Toni Storm is congratulated by Triple H at Evolution, WWE's first ever all-women's pay per view.

Evolution was a memorable and significant event for many reasons, one being that it was the site of the second ever Mae Young Classic final. Toni Storm followed in the footsteps of inaugural winner Kairi Sane, defeating Io Shirai to win the tournament.

14. Last Woman Standing


Becky Lynch leaps off a ladder onto Charlotte Flair, part of a memorable Last Woman Standing match at Evolution.

In a frontrunner for WWE's main roster match of the year, Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship. Many felt as though this bout should have main-evented the show, but that shouldn't take away from the quality and intensity of a thrilling, often high-risk contest.

13. Revolution Becomes Evolution


Raw and SmackDown Women's Champions Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch lead the celebrations to close Evolution, surrounded by members of the WWE women's roster (past and present).

Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch ended Evolution as champions of their respective brands, the former having just defeated Nikki Bella to retain her Raw Women's Championship. The event was generally a very good one, proving the rapid development of women's wrestling in WWE over the past few years - as well as an improvement in the company's attitude towards its female talent.

12. Strowman Screwed


Baron Corbin blindsides Braun Strowman at Crown Jewel, putting him at a severe disadvantage in his Universal Championship match with Brock Lesnar.

Acting Raw general manager Baron Corbin may have decided this bout before it had even begun, smashing Braun Strowman in the back of the head with the vacant Universal Championship. Lesnar would go on to win, sparking discontent among large sections of the WWE Universe, annoyed that the largely-absent Beast was champion again.

11. Best In The World


Shane McMahon celebrates with the WWE World Cup trophy, despite only wrestling one match at the Crown Jewel tournament. Nevertheless, the SmackDown commissioner was victorious and crowned the 'best in the world'.

WWE's World Cup tournament would likely have been seen as an oddity even if it didn't feature the most bizarre of endings - but this really pushed it over the edge. Dolph Ziggler and Miz met in the final, only for the SmackDown Superstar to be forced to pull out due to injury. He was replaced by the brand's commissioner, Shane McMahon, who defeated Ziggler to raise the trophy.

10. 'We're Too Old For This'


Triple H and Shawn Michaels recover in the aftermath of their tag match against the Brothers of Destruction, a star-studded main event to close Crown Jewel.

Shawn Michaels returned to the ring for the first time in eight years, having lost a career vs. streak match to Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI. He teamed with Triple H to defeat the Brothers of Destruction in a long, gruelling contest - one which saw The Game tear his pectoral muscle, but still battle on to the finish.

9. The Man Invades Raw


A bloodied but triumphant Becky Lynch celebrates in the stands, having led a SmackDown invasion of Raw prior to Survivor Series.

In perhaps the most organically exciting moment of the year, Becky Lynch led an invading force of SmackDown's female roster to Raw. The champion jumped Ronda Rousey in the locker room, before joining her roster-mates in the ring for an all-out brawl. There she was caught by a clumsy Nia Jax strike, which legitimately broke her nose and gave her a concussion. Undeterred, Becky celebrated in the crowd - an instantly iconic image - but was forced to pull out of her scheduled match with Rousey at Survivor Series.

8. That's Low!


Daniel Bryan low blows AJ Styles during their WWE Championship match on SmackDown, turning heel en route to holding the title once again.

Of all the heel turns that occurred in 2018, the most shocking was probably Daniel Bryan's on a seemingly ordinary edition of SmackDown. There, he seized the WWE Championship with a dastardly low blow, turning heel and ending AJ Styles' year-long reign in the process.

7. Heel Heat Or Real Heat?


Nia Jax brandishes her infamous fist after becoming sole survivor of the women's tag match at Survivor Series.

Raw swept SmackDown at Survivor Series (as long as you don't count the pre-show), and the brand's dominance was kicked off by Nia Jax's victory in the women's tag team elimination match. She deliberately caused the elimination of teammate Sasha Banks, before pinning Asuka to emerge as sole survivor.

6. Charlotte Snaps


Charlotte Flair viciously assaults Ronda Rousey with a kendo stick, part of a brutal beatdown in the aftermath of their Survivor Series match.

Rousey technically won this bout, although she certainly didn't look like the victor after a vicious attack from Charlotte Flair. Standing in for the injured Becky Lynch, Charlotte snapped midway through the bout, earning a disqualification thanks to use of a kendo stick. She continued wailing on Ronda in a prolonged beatdown - although many saw this as an attempt by WWE to transfer Lynch's momentum onto her fellow Horsewoman.

5. Beast Vs. Bryan


Brock Lesnar is waffled by Daniel Bryan's running knee strike, part of an excellent champion vs. champion main event at Survivor Series.

Despite having just turned heel, the crowd were firmly behind Daniel Bryan in this clash of champions. Both men played their part in an excellent match, one of the main roster's best of 2018 - proving beyond doubt that Bryan could still go at the very top level.

4. Corbin's Comeuppance


Various babyface members of the Raw locker room attack acting GM Baron Corbin at TLC, while a satisfied Braun Strowman watches on from the apron.

There were doubts over whether Braun Strowman would make his match at TLC, having recently undergone elbow surgery. The Monster Among Men came out at the last second, before fully taking advantage of the match's TLC stipulation - leading a coalition of babyface Raw Superstars without fear of disqualification. Because of the result, Corbin was removed from his position as acting general manager of the brand, while Strowman earned a title shot against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble.

3. Indy Dream Match


Daniel Bryan makes his entrance while AJ Styles looks on, the prelude to a wonderful WWE Championship match at TLC.

Another of WWE's best main roster matches of the year saw AJ Styles attempt to take the WWE Championship back from Daniel Bryan. At an event of many twists and turns, this was a comparatively straightforward bout - but an utterly excellent one nonetheless.

2. TLC Turmoil


Ronda Rousey walks out of TLC, having just interfered in the main event to cost Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.

In the first ever women's TLC match, Becky Lynch looked to retain her SmackDown Women's Championship against both Charlotte Flair and Asuka. One of the Horsewomen looked set to win after an intense bout, only for Ronda Rousey to march out and tip both women off the ladder - allowing Asuka to begin her first main roster title reign.

1. The McMahons Continue To Take Control...Again...


Triple H joins Vince, Stephanie, and Shane McMahon on the Raw following TLC, part of a 'shake-up'  to the management of both brands.

In response to flagging ratings and increased criticism, Vince, Shane, Stephanie, and Triple H all appeared on the Raw after TLC - announcing their intention to shake things up on both brands. They proclaimed that we, the fans, are now 'The Authority'.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

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