WrestleMania season is over for another year, but before we start looking forward to the 35th edition of the show, let’s look back at the best matches we saw in the biggest week of pro wrestling of the year – here are the Top 15 Best WrestleMania Week Matches: 2018.
15. Food Fight Battle Royal with Cheese – Kaiju Big Battel
First off, as a pro wrestling match, there was far better matches during WrestleMania week 2018, but as a bit of fun, this is hard to beat.
Kaiju Big Battel is one of the strangest and most unique promotions out there. Each member of their roster is dressed in costumes inspired by Japanese monster movies such as Godzilla. The ring is covered in tiny buildings and props to accompany these battling behemoths.
At their New Orleans show this April, we saw a variety of food items, including a giant plantain with a moustache and a piece of french toast, fight with a load of poultry in a battle royal match. Was the wrestling any good? No, of course not. Was it wonderfully ridiculous? Of course. At one point, Progress Tag Team Champions Zack Gibson and James Drake, dressed as fun police, came to arrest the giant plantain, and a burger man holding a huge onion ring got cut open, spurting relish everywhere.
If you’re just looking for something bizarre to smile at for twenty minutes, I couldn’t recommend this more.
14. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle – Evolve 102
Zack Sabre Jr. is having one hell of a year so far in 2018, winning the New Japan Cup and putting on a fantastic match against Okada at Sakura Genesis. Whilst this one doesn’t quite match up to his NJPW exploits, it’s still a great mat-based exhibition of submission wrestling, combined with plenty of stiff strikes. Although this could have benefited from a bigger, different crowd that could really get into it and add to the drama of the holds, this is definitely one for submission-based wrestling fans to check out.
13. Kalisto vs. Buddy Murphy – 205 Live
So, this one didn’t take place in New Orleans amongst the festivities of Mania weekend, but it did happen on the last episode of 205 Live before the biggest show of the year, and it was absolutely fantastic and deserves talking about.
As of late, Buddy Murphy has had the wrestling world talking with his in-ring crispness, fantastic moveset, and just generally being the total package. Both Murphy and Kalisto clearly set out to impress in this one, as they attempted to kill each other with a ridiculous suplex onto the apron, a monkey flip onto the announce table (monitors and all), and a bevvy of ridiculously atheltic moves.
This lengthy main-event is a great example of how much this WWE Network-exclusive show has improved since late January, and is a promising sign of things to come. Easily, this is the best match in 205 Live history, and if they carry on providing us with long exhibitions of talent such as this, it will quickly become a show rivalling NXT in quality and popularity.
12. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz – WrestleMania 34
A solid opener to this year’s Mania, Rollins, Miz and Balor delivered a conveyor belt of well-timed spots and moments. Rollins hit a ridiculous high frog splash, Balor was determined to crush Miz’s sternum from the front and the back with Coup De Graces to both sides, and Miz showed how far he’s come in the last few years. By no means anything too spectacular, but still a great match with a hyped crowd yet to be burnt out by the lengthy show.
11. Joey Janela vs. The Great Sasuke – Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
The fact this match ever really happened is rather ridiculous, but that’s the kind of thing that happens during Spring Break. The Great Sasuke is still going strong at 48 years old, and Joey Janela is just crazy as you would expect.
This match features one of the most inventively dangerous ladder spots I’ve ever seen, pulled out by the elder competitor no less, Great Sasuke attempting to jump off the top rope with a bin on his head for some reason, and Janela just generally trying to kill himself. It’s a bit of a clusterfuck, but still fantastic to witness at the same time. And speaking of clusterfucks…
10. Clusterfuck – Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
Of all the matches that took place this Wrestlemania weekend, none were more appropriately named as this. For those that don’t know, the rules of Joey Janela’s signature Clusterfuck Match are as follows:
- Eliminations occur via pinfall, submission, being thrown over the top rope, violating the rules set out by the Louisiana Sports Commission, or by death.
- There are no set number of entrants
- There is no set amount of time between entrants – they can just show up whenever they want
- None of the entrants are announced beforehand so every entrant is a surprise
- Simply put, this is a Royal Rumble match if it got extremely drunk and completely forgot about having any sort of reward for the winner.
In this year’s edition of the event, we saw Kikutaro being hilarious of always, Grado bring his Like a Prayer entrance to New Orleans, extremely drunk commentators not knowing the names of entrants, Ron Funches providing very high guest commentary, Mikey Whipwreck came out of retirement and hit a ridiculous standing hurricarana, the audio went totally out of sync for a while, and it was eventually won by The Invisible Man.
Completely ridiculous, and extremely fun – a true Clusterfuck in the most wonderful sense.
9. Charlotte vs. Asuka – Wrestlemania 34
The females really stole the show at this year’s WrestleMania. No surprise, two of the best wrestlers in the company, Charlotte and Asuka, put on a brilliant thirteen-minute match, featuring an absolutely beautiful moonsault counter by Asuka, and an ending none of us will ever forget. Personally, I can’t wait to see these two lock-up again.
8. Kenny Omega vs. Cody Rhodes – Supercard of Honor XII
Kenny Omega only had one match this weekend – it wasn’t anywhere near his best, yet this is The Best Bout Machine we’re talking about here, so obviously an average KO match is still absolutely brilliant.
This match was pure drama and storyline over in-ring action, with the whole Kenny vs. Cody rivalry finally bubbling over. Kenny hit his ridiculous array of amazing V-Triggers and other amazing moves, whilst Cody did what he does best and provided the sports entertainment side of pro wrestling by being a despicable, cocky heel throughout.
With no regard for his wife going through a table, flipping off fans, and using every trick he could to succeed, Cody played his role perfectly. There are plenty of Kenny Omega matches I’d recommend before this one, in fact I have a whole top 10 list of those right here *COUGH COUGH*, yet this was still a brilliant showing from both.
7. PCO vs. WALTER – Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
So, you go into this match thinking, “WALTER is fighting one half of The Quebecers? That’s weird”, but after you watch it, you think, “Holy shit, how can a 50 year old do that?!”
Pierre Carl Ouellet, a man who debuted in 1987 and joined the WWF in 1993, is currently experiencing a career resurgence. At the big 5-0, PCO is busting out moonsaults to the outside, suicide dives, tope con hilos, and other ridiculous maneuvers that a man of his size and age shouldn’t be able to pull off.
In this match with big lad WALTER, PCO went hard for a full 20 minutes in extremely impressive fashion at 1am. It’s a spotfest through and through in the best way possible, with the drunken crowd losing their minds during the whole match. At the end, PCO pulled down his singlet straps to reveal a completely black and blue chest from the brutal punishment he had received from WALTER’s torturous chops. A perfect representation for the beautiful display of brutality this bout provided.
6. The Young Bucks and Flip Gordon vs. SolCal Uncensored – Supercard of Honor XII
Perhaps this match was overshadowed a little by the fact one of the greatest ladder matches of all time did also take place that night in New Orleans, and I had already watched that match first before I viewed this one, but these six men did also absolutely try to destroy themselves in a wonderful showing.
Matt Jackson carried on playing up his back injury throughout, Nick Jackson leapt from three ladders into a springboard in possibly the most impressive spot of the weekend, and many, many tables were broken. Spoilt slightly by an unnecessary interference by The Kingdom, but not enough to ruin the enjoyment of the whole experience. Overall, a chaotic spot-fest definitely worth checking out.
5. Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon – WrestleMania 34
Yeah, I’m just as surprised as you are as to how high this match is rated.
Before WrestleMania, I hadn’t really given much thought to this one, but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it was. We’re so conditioned to expect terrible matches from celebrities coming in for WrestleMania matches, yet this was a completely different story.
Ronda Rousey is a life-long fan who has clearly already dedicating herself massively to her pro wrestling career. Her in-ring movements were superb, her strikes were obviously fantastic, and she pulled off a feet of strength on Triple H that shocked everyone. What’s more, she wasn’t shying away from punishment or taking bumps lightly, she was leaning in to shots and throwing herself at turnbuckle posts like a pro.
Not forgetting the rest of the participants in this match, Stephanie surprised us all by playing her role as cowardly heel superbly, with flashes of being a genuine badass, Triple H allowed Ronda to get the better of him, the crowd was going wild through it all, and Angle provided lovely shots of nostalgia with his signature move. Although it was clearly stolen from DIY vs. The Revival, the finish was well done, and I came out at the end of genuinely surprised, having experienced the most fun match of this year’s WrestleMania.
4. Adam Page vs. Kota Ibushi – Supercard of Honor XII
Adam Page and Kota Ibushi are two rather crazy bastards, so when you put them together, you should expect crazy bastard things to happen. Hard strikes, a ridiculous german suplex from a barricade, constant, beautifully flowing action that never stops, and just a great display of talent and athleticism by both.
Sadly we didn’t get to see these two daredevils trying to out-do each other by moonsaulting from ever-increasingly high heights, but at least we got one hell of a match instead.
3. Aleister Black vs. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
NXT TakeOver: New Orleans is without question of the greatest wrestling events I have ever seen. Whilst the top two entries on this list got the most attention, an incredible title match hidden between those two epics was sadly overshadowed.
Black and Almas had one of the best NXT Championship matches ever, with each man hitting a variety of ridiculously impressive maneuvers. Zelina Vega played the perfect manager throughout, involving herself in the action whenever she could. The ending played out wonderfully with Zelina ultimately costing Almas the match, followed by the extremely rare sight of the happiest goth in the world.
It was far from match of the night, but that’s no criticism of this bout, as it just happened to compete with two of the best matches we’ve seen this year so far.
2. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
It’s hard to compare the next two matches and decide definitively which was better as they are completely different, however they are both absolutely impeccable.
Ciampa vs. Gargano is more of a piece of theatre than it is a wrestling match – it’s the final chapter in a long-running series, which builds with a slideshow of moments and callbacks to previous moments in their history. Whilst some didn’t enjoy it because it wasn’t all fast-paced, epic action like we had seen in their Cruiserweight Classic match, or in the Gargano vs. Almas epic, however it was one of the best examples of storytelling displayed in WWE.
Every single movement in this match meant something. There was a reason behind everything they did, and because of that, their actions really made you feel something. A detail I personally loved was towards the end, Gargano hesitated to hit Ciampa with part of his crutch, and proceeded to sit down next to his rival, calling back to their CWC match. What I adored about this was it was a call-back to a tiny detail in their feud from almost two years ago, before DIY was ever really a solid team, and before their popularity explosion. It showed how much faith they had in the fans’ knowledge of their history, and how closely we had followed their feud.
The symbolism throughout was impeccable, and whilst I know these two could have an incredible, faster-paced slug-fest of a match, they tried something rarely seen in WWE, and it certainly paid off.
Matt Riddle vs. Will Ospreay – WNN Mercury Rising
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn – WrestleMania 34
Will Ospreay vs. AR Fox – EVOLVE 102
Authors of Pain vs. The Undisputed Era vs. Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne
Toni Storm vs. Nicole Matthews – Shimmer 100
- North American Championship Ladder Match – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
The best multi-man ladder match of the decade, possibly even of all time. In simple terms, this was a display of six men all working together, completely killing themselves, in order to put on the best display possible. Nobody was selfish, nobody held back, everyone involved themselves in as many life-threatening spots as possible with the aim of trying to steal the show.
Every man played their part:
- Ricochet was obviously the ridiculously talented high-flyer, hitting an insane springboard shooting star press to the outside, and doing a ridiculous moonsault off off a falling ladder.
- Dain and Sullivan provided a little rivalry within this match, attempting to out-do each other with their spots and moves, as the two big men in the match fighting for supremacy.
- EC3 came in trying to show that he’s fully dedicated to his new venture in NXT, and was clearly wanting to win over the fans. Rather than being conservative and interjecting himself when necessary, EC3 seemed intent on actually killing himself in this one as he seemed to take more unbelievable spots than anyone else in the match.
- Velveteen Dream was his usual charismatic self, blessing the world with the work of art that was his tights. He also hit an insane Purple Rainmaker from atop the ladder, and was just generally very entertaining.
- Despite having to pull double duty that night, Adam Cole did not hold back whatsoever. He had the most valid excuse of all to not get involved in the more dangerous moments in the bout, yet that didn’t stop him from getting involved. Plus, as always, his facial expressions were unrivalled.
As far as psychology goes, you can just forget about that with this one, but if you want an extremely entertaining, fast-pace, car crash spectacle of theatre, this is all you need.