Liam Hoofe with the top 10 WWE matches of the year so far…
To say the WWE has had an inconsistent start to 2018 would be a bit of an understatement. Despite possessing one of the deepest and most talented rosters they’ve ever had, the first half of the year has been marred by bad booking and as a result, the main roster doesn’t dominate this list in the way that it should.
Thank the lord then, for NXT and 205 Live, who have both had excellent starts to 2018. NXT has delivered consistently excellent Takeover events, while 205 Live has undergone something of a renaissance since Enzo Amore vacated the Cruiserweight title at the beginning of the year.
That isn’t to say the main roster hasn’t had some good matches, and when they have been good, they’ve been really good but too often, as this list highlights, they have looked inferior to their counterparts elsewhere. Let’s take a look back at the top 10 WWE matches of the year so far.
10: Charlotte Vs Asuka – WrestleMania 34
This year’s WrestleMania failed to deliver. Aside from a few great moments, the card was badly paced and the main-events failed were somewhat lacklustre. One match that did deliver though, was the much-hyped bout between Charlotte Flair and Asuka. Taking place surprisingly early in the card, the match was an excellent example of just what the SmackDown’s women division is capable of and then there is the finish. Charlotte forcing Asuka to tap was one of the most surprising moments of 2018 so far, and while neither women has been booked particularly strongly since then, it was still a WrestleMania moment to savour.
9: The Gauntlet Match – Raw February 19th
Seth Rollins has had one hell of a year so far in 2018 and it could be argued that the catalyst for his recent rise back to the top came back in February. Competing in a six-man gauntlet, Rollins survived in the match for well over an hour, breaking an all-time record for the longest appearance in a single match on Raw, and earning himself mass plaudits in the process.
Rollins managed to overcome both Roman Reigns and John Cena in the first two parts of this match, cementing his place back at the top of the Raw roster in the process. While the second half of the match didn’t live up to the opening hour, this was still one of the best matches the WWE has offered fans so far in 2018.
8: Ricochet Vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover: Chicago
Spoiler alert: this list is going to be quite NXT heavy. The WWE’s ‘developmental’ brand has really managed to recapture its magic so far in 2018, and the Takeover shows have eclipsed all of their main-roster counterparts since the turn of the year with ease.
One of the big reasons for NXT’s success has been its incredible array of characters and there are few characters more enticing than Velveteen Dream right now. The Dream has quickly become one of the brand’s must-see acts, and partnering him up in a feud with Ricochet turned out to be a stroke of genius.
The two men put on an excellent encounter at NXT: Chicago, and it’s a testament to just how good Velveteen Dream is that his stock managed to rise, even in defeat.
7: Cedric Alexander Vs Buddy Murphy – 205 Live, May 29th
205 Live has undergone something of a renaissance so far in 2018, and those who have been tuning into the show regularly will have been treated to some excellent matches. While there several matches that I considered placing on this list, the Cruiserweight title match between Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander was the one that really grabbed my attention.
Buddy Murphy has had an excellent year so far, and his performance against Alexander really showed the WWE universe exactly what he was capable of. While there were many who were sceptical when he was called up from NXT, his style has worked perfectly in 205 Live and he has quickly become one of the brand’s must-see acts.
The match, which was originally scheduled to take place at The Greatest Royal Rumble event, benefitted from having plenty of time to breath on 205 Live and the two men put on an intricately worked and excellently paced encounter, which got the crowd standing on their feet and earned itself a much deserved ‘this is awesome’ chant, which for once, actually felt like it meant something.
6: The Miz Vs Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins has been the most consistent performer on the WWE main roster this year, and his Intercontinental Title match was the only good thing about what was an otherwise terrible show. This was the very definition of a hot opener, and credit has to be given to the two men for making this such a thrilling encounter in spite of the result being so obvious from the start.
The two men share an excellent chemistry in the ring, and this is arguably the standard bearer for singles matches on the main roster in 2018. The story of the match focused on Seth Rollins’ knee injury, and the two men managed to incorporate that into the match expertly. Near-falls were used sparingly throughout the bout as well, which only added to the excitement when the finish actually arrived.
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