5: Tommaso Ciampa Vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover: Chicago
Like the first match between these two heated rivals, the second encounter between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa at NXT Takeover: Chicago was a work of art, perfectly blending exciting wrestling with gripping story-telling in a time where the WWE so often fails to do so.
While their second match may not have been quite as good as their first, it was also a very different style of match, with the two men tearing each other from pillar to post from the opening bell to the last. It’s a fine testament to the character work of both men that as a fan, you can feel just how much every blow means to both men. These two characters hate each other, and few performers in the WWE are as capable at showing us that as these two.
There were some truly memorable spots peppered throughout this bout, and the fact that Ciampa managed to pick up the victory over Gargano with his hands tied behind us back was yet another excellent twist in this tale. It looks like the two men will be kept apart over the summer, as Ciampa will now pursue Aleister Black’s NXT title but rest assured, these two men will meet again to close out what has been the best WWE rivalry of the decade so far.
4: The Men’s Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble 2018
What a relief it was to finally have an enjoyable Royal Rumble match this year. While the last few years have been fine, they have been damaged by awful finishes and even worse winners, so it was nice to see the company finally deliver a Rumble match that was worthy of its hype this year.
This had everything you could want from a Rumble match- exciting eliminations, plenty of surprise entrants and most importantly, a deserving winner. Shinsuke Nakamura’s final showdown with Roman Reigns was arguably the most exciting few minutes to take place on a PPV in the whole of 2018 so far, and while Shinsuke’s subsequent pursuit of the WWE title turned out to be a bit of a letdown, this was still one of the year’s best moments so far.
3: North American Ladder Match – NXT Takeover: New Orleans
As ladder matches go, this is one of the best the WWE has given us in a very long time. The first NXT North American champion was to be crowned in this match, and it featured six of the finest and most diverse talents that NXT has to offer. It also featured the NXT debuts of both EC3 and Ricochet and was 30+ plus minutes of beautiful carnage. This match was historical for a number of reasons, not only was it the first match for the North American title, but it was also the second match of 2018 to awarded five stars by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, making it the first six-man ladder match to achieve such an accolade as well.
2: Johnny Gargano Vs Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Takeover: New Orleans
The rivalry between former tag team partners, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa has been one of the best storylines of 2018, and the encounter between the two team during WrestleMania weekend was one of the best WWE matches of the year so far.
What has elevated the feud between these two men is their incredible ability to tell a story in the ring. Not only was this match a technical masterclass but it also made visual nods to the pair’s history and featured a perfectly put-together closing sequence. From the opening bell to the last, this was exactly what a wrestling match should be. Let’s just hope they don’t mess these two men up when they eventually make it to the main roster.
1: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas – NXT Takeover: Philadelphia
While there may be a lot of fans who preferred the main event of NXT Takeover: New Orleans, my personal favourite match of this year is still Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas’ title defence against Johnny Gargano in Philadelphia.
The first WWE match to receive five stars from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in seven years, this had everything you could want from a professional wrestling match. The in-ring work was crisp and exciting, the interferences added the perfect amount of drama and the post-match return of Tomasso Ciampa was one of the best moments in the WWE so far this year.
Gargano has been a wrestling machine in 2018, and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas will hopefully go on to prove he deserves to be at the top of the SmackDown roster in the second half of 2018.
Adam Cole Vs Aleister Black- NXT Takeover: Philadelphia
Sasha Banks Vs Asuka- Raw, Jan 29th
Buddy Murphy Vs Kalisto- 205 Live, April 3rd
The Undisputed Era Vs Burch and Lorcan- NXT Takeover: Chicago
Aleister Black vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas- NXT Takeover: New Orleans
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle Vs Stephanie McMahon and Triple H- WrestleMania 34
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match- Money in the Bank 2018
Photo Credits: WWE