5: Aleister Black
The current NXT champion has had an excellent debut year in the WWE and he has taken part in some excellent matches so far in 2018. He started his year off with an awesome street fight against Adam Cole at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, and it was his performance in that match that helped earn him a title shot against then NXT champion, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas over WrestleMania weekend.
Black would go on to have another excellent match against Almas in New Orleans, and he was rewarded with his first NXT title reign.
His run as champion has played second fiddle to the incredible Johnny Gargano Vs Tommaso Ciampa feud on NXT, but he still went on to have another enjoyable title defence against Lars Sullivan at the recent NXT Takeover: Chicago event.
4: Adam Cole
Adam Cole is a future WWE champion, I’ve got no doubt about that, and he has grown into one of the biggest stars on the NXT brand in a very short amount of time.
Cole started the year embroiled in a feud with Aleister Black, which culminated in an excellent street fight between the two at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. He really grabbed the headlines though, when he became the first-ever NXT North American Champion, defeating five others superstars in a five-star rated match at Takeover: New Orleans.
Since then, Cole has excelled as the arrogant heel leader of the NXT stable, The Undisputed Era and while he has only defended his North American title once since winning it, he has already made the belt feel important.
3: Seth Rollins
BURN IT DOWWWWN! Seth Rollins has grown into one of the top babyfaces in the WWE this year, and it is surely only a matter of time before he is on back on top on Monday nights.
Since winning the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania 34 in an excellent opening match against Finn Balor and The Miz, Rollins has gone on to have several great title defences against the likes of Elias and The Miz, with his match against the latter stealing the show at WWE’s Backlash event in May.
Rollins is on a hot streak right now, and whether he enters into a feud with Brock Lesnar or a returning Dean Ambrose over the Summer, it promises to be thrilling.
2: Tomasso Ciampa
Tomasso Ciampa is the best heel in all of wrestling right now. Since returning to NXT at the start of the year, his character work has been second to none, and he can back it up with incredible performances in the ring.
His match against Johnny Gargano at Takeover: New Orleans earned a five-star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and their rematch at Takeover: Chicago was just as exhilirating. He also had an excellent match with Kassius Ohno on an episode of NXT, and it is surely only a matter of time before he gets his hands on the NXT title.
— BLACKHEART (@ProjectCiampa) June 17, 2018
Oh, and his Twitter account is incredible.
1: Johnny Gargano
Was this ever going to be anyone else? Johnny Gargano, or Johnny Wrestling, as he is affectionately known has been a wrestling machine this year, putting on a match of the year candidate every-time he has stepped between the ropes.
He inititally grabbed the headlines when he had the WWE’s first five-star rated match in seven years against Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas at Takeover: Philadelphia, and he then went on to repeat the feat with Tomasso Ciampa at Takeover: New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend.
His match with Ciampa at Chicago was a devastatingly brutal encounter, and the two men will likely meet one more time before the year is out.
Everything Gargano has touched has turned to gold in 2018, and he has easily been the best performer in the WWE so far this year. It will take an incredible second half of 2018 from someone to top Gargano come December as well.
Photo credits: WWE