Every month, our own Dan Niles compiles his personal 20 Best Matches list from around the world, from North America to Europe to Japan. Some are obvious best matches choices, some are dark horses, but they’re always fun to find some matches you may have missed the previous month! (DISCLAIMER: This list is subjective and is compiled exclusively by Dan Niles; there will obviously be matches he may have missed that you may feel deserve credit – we encourage you to list some of your best matches of the month in the comments section below to help add to the list! In regards to videos, we only show FULL MATCHES that are authorized by the promotions; video highlights are used where possible; we encourage you to seek out these matches through promotions VOD or streaming networks)
The month of April is always an overflow of riches every year with wrestling companies around the world following WrestleMania weekend to put forth special shows of their own but this month was especially packed with all the other events going on besides New Orleans. There were not one but two spectacular Ladder Matches this month in SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) vs. The Young Bucks and Flip Gordon and the NXT North American Championship Six-Way match so they move over to include other matches this month. There are so many matches that had to get left off this list of the top twenty of the best all month that another list could be made so let me state there was so much great wrestling vying for your attention but I will mention the honorable mentions before we get started. There were matches that did disappoint a little bit like Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles. There were matches that just missed the cut like Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair and Zack Sabre Jr vs. Tomohiro Ishii. The AJPW Champions Carnival took place and Kento Miyahara vs. Shingo is highly recommended. Will Ospreay had a standout month and his matches with Dezmond Xavier and against team Kota Ibushi in a six-man tag team match could have easily made the list. Here’s seven more that are worth your time and money through On Demand services from WrestleMania weekend and beyond in April 2018:
- Tracy Williams vs. Kimber Lee, Powerbomb.tv Championship Match , Women’s Wrestling Revolution (WWR)/Beyond Wrestling Lit Up
- Keith Lee (c) vs. Austin Theory, EVOLVE title match, EVOLVE 103: EVOLVE Vs The World
- JAKA vs Munenori Sawa, EVOLVE 103: EVOLVE vs The World
- Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) vs. Aleister Black, NXT Championship match, NXT Takeover: New Orleans
- Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Tetsuya Naito, IWGP Intercontinental championship, NJPW Hi No Kuni
- Zack Sabre Jr vs. Menunori Sawa, WWN Live: Mercury Rising
- Will Ospreay vs. Mark Haskins, PROGRESS Chapter 66
20 Best Matches Of The Month: April 2018 Edition
#20. Will Ospreay vs. AR Fox, EVOLVE 102
“The Aerial Assassin” out-performed every pro wrestler this year at WrestleMania weekend by competing in six matches in different companies with a bad neck after his match with Marty Scurll on April 1. At EVOLVE 102, Ospreay took on one of the top high flyers in independent wrestling and they went right to the big moves early. Both avoided cutters and dives only for Fox to finally hit a Cutter and work on the neck of Ospreay. AR Fox lost the advantage when he took a wild sit-out Powerbomb but nailed a perfect Spanish Fly in return. Fox earned a big near-fall off a 450 Splash and Ospreay won with The Robinson Special and the Os-Cutter.
#19. Matt Riddle (c) vs. Daisuke Sakamoto, No Rope Breaks for the EVOLVE Championship, EVOLVE 103: EVOLVE vs The World
This match turned out to be more than a special attraction when there were no rope breaks and Riddle’s newly won EVOLVE Championship was on the line. “The Muscle Monster” dished out huge chops and locked in a Boston Crab to wear down “The King Of Bros”. Riddle went for the GTS to early and got trapped in a torture rack submission. Riddle got to the ropes but that wouldn’t matter here and he improvised hitting kicks and the bridging German Suplex. Daisuke was taken down and finished off with a knee strike and hammer fists.
#18. David Starr vs. Mike Quackenbush, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
Mike Quackenbush founded CHIKARA and is a legend on the independent wrestling scene in North America, David Starr requested this match and the match turned out differently than many thought it would. Quackenbush was able to land trademark cartwheel counters and nip ups but he frustrated Starr a little too much. After Starr was outclassed he took matters into his own hands and drove Quackenbush’ head twice into the corner with Death Valley Drivers. It wouldn’t last much longer after that for a man with a history of concussions but Quackenbush did pull off classic offense like the top rope hurricanrana, Swanton and Quacken-Driver. Commentary said it best when Start caught Quackenbush off the top rope with a Powerbomb: “ Is this about respect or is this about making a name for yourself!?” Starr hit a beautiful deadlift Northern Lights Suplex and locked in a modified version of Rings Or Saturn but Quackenbush fought out and hit a Superkick only to be pummeled by a Discus Lariat for the three-count.
#17. Jeff Cobb vs. Tomohiro Ishii, WrestleCon Supershow
Jeff Cobb should by all accounts be in NJPW by now but WrestleCon got this match as well as Minoru Suzuki vs. Jeff Cobb for WrestleMania weekend in New Orleans. Both traded heavy shots to start the match until Cobb used his strength advantage for German Suplexes and even one in the corner turnbuckle. Cobb impressed with a Pumphandle bridging slam while Ishii fired back with a Superplex. Both delivered Exploder Suplexes and both popped right back up to their feet showing fighting spirit until the very end. It seemed Cobb would earn the biggest victory of his career with a headbutt but he couldn’t follow through and Ishii won this slug-fest with an enzuigiri and Brainbuster.
#16. Jay White (c) vs. David Finlay, IWGP United States Championship, NJPW Road To Wrestling Dontaku
Finlay and White have been feuding since they were both Young Lions in the opening act, years later it’s a Championship match and White has pushed Finlay over the edge providing David Finlay’s best performance to date. Finlay was all over White in the opening minutes until an innovative Pumphandle Backbreaker from White and the Liontamer. “Switchblade” yelled “still a young boy!” at the talented rival and it only fired Finlay up for a Spear but the table would turn literally when White sent Finlay through a table with a powerbomb and an elbow drop off the apron. When the action went back in the ring both reversed finisher attempts into one of their own until Finlay stole the Blade Runner! The finishing stretch was fitting for a match between heated counterparts, Finlay’s Stunner was turned right into The Blade Runner and White retains the IWGP United States Championship.
#15. Travis Banks (c) vs. Shane Strickland, PROGRESS World Championship, PROGRESS Chapter 66
A rematch from a very underrated Lucha Forever Championship match last year where both went at a pace usually reserved for CMLL competitors. Banks defended the Progress World title this time and extended his reign to seven months in another sprint where the heat was turned up early. “The King Of Swerve” lived up to his name taking out a Superkick and going to the knee instead then connecting with a Death Valley Driver on the apron. A Swerve Stomp to Banks draped over the barricade and another in the ring couldn’t put “The Kiwi Buzzsaw” away! Both went up top and Banks capitalized with a top rope Kiwi Crusher to end an outstanding World title match.
#14 . Keith Lee vs. Daisuke Sakamoto, WWN Live: Mercury Rising
Keith Lee and Daisuke Sakamoto only met once and it was last year for wXw. Lee wasted no time in the rematch with a 300-plus pound hurricanrana. Lee even won a forearm exchange over the jacked-up Daisuke but the moment of the match occurred when Daisuke lifted Lee up for a deadlift suplex like it was easy. Keith Lee nailed a huge Spirit Bomb for only two! The mistake of the match for Lee was going up top for a Doomsault as Sakamoto avoided it and put Lee away with a single-arm trap German Suplex.
#13. Joey Janela vs. The Great Sasuke, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
Not a mat classic by any means but this was a one-time-only privilege to watch as a fan, it doesn’t matter how old The Great Sasuke is (48 years old) you will always get an unforgettable match. Both men had no regard for their bodies with Sasuke going neck first through a ladder when he missed a Senton and Janela taking a powerbomb into chairs set upright. Sasuke wrestled like it was his last match, missing another senton this time through a table on the floor. The only time things settled down was when Janela attacked the legs with a Figure-Four Leglock. Janela got a massive win at his own show when he hit a Michinoku Driver onto a ladder and put Sasuke away with a top rope double-stomp. This is probably going to go down as one of the craziest and most surreal matches all year.
#12. Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Matt Riddle, EVOLVE Championship, EVOLVE 102
The way Sabre picked Riddle apart in this match was something to see to say the least until Riddle fought his way out of submission holds to apply one if his own. At a record of 1-1 in Evolve matches, this was the ultimate decider to who is the best in the company. Sabre hooked Riddle’s legs for numerous submissions and a tornado DDT transitioned into an armbar was as smooth as Sabre’s idols. Riddle used two Fisherman Buster’s to turn the tide and a ripcord knee rocked Sabre’s world. Remarkable finish when Riddle hit a Gotch Tombstone Piledriver for two and Sabre turned that into Orienteering With Napalm Death but Riddle countered into the Bro-Mission to end Sabre’s Evolve title run at sixteen defenses.
#11. Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Juice Robinson, NEVER Openweight Championship, NJPW Road To Wrestling Dontaku
Perhaps the best match from Juice Robinson since he signed with NJPW just three years ago because of the intensity and the crowd support for the highly talented Gaijin. Goto wouldn’t let up on the high-impact moves to keep his title, driving Robinson’s back over the guardrail hard and hitting the Ushigoroshi. A couple back Suplexes forced the referee to check on Juice’s condition and that’s when Robinson went for Pulp Friction and hit a resounding palm strike. Goto was in for more of a fight than he thought but he put the title match away with stiff kick to the chest sand the GTR.
#10. Kota Ibushi vs. Adam “Hangman” Page, ROH Supercard Of Honor
“Hangman” Page has been on the verge of a run in the main events after impressing more every month and this match with “The Golden Star” stole the show at Supercard Of Honor. Page used a hangman’s neckbreaker appropriate to his character but then took a dangerous German Suplex off the rail.Things got even more interesting when both scouted their big moves off the apron, the Golden Triangle Moonsault and the Shooting Star Press. Page hit a Piledriver and the Buckshot Lariat but Ibushi refused to go down. Page gave it his best but succumbed to the straightjacket German Suplex and the Knee Strike.
#9. Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher and WALTER) vs. Daisuke Sakamoto and Munenori Sawa, EVOLVE 102
Ringkampf teamed for a rare match against the returning Sawa after seven years in retirement and Daisuke Sakamoto in a Germany vs. Japan showdown in America. Sawa was on fire all of EVOLVE weekend with rapid-fire strikes but Walter matched that by taking everyone down with chops. The moment of the match was when Sawa locked Thatcher in an Octopus Stretch and Daisuke trapped WALTER in a torture rack. Ringkampf countered into dual chokes and Walter tapped out Sawa.
#8 .Shane Strickland vs. Matt Riddle, MLW World Championship Finals, MLW Fusion TV Premier
A split crowd for arguably two of the most popular wrestlers on the independents for the first ever Major League Wrestling Championship and MLW did a great way of setting up the tournament and giving this a World title match feel. Great chemistry between these great athletes, for example when Riddle hit an up-kick and Strickland followed up with a high knee only for Riddle to win the exchange with a German Suplex. Strickland hit a Swerve Stomp on the apron but Riddle kicked out! Riddle hit a ripcord knee and another knee strike but “The King Of Swerve” kicked out! A Gotch Tombstone Piledriver set up the GTS but Strickland hit a stomp out of mid-air! The JML Driver brought Strickland to singles gold again.
#7. WALTER vs. PCO, Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2
Pierre-Carl Ouellet is a legend with lots left in the tank, this was a straight brawl with PCO even ducking chops in the opening minute only to have his chest turn purple from the chops ten minutes later. PCO got slammed on the apron but WALTER took a moonsault to the floor in return. The referee went down as PCO was Powerbombed through a table on the floor and followed up with another. PCO took advantage of the downed referee and turned back the clock to execute a top rope hurricanrana. WALTER kicked out of an amazing Finlay roll/split-legged moonsault combo from the big man! A top rope senton won PCO the match and both exchange chops in respect after the bell.
#6. Matt Riddle (c) vs. Will Ospreay, EVOLVE Championship, WWN Live: Mercury Rising
Matt Riddle was as much of an MVP in April as Will Ospreay was, wrestling a packed schedule around the world in several promotions. They met again at WWN Live’s supershow Mercury Rising with Ospreay taking more impact on his banged up neck featuring a German Suplex on the apron. Ospreay took a scary backflip off the top rope that had officials checking on him. Ospreay took some serious damage from a triangle choke and a Tombstone but Ospreay was poised to finally beat Riddle when he hit two back kicks but the Os-Cutter was transitioned into the Bro-Mission in the end.
#5. Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW Sakura Genesis
The drama of this match with the audience going silent witnessing Okada nearly tapping out several times being tied in knots was as memorable as any match so far this year. Okada went to trademark moves like the top rope Elbow and got caught in an armbar every single time even just going for the simple “Rainmaker” pose. Sabre wrestled one of his best matches against the finest NJPW has to offer and it still wouldn’t be enough to end Okada’s iron grip on the IWGP heavyweight championship. The New Japan Cup was pinned by The Rainmaker but the career of Zack Sabre Jr entered the next stratosphere with this main event.
#4. Ilja Dragunov (c) vs. WALTER, wXw Unified championship, wXw True Colors
A rematch has already been set for this vicious match for the top prize in wXw, WALTER came as close as it gets to dethroning the man that has worked so hard to become champion, even coming out of retirement to claim the wXw unified Championship. WALTER slugged Ilja with boots and chops until things got heated and the referee took a big boot from WALTER. The choke looked like it would seal the deal but Ilja came back with a sunset bomb off the top and Greetings From Moscow pinned Walter for the three-count.
#3. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Non-Sanctioned Match, NXT Takeover: New Orleans
Gargano and Ciampa told a marvelous story that even new fans that didn’t follow their journey from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and EVOLVE Wrestling would understand, the bond they had as friends not just a tag team. A ladder was used and Ciampa took a nasty Powerbomb off the apron onto the exposed floor. This was so physical with a Suplex off the apron, a knee to the back of Gargano’s head and the crutch being used as a weapon. Project Ciampa off the second top still wouldn’t end Gargano’s night and a lawn dart into the exposed buckle to Ciampa tuned the momentum around. Ciampa submitted to an STF with his own knee brace in a match that will be remembered for a very long time.
#2. Naomichi Marufuji vs. Kento Miyahara, AJPW Champions Carnival Finals
Marufuji used everything from Kawada kicks to a risky Piledriver on the apron to take out Miyahara and it worked. Both competitors could be considered “the ace” of AJPW so it’s only fitting the Champions Carnival tournament ended with a grueling contest between the top of the food chain. The sports feel was alive and well with hard kicks from both, one sequence of kicks even left both lying motionless on the mat. Miyahara almost won it all with two knee strikes but Marufuji combined the Cobra Clutch with a triangle choke to attempt to take the life out of Miyahara. Finally Emerald Flowsion won Naomichi Marufuji the 2018 Champions Carnival after a war.
#1. Will Ospreay (c) vs. Marty Scurll, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, NJPW Sakura Genesis
Will Ospreay took so much punishment in this match it’s easy to see why his neck is in the shape it’s in now, taking piledrivers and having his head stomped on consecutively. This was one of the most exciting matches you will have the pleasure of watching all year along with Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi in February, Scurll had a killer instinct that showed he is capable of much more in the future. The counter wrestling was second to none as both know each other so well after many encounters as arch-rivals. Ospreay is now able to reverse the Chicken Wing and Scurll is somehow able to see Ospreay’s quick movement before he strikes. “The Villain” was pinned by the Os-Cutter but Ospreay did what he set out to do with this match: raise the prestige of the IWGP Jr Heavyweight championship by any means necessary.