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)
20 Best Matches Of The Month
#20. PCW ULTRA Championship: Penta El Zero M (C) vs. Sami Callihan, PCW ULTRA: Opposites Attack
Penta El Zero M and Sami Callihan have been feuding for years now from AAW Pro to Impact Wrestling and this PCW ULTRA feud culminated in a Steel Cage for the PCW ULTRA Championship. Penta finally defeated Rob Van Dam this year for the PCW Championship, now the task is being the man on top just like in Lucha Underground. The match started on top of the Steel Cage and soon enough chairs were being thrown across the ring and Penta was even Powerbombed into a mess of stacked chairs. Callihan kicked out of the Pentagon Driver on Lego’s and Fear Factor onto steel chairs. Callihan had his arm bent backwards then another Fear Factor ended the match but not the war.
#19. WWN Championship: Austin Theory (c) vs. Joey Janela, EVOLVE 106
“The Bad Boy” earned one of the biggest wins of his career to date in his debut for EVOLVE Wrestling by becoming the WWN Champion in a red-hot encounter between a couple of the hottest young stars in all of independent wrestling. Penelope Ford, Janela’s girlfriend and valet, got involved with a top rope crossbody to the floor to negate the Priscilla Kelly factor in the champions corner. Janela kicked out of the TKO and a Package Piledriver on Theory was somehow only a two-count. Ford took the title from Theory’s hands on the top rope and an Avalanche Brainbuster shocked the fans with a new champion in Joey Janela.
#18. ROH Television Championship: Punishment Martinez (c) vs. “Hangman” Adam Page, No Disqualification’s, ROH Best In The World
Punishment Martinez won the Ring Of Honor Wrestling TV Championship from “The Last Real Man” Silas Young in a six-way match right before this Pay Per View title defense and it was made No Disqualification’s. The stipulation certainly went in Martinez’ favor when he hit a Last Ride on the apron and a chokeslam on the floor to the challenger. “Hangman” was put in a zip tie and curb stomped on a steel chair but he still kicked out! Page performed a moonsault in the ziptie and after thumbtacks and another major breakthrough effort, Page went down to the South Of Heaven Chokeslam through a table.
#17. Jimmy Havoc vs. Spike Trivet, Death Match, PROGRESS Chapter 71: FEELINGCALLEDPROGRESS
Spike Trivet and Jimmy Havoc showed why Deathmatch wrestling is an art form of it’s own, literally as well as Jimmy Havoc was hung in a tree of woe, had his bloody head dipped on the canvas and painted in blood on a canvas by Trivet! Havoc used some big innovation with a DDT to counter a Burning Hammer onto steel chairs. Trivet proved on this night, he is every bit as sick and twisted as Havoc is when there are no rules. Havoc was slammed into thumbtacks and chair shots to the head finished Havoc.
#16. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne (c) vs. Zack Gibson, WWE NXT United Kingdom Special
Pete Dunne defended the WWE United Kingdom Championship after a one year title reign against the winner of the second WWE United Kingdom tournament, this match has never even happened in the United Kingdom and not ever with these stakes. Commentator and former ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness was audibly excited when Gibson almost won the title with Nigel’s old finishing hold. Gibson did a fantastic job of working over the arm with a keylock into the barricade to the champion. Gibson wrestled the best he has ever wrestled in the tournament but it wasn’t enough to beat “The Bruiserweight” although Gibson became only the second person in WWE to kick out of the Bitter End. Both struck with head-butt after head-butt until Dunne was more resourceful, another Bitter End put Pete Dunne on another level in WWE and the United Kingdom.
#15. PCW ULTRA Lightweight Championship: Shane Strickland (C) vs. Dragon Lee, PCW ULTRA: Opposites Attack
Shane Strickland and Dragon Lee went to PCW ULTRA for a dream match of sorts and a match worthy of the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament that was held this month in New Japan Pro Wrestling. “The King Of Swerve” attacked Dragon Lee’s arms but Dragon Lee countered that with some submissions of his own, much like Katsuyori Shibata whom Dragon Lee has been paying tribute to lately with his kickpads and entrance. Lee took Strickland over with a vicious Regal-Plex and a hurricanrana off the apron to the cement floor! The incredibly athletic showcase paid off with fireworks in the finish, a reverse Hurricanrana was countered by Strickland and the JML driver helped Strickland retain the PCW ULTRA Lightweight Championship.
#14. El Desperado vs. Dragon Lee, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors
El Desperado has since challenged Dragon Lee to a Mask vs Mask match on Twitter since this heated match between the sensational Junior Heavyweight from Mexico and the Suzuki–Gun guitar swinging brawler. El Desperado bent the rules by using a chair to Dragon Lee’s leg but Dragon Lee responded by trying to rip off Desperado’s mask. Dragon Lee still hit the top rope double stomp somehow, the stretch muffler put a stop to Lee though. Desperado almost advanced in the tournament with an inverted Vertabreaker, a flurry of counters and referee manipulation from Desperado led to the three-count. The best match in a very long time to feature a simple low-blow finish from two men that know each other better than we think.
#13. WWE United Kingdom Championship: Pete Dunne (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly, WWE NXT
One of NXT’s best matches ever was a technical back and forth, both haven’t faced each other often in competition at all but it was like they had wrestled hundreds of times. Dunne saw Axe And Smash coming just as well as O’Reilly saw the Bitter End and reversed it right into a guillotine choke. This is what WWE needs more of, wrestling with a story told inside and outside of the ring but with a clean finish after a match with plenty of time. Kyle O’Reilly proved he could be a major player in the singles division as well, The Bitter End showed it may be a long time until someone takes the WWE United Kingdom Championship off of Dunne’s waist…or out of his teeth.
#12. WALTER vs. Darby Allin, EVOLVE 106
Darby Allin was supposed to take on WALTER in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend but he was hospitalized and missed the match due to his hardcore antics in the ring. What made this match so gripping was the traditional unpredictability of pro wrestling, Darby was thrown around the ring but he refused to give up no matter what happened to him. Darby came back with a shotgun dropkick and Code Red for a near fall. WALTER’s hand hit the post from a missed chop and Darby took advantage before long with a rollup for the shocking underdog victory EVOLVE fans won’t ever forget.
#11. NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Birch, NXT Takeover: Chicago ll
The Undisputed Era put the NXT tag teams titles on the line against a team that had never made it to a Takeover event and made sure it was one the fans wouldn’t forget. Oney Lorcan suffered a broken orbital bone, the match was so smash-mouth. There were plenty of great submission attempts as well and combinations like Oney and Birch’s tandem DDT and Doomsday Device with a European Uppercut. Roderick Strong was the man with the most stamina like usual and he fired back with O’Reilly to retain with Total Elimination.
#10. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong), WWE NXT United Kingdom Tournament
Pete Dunne got some help from his British Strong Style buddies in the United Kingdom for a dream six-man tag team match in the Royal Albert Hall and if they got some more time for this match it would have been even better. Dunne was all over Strong after Roderick Strong was the man who betrayed him for a spot in the Undisputed Era faction. Tyler Bate showed off his freakish strength for a man of small stature with an airplane spin and giant swing at the same time. Kyle O’Reilly hit a big penalty kick and Trent Seven dealt out the receipt with the Seven Stars lariat. Mustache Mountain (Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) took out Kyle O’Reilly with a Dragon Suplex/ Rebound Lariat combo to bring the hometown crowd to their feet.
#9. KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors Semi Finals
This was the deciding match in the NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors B Block, this was also the best Junior Heavyweight rivalry of 2017 with three classic matches. The smooth action was flawless, the Hoverboard Lock was turned into a Triangle Choke and back into KUSHIDA’s Armbar. KUSHIDA connected with a top rope divorce court to further the damage to the arm. Hiromu wouldn’t tap out after making it so far, a Piledriver followed up with the new D submission (triangle choke) from “The Ticking Time Bomb” ended KUSHIDA’s night.
#8. Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs. Los Ingobernobles De Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi), NJPW x ECO: When Worlds Collide
IWGP heavyweight champion Kenny Omega is now on top of the world at a perfect time, NJPW was able to arrange an event for NJPW stars at the CEO x NJPW: When Worlds Collide event with CEO Fighting Game Championships, two major parts of Kenny Omega’s life. The top stars of NJPW didn’t take it easy either, the match went thirty minutes and Naito took some of the most brutal bumps all year long. Naito was thrown off Omega’s shoulders from a Powerbomb and Ibushi caught Naito with a German Suplex on the way down, folding Naito in half. Ibushi took a beating to his neck himself with a Sunset Bomb to the floor off the apron from the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Los Ingobernobles De Japon put up a hell of a fight but The Golden Lovers didn’t reunite to lose the big main events, Takahashi was pinned by The Golden Trigger.
#7. Jordan Devlin vs. Will Ospreay, PROGRESS Chapter 72: Got Got Need
Devlin and Ospreay waged a war of words on Twitter before settling it in the ring with an extremely impressive match that proved why they are the elite in the United Kingdom today. Ospreay wrestled with something to prove, landing on his feet from a top top Spanish Fly and executing the most beautiful Sasuke Special it looked like the live crowd had ever seen. Devlin agitated the fans and rebounded with a Canadian Destroyer before a finish full of back-and-forth high flying. Ospreay hit The Acid Rainmaker in a tease of his Jimmy Havoc rivaly but Devlin took to a Springboard only to be caught in the Stormbreaker. Ospreay was the more resourceful on this night by countering the big moves from the OTT champion like the Package Piledriver, one can only wonder what will happen if this feud rages to the next level for years to come.
#6. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream, NXT Takeover: Chicago ll
“Anything you can do, I can do better” was the story of the match here and Dream did an exceptional job of attempting to one-up “The One And Only” even if he didn’t succeed. Dream was even more popular arguably than Ricochet but Ricochet was more athletic, executing a perfect Fosberry Flop to the floor. The match had so many high spots like an attempted Coast To Coast Purple Rainmaker and Shooting Star Press all the way to the centre of the ring. Velveteen Dream got too full of himself when he got in Ricochet’s face to tell him all he will ever get in wrestling is “hotdogs and handshakes” so Ricochet unleashed the 630 Splash to the back to show who really is the best between the two.
#5. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Dominon
Will Ospreay promised he would raise the prestige of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and even claimed he was already the ace of the division. One can’t look at Ospreay’s statement as hyperbole, Ospreay raised the game of anyone he steps in the ring with and the Best Of The Super Juniors winner received a rematch from February. These two pulled out all the stops to wrestle a pace that aims to excite as much as scare the viewer, a Sunset Bomb on the unprotected floor to Ospreay for instance is career shortening. Will Ospreay dove off the stage but when he went for the Stormbringer three times, it was countered by the resilient madman. Ospreay’s six month title reign came to end at the hands of a Piledriver, corner Death Valley Driver and The Time Bomb.
#4. Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa, Street Fight, NXT Takeover: Chicago ll
Gargano and Ciampa looked to settle the score after everything that’s happened in the past year and lots of those memories were mirrored here, Ciampa was the one on the stretcher this time after an Air Raid Crash from the stage. The callbacks made this match all the more epic, the brutality was off the charts too like when Gargano was thrown neck-first into steel stairs while a chair was wrapped around his neck. After thirty-five minutes, the fans thought it was over when Gargano wouldn’t let up on the beating after Ciampa was on the stretcher. Gargano was lured into the ropes and driven down with a DDT on the exposed wood of the ring and “The Sicilian Psychopath” makes the feud 2-3 for Gargano so far in WWE.
#3. NEVER Openweight Championship: Michael Elgin (c) vs. Hirooki Goto, NJPW Kizuna Road
Michael Elgin and Hirooki Goto hit each other so hard in this match that they were nearly collapsing due to exhaustion by the end of the title match. Elgin won his first Championship in NJPW but it was to be a short reign when Goto took the title back with the GTR. Both fought like bulls and even Taichi and Jeff Cobb got involved. Elgin used a fisherman’s buster and top rope splash to take the air out of Goto. Goto kicked out of a massive Crucifix Bomb. Goto got out of the Burning Hammer and his fighting spirit proved to be more true than Elgin’s on this night.
#2. Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Best Of The Super Juniors Finals
Quite possibly the best Best Of The Super Juniors finals ever and considered one of the best matches of 2018 so far, Ishimori and Takashi wrestled at a speed you wouldn’t expect from two guys that just competed in an entire tournament and they took it all around the arena. Takahashi was sent flying down the stairs in the crowd from a hurricanrana and it somehow just got more dangerous as the match went on. There was some sequences that made it look like these two heels had done this together before but they never have. Takahashi got his knee’s up to counter a 450 Splash. The new “Bone Soldier” of Bullet Club had the air sucked out of him from a triangle choke and the insanely scary Piledriver and Time Bomb and “The Ticking Time Bomb” became the 2018 BOSJ winner.
#1. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega, 2 Out Of Three Falls, No Time Limit, NJPW Dominion
“The Cleaner” finally ascended to the very top of NJPW in what has to be considered the Best match of the year at 2 falls to Okada’s 1. Okada and Omega traded the big guns for forty minutes until Okada trapped Omega in a victory roll for the first fall. Omega would not let up on Okada, even trying to best Okada’s trademark dropkick as exhaustion set in. Okada nailed a heavy Rainmaker but Omega would not go down! Omega earned the second fall with One Winged Angel. There was no Bullet Club or CHAOS necessary to end the fourth huge encounter, Okada was set in the corner for another V-Trigger to the head and the One Winged Angel pinned Okada to end a classic match and even more historic rivalry…for now. This was everything and more that you want out of pro wrestling, it takes you out of the world of long promo’s and negative fan opinions and makes you appreciate what looked like a genuine fight for the top prize in all of wrestling for over one hour.