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. Hazuki vs Mayu Iwatani, Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix
Odeo Thai is the dominant heel faction in Stardom with Hazuki (HZK) as the young protégé of the group but this match shows just how far Hazuki has improved in the past couple years. Mayu was thrown into chairs in the crowd then had her arm worked over on the steel post. A Fujiwara armbar and bicycle kicks set up a crossbody comeback to the floor from Iwatani. Hazuki kicked out of a Frogsplash and Bridging German Suplex in a standout moment. Mayu finished Hazuki with an axe kick to the head and another Bridging German Suplex, folding Hazuki in half and priming Iwatani for the Five-Star Grand Prix tournament win.
#19. WWE North American Champion vs WWE United Kingdom Champion: Ricochet (c) vs Pete Dunne (c), NXT TV
A first-time champion vs champion match on WWE NXT where we didn’t get a winner but the action had the Full Sail University crowd chanting and hardly a fan was off their feet. Pete Dunne knows how to control a match as well as anyone, manipulating Ricochet to chain wrestle where Dunne is at his best. Ricochet tried a handstand leg scissors takedown but had his arm kicked with wreckless intent instead. Dunne followed up with an Ex-Plex on the apron. The WWE North American champion fought back with a Poison Hurricanrana and handspring DDT. A 450 Splash was caught into a triangle choke but Ricochet countered that into a Deadlift Suplex. The Undisputed Era and War Machine ran interference on what was one of the best NXT matches ever.
#18. Meiko Satomura vs Killer Kelly, WWE Mae Young Classic 2
Quite possibly the best women’s match in WWE in 2018, Killer Kelly made her WWE debut after making a name for herself as the inaugural wXw women’s champion in Germany. Meiko has been world-renowned for over two decades, the cartwheel knee strike to the back is always as impressive as watching it for the very first time. Kelly showed as much grit and intensity as any female possibly could against the veteran that made her debut back in 1995. Kelly locked in a hanging Dragon Suplex from the top rope before succumbing to an axe kick to the top of the head.
#17. Matt Riddle vs Mark Haskins, PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley
Matt Riddle wrestled his final independent wrestling match against a man Riddle had never faced one-on-one in his short but impressive career. Haskins and Riddle both love to grapple with transitions into submissions and that’s exactly what happened here, Riddle even connected with an explosive Gotch Tombstone Piledriver to change the Mixed Martial Arts approach. Haskins was caught with a Fisherman Buster, Riddle tried to set up the Bro To Sleep but a Canadian Destroyer counter was the last thing Riddle was expecting. Haskins locked in the Star Armbar but Ripcord knee strikes put a stop to that. Haskins ducked a head kick and Made In Japan (a Pumphandle Driver) sent Riddle out of PROGRESS Wrestling with a loss to the “Star Attraction.”
#16. Minoru Suzuki vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW Destruction In Beppu
Minoru Suzuki is the master of joint manipulation and it was showcased here for almost thirty minutes. Tetsuya Naito had NJPW faithful in the crowd cheering him on as hold after hold was applied to Naito, Suzuki even choked Naito in the top rope. Naito suffered four Penalty Kicks, each more stiff than the last. Naito sent Suzuki through a table off the apron but it was all Suzuki after that. Naito got to his feet after punishing knee bars and Figure Four Leglocks, a dangerous Gotch Powerbomb to Suzuki then Destino gave Naito a very hard earned pinfall win over the king of Pancrase.
#15. Adam Page vs Joey Janela, Street Fight, All In
“Hangman” Page and “The Bad Boy” looked to innovate and put on one of the craziest matches of 2018, they succeeded in a twenty-two minute brawl around the building. Page went all out with a Moonsault to the floor and a Buckshot Lariat from the barricade. Janela took an insane Burning Hammer on a ladder from the apron and they weren’t even half way through the match yet. Janela’s girlfriend and valet, Penelope Ford, hit the ring for a Stunner on Page. Janela sent Page through a table with a top rope elbow but Page would somehow top that. Janela was thrown off the stage into tables from a Powerbomb then The Right Of Passage off a ladder through another table gave Page the big Street Fight glory.
#14. Kenny Omega vs Pentagon Jr, All In
Pentagon Jr had only wrestled Kenny Omega once before this match, in Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) when The Lucha Bros (Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr) faced The Elite. This lived up to high expectations, Pentagon took Omega’s best shots and kept coming back for more. Omega went down hard as the result of Fear Factor on the apron. Pentagon Jr was not able to follow up, a V-Trigger into the ropes followed by The One Winged Angel finished this dream encounter.
#13. Pete Dunne vs Ilja Dragunov, PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley
Ilja Dragunov made his PROGRESS Wrestling debut, flying to the United Kingdom from Germany where Dragunov main events in wXw. An extremely physical match here included headbutt exchanges and several near falls. The WWE United Kingdom champion almost won the match with The Bitter End and Tombstone Piledriver but the heart of Dragunov was too much. The Moscow Torpedo was scouted and so was the Coast To Coast dropkick, Ilja hit it the first time but came crashing into a hard elbow strike on the second attempt. Dragunov was taken down and had his fingers bent back until he was forced to submit.
#12. Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll, All In
The best bout from All In was a twenty-six minute battle between a Junior Heavyweight looking to prove himself against the top Heavyweight in NJPW. Scurll had Okada’s number with a Brainbuster and Crossface Chickenwing, making the size advantage of “The Rainmaker” almost null and void. Okada signaled 205 when he tried to execute The Rainmaker but that made Scurll snap Okada’s fingers instead. Scurll was smart enough to reverse the Ripcord wrist-clutch with an umbrella shot to the head and a Rainmaker from “The Villain.” Okada had his face spit at and smacked so The Spinning Rainmaker followed by another put Scurll’s shoulders down for the count.
#11. Hideo Itami vs Naomichi Marufuji, NOAH Naomichi Marufuji 20th Anniversary Show
Hideo Itami returned to Pro Wrestling NOAH for a rare singles match as a member of the WWE 205 Live roster, Itami is a former GHC Heavyweight champion and Marufuji is an old rival as well as tag team partner. It was a slow start to this match but it quickly became a strike-fest with Kawada kick exchanges and Marufuji’s wicked fast thrust kicks. Marufuji delivered a risky Piledriver on the apron and a top rope Spanish Fly to the former KENTA. The action gets even more heated when The Shiranui and top rope double stomp only result in two-counts for both. Marufuji managed to kick out of a trio of Go To Sleep finishing moves from Itami and Hideo Itami kicked out of two running knee strikes! Finally it was Marufuji’s Emerald Flowsion that ended Itami’s epic return to strong style.
#10. IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship Tournament: Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll, NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed
Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll at NJPW Sakura Genesis in April is already a match of the year contender yet the rivalry continues from the United Kingdom to Japan’s biggest shows. Ospreay almost seriously injured his neck the last time with a Spanish Fly on the apron, Will Ospreay pulled off a Spanish Fly seconds into the rematch to prove a point. Ospreay missed an enzugeri and top a stomp to the head, shades of their last encounter as well. Ospreay sent Scurll crashing to the floor with a sunset bomb in a tribute to Hiromu Takahashi, who also wrestled classics against Ospreay this year but unfortunately broke his neck in July and this tournament took place as a result. Marty Scurll defeated his biggest foe with a sick looking avalanche dragon Suplex, Package DDT and The Graduation.
#9. The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada), NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed
Tomohiro Ishii and Kota Ibushi picked right up where they left off in the G1 Climax 28 tournament where they had one of the best main events all Summer and Okada battled Omega for the very first time on American soil. Omega took throat chops from Omega, continuing their war where Omega had to test himself as the IWGP heavyweight champion. The Golden Lovers unleashed a double Golden Triangle Moonsault. The final couple minutes was a breathtaking display of the top stars in NJPW hitting on all cylinders, Ishii fell to the Golden Trigger after twenty-three minutes.
#8. ROH World Championship Iron Man Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs Jonathan Gresham, ROH TV
Iron Man matches aren’t just the ultimate endurance test, they are a rarity in modern pro wrestling and only the best survive this match type with their hand raised. This is part three of their series of matches in ROH, Lethal had his arm dismantled for the majority of the first half. Gresham threw Lethal on his shoulders with German Suplexes before the Octopus Stretch forced the champion to tap out. Gresham was tied in a Figure Four Leglock and Gresham was then forced to tap out, evening the score at one fall a piece. The match went into overtime after the thirty-minute mark was reached so Lethal had to go the extra mile to retain the ROH World championship, Gresham took a Cutter reversal from a Sleeper position and The Lethal Injection ended this great feud for now.
#7. Death Match: Jimmy Havoc vs Paul Robinson, PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley
Jimmy Havoc and Paul Robinson finally had a rematch from the most violent match in PROGRESS Wrestling history where Jimmy Havoc was curb stomped into light tubes. Paul Robinson used a barbed wire baseball bat to damage Havoc until a Death Valley Driver through a door and another one into thumbtacks. Havoc headbutted a light tube into Robinson’s head, showing the animosity and the disregard for both of their well beings. Robinson earned a long two-count from a curb stomp into thumbtacks! It took a Curb Stompbin return from Havoc and an Acid Rainmaker to end the barbaric Death Match.
#6. ROH World Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs Will Ospreay, ROH Death Before Dishonor
Will Ospreay gained twenty pounds since June in his quest for glory in the Heavyweight division, this is Ospreay’s biggest match in ROH to date. A rematch from ROH TV earlier this year that was won by Lethal and this match was even better, ring announcer Bobby Cruise went down during the melee from a Lethal Superkick. The storytelling built to a boiling point when Ospreay thought about using the World title as a weapon on Lethal but Honor prevailed and Ospreay refused to use the title. Jay Lethal was sent down hard on a ladder as a result of a sunset bomb off the apron. Ospreay nailed a combination of kicks before the Os-Cutter but the champion kicked out! Lethal retained in one of the best title defenses of his career with an Avalanche Sitout Powerbomb and Lethal Injection.
#5. Last Man Standing: Jurn Simmons vs David Starr, wXw Fan Appreciation Night: Oberhausen
Jurn Simmons and David Starr were once known as the tag team, “Massive Product”, until Jurn Simmons turned on Starr this year during the wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament. Kendo sticks started the match, Simmons is coming back from injury but Simmons took a beating anyways from “The Product.” Starr came off the stage with a crossbody but then the match took a grisly turn. Simmons unfastened the top rope from the ring and used the steel turnbuckle on Starr! A wXw fan had to help Starr to his feet when the count almost reached ten so Simmons started to take the ring apart. With the wood exposed on the canvas, Starr sent Jurn down on his head with a Piledriver but it still wasn’t over. A top rope Spinebuster to David Starr kept both men down for the ten count in one of the absolute finest Last Man Standing matches a wrestling fan could watch.
#4. IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW Destruction In Hiroshima Day 4
Ishii and Omega give more than 100% every single time but when they wrestle each other things get even more intense. Omega came flying off the top rope, over the barricade to deliver a double-stomp to Ishii on a table early. Omega borrowed Ishii’s Brainbuster and unleashed an onslaught of V-Triggers to keep “The Stone Pitbull” down. Ishii kicked out of a sit-out Tombstone Piledriver in a moment that left the live audience in disbelief. After all of the Lariat’s dished out by Ishii, The One Winged Angel was the deciding factor in a slug-fest.
#3. PROGRESS World Championship: WALTER (c) vs Tyler Bate- PROGRESS Chapter 76: Hello Wembley
Not just a special match for PROGRESS Wrestling celebrating their biggest show ever in Wembley, but a special match in the career of the challenger and the champion. WALTER entered the arena with violins playing his orchestral theme song, Bate would not be intimidated one bit. “Big Strong Boi” Tyler Bate actually picked up the three-hundred pound plus WALTER for two airplane spins and The Tyler Driver. WALTER caught Bate in mid-air with a chop heard around the world. Tyler Bate proved to be stronger than ever by kicking out of a Brainbuster and Powerbomb. One of the moments of the year anywhere came when Bate climbed the top rope while WALTER was on his back with a Sleeper locked in, both crashed backwards. Tyler Bate was trapped in a Choke hold but the Sitout Piledriver would end Bate’s night.
#2. The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay), NJPW Road to Destruction (Tokyo)
A match in the running for tag team match of the year, Will Ospreay finally met Kota Ibushi in the ring and this CHAOS team was as creative as The Golden Lovers. Ospreay sprung of Ishii’s back with a corkscrew splash but Kota and Omega gained the advantage with a Powerbomb-German Suplex combination. Will Ospreay was sent off the top rope with another German Suplex from Kota Ibushi as the dazzling offense went a mile a minute. Okada was knocked out of the ring so Ishii could be double-teamed, The Golden Trigger to Ishii led to the final count from referee Red Shoes.
#1. G1 Climax 28 Winners Briefcase: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW Destruction in Kobe
Masterful timing, great chemistry, equal endurance and abilities in the ring. These are all elements that make Okada vs Tanahashi the must-see rivalry of this generation. Okada attacked the leg of Tanahashi, it’s usually the opposite in every encounter between the two but Tanahashi has been going through knee problems for the past year. Tanahashi fired back with a Tombstone Piledriver on the floor, Okada’s trademark move used on “The Rainmaker.” The Rainmaker was beautifully transitioned right into a Sling Blade from “The Ace.” Tanahashi’s bad knee would not allow him to make a property timed pinfall after the High Fly Flow. Okada had Tanahashi where he wanted him on the top rope but that set up Tanahashi instead, Okada took the High Fly Flow while falling off the top rope and two more High Fly Flow’s pinned Okada.