20 Best Matches Of The Month: December 2018 Edition

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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: December 2018 Edition

#20. Sammy Guevara vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey, DDT D-OU Grand Prix In Yokohama

Photo: DDT Pro

“Speedball” and Guevara were given enough time to build the match which made the highly athletic pace for the finish just that much sweeter. Guevara is very cocky for being so young but his talent is beyond his years, Bailey tries to kick the motivation out of Guevara. Bailey ate a Canadian Destroyer on the apron but Bailey still wouldn’t be finished by a Burning Hammer into a knee strike! More Buzzsaw kicks for Bailey and Guevara misses a Shooting Star Press. Bailey takes advantage and wins with the Shooting Star into double-knees.
Rating: ***1/2

#19. WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs Cedric Alexander, WWE TLC

Photo: WWE

This Kickoff match had everything you could want from the Cruiserweights and they had one of the better matches on a WWE PPV yet again. Alexander sprung into a knee strike and the champion jumped into a Superkick! Stiff elbows and a Michinoku Driver stun Buddy Murphy. A Death Valley Driver onto the apron and the Lumbar Check have Murphy reaching for the bottom rope on a pinfall attempt. Another knee strike and Murphy’s Law end Alexander’s night but these two could have wrestled an Iron Man match and have the fans invested in every second.
Rating: ***1/2

#18. Roderick Strong vs Darby Allin, EVOLVE 118

Photo: WWN

Darby Allin is a former skateboarder and that’s what makes his transition to pro wrestling so amazing, his innovation and reckless attitude adds to every match. Strong is in full-blown “shitty little boots” heel Roddy mode, catching Darby’s dive into a Backbreaker. Darby keeps up with Strong and almost wins with a Coffin Drop. Code Red and Diamond Dust leave Strong reeling. The fight goes to the floor where Allin is sent down hard on the ramp courtesy of an Alpamare Waterslide. Darby manages a rollup to escape the Strong Hold but the Sick Kick and End Of Heartache make Strong’s return to EVOLVE Wrestling a successful one.
Rating: ***1/2

#17. Bobby Gunns vs Shigehiro Irie, wXw 18th Anniversary

Photo: wXw

“The King Of Smoke Style” is so great in the ring that the German faithful cheer Gunns instead of jeer his smarmy persona. Bobby Gunns manages a neck bridge with all of the big opponent’s weight on his body. Irie nails a beautiful slingshot splash but he has his arm stomped before Irie can build momentum. Gunns applies a cross armbar in the ropes and both trade Backdrop Drivers! Irie gets the win from Japan to Germany with Cannonballs in the corner and a devastating rolling Lariat.
Rating: ****

#16. Jordan Devlin vs Terry Thatcher, OTT Contenders 12

Photo: OTT

Jordan Devlin may be the “Ace Of Irish Wrestling” but he had his hands full with a top contender in Terry Thatcher. Great grappling from both with Devlin having an edge on the mat, using The Young Boy Killer borrowed from Zack Sabre Jr. Thatcher hit a big DDT and reverse hurricanrana off the top rope for near falls. Devlin’s Package Piledriver is countered into a Canadian Destroyer by Thatcher but Devlin hits Ireland’s Call for a two-count! The Package Piledriver puts away Thatcher.
Rating: ****

#15. ROH TV Championship: Jeff Cobb (c) vs “Hangman” Adam Page, ROH Final Battle

Photo: ROH

The best from ROH’s mid-card battled for the first time on live PPV and they threw bombs to go the extra mile in this title match. Cobb sent the challenger down off the top rope with a delayed Suplex but “Hangman” fired back with a Shooting Star Press off the apron and a standing version in the ring. Page almost won his first singles title with a top rope moonsault. Jeff Cobb drilled Page with a Sit-out Tombstone! Page counters the Tour Of The Islands with a Crucifix but Cobb retains the ROH TV title with the Tour Of The Islands.
Rating: ****

#14. Steel Cage, AAW Heavyweight Championship: Brody King (c) vs Sami Callihan, AAW Windy City Classic XlV

Photo: AAW

The entire AAW Windy City Classic XlV event was must-see with the tag team title match also exciting the crowd but this was an old school Steel Cage brawl to settle the score. The story was told in the ring, AAW fans have grown to love Callihan eventhoughh he doesn’t change his style for anybody. The champion comes into this match with his jaw wired shut and King still goes toe-to-toe with Ohio’s best. Both trade Piledrivers but neither want to accept the loss. King has a broken table taken to his leg and the Stretch Muffler has King tapping out.

Rating: ****

#13. Kassius Ohno vs Anthony Henry, EVOLVE 118

Photo: WWN

Ohno returns to EVOLVE Wrestling and attempted to make an example out of “Mr 5 Star” Anthony Henry but Henry knew he was going to be facing a heel Ohno looking for blood. Henry would eat a couple hard elbows but Ohno had a steel chair thrown at one of his elbow strike attempts! Henry earned a very close near-fall from a Brainbuster and double-stomp. Henry gave a hell of a performance on this night but the Rolling Elbow, Lariat and Pedigree combination was too much to overcome. Ohno proves to be a heel veteran to watch by winning with the Pedigree, effectively spitting on the company that helped to revive his career years ago.
Rating: ****

#12. WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles, WWE TLC

Photo: WWE

Styles unleashed a much more aggressive side here, a red herring of things to come with stomps to Bryan’s head. Bryan has perfected his game, locking in a cravat and striking with knee after knee. Styles half Boston Crab is reversed to the LaBelle Lock. Styles executes a Springboard 450 Splash and the Calf Crusher has Bryan scrambling for the ropes. Bryan pushed the referee in the way to avoid the Phenomenal Forearm and an Small Package pins the former WWE champion.
Rating: ****

#11. Christopher Daniels vs “The Villain” Marty Scurll, ROH Final Battle

Photo: ROH

Daniels doesn’t get the credit he deserves after all this time in pro wrestling, hitting a perfect Arabian Moonsault to the floor at 48 years of age. Daniels best friend, AJ Styles, even had his offense used by Daniels like the Sit-out Facebuster. Daniels tried to grab Marty’s fingers and snap them but Scurll connects with a Superkick to the knee. “The Villain” hits a Package DDT for a two-count so Scurll lands a jumping Tombstone Piledriver with the hands crossed on Daniels career but Daniels doesn’t rest in peace. Angels Wings drops Scurll but the Best Moonsault Ever is scouted and Scurll gets a near-fall after Graduation. Daniels is stomped and the Crossface Chickenwing forces Daniels to submit in this special past vs present of ROH grudge match.
Rating: ****

#10. NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto (c) vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW World Tag League Finals

Photo: NJPW

Ibushi and Goto have had better matches but they still went full-tilt with high-impact offense until a new champion left the ring to head to Wrestle Kingdom 13. Ibushi hit the Golden Triangle Moonsault but Goto sent Ibushi on his neck on the apron after a harsh Lariat. Ibushi took a hanging neckbreaker off the top rope but Ibushi would have the wherewithal to avoid the GTR with a victory roll. Goto headbutt’s with a wrist-lock but that sets up Kota Ibushi’s Kamigoye perfectly.
Rating: ****

#9. PROGRESS Tag Team Championships: Aussie Open (c) (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis) vs The Swords Of Essex (Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson), PROGRESS Unboxing Live 3: A Dukla Prague Away Kit

Photo: PROGRESS

A tag team title match so wild that Paul Robinson had to be immediately taken to the medics after the bell to look at a cut on his head after a chop to the back of head by Mark Davis early in the match. The Swords Of Essex have not teamed together for years because Robinson was forced to retire from injuries but they are back with a surprise appearance from Ospreay. The Sasuke Special and Corkscrew Moonsault to the floor on Aussie Open then stereo Shooting Star Presses have the champions reeling. Two Robinson Specials and the Os-Cutter isn’t enough so a Cutter/Double-stomp combination to Fletcher crown new champions.
Rating: ****

#8. ROH World Tag Team Championships, Ladder War: SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) vs The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe), ROH Final Battle

Photo: ROH

Kazarian was a bloody mess, The Young Bucks were sent through several tables and a ladder was used Terry Funk style by Mark Briscoe in another violent and memorable Ladder War in ROH. Kazarian was the star of the match, hitting a slingshot cutter through a table to Mark Briscoe. Jay Briscoe double-stomped Scorpio Sky through a table. Kazarian was about to capture the gold for SCU after a Styles Clash but The Briscoes shoved Kazarian off the ladder through a table and The Briscoes become ten time ROH tag team champions.
Rating: ****

#7. Open The Dream Gate Championship: Masato Yoshino (c) vs PAC, Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2018

Photo: Dragon Gate

PAC proved to be the ultimate “Bastard” by jumping Yoshino during the opening title ceremony. PAC sends the champion into rows of chairs in the crowd but Yoshino comes back with a top rope Sling Blade and Moonsault! Stunning chemistry with counters from the former Dragon Gate regular and one of the fastest wrestlers alive but PAC could also claim to be the fastest with these reversals. Yoshino kicks out of an avalanche Falcon Arrow but a couple Snap Germans set up the Black Arrow for the end.
Rating: ****

#6. Zack Sabre Jr vs Jonathan Gresham, ROH Final Battle

Photo: ROH

A technical clinic from a couple of the masters of the ground game. Smooth escapes from both to start but Sabre quickly turns on his Suzuki-Gun heel mode after Gresham throws a middle finger his way. A triangle choke almost puts Gresham to sleep but “The Octopus” counters with an Octopus Stretch. Both jockey for several submissions but Sabre nails a Penalty Kick. Gresham went for a Springboard Moonsault and Sabre took advantage of Gresham abandoning the submission wars with a European Clutch for the three-count.
Rating: ****

#5. GHC Heavyweight Championship: Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Kaito Kiyomiya, NOAH The Great Voyage In Yokohama Vol 2.

Photo: Pro Wrestling NOAH

Sugiura has been the man to beat for the GHC Heavyweight Championship in 2018 but that all came to an end in December at the hands of the future of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Kiyomiya explodes with a Cannonball over the barricade. A Superplex and spear leave Kiyomiya in a heap. Sugiura is taken down with a Tiger Diver but a German Suplex in the corner bring the moment back in the champions favor. Kiyomiya’s trademark Tiger Suplex isn’t the end yet so the Crossface Chickenwing is applied tight to Sugiura. A second Tiger Suplex connects and we have a new GCH heavyweight champion.
Rating: ****1/2

#4. WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship, TLC Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs Charlotte vs Asuka, WWE TLC 

Photo: WWE

All three of the top women on Smackdown Live pulled out all the stops to become the champion in the TLC main event. There are too many highlight reel moments to mention like Asuka being Speared through a barricade by Charlotte or Becky Lynch coming off a ladder with a Legdrop through the announce table to Charlotte. A kendo stick is involved just like their previous encounters and Charlotte sentons Lynch through a table on the floor. Rousey shoves the ladder over on Charlotte and Lynch, allowing Asuka to become a Champion on the main roster in WWE for the very first time.
Rating: ****1/2

#3. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate) vs Ringkamf (Marcel Barthel, WALTER and Timothy Thatcher),  wXw 18th Anniversary

Photo: wXw

wXw in Germany celebrated their 18th anniversary in the biggest way possible with the return of former headliner, Alex Dieter Jr. (Marcel Barthel), in a special faction wars six-man tag team main event. Seven thinks comedy is a good idea against WALTER and he gets chopped to high heaven. There were 1100 fans in attendance to watch Barthel clean house against British Strong Style. Seven Stars to WALTER by Seven and Thatcher kicks out of the rebound lariat/dragon Suplex combination by Mustache Mountain! Timothy Thatcher is an absolute beast, kicking out of a Piledriver, Tyler Driver and Tombstone Piledriver from all three members of British Strong Style! Thatcher pins Seven with a bridging cradle and the crowd erupts with excitement.
Rating: *****

#2. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate, PROGRESS Unboxing Live 3: A Dukla Prague Away Kit

Photo: PROGRESS

Usually when two friends battle it’s a war and it’s no different with Dunne and Bate, a surprise match for Unboxing where they haven’t wrestled each other since WWE. Dunne cuts off the chain wrestling with a stiff Forearm. Bate’s offense is incredible, lifting up Dunne for a gorilla press and hitting a European uppercut on the way down. A kick out of the Bitter End and the Tyler Driver lead to a German Suplex on the apron to Dunne. Bate is driven onto the wooden floor of the Electric Ballroom with a Tombstone Piledriver and the Better End Tombstone in the ring is only a near-fall! Bate modifies the Tyler Driver into a Package Piledriver and a Spiral Tap has Dunne kicking out at the last second! Bate goes for a knockout punch but Dunne catches it and forced Bate to submit with his fingers bent backwards.
Rating: *****

#1. The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi and Will Ospreay, NJPW Road To Toyko Dome

Photo: NJPW

Near tag team perfection right here, The Golden Lovers hit beautiful double Triangle Moonsaults right away. Ibushi took a sunset Powerbomb off the second rope onto Omega’s back! Ospreay lands on his feet from an Ibushi Springboard Moonsault as Ibushi and Ospreay exchange glances to set up Wrestle Kingdom 13. Omega gave Tanahashi a Sling Blade of his own and a double V-Trigger connects on “The Ace”! Ospreay drops The Golden Lovers with a double Spanish Fly! Omega kicks out of Ospreay’s Shooting Star Press. Ospreay is almost finished by the Indy Taker taken from The Young Bucks playbook but Tanahashi breaks up the pin. Ospreay is pinned by the Golden Trigger after one of NJPW’s most exciting tag team matches ever.
Rating: *****

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