It might seem ridiculous to say, but it’s true: 2018 was the best in-ring year for NXT yet.
Like Emily Pratt’s Ten Best New Japan Pro Wrestling matches of 2018, I was presented with the daunting task of narrowing down a promotion built on great wrestling matches’ best efforts into a ranked list of ten, which, let’s face it, is impossible. After sharing my tentative list with in our With Spandex Slack chat and realizing I’d left off half a dozen important bouts that made the best matches in a series matter, I took a different route.
Here’s what I did:
- the following list is “ranked,” but if you read the Best and Worst of NXT column or really anything I write, you know that my favorite thing is whatever I saw most recently, so take the numbers with a grain of salt. Everything on this list could be someone’s best match of the year list, and a ton of matches that aren’t are good enough to be
- many of NXT’s truly great matches only work the way they do because they’ve been built up by previous bouts, so in situations where I had to choose, say, one of the Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa matches from this year, I just grouped them together
- I’m aware that’s “cheating” and compromises the integrity of my arbitrary list of how good things are, but it felt like the right thing to do, and allowed me to add in a ton of great matches I loved to varying degrees
- if you’re actually wondering how the matches in each sub-listing would rank, I’ll include a bit at the end explaining it (but it’s usually obvious)
- if I didn’t do it this way, the list would be “The Top 10 Johnny Gargano Matches Of 2018,” and don’t pretend that wouldn’t be accurate
With all that in mind, here are my picks for the ten (actually, fifteen) best NXT matches of 2018, with an honorable mention to my favorite match of the year, Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno, seen here in its entirety.