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  1. #1
    The Brain
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    Match of the Year Countdown Spectacular, 2018!

    Greetings, mizfan fans! Yes it’s back, back again, the Heenan Series will once again be taking a short hiatus as the award winning Match of the Year Countdown Spectacular makes its presence known for the fourth year running! As before, I would not presume to tell anyone which wrestling matches are the best, but I can absolutely tell you which I have enjoyed the most. This year I’m doing things a little bit differently. Instead of going over my actual top 30, I’m going to give you the MOTY from a number of the promotions I’ve watched over the course of this year. The bottom 30 will still be the true bottom 30 though! But I hope you’ll find something great that has flown under your radar! And there will definitely be way fewer gifs, because it’s a huge pain to make so many of them, and overall I must admit the entries might be a bit shorter than in recent years, as my December was just mental and I’m writing a good chunk of this while on vacation with the family. Why, you ask? Because I love y’all so much! I’ll even throw in some end of year awards, just for you! Feel free to watch along when you can and let me know what you think, and don’t forget to tell me about some of your own favorites on the way!

    So that’s enough intro, you know the score! Let’s get to it!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Promociones MDA.

    LA Park & Cibernetico vs. Blue Demon Jr & El Zorro
    Promociones MDA, April 1st

    About the Promotion: I’ll be honest, I can’t keep a lot of the smaller lucha promotions apart, and MDA is no exception. They have random shows and, even more randomly, sometimes certain matches may appear on youtube. The good thing is often those matches will be awesome, so while it’s a fool’s errand to try to follow everything a company like this does, it’s ideal for picking out matches that look fun when they pop up! This is one of two MDA matches I watched in 2018, and it’s definitely worthy of a spotlight here.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here:


    One fun thing about lucha libre is often the rules will mean nothing, because the referee will be A. constantly bumped, B. very easily distracted, or C. inexplicably have it out for one or more of the wrestlers. C is extremely common, but like many things in lucha it’s something you can easily get used to if you’ve got a mind to do so. This is a match with plenty of chicanery and weapon use, and also is a great showcase for one of my favorite lucha things, some intense brawling! Because the lucha style is better for your body than other styles, luchadors often wrestle far past the normal wrestling age, and when they get too old to fly around the way they used to they often become awesome brawlers who simply beat the living crap out of their opponents in a refreshingly simple way. This match has the crowd brawling, the big spots, and best of all LA Park, the Chairman himself, kicking all kinds of ass in advance of busting back into both AAA and CMLL and completely taking over the back half of 2018. Believe me, this is one to check out!


    Also Watch From This Promotion: Fenix vs. Laredo Kid 7/29

    Fenix is one of the best high flyers in the world, and Laredo Kid is damn good as well. This one is also on youtube, seek it out!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 30th least favorite match of 2018:

    Mark Angelosetti vs. Mr Anderson
    CHIKARA Infinite Gauntlet, May 5th

    The Verdict: Mark Angelosetti, better known to some as “Mr Touchdown”, is a great wrestler, but the former Mr Kennedy is decidedly not that in 2018. I am baffled by CHIKARA’s decision to bring him in for a match. This match isn’t completely awful but it’s definitely not good, and I don’t know why it happened. There’s a wealth of former WWE guys capable of doing interesting things, but we got Mr Anderson. Baffled.

    2018 Award For Funniest Wrestler:
    Orange Cassidy



    The greatest Canadian Destroyer of All Time

    Recommended Matches:

    Orange Cassidy vs. Hornswoggle 1/27/18 Beyond Wrestling Spirit of ’76
    Orange Cassidy & Martina vs. Joey Janela & Penelope Ford 4/5/18 Beyond Wrestling Lit Up
    Orange Cassidy & Chuck Taylor vs. Bill Carr & Dan Barry vs. John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs. Dorian Graves & VSK 7/29/18 Beyond Wrestling Americanrana

    If you’ve never seen Orange Cassidy, the laziest wrestler alive, you’re really cheating yourself. Beyond the hilarity of the gimmick itself, the man has unbelievable comic timing, and is also capable of pulling out some incredible moves, but only if it’s funny. That’s right, it’s Roger Rabbit rules! These days you’ll mostly find him in Beyond Wrestling, but any time you get a chance to see him in action (or lack thereof), take it!

    Honorable Mention To: Famous B & Brenda, Gentleman Jervis, The Invisible Man

    Question: What was your favorite wrestling discovery in 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!
    Last edited by mizfan; 2 Weeks Ago at 08:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Haven't seen this promotion and will now be adding it to my list haha.

    I don't understand what the hell was going through the heads of those behind CHIKARA. Anderson had, maybe, one good year in the WWE. Besides that he has been absolute garbage everywhere he goes.

    Funniest Wrestler: ?? Meh, probably the Invisible Man if I was asked to make a pick haha.

    It's actually quite hard for me to list a discovery since I watch so much already. I have to go all the way back to one year ago to find my favorite. It was early last year that you showed wXw to me and it has been a staple in my life ever since.

  3. #3
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    YES IT'S BACK!

    I just watched the match, I've never seen the promotion or any of the wrestlers before (except the guy in the black and white suit who is in Cult's sig) and it was really quite fun. They pack out a pretty decent and lively crowd too.

    That piledriver spot was nasty as was the way the generally battered each other with weapons. The staging has a very cool wild west vibe to it as well. I love the ending too with the ref giving a super fast 3 count on the guy who hit him with a kendo stick.

    With Lucha I have always wondered if there are stories about really famous guys just getting under a mask and going out there unknown to the crowd just to have a different kind of match?

    To your question though, best discovery: Hiroshi Tanahashi. This was my first year watching NJPW and in the first half I knew Tana was important but I have consigned him to the past legends pile: kind of like where he wrestled on Dominion however was I ever proved wrong by an awesome back half of the year including my favourite match of the year (which I think you will get to in due time).



    @Sir_Samuel

  4. #4
    The Brain
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    Feed the feedbackers!

    Spinny! Good luck following a lucha indy full time, as I said it's a fools errand, but anything you can pull up is bound to be interesting! And yeah, the less Anderson we see the better. I think he's a trainer for some school that they were working with (F1rst Wrestling, maybe?) so I'm guessing they just took an opportunity to get a big name on the card. Rather wish they didn't but guess I can't blame them. Invisible Man has been a hysterical gimmick, love it! Love the feed as always, my friend!

    Samwell! I know you've been looking forward to this, which was great encouragement for me while writing it. Love that you watched the match. Black and white guys is LA Park's, one of the biggest lucha libre stars around and a guy well worth checking out more of. Wild west is a great way to put it, things really do get nuts in lucha! I'm actually not familiar with famous guys working incognito, but it's certainly possible. Mostly lucha stars like to cash in on their fame though, and I can't blame them for that! Love that shoutout to Tana, I've rediscovered him this year to some extent as well. That G1 final! Thanks for the feed, here's some more for you right now!


    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Tokyo Joshi Pro.

    Yuu vs. Miyu Yamashita – TJP Princess of Princess Championship
    TJP Brand New Wrestling 2 ~ Now It’s Time To Attack, August 25th



    About the Promotion: I’ve watched a total of 7 TJP (no Perkins) matches this year, and overall I’m a bit undecided about the promotion. They’re attached to DDT in Japan, which is good insofar as it gives them some support and exposure, but bad because I hate using DDT Universe to watch anything because it’s a bad streaming service and it should feel bad. Truthfully it’s just hard to navigate in English, but that kind of amounts to the same thing practically speaking.

    As far the promotion itself goes there’s definitely some fun stuff in there, some colorful characters and some great wrestling, but there are soooo many women’s promotions in Japan, I’m not sure this one consistently stands out in spite of having some tremendous people on the roster. This match, however, jumped off the screen at me in a big way, and I couldn’t help but give it a spotlight here!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here, or on ddtuniverse.com:


    Don’t be fooled by all the “princess” stuff, Miyu Yamashita is a tiny murderer, and she will kill you for sure. She’s the top wrestler in the company and I’d say one of the top female wrestlers in the world, so definitely somebody worth knowing. But the real story of this match for me was my first time seeing Yuu. Yuu isn’t necessarily a huge wrestler in the traditional sense, but in the typically diminutive world of she looks like a monster, and acts like one too. I was blown away immediately by her intensely physical style and ruthless offense. She has that special ability to close the open space between herself and her opponent and make it seem like there isn’t any room to breathe. Before this match I don’t think I had ever seen Yamashita’s murderous little expression change, but the pain etched on her face at the end of this one really sticks with me.

    Also Watch From This Promotion: Miyu Yamashita vs. Reika Saiki, TOKYO Princess of Princess Championship 1/4

    Yamashita is great, and Reika Saiki has been a great talent to watch this year as well. Another match worth seeking out!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 29th least favorite match of 2018:

    Danjerhawk vs. Cam Zagami – CHIKARA Young Lions Cup Championship
    CHIKARA Clan Feuds, July 14th

    The Verdict:

    This is kind of just on here by default because it’s incredibly short. CHIKARA and Beyond Wrestling have been cross promoting all year, which has been very fun, and one piece of the rivalry was the obnoxious rookie Cam Zagami winning the Young Lions Cup, a title for wrestlers 25 and under. He said he’d take the cup back to Beyond Wrestling and refuse to defend it in CHIKARA, and only showed up a Clan Feuds to taunt the fans. However the recently debuted Danjerhawk was on hand with his “golden opportunity”, essentially an MITB briefcase for any championship, and cashed in on an unsuspecting Zagami to quickly regain the cup for CHIKARA. It was a fun little moment but not much of a match, and I admit I’m less fond of MITB style cash ins, though this wasn’t a particularly bad application of the concept. At least it wasn’t immediately following a tough, the logical but clichéd usual formula!

    2018 Award For New Discovery:
    Charlie Morgan



    CHRIST

    I’ve only seen one Charlie Morgan match to date, but I absolutely can’t wait to see more. Fearless and determined, she stood out by a mile the moment I saw her. Finding out she was one of few openly gay wrestlers working today just cemented my positive impression of her bravery and bold character. Apparently she’ll be part of the new NXT UK program, which is a bit of a damper for me as someone who isn’t in love with WWE programs in general, but hopefully talent will win out.

    Honorable Mention To: Mustafa Ali, Jurn Simmons, Sammii Jayne

    Question: What was your favorite promotion to watch in 2018? If you only watched WWE, I’ll settle for your favorite brand!

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!
    Last edited by mizfan; 2 Weeks Ago at 01:10 PM.

  5. #5
    This match I have seen, and while DDT universe is crap, once you do discover something it can end up being absolute greatness like this contest was. To bona fide stars that I look forward to more from in the coming year.

    Your 29th worst match is understandable. As a storyline and moment I liked it but I've always been against matches being used as nothing but angles as I believe there is a better way. However, I do not believe all short matches are bad matches. I think there is a way to make a really short match into something incredible and memorable.

    Great new discovery and I hope she does amazing on NXT UK. Hopefully Vince doesn't have his hand in it because I could see him using her openess as a wacky storyline which would be terrible.

    Favorite Promotion: CHIKARA (no contest at all)

    Besides them I really enjoyed wXw, Stardom, and my national favorite SMASH.

  6. #6
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    205 Live and NJPW have been my favourite promotions this year. 205 has flown under the radar for a lot of people but by giving guys like Hideo Itami, Drew Gullack, Buddy Murphy, Kalisto and my favourite up and Comer Mustafa Ali 20min in the ring just to go it has offered up match of the week contenders night after night. Sadly it is seen as a bit of a dead end and almost a demotion from NXT however hopefully with it starting to get ppv time and Mustafa's rise on Smackdown that will turn around.



    @Sir_Samuel

  7. #7
    The Brain
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    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from that very special show, All In.

    Over Budget Battle Royal
    All In, September 1st

    About the Promotion: If you don’t know about All In, you must be living under a rock in a serious way! This Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks produced event was the first non-WWE event to draw over 10,000 fans live in almost 2 decades, and regardless of whether you like those three men or not, you’ve got to admit it’s damned impressive.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here, or on FITE TV:


    Yup, that’s right, out of all the wild stuff All In produced I actually liked the pre-match battle royal the best. It’s an incredibly eclectic collection of talent, featuring stars from Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling, and the independent wrestling world at large, converging in one place for a chance to make the main card and take on Jay Lethal for the Ring of Honor Championship. Included in the motley crew were stars of yesteryear such as the Hurricane, Tommy Dreamer, and Billy Gunn, not to mention his hitherto unknown but apparently real son Austin Gunn, the massive Brian Cage and Moose, personal favorite of mine Chuck Taylor and his Best Friend Trent, independent legends such as Jimmy Jacobs and Colt Cabana, the diminutive Marko Stunt, the powerful female wrestler Jordynne Grace, unknowns such as Chico El Luchador, and the ever intimidating force of Bully Ray, as well as many more.

    Now I’m a sucker for a good battle royal under any circumstances, but this is one that went above and beyond. The sheer clash of styles intrigued me, on top of the match including a lot of my favorite people booked for the event flat out. The match was well constructed to showcase just about everyone at some point and give them a chance to show what they’re great at, and a lot of small character moments really drove the match to a great place for me. From the word go Bully Ray was a standout, an old favorite of mine once again making his presence felt as he drove the hapless Chico through a ringside table to kick off festivities. Jordynne Grace was another standout, easily keeping pace with the men of the match and once again showing that intergender wrestling done well works perfectly. I won’t try to break the match down point by point, because I’m hoping you’ll take the time to watch it yourself. I do want to talk about the ending, so if you don’t want it to be spoiled then go watch the video first!

    The finish seems to come down to Bully Ray as the victor, only for the un-eliminated Chico El Luchador to rise from the wreckage of the table and claim the win at the last moment. What elevated this bit of storytelling is that the masked man revealed himself to be none other than Flip Gordon! Now if I’m being honest, I don’t especially like Flip. I don’t find his matches that compelling and his apparent status as a sincere Flat Earther is baffling, but still this ending worked really well for me because all through the build up to the event, Flip did everything in his power to make it onto the card, only to be denied at every turn. The fact that he had the guts to sneak into the battle royal and last eliminate Bully Ray, who had served as a spoiler and taken out several popular wrestlers over the course of the match, was a very nicely executed arc that I can’t help but appreciate. Sometimes good storytelling will elevate a performer, and I love to see it happen. Give this one a watch!


    Also Watch From This Show: Joey Janela vs. Adam Page, No DQ 9/1

    By far the most violent and arguably the most creative match on the card. Your mileage may vary on the Joey Ryan segment after the match.


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 28th least favorite match of 2018:

    Matanza vs. Cortez Castro – Sacrifice to the Gods Match
    Lucha Underground, July 11th

    The Verdict:

    You’ll have to go far and wide to find a bigger Lucha Underground fan than I am, and I thought there was a lot to love in the 4th (and hopefully not last) season of the show. I did have mixed feelings about at least one recurring segment of the season though, and that’s the Sacrifice to the Gods gimmick. Since his introduction in season 2, Matanza Cueto has been a monster among men, laying waste to all in his path. But after failing to recapture the Lucha Underground Championship from Pentagon Dark early in the season, his ruthless father decided to break the last string connecting him to his humanity and make him more dangerous than ever. That sounds like a great idea, but the immediate result was a series of squash matches that saw the losers quite literally disappear from the Temple.

    Cortez Castro, a veteran roster member since season 1, was an unlikely candidate to become a top champion in the promotion, but his character was important regardless. As we learned over the course of many backstage vignettes, he was in fact an undercover cop working to bring down the dark conspiracy behind the promotion. However, his storyline was seemingly cut short when he was pit against the monster in a sacrifice match. 16 seconds of ring time saw him decimated, and one post match blackout saw his quest end, perhaps once and for all. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a cool 16 seconds. If you don’t know the power of the man behind the Matanza mask, Jeff Cobb, then you owe it to yourself to check it out. And perhaps Cortez will return down the line in some fashion and continue his story. Still, it was a strange moment in the season, and not one that entirely sat well with me.


    2018 Award For Best Promotion:
    wXw



    German Wrestling, For The Win!

    Recommended Matches:

    WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. John Klinger, wXw Championship 3/10/18 wXw 16 Carat Gold Day 2
    Shortcut to the Top Rumble Match 8/4/18 wXw Shortcut to the Top
    WALTER & Timothy Thatcher vs. Ilja Dragunov & David Starr 8/31/18 wXw Fans Appreciation Night Hamburg

    I’ve really, really come to love wXw! Probably the most prominent promotion in mainland Europe, this German company has made a great effort since the early 00s to connect with an American audience as well. In the past few years they’ve taken it to the next level with a top notch streaming service, English commentary, and handy subtitles for any promos not in English. More than that, they’ve had an awesome home grown group of talent that mixes seamlessly with guests from all around the world. Best of all, they have a big focus on honest to god characters and feuds instead of just smashing talented wrestlers together in exhibitions. They even do video packages for their big matches so it’s easy to pick up on what’s going on. I love this company and I can’t wait to watch even more of them in the new year!

    Honorable Mention To: CHIKARA, Lucha Underground, Stardom

    Question: Who was your favorite creative mind in wrestling in 2018? And, if you feel the urge to say Triple H, please let me know what great stories he was responsible for in WWE this year!

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  8. #8
    Don't have much time today so I just wanted to leave a message to say great job. Love the series and can't wait to keep reading. wXw rules!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Damn re watching that was so good. All In was such a special show, there was so much good will from all the promotions, wrestlers and the fans, it could have gone so damn wrong but they nailed everything in it. I don't think we will ever see anything like it again now AEW is a rival to Impact and ROH but in the moment it felt so damn good.

    With the Battle Royale, it is hard for me to think of a better one honestly, every performer got time to shine, the crowd were hot from the start, they told an incredible story and the production was almost flawless, the only thing they missed was calling Dreamer hitting the Bionic Elbow as a tribute to Dusty. There were a bunch of guys in it I'd never seen before but they all looked like stars. Fantastic stuff.

    As far as creative minds I'm gona call out two kinda random ones firstly Tyson Kidd who was the road agent for some of Seth Rollins best matches including tee incredible 2 hour Gauntlet Match on Raw. Rollins was my wrestler of the year by some stretch this year and he was ably helped by Kidd who it is awesome to see has fallen on his feet after his horrific injury. Second is Cody who was a the MVP of so many Being The Elite segments this year, at the start of the year he turned himself into the most loathed heel around in front of Kenny Omega and then when that was over became the most beloved face fighting for the NWA Championship, he is well and truly at the helm of the direction of his character so I'm happy to give him the credit for a lot of that.

    Keep the good times rolling man. Loving reading this every morning.



    @Sir_Samuel

  10. #10
    The Brain
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    Spinny! Whatever time you can spare, I appreciate. wXw rules indeed!!!

    Samwell! I am hopeful, perhaps naively, that AEW will be able to continue to foster partnerships between different promotions. The sooner all promotions realize they can only compete with WWE by working together, the better off we all will be. I love that shoutout for Tyson Kidd, I too have heard he seems to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to putting matches together backstage. I think his value could be higher than most realizes. Love the shoutout for Cody as well, I was hesitant to acknowledge him because I’m not sure how much of the actual booking was his, but I do have a strong sense that his fingerprints were all over it. On the same note I should at least mention Joey Janela, who may or may not be booking the special events with his name on it but he’s absolutely promoting the hell out of them in unique and fantastic ways. Thanks so much for the reading, I love it!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from North-East Wrestling.

    Pentagon Jr vs. Darby Allin
    NEW Redemption, November 9th



    About the Promotion: I’ve watched 10 matches from NEW this year, all in a row in fact as I only briefly signed up to the Highspots Wrestling Network. As you might guess, if you follow independent wrestling, I checked out the promotion because I had heard good things about the Fenix vs. Kenny Omega match they had hosted, though that didn’t end up being the match that interested me the most. All in all I can’t say I recommend NEW too highly, I thought the commentary and presentation wasn’t very good, and they seem to bring in a lot of big talent for one shot guest spots, which limits their ability to tell much of a story or build homegrown characters. There are lots of promotions that do the random special attraction match thing quite a bit better, I’d say. Still, I did fine a few things to really enjoy about the promotion, and this match is the top one.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match on highspotswrestlingnetwork.com.

    This was in fact my first time seeing Darby Allin, who has become a reasonably well known independent name in the last couple years. My deep appreciation for Pentagon, who doubtless went by one of his convoluted non-copyrighted names that I’m disinclined to look for this bout, goes back to his world beating performances on display since the first season of Lucha Underground. However, in recent times I have been questioning if my esteem of Pentagon as one of the top wrestling prospects in the world is fully deserved, as his work in America increasingly seems to rely on posturing, taunting, and spectacle moves, rather than the vicious urgency and character driven charisma that originally attracted me to the luchador. What made this match stand out even before the bell is Darby Allin, in a pre-match video, articulated a lot of my own feelings, urging Penta not to merely rely on his catchphrase of Cero Miedo (Zero Fear), but to show it with his actions as well. The video also showed Darby Allin doing skateboard tricks, for some reason, but that’s neither here nor there. My interest was piqued.

    And lo and behold, the match delivered! I was happily impressed with Darby, who established himself quickly in my eyes not only as an impressive fast and dexterous wrestler but also as a fearless one, best signified by his backwards dive off the top rope to the floor without so much as a glance at where he might land, risking everything to catch his opponent unawares and do the most damage possible. Pentagon couldn’t seem to stop himself from a little posturing, but to his credit he responded to the story established by Allin and stepped up to show an extra level of engagement in taking his opponent apart instead of playing to the crowd. I won’t spoil the ending in case you have an urge to watch the match, but it does feature Penta’s famous arm snapping submission being used to appropriate effect, which I always deeply appreciate.

    Also Watch From This Promotion: Tenille Dashwood vs. Karen Q 9/8/18 NEW Flipping Out

    The former Emma had quite a good year on the independent scene, and Karen Q is one of the most promising talents on the scene for my money. She’s one to keep a close eye on, without a doubt.


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 27th least favorite match of 2018:

    Famous B vs. Ricky Mundo
    Lucha Underground, October 10th

    The Verdict:

    This is another match I wouldn’t exactly call bad, just extremely short. Famous B is a great character, primarily a manager and a very entertaining one. Sometimes they decide to have him wrestle, which can be awesome as seen in his 2016 comedy match with Mascarita Sagrada, but can also be a bit pointless, as seen, well, here. The story here is that thanks to the increasingly unstable Ricky Mundo, Famous B was attacked by Matanza and injured. Upon recovering, Famous B decided to challenge Ricky to a match, but in spite of a bit of offense he’s defeated in short order. It’s basically a tool to put Ricky Mundo over a bit, since he’s been treated as a bottom level jobber since the start of the promotion, but that doesn’t make for much of a match. It’s ok as a bit of character work and tying up the loose end of Famous B wanted to try for some revenge, but it’s quite forgettable, I had to double check to make sure I even remembered exactly what happened in the match.


    2018 Award For Best Booker:
    The wXw Booking Team



    No idea what’s going on with bottom right guy there…

    Probably not shockingly, whoever holds the book in wXw has got my vote in this category. I can’t really find any information about who in particular might be calling the shots, but they’ve crafted great feud after great feud this year. Absolute Andy vs. Marius Al-Ani, Lucky Kid vs. Tarkan Aslan, Jurn Simmons vs. David Starr, Killer Kelly vs. Melanie Gray, just to name a few!

    Honorable Mention To: Mike Quackenbush, Chris DeJoseph, Joey Janela

    Question: What was your favorite wrestling event of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  11. #11
    I have been singing the praises of Darby Allin for a couple years now! I'm so happy to see others starting to watch more of him and understand my thoughts. I truly believe he's one of the best and most unique indy wrestlers today. Sadly I think he may disappear into the black hole that is EVOLVE as a developmental program for WWE.

    My favorite event is hard to say. Instead of trying to go back and do averages for match ratings and things I'm just going to pick the one I remember most and that I had a great time watching. CHIKARA's "Go Eat Worms" event. Sounds like Boogeyman's wet dream event but in reality in was a fun event from top to bottom with two great matches.

  12. #12
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    All I really watched this year was Lucha Underground and All In.

    Lucha Underground was fun, but I haven't even finished season 4. I'm still 3 or 4 episodes out. Just can't quite get there. I think the budget cuts have taken a toll, in that I miss the continual backstage and offstage segments. I still enjoyed season 4, but I'm with the exec[?] who pretty much said that they can't afford any more cuts or they'll need to go somewhere else.

    My favorite show, and it's not close, was All In. It's only now hitting me that, should AEW have some longevity, whether it's with TNA, WCW, or WWE-level success, I will get to say that I was at AEW's very first Bound for Glory, Starrcade, WrestleMania. That's no small thing. I only regret not doing the whole Starrcast weekend. When we arrived, everyone in the crowd seemed bonded from the weekend, and they talked to us like we had been there the whole time. I've been to a lot of shows, but I've never been to one where people were so aware (or so believed) that they were walking around in a history-making moment.

    I loved Pentagon live. Marty was amazing. The women's match, the battle royal, the finish and final commentary. And, of course, the NWA title match where the son of Dusty won the NWA title. DDP's moment. The crowd's collective release when Cody won (perhaps only matched by the teasing of an All In 2 at the end of the night.)

    It was a great feel good moment, and I hope to see this promotion thrive and I can bore everyone with the many stories of how I was there for the first All In.

  13. #13
    The Brain
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    Feedback!

    Spinny! I know you’re high on Darby, and so far (after one viewing) I definitely like the guy as well! GEW was great fun, that Fire Ant vs. Dasher Hatfield match was fantastic! Thanks for the read and feed my friend!

    Mystic, great to hear from you! Season 4 of Lucha Underground wasn’t perfect, to be sure, but I urge you to make time to finish it. I think the final episode my invigorate you. Love the praise for All In, the way you talk about it is truly great. What I loved about the event is how each match brought something unique to the table, and indeed how much it really felt like a moment in history. Too many good things to mention! Thanks for chiming in!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from New Japan Pro Wrestling.

    Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax Final
    NJPW G1 Climax Day 19, August 12th

    About the Promotion: I don’t have to say much about New Japan, do I? They’re all the rage these days. I cherry picked 25 of the top rated matches from New Japan this year, and while I’m not as high on the style as others are, there are still some absolute gems to be found in the promotion. This was, pretty comfortably, my favorite one.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here, or on njpwworld.com:


    New Japan matches often don’t appeal to me as much as they do to others. I think they can be too long, I think the style often discounts everything done in the first half (or more) of the match, and I think the praise they get is hyperbolic at times. But man, when they work, they really work. What’s really incredible me about this match is I wasn’t very excited about it going in. What I watched of the G1 was a mixed bag for me, including one match rated universally as a classic that I simply did not like at all (more on that later), and I wasn’t excited about seeing Tanahashi in the finals. I felt he was past the point where he should be in the post, and even putting that aside I’m just not always a fan of Tana’s in ring style. I’m pretty consistently a big Kota Ibushi fan, but even he had started to grate on me with a pretty blatant lack of selling over the course of the tournament. I don’t say any of this to condemn those who loved every second of the G1, just to put in perspective my own view of this match.

    Because I. Freaking. Loved it!

    Even now, I don’t know if I can really articulate why. I think to some extent I was surprised by it, because my expectations weren’t especially high. I went in thinking it’d be another match that others loved and I felt was meh, and when it started to rock my socks off the shock factor took it to a whole ‘nother level. But it’s not just that, it really comes down to the best attributes of both wrestlers. I love Ibushi best not because he’s one of the most athletically gifted wrestlers ever, but because he can convey emotion far beyond mere athletic competition with his face and body language (sometimes even too much for me, as I found that recent Ibushi/Ospreay gif ridiculous, but that’s another story), and when I appreciate Tana it’s because he knows how to be a great storyteller when he wants to be.

    And that’s what it came down to here, the story. Ibushi, like everyone, thought he was a lock to go on and face his best friend and partner Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom, but Tana absolutely refused to be looked past. He flat out denied Ibushi’s efforts to send him quietly into that good night and stepped up to an incredible degree. My enduring image of the match, which I have giffed for you below, is Ibushi thundering into Tana with an incredible volley of strikes, but Tana not only powering through them, but actually forcing his body into Kota’s attacks, shocking Kota and completely throwing him off his game as this seemingly invincible legend lurches towards him. I’ve seen so many hulk up spots that I’m almost immune to them now, but when they’re done this well it’s something special. Tana did an amazing job of no selling in a way that sold everything, just looking at him you KNOW he will feel every bit of the pain later on, but in this exact moment he’s so pumped up on adrenaline and energy that he probably wouldn’t stop if you shot him with a cannon. And it was that extra level that pushed this match over the top for me, I think it’s a damn classic even above and beyond the admittedly great work between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega this year. If you gave this match a skip for any reason, now is the time to check it out!


    Also Watch From This Promotion: Zack Sabre Jr vs. Kota Ibushi 7/15 NJPW G1 Climax Day 2

    Like I said, I’m very high on Ibushi in general, and I think Sabre was the exact right person for him to face during this tournament. For years I wasn’t high on Sabre, thinking him robotic and too weird looking to fully take seriously in spite of his talent, but since last year I’ve really been fully won over by the guy. At some point, if a guy is racking up MOTY candidates with everyone under the sun, it just can’t be a fluke, and Sabre has developed by his style and his body to be more engaging than ever before. As I mentioned, my main issue with Ibushi during the G1 is he would often blow past his selling in order to do cool flips, but with a guy like Sabre it’s pretty damn hard to do that, because it only takes a few seconds to be twisted into a new painful shape that serves as a keen reminder of which parts of your body are about to be twisted off. They showed incredible chemistry in this one, and it’s well worth checking it out if you haven’t yet seen it!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 26th least favorite match of 2018:

    Dante Fox vs. Hernandez vs. PJ Black vs. Aerostar vs. King Cuerno vs. Big Bad Steve vs. Jake Strong – Battle Royal
    Lucha Underground, October 17th

    The Verdict:

    So I’ve mentioned having mixed feelings on the Sacrifice to the Gods gimmick, but that’s a walk in the park compared to my feelings on the mega-push of Jake Strong, AKA Jack Swagger. For a promotion that has excelled from the start at selecting talent to feature, Swagger has been a rare and particularly galling miss. All season long, it seemed any segment he was in was simply to showcase how Swagger is able to dominate anyone and everyone on the roster. This particular match was an excuse for Swagger to roll over six other wrestlers singlehandedly, including what should have been the extra-hot returning Dante Fox. In hindsight, knowing the endgame was to establish Jack Swagger as being inhabited by an Aztec god, which I promise makes sense if you follow the promotion, the decision to book Swagger this way is clearer. Still, I can’t help but think there were a dozen better choices for the role. It’s just not worth throwing other talented wrestlers under the bus for the sake of a never-was, never-will-be like Swagger.


    2018 Award For Best Show:
    Ultimo Lucha Cuatro, Part II



    Recommended Matches:

    Mil Muertes vs. The Mack, Deathmatch
    Johnny Mundo vs. Matanza, Sacrifice to the Gods Match
    Pentagon Dark vs. Marty Martinez, Cero Miedo Match, LU Championship

    For all the minor issues I had with season 4 of Lucha Underground, the finale fired on all cylinders and then some. Sometimes you just get an event where just about everything kicks ass, even the small amount of stuff I wasn’t initially happy about looks better in retrospect. Four top quality matches over the course of two hours, and the mother of all video packages at the end to set up the next season, Aztec gods willing? Yes please, sign me up!

    Honorable Mention To: Beyond Wrestling Americanrana, wXw 16 Carat Gold Day 2, CHIKARA King of Trios Day 3

    Question: What was your favorite title reign of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  14. #14
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Mizzie, I've only had a chance to skim a couple of these at the moment but I wanted to drop by and just give you some props - the amount of wrestling you watch, review, critique and raise awareness of is really quite remarkable. That you then put this much work into writing the columns, I mean I don't understand how you manage to conjure up the time! Quite apart from the quality of the writing, the effort and ethic alone is outstanding stuff my man. Keep it up!

  15. #15
    I watch NJPW every year but it's not my favorite style the way that it is for some. However, when they are on, they have some of the best matches I've had the pleasure of watching. I'm glad you picked this one since I am not a fan, at all, of the Omega vs Okada matches that seem to just be an excuse to make both look like gods and get the crowd and reviewers to freak out.

    I have similar feelings about Swagger as I did with Anderson. I just don't understand how that's the ex WWE star that they would choose. Could they find no one better?

    For title reign I'm going to give WWE a little love since I don't do that often hah. I enjoyed the reign of Seth Rollins with the IC title. Some great matches and actual defenses.

    Honorable mentions to WALTER and Dasher Hatfield.

  16. #16
    Huzzar! I love these match lists, Mizzie.

    Love that The Invisible Man was on your list of best comedy wrestlers, his JJSB battle royal spots are always so damn funny. And that slow mo Destroyer was one of those GIFs I watched over and over on Twitter, so funny, the way Janela straightens his body at the end is just hilarious.

    Only watched a few Lucha Underground shows this year, just haven't found the time/motivation to burst through them. Got Ultima Lucha at the ready though, they're always a right blast.

    I heard the pop from SirSam in my head when I saw Tana vs Ibushi as today's match (also with the GIF of his favourite moment from said match!). Such a fantastic final.

    Favourite title reign: IWGP Heavyweight Champ Kazuchika Okada, can't ignore how legendary that reign had become in the first half of the year.

  17. #17
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Yes yes yes.

    You know I love this match. I know you love this match but I'm so glad you spent some time on it. That moment when Tana comes forward through Ibushi's strikes that a moment ago left him on thr ground in a corner is one of the most epic hero moments I've seen in a wrestling ring. It could have been hammy but Tana just plays it so well. Your line about how you could have shot him and he would have kept coming forward was so true.

    Another insanely gifable moment was the second last high fly flow as Kota stood in awe of his God, unable to do anything other than take the move. I think I put it on twitter a week or so ago. Such a cool match.

    Favourite title reign was Seth Rollins IC reign. There were times when he was the only thing keeping me watchinbg the WWE but all year he just kept putting on amazing performance after amazing performance. I've actually got a column coming out in the next few days about it if you'd like to read me and Plan wax lyrics about his 2018.
    Last edited by SirSam; 1 Week Ago at 07:57 AM.



    @Sir_Samuel

  18. #18
    The Brain
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    Planuel! I’m really quite pleased by that “raise awareness” bit more than anything, all I really want to do with this series is connect people with more wrestling they might like. I know this non-WWE stuff isn’t really your bag but I’m glad you’ve been able to skim and enjoy! Hope to see you pop in occasionally!

    Spinny! You and I share mixed feelings about the much loved Omega/Okada matches, but I really think this one deserved some love, especially since as I’ve mentioned I was kind of tired of Tana before this one. Agreed wholeheartedly on Swagger, I’ve got no issue with ex-WWE guys getting chances but only if they fit the role, and Swagger just doesn’t do much for me. Nice shout for Rollins, many are super high on the guy! Which WALTER reign did you have in mind anyway? Thanks for the feed my friend!

    Imp! Great to hear from you, my man. Much love to the wacky mind of Janela, he accomplished a ton in 2018. I do recommend at least checking out the final stretch of LU episodes this year, they really hit their stride and put out some incredible stuff! And I’m glad someone shouted out Okada, he was the “obvious” choice and deserves some real recognition!

    Samwell! You’re spot on that this match sidestepped the hammy or cliché pitfalls and really captured the best aspect of the heroic comeback, I really bought it in a way I never expected coming in. I wasn’t as high on Rollins as others, from what I saw, but I definitely think he deserves some big praise for the good stuff he’s done. Great to hear from you, as always!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion.

    Black Danger, Último Maldito, & Mirage vs. Arkángel Divino, Black Destiny, & Genio del Aire
    AAA Lucha Libre Worldwide, April 20th

    About the Promotion: AAA is a bit of a weird promotion, even by lucha standards. As I understand it (feel free to correct me if you’re reading, Cult!), up until the middle of this year they were being booked by Vampiro. Vampiro may have some redeeming features within the confines of his Lucha Underground onscreen role, but as a booker he seems to have gone to the Vince Russo school of absolute nonsense, so that wasn’t a great period for the promotion. Fortunately the reigns were handed over to Konnan, who isn’t perfect but is actually pretty damn good, and even before the changeover you’ve still got some great undercard stuff to enjoy. And that’s what we’re looking at now! I watched 17 AAA matches this year, and this was the best one!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here, or on twitch.tv/luchalibreaaa:


    There’s only one word for this match, and that’s nonstop. This is an absolutely incredible display for speed and athletics, of jaw-droppingly cool spots and cutting-edge physical accomplishment. I’ve thought of PWG in years past as the place where wrestling pushes the envelope on the super flippy-doos, but I should have known it was south of the border that has the ultimate edge. It’s pretty much pointless for me to even try to describe this match, so just go watch it! It’s absolutely ridiculous, I promise!


    Also Watch From This Promotion: Averno, Chessman & Super Fly vs. Carta Brava Jr, Mocho Cota Jr & Tito Santana, TLC, AAA Trios Championships 3/4/18 AAA Rey de Reyes

    The feud between Nuevo Poder del Norte and Los OGTs has been long and bloody in 2018, and it’s honestly hard to pick my favorite match, but I’d say this one wins out. And no, not THAT Tito Santana.


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 25th least favorite match of 2018:

    Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
    RevPro Wrestlecon, April 6th

    The Verdict:

    I realize I’m probably the low vote on this, and if you watched it you’d probably think it was fine, especially if you’re a fan of Tanahashi and Juice. As I mentioned in my New Japan entry, I’m not always a big fan of Tana, and this is one of those times. With nothing to sink his teeth into in a throwaway match on a random Wrestlemania weekend card, I just don’t see much that appeals to me coming from Tana. I’ve yet to get the appeal of Juice Robinson either, who apart from having the stupidest name in wrestling has yet to stand out to me. Feel free to point me towards the match that will change my mind! Mark Davis is already, but Fletcher is a scrawny weird looking dude who annoys me to no end. He looks like a letter opener and acts like the 19-year-old that he is. This match isn’t horrible, it’s not full of botches or horrible problems, but it really did absolutely nothing for me. Looking back I could hardly tell you a thing about it.

    2018 Award For Best Title Reign:
    Ilja Dragunov, wXw Championship (March 10th 2018 to August 4th 2018)



    Recommended Matches:

    WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. John Klinger, wXw Championship 3/10/18 wXw 16 Carat Gold Day 2
    WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov vs. David Starr vs. Travis Banks, wXw Championship 3/24/18 wXw We Love Wrestling Tour London
    WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov, wXw Championship 4/14/18 wXw True Colors

    If I had an award for favorite title win of the year, this would also be a shoe in! Ilja Dragunov, beloved fan favorite, fell just short of winning the wXw Championship from the nefarious “Bad Bones” John Klinger, and after the match was forced to announce a hiatus from wrestling to deal with a family situation. At the time it was seen as a missed opportunity for wXw, but what’s done is done. When the biggest weekend in the wXw calendar came along, 16 Carat Gold weekend, Klinger was set to defend his title against WALTER, top man in the promotion. However, at the last minute, WALTER revealed he had arranged for his respected rival Ilja to return and join the match! The reaction was thunderous, and Ilja ended up taking home the title. He defended it for much of the year until running afoul of Absolute Andy late in the summer, but what a fantastic title run it was.

    Honorable Mention To: wXw Shotgun Champion Bobby Gunns, CHIKARA Grand Champion Juan Francisco de Coronado, wXw Shotgun Champion Marius Al-Ani

    Question: Which championship did you think was hottest overall in 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  19. #19
    I was speaking of WALTER's Progress reign but I enjoyed his PWG and OTT reigns as well.

    I had a weird year with AAA. I still continued to watch it but I didn't find myself fully engaged the way I have been in the past. To each their own.

    Hottest Championship overall goes to wXw Championship. With a little love given to the NXT Championship as well.

  20. #20
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    OH YEEAAH! My favourite series of the year is back again. I'm a little late to the party but better late than never! I don't have time to watch the matches now as I'll o my have free time on Wednesday again but I'll definitely take a few hours to watch the matches up to that point and let you what I think. I won't be able to check out all of your honorable mentions but I'll damn sure be able to check our the main match of the day.
    I'm definitely checking out Orange Cassidy. An actual gimmick as being a lazy wrestler? Should be interesting.

    In the meantime I'll just answer your question of the day?

    I'm not sure what my favourite wrestling discovery of 2018 is, to be honest, as I don't go outside the realm of WWE (which is why I love this series!) and over there everything has already been discovered. Perhaps my favourite discovery was how good Drew got since he went to the Indies and came back better than ever. Actually, I think my favourite discovery was Omega vs Naito (at Wrestle Kingdom I think), which you helped me discover by being on this very list last year! That match was fucking phenomenal. I need to watch it again soon.

    Since I only watch WWE, my favourite brand has been Smackdown, especially toward the end of the year when they finally fully got their momentum back and I just can't seem to get enough of the show. Top to bottom almost every wrestler is involved in something and has a role to play. Fantastic show in my book. Not perfect by any means but damn good.

    For my favourite creative mind I would have to say Road Dogg and the team of writers he is working with on SDL. The blue and red brands might be under the same promotion but trust me when I say that the writing of the two shows are miles apart.

    Honestly I can't tell you what my favourite event was but Evolution is close to the top of my list. Besides the historical factor, the match between Dakota Kai and Toni Storm was freaking awesome. Not to mention Lynch/Flair in a Last Man Standing match.

    Favourite title reign has to be Seth's I.C Title reign. And because that title has gotten it's prestige back in recent years there was no shame in an established main eventer holding the gold. That is what I would call a fantastic title reign and I'm hoping Dean carries on the renewed legacy that he started back in 2016.

    The hottest title for me was the I.C Title due to the belt serving as the top title on RAW and everyone wanted a piece of it. Honorable mentions go to the SD Tag Team Championships.

    I'm really looking forward to watching some of these matches. Thank you for this, Mizzie.

  21. #21
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Hottest championship this year: for a brief moment in the lead up to and during All In I would say the NWA Title was as hot as I've seen a title simply for how emotional of a moment it was having Cody journey towards it and ultimately win it. The Ten Pounds of Gold series did marvellous work building that match and the legacy of the belt up.

    How amazing is it that I could say that about the NWA Title, only a year or so ago it was pretty much a non-entity.



    @Sir_Samuel

  22. #22
    The Brain
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    Spinny! I’ve never been fully invested in AAA either, but I thought they did some stuff this year that was better than last year, specifically after Vampiro’s creative role got the axe. Love me some wXw so we’re on the same page there, thanks for coming by!

    Donny! Very glad to have you along. Loving all these answers! Definitely hope you get a chance to check out Orange Cassidy. Interesting that now Road Dogg is in the good books with people again, fans were calling for his head last year! I wonder if he got his act together or if there are other factors at play? I have yet to watch Evolution but I do plan to go back for it, I’ve only heard good things and frankly the women of WWE have entertained me more than the men in a lot of cases lately. Hope to hear your thoughts on anything you get to watch, cheers Don!

    Samwell! Looooove that love for the NWA title. I agree, during that Cody arc the title was hotter than it’s been since, hell, probably since Ric Flair took it to the WWF! I fear it’s fallen back into irrelevance with Aldis again, but perhaps they’ll be able to build on the ground they briefly gained. Thanks for the feed, as always!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from AAW.

    The Heritage Rumble
    AAW Path of Redemption, March 31st



    About the Promotion: AAW is an Illinois based promotion that does some pretty fun stuff, I came out to a live show last year and enjoyed it, though I guess I should say I didn’t end up going back at all this year. The three hour drive might have something to do with that! But I did check out a little bit of their stuff, exactly six matches to be exact. I don’t know if I’d recommend them first and foremost, they’re kind of just a Midwest super indy, but they do book some talent that doesn’t get exposure elsewhere and they have a little bit of stuff going on in terms of story driven stuff, so that’s always good. Their main event seems to be dominated by Sami Callihan, which is a big no from me, but they also book one of my favorite guys Eddie Kingston a lot, so I’m constantly conflicted. But they had at least one match that I flat out loved this year, and it was a most unexpected one indeed!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match on aawondemand.com.

    The Heritage Championship is the midcard title of the promotion, but it’s still held in high esteem, so they held this Rumble style match to pick a #1 contender. Perhaps my favorite thing about this match was that it featured a wealth of underused talent just waiting to break out on the indy scene, and was put together to showcase pretty much every single one. Highlights include #1 entrant Maxwell Jacob Friedman, an egotistical heel who went coast to coast by staying out of the ring and picking his spots carefully, the 300 lbs monsters Ace Romero and Kevin Lee Davidson, the violent and powerful Chainsaw King, bump-master extraordinaire Buck Nasty (don’t let the terrible name fool you!), and eventual winner, the highflying crowd favorite PACO. The number of big men in the match was particularly fun, as you so rarely see good superheavyweights on the indy scene yet this match hosted a whole bunch of them. If you want to have a great time with a bunch of names you haven’t even heard of, this is the match to watch!

    Also Watch From This Promotion: Su Yung vs. Hudson Envy, No DQ 6/23/18 AAW WRSTLING Rulz

    Hudson Envy is a tough-as-nails mass of tattoos who will clean your clock as soon as look at you. Su Yung is an undead killer bride. This match features a kendo stick sword fight while standing on top of a bar. Go watch it!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 24th least favorite match of 2018:

    Johnny Mundo vs. Rob Van Dam
    NEW Wrestling Under the Stars in Troy, July 14th

    The Verdict:

    Why oh why did I watch a Rob Van Dam match in 2018? I’m not sure what possessed me to watch this. Maybe it’s because they never wrestled when it would have been awesome, in like 2006 or something. Needless to say, RVD doesn’t look great. Mundo is doing very well for himself and is usually quite fun to watch, but there’s only so much he can do with something like this. This was a match in a baseball park in front of what seemed to be some pretty casual fans, but even by that standard this felt very phoned in. This is certainly a match that happened.


    2018 Award For Best Title:
    wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship



    Damn good looking belt too!

    Recommended Matches:

    WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov, wXw Championship 5/5/18 wXw Superstars of Wrestling
    Absolute Andy vs. Ilja Dragunov, wXw Championship 9/1/18 wXw Fans Appreciation Night Oberhausen
    Absolute Andy vs. Zack Sabre Jr, wXw Championship 8/31/18 wXw Fans Appreciation Night Hamburg

    I already talked about Ilja’s fantastic run through much of the year, but don’t let that fool you. John Klinger’s run prior to that was also a great one, and Absolute Andy has been on a tear of his own since winning the belt. No championship has delivered more exciting and engaging storylines and matches this year. If you’re not thinking of checking out wXw, you really should!

    Honorable Mention To: wXw Shotgun Championship, CHIKARA Grand Championship, Lucha Underground Championship

    Question: What was your favorite promo of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  23. #23
    Quick comments from me today as it's a busy one for me.

    I watch AAW. They are a pretty average indy promotion. Nothing to write home about, but I did love the Heritage Rumble.

    Giving best promo to the Miz again this year. His promo mocking the accomplishments of Daniel Bryan on the indies was great.

  24. #24
    The Brain
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    Spinny! Average is a fair assessment of AAW, but I always think they have the potential to be greater, because they book great talent and once in a while they put on a fantastic show. Wonder what’s missing? More story driven booking, perhaps? Love for the Miz is always right in my book! Thanks for the feed mate!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Impact Wrestling.

    Pentagon Jr vs. Austin Aries vs. Fenix
    Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground, April 6th

    About the Promotion: So I’m not sure if this is cheating a little, the only Impact Wrestling I watched this year was this Impact vs. LU show from Wrestlemania weekend. It was a cool idea and produced some fun stuff, though I think it may have had more potential before Impact hired on 90% of the Temple roster, which is why I class it firmly under the Impact banner at the end of the day. I did enjoy the show overall, particularly the impromptu main event, which thank god was changed from a tag match involving Albert del Rio, who was FINALLY dropped from all halfway sensible wrestling promotions after no showing the event. I did watch a couple more Impact matches since I originally wrote this entry and saw some solid stuff, though this is still my favorite of the bunch. It’s clear Impact has rebounded a lot since that disastrous first Anthem episode in 2017, which is great, though I still don’t think I’ll be a regular watcher again anytime soon.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here, or the full show at twitch.tv/videos/247553403:


    I am really quite fond of these three guys, and it should surprise no one that they turned out a really great match here. I suspect it was a little too short for some, but they packed a lot of fun into 10+ minutes. I’ve already talked about my deep love of Pentagon, and mentioned that Fenix is one of the finest performers walking this earth. Austin Aries is a guy who has caught a lot of flak for his attitude this year, and rightfully so, but there’s so much that he does well, and he was on a very good run at this time. Fast paced, super fun triple threat action here! And yes, I’ve heard they had this same match but better on Impact properly, but I haven’t had a chance to see it, so you may want to check that one too, but for me this was great all by itself and well worth taking a look at. Maybe I’ll even watch some more Impact in 2019, who knows?


    Also Watch From This Promotion: Taya vs. Allie, Impact KO Championship 4/6/18 Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground

    I’m a big fan of both of these women, and I love how the character of Allie has progressed on Impact. The former Cherry Bomb is just ridiculously likeable, and injects a ton of character into everything she does. Taya is one of the most engaging women working today, she has her critics but she always brings something great when she steps up to the plate. This was a great match and well worth the watch!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 23rd least favorite match of 2018:

    The Beast Warriors (Oleg the Usurper & Proletariat Boar of Moldova) vs. The Closers (Rick Roland & Sloan Caprice) – 2 out of 3 Falls, CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas
    CHIKARA Piano Lessons Can Be Murder, October 13th

    The Verdict:

    This one was just… weird. I like both teams here, but something went seriously wrong in this match. I can’t say for sure if it was a plan that went awry or some kind of injury, but early in this match Sloan Caprice seemed to hurt his leg and nothing went right after that. The bizarre part is he kept working the match and seemed to put weight on the leg fine at times, but then at others times it seemed like he could barely move it. It was bizarre and flow breaking and very disappointing, and it led to some seemingly bizarre decision, such as one fall ending in a DQ when nothing particularly DQ-able seemed to have happened. CHIKARA had mostly really good stuff this year, but this was a major headscratcher. Still no idea what happened, as Sloan Caprice seemed to be perfectly fine when he showed up again just a couple weeks later.

    2018 Award For Promo of the Year:
    “But They Did Not Ask Me” (Ophidian, CHIKARA)



    This year, the CHIKARA Grand Championship situation took an unexpected turn. After “Mr Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti finally unseated longtime champion Juan Francisco de Coronado, it seemed like it was about time that he took home the title. However, tragedy struck at the very next event, as Touchdown suffered a leg injury that would put him on the shelf. Rather than vacate the title, the decision was made to allow Angelosetti to choose an interim champion to defend the title on his behalf until he was able to return to action. Without hesitation, he picked his tag team partner Dasher Hatfield. This decision was not without controversy, especially among some of the veterans of the roster. The Master of Snake Style, Ophidian, earned himself a title shot at the season finale show Let’s Get Invisible, but in advance of the title match he had harsh words for Dasher and for CHIKARA in spite of his babyface status. He talked about his history with the company and the sacrifices he had made at the request of the promotion, whether it be going undercover during the gigantic Flood invasion of 2014 or obtaining and destroying the mythical Eye of Tyr, but noting when CHIKARA needs someone to step up and be champion, nobody even thinks of him. It’s a great promo that put a lot of heat into the match despite being babyface vs. babyface, and I can’t say I’ve heard a more effective one all year.

    Honorable Mention To: “Mil Muertes Scares the Shit Out of Me (The Mack, Lucha Underground), “It’s Not His Teeth You Want To Take, It’s His Title” (Mariposa, Lucha Underground), “Puta Madre, Cabron” (Pentagon Dark, Lucha Underground)

    Question: What was your favorite wrestling tournament of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  25. #25
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    I just watched the Pentagon/Fenix/Aries for the first time. It was...okay...to me. I don't know if I'm just too much a fan of old school psychology, but too much of the man, for me, was too clean, too cute, too easily transitioned. It all looks lovely, but none of it feels like it's happening in the moment. Maybe that is the style of the wrestlers or maybe that is the influence of a 3-way match where you have to get folks separated, but I wish I could like the match more.

    Interestingly, the rumor is that AEW and TNA are currently in a bidding war for the Lucha Bros. Don't know if this is true, but if AEW happens on the LB, I hope they won't just be two "lucha" guys. I have tried several times to watch Pentagon in TNA and, while he has his moments, I haven't liked him half as much one time as I do all the time in LU. The guy has a dark character, he has an Austin-like threatening way about him, and he has one of the best catchphrases in the business. You got to let him be a character first and a worker second.

    Interesting stuff. I will keep popping in from time to time. I'll try to find a match I can truly like, despite 2018 and styles and ways of being/doing currently.

    Also, props to Mil and Mack. Mack gets a lot of love, deservedly. Mil is overrated. Kind of like the Undertaker of LU and not just in gimmick. The dude delivers and is a professional in all that he is booked to do.
    Last edited by Mystic; 1 Week Ago at 11:35 AM.

  26. #26
    I find it hilarious that they tried to pass this off as a supershow when Impact had already been using a bunch of Lucha talent and would go on to hire more. It was a fine match and sadly it was probably the best that Impact had to offer this year.

    Though I said I didn't enjoy it as much this year, I still enjoyed it the most of all the tournaments. Going with the King of Trios!

  27. #27
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    I love this series, but it is so much more than just the best matches of the year now. It is a yearly, non-WWE encyclopedia of pro wrestling. You fit everything in here, and I enjoy it so much. This gives me a chance to dive into stuff that I tend to not have the time to.

    Thanks Miz!


  28. #28
    The Brain
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    Mystic! Glad you had a chance to watch the match. While I suspect I liked it a bit more than you, I think it’s fair to say that Impact, or at least what I saw of it, didn’t have a particularly strong offering this year. I love and intensely agree with your assessment of Pentagon, the man has a special aura but if a promoter doesn’t understand that then he is at risk of becoming just another one of the guys, flipping around and doing his catchphrase. We’ve been spoiled by Lucha Underground’s masterful booking to some extent. All the more reason season 5 is a must! And I’m very glad someone noted my shout out to Mack and Mil, with less to do than others they absolutely killed it this season. Appreciate the pop in!

    Spinny! You’re not wrong that by the time this Impact vs. LU rolled around it was a bit redundant, but I still enjoyed that they pulled it off and did a decent job of it. Love the shout out to Trios, and perhaps I’ll persuade you that it was even better than your first impression!

    Klecko! Awesome to hear from you! Glad you’re enjoying, being an encyclopedia of non-WWE wrestling sounds right up my alley! Thanks for stopping by!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from White Wolf Wrestling.

    Zack Sabre Jr vs. A-Kid – Triple W Absolute Championship
    White Wolf Wrestling, April 14th

    About the Promotion: All I know about WWW is that they’re located in Spain, they’ve sent representatives to CHIKARA a couple times (always with fun results), and Dave Melzter suddenly rated this match 5 stars which made everyone check them out, including myself. This is the only WWW match I’ve ever watched, so let’s give it a look!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here:


    This is a late edition to the series, but it was so good I had to include it. From the word go, these two are grappling like mad, and I’m a sucker for competitive physicality down on the mat. But as this match grows, it becomes more than just some world class grappling. Kid is just beginning to become known outside of Spain, and every time I see him it’s clear he’s hungry to be a top name in the world of wrestling, and there’s no better chance to do that than with a guy people seek out like ZSJ. This means in addition to trying to match Sabre on the mat, Kid is also throwing every strike with extra force, and moving that much more quickly in every counter and attack, which is impressive since he’s already one of the fastest wrestlers I’ve seen recently.

    But it takes two to tango, and this couldn’t reach the same heights without Sabre doing his thing like only he can do. I think what finally sold me on Sabre is when he morphed from an expressionless, robotic worker, to having just a touch of smugness in everything he does. Sabre gives the impression he’s always wrestling with one hand behind his back and truly believes he could end the match at any moment but doesn’t because it’s more interesting for him if the match keeps going. It’s a maddeningly good heel touch and gives a great dimension to any match where he chooses to display it, and he had it on full display in this one. When Kid is wrestling with all his heart and Sabre seems to be almost toying with him, I dare you not to get at least a little invested in the outcome. Give this one a watch, it’s free!


    Also Watch: Pierre Carl Ouellet vs. Arik Royal 6/9/18 NOVA Commonwealth Cup Day 2

    I was originally going to give this match its own slot but it got bumped in favor of WWW. Since I don’t have a second WWW match to watch, I’m going to feature it here! NOVA is a small but fun promotion in Virginia that you can watch on Powerbomb TV. This is the only match I caught this year but it was well worth my time. I’m sure I’ll be saying a lot about PCO later on, but for now I’ll just mention that Arik Royal is probably the best independent wrestler you’ve never heard of. Keep an eye out for him, if there’s any justice his name is on the verge of being on everyone’s lips!



    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 22nd least favorite match of 2018:

    Proletariat Boar of Moldova vs. Cornelius Crummels
    CHIKARA Beware the Snowman, January 28th

    The Verdict:

    Another low rated match that isn’t exactly bad, this was about 2 minutes between two guys I’m really not that crazy about, so there’s just not much to be said for it. It’s fine, a dominant win for Boar to establish him as a growing threat at the expense of former tag champion Crummels, which is a bit odd but nothing to get upset about.


    2018 Award For Best Tournament:
    CHIKARA King of Trios



    Recommended Matches:

    Pierre Carl Ouellet, Katarina Leigh, & Rey Bucanero vs. Merlok, Hermit Crab, & Cajun Crawdad 8/31/18 CHIKARA King of Trios Day 1
    Pierre Carl Ouellet, Katarina Leigh, & Rey Bucanero vs. Mick Moretti, Jack Bonza, & Adam Hoffman 9/1/18 CHIKARA King of Trios Day 2
    Fire Ant, Green Ant, & Thief Ant vs. Mick Moretti, Jack Bonza, & Adam Hoffman, King of Trios Final 9/2/18 CHIKARA King of Trios Day 3

    The biggest tournament in wrestling (strictly by the numbers, involving 48 wrestlers!) is always a highlight of my year, but I think this year CHIKARA really topped themselves, and I’m not just saying that because I was live in the front row. Stars from Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Europe, and America converged to rub shoulders with the native roster of the little promotion that could to put on one heck of a weekend of wrestling. There were too many highlights to mention, but the story that really put it over the edge was a fractured Colony trying to put themselves back together over the course of three days, in an effort to finally secure a victory for CHIKARA in their signature tournament after three straight years of outsider wins. The final was a thing to behold, I don’t have to tell you I was jumping out of my seat at the end because you could see it yourself on chikarapro.com! And by god you should, there’s no better way to jump into the promotion at long last!

    Honorable Mention To: wXw 16 Carat Gold, NJPW G1 Climax, CHIKARA Tag World Grand Prix

    Question: What was your favorite stable of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  29. #29
    Been at the hospital all day with mom (complications), but wanted you to know I was still reading. Going to re-watch King of Trios sometime and see if you're right and maybe I judged to harshly.

  30. #30
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    Really sorry to hear that, Spin. Hope today’s entry can provide some distraction, if you need it.

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Lucha Memes.

    Ricky Marvin vs. Keyra
    Lucha Memes, January 7th

    About the Promotion: Remember what I said about indy lucha promotions? The same goes here! But Lucha Memes is one of my favorites, as when they randomly film and put stuff on youtube, the quality is usually pretty high both in terms of ring action and presentation. I was only able to catch two Memes matches this year (no idea why it’s called that, by the way), but this one was still a major standout. So let’s get to it!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here:


    I know Cult is glad to see this one pop up, or would be if he was actually reading! This is, plain and simple, an example of intergender wrestling done perfectly. Ricky Marvin may be known best to indy fans as the short lived “Bengala” character in Lucha Underground, but please don’t hold that against him, I have no idea what happened there because Marvin is actually quite talented. Here he’s up against Keyra, a young but highly talented luchadora who takes the fight to the veteran here in a big way, not just in the ring but also into the crowd and with weapons when necessary! And, in the longstanding tradition of lucha, the ref doesn’t give a crap so the violence rages on freely. This one is nice and free to watch, so why not take the time to view the best independent lucha match of the year?


    Also Watch From This Promotion: Negro Casas vs. Aramis 3/11/18

    Negro Casas is a legend of lucha libre, evidenced by the fact that at 58(!!) years old he is still absolutely awesome. A technical master on the mat, he’s also still capable of throwing down in a brawl and even doing a bit of flying, because he is almost definitely a dark wizard who made a pact with the devil. Aramis is a young luchador who is gaining buzz steadily, so this was a wonderful test for him, and I have to say both men delivered in a great way. This is also definitely worth going out of your way to watch!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 21st least favorite match of 2018:

    Thief Ant vs. David Dennison
    CHIKARA Young Lions Cup Stage 1, March 17th

    The Verdict:

    Seeing so many CHIKARA matches on this part of the list is a bit misleading. Watching more than 200 CHIKARA matches this year means there are bound to be some nondescript squashes, which is what this was. A very green Thief Ant beats a guy I’ve never heard of in a couple minutes. I feel like I didn’t see too many matches I thought were actually bad this year, but don’t worry, in a few days we’ll get to some stinkers, I promise!


    2018 Award For Best Stable:
    The Colony (Fire Ant, Green Ant, Thief Ant, Worker Ant)



    Recommended Matches:

    Fire Ant, Travis Huckabee, Icarus, & Tony Deppen vs. Razerhawk, Green Ant, Thief Ant, & Worker Ant 7/14/18 CHIKARA Clan Feuds
    Fire Ant, Green Ant, & Thief Ant vs. Travis Huckabee, Icarus, & Tony Deppen 9/1/18 CHIKARA King of Trios Day 2
    Fire Ant, Green Ant, & Thief Ant vs. Brian Milonas, Cam Zagami, & Chris Dickinson 9/2/18 CHIKARA King of Trios Day 3

    I’ve already mentioned the Colony triumphing at King of Trios, but truly the latest iteration of the long tenured CHIKARA group was extremely compelling this year. At the end of 2017, Fire Ant dissolved The Furies stable after failing to save his friends and former Colony members Soldier Ant and Silver Ant, among others, from career ending injuries. Fire Ant declared himself the “Last Ant Standing” and isolated himself from the roster. When Green Ant and Thief Ant, two new Ants graducated from CHIKARA’s training school, the Wrestle Factory, Fire Ant confronted them during an interview and denied them as true members of the Colony. The race was on for the new Ants to gain the respect of the CHIKARA veteran, but every attempt to get close to Fire Ant only resulted in greater backlash. Even the one night only return of Worker Ant failed to sway Fire Ant. The split between the Ants hit rock bottom when Fire Ant teamed up with the newest version of the Colony’s arch enemy, Team F.I.S.T., for a 4 on 4 match. However, seeing F.I.S.T. try to put these young wrestlers on the shelf seemed to trigger the beginning of a shift in Fire Ant, and he ended up saving the young Ants from serious injury, though he still refused to associate with them on a regular basis. When all three Ants were paired together for King of Trios, at first Fire Ant seemed as though he would refuse to commit to helping the team more than the bare minimum, but over the course of one great weekend Green and Thief finally earned his respect, and in the end the Ants stood unified once again. Great matches, great story, what more could you ask for?

    Honorable Mention To: RISE (wXw), Tribe Vangaurd (Dragon Gate), Oedo Tai (Stardom)

    Question: What was your favorite angle or story moment of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  31. #31
    Cero Miedo Mystic's Avatar
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    The only story that made-and-kept me a fan for any time in 2018 was Cody vs. Nick. There was no way I was not tuning in to see the son of Dusty Rhodes pursue the NWA title. Add that to the All In gamble, and add that to the videos that the NWA produces, which are some of the most sound narrative and story driven products I've ever seen. The match managed to live up to the videos, partly with the story told in the ring, partly with the cast of supporting characters, partly with a home crowd arena unlike almost any. It's a gamble still for old school fans like me. AEW doesn't have the NWA history that brought me in, and if their storytelling doesn't match those NWA videos, chances are I'm not showing up on the regular. So, great, great story in 2018, but now it needs to be the FLOOR for them in 2019.

  32. #32
    Thanks, all distractions are helpful right now man. Loved the Colony this year, which is nothing new, since I love them every year.

    I agree with Mystic, there was something so special about watching the son of Dusty Rhodes win the NWA championship.

    Lucha Memes is another promotion that you first turned me on to and now I watch it whenever something comes to my attention from there.

  33. #33
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    Ahhh this is all going too fast and I can't keep up.

    I've put a few of those matches on my to watch list - I'm particularly looking forward to the Impact one as I really love the look of Pentagon and the one match I saw him in was great. Will report back when it is watched - scouts honor!

    My favourite angle or story moment last year is hard to narrow down as that is the reason I love watching wrestling.

    Kenny Omega winning the IWGP title and embracing the Young Bucks was awesome because of how deeply I got sucked into the 'Bullet Club is Fine' story.

    I also loved the Dean Ambrose heel turn. Some people have soured on the heel turn (somewhat predictably unfortunately) but at the time I thought it was so perfectly executed I wrote an entire 1500 word column about just the one segment.The Seth and Dean story is my favourite of all time at this point so hard not to mention that.

    Obviously Becky getting her face busted was a pretty epic character moment - wrote another column about that.

    My final one though would be the excitement when Aleister Black's attacker was revealed. Was so cool seeing Regal standing in the ring trying to act calm when Nicki Cross ran in all crazy screaming 'he's here' and then Aleister Black just cut a pathway through security straight to Regal demanding to know what happened and where his attacker was. A bunch of other people came out and then out of nowhere Johnny Gargano just floors him and solidifies the dark path he had already been travelling down. Such a cool segment.



    @Sir_Samuel

  34. #34
    The Brain
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    Mystic! The Cody saga was masterfully done, but like you it seems the chances are up in the air if that will continue on to AEW. The fact that Cody seemed to drive a lot of the storytelling is comforting though, and I’m very hopeful for what the new promotion can do. Great to hear from you, as always!

    Spinny! The Colony does always seem to deliver, doesn’t it? Glad to turn you on to Lucha Memes, as always I’m very imipressed by the amount of wrestling you manage to watch!

    Samwell! I hope you like that Pentagon match, though if you’re really interested in the guy I think I can do quite a few better bouts than the one featured from Impact. As much as I am hit or miss on New Japan booking, I’ll be the first to admit they caused an impressive buzz with the “Bullet Club is Fine” stuff, very nice shout out. I’d agree so far to say the Ambrose turn had all the potential in the world, though as usual where you apply blame to the fans for turning I apply it to WWE to making them turn with poor handling. Who could say a word against Becky though? What a star making stretch she had. Thought the NXT reveal stuff was very interesting indeed! Some great shoutout here, my friend, thanks for stopping by!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from DDT.

    Mike Bailey vs. Shuji Ishikawa
    DDT D-Ou Grand Prix In Shinjuku, January 5th



    About the Promotion: DDT is one of the more successful promotions in Japan, on the tier with Dragon Gate just below New Japan, typically drawing better than more historically known promotions such as All Japan and NOAH. They have a reputation for comedy stuff but the majority of their stuff is actually rather straightforward. Honestly I think I prefer their weird stuff, because their traditional stuff often strikes me as rather generic, but there are usually some standouts in the pack. I cherry picked just 4 matches from DDT this year, and this was my favorite one!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match on DDT Universe.

    Mike Bailey is 174 pounds of ridiculous kicking frenzy. Shuji Ishikawa is almost 300 pounds of scars and violence. When you put these two ingredients together, you get something bloody awesome. This one is a beautiful clash of styles, with Bailey relying on every bit of his legitimately incredible speed and striking ability to take Ishikawa down without getting crushed like a bug. I’m a sucker for size difference matches done well and this is one of the finest examples in recent memory, both guys are just wonderful performers and they give an incredible effort here. Sadly it’s difficult to watch this match without paying, but if you do decide to check out DDT for any reason this match should be right at the top of your watchlist!

    Also Watch From This Promotion: Mike Bailey vs. Yukio Sakaguchi 1/11/18 DDT D-Ou Grand Prix In Yokohama

    I sampled DDT early in the year so most of what I got was from the D-Ou Grand Prix, a fun tournament they ran early in the year, and that means I got to see more “Speedball” Mike Bailey, which is always great in my book. I quite honestly don’t recall Sakaguchi very vividly, I know he pulled his weight but I’m not sure he’s a guy I would seek out on his own merit. Bailey was just excellent here again though, and against an opponent closer to his own size he was able to have a completely different yet still very compelling match. If you haven’t heard Speedball’s kick cracking off another man, you don’t know what you’re missing!


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 20th least favorite match of 2018:

    Blanche Babish vs. Gabby Ortiz
    CHIKARA Hour of Power, April 21st

    The Verdict:

    Same story as yesterday, nothing wrong with the match, Blanche is in her first year of wrestling but is doing fine for her skill level and is having fun with her gimmick as a 50s throwback. I think Gabby Ortiz has done some work for ROH, so she may become known in the future. Not much to say about this one!


    2018 Award For Best Angle:
    The Gods Have Arrived (Lucha Underground)


    Ok, major spoilers ahead for Lucha Underground season 4, so avoid if you have yet to see it!

    Even those with mixed feelings about the fourth season of Lucha Underground were begging for season five to be confirmed after the angle that ended this year’s Temple festivities with a bang! The shadow of the Aztec Gods has hung over the company since it’s inception, with Matanza Cueto’s presence being the most dangerous harbinger of the threat. But at the end of this season, we learned the Gods were closer than we thought. The reveal of Jake Strong as the vessel of a god made his controversial dominance make a lot more sense in hindsight, and the possession of Taya, the first appearance of Hexagon Dark, and the revelation of an inhabited Wade Barrett upped the stakes tremendously. And perhaps the only man who can stop them is a resurrected Dario Cueto!


    I know this kind of thing may only appeal to a certain kind of fan, but it’s my bread and butter. I eat this stuff up for lunch, give me more of it!!

    Honorable Mention To: RISE and Fall, Brothers No More (wXw), War is Hell (CHIKARA), Love's Labour's Lost (CHIKARA)

    Question: Who was your favorite commentary team of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  35. #35
    I watch as much wrestling as I possibly can, without forfeiting the rest of my life. haha

    Commentary teams are not my thing and I do no pay attention to them enough to make a decision on the best. I used to but they got so bad, like live audiences did, that I would prefer to watch a majority of my shows on mute.

  36. #36
    The Brain
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    Spinny! The rest of life is always a pesky problem, isn’t it? It’s a shame that many commentary teams are quite poor in this day and age. I know some like them but I can’t stomach Callis and Kelly over in New Japan, I’d rather listen to the Japanese commentary!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite from Over The Top Wrestling.

    Timothy Thatcher vs. David Starr
    OTT Wrestlerama 2, August 18th



    About the Promotion: OTT is an Irish based promotion with a reputation for giving a very fun live experience. I can’t speak to that, but they certainly are able to book some very good matches! They also seem to be inside the WWE affiliation bubble, though I’m not sure all the details of how that works exactly. Whatever their relationship with the big ‘E, they clearly have a very loyal and vocal local fanbase (say that 5 times fast!) as every crowd I saw over the course of the 12 matches I saw seemed to be red hot!

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match on overthetopwrestling.pivotshare.com.

    There were a couple of highly hyped matches from OTT this year, in particular WALTER vs. Jordan Devlin and WALTER vs. Will Ospreay, but after watching through the matches I cherry picked this is the one that stands out to me the most. Timothy Thatcher, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the modern face of very serious grappling. Think Drew Gulak but much bigger and even more serious. I’ve gone back and forth on Thatcher a bit over the years but when he’s on point he’s pretty incredible to watch, I know very few guys who can take over a match with sheer physicality and will power the way he can. David Starr is a curious case. When working in America and much of the UK, he takes on the persona of an extreme egotist, complete with a comically long list of nicknames and a willingness to break any rule to win. However, when working in certain places, he sheds a lot of those trappings and becomes this rugged, hard hitting, incredibly engaging babyface on a quest to prove himself against the toughest competition. Usually we see that side of him in wXw, but this time he brought it to OTT, and it suits him extremely well. I actually much prefer this version of Starr, I find it almost impossible not to get sucked into the genuine fire he shows when throwing clotheslines that would behead a normal man against the toughest men in wrestling.

    Put that all together, and you’ve got this fantastic match! The powerful Thatcher does all he can to turn the match to his style but Starr is not only ready to match him, he also mercilessly pummels Thatcher at every chance to force him to take a back step. Starr very much comes off in these matches like he’s looking to force his opponent to acknowledge him and what he can do, and when it hits that sweet spot it’s extremely compelling. This is another match that’d be difficult to watch without paying, but I’d argue it’s worth a few bucks to give it a look.

    Also Watch From This Promotion: WALTER & Low Ki vs. David Starr & Jordan Devlin 6/2/18 OTT Haven For Monsters

    Just looking at the makeup of this, you know it’s going to be fun. Devlin is a guy I have mixed feelings about in the ring, but he is a god to the fans of this promotion and that elevates everything he does. I’ve already talked about David Starr, and everything I like about him working with Thatcher is pretty much doubled against WALTER. Low Ki looks a little silly in his Hitman cosplay, but I still can’t help but enjoy him quite a bit in the ring. And WALTER… well, I’ll put it this way. When this match started, neither the crowd nor the commentary team seemed to really care that much about WALTER, but before the end of the match, he was getting cheered by both even against Devlin, the biggest hometown hero imaginable to this crowd. That’s how great his performance was. WALTER is an absolute treasure, and don’t you forget it.


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 19th least favorite match of 2018:

    Joe Coffey vs. Michael May
    OTT Contenders 6, February 19th

    The Verdict:

    Finally, a match that I think properly stinks! I checked this out because I wasn’t familiar with Joe Coffey, who has a reasonably good reputation, but after seeing this one I really don’t have any desire to see him again. Michael May doesn’t seem to be very well known, yet for some reason this match got at least 20 minutes and was worked as if the man were complete equals, despite being radically different in size and experience. I hate that stuff, it’s one of my least favorite things in all of wrestling when two guys just get in the ring and do their crap seemingly without any thought as to what might make this match unique. If the two guys have super cool crap to do I might be able to give it a skip, but this was 20 highly forgettable minutes that I’ll never get back. I’m a busy man, Coffey! Don’t waste my time!


    2018 Award For Best Commentary:
    Kevin Condron & Louden Noxious (Bar Wrestling)



    It’s hard for me to even articulate how much I love these guys. I first came across both in CHIKARA, but after moving to the west coast one of their main homes became the super fun Bar Wrestling promotion, where they call the majority of shows together. Funny and conversational, they perfectly fit the tone of the promotion and are just unbelievably loveable. If you’ve never heard these guys, they are a real pleasure.

    Honorable Mention To: Juan Francisco de Coronado & Leonard F Chikarason (CHIKARA), Matt Striker & Vampiro (LU), Mike Quackenbush & Sidney Bakabella (CHIKARA)

    Question: Who is the most improved wrestler of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  37. #37
    OTT was another promotion that I happily stumbled upon and now watching regularly. It's a fun time and produces some great matches. Happy to see that you've enjoyed it as well.

    Joe Coffey seems to have a fantastic reputation but he's far from my favorite.

    Most improved? Hmmmmmm. Going to say Tarik in SMASH wrestling. I started the year still not believing him an equal of the other pillars but by the end I was fully engaged with him and his talent.

  38. #38
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    DAY 1

    LA Park & Cibernetico vs. Blue Demon Jr & El Zorro

    I wasn't entirely into this match to honest. The in-ring camera angles weren't all that great either. Don't get me wrong, this match was not bad by any stretch of the imagination and I certainly found enjoyment in it, but not as much enjoyment as I would have hoped. That guy that has Main Man on his trunks, his selling kinda sucked and all he had in his arsenal was a kick a chokeslam and a spear. That piledriver spot from the apron was sick though and that happened so early. Also, wtf? Did the match only start at the 9 minute mark because that's only when it became a tag match proper. The referee breaking up a submission in between the ropes was hilarious, so was that one dude with hitting the ref with a kendo stick. Ha! At the end the poor ref got a beatdown, damn. Overall this was not what I expected from a Lucha Libre match but it was definitely watchable. Also, the crowd was super into this match from start to finish.


    Fenix vs. Laredo Kid

    Now THIS is what I was expecting. I've seen Fenix wrestle once or twice and I like what I saw so I went into this match with an expectation and he did not disappoint. But Laredo Kid was fucking awesome too. This match had some crisp reversals and counters into submissions and pinning combinations. A welcome surprise as I though LL was all about the high-flying. I love how the crowd gets up from their seats and moves away when they suspecting an over the top rope move! There were some great spots in this match with my favourite being Fenix flipping DDT thing come off the ropes; that looked sick! Honourable mention to Laredos top rope moonsault back roll cutter; fucking hell. Okay, so cutters must be very popular in LL because I saw four different variations of that love in this match! This match was fucking awesome. This is why I love this series.


    I could not find the Orange Cassidy matches that you mentioned and I don't wanna see Hornswoggle in a match, but I wanted to check out OC, so I chose the following match from my YouTube search:

    Penelope Ford and Joey Janela vs Session Moth and Orange Cassidy:

    First thing that I would like to mention is that it seems like Beyond Wrestlings focus is on intergender matches? In my search I saw matches that had Penelope Ford wrestling different guys. Okay, a couple of things. This match might actually be one of the matches on the list as the commentators are calling the big chick in leopard tights Martina. Penelope Ford appears to be a decent wrestler and she is super hot. But the star of the match has to be OC, he is freaking awesome to watch and he's laziness actually gets in the heads of his opponents. Couldn't focus on the wrestling here as the shenanigans were funny as hell. OC slapped shit out of Ford at one point. Also, Martina is almost like the female version of OC. I loved the hot tag to OC who lazily and innefectively attacked both Ford and Janely and the crowd hilariously started a holy shit chant and again for the Canadian Destroyer. This match had some great comedy and OC really is a treat to watch. I will definitely be checking out more from the guy.


    DAY 2

    Yuu vs. Miyu Yamashita

    This match comes straight out of the Japanese wrestling playbook. This was probably the most physical women's match I've ever seen. Yuu had quite a few moments but you could see who was the star in This match without even having to follow the promotion. Miyu has great striking ability with her kicks and knees. I enjoyed this one!


    Miyu Yamashita vs. Reika Saiki

    I could not find this match. Please send a link if you have one. Alternatively I'll just check out another singles match that she is involved in as I liked what I saw in the previous match.


    DAY 3

    Over Budget Battle Royal

    Holy Billy Gunn sighting! This match started off at frenetic pace with everyone starting to beat the hell out of each other as soon they got in the ring. Funnily, Bully Ray almost botched a table spot. This match was alot of fun. I'm surprised Moose got eliminated first because I remember they made a big deal out of him on Impact. Cutler had a nice flurry of offense. Cage and Punishment Martinez really impressed me. The finish was lost on me but I could tell it was a big deal. It was also cool putting faces to names I've heard alot about. All in all this match was highly enjoyable.

    Joey Janela vs. Adam Page

    Finally I got to see Page who I've read quite a lot about and I must admit that I'm impressed with the guy. His finisher looks dope too. His only downside would be that he looks really generic. But what a match though! Spots galore and creative ones too, like you've mentioned. I absolutely loved Ford's part she played in this match and really enjoyed when she stepped up to Page. That powebomb off the stage was probably my favourite spot in the match. The stuff that happened after the match was weird but I've heard about the infamous penis slam and it's now even weirder having seen it. But this was a great match, that's for sure.


    I'm way behind but I'm playing catch up and I'm really enjoying it. I will give my thoughts on more matches soon!

  39. #39
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Posts
    1,969
    Spinny! Another promotion you watch, how do you find the time? I’ve actually never seen or even heard of Tarik, I’ll have to give him a look! Thanks for the read!

    Donny! Love that you’re watching along! And very glad you found some stuff you liked on the list, particularly discovering some different parts of Lucha libre that aren’t part of the WWE narrative (AKA, it’s not just high flying!). You did indeed find one of the matches from the list, and I’m glad you loved it! Orange Cassidy is pretty much always great. Beyond Wrestling does some intergender matches but not as a main focus, they are just presented like any other match if they come up organically in the booking, which I appreciate. Don’t think I can track down Yamashita/Reika, but if you see any Yamashita matches then check them out! Really glad you’re enjoying and watching some of the matches, can’t wait to hear more from you! You might not be able to find every match I mention for free (I wasn’t) but there should be a good selection out there regardless!

    I am the mizfan, and I have watched 827 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2018 (only 4 of which involved The Miz). This is my favorite intergender match.

    Travis Huckabee vs. Solo Darling
    CHIKARA Let’s Get Invisible, December 8th



    About the Promotion: So yes, this isn’t actually a promotion, but I really love intergender wrestling when done well so I decided to take a day to highlight it. So sue me! I think the key to intergender wrestling is to treat it in a very straightforward way. I very much detest any kind of “freak show” vibe around these kinds of matches, and if it turns into anything lascivious or hate crime-y then obviously you’ve gone down a very ugly path. At the same time, it often doesn’t make sense to present the two wrestlers on a completely even keel. See Sexy Star matching power and strikes with Johnny Mundo for evidence of how that doesn’t work well. A female wrestler is often going to be smaller and less powerful than a male wrestler, that’s simply a fact. But that’s also true of the cruiserweight wrestlers of the male world, and there are a hundred ways to work around that in a believable way. CHIKARA is one of the best practitioners of the style, so it’s not surprising that they are taking the lead here. I know some people will remain uncomfortable with the style, and I get that, but I do think this is the way of the future for wrestling and I’ll always champion its benefits.

    The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match on chikarapro.com.

    This match was on a very high level for me before it even started, because in true CHIKARA fashion there’s a fantastically layered story behind it. Two years ago, Solo was just entering the company, and Travis was working as a referee, but when Solo was attacked by the massive bully Max Smashmaster (miss that man!), Travis stepped up to help her fight off her attacker. Having already started to train as a wrestler, Travis segued into the ring and proved to be a natural, quickly winning over fans with his quickly developing technical prowess and genuine good nature. He revealed privately that he had feelings for Solo, but was too shy to act on them, so instead he asked her to be his tag partner, and thus the RumbleBees were born.

    The team gelled over time and really won me over on both wrestlers, despite feeling initially skeptical that either one would be a standout. I was proved happily wrong, as Travis quickly grew into one of my favorite rookies and Solo improved her wrestling game exponentially. The team finally won the Campeonatos de Parejas, the tag titles of CHIKARA, in 2017, only to lose them on the same night due to a doublecross. From there nothing seemed to go right, and when the Tag World Grand Prix tournament came up in early in 2018, Travis told Solo that if they weren’t able to win the tournament he was going to split the team. Solo was distraught, but Travis seemed to genuinely believe this was best for both of them. The team came within a hair’s breadth of advancing to the finals, but at the last minute felt the sting of defeat. A sorrowful Travis left a tearful Solo at ringside as she asked him to stay. For a fan like me who had highly invested in the team, it was a pretty affecting scene!

    Solo and Travis spent some time apart, and Solo seemed to recover and start to excel in his singles career. Travis looked to do the same by focusing his attention on Rory Gulak, the brother of WWE’s Drew Gulak. Rory had defeated Travis a number of times and made no secret about lording it over him. When the manager of CHIKARA, Director of Fun Bryce Remsburg, put Travis and Solo on the same side of a 5 on 5 elimination match with Rory on the other side, Travis made a point to focus solely on Rory and not allow himself to be distracted by Solo.

    However, for Travis a very personal disaster was about to occur. During the elimination match Travis made every effort to take out Rory, but was stymied in his efforts time and time again. Taking a moment to regroup, he suddenly found himself watching in shock as Solo Darling pinned Rory’s shoulders to the mat with an expertly executed backslide.

    Suddenly Travis, nice guy to a fault, was presented with something he never considered. He had carefully not assigned blame to either Solo or himself when he dissolved their tag team, but suddenly he was confronted with the possibility that he was the problem, and perhaps deep down he had believed it was Solo holding him back. If Solo wasn’t the problem… was it him? The frustration of this unexpected development drove Travis careening over the edge, propelled by his own pride and the pressure he’d put on himself. Solo attempted to reach out to Travis, but it was the wrong thing to do. Face to face with a handy object for his anger, Travis shouted out “you took MY moment”, and after a moment’s consideration stuck Solo in the face.

    After that, nothing was the same. Travis shed both his hair and his nice guy persona and joined the reformed version of FIST, one of the most ruthless organizations in company history, and proclaimed he was willing to do what others weren’t in order to achieve his goals. He despised the fans who supported Solo Darling more than him, and dedicated himself to becoming better than ever. In fact, his efforts seemed to be successful, as he finally defeated Rory Gulak decisively and even won the Johnny Kid Invitational Tournament, a competition for technical wrestlers all over the world. But Solo also continued to get better and better, gaining wins over impressive opponents and even coming within inches of winning the Grand Championship of CHIKARA. What’s more, Solo continued to pursue Travis for a match to settle their differences, only for Travis to always disdain locking up with her in tag and multi-man matches, as if she wasn’t worth his time. That didn’t stop him from attacking her after others had done the dirty work though, including one memorable instance of locking her in her own submission hold after she had been knocked unconscious by another opponent.

    Finally, at the season finale, they came head to head, and let me tell you, it was absolutely great. All the emotion of the feud poured out, all the frustration and societal roles and unrequited feeling came out as these two dug deep to show who the better wrestler was. I’ll leave it to you to check out the match and see who won, but I also hope this issue isn’t finished, because I know there’s an even more emotionally charged and violent match out there for them in 2019.

    Also Watch: Tracy Williams vs. Kimber Lee, PowerbombTV Independent Championship 4/5/18 Beyond Wrestling Lit Up

    Over Wrestlemania weekend, basically in the middle of the night thanks to how packed the indy schedule was over that period, Beyond Wrestling ran a show featuring only intergender matches. It was a lot of fun, but this match was my favorite of the bunch. Kimber Lee is, of course, the former Abbey Laith of WWE fame, and if you didn’t know she’s one of my absolute favorite performers. This was one of her first showings since leaving the WWE, and she came out to prove she was just as good as she ever was. And yes, she succeeded stupendous in this classic bout against the extremely talented “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, an incredible grappler and striker who gave Kim one of her best fights in recent memory.


    On the other end of the spectrum, this is my 18th least favorite match of 2018:

    Hype Rockwell vs. BLANK
    CHIKARA Go Eat Worms, June 23rd

    The Verdict:

    Almost not fair to put this on the list, as it’s just a couple minutes of action that ends in a DQ shmozz and morphs later into a six man tag match. Nothing against either of these guys, there just wasn’t really anything to this match.


    2018 Award For Most Improved:
    Solo Darling



    Recommended Matches:

    Merlok & Ashley Vox vs. Travis Huckabee & Solo Darling 4/14/18 CHIKARA Tag World Grand Prix
    Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Solo Darling, CHIKARA Grand Championship 7/28/18 CHIKARA Egg Monsters From Mars
    Ophidian vs. Solo Darling 8/11/18 CHIKARA Chikarasaurus Rex: A Deadly Secret

    When Solo Darling joined the CHIKARA roster at the end of 2016, I was very dubious. With Heidi Lovelace and Princess Kimberlee both headed to WWE at the time, there were big shoes to fill, and to me Solo didn’t seem ready, with her vaguely defined sugar-loving woodland creature gimmick and lack of offense to credibly take on the men of the roster, as is the tradition in CHIKARA. However, I look at her work today and see one of the best women wrestling in the world right now. Her improvement has truly been incredible, I’ve rarely seen someone apply themselves so hard. She’s not only great improved her physical condition and ability, she’s also become highly skilled at telling a story over the course of a match and engaging the audience in a big way. Now I just spent all day raving about her, and I actively seek out her matches. You should as well!

    Honorable Mention To: Green Ant, Delilah Doom, Thief Ant

    Question: Who was your favorite non-wrestler of 2018?

    Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!

  40. #40
    I got scared when I saw CHIKARA already and it was this match. Great match but not anything I expected to be your number 1 CHIKARA match haha.

    I barely got in for this day.

    Non-Wrestler? Burnard the Business Bear!!! FTW!!!!! I don't know why but I loved it!

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