Best Matches of January 2018

We are in a new year but the quality of wrestling on offer hasn't dropped one bit, in fact January was one of the highest quality months I have ever seen. As usual there may be the odd match that took place the previous month but wasn't broadcast until this month.

Honourable Mentions

Hirooki Goto vs Minoru Suzuki (NEVER Openweight Title) - Wrestle Kingdom 12 ****

Jay White vs Kenny Omega (IWGP US Title) - NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo Night 2 ****

Women's Royal Rumble Match - WWE Royal Rumble ****

Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz vs Flamita & Bandido - Dragon Gate Open The New Year Gate ****

Matt Riddle vs Joey Janela - Style Battle S1E8 ****

Will Ospreay vs Mark Andrews - RPW High Stakes ****

Zack Sabre Jr vs Darby Allin - Evolve 98 ****1/4

15. Will Ospreay vs Adam Brooks - PROGRESS Chapter 61: Dont Touch Me...Don't...Don't Touch Me

Will Ospreay returned to PROGRESS at Chapter 60 in a spectacular match and followed it up with match against the 'Loose Ledge' Adam Brooks. Brooks has been spending more time outside of his native Australia in the last few months and it has been good. He takes Ospreay to the limit here and they put on a great match with a superb last few minutes. ****1/4

14. Mike Bailey vs Shuji Ishikawa - DDT D-King Grand Prix Night 1

I don't get to see Mike Bailey that much since he got a 5 year ban from the US in 2016 but he usually shows up once or twice a year on these lists. This was a very well executed David vs Goliath match, with Bailey refusing to give in after originally looking like he would be murdered. Well worth checking out. ****1/4

13. Pete Dunne vs Jack Gallagher (WWE UK Title) - PROGRESS Chapter 60: Unboxing Live! 2

This match was originally scheduled to take place on the New York PROGRESS show. None of the matches on this show were announced ahead of time so the crowd popped huge for Gallagher and the announcement of the title match. Gallagher worked a different style to the one he has been using in the WWE as of late and it was far superior. Check this out if you can. ****1/4

12. Cody vs Kota Ibushi - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12

When I first saw that they were doing this match I hoped that Ibushi could drag Cody to a great match, and that is what happened. They worked a pace that is much quicker than the majority of Cody's matches and I was thoroughly entertained for the duration. The Cross Rhodes to the floor looked incredible too. ****1/4

11. Young Bucks vs Roppongi 3K (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Titles) - NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo Night 2

This was a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom and it was easily the better match of the two. There is some fantastic work done to the back of Matt Jackson that not only ties into their first match but also to the Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice matches from last year. The wrestling is great and the story matches it at every turn. ****1/2

10. Moustache Mountain vs Suzuki-gun (British Tag Titles) - RPW High Stakes

On this occasion Suzuki-gun are represented by Sabre Jr and Suzuki, which pretty much guarantees a great match. The match featured the level of limb work you would expect from the Suzuki-gun team, and also had a perfectly executed hot tag, which is nice. An excellent match. ****1/2

9. Aleister Black vs Adam Cole (Extreme Rules) - NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia

This started off quite slowly but by the end it had turned into an entertaining brawl. It featured a bunch of crazy spots, including an electric chair drop onto a ladder and a DVD onto the backside of two chairs. It worked very well as a showcase for both men and as an entertaining semi main event. Even the interference from SAnitY and Undisputed Era didn't hurt the entertainment value here. ****1/2

8. Zack Sabre Jr vs WALTER - Evolve 99

The last time these two met they had a ***** match in PWG, and while this match wasn't quite at that level it was still a highly entertaining piece of wrestling. These two have fantastic chemistry and they work the big man/small man dynamic differently than you normally see. The wrestling is simultaneously smooth and brutal and I would happily watch these two wrestle over and over again. ****1/2

7. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll vs KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title) - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12

Considering that New Japan isn't renowned for it's 4-way matches they managed to pull this one off brilliantly. This match was a spectacle that maintained a great pace throughout. It is a mix of fast paced wrestling and crazy spots, such as the sunset bomb to the floor, and the closing stretch was a joy to behold. An excellent match. ****1/2

6. Travis Banks vs Will Ospreay (PROGRESS Title) - PROGRESS Chapter 60: Unboxing Live! 2

This is how you return to a company. Ospreay had been gone from PROGRESS for 10 months but this was his surprising return. The match was fantastic too with both men going all out to provide the crowd with something special. It is a perfect example of just how good Will Ospreay is, and the finishing stretch is fantastic. This was the best match of Banks' title reign so far and one I highly recommend checking out. ****3/4

5. Men's Royal Rumble Match - WWE Royal Rumble

For my money this was the best Royal Rumble match in a long time, definitely the best since 2008 and quite possibly the best since 2001. It had absolutely everything that makes a Rumble great, a cracking ironman performance from Finn Balor, some great surprise entrants, well thought out wrestler placements, a final four that were all believable winners, genuine emotional investment from the fans and a winner people actually wanted to see. Tremendous. ****3/4 

4. Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Title) - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12

This was the first of two matches that I debated whether or not they were worth ***** before ultimately deciding they were. This match starts off slow but builds wonderfully throughout and has a finishing sequence that could be put up against any that have come before it. At the time there was a bit of backlash about Naito losing but the match fairs really well on second viewing. Superb stuff. *****

3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki (IWGP IC Title) - NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo Night 1

These two had an all time classic in 2012 and while this match wasn't quite at that level, it was still a fucking great match. Suzuki is in full on nasty prick mode here, wearing down Tanahashi's injured leg until the referee is forced to stop the match. Suzuki even had the chance to win by pinfall after hitting the Gotch piledriver but didn't even make the cover, as he wanted to break Tanahashi. A great match that told an engaging story. *****

2. Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho (IWGP US Title, No DQ) - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12

I went into this match with some pretty solid reservations, especially given how much the excellent build had raised expectations, but I needn't have worried as they put on a match that was above what anyone could have expected. They used the stipulation well but it was the character work that shone brightest here. Omega was as great as he always is but it was Jericho that stole the show, playing the heel in a way that we haven't seen from him in years. It was the best Jericho has looked since his feud with Shawn Michaels in 2008, and the match itself was a future classic. *****

1. Andrade 'Cien' Almas vs Johnny Gargano (NXT Title) - NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia

I was convinced that there would be no chance whatsoever that a match would knock Jericho vs Omega off the top spot but I was wrong. For the first few minutes I was convinced that this match might be a slight disappointment but I really needn't have worried, it was spectacular. Everything they did was for the betterment of the match, including the interference from Zelina Vega and Candice LeRae. The last 10 minutes of this match are spectacularly good and I will happily say that this is the best NXT Title match ever, and is in the top 3 matches in NXT history. If for some reason you haven't watched this match yet you owe it to yourself to check it out. *****