Best Matches of July 2018

Another month, another raft of high quality wrestling encounters. With the G1 being in full flow, a lot of these matches are from New Japan, but there are a few other companies thrown in for good measure.

Honourable Mentions

WALTER vs Sammy Guevara (PWG Title) - PWG Bask In His Glory ****

Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr & Minoru Suzuki - RevPro Strong Style Evolved Night 1 ****1/4

Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr - RevPro Strong Style Evolved Night 2 ****1/4

Young Bucks vs EVIL/SANADA (IWGP Tag Titles) - NJPW G1 Special In San Francisco ****1/4

Kenny Omega vs Cody (IWGP Title) - NJPW G1 Special In San Francisco ****1/4

Jay White vs Kazuchika Okada - NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 ****

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki - NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 ****

EVIL vs Michael Elgin - NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 ****

Kota Ibushi vs Juice Robinson - NJPW G1 Climax Night 4 ****

Hirooki Goto vs Kenny Omega - NJPW G1 Climax Night 4 ****1/4

Kazuchika Okada vs Hangman Page - NJPW G1 Climax Night 5 ****1/4

SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr - NJPW G1 Climax Night 6 ****

Kota Ibushi vs SANADA - NJPW G1 Climax Night 8 ****1/4

Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr - NJPW G1 Climax Night 8 ****1/4

Kenny Omega vs SANADA - NJPW G1 Climax Night 10 ****1/4

Austin Aries vs Moose (Impact Wrestling Title) - Impact Wrestling Slammiversary ****

15. Pentagon Jr vs Sami Callihan (Mask vs Hair) - Impact Wrestling Slammiversary

This match was a perfect example of Impact Wrestling's current rejuvenation, achieved by forging their own path rather than emulating that of WWE. It was a brutal encounter that put over the importance of the stipulation, especially as far as Pentagon is concerned. Gloriously violent fun. ****1/4

14. Bandido vs Robbie Eagles - PWG Bask In His Glory

Bandido is quickly becoming one of my favourite wrestlers to watch. The guy is incredible. This match was bonkers, with both men trying to outdo each other with a series of wonderful moves. There is also a chop exchange that fucking ruled. ****1/2

13. Juice Robinson vs Tetsuya Naito - NJPW G1 Climax Night 6

This match turned out to be better than I was anticipating, and I had pretty high expectations. Juice is a fucking wonderful never say die baby face and the fact that he had the broken hand just played into that even more. I popped hard when Juice kicked out of Destino, as did the crowd in Korakuen. A superb match. ****1/2

12. Tomohiro Ishii vs Minoru Suzuki (British Title) - RevPro Strong Style Evolved Night 2

It's Ishii vs Suzuki. They beat the shit out of each other and it kicked ass. ****1/2

11. LAX vs The OGz (Impact Wrestling Tag Titles, Street Fight) - Impact Wrestling Slammiversary

It's great to see Homicide and Hernandez back and this was the perfect match to properly reintroduce them. The Santana and Ortiz iteration of LAX have established themselves as one of the best tag teams in the world and this match definitely did nothing but help that. It was a violent and wildly entertaining brawl that built throughout and made everyone involved look great. It is the best match I have seen in this company in some time. ****1/2

10. Zack Sabre Jr vs Kota Ibushi - NJPW G1 Climax Night 2

These two seem to work wonderfully together, which speaks to the quality that both men possess. This was around the quality of their NJ Cup match from March, which is a very good thing. They worked a great back and forth clash of styles type match that was never anything less than enthralling. ****1/2

9. Tetsuya Naito vs Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax Night 4

These two have put on a series of great matches against each other and this was no different. The match was structured in such a way that there were very few nearfalls until the finishing stretch which meant that the crowd was fully invested in them when they did finally come. It's two of the world's best putting on a display. Excellent. ****1/2

8. Aleister Black vs Tommaso Ciampa (NXT Title) - NXT 25th July

This was great on many levels. The match itself was top notch but it was the overarching story being told that pushed this to a higher level. Gargano tried to stop his bitter rival and ended up handing him the title, making an enemy out of Black in the process. It is this level of storytelling that keeps NXT so entertaining and this may well be my favourite NXT TV match ever. ****1/2

7. Hiromu Takahashi vs Dragon Lee (IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title) - NJPW G1 Special In San Francisco

This match was fucking nuts. Too nuts it turns out as Takahashi took a horrible bump and suffered a serious injury. I hope he returns to full health ASAP. That aside, it was a superb match, as has been become customary between these two. Some of the things they do are outrageous and they are pushing wrestling to its limit. ****1/2

6. Jay White vs Juice Robinson (IWGP US Title) - NJPW G1 Special In San Francisco

This was a superb match. White has been hit and miss since the switch in gimmick but he was excellent here as the dickhead heel and that allowed Juice to be the super babyface, a role he is near unparalleled at. They worked a match that was slightly overbooked but it never took anything away from the story and it was wonderful to see Juice finally win the big one. ****1/2

5. Kento Miyahara vs Zeus (Triple Crown) - AJPW Summer Action Series Night 11

Miyahara is a wonderful wrestler and I am confident he would appear in these lists more if I had more of a vested interest in AJPW. Even without that, this was a superb piece of all-around wrestling. From an in-ring perspective, this match started a bit jittery but developed into something great. From a storytelling perspective, it was even better, with Zeus fighting for the title in his hometown. This was a terrific match that I assume would be even better to an All-Japan die hard. ****1/2

4. Buddy Murphy vs Mustafa Ali (No DQ) - WWE 205 Live 3rd July

Buddy Murphy is my WWE main roster MVP through the first 6 months of the year and he continues to put in excellent performances basically every time he goes out there. This was probably my favourite WWE main roster match up until this point and the stipulation only added to the enjoyment. At this stage, I would love to see Murphy mix it up on Smackdown to see how good he can really be. ****3/4

3. Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax Night 6

Well, this was a fucking war. They beat the living piss out of each other for nearly 20 minutes and the super hot crowd just helped this reach an even higher level. These two have styles that are very similar and it just creates some of the stiffest wrestling you could ever hope to see. It's an absolute joy to behold. I will never tire of seeing matches like this. ****3/4

2. Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito - NJPW G1 Climax Night 2

Block B started off the G1 hot with this one. This was right up there with their G1 final match. They started off by playing to the crowd and using a lot of character work but as the match went on they picked up the speed and intensity until it reached a wonderful crescendo down the finishing stretch. It had callbacks to their previous matches while adding a few new wrinkles to their story. These two know exactly how to put together a top notch wrestling match. This was brilliant stuff throughout. *****

1. Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii - NJPW G1 Climax Night 10

The two stand out competitors of the G1 put on the best match of the first half of the tournament. This was always likely to be spectacular and that is exactly how it played out. Both men tried to constantly one-up each other and it led to a truly glorious match. There is a spot where Ishii has had enough of Ibushi's shit and starts chopping him in the neck, Ibushi responds by punching Ishii right in the throat. It was mental. There is nothing even approaching sub-par in this match. The wrestling was spectacular, the selling was spot on, and the crowd was white hot. This is must watch stuff. *****