2018 was a tough year for the WWE. By the time the year ended, the company had suffered record lows for ratings and changes were coming. On the final Raw's of the year, the WWE said they were listening to fans and making major changes. However, despite low ratings and fan complaints, there were still many highlights throughout the year.
On Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT and 205 Live, the wrestlers all worked hard to turn in great matches despite questionable storylines. The women especially turned in some solid outings with their own pay-per-view Evolution possibly the best of the year. With some great performances from the roster, here is a look at the 10 best WWE matches of 2018.
10. TOMMASO CIAMPA VS VELVETEEN DREAM - NXT TAKEOVER: WAR GAMES II
Velveteen Dream had been turning in great matches all year long in WWE NXT. Tommaso Ciampa was one of the best champions in the entire WWE, regardless of brand, and was possibly the best heel in the company. Despite that, few people could have expected the match that these two turned in at WWE NXT TakeOver: War Games II.
There was little drama between the two but they built the drama in the match itself and had the crowd in a frenzy throughout the match. Dream paid homage to a number of classic wrestlers without letting it overshadow the match and the near falls really made people believe he could have won. Both men continued their track record of great matches and this might have been one of Dream's best singles bouts of the year -- and that says a lot.
9. DOLPH ZIGGLER AND DREW MCINTYRE VS DEAN AMBROSE AND SETH ROLLINS - HELL IN A CELL
Most people talk about the tag team title match on Monday Night Raw when Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins won the WWE tag team titles before Ambrose turned bad and attacked Rollins. However, the better match saw The Shield fail to win the titles in a great match at WWE Hell in a Cell.
That match lasted over 20 minutes and never slowed down. Ziggler and McIntyre are no longer together but at this time, they were the best team on Monday Night Raw and were turning in great matches consistently. Ambrose and Rollins are always great together and this match had a fantastically exciting conclusion that saw McIntyre get the surprise pinfall over Rollins.
8. SETH ROLLINS VS THE MIZ - BACKLASH
It should come as no surprise that Seth Rollins and The Miz could turn in an amazing match. WWE Backlash 2018 was not a very good pay-per-view. Roman Reigns vs. Samoa Joe was disappointing, AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was not as good as their other matches, and Daniel Bryan was stuck carrying Big Cass.
However, the best WWE match of the night took place close to the start of the show and was the only really great match of the night. Miz, despite his critics, is a great in-ring storyteller and a perfect heel for someone as exciting as Rollins to play off. This was a back-and-forth match and the fans were all into it with near falls and a great kickoff for the show. Rollins retained his title from Miz in this match.
7. BECKY LYNCH VS CHARLOTTE FLAIR VS ASUKA - TLC
The women had a great year in the WWE and proved at Evolution that they were ready to step up and capture the show. The women then proved it again when they headlined the final pay-per-view of the year at WWE TLC and not only put on a great match but stole the entire show. Becky Lynch came in as the champion, Charlotte was showing edge and Asuka wanted to prove she deserved to be back in the conversation.
The match was a TLC match and the three women gave their all, beating each other with tables, ladders, and chairs until only one was left standing. Asuka proved to be back on top and neither Lynch nor Flair looked bad in the loss. The Ronda Rousey run-in at the end was disappointing but it helped move the story and didn't take anything away from one of the best WWE matches of 2018.
6. ADAM COLE VS RICOCHET VS EC3 VS KILLIAN DANE VS LARS SULLIVAN VS VELVETEEN DREAM - NXT TAKEOVER: NEW ORLEANS
The WWE announced a brand-new title for NXT and had six of their top stars compete for it. This was exciting because newcomers EC3 (from Impact Wrestling) and Ricochet (from Lucha Underground) got the chance to prove themselves in this match along with the already established Velveteen Dream and Adam Cole. Add in the hosses of Lars Sullivan and Killian Dane and this match had something for everyone.
What resulted was possibly the greatest opening match for a PPV in WWE history. Everyone pulled their weight and everything the wrestlers did was to push towards its exciting conclusion. Adam Cole won and by the end, every wrestler involved looked like a star.
5. DANIEL BRYAN VS AJ STYLES - TLC
Daniel Bryan has been fantastic since he turned heel, reinventing himself for the WWE audience. For fans who thought that no one would ever boo Bryan again, he has proved everyone wrong and is doing exactly what he did in Ring of Honor when he was a massive heel there. With AJ Styles as the perfect babyface, this match was set up perfectly.
The match was well over 20 minutes and was unlike their last meeting when Daniel Bryan won the world title. This was just a match where two of the best wrestlers working today went out and did what they do best. They tore down the house and turned in one of best WWE main roster matches of 2018.
4. MUSTACHE MOUNTAIN VS UNDISPUTED ERA
In one of the most shocking title changes of the year, the team of Mustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven) beat Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong and Kyle O'Reilly) for the NXT tag team titles in the U.K. It was a short reign, as they lost the titles back on the July 11 episode of NXT on the WWE Network.
The rematch ended up as one of the best WWE matches of 2018 and the best tag team match of the year for any brand in the company. This televised match would have been a banger at a TakeOver event and proved that Undisputed Era is the best tag team in the company and the WWE UK division is in safe hands with Bate and Seven.
3. BROCK LESNAR VS DANIEL BRYAN - SURVIVOR SERIES
Heading into the Survivor Series, there were two modes of thought for the Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar champion vs. champion match. One was that Brock would destroy Bryan and the second was that Bryan was putting himself in danger coming off his concussion issues. Neither was founded and this was the best WWE match of 2018 when it comes to the main roster men.
It should come as no surprise as Bryan is one of the few WWE superstars that Lesnar actually personally respects and when Lesnar is in the sharing mood, he will deliver in the ring. Bryan had to cheat to take control but that worked and he proved that he had what it took to take Lesnar to the limit before falling in the end. This was the perfect big man vs. little man match and that should have surprised no one.
2. JOHNNY GARGANO VS TOMMASO CIAMPA - NXT TAKEOVER: CHICAGO
The best men's match in the WWE in 2018 was not on the main roster. Honestly, every match that Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa wrestled in during their series was masterful. Each match one-upped the match before while building onto their feud and every match was as close to a five-star affair as you can get. And, they all took place on NXT TakeOver events.
The best of the best came at NXT TakeOver: Chicago in a street fight where anything goes. These two men beat the hell out of each other and the match ended when Gargano got a little too comfortable and Ciampa took advantage to get the win. This was a five-star match and the best that any man on the WWE roster turned in for 2018.
1. BECKY LYNCH VS CHARLOTTE FLAIR - EVOLUTION
It says a lot about the advancement of the women in the WWE and of the star status of Becky Lynch to see this match from WWE Evolution as the best WWE match of 2018. Lynch had beaten Charlotte Flair for the SmackDown women's title and they went into Evolution to battle in a Last Woman Standing match for the title.
The fans were into the match from start to finish, which is impressive since it was just two minutes short of a 30-minute match. Charlotte has been involved in some groundbreaking women's matches and this was the best of them all. The WWE followed this with Nikki Bella vs. Ronda Rousey in the main event and it never had a chance to compare. This match is proof that the women are ready to main event WrestleMania in 2019.