The 20 Best Matches Of The Month: July 2018 Edition

Every month, our own Dan Niles compiles his personal 20 Best Matches list from around the world, from North America to Europe to Japan. Some are obvious best matches choices, some are dark horses, but they’re always fun to find some matches you may have missed the previous month! (DISCLAIMER: This list is subjective and is compiled exclusively by Dan Niles; there will obviously be matches he may have missed that you may feel deserve credit – we encourage you to list some of your best matches of the month in the comments section below to help add to the list! In regards to videos, we only show FULL MATCHES that are authorized by the promotions; video highlights are used where possible; we encourage you to seek out these matches through promotions VOD or streaming networks)

#20. Brody King vs AR Fox, Bar Wrestling 14: Pinkerton

Photo: Bar Wrestling

Joey Ryan’s Bar Wrestling makes it’s first ever appearance on this list with a veteran high flyer against the 275 pound Brody King and King used every bit of those 275 pounds to wear down AR Fox. Both started the match like a Junior Heavyweight match, King throwing an impressive dropkick and Fox only earning a one-count from a Swanton off the top rope. Brody King is early in his career but he is full of aggression to make up for his inexperience, a Piledriver to Fox was only a near fall. Fox constantly went for dives and Brody cut him off almost every time, Fox finally dropped King with a couple cutters. Lo Mein Pain nor a 450 Splash could keep King down! King puts away Fox with a headbutt, a lariat and Samoan Driver.

Rating: ***1/2

#19. “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada vs “Switchblade” Jay White, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

The best tournament in pro wrestling, the NJPW G1 Climax kicked off with “Switchblade” against “The Rainmaker” in the main event and this may have changed the CHAOS faction forever. This match changed the career trajectory of Jay White without question, Okada was thrown on the floor violently with a Saito Suplex and taken to the limit by the Kiwi. Jay White’s improvement really showed here, locking Okada in his own version of The Cobra Clutch and sending Okada into the barricade’s like Juice Robinson at the G1 Special In San Francisco. Okada fired back and The Rainmaker almost sealed the deal but White gave the referee a backfist instead. A lowblow, a thrown chair to Okada’s head and The Blade Runner with the referee unable to see it all was enough to pin Okada to start the G1 Climax tournament. Okada forgave White for doing whatever it takes to win but this is only the beginning of the competition between both.

Rating: ****

#18. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Kazuchika Okada, Rev Pro/NJPW Strong Style Evolved UK

Zack Sabre Jr came so close to submitting Okada at Sakura Genesis when the IWGP heavyweight Championship was on the line in April and Rev Pro in the UK received the rematch. Sabre showed his elusiveness and smoothness with adapting to any submission hold in the book in the past but his counter wrestling has gotten just that much better. Okada went for a top rope Elbow drop but suffered an armbar for his troubles and the same for the Tombstone attempt. Kazuchika Okada took Penalty Kick after Penalty Kick but fought on until an Octopus Hold trapped him again. Okada would eventually connect with The Rainmaker but he went to the well for a second time and The European Clutch put Okada’s shoulders down for three.

Rating: ****

#17. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) (c) vs Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong), WWE NXT TV

Photo: WWE

While this match may not be five-stars on this list like the hype would indicate, this was still one of NXT’s best matches on TV to date with a great finish to go with the fluid tag team title match. Mustache Mountain are fan favorites no matter where they wrestle, Tyler Bate soars off his trainer Trent Seven’s shoulders with a senton like they were born to team together. Bobby Fish is missed as Kyle O’Reilly’s tag team partner but Roderick Strong is one of the best at all aspects of the game, just as fast as all three in the match. These two teams had an awesome match at the WWE United Kingdom tournament special, Tyler Bate was the focus of the punishment this time around. Kyle O’Reilly took out Seven’s leg and applied a Kneebar that even the veteran, Seven could not fight out of. Tyler Bate was forced to throw in the towel on his tag team partner and The Undisputed Era retain the NXT tag team championships.

Rating: ****

#16. SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr., NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

SANADA has officially become a major player in NJPW as long as he is willing to sign the dotted line on an NJPW contract and make further sacrifices to become a hot singles act. Sabre has put forth a fantastic G1 Climax effort as well but SANADA out-wrestled Sabre then beat him at his own game. Sabre tried to effortlessly lock up SANADA in holds and ended up having the tables turned. The Skull End was reversed to an Octopus Hold as Sabre became frustrated. “The Technical Wizard” caught SANADA in the European Clutch, SANADA was smart enough to bridge back and win the match with his own version of The European Clutch.

Rating: ****

#15. WALTER vs Pete Dunne, wXw Shotgun

Photo: wXw

Germany had Pro Wrestling Guerilla Champion WALTER and WWE United Kingdom Champion square off and it was every bit the brawl one would expect. Dunne went for a test of strength but was stomped right in the throat! There isn’t much more of a frightening scene than when WALTER is woken up by stiff strikes, WALTER unleashed the most devestating chops in wrestling and Dunne tried to tough it out like usual by putting his arms behind his back. Bad idea as Dunne was dropped like a sugar bag. “The Bruiserweight” attacked the arm then bit the fingers of WALTER leading to a lariat sending Dunne almost out of his boots. Dunne was stomped but came back with a flying triangle choke. The wXw leader pummeled his way out and the Sleeper Choke almost put Dunne to sleep until Pete Dunne rolled through and pinned WALTER’s shoulders to the mat as suddenly as he had been caught in the choke. The big Austrian may have been tougher but Dunne was more resourceful.

Rating: ****

#14. Kenny Omega (c) vs Cody, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW G1 Special In San Francisco

Photo: NJPW

Cody and Omega ended the Bullet Club civil war with one of the wildest NJPW main events in recent memory and one to feature a ladder and No Disqualification’s. The IWGP heavyweight champion went through hell to become the champ but it’s far from over once you sit at the top. Kenny Omega suffered a fractured heel right before the biggest tournament of his life when he was Superplexed off the top of a ladder. Cody put up his end of the bargain and brought his best to Omega, both even traded Snap Dragon Suplexes. The fans may not have believed Cody would become champion in San Francisco but they bought in all the way when Cody hit Crossrhodes for a long two-count. Omega brought the fight out of Cody then he took it all out of Cody with a Powerbomb through a table from inside the ring to the floor. V-Trigger’s on a helpless Cody brought Cody’s wife Brandi Rhodes into the ring to stop the knee strikes. The One Winged Angel put an end to Cody and brought a whole new era to Kenny Omega’s career.

Rating: ****

#13. Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

“The Stone Pitbull” lives up to his name every time in singles matches and he could arguably be the MVP of the G1 Climax 28 tournament. Ishii and Naito know each other so well from many previous matches, Naito took Ishii’s best chops and spit in his face. Tomohiro Ishii can’t stand the attitude of “The Ungovernable” Tetsuya Naito so throat chops ensued. Naito was plowed with headbutts and lariats as the fans were split down the middle with support for both. Ishii took a rolling kick to the head but he went for the Brainbuster anyways only to be countered mid-move into Destino. It only gets a two-count so Naito hits a second Destino to heighten his G1 Climax score as the reigning trophy holder coming in from last year.

Rating: ****1/2

#12. Mercedes Martinez (c) vs Tessa Blanchard, Iron Woman, Phoenix Of RISE championship, IMPACT x RISE: Rise Of The Knockouts

Photo: RISE

Tessa Blanchard and Mercedes Martinez not only wrestled with thirty minutes on the clock in a rare Iron Woman match but it was much better than WWE’s Iron Man match this same month. Tessa Blanchard had already competed against Kris Wolf earlier in the night so it was a long night for Tessa but she is molding into the diamond she wants to be at this pace in the ring. Tessa Blanchard replaced Shotzi Blackheart and Dililah Doom after both suffered broken ankles. Blanchard might have started off a bit too hot with multiple suicide dives in such a long match. The Phoenix Of RISE champion, Mercedes, worked the pacing masterfully with a butterfly lock and STF. The moment of the match came when Tessa was draped over the barricade and DDT’d on the concrete floor! A Fisherman Buster gave Martinez her first fall. The Hammerlock DDT pinned Mercedes to even the odds. Tessa Blanchard showed the fire and emotion of a true champion, the Magnum pinned Mercedes Martinez with a second to go on the clock.

Rating: ****1/2

#11. Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Dragon Lee, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, NJPW Special In San Francisco

Photo: NJPW

Hiromu Takahashi suffered a broken neck as the result of a Pheonix Plex gone wrong causing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion to land on the top of his head. It’s a very unfortunate injury where today’s action is so faced paced and perhaps dangerous risks are unnecessarily taken to further a feud or the intensity of a match. Both started like they just wrestled the day before because they have a history dating back years in CMLL, Takahashi took a hurricanrana off the apron at the opening bell. Both exchanged cringe-worthy German Suplexes and chops. Hiromu Takahashi still retained his title in San Francisco with a Canadian Destroyer counter and The Time Bomb after landing on his head.

Rating: ****1/2

#10. Kenny Omega vs SANADA, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Kenny Omega sought out to prove he is the “Best Bout Machine” with spectacular matches and wins to go along with it during the G1 Climax tournament and SANADA showed the world he is an elite performer worthy of the main event conversation. This was a twenty minute athletic showcase, Kenny Omega still unleashed The Rise Of The Terminator with a fractured heel. Omega’s shoulders were almost pinned to the mat with a dragon Suplex but Omega moved from the final blow, the Moonsault after the Skull End with leg scissors. SANADA went for the finish and floated over into the Skull End again but landed right on the IWGP Heavyweight Champions shoulders for the One Winged Angel.

Rating: ****1/2

#9. Mustafa Ali vs Buddy Murphy, No Disqualification’s, WWE 205 Live 

Photo: WWE

“The Juggernaut” of 205 Live ran roughshod through the Cruiserweight division in WWE leading to this No Disqualification’s match where innovation was as much of a factor as the lack of rules. Buddy Murphy quickly evolved into one of WWE’s best all-around talents in the ring, Murphy even borrowed Kota Ibushi’s kamigoye knee strike but Ali somehow kicked out. The fight and heart in Mustafa Ali is near unparalleled, going from a Spanish Fly off the stands to the announce table one moment to hitting a Superplex off steel steps on the top rope the next moment. Buddy Murphy got far too confident and ended up driven down off the steel stairs with a DDT for the climatic finish.

Rating: ****1/2

#8. Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr., NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Zack Sabre Jr had a counter for everything and “The Golden Star” had the experience to hang and outmatch “The Technical Wizard” in the end. A Golden Triangle Moonsault was caught into a heel hook on the floor. The exchange of kicks, palm strikes and holds was about as much as you can fit in a fifteen minute match. Sabre tried for the Zack Driver, given to him by SuzukiGun member TAKA Michinoku but Ibushi executed a picture perfect straight jacket suplex instead. Sabre attempted to fight out to no avail, Ibushi held on and the Kamigoye put and end to this standout match in the career of both men.

Rating: ****1/2

#7. David Starr vs Joey Janela, No Ropes, Barbed Wire, Beyond Wrestling Americanrana

Photo: Beyond Wrestling

David Starr has called himself “The Ace” of Beyond Wrestling for a couple years now, this Barbed Wire match signaled the end of a two-year rivalry with “The Bad Boy” and solidified Starr’s namesake at the same time. Barbed wire replaced the ring ropes as Janela was sent into it back first with his back stuck in the Barb’s! Things got hard to watch early, Joey Janela’s girlfriend and valet, Penelope Ford went to handspring elbow “The Product” but ended up in a barbed wire board. A side Russian slam took out Starr and Janela through a barbed wire board as Starr emerged covered in blood. Starr suffered a Death Valley Driver on a cinder block placed on a steel chair. Starr had the match won after a German Suplex into steel chairs but the referee wouldn’t make the count, a classic case of Beyond Wrestling trying to screw over Starr. The referee is taken out and Joey Janela takes a disgustingly dangerous Piledriver on to cinder blocks as a new referee comes in to make the final count.

Rating: ****1/2

#6. Tetsuya Naito vs Kenny Omega, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega met on the second day of the G1 Climax tournament after two previous classic encounters in the past two years in the tournament in the Finals and the Semi-Finals. Both mocked each other’s factions as they got in each other’s faces, showing the real animosity there. They knew each others offense coming, Omega ducked an enzugeri and clocked Naito in the back of the head with a V-Trigger. Naito responded by countering the One Winged Angel with a reverse Hurricanrana. Kenny Omega landed the counter of the match though and turned the tide when Omega turned Destino into a Piledriver variation. One Winged Angel finally pinned Naito but this rivalry is far from being over and the matches are five-star bouts every single time.

Rating: *****

#5. Pentagon Jr vs Sami Callihan, Mask vs. Hair, IMPACT Wrestling Slammiversary XVI

Photo: IMPACT Wrestling

An extremely violent rivalry in AAW Pro is revisited in IMPACT Wrestling, this match lived up to the hype and the stipulation completely. Callihan and Pentagon Jr both went for railway spikes and Callihan even had a spike hammered to his head. Commentator Don Callis called it perfectly when he said “these guys only know one way to wrestle and that’s in the third or fourth gear.” Pentagon had his mask tied to the rope as he was Superkicked numerous times but the violence escalated even further. Sami Callihan somehow kicked out of Fear Factor as both stood on steel chairs. The referee had his arm snapped when Pentagon Jr thought the referee was Callihan during trouble with powder in the eyes. Sami Callihan was out away with a second Fear Factor package Piledriver and had to suffer the humiliation of having his head shaved live on Pay Per View with the help of Pentagon Jr’s brother, Rey Fenix.

Rating: *****

#4. Kenny Omega vs Hirooki Goto, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Kenny Omega defeated Hirooki Goto in the 2016 G1 Climax finals in a classic main event where Omega ascended to the main event and stayed there ever since. Goto is so hard hitting but even he was no match for the consecutive V-Trigger’s. Both went for their finishing moves right away but it was Omega that had the endurance throughout the entire match to outlast the NEVER Openweight Champion. Omega pulled off a moonsault into the crowd stands, Goto later matched that with Code Red off the top rope. Hirooki Goto was undefeated in singles action in NJPW before this match, Goto even brought back the Shoutenkai but it wasn’t enough. One Winged Angel pinned Goto in a rematch years in the making.

Rating: *****

#3. Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

This match would have been number one in any other month and so would many of these G1 Climax matches, this is straight no-frills in your face pro wrestling that is as hard hitting as it gets. True equals in the ring and members of CHAOS traded elbow strike after elbow strike to test each other’s wills. Both had the same moves in mind and it was a game of can you top this? Both hit massive Lariat’s and shoulder blocks until both went down with Saito Suplexes. Goto kicked out of the sliding lariat and The Brainbuster slid Ishii up the B Block but Goto has nothing to be ashamed of in that match or loss.

Rating: *****

#2. Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Ibushi and Goto went ALL OUT in this main event with fighting spirit on full display, Kota Ibushi even popped right up after a top rope Stalling Brainbuster! Ibushi wowed the crowd with a moonsault from the balcony to the floor! Ishii was a real Pitbull surviving a vicious palm strike and lawn dart into the corner. Ishii didn’t like that at all so Ibushi took chops to the throat. Kota Ibushi borrowed Tomohiro Ishii’s Brainbuster but Ishii got right back up! A high kick to the side of Ishii’s head and the Kamigoye ended Ishii’s night. An unforgettable match and the best these two have ever had together.

Rating: *****

#1. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW G1 Climax 28

Photo: NJPW

Tomohiro Ishii is in the top three matches of this month and the only man to pin every champion he wrestled in the G1 Climax tournament. The strong style is still heavily prominent in NJPW thanks to wrestlers like Ishii, Omega and Ishii had busted lips so bad it looked like they required stitches. This was very dangerous much like Ishii vs Ibushi. Kenny Omega took a Lariat right to the face and Ishii even tried to steal One Winged Angel to no avail. Ishii took V-Trigger after V-Trigger to the face and it only lit a fuse in Ishii instead of a being a kill shot for “The Cleaner.” Exhaustion set in as both neared the thirty minute time limit but the fast pace wouldn’t allow for a draw. Ishii pinned the IWGP heavyweight champion, Omega clean as a sheet with a Brainbuster just like he did to NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto and IWGP United States Champion Juice Robinson. This will have heavy consideration by many as the match of the year in 2018 so far.

Rating: *****


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