The 40 Best Matches of April 2018

Welcome to the series where I go over every match that I gave ****+ to in each month of the wrestling calendar. March 2018 was a ton of fun. We have 40 (!!!) matches from three continents and sixteen different companies. I’ll also have my top ten wrestlers of the month down at the bottom of the article. Alright, time to see what the best matches of March 2018 were.

{SPOILER WARNING}

#40 – From PROGRESS “Chapter 66” on 4/6 –  Mark Haskins vs Will Ospreay – ****

#39 – From GCW “Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2” on 4/6 –  Pierre Carl Ouellet vs WALTER – ****

#38 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 8” on 4/16 –  Shuji Ishikawa vs Naoya Nomura in a Champion Carnival 2018 Block A Match – ****

#37 – From CZW “Welcome To The Combat Zone 2018” on 4/7 –  Dezmond Xavier vs Will Ospreay – ****

#36 – From wXw “We Love Wrestling Tour 2018: Frankfurt” on 4/21 –  Lucky Kid vs Zack Sabre Jr. – ****

#35 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 15” on 4/30 –  Joe Doering, Jun Akiyama, & Yuji Hino vs The Big Guns (The Bodyguard & Zeus) & Shingo Takagi – ****

#34 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 7” on 4/15 –  Kento Miyahara vs Shuji Ishikawa in a Champion Carnival 2018 Block A Match – ****

#33 – From EVOLVE “WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2018” on 4/6 –  Munenori Sawa vs Zack Sabre Jr. – ****

#32 – From wXw “True Colors 2018” on 4/14 –  Absolute Andy vs Marius Al-Ani for the wXw Unified World Wrestling #1 Contendership in a TLC Match – ****

#31 – From EVOLVE “WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2018” on 4/6 –   Daisuke Sekimoto vs Keith Lee – ****

#30 – From EVOLVE “EVOLVE 102” on 4/5 –  AR Fox vs Will Ospreay – ****

#29 – From NJPW “Road to Wrestling Dontaku Day 9” on 4/23 –  Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championships – ****

#28 – From WRESTLE-1 “Cherry Blossom Tour 2018 Day 3” on 4/18 –  NEWERA (Koji Doi & Kumagoro) (c) vs Manabu Soya & AKIRA for the WRESTLE-1 Tag Team Championships – ****

#27 – From WWE “Wrestlemania 34” on 4/8 –  Miz (c) vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Intercontinental Championship – ****1/4

#26 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 7” on 4/15 –  Shingo Takagi vs Yuji Hino in a Champion Carnival 2018 Block A Match – ****1/4

#25 – From ROH “Masters of the Craft” on 4/15 –  Jay Lethal vs Jonathan Gresham – ****1/4

#24 – From EVOLVE “EVOLVE 102” on 4/5 –  Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs Matt Riddle for the EVOLVE Championship – ****1/4

#23 – From ROH “Supercard of Honor XII” on 4/7 – Hangman Page vs Kota Ibushi – ****1/4

#22 – From NJPW “Sakura Genesis 2018” on 4/1 –  Bullet Club (Cody & Hangman Page) vs The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) – ****1/4

#21 – From NOAH “Global Tag League 2018 Day 9” on 4/11 –  Go Shiozaki & Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kenou & Takashi Sugiura in the Global Tag League 2018 Final Match – ****1/4

#20 – From DDT “Max Bump 2018” on 4/29 –  Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs Shigehiro Irie for the KO-D Openweight Championship – ****1/4

#19 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 13” on 4/24 –  Jun Akiyama vs Naomichi Marufuji in a Champion Carnival 2018 Block B Match – ****1/4

#18 – From NJPW “Road to Wrestling Dontaku Day 12” on 4/27 –  Hirooki Goto (c) vs Juice Robinson for the NEVER Openweight Championship – ****1/4

#17 – From PROGRESS “Chapter 67” on 4/7 –  WALTER vs Zack Sabre Jr. – ****1/4

#16 – From ROH “Supercard of Honor XII” on 4/7 – Cody vs Kenny Omega – ****1/4

#15 – From WrestleCon “Mark Hitchcock Memorial SuperShow” on 4/5 –  Bandido & Flamita vs Rey Fenix & Rey Horus – ****1/4

#14 – From RevPro “WrestleCon 2018” on 4/6 –  CHAOS (Chuckie T, Rocky Romero & Will Ospreay) vs Flip Gordon, Kota Ibushi & Shane Strickland – ****1/2

This was a fun mix of strike exchanges, flippy shit, and a little bit of comedy. They teased Ospreay and Ibushi early on, and then delivered it later to get the biggest reaction possible. The closing stretch of this match was as good as any I saw WrestleMania weekend, as Will and Kota did some crazy stuff. This is a must-watch match.

#13 – From ROH “Supercard of Honor XII” on 4/7 – SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) (c) vs Flip Gordon and the Young Bucks  (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) in a Ladder Match for the ROH Six Man Tag Team Championships – ****1/2

The match of the night from Ring of Honor’s most attended show ever. There was a dumb run in by the Kingdom at one point, but if you look past that, they took some crazy bumps in this match. This was chaotic at times, but it told a story, with Flip Gordon trying to prove himself, and Christopher Daniels taking advantage of all the carnage to sneak up the ladder and pick up the win.

#12 – From WWE “WrestleMania 34” on 4/8 –  Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs The Authority (Stephanie McMahon & Triple H) – ****1/2

You definitely have to take into account expectations when rating matches, and this match blew the expectations out of the water. Ronda Rousey had an absolutely awesome match to kick off her WWE career, and while from a workrate perspective this wasn’t anything special, it just felt huge when you watch the crowd react to everything Ronda does. Triple H also deserves a huge pat on the back for his performance.

#11 – From RevPro “WrestleCon 2018” on 4/6 –  Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii for the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship – ****1/2

This match was loads of fun, Sabre started out taking Ishii lightly and disrespecting him, and for a while, it works, as Sabre dominates the bigger Ishii on the ground. Ishii sells tremendously, but by daring Sabre to get into a striking contest, Sabre makes a mistake and tries to win with his striking game, and Ishii takes advantage, hitting the Ishii Driver to win the British title.

#10 – From Sendai Girls “Sendai Girls 4/19” on 4/19 –  Io Shirai vs Meiko Satomura – ****1/2

The best match from a promotion even the most hardcore wrestling fans have never heard of this year, and a sure-fire women’s match of the year contender here between Io Shirai and Meiko Satomura. The two went out and just killed eachother with strikes, and they did a 20-minute time limit draw finish that just left me wanting more.

#9 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 14” on 4/29 –  Shingo Takagi vs Shuji Ishikawa in a Champion Carnival 2018 Block A Match – ****1/2

Shuji Ishikawa is one of my favorites in the world, and he was going up against Shingo Takagi here, the undisputed MVP of the 2018 Champion Carnival tournament. Shingo played the firey underdog here, a role he doesn’t often play, but it worked great. They have a great near fall when Shingo kicks out of Splash Mountain, and Shingo fires back with some offense, and even hits Made in Japan before finally succumbing to the Giant Slam.

#8 – From wXw “True Colors 2018″ on 4/14” on 4/14 –  Ilja Dragunov (c) vs WALTER for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship – ****1/2

This certainly had the potential to live up to their wXw 16 Carat Gold finals, but they did the weird “ref calls for the DQ, but the fighting champ wants to restart the match” bit, which kind of took me out of it. This was still incredible, and Ilja will have red marks on his chest for the rest of his life because of his series with WALTER. There is something about Dragunov that makes his “Super Cena” comebacks feel real, and he is one of the best in the world at fighting from beneath. I hope the rematch at Superstars of Wrestling doesn’t have all the shenanigans.

#7 – From NXT “Takeover: New Orleans” on 4/7 –  Andrade Almas (c) vs Aleister Black for the NXT Championship – ****1/2

NXT Takeover: New Orleans will challenge Wrestle Kingdom as the best show of the year, because there were three absolute classics on this show, starting with Almas and Black. The finish here was awesome, as Zelina Vega, who helped Almas keep the title for so long, accidentally leads to him losing the belt, as Almas catches her, but then can’t get his hands up to defend the Black Mass kick.

#6 – From EVOLVE “WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2018” on 4/6 –  Matt Riddle (c) vs Will Ospreay for the EVOLVE Championship in a No Ropebreaks Match – ****3/4

This was jaw-dropping, and I was honestly concerned with Will Ospreay’s health at points during this match. Ospreay teased the spanish fly off the apron early on, but Riddle blocks it and gives Ospreay a suplex onto the apron. Riddle plays the dick champion throughout, killing Ospreay with knee strikes and tearing off Ospreay’s tape. Riddle hits a huge knee but Ospreay kicks out at one and locks in a triangle. Riddle escapes, and they trade strikes until Ospreay goes for the rainmaker, Riddle counters, but Ospreay goes straight into the Oscutter and Riddle counters into the Bromission to get the tap. Incredible.

#5 – From AJPW “Champion Carnival 2018 Day 15” on 4/30 –  Kento Miyahara vs Naomichi Marufuji in the Champion Carnival 2018 Final – ****3/4

Maybe it’s recency bias, but the top six matches of this month are all in my top 11 for the year, meaning there was more top-notch wrestling this month than the first three combined. This match didn’t happen in New Japan or WWE, so it won’t get crazy buzz, but everyone who saw it agrees that it was incredible. The classic story of the champ defending his promotion against the outsider, and it was sensational. There was a cool spot where they both went for knee attacks and cracked knees. In the end, Marufuji surprisingly defeats Kento with the Emerald Flowsion, and he holds up the Pro Wrestling NOAH flag after the match, signaling we may see the two promotions work together more in the future.

#4 – From NJPW “Sakura Genesis 2018” on 4/1 –  Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr. for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship – ****3/4

Zack Sabre Jr. is the wrestler of the year right now, and it isn’t that close. He has been either first or second in my wrestler of the month rankings in January, March, and April. Okada shows some ground game early, but Sabre figures it out and takes control. The spot where Okada goes for the dropkick and Sabre catches it and transitions into a submission is beautiful. They do the thing where Okada baits Sabre into getting into a strike fest, and Okada takes control. Okada goes for the rainmaker but gets caught, and they do a call back to the only time Okada has ever submitted (Shinsuke Nakamura in the G1 Climax) as Sabre locks Okada in the same flying armbar. Sabre reverses the rainmaker into a European Clutch, but Okada kicks out. Okada hits two rainmakers, but Sabre counters the third, Okada escapes the octopus and finally hits the third rainmaker for the win… wow.

#3 – From NXT “Takeover: New Orleans” on 4/7 –  Adam Cole vs EC 3 vs Killian Dain vs Lars Sullivan vs Ricochet vs The Velveteen Dream in a Ladder Match for the NXT North American Championship – ****3/4

I cannot do this match justice. It was a crazy spotfest in every sense of the world, but it was still just incredible. You get the debuts of EC3 and Ricochet here, with Ricochet hitting a shooting star to the floor almost immediately, and EC3 playing up his cocky attitude. We get Ricochet hitting a moonsault off a falling ladder, we get Velveteen hitting the Purple Rainmaker off the ladder. We get a death valley driver onto a ladder that was balanced on another ladder. This was just special. Adam Cole dumps Richochet off the ladder at the last second and grabs the title to get some heat.

#2 – From NJPW “Sakura Genesis 2018” on 4/1 –  Will Ospreay (c) vs Marty Scurll for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – *****

The match that set up all of Will Ospreay’s incredible performances Mania weekend. Scurll goes after the neck instantly, and they tell the “these two know each other so well” story from their days on the British scene. Ospreay goes for the Oscutter but Marty yells “chickenwing”, making Ospreay hesitate. There were a bunch of subtle things like that throughout that made this match special. Scurll hits a tombstone on the floor, and Ospreay hits the now-infamous Spanish fly off of the apron, cracking his head open in the process. Scurll stomps on Ospreay’s neck but Ospreay rolls through and hits the Oscutter out of nowhere for the win. If Scurll won via stoppage this would be my match of the year, but the random finish out of nowhere brought it down a bit for me.

#1 – From NXT “Takeover: New Orleans” on 4/7 –  Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match – *****

This match went a little too long I would say, but it told a good enough story to justify it, and I’m still giving it five stars, although I would be interested to hear what somebody who doesn’t know the backstory would think about it. At one point Gargano throws Ciampa over the announce desk and we lose two of the commentators for a few minutes. Ciampa hits a suplex off of the table and then brutalizes Gargano with the crutch. Gargano hits the lawn dart into the exposed turnbuckle, and the two get tied together with Ciampa’s tape and have an awesome strike exchange. Ciampa takes off his knee brace and goes for a running knee, but Gargano hits the injured knee with the brace. Ciampa lies there in pain, and Gargano thinks about going for a shot with the crutch, but instead sits down with him as a callback to their Crusierweight Classic match. Ciampa goes for a shot with the brace, but Gargano sees it coming and ducks it straight into the Gargano escape before transitioning into an STF on the injured knee with the brace in Ciampa’s face for the tap. Match of the year contender for sure, right now I’d have it at #3 behind Gargano-Almas and Bucks-Lovers.

WRESTLER OF THE MONTH

This is simple, five points for a ***** match, four for a ****3/4, three for a ****1/2, two for a ****1/4, and one for a ****, with your highest rated match as a tiebreaker.

1) Will Ospreay – 15 points
2) Zack Sabre Jr. – 13 points
3) Matt Riddle – 8 points
4) Kota Ibushi – 7 points
5) WALTER – 6 points
6) Shingo Takagi – 6 points
7) Flip Gordon – 6 points
8) (TIE) Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa – 5 points
10) Marty Scurll – 5 points

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