Welcome to a new 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 48 matches from three continents and 19 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.
Shows that I went back and watched in later months are in red and do not feature writeups.
#48 – From wXw “Inner Circle 5” on 3/8 – Mark Haskins vs Mike Bailey – ****
#47 – From Wrestle Circus “Raise the Curtain” on 3/24 – Penta El Zero M vs Shane Strickland – ****
#46 – From DDT “Judgement 2018: 21st Anniversary Show” on 3/25 – Shuten Doji (KUDO, Masahiro Takanashi & Yukio Sakaguchi) (c) vs Koju Takeda, Kota Umeda & Yuki Ueno for the KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championships – ****
#45 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 1” on 3/9 – Bobby Gunns & John Klinger vs Mike Bailey & WALTER – ****
The classic champions vs challengers match the night before two big title matches. There were tons of great exchanges throughout this match that got everybody ready for the two title matches the following night. Bobby Gunns, who is probably the least well-known name of the four, really shined here, although he did t1ake the fall from Bailey in the end.
#44 – From WAVE “Catch The Wave 2018 Day 1” on 3/11 – Hiroe Nagahama vs Misaki Ohata in a Catch The WAVE 2018 Block B Match – ****
#43 – From FCP “Dream Tag Team Invitational 2018 Day 1” on 3/30 – Chris Brookes (c) vs Meiko Satomura for the FCP Championship – ****
#42 – From Wrestle Circus “Raise the Curtain” on 3/24 – Tessa Blanchard (c) vs Chelsea Green for the Wrestlecircus Lady of the Ring Championship – ****
#41 – From Limitless “Only Fools Are Satisfied” on 3/30 – The Work Horsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake) vs Jay Freddie & John Silver – ****
#40 – From OTT “Martina’s Gaff Party 3” on 3/31 – Mark Haskins vs Scotty Davis in a OTT No Limits Championship Tournament Semifinal Match – ****
#39 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 2” on 3/10 – Bobby Gunns (c) vs Mike Bailey for the wXw Shotgun Championship – ****
Speaking of Gunns and Bailey, these two had their title match, and I’d give it four stars just from Mike Bailey’s nasty selling after Gunns taped his finger to the back of his hand (yes, this actually happened) and left it there for half the match. A gruesome encounter, Bobby Gunns picked up the win with his armbar finisher while working on Bailey’s injured finger.
#38 – From Bar Wrestling “Bar Wrestling 10” on 3/8 – LAX (Ortiz & Santana) vs The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix) – ****
This was my first taste of Bar Wrestling, and I liked what I saw from these four. This was pretty much a spotfest, but they put together a solid story throughout the match. This was paced insanely quickly, and the guys looked a little gassed by the end of it, but I really enjoyed as a US Indy main event, they put together some really creative double team spots, and the Lucha Bros picked up the win with Penta’s package piledriver.
#37 – From PWG “Time Is A Flat Circle” on 3/23 – Bandido & Flamita vs Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz – ****
#36 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 2” on 3/10 – Lucky Kid vs Timothy Thatcher in a 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2018 Quarterfinal Match – ****
Lucky Kid caught the wrestling world’s eye here on night two as the little-known member of RISE got a chance to take on one of the most legit in the world, Ringkampf’s Timothy Thatcher. It was the classic technical wizard vs high flyer, and Thatcher has had a breakout year in 2018 after I hated him in his EVOLVE days. Thatcher picked up the win with a Butterfly Suplex, but Kid showed that he had babyface potential and put up a great fight here.
#35 – From NJPW “Strong Style Evolved” on 3/25 – CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) – ****
Lost in the madness from the main event tag, these four had a really fun match on the undercard for NJPW’s first US card of the year. Suzuki-Gun just dominated the two CHAOS members throughout this match, one spot in particular sticks in my mind, when Suzuki and Sabre combined to put on various double submissions on Ishii, seamlessly transitioning from one to the other. Zack made Ishii tap with the Orienteering with Napalm Death to set up his title match with Okada.
#34 – From Dragon Gate “Champion Gate in Osaka Day 1” on 3/3 – MaxiMuM (Jason Lee, Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi) (c) vs Tribe Vanguard (Flamita, YAMATO & Yosuke Santa Maria) for the Open the Triangle Gate Championships – ****
#33 – From WWE “205 Live 3/27” on 3/27 – Buddy Murphy vs Akira Tozawa vs Kalisto vs TJP for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship #1 Contendership – ****
#32 – From WAVE “Osaka Rhapsody Vol 38” on 3/18 – Mio Momono vs Misaki Ohata in a Catch The WAVE 2018 Block B Match – ****
#31 – From BJW “Ikkitousen Strong Climb 2018 Day 1” on 3/8 – Daichi Hashimoto vs Takuya Nomura – ****
#30 – From CMLL “Homenaje A Dos Leyendas 2018” on 3/16 – Angel de Oro vs El Cuatrero in a Mask vs Mask Match – ****
I know it is CMLL’s thing and they do it with all their matches, but this would have been better without the two out of three falls stipulation. The two worked really hard, and I enjoyed the match, but having two stops midway brought me out of it at times. How did Cuatrero submit to the Campana at one point, but five minutes later, he was suddenly able to withstand it. When you look past that, these two worked an excellent match and had a fun combination of high-flying and submission based offense
#29 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 3” on 3/11 – Ilja Dragunov (c) vs Matt Riddle for the wXw Unifed World Wrestling Championship – ****
Ilja and Riddle had an impromptu title match just one night after Dragunov won the title from Bad Bones John Klinger. A very good match, Riddle has them with everybody it seems. Riddle hit some nasty looking knees, and these two had some beautiful strike exchanges throughout. Ilja picked up the win with the Torpedo Moscow, in an awesome match, but it was really short and I wish they gave these guy a few more minutes.
#28 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 8” on 3/18 – SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr. in a New Japan Cup 2018 Semifinal Match – ****
SANADA is one of my personal favorites, he doesn’t get enough credit, and I absolutely loved his match with Okada last month, and he put in another awesome performance here. In a way, SANADA was shown as the only guy that could really hang with Sabre on the ground. At the end of the day though, Sabre caught him in a brutal looking submission where he bent back on every extremity possible
#27 – From ROH “16th Anniversary Show” on 3/9 – Dalton Castle (c) vs Jay Lethal for the ROH World Championship – ****1/4
Now, I didn’t like this match as much as some people, but Castle needed an excellent match to solidify his title reign, and he got it here. Lethal put in one of his few awesome performances he has every year, working on the knee of Castle until the champ kicked out of the Lethal Injection. Lethal went to the outside, but Castle caught him with a German off of the apron. The finish came when Lethal was looking for a roll up and Castle rolled through into the Bangarang for the win.
#26 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 3” on 3/11 – Absolute Andy vs David Starr in the 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2018 Final Match – ****1/4
The result will get the headlines, as everybody was sure Starr would pick up the win coming into this match, but the match itself was really good too. The two worked a really fun match with Andy throwing Starr around the ring that was starting to get into 4.5+ territory before the finishers kicked in. Andy hit an F5 into the ringpost… Starr got back in, another F5, and a kickout, another F5, another F5, another F5 this time from the top rope… and Starr kicks out. Andy eventually wins with A-Klasse, but the unbelievable finish with all those kickouts really brought me down on what was an awesome match to that point.
#25 – From NJPW “Strong Style Evolved” on 3/25 – Jay White (c) vs Hangman Page for the IWGP United States Championship – ****1/4
These two were working in front of a dead crowd that just wanted to see the main event, and two announcers that knew nothing about the product, but they killed it and put on one of the most underrated matches thus far in 2018. More accurately, they almost killed each other, each taking some crazy bumps, including a dragon suplex from the apron to the floor! White retained with the Blade Runner, after the crowd finally got into the match towards the end.
#24 – From WWE “205 Live 3/13” on 3/13 – Cedric Alexander vs Roderick Strong in a WWE Cruiserweight Title Tournament Semifinal Match – ****1/4
These two got 15 minutes to go out and do something special, and they made the most of it. If 205 Live is a thriving brand in a few months, we will look back on this match as the turning point. It was an awesome battle with the winner going to Wrestlemania, both men got their feet on the ropes after taking the other’s finisher for nice near falls, and Alexander got a cradle out of nowhere for the surprise win, sending him to the grandest stage of them all.
#23 – From NOAH “Global Tag League 2018 Day 4” on 3/31 – Atsushi Kotoge & Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenou & Takashi Sugiura in a Global Tag League 2018 First Round Match – ****1/4
#22 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 1” on 3/9 – Absolute Andy vs Marius Al-Ani in a 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2018 First Round Match – ****1/4
My personal favorite match from the actual 16 Carat Gold tournament came from the main event of night one (which actually wasn’t supposed to be the main event at all). This was a fun clash between two former tag team partners who broke up at least year’s World Tag League tournament. The finish was well done and one of my favorites when it is executed well, as Al-Ani had his foot on the rope, but the referee couldn’t see it.
#21 – From AJPW “Dream Power Series 2018 Day 5” on 3/25 – Joe Doering (c) vs Kento Miyahara for the Triple Crown Championship – ****1/4
The two aces of AJPW squared off in their first big show on their new streaming service, and these two had a barnburner. Miyahara bumped like crazy for Doering, who was shown as the better man in this match. Whenever Miyhara seemed to be building up steam, Doering would swat him down. Doering hit a powerbomb into the guardrail. The finish came as Miyahara hit the bridging German out of nowhere and pinned Doering. They did the thing where Doering got up first despite losing, and both men looked absolutely fantastic heading into the Champion’s Carnival next month.
#20 – From wXw “We Love Wrestling Tour 2018: London” on 3/24 – The Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter) vs Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) in a World Tag Team League 2018 Qualifying Match – ****1/4
#19 – From BJW “Ikkitousen Strong Climb 2018 Day 2” on 3/21 – Takuya Nomura vs Yuya Aoki in a Ikkitousen Strong Climb 2018 Block A Match – ****1/4
#18 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 7” on 3/16 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Juice Robinson in a New Japan Cup 2018 Semifinal Match – ****1/4
The two Taguchi-Japan members had a nice friendly match here. Neither really worked heel, as Juice pledged before the match not to go after Tanahashi’s injured knee. Juice did work desperately at points, stealing Tanahashi’s High Fly Flow at one point for a nice near fall. It was a story-driven match, and it had an awesome closing stretch with Juice coming so close to beating the ace, however, Tanahashi picked up the win with a pair of High Fly Flows. Juice earns his respect in the process for not going after the knee.
#17 – From DDT “Judgement 2018: 21st Anniversary Show” on 3/25 – Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs Shuji Ishikawa for the KO-D Openweight Championship – ****1/4
#16 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 3” on 3/11 – Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr. in a New Japan Cup 2018 First Round Match – ****1/4
This was the first match in what was an incredible march to the crown for Zack Sabre Jr., and we all gasped the first time he locked in the Orienteering with Napalm Death, and gasped again when Naito tapped clean. Sabre’s offense looked so nice in this match, flowing from one move to the next as he worked on the left arm and legs of Naito. Naito’s selling was really good throughout this match, and Sabres postmatch promo of “who’s tranquilo now, dickhead?” was hilarious, as he usually is.
#15 – From ROH “Manhattan Mayhew VII” on 3/3 – Bullet Club (Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs Shane Taylor & The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) in an Ultimate Mayhem Match – ****1/2
This was an interesting match type, similar to War Games except without the cage. The match started as a one on one, and every few minutes, a new member would be added. The story was that whenever Shane Taylor and The Kingdom had the advantage, they would take control, but when Bullet Club evened the odds and had the same number of people they were the superior team. An awesome match, but a bit of a spot-fest, so I would pass if you aren’t into that type of match.
#14 – From PWG “Time Is A Flat Circle” on 3/23 – Adam Brooks vs Will Ospreay – ****1/2
#13 – From Dragon Gate “Champion Gate in Osaka Day 2” on 3/4 – Masaaki Mochizuki (c) vs Ben-K for the Open the Dream Gate Championship – ****1/2
#12 – From NOAH “Global Tag League 2018 Day 1” on 4/18 – Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya vs Atsushi Kotoge & Naomichi Marufuji in a Global Tag League 2018 First Round Match – ****1/2
#11 – From PWG “Time Is A Flat Circle” on 3/23 – Matt Riddle vs Zack Sabre Jr. – ****1/2
#10 – From wXw “We Love Wrestling Tour 2018: London” on 3/24 – Ilja Dragunov (c) vs David Starr vs Travis Banks vs WALTER for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship – ****1/2
A lot of people I respect had this match rated higher than the three-way from 16 Carat that also involved Dragunov and WALTER. I wouldn’t go that far, but this was a fun match, and the PROGRESS infusion of Travis Banks made this Unified Title match feel special. Does any company in the world do multi-man matches better than wXw, because I have two of them at ****1/2+ this month.
#9 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 3” on 3/11 – Kota Ibushi vs YOSHI-HASHI in a New Japan Cup 2018 First Round Match – ****1/2
Overshadowed by Zack Sabre Jr.’s epic run to the New Japan Cup, Kota Ibushi also had an incredible month, which started out with this ****1/2 banger against YOSHI-HASHI. There was a spot in this match where YOSHI-HASHI practically stood there waiting for Ibushi to hit his moonsault off of the balcony, this had ****3/4 potential if they landed that a little better.
#8 – From NJPW “46th Anniversary Show” on 3/6 – Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay – ****1/2
#7 – From WRESTLE-1 “Trans Magic Tour 2018 Day 5” on 3/14 – Shotaro Ashino (c) vs Manabu Soya for the WRESTLE-1 Championship – ****1/2
#6 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 1” on 3/9 – Michael Elgin vs Tomohiro Ishii in a New Japan Cup 2018 First Round Match – ****1/2
Elgin and Ishii had an awesome hoss battle to kick off the first day of the New Japan Cup. I know that there will be some that go ****3/4 on this, but it started a little slow for me before picking up for an awesome 2nd half of the match. These two killed each other with forearms, and the top rope crucifix powerbomb was an awesome nearfall that could have paralyzed Ishii.
#5 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 9” on 3/21 – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr. in the New Japan Cup 2018 Final – ****3/4
Tanahashi and Sabre kick off my top five for this month. I loved the story of Sabre tapping out the old ace on his way to facing the new ace, and the fact that he actually got Tanahashi to submit, instead of just getting a ref stoppage like his faction leader Suzuki, could set up a faction turmoil story a few years down the road, with a potential Suzuki retirement match and the formation of Sabre-gun.
#4 – From wXw “16 Carat Gold 2018 Day 2” on 3/10 – John Klinger (c) vs Ilja Dragunov vs WALTER for the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship – ****3/4
This match was billed as the biggest in wXw history, and that was before WALTER used his stipulation-picking ability to add in the lovable Ilja Dragunov. These three each have history with each other, and last year’s WALTER vs Dragunov match was certainly a Match of the Year contender. This didn’t quite live up there, but it was an awesome match with lots of fun spots and near falls that really got the crowd, and me, invested in it. In the end Ilja finally won the title after a year’s long journey, and the crowd popped big, but let me give some credit to WALTER, who is in my eyes the best non-NJPW wrestler in the world by a solid margin.
#3 – From NOAH “The Great Voyage 2018 in Yokohama” on 3/11 – Kenou (c) vs Takashi Sugiura for the GHC Heavyweight Championship – ****3/4
I am a lot higher on this match than most people are, but I thought that this was absolutely incredible. Kenou had been putting on incredible matches all throughout his title run, and this was the best of those. I wasn’t expecting him to lose the title, so this was a huge surprise to me, and these two threw the stiffest of strikes at another until Sugiura got Kenou to pass out with a beautiful choke.
#2 – From NJPW “New Japan Cup 2018 Day 6” on 3/15 – Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr. in a New Japan Cup 2018 Quarterfinal Match – ****3/4
Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre tore down the house in the main event of the show. These are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and they put on an incredible match here, with Sabre controlling Ibushi throughout, and Ibushi building up babyface fire and getting the crowd into this match 1000%.Ibushi is the only one who did not submit to Sabre in this tournament run, as the ref had to stop the match.
#1 – From NPW “Strong Style Evolved” on 3/25 – The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibsuhi) vs The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) – *****
This was pure perfection, for starters, the match was incredible with high paced action and creative spots, then factor in the story behind it, and this is a match of the year contender. Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson seemingly stood split in their allegiances after this match, with one on Kenny’s side, and one on Cody’s. That could potentially set up a match between the two at All In.
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) Zack Sabre Jr. – 15 points
2) Kota Ibushi – 12 points
3) The Young Bucks – 8 points
4) Ilja Dragunov – 8 points
5) WALTER – 8 points
6) Kenou & Takashi Sugiura (TIE) – 6 points
8) Hiroshi Tanahashi – 6 points
9) Will Ospreay – 6 points
10) Kenny Omega – 5 points