Earlier this month, Pro Wrestling Illustrated – the leading pro wrestling publication in North America, announced its yearly Top 500 list of Best Wrestlers of 2018. Here is their top 10 and here’s our takes!
#10) The Miz
The Miz is arguably the one of the best overall talents in WWE right now. A cerebral technician, and a master on the mic, the Awesome One is riding a wave of greatness that some could only dream of as they enter their 12th year on the main roster. The Miz should also be credited with reviving the Intercontinental Championship from near obscurity, as many site Miz’s 2016-2017 reigns as the turning point for the workhorse title in the modern era.
#9) Tetsuya Naito
As reported at length by The Game Changer Sports Network in our coverage of NJPW’s G1 Climax, Naito’s matches during the month long tournament are considered by many to be the best.
With that, he has had high profile bouts this year against the likes of: Kazuchika Okada, and Chris Jericho (the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion). While those were losing efforts, Naito has still postured himself as one of the very vest in the industry today.
#8) Cody (Rhodes)
From Stardust to absolute Stardom, Cody Rhodes as ascended to the top of the mountain of success in the industry. His role with the Bullet Club, tenure in ROH and NJPW and proven without a shadow of a doubt that WWE dropped the ball HARD when it came to the son of the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
ALL IN was a special moment for The American Nightmare, as month and months of self promotion and personal investment finally paid off. Cody and the Young Bucks successfully hosted their own wrestling pay-per-view in front of a sold out crowd of over 10,000 in Chicago, filled with action, fun, and surprises.
Cody has helped redefine ‘success’ in the wrestling industry; and he is killing it!
#7) Roman Reigns
Far all the hate and boos that Roman Reigns experiences on almost a weekly basis, one thing cannot be denied. He is easily the most over wrestler in WWE. Now, by what definition to do we mean? He’s “Over” in the sense that regardless of what arena, what city, and what show he is on – he gets the biggest reaction every time. Whether he’s getting cheers or boos, it doesn’t matter. WWE values his ability to make an arena come alive and sell tickets. He does both.
The newly crowned Universal Champion has had is fair share of ups and downs this year, but his desperate need to defeat Brock Lesnar and claim the big red belt is finally over. We can now focus on new feuds, and new opportunities for others to become involved win the title picture – rather than the constant revolving door of Roman and Brock.
#6) Braun Strowman
Speaking of potential challengers for the Universal Title, the Monster Among Men comes in at number 6. Strowman has been riding a serious wave of momentum in the last year; getting easily some of the biggest pops every time he comes out. Braun Strowman has seemingly found the perfect blend of humor and brute force in his character that WWE has been searching for when it comes to their big men.
He has had quite a successful 2018, not only winning the first ever 50-Man Greatest Royal Rumble, but also capturing the Money in the Bank briefcase. Along with that, Strowman’s feuds, regardless of who he’s against, are always entertaining.
Whats unique is that each feud gives us a new side of Strowman, his original Reigns and Lesnar feuds were meant to show his brute strength, intensity, and overall unstoppable monster like qualities. However, his recent feud with Kevin Owens was more about his humorous – almost sadistic – and comedic side.
Overall, Strowman has provided consistently entertaining television, and a spot on this list is a very fitting for his ascension up the ladder.
#5) Seth Rollins
Is anyone having a more stellar year in WWE than Seth Rollins?
Rollins, current WWE Intercontinental Champion, has produced a number of “Match of the Year” candidates. From his stelar matches at: WrestleMaina, The Greatest Royal Rumble, and Extreme Rules; to his other worldly performance during the February 19th edition of Monday Night Raw, where he not only pinned both Roman Regins AND John Cena, but wrestled for a combined 1 hour and 5 minutes. Breaking an all-time record for the flagship show.
Regardless who he is against, Rollins finds a way to pull out the best in everyone he wrestles. He seemingly can make any program work, from tag teaming with a Jason Jordan, to his open challenges – Rollins can do it all.
While many feel that Rollins deserves more than a mid-card title, Rollins has proven that Monday Nights belong to him, and not the Universal Champion. However, with his Shield brother Roman Regins finally taking the title off of Brock Lesnar’s shoulders, could we see Seth Rollins eventually move on and fill that Main Event spot we know both deserves and can easily fill.
After all, he’s done that before too.
#4) Brock Lesnar
Speak of the devil, or the Beast Incarnate for that matter, Brock Lesnar comes in at #4 in this list.
The now former WWE Universal Champion, is currently – by all reports – preparing for his octagon return, when he faces UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Before than, he was the 500+ day reigning Universal Champion.
While fans complain about his extensive gaps in appearances – ratings and crowd reactions tell us one thing: we still love Suplex City. As much as fans might have hated the booking of the Universal Title in the last year; people still love to watch The Beast Incarnate destroy opponents.
Along with entertaining bouts against AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns this year; the #4 spot makes sense.
#3) Kazuchika Okada
Is there anything he can’t do?
The Rainmaker’s IWGP Title defenses this year have been nothing short of incredible, and his latest “broken” gimmick shows that Okada’s ability to inovate and evolve is virtually unmatched.
Consistency. Excellence. Presence – Okada.
#2) AJ Styles
Styles has been WWE Champion sine November of 2017, making him a few days away from reaching over 300+ days as champ in his current reign. Style’s win over Rusev at WWE’s Extreme Rules, cemianted him as the longest reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown Live history.
Even at the age of 41, Styles is easily the most consistent star in WWE, putting on (dare we say) phenomenal matches every time he steps in between the ropes. His mic work should also be noted; as it surprisingly has become one of his most valuable traits, since is time in TNA and NJPW.
He is currently the face of SmackDown Live, and as reports indicate, WWE has zero desire to remove the title from around Style’s waist.
#1) Kenny Omega
We have finally reached #1 and it really shouldn’t be a surprise. Kenny Omega reigns supreme atop the charts as one of the most successful and dominant competitors in professional wrestling today.
There isn’t much we could say, so we’ll let Dan Murphy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated say it for us: “In a very real way, Kenny Omega embodies 2018 in professional wrestling. His success on his own terms has made him an international phenomenon”.
His matches with Okada alone would secure him a high seed. Added his matches with Cody, Bullet Club and his tag team efforts with Kota Ibushi – he cleans house.
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Photo credits: Sports Illustrated, SportsKeeda,WWE, SEEScops.com, GiveMeSport, CageSideSeats.com, InsideProWrestling.Com.
Quote Credit: CageSideSeats.com