I did a lengthy introduction in part one of this series, but in short with match of the year season in full slow I’m putting together an extensive list of the most hyped and my favourite European matches of 2018. The first part covered the Big Three UK companies (PROGRESS, RPW & ICW) as well as US companies making their trips over here, whereas part two covered the rest of the BritWres promotions. This final part will cover both continental Europe and Ireland.
The matches listed below will be a combination of the most hyped matches by the scene (even if they didn’t blow me away personally), as well as a few favourites of my own that I feel somewhat slipped under the radar and deserve more credit for their brilliance and to be in contention for the title of European Match of the Year.
I won’t be listing every match that I thought was great from Europe this year; there’s simply too many of them. I will however be creating an accompanying forum thread with an extensive list of every match I personally had breaking the four star barrier from 2018.
OTT really had a barnstorming year in 2018, going from strength to strength in terms of both creative and match quality. The man who embodied that Irish greatness was Jordan Devlin, being the through-line that really told the story of OTT’s year and having many a fantastic match along the way. His title defence against Thatcher, then tag epic with Starr against WALTER and Low Ki and eventual title loss to the big Austrian form the core of a fantastic portfolio for the year, capped off at the end with a great match with upcomer Scotty Davis.
Aside from the Irish Ace, Will Ospreay delivered big time on his excursions over to Ireland at their two stadium shows, firstly in a compact sprint against Matt Riddle and then in a drawn out epic against WALTER. Then earlier in the year another NJPW regular Zack Sabre Jr. put on a wonderful match with Travis Banks.
Finally, the entire Kings of the North against the Rapture feud was a real highlight of the early portion of OTT’s year. The feud felt like a throwback to territory era sensibilities and was capped off by a wonderful cage match that felt like it could have been right out of prime NWA in all the good ways.
Germany’s premier promotion can also be more than proud of the selection of great contests they put forth. Their premier weekend, the 16 Carat Gold tournament, was home to two fabulous matches. Lucky Kid taking on Timothy Thatcher was the highlight of the early rounds, and then David Starr and Absolute Andy put on a magnificent final.
Not long after, they headed over to London and put on a four way match for the title that sent twitter a-racing; Starr, Banks, WALTER and Ilja tore it up. From there the pair of WALTER and Ilja would then go on to have a pair of title matches through the middle portion of the year that got a lot of praise.
Perhaps one of the hidden gems of the year took place a little later when David Starr and Ilja Dragunov teamed up to take on the Ringkampf duo of WALTER and Timothy Thatcher. It was tag team wrestling at its very finest.
To close out the year, wXw held their second big weekend wrestling festival: World Tag Team League. The highlight was the night one main event where David Starr and Jurn Simmons partook in an epic hardcore hair versus hair match that left everybody blown away.
Best of the Rest
If you’d have told me even six months ago that Dave Meltzer would give one of his (albeit perhaps diminishingly so) prestigious five star ratings to a match taking place in Spain I would have definitely raised at least one eyebrow. But that honour was indeed bestowed upon the match between Zack Sabre Jr. and Spaniard A-Kid that took place in White Wolf Wrestling.
2018 has been a year of real growth in the Irish scene, and that extended beyond just that of OTT. The match that generated the most buzz was Club Rock Shandy taking on More Than Hype from Fight Factory Pro Wrestling. While I personally wasn’t blown away by it, it undeniably showcased the potential in a lot of the Irish youngsters.
(Photo credit GD Photography)