2018 saw some very excellent wrestling all over the world. Every corner you went round, there was another match being praised by pretty much everyone who saw it. You had the phenomenal contests put on by the likes of Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, and Tetsuya Naito over in Japan, the great storytelling from Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in NXT, even over in Spain you had a match being awarded the coveted five stars from Uncle Dave as Zack Sabre Jr. and A-Kid battled. It goes without saying that 2018 was one of the best years for professional wrestling as a whole.
With the first week of the new year almost at an end, it gives us time to reflect on the great action we saw. Personally, it’s one of my favourite times as I get to write end of year lists. There’s a few on the site already about the most read Wrestler Spotlights, Interviews, Reviews, etc. but for just now, let’s look at Scotland’s best matches of 2018 (in my opinion anyway)!
The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan) vs Chris Brookes & Omari (Discovery Wrestling Disco Derby, 01/19/18)
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship: Damien (c) vs Shawn Johnson (WrestleZone Summerhill Showdown, 01/20/18)
2 out of 3 Falls Match for the vacant Reckless Intent Heavyweight Championship: DCT vs Chris Renfrew (Reckless Intent Live in Livingston, 02/03/18)
Undisputed ICW Championship: BT Gunn (c) vs Bram (ICW 7th Annual Square Go!, 02/11/18)
Jackie Polo vs Lionheart (ICW Barramania 4, 04/29/18)
ROH World Television Championship: Silas Young (c) vs Joe Hendry (ROH Honor United – Night 1, 05/24/18)
Lucha DS vs Senza Volto (UPW From Paris to Wrestle, 06/03/18)
Loser Leaves The UK Match for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship: Stevie Boy (c) vs DCT (ICW Shug’s Hoose Party 5 – Night 2, 07/29/18)
Triple Threat Match for the RPW Heavyweight Championship: Lewis Girvan (c) vs Aspen Faith vs David Devlin (RPW Live in Lochwinnoch, 08/11/18)
Y Division Championship: Joe Coffey (c) vs Christopher Saynt (Discovery Wrestling Live in Edinburgh, 09/01/18)
Good Housekeeping Match: Liam Thomson vs Wolfgang (ICW Bravehearto, 09/23/18)
Chairs Match: The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan) vs Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins (ICW Fight Club Tapings, 10/07/18)
Y Division Championship #1 Contenders Match: Joe Hendry vs Timothy Thatcher (Discovery Wrestling 48 Months Later, 11/04/18)
10. ICW Tag Team Championships: The Kinky Party (Jack Jester & Sha Samuels) (c) vs ALPHA/EVIL (Iestyn Rees & Bram) (ICW Shug’s Hoose Party 5 – Night 1, 07/28/18)
On paper, this isn’t really a match I’d be expecting to see on this list. Jack Jester, Sha Samuels, Iestyn Rees, and Bram are all excellent at what they do, but I just wasn’t expecting too much from this ICW Tag Team Championships match. By the end of the match, that thought was tossed straight out the window as they raised above all expectations. Perhaps the best moment of the entire match was Bram doing something he never usually does in the form of a Swanton Bomb from the balcony through a table next to the stage. In the end, a rollup from Jack Jester on Iestyn Rees allowed The Kinky Party to walk away with the gold still around their waists. It’s always good when matches you aren’t expecting that much from raising far above what’s expected.
Full match available on ICW On Demand.
9. No DQ Match: Scotty Swift vs Crusher Craib (WrestleZone Regal Rumble, 03/24/18)
Scotty Swift and Crusher Craib’s rivalry up in WrestleZone was undoubtedly one of the best rivalries of the year for Scottish wrestling. The intensity between the two was immense as they clearly showed in the ring, with their No DQ Match at the Regal Rumble showing just that. The Scotty Swift we all know is typically one of the happiest guys you’ll see. On this night in the Northern Hotel though, he was quite the opposite. He wanted some payback on the man who cost him three months of his career. It wouldn’t be Swift’s night though, albeit thanks to interference from The Sterling Brothers who broke up one of his pinfalls. A table refused to break three times which was disappointing, but that didn’t take anything away from one of WrestleZone’s best matches of 2018.
8. Halloween Brawl for the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships: The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan) vs The Rejected (Chris Archer & Mikkey Vago) (c) (WrestleZone Halloween Hijinx, 10/27/18)
Following the injustice that was the Tables Match from Aberdeen Anarchy X, The Kings of Catch got another opportunity at The Rejected’s Tag Team Championships, this time in a Halloween Brawl. In my eyes, one of the best things in wrestling is chaotic multi-man contests. This match comes directly under that banner as the brawl went over the Kincorth Community Centre (lovely venue by the way, but terrible to find on foot). Steel chairs were the main culprit for pain in the match with some rather nasty looking spots, including a double powerbomb on Aspen Faith through two chairs. Despite this, he got revenge on Chris Archer later by tossing a full pumpkin off The Outcast’s groin. Poor guy. As if that wasn’t enough, he had an Apter Burner to seal the deal and crown new champs in the form of The Kings of Catch. Just like that, all was right in the world of WrestleZone.
Highlights from the match available throughout the October 29th episode of KINGS ROAD:
7. Survival Match: Gene Munny vs Sugar Dunkerton (Discovery Wrestling 48 Months Later, 11/04/18)
Well, this one was something else. Discovery Wrestling wanted to celebrate their fourth anniversary in style, which they accomplished with 48 Months Later. Those in attendance called it one of Disco’s best and most varied shows to date. Seeing as it featured a Survival Match (Zombie Lumberjack Match) between Gene Munny and the debuting Sugar Dunkerton, the fans weren’t wrong. Management were kind enough to upload the Survival Match to YouTube, and boy what a match it was. It wasn’t your storytelling match or your bloody brawl, it was comedy at its finest. Something for everyone to enjoy. In wrestling, you need a variety to keep everyone happy. If there were ever two guys who could pull off something like this, it’s Munny and Suge. Following both Gene and Wee Jimmy being sacrificed to the zombies, a dance party ensued. With zombies. As you do. That Suge D really can get anyone to boogie!
6. Death Match: Jimmy Havoc vs Mikey Whiplash (ICW The Wolf of Sauchiehall Street, 04/01/18)
The Mikey Whiplash Deathmatch Invitational from earlier in the year was brilliant. Aspen Faith put up a good fight, as did both Drew Parker and Clint Margera in their Triple Threat Match. Out of the three Death Matches contested though, the greatest was Whiplash’s bout with Jimmy Havoc. Both men are renowned for their sadistic manners in the ring – after all, Havoc won CZW’s Tournament of Death back in 2017. That came into full display in this bout as anything and everything the guys could get their hands on was used to full effect. This was also the infamous both where Whiplash delivered a Zombie Maker to Havoc through a pane of glass that shattered into a thousand pieces. It was brutal, it was barbaric, it was insane. Hardcore wrestling isn’t for everyone (I personally am all for it), but you still have to respect the people that put their bodies on the line in moments like this.
Full match available on ICW On Demand, highlights available on YouTube:
5. Title vs Career Match for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship: Jackie Polo (c) vs Lionheart (ICW Fear & Loathing XI, 12/02/18)
It was the main event of the biggest Scottish wrestling show of 2018. The third 2018 match (and fourth overall) in the storied rivalry between challenger Lionheart and defending ICW World Heavyweight Champion “Just Justice” Jackie Polo was a great culmination to the fued. Every bit of storytelling throughout this contest meant something. The Just Justice character as a whole added a whole new depth to the story in my opinion. A nice touch to end the match was Lionheart grabbing the Polo mallet only to toss it to Polo, before delivering two superkicks (the first of which broke the mallet in half) and a final frog splash to end the night on a high, as well as finally adding the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. An incredible rivalry, and an as equally as incredible Fear & Loathing main event.
Full match available on ICW On Demand, match ending available on YouTube;
4. Undisputed WrestleZone Championship #1 Contenders Match: Damien vs Richard R. Russell (WrestleZone Battle of the Nations 06/09/2018)
If you had told me at the start of 2018 that I’d be putting Richard R. Russell on a best matches of the year list, you would’ve received a complimentary laugh in the face. After all, he’s not exactly a wrestler. Sure, he’s got a wrestler’s contract with WrestleZone (which he signed for some reason despite being a mouthpiece) but he’s not a full-time performer. But when looking back at WrestleZone’s top story of 2018, it’s impossible to not have this in. There wasn’t a single moment of this match where I wasn’t sat on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. From referee Mikey Innes being extremely lenient when Damien shoved him down to management’s Chris McDonald taking away the Regal Rumble trophy as Russell wanted to use it as a weapon, it was the little details that made the match that extra bit special. A superkick sealed the deal for The Revolutionary as he punched his way to the main event of Aberdeen Anarchy X (more on that later).
3. Queen of Insanity Match for the ICW Women’s World Championship: Viper (c) vs Kay Lee Ray (ICW Fear & Loathing XI, 12/02/18)
2017’s King of Insanity Match in ICW was a proper hardcore brawl, right up my alley. The 2018 sequel, the Queen of Insanity Match, saw Viper and Kay Lee Ray put everything (and I mean everything) on the line to come out with the ICW Women’s World Championship around their waist. Whether that meant top rope Viper Driver’s through barbed wire tables or a trash can full of thumbtacks being dumped on KLR’s back, it was difficult to sit through without wincing. The finish to the bout was as brutal as could be – a crossface with a strand of barbed wire across the mouth, meaning Kay Lee Ray walked out as both the 2018 Queen of Insanity and the first three-time ICW Women’s World Champion. It set the tone for what ICW’s women’s division is all about, and the embrace between the two post-match was excellent. They may want to destroy each other once the bell rings, but they’re allies again once the match is over.
Full match available on YouTube:
2. Steel Cage Match for the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship with Lee McAllister as Special Guest Ringside Enforcer: Shawn Johnson (c) vs Damien (WrestleZone Aberdeen Anarchy X, 09/01/18)
The main event of WrestleZone’s tenth anniversary. It was a WrestleZone first, an Aberdeen Anarchy first, a Beach Ballroom first. Damien and Shawn Johnson, former Sterling Oil allies, Undisputed Championship on the line, Aberdeenshire boxing legend Lee McAllister as ringside enforcer, a classic WWF-style blue bar cage surrounding the ring. Everything about the match felt special, as did everything with the night in general. We had dives from atop the cage, The Sterling Brothers being downed at ringside by Lee, and a callback to a previous match as Damien low blowed Shawn (Shawn had regained the title in January by Richard R. Russell low blowing Damien) while they were hanging from the cage. When Damien’s feet hit the floor, the roof came off the Beach Ballroom. A real feelgood moment. It’s what Aberdeen Anarchy is all about.
1. Lionheart vs Jackie Polo (ICW Shug’s Hoose Party 5 – Night 1, 07/28/18)
I know some people preferred the Barramania match over this one, but it’s personal preference. Lionheart and Jackie Polo’s rivalry dominated ICW throughout 2018, which I spoke about earlier on. The match on night one of Shug’s Hoose Party 5 took loads of effort for Mark Dallas to get signed, mainly due to the fact that Lionheart went into a slump following his loss at Barramania. Perhaps the most significant moment of the entire weekend came when Polo nailed Lionheart with a Styles Clash – as we all know, that’s the same move that broke Lionheart’s neck in 2014. When Hearto kicked out on one, the reaction was incredible. The crowd were so invested in the match, which made the contest that little bit better. From here, Lionheart went all out with his signature moves to end the match, finishing Just Justice off with a beautiful frog splash to finally get a win over Polo. Absolutely incredible scenes inside Glasgow’s O2 Academy.
Full match available on ICW On Demand, highlights available on YouTube:
What were some of your favourite contests in Scottish wrestling throughout 2018?