Best of 2018: Top 10 WWE Superstars
Y’ALL WE MADE IT! My final piece in this two-weeks-long ‘best of 2018’ series. I’m exhausted and completely dry on ideas for introductory paragraphs….I said “fuck it” yesterday, and I’ll say it again today. Let’s just dive right into the list…here’s my top 10 WWE superstars of 2018.
Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman fall off of last year’s list. Bliss had two runs as Raw Women’s Champion, and was probably the first cut from the top 10, but an injury has kept her out of action, and we haven’t seen much of her since losing the title at Summerslam. Strowman has just cooled off tremendously since 2017. Every time it finally looks like he’s going to win the Universal Championship, he doesn’t. Plus, he’s been in some goofy programs this year.
Asuka and The Bar were close in 2017, and remain “close but no cigar” in 2018. Just weren’t featured prominently enough for long enough, but it appears that could change for both acts heading into 2019. Carmella has improved in spades since coming to the main roster, but one SmackDown Women’s Championship reign isn’t enough to knock anyone out of the top 10. Shinsuke Nakamura finally got his main event program, but his work with A.J. Styles fell a bit flat. A United States Championship run was good and all, but not enough to get him into the top 10 over The Miz.
The 10th spot came down to Aleister Black, Pete Dunne, and The Miz. Black finally claimed the NXT Championship and had some great matches with Andrade “Cien” Almas, Lars Sullivan, and Tommaso Ciampa. But, he didn’t have as significant a title reign as I figured he would. Meanwhile, Dunne has held WWE’s United Kingdom Championship since May of 2017 – that’s nearly a month shy of 600 days at this point. Ridiculous – not to mention, he’s put together a hell of resume of matches against Tyler Bate and The Undisputed Era boys.
Top 10 WWE Superstars of 2018
10. The Miz – Miz is still as hot as ever, winning his 8th Intercontinental Championship in January (2nd only to Jericho’s nine reigns) and taking the title into WrestleMania. This 10th spot was a tough call, but Miz gets the edge due to consistency. His programs with Daniel Bryan, Finn Balor, and Seth Rollins was some of the best of the year.
9. The Undisputed Era – 202 days as NXT Tag Team champs. 133 days as NXT North American Champion. No one in NXT had the level of success that Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong had in 2018. They had awesome feuds with Ricochet, Pete Dunne, Aleister Black, Danny Burch, and Oney Lorcan. Just, overall, one of the best bodies of work in WWE this year. Only a matter of time before these guys are running the main roster.
8. Daniel Bryan – Bryan’s return to WWE created one of those awesome moments in time. The match was pretty good, too. Then, we got the Daniel Bryan reunion tour throughout the spring and summer that we thought was because of his impending contract expiration. But, really, he was just getting started. We finally got the feud we’d wanted for years (Bryan-Miz), and his return to wrestling culminated in winning the WWE Championship and feuding with A.J. Styles. Truly special stuff.
7. Ronda Rousey – Rousey really surprised me in 2018, in the best way possible. She’s been the Raw Women’s Champion since Summerslam, when she defeated Alexa Bliss. But, as we’ve seen with Brock Lesnar, holding the title for a long time and competing sparingly is one thing. Having quality matches is another – Rousey popped up in my top 10 matches of the year twice, and her match against Nikki Bella in the main event of Evolution made the honorable mentions. This is one of the greatest rookie years in WWE history.
6. Charlotte Flair – Flair held the SmackDown Women’s Championship twice in 2018, first carrying it into WrestleMania and then later winning it back at Summerslam. Both pretty big stages, no? Her two reigns combine for an impressive 175 (2nd to Becky Lynch in the title’s history). She also had a full catalog of ‘match of the year’ contenders against Lynch, Asuka, and Rousey. Another year, another tremendous body of work for the queen.
5. Johnny Gargano – I know, I know. Gargano was in three of the top three matches of the year in my book. But, you guys know my rule – championships matter. And, remind me….how many did Gargano win in 2018? Does putting Gargano at #5 count as my heel turn?
4. A.J. Styles – Styles quietly crept past 500 cumulative days as WWE Champion in 2018 (12th all time). He held the title from November of 2017 through November of 2018 for a reign of 371 days. He’s as reliable as ever, and though I thought his feud with Samoa Joe was one of the best of the year, nothing he did this year touched his work with Roman Reigns and John Cena. I thought his year was relatively quiet on the ‘match of the year’ front and the Nakamura feud was a bit of a let down. Still, I can’t keep him out of the top five.
3. Becky Lynch – I would’ve had no problem putting Lynch at the #1 spot for 2018 if her year wasn’t made in August. It just came a little late in the year. But, I won’t debate that she is the hottest act in wrestling right now. Her heel turn at Summerslam gave us one of the loudest audience reactions of the year, and it led to one of the greatest rivalries of the year as well (against Charlotte Flair). Ultimately, it culminated with her second reign as SmackDown Women’s Champion when she defeated Flair in September. “The Man” started a fierce program with Ronda Rousey before sitting out their match due to injury. If she keeps it up, she could very well be the front runner for ‘superstar of the year’ in 2019.
2. Seth Rollins – Rollins didn’t hold a world title in 2018, but how can you ignore his production this year? Even without the strap, he was the work horse of Monday Night Raw this year, had show-stealing match after show-stealing match with the likes of The Miz, Finn Balor, Dolph Ziggler, so on and so forth. He made the Intercontinental Championship the veritable world title of Raw in Brock Lesnar’s absence (two reigns, 190 days in 2018). The IC title even main evented a pay-per-view in his possession. He had that epic performance in that gauntlet match on Raw back in February. Somehow, that ‘burn it down’ bullshit in his entrance music got over. He even mixed in two brief runs with the Raw Tag Team Championship in there, too (with Jason Jordan and Dean Ambrose).
1. Tommaso Ciampa – Maybe I catch some flack for this, but look – Ciampa reinvented the monster heel in 2018. He was routinely in ‘match of the year’ contenders. Not only against Gargano, either – Ciampa had some good stuff with Aleister Black this year, too. But, the great equalizer to me is the NXT Championship. Ciampa has the gold! And, he’s held it since July to boot.
2014 – Seth Rollins
2015 – Seth Rollins
2016 – A.J. Styles
2017 – A.J. Styles
2018 – Tommaso Ciampa
More WWE ‘Best of 2018’
Top 5 Rivalries of 2018
WWE’s Breakout Stars of 2018
Top 10 WWE Matches of 2018
WWE’s Top 10 Tag Teams of 2018
The Top 10 WWE Superstars of 2018
Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Alabama Crimson Tide football, the WWE, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley