Author: Matt McConnell
The Wrestling community has changed, a significant majority of fans are more interested in seeing a higher quality of in-ring action. Yet WWE remain reluctant to pull the trigger on certain matches and feuds that have such massive potential. 2017 was somewhat hit and miss in terms of ‘dream matches’; for every Finn Balor vs AJ Styles there was a Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal.
World Wrestling Entertainment have essentially cornered the market with a roster jam-packed full of top-tier talent, they have everything they need to make 2018 a year which re-invents Professional Wrestling in the ‘big leagues’. Should they let the following names go nuts and get creative in the ring, then nothing will hold these matches back from making history.
1. Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles
It seems very likely that we’ll see the second encounter between Nakamura and Styles take place in the near future. Both superstars have been given due credit by WWE, by being named some of the best wrestlers on the planet, but have been kept far apart from one another in the hopes that one day they could create the big-fight feel that brings in wrestling fans from all corners. Styles is the current WWE Champion over on Smackdown Live, with Wrestlemania on the horizon, Styles needs a challenger worthy of the biggest card of the year – and that needs to be Shinsuke Nakamura.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we saw Nakamura outlasting the other 29 superstars in the Rumble this year, setting up this huge title contest for Wrestlemania. If rumours are to believed, then it has been decided that Roman Reigns is going to be crowned Universal Champion once more in the main event, I would put money on the crowd not particularly enjoying that process. WWE desperately needs Styles/Nakamura to not only steal the show but also keep fans of the alternative style of wrestling interested.
Nakamura hasn’t really had the greatest of freshman years on the main roster, barely scratching the surface of his popularity and superstardom. He’s certainly been presented as a future champion and one of the top performers on the Smackdown roster, but they need to capitalise on this before certain fans grow weary of the WWE-ified version of ‘The King of Strong Style’.
AJ Styles is the perfect candidate to bring out the very best of Nakamura, showing both newer and older fans both of their capabilities and genuine chemistry. The potential for this match to be a MOTY is certainly there and if the signs are true, then Wrestlemania season is set to be huge.
2. Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe
Okay, so I know this is already kind of happening, but it feels like filler leading up to the Rumble pay-per-view. I think the little we’ve seen from these two as of late is already living up to the massive potential they both have together. Pitting two Samoan dudes against one another is bound to lead to some hard-hitting and intense bouts. Joe has sort of meandered about on Raw since debuting last year, occasionally having some breakout moments during his feud with Brock Lesnar, Joe has been waiting for a huge feud to establish him as one of the top heel workers on the roster.
So far, him and Reigns have been one of the biggest talking points of the past few episodes of Raw, imagine what they could produce on a grander scale. I for one would love to see Joe step up to be Reigns’ first challenger for the Universal Championship. Reigns can hold his own in the ring against pretty much anyone, but I see Samoa Joe bringing out a entertaining side of Roman which could start winning anti-Reigns fans over.
I certainly think Joe could be a massive part of 2018 if they him be more than just a guy that squashes undercard talent and Reigns could be a big part of making that happen.
3. Asuka vs Charlotte Flair
Asuka has proved herself to be the most enigmatic and intriguing aspects of it since debuting on Raw and her potential to take the women’s division into a whole new era is limitless. It almost seems like a changing of the guard from the likes of the Four Horsewomen to Asuka, Alexa Bliss and the up-and-comers of NXT. It seems natural for Charlotte, a trail blazer on the main roster, to be Asuka’s first main event.
Yes, I said main event. A match between the Empress and the Queen would be warranted an incredible build with an even bigger pay-off. WWE have already tested the waters of having a women’s match as the main event of a pay-per-view, which funnily enough also featured Charlotte, so why not double down and include the undefeated Asuka as her opponent. Charlotte would be her most formidable opponent and the biggest threat to her streak. I imagine Asuka would plough through the majority of Raw’s roster, perhaps an inter-promotional challenge would be her eventual demise.
4. Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada IV
Okada and Omega’s trilogy of matches put New Japan on the global map. I don’t dispute that NJPW had somewhat of a presence before last year’s Wrestle Kingdom, The Bullet Club did huge favours for them in the West, but the majority of wrestling fans were still blissfully unaware to the most prominent alternative to WWE. Okada and Omega were awarded high universal praise and their matches still hold up as some of the best of the past year, even the past decade.
The one constant throughout their trilogy was that Omega kept coming closer and closer to defeating the IWGP champion. The two would take each other to their absolute limits, to the point where Omega would collapse mid-sequence. It has been a true spectacle whenever they’ve stepped in the ring together.
The last we saw Okada/Omega was at the G1 tournament, where NJPW delivered the twist in their story – that Kenny CAN defeat Okada. Even though this was a non-title bout, the victory felt sweet and pretty much confirmed that it wasn’t the last we’d see of the Okada/Omega saga. Since then, the two have been kept relatively separate from one another, with Omega going on to feud with Chris Jericho and Okada competing with Tetsuya Naito.
Should Wrestle Kingdom be the massive global success that it’s predicted to be, then it would be the perfect time to pull the trigger on Omega’s rise to the top of the heavyweight division. Okada/Omega needs to happen at least one more time.
5. Aleister Black vs Drew McIntyre
Aleister Black has been one of the best slow-burns in NXT history. Debuting around Wrestlemania season last year, he has steamrolled through most of the roster and poised himself as one of the best performers on the roster. Yet to gain entry into a NXT championship feud, it only seems like a matter of time before he steps up to challenge either Johnny Gargano or Andrade Almas after the next Takeover.
Although, what happens to Drew McIntyre in the meantime? Yes, he’s sidelined with injury, but should he be returning to the developmental brand after his recovery, then surely he’ll be owed a championship rematch. Presuming that Black wins the championship at the Wrestlemania weekend Takeover, he’ll need a big enough threat to his title reign in due course. McIntyre has been performing at his peak as of late, so seeing him go one on one with his NXT equal would be a massive deal.
Black and McIntyre symbolise the latest era of NXT, so seeing them duke it out for the title before either of their call-ups would be a treat for all fans.