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WELCOME

WELCOME FROM THE EDITOR DAVID GARLICK @davidgarlick .CO.U

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PREVIOUS WINNERS 2015 SASHA BANKS 2016 AJ STYLES 2017 KENNY OMEGA

elcome to the 4th Annual SteelChair Magazine Wrestlers of the Year list.Our writers have picked the wrestlers on this list. This year’s list was chosen by:

W

David Garlick, Jozef Raczka, James Toal, Steph Franchomme, Lee Hazell, Bradley Tiernan, Ryan Howe, Victoria Tezangi, Tom Beasley, Laura Mauro, Dave Adamson, Anton Jackson, Alan Boon, Jordan Chaffiotte, Gary Fenn, Mat Lindsay, Amanda Why, Elliot Leaver, Liam Hall, Josh White, Mark Fox, Oli Sandler

Copyright 2018 SteelChair Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of SteelChair Magazine. Requests for permission should be directed to: info@steelchairmag.com.

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Progress veteran, almost beat Lethal for the ROH World Championship

95. SESSION MOTH

94. FINN BALOR

PHOTO: WWE

Ace Brit flyer and wrestling’s 205 Live high-flyer close own MODfather, WWE UK to becoming Cruiserweight tournament semi finalist Champ at WrestleMania 34

PHOTO: WWE

91. RUBY RIOTT Leader of the Riott Squad and tough as nails, future Women’s Champion PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: CZW

97. 87.XXXXXXXXXXX MATT TAVEN

Became CZW HeavyWeight Champion for the first time - Was “All In”

ROH 6-Man Champ with The Kingdom + CMLL’s NWA Welterweight Champ PHOTO: WWE

Exciting to watch and entertaining on the mic, part of The Iiconics

Defiant Hardcore/Tag-Team Champ, Progress Tag-Team Champ, beautiful eyes.

97.82.XXXXXXXXXXX IO SHIRAI

81. HIROOKI GOTO

2018 introduced us to the Switchblade. Understand this, 2019 belongs to him

Left STARDOM, signed with Set to be the greatest WWE to fight in WWE’s Mae IWGP NEVER Openweight Young Classic Champion of all time.

80. DAISUKE SEKIMOTO Fought Riddle at EVOLVE 102 for the championship, face of BJPW

79. CHUCK TAYLOR

78. CHARLI EVANS

2018 New Japan Cup ATTACK! 2018 Kris Travis participant and one of ROH Tag Team Invitational Best Friends with Beretta participant - Australian “Floozy”

PHOTO: WWE

The ‘Bad Boy’won the WWN Made waves around the Championship, made an world in Impact and WOS impact at All In, best hair. Wrestling, angelic voice

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

83. JAY WHITE

86. JIMMY HAVOC

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

84. JOE HENDRY

The Super Indy Champion, he’s been everywhere and he’s been good everywhere

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

85. JOEY JANELA

Fought for the WOS Women’s Championship, lost out to Kay Lee Ray,

88. MAXWELL JACOB FRIEDMAN

: COPYRIGHT NJPW

Became the WOS Champ, and won the Magnificent 7 in Defiant Wrestling

89. PEYTON ROYCE

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

90. RAMPAGE BROWN

96. JONATHAN GRESHAM

92. 97.BEA XXXXXXXXXXX PRIESTLEY

93. TIMOTHY THATCHER

One of WWE’s most Bruising indy competitor, consistent in-ring performer had MOTY candidate with and most exciting prospects Walter at PROGRESS PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

Party girl of the indies, heading to STARDOM for a second tour

97. MUSTAFA XXXXXXXXXXX ALI

98. FLASH MORGAN WEBSTER

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

Indy standout, winner of CZW’s Best of the Best 17 tournament

99. MARK HASKINS

: COPYRIGHT NJPW

100. DAVID STARR

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

TOP WRESTLERS 2018

97. 77.XXXXXXXXXXX CARA NOIR Elegant and deadly indie wrestling star, current Pro Wrestling Clash World Champ

76. ELIAS Released an album, almost captured the Intercontinental Championship from Rollins


G1 Climax 28 winner, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, always and forever The Ace

59. DAKOTA KAI

PHOTO: WWE

54. KAY LEE RAY MYC Competitor, first ever WOS Women’s Champion, longest reigning WCPW Women’s Champion

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER PHOTO: MIKE KALASNIK

PHOTO: MIKE KALASNIK

53. EMBER MOON Standout performance in the MITB match and impressive reign as NXT Women’s Champion

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

The current EVOLVE Champ after defeating Riddle, welcome to Swerve’s house

61. KEITH LEE Former PWG World Champion, now making waves after his debut on NXT PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

58. KEVIN OWENS WWE workhorse, Best Dad, strong Twitter game, Shania Twain Stan, deserves better.

66. SHANE STRICKLAND

62. 97. KYLE XXXXXXXXXXX O'REILLY

97. 57. XXXXXXXXXXX VIPER

56. ZACK GIBSON

ICW Women’s Champion and one of World of Sport Wrestling’s female talents

- Liverpool’s Number One, soon to be recognised as the UK’s Number One...

: COPYRIGHT NJPW

NXT UK talent competed in WM 34 inaugural Women’s Battle Royale PHOTO: WWE

: COPYRIGHT NJPW

55. HIROSHI TANAHASHI

Undead bride of Impact, held Knockouts title for several months

First female FCP Champion, Two-Time NXT Tag-Team first female DDT KO-D Champion, Title Belt Air Guitar Openweight Champ Champion, Overall good dude. PHOTO: WWE

Joined The Undisputed Era + became one half of the NXT Tag Team Champion

60. DALTON CASTLE The man who dethroned Cody as ROH Champion, bringing prestige & Boys

NXT Tag-Team Champion & The Best Thing To Come Out of Wolverhampton

97.67.XXXXXXXXXXX SU YUNG

64. RODERICK STRONG 63. MEIKO SATOMURA

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: ROH

Had a great heel turn with Kevin Owens, unfortunately out injured

68. TRENT SEVEN

PHOTO: COURTNEY ROSE

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

65. SAMI ZAYN

71. RAY FENIX

The Irish Lass Kicker is on ROH Six-Man Tag Champ, G1 AAA Mega Champ, made a quest of SmackDown Climax standout, attempted his debut with Impact Live Women’s Champion murder on Joey Ryan. Wrestling and CMLL

69. DREW GULAK

Former party guy hero, now One of the finest in 205, vicious heel targeting best almost dethroned Cedric friend Mark Andrews Alexander at SummerSlam

72. 97.HANGMAN XXXXXXXXXXX PAGE

PHOTO: IMPACT

70. EDDIE DENNIS

73. BECKY LYNCH

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

The Undisputed Era member is a 2-time NXT Tag Team Champion PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

Debuted on 205 in Feb and made an impact, almost became Cruiser Champ

74. BOBBY FISH

PHOTO: WWE

75. BUDDY MURPHY

PHOTO: PATTY MCCARTHY ROH

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

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52. ROBINSON 97. JUICE XXXXXXXXXXX

51. TESSA BLANCHARD

2018’s most sympathetic babyface and the very first American IWGP US Champion

The Undeniable wrestling sensation- WSU, Crash and Impact Wrestling Knockouts Champion


H ANN

PHOTO: WWE

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50. DANIEL BRYAN When Bryan announced that he was medically cleared in March, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Returned at WrestleMania in convincing fashion against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Lasted over 76 minutes in Greatest Royal Rumble match. Rekindled his odd couple tag team with Kane to general amusement and his feud with The Miz is a SmackDown Live highlight. (Gary)

TOP

50 PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: BRUNO-SILVEIRA

PHOTO: WWE

HIGHLIGHT: :Feud with The Miz

47. KAIRI SANE

49. TENILLE DASHWOOD When the former Emma was released from WWE, no one who ever saw her wrestle believed it would be the end of her career. Hell, most of us were just looking forward to a promotion giving her the respect she deserves. We turned out to be right too, ROH snapped her up and gave her a prominent place in their Women’s Division.(Lee)

HIGHLIGHTS:

Signed to ROH+ Semi Finals: Women of Honor Tournament

This year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament saw Marty Scurll fall short of the finals. But it’s not all bad news for Marty: he secured six-man tag gold along with the Bucks, and with a highprofile match against Okada at All In, 2018 could be looking up for the Villain. (Laura)

48. MARTY SCURLL HIGHLIGHTS: NEVER Openweight

6-Man Tag Team Championship

With her quirky persona and exciting ringwork, The Pirate Princess has become a firm favourite with the NXT crowd since her victory in the 2017 Mae Young Classic. Now in possession of the NXT Women’s Championship, she’s more than earned her position at the top of the NXT women’s division. The sky’s the limit for Kairi. (Laura)

HIGHLIGHTS: Mae Young Classic winner + NXT Women’s Champion


45. RUSEV

PHOTO: WWE

Nakamura won the Royal Rumble and subsequently turned on AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34. Since then, his arrogance and demeanour have suited his heel persona perfectly, with the US title currently around his waist much deserved as a result. Expect the Rising Sun to soar highter than ever. (Elliot)

Rusev Day is our biggest gift. The phenomenon carried Rusev into a Royal Rumble performance that lasted 30 minutes as the No. 1 entrant, a United States Championship match at WrestleMania, a Casket Match with The Undertaker at The Greatest Royal Rumble, and a WWE Championship feud with AJ Styles. (Anton)

46. NAKAMURA

+ Pro Wrestling EVE Champion

HIGHLIGHTS: Defiant Women’s

Champion before she turned 18.

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: PORTRAIT OF A WRESTLER

HIGHLIGHTS:: Signed to NXT UK

She’s only 18? With plenty of time to develop and improve, Millie has already shown she’s not only capable of holding her own in the ring, but looking damn good while doing it. Doesn’t matter who she’s facing, she’ll german suplex them regardless. Millie is a wonder to watch and it’s only going to get better with time. (James)

RUSEV DAY

winner + US Champion

When I first saw Charlie Morgan she had an instantly-iconic, baseball inspired look and a sneer that could curdle milk. I immediately recognised her as an upcoming star. EVE thought so too. They booked her to win their inaugural SHE-1 tournament, and they later made her champion in May. She’s made such waves, she’s now part of WWE’s NXT UK division. (Lee)

44. MILLIE MCKENZIE

HIGHLIGHTS:

HIGHLIGHTS: Royal Rumble

43. CHARLIE MORGAN

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: WWE

.CO .UK

42. CHRIS BROOKES British wrestling seems divided between NXT UK and WOS, yet, here stands all 6”4 of Chris Brookes, refusing to take a side and just putting on sick f*cking wrestling matches. 2018 has seen the taller half of CCK prove two things: he is an unnaturally talented man and he has the best merch. Maybe neither WWE or WOS deserves him.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Vs Meiko Satomura, DTTI Night One.

Just three years into her professional career, Jinny has gone from being a green rookie to a mainstay of the UK women’s scene. Holding multiple belts at any one time and featuring heavily in plans for WWE UK going forward.

41. JINNY HIGHLIGHTS: Progress, Chaos and Rev Pro Champion


40. RONDA ROUSEY HIGHLIGHTS: WrestleMania +

Since assisting Sanity to capture the NXT tag titles from the Authors of Pain last August, Nikki Cross has been an unhinged force to be reckoned with. She has been incredibly close to capturing the gold at WarGames and put in a stellar performance against Baszler in Chicago. Is Nikki now SmackDown bound, or is NXT gold on her mind?

HIGHLIGHT: Match V Baszler at NXT TakeOver

38. HIROMU TAKAHASHI Everything seemed to be going great for Hiromu. He emerged victorious in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, and went on to defeat Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, Hiromu sustained a suspected broken neck in a match against Dragon Lee, and had to relinquish his title.

HIGHLIGHTS: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: WWE

WWE Raw Women’s Champ

39. NIKKI CROSS

37. DREW MCINTYRE One of the best comebacks of all time after being prophesied as one of the all-time greats, McIntyre spent most of 2017 in NXT feuding with The Undisputed Era. Returned from injury in April, aligning with Dolph Ziggler and is his best ever shape. Once he’s out of Ziggler’s shadow, he looks poised for a great run. Drew has the looks, Drew has the style. (Gary)

HIGHLIGHT:

NXT Champion

PHOTO: IMPACT WRESTLING

PHOTO: WWE

Her match at WrestleMania was the match of the night, and every performance since has displayed the kind of authenticity and tenacity you hire MMA fighters for. At SummerSlam she became WWE Raw Women’s Champ. Will she become the first woman to headline WrestleMania? (Lee)

© NJPW

PHOTO: WWE

TOP WRESTLERS 2018

36. TRAVIS BANKS An incredible year for Travis Banks has saw the New Zealander take part in the second WWE UK Championship tournament where he would go on to lose in the final to Zack Gibson. As well as becoming a member of NXT’s UK division, Banks has had great success in independent promotions, most notably, winning Progress Wrestling’s SSS16 tournament and subsequently defeating Pete Dunne for the company’s world championship. (Bradley)

HIGHLIGHT Progress Champion

He shocked the world when he accidentally hit Eddie Edwards with his bat. But but whether in MLW, Impact, Lucha Underground or indy promotions, Callihan is unapologetic and powerful. Tommy Dreamer acknowledged he could be the next Innovator of Violence. (Steph)

35. SAMI CALLIHAN HIGHLIGHTS: Hitting Eddie Edwards with a baseball bat


32. TETSUYA NAITO

34. ANDRADE ALMAS

HIGHLIGHT: Wrestle Kingdom Headliner with Okada

HIGHLIGHTS: The Belt Collector + IMPACT World Champion

© NJPW

NXT title match with Johnny Gargano

33. AUSTIN ARIES

Despite dropping the IWGP Intercontinental title to Jericho at Dominion, and coming up short in this year’s edition of the G1 climax, its impossible to say that Naito has lost his fire. Naito has shown the world why he deserves the title of ‘must see attraction’ in NJPW, solidifying himself as a main event player. (Josh)

31. MINORU SUZUKI

30. SHAYNA BASZLER

Wrestling’s own disgruntled grandad will and shall always be known as a guy that will kick your arse and make you say sorry for dirtying his shoe. He’s NJPW’s perfect villain and you can tell he is loving every second of it. While others try to make their strikes mean something, Suzuki proves he’s beyond all his rivals entirely. “Kaze ni nare!” (James)

Shayna has certainly made a name for herself in NXT. Her run with the NXT Women’s Championship has cemented her as one of WWE’s most destructive characters. While her mic skills could use some work, there’s no denying the presence she has when she enters that ring. She’ll gladly choke you out and make you watch as she broke your arm.. (James)

HIGHLIGHTS:

HIGHLIGHTS:

NXT Women’s Champion

PHOTO: WWE

HIGHLIGHTS:

Already Champion in the UK and Australia, The Belt Collector defeated Eli Drake on his first night back at IMPACT to become World Champion. Aries also made his comeback to ROH and claimed the ROH TV Championship, a title he has never held in a nearly 20-year career. (Steph)

PHOTO: WWE

With Zelina Vega at his side, the former La Sombra escaped lower card purgatory on NXT this year to become a consistent main event performer, including terrific matches against Drew McIntyre and Johnny Gargano. El Idolo has found a new groove of aggression, which he is just starting to bring to the main roster on Smackdown Live. (Tom)

IWGP Intercontinental Champions

© NJPW

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: IMPACT WRESTLING

.CO .UK

29. SAMOA JOE From a fatal 4-way Universal Championship match at SummerSlam 2017, to a potential show stealer against AJ Styles at SummerSlam 2018, Samoa Joe has been an irresistible force this past year. Although injuries have thwarted his wrath of domination, he has proven beyond doubt that he is championship material. Could this next year be the year of Joe? (Mark)

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH SAMOA JOE AT VULTUREHOUND.CO.UK


PHOTO: WWE

While remaining controversial Roman Reigns has main evented yet another Wrestlemania, stood toe to toe against Brock Lesnar several times, been a regular face on Monday night RAW, and worked genuinely entertaining and must-see matches against various superstars. Love him or hate him you are talking about the big dog and there is simply no escaping his work. (Victoria)

Charlotte has excelled at leading the women’s division. She’s an imposing presence of pure intensity and has taken her talents to Smackdown Live in epic encounters that have received constant praise. As the leader of The Four Horsewomen, Charlotte really does it with Flair. (Dave)

27. CHARLOTTE FLAIR

25. ADAM COLE What a rise for Adam Cole. From his explosive debut at TakeOver: Brooklyn III to his triumphs with the Tag Team and North American Championships, his appearance in the Royal Rumble to the cry of ‘Adam Cole, Bay-Bay!’ that takes the roof off venues, he’s a true shining light in NXT; a call-up to the main roster is now inevitable. (Elliot)

North American Championship ladder match

Winning and cashing in MITB

PHOTO: WWE

undefeated streak at WM

PHOTO: WWE

match with Samoa Joe on RAW

She was always the bridesmaid rather than the bride down in NXT, but Alexa Bliss has dominated the main roster women’s division since her call-up. This year, she has spent months as champion and defended the belt in a marquee singles match at WrestleMania, before winning it back in crafty fashion. Little Miss Bliss always finds a way to win.. (Tom)

HIGHLIGHTS:

HIGHLIGHT:: Ended Asukas

HIGHLIGHT: Intercontinetal Title

HIGHLIGHTS:

26. ALEXA BLISS

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

28. ROMAN REIGNS

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

TOP WRESTLERS 2018

24. RICOCHET The former multi time IWGP Jr Heavyweight tag and singles champion shocked the world when signing with NXT, bringing his brand of flawless aerial assault along for the ride to the black and yellow brand. After a show stealing performance at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, besting the now former North American champion Adam Cole (Bay Bay), not even the sky is a limit for ‘the one and only’. (Josh)

HIGHLIGHTS: NXT North American Champion

The current Lucha Underground Champion won his first major North American title when he accepted Austin Aries’ challenge last April and became Impact World Champion. His current matches against Sami Callihan in the Impact Zone are just mindblowing. (Stephanie)

23. PENTAGÓN JR. HIGHLIGHTS: IMPACT + Lucha

Underground World Champion


21. TOMOHIRO ISHII

A standout match against Kenny Omega, breaking into the world of NJPW, and a brief WWE appearance proving him to be a must-see star, Chris Jericho has spent the past year proving to be the master of reinvention in the wrestling world as he has taken fans on a journey to a brand-new chapter in his exciting career. (Victoria)

Arguably the MVP of this year’s G1 Climax, Ishii has put on a string of superb matches against opponents as diverse as Hirooki Goto and Kota Ibushi. Ishii absorbs tremendous punishment in the ring and rarely backs down – not even an onslaught from Walter was enough to stop him securing the No.1 contendership for the Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship. (Laura)

HIGHLIGHTS:

HIGHLIGHTS:

Revolution Pro Wrestling British Heavyweight Champion PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

Match V Kenny Omega at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom

19. WILL OSPREAY When an IWGP Jr Heavyweight title reign counts towards a quieter year, you know Will Ospreay has become a big deal. A fixture in New Japan, Ospreay’s continued to work US indies, spent more time in Australia and New Zealand, and started his own promotion in the UK, as well as being part of ITV’s WOS Wrestling project. Always stunning, never offbrand. (Alan)

HIGHLIGHTS:

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Champion

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

22. CHRIS JERICHO

Matt Riddle is someone that has to be seen to be believed. An adonis amongst men, who goes from smily happy man to someone who could legitimately kill his opponent. His pursuit, and match to claim the EVOLVE title from Zack Sabre Jr, coupled with him making all his defences “no rope break” matches shows why he’s off to NXT. (Ryan)

20. MATT RIDDLE HIGHLIGHTS: V ZSJ at EVOLVE 102 to become EVOLVE World Champ

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

© NJPW

© NJPW

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18. TYLER BATE The first WWE UK champion, Tyler Bate was already big news when he arrived in WWE. He’s since evolved on many levels, which is saying something from a man who impresses wherever he performs. At 21, he’s breaking out of his shell and developing a rather unique sense of style and humour, whilst delivering breathtaking in-ring performances in singles and tagteam action. (Dave)

HIGHLIGHT::

NXT Tag Team Champion

17. WALTER WALTER has become one of the most in demand wrestlers on the planet. Every card he’s announced for, people speculate who is going to be on the end of the Austrians thunderous chops. Both PWG and PROGRESS currently have him as their World champions showing that the Austrian is a big draw. (Ryan)

HIGHLIGHTS: PWG and PROGRESS Champions


16. BRAUN STROWMAN HIGHLIGHTS: Greatest Royal

14. KOTA IBUSHI

He’s been part of a standout match against Seth Rollins, worked as part one of the most must-see storylines in the WWE this year against Daniel Bryan and continued to highlight himself as one of the best talkers in pro wrestling today. Sure to hear a loud crowd wherever he goes, the Miz picks up genuine heat and attention and remains as one of the most important WWE stars today. (Victoria)

2018 has been a year of redemption for Kota Ibushi. He first reunited the Golden Lovers in an excellent match vs The Young Bucks at Strong Style Evolved. Before putting on excellent displays against Tomahiro Ishii and Omega in the G1 Climax among others. If Bullet Club members leave next year, NJPW will be in the safe hands of Ibushi.

PHOTO: OLI SANDLER

HIGHLIGHTS: Incredible

character work and rivalry with Aleister Black

G1 Climax finalist

11. TONI STORM

13. VELVETEEN DREAM Velveteen Dream is a pure showman. Since NXT is the “Indie All-Stars of Wrestling”, Dream has left a sizable impression with programs against the likes of Aleister Black, Kassius Ohno, Ricochet, and EC3. Dream was also a participant in the Ladder Match to crown the inaugural NXT North American Champion at NXT Takeover: New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend. (Anton)

HIGHLIGHTS:

HIGHLIGHTS: Daniel Bryan feud

Rumble + MITB winner PHOTO: WWE

15. THE MIZ

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

Braun Strowman has impressed the WWE universe week after week this year. Strowman won the Greatest Royal Rumble match in Saudi Arabia and, at the same time, broke the record for most eliminations in a Royal Rumble match. His ability to demolish trucks or ambulances is unique. As the current Mr Money in The Bank, he’s undeniably a future World Champion. (Steph)

© NJPW

PHOTO: WWE

TOP WRESTLERS 2018

ZSJ is the best pure wrestler in the world today. The Submissions master has taken the world, especially New Japan, where his alliance with TAKA Michinoku has yielded spectacular results, wrestling classics in the NJ Cup and G1 Climax. Now, he also has the Zack Driver. (Jozef)

12. ZACK SABRE JR. HIGHLIGHTS: Vs Tomohiro Ishii, Revolution Pro NOLA

Despite the fact she’s only 22 years old, Toni Storm has marked herself out as an indispensable star of the global independent scene, most notably here in the UK. The hugely impressive Kiwi has had an unbelievable year, including joining the WWE UK roster and competing for championship gold at WWE’s Royal Albert Hall set of shows.. (Tom)

HIGHLIGHT:

Progress Women’s Champion + UK Women’s Championship finales


Since Styles defeated Mahal to capture the WWE Championship in Manchester he has worked with Lesnar in a losing, but engrossing dream match at Survivor Series. He’s fended off Owens, Zayn, Nakamura, Rusev, and Samoa Joe in his 9-month reign, as well. (Anton)

10. AJ STYLES

© NJPW

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

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09. ASUKA

08. CODY RHODES

Left NXT undefeated, sole survivor at Survivor Series, won the first Women’s Royal Rumble, won Mixed Match challenge, lost to Charlotte at WrestleMania for an incredible 928 day long winning streak. After 267 victories Asuka has still not managed a title on the main rostersurely this will change this year, and a feud with Ronda Rousey is mouthwatering. (Gary)

He’s no longer ROH World Champion, but the man known as The American Nightmare has balanced his work with ROH and NJPW superbly over the last 12 months. Currently one third of the ROH World Tag-Team Champions, a prominent Bullet Club member and helping sell out the Sears Centre Arena for ‘All In’, Cody proves there is life after WWE.

HIGHLIGHTS: Women’s Royal

HIGHLIGHTS: WWE World

07. ALEISTER BLACK Black landed with a sheer explosion in the smark-friendly environment of NXT, and then proved his actual worth by displaying his utterly unique persona and martial arts credentials. Iconic feuds with Velveteen Dream and ending the reign of Andrade “Cien” Almas as NXT Champion fed into a program with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa that offers yet more potentially classic matches to come.

HIGHLIGHTS: NXT Champion

ROH World Champion + All In sell-out

PHOTO: WWE

PHOTO: WWE

Champion

HIGHLIGHTS:

PHOTO: WWE

Rumble winner

06. SETH ROLLINS Monday Night Rollins has been in full swing in the last 12 months. Late 2017 would see him claim the Raw Tag Team Championships with Dean Ambrose and then Jason Jordan. Rollins came into his own in 2018 capturing the Intercontinental Championship and playing an exceptional part in a gauntlet match, the longest performance by any wrestler in Raw history. (Bradley)

HIGHLIGHTS: 2x Raw Tag Team Champion, 2x IC Champion

05. JOHNNY GARGANO There’s a lot more to be said about the year Johnny Gargano’s had but suffice to say, between his matches with Tommaso Ciampa & Andrade Almas, no one has had a better year in-ring. Even if he’s yet to translate that preternatural talent into NXT singles gold, I can’t see that lasting long, he’s Johnny Wrestling after all. (Jozef)

HIGHLIGHTS:

Vs Tommaso Ciampa, NXT TakeOver New Orleans


JP ©N

W

© NJ PW

TOP WRESTLERS 2018

04. PETE DUNNE

03. KAZUCHIKA OKADA

02. KENNY OMEGA

HIGHLIGHTS: WWE UK Champion

HIGHLIGHTS: IWGP Heavyweight +

HIGHLIGHTS: IWGP Heavyweight +

WWE-UK champion for well over a year, The Bruiserweight has become a rare genuine ticket seller for UK promotions, and has been chosen as the face to launch NXT-UK, the first of a planned series of worldwide junior territories for WWE. Notable appearances over the last 12 months have included teaming with Danny Burch to make the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Classic, defending his WWE-UK title at the Royal Albert Hall, and winning the Pro-Wrestling Revolver tag-team titles with Millie McKenzie as The Bruisermates. Oh, and he threw a shoe at someone on NXT. He’ll also soon co-headline PROGRESS Wrestling’s Hello Wembley! show, in a clash of the European titans against WXW’s Ilya Dragunov. The weirdness of the UK scene means you can still see him on tiny shows as well as NXT Takeovers, but that may not last for long: grab him while you can. (Alan)

Vs Hiroshi Tanahash

There’s talk of the Big Four of New Japan: Okada, Tanahashi, Naito and Omega. While no-one’s been arguing Okada’s inclusion, this really has been the year, Okada stated his claim for being top of it. 2017 saw Okada hold his IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the entire year and it looked like 2018 might have been the same if not for Kenny. It’s been unarguably a historic ride with classic defences against the Heavyweights of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Zack Sabre Jr and the latest step in the greatest rivalry in wrestling of our age, Hiroshi Tanahashi but what made Okada so incredible was that he not only held that title for so long but he made every opponent seem like they could be the one to beat him. No one worked harder in 2018 to show why they deserved their place in the upper echelons and even if Omega got the better of him in that near-legendary Dominion match if you don’t believe that Okada isn’t going to be back on top of the world before you know it. The man got smiling and balloons over, truly, he’s a genius. (Jozef)

United States Champions

Only one wrester has managed to crack the final five of SteelChair Magazine’s Top Wrestlers of the Year three times in a row. Kenny Omega began the year when Chris Jericho challenged him for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. Omega beat him in a hard-hitting clinic and staked New Japan’s greatest ever claim to capture American audiences. In July, he concluded his quest to become New Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight Champion in Osaka at Dominion, two years after his opponent and arch rival Kazuchika Okada won it at the same event in 2016. It was a fitting end to one of the greatest feuds in the history professional wrestling, a feud fuelled by Omega’s epic sense of storytelling, larger than life character and dedication to his craft. He is finally recognised as the top wrestler in New Japan, a title that many believe he has been worthy of for the last 18 months. Then, after winning New Japan’s top prize, he went on to score 12 points at the G1 Climax and is looking to headline the Tokyo Dome on January 4 for Wrestle Kingdom 13, this time as Champion. (Lee)


.C O .U

K

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01. TOMMASO CIAMPA rom the first day they appeared as part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2015 and for much of his early WWE NXT career, it could be argued that Tommaso Ciampa existed in the shadow of Johnny Gargano, constantly standing behind the hugely popular “Johnny Wrestling” as part of DIY, a man who demonstrated impeccable charisma on the microphone and an astonishing style in the ring. Then it all changed with an act of jealousy and, since then, Ciampa has all but escaped the gravitational pull of his former tag partner and shown the world how brightly this dark star can shine. Now, as NXT Champion, he is a constant reminder to wrestling fans the world over what a true bad guy looks like, how intense a feud can be and just how far he will go to tell his story.

F

Callous, vicious and darkhearted, Ciampa is a new breed of NXT Champion, succeeding the hugely popular Aleister Black. As was seen at

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, it looks like Ciampa will stop at nothing to retain the gold and revels in his ability to infuriate his opponents and the NXT fans. There are moments where he lets emotions seep through, but only as part of his mind games as Tommaso Ciampa has proved himself to be a master of his own personality, a domineering in-ring performer and at the very top of his game. Emphatic wins mixed with devious acts, coming to the ring to no theme music (unless you count the symphony of jeers), rarely speaking and a methodical approach that combines arrogance, mockery and brutal efficiency has made Ciampa a focal point in NXT. Tommaso Ciampa has a flawless ability to draw the white-hot ire of fans with barely a word and, with the NXT Championship still firmly in his grasp, it can only be a matter of time before this far from conventional superstar moves up to the main roster. (Dave)

HIGHLIGHTS:

Matches and Feud with Gargano + NXT Champion

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SteelChair Magazine Wrestler of the Year 2018  

The 4th Annual SteelChair Magazine Wrestler of the Year - Top 100 Wrestlers

SteelChair Magazine Wrestler of the Year 2018  

The 4th Annual SteelChair Magazine Wrestler of the Year - Top 100 Wrestlers

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