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Best TV Shows 2018 (Top 15)

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If only we had more time to be able to sit down and watch all the great TV shows that aired this year… Thankfully, we have a staff of over fifty writers worldwide that collectively are able to cover the best of the best. Of course, no list is perfect, and there will always be a few shows that didn’t make the cut simply because there were way too many to nominate. Truthfully, each and every one of our writers eventually had to make some sacrifices when submitting their ballots, but we tried our best to compile a list that best represented our staff and what we enjoyed watching most this past year. That said, apologies to the following shows who were all nominated, but didn’t rack up enough points to make the final cut:

Special Mention: American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Bodyguard, Wild Wild Country, Lodge 49, The Good Fight, Sorry for Your Loss, Pose, Cobra Kai, and Homecoming.

Best TV Shows 2018 - Jane the Virgin

15 – Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin has walked a particularly thin tightrope since its first episode. The series is inspired by the wild plot twists of telenovelas, but it must always restrain its tone and characters, lest they veer off into wild histrionics. That the show was inspired by a telenovela with the same basic premise — a virgin woman is impregnated via artificial insemination — made that balancing act even more difficult. And yet, Jane the Virgin succeeds — and even astounds — because it remains so tethered to the life experiences of its characters. They’re real people, and even if the situations they end up in seem outlandish, they respond in ways that seem natural to viewers.

The series is held aloft by Gina Rodriguez’s performance as Jane. She’s a gifted comedic actor, with a face so emotive it would make a silent film comedian proud. But she also effortlessly shifts gears during the show’s occasional melancholy sections. Much of the series is quite joyous, but she’s also playing a woman who lost the love of her life — yet these contradictions never overwhelm the show.

The series’ fourth and penultimate season also documented the maturation of the supporting cast. Yael Grobglas, who plays Petra (and her identical twin sister, Anezka), transitioned from being either a villain or the hapless butt of jokes into a more fully developed role, while Rafael (Justin Baldoni) also finally moved away from his one-dimensional playboy character into someone deeper and more fragile. The fourth season was perhaps a bit twistier than it needed to be, and some of the plot strands were snipped away so quickly it made one wonder why they even existed, but it’s forgiven by the finale’s nearly-perfect surprise ending. It leaves the show in great shape for a triumphant final season. (Brian Marks)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Maniac

14 – Maniac

Maniac is a feverish carnival ride of television-weird carried forward by strong performances and dramatic narratives you can invest in. It is psychedelic, hallucinatory, unnerving, and darkly funny, and it moves at both an exhilarating clip and a self-assured crawl, lead by several inspired performances — notably that of Jonah Hill, who stretches all over the place.

The premise is that two broken folks (Hill’s paranoid-delusional Owen and Emma Stone’s chronically depressed Annie) enter a drug trial. Whether it is chemistry, computer chips, or the cosmos itself, their fates are interwoven; in a series of trippy vignettes, reality is called into question again and again as they explore other versions of themselves inside other genre-based premises — from crime-film to high-fantasy and beyond. The presumable reality they return to is set in a retro-future 1970s-that-never-was lab, and feels like the basement of Logan’s Run turned sideways. It’s beautiful.

Maniac is dense, with precisely shot-and-stylized imagery, as well as countless gorgeous touches, from the bizarre computer hardware and its requisite informational videos, to the jarring shifts in tone and setting — and the totality gels wonderfully. While the premises and settings move quickly, the inner story moves at its own pace. As the drug trials push forward, the characters are thrown into utterly new situations, genres, and personas, slowly unveiling the depth of their inner turmoils and relationships through new and intriguing lenses, all of which build toward satisfying character arcs. Stick around for the final reality shift, a deft and bizarre salute to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (meets E.T. ), with an inspired comic twist from Hill, and you will be rewarded. Hill’s role changes are truly a wonder to behold, and to describe them all does a disservice to the astonishing surprises you’ll find.

Throw in moving performances by support castmates the caliber of Sally Field and Justin Theroux, and as long as you have an appreciation of the weird and the surreal, you’ll find Maniac well worth the brain melt. (Marty Allen)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Better Call Saul13 – Better Call Saul

While recent news has been bustling away with the announcement of a Breaking Bad feature film, the spin-off series Better Call Saul has wrapped up another very solid year as perhaps AMC’s best dramatic program.

Centering around the untimely death of Jimmy/Saul’s brother, Chuck, season four sees Jimmy at his most damaged and least vulnerable. Choosing to mask his feelings rather than work them out, Jimmy’s behavior gets riskier as he vies to regain his ability to practice law and hold on to his touchy relationship with fellow lawyer Kim. Meanwhile, as the gap is closed substantially between Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, Gus expands his empire, Mike moves into his permanent position with Mr. Fring, Howard finds his firm challenged exponentially, and Nacho deals with the aftermath of his assassination attempt on Hector Salamanca.

All in all, it was an excellent season, and another page in the good books for Better Call Saul, cementing the series once and for all as a show of its very own — not just an imitation of its forebear. If you still haven’t made time for this show, you ought to pencil it in for an appointment, because you’re missing out on one of the best dramas on television. (Mike Worby)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Daredevil

12 – Daredevil

Daredevil returns to top form with a third season that does away with the fantastical elements that burdened season two, and instead focuses on what makes the show great: the characters. Showrunner Erik Oleson (The Man in the High Castle) picks up the narrative threads from when the Man with No Fear was left presumed dead following the events of 2017’s The Defenders, and season three wisely takes its time fleshing out the supporting cast while introducing new players, gradually picking up the pace and generating plenty of thrills, plot twists, action, and nail-biting suspense to keep viewers glued to their television sets.

Of course, the season is immeasurably helped by the welcome return of Vincent D’Onofrio’s menacing Kingpin, as well as the season’s new breakout performer — Wilson Bethel — as FBI agent Ben Poindexter, a.k.a. Bullseye. While other superhero shows have largely stumbled in introducing their villains, season three patiently builds Poindexter’s character, gradually transforming him into arguably the most notable villain from Daredevil’s “rogues’ gallery.

Meanwhile, shades of Frank Miller’s critically acclaimed storyline “Born Again” are evident throughout the new season, as Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) continues to wrestle with his inner demons. Season three also includes incredible action set pieces and truly spectacular combat thanks to stunt coordinator Gary Stearns (Thor, The Amazing Spider-Man), who strings together a ten-minute tracking shot taking place in and around a prison riot that involves dozens of stuntmen, pyrotechnics, and multiple locations. Not only is it one of the highlights of the entire season, but it is also a clever homage to season one’s beloved hallway massacre. (Ricky D)

Best TV Shows 2018 - High Maintenance

11 – High Maintenance

The arc of High Maintenance has been one of increasing ambitions. Going back to its origins as a web series on Vimeo, each season of High Maintenance has been a great leap forward, featuring better music, more interesting stories, more unusual structures, and bigger (though not necessarily better) actors. In its second season of 30-minute episodes for HBO, the series has become one of the most exuberant shows on TV, and one of the few to accurately and sensitively depict our current social and political climates.

The basic building blocks of the series are still intact. Each episode features The Guy (series co-creator and occasional director Ben Sinclair), a bike-riding marijuana deliveryman. Sometimes he shows up at the start of the episode, and sometimes it’s much later. Sometimes he’s a major part of it, and sometimes it’s basically a cameo. The early seasons seemed to be experimented with just how little The Guy could be featured in some stories, but in the most recent season, The Guy becomes something we haven’t seen before — a major character.

One episode features an epic wipeout that sends him to the hospital. He’s doped up on painkillers, which provides some amusing comedy, but also introduces a darker element. Since The Guy only deals in weed, addiction isn’t a big component of the show, but his dalliance with painkillers threatens to upend the logical world he’s built. We also finally learn more of The Guy’s backstory — he’s married, and his ex-wife is forced to reenter his life to help care for him. The storyline is almost certainly inspired by Sinclair and co-creator Katja Blichfeld, a married couple who split up just prior to this season. The split required finding new ways to work together productively on their show, and also led to hiring a writers room for the first time.

The new changes are all for the good. This season of High Maintenance delves into more fascinating stories, with punchier dialogue than ever. (It’s also perhaps the only series to react to the election of Donald Trump in a way that wasn’t instantly embarrassing.) High Maintenance‘s constant upward trajectory makes one wonder if there’s even much further the show can go quality-wise, but they haven’t slipped yet, so here’s hoping the new season in January is even more interesting. (Brian Marks)

Best TV Shows 2018 Haunting of Hill House

10 – The Haunting of Hill House

Produced, cowritten and directed by Mike Flanagan, The Haunting of Hill House is maybe the biggest surprise hit to come from Netflix in 2018. Not only is it one of the most viewed shows of the year, but it is also one of the very best. Loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s legendary novel of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House follows five siblings who grew up in the most famous haunted house in America. Now adults, they are reunited by the suicide of their youngest sister, which forces them to confront their inner demons and the ghosts of their pasts.

Much like the 1963 Robert Wise film adaptation (simply called The Haunting), Hill House is really a tale of psychological terror, focusing on themes of generational trauma, inherited mental illness, and the guilt and fear that burdens the family in question. Issues of mental illness are treated sensitively, as Flanagan makes it clear that the psychological terror is real, and that depression, addiction, and anxiety are every bit as terrifying as anything lurking in the dark. The question of how much of the terror the family is experiencing resides in their own heads can be debated, but as the lines between past present — as well as dreams and reality — blur, you can’t help but fall in love with each of the main characters.

Hill House is heavy on long conversational pieces, but there are still plenty of things that go bump in the night — not to mention two genuinely unsettling ghosts: the woman known as “The Bent-Neck Lady,” and a lanky, floating old man wearing a top and carrying a cane. But as great as the cast, cinematography, special effects, and writing is, what makes The Haunting Of Hill House great is its execution. Plot threads that initially seem to go nowhere eventually reveal dark family secrets, and as the series goes on, these revelations add new context for significant moments that are later reintroduced. Through masterful staging and superb editing, director Mike Flannagan creates a seamless overlap between the past and the present, something best exemplified in the series’ fifth episode, “The Bent-Neck Lady,” which discloses the identity of the ghost that has haunted Nell, the family’s youngest daughter, for almost her entire life. Keeping clear of spoilers, I will say that the moment Nell climbs to the top of Hill House’s spiraling three-story staircase remains the best moment in any television show this year.

Meanwhile, the technically ambitious sixth episode “Two Storms,” has attracted a lot of attention, and with good reason. The entire episode is made up of several long, swirling Steadicam shots (including a choreographed 23-minute tracking shot), some of which are unbroken, and others that keep the illusion going thanks to the magic of post-production. (Ricky D)

9 – Barry

Barry, perhaps the best new show of the year, demands a certain amount of mental digestion — for it is more than it seems. On a purely superficial level, it’s pretty entertaining: the titular Barry (Bill Hader, delivering a truly great performance) trying to escape a manipulative uncle and a lot of pissed off Chechen gangsters while discovering a love for theater is just goofy and momentous enough to fill out eight episodes of plot. Sprinkle on a terrific supporting performance from Henry Winkler, and you’ve already got a show with more charisma than any number of antihero series on television in 2018. (Thankfully, Barry aspires to be something more than the Ray Donovans of the world.)

The most striking parts of Barry are hyper-focused on its main character, portraying the journey of a man desperate to be anybody but himself, trying to channel his worst (and most talented) impulses into something more fulfilling, and markedly less violent. The harder he fights against himself, the inertia of the world around fails him time and time again, turning a freshman dramedy into a fragile, harrowing embodiment of depression rarely matched on television. Barry is not a show about a good person, and unlike many of its ilk, is willing to contend with that complexity to ask larger questions about change, and whether it is something human beings (individually, or as a collective) are capable of. (Randy Dankievitch)

8 – Queer Eye

The wildly successful reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003-2007) manages to strike lightning in the same place twice with its equally entertaining and emotional sophomore season. Bobby, Antoni, Tai, Karamo, and Jonathan (aka “The Fab Five”) continue their journey around Georgia to improve the appearance, habitat, and outlook of eight people. There are many moments that provoke laughter, tears, and the occasional “YAAASS.”

The first episode really packs an emotional punch, as the Fab Five help their first female client, Ms. Tammye, prepare her church for a community Homecoming, as Bobby battles with his troubled past being rejected by the church he was heavily involved with after coming out of the closet. Having a gay son herself, the loving Ms. Tammye admits to originally disapproving when first learning of her son’s preference. Anyone who has watched the series has surely admitted to choking up during Ms. Tammye’s now famous speech that even brought the stoic Antoni to tears. Just when your eyes finally dry, they’ll well up again in episode two, when the Fab Five help a shabby but sweet man clean up and orchestrate the perfect marriage proposal to his girlfriend.

The season also shines in the fifth episode “Sky’s the Limit,” when the Fab Five help spruce up the life of a trans man recovering from top surgery. The episode is clearly educational and insightful, not just for the audience, but for the Fab Five, some of whom admit to not knowing a lot about the transgender community.

Despite being soaked in the cheesy, often artificial feel of reality TV — or “structured reality” as it is now called — Queer Eye still manages to accomplish a genuine warmth and frivolity that is infectious and even inspiring. The likeable dynamics of the five men and their sincere passion to better the lives of others makes for engaging television that can pluck the heartstrings and bring a smile to anyone’s face. (Sarah Truesdale)

7 – GLOW

Netflix’s winning comedy based loosely on The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling carries a fresh sheen of confidence into its second season. GLOW is still a show about a group of professional women wrestlers in the ’80s hailing from all walks of life who attempt to turn a sketchy wrestling/variety act into a successful venture while employed by two floundering white men, but unlike the first season, this time the focus is on more on these characters wrestling with their inner demons. GLOW is a complex show about culturally relevant issues, from #MeToo to representations of race and class to other trending female-empowerment storylines, but it never loses its sense of humor and heart. If you liked season one, you’ll love season two which in this critic’s opinion, is a step up thanks to the character growth, plotting, and thrilling finale. (Ricky D)

Best TV Shows 2018 - The Americans

6 – The Americans

It sounded so silly on paper: a show about deadly Russian spies hidden in suburbia, set in the 1980s and starring Felicity and the guy from Brothers and Sisters. Yet after six seasons, The Americans has provided an indelible critique of American culture, politics, nationalism, as well as our “means to an end” brand of counterterrorism. Coming off a lackluster season five that all but deliberately avoided its most compelling story threads, season six hits the ground running.

Our husband and wife spies are put in danger from the get-go, entangling their daughter Paige, and further attracting FBI agent Stan Beeman on their tail. It all culminates in perhaps the best confrontation set in a parking garage, and the best use of U2’s “With or Without You” ever. Six seasons of hard choices come tumbling down in a masterclass of quiet tension and subtle suspense. Those waiting for an explosive shoe to drop will be left disappointed; The Americans was always a show about the war behind the Cold War — the war for one’s soul, national identity, and purpose among lethal bureaucracies. (Shane Ramirez)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Killing Eve5 – Killing Eve

Killing Eve transcends the limitations of genre in a bizarre blend of espionage-thriller and black comedy. Lead actors Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer are a match made in heaven in this cat-and-mouse misadventure of country-hopping, shootouts, and fabulous French fashion.

Sandra Oh plays the titular Eve, a dissatisfied pencil pusher working for MI5 who dreams of being a spy. After an intuitive hunch, she is hired to lead an investigation in pursuit of Villanelle (Comer), a young, beautiful, psychopathic assassin terrorizing Europe. As Eve gets closer capturing Villanelle, the two women become increasingly obsessed with each other in a way that blurs the lines between the hatred of nemeses and the infatuation of lovers. In what is easily one of the best episodes of the year, “I Have a Thing About Bathrooms” includes Villanelle successfully breaking into Eve’s home, only wanting to sit down and have dinner with her. The tension is overwhelming throughout, and you can’t help but gleefully laugh at the sheer insanity of the spectacle.

Jodie Comer manages to bring a childlike charm to Villanelle that entices everyone (including the audience) into liking her despite her complete lack of empathy, and sadistic pleasure in murdering people. Despite how overwhelmed and occasionally naïve Eve can be in her new position, she has a coolness and determination that makes it easy to see why Villanelle admires her. Villanelle’s only other real relationship is with her duplicitous handler, Konstantin (Kim Bodnia). They have an odd father-daughter dynamic, until the occasional moment they threaten to kill one another. Fiona Shaw plays legendary MI6 agent Carolyn Martens, whose stone-cold disposition and years of experience are an engaging contrast to Eve’s amateur status.

Killing Eve brings its fair share of thrills, laughs, and a homoerotic tension that would make Oscar Wilde blush. After an intense cliffhanger, audiences should count on an equally exciting second season to come. The debut season certainly makes for a high point in television in 2018. (Sarah Truesdale)

4 – The Good Place

Created by Parks and Recreation visionary Mike Schur, The Good Place is unlike any half-hour comedy on television. The elaborate premise, which mainly follows four humans, a demon, and a not-a-girl-not-a-robot in their pursuit of a fitting afterlife, creates high-stakes plot lines on a weekly basis. Though season one ended in a mind-boggling finale that few network shows would dare attempt, The Good Place has been outdoing itself from the get-go, even in its third season.

The talented cast (Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and Ted Danson) is at the top of their game, deftly doling out charming moments of humanity and humor amidst absurd life-and-death scenarios. In particular, Danson and Bell have a camaraderie that has only gotten snappier and more electrifying as the show has advanced.

The most notable episode of season three so far has been the hour-long premiere (“Everything is Bonzer!”), which has the unenviable task of retooling the show for a season set on Earth. After two seasons that directly explored the afterlife, zapping the cast back to their human lives seems at first like a step away from the more preposterous storylines that took place before, but it turns out to be the perfect next step. Mike Schur is adept at creating shows that are built around strong characters, and just like in Parks and Recreation, fans are willing to follow the cast of The Good Place through whatever hoops the writers set before them.

Perhaps most impressive is the show’s ability to encourage viewers to examine their own moral philosophies, and perhaps even change them for the better. As silly and pun-heavy as it may be at times, The Good Place contains a wealth of depth and heart at its center, constantly asking its writers to surprise us, its characters to challenge us, and its message to resonate with us more than we ever thought possible. (Meghan Cook)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Sharp Objects

3 – Sharp Objects

The surprise of the 2018 television season came in HBO’s wildly ambitious take on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, Sharp Objects. With a never better Amy Adams as its centerpiece, Sharp Objects follows middling reporter Camille’s return to her hometown to write the story of her life. An alcoholic with a truly intense history of self-harm and suicide attempts, Camille is one of the most flawed protagonists to grace the small screen in years, but that doesn’t stop the audience from rooting for and sympathizing with her, thanks in no small part to Adams’ one-of-a-kind performance.

This slow burn of a murder mystery format, mixed with painful flashbacks and PTSD fade-ins, has lead to what may be the best thing on TV all year (and in 2018, that’s saying quite a lot). Few dramas have made audiences feel the trauma of a character in the way that Sharp Objects succeeded at doing, and if there’s any justice in the world, Sharp Objects will run away with a no-contest win in the Outstanding Limited Series category of the 2019 Emmys. (Mike Worby)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Bojack Horseman

2 – Bojack Horseman

The most consistently excellent animated show on Netflix shows no signs of slowing its momentum in its fantastic fifth season. The absurdly out-there premise of Bojack Horseman has always made it a fantastic realm to explore the outrageous farce of current events that we live in, a place to poke satirical fun at the trends of the entertainment industry. However, what Bojack has grown shockingly adept at is taking us down the dark and dismal road of an aging actor who happens to be a very damaged horseman being.

In fact, season five took Bojack into its darkest territory yet, coming wildly close to making our favorite horseman into a very unlikable protagonist. As Bojack spiraled into the depths of an addiction to painkillers, and the skeleton of his past misdeeds bubbled to the surface, the series strayed further from its pure comedy roots than anyone could’ve anticipated.

With an all-time great episode of the series (in which Bojack delivers a rambling eulogy at his mother’s funeral) serving as the new benchmark to beat, Bojack Horseman has shown that it’s not just a one-trick pony, and that there’s still plenty of paddle room to beat before it becomes a dead horse. (Mike Worby)

Best TV Shows 2018 - Atlanta

1 – Atlanta

Donald Glover continues to take hold of the zeitgeist, improving upon his masterful first season of Atlanta with a second that captures all the anxieties and absurdities of what it means to be black in 2010’s America. Subtitled Robbin’ Season, season two finds Glover’s Earn losing his managerial grip over cousin Al (a.k.a. Paper Boi), the local hip-hop sensation. The music game proves harder for both men; Earn struggles with his sense of place and his masculine identity as a well-educated black man out of his depth, and Al finds himself in a transitional period where he can either level up or be dragged down by his friends.

On the fringes is Earn’s on-again/off-again girl, Val, who continues to navigate her social status, and oddball Darius, who has his own mystifying misadventure in the season’s crowning achievement, the episode titled “Teddy Perkins.” It’s a credit to Glover that Perkins has already become a pop culture mainstay, an icon for all the terrifying unknowns of fame, blackness, and the loneliness of the modern American landscape. Season two weaves a mesmerizing comic tapestry akin to an adult Adventures of Pete and Pete as dreamt up by David Lynch. As a companion to Glover’s musical alter ego, Childish Gambino, Atlanta‘s second season could easily have been titled This is America. (Shane Ramirez)

PART ONE (TOP 25)

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Wrestling

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

One Versus All

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Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

WrestleMania may be regarded as the Super Bowl of the WWE but of the other three major pay-per-view events, The Royal Rumble has often given us better matches over the years. Yes, the Survivor Series and King of the Ring have had their fair share of moments, but the Royal Rumble is without a doubt the second-biggest wrestling PPV on the planet.

What makes the Royal Rumble so exciting is how it sets up the most prominent storylines on the programming for the remainder of the year. The Royal Rumble is simply put, the start of playoff season and a steppingstone for WWE superstars to prepare for their big moment at WrestleMania. It really is a seminal event on the WWE calendar and has often launched the wrestlers to superstar’s status.

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

A Brief History of the Royal Rumble

Credit for the Royal Rumble can be given to Pat Patterson who came up with the original idea when brainstorming an event that would be bigger and better than the Battle Royale. The concept was simple really; unlike the Battle Royale which begins with all twenty participants in the ring, the Royal Rumble would instead start with only two superstars and have the remaining participants join the match every two minutes thereafter. And to up the ante, instead of having only twenty wrestlers, the Royal Rumble includes thirty superstars who battle it out for a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania (except for in 1992, when Ric Flair won the WWE Championship by winning the titular match ).

If you had to choose just one reason as to why the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events, it would be because you never really know what to expect. Aside from anticipating who’ll come out next during the main event— and guessing who will eliminate who— we’re also left wondering who’ll make a long-overdue comeback after being away from the WWE for months – sometimes years.

We’ve seen big men like Kane eliminate eleven opponents in a row, and a superstar like Shawn Michaels become the first wrestler to win the Rumble after entering first. We watched Undertaker get locked in a casket and set on fire and we witnessed The Rock and Mankind battle it out in an “I Quit” match that temporarily led to a power failure and left the entire arena in the dark. There’s just no shortage of over the top moments at the Royal Rumble such as Kofi Kingston’s creative ways to avoid elimination or the surprise entrance by AJ Styles. The Royal Rumble is where dreams are made, careers are ended, and over the years, fans have witnessed some of the most intense rivalries take shape at the event.

History of the Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is without question, an important PPV and has been a part of a tradition dating all the way back to 1988. We’ve seen many of the most iconic wrestlers win the multi-man brawl, including Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Ric Flair (1992), Bret Hart (1994), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996) Steve Austin (1997, 1998, 2001), The Rock (2000), Triple H (2002), The Undertaker (2007), and John Cena (2008), to name a few. And we’ve seen plenty more superstars come close, but ultimately getting eliminated at the very last minute. Yes, it’s a simple concept but the Royal Rumble is also incredibly exciting to watch.

Apart from the titular main event, WWE’s annual January extravaganza has also given us some incredible matches in the undercard. From surprising sleeper hits to fast-paced tag team action to hardcore matches and strange gimmick matches— the Royal Rumble has time and time again, blessed wrestling fans with the perfect blend of great storytelling and in-ring action. As such, the event has given fans some classic matches over the years and many have stood the test of time.

Whether it’s the rumble itself or a high-tempo singles match, the list of great matches that took place during the Royal Rumble is rather long. Below is a list of the greatest Royal Rumble matches to date, with links to the full review of each match.

Simply click on the links below to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time.

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series. You can find all the articles here.

  • Ricky D

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

1) Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

2) Royal Rumble 1992: The Royal Rumble Match

3) Royal Rumble 2000: The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)

4) Royal Rumble 2000: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight

5) Royal Rumble 2001: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Ladder Match)

6) Royal Rumble 2007: The Royal Rumble Match

7) Royal Rumble 2015: Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins

8) Royal Rumble 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

9) Royal Rumble 1998: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (Casket Match)

10) Royal Rumble 1999: The Rock vs.Mankind (“I Quit” Match)

11) Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge

12) Royal Rumble 2004: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

13) Royal Rumble 1994: Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match)

14) Royal Rumble 1991: Sgt. Slaughter vs. the Ultimate Warrior

15) Royal Rumble 1991: The Rockers vs. The Orient Express

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Wrestling

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

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Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Royal Rumble 1995

“Big Daddy Cool” Diesel vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart

World Wrestling Federation Championship

The 1995 Royal Rumble was the eighth installment of the annual pay-per-view. It took place on January 22, in the USF Sun Dome located in Tampa, Florida and is remembered most for two things: Pamela Anderson’s one and only appearance in the WWE ring and Shawn Michaels becoming the first wrestler to win the Royal Rumble after entering first. But aside from that the iconic, game-changing ending in which Shawn Michaels dangled on the ropes, barely hanging on, before pulling himself over and eliminating the British Bulldog— there was another great match that is often overlooked.

It was the first WWE Championship defense of Diesel and it came against the face of the company, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart.

The storyline behind the WWF World Heavyweight Championship match began in 1994, when Bob Backlund with the help of Owen Hart, beat Bret Hart for the championship at Survivor Series. Three days later, Bob Backlund was scheduled to defend the title against Bret Hart at Madison Square Garden only on the eleventh-hour, Hart was replaced by Diesel. Despite spending most of the evening protesting the last-minute change in the card, Backlund was forced to square off against Big Daddy Cool who defeated Backlund in a nine-second match to win the World Title.

With Bret Hart looking to recapture the title, a match with Diesel was then scheduled at the Royal Rumble. It was a rare instance of two babyfaces assigned to compete against each other with the audience having to choose sides.

Unfortunately, the match ended in controversial fashion, but not without its share of drama and plenty of highlights.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Diesel’s match with Bret Hart was a pivotal moment in his career. Not only was it the first time he had to defend the WWE Title on a PPV, but for someone who was often criticized as being over-rated, this match proved that with the right competition, Diesel could put on a great match while also telling a great story.  

It was a face vs. face, but Hart played the de facto heel for much of the match, going so far as slamming a chair on Diesel’s back and taking advantage of his injured knee by applying the figure-four leglock twice. The match itself lasted a good 28 minutes with plenty of finishers including Diesel’s Jackknife powerbomb and of course, Bret Hart’s signature Sharpshooter. It was physical; it was exciting, and it was an example of great storytelling thanks to the ongoing interference.

First, Shawn Michaels came out and attacked Diesel. After being thrown out of the ring, fans anticipated the referee would disqualify Bret Hart and end the match — only instead, the ref ordered it to continue. After a back and forth brawl, Hart hit the Sharpshooter on Diesel’s injured leg but before Big Daddy Cool could tap out, Owen Hart ran in and attacked Bret from behind. And just like before, the referee cleared Owen out of the ring and ordered that the match continue, causing the fans in the arena to explode in cheers.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

While the match isn’t as notable as the Survivor Series fight between Diesel and Bret Hart, it’s still a genuine classic and one of the best matches of Kevin Nash’s career. With the help of Bret Hart, Kevin Nash had risen again and delivered a performance for the ages.

The match, however, would end in disappointing fashion. After the referee was knocked unconscious, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, The Roadie, Owen Hart and Bob Backlund all came out to attack Bret Hart and Diesel. Realizing he had lost full control of the match and could no longer officiate due to the constant interference; the referee officially ended the match and rang the bell. In the end, it was ruled a draw and Diesel retained his championship.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Despite the interference, the match itself lasted a good half hour and featured two stellar performances by Bret Hart and yes, Kevin Nash. It was just another example of how with the right opponent, Kevin Nash could really work the ring and whatever mistakes and turmoil led Kevin Nash to the WCW, whatever demons that plagued him – you can’t forget that at one point in time, the man was at the top of the WWE.

All in all, the Championship match was well choreographed; perfectly scripted and packed with non-stop action from beginning to end.

  • Ricky D

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

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Arrow Season 8 Episode 9 Review: “Green Arrow and the Canaries”

Arrow looks to the future in an intriguing, clumsy penultimate episode/backdoor pilot.

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Green Arrow and the Canaries

It’s not often the penultimate episode of a long-running series is constructed as a backdoor pilot to a spin-off. But even rarer is a show heading into its final two hours with its titular character already enjoying a hard fought, well earned dirt nap after casually saving the universe – a fate both hero and viewers alike were aware of well over a year ago. It is under those strange, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths circumstances that “Green Arrow and the Canaries” exists, a backdoor pilot trying to leap frog off a near-decade of world and character building, to continue building the next generation of Arrowverse heroes alongside shows like Supergirl and Batwoman.

It is tough to strike a balance to find between carrying the torch of an iconic series, while still finding room for its own identity; that is the challenge facing both Mia and Arrow, as the Arrowverse looks to its next generation of storytelling.

As Arrow – and inevitably, The Flash – ride off into the sunset, The CW’s grasped the opportunity to diversify its starting lineup, on full display during the five-part Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. No longer is the Arrowverse just led by Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, and Rip Hunter: with characters like Jefferson Pierce, Sara Lance, and now Mia Queen-Smoak, the Arrowverse is heading into the next decade with a refreshed starting lineup, a creative re-invigoration that reverberates through “Green Arrow and the Canaries” in some really interesting, if limited, ways.

Like most of the CW’s attempts to introduce new characters and worlds, “Green Arrow and the Canaries” is an awkward mash of ideas and tones, establishing a new Star City in 2040 post-Crisis, with all the inconceivably ridiculous machinations it takes to get there. Frankly, it does not do a great job of catching anyone up who is new to the Arrowverse, or is checking in with the final few episodes of Arrow to see what’s next: anytime it tries to explain how Mia lost her memories of 2020 (and how Dinah Drake ended up in 2040 Star City), “Green Arrow and the Canaries” strains credulity with its own premise.

Though, there is something to say for the episode’s very Legends of Tomorrow-esque approach to not really giving a fuck: we get cool shots of Dinah singing in a bar she owns (under her apartment, which looks like it is in the original clock tower Sara used as a hideout? Please don’t quote me on this if I am wrong), and it never lingers too long on trying to justify its existence. After all, how do you logically explain how the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance, a Dinah who hasn’t aged in 20 years, and Oliver Queen’s adult daughter end up working on the same case (trying to find a kidnapped granddaughter of the Bertonelli family)? Smartly, “Green Arrow and the Canaries” only makes a few flimsy attempts before saying fuck it, and running with its narrative.

It makes for a fairly engaging experiment; with Mia Queen at the center, “Green Arrow and the Canaries” basically hits the reset button on Arrow‘s story of legacy, with Oliver as the deceased patriarch of the family, and Mia facing a world without either of her parents around (they do not mention Felicity at all, which is… very weird). How does someone follow in the footsteps of the man who saved the entire universe? “Green Arrow and the Canaries” doesn’t directly attack this issue, but the pressure of reputation, and the echoes of the trauma of losing him, provide this potential spin-off with an interesting emotional framework.

Green Arrow and the Canaries

It also features Black Siren, as the Kate Cassidy redemption tour continues; after years being stuck in a laughably thin character (and equally limited performance), the integration of Earth-2’s badass, morally ambiguous Laurel Lance was a boon for Arrow‘s late season resurgence – a renaissance that welcomely continues into this new series, channeling Laurel-2’s goth bitchiness into a powerful, driven portrayal of a rich supporting character.

“Green Arrow and the Canaries” is not without its limitations, though: despite the inherent pleasure of seeing these three characters team up together (and the simple fact it is vastly superior to the languid, mediocre Batwoman), the actual dramatic arc of the episode is cookie cutter material, formulaic in the way any experienced Arrow or The Flash viewer will recognize. There’s plenty of intriguing notes there (like the maybe-return of Deathstroke 3.0, as Mia’s now-estranged fiancee), but unlike Legends of Tomorrow or Black Lightning, “Green Arrow and the Canaries” doesn’t really introduce any wrinkles to a well-worn storytelling style, which could quickly lead any spin-off down a disappointing road of dwindling returns.

Green Arrow and the Canaries

The Arrowverse as a whole is in a strange place; as The Flash winds down (or at least, appears to be), Legends of Tomorrow continues to fucking rule, and shows like Supergirl and Black Lightning cement their place in The CW’s lineup, the massive universe Berlanti and company have built (and with Crisis, completely integrated) is both in a great place, and at a critical crossroads.

If “Green Arrow and the Canaries” becomes Green Arrow and the Canaries, it must be careful not to follow in the footsteps of the disappointing Batwoman (which suffers from the unwieldy combination of poor plotting and dismal performances). Following the series that started it all is a challenging affair, and one that comes with the high stakes of tainting what came before it (after all, it wasn’t long ago that Mia Queen-Smoak was one of Arrow‘s weakest points, through most of season seven’s flashbacks).

But there’s a lot of potential here; if Green Arrow and the Canaries harnesses the energy of its central trio, it could be so much more than a carbon copy of its hallowed predecessor – which, at its worst moments, briefly turning Dinah into Felicity and Mia into proto-season one Oliver, it comes dangerously close to being. It is tough to strike a balance between carrying the torch of an iconic series, while still finding room for its own identity; that is the challenge facing both Mia and Arrow, as the Arrowverse looks to its next generation of storytelling, and a question that “Green Arrow and the Canaries” ultimately only provides a partial answer to.

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