The year is coming to an end, so it’s a good time to look back at the 16 WWE main roster pay-per-views (PPV for short) and rank them in order from worst to best. I feel like I’m a qualified reviewer because I watched them all and wrote detailed reviews about them too. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with this order. It’s my take, so disagree or agree as you wish.
For each show, I’ll let know you know when and where it took place as well as the best and worst match on every one of them. I’m going to avoid Kickoff Show matches in each case, so if you need to re-watch one of them, it’ll be on the main card.
Before I begin, just a quick note to say this is for main roster PPVs only. NXT Takeover shows do not count. They are a separate category.
16. Battleground (Smackdown)
Yes, fans, as you can clearly see here at the Punjabi Prison… something is… I think something's happening? Something's happening. pic.twitter.com/nZkR9cnOlg
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) July 24, 2017
When/Where: July 23 in Philadelphia.
Best Match: The New Day defeated The Usos to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles
Worst Match: Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Title in a Punjabi Prison Match
This was a one-match show, which is why it’s at the bottom of the rankings. The New Day vs. The Usos was one of the best feuds of the year. Any time they had a PPV match, they usually had the best match on the show. In this case, the duo of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods managed to beat The Usos clean to win the gold.
There was a lot of disappointment too. Mahal vs. Orton was a stinker in a Punjabi Prison match. Who thought it was a good idea to give them 28 minutes and have The Great Khali interfere? Terrible booking. John Cena vs. Rusev in a Flag Match was really boring. Poor Sami Zayn was stuck in that disappointing Mike Kanellis feud.
The only other decent match was AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens, but even that wasn’t nearly as good as they can do. The whole show was a mess aside from that one tag team match.
15. Fastlane (Raw)
When/Where: March 5 in Milwaukee.
Best Match: Roman Reigns defeated Braun Strowman
Worst Match: Cesaro defeated Jinder Mahal
There were a couple of decent matches on here with Reigns defeating Strowman at the start of their rivalry which nearly lasted the whole year. Other matches like Samoa Joe beating Sami Zayn and Bayley beating Charlotte Flair were okay too.
The most noteworthy thing that happened here was Bill Goldberg beat Kevin Owens in about 20 seconds due to a distraction from Chris Jericho. It didn’t excite me at all unless you enjoy a guy who’s 15 years past his prime beating somebody in their prime.
14. Clash of Champions (Smackdown)
When/Where: Dec. 17 in Boston.
Best Match: The Usos defeated The New Day, Rusev/Aiden English, Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable in a Smackdown Tag Team Title match
Worst Match: The Bludgeon Brothers defeated Breezango
This past Sunday’s Clash of Champions was a boring show with no standout matches, some weird finishes and too many wacky stipulations. My best match up there was hated by a lot of people because of the rules, so it’s one of those things where one person’s preference may strongly go against what somebody else likes. I liked the US Title triple threat match as well because it was a surprise that Dolph Ziggler left as the champion in a match where most of us thought he was going to take the pin.
For worst match, the one I listed was only two minutes as most people thought it would be. Everything else on the card that I haven’t mentioned was either average or below average. When you have only two matches that I would consider very good then that’s a bad sign considering how talented WWE’s roster is.
13. Extreme Rules (Raw)
When/Where: June 4 in Baltimore.
Best Match: Samoa Joe defeated Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt in an Extreme Rules Match
Worst Match: Alexa Bliss defeated Bayley in a Kendo Stick on a Pole Match to retain the Raw Women’s Title
Extreme Rules was the definition of a one-match show with the Fatal 5-Way main event standing out as one of the better PPV matches of the year. There was a lot of excitement in the match with all five guys looking like they might get the job done, but it was Joe who made Balor submit after 30 minutes of grueling action. I remember the crowd chanting “this is awesome” a few times in there as well.
I really wish I could forget the Bliss vs. Bayley feud because it was so bad. The good thing about the Kendo Stick on a Pole match is that it was kept relatively short, but it was also the moment where they could have made Bayley look like a credible wrestler and instead she was made to look like such a loser. The rest of the card was boring other than Ambrose vs. Miz, who wrestled about a dozen times on TV this year.
12. Payback (Raw)
When/Where: April 30 in San Jose.
Best Match: The Hardy Boyz defeated Sheamus & Cesaro to retain the Raw Tag Team Titles
Worst Match: Bray Wyatt defeated Randy Orton in a House of Horrors Match
Payback was a card with solid matches up and down the card, yet nothing really stood out. I recall the Hardys’ match with Sheamus/Cesaro because they made the most of their 13 minutes by having one of the more exciting tag matches of the year. This was when Sheamus/Cesaro were really starting to hit their stride as a team. There were also good matches with Chris Jericho beating Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins beating Samoa Joe.
The House of Horrors was WWE’s chance to try something different and possibly make it work, but they absolutely bombed in producing that match. What a disaster. It was so bad watching them fight in the house, but then they made it even more comical by having them take chauffeured vehicles down to the arena.
At least Payback provided us with this comical moment from Braun Strowman.
WAIT A MINUTE! @BraunStrowman just tried to take @WWERomanReigns out, but ran right through the ambulance door! #WWEPayback #RawTalk pic.twitter.com/TPXnOQNJEo
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) May 1, 2017
11. Money in the Bank (Smackdown)
When/Where: June 18 in St. Louis.
Best Match: Men’s Money in the Bank won by Baron Corbin
Worst Match: Breezango vs. The Ascension
The men’s Money in the Bank match was a fantastic battle that went about 30 minutes. Baron Corbin won over AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler. The highlight of the match was when Styles and Nakamura battled it out in the ring with the crowd going crazy for it. What a great moment that should be a WrestleMania preview.
Corbin winning was no surprise. A few months later, he looked like a fool after he failed to cash in successfully, which ended making this match not mean much at all.
Most of the rest of the card was solid. I remember hating the finish of Mahal vs. Orton because it was about the Singhs causing a distraction and Orton was booked like an idiot in getting beat. The women’s Money in the Bank had a controversial finish, so they had to do it again. The finish took away from the good work in the match. Naomi vs. Lana was better than expected, but not very good.
10. Backlash (Smackdown)
When/Where: May 21 in Chicago.
Best Match: Kevin Owens defeated AJ Styles by countout
Worst Match: Luke Harper defeated Erick Rowan
The Owens/Styles match was amazing for most of it, but the countout finish obviously hurt it and was done to keep the feud going. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Dolph Ziggler was good for an opener. I thought Sami Zayn carried Baron Corbin to one of his best matches and I remember being surprised that Zayn actually got a PPV win over a guy that was bigger than him.
THAT'S RIGHT! @JinderMahal is your NEW #WWEChampion!!!! #AndNew #WWEBacklash #WWEChampionship pic.twitter.com/pI2Ol0oGSF
— WWE (@WWE) May 22, 2017
This show will be remembered for Jinder Mahal beating Randy Orton to win the WWE Title. I was shocked back then and I’m still surprised it happened. The worst match wasn’t that bad, but clearly Harper and Rowan make better partners than opponents. The other matches were just kind of there and didn’t really do much for me.
9. Tables, Ladders & Chairs (Raw)
When/Where: Oct. 22 in Minneapolis.
Best Match: Finn Balor defeated AJ Styles
Worst Match: Enzo Amore defeated Kalisto to win the Cruiserweight Championship
This was a two-match show and neither of the two matches was advertised until two days earlier. AJ Styles replaced Bray Wyatt and put over Finn Balor in one of the better singles matches of the year. It was a lot of fun to watch. Kurt Angle replaced Roman Reigns to join Shield members Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a 3-on-5 handicap match. That was also the match that turned Braun Strowman face since he was attacked by Kane and others. I thought those two matches were great.
Everything else on the card was below average for the most part. Enzo beating Kalisto was bad. Jason Jordan and Elias don’t seem to have a lot of chemistry, so their match was disappointing too. It was also disappointing to see that it took Asuka 10 minutes to beat Emma, which was about seven minutes longer than it should have been.
8. WrestleMania 33
When/Where: April 2 in Orlando
Best Match: AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon
Worst Match: Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Title
The best parts of WrestleMania were the moments, which I covered in depth in my top 10 moments column featuring pieces on The Undertaker’s last match ever (we think), the Hardy Boyz’s shocking return and Kurt Angle appearing at a WrestleMania for the first time in 11 years.
In terms of matches, Styles/McMahon was the best, but it was just average for a Styles PPV match. Other matches like Owens/Jericho, Rollins/Triple H and the Hardys’ Ladder Match win were all good, yet all of them disappointed because we expected better matches. Lesnar over Goldberg was fun for the six minutes that they were in there.
When it comes to the worst, Orton over Wyatt was terrible. There were graphics with insects in the ring and most people thought it was stupid rather than something that would be considered interesting. One of the worst WWE Title matches at a WrestleMania in a long time.
Reigns beating Undertaker drew heat because fans wanted Taker to win, but it was a boring match to end a really long night. I also thought Cena/Nikki over Miz/Maryse was a terrible match too, although the build to it was good. Cena proposing to Nikki was not much of a surprise considering it was mentioned in every promo by the heels for like two months. Way to work the marks, pal.
There’s somebody reading this that will get mad at me for not ranking WrestleMania higher. Sorry folks. It wasn’t that good. The name sells tickets and creates buzz, but much of the five-hour broadcast (I repeat, five hours!) was disappointing.
7. Hell in a Cell (October)
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 9, 2017
When/Where: Oct. 8 in Detroit.
Best Match: The Usos defeated The New Day in a Hell in a Cell match
Worst Match: Jinder Mahal defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Title
This show was memorable for the heel turn of Sami Zayn in the main event. I didn’t expect that to happen and I watched this show with some buddies, who were just as shocked about it as I was. Shane’s 20-foot dive was crazy. I also loved The Usos beating New Day in the Hell in a Cell match. They did some innovative stuff, it was a lot of fun to watch and felt like a fight inside the cage in an era where some big matches don’t feel like that. Owens vs. Shane was pretty good too, but a little long at nearly 40 minutes.
It’s weird to say that Nakamura had the worst match on the card, but he really did. Boring match with Mahal because they just didn’t seem to have much chemistry together. I’ll blame Mahal for it mainly, since he’s not the worker that Nakamura is. Most of the rest of the card was okay with no other matches standing out.
When/Where: August 20 in New York.
Best Match: Brock Lesnar defeated Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns & Samoa Joe to retain the Universal Championship
Worst Match: Big Show defeated Big Cass
Great main event that was one of the best matches of the year. Strowman put Lesnar through two tables, which provided huge reactions that put over Strowman big-time. Lesnar was taken out of the match, but came back and won by pinning Reigns.
I know earlier I mentioned I won’t talk about Kickoff Show matches much, but The Usos over New Day for the Tag Team Titles was an outstanding Kickoff Show match. It’s ridiculous that they got bumped off the main card considering how good they are. I also really liked Ambrose & Rollins beating Sheamus & Cesaro for the Tag Team Titles too. That drew a huge ovation. Styles and Owens had a good match again too.
Big Cass beating Big Show in the battle of the guys with “Big” in their name was boring as expected. They just had no chemistry and the fans were dead for most of it. Matches like Mahal over Nakamura and Balor over Wyatt were disappointing after being hyped so much as big matches. There was also the surprising match of the night with Randy Orton beating Rusev in about 10 seconds. I thought it was lame.
5. Great Balls of Fire (Raw)
When/Where: July 9 in Dallas.
Best Match: Sheamus & Cesaro defeated Hardy Boyz in 30-Minute Ironman for Raw Tag Team Titles
Worst Match: Big Cass defeated Enzo Amore
Good matches nearly all night long for the show with the worst name in WWE PPV history. The Ironman Tag Team match was outstanding with Sheamus & Cesaro winning 4-3 in 30 minutes. Loved the pacing of it and the excitement in the last few minutes. I wish Brock Lesnar beating Samoa Joe got more than eight minutes, but it was a fun fight to watch for the time they were given. Braun Strowman beating Roman Reigns in an Ambulance match was okay. It also had the comedic scene of Reigns driving a truck into the ambulance and Strowman walked away.
On the bad side, Big Cass beating Enzo Amore nearly put me to sleep because of how boring it was. There was also a Heath Slater over Curt Hawkins match that only got about three minutes. Other stuff like Miz beating Ambrose and Wyatt beating Rollins would be considered mild disappointments because expectations were higher for them
4. Survivor Series
#RAW – 4️⃣#SDLive – 3️⃣#TeamRed WINS #SurvivorSeries! pic.twitter.com/7zw5DbbXRL
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) November 20, 2017
When/Where: Nov. 19 in Houston.
Best Match: Brock Lesnar over AJ Styles
Worst Match: Baron Corbin defeated The Miz
I could have listed two matches for best match since I loved Lesnar over Styles and Shield over New Day about the same. I like Lesnar’s match with Styles more because of an appreciation for singles wrestling and it’s harder to have a better match in that setting. Lesnar gave Styles a lot of offense and it lived up to the height by going strong for 16 minutes. The Shield vs. New Day was a predictable win for The Shield, so that hurt the match a bit, but the work was strong. Several other good matches on here too.
There wasn’t a lot of bad on here, which is why it’s a top three show for me. Corbin vs. Miz was boring. The men’s elimination match had so much talent involved, yet the booking was dumb because it put Triple H over with Braun Strowman, which likely sets them up for a WrestleMania match.
The problem with Survivor Series is no titles on the line and no follow-up. It just feels like a show where they put on four hours of matches, but none of it really matters that much. There should be more of a reward for the winners.
3. No Mercy (Raw)
When/Where: Sept.24 in Los Angeles.
Best Match: Roman Reigns defeated John Cena
Worst Match: Enzo Amore defeated Neville to win the Cruiserweight Championship
The double main event of Brock Lesnar beating Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns beating John Cena made this a bigger than average September PPV event. I thought Lesnar/Strowman was fine, but didn’t live up to the hype because it was under 10 minutes. Reigns vs. Cena was a good match where Reigns was booked like a superman to beat the guy that was booked like a superman more than anybody else in the last decade. Passing of the torch moment for sure.
There’s not much to say about bad stuff because it was just Enzo beating Neville that sucked. Some of the midcard matches were passable, but I thought the women’s 5-way was repetitive since they did so many multi-women matches on PPVs this year. Miz beating Jason Jordan was average too.
2. Elimination Chamber (Smackdown)
Take a look into your future, @WWEBrayWyatt!!
Congratulations to the NEW @WWE Champion!! #EliminationChamber #WWEChamber @RandyOrton pic.twitter.com/OyFQjNLNKP
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) February 13, 2017
When/Where: Feb. 12 in Phoenix.
Best Match: Elimination Chamber for the WWE Title won by Bray Wyatt
Worst Match: Apollo Crews & Kalisto over Dolph Ziggler
This took place at a time when the Smackdown brand was at its best. It seemed like they could do no wrong with the top guys having great matches, the women’s division was on fire with three matches on this show and plenty of solid tag teams too.
The Elimination Chamber match main event was outstanding with Wyatt beating AJ Styles and John Cena to win after The Miz, Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin were also eliminated. It feels like everything else that happened to Wyatt in 2017 was crappy, but this match was excellent and his performance showed how good he can be in the right setting. Styles was amazing as was Cena and they got 35 minutes. I’m such a fan of the Elimination Chamber match.
This match isn’t remembered that well, but Randy Orton’s best PPV match this year was at this show against Luke Harper. It was a great showing by both guys in what was arguably Harper’s best singles match in WWE. Too bad he never got more of a push as a singles guy because the crowd was getting behind Harper.
There weren’t a lot of bad moments other than that Crews/Kalisto win over Ziggler that hurt all of them. Tag team turmoil match was a bit hectic, but it put over American Alpha in a big way. Naomi beating Alexa Bliss was just average too. Bliss is not known for her great matches. She’s more of a character than a worker.
1. Royal Rumble
Congratulations to @JohnCena who has OFFICIALLY tied @RicFlairNatrBoy with 16 World Championship victories! https://t.co/9voh6glCYo pic.twitter.com/SNnbOXwdLQ
— WWE (@WWE) January 30, 2017
When/Where: Jan. 29 in San Antonio.
Best Match: John Cena defeated AJ Styles to win the WWE Title
Worst Match: Neville defeated Rich Swann to retain the Cruiserweight Title
The Royal Rumble isn’t No. 1 because of the Rumble match. It’s here mainly because of the other matches, including Cena over Styles in what may have been the match of the year. I didn’t know if they were going to top their SummerSlam 2016 match, but they did it with an incredible showing where Cena was put over for his 16th World Title in WWE.
What I remember about it is they barely left the ring for 25 minutes, they kicked out of a lot of big moves, the crowd was into everything they did and Cena was put over huge by pinning Styles after hitting two Attitude Adjustments in a row.
Kevin Owens retaining the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns was also really good. It ended in cheap fashion with Braun Strowman attacking Reigns (it was a No DQ match) to give Owens a really cheap win.
Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble match. It wasn’t the best Rumble (1992) or even close to it, but it was fine for the hour that it took place. There were some cool moments in there with Goldberg eliminating Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker eliminating Goldberg and a moment people hated with Reigns eliminating Undertaker. Orton won by last eliminating his buddy (at the time) Wyatt to set up their eventual WrestleMania match, which absolutely sucked. I also remember Chris Jericho going 60 minutes. That’s impressive for a guy in his late 40s.
There wasn’t a bad match on here. My worst match on this show got two and 3/4 out of five stars in my review at the time, which means it was above average. I gave the same rating to Charlotte over Bayley and Neville over Swann. No below average matches on the show makes it the easy WWE PPV of the year to me.
That’s all for this recap of the year in WWE PPVs. I don’t think any of those shows are going to be remembered as all-time amazing shows by any means, but the best three or four shows of the year were excellent and I recommend rewatching some of them if you have the time.
Royal Rumble is the winner for 2017. It’s also the next PPV on the calendar in 2018, so here’s hoping they can even top it when we get to that show on Jan. 28. Have a great Christmas and New Year’s. Thanks for reading.