Pay-Pew View events are arguably the best part of the WWE schedule. Ideally, PPVs features less talking and more wrestling, providing the audience with that sweet, sweet in-ring action they so desire. With a few notable exceptions, the best matches in WWE history have taken place on PPV. As it stands, the WWE hosts 12 (soon to be 19) PPVs a year, many with their own distinct, matched-based themes. The TLC PPV features a surplus of tables, ladders, and chairs matches (and one time, a stairs match, which was very stupid); the Hell in a Cell PPV features at least one Hell in a Cell match; and the Battleground PPV has a tendency to generally be hot garbage.
The WWE has hosted hundreds (thousands?) of PPVs in its history, to a varying degree of quality. Some have been tremendous, like Wrestlemania XIX or Money in the Bank 2011; some have been downright horrible, like Wrestlemania IX or December to Dismember 2006; but many have just been alright. At the very least, most PPVs have at least one positive match or moment that makes them memorable, and all of them have at least one match or moment fans would like to forget. This list will look back at some of the best and worst PPV events of the past decade, a decade that's been characterized by sweeping changes, humiliating failures, captivating successes, and that godforsaken ECW reboot.
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15 Best - Armageddon 2006
The Armageddon PPV was awesome. Not necessarily because of match quality, but because it's a cool concept. In the Bible, Armageddon is the end of the world and applying that motif to a wrestling show is metal as hell. The stage and video packages were always very dark and foreboding, and made it seem like we were actually about to see an epic battle. The 2006 edition of Armageddon was special, featuring a handful of fun, high quality matches. The best of all was the fatal 4-way ladder match for the WWE Tag Team titles between MNM, Paul London and Brian Kendrick, the Hardy Boys, and William Regal and Dave Taylor. The match was fast paced and brutal, famously featuring a spot where a ladder legitimately broke Joey Mercury's nose and drenched the canvas in blood. A few other standout matches were the Undertaker vs. Mr. Kennedy in the last ever Last Ride match, a violent spectacle, and Chris Benoit vs. Chavo Guerrero for the US title.
14 Worst - Capitol Punishment 2011
In a lot of ways, the Capitol Punishment PPV was the zenith of a very bad era in WWE history. It felt less like a PPV and more like an episode of RAW. It was overbooked with short, predictable matches and featured an honest to God Barack Obama impersonator. The tag team titles and women's titles weren't booked on the card, as the titles were almost at rock bottom in terms of credibility. No match was longer than fifteen minutes, but there was still a "surprise match" between Jack Swagger and Evan Bourne put between the final two matches. There were some good matches on the show: Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston for the US title; CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio; and Randy Orton vs. Christian for the World Heavyweight title. However, the main event saw John Cena take on R-Truth, who was in the midst of a stellar run as a bumbling lunatic heel. Unfortunately, Truth's star wasn't high enough for the main event and the bout felt like a throwaway match with an obvious outcome.
13 Best - One Night Stand 2008
The 2008 edition of the One Night Stand PPV is an underrated show. Every match on the main card had a hardcore stipulation and as a result, there were a handful of memorable matches: Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga in a Falls Count Anywhere match, in which Jeff Hardy Swanton Bomb'd off a truck in the parking lot; John Cena vs. JBL in a First Blood match; and Shawn Michaels vs. Batista in a Stretcher match. There were some low points, like the 5-Man Singapore Cane match to determine the #1 contender for the ECW title, but even that match saw Shawne Merriman hit Chavo Guerrero with a kendo stick. Undoubtedly the best match of the night was the main event: the Undertaker and Edge in a TLC match for the World Heavyweight title. It was a brutal spot-fest of a match with tons of exhilarating moments, including 'Taker falling off a ladder through four tables. In the end, the Ultimate Opportunist claimed the Big Gold Belt and the Undertaker was forced to the "leave" the WWE, at least until SummerSlam.
12 Worst - The Great American Bash 2007
Who's the worst World Heavyweight Champion off all time (WWE, not WCW. We don't have time to talk about David Arquette and Vince Russo)? If you answered anything other than the Great Khali, go sit down and think about how you've hurt your family. The Great Khali was bad at nearly every single facet of professional wrestling, yet still managed to snag one of the greatest prizes in the business. The 2007 Great American Bash is where he did it. Khali claimed the Big Gold Belt in a triple threat match against Batista and Kane, after then-champion Edge went down with an injury a few weeks prior. The rest of the card wasn't much better. Like Capitol Punishment, it felt like a glorified episode of RAW, with not a single match reaching the 15-minute mark. While many of the matches weren't bad, they were far too short to showcase anyone's talents. The two standout matches on the card were John Cena vs. Bobby Lashley for the WWE title and MVP vs. Matt Hardy for the US title.
11 Best - WrestleMania 23
The twenty-third edition of WrestleMania was a massive show fit to be called "The Granddaddy of Them All." The show had a few hard duds, such as Kane vs. the Great Khali, where they tried to recreate the magic of Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant; the ECW Originals vs. the New Breed; and Melina vs. Ashley Massaro for the Women's title. However, the card featured several other stellar matches. The Money in the Bank match, which Mr. Kennedy won (although he later lost the briefcase to Edge), was one of the best in the stipulation's history; the World Heavyweight title match between the Undertaker and Batista, a hard hitting bout that wasn't as obviously one-sided as 'Taker's previous year match-up against Mark Henry, was one of the Deadman's best 'Mania matches; and the main event between John Cena and Shawn Michaels for the WWE title was a classic, standing as one of John Cena's best matches and continuing a streak of phenomenal WrestleMania matches for the Heartbreak Kid.
10 Worst - Fatal 4-Way 2010
Has there ever been a lazier, dumber PPV gimmick than Fatal 4-Way? Sure, Hell in a Cell, TLC, and Elimination Chamber are all lazy, but at least those matches are fun to watch. A fatal 4-way match is just four dudes (or ladies) wrestling at once and they're usually chaotic and disjointed, hardly a spectacle worthy of fanfare. However, in 2010, the WWE went ahead and created the first, and last, Fatal 4-Way PPV. Once again, the matches were too short for a PPV, actually ending 25 minutes early, which was a pretty big rip-off to people who paid beaucoup bucks to watch it. There were a few solid matches, such as Kofi Kingston vs. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental title and Evan Bourne vs. Chris Jericho, but the majority of the card was lackluster. The only two fatal 4-way matches on the card, the WWE and World Heavyweight title matches, ended up being won by Sheamus and Rey Mysterio, respectively, with neither outcome particularly winning over the crowd.
9 Best - Extreme Rules 2011
2011 was a weird year for the WWE. The quality of the company's shows were teetering between two extremes (no pun intended): either shows were very, very good or painfully bad and boring. Coming off the heels of a horrid Wrestlemania XXVII, the WWE needed a win to earn back fan trust. Luckily for them, they came out swinging with the third edition of Extreme Rules. The card was sprinkled with great wrestling. Randy Orton vs. CM Punk in a last man standing match opened the show, providing one of the best PPV opening matches of all time; Christian defeated Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship in a ladder match, giving a beloved figure his just desserts; and the main event steel cage match between John Cena, the Miz, and John Morrison for the WWE title was great, even if they did predictably give the belt back to Cena. Plus, this was the night that John Cena announced the death of Osama Bin Laden live on-air, so... yeah. AMERICA! BOOYAH!
8 Worst - Over the Limit 2012
Imagine taking your worst, stupidest idea and broadcasting it live on PPV for millions of people to see. That's what the WWE did in 2012 when they had John Cena, the face of their company, take on John "Johnny Ace" Laurinaitis in a No-Disqualification match as the main event of an actual PPV that people paid money to see. The match, an agonizing seventeen minutes of putrid nonsense, barely featured any real wrestling. It saw John Cena repeatedly clown Johnny Ace, until the Big Show eventually interfered and "knocked-out" Cena. It was predictable, stupid, and painful to watch. The rest of the card wasn't much better, muddled with bad booking and predictable endings. Worst of all, the WWE title match between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, a legitimate dream match, was buried under that Cena debacle and a Ryback squash match.
7 Best - NXT TakeOver: Dallas
This may be cheating, but it'd be a damn shame if NXT didn't get some love on this list, given their penchant for producing outstanding matches. Any one of NXT's special events could make this list, but TakeOver: Dallas was just a little better than the rest. Everything about this show felt special. Austin Aries making his WWE in-ring debut; American Alpha and the Revival putting on a tag team clinic, which saw the former walk away with the gold; Asuka defeating Bayley, arguably the most wrestler in NXT history, for the Women's title; and Finn Balor defeating Samoa Joe in a brawl to retain the NXT Championship. However, the most special part of the show was the debut of Japanese wrestling legend Shinsuke Nakamura against Sami Zayn. The two men put on a nearly perfect match, maybe the best of the entire year in the WWE, giving Sami Zayn a proper sendoff he deserved for all he's done for NXT and presenting Nakamura as the next big thing in NXT, and the WWE.
6 Worst - WrestleMania 29
The greatest lie the Devil ever told was that John Cena vs. The RocK was going to be "Once in a Lifetime." At WrestleMania 28, John Cena and The Rock had a dream match, battling it out in front of The Rock's hometown Miami crowd. The Rock came out victorious. At WrestleMania 29, the two had a rematch, despite the first match being booked as "Once in a Lifetime", making everyone look like fools for buying into that promotion. Maybe because karma is real, the second match was a disaster. The Rock gassed quickly, the match saw far too many rest holds, and the crowd vocally rebelled when the belt found its way back to Johnny-John Cena. The rest of the card would have been a failure on a normal PPV, let alone WrestleMania. Only three matches went past eleven minutes and the only truly high quality match was The Undertaker vs. CM Punk, which still got buried behind the Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar no holds barred match, which Brock somehow, inexplicably, lost.
5 Best - WrestleMania XXX
The image of Daniel Bryan holding up the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships at the end of WrestleMania XXX is one of the most iconic images in recent wrestling history. On that night, the American Dragon defeated Triple H to open the show, and then later defeated Randy Orton and Batista in a triple threat match to win the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. The victory was the epic culmination of two years of fans clambering for Daniel Bryan to be champion, which started when he lost the World Heavyweight Championship in eighteen seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII. The show is also notable for marking the end of the Undertaker's WrestleMania undefeated streak, when Brock Lesnar did the impossible and pinned the Deadman clean at the Showcase of the Immortals. The utter shock and disbelief of the crowd in the New Orleans when that third pin hit the mat will never be matched.
4 Worst - December to Dismember 2006
The WWE ECW reboot was a train wreck and December to Dismember was the crowning moment of that colossal failure. The show opened promising enough: the Hardy Boys defeated MNM in a 20+ minute tag team clinic. However, everything went downhill from there. What followed were four matches, all with meaningless steaks and bad wrestling that received no promotion whatsoever, featuring performers the fans didn't really care about. None of those four matches hit the eight minute mark. The worst part of the night was the main event: an Extreme Elimination Chamber match, wherein every man was allowed to bring in one weapon of their own choosing, because the Elimination Chamber needed to be MORE dangerous. It was a match created by a sociopath who wonders how fun it would be to live in a Grand Theft Auto game. The match was a violent mess. CM Punk, the best wrestler involved, was eliminated first and Bobby Lashley ended up "winning" the ECW title.
3 Best - WrestleMania 31
When WrestleMania is good, it's really good, and when it's bad, it's really bad. Fortunately for the WWE, WrestleMania 31 was excellent, one of the best PPVs in the last decade, but also one of the best WrestleMania events of all time. Aside from the weird Triple H vs. Sting match, which eventually became WWE IS BETTER THAN WCW erotica to appease Vince McMahon, the card was damn solid. Daniel Bryan won the Intercontinental title in a ladder match that would end up being his last PPV match; Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins with one of the most absurd RKOs of all time; and John Cena defeated Rusev for the US title, beginning his ultra-successful run as US champion that saw him have dozens of great matches with every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the roster. However, the best moment of the night was Seth Rollins cashing in the Money in the Bank contract during the main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, making him the only man to ever cash in the briefcase at WrestleMania. It was a shocking twist that briefly saved fans from the inevitably of Roman Reigns being crowned champion.
2 Worst - Wrestlemania XXVII
Remember that thing about how when WrestleMania is bad, it's really bad? WrestleMania XXVII is a prime example of that principle at work. While it's not the worst WrestleMania of all time (that title goes to WrestleMania IX), it was pretty damn bad, a slap in the face of everything the Showcase of the Immortals is supposed to be. It was less a wrestling show and more a circus act revolving around the Rock, because the WWE forgot to book a decent show and needed the Rock to save them. The main event was the Miz vs. John Cena, a ridiculously underwhelming match where the title and the champion took a backseat to the budding rivalry between the Rock and John Cena. The rest of the card was as bad. The only truly great match was the Undertaker vs. Triple H in a no holds barred match. However, such atrocities as Snookie defeating actual trained WWE wrestlers and that awful "match" between Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler prevented this 'Mania from being anything other than a car crash.
1 Best - Money in the Bank 2011
What happens when you mix one of the best crowds in the country, two of the best wrestlers on planet Earth, and a poster depicting Big Show and Hornswoggle reading from a magic storybook? You get the best PPV of the past decade, that's what. Money in the Bank 2011 was the starting point on the WWE's "Summer of Punk" storyline. CM Punk's contract was expiring and he earned one final shot at the WWE title, against John Cena, in his home town of Chicago. In front of one of the most anti-Cena crowds ever, Punk and Cena put on a thirty-three minute, five star classic that stands as one of the best matches in WWE history. It put to rest the argument that John Cena can't wrestle and ascended CM Punk to his rightful place at the top of the company. Also on the card, Christian defeated Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship (albeit via a very dumb stipulation) and Daniel Bryan won the Smackdown Money in the Bank match, which would be just the start of the American Dragon's journey to the main event of Wrestlemania XXX. All in all, it was one of the most groundbreaking PPVs of an entire era of wrestling.
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