The Pay-Per-View is a dying concept in WWE. With the invention of the WWE Network, Pay-Per-Views are becoming more and more redundant, and will eventually be replaced by Network specials, apart from the big ones like WrestleMania. When they were first around in WWE, there were around four year and that was it. As wrestling grew in popularity, more and more have appeared, up until nowadays where they will be one every month, along with Network specials. The Pay-Per-View serves a great function, as it will bring an end to storylines and it will be the best opportunity for some young talent to really show what they’re all about, and move up the card.
In more recent times, WWE have tried some gimmick Pay-Per-Views, such as TLC and Elimination Chamber, to mixed reviews, as while it is good to have these extreme matches, sometimes they feel forced and are often limited to just once a year because of this. Over the years there have been some amazing Pay-Per -Views like WrestleMania X-Seven and Money in the Bank 2011, where careers were established and the future of WWE was altered due to the results of these events. There have also been some God awful ones, such as December to Dismember and Unforgiven 2007, among many other which have simply flopped over the years. Sometimes, however, there will be a bad Pay-Per-View that is saved by a great match, so without further ado, here are the Top 15 great matches on bad Pay-Per-Views.
15. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper – TLC 2014
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (and Stairs) 2014 was an odd Pay-Per-View. Not only was the card filled with too many free television standard matches, WWE also spent a lot of time shoving the idea that stairs can cause pain down our throats. Matches like Seth Rollins vs. John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt could have been great, however, a combination of overbooking and bad finishes ruined these matches. The saving grace of this Pay-Per-View was Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper battling in a Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. They have great chemistry and Dolph Ziggler is really in his element here as he bumped like crazy for Harper, before going on to win the match.
14. The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
Since its inception in 2013, Battleground has always been a ‘B’ Pay-Per-View and essentially an advert for SummerSlam, despite WWE telling you that all Pay-Per-Views are equally important. This Pay-Per-View was filled with matches we had seen before, an odd Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Championship, and a Battle Royal. Despite Battle Royal’s being entertaining, they almost always seem to take a good amount of time to get into. With low expectations heading into this Pay-Per-View, an unexpected gem was found in the Two-Out-Of-Three Falls match between The Usos and The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erik Rowan) for the Tag Team Championship. Despite the predictability of a Two-Out-Of-Three Falls match, they are somehow always entertaining. The Wyatts and The Usos put on a fast paced tag team classic, which made the whole event slightly more watchable.
13. The Shield vs. The Rhodes Brothers – Battleground 2013
The original Battleground was even worse than its sequel. Too many matches were thrown together with little to no story and, much worse than this, there was a match to decide the winner of the vacant WWE Championship that didn’t even have a proper finish and didn’t even crown a new champion. Despite all of this, The Shield and The Rhodes Brothers but on a great match that was fuelled by the terrific story and emotion of the match. It was a real example of how if you go back to basics, you can create a lot of interest and have an outstanding match.
12. Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne – Fatal 4-Way 2010
Fatal 4-Way was a flawed concept from the start. When you think of all the gimmick Pay-Per-Views that the WWE has put on, such as Elimination Chamber, TLC, and Hell in a Cell, very low on the list for most WWE fans is a Pay-Per-View based around Fatal 4-Way matches. The only great match on this show was not a Fatal 4-Way match, but a singles match between Chris Jericho and Evan Bourne. Chris Jericho could put on a stellar match with anyone and a young high flyer such a Bourne was a great opponent for Jericho. They had a great back and forth, which ended with Jericho putting the young star over.
11. Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho – The Bash 2009
The Great American Bash was originally an NWA concept, which was then adopted by its successor WCW, and WWE took it when they bought WCW. It was always a summertime Pay-Pay-View, airing around the same time that Battleground will today. The last Great American Bash (shortened to The Bash) ended with a little bit of a wimper. Matches with potential like CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy, didn’t live up to the hype and the main event with Randy Orton vs. Triple H just sucked. However, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio in a Mask vs. Title (Intercontinental) match put on what would have been match of the year had it not been for The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Great psychology combined with some terrific near falls made for a five star match. If you haven’t seen it, you have definitely missed out.
10. CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio – Capitol Punishment 2011
Unlike The Bash in 2009, Capitol Punishment 2011 was a Pay-Per-View that had no potential leading into the event. Unsurprisingly, people were not very excited about the prospect of a main event between John Cena and R-Truth. On top of this, Randy Orton and Christian had arguably their worst match together. While people assumed that Rey Mysterio and CM Punk would put on a good match, no one expected it to be as good as it was. They got around 15 minutes and it was just around the time when Punk was able to make a great wrestling match out of anything he touched.
9. Team Mysterio vs. Team Del Rio – Survivor Series 2010
At the start of 2010, Vince McMahon himself wanted to rename Survivor Series to something different, as he thought the name was ‘obsolete.’ However, due to fan outrage, he eventually went back on this decision and kept the name. With this in mind, it would have been eay to think that Survivor Series was going to be relegated to being a ‘B’ event. With a main event that focused on special guest referee John Cena instead of Wade Barrett and Randy Orton, and many matches that had a very rushed feel to them, this Pay-Per-View certainly had that ‘B’ feel. However, what redeemed this Pay-Per-View was the traditional Survivor Series Elimination match pitting Rey Mysterio’s team against Alberto Del Rio’s team. This match had tons of great spots including a personal favourite which involved Jack Swagger catching Kofi Kingston mid Trouble in Paradise by the foot and making him tap out to the Patriot Lock. The crowd was unbelievably hot for this one, even giving the Big Show a giant pop when he came into the ring. It’s worth watching the Pay-Per-View just for this.
8. Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan – Fastlane 2015
Debate who should have been main eventing WrestleMania 31 all you want, but there is absoultely no debate that the #1 Contenders’ match at Fastlane between Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns was one of the matches of the year in 2015. This was one of the matches that proved to critics that Roman Reigns is a great worker and well, Daniel Bryan is Daniel Bryan, a man that even Roman Reigns has said is the best. This match was a great clashing of styles and they genuinely had you thinking Bryan might headline WrestleMania. The rest of the card was essentially an average episode of Monday Night Raw, although it did feature John Cena losing to Rusev, but this was before they developed the excellent chemistry that they would go on to show.
7. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam 2003
SummerSlam, the second biggest Pay-Per-View of the year, is not immune from the curse of the bad Pay-Per-View. It should have been the crowing moment for Goldberg in the WWE, however, due to a sledgehammer shot, Triple H inexplicably walked away with the World Heavyweight Championship, which completely crushed Goldberg’s momentum. Aside from this, there was a disappointing Fatal 4-Way and a few other half hearted attempts at good matches. However, the great match at this Pay-Per-View was the clash between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. This match is a classic between two incredibly good wrestlers, with lots of drama, which ended with Angle getting the win.
6. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan – Bragging Rights 2010
Bragging Rights would be a really good idea for a Pay-Per-View had there actually been competition between the two brands. Everybody knew that Raw was the flagship show, so there was never any interest in the competition, even when SmackDown won. Bragging Rights 2010 would be even worse than its predecessor, with a main event that once again focused on John Cena, who wasn’t even in the match. The opener, however, was absolute gold. You can expect good things from both of these two, but this two knocked those expectations out of the park. Some of the kicks that Daniel Bryan delivered to Dolph Ziggler genuinely looked like they were gonna take his head off. This was one of Bryan’s first true classics in the WWE and Ziggler was at the start of one of his best runs in the company.
5. Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan – Royal Rumble 2014
The excellent Royal Rumble 2016 has gone a little way in making people forget just how bad some of the recent Royal Rumble’s have been. Royal Rumble 2014 was a perfect example of that. The Royal Rumble match itself had its winner telegraphed from the start and also featured some all too familiar match ups. The only redeeming feature of the event was the match between Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan, which was a great 20 minute match up with some brutal spots and perfect pacing. It ended with Bray Wyatt picking up the win. Despite this incredible match, Bryan did not feature in the Rumble match, saying the powers above did not want him there.
4. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan – Over The Limit 2012
CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are two of the best technical wrestlers of recent times, and probably ever, so it’s natural that expectations for this match were extremely high. Not only did they meet these high expectations, they greatly exceeded them. It was an absolute stellar match for the WWE Championship and the kind of match that you would show non-wrestling fans to get them interested in it. It was full of amazing reversals, jaw dropping moves, and hard hitting strikes. You would think this match obviously headlined the show, right? Wrong. The main event of this Pay-Per-View was actually John Cena vs. John Laurinaitis, which pretty much summed up the rest of the card, as it was filled with too many meaningless, slow matches. It was worth buying the Pay-Per-View just to watch Punk and Bryan go at it.
3. ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart – WrestleMania 13
This is the match that made ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin the bonafide Superstar that he went on to be. It’s the perfect example of in ring psychology and amazing in ring work, combined with one of the hardest feats to pull off; the double turn. Undoubtedly, it’s the greatest match of Steve Austin’s career and certainly one of the best for Bret Hart. The image of Steve Austin passing out after refusing to tap is one of the most iconic images in WWE history. The rest of the event was mediocre at best, with the main event being The Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid, in a very bland end to a WrestleMania.
2. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena – Royal Rumble 2015
Royal Rumble 2015 is another blueprint on how to NOT book a Royal Rumble. If people thought that the winner of the Royal Rumble 2014 was predictable, then this was downright insulting. Fans were practically told in the summer and not even a returning Rock could make the fans happy that Roman Reigns won, as there wasn’t a single person in attendance not booing him. Before this match, however, was the match of the year for 2015. Brock Lesnar, Seth Rollins, and John Cena put on one of the best Triple Threat matches of all time, as it established Rollins as a future star, proved that Lesnar really is ‘The Beast,’ and showed people why they call Cena ‘Big Match John.’ The action was fast and furious, and included Lesnar being put through a table, yet still picking up the victory. This match was a terrific example on how to do a brilliant Triple Threat, and was the shining light in a very dark Royal Rumble.
1. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk – WrestleMania 29
There was a time when no one who watched wrestling would believe that WWE would let CM Punk anywhere near The Undertaker at WrestleMania, yet when it actually came to it, CM Punk says he didn’t even care about the match. Despite this, CM Punk put on the match of his life and actually had people thinking that ‘The Streak’ was in danger of being broken. The Undertaker managed to show people that it was not Shawn Michaels carrying him to great WrestleMania matches. Other matches on the card included The Rock and John Cena tarnishing the great ‘Once in a Lifetime’ match that they had a year earlier, as well as Brock Lesnar and Triple H having a disappointing match. CM Punk proved that he can hang with anyone and the whole event is worth watching just to have the pleasure of watching this match.
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