The WWE Pay-Per-View has passed away at the tender ago of thirty – too young for such tragedy but alas she is gone, off to the promised land to sit and sip cocktails with the likes of befallen WWE programming such as LiveWire, Velocity, and Sunday Night Heat. Farewell sweet Pay-Per-View – may your spirit continue to soar throughout the WWE Universe.
If you pay close enough attention you will notice how the term “Pay-Per-View” has been filtered out of the WWE vocabulary. When running down the scheduled card for an upcoming Sunday night showdown, Michael Cole will often use the word “event” in lieu of Pay-Per-View.
This is a direct result of the WWE Network and the fact that no longer do fans have to shell out fifty bucks a head in order to watch these events. When subscribing to the Network, fans become part of the Universe. In a weird way, the WWE Network feels like a Vince McMahon led cult.
This past June, the Elimination Chamber event was only available through the WWE Network for fans in the United States. This is clearly a sign of where WWE is heading in terms of its “event policy.” It won’t be long before the only option available for viewing WWE events will be through subscription to the WWE Network. They will eventually get us all.
Perhaps this is for the best. After all, the quality of WWE Pay-Per-Views – aside from the select few – has been in the gutter for the past few years. Moving forward with “events” may make sense in the long run allowing room for experimentation that may not have been suited for Pay-Per-View.
In the following article we will take a look at some of the most successful WWE Pay-Per-Views ever assembled.
These are the top 15 most purchased WWE Pay-Per-Views of all time:
InVasion: July 22, 2001. Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Main Event: Team WCW and ECW vs. Team WWE
2001 was a monumental year for professional wrestling. The Monday Night War had finally come to an end with WWE emerging the victor. As a result, Vince McMahon would purchase WCW.
The anticipation of seeing WCW stars on WWE programming began to build. Of course, all that would come of the purchase was a sloppy and watered-down storyline. However, the initial “invasion” was enough to spark great interest in the inaugural brawl between the rival companies.
14. WrestleMania XV
WrestleMania XV: March 28 1999. First Union Center in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania.
Main Event: The Rock (c) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship)
The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin put together one of the greatest and most memorable rivalries in professional wrestling history. Their first of three ‘Mania matches would take place at WrestleMania XV.
The Rock had been working as a heel; dubbed “The Corporate Champion” by Mr. McMahon – turning his back on the people and no longer identifying as their champion. That night, Stone Cold Steve Austin – for the second year in a row – would leave WrestleMania as the new WWE Champion.
13. WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 2000: April 2, 2000. Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.
Main Event: Triple H (c) vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. Big Show (Fatal-Four Way Elimination Match for the WWE Championship)
The very first WrestleMania of the new century would bring about four of the biggest stars of the time as well as the entire McMahon family. The Rock – who had won the Royal Rumble Match by last eliminating Big Show was actually shown to have to touch the floor (both feet) prior to Big Show’s elimination.
At No Way Out 2000, Triple H had defeated Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in a Hell in a Cell Championship vs. Career Match. Foley was soon “reinstated” and inserted back into the Championship picture by Linda McMahon who stood in Foley’s corner at ‘Mania.
Vince McMahon would accompany The Rock, Shane McMahon sided with Big Show, and obviously Stephanie McMahon stood by Triple H, who won the match..
T11. WrestleMania X8
WrestleMania X8: March 17, 2002. SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Main Event: Chris Jericho (c) vs. Triple H (Undisputed WWE Championship)
The biggest story coming out of WrestleMania X8 was the epic encounter between The Rock and Hollywood Hulk Hogan. The match would be Hogan’s first at ‘Mania in nine years and while working as the heel, the hostile Toronto crowd would side with the sentimental favourite and turn on The Great One.
The Undisputed WWE Championship was placed on the line that night when Triple H challenged Chris Jericho for the gold. Even though Jericho had Stephanie McMahon in his corner, The Game would emerge as the new WWE Champion.
T11. WrestleMania XXVI
WrestleMania XXVI: March 28, 2010. University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Main Event: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (Streak vs. Career)
For the second consecutive year, Shawn Michaels would challenge The Undertaker to a match on the “grandest stage of them all.” One year prior, The Heartbreak Kid pushed The Deadman to his limit but fell short in ending the streak.
This time around, a consumed Shawn Michaels would place his career on the line in order to receive one more chance at ‘Taker. In what turned out to be a classic ‘Mania main event, The Undertaker would once again defeat Shawn Michaels, ending his legendary career in the process.
10. WrestleMania XXV
WrestleMania XXV: April 5, 2009. Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Main Event: Triple H (c) vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship)
The twenty-fifth anniversary of WrestleMania was a celebration of success. For a quarter century, WWE had hosted the largest wrestling/entertainment event of the year – built on blood and body slams.
That night in Texas would produce an evolutionary main event as Triple H placed the WWE Championship on the line against a former follower – the man who Triple H hand picked as the next diamond – Randy Orton. The ex-allies would square-off in a personal affair which saw The Game get the better of The Legend Killer.
9. WrestleMania 22
WrestleMania 22: April 2, 2006. Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
Main Event: John Cena (c) vs. Triple H (WWE Championship)
The biggest underdog championship victory in WWE history would come at WrestleMania 22 when Rey Myesterio captured the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat match that also included Kurt Angle and Randy Orton.
The WWE Championship match would main event the evening and prove to be a symbolic contest as Triple H would tap out to John Cena, cementing Cena’s status as the new man in WWE.
John Cena going over Triple H at ‘Mania was a monumental moment that perhaps we did not realize we were witnessing at the time.
8. WrestleMania XX
WrestleMania XX: March 14, 2004. Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Main Event: Triple H (c) vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels (Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship)
When Mr .T guest starred in the main event of the first ever WrestleMania, there was no telling how far the event would go or how large it would become. Twenty years later and WrestleMania was the biggest show around.
Madison Square Garden was electric that night (as always) when Eddie Guerrero walked in and out of the building as WWE Champion. Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg were booed relentlessly as fans were wise to the fact that both men were leaving the company.
The Stone Cold Stunner delivered to both men provided the exclamation point that the fans were seeking.
7. WrestleMania X-Seven
WrestleMania X-7: April 1, 2001. Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas.
Main Event: The Rock (c) vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship)
WrestleMania X-Seven is considered by many to be the greatest WrestleMania of all time and with just reason. The event marked a new chapter in professional wrestling. The dawning of a new Era.
The Rock would defend the WWE Championship for the second time at ‘Mania against Stone Cold Steve Austin. With the rule booked tossed out the window, Austin would once again take the title from The Rock. This time with the help of the most unlikely of sources.
Stone Cold Steve Austin – the everyman anti-hero – had sided with Vince McMahon; his most hated enemy and joined the darker side of WWE.
6. WrestleMania 29
WrestleMania 29: April 7, 2013. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Main Event: The Rock (c) vs. John Cena (WWE Championship)
The Rock and John Cena had gone toe-to-toe the year prior in an unforgettable dream match that the WWE Universe had long awaited. This time around, the rematch came about in an organic fashion.
That January, John Cena would win his second Royal Rumble Match; which would guarantee him a spot in the main event of WrestleMania. Later on that night, The Rock would defeat CM Punk for the WWE Championship, then again at Elimination Chamber.
John Cena would then place his spot on the line against CM Punk in a match on Monday Night Raw which Cena would win, making the rematch official.
5. WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania XXIV: March 30, 2008. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
Main Event: Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker (World Heavyweight Championship)
WrestleMania XXIV was a special night as it marked the end of Ric Flair’s wrestling career (in WWE). The Nature Boy would go out in style as he lost to Mr. WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels.
The main event was a great one-on-one match that saw Edge try his hand at ending the undefeated streak of The Undertaker with no such luck. Edge didn’t just lose the match, but he also lost the World Heavyweight Championship.
Floyd Mayweather was also involved in this event as he defeated Big Show in a WWE sanctioned match.
4. WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania 21: April 3, 2005. Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Main Event: Triple H (c) vs. Batista (World Heavyweight Championship)
The night WrestleMania “went Hollywood” was a transitional night for WWE as two first-time champions were crowned and a new direction was set into motion for both Raw and SmackDown (Brand extension period).
John “Bradshaw” Layfield had been the longest reigning WWE Champion in SmackDown history until he ran into a young and hungry John Cena at WrestleMania. Cena would win and gain his first WWE Championship.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Royal Rumble winner, Batista, would challenge his mentor and former Evolution running-mate Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship; coming out on top with his first major title.
3. WrestleMania XXVII
WrestleMania XXVII: April 3, 2011. Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Main Event: The Miz (c) vs. John Cena (WWE Championship)
Finally, The Rock had returned to WWE and was set to host WrestleMania XXVII where he would impact the outcome of the WWE Championship main event match between The Miz and John Cena.
The bout would initially end in a double count out but The Rock would come out and announce that the match was to restart as a No Disqualification Match; leading to a Rock Bottom on John Cena and a victory for The Miz.
The following night on Raw, The Rock vs. John Cena was made official and was booked to take place one year later at the next WrestleMania.
2. WrestleMania 23
WrestleMania 23: April 1, 2007. Ford Field in Detroit Michigan.
Main Event: John Cena (c) vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Championship)
Shawn Michaels brought out the best in everybody regardless of size or skill level. When HBK stepped through those ropes; he possessed the unmatched ability of making his opponent look good – which truly requires talent.
Despite being WWE Champion for the better part of two years, John Cena was still a little green in the ring heading into WrestleMania. However, Cena managed – with the help of Michaels – to put on one of his best matches to date.
1. WrestleMania XXVIII
WrestleMania XXVIII: April 1, 2012. Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida.
Main Event: The Rock vs. John Cena
WrestleMania XXVIII produced a match for the ages as two generations would collide in one ring as The Rock and John Cena would finally have the one-on-one bout that had been talked about and dreamed up for years.
The emotionally-charged match would not disappoint as The Rock and John Cena went back-and-forth in a match that could have seen the outcome go either way. Of course, at night’s end, it was The Rock who emerged victorious.
John Cena was left sitting on the ramp; broken and upset as the leader of the Cenation had let his followers down.
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