SummerSlam is on the horizon, which means we’re officially over this year’s halfway point. WWE has had its fair share of great moments in 2019, all of which have left me feeling thoroughly sports entertained, but let’s face it: you could probably get away with watching a handful of those matches to feel like you’ve seen all they’ve had to offer.
Obviously WWE isn’t pleasing everyone, so if you’re one of the many that are stepping away from the mainstream in search of a better fan experience on the AEW or NJPW bandwagons, then fear not, I’ve narrowed down the WWE year so far to just five matches that you need to watch.
We’re taking things from both the main roster and NXT to keep you in the know. We thought it might be a bit unfair including NXT, considering they wipe the floor with the main roster at every given opportunity, but there’s no way we could big up a Baron Corbin match to make it sound like a worthy inclusion. With that in mind. Make sure you drop your own personal favourites in the comments section.
5. Rey Mysterio vs Andrade – SmackDown Live (January 22nd)
One thing that I think all of us can agree on is that the series of matches between Rey Mysterio and Andrade was a huge success for all involved. Mysterio made his full-time return to WWE in late 2018, entering the WWE World Cup and then sort of lingering about for a while. Eventually, he and Andrade met for the first time and immediately started wowing the WWE Universe.
The two Mexican-born stars absolutely astounded everyone in their first singles meeting, and then again in the sequels. But none were as fantastic as their two out of three falls bout that took place on January 22nd.
With the Royal Rumble looming, both Mysterio and Andrade had to excel once again to put them in the conversation of who’s going to do well in the 30 man match. That’s exactly what they did, Mysterio and ‘El Idolo’ put together some insane sequences, including some moves that we’d rarely see on WWE TV.
It seems that they’re picking up where they left off with their critically acclaimed feud and might find themselves booked for SummerSlam next weekend. We can only wait and see.
4. Pete Dunne vs Walter – NXT TakeOver: New York
The prelude to WrestleMania absolutely exceeded expectations, with every match on the card being worthy of making it onto the list; I’m sure you can guess at least another one you’ll be reading about shortly. One that stands out to myself personally was the United Kingdom Championship dream match between Pete Dunne and relative newcomer to NXT UK, Walter.
The match was a strong example of what makes British and European wrestling so damn good and it was a fitting conclusion to the reign of ‘The Bruiserweight’. Walter was the only credible name who could have dethroned Dunne, it was a bittersweet end within a phenomenal match.
The UK title has a habit of being in the middle of some of the greatest matches of any year — this one is no exception. Make sure you catch this match if you’re still looking for a reason to tune in to an extra hour of WWE content each week.
3. Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan – WrestleMania 35
A lot of folks would probably put this match a little higher on their list of the very best of 2019 so far, but I think this is a solid middle entry. KofiMania was an amazing ride for us all, seeing a mainstay finally be given the defining feud of their career, followed by their crowning moment, was exactly what WrestleMania was made for. Not only that, but the match Kofi and Bryan put together was insane.
Kingston and The New Day as a unit both excelled in this big blow-off moment. The stars aligned within this slog of a championship match, it was a very fun 20+ minutes and could have easily closed the show if it weren’t for the historic women’s main event.
Sports entertainment is all about these emotions, the investment that us, as fans, put into the narratives and characters. Again, you’d think this might have been a little higher on the list, but perhaps that just goes to say how amazing some of the other matches have been this year (so far).
2. Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles – Money in the Bank
After AJ Styles left the house that he built on Tuesday nights and was drafted to Monday Night Raw, a feud between himself and the Universal Champion was inevitable. I was shocked to see WWE pull the trigger on Styles/Rollins so soon, it could have easily been sat on until SummerSlam itself, or even next WrestleMania if they were willing to be that patient. But hey, this is WWE.
Nevertheless, AJ Styles and Seth Rollins put together an incredible championship match at Money in the Bank, which easily became Rollins’ greatest title defense. Naturally, they were going to have great chemistry in the ring, being two of the best performers on the main roster, but I don’t think anyone expected them to have as good of a match as they did. It seemed almost second nature to assume that ‘good wrestling’ can only be found on NXT these days.
I think one of the biggest debates at the end of 2019 will be whether this match was better than the Kofi/Bryan WWE title match. It entirely depends on what you watch wrestling for, whether you’re in it for the aforementioned emotional investment, or whether you’re watching for the art of professional wrestling. I think it’s good to occasionally be reminded that WWE can do both really well when they put the effort in.
1. Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole (NXT TakeOver: New York)
I think it’s safe to say that this match should go down as one of the best wrestling matches in 2019, not just from NXT, not just WWE, but from any worldwide wrestling promotion. Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano stole WrestleMania weekend with their perfect 2 out of 3 falls match, which we’ll be seeing a rinse & repeat of this coming weekend in Toronto. There’s a chance that this version might be knocked off the list after this Sunday.
Johnny Wrestling and The Undisputed Era have feuded for the best part of 2019, competing on several occasions for the NXT Championship. None have quite matched up to their very first encounter in New York, the crowning moment for Johnny Gargano and the coming out party of Adam Cole as a main event star.
What hasn’t been said about this match? It’s everything that online critics have bigged it up to be, it has a bit of everything that makes wrestling fun. Whether you’re a fan of the kooky characters and the soap drama, watch this match. If you’re a fan of graps, watch this match.
The remainder of 2019 has a lot to live up, it’s fair to say that WWE and NXT combined have had a pretty great year so far, but that’s not to say they’re being let off the hook for some of the nonsense that we see on a weekly basis. Of course, this is all but mere opinion, agree or disagree, do sound off in the comments below.