Discounting NXT events, WWE would have put on 13 PPVs by the close of play in 2020 and is only one lower than last year’s total which isn’t a surprise when you think we didn’t have our customary October visit to Saudi Arabia.
What haven’t we had in 2020? A two-night WrestleMania. Check. A PPV themed around climbing a corporate building. Check. A literal horror show. Check. You get the idea. It’s been a unique year on the WWE PPV front but in all the eye gouging, swamp fighting and grave digging, I have picked out the best 5 WWE PPVs of 2020.
5. Money In The Bank 2020
The second PPV held behind closed doors, Money in the Bank was a mixed bag to say the least but had a bit of everything. The Pre-Show match, where Jeff Hardy beat Cesaro, delivered what it needed to despite no build whatsoever.
The 4-way for the Smackdown Tag Titles was an action-packed match that was a perfect way to start the show. Bobby Lashley vs. R Truth and Bayley vs. Tamina were the only real downfalls of the night before Braun Strowman and Bray Wyatt had their first match of their car crash rivalry. The match was far from a barn burner, but it was an enjoyable encounter that centred around a sheep mask.
The night then took an upwards trajectory as Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins put on a WWE Championship clinic that was probably the highlight of the Scotsman’s first reign as champion. It also served as a perfect palate-cleanser before we headed to Stamford, Connecticut for what might be the strangest match of 2020.
5 Men and 5 Women started from the ground floor of WWE HQ and had to climb all the way to the roof to then further climb a ladder and retrieve the Money in the Bank briefcase. If another writer was doing this list, then I’m sure you’d get a different view, but I loved this nonsensical cluster of fun.
Filled with so many moments from Corbin throwing two human beings off a building to cameos from Doink The Clown, Brother Love and John Laurinaitis, this was just the fun we needed in the early days of a pandemic. In hindsight, these respective MITB bouts weren’t the best “cinematic” matches we have had, but the element of fun overwhelms the feeling of actual wrestling for me.
The fact that the PPV clocked in at a very respectable 2 hours and 14 minutes is also a massive plus for a UK viewer.
4. Survivor Series 2020
WWE’s annual cross-brand warfare is often a very divisive PPV and I’m sure this year’s addition will be no different but with it being fresh in the mind, I’m convinced we witnessed a decent show. The quality of wrestling throughout the night was very high and the tagline of “Best of the Best” was a suitable way to promote this PPV.
The Pre-Show battle royal was a fun match to get the ball rolling and despite the predictability of the finish, the exchange between Chad Gable and Dominik Mysterio was brilliant and whetted my appetite for future encounters between the two.
The main show started with the Men’s Survivor Series match which wasn’t a classic but did have some nice nuggets of wrestling in there. The shock of a clean sweep for Team Raw was a bold booking decision which I’m sure will make more sense in the coming weeks.
We then had a contender for WWE Tag Team Match of the Year between The New Day and The Street Profits. We all knew this match was going to be nuts, but it even exceeded those expectations.
The rest of the show was solid. Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn wasn’t a showstopper but was a nice bit of storytelling and the Women’s Survivor Series match was a good showcase for the likes Peyton Royce and Bianca Belair. Yes, the way we got to the result was debatable, but I thought the Lana situation was well done.
Sasha and Asuka put on their routine classic and continued to prove the women’s division is unmatched. There were no bells and whistles, it was just two pure wrestlers performing their craft to a high standard. This would have been match of the night if it wasn’t for what was coming up next.
The best from Raw vs. the best from Smackdown started slow but there was no doubt that this was going to turn into a match for the ages, and it certainly did. The main worry coming into this match was the headache of making both men look strong, with one having to be defeated. WWE perfectly booked it to make Drew seem powerful in defeat and make Reigns seem the top star of the business.
The ending of the show was a strange one with 20+ legends returning to celebrate the Undertaker before disappearing into thin air in the wake of Vinny Mac. In all fairness, the farewell was what it needed to be and the nod to Paul Bearer was the most emotional moment of the night.
A lack of storytelling throughout was made up for with the sheer quality of wrestling we were treated with in the squared circle.
3. SummerSlam 2020
The PPV debut of the Thunderdome was another show that divided opinion. Personally, I thought it was one of the best nights of the year for the WWE.
Apollo Crews and MVP started proceedings on the Pre-Show, it was a nice fun match to get going despite the feud going on longer than an Undertaker entrance in Saudi Arabia.
The main show started with Asuka and Bayley, who of course put on a showstopper before the event had even properly begun. Yes, Bayley and Asuka are regular opponents but as long as they keep putting on classics, I’m ok with this elongated feud. Asuka’s night was not done as she still had enough in the tank to take Sasha Banks to the limit to win back her RAW Women’s Championship later in the night. A testament to Asuka’s ability that she can put on two very different belters in one night.
The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza was the best match the four have had in their 5,000 matches together and could have easily acted as a closure to this rivalry. I’m sure these two teams will be fighting each other until their mid-40’s.
SummerSlam also played host to Sonya Deville’s farewell match, where her feud with Mandy Rose came to a sour end all things considered. I’m sure we will see Sonya again, but for now let the dust settle on the real-life situation and then she can return and be one of the faces of the women’s division.
Dominik Mysterio’s in-ring debut was a roaring success despite ending in a loss. He took on one of the best workers in the wrestling world and didn’t once look unmatched. The son of a luchador will have a bright future for sure and we will always look back on this stellar encounter as what got the ball rolling with his career.
The final two matches weren’t anything special and just handed themselves to the event’s tagline of “You’ll never see it coming”. Drew caught Orton with a rollup to retain the WWE Championship after a match that showcased both competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. The Fiend and Braun Strowman then had a Falls Count Anywhere fight which was nothing to write home about until one big, beautiful dog made his long-awaited return from hiatus. The second that Spear hit, we knew the state of the Universal Championship picture was fixed with a seemingly heel-turned Roman Reigns.
Again, from a story standpoint the “biggest party of the summer” disappointed but from an in-ring perspective, the wrestling delivered once again although the whole event wasn’t helped with a looming Payback PPV just seven days later. Not WWE’s brightest idea.
2. Hell in A Cell 2020
When you book yourself to have three of the biggest stories culminate inside a Hell in a Cell, it is difficult to make each one different from the next and with the previous years not having the best of endings, WWE really needed to knock this one out of the park.
Ignoring the 24/7 shenanigans, the show started with arguably the best storytelling match there has been in any promotion for years. Roman Reigns piled the stipulations into the cell with the “highest stakes any match has ever had” to go alongside the “I Quit” rules which was refreshingly altered so that a referee doesn’t shove a microphone into the face of both competitors. From the first bell to the last, everything was done to perfection and while it wasn’t a spot fest with near fall after near fall, the body language and speech of both superstars was simply mesmerising.
The next Cell match was a result of months, if not years, of storytelling between two of the best: Bayley and Sasha Banks. This match had everything from nods to the past to brutal beatdowns from each woman. I for one thought the bullet was fired too early for the blowoff match but seeing what they put on inside the 20ft structure, I am glad we got it the way we did. Their Takeover match in 2015 is obviously unrivalled but this came very close to topping that.
The final Hell in a Cell match was the worst of the three but still a classic. After having storytelling galore in the previous two, this match was just about two big names slugging it out for the top prize. The biggest spot of the night came in this match when McIntyre fell from halfway up the cell crashing through the announcing desk. This allowed Orton to pick up a shock win and end the night a 14-time world champion, despite holding the belt for less time than it takes for the average viewer to tune out of a match with ‘The Legend Killer’.
The match interludes between each Hell in a Cell were filler to say the least, but the bouts inside five tons of steel were so good it was hard not to include this PPV on the list. A rare win for the annual October event.
1. Royal Rumble 2020
It just had to be, didn’t it?
It’s not often your writer is emotional about wrestling but on many occasions this event had me on edge, pun very much intended. Helped by the fact live fans were there for one of the last times before the shutdown, the Royal Rumble was just a perfect show from start to end.
The main show started with everybody’s favourite feud of 2020, Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin. By far this was their best match as they fought all over Minute Maid Park before finishing on top of a baseball dugout, well you would if you could.
The Women’s Rumble match followed, and it was the best to date. In theory, while this was a very predictable box ticker for Charlotte Flair, the match showcased some of the best the various women’s divisions have to offer. Bianca Belair proved she is a star on a global scale by being the Iron Woman of the match, something we are hoping for again this year. It saw the then-exciting return of Naomi, which was of the pops of the night that WWE unfortunately didn’t later capitalise on. The match also saw Shayna Baszler enter number 30 back when she was seen as a monster and not a blood sucking vampire who buddies up to Nia Jax to bully Lana.
The worst match of the night was just a routine title defense from Bayley who beat Lacey Evans without any real worry. This was preceded by a Strap Match between ‘The Fiend’ and Daniel Bryan. You’re never going to get a world beater when two men are connected via a leather strap and while the match made no sense it was a fun interlude between the bigger matches of the night.
Becky Lynch then retained her RAW Women’s Championship as she beat Asuka in a very entertaining match that didn’t drag on too long. A match a year in the making was never going to disappoint, especially between these two. In the immortal words of Tom Phillips, “debt’s been paid”.
Prepare yourself for a monumental statement but what followed was the best Royal Rumble match ever.
Whoever said Royal Rumbles can’t have storytelling need to be lured into the direction of this newly constructed masterpiece. There are too many moments to go into, but the entire Brock Lesnar part of the match was brilliant and lasted the perfect amount of time. It’s not often a single kick can get you over after years of failed attempts but that is exactly what the Claymore did for Drew McIntyre as he eliminated Brock Lesnar from the match. He then went on to win the whole thing by last throwing out Roman Reigns which was met with the biggest ovation of 2020.
You can’t mention the Men’s Rumble match without touching on Edge. Every time I rewatch his shocking emotionally driven return, a tear begins to form in my eye because it was just the most perfect moment for him and long-time fans of the ‘Rated R Superstar’. Without doubt, the best WWE moment in 2020 for me and a perfect example of why we need fans back in arenas.
Which PPV did you enjoy most from 2020? Let us know by leaving it in the comments below.
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