Breaking News

Every WWE Pay-Per-View And The Superstar That Defined It


Vince McMahon cleverly asserted that pay-per-view was dying ahead of launching the WWE Network in 2014 - his goal wasn't just to drive every regular buyer to his streaming service, but to suggest that his new medium was the only way to absorb content. It sort of worked, too.
Ahead of All Elite Wrestling's launch show Double Or Nothing earlier this year, curious outsiders wanting to look in were forced to find it, or worse, actually buy it. They were served premium content at least, but the expectation thus became so, and the company couldn't (nor never really intended to) follow it up with the B-shows Fyter Fest and Fight For The Fallen that appeared in its wake.
The WWE Network model allows for these filler events, but the supercards should still be actually super. WWE's legendary league of super shows went from four to five to twelve and beyond because they became the reason for the weekly product to exist.
From main events to midcard classics, each one had a single star more associated with the prestige of the brand than any other. Yes, even Stomping Grounds. EspeciallyStomping Grounds.

53. Armageddon - The Undertaker

"The End Is Here", so went the Jim Johnston sub-Doors ditty that often accompanied this December event. For Rikishi, Randy Orton and several others over the years, this proved painfully (and spectacularly) true thanks to the handiwork of 'The Deadman'. Few were better suited to the theme.

52. Backlash - Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold Steve Austin's 1999 reclamation of his Smoking Skull title had nothing on his chair-swinging, box office-smashing return to pay-per-view year later. As the third - and most important - factor in the company drawing one of their greatest B-show buyrates ever on the night, Austin's wonderfully violent contributions were money.

51. Bad Blood - Triple H
Not a fondly remembered pay-per-view as the years have passed, perhaps as much because Triple H donated two main event stinkers to both versions of the shows. Hell In A Cell matches with his mates Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels in 2003 and 2004 respectively were absolutely sh*te.

50. Battleground - Seth Rollins
Permanently put out to pasture by Jinder Mahal's grim win over Randy Orton in 2017, this bumbling B-show often called on 'The Architect' to save the day.
The Shield's war with The Rhodes Family in 2013 was the event's only redeeming feature, whilst his battles with Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as the years passed provided the type of singles quality his tag team output had always promised.

49. Bragging Rights - The Big Show
The Big Show wins Bragging Rights...bragging rights by virtue of being possible the only f*cker that gave enough of a sh*t about it to pretend to be on the opposing side before revealing his true colours to be all blue everywhere.
A key player in both Raw Vs SmackDown tag matches on both shows, his dedication to the tinpot trophy dwarfed his dedication to just about everything in his first few years in the industry.

48. Breakdown - Vince McMahon

The one-off September 1998 pay-per-view was given a one-finger salute by Vince McMahon that matched his iconic pose during the show's final shot. The Chairman didn't keep it on the schedule, but featured prominently in its finale after finally screwing Stone Cold Steve Austin out of the WWE Championship.

47. Breaking Point - The Undertaker

Another one-and-done for the company saw The Undertaker cheated out of the World Heavyweight Championship in a pathetic retread of the Montreal Screwjob thanks to a convoluted arrangement between Teddy Long and titleholder CM Punk.
Pointless, like the entire event.

46. Capital Carnage - Jacqueline

WWE Network
Another one-off show remembered for little other than WWE's usage of the United Kingdom's looser censorship laws - itself a tale brought back to life in hilarious fashion by Bruce Prichard on countless podcasts.

45. Capitol Punishment - R-Truth
Another one-off supercard served as a bizarrely brilliant one-off singles WWE Championship pay-per-view main event for R-Truth. He wasn't successful in his efforts against John Cena, but his wildly entertaining heel turn remains the final bonkers hail mary by WWE before CM Punk dropped his "pipe bomb" on the entire organisation.

44. Clash Of Champions - Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair's appearances in matches against Sasha Banks and Bayley and Natalya in 2016 and 2017 respectively reflected a dominance at the top of the card on both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live during her original runs on the brand.
The show makes its return to the schedule in September 2019 - will she be back to her natural spot atop the card by then?

43. Crown Jewel - Shane McMahon
Problematic in the extreme, Crown Jewel going ahead in the looming shadow of Jamal Khashoggi's murder ensured that whatever happened would likely be something WWE would rather fans never revisit.
Shane McMahon, as usual, insisted on being the exception to the rule. He won the one-night tournament despite not even entering, and made the 'Best In The World' nickname a key part of his act following his early-2019 heel turn.

42. Cyber Sunday - Steve Austin
Twice selected as a special guest referee, perennial favourite (and vote-winner) Stone Cold Steve Austin oversaw Batista's awesome main event wins against both The Undertaker in 2007 and Chris Jericho in 2008.

41. Elimination Chamber - Daniel Bryan
Taking this spot from Triple H by virtue of his f*cking incredible talent rather than having control of the booking, Daniel Bryan's two incredible Chamber appearances as a defending Champion yielded one near-impossible nearfall for Santino Marella and a WrestleMania main event for Kofi Kingston.
There are few, if any, as good at this as him.

40. Evolution - Becky Lynch

Only at WWE's first ever all-women's pay-per-view could Becky Lynch birth 'The Man' once and for all, but a show-stealing victory over Charlotte Flair was the exact moment it became apparent just how possible it was that she could take this newfound momentum all the way to a historic WrestleMania main event.

39. Extreme Rules - John Cena
'The Champ' hasn't featured heavily in recent years, but was the feature in an incredible 2012 main event against Brock Lesnar. Post-PG, WWE hasn't captured violence like it. Of all people, the violence inflicted upon John Cena informed much of the event's legacy in the years that followed.

38. Fastlane - Roman Reigns
'The Big Dog' served Braun Strowman his first loss at 2017's Fastlane after booking his place in the WrestleMania main event a year earlier. Nothing, however, compared to his 2019 return - The Shield's final pay-per-view clash following his evocative comeback from his leukemia diagnosis was amongst the most powerful WWE tag team matches of all time.

37. Fatal 4 Way - Sheamus
A dreadful gimmick idea from a period full of them, 2010's Fatal 4 Way featured a bunch of meaningless multi-person matches including a WWE Championship clash destroyed and devalued by The Nexus. As the main eventer escaping with the strap, Sheamus took centre stage.

36. Fully Loaded - Triple H
Despite Sable's breasts popping Jerry Lawler half to death, it was Triple H that dominated the prime years of the July pay-per-view, working his way through from DX troublemaker against The Rock in 1998, rising heel force against a newly-babyfaced 'Great One' again a year later, before proving himself 'The Game' yet again in 2000 against Chris Jericho.

35. Great American Bash - JBL
Rarely have WWE really endorsed an old WCW concept, but the Great American Bash was made palatable to Vince McMahon the second they slapped blondes and Bradshaw all over it. Torrie Wilson wore bikinis on the posters, JBL did his best Uncle Sam stuff on the shows. Such good sh*t.

34. Great Balls Of Fire - Samoa Joe
An absurdly-named event was given an absurd spring of a main event between Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe, but the 'Samoan Submission Machine' stole the show with his pre-bell sh*tkicking of 'The Beast'. Few were permitted to look as dominant as Joe and - true to frustratingly brilliant form - he didn't suffer a jot as result of the loss.

33. Greatest Royal Rumble - Hiroki Sumi

Who else summed up this mad as f*ck show than this mad as f*ck stunt cast in a mad as f*ck match?
The unknown "sumo" "star" was pulled from somewhere beyond Google's reach after Mohammad Bin Salman requested the long-deceased Yokozuna.

32. Hell In A Cell - Randy Orton

It perhaps speaks to WWE's bastardisation of what was once their most dangerous stipulation that a man once given the name 'Blandy' featured so heavily in the pay-per-view equivalent. Chinlock expert Orton has worked at a "methodical" pace his entire career - entirely not in keeping with the the bloodthirsty structure even when he was putting a screwdriver through Jeff Hardy's ear.

31. In Your House - Shawn Michaels

In Your House was beautifully New Generation in concept and execution, and was stewarded by the 1a and 1b of the era. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart delivered a banger a piece almost every time they wrestled on them, but Michaels edges it on quantity - his 1996 run on the events is maybe the best in-ring tenure of any working full time Champion, and each one holds up nearly 25 years later.

30. Insurrextion - Triple H

WWE Network
'The Game' and best buddy Kevin Nash killed the town in 2003 with a rotten main event in Newcastle, England. It was the last time the company taped a show there, and the final version of a C-standard pay-per-view before the company elected to do bi-annual Raw/Smackdown events instead.

29. Invasion - Stone Cold Steve Austin
'The Rattlesnake's 2001 swerve turn proffered cruel beginnings for a cruelly-portrayed invasion that year, but did at least offer up a finish that kickstarted a new story rather than having WWE crush the opposition at the first attempt. Like Austin's first heel turn that year, it was yet another false dawn.

28. Judgment Day - The Undertaker
'The Deadman's relaunch as the 'American Bad Ass' in 2000 got over as f*ck in the short term at least, with the show in general themed around the death and destruction brought about by The Undertaker gimmick's mythology. Very 1998 in concept, it's been an irregular edition to the calendar ever since.

27. King Of The Ring - Bret Hart
King Of The Ring glory was often falsely lionised by WWE thanks to the pushes that followed (years later) for Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H et al, but Bret Hart was the one responsible for getting the very idea of a hardfought tournament win over in his magnificent 1993 three-match series. Owen's impressive victory in 1994 was entirely informed by it too.

26. Money In The Bank - CM Punk

A pay-per-view defined by its gimmick ironically doesn't feature a man nor match that bothered itself with ladders or briefcases. CM Punk's legendary 2011 offering was wrestling history in the making - an entry point for a generation of fans and a reason to stick around for long-standing ones, Punk's transcendent moment in the sun was instantly iconic.

25. New Year's Revolution - Edge
WWE's over-stuffed pay-per-view schedule in the mid-2000s didn't need a second January supercard, but Edge made at least one of them iconic when he used it as the stage for the first ever Money In The Bank cash-in.

24. Night Of Champions - Sting
An indifferent pay-per-view should have informed a different type of history for Sting as he earned his first ever WWE Title clash. Instead, a terrifying buckle bomb gone wrong resulted in a legitimately scary moment for 'The Icon' that fed into his unexpected retirement.

23. No Mercy - Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar's original No Mercy offerings in the early-2000s saw him steamroll The Undertaker in aura-enhancing efforts, but nothing cemented him as WWE's one true big man more than his total domination over Braun Strowman in 2017. It wasn't best for business, but it was best for 'The Beast'.

22. No Way Out - The Rock
'The Great One' had an insanely good WWE Title scrap with Kurt Angle at 2001's edition of the show in order to set the table for WrestleMania X-Seven, but his bow as a heel in 2003 was an all-timer. With new entrance, new attitude but same old spark, The Rock took a bit of revenge on Hulk Hogan for the WrestleMania X8 role reversal by completely overshadowing him, albeit on a much smaller stage.

21. One Night Only - Shawn Michaels

The absolute state of Shawn Michaels at One Night Only. At the peak of his working and political powers, 'HBK' convincing Vince McMahon to change the result of his main event with home country hero Davey Boy Smith was politicking at its ballsiest. Going full Mr Socko with Sunny on the pre-show only heightened how little he gave a f*ck about any of it.

20. One Night Stand - Bobby Lashley

ECW specials in 2005 and 2006 were defined by how f*cking awesome they were, but WWE's replication of the gimmick rarely offered anything approaching the standards set by Paul Heyman's reinvention of his old creation. Bobby Lashley was the dominant, pushed babyface hope in 2007 - his squash win over ludicrous ECW Champion Vince McMahon remains one of the few high spots in either of his middling runs.

19. Over The Limit - Daniel Bryan
P*ss poor mid-year shows meant less than nothing until 2012 when Daniel Bryan and CM Punk went 24 absorbing minutes in a WWE Title match. 'The Voice Of The Voiceless' had helped move the style forward, whilst Bryan would be the vital ingredient in elevating entirely after his opponent's acrimonious departure.

18. Over The Edge - Dude Love
Dude Love and Stone Cold Steve Austin redefined WWE main events with their incredible brawl at the 1998 version of the pay-per-view. Foley was in unreal form as the most detestable of his "three faces". The show obviously only ran twice due to Owen Hart's desperately sad passing in 1999, but far better to bask in the triumph than mourn such deep tragedy.

17. Payback - Roman Reigns
'The Big Dog' soared in battles with AJ Styles and others on otherwise-forgettable events, but his contests alongside The Shield in 2013 and 2014 were the sort of bangers it was all too easy to take for granted at the time. 'The Hounds Of Justice', on their day, were a special breed.

16. Rebellion - The Rock
UK-only shows were almost always a bust before WWE started bringing television tapings across the Atlantic, but The Rock was a persistent popper during their trips. At his (and the organisation's hottest), 'The Great One' could make these glorified house shows feel beyond their scaled-down spectacle.

15. Roadblock - Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair's victory over Sasha Banks in the headliner from 2016's December edition of Roadblock was far superior to their Hell In A Cell headliner months earlier, but remains lost to the history of the original. It's worthy of rewatch, as is tribute to both the victor and the fallen 'Boss' here.

14. Rock Bottom - The Rock

A pay-per-view dedicated to 'The Great One' was set up by The McMahon Family after 'The People's Champ' went Corporate in 1998. Like he'd later label SmackDown, this was unequivocally The Rock's show.

13. Royal Rumble - Shawn Michaels
Of all the massive differences between nineties and noughties Shawn Michaels, his performance in Royal Rumbles remained a constant and awe-inspiring skill. His early-years guts and guile were topped by one of his greatest ever displays - 2010's Rumble is made by Michaels' desperation to win. Rarely could a battle royal be classed as one of a singles wrestler's finest outings, but as usual, 'HBK' bucked tradition.

12. Stomping Grounds - Lacey Evans

Opening match Raw Women's Championship Number One contender and main event surprise special guest referee Lacey Evans gets the nod here, but only because so few hi-res images existed of the black curtain that hung literally and figuratively over the half empty arena that hosted this stuttering supercard.

11. St. Valentine's Day Massacre - Vince McMahon

WWE Network
Stealing the lone iteration of this February supershow with superb selling in his main event against Stone Cold Steve Austin, Vince McMahon gave his body to the cause in unthinkable fashion. 'The Rattlesnake' was always going to WrestleMania, but this was the best possible hurdle for him to leap over at the bitter end.

10. SummerSlam - Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar ascended to the top of the ladder at SummerSlam 2002, but it's his dominance in headliners since returning in 2012 that's made the show all about 'The Beast'. Pulverising Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton in singles main events, he also had bangers with the likes of CM Punk and Roman Reigns. 'The Biggest Party Of The Summer' remains one of his biggest nights.

9. Survivor Series - Vince McMahon
The mad old f*ck transformed the November show from Thanksgiving knockabout to Screwjob central after binning Bret Hart off in 1997. Subsequent editions featured him performing a storyline version of his transcendent deceit, or very least were worked under a cloud of suspicion as a result. It's little wonder he wanted shot of the beloved brand years later.

8. Tables, Ladders & Chairs - John Cena
John Cena's been the best and worst of himself at the heavily-gimmicked December show over the years. Gifting Sheamus the WWE Championship just by plunging through a table, he'd literally and figuratively bury Wade Barrett with chairs just one year later. He was back on his back against Dolph Ziggler in another charitable effort in 2012, but couldn't make the fans care as much as Daniel Bryan would have in a Unification Clash with Randy Orton 12 months later.

7. Taboo Tuesday - Shawn Michaels
A consistent spoiler during the original incarnations of the fan-vote pay-per-view, Shawn Michaels was voted into World Title matches on the first two editions of the show in spite of other pushed babyfaces. The 'Heartbreak Kid' still held the hearts and minds of the engaged fanbase - evidenced in the excellent matches he subsequently contested.

6. The Bash - Chris Jericho
2009's lone 'Bash' was highlighted by 'Y2J' working double duty, first in a scintillating Intercontinental Title scrap with Rey Mysterio then later as part of a heel supergroup with Edge against The Colons and Legacy.

5. This Tuesday In Texas - Jack Tunney

A cash-grab pay-per-view arranged by a WWE President that turned out to be on the take, This Tuesday In Texas was set up on the 1991 Survivor Series when Jack Tunney meddled in just about every major issue. Title rematches along with Randy Savage's redemption were all as result of his extra-assertive administration. Modern-day WWE misses such a lowkey authority figure.

4. Unforgiven - Kane
The maiden Unforgiven saw the 'Big Red Machine' trying to set fire to his brother, whilst future editions saw him a constant focus thanks to the iconography surrounding the event. Not always for the better, but seemingly always there.

3. Vengeance - Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho rightfully used his two back-to-back to victories on the first (and most famous) Vengeance pay-per-view as promo fodder for years.
Long before his actual career confirmed a future Hall Of Fame status, it was his Rock/Austin double header that performed the duty for him.

2. Super ShowDown - The Undertaker
Two catastrophes in two catastrophic events for 'The Deadman', with a dishwater-dull old man brawl with Triple H in Australia having none of the charm of his absurd Goldberg disasterpiece from Saudi Arabia. It's such a shame to see these clunkers, not least when he's had to travel halfway around world just to have them.
There was once a time he did this as well or better than anybody across the entire globe...

1. WrestleMania - The Undertaker
Like it could be anybody else.
No post-Streak slump nor early days dumpster fire giant-slayings will ever get in the way of a prize that became greater than any title, nor a run of matches that elevated his already-incredible legacy beyond that of Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels or several other industry icons with WrestleMania moments at the centre of their CV.