This year has just been an insane year for great matches all over the world. I decided to save that list for later this month and just focus on WWE with this post.
I was surprised there weren’t many top matches with women wrestlers in WWE. The top ten matches in WWE the last two years had plenty of contenders from the women’s division. I think when you have a belt on Alexa Bliss for most of the year (on Smackdown and RAW), and every brand PPV usually only has one women’s match (usually just the title match), you’re cutting down the opportunities for women to have great matches.
All of these matches are on the WWE Network. I tried to find as much video from these matches as I could, but most of them are just highlight packages from YouTube. Every single match on this list is worth your time. The honorable mention picks are also top notch. It’s worth signing up for a free month of the Network just to check these out.
- Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III – August 19th, 2017
- Authors of Pain vs #DIY – NXT Takeover: Chicago – May 20th, 2017
- Asuka vs Ember Moon – NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III – August 19th, 2017
- Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles – 2017 Survivor Series – November 19th, 2017
- Finn Balor vs AJ Styles – 2017 WWE TLC – October 22nd, 2017
- Samoa Joe/Bray Wyatt/Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns/Finn Balor – Extreme Rules – June 4th, 2017
- Roman Reigns vs John Cena – No Mercy – September 24th, 2017
- Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon – 2017 Hell in a Cell – October 8th, 2017
- Braun Strowman vs Big Show – RAW – September 4th, 2017
- Toni Storm vs Kairi Sane – Mae Young Classic Semifinals – September 7th, 2017
- Bobby Roode vs Shinsuke Nakamura – NXT Takeover: Orlando – April 1st, 2017
10. Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns – 2017 Royal Rumble – January 29th, 2017
This is the match where Chris Jericho was hanging above the ring in a shark cage. I usually dislike most of these shark cage matches since the guy in the ring tends to take away the attention from the in-ring action. Owens and Reigns were pretty stiff and there was some hardcore spots that were great, like Owens frog splash onto Reigns on a table on the outside.
9. Elimination Chamber Match – 2017 Elimination Chamber – February 12th, 2017
This match featured Bray Wyatt, AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Baron Corbin, The Miz and John Cena. Chamber matches are usually just spotfests, but this one flowed pretty well. Styles was the MVP of the match, but Bray Wyatt came out as WWE Champion. I almost didn’t include this match in my top ten ONLY because of John Cena’s shitty double-five knuckle shuffle…atrocious.
8. The Usos vs The New Day – 2017 Hell in a Cell – October 8th, 2017
It looks like I’m loving me some gimmick matches this year. I really enjoyed this match due to all the creative spots and the crowd ate it all up. The Usos vs The New Day rivalry could end up being thought of as fondly as past rivalries of The Midnight Express and The Rock & Roll Express…ask me again in twenty years. The Usos basically became babyfaces just from their performance in this match. I don’t think it was really planned to happen, but the crowd knows when guys are busting their ass out there and they respect them for it.
7. Aleister Black vs The Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover: WarGames – November 18th, 2017
I freaking loved this match. Black has the ‘it factor’, the look and all the moves to be a WWE superstar. This match was meant to build him up to a main event status in NXT and he helped pull the Velveteen Dream up with him. This might be the most complete match in WWE this year. The match was story-driven, the crowd was chanting both guys’ names, the action was amazing and it was on a big show. All Velveteen Dream wanted was for Black to ‘say my name’. Does Black eventually say his name? You’ll have to watch the match on the WWE Network.
6. Authors of Pain vs The Revival vs #DIY – NXT Takeover: Orlando – April 1st, 2017
This was the last hurrah for The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) before being called up to the main roster. It’s a shame they have both suffered major injuries and haven’t had much of an impact on RAW. This was also the first match I noticed how much the Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) has improved since they debuted. They have turned into legit ‘big scary men’ wrestlers. Vince should probably call them up and let them throw around some cruiserweights on the main roster. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa) was in the middle of their successful run as a tag team. There were some crazy double-team spots and incredible moments that propelled the Authors of Pain into unbeatable monsters. It was the third Authors of Pain match that made this list (if you include the Honorable Mentions).
5. Money in the Bank Match – 2017 Money in the Bank – June 18th, 2017
You’re always going to have a great ladder match if Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens is in it. These guys had numerous epic ladder matches in Ring of Honor, so they just know how to color within the lines in a match like this. The other guys in the match were Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles, so it would have been hard to have a bad match with those guys. They were able hide Corbin’s inexperience with the other talented guys.
4. John Cena vs AJ Styles – 2017 Royal Rumble – January 29th, 2017
Cena and AJ has had a few memorable matches over the last two years. Most were just ‘finisher/kickout at two’ fests, but this one at the Royal Rumble was solid all around. It had more meat on the bones and AJ was able to push Cena. I enjoyed a lot of the creative reversals that I haven’t seen before. This was the end of what was basically a six-month long feud. The finish was final and basically put an end to it (even though they were both in the Elimination Chamber match).
3. Authors of Pain/Roderick Strong vs SAnitY vs Undisputed Era – NXT Takeover: WarGames – November 18th, 2017
Even though this new WarGames setup doesn’t have a roof, it worked and was probably the best move for this match. WWE seems to go heavy on ‘stacked superplex’ spots and I’m not sure those could be safely done with a low cage like the old WarGames matches. They also changed the format and a guy from each team started and the other two members would be added together in intervals. Killian Dain from SAnitY was one of the stars of the match. They were really pushing him as a monster. He held his own against both Authors of Pain members. The Undisputed Era made an awesome PPV debut with Adam Cole being the solo act that came out of that match as a future NXT champion. The addition of tables and chairs was a nice touch, even if Alexander Wolfe cut the back of his head open on the edge of a table. The only negative thing I could say about this was that it was maybe five minutes too long…but I’m splitting hairs.
2. Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate – NXT Takeover: Chicago – May 20th, 2017
The NXT Takeover: Chicago show wasn’t one of the best overall takeover specials, but this match for the WWE UK Championship between Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate stole the show. It went on early on the card, the crowd in Chicago was excited to see these two guys and they finished with drool coming out of their mouths. Wrestling nerds knew this match would be good since these guys faced each other in the finals in the WWE UK Championship tournament (it barely missed the cut). I don’t think anyone expected it to be THIS good. Maybe we should have expected this level of a match from these guys, since they do face each other quite a bit on the British indies. This was a perfect example of ‘British Strong Style.’
1. Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe – Summerslam 2017 – August 20th, 2017
Let me say that technically, there were better matches in WWE, but sometimes you just want to see big dudes kick the shit out of each other. The storylines were all on point and no one in this four-way felt like a random throw-in. There were heat with every possible two-man match-up in this match. It was also the first time the beasts Strowman and Lesnar faced off in a match. Strowman beat the shit out of Lesnar and put him through multiple tables. Huge power spots, massive pops and was entertaining from bell to bell. Samoa Joe and Roman Reigns also showed to have chemistry with each other, which will be seen going forward in storylines. The only bad part of this match actually happened about a month later. This match built-up Wrestlemania-level anticipation for a match between Lesnar and Strowman…but they ended up having a stinker of a one-on-one match at No Mercy.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.