The Best Opening Matches in WWE Pay-Per-View History

“If you can’t go on last, go on first”

The opening match of any wrestling show is arguably the most important of the whole night, while the main event is almost always the biggest, most important match of the show that everyone will be talking about the next day, the opening match is what sets the tone for the show going forward and often decides whether or not any given individual will keep watching the show the whole way through. As such, there have been plenty of absolute barn-burners and all-time classic matches that held the prestigious spot of being the first thing the live audience got to see.

To be clear here, I am not counting pre-show or dark matches in this list as these are usually put on before the full crowd has even entered the building and a large portion of the home viewing audience haven’t switched on. I’m instead referring to the first match to take place on the main portion of a WWE Pay-Per-View. This also means NXT Takeovers don’t count because let’s be honest, that wouldn’t be fair.

With that clarification made, let’s take a look at the best of these show openers.

10 – Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler – Bragging Rights 2010

Trust me, this isn’t the last time Daniel Bryan is going to appear on this list.

While the concept of Bragging Rights was one that would eventually bleed over into the annual Survivor Series event – and be much better off for it – looking back at the history of the two incarnations of the event, there was only ever one great match between the two of them and this was it.

Although the IWC (myself included) have all gotten a bit bored with Dolph Ziggler as a wrestler, there was once a time where he was one of the only bright stars in a sea of boring characters and dull wrestling matches. In fact, with the exception of CM Punk, it’s arguable that Bryan & Ziggler were the only two “internet darlings” in the company at the time so naturally, a clash between the two of them was always going to be something special.

What this match is, is two brilliant wrestlers that have flamboyant and exciting wrestling styles going at each other in a match that very rarely lets up to catch its breath. There are some slightly wonky elements, with Vickie Guerrero’s presence at ringside occasionally causing a break in the action and a weird non-finish where Ziggler got a three-count because the referee didn’t see Bryan’s foot on the rope, only for the decision to be waived off and the match continued.

Luckily, none of those issues stopped the match from having a healthy serving of quick back-and-forth action and near falls to ramp up the excitement and get the crowd on their feet for a show that, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t much to write home about.

9 – Brock Lesnar(c) vs Seth Rollins –   Wrestlemania 35
(Universal Championship)

This was more of a great moment than a match, however, a bell did ring, so it counts.

Wrestlemania 35 was a show full of crowd please, triumphant moments for the babyfaces and it made sure to spread them evenly throughout the show, this meant that when the show was just starting, we already had ourselves an exciting moment. After the US National Anthem played and Hulk Hogan was…there, Paul Heyman stormed to the ring and declared that if Brock Lesnar wasn’t going to be in the main event, then he was going to have his match now and get an early night.

It’s easy to forget now, but at this point, just about everyone was fully behind Seth Rollins as a babyface who was ready to slay the beast and finally take the Universal Championship away from Lesnar. WWE managed to not only pull it off brilliantly but do it in perhaps the most exciting way possible, with Lesnar beating down Rollins before he made a sudden comeback to pin the beast and win the title in just two and a half minutes.

Paralleling the moment from Wrestlemania 31 where he swiped the WWE Championship from under Brock Lesnar’s nose, Wrestlemania 35 opened up with Rollins swinging world title gold above his head in a moment that had me on my feet with excitement at home.

8 – The Miz(c) vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor – Wrestlemania 34
(Intercontinental Championship)

Triple threat matches on WWE PPVs can be a bit hit and miss depending on the participants involved. These kinds of matches need to be fast-paced and varied in their action, so when you’ve got a bunch of slow, lumbering guys in there it just doesn’t work, luckily, the three men in this match were quite the opposite. Rollins & Balor were allowed to completely let loose here, flying all over the place, keeping the excitement flowing the whole time.

The Miz couldn’t keep up with the pace of the other two, but he didn’t need to. Instead, The Miz was the perfect person to provide much more grounded action, stopping the whole thing from spiralling out of control with non-stop dives. The action between the three men had a nice sense of flow, with each combination of men in the ring had a slightly different feel to their fighting style.

There was a nice helping of storytelling in there too as The Miz attempted to renounce his evil ways (even if it didn’t last) sparing us from any interference by The Miztourage. As well as Balor & Rollins being so determined to one-up each other that at several occasions it almost allowed The Miz to slip away with the win. That didn’t happen though as eventually Seth Rollins came out the victor and spent the rest of 2018 in what I believe – from an in-ring standpoint at least – was the best year of his career so far.

7 – The Usos(c) vs The Wyatt Family – Battleground 2014
(WWE Tag Team Championships)
(2 out of 3 Falls)

A match that has been largely forgotten by time here and I can’t exactly say I blame people for that, I sure as shit can’t remember a single other thing that happened at Battleground 2014.

Looking back at 2014 today feels like looking into an alternate dimension, it’s all the wrestlers we know and love today, but not quite as we know them; case in point, The Usos. By mid-2014 I was fully into the world of WWE and I very vividly remember not giving much of a shit about The Usos. Their “tribal chanting” thing sat on the wrong side of goofy to me and, in all honesty, I didn’t see their appeal as wrestlers at all. This was the match that woke me up to the fact that these guys might actually be the amazing tag team we’ve seen over the past few years.

Pretty much everything I love about modern tag-team wrestling features in this match, the early stages where one team isolates the other didn’t last too long and once the match descended into chaos, it ebbed and flowed in such a way that allowed for natural peaks and troughs in the action that aligned with my energy levels as a viewer. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation did wonders for the pace, allowing the action to slow all the way down at certain points before slowly building the energy and excitement up again.

I highlighted The Uso’s performance, but Harper & Rowan’s contributions to the match cannot be understated either. I know it’s common knowledge now, but at the time I didn’t realise how brilliant of a wrestler Luke Harper could be and Erick Rowan served his purpose as a slower big-guy too. The chemistry between the two teams was near-flawless and it’s one of those situations where everything came together to create a match that had just about all you could want from pure tag team wrestling.

6 – Bad News Barrett(c) vs Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs R-Truth vs Luke Harper vs Stardust – Wrestlemania 31
(Intercontinental Championship)
(Ladder)

Wrestlemania needs more of these, I mean, what else is the Cruiserweight title for these days?

Multi-man ladder matches are always pretty solid bets to get a crowd excited, but this one went above and beyond in terms of pure entertainment value. Everyone in this match served their own unique role that contributed to the break-neck pace of this match. You had Barrett coming in as the heel champion, Ambrose as the hungry challenger that isn’t afraid to get violent, Ziggler a face-technician that can bump like no-one else, Bryan who was making his big return and was beloved by everyone, Truth who was the comedy, Harper who was an all-rounder that could fill any role he needed to in the match and Stardust…who…well, let’s not talk about that.

When you’ve got such a huge variety of characters & wrestling styles colliding like this it’s always going to be an interesting watch and the action in this match was constant. There was very little room to breathe, but the amount of variety of people constantly coming in and out of the ring meant that it constantly felt like the match was being refreshed and doing something different. Just about everyone got a moment where they almost won the match and they were scattered through the match in just the right way to keep the tension rolling over with every single spot.

Speaking of spots, there’s just about every kind of ladder match spot you could want. We had people doing dives onto people and ladders; ladders would be sung around and smack people in the face; there was a big dive onto a sea of people and there was even a brutal looking powerbomb from the ring, to the outside, through a ladder. The finish was extremely crowd-pleasing, with Ziggler & Bryan fighting it out on the top until one of them fell to their doom and it kicked off Wrestlemania 31 with a massively crowd-pleasing win in the form of Daniel Bryan claiming his first reign with the Intercontinental Championship.

5 – Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt – Royal Rumble 2014

While this match is generally remembered as a great one, I think the feud surrounding it is incredibly strange. This feud happened slap-bang in the middle of Bryan’s ascension to the top of WWE and was very much during the phase where WWE was trying everything they could to make sure it didn’t happen. After Bryan suffered yet another disappointing loss to Randy Orton, he found himself under attack from The Wyatt Family. For some reason, CM Punk decided he’d help out and they got the win…so feud over right? Well, apparently not as Wyatt continued their assault, focusing on Bryan as CM Punk had to deal with The Shield.

This led to a 3 on 1 match at TLC where Bryan got destroyed and eventually a slightly interesting, but also slightly bungled, storyline developed where Bryan seemed to join the Wyatt Family. While the moment where Bryan finally broke free from Wyatt was fantastic and led to arguably the best “Yes!” chant in history, it was a bit weird how the entire thing just consisted of Bryan & Bray losing to The Usos for 3 weeks.

Regardless of that, it brought us to this match. A match that was fantastic.  Bray’s style at the time was less of the slow & brutal that we see with The Fiend nowadays, instead, being a lot more frantic and fast-paced; he would still take his time when he got the opportunity to pick his opponent apart, but there was a much greater feeling of urgency to things. This played perfectly for Bryan’s style which was also pretty fast but focussed more on being plucky than being heavy-handed.

On top of the action being top-notch, they hit on some great story beats referencing the entirety of their rivalry up until that point. It had so many of those little touches that we only ever expect to see in NXT Takeover matches these days. Not only did this match help the rise of Bryan’s popularity amongst the fanbase, but it also put Bray Wyatt on the map in terms of the fans seeing him as a brilliant wrestler that could hang with all of their indie darlings.

4 – The New Day(c) vs The Usos – Hell in a Cell 2017
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Hell in a Cell)

Easily one of the best feuds of the past five years, this match was just one of the series of incredible bouts these two teams put on throughout 2017 and into early 2018 and this was arguably the best of the bunch.

By this point in 2017, The New Day and The Usos had wrestled each other on TV & PPV countless times and at face value, it would seem like that’s a recipe for disaster. Normally in WWE, when a feud lasts as long as this one did, people get bored of it and their later matches are met with indifference regardless of how good they actually are (see the Reigns vs Corbin feud from late 2019/early 2020 for proof of this). So, these two teams had to find a way to get p[eople to turn their heads and care about the fact that they’re fighting on PPV for the 4th time in the past year. Luckily, they were absolutely up to the task.

Up until this point in their feud, the two teams had done a great job of making each match feel slightly different in terms of its flow and rhythm, while still keeping up incredible action that got fans onto their feet. After rocking pre-shows and midcards for the better part of 6 months, these two teams were finally rewarded for their stellar work by getting the opportunity to create absolute magic, climaxing their now legendary feud in a Tag Team Hell in a Cell match for the ages.

Needless the say the action was damn-near flawless. Every movement in the match felt like it had so much thought and purpose behind it from the competitors. I often decry weapons matches as being boring, but the two teams here put the tools at their disposal to good use, scattering weapons in as exclamation points for the match, but never making them the focal point. Every inch of the cell was used to full effect and we saw some genuinely new and innovative spots like The New Day trapping one of the Usos in the corner of the cell by building a mini-prison out of kendo sticks. The Hell in a Cell stipulation is one that I think had been extremely played out at this point, but these guys did a fantastic job of finding fresh and interesting things to do with it.

The drama was also through the roof. From the moment the bell rang and the two teams start absolutely wailing on each other, there was so much intensity that absolutely did the epic scale of their feud justice. There were some truly ludicrous kickouts (in a good way) and the final segment where Xavier Woods tried his damndest to fend off both Usos while handcuffed is just brilliant and forged a sense of respect between the two teams that has lasted for years after the fact. Not to mention cemented both of these teams as two of the best tag teams on the planet.

3 – Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio – Summerslam 2002

See? I have watched wrestling outside of the past decade. Admittedly, it would’ve been hard to justify missing out what is undoubtedly an all-time classic Summerslam match.

Rey Mysterio had been in WWE for less than a month at this point and while the majority of the audience at the time knew who he was from his time at the forefront of WCW’s Cruiserweight Division, this was his first major opportunity to make a huge impact on the WWE and show that he was here to stay and hadn’t missed a beat since the WCW days. So, if you’ve got a highly-skilled technical wrestler who needs an opportunity to look great showing off everything they can do, who do you put them with? How about the greatest technical wrestler of the generation? Enter Kurt Angle.

Angle was coming off the back of an excellent feud with The Rock and The Undertaker going into Summerslam 2002 where he had often found himself the butt of the joke. He still got ample opportunity to look like a legitimate competitor, but the match at Vengeance treated him more like a third wheel, where his character elements are what really made him shine. So, this felt like a bit of a reset for his character, a newcomer had just shown up and handed him a loss and it was going to be his job to teach Mysterio a serious lesson, using his entire arsenal of fantastic wrestling.

It was a very simple story but it’s all the match needed. Mysterio was looking to prove himself against one of the best, while Angle was looking to protect his position in the company against a newcomer. What they put together in the match can only be described as a technical masterpiece. I used the term “back-and-forth” in my reviews a lot but this match really was the epitome of the term, as outside of Mysterio’s flurry at the beginning, neither man spent more than 90 seconds or so getting in offence at any single point in the match. There were constant counters, reversals and all kinds of interesting escapes that showed the full spectrum of what both men were capable of in the ring.

While it’s arguable that Mysterio should’ve won as he was the debuting superstar, as we can now say with the power of hindsight, the loss didn’t affect Mysterio’s star power at all in the long-run and the sheer quality of the match was enough to convince all of the fans who were still unconvinced that Mysterio was a top-tier competitor.

2 – Bret Hart vs Owen Hart – Wrestlemania 10

Even though Wrestlemania 10 ended with Bret Hart toppling Yokozuna to become WWF Champion, the moment that was ultimately be most remembered from that night is his loss in the opening contest to his brother Owen.

There was a lot of hype surrounding this match at the time of Wrestlemania 10. Things had been slowly building since the previous November, where Owen became distracted after accidentally knocking his brother off of the Apron in a Survivor Series elimination tag match, causing him to get eliminated. Owen would continuously ask his brother to face him in a match, but Bret kept refusing, not wanting to fight his brother. Eventually, Owen took matters into his own hands and attacked Bret at the Royal Rumble 1994 after the duo lost to The Quebecers.

After both Lex Luger and Bret Hart were declared joint winners of the 1994 Royal Rumble, a coin was tossed and it was determined that Luger would get his match with Yokozuna first at Wrestlemania 10, with Bret fighting the champion later in the night. In order to make it fair, Bret was forced to wrestle another match earlier on in the night and Owen was selected as his opponent.

As you’d imagine from wrestlers the calibre of Bret and Owen, two wrestlers who quite literally grew up training together, this match was virtually flawless. While it doesn’t look as flashy or as exciting as the kind of “masterpiece” matches we’ve come to expect today, I didn’t feel any less invested in this match than I do any NXT title bout. The psychology of the match is simple but incredibly effective as both of the brothers seem to have an answer for just about everything the other can throw at them. It’s so clear that they know each other in the ring better than any other wrestler ever possibly could.

The sly brutality of Owen as he maliciously targets Bret’s injured leg is just wonderfully horrible, made all the better by the way he seems to showboat after every little advantage he gets over Bret. He knows that no-one thinks he’ll be able to beat Bret and he’s relishing every moment he can show people how wrong they are. Then, he only went and bloody won the thing. Catching Bret out and rolling him after following Bret’s attempt at a Hurricanrana, Owen walked away with the shocking win, putting Bret on the back foot for his title match later in the night and triggering a feud with Bret that extended into the summer and brought us some equally brilliant matches.

Wrestlemania 10 is remembered fondly as a Mania with several iconic moments, but when it comes to pure-wrestling, nothing else that happened on the night could top this match.

1 – Daniel Bryan vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 30

Who would’ve guessed that a Triple H match would’ve been the one to top this list?

As I’ve covered before, Wrestlemania 30 is the best incarnation of the show of shows to happen over the past decade (and is also my personal favourite Wrestlemania) and a huge part of that is down to this fantastic opening contest. The story of the rise of Daniel Bryan going into Wrestlemania 30 is still one that’s relatively fresh in the minds of WWE fans the world over and this match was where we would finally see whether or not WWE were serious about giving the fans what they wanted.

Every second of this match was meticulously crafted to milk every last drop of drama and intensity out of the storyline. From the moment the bell rings, the crowd are a huge factor of what makes this match so brilliant. The sight of the crowd going nuts as Triple H and Bryan stare each other down in so incredibly emotional knowing everything that went into it and they are on tenterhooks for absolutely every moment of this match.

The opening few minutes of this match are absolutely fire as Bryan comes out of the gate with the kind of babyface intensity that makes him the most lovable babyface ever before the pace switches and there’s a good 8 minutes or so of Triple H dominating the match and doing everything in his power to put Bryan away. That would normally be boring, but a combination of pacing, variety and Bryan’s selling ability made it gripping stuff to watch. Bryan scattered in a couple of hope spots throughout to keep things ticking over too. The moments where Triple H drops Bryan down on the announce table, or the ring apron, or even locks in the Yes! Lock plays the live crowd and everyone watching at home into the hands of the drama of the match. Even watching it back now I still feel that pit of despair, with the thought that maybe Triple H really is going to win and all our dreams will be crushed.

Once Bryan breaks free of the beat down, the match moves at a mile a minute. Once again, the intensity shoots through the ceiling and the whole match becomes a fever-pitch, back-and-forth contest that doesn’t let up for a moment. Every strike from both men feels weighty and impactful, both in the physical and dramatical sense of the phrase. Even on a rewatch I find myself falling for every near fall and every kickout, remembering the desperation in every fan’s mind at the time, just praying that Daniel Bryan got his time to shine.

The sheer explosion of emotion from both the crowd and Bryan himself when he blindsides Triple H with the Running Knee and gets the pin is absolutely euphoric and makes this a match that I was always connect with emotionally and was the perfect opener for the biggest show of the year.

My 11 Favourite Matches of The Undertaker

For many years, whenever Wrestlemania season rolled around the biggest question on everyone’s minds wasn’t who would be fighting for the company’s world titles, but who would get the prestigious honour of fighting The Undertaker. A wrestler who has stood the test of time like no other, The Undertaker has wrestled for so long in so many different styles that his mere presence on a card draws more hype than any championship match ever could.

I’ve talked a bit before about how important The Undertaker is to me as a wrestling fan, so as you can imagine I’ve watched a hell of a lot of his matches over the years and it’s safe to say that many of them are among my favourite matches ever. His in-ring ability may have waned somewhat in recent years but that doesn’t stop me getting incredibly excited at the prospect of him stepping in the ring once again, especially since we never really know which time will be his last.

With yet another huge bout set for Wrestlemania 36 in a few weeks against AJ Styles, I thought it’d be a good time to look back at the best of what The Undertaker has offered us, over the years.

11 – vs Brock Lesnar – Wrestlemania 30

Ok, we’ve got to address the elephant in the room with this one, which is quite simply that the actual makeup of this match was awful. Taker, unfortunately, suffered a concussion early on in the match and it left Brock having to carry a bit of dead weight in the ring for a while until Undertaker was able to gather his surroundings enough to form a barely passable match.

HOWEVER

That’s not what matters about this match, what matters about this match is the finish and the moments immediately following it. The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak (aka “The Streak”) was inarguably the greatest draw in modern Wrestlemania history. Once the numbers got up to heights like 13 matches and 13 wins, every year The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania match become an absolutely huge deal. The unmatched aura of a man who’s genuinely undefeatable combined with the consistently brilliant match quality (as we’ll soon discuss on this list) brought The Undertaker’s legacy to such a height that we thought it never could (and many thought, never should) end.

And then it ended.

Many people have spoken on this and I perhaps can’t quite do justice to just how monumental of a moment this was. Several people who witnessed the event live have spoken of the atmosphere of pure disbelief and tragedy in the crowd and said that there is simply no comparison to the feel in the building during the moments following the ending of The Streak. It was a rare moment of genuine shock from the wrestling fanbase, with a feeling that I don’t believe will ever be replicated in wrestling during our lifetimes.

But like I said, the match itself was the drizzling shits, so 11th is the highest it can go.

10 – vs CM Punk – Wrestlemania 29

When people think back on The Undertaker’s run of incredible matches through the late 2000s and early 2010s, this match often gets left off of that list and I think that is a huge disservice to the brilliant match these two put forth.

In the build to this match, Punk put forth what I think is some of his best heel work ever. It played off the real-life death of The Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer in a way that I don’t think went too far, even if it was uncomfortable for some. This carried over into the match too and having Heyman sitting on the sidelines, playing along with Punk’s every taunt was just fantastic. There felt like there was a real animosity between these two and it brought us some brilliant moments that capture the essence of what a good Streak match is all about because we’re all so sure that there’s no way The Undertaker’s going to lose, that it’s actually very easy to make us believe he might.

This match also holds a lot of personal weight for me too, as it was the first match I’ve ever watched the whole way through. If you want the full story on that, then I’ve talked about it before but there’s a good chance that if I’d seen a match that wasn’t as good as this one, I wouldn’t have stuck around to become the opinion spewing nerd I am today, which I’m sure would be a great loss to the world…right?….riiight?

9 – vs Brock Lesnar – Hell in a Cell 2015
(Hell in a Cell)

This match stands out for me more because of how surprised I was that it ended up being so good.

Going into this match, Lesnar & Taker had already fought a few months previously at Summerslam and the match was…ok. It was pretty fun and gave us the hilarious visual of Lesnar giving Taker the finger as he passed out, but it was mired by a general slow-pace and very confusing finish that was designed to protect Lesnar but ended up making The Undertaker look like a cheat.

Apparently, the solution to all of these problems was just letting these two guys batter the piss out of each other for twenty minutes in just about every way possible. In the modern era, it’s so rare we get a Hell in a Cell match like this, but it had exactly what the stipulation calls for. There was blood, there were weapons and there was wall to wall violence that ended up being the perfect way to represent the pure hatred between these two competitors.

The action was very exciting too, despite what I had expected, things kept going at a pretty solid pace the whole way through and each weapon spot took the intensity up just a little in order to get the maximum impact out of everything. The finish was great too, with the ring-mat being ripped up and exposing the wooden boards underneath – a spot that remains just uncommon enough to still feel like a big deal – and ultimately, the right man won, capping off a surprisingly brilliant feud that benefitted from some very rare, WWE branded long-term storytelling.

8 – vs The Rock vs Kurt Angle – Vengeance 2002
(WWE Undisputed Championship)

As is probably expected, there aren’t many matches on this list from the “Biker Taker” phase of The Undertaker’s career. Various injuries alongside a generally not very interesting persona or in-ring style meant that a lot of the magic that surrounded The Undertaker was gone during this era and is considered by many fans and critics to be the worst era of his career, so this match is very much the exception, not the rule.

The story going into this match was very hot indeed, mostly just consisting of the three men involved in this match slowly escalating the violence in order to bring the hype for this match up to a fever pitch. This carried over into the match, particularly between The Rock and The Undertaker, who spent a lot of time trying to destroy each other throughout this match. As it stood, Angle slipped into his role perfectly for this match. Angle standing there trying to get the attention of The Undertaker and The Rock as they stare each other down is one of those wrestling gifs that has stood the test of time and it really was indicative of how great Angle was at constantly skimming the line between comedy and serious wrestling.

This match was the kind of car-crash TV that doesn’t always work, but in this case, it really did. All three of these men were constantly colliding in all kinds of ways throughout this match. The action was big move after big move in the best possible way and some classic spots where the men kept stealing each other’s finishers. It doesn’t really tell any kind of grand story, it’s just a pure blast of violence and mayhem from start to finish and stands today and one of the best triple threat matches WWE have ever produced.

7 – vs Batista – Wrestlemania 23
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Alongside his match with CM Punk, this is another one that often gets forgotten when people run down the best Streak matches and I think that’s a massive disservice to the unique style of match these two guys put forward on the night of Wrestlemania 23.

The story of this match is very simple, one big man has a title, one big man wants the title, this leads to the two big men trying to absolutely annihilate each other for fifteen minutes straight and it’s an absolute blast. Seriously, these two guys don’t let up on each other at any point during this match, there’s nothing slow or plodding about it in the slightest. The whole match feels like such an intense fight with big move after big move and some brutal-looking spots through tables and the like.

It also clocks in noticeably shorter than almost all of the other matches on this list, which only helped had to that feeling of intensity. “The Streak” had just about become a thing by this point in time so Batista trying to put The Undertaker down hard and fast was the only possible way he stood a chance of winning, The Undertaker responded in kind and those simple story point carried this whole match to something really entertaining and surprisingly unique for the era in which it took place.

6 – vs Mankind – King of the Ring 1998
(Hell in a Cell)

As much as the focus for this match goes mostly onto Mick Foley (and deservingly so I might add), The Undertaker’s contributions to this match can’t be understated.

We’ve all heard the story of this match a thousand times over so I’ll spare you the details, but despite the match being relatively devoid of any “traditional” wrestling action, it’s guaranteed to keep you involved for its runtime because of the sheer shock and awe of what happens during it. The tension during the moments where they’re on the top of the cell is incredible and no matter how many times you see either of the falls, it never fails to surprise me.

From the points following both of the falls, things continue to go absolutely mental with various people getting involved to tide over the time where no-one was quite sure whether or not Mick Foley had just died and some gruesome looking spots involving thumbtacks just before the finish. Ultimately, all that matters about this match is the absolutely iconic moments it created and almost single-handedly lifted the Hell in a Cell match to legendary status.

5 – vs Shawn Michaels – Badd Blood 1997
(Hell in a Cell)

Oh hello Shawn Michaels, I wonder if we’ll be seeing you again on this list…

I’ve already covered a couple of Hell in a Cell matches on this list, so it only makes sense to go all the way back to the first. Being the first match of it’s kind, this was going to have to leave an impression on the audience and it achieved that in more ways than one through both it’s storytelling and it’s action. During this period of his career, Undertaker was working a much slower, methodical style which worked entirely to this match’s benefit as it meant anytime Michaels got offence in, the crowd started to go nuts for it.

The cell was also used to great effect, for one thing, the atmosphere of the whole thing is so incredibly intimidating and it only gets better when we see some of the archetypal spots that we’ve seen in almost every HIAC since. The whole thing also had quite a claustrophobic feeling to it, something the modern cell has lost with its increase in size but I really enjoyed the cramped feeling of the whole thing, even if Shawn Michaels didn’t appreciate being so close to the cameramen.

It also had one of the truly iconic endings in WWE history as Kane made his debut, tearing the door off of the cell and tombstoning The Undertaker, allowing Michaels to sneak away with the win. The whole set up of that final segment was a wonderful piece of storytelling and made sure that it didn’t feel like a cheap get-out to having Undertaker take the pin. Not only was it a brilliant match in its own right, but it established a new stipulation match as a staple that we still see on a yearly basis today.

4 – vs Edge – Wrestlemania 24

This match is probably the closest one of these matches to the expected modern WWE main-event style, but it’s easily one of the best iterations on that formula I’ve ever seen.

There wasn’t a great deal of complications going into this one. The Undertaker and Edge were yet to collide in a major way during their careers so this felt like a huge clash between two genuine legends of the business. When it comes to what we think of today as the formula for “epic” Streak matches, this had just about all the ingredients and more. Both guys would kick out of a bunch of finishers with a whole bunch of really fun back-and-forth wrestling between the two men.

There were some fun story elements in there too, namely Ryder & Hawkins running down during a referee bump to create some more chaos and really milk the crap out of every near-fall. Then we had the immortal gif of Charles Robinson sprinting his way down the extremely long ramp to count a pinfall that never stops being funny to watch.

As it stands, there isn’t really much more to this match, it’s just some really great action between two really great wrestlers in a spot that both of them absolutely made the most of, with The Undertaker vs Edge feud continuing on for the better part of a year following this and becoming one of the most memorable storylines in Smackdown history. Which is nice.

3 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 25

I know, I know, it’s only third, but hear me out.

In terms of in-ring action, this match is easily head and shoulders above the rest. I could sit here and run down all of the posts but that would honestly do a disservice to how incredibly well built this entire match was, telling its own little story (even though there wasn’t much going into it) and creating one of the most edge-of-your-seat exciting matches I’ve ever watched.

The chemistry between these two competitors is just outstanding. As we saw earlier in this list, these two had been around in WWE for a very long time by this point and every inch of their experience was poured into this match. Even though I knew the outcome when I watched this match for the first time, I still found myself buying into every near fall and each kick out created some wonderful moments following it.

As I’ve said, when it comes to in-ring action alone, this might be the highest quality non-NXT match I’ve ever seen in a WWE ring, but these next two matches have a little something over it that this one doesn’t quite have enough of.

2 – vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 28
(Hell in a Cell)

Story. That’s what makes this match so incredible, the sheer force and strength of its story.

The build to this match alone was enough to get anyone hyped up to see this fight. After Taker & HHH beat each other within an inch of their respective lives the year previous, The Undertaker was desperate for a rematch to prove his victory wasn’t a fluke, but Triple H was too busy being the COO of the company to have any part of it. Invoking Shawn Michaels’ from the previous years was a fantastic move and bringing him in for this match as the special guest referee was a stroke of genius. It tied together the past 3 years of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches into one climactic story of Shawn Michaels and Triple H just trying so desperately to defeat The Undertaker just so they can say they’ve done it.

From a purely wrestling-based standpoint, this match wasn’t quite on the level of many others on this list, but what’s really important is the story surrounding it all, a story that was so masterfully told in the ring as well as in the build-up that it elevated a pretty good match into a transcendent one. I still remember very vividly my feelings in that moment where Michaels super kicked The Undertaker into a Pedigree from Triple H and even though, going into the match I KNEW for a 100% fact that Undertaker was going to win, I still bought into that near-fall and it remains to this day my favourite kickout I’ve ever witnessed.

Even once the match was over, the raw emotion of everyone involved was so incredibly powerful and that image of the three men standing in each other’s arms at the top of the ramp as the “20-0” graphic was behind them is just so amazing that even various awful Saudi Arabia matches can’t cheapen its emotional impact.

1 – vs Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 26

Maina 25 had the incredible action, Mania 28 had the incredible story, this match has both.

You take the excellent wrestling contest from the year prior to this one, you mix it up and make it feel fresh and new, then you throw in the added drama of Shawn Michaels’ career – a career that’s spanned almost 2 decades – potentially coming to an end and you’ve got a recipe for what I would argue is the single greatest match in Wrestlemania history.

This match worked in so much from the previous year while still bringing in new spots and new action to weave into the contest. It had such a weight to it as both men were able to predict the other’s movements almost perfectly, seemingly calling back to their previous encounter purely out of spite and emotion. The Undertaker was protecting his undefeated legacy, while Shawn Michales was fighting to keep his living.

As the fight wears on, you can almost feel these two titans of the industry coming to respect one another, as they give each other their absolute best to prove that they deserve to be the winner at the end of it all. This all brings us to yet another incredible moment, where The Undertaker had Michaels dead to rights, but he just won’t stay down. You can see that there’s almost a level of pity on The Undertaker’s face as he stands over Michaels…until Michaels slaps The Undertaker across the face in defiance, telling him that if he’s going to end his career, he better do it properly.

It’s one of those truly rare gems in wrestling where absolutely everything comes together. The story, the action, the finish, the aftermath, it was genuinely perfect and still stands today as The Undertaker’s greatest ever match.

That’s all folks! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what some of your favourite Undertaker matches are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next week, where I’ll be running down every episode of Doctor Who Series 6!

WWE Super Showdown 2019 Predictions & Analysis

So I’ve said a few times now so far this year that main roster WWE is yet to put on a bad Pay-Per-View…time for that to change.

I usually try to be as optimistic as possible when going into these predictions because at the end of the day, I never want any of these shows to be bad, but sometimes it’s an unavoidable truth that it will be. I don’t know this for certain of course, but Crown Jewel shattered any and all remaining faith I had that these Saudi Arabia shows could be anything fun to watch.

Once again, I’m not going to make any comments about the political controversy surrounding the Saudi Arabia & WWE deal because I don’t have the desire or the knowledge to get involved in that discussion, there’s just wrestling going on, on Friday and I’m here to predict the winners; so let’s do that.

The Usos vs The Revival
(Kickoff Show)

So this feud has had two phases throughout its time on our screens, there’s the “stupid shit Vince thinks is funny” phase and the “not on TV” phase, and it seems weird to have this blow off match amidst the latter. Either way, this could be a decent match if these two teams are given a little bit of freedom, and aren’t made to pretend their crotches are on fire or whatever bollocks Vince comes up with.

I also think it’s a pretty easy one to pick, The Revival beat The Usos on Raw a few weeks ago, so it only makes sense that The Usos pick up the win here. Not to mention, The Usos need to move up the card and win those titles ASAP, because the fact that the Raw Tag Titles have barely been on Main Event since Wrestlemania is an absolute disgrace.

The Lucha House Party vs Lars Sullivan
(3 on 1 Handicap)

We are gathered here today, to mourn the passing of The Lucha House Party.

Seriously, there’s no other way this goes down, Lars Sullivan is going to destroy these guys. LHP will probably get in a good few licks along the way, but it won’t take long for Sullivan to take out all three of them, probably simultaneously. I really don’t know what the future holds for Lars, it feels like we’ll likely get a Braun Strowman Lite rise, but I doubt it’ll have much staying-power while Strowman is still around. Not to mention how the fanbase at large despise Sullivan for many of his past online comments.

What I do know, however, is that Sullivan is walking out of this match with barely a scratch.

Braun Strowman vs Bobby Lashley

Welcome to the directionless section of the Pay-Per-View.

Has there been any reason for these two to fight? I know they’ve been interacting a bit since the match was announced, but were there any hints of animosity building between these two before it was randomly announced? I don’t see what any of the plans are for either of these men this summer apart from maybe fighting with each other over and over again until we all go and do something more fun, like jamming forks into our eyes.

This match might have one or two cool looking spots, especially if the match is given a more vicious tone of two big dudes who want to flatten each other, but other than that I’m really not expecting much at all from this one. Realistically it could go either way, but I think Braun Strowman is the more likely winner because everyone still loves watching Strowman flatten people and he hasn’t got any notable wins in a little while now.

Roman Reigns vs Shane McMahon

Do you think the whole Crown Jewel thing was just a long plot so Roman can say he beat the best wrestler in the world?

Once again, if you’re having trouble picking a winner to this one, you must be new to wrestling, because there’s really only one way this could go. I know Elias and Drew could get involved and I wouldn’t be overly surprised if we got some kind of boring DQ finish were Roman gets beaten down only to trash everyone, but Shane is in desperate need of some comeuppance right now.

This is one of those matches where I’m not really expecting a great deal from it but could surprise me with how intense it ends up being; which describes almost all of Shane’s major matches to be perfectly honest. I feel pretty confident in saying Roman Reigns is going to win though and hopefully this will be a one and done.

50 Man Battle Royal

Anyone got a 50 sided coin I can flip?

I really don’t know what to say about this one, there’s been basically no build other than us being told it’s happening, it doesn’t even have a section on the WWE.com page for the show so clearly management doesn’t give a shit about it either.

50 men in one ring also seems like it’s going to be a pretty big clusterfuck. At least with a 50 Man Royal Rumble there are pacing and storytelling opportunities over the length of it, but with all 50 guys starting in the ring all at once? There’s barely going to be any room to move, let alone tell a story. It’ll probably get exciting once we get down to the last 6-8 guys, battle royals always do, but I’m not expecting a great deal of anything from this match.

Also basically anyone could win it, sure the Greatest Royal Rumble last year was won by a top guy in Strowman, but WWE could easily flip it to be a joke thing or even worse a lower mid-card thing that will never amount to anything, like the ARMBAR at Wrestlemania. So I’ve decided I’m breaking all the rules and going with what the betting odds are saying because I honestly don’t care about this match. Surprisingly they have Ali to win with 1/1 odds, so I guess that’s my pick.

Finn Balor(c) vs Andrade
(Intercontinental Championship)

Oh wow, a match that probably won’t suck!

Once again it falls to the Intercontinental Championship to give us a small ray of hope in an ocean of shit, I’m hoping for great things out of this match. Balor & Almas have a handful of great matches on Raw & Smackdown since Wrestlemania and it seemed in those like they were really getting to grips with the chemistry they had, so with any luck that will be on full display here and make for a refreshingly good match in the middle of what promises to be a boring ass show.

Unfortunately, I don’t see Andrade picking up the title here, as much as I want him too. Balor hasn’t had that long of a reign with the title yet and there are still tonnes of great opponents for him to fight for the title with on Smackdown and regardless of any of that, Finn’s going to be The Demon, so there’s no way he’s losing, Finn Balor is retaining.

Kofi Kingston(c) vs Dolph Ziggler
(WWE Championship)

Oh great, another boring heel Dolph Ziggler return this is gonna su- Wait, what do you mean he’s been cutting good promos and has been entertaining to watch? That can’t be right…*checks notes*…well I’ll be.

A month ago I would’ve groaned and rolled my eyes at the thought of this feud, but now I’ve watched it play out in front of me, I’m actually feeling alright about this match. The promos Ziggler has been cutting this month has been great stuff, probably because it’s based in some small level of genuine frustration he’s had at some point in his career and when you think about it, it’s entirely possible that Ziggler could’ve done the exact same thing as Kofi had things turned out differently.

I’m quietly hopeful that this match will be good but you can never quite tell when it comes to Dolph Ziggler, for every great Miz vs Ziggler match there’s a boring as hell Ambrose vs Ziggler match, so this could go either way. Plus there’s the possibility that we get some sort of non-finish to tide the feud over, which will put a huge black mark on the match no matter how good it is.

When Kofi won the WWE Title I was expecting to be constantly worried he was going to lose it in every defence. Like last month at Money in the Bank, I picked Kofi to win, but I wasn’t confident, however here I am pretty confident that Kofi Kingston is going to retain this time, because if there’s one person less likely to get the WWE Championship in 2019 than Kofi Kingston, it’s a heel Dolph Ziggler.

Seth Rollins(c) vs Baron Corbin
(Universal Championship)

Nothing fills 60,000 seats like a Baron Corbin world title match.

I suppose this was a match we were always going to end up getting at some point, so we may as well get it out of the way as early as possible. I don’t Baron Corbin like I do many other wrestlers like Bobby Lashley or Lars Sullivan, I think Corbin fills a necessary role on Raw and a lot of his promo work is actually quite good; his in-ring work however…leaves a lot to be desired.

As long as he doesn’t spend too much time on offence doing the standing still method of wrestling and “wearing him down” with weak ass rest holds for 5 minutes, there could be a pretty fun match in this; it is Seth Rollins we’re talking about after all, who can get 4 star matches out of damn near anyone.

I think if any match is likely to have a non-finish or DQ ending, it’ll be this one. Corbin is anything but a fair fighter and I would not be surprised at all if he got pissed off with not being able to win and did something dirty to end the fight prematurely. That said, there’s no way he’s picking up the title and be it by pinfall or DQ, Seth Rollins is winning this match.

Triple H vs Randy Orton

You know what I really wanted from this PPV? A repeat of one of the most boring Wrestlemania main events of the last 10 years, thankfully WWE has me covered with this match.

There really isn’t a great deal to say about this match, it’s not like it’s going to have any bearing on future events in WWE unless Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase Jr are planning on returning any time soon. This match could be a fun watch if they just decide to go out there and have a fun match, but I’m not overly confident that’s going to happen. It’ll likely be that exact boring Triple H vs Randy Orton match you’re thinking of right now and no-one will be talking about it come Saturday.

As for a winner, I guess it could go either way. Triple H has been winning all of these recent nostalgia matches against Undertaker, Brothers of Destruction and Batista so I guess it makes sense for him to win here, but Randy Orton is still a semi-active competitor in WWE, so surely he should win instead? My gut says Triple H, but I’m going to ignore it just this once and say Randy Orton is winning.

The Undertaker vs Goldberg

Take the match that everyone’s wanted to see since Goldberg became a big star, add 20 years and a hip replacement to each man and here you have it.

If this match goes under 2 minutes it’ll be awesome, if it goes over it’ll suck. All this really needs is for these two guys to hit all their big moves on each other, and one of them to pin the other because let’s face it, that’s all anyone wants to see, even the people who are really excited for this match. However, if this gets dragged out to 15 minutes it’s going to be awful, Goldberg can’t do long matches at the best of times, but add age and a battered Undertaker and you’ll end up with a match similar to the main event of Crown Jewel.

Does it really matter who wins? It’s not like either man is going to wrestle outside of these bi-annual Saudi Arabia shows – or occasionally a Wrestlemania – anymore, so does it actually matter for either man? Once again, I can make a case for both men, on the one hand, Goldberg is still somewhat fit and can likely go for a few more years than Taker can at this point, so he should win. On the flip side, it’s The Undertaker, so he should win, not to mention that this is technically another WWE vs WCW match, and the WCW guys can never win those, plus Undertaker hasn’t won a match in over a year, so I’m going with The Undertaker in this one.

Those are my predictions for WWE Super Showdown! Thank you so much for reading, a share would very much be appreciated, and let me know what you think is going to happen in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo, and make sure you come back this weekend for my review of the show!

WWE Wrestlemania 35: Every Match Ranked

Well! That sure was something. It did get exhausting at points, but I really enjoyed this Wrestlemania, it didn’t have any of those deflating losses that draw down a lot of other Manias of late and I think it was structured in just the right way to make it very hard to get bored.

Not everything was great of course, but coming away from the show I feel that the bad was heavily outweighed by the good, and this was certainly the best Wrestlemania we’ve had since 31 as far as I’m concerned.

“But Ryan”, I hear you ask, “Where can we find an arbitrary and subjective ranking of all sixteen matches on the card?” What an oddly specific question, however, you’re in luck, as that’s exactly what I have for you right here, let’s get into it, shall we?

16 – Triple H def. Batista
(No Holds Barred)

I don’t think this is going to surprise anyone, is it?

I’ve said it so many times before, so I’m not going into detail on it again, but a slow-paced weapons based match with nothing but high spot after high spot is my least favourite kind of match, and that’s exactly what this match was.

There were a couple of cool looking spots, like Triple H pulling out Batista’s nose ring with some tweezers and a good old fashioned table break, but there was a whole lot of nothing between all of it. Batista ended up getting in very little offence, and the one time he did get close to win, there was absolutely no drama in it because there was no chance Triple H was losing this one.

I don’t think anyone was expecting anything that great from this match, which is good because we didn’t get it, (aside from a ridiculously over the top Triple H entrance of course). By the same token though, nothing stupid or nonsensical happened during the match, so I guess that’s a good thing that this is a bad as it got.

15 – Baron Corbin def. Kurt Angle
(Kurt Angle’s Final Match)

I told you so.

This match was fairly similar to Triple H vs Batista in that it was fairly slow and boring, except I enjoyed this just a little bit more, since there was actually some decent back and forth between the two men, and they aren’t just ambling about trying to set up a spot that ends up not looking all that impressive.

I know people are going to be pissed off about it, but like I said in my predictions I think Corbin winning was the right choice. No-one would’ve benefitted in any way from Angle winning, and while I doubt anything big is on the horizon for Corbin, at least he’s going to be on Raw every Monday for the next while and stands a chance of getting something out of winning.

Not to mention, it’s not like this has sullied Angle’s legacy. For one thing, if anything had done that is was the awful matches he’s been having on Raw and Smackdown for the past month, and for another, when people think back on Angle’s career, they’re not going to be thinking about this match. They’ll be thinking about all the awesome stuff he did from ’99 through ’06, and losing to a dude in a dress shirt isn’t going to spoil that.

…much.

14 – Braun Strowman wins the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
(Kickoff Show)

Thank God for that.

While I’m happy about the result, this may have been the most boring ARMBAR to date, and that includes the one where the final two were Jinder and Mojo. Several people were eliminated within seconds of the bell ringing, no-one really got much of a chance to show off their stuff aside from Braun and the comedy stuff wasn’t all that funny.

Andrade eliminating himself has got to be one of the worst eliminations in the history of the ARMBAR and doesn’t protect him, it makes him look like a total idiot. I’ll admit I laughed when one of the SNL guys (don’t know his name, don’t care enough to look it up) brought out his “therapist”, but everything after that was super predictable, and I never really found myself actually enjoying what I was watching.

13 – Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins def. The Revival(c)
(Raw Tag Team Championships)
(Kickoff Show)

Oh for fu-

I’m trying not to hold the result against this match too hard, but seriously? If WWE are still trying to convince The Revival to stay they’re doing an awful job of it, having them lose to a guy who’s the whole gimmick is that he always loses is the kind of pit I never thought I’d see The Revival in, but here we are. Even if they win the titles back on Raw, it doesn’t matter, the damage is done.

The match was fine but didn’t really have much excitement to it, The Revival very much wrestled like they knew they were going to lose and decided they didn’t give a shit anymore. It was still solid but lacked the polish that we’ve come to expect from The Revival, and even Ryder seemed like he was phoning it in a little bit.

The finish was fine (and honestly, the only finish this match ever could’ve had), but it didn’t really surprise me, it just caused me to sigh. It wasn’t anything awful but was exactly the kind of match you think of when you think “pre-show tag match”, so it wasn’t anything great either.

12 – Samoa Joe(c) def. Rey Mysterio
(United States Championship)

Finally.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the result of this match, but given that it went under a minute, it’s hard to put it any higher up.

Samoa Joe winning was absolutely the right result, the United States Championship needs a dominant champion like Joe to pull it out of the ditch it’s been in for the past year, and this was the perfect start. If you ask me, have him squash guys while defending the title week in and week out on Smackdown, while having slightly longer matches on PPVs, and that US title will have it’s prestige back in no time.

As for the match itself, it’s understandable that it went this short, since the number of matches required at least one or two to be squashes, and Rey’s recent injury may have made it a necessity, but I hope we get a full-length match later down the line, because I think it could be really good.

11 – Roman Reigns def. Drew Mcintyre

WWE just doesn’t seem to understand Drew’s strengths.

Drew is the kind of guy that is best when he’s running around murdering dudes and a breakneck pace, this match should’ve been somewhat in the style of Lesnar vs Goldberg from a couple of years ago, where it’s about 10 minutes of them going back and forth hitting each other with big hard-hitting moves until one of them couldn’t stand anymore.

Instead, we had Drew holding Reigns to the mat and “wearing him down” for the whole thing until it was time for Reigns to make his comeback. It had just enough to keep me somewhat engaged, with some tense spots on the ropes and some well-timed kick outs which Reigns is great at, but I feel it could’ve been so much more.

I was somewhat surprised that Reigns got a pretty mixed reaction on his entrance after how he’s been in recent months. Maybe it was just casual fans who don’t know what’s been going on and still think booing Reigns is the default, but really I think it’s time that we just cheer the guy. I get you’d rather see other guys get the spots he does, but he’s a pretty good wrestler these days and by all accounts, he’s an amazing person in real life, so let’s just stop relentlessly booing him for no reason now, yeah?

I’m sure my words have fallen on deaf ears, but I tried.

10 – The IIconics def. Sasha Banks & Bayley(c), Nia Jax & Tamina, Natalya & Beth Phoenix
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

IIIIIIIIIIIIIICONIC!

Have your Kofimanias and Becky chants all you want, this is the win that made me the happiest all night.  The IIconics are just so entertaining at what they do and are up there with the best in terms of wrestling ability so I’m over the moon to see them get these spots, hopefully, this reign lasts more than 2 days.

That said, the match itself was fairly underwhelming, maybe it was because we’d already had a very good 4 way tag match on the show, or maybe it’s hard to make an exciting match when 75% of the participants aren’t known for high spots or taking risks, but something about this just didn’t click for me. It thought everything was fairly standard and vanilla, with the match moving at a fairly predictable pace, and attempts at bigger spots leading more to confusion than anything else.

The only thing I really enjoyed about it was the way in which The IIconics one, taking advantage of being the right place at the right time and nothing more. Granted, 4 ways tend to have a base level of excitement that they will always be (hence why this match is as high as it is), but it really didn’t do much to go beyond it.

The IIconics won though, so who cares how good the match was?

9 – Finn Balor def. Bobby Lashley(c)
(Intercontinental Championship)

Demon Finn needs more Wrestlemania entrances because that looked cool as fuck.

This match was just a glorified squash, so I can’t put it too high, but I think it was much more entertaining than the US title squash earlier in the night. This had a small about of back and forth to keep the momentum of the match going for the full 4 minutes, and it also had some pretty impressive spots to boot.

Lashley’s apron spear looked brutal, and I wish more of his offence was in that style because he could be a really entertaining wrestler if he did that more often. On the flip side, we saw a rare display of power from Finn Balor because that Powerbomb to Lashley was such a good feat of strength. Things like that are what you need to give The Demon more mystique because that really made it feel like Finn is stronger when he’s the Demon.

Once again though, I really don’t want to see this match anymore. This is clearly as good as it’s ever going to get, now it’s time to let Finn run and have great matches with everyone on whichever show he lands on post-shakeup.

8 – Tony Nese def. Buddy Murphey(c)
(Cruiserweight Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

So not only are they forced onto the kickoff show, they’re forced to open the kickoff show when there’s all of about 26 in the arena, great.

Ultimately, I think the middle of the list is the best place for this match, because while it didn’t have anything amazing in it, it was an extremely solid match, with several enjoyable moments throughout. Nese’s baseball slide to the outside, where he took Murphey’s legs out from under him at the same time was a very satisfying thing to watch, and generally the chemistry the two of them had made for a match that I had no problems sitting through.

Nese winning was actually quite the surprise to me, mostly it’s my own fault for not knowing what Nese’s finisher looked like, but also I didn’t really expect him to win, I always got the feeling that WWE loves Buddy Murphy (because he’s great) and that this thing was gonna last a little while longer, however I can’t argue with the decision and I do now wanna watch 205 Live this week to see where this all goes next; so it’s mission accomplished really.

7 – Carmella won the Women’s Wrestlemania Battle Royal

Well, this was a surprise.

Not so much the result, but the fact that the match was actually pretty damn enjoyable, it really seemed like everything was working against it. It has Asuka being dumped in it after losing her title, Lacey Evans not even being in the thing, and all of 16 competitors it really seemed like this thing was doomed to suck.

It wasn’t anything special to start off with, but once the field cleared a bit and we were down to a few competitors, things got pretty fun. There were many of the battle royal spots we’ve come to expect, and I really liked that they gave both Sonya Deville and Sarah Logan some time to shine because I think they’re both wonderful people, and damn good wrestlers to boot.

Surprisingly, because of the way it went down, I don’t actually have a problem with Asuka not winning. I’d rather it was Sarah Logan than Carmella sure and it seemed they’d already forgotten about that win by the time she showed up later on in the night, but the match itself was a nice little bit of fun on the pre-show, which is really what the pre-show matches should be for.

6 – AJ Styles def. Randy Orton

Well, that was pretty much exactly what I expected it to be.

I don’t have any complaints about this match, it wasn’t anything super exciting, but everything was perfectly solid the whole way through. It was slow enough to cool down the crowd after the excitement of the opening, but not so slow as to be boring, and it was just a really well-rounded match with 15 minutes of perfectly enjoyable wrestling. We even got an RKO kick out, which hasn’t happened in what feels like years.

I think its place on the card has got a lot to do with it. If this match had happened in 6th or 7th hour, then I imagine I would’ve crapped all over it for being boring but as it is, it got a really good spot on the card and made the most of it, so I really don’t have anything to complain about.

I think AJ was the right choice in winner too, granted I don’t think either man is going to be doing anything major right after Mania – they’ll probably both be in Money in the Bank but I doubt either of them will win it –  but AJ has been losing a lot since losing the WWE Championship to Daniel Bryan, so this was the best way I can think of for AJ to re-establish himself to hopefully have a solid mini-feud with whoever gets called up on Tuesday evening, which should be fun.

5 – Shane Mcmahon def. The Miz
(Falls Count Anywhere)

How does Shane keep doing this?

Seriously, I don’t understand it, by all rights a singles match involving a 49-year-old Shane Mcmahon at Wrestlemania should be awful, but with the exception of his Undertaker match, they’ve all been rather good year in and year out. This year’s match relied a little more on spectacle than the past couple, but I think that was more to the matches benefit than anything else. It started out a bit plodding, but once business started to pick up, I found myself enjoying it quite a lot.

George Mizanin will forever be a meme that will go down in wrestling history, alongside that little girl who hates The Miz and anytime Brock Lesnar pulls a roided out face. Once that was out of the way though, I actually quite liked the slower, more hard-hitting pace that this match had; it had the same style as Triple H vs Batista, but it felt to me like everything flowed better and the match was never at a standstill while we were waiting for a spot to be set up. On top of that, the actual spots themselves looked much more impressive, the finish is the obvious one, but the spot where Miz smashed Shane in the face and he went sailing over the railing onto the floor below looked so painful and was really satisfying to watch.

Normally I’d be furious that Shane won, but the way the finish played out in this match meant it made total sense. Total, random luck is the only way Shane should ever win a match where he’s not being helped and the fact that Miz did what he did instead of playing it safe is both a brilliant illustration of how this face turn has changed his character (as heel Miz would often tout the merits of how safe his wrestling style was) and added an extra layer of intensity to the feud, since it really felt like Miz was putting hurting Shane in front of winning the match.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but after watching this match, I really hope this feud isn’t over, I want to see more out of this.

4 – The Usos(c) def. Aleister Black & Ricochet, The Bar, Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

The flipside of the 4 way tag matches on this show,  we got a much better one when the men went at it.

Generally, I think this match was structured a lot better than the women’s one, with a feeling out process at the start before we jumped it all descended into total chaos, it gave the match a natural progression, instead of immediately becoming a clusterfuck.

Once things did start to breakdown though, the action was generally just much more entertaining to watch, with everyone getting a chance to shine as chaos reigned. The Bar continues to be one of the best tag teams out there, as they went absolutely mental spinning Ricochet exactly 42 trillion times and Sheamus turning Black’s ribcage to dust. Black & Ricochet got a whole bunch of stuff scattered through the whole match, as one of them was the legal man for very nearly the whole thing, and when everyone was hitting their finishers at the end I was having an absolute blast.

I wouldn’t have chosen The Usos to retain if I were making the decisions, but it’s definitely not a bad choice, The Usos have lowkey been the best tag team in the world for a couple of years now, and letting them have brilliant matches for the titles month after month will be a great way to showcase that fact, so bring it on I say.

3 – Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar(c)
(Universal Championship)

You have no idea how happy I am that I get to type that header because I was so worried.

Despite making Seth my prediction, the closer and closer it got to the show the more convinced I was that Brock was going to retain, so when Heyman came out and declared that Seth vs Brock would be opening show, it was music to my ears.

It was exactly what it needed to be too, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure an extended match would’ve been great, but this got me twice as excited in a quarter the time and I loved it. Everything from the post-match beatdown to the low blow, to the triple Curb Stomp, was booked to absolute perfection, and the only reason it’s not number 1 is because it only lasted 2 minutes.

I would’ve been annoyed that Seth won because of a low blow, but A) It’s Brock Lesnar, he’s taken a low blow in almost every match for the past few years and won anyway, and B) Brock took the first cheap shot by attacking Seth before the bell, so the low blow felt more like karmic justice than Seth cheating.

Hopefully, Brock shows up on Raw, F-5’s everything that moves and then disappears off to get destroyed by Daniel Cormier while Seth puts on match of the year candidates with absolutely everyone while defending that title.

I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to open the show if I tried, and Seth Rollins once again manages to create one my all-time favourite wrestling moments, A freaking plus.

2 – Becky Lynch def. Ronda Rousey(c), Charlotte Flair(c)
(Raw Women’s Championship)
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Well, that sure was eventful.

People around the internet seem to be having pretty mixed reactions to this match, some say it was a massive disappointment that is the result of awful booking, while others say that it was an enjoyable match that was dragged down by everyone watching being exhausted and a slightly botched finish. I fall into the second camp.

Sure, this match wasn’t quite what it was hyped up to be, but it was still a great match that I had plenty of fun watching. It is worth mentioning the length of the show though, as much as it doesn’t bother me I am admittedly in the minority there as it was clear that the crowd were just too exhausted by hour 7 that there was no way they were ever going to be able to give this the reaction it deserved.

That said, WWE didn’t exactly help them to get excited. If the match had gotten an extra five minutes or so, they could’ve spent some time building up to a big climactic finish, and the crowd would’ve sensed that and reacted to it. Instead, we got a sudden roll-up win that was ever so slightly botched by Rousey making it look like it wasn’t the planned finished (the current report from Meltzer is that it was the planned finish, but Rousey lifted her shoulders when she wasn’t supposed to).

However, focusing on the positives, there was a lot to like in this match. For one thing, it really did have that big fight feel and spectacle that you’d expect from the main event of Wrestlemania, and when they were staring each other down at the start I really could feel the excitement in the air. There was also plenty of great psychology throughout the whole thing, with Becky and Ronda constantly going for the arms of their opponents while Charlotte spent an extended period of time working over Ronda’s leg which was great.

The table spot looked quite brutal if you ask me, and was in fact enhanced by the fact that the table didn’t break as it gave it what felt like a harder impact. Becky and Ronda staring down before the final exchange was a great moment too, and it did genuinely feel like the climax to this almost year-long story.

Would’ve I have liked it to be a bit different? Absolutely, that’s mainly why I’ve dropped it to second, but am I upset by what we got? Not in the slightest, I thought that this was a really good end to one of the better Wrestlemanias of the modern era, that said, it wasn’t the pinnacle of the night…

1 – Kofi Kingston def. Daniel Bryan(c)
(WWE Championship)

Come on, was it ever going to be anything else?

You take a competitor as hungry for success as Kofi, a story that was built organically by the fan’s love for Kofi, a heel champion as hated as Daniel Bryan, and a WWE Champion that does everything he can in the ring to make his opponent look amazing and also happens to be one of the best wrestlers in the world, and this match is exactly what you’d expect the result to look like.

This match took the fundamentals of a WWE world championship match and performed them to perfection. There was a constant back and forth between the two men, and they were constantly speeding up and slowing down the pace of the match as it was necessary for that moment in the story, because the story is exactly what this match was all about.

The idea of Kofi’s struggle was central to this entire performance, with Bryan constantly there to beat Kofi down time and time again just like he had been week after week since Elimination Chamber. That moment when Bryan was stomping on Kofi’s face only for Kofi to do the same thing to Bryan minutes later is perhaps the best way to illustrate this. Every single move in the match seemed to feed back into the story, building the emotional weight constantly until it was all able to come out at the finish.

Speaking of the finish, man what an emotional moment, after watching Kofi overcome every struggle that was thrown his way for his whole life in order to finally reach the pinnacle of his career and watching Big E and Woods be able to celebrate with him was just magical. I’m stealing this quote from many many people online, but this is why we put up with all the shit in WWE because when a story like this comes together in just the right way, it’s something truly unrivalled in terms of emotion and entertainment.

Even if Kofi loses the title on Tuesday it wouldn’t matter, because this is a moment that will forever stand in the history of Wrestlemania, and that’s something very few people will ever achieve.

So that was Wrestlemania 35! Overall I think it was a really enjoyable show, probably my favourite since 31, so I’m feeling very satisfied with all the wrestling over this past weekend indeed. As always thank you very much for taking the time to read an article as long as this one and please share it around on social media if you enjoyed. Follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo for live thoughts of wrestling and check back here every week for new opinions on both gaming and wrestling. I’ll see you soon.