A huge part of my childhood was rooted in the WWE pay-per-view friend circuit. Whenever there was a new PPV on the horizon, one pal's family would order the event and everyone would come over to watch it. Some of the most hilarious, shocking, weird, and absolutely brutal moments would occur at these pay-per-views, and it became apparent that a lot of the action on RAW and SmackDown were just appetizers for the main course.
While some WWE events got a little predictable after a while, and some pre-planned WTF moments come off a little muted, like Undertaker's "choke push" of Rikishi, it doesn't change the fact that the WWE usually went all out to create some truly incredible sports entertainment spectacles.
The following are legendary WWE pay-per-views that are just, that, damn, good.
These are the top WWE pay-per-views of all time:
1. One Night Stand - 2005
Technically an ECW event that was put on after the WWE purchased the now-dissolved organization, pro-wrestling fans with a penchant for sadistic, hardcore action were treated to an absolute barnburner of an event at NY's Hammerstein Ballroom, the ECW's old unofficial home for events. The insane match between Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka was one of the craziest pro-wrestling displays ever recorded, but in reality, the entire card was stupendous.
2. Wrestlemania 19 - 2003
Something about the late '90s and early 2000's just made for some excellent sports entertainment, and Wrestlemania 19 didn't disappoint. The card featured a double main event - the Swan Song for Stone Cold Steve Austin when he finally lost to the Rock after "The Great One" fell to the Texas Rattlesnake at two previous Wrestlemanias. Then there was the epic matchup between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar that saw "The Beast Incarnate" attempt a failed shooting star.
3. Wrestlemania 17 - 2001
While this isn't a "ranked" list by any means as each event has its own merits and there's a certain amount of subjectivity when it comes to what makes each PPV incredible, it's easy to argue that Wrestlemania 17 is the greatest of all time. All 11 matches on the card were absolutely superb and there's a reason for that — the WWE used this card as a "celebration" because they successfully purchased a competing organization — the WCW. They had to show fans that there was a reason they were the top, and this event did just that. Holy moly.
4. Royal Rumble - 1992
There's one reason and one reason only why the 1992 Royal Rumble was such an amazing pay-per-view, and that's because of one man: Ric Friggin' Flair. The undercard was pretty good, but to see The Nature Boy beat out 29 other opponents over the course of an hour and eliminate five himself to capture the WWF World Championship was a sight to see. Even better was the promo he cut after winning the belt.
5. Summerslam 2001
This one gets mentioned just due to sheer star power, like Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Lance Storm, in addition to the WWE's already incredible roster of The Rock, Kurt Angle, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Kane, and The Undertaker. While pretty much all of the card was great, the 23-minute bout between Stone Cold and Kurt angle for the WWF title was the bee's knees.
6. SummerSlam 2002
I don't know what it is about SummerSlams kicking so much butt, they just have a history of being awesome events all around, and 2002 (there we go with the 2000s again) was no exception. The event featured The Rock vs Brock Lesnar in an insane match that saw Lesnar capturing the title after F-5'ing The People's Champ into oblivion. The street fight between Triple H and Shawn Michaels was all sorts of awesome as well — this one's definitely worth revisiting.
7. Survivor Series - 2002
2002 was a good, good year for WWE pay-per-views, and it featured a really cool main event: the first ever Elimination Chamber bout that pitted Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Rob Van Dam. Shawn Michaels ended up winning the match after eliminating Triple H first, KO'ing him with the Sweet Chin Music, aka the Super Kick.
8. Unforgiven - 2006
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches are almost always good, but few have been as astounding as the TLC brawl that occurred between Edge and John Cena at this PPV. Then there was the handicap tag team bout between DX (Shawn Michaels and Triple H) and the Big Show, Vince & Shane McMahon. DX won after Triple H nailed Vince in the back with a sledgehammer and then pinned him to end the contest.
9. King of the Ring - 1998
King of the Ring 1998 was overall an amazing PPV, but June 28, 1998 will always be remembered for the Undertaker throwing Mankind off the top of the cage in their Hell in a Cell match and onto an announcer's table that crumbled upon impact. It was all sorts of incredible, electrifying, and awesome.
10. Wrestlemania 10 - 1994
The Madison Square Garden event had a ton of high profile matches, like Razor Ramon who took on Shawn Michaels in an intercontinental match that saw the Cuban Sensation best the Sexy Boy for the belt. But the big focus of the night was how the WWF Championship was defended twice by Yokozuna. Lex Luger lost to the Sumo wrestler by means of disqualification when he pushed the referee. Then Bret Hart challenged Yoko, and ended up pinning him, which angered his brother, Owen Hart, who won their match earlier that evening. It established a long-running feud between the two in the organization.
11. No Way Out - 2000
While the 20-foot steel cage match between Triple H and one of Mick Foley's multiple personalities, Cactus Jack, was certainly the highlight, the title decider match on the undercard between the Rock and the Big Show was a helluva show itself, and saw the big man besting Dwayne Johnson to go on and challenge for the heavyweight title at Wrestlemania 2000.
12. Wrestlemania 3 - 1987
The story behind Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan's match during Wrestlemania 3 is one for the history books, and the match itself was incredible too. No one was sure whether or not Andre would let the Hulkster win the bout, but he ultimately allowed the Hulkamaniac to get the 1,2,3. Another great matchup was the Macho Man Randy Savage against Ricky the Steamboat as a co-headliner.
13. Money in the Bank - 2011
CM Punk took on John Cena in the Punk's hometown of Chicago. Before CM was getting schooled in the UFC, he was a legitimate draw in the WWE. His mic skills were some of the best in the business, and his bout with Cena is easily the best of the decade. I don't want to spoil the end result if you haven't seen it, but the stakes were high. Fans in the audience held signs that read, "If Cena wins, we riot." Stop what you're doing now and check out this match. Seriously, it's that good.
There are tons of other honorable mentions that could have made this list, and maybe you don't agree with all of the ones listed above. What are some of your favorite WWE pay-per-views?
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