WWE have promoted hundreds of pay-per-view events since the inaugural WrestleMania in March 1985. Many of which have approached the all time classic category as bonafide supercards from top to bottom.
This feature lists the best 10 pay-per-views that WWE has ever promoted according to Cagematch.
#10 SummerSlam 2013 (August 18, 2013)
SummerSlam 2013 played host to several duds. Kane versus Bray Wyatt in a Ring of Fire Match anyone? However, it did play host to several superlative bouts which is why the card is so highly thought of.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Christian in a great match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Cody Rhodes bested Damian Sandow in a fine battle, that had the right level of intensity for the friends turned foes.
Brock Lesnar defeated CM Punk in a blistering battle, which was one of the finest match-ups of either man’s career.
Finally in the headline position, Daniel Bryan lifted his first WWE Championship in a terrific match-up full of back and forth, fast-paced action. Bryan’s big moment was unfortunately tarnished when special referee, Triple H pedigreed the new champion, leaving him a sitting duck for Money in the Bank holder, Randy Orton to pin Bryan and become the new titleholder. That would kick off an eight month storyline which would culminate in ‘The American Dragon’ winning the unified WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX.
#9 WrestleMania XXX (April 6, 2014)
WrestleMania XXX was originally scheduled to look very different than the card which WWE ended up presenting on April 6, 2014. It’s very likely that if WWE promoted CM Punk versus Triple H, Daniel Bryan versus Sheamus and Randy Orton versus Batista, the card would not be thought of as highly today.
Daniel Bryan overcame Triple H in one of the greatest opening matches in wrestling history. In a super heated and stiff battle, Bryan finally hit his patented running knee for the victory. That earned him a spot in the show’s main event.
The Shield versus The New Age Outlaws and Kane and AJ Lee versus the entire Divas roster didn’t win any Match of the Year awards but were decent in their own way.
The inaugural Andre The Giant Battle Royal was by far the best. The prize felt meaningful and Cesaro was a popular winner. For a Battle Royal, the action moved at a decent pace and the final elimination where Cesaro hoisted up the mammoth Big Show off of the mat and placed him over the top rope was an incredible feat of strength.
John Cena turned back the challenge of Bray Wyatt in a good match, that was soured by the result. Wyatt, who had been on a tear since his debut on the main roster the previous year, found his momentum permanently derailed by his unnecessary loss to Cena. Another match result which didn’t go as expected was Brock Lesnar’s stunning victory over The Undertaker which broke the famed ‘Streak’ at 21-1. The crowd was subdued during the bout, partly because no one expected ‘The Beast’ to defeat ‘The Phenom’ and also because ‘Taker suffered a concussion early in the bout and was not as crisp in his movements and timing as usual.
Happily, WWE redeemed themselves and sent it’s fans home with smiles on their faces when Bryan, dethroned Randy Orton to lift this third WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match also featuring Royal Rumble winner, Batista. The image of Bryan holding both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships above his head as the Superdome crowd chanted ‘Yes’ in unison with their hero is iconic.
The show was book-ended by two classic matches and featured some very good ones in-between. A truly memorable show.
#8 Royal Rumble 2001 (January 21, 2001)
The 2001 Royal Rumble kicked off with a decent encounter, with some great false finishes for the WWF Tag Team Championship which saw The Dudley Boyz capture their second Tag Team Title, almost 12 months after their first.
The show then stepped it up several notches with a Match of the Year contender for the Intercontinental Championship. In a superb Ladder Match, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit finally drew a line under their long running rivalry. ‘Y2J’ successfully climbed the ladder to win his third IC strap from ‘The Crippler.’
The next bout couldn’t have been in further contrast to the aforementioned two matches. Women’s Champion, Ivory successfully defended the gold after her opponent Chyna collapsed in the ring, after supposedly aggravating a neck injury.
The announcers spoke in solemn tones, whilst medics attending Chyna in the ring. The fact this was broadcast on pay-per-view, just 19 months after the Owen Hart tragedy did not project well on the company.
The WWF Championship match-up was a curiosity, in that the bout pitted two heels against each other. That fact meant the bout between WWF World Champion, Kurt Angle and Triple H played to very little crowd noise. Nevertheless, the pair contested a sound, technical battle. Angle retained the belt, when an interfering Stone Cold Steve Austin battered ‘The Game’ with a belt shot and a Stone Cold Stunner.
The Royal Rumble Match itself headlined the show and remains one of the best ‘Rumbles in company history. The match saw surprise returns; The Honky Tonk Man, who had a priceless segment with Kane, Haku and The Big Show all returned during the bout.
Drew Carey, who was part of a show long storyline, in which he tried to charm Trish Stratus and ended up incurring Vince McMahon’s wrath, found himself entered in the ‘Rumble. He mercifully lasted less than two minutes after encountering the ‘Big Red Machine.’
The bout had a priceless Hardcore segment with many of it’s 24/7 crew smashing each other senseless with every weapon they could find. Kane was the MVP of the match-up, lasting over 50 minutes and eliminating a then-record 11 participants. After withstanding a pasting from Triple H, who sought revenge for his earlier annihilation, Stone Cold Steve Austin last ejected Kane to win a record third ‘Rumble match-up. That secured ‘The Rattlesnake’ a WrestleMania bout with The Rock for the WWF Championship.
With only one dud match on the show, the 2001 Royal Rumble was an outstanding event during a very hot period for the company. The event pulled a staggering 625,000 buys on pay-per-view.
#7 ECW One Night Stand 2005 (June 12, 2005)
The original ECW closed it’s doors in January 2001. Two years later, WWE purchased the company’s assets and video library. That enabled WWE to promote a special reunion ECW show in the summer of 2005.
Atypically, WWE allowed former ECW head honcho, Paul Heyman to book the show as he wished. The card, therefore had a hugely different feel to other WWE events.
Full of expletives, Hardcore violence and an energy rarely seen since the peak days of the company, ECW One Night Stand showed the defunct company at it’s best.
Lance Storm defeated Chris Jericho in a crisp battle, which was far sharper than many of ‘Y2J’s’ battles of the era.
Super Crazy beat Tajiri and Little Guido in an excellent, albeit slightly rushed Three Way Dance.
Rey Mysterio versus Psicosis and Chris Benoit versus Eddie Guerrero disappointed, but Sabu and Rhyno contested a high energy brawl, which was thankfully bereft of the botches that sadly categorised many of Sabu’s ECW matches.
Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka contested another fine brawl in their superlative series. The pair turned the clock back to 1999 and smashed each other with brain rattling chair shots and blasted each other through tables. Mercifully, the punishment for both ended when the former two-time ECW World Champion, Awesome-bombed his foe through a table and hit him with an impressive dive.
The card was headlined by a brutally violent contest pitting The Dudley Boyz against ECW favourites The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. ‘The Innovator of Violence’ (understandably) succumbed to a powerbomb through a burning table to end the insanity.
The crowd wasn’t just memorable for the matches, it played host to two all time classic promos. Firstly, the injured Rob Van Dam addressed the crowd and revealed that the reunion show had been his idea and launched a scathing attack on WWE’s creative team that had allowed his career to meander in the preceding three years.
Later, Paul Heyman cut a blistering promo on WWE, Eric Bischoff, Edge and JBL who were stationed on the balcony of the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Former ECW alumnus, Stone Cold rounded off the show by inciting a mass brawl between the ECW alumnus and the RAW and SmackDown contingent who had ‘invaded’ the event.
One Night Stand was a critical and commercial success. The card pulled over 300,000 buys which was three times as many as the original ECW ever achieved.
Such was the success of the event, WWE elected to run the show again the following year and revive the company as a third WWE brand.
#6 Vengeance 2005 (June 26, 2005)
Vengeance 2005 was a RAW branded pay-per-view show that was headlined by a superb Hell in a Cell Match between World Heavyweight Champion, Batista and Triple H.
‘The Animal’ made it three wins from three on pay-per-view opposing ‘The Game.’ Their previous two outings had failed to deliver, but the pair more than made up for it in a brutal and bloody outing that delivered plenty of drama as well as claret. Batista retained the gold after smashing ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ with a Batista Bomb.
Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle met in a re-match of their WrestleMania 21 classic. This match-up almost lived up to the original as ‘The Showstopper’ and ‘The Olympic Hero’ contested another near flawless battle, full of holds and counter holds and numerous exciting false finishes.
John Cena turned back the challenge of Chris Jericho and Christian in an expertly constructed Triple Threat Match. ‘The Champ’ successfully defended the WWE Championship by planting Christian with an FU, using Christian’s flailing legs to knock out ‘Y2J’.
Kane versus Edge and Victoria versus Christy Hemme were disappointments, but the card was rounded out by a fine bout for the Intercontinental Championship. Carlito defended the belt against Shelton Benjamin in a match-up with sound psychology, which saw the devious Carlito’s cheating pay off.
Vengeance 2005 is unquestionably the finest single branded pay-per-view, WWE ever produced.
#5 Survivor Series 2002 (November 17, 2002)
Survivor Series 2002 is best remembered for a superlative Triple Threat bout for the WWE Tag Team Title and the inaugural Elimination Chamber bout, which saw Shawn Michaels win his first World Title in five years. Incredibly, it would also mark his final World Championship win.
The rest of the card was forgettable, although the action was largely solid. Bubba Ray Dudley, Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy defeated 3 Minute Warning and Rico in a fun Elimination Tables Match. Billy Kidman bested Jamie Noble to win the Cruiserweight Title in an action packed spot-fest. Victoria upended Trish Stratus for the Women’s Championship in a well worked Hardcore Match. They stiffed each other with brutal weapon shots, which resulted in a busted nose for Victoria. The psychotic challenger shrugged off the injury and nailed the champion with a snap suplex for the win and title.
The worst match of the night saw The Big Show defeat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. In a five minute bout which was more angle than match, The Big Show dealt Lesnar his first ever defeat. That win earned him his second WWE Championship, three years after his first. Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman betrayed him and aligned with the Show, costing his now former client the title.
Los Guerreros bested Edge and Rey Mysterio and the team of Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit in a blistering Elimination Match to win the WWE Tag Team Title. That left the Elimination Chamber match-up, which saw Michaels claim the gold by last pinning defending World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H to win the belt in an excellent contest.
As great as the show was from an in-ring standpoint, it did little to prepare for the future. The event played host to the re-debut of the broken down 40-year-old, Scott Steiner. His second WWE run would prove to be a disaster and the former WCW World Champion was curtain jerking just three months later. The 25-year-old Brock Lesnar, who had been well protected in his WWE career thus far as he decimated the competition; defeating legends such as: Hulk Hogan, The Rock and The Undertaker, was dealt his first ever loss to Big Show, who had had a disastrous WWE run to date and had packed on so much weight he could barely move.
Rob Van Dam and Booker T, WWE’s two other best hopes for permanent main event stardom in the company were booked to be the first two men eliminated from the Elimination Chamber bout. Perennial WWE headliners, Kane, Chris Jericho, Triple H and Michaels contested the final 22 minutes of the match-up.
Although it did little to prepare for the future, the event did deliver between the ropes.
#4 SummerSlam 2002 (August 25, 2002)
SummerSlam 2002 was a blistering show and is near the top of any long-time fan’s greatest shows of all time list.
Kurt Angle defeated Rey Mysterio in a phenomenal opener, which was surprisingly competitive considering the size difference. After an incredible amount of false finishes, Angle finally bested Mysterio with his patented Ankle Lock.
The Undertaker versus Test and Ric Flair versus Chris Jericho were both sloppy and forgettable. The Un-Americans bested Booker T and Goldust in a decent encounter which would have been more warmly received if the babyface squad had won the belts. By the time Booker T and Goldust lifted the World Tag Team Championship, four months later at Armageddon, their act had peaked.
The rest of the card met the high standards of the opening contest. Edge defeated Eddie Guerrero in a sound, psychological battle. The veteran, Guerrero tried to eliminate the Spear from his opponent’s arsenal by working over Edge’s arm and shoulder. Guerrero even frogsplashed Edge’s already injured arm for good measure. A resilient, Edge, did however, manage to nail a desperate Spear for the win.
Rob Van Dam lifted the Intercontinental Title for the third time in a stiff, hard hitting contest with Chris Benoit. ‘The Crippler’ dominated the majority of the contest before RVD managed to hit an Enziguri, Rolling Thunder and The Five Star Frog Splash for the win.
Shawn Michaels returned to a WWE ring for the first time in four and a half years in the best match of 2002 versus his former running buddy, Triple H. Set up by an angle in which ‘The Game’ smashed ‘The Heartbreak Kid’s’ head through a car window. Triple H declared that he not Michaels was now ‘The Showstopper, The Icon and The Main Event.’ However, Triple H’s confidence was misplaced. ‘The Cerebral Assassin’ underestimated his foe and Michaels demonstrated that he was far from washed up and his injured back, which had once appeared career ending could withstand bumps. In an expertly paced, slow building, thriller, ‘The Showstopper’ pinned Triple H to win his comeback bout. ‘The Game’ had the last laugh however, brutally assaulting Michaels with as sledgehammer post-match.
A superb card was rounded off by an excellent headliner between Undisputed Champion, The Rock and ‘The Next Big Thing’ Brock Lesnar. The Rock carried Lesnar to the best bout of his young career and was roundly booed for his efforts by the capacity New York crowd at the Nassau Coliseum. In a fine match-up, Lesnar reversed a Rock Bottom attempt into an F-5 for the clean pinfall victory.
With that win, Lesnar became the youngest WWE Champion in company history. ‘The Next Big Thing’ had arrived.
#3 WrestleMania XIX (March 30, 2003)
WrestleMania XIX was an incredible card on paper and so it proved in practice.
The undercard offered little with rushed matches wasting the superlative talents of Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. However, the event stepped into fifth gear and never let up when Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels marched down the aisle.
Michaels ably proved his superb match-ups at SummerSlam and Survivor Series 2002 were no flukes in an expertly crafted, slow burning, technical masterclass. Jericho played his part too in one of the finest bouts of 2003.
Triple H and Booker T had no chance of following that classic, but did construct a tidy contest of their own. Unfortunately, it was marred by the finish. After a single Pedigree, ‘The Game’ waited 19 seconds before covering his challenger. Booker T did not kick out, which ended the bout on an anti-climatic note and put a bullet in ‘The Book’s’ reputation. Immediately after the event, Booker T would be demoted to the mid-card and would not headline in WWE for a further three years.
Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon met in a ultra bloody, incredibly dramatic match that was far better than it had any right to be considering the age of the participants, the 49-year-old ‘Hulkster’ and the 58-year-old chairman of the board. Hogan pinned his boss to draw a line under their two decade story.
The Rock and Stone Cold met in their third WrestleMania match-up. Whilst not as strong as their previous two encounters at WrestleMania XV and X-7, their final chapter was a strong contest that was absorbing for it’s 18 minute duration. It was a worthy conclusion to ‘The Rattlesnake’s’ glittering 14 year career.
The event was headlined by a dream match between WWE Champion, Kurt Angle and the Royal Rumble winner, Brock Lesnar. The pair constructed a superb, technical masterclass, which was an incredible achievement given that Angle entered the bout with a serious neck injury and underwent surgery days after the show. However, following the bout, observers were more concerned with the welfare of Lesnar who almost killed himself with a botched Shooting Star Press. However, ‘The Pain’ somehow, regained his senses in time to nail the champion with a third F-5 which earned him his second WWE Championship.
Despite the quality of the show, it performed poorly on pay-per-view, drawing just 560,000 buys, some 280,00 fewer than WrestleMania X-8, the previous year.
#2 Money In The Bank 2011 (July 17, 2011)
Over a decade on, the main event of the 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view still retains it’s power.
Supported by a believable worked shoot storyline, fan interest in WWE was at a several year high as CM Punk took on WWE management and was the ‘Voice of the Voiceless’, the WWE fans, whom he felt the company had taken for granted for far too long.
Punk challenged WWE Champion, John Cena for the gold, on the final day of his WWE contract. In a stunning back and forth battle, with an electric Chicago crowd cheering their hometown hero on, ‘The Straight Edge Superstar’ nailed Cena with a Go To Sleep to capture the WWE Championship.
Devastated, WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon sent out Money in the Bank holder, Alberto Del Rio to snare the belt. However, a savvy Punk nailed the Mexican with a roundhouse kick to the head and left the arena with the WWE Championship. An unforgettable moment.
Although the card is best remembered for the headliner, the action underneath was top notch too.
Christian upended Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Title in a blistering contest. In what was probably the best match-up of their superlative series, Christian spat on Orton, which caused ‘The Viper’ to get himself disqualified by beating his challenger senseless and ignoring the referee’s five count. The pre-match stipulation demanded that Orton lost his belt via DQ.
Elsewhere the two Money in the Bank Ladder Matches were excellent. Del Rio and Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio won their respective RAW and SmackDown briefcases.
Mark Henry versus The Big Show and Kelly Kelly versus Brie Bella were nothing to write home about. However, those bouts only lasted a total of 10 minutes between them. With just 10 minutes of disappointing action on a three hour card, Money in the Bank 2011 is a strong contender for the finest WWE supercard ever.
#1 WrestleMania X-7 (April 1, 2001)
WrestleMania X-7 is widely regarded as the greatest WrestleMania of all time. It is also the finest supercard the company has ever produced.
The card had an inauspicious start with a clumsy contest between Chris Jericho and William Regal and an average TV style bout between The APA and Tazz versus Right To Censor.
However, the card picked up with an unforgettably insane Hardcore brawl for the Hardcore Title between Kane, The Big Show and Raven. Eddie Guerrero then lifted the European Championship from Test in a decent encounter.
The card kicked into high gear with a technical masterpiece between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit and only deviated from superb with the Chyna versus Ivory squash bout and the played for laughs Gimmick Battle Royal.
Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon battered each other senseless in a sports entertainment classic, filled full of memorable moments and payoffs to months long storytelling.
Edge and Christian won their seventh and final Tag Team Championship in a blistering three way Tables, Ladders and Chairs match-up. Packed full of dangerous stunts and highlight reel moments, this was an all time classic bout.
The Undertaker defeated Triple H in an excellent brawl which was ‘The Dead Man’s’ best contest of the year by a considerable margin.
To cap off the greatest card of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin won his fifth WWF Championship by beating The Rock in an intense scrap which saw Stone Cold repeatedly denied the win by a valiant ‘Brahma Bull.’
In the end it took interference from Vince McMahon and 16 chair shots for ‘The Rattlesnake’ to claim the gold.
The image of ‘The Bionic Redneck’ shaking hands and drinking a beer with McMahon is one of the most iconic moments in wrestling history. Stone Cold and McMahon together as allies after spending the previous three and a half years at loggerheads was a colossal shocker.
The 67,000 throng of excitable Texans in the Houston Astrodome couldn’t care less however. They cheered their hero, despite the fact he had sold out and turned his back on them.
The event pulled a mammoth 1,040,000 buys on pay-per-view. A record that stood for four years until it was surpassed by WrestleMania 21 in 2005.
You can watch all of these pay-per-views exclusively on the WWE Network.