The 10 Best WWE PPVs of All Time
Last updated on May 8th, 2022 at 11:24 am
In retrospect, Wrestlemania remains the holy grail of PPV events in the world of professional wrestling. Over the years, many analysts and wrestling purists have often equated Wrestlemania to NFL’s Superbowl and looking back at the annual event, it’s clear to see why.
While we’ve seen many amazing Wrestlemania events over the years, there are other PPVs events that have been equally impressive.
From Royal Rumble 2000 to Royal Rumble 1992 to Survivor Series 1992, all these events managed to leave an indented mark in the world of professional wrestling.
For many years, many wrestling promotions often relied on PPVs to not only cement their legacy but also generate additional revenue.
Although many wrestling fans have complained about the most recent PPVs, there are those PPVs that really stood out. These are the 10 greatest WWE PPVs of all time.
10. Royal Rumble 1992
While we’ve had many amazing Royal Rumble events, none of them have been able to match Royal Rumble 1992. Unlike other Royal Rumble events, the World title was up for grabs due to controversial results in the previous world title matches.
Simply put, the winner of the Royal Rumble match will get to walk away with the World title. Looking at the star power, it’s safe to say that this was one of the fully stacked Royal Rumble events in the history of the promotion.
From The Undertaker to Hulk Hogan to Ric Flair to Ted Dibiase to the British Bulldog, many of these wrestlers were household names and thus added more value to the event.
The commentary for the 1992 was done by two of the greatest WWE commentators of all time, Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. As you would have guessed by now, the commentary for the night was second to none.
By the end of the night, Ric Flair not only won the Royal Rumble but also became the newly crowned WWF World champion
9. Summerslam 2002
Just like Wrestlemania 24, Summerslam 2002 was the first-ever Summerslam event to take place after the WWF rebranded to the WWE. As was the case, there were huge changes in the main event scene, with wrestlers such as Brock Lesnar suddenly bursting into the main event scene.
On the other hand, wrestlers such as Stone Cold Steve Austin were sitting at home after he refused to put Brock Lesnar over at the King of the Ring tournament due to the lack of steady build towards that match.
While Austin was not on the cards for the first time in many years, there were a total of 18 wrestlers on the card. Out of the 18, 15 went ahead to become world champions later on in their pro-wrestling careers.
This goes a long way to show how the cards for Summerslam 2002 were packed. That said, the biggest selling point for Wrestlemania 2002 was the Rock vs Brock Lesnar match card and the Triple H vs Shawn Michaels brawl.
Brock Lesnar got his first shot at the undisputed World Heavyweight championship, while Shawn Michaels was making his first return after retiring for four years.
Considered to be one of the most successful Summerslam events, the show registered more than 540,000 PPV buys in North America alone. Other noteworthy matches at Summerslam 2002 include Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio, Chris Jericho vs Ric Flair, Edge vs Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit vs Rob Van Dam just to name a few.
8. Wrestlemania 3
Marketed under the tagline, Bigger, Badder and Better, Wrestlemania III definitely lived up to the tagline, by surpassing the other two Wrestlemania’s. According to many wrestling fans and analysts, this was the first-ever Wrestlemania that made many people draw comparisons between the annual event and the Superbowl.
Wrestlemania 3 took place in Pontiac Silverdome, just close to the Detroit Lion’s stadium. With an estimated 93,000 people in attendance, Wrestlemania 3 definitely went into the history books as one of the most attended wrestling events.
While the attendance number remains a subject of contention for many years, especially since the Silverdome had a capacity of 80,000, Vince McMahon and the WWE definitely put the WWF on the map.
The biggest selling point for the match was the highly anticipated encounter between Hulkhogan and one of the biggest wrestlers of all time, Andre the Giant. Prior to this epic match, Andre the Giant had just turned heel after he aligned with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
While Hulk Hogan remained undefeated for more than 3 years, Andre the Giant had a more impressive run. According to the WWE, Andre the Giant had remained immortal for more than 15 years, picking up wins in any ring he dared step in.
All in all, most match cards for the night lived up to expectation with only a few subpar matches. The Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat match was quite impressive such that it’s considered to be one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time.
7. Wrestlemania 24
For the second time in its history, Wrestlemania 24 became the second-ever Wrestlemania event to be held outdoors after Wrestlemania 9. Apart from taking place in an unfamiliar setting, Wrestlemania 24 was also the first-ever Wrestlemania event to have plenty of celebrity involvement.
While many of the other Wrestlemania events often had celebrities making appearances, it was quite clear that the WWE decided to take things a notch higher with Wrestlemania 24.
The first match for the evening was a Belfast brawl between Finlay and JBL, with the WWE revealing that Hornswoggle was Finaly’s son. Another classic match for the night was the Money in the Bank match between John Morrison, Carlito Shelton Benjamin, CM Punk, MVP, Chris Jericho and Kennedy.
That said, the highlights for the night were the career-threatening match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels as well as the World title match between Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H that lived up to its expectations.
Unlike the previous Wrestlemania matches, the WWE had one more extra match under its sleeves, the Big Show vs Floyd Mayweather match card. For a celebrity match, this encounter did not disappoint as the expectations were not that high.
6. Wrestlemania 19
Unlike other Wrestlemania events that are not on this list, Wrestlemania 19 was historic for various reasons. First and foremost, it was the first-ever Wrestlemania under the newly branded World Wrestling Entertainment.
Moreover, it was also the first time wrestlers competed under two separate brands, RAW and Smackdown. Taking place at the Seattle Safeco Field, Wrestlemania 19 became one of the most anticipated shows thanks partly due to Mr. McMahon and Hulkhogan’s age-old rivalry.
While the McMahon vs Hulhogan highly anticipated match was not the night’s main event match, it still did a great job in putting the event on the map.
As expected there were plenty of amazing match cards to look forward to. Rey Mysterio and Matt Hardy opened the night as they battled out for the Cruiserweight title. Other amazing match cards for the night include Chris Jericho vs Shawn Michaels, Triple H v Booker T for the World Heavyweight Championship and the street fight between Hulk Hogan and Mr. McMahon.
5. Survivor Series 1998
1998 was a historic year for the WWF. It was the time when the Attitude Era took off, cementing the promotion’s place as the top dog of pro wrestling.
For more than two years, the WWF was not able to match WCW Monday Night Wars ratings. However, the Attitude Era ended up putting the WWF back on the map.
Heading into Wrestlemania 1998, the WWF had no World Champion. The Undertaker, Kane and Stonecold had all failed to pick the title after a rather bizarre incident that involved a double pin on two separate occasions.
During this period in time, The Rock was now becoming one of the top figures in the company. While he had not yet lifted the world title, he still had a rather impressive run.
To make things more interesting, the promotion created a 16 man tourney all competing for the top prize. Despite having a plethora of competitors, it’s Mankind, Steve Austin and the Rock that stood out. By the end of the tournament, it was The Rock and Mankind who had to square off for the World title.
The Rock would pick his first-ever WWF World title, all thanks to Vince and Shane McMahon. Despite Vince pulling off one of the biggest heists, the 1998 tournament lived up to its expectations and is now regarded as one of the best PPVs of all time.
4. Royal Rumble 2000
For many years, the winner of the Royal Rumble match not only received a main event match at Wrestlemania but also in some cases actually went ahead to become the new World Champion. Thus, this factor alone elevated the Royal Rumble PPV into one of the most talked-about main events.
Apart from the 60-man battle royal that The Rock won after eliminating The Big Show, the other attraction for the night was the match between Triple H and Cactus Jack for the WWE World Heavyweight title.
Moreover, history would be at Royal Rumble 2000 as the first-ever TLC match in the WWE would take place. The match would see the Hardy Boyz who were the heroes take on the Dudley Boyz who assumed the role of the villains.
Unlike other tables matches that required only one wrestler to go through the table, this match required both wrestlers to go through. Other memorable matches at this PPV included the New Age Outlaws vs The Acolytes as well as the triple threat match between Chris Jericho, Chyna and Hardcore Holly for the Intercontinental Championship title.
As expected, the brutal street fight between Triple and Cactus Jack carried the day. While Triple H won the match, both wrestlers still managed to give a classic old-school hardcore match.
3. Survivor Series 1992
The 1992 Survivor Series PPV was the climax for change in the WWE. Many of the greats and familiar faces were currently moving on, and the WWE needed fresh faces to keep the momentum going.
Wrestlers like Hulk Hogan were moving on to other projects and thus it felt right for the company to bring in a new crop of successors. As a result, wrestlers like Bret Hart who by then was an Intercontinental Champion would receive a promotion to the company’s main event scene.
While the WWE had plenty of matches in store for the fans, there was a steroid use trial that greatly affected some of these matches including a star-studded match between the Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Razor Ramon.
The match did not end up happening as planned because Warrior would receive a suspension because of steroid use. The main event match also received a little bit of reshuffling as Davey Smith who was the Intercontinental champion was released by the company due to steroid use.
The WWE announced Michaels as his replacement. Because both the WWE Champion and the Intercontinental champion had been suspended, the main event match had to take a rather different format.
As a result, the main event match saw Shawn Michaels go to toe against the WWE Bret Hart. Apart from the main event match, there were other classic matches that saw Survivor Series 1992 become one of the best WWE PPVs of all time.
The Coffin match between The Undertaker and Kamala was another high-stakes match. The Randy Savage and Mr. Perfect match card against Ric Flair and Razor Ramon was yet another classic encounter.
2. Survivor Series 1990
Although the history surrounding the Survivor Series main event is rather controversial, the 1990 Survivor Series is regarded by many as the second-best PPV of all time. A direct competitor to TNA’s Starrcade, Vince McMahon was determined to do whatever it took to ensure that the Survivor Series PPV was a success.
Looking back at history, it was rather strange for Vince McMahon to schedule the first-ever Survivor Series on the same date TNA would debut its first-ever PPV, Starrcade. In its first-ever year, Vince McMahon was able to not only get TNA to fold but also did so in a rather ruthless manner.
Fast forward to 1990, Vince McMahon would yet again cash in, in what many wrestling purists and critics termed as WWE’s second-biggest PPV of all time. Just like all the other Survivor Series PPVs, the 1990 Survivor Series took place during the year’s Thanksgiving Day.
Many wrestling fans would remember the 1990 Survivor Series as it was when The Undertaker made his first-ever on-screen debut. Despite all the classics that took place, the highlights for the night were two matches, The Perfect Team vs The Ultimate Warrior Team and the Million Dollar Team vs The Dream Team.
1. Wrestlemania XVII
Filled with plenty of high-stakes matches and no filler matches whatsoever, Wrestlemania XVII is arguably the biggest PPV of all time. Despite the fact that it took place more than three decades ago, no PPV in the history of the WWE has come close to surpassing Wrestlemania XVII.
While Wrestlemania’s are notoriously known for their filler undercards that often come before the night’s top attraction, everything that came before the main event matches at Wrestlemania XVII was nothing short of spectacular.
The opening match for the night was between Chris Jericho and William Regal. These two wrestlers managed to put forth a classic opener that told a simple story. By the end of the match, Chris Jericho was able to retain his Intercontinental Championship.
The hardcore match between Triple H, Kane, Raven and Big Show was equally impressive. These four wrestlers went to the extreme and did not hesitate to do whatever it took to win the match.
Other memorable matches at Wrestlemania XVII included a 5-Star mat classic between Guerrero and Test, as well as the Women’s Championship match between Chyna and Ivory.
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