Liam Hoofe runs down the best WWE matches of 2017…
2017 has seen the WWE face its first real whiff of competition in years. While the likes of NJPW and ROH are not likely to ignite a full-scale war with the company like WCW, the shows, along with various other indie promotions, have really upped their game this year, especially from an in-ring standpoint. As we complete another lap around the sun, most wrestling fans are talking about the likes of Omega and Okada, and many fans are insistent that the WWE just can’t compete from an in-ring point of view.
While this may be the case, the WWE product, as a whole, still entices me more than any other promotion and reflecting back on 2017, I think the company has a stronger year than people give it credit for. The company has managed to reignite a fire that had long gone out in the tag-team division, give us some excellent gimmick matches, and manages to supply both, big battle of the behemoth type bouts and technical masterclasses put together by some of the finest in-ring technicians in the world today. The company is in an interesting place going forward, that’s for sure, but before we look into the future, let’s take a look back at the best matches of the last 12 months in the WWE.
10: Brock Lesnar Vs Braun Strowman Vs Roman Reigns Vs Samoa Joe – SummerSlam
2017 has been a big year for monsters in the WWE. Brock Lesnar has been dominant as the company’s Universal Champion, Braun Strowman has risen to become one of the biggest stars in the company and Samoa Joe has had a pretty awesome debut year since his call-up from NXT at the start of the year.
Joe and Lesnar had put on a cracking bout at Great Balls of Fire in July, while Braun and Roman had just tied up their feud with an ambulance match at the same event. The company, noticing they had a good thing going, decided to chuck all four men in the ring together and let us all enjoy the show.
The match was pure chaos, and on a fairly underwhelming SummerSlam card, it was an absolute joy to watch. While there may be some fans out there who don’t enjoy big-man bouts, it was difficult not to enjoy this bout. Lesnar walked away with his belt intact, of course, but no-one left the ring looking bad after this one.
9: The Usos Vs The New Day – Hell in a Cell
2017 has been quite the year for the two teams involved in this match, and that is, by and large, down to their feud with each other. The New Day and The Usos began feuding back in May and while some fans, myself included, weren’t that excited to see them square off at the start of their feud, we couldn’t get enough of it by the end.
The two teams had put on an exceptional bout at SummerSlam a couple of months before Hell in a Cell, but the steel structure presented them with a whole new array of options and the teams didn’t fail to deliver. This was one of the most innovative and exciting Hell in Cell matches in quite some time, and one of the best tag team bouts the WWE main roster have put on in years. It was innovative, exciting and, surprisingly brutal, and it made everyone involved look like a million bucks.
8: Baron Corbin Vs John Cena Vs AJ Styles Vs Dean Ambrose Vs Bray Wyatt Vs The Miz – Elimination Chamber – Elimination Chamber
Looking back at the year, you could be forgiven for having forgotten the Elimination Chamber match. Not only did it take place all the way back in February, but Bray Wyatt’s title reign, which felt like such a feel-good moment at the time, was one of the most instantly forgettable in recent WWE history.
The match should not be judged on what followed it, however, and the six men involved here but on one of the best elimination chamber matches in some time. The match featured a lot of great moments, not least of which was the final confrontation between Bray Wyatt and AJ Styles.
While it seemed obvious Wyatt was going to walk away with the title, due to Randy Orton having won the Royal Rumble a month before, Bray and AJ did an excellent job of making us all question whether or not the company had decided to swerve us at the last moment. Of course, they hadn’t and Bray walked away victorious, but this match was still an excellent example of how to use the match gimmick effectively.
7: Velveteen Dream Vs Alistair Black – NXT Takeover: War Games
The build-up to this match was based on the fact that Alistair Black refused to say Velveteen Dream’s name but following this bout, the 22-year old’s name was all anybody was talking about following NXT: Takeover Wargames. Velveteen Dream and Alistair Black have two of the most distinctive, and unorthodox wrestling styles in the WWE right now and these two gelled perfectly at NXT: Takeover, a show which, on any other night, would have been stolen by its main event.
These two men put on an amazing display of athleticism and wrestling ability, and while the outcome was obvious, it was still one hell of a journey. The bout ended when Black, sitting victorious, took a microphone and finally said his opponent’s name. This felt like a star-making match for Dream, and he no doubt has a huge future ahead of him in the WWE.
6: The Authors of Pain Vs DIY – NXT Takeover: Chicago
Remember the last time a WWE Tag Team Title match main-evented a PPV? Didn’t think so. Well, the tag team division in NXT was held in such high regard by the company this year, that is exactly what they decided to do with The Authors of Pain and DIY when the two teams met in a ladder match at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
The Authors of Pain and DIY showed that they were worthy of that position too, putting on an exceptional piece of tag team wrestling that also featured one of the most surprising turns in recent WWE history. While many fans had predicted that Tomasso Ciampa may turn on his tag team partner, the company executed the turn perfectly, waiting right until the last moment before pulling off. Hell, the NXT logo had even appeared in the bottom corner. Once again, NXT showed its big brother how it was done.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 WWE Wrestlers of 2017
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