When the WWE compiles a list of ANYTHING it’s often best to take it with a pinch of salt.
As ever The Best PPV Matches of 2018 Compilation probably doesn’t live up to the title (even allowing for the fact that every WWE fan will have an idea of what was the “best” of the year). Political and publicity consideration always apply. The real question is, whether or not this new DVD set is any good…
We start things on a high note with the Men’s Royal Rumble. If at times it seems to take place in an alternate universe whilst at the same time signalling that in terms of card movement not much has changed in twelve months it remains one of the better put-together rumbles of recent years and especially comes to life in the last quarter or so. This is followed by the Men’s Elimination Chamber match from the following month. I may have been in the minority to have preferred the Women’s match but if I’m being honest this was a decent rather than great match. Fun to see Braun Strowman go on a rampage, but it seems to rely too much on the names rather than the action for the rest of it.
I’d rather watch that match until the ends of time, however, than have to sit through Bobby Roode and Randy Orton from Fastlane ever again. At the time it was a dull, pedestrian 20 minute match that was at least 10 minutes too long; watching it again now doesn’t change my opinion on it slightest. As I can’t believe the production staff were under any pressure to makes sure a Roode match made the cut one can only presume that someone out there wants to ensure Orton’s profile remains high.
Things pick up considerably with two matches from Wrestlemania. The Triple Threat Intercontinental Title match between The Miz, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor is excellent, as you might expect. Less might have expected the Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle against Triple H & Stephanie McMahon match to have been excellent but It arguably stole the show. Considering it was Rousey’s debut, Angle is, lets face it, past-it, Triple H is part-time and Stephanie was never a wrestler it’s a work of utter genius. Time doesn’t dull the appeal of this one.
Seth Rollins & The Miz meet again at Backlash in a clash over the Intercontinental title; the match is a corker and was, indeed, so good that nothing else on the night could follow it. The Women finally get their own spotlight next as it is their Money In The Bank match that gets the nod over the men. And rightly so. A vast improvement even on the good match the year before, this is a well-put together and logical bout that parlayed into another memorable moment later in the show when Alexa Bliss cashed in her shot in the Nia Jax / Ronda Rousey match (also shown here).
Next up it’s more gimmick PPV action as Braun Strowman and Kevin Owens clash in a Steel Cage match. To be frank, it’s not very good. A daft Owens bump aside, which achieved nothing other than reminding people Mick Foley did it better twenty years earlier, this simply doesn’t offer anything you need to see for a second time. A match between Roman Reigns and Bobby Lashley from the same show is better, but hurt by the fact that the mildly surprising win for Lashley was rendered pointless two weeks later on free TV.
Summerslam is represented by three matches. The AJ Styles and Samoa Joe manages to break free from the somewhat hokey nature of the feud to be a thrilling, hard-hitting affair that nevertheless is hurt by the DQ finish. I know that sometimes finishes of this nature are needed to prolong feuds; however one of the biggest PPV’s of the year is neither the time nor place. Daniel Bryan against The Miz was a match years in the making and whilst it perhaps didn’t quite live up to some lofty expectations, it was a very good match with some of the finest in-ring and storyline psychology you’ll see all year. It was inevitable that Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns’ would find their way onto this set. It did what it had to do (although anything from 6-18 months too late) and for once it’s not the bookers fault that the win here was overshadowed by real-life events to come.
Hell In A Cell is also represented by three matches, two of which are the gimmick matches of the same name. I had no interest in watching those two new, young, up and coming future superstars Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton clashing in a Cell but against my better judgement I will admit that it was a good match (albeit one that made little use of the Cell structure). It was certainly better than Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman’s effort that, whilst starting well, descended into run in’s from a cast of hundreds making somewhat of a mockery of the gimmick itself. Much better is the match between Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s title. In reality it doesn’t matter whether or not the WWE realised what they had in Becky all along or whether “freak” crowd reactions took them by surprise and they latched on quickly to them. They struck gold either way. That the final match on the set is their Last Woman Standing match from Evolution is a fitting tribute (all the more so considering that as ever, production deadlines meant the cut-off point for this compilation was well before the end of the year). It’s one of the best matches of 2018, regardless of promotion, and shows that for all the criticism the WWE gets they can still provide top-notch action.
As I stated at the top, WWE compilations and lists are always curious beasts. We could all name matches we feel should be on here that aren’t (for instance the Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre against Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose tag match from Hell In A Cell) and there will be matches on here each of us think have no place on any “best of” selection. But overall this is a quality compilation that offers up many good matches and most of it is well worth re-living.
Format reviewed: DVD
Photos courtesy of Fetch and WWE.
Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch for providing our review copy of WWE Best PPV Matches 2018 which is out on DVD now. You can buy your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.