WWE: Best Matches of the Pandemic Era (So Far)

Ever since COVID-19 swept the entire globe, forcing most of our daily lives to come to an absolute screeching halt, the WWE had to adapt swiftly and make changes to all of their programmings for the foreseeable future. WrestleMania was the first major show to undergo said changes, which saw the Show of Shows take place with no fans in attendance. Despite the lack of response from the crowd to feed off of, however, this did not stop the WWE roster from cranking things up and delivering the type of in-ring quality that we expect, as they still continue to do so. The Pandemic Era has proven that even though things aren’t the same, we’re still guaranteed some excellent matches, so here are my Top 10 matches of 2020 so far.

10.) Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 36, April 4th, 2020)

Heading into the first pay-per-view of the Pandemic Era, the rivalry between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins was red hot. Seth Rollins was on an absolute tear as his recent transformation into the ‘Monday Night Messiah’ was easily becoming the best work that he’s done in quite some time. Kevin Owens was proving his worth playing the face this time, and the chemistry between the two was off the charts. Leaving nothing up to the imagination, Rollins and Owens battled it out, with Owens even dropping an elbow onto Rollins from the top of the WrestleMania sign and through the announce table. One could only wonder if Owens would’ve jumped off the sign had the event taken place at its intended venue, but nevertheless, he did so anyway in a fun matchup, leaving the WWE Universe in awe.

9.) Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley – NXT Women’s Championship Match (WrestleMania 36, April 4th, 2020)

Charlotte Flair making her way back to NXT was somewhat of a shock to many of the WWE Universe, as she has been touted as a Superstar that is always propelled into the main event. Having ‘The Queen’ enter a program with the then NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley was a welcome sight to behold, as the young up and comer had periodically been compared to the daughter of Ric Flair. The feud entering WrestleMania felt fresh, and it was just what the doctor ordered as it seemed that the WWE Universe had a bit of Charlotte Flair fatigue going on. The ending of said feud, however, was a bit lacklustre, as we saw the NXT alumni defeat Rhea Ripley to become the new NXT Women’s Champion, a move that was seemingly only done for ratings and didn’t quite deliver on that front. Nonetheless, it was an excellent match with a great story, and would probably be higher on this list had it transpired in front of a packed stadium and didn’t end the way in which it did.

8.) SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match (WrestleMania 36, April 4th, 2020)

Quite possibly the match that (almost) stole the show, the war in which Jimmy Uso, Kofi Kingston, and John Morrison went through, in front of absolutely no one might I add, had no business being as good as it was. The lack of crowd did not keep these three men from delivering a Match of the Year contender, putting their bodies on the line for the SmackDown tag team championship. An absolute thrill ride from start to finish, there is no doubt that this match would’ve wowed the audience, as it was one of the finest ladder matches we had seen to date at that time.

7.) Drew McIntyre vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Championship Match (Money In The Bank, May 10th, 2020)

For the first time ever, a former NXT Champion battled against another former NXT Champion for the prestigious WWE Championship. Drew McIntyre locked horns with Seth Rollins at Money In The Bank and put on an absolute banger. The Monday Night Messiah and the Scottish Psychopath showed off their tremendous chemistry, as one can never really go wrong in having Seth Rollins in the ring with virtually anyone. Drew McIntyre was only just beginning to make waves as the WWE Champion and proved that he could go with the very best that WWE has to offer. The two exchanged pleasantries after the match, knowing damn well that they had just stolen the show, earning Drew a victory, and even Seth a win as well, even in defeat.

6.) Undertaker vs. AJ Styles – Boneyard Match (WrestleMania 36, April 4th, 2020)

As we all have come to learn, the show must go on, and that even includes WrestleMania as well. With their back against the wall, WWE was forced to adapt to the current landscape of the world due to COVID-19 and explore unique ways in which they could deliver a solid WrestleMania. They did that and then some, as WWE showcased one of the best cinematic matches of all time, and that is the Boneyard Match. Leading up to WrestleMania, AJ Styles goated Undertaker to fight him, as he used real-life elements to do so, calling out his wife Michelle McCool and poking fun at The Deadman’s social media excursions at the time. Finally, Undertaker had enough and made his presence felt, agreeing to face The Phenomenal One, but to a Boneyard Match. No one knew exactly what we were in for or what the stipulations of the match would entice, however, what we were given surely wasn’t what anyone was expecting, thus delivering something fresh and exciting for the WWE Universe to enjoy. Almost borrowing elements from ‘Logan’, The Phenom rode off into the sunset on his own terms, fighting his last fight and coming out on top as the victor of the Boneyard Match.

5.) Edge vs. Randy Orton – Greatest Wrestling Match Ever (Backlash, June 14th, 2020)

Touted as the “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”. Randy Orton and Edge had a lot of hype to deliver on. Following their Last Man Standing clinic at WrestleMania, which was also Edge’s first match back in 9 years, The Rated R Superstar and The Viper looked to settle their bad blood in a straight-up wrestling match. An ode to the sport that is professional wrestling, this match had it all: The iconic announcing from the late Howard Finkle, the presentation of both competitors, the Madison Square Garden mic dropping from the rafters, and Charles Robinson’s sweet old school referee gear. Orton and Edge traded moves, counters, borrowed from various Superstars’ move-set, and even exchanged each other’s own signature moves. The right man went over though, albeit in dirty fashion, and although this was far from being the greatest wrestling match, the match still delivered and is a definite nominee for a match of the year.

4.) Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton – WWE Championship Match (SummerSlam, August 23rd, 2020)

A lot of rumours began to swirl online heading into this year’s SummerSlam, as word on the street was that Randy Orton was supposedly going to dethrone Drew McIntyre of his WWE Championship. There was a lot to look forward to heading into this championship bout, as the Scottish Psychopath was more than holding his own on the mic against a red hot Randy Orton, who has dominated a majority of 2020 ever since turning heel on Edge earlier in the year. While it would’ve made sense to have given the strap to Orton given the absolute tear he was on, ending the reign of ‘The Chosen One’ 4 months into his first run as the champion also would’ve done its fair share of harm. Alas, once the bell finally rang, McIntyre and Orton delivered a hard-hitting bout, with literal blood being shed, and showcasing why Drew McIntyre defeating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania was the right call. Both men secured victories in their own right that night, and the right man also went over.

3.) AJ Styles vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Sami Zayn – Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (Clash of Champions, September 27th, 2020)

Arguably the best match on the card (and possibly a strong candidate to win Match of the Year), Sami Zayn, Jeff Hardy, and AJ Styles went out and generated what was quite possibly the best Ladder Match that we’ve seen in quite some time. Violence reared its ugly head throughout, as all men went out there as if they had something to prove. Ladders were broken, bodies were battered, and Jeff Hardy’s ear was yet again the recipient of another cringe-inducing spot with his earlobe being handcuffed to a ladder. Yes, you read that right. Also, Jeff Hardy hit Sami Zayn with a Swanton off of the ladder and through another one at ringside, a spot that would’ve sent the WWE Universe into a frenzy had this transpired in front of a sold-out arena. In the end, undeniably the right man won as Sami Zayn conjured up one of the most brilliant finishes to a match, especially one involving ladders, to secure a victory to become the true Intercontinental Champion.

2.) Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly – NXT Championship Match (NXT TakeOver 31, October 4th, 2020)

Undisputed Era member Kyle O’Reilly punched his ticket into the main event of NXT TakeOver 31, as he overcame the odds against Kushida, Bronson Reed, Cameron Grimes and Timothy Thatcher in the first-ever Gauntlet Eliminator match. Having never been in a singles spotlight in a high profile match-up like this before, this instantly became must-see, as many were looking to see how the former NXT Tag Team Champion would fair against the NXT Champion Finn Balor. Many knew how good Kyle O’Reilly was, based off of his tag team resume only, but only a few have seen his singles work in other promotions. No surprise to no one, however, O’Reilly delivered and then some, as he and ‘The Prince’ took each other to the absolute limit, delivering a match that is definitely worthy of winning Match of the Year as well. Do not be surprised if one day we’ll end up seeing Kyle O’Reilly become NXT Champion at some point in the near future, for this match proved that he belongs with the very best of the black and yellow brand.

1.) Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso – Universal Championship Match (Clash of Champions, September 27th, 2020)

If someone would’ve told me that Jey Uso would one day end up in the main event of a pay-per-view for one of WWE’s top titles against Roman Reigns (a recently turned Roman Reigns might I add), I would’ve called you a fool. However, here we are, and Jey Uso indeed battled Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship in the main event at Clash of Champions, which is why this match takes the number one spot for me on this list. In a storyline that apparently wasn’t supposed to go passed this pay-per-view, according to Jey, Roman and one half of the Uso’s delivered compelling television over on the blue brand. The perfect blend of real emotion and wrestling storytelling, Jey Uso continuously knocked it out of the park on the mic, as did The Big Dog, and only brought the physicality when necessary leading up to this event. Come to the main event, the drama in the ring was palpable, even without a jam-packed crowd in attendance. The near falls were perfect, as was the selling from both combatants, Paul Heyman at ringside, the team on commentary and a surprise appearance from Jimmy Uso. It’s no wonder why these two men battled it out yet again at Hell In A Cell, all men seeking at producing a worthy successor to their first clash and coming close to stealing the show inside of the devil’s favourite playground.

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