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10 Best Pay Per Views Of 2017

From thrilling tournaments to all-time classics, here are the best wrestling PPVs of the year...

We all love to see brilliant matches and great moments, but few things provide wrestling fans with as much satisfaction as an excellent top-to-bottom show. Whether experienced live of from the comfort of our sofas, a top class pay per view can remind us all why we became fans in the first place.

I believe it was Jack Black in School of Rock who said 'One great wrestling show can change the world', and he was absolutely correct. Top class PPVs can change the entire landscape, ushering in new faces, and even entirely new styles of wrestling.

(He didn't actually say that.)

But just as importantly, they help us hark back to our early days as fans - more innocent times when wrestling seemed thoroughly infused with magic. As we grow older, more experienced, and - sadly - more cynical, it can often take something special to bring back that feeling. Thankfully, 2017 was full of such examples.

In a year that will surely go down as one of the greatest in wrestling history, it's time to look back at the shows that captured our imagination. These are the 10 best PPVs of the year...

10. WWE Royal Rumble


WWE


We begin with the least consistent show on this list (by far), but one which featured two of WWE's best matches of the year.

Royal Rumble PPVs will always receive a boost, thanks to the tingle of anticipation that runs through just about every wrestling fan every time it rolls around. Sadly, an underwhelming Rumble match meant that the show was carried by its undercard - but, like in 2000, this was achieved in spades.

Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining, destructive brawl (with Chris Jericho suspended above the ring like, lest we forget, a "sexy piñata").

However, the best match - perhaps the best WWE bout of the year - was by far the title bout between AJ Styles and John Cena, which was so good the Cena naysayers forgot to boo when he won his 16th world title. Well, almost all of them.


9. NJPW Sakura Genesis


New Japan Pro Wrestling


Sakura Genesis was absolutely the most hard-hitting pay per view of the year - a shotgun of a show, a punch in the face.

Although it (like most big NJPW events) was absolutely packed with quality, its defining feature was a series of gunshot-like moments smashing into one another. There was the main event, one of the best matches of the year, but also one of the most brutal. Shibata threw everything at Okada - forearms, knees, his own career - and was still somehow defeated.

Earlier in the night, War Machine ripped the tag titles away from the veteran team of Tenzan and Kojima, but the junior division saw perhaps the biggest surprise of all.

In the penultimate match of the night, Hiromu Takahashi defended his championship against KUSHIDA - defeating the ace of the juniors in less than two minutes. A shocking show, but also one of tremendous quality.

8. WWE UK Championship Tournament


WWE


Sometimes wrestling is best when it's at its most simple. Towards the beginning of 2017, we saw a prime example of this in the form of WWE's UK Championship Tournament.

Night one was rather inconsistent in terms of match quality but did a tremendous job of establishing the major players - Bate, Dunne, Wolfgang, Seven, and so on.

On night two, things really started to kick into a high gear. Pete Dunne cheated and ambushed his way to the final, drawing the ire of William Regal along the way. Tyler Bate progressed too, in a far more babyface fashion.

Despite very entertaining performances from the likes of Mark Andrews and Tucker, it was clear that the finalists were the two standouts of the tournament. Their climactic clash combined classic good vs. bad storytelling with new-age UK indie athleticism - and made stars of both men in the process.

Add in surprising cameos from Neville and a freshly-signed Aleister Black, and you have one of the most easily enjoyable shows of the year.

7. NXT TakeOver: Orlando


WWE


Last year's WrestleMania weekend edition of TakeOver utterly stole the show. NXT's Dallas special was one of the most raucously-received nights of the year, underpinned by an incredible exhibition between Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura.

2017's TakeOver: Orlando has perhaps suffered slightly as a result of its predecessor. It wasn't quite as brilliant a show, but still delivered consistent, compelling action from start to finish.

This card's strength was its variety. It provided a little of everything, from the fun, mixed-tag action of the opener to the epic, drawn-out main event.

The middle of the show was dominated by one of NXT's matches of the year, a thrilling tactical battle between DIY, The Revival, and the Authors of Pain. Supported by Aleister Black's emphatic victory over Andrade Almas and Asuka's outclassing of a valiant Ember Moon, it contributed to a very enjoyable all-rounder of a show.


6. PWG Battle Of Los Angeles


Pro Wrestling Guerrilla


Dave Meltzer's intensely high praise of PWG's annual tournament seems almost like a tradition now. The Battle of Los Angeles - a three-day indie pipedream held in a sweltering Reseda venue - is something of a smark Mecca. It provides dream matches before the rest of the world knows that they're dream matches.

The 2017 edition of the competition blew even its own high expectations out of the water. The bracket was filled with wrestling quality of every variety - from the gigantic athleticism of Donovan Dijak, Keith Lee, and Jeff Cobb, to the technical excellence of British-based workers like Mark Haskins and Travis Banks.

The usual suspects were there too - PWG favourites such as Ricochet, Penta, and Matt Riddle. Surprisingly, it was one such favourite who took the tournament crown, as Ricochet became the first two-time winner in BOLA history. This was merely one of the stories of the weekend, however, joined by the five-star match between Dijak and Lee, and the car-crash bonanza between Joey Janela and Sammy Guevara.

5. NJPW G1 Special In USA


New Japan Pro Wrestling


NJPW can usually be relied upon to deliver some of the best PPVs of the year, but even the world's most critically-acclaimed wrestling promotion might have felt out of their comfort zone heading into their first US-based shows.

Over the course of two nights, however, New Japan unequivocally proved that they belong on a global stage. The main attraction was the tournament for the newly-created IWGP United States Championship, a triumph of attrition, punishment, and destruction courtesy of Kenny Omega, Tomohiro Ishii, Michael Elgin, and friends.

Night two was capped by a wonderful final match, but the previous day's main event stood out in its own way, as we were treated to a rare champion vs. champion inter-promotion showdown.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and ROH World Champion Cody Rhodes faced off in a highly-scrutinised match, and although the American Nightmare wasn't able to secure victory, he proved to his many critics that he was capable of delivering a work rate classic - despite his decidedly sports entertainment background.

4. NXT TakeOver: Chicago


WWE


Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate is on course to be WWE's Match of the Year, at least according to a recent fan poll put out by the company themselves. Such an accolade would be richly deserved, as two of the UK independent scene's leading lights threw themselves onto a much bigger platform with no fear whatsoever.

The pair may have lit up NXT TakeOver: Chicago, but the fact that their match can be seen as complimenting (rather than overshadowing) the show is a testament to the night's overall quality.

As well as the UK Championship bout, a typically loud Chi-town crowd saw a series of other emphatic moments - from Asuka simultaneously pinning both of her opponents, to Roderick Strong's feel-good win over Eric Young.

However, the biggest and most gut-wrenching surely came at the end of the night. Having lost a terrific Ladder Match to the Authors of Pain, DIY stood basking in the sympathy and adulation of the crowd - only for Tommaso Ciampa to pull off the most effective heel turn of the year, and beat the hell out of Johnny Gargano. Sickening.


3. NXT TakeOver: WarGames


WWE


From the moment NXT TakeOver: Houston was rebranded 'TakeOver: WarGames', confirming the resurrection of the grand old stipulation, the show had a monumental amount of hype to live up to.

Despite standing a greater chance of failure than pretty much every other TakeOver special before it, the night more than lived up to expectations, and was - in my opinion - the finest WWE-produced event of 2017.

We saw three of NXT's best bouts of the year: the bone-crunching main event, the wonderful NXT Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Andrade Almas, and the sleeper hit of 2017 in the form of Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream.

By the time Adam Cole stood triumphant at the conclusion of the WarGames match, revelling in all his sleazy glory, we had been well and truly spoiled for quality.

2. NJPW Dominion


New Japan Pro Wrestling


Dominion, as New Japan's second-biggest PPV of the calendar year, usually has a tough gig. It is often asked to match the consistently awe-inspiring Wrestle Kingdom, and this year - in the opinion of many, including Dave Meltzer - it actually surpassed it.

While I wouldn't quite go that far, I have to admit that Dominion was an absolutely staggering show. Topped by Okada/Omega II, immediately branded one of the greatest matches of all time, the night was rammed with a frankly unfair amount of excellence.

In many ways, Dominion's theme was redemption and revenge. Hiroshi Tanahashi avenged his earlier loss to Tetsuya Naito, saving the (by now partially-destroyed) IWGP Intercontinental Championship in the process. Elsewhere, KUSHIDA regained his rightful throne atop the junior heavyweight division, defeating the unhinged Hiromu Takahashi in heroic fashion.

Cleverly, however, while many prior kayfabe wrongs were righted, the main event only opened up more questions. Omega was unable to even the odds with Okada, but the champ couldn't put away the Bullet Club leader either, crawling across the ring to make a final pinfall as the time expired.

1. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11


New Japan Pro Wrestling


Picking Wrestle Kingdom as pay per view of 2017 may not be an original choice. NJPW's flagship event can usually be relied upon to deliver the year's finest night of wrestling, and for my money, this January's edition was no exception.

Happily, however, Wrestle Kingdom 11 also had the audacity to be one of the greatest shows of all time. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega shook the entire wrestling world, as we know, but so many other matches hit the mark perfectly.

It's not often a PPV provides four consecutive Match of the Year candidates back to back - but that happened here. KUSHIDA and Takahashi terrified everyone by putting their bodies on the line for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship; Goto and Shibata put their long friendship behind them while attempting to destroy one another; Natio and Tanahashi clashed in an immensely satisfying payoff to a long-term meta-angle; and, of course, the main event blew everybody's minds.

Add to this an immensely fun tag bout between RPG Vice and The Young Bucks, a grudge match between Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly, and the overarching theme of LIJ's domination, and it's easy to see why Wrestle Kingdom 11 stands toe-to-toe with any other wrestling event you could care to mention.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

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