10 Best WWE Matches Of 2017

Celebrating the best main roster matches of the year...

It's probably fair to say that WWE hasn't had the most stellar of PPV years, overshadowed by dazzling shows put out by NJPW and NXT. Although certain cards had definite bright spots, there wasn't one particular pay per view that stood out as a modern classic - like last year's Survivor Series, for example.

However, that doesn't mean that WWE lacked brilliant individual matches in 2017. The main roster is packed with more talent than at any point in its history, certainly in terms of in-ring ability. AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, and so on - it only makes sense that these fantastic wrestlers put on a collection of wonderful bouts over the past 12 months.

As mentioned, these gems were scattered throughout the year, rather than concentrated in a single show or two - so a few forgotten favourites may crop up.

One particular theme I've noticed is variety. Typically, Match of the Year candidates are singles bouts, but here we'll see plenty of multi-man clashes too - many with their own unique stipulations.

So let's take a look at the very best of 2017, perhaps not the most memorable year for WWE overall, but certainly, one populated by great stand-alone contests.

10. Kevin Owens Vs. Shane McMahon - Hell In A Cell


We all knew that this wasn't going to be a work rate classic - and it sure wasn't.

But that doesn't prevent Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon from making it into the top 10, thanks to its storytelling and sheer drama. This was an utterly terrifying match, one which escalated as both men battled atop the Hell in a Cell structure.

The ending was one of the best executed (and riskiest) I've seen in years, as Shane plummeted from the Cell with another of his signature death-defying dives - only for Sami Zayn to appear and pull his mortal enemy out of the way!

Again, this wasn't a good wrestling bout in the traditional sense, but as a nail-biting match with an amazing shock ending, there are few better examples.

9. Finn Balor Vs. AJ Styles - TLC


TLC was a weird pay per view. Illness struck down key members of the Raw roster including Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt; the latter was meant to face Finn Balor, the latest match in a universally derided feud.

Instead, the last-minute card change proved to be a blessing in disguise, as WWE simply drafted in AJ Styles from SmackDown and paired him off against Finn.

The storyline here was clear, although not overtly mentioned. Both former leaders of the Bullet Club and major stars in Japan, the parallels between Balor and Styles were significant. Their match was a typically great one, both men going all out in a display of agility and intensity.

Ultimately - and perhaps surprisingly - Finn was able to emerge the victor, and the pair shared a crowd-popping 'too sweet' afterwards.

8. Kevin Owens Vs. Roman Reigns - Royal Rumble


An argument could be made for this match to feature higher on the list, but the stipulation and ending dragged it slightly in my eyes. Chris Jericho's shark cage cameo was fun, but ultimately distracted from a fantastic clash between two of the best brawlers on the main roster.

The same could be said of the ending, as Braun Strowman interfered to beat down Roman and cost him the match - but even that didn't diminish it too much. The result was still a smash-mouth, no-DQ contest that proved very fun indeed.

Memorable spots include Reigns slamming KO through the announce table, and the Universal Champion at his mocking best, slipping on a pair of brass knuckles while stealing Roman's signature Superman Punch.

7. Fatal 5-Way - Extreme Rules


Brock Lesnar's infrequent WWE appearances have caused a lot of people to claim that it stifles Raw's main event booking - and while this is true, his sparse schedule has caused positive consequences too.

One such benefit was the main event of Extreme Rules, a stacked Fatal 5-way between a handful of WWE's best wrestlers.

Reigns, Wyatt, Joe, Balor, and Rollins fought a very intelligently structured match, one which allowed for plenty of big moves and moments without ever feeling too cluttered. It also had a smattering of clever psychology, as Wyatt and Joe formed an unlikely but effective alliance.

Eventually, despite Rollins stealing the show on several occasions, it was Joe who triumphed - forcing Balor to pass out in the Coquina Clutch. He moved on to a title feud with Lesnar, one which ultimately saw him fail, but at least showed off his credentials as a bona fide main-eventer.

6. The New Day Vs. The Usos - Hell In A Cell


For much of 2017, the New Day and Usos fought one of the most consistently compelling feuds in WWE - in spite of their inconsistent booking. The teams were often given too little time and attention, at one stage putting on a fantastic match on the pre-show of SummerSlam.

This was rectified at Hell in a Cell, as both teams were given the chance to shine in a bout fought under the titular stipulation.

Although lacking in the sheer terror of Owens vs. Shane later on in the night, this tag match felt like a genuinely chaotic brawl. The teams went to town on one another with foreign objects and crunching double-team moves - the most memorable moment coming when New Day trapped Jey Uso against the Cell wall in a makeshift kendo stick prison.

Ultimately, the heels were able to win, but both teams finally gained the respect their feud had demanded from the start.

5. Men's Money In The Bank Ladder Match - Money In The Bank


Money in the Bank matches can usually be relied upon for chaos and carnage, but the best incorporate good storytelling and psychology alongside the violence. 2017's edition was a prime example.

Pressure was heaped on this bout by the inaugural women's MITB match earlier in the night after an unwisely-booked finish saw James Ellsworth pull down the briefcase for Carmella. Fortunately, the men's bout stepped up to the plate in a big way.

A pre-match attack on Shinsuke Nakamura saw the crowd favourite taken out of contention by Baron Corbin, only for the former NXT Champion to return with a vengeance, dishing out Kinshasas to each of his opponents.

A staredown with former NJPW rival AJ Styles had the crowd excited for a potential future clash, before Corbin was able to sneak back into contention and emerge victorious. He wasn't the most popular winner, admittedly, but the match was strong enough for most to accept it.

4. Brock Lesnar Vs. AJ Styles - Survivor Series


AJ Styles' surprise title-winning victory over Jinder Mahal last month was exciting for several reasons. It transferred the WWE Championship from one of the most unpopular holders in recent memory to one of the most beloved. It was the first time that particular belt had changed hands on UK soil. And, excitingly, it solidified a Survivor Series showdown between Styles and Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar's title defences to this point had been inconsistent, but AJ truly brought out the best in him. Brock wrestled the best match he'd had since the WrestleMania 31 main event with Roman Reigns, hurling his opponent around with reckless abandon, and selling convincingly whenever Styles made a comeback.

So good was AJ's performance that Paul Heyman took extra care to put him over in the aftermath, ensuring that the defeat didn't do the WWE Champion too much harm (not that it would have anyway, so typically good was Styles' performance).

3. Brock Lesnar Vs. Roman Reigns Vs. Braun Strowman Vs. Samoa Joe - SummerSlam


SummerSlam's main event did not seem like a typical big WWE match. Even for a multi-man bout, this was more carnage than we're used to, as Lesnar, Reigns, Strowman, and Joe set out to deliver crunching spot after crunching spot.

This match honestly wouldn't have looked out of place in a high-incident indie promotion, perhaps somewhere like PWG or PROGRESS. The only difference was the stature of the competitors (and the production values, of course), as the quartet launched chairs at one another, crashed through barricades, and at one stage, trapped the Universal Champion beneath an overturned announce table.

It was easy to watch and brilliant in equal measure, and also told a clever story to make Lesnar look both vulnerable and strong. The announce table spot forced him to be taken to the back, only for The Beast to return and lay waste to all of his challengers, eventually retaining his title.

2. Elimination Chamber Match - Elimination Chamber


When I first began compiling this list, I'd totally forgotten about February's Elimination Chamber match. This is perhaps due to Bray Wyatt's subsequent WWE Championship reign, a decidedly odd feud with Randy Orton that robbed him of all momentum.

The way Bray won the belt, however, was nothing short of wonderful. Despite its reputation as one of the most violent stipulations in WWE, this bout was perhaps the promotion's best example of poise and match-structuring in 2017.

Every elimination and major incident made total sense; Ambrose's quick elimination of Baron Corbin, the Lone Wolf's subsequent revenge, Styles and Cena's hunger to resume their feud, and Wyatt's clever survival.

All of these elements combined, and the end result was unquestionably one of the best WWE matches of the year. It's just a shame what happened next.

1. AJ Styles Vs. John Cena - Royal Rumble


This was a no-brainer, really. Styles and Cena's showdown at the Royal Rumble wasn't just the best WWE match of the year; it also wouldn't look out of place among most of NJPW's best efforts - in both quality and style.

Having wrestled a fantastic match at SummerSlam - the bout which helped propel Styles into the stratosphere, in the eyes of unfamiliar casual fans - the bar was high. Undeterred, the pair surpassed it in a hailstorm of crunching lariats, top-rope power moves, and intelligent counters.

As well as being brilliant, the match also felt different to WWE's top-drawer fare. This is best encapsulated by the finish, which saw Cena nail Styles with an Attitude Adjustment, only to immediately (and smoothly) roll AJ into a second version of the move. It was enough to secure Cena his 16th world title, and - in my opinion - a hand in WWE's Match of the Year.

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Jack King

Written by Jack King

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