Pay-Per-View Wrestling: The Five Best of 2020
Like most “best of” lists in 2020, trying to talk about the best wrestling pay-per-view events is a loaded question. The reality is that most companies stopped running shows altogether, let alone having pay-per-view events. It was a rough year for the business, and that was before the loss of the talented Jon Huber.
And for those who kept putting on the best shows they possibly could, pay-per-views just looked like the regular weekly shows. That’s what happens when you’re forced into the position of having weekly shows and pay-per-views in the exact same place.
That being said, there were still several solid wrestling pay-per-views in 2020. They were put on by a mixture of WWE, NXT and AEW as these were the brands still operating as close to as business as usual as 2020 would allow. Thankfully, fans still got some great wrestling to enjoy.
AEW Full Gear
Full Gear was the final AEW pay-per-view of 2020 and it was a great one. The Buy-In match was an absolute clinic by Serena Deeb and Allysin Kay. Later in the event, Hikaru Shida successfully defended her title against Nyla Rose. Two outstanding women’s matches helped make this pay-per-view memorable.
This was also the event that Darby Allin defeated Cody Rhodes to pick up the TNT Championship. Allin is a huge star for AEW, and putting the title on him at that point was a great idea. Keeping that in mind, it would have been nice if Allin’s first defense wasn’t two months after his win.
The match between Orange Cassidy and John Silver was smartly moved from the Buy-In to the actual pay-per-view. This was a solid bout, pitting two rising AEW stars against each other in a solid and inventive match. If AEW is smart, fans watched two future champions face off.
The biggest match of the night was #FTR defending their AEW World Tag Team Championships against The Young Bucks. The bout wasn’t as epic as many fans had built it up to be though it was still a great fight. Plus, fans finally got to see The Young Bucks crowned as the champions.
WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs
WWE pay-per-views are hit or miss at absolute best. The company makes some strange booking choices that fans do not get behind. But with TLC, WWE closed 2020 out strong. Both TLC title matches were great, though Drew McIntyre’s fight with AJ Styles was the best thanks to an MITB cash in by The Miz.
This was another pay-per-view with solid women’s matches. Sasha Banks and Carmella had an outstanding SmackDown Women’s Championship bout. Plus, Charlotte finally returned to team up with Asuka to take the Women’s Tag Team Championships from Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.
TLC will also be memeable for years thanks to the unforgettable image of Randy Orton burning “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt alive in the ring. Randy may have taken the Firefly Inferno Match a little too far, but it looks like that may lead to an even more epic return for Bray Wyatt.
NXT TakeOver: WarGames
For the fourth year, NXT took the fight into WarGames. The Dusty Rhodes created match was adopted by NXT after the legend’s death in 2015. It kind of made sense given Dusty had put a lot of time and effort in to NXT. But no one else was going to use the match anyway considering WWE owns the rights to it.
Both the Men’s and the Women’s WarGames matches were great. That being said, the Women’s match stood out. That was in no small part due to Io Shirai climbing to the top of the cage. She then dove onto the other competitors with garbage can over her head.
Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher also beat the crap out of each other. And Dexter Lumis continued to torment Cameron Grimes, which somehow never seems to get old. While Leon Ruff lost the North American Championship to Johnny Gargano, he proved he can go with the best of the best.
WWE Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble is always a top pay-per-view event each year. But the 2020 edition was more special in retrospect as it was one of the last big wrestling events before the pandemic largely shut the business down. Fortunately, it was a great pay-per-view to say the least.
Both Shayna Baszler and Bianca Belair went on a tear, tying for the most eliminations in a Women’s Royal Rumble match. Santina Marella also made her return, receiving a huge pop from the fans in attendance. Ultimately, Charlotte Flair won and went on to face Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship.
The Men’s Royal Rumble match was ultimately won by Drew McIntyre. He successfully eliminated Brock Lesnar with the help of Ricochet, which seems to have been forgotten by WWE. McIntyre would go on to defeat Lesnar at WrestleMania, and win his first WWE Championship.
MVP popped up in the Men’s Royal Rumble match, and has continued to do superb work with WWE as part of The Hurt Business. The bigger surprise was Edge, who was expected to never wrestle again, appearing. This started his feud with Randy Orton, which should continue once Edge returns from his current injury.
Much like the Royal Rumble, this was one of the last big wrestling events before the pandemic created an entirely new normal. It was a stacked pay-per-view with a hyped audience. Revolution was huge, and it was a great first pay-per-view for AEW’s 2020.
MJF versus Cody. Pac versus Orange Cassidy. Darby Allin versus Sammy Guevara. Jake Hager versus Dustin Rhodes. These matches were all outstanding, showing off the depth of talent on the roster. Britt Baker and Penelope Ford teaming up to take on Riho and Yuka Sakazaki was incredible.
Kenny Omega and Adam Page successfully defended their tag team championships against The Young Bucks. It was a great match that started the dissolution of The Elite. But the match of the evening was Jon Moxley winning the AEW World Championship from Chris Jericho. It was everything a main event should be.