Things are starting to pick up! Just three more installments highlighting the top PLE matches of 2022 after today, and this is where things start to get difficult. From this point onward, most matches are varying levels of "very good", and the biggest moments start to cycle in. A rec or a comment to let your opinions be known is also always welcome! For the uninitiated:
#40: Rey Mysterio & Dominik Mysterio def. The Judgement Day in a no disqualification tag team match; SummerSlam
EDGE IS BACK! The Judgement Day saga really has turned into quite the entertaining journey, with twists and turns amok. The actual match up until the return of Edge was fine, although it was missing a little bit of that emotional weight. If this is no DQ, then why is everyone following the rules so much? Don’t they all hate each other? Whatever. Edge came back, speared some suckers, and The Mysterios got one final feelgood moment before (spoilers) Dom would eventually turn on papa Rey.
#39: Bianca Belair def. Bayley in a ladder match to retain the Raw Women’s Championship; Extreme Rules
Ladder matches are fun ways to get someone a win without the loser getting pinned, something that can really halt the momentum of a wrestler. Bianca wins, Bailey ain’t pinned, and we can move on with our lives.
#38: Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, Mia Yim, Asuka, and Becky Lynch def. Damage CTRL, Rhea Ripley, and Nikki Cross in a war games match; Survivor Series: War Games
WAR GAMES!!!!!! Our first installment of the main roster’s war games debut really hit all the marks. The babyfaces looked strong, the heels got some good offense in, Becky Lynch got the win while being protected from a heavy workload on her first night back, and the sub-feuds all got some shine. It lacked the emotional low blow that the men’s match had, but it still hit all the spots.
#37: Sasha Banks & Naomi def. The Beauty Queens ©, Liv 4 Brutality, and Natalya & Shayna Bazler for the Women’s Tag Team Championship; WrestleMania, Night 2
Ok, so let’s get town to brass tacks. What happened after this match was weird, it was complex, it left a lot of bad tastes in a lot of people’s mouths. And all of that is unfortunate because this was a fun match that gave two superstars a badly needed WrestleMania feel-good moment. The bad stuff from this match all happened in the fallout; what should have been an abundant tag division for Sasha and Naomi to defend their gold against dissolved almost instantaneously. Then, Sasha and Naomi were tasked with jobbing to the Women’s Champ of each brand. And that sucks. This was fun, though.
#36: Drew McIntyre def. Happy Corbin; WrestleMania, Night 1
Not a lot of people liked this match, which is fair because in a lot of ways it felt more like a Smackdown main event than a WrestleMania match. And those people are not wrong. However… there was some great in ring action here, including McIntyre clearing the ropes on a suicide dive, and being the first person to ever kick out of the End of Days. Not only was Corbin’s finisher very protected going into this match, but Corbin himself was as well. He’d been on a win streak for a few months, and so McIntyre’s win meant something. In a promotion with a strong heel champion, a heel gatekeeper like Corbin can be exactly what the doctor ordered.
#35: AJ Styles def. Finn Balor; Survivor Series: War Games
So this match is a hard one to grade. There’s a part of me that really REALLY wants to mark it higher because I am so partial to both combatants. But kind of like Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar, I think these two work best when paired with someone who has a different style. These two are both reliable strikers, but not larger than life showmen by any means. Because of that, this match reached "pretty damn good" levels. But nothing more.
#34: RK-Bro def. Street Profits to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship; Day 1
Face v. face feuds are very hard to do, but damn if these two teams did not pull it off. Part of the key to these types of feuds is sewing in genuine, understandable animosity, and making that animosity justified. This storyline was simple; RK-Bro had what Street Profits wanted.
#33: Rey Mysterio & Edge def. The Judgement Day; Clash at the Castle
IT HAPPENED! After a strong return from Edge at SummerSlam, WWE wasted no time in sewing in the seeds of dissent between Dominik Mysterio and Edge, with the former resenting the latter for his… let’s just say "inconsistent character". This made for a good match that gets a HUGE boost from Dominik’s heel turn afterwards. And given that Dominik has gone from an afterthought to one of WWE’s most compelling characters since then, it’s hard to keep the match that started it all out of the top 40.
#32: Edge & Beth Phoenix def. Miz & Maryse; Royal Rumble
Ok sue me, this match was tons of fun. It didn’t take itself very seriously, and was the perfect breather to lead into the main event. Wrestling is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Is there something to be said about the fact that Edge won his feud with Seth Rollins but was relegated to a midcard feud afterwards while Rollins got to challenge Roman Reigns for the title on the same card? Sure. But in the meantime, give these couple their moment in the sun. They’re all very good at what they do.
#31: The Judgement Day def. The OC; Crown Jewel
Full disclosure, I like all the individual members of the OC but have never really loved them all together. This face run by them is the exception, and although the outcome was a foregone conclusion (Rhea Ripley tips the scales), the in-ring action was great. The few moments of AJ Styles and Finn Balor trading blows made everyone excited for a singles match between the two, and maybe this built up anticipation is a part of the reason why their match at War Games fellshort (burden of high expectations and all that).