Ranking every WWE main roster Premium Live Event match from 2022: #30-11

Ok y’all, I’ll be honest. This list has been really hard to finish in the midst of the Evil Emperor himself returning, but eff it. We committed to this so we are finishing this. #30-11 are here, the top 10 and a bit of an analytical breakdown of the numbers will be next week. For anyone needing an escape from WWE’s impending terribleness, here’s #90-81, #80-71, #70-61, #60-41, and #40-31. Let’s rank some play-fights.

#30: The Usos (c) def. The Street Profits for the Unified Tag Team Titles; SummerSlam

We’ll get to the first leg of this doubleheader in a bit, but this match was bonkers. Wrestling is meant to make us feel things, as are all things drama, and damn if you didn’t feel a punch to the gut when Montez Ford’s frog splash wasn’t enough to end things. The amount of pain and desperation and overall disappointment on his face is all the evidence one needs to see why so many at WWE have big plans for Montez as a singles star. This match was also the beginning of the "Angelo Dawkins deserves his flowers too" phase as well, and rightfully so. Dawkins was there every step of the way with his partner, but it wasn’t enough to get one over on the Bloodline.

#29: Braun Strowman def. Omos; Crown Jewel

Yeah the work rate was shit and Omos still doesn’t know how to sell, but for pure spectacle purposes, this match was way more fun than it had any right to be. Not only that, but they played up Strowman’s resolve and Omos’s cockiness to give us a finish that ultimately protected the giant Omos. If bookers across all promotions share a common problem, it’s protecting giants in losses. They did ok here.

#28: Matt Riddle def. Seth Rollins in a Fight Pit; Extreme Rules

Assuming Riddle can get his personal life sorted out, this match is the exact reason why Riddle may one day be a world champion. Yes, he’s a goofy stoner character, but his MMA background gives him a believability that makes the character work so damn well. Riddle’s evolving mean streak throughout his summer Bloodline feud has helped him too. He can go from goofy one week to angry and vengeful the next week, and both feel believable. Rollins gets credit for bringing that side out of him. He really does bring the best out of everyone he’s in the ring with. Everyone Rollins feuded with in 2022 can honestly say that their Rollins feud was one of their high points of 2022. Not many others can say that.

#27: Bobby Lashley (c) def. Austin Theory to retain the United States Championship; SummerSlam

A lot of WWE Superstars had very good 2022s, and so it’s easy to overlook how good of a 2022 Bobby Lashley had. Even factoring in the Omos feud, he held the WWE Championship for a short time, was the only one not pinned in the match where he lost the title, and got two huge wins over WWE’s next big thing in a great summertime feud.This match was fun while also hitting the right story points. Bobby looked like an angry beast who can destroy anyone on the roster on his best day. Theory looked talented yet cowardly, and also preoccupied with his potential cash-in later in the night. He tapped out immediately as Lashley slapped the hurt lock on, because of course he did.

#26: Bianca Belair (c) def. Asuka and Becky Lynch in a triple threat match for the Raw Women’s Championship; Hell in a Cell

Not much to say here but that the character work was consistent, the story of Lynch and Belair’s rivalry was kept alive, and Asuka played the perfect Becky foil throughout the match. It sucks that she took the pin, but it happens. We move.

#25: Cody Rhodes def. Seth Rollins; Backlash

Calling this match the worst match of the Rhodes v. Rollins trilogy feels like a disservice. We can bicker over semantics and call it the "least great", I guess. Unlike the other two matches, this one lacked that X-factor from reality that made the first and third meetings iconic. The first had his return to WWE, the last had the Hell in a Cell stipulation and the real life injury. This one, while good, was more known for Cody cutting some corners to win than anything else.

#24: Seth Rollins def. Matt Riddle; Clash at the Castle

Continuing on our Seth Rollins train of thought, the man is SO good that we forget THIS was his only real PLE win in all of 2022. He couldn’t take the strap off reigns at the Royal Rumble. He was pinned by Brock at Elimination Chamber. He stuck out in his three PLE matches against Cody Rhodes. Seth needed this win badly, and he got it in the only way he knew how; getting Matt Riddle so worked up he took his eye off the ball.

#23: Brock Lesnar def. Bobby Lashley; Crown Jewel

Now THIS is how you book a Bobby vs. Brock match. While the story of their Royal Rumble match was essentially "Bobby is a knockoff Brock" in which Bobby looked like a chump and only won because of some Tribal Chief sized help, this match was all about painting the two as equals. Bobby lost but had Brock more shook than any of his matches with Roman Reigns ever left him, and Bobby came out of this white-hot.

#22: Johnny Knoxville def. Sami Zayn in an anything goes match; WrestleMania, Night 2

Perhaps the greatest thing to happen to this match was Vince declining to make it for the Intercontinental Championship. As a title match, it’s an affront to one of WWE’s most prestigious titles at the very least, and an affront to all things rasslin’ at the very most. As a gimmick match, it was loads of slapstick fun with a finish that protected Sami Zayn due to the sheer absurdity of the match. Sami Zayn may have been the MVP of WWE this year, and the beginning of that run started here.

#21: The Usos (c) def. The New Day to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship; Day 1

While the latest iteration of the Usos vs. New Day rivalry lacked some of the zest that the prior ones had, they still put on a hell of a show, perhaps the best show of Day 1’s underwhelming card.

#20: The Miz & Logan Paul def. The Mysterios; WrestleMania, Night 1

So Logan Paul can wrestle. Who woulda thunk? In the midst of WWE lucking out on a string of pretty good celebrity wrestling cameos, Logan Paul may have taken the cake. The nuclear heat he generated doing the three amigos was fanatic. The bumps he took were generous. In wrestling, I like to use something called the "significant other test". Is your non-wrestling fan significant other interested by what’s happening on screen? And mined liked the Miz. She liked Rey Mysterio. She thought Dominik was as interesting as driftwood. And Logan Paul? She was surprised by how engaging he was. The only misstep here was that Miz’s turn on Logan should have been Miz turning face and not vice versa.

#19: Brawling Brutes def. Imperium in a good ole fashioned donnybrook match; Extreme Rules

For this feud to continue, The Brutes needed to get one over on Imperium. They did that and more in an incredibly entertaining six man brawl. Imperium as a whole has done something that very few heel factions can do. Be over as heels while also elevating their opponents on a continual basis. Brawling Brutes went from a nothing heel group to the most over babyface factions in WWE, and Imperium is responsible.

#18: Logan Paul def. The Miz; SummerSlam

No one is saying that, with the right dance partners, anyone can look passable in a tag team match. But it certainly helps. Logan Paul looked really good when surrounded by consummate pros like The Miz and Rey Mysterio, as well as a good hand in Dominik Mysterio. A lot of meh wrestlers have been well-hidden by good tag team work, and so it wouldn’t be an outrage to say that maybe a singles match with the Miz may expose Paul’s weakness a bit more. But damn if he didn’t look better the second time around, including a frog splash onto the announce desk spot.

#17: Roman Reigns (c) def. Logan Paul to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship; Crown Jewel

In the trilogy of Logan Paul WWE matches this year, this one may take the cake. While his skills improved from match 1 to match 2, there was still a lot of speculation, this writer included, that Logan Paul had a hard ceiling of being just "Miz-good". Yeah, he could mix it up with the midcarders, but could he actually believably go toe to toe with the best wrestler in the WWE? This match gave the answer. This was a brilliant work of storytelling in which Roman Reigns drastically underestimated his opponent, thinking about the match as a parallel to the freak shows that have littered combat sports in recent years. Logan proved him wrong, however. Roman sold Paul’s offense beautifully, and for the first time in a long time, there seemed to be cracks in the chief’s armor coming out of Saudi Arabia.

#16: RK-Bro (c) def. The Street Profits and Alpha Academy to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship; WrestleMania, Night 2

The Raw tag team division may have been the last thing that Vince McMahon did really well within WWE, ironic considering his history with tag team wrestling. With RK-Bro and Alpha Academy playing tonsil hockey with the Raw belts over the last few months, and Street Profits consistently in the picture as well, this match felt inevitable. It delivered, too, with each team’s style of wrestling getting a solid showcase.

#15: Becky Lynch (c) def. Lita to retain the Raw Women’s Championship; Elimination Chamber

A constant pleasant surprise within women’s wrestling is the revelation that the godmothers of modern wrestling are still in ring shape and can still go. Whether it was the women’s royal rumble from this year, or this battle for the Raw Women’s Championship, seeing the past mix it up with the present in a believable battle was just really cool to see. Feuds like this and Liv Morgan helped keep Becky’s heel run fresh, because she had something cool to do while waiting for Bianca to work her way back up to the top of the pecking order.

#14: Bobby Lashley def. Austin Theory (c) to win the United States Championship; Money in the Bank

While a case can be made that Mustafa Ali deserved to be the one to dethrone Theory, it was hard to not feel happy for Bobby Lashley here. This was a great match with an unexpected end result, turning a good match into a pretty damn good match in the process. Bobby’s been a 2 time world champion since last holding the United States belt, but him getting it back at MitB felt like insurance that he was not simply going to slide back down the card into purgatory with Lana and his sisters.

#13: Roman Reigns (c) def. Drew McIntyre to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship; Clash at the Castle

Sometimes, the American audiences are so enamored with the supposedly heel Roman Reigns and his sidekick Sami Zayn that he functions as a de facto babyface. Because of this, it’s easy to forget just how good of a heel he is. Against a UK fanbase that absolutely HATED Reigns, and with Zayn not making the trip across the pond, the Tribal Chief arguably did his best work of the year. He made faces at the audience, he reacted to their chants, he ran his mouth, he was just an overall slimy little heel boy. Drew played the babyface perfectly, and really had a lot of people believing he would dethrone Roman here. It sucks that he did not win, but credible challengers like McIntyre are necessary for a reign like Roman’s to be credible, if only because defenses against part timers like Edge, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, and Logan Paul are foregone conclusions. Of course they’re not going to put the strap on John and send him back to Hollywood, but guys like Drew McIntyre? Defending against him means something. Added points to this match for the debut of Solo Sikoa, and Tyson Fury clocking Austin Theory.

#12: Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Kevin Owens in a no holds barred match; WrestleMania, Night 1

Yes, in 2022, the Texas Rattlesnake shook the dust off the ole boots and gave us a classic. Was it a technical masterpiece? By no means. Was it a workrate showcase? Hell no. But Steve Austin had the perfect dance partner and foil in Kevin Owens, who played up his heel persona to perfection, and had the entire AT&T Stadium rocking with every right cross that Stone Cold hit him with. Owens carried Steve for big stretches here, but Austin pulled his own weight in some key spots, including a couple of rough looking bumps onto concrete.

#11: Pat McAfee def. Austin Theory; WrestleMania, Night 2

As good as part-timer Logan Paul was at this wrestling thang in 2022, nothing quite lived up to Pat McAfee’s match with Austin Theory. Pat Mac is out here just living his dream, having already won the video game of life. Now he just accomplishes the side quests. Theory’s spoiled "daddy’s boy" shtick worked like a charm against this writer’s millennial sensibilities in the lead up to the match, and the match itself was a classic. We can forget about what happened after, though.

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