WWE invests a lot of time and resources in developing spectacular stories on the road to WrestleMania every year. As a result of that focus, at this point on the calendar there is usually a strong candidate for the main roster WWE Pay-Per-View (PPV) match of the year.
2012 gave us Undertaker versus Triple H inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 28. This was followed up with a surreal spectacle at Extreme Rules when John Cena clashed with Brock Lesnar.
CM Punk and Undertaker stole the show with an instant classic at WrestleMania 29 in 2013.
2014 witnessed Daniel Bryan overcoming all odds and triumphing in two fantastic matches at WrestleMania 30. There was also an unforgettable showdown between The Shield and The Wyatt Family at Fastlane.
Brock Lesnar delivered the goods early on in 2015; his triple threat match at the Royal Rumble and his main event match with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 31 were both held in widespread critical acclaim.
Things are a little different thus far in 2016, partially thanks to a WrestleMania 32 card that didn't live up to the hype. The match quality on PPV has been fine, but it's not clear that any of the 2016 matches really meet the standards of the matches mentioned above.
Below is a listing of all 41 matches that have been included on WWE PPV so far in 2016, including pre-show matches as well as Roadblock. This list ranks these matches according to Dave Meltzer's star ratings.
- Lesnar vs Ambrose vs Reigns (Fastlane, 4.50 stars)
- Ambrose vs Owens (Royal Rumble, 4.25 stars)
- Triple H vs Ambrose (Roadblock, 4.25 stars)
- Intercontinental Championship Ladder match (WrestleMania 32, 4.25 stars)
- Royal Rumble match (Royal Rumble, 4.00 stars)
- Styles vs Jericho (Fastlane, 4.00 stars)
- Owens vs Zayn (Payback, 4.00 stars)
- Charlotte vs Sasha vs Becky (WrestleMania 32, 4.00 stars)
- Ambrose vs Jericho (Payback, 3.75 stars)
- Styles vs Reigns (Payback, 3.75 stars)
- Styles vs Jericho (WrestleMania 32, 3.75 stars)
- Amore and Cassady vs The Revival (Roadblock, 3.50 stars)
- Charlotte vs Natalya (Roadblock, 3.50 stars)
- New Day vs Usos (Royal Rumble, 3.25 stars)
- Kalisto vs Del Rio (Royal Rumble, 3.25 stars)
- Charlotte vs Becky (Royal Rumble, 3.25 stars)
- Kalisto vs Del Rio (Fastlane, 3.25 stars)
- Owens vs Ziggler (Fastlane, 3.25 stars)
- The Miz vs Cesaro (Payback, 3.25 stars)
- Charlotte vs Natalya (Payback, 3.25 stars)
- Lesnar vs Ambrose (WrestleMania 32, 3.25 stars)
- Triple H vs Reigns (WrestleMania 32, 3.25 stars)
- Kane/Ryback/BigShow vs Wyatt Family (Fastlane, 3.00 stars)
- Jericho vs Swagger (Roadblock, 3.00 stars)
- Charlotte vs Brie (Fastlane, 2.75 stars)
- New Day vs League of Nations (Roadblock, 2.75 stars)
- Kalisto vs Ryback (Payback, 2.75 stars)
- Becky and Sasha vs Naomi and Tamina (Fastlane, 2.50 stars)
- Lesnar vs Wyatt and Harper (Roadblock, 2.50 stars)
- Sami Zayn vs Stardust (Roadblock, 2.50 stars)
- New Day vs League of Nations (WrestleMania 32, 2.50 stars)
- Undertaker vs Shane McMahon (WrestleMania 32, 2.50 stars)
- Ziggler vs Corbin (Payback, 2.25 stars)
- Total Divas vs Blonde and BAD (WrestleMania 32, 2.25 stars)
- Swagger/Henry vs Dudleyz vs Ascension vs Sandow/Young (Royal Rumble, 1.50 stars)
- Kalisto vs Ryback (WrestleMania 32, 1.50 stars)
- Usos vs Dudleyz (WrestleMania 32, 1.50 stars)
- Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (WrestleMania 32, 1.50 stars)
- Axel vs Truth (Fastlane, 0 stars)
- Amore and Cassady vs The Vaudevillains (Payback, Not rated)
- The Rock vs Rowan (WrestleMania 32, Not rated)
Now of course this list is based entirely on one man's subjective judgment and should not be taken as anything more than that. That's why I included all 41 matches, as there may be several matches towards the bottom of the list that some readers feel belong towards the top of the list.
My personal favorite match out of the 41 entries on this list is also the triple threat pitting Lesnar against Ambrose and Reigns. But in my view it doesn't really stand out so much from the pack due to an abrupt and disappointing finishing sequence; I can squint and see the argument that it's closer to being the 10th best match on the list as opposed to the very best match.
I look through this list of 41 matches and none of them strike me as being as great as Undertaker versus Triple H from WrestleMania 28, Lesnar versus Cena from Extreme Rules 2012, Punk versus Undertaker from WrestleMania 29, Bryan versus Orton versus Batista from WrestleMania 30, or Lesnar versus Rollins versus Cena from Royal Rumble 2015. In other words, I'm really hoping that we have yet to see the best of what WWE's main roster will offer on PPV in 2016.
Am I missing something here, Cagesiders? Which match from this list is your favorite, and do you think any of them will finish 2016 as legitimate contenders for the best WWE PPV match of the year?