What a weird year 2019 was for professional wrestling. WWE’s NXT brand finally started gaining the recognition it deserves as a major player in the industry, while Smackdown jumped to a new network and All Elite Wrestling–fronted by the Young Bucks, Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes), and Kenny Omega–launched its first weekly TV series and PPV events.
With such a crowded wrestling space, you might think it would be hard to note the best PPVs of the year. After all, WWE is practically presenting them bi-weekly at this point. However, the cream always rises, and that’s exactly what happened in the pro wrestling world. There were dozens of PPVs this year, but we–the GameSpot wrestling nerds–have picked out the eight best that you should set time aside to make sure you watch.
Take a look at our favorite pay-per-views of 2019 below. While, yes, WWE is well-represented, there’s a couple entries in there that might just surprise you. Then, while you get ready for somehow even more wrestling in 2019, take a look back at our favorite moments of 2019.
1. Double or Nothing
All Elite Wrestling’s first official event took place in Las Vegas earlier this year, Double or Nothing, and it completely lived up the hype. It showcased various styles of wrestling from the United States, Mexico, and Japan, and there were plenty of huge surprises, like Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose in WWE) making his AEW debut and beating down Kenny Omega. Double or Nothing also had one of the best matches of the year–even if it was a little bloody. Cody took on his brother Dustin Rhodes in an emotional and intense battle that had fans on the edge of their seats. While a company like WWE may have bigger names and larger drawing power, AEW proved you can put on a stellar show with great matches. – Mat Elfring
2. DDT: Coming to America
This is a little bit of a cheat as Chris E. Hayner and myself attended the event during Wrestlemania week for fun. And in my years of watching wrestling, this was the most fun I’ve ever had at an event. DDT Pro leans more towards comedy than anything else–something I love about the sport–and we got to see Joey Ryan and Royal Isaacs take on Antonio Honda and Danshoku Dieno–Ryan’s “Dick Flip” finisher originated in a match against Dieno. Additionally, Yoshihiko appeared during a battle royal–Yoshihiko is a blowup doll. But the highlight of the evening was the Weapon Rumble in U.S.A. featuring MAO vs. Sanshiro Takagi–the president of DDT who is a parody of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The match utilized weapons like a Hulk Hogan impersonator, a toilet, and MAO riding around the ring on a bicycle. DDT: Coming to America was nothing but pure joy. – Mat Elfring
3. Survivor Series
This year, WWE did something perfect for the annual fall PPV: They threw NXT into the mix. Long-considered “developmental talent,” the involvement of this WWE brand was a breath of fresh air to one of WWE’s oldest PPVs. It added new talent to the show, and for the first time at any major WWE PPV, we got to see the NXT Championship be defended on the card. NXT’s involvement made people care about an event that had become a bit stale over the years and seeing NXT win the most matches of the three brands over the evening was surprising–a feeling WWE fans don’t feel very often anymore. – Mat Elfring
4. NWA: Into The Fire
NWA is rooted in the concept that wrestling hit its peak in the 70’s and 80’s, and thus, the show is nearly indistinguishable from those territory broadcasts. Interview segments, unscripted promos, and comparatively realistic wrestling action–NWA is great for a throwback fix. The most recent PPV, NWA: Into the Fire, was a great event for this latest revival of a legendary promotion, and it featured Nick Aldis and James Storm in a 2-out-of-3 falls match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. – Kevin Wong
5. NXT Takeover: Toronto
This PPV benefitted from having what might have been the best WWE match of the year: a 2-out-of-3 falls match between Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano. For a little over 45 minutes, the two NXT Superstars waged a stunning war of attrition with plenty of nearfalls, clinch wrestling, power moves, and aerial attacks. This match had it all, and it solidified Adam Cole as the type of superstar who could carry the company on his back. Add to that a Shayna Baszler title match and a wrestling clinic between The Velveteen Dream, Pete Dunne, and Roderick Strong, and you have one of the strongest PPVs of 2019. – Kevin Wong
Generally speaking, the Summerslam PPV is the place where dreams go to die. There have been so many high-profile losses and humiliations–so many McMahon-driven screwjobs–at the biggest party of the summer. John Cena has a losing record at Summerslam, including a six-year losing streak, which tells you everything you need to know about how jinxed this event is. But in 2019, with the exception of Bray Wyatt’s dismantling of Finn Balor (and let’s be real, nearly everyone was cheering for Wyatt that night, regardless of how he was booked), the good guys (and gals) ruled the day. Most distinctively, Seth Rollins won in the main event, pinning Brock Lesnar cleanly to take home the WWE Universal Championship. – Kevin Wong
7. NXT Takeover: WarGames
Two rings linked together and a massive steel cage surrounding it all. What could possibly go wrong? The WarGames stipulation gained popularity in the NWA and the WCW, but it’s been lifted to new levels of daredevil theatrics and danger since its early days. The two WarGames matches on the card–Team Ciampa (Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, and Kevin Owens) vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, and Roderick Strong); and Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox, and Dakota Kai) vs Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, and Kay Lee Ray); managed the near-impossible task of being action-packed and easy to follow. – Kevin Wong
This year’s showcase of the immortals was easily one of the best in years, and it all came down to two matches. First, after a decade with the company, New Day member Kofi Kingston became WWE Champion. It was a feel good story the likes of which we get less and less in wrestling these days. Seeing Kofi reach the top of the mountain, toppling Daniel Bryan and celebrating with his kids was a truly special moment. Then, in the main event, the woman took center-stage for the first time ever. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey headlined the grandaddy of them all, delivering a fantastic triple threat match for the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships. The women’s evolution or revolution or whatever you want to call it reached its pinnacle that night and, as someone who was in the stadium watching it all happen live, it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen–and nobody deserved to be in that main event more than those three women. – Chris E. Hayner
Source: Game Spot Mashup