The WWE, between 2010 and 2019 made a drastic shift in its product, coming up with numerous innovations and certain risks. Some paid off, some didn’t. But they were all defining in one way or other. Here’s presenting the second series of matches that laid the ground work for the current WWE programming and helped shape its product for the better
Becky vs Charlotte vs Rousey – Wrestlemania 35
The Women’s Revolution reached completed a full circle with Becky, Charlotte and Ronda Rousey headlining a Winner Takes All match at WrestleMania 35 at the first ever all-female main event in WWE’s history. With Rousey’s signing a year ago being a landmark moment for the company, and Becky emerging as a hot crowd favourite, the WWE cashed in on this potential blockbuster by slotting the two at the grandest stage, and upping the stakes by adding Charlotte, the specimen of women’s wrestling. The Man vs The Queen vs The Baddest Woman on the Planet. How about that for a Hollywood Blockbuster. With three women headlining an action-packed Wrestlemania main-event, this was a completion of a dream in the WWE. The women of wrestling had arrived.
The Undertaker vs Triple H – Wrestlemania 28
What better example of two veterans putting all their experience into a feud than Undertaker and Triple H at Mania 28. The match, billed as the End of a Era, was a wrestling fan’s delight, especially for those watching professional wrestling in the 90s. This was a completion of a four year program between Taker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. With Undertaker already ending Michaels’ in-ring career at Mania 26 and narrowly escaping getting beat by The Game the year later, the stage was set. The Deadman returning for retribution against Michaels’ best friend… inside Hell in a Cell, a match Triple H and The Undertaker had made famous. From the opening bell, the match was a slugfest, with two people in their 40s defying age and physical limitations to wrestle a 45-miute classic.
There were steel chair shots – hard enough for one to feel watching from a TV set – leaving many a mark on Taker’s back. Then there were referees getting chokeslammed. Michaels, the special guest referee being an emotional wreck, and the moment where it seemed the streak had ended when Michaels’ Super Kick connected following The Games’ Pedigree. But it did not, and the Undertaker hit the Tombstone to pick up the win in a physical, brutal match. To cap it off, the three giants of WWE standing at the aisle, glancing at the 78000-odd and sharing an emotional moment… few moments in TV could match it, let alone pro-wrestling.
Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan
Like Triple H did the favours for Bryan at Mania 30, it was time for Bryan to do the honours for Kofi Kingston. Just when Bryan’s Yes Movement was starting to get stale, he turned heel to inject a freshness to his character. And his opponent at Wrestlemania was Kofi Kingston, who had been with the company since 2008. When Kingston pinned Bryan and won the WWE championship, it was a landmark moment since Kingston became the first African-American heavyweight champion since 2011. The tears rolling down Xavier Woods’ face when he rushed to the ring to celebrate the biggest moment of Kingston’s pro wrestling career indicated just how big it was for him and the rest of the Afro-Americans. Everyone believed Kingston deserved it and Bryan put him over only the way he knows.
Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns remained the corner stone of the WWE for the most part of the decade with the former Shield Members going on to win the WWE Championship multiple times and winning two Royal Rumbles between them. With Rollins emerging as the company’s best heel and winning the Money in the Bank contract, and Reigns the top face, the two collided paths no one could have imagined. Reigns won the 2015 Royal Rumble, setting up a No-Holds barred match with Lesnar the champion. Reigns was the punching bag for The Beast for most part of the match and just when it seemed as if he had the chance to slay Lesnar, Rollins’ music hit. The main-event was suddenly a triple threat match and Lesnar rolling out after a spear, Rollins hit the stomp on Reigns and pulled off, in Michael Cole’s words, “The Heist of the Century”. In the generation of Internet and Twitter, not too many things remain hidden from the public, but through this bit of genius creative, the WWE showed they can still outwit their crowd.