2022 has been a year to remember for WWE, both because of the high concentration of quality pay-per-views and massive turnover backstage. The 365-day period saw Vince McMahon retire, leading Triple H to take over booking ahead of SummerSlam. These two men book wrestling shows very differently, and how fans view the premium live events of 2022 will likely be connected to whose creative they prefer. The Game’s style leans into the physicality of pro wrestling while also not being overly hand-holdy in terms of storytelling. Meanwhile, McMahon rarely trusted his audience to pick up on anything subtle, instead preferring bombastic matches and spectacle.
As Triple H put it earlier this year, it’s like two different flavors of ice cream. Those “flavors” certainly come into play when looking back at WWE’s docket of premium live events from 2022. On the whole, these shows mostly delivered high-end matches and plenty of memorable moments for WWE fans. Here, an attempt to rank them from worst to best will be made. Lists like this are almost entirely based subjective. An attempt will be made to create a consensus based on reviews that came out following each individual show, but those too are steeped in author opinion. It’s natural to disagree in some spots and agree with others. The diversity in opinion is part of what makes professional wrestling so fun and interesting. Without further delay, let’s jump into our ranking of every WWE pay-per-view of 2022.
12/12 Royal Rumble – January 28 (The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis)
If one WWE show wrapped up McMahon’s shortcomings as a booker in 2022, it was the Royal Rumble. Two of Vince’s favorite former UFC stars, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey, won the men’s and women’s rumble. The Beast Incarnate was McMahon’s No. 1 break-glass-in-case-of-emergency star, so his randomly entering the Royal Rumble wasn’t as shocking as it was predictable. Ronda Rousey returned to WWE this night, but the women’s Royal Rumble match wasn’t much better than the men’s. There were some extraordinary moments in both matches, but all told, this was a largely forgettable event for WWE fans.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Royal Rumble 2022: It’s tough to pick the most memorable moment, but Mickie James popping up during the women’s Royal Rumble with the Impact Women’s Championship was a fantastic surprise. WWE used her Impact entrance theme and even acknowledged the company on air—a rare sight during the Vince McMahon era.
Royal Rumble’s Match Of The Night: The Royal Rumble started off white-hot with Roman Reigns Vs. Seth Rollins, but the show went downhill from there. Reigns Vs. Rollins was the top fight of the night, while Doudrop did her best to hang with Becky Lynch despite not being built up well by WWE.
11/12 Elimination Chamber – February 19 (Jeddah Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Elimination Chamber appearing this low on the rankings indicates how many quality premium live events WWE produced in 2022. This was the first time this pay-per-view was taken overseas, going down in Saudi Arabia. By most accounts, this was an average to a slightly above-average outing, but it featured many of the same issues that plagued the Royal Rumble. Under McMahon, WWE focused on building Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar while making everyone else look like B-level players. That tendency reared its ugly head at Elimination Chamber, with Lesnar predictably winning the men’s match. Unfortunately, there were two clunkers on the card, with Lita looking a step behind against Becky Lynch, while the men’s Elimination Chamber bout was a bit of a mess. It’s tough to show much love to a show when two of the highest-billed matches fail to deliver.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Elimination Chamber 2022: Bianca Belair winning the women’s Elimination Chambermatch, which set her up for her massive moment at WrestleMania 38. Her feud with Becky Lynch over the Raw Women’s Championship lasted all the way to SummerSlam, and the roots for that lengthy program were planted in February.
Elimination Chamber’s Match Of The Night: There were no genuine five-star match contenders on this card. That said, Roman Reigns Vs. Goldberg did precisely what it needed to do. Goldberg refusing to tap to Roman’s guillotine choke was eye-roll inducing, but it was the kind of spectacle WWE tries to deliver in Saudi Arabia.
10/12 Money In The Bank – July 2 (MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas)
This list is already getting tricky because Money In The Bank was a strong show for WWE. Some critics panned Elimination Chamber and the Royal Rumble, but they were average at worst. The 10 remaining pay-per-views, including Money In The Bank, were B-shows at the absolute worst. Money In The Bank will be remembered as the last premium live event of Vince McMahon’s career, as he’d retire just a few weeks later on July 22. An attempt was made to elevate both Liv Morgan and Austin Theory. The degree to which this was successful will take a year or two to discern, but in the short term, Money In The Bank delivered where it needed to.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Money In The Bank 2022: There were a few big moments from this show, but Liv Morgan cashing in on Ronda Rousey to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship stands out. Theory being shoehorned into the men’s MITB match and winning is a close second if only because of the bind it’d put Triple H in once he took over creative at the end of July.
Money In The Bank’s Match Of The Night: The Street Profits Vs. The Usos absolutely stole the Money In The Bank show. This fight will land on many Match of the Year lists in 2022, and for a good reason. Two of the top tag teams in WWE went to war, and it was the kind of bout that current fans would urge relapsed WWE fans to check out. Tag team wrestling doesn’t get much better than this. It was an instant classic and a match that audience members will still be watching years from now.
9/12 Extreme Rules – October 8 (Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia)
Extreme Rules didn’t hit all the high notes, but it came pretty darn close. This pay-per-view might creep into the top five or six in years gone by, but again, 2022 was a stellar year for WWE. Triple H’s fingerprints were emerging all over the company’s programming by early October, and several of these matches could stand the test of time. There are a few skippable matches during rewatches, including Drew McIntyre versus Karrion Kross’ strap match and Ronda Rousey’s fight against Liv Morgan to end their feud. When Extreme Rules was good, though, it was excellent. Imperium Vs. The Brawling Brutes more than delivered, and the overlooked I Quit match between Finn Balor and Edge featured outstanding in-ring storytelling during the closing minutes.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Extreme Rules: Bray Wyatt’s return, and it’s not even close. WWE’s audience had been captivated by the White Rabbit teases for weeks, and that was all paid off at the end of this premium live event. It’s not very often that an entrance is the most memorable aspect of an entire pay-per-view, but that was the case on this night with Bray Wyatt.
Extreme Rules’ Match Of The Night: This is a toss-up between The Brawling Brutes and Imperium’s Good Old-Fashioned Donnybrook match and Seth Rollins against Matt Riddle in a Fight Pit. Fans sleep on the I Quit match because it ran so long, but this trio of bouts, plus Wyatt’s highly anticipated debut, made this a fun card overall.
8/12 WrestleMania Backlash – May 8 (Amica Mutual Pavilion in Rhode Island)
This is a strange show to rank because Backlash featured a handful of great matches that, at the time, felt like they didn’t move the needle in terms of storytelling for WWE. Given how much time has passed since this pay-per-view, fans benefit from a generous amount of hindsight, and this initial critique turned out to be inaccurate. Rhea Ripley joining Judgment Day and the emergence of The Bloodline as a true force were both highlight-reel moments that impacted the rest of the year and will likely ripple forward into 2023. Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair also bounced back from a rough outing at WrestleMania 38 and put on a stellar I Quit match. Seven months later and The Queen still hasn’t returned to WWE television.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Backlash: If Rhea Ripley wins WWE gold in 2023, her appearance at Backlash will stand out significantly. It was the debut of her darker character, and she’s been a great heel since May. Cody Rhodes cheating to win his rematch against Seth Rollins would probably mean more if The American Nightmare hadn’t been injured ahead of Hell In A Cell. More on that later.
Backlash’s Match Of The Night: There was only one truly lousy match at Backlash, making picking a top bout tough. Cody Rhodes versus Seth Rollins was the top men’s bout of the night, while Rousey and Flair had arguably the best match of their lengthy feud at a pay-per-view fans didn’t expect much from.
7/12 Day 1 – January 1 (State Farm Arena in Atlanta)
Day 1 was a show that underwent on-the-fly changes due to COVID, but, for the most part, WWE scrambled and pieced together a solid pay-per-view to open 2022. It lands squarely in the middle of these rankings, mainly because the premium live events over the last 12 months have been excellent. Some fans probably wish that Big E would have had the chance to do more as WWE Champion, but whenever Brock Lesnar gets involved, title reigns typically come to an end. Liv Morgan’s big 2022 also started on a high note on Day 1, with the storyline being that she wasn’t quite ready to challenge wrestlers like Becky Lynch. That feeling would be different nearly 12 months later, as Liv Morgan is one of SmackDown’s most regularly featured performers.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Day 1: Hopefully, this isn’t the last time WWE’s audience gets to see Big E defend the WWE Championship. Two months later, he’d fracture his C1 and C6 vertebrae, and it’s unclear if he will ever wrestle again. Outside of that, the fatal 5-way for the WWE Championship was great, especially considering it was thrown together at the last minute after Roman Reigns’ positive COVID test.
Day 1’s Match Of The Night: There was virtually no built-in heat for The Usos Vs. New Day match, but two of this generation’s best tag teams still delivered. It’s a testament to how incredible both units are, even though Kingston and Woods are currently involved in a fun run as NXT’s tag-team champions.
6/12 Hell In A Cell – June 5 (Allstate Arena in Chicago)
The last six matches on this list are chock-full of bangers and marquee moments. Hell In A Cell was tremendous from top to bottom, with everyone involved giving it their all to make the pay-per-view as top-notch as possible. Becky Lynch Vs. Asuka Vs. Bianca Belair opened the show with a fantastic match, and WWE kept its foot on the gas through to the main event. Seth Rollins exercised his Hell In A Cell demons against Cody Rhodes, who somehow wrestled after tearing his pectoral muscle clean off the bone while training. Even Bobby Lashley vs. Omos and MVP was more entertaining than it should have been, illustrating how solid Hell In A Cell was from top to bottom.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Hell In A Cell: The moment Cody Rhodes removed his jacket, revealing the gnarly discoloration his torn pectoral muscle resulted in. This shocking image could be looked back on as an “Austin 3:16 says I just whooped your a**” moment where a clear-cut instance creates a generational star for WWE.
Hell In A Cell’s Match Of The Night: It’s impossible not to double-dip here with Cody Rhodes versus Rollins. Hell In A Cell was the third match in their trilogy, and it was not only their best fight but one of the top bouts in WWE in 2022. Perhaps Cody shouldn’t have been allowed to work in the first place, but he did. And the outcome was a career-defining match for the 37-year-old.
5/12 Crown Jewel – November 5 (Mrsool Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
2022 featured the fourth-ever Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, and it was by far the best edition of the show to date. Whereas the first three were high on spectacle, but light on substance, the 2022 version of the premium live event featured a fantastic combination of both. It’s impossible to recap everything that happened in shorthand, but no one phoned it in during Crown Jewel. Logan Paul took Roman Reigns to the limit. The last woman-standing match between Bayley and Bianca Belair was stellar, while Asuka and Alexa Bliss against Dakota Kai and IYO SKY delivered. The low point was the opener between Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, and even that match was a solid B- or B-minus fight.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Crown Jewel: It’s got to be Logan Paul’s frog splash onto Roman Reigns, a move the YouTube star recorded on a cell phone and later shared on social media. It was WWE’s most viral moment of 2022 and a stellar spot in a match that over-delivered in a major way.
Crown Jewel’s Match Of The Night: The clunky finish to Belair versus Bayley prevents that last woman standing match from earning MOTN honors. Paul stole the spotlight at Crown Jewel, which is saying something, given how much attention this pay-per-view generated.
4/12 SummerSlam – July 30 (Nissan Stadium in Nashville)
SummerSlam was the first pay-per-view where Triple H was in charge of WWE’s creative, happening eight days after McMahon’s shocking retirement. Some pundits felt that The Game might choose to leave his mark on the company’s direction slowly, but those feelings quickly fell by the wayside at SummerSlam. This pay-per-view gave fans a glance into Triple H’s booking style, as it was a show full of “happenings” and quality wrestling matches. Bayley showing up with Dakota Kai and IYO SKY proved Triple H would bring some of his favorite NXT stars back into the fold. The Last man standing fight between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns was better than anyone could have reasonably expected. Tack on marquee performances from celebrities in Logan Paul and Pat McAfee and SummerSlam was as refreshing as it was fun.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About SummerSlam: Fans of straight-up sports entertainment would pick Roman Reigns versus Lesnar, as that bout was a pure spectacle. WWE didn’t need to go back to this well so soon at WrestleMania 38, but the match was already in motion by the time McMahon retired. Reigns snatching a microphone out of midair after Lesnar tossed it to him while standing on top of a tractor perfectly encapsulates this match.
SummerSlam’s Match Of The Night: Let’s show some love to Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch, who capped off their year-long rivalry at SummerSlam. Belair got redemption after The Man returned and beat her in 26 seconds at SummerSlam in 2021, and Lynch wrestling through a separated shoulder was gutsy.
3/12 WrestleMania 38 – April 2 & 3 (AT&T Stadium in Arlington)
WWE calls WrestleMania the Showcase of the Immortals for a reason. WrestleMania 38 was once again split into two nights. Day one took some time to get rolling, with Belair versus Lynch being the first fight that felt worthy of the massive stage. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kevin Owens main eventing the first night was an absolute blast, with the Texas Rattlesnake receiving the hero’s welcome he deserves from the Texas crowd. No one thought he’d be putting on a 30-minute segment with KO, but that’s exactly what fans got. Cody Rhodes also made his comeback on April 2, capping off weeks of speculation that he was done with AEW. Night two featured a main event between Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar, and the unified championship angle gave this match a big-fight feel. Judgment Day was also formed as Damian Priest helped Edge defeat AJ Styles, and that faction, now led by Finn Balor, is a constant force on SmackDown.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About WrestleMania 38: It’s a fool’s errand to try and pick just one moment that all fans will remember about any WrestleMania. Stone Cold Steve Austin‘s return was one for the ages, while Reigns unifying the WWE Championship and Universal Championship has led to one of the most dominant reigns in company history. Take your pick.
WrestleMania 38’s Match Of The Night: There have been rumblings that WWE wants Stone Cold to have another match at WrestleMania 39. If that doesn’t happen, and his bout with Owens turns out to be his swan song, he has to walk away with MOTN honors. From a strict pro wrestling standpoint, Belair and Lynch once again proved capable of stealing any card they’re involved with.
2/12 Clash At The Castle – September 3 (Principality Stadium in Cardiff)
From top to bottom, Clash At The Castle met and exceeded expectations on every level. The main event between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre was stellar. Dominik Mysterio finally turned on his father by joining Judgment Day. Damage Control established itself as a heel faction worth keeping an eye on, and Riddle versus Rollins continued to roll. There weren’t any clear-cut flops on this card, and the red-hot crowd in Cardiff put exclamation marks on all the larger-than-life moments. WWE has to think long and hard about returning to the United Kingdom, based solely on how well tickets for Clash At The Castle sold and the critical response to this premium live event. Thirty years is too long to go between UK events for WWE.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Clash At The Castle: Picking anything besides Reigns retaining his unified titles over McIntyre would be doing so just to do so. The two men wove an incredible story in the ring, with Roman Reigns needing help from Solo Sikoa to protect his lengthy championship reign. It’s a legit match-of-the-year candidate and stands out as one of the top matches of 2022, period.
Clash At The Castle’s Match Of The Night: Reigns versus McIntyre was a masterclass, so it’s easy to forget how excellent Gunther against Sheamus was. The former is the MOTN, but Gunther and Sheamus deserve a lot of credit for coming in as a close second. Clash At The Castle featured a phenomenal card and barely missed the top spot on this list.
1/12 Survivor Series – November 26 (TD Garden in Boston)
Ranking Survivor Series in the top spot opens up possible recency bias accusations, but this pay-per-view featured some of the best in-ring storytelling of the year. The two WarGames matches were magnificent sports entertainment spectacles. Sami Zayn preventing Kevin Owens from pinning Roman Reigns will propel everyone involved towards WrestleMania 39 in April 2023, and Becky Lynch’s triumphant return in the women’s WarGames match was excellent. Tack on an incredible bout between AJ Styles and Finn Balor, and Austin Theory stealing the United States Championship in a fun triple-threat match, and Survivor Series was outstanding all the way through.
What WWE Fans Will Remember About Survivor Series: It’s a close one, with both Lynch’s leg drop from the top of the WarGames cage and Zayn betraying Owens standing out as memorable moments. If Theory pans out the way WWE hopes, his character shift following Survivor Series might be viewed as a significant occurrence with the benefit of more hindsight.
Survivor Series’ Match Of The Night: Outside of Ronda Rousey versus Shotzi, which was given an unfair amount of negative attention, WWE fans can’t go wrong with anything on the Survivor Seriescard. The women’s WarGames match was remarkably physical, while the men weaved a dynamic and multi-layered story in the main event for WWE.