5 Greatest 2000s WWE Pay-Per-Views

Backlash 2000

The 1990s was a hot decade for WWE events, with classic shows such as WrestleMania X and Canadian Stampede still held in high regard three decades later.

However, WWE produced even better pay-per-views during the 2000s, a decade in which they decisively won the wrestling war with WCW.

The 2000s played host to a slew of significant and classic events packed full of world-class in-ring action.

This feature looks back at the five greatest WWE pay-per-views of the decade.

#5 WWE Backlash 2000

The Rock Backlash 2000

Backlash 2000 was the event WrestleMania 2000 should have been. ‘Mania 2000 was missable, with no must-see matches and many filler bouts that had little storyline support. In contrast, Backlash was a stellar card with excellent matches and a major title change in the headliner.

The main event saw WWE Champion, Triple H defend against The Rock. Triple H had support from The Corporation. Feeling he was outnumbered, Linda McMahon asked Stone Cold Steve Austin to second, ‘The People’s Champion’ to the ring. However, before the match, Vince McMahon explained Stone Cold had “transportation problems” and would not be at the arena that night. In true sports entertainment fashion, as The Rock was being beaten down by ‘The Game’ and his cronies, the glass broke and Austin marched to the ring and battered The Corporation with brutal chair shots. The Rock nailed Triple H with the Rock Bottom and Peoples Elbow to lift his fourth WWE World Title.

Underneath Chris Benoit defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification in a choice battle for the Intercontinental Championship. ‘Y2J’ was disqualified by holding the title belt up which smashed Benoit in the face when he attempted a diving headbutt.

The Bigshow cosplaying as Hulk Hogan beat Kurt Angle in a glorified squash match. It was hilarious fun. Dean Malenko defended his Light-Heavyweight Title against Scotty 2 Hotty in a fabulous technical battle. Eddie Guerrero bested Essa Rios and retained his European Title in an entertaining contest.

Edge & Christian defeated the odd couple tag team of the remaining D-Generation X members, The Road Dogg and X-Pac in a decent encounter which opened the show. Crash Holly at the peak of his fame as Hardcore Champion successfully defended his belt in a chaotic six-way match-up.

The Dudley Boyz beat T & A in a fair bout that was more memorable for the post-match angle in which Bubba Ray Dudley who had been entranced by Trish Stratus in the lead-up to the match, snapped out of his trance and powerbombed Stratus through a table.

The only match that failed to deliver was the nondescript tag team contest between The Big Boss Man and Bull Buchanan who The APA. However, one poor match out of a nine-match card was a stunning return.

Backlash 2000 was a superb slice of entertainment from the Federation’s biggest boom era.

#4 WWE Backlash 2007

Backlash 2007

Seven years later, WWE presented Backlash 2007, which unlike Backlash 2000 had a tough act to follow. WrestleMania 23 several weeks earlier had set a new pay-per-view buyrate record for the company and boasted numerous classic matches.

However, Backlash continued WWE’s streak of excellent shows by presenting six matches of superior quality. The headliner was a Fatal 4 Way match-up pitting defending WWE Champion, John Cena against Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, and Edge. After 21 minutes of fast-paced, exciting action, Michaels superkicked Cena whilst he had Orton in position for an FU.

A knocked silly Cena then fortuitously fell backwards on top of Orton for the fluke pin before ‘HBK’ could break up the fall. This was designed to intensify the Cena/Michaels feud and set up a major match between the pair over the summer. Unfortunately, Michaels would soon be sidelined with a knee injury that would sideline him until the autumn. By the time he returned, Cena was also on the shelf and the pair never rekindled their exciting rivalry.

Underneath, The Undertaker and Batista who had shocked the world with their brilliant match-up at WrestleMania fought to a draw in an absorbing Last Man Standing war, which was terrific in its own right. Melina pinned Mickie James in what was one of the greatest women’s matches in WWE history at the time in a very tidy nine-minute encounter.

Chris Benoit defeated MVP in a decent match and The Hardys defeated Cade & Murdoch in a thrilling back-and-forth contest. The card was rounded out by an overbooked but perfectly serviceable bout between Bobby Lashley and the team of Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, and Umaga. The McMahons let Umaga do most of the heavy lifting and when Lashley was overwhelmed by the numbers game, Vince pinned Lashley to win the ECW World Title in the death knell for the ECW belt and brand. A depressing result for some, no doubt but the match was entertaining sports entertainment.

Backlash 2007 delivered in every match. It remains one of the finest supercards in WWE history.

#3 WWE WrestleMania X-Seven

Undertaker vs Triple H WrestleMania X-7

WrestleMania X-Seven is held in very high regard by long-time WWE fans and for good reason. The big matches all delivered in spades and the card was full of memorable moments. What many do not remember though is that the undercard was packed full of filler. Eddie Guerrero versus Test and Tazz and the APA versus Right To Censor are not matches anyone would choose to watch twice. However, when the card kicked into high gear it was first class through to its epic conclusion.

Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit contested a technical stunner before Chyna squashed Ivory to lift the Women’s Title.

In a sports entertainment classic, Shane McMahon defeated his father in a tremendous Street Fight, officiated by Mick Foley. In storyline, Shane objected to his father sedating his mother, Linda so Vince could engage in a sordid affair with Trish Stratus.

However, in the lead-up to the card, Vince had also degraded Stratus to the point he had forced her to bark like a dog. Vince received his comeuppance when Stratus first nailed him with a slap, then it was revealed she had stopped sedating Linda when the matriarch rose from a chair to kick Vince in the privates. Shane then hit the Van Terminator to defeat his old man in a classic moment.

On the subject of classic bouts, the Federation delivered an all-time classic with TLC II. The sequel to the SummerSlam original surpassed the first contest by upping the thrills and bumps tenfold. Edge speared Jeff Hardy off a ladder in a highlight reel moment. Hardy also nailed a Swanton off a huge ladder to Rhyno and Spike Dudley who had liberally interfered in the match-up. Ultimately, it was serial winners, Edge & Christian who lifted their seventh and final Tag Team Title.

In the semi-final, The Undertaker defeated Triple H in a stiff contest which saw both wrestlers brawl around the arena. In a memorable spot ‘The Game’ smashed The Undertaker in the head with a sledgehammer as he attempted The Last Ride. However, ‘The American Bad Ass’ shrugged off the cobwebs, to nail The Last Ride this time and earn the pinfall win.

The main event closed out The Attitude Era in style as Stone Cold Steve Austin shockingly aligned himself with his longtime foe, Vince McMahon to beat The Rock and win WWE gold once more. ‘The Bionic Redneck’ turned heel for the first time since 1997 to lift his fifth WWE Title. The partisan Texas crowd did not care one jot that their beloved hero had turned heel. They cheered his brutal assault and pinfall on The Rock regardless.

WrestleMania X-Seven was big time. The card closed out with three five-star matches and delivered many more good ones. Even the filler, was too short to overstay its welcome. An all-time classic event.

#2 WWE WrestleMania XXIV

Shawn Michaels WWE WrestleMania XXIV

WWE usually serves up a top-notch card for WrestleMania. However, in 2008 they managed to surpass themselves by booking a terrific card on paper, that delivered in spades on the night.

The show was built around four marquee matches. The first of which was the bout in which Ric Flair’s epic career was on the line against Shawn Michaels. In a hugely emotional encounter and Flair’s best match for a decade, Michaels superkicked Flair into (temporary) retirement. Michaels and Flair both sold the gravitas of the occasion and the bout would have been a perfect send-off for Flair’s legendary career had it stuck. That being said it remains his swansong for his WWE in-ring career.

Randy Orton successfully defended his WWE Championship against Triple H and John Cena in a tidy triple threat encounter. Orton punted his way to victory by nailing ‘The Game’ and pinning Cena, who had just tasted a Pedigree.

In a Boxer versus Wrestler attraction, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather knocked out The Big Show in a stunning bout that somehow managed to overcome the massive size differential and deliver a competitive match that allowed for the suspension of disbelief. It was a perfectly booked and executed match-up.

The show was capped off by The Undertaker’s World Title victory over Edge in a sterling back-and-forth contest. There were several nail-biting near falls and at times it seemed like ‘The Phenom’s’ undefeated WrestleMania streak was in jeopardy. However, ‘Taker managed to force Edge to submit to Hell’s Gate to win the belt and end the show on a high note.

Underneath, there were also some gems on the undercard. The Money in the Bank match delivered the usual thrills and spills and saw CM Punk win his first of two briefcases. JBL beat Finlay in a hard-hitting Belfast Brawl, which was one of the finest matches of JBL’s career.

Batista versus Umaga wasn’t allocated enough time and suffered as a result. The pair didn’t gel and their bout was a disappointment. Kane versus Chavo Guerrero was more angle than match and the women were done a disservice with a blink-and-you-‘ll-miss-it, five-minute Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjill encounter.

However, despite some of the misfires on the undercard, WrestleMania XXIV was a phenomenal show and one of the best events of the 2000s.

#1 WWE SummerSlam 2002

WWE SummerSlam 2002

The 15th annual SummerSlam was the greatest of the decade. In fact, it was the best event of the 2000s full stop. The card opened with a tremendously excited, fast-paced, technical stunner between Kurt Angle and newcomer, Rey Mysterio. Angle won with the ankle lock.

Edge defeated Eddie in a tidy scrap, that saw Guerrero work over Edge’s ribs before the babyface made a comeback and managed to hit a spear for the victory. Intercontinental Champion, Rob Van Dam defended his title against former champion, Chris Benoit in an exciting encounter that ebbed and flowed throughout. RVD retained the gold following a Five Star Frogsplash.

The Un-Americans defended their Tag Team Title in a terrifically heated encounter against the odd couple tag team of Booker T and Goldust. The New York crowd was firmly behind Booker T and Goldust’s quest to win the belts and were deflated when The Un-Americans retained. However, the action was first-rate.

Test versus The Undertaker exceeded expectations in a decent brawl. Test was allowed to look fairly competitive before he succumbed to a Tombstone Piledriver.

The only match that didn’t deliver was the pedestrian match-up between ageing veteran, Ric Flair and Chris Jericho. Flair couldn’t keep up with his younger opponent and ‘Y2J’ couldn’t carry him. To make matters worse, Flair actually made Jericho submit to the Figure Four Leglock.

The final two matches ended the card on a high note. Shawn Michaels returned to a WWE ring for the first time in four years as he battled his former D-X stablemate, Triple H in a classic Street Fight. ‘The Game’ worked over Michaels’s surgically repaired back with multiple chair shots. Michaels sporadically made energetic comebacks. The highlight of which was a splash off the top rope through a table. After 28 minutes of superlative action, Michaels reversed a Pedigree attempt into a roll-up for a feel-good victory.

Finally, Brock Lesnar bested The Rock in a terrific effort, which was easily the finest match of ‘The Next Big Thing’s’ career at that point in time. The New York crowd, recognising the fact that ‘The Brahma Bull’ was now a part-timer booed him out of the building and loudly cheered the heel, Lesnar.

It made for an unforgettable atmosphere. Lesnar reversed a Rock Bottom attempt into a thunderous F-5 to win his first World Title. A brilliant match to end a superlative card of action. The finest of the decade.

You can watch all of these events exclusively on the WWE Network.