WWE’s Top Ten Moments Of 2021
Date: December 31, 2021
Hosts: Pat McAfee, Michael Cole, Becky Lynch
It’s not exactly Smackdown but at least it’s a special show. As the title might suggest, this is a Top Ten special for the year, which has me wondering what WWE might count as best. They do know how to pull some good things out of the archives though and maybe they can do that again here. Let’s get to it.
I’ll be posting the full versions of matches rather than the clipped editions.
Cole and McAfee welcome us to the show and promise a big celebration. McAfee is starting big, by bringing out the third host: Becky Lynch. The champ is glad to be here and throws us to #10.
Raw Tag Team Titles: RKBro vs. Omos/AJ Styles
RKBro is challenging after officially reuniting on Raw. Riddle goes after Omos to start and gets tossed down in a hurry as the strikes don’t work. The sleeper doesn’t do much either as Omos isn’t playing around here. AJ comes in and it’s time to kick away at Riddle. That doesn’t last long either as Riddle dives over and makes the tag.
Orton unloads on Styles and even kicks Omos off the apron to the floor. The hanging DDT is broken up though and Omos chokeslams Riddle onto the apron. That’s enough of a distraction for AJ to snap Orton’s throat across the ropes. A moonsault takes Riddle down on the floor but the Phenomenal Forearm doesn’t work. Orton ducks and grabs the RKO for the pin and the titles at 6:31.
Rating: C+. They didn’t bother doing anything but try to have a feel good moment here and that worked out well. Omos and Styles have done everything they need to do with the titles and it is a good move to switch things over. RKBro is the best thing going on Raw so give them the good moment and let things move on.
Video on Roman Reigns.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
It’s pretty awesome that these two are getting to face each other at Wrestlemania. Sami comes out first and introduces Logan Paul, who does not seem that popular. Owens plants him with a Pop Up Powerbomb at the bell so Sami rolls outside. That means Sami has to grab the ropes to avoid an apron powerbomb. Sami gets dropped ribs first across the top rope and there’s the Cannonball to crush him again.
The threat of Owens going to the top sends Sami outside again but this time he catches Owens with a brainbuster on the apron for a big reaction (egads). Back in and the Michinoku Driver (Cole calls it a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Graves “saves him from the internet” by correcting him. Cole: “Thanks Corey. I got enough of that last night.”) gives Sami two so he puts Owens on top.
Some headbutts send Sami flying and the frog splash gives Owens two of his own. A fisherman’s buster onto the knee knocks Zayn silly for two more but ht he’s right back with the exploder suplex into the corner. The Helluva Kick and Stunner both miss so Sami grabs the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Another exploder sets up a nasty half and half suplex to rock Owens and the brainbuster gets another near fall.
Sami takes him up again and gets countered into the swinging fisherman’s superplex to crush Zayn and have Paul slumped over in his chair. Back up and Sami hits the Helluva Kick but makes the mistake of trying another one, allowing Owens to hit a superkick. Another superkick sets up the Stunner to pin Zayn at 9:17.
Rating: B-. A lot of what made this work was just seeing Owens vs. Zayn at Wrestlemania. These two have one of the deepest histories in modern wrestling and it must be so special to them to get to do this. Good match too, with Owens getting a win like he deserves after having such a great series with Reigns. Also, thanks for getting the show on track after the awful first hour.
Post match Paul checks on Sami as he gets up so Sami yells a lot and reminds Paul that Owens is the enemy. Paul shoves him down and storms off so Paul raises Owens’ hand. The Stunner leaves him laying so Owens can hug his family. Paul is helped out and asks why Owens did that.
McAfee and Becky are having a good time without Cole, who throws us to #8.
Raw World Title: Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley
Lashley, with MVP, is defending. They circle each other to start and we get the big power lockup. Lashley gets backed into the corner and shoves Goldberg back. A shoulder doesn’t stagger Goldberg but his flying shoulder drops Lashley. A powerslam into a World’s Strongest Slam crushes Lashley and a clothesline takes him down again. Neither of them can hit the Jackhammer so Lashley knocks him down for the forearms to the back of the neck.
Goldberg sends him flying but MVP pulls Lashley outside to avoid the spear. That’s fine with Goldberg, who hits the spear on the floor instead. Back in and Lashley bails outside to avoid another spear. MVP hits Goldberg in the knee with his cane so Lashley takes out the leg. The Hurt Lock is blocked and the fans aren’t pleased. Another shot to the knee puts Goldberg down and he rolls outside. The knee is sent into the post hard twice in a row and Goldberg collapses before Lashley can try the spear. That’s enough and the referee stops it at 7:12.
Rating: D+. Goldberg’s stuff was looking better than usual at the start and then it turned into WWE trying something emotional. They’re probably setting up a rematch or something, because Goldberg is the most overly pushed legend in WWE history. I have no idea what this was supposed to accomplish other than to make Lashley look like someone who can’t get the job done almost six months into his reign. It was an acceptable power brawl for a bit and then it was the leg stuff over and over until the finish.
Post match Lashley unloads on Goldberg with chair shots to the knee and Goldberg is done. Goldberg’s son Gage tries to run in and jumps on Lashley’s back so Lashley puts him in the Hurt Lock. MVP grabs the mic and says Lashley didn’t know who it was as Goldberg crawls onto his son. MVP and Lashley bail as Goldberg swears vengeance and Gage looks bored. They had this much time to set things up and their big idea is to make it about Goldberg’s kid? There is NO ONE ELSE who can get a spot like this than Goldberg? WWE is dying for fresh stars and they use an emotional angle on Goldberg?
Video on the rise of Nikki Ash.
It’s time for #7….which is also from Summerslam.
Raw Women’s Title: Nikki Ash vs. Charlotte vs. Rhea Ripley
Ash is defending. Ripley gets sent outside to start and it’s Nikki grabbing a rollup for two. Back in and Ripley gets rolled up for the same but Charlotte sends Nikki outside. The big fight is on with Ripley and Charlotte slugging it out until Ash comes back in with a rollup for two. That earns her another toss to the floor and Ripley grabs a northern lights suplex for two on Charlotte.
A big boot knocks Ripley off the apron but Nikki is back in with a tornado DDT for two. Charlotte picks Nikki up but Ripley is back in to German suplex both of them at once. The missile dropkick gets two on Charlotte so she and Ripley fight to the floor. They stand in place and look up at Nikki as she gets ready before diving onto the two of them. Back in and Charlotte suplexes both of them, followed by a double DDT.
The chops have Ripley and Nikki rocked but they double team their way out of trouble. Charlotte sends both of them outside and goes up for the corkscrew moonsault, which lands straight on Nikki and drives her HARD into the barricade. That was terrifying and thankfully Nikki is up so Ripley can put her into the Prism Trap.
Charlotte breaks that up and it’s the Prism Trap to Charlotte, who reverses into the Figure Eight. Nikki comes in off the top to break it up and the swinging neckbreaker gets two on Charlotte, with Ripley making the save this time. Ripley is sent outside and Charlotte avoids Nikki’s high crossbody, setting up the Figure Eight for the tap to make Charlotte champion again at 13:12.
Rating: B-. I think I’ve run out of ways to talk about how many title wins Charlotte has these days but it’s better to just pull the plug on Nikki as a champion at the moment. This has been a complete nightmare since she won the title and if they just want to get it back on Charlotte, go for it. Ripley seems to be a lost cause as well though, as she has been flattened by the Charlotte train. The match itself was quite good with some awesome near falls, but there is a certain deflating value when Charlotte gets the title back.
Video on Shinsuke Nakamura.
Pat McAfee heavily approves of Nakamura, but Lynch does not approve of McAfee’s approval.
We look at the roller coaster year of King/Happy Corbin.
Here’s a look at the debuting stars of the year.
From Wrestlemania at #6.
Miz/John Morrison vs. Damian Priest/Bad Bunny
Bunny gets a huge entrance of his own, coming into the stadium on a semi truck. Miz and Priest start but Miz wants Bunny instead. That’s exactly what Miz gets and Bunny looks a bit nervous. Bunny drops him with a right hand so Morrison has to remind Miz that bunnies are lucky. Another right hand sends Miz into the ropes again so he takes Bunny into the corner for a change.
A kick to the ribs puts Bunny down but he’s right back with with La Majistral for two. Morrison freaks out, saying Miz needs to start thinking like one of the best of all time. Back up and Bunny slides through Miz’s legs and snaps off a fairly long headscissors. There’s a headbutt to Morrison but he catches Bunny with an elbow. Miz comes back in with a chinlock but Bunny is back up with more right hands. A sunset flip gets two so Miz kicks him in the face to cut off another comeback.
Miz knocks him into the corner again as the fans try to get behind Bunny again. Bunny manages to get a boot up in the corner though and a tornado DDT plants Miz. The diving tag brings in Priest to clean house in a hurry, including tossing Miz at Morrison. The South of Heaven chokeslam gets two on Miz and Bunny comes back in for stereo Broken Arrows for a double near fall.
Bunny goes up top and hits a big dive to take out Miz/Morrison (Saxton: “I knew bunnies could hop but I didn’t know they could fly!”). Miz is right back in for the Skull Crushing Finale for two on Priest with Bunny making the save. Bunny hits a Canadian Destroyer on Morrison on the floor and a high crossbody finishes Miz at 15:01.
Rating: C. Yeah Bunny got in a lot of stuff here, but are you going to tell the biggest star willing to do something with WWE that he can’t do something? Bunny probably got in more offense than any other celebrity in recent memory and he looked fine enough doing it. Miz and Morrison have been treated as clueless putzes for years now so it isn’t that much of a stretch to see them lose here. Priest got in some points by association here so this went about as well as it could have, with Bunny being FAR better than I would have bet on.
Long video on Edge vs. Seth Rollins.
#5, from Crown Jewel.
Edge vs. Seth Rollins
Inside the Cell to start big. Edge slugs away in the corner to start as the fans declare this awesome in a hurry. Rollins gets kicked in the face to send him outside but comes back in with the springboard knee to the face to take over. A suicide dive only hits Cell though and Edge sends him hard into the steps. Edge throws in the steps and hits the Edgecution for two but already seems to be limping a bit. It’s already time to go for the chair bar but Rollins is back up with the Sling Blade.
They head outside again with Edge sending him into the Cell to regain control. Edge tries the Crossface but Rollins grabs the chair bar to hit him in the eye and escape. Rollins knocks the chair into Edge’s face and hits a frog splash for two. It’s already time for the table at ringside but first Rollins has to plant Edge with the Unprettier (which is suddenly Edge’s move) for two more.
Rollins takes his sweet time going up top, allowing Edge to shove him into the Cell and through the table for the big crash to the floor. The steps are thrown in, with Edge busting on the Edge-O-Matic to plant Rollins again. Edge leaves Rollins on the steps and goes up top to drive a chair into him for the big crash and a delayed near fall. Rollins is back up with a superkick into the Pedigree for two of his own and they’re both down. The Stomp is loaded up but Edge counters into a Buckle Bomb to set up the spear for the VERY near fall.
With nothing else working, it’s time for a ladder, which knocks Rollins right back down. Rollins is able to whip Edge into the ladder in the corner and let’s get another table for a bonus. The ladder is set up as well but Edge fights up to meet him on top. That’s not the best idea though as Rollins busts out a sunset bomb through the table for another near fall. Some superkicks drop Edge to his knees and a basement superkick puts him down.
Since that isn’t enough, Rollins wraps a chain around his boot for another low superkick. The Stomp onto the chair is countered with a crotching using the chair, allowing Edge to kick him down for a change. There’s a low superkick to Rollins and Edge grabs a Crossface, complete with a wrench in Rollins’ mouth. That’s not enough either though as Edge puts Rollins’ head onto the chair, setting up the Stomp for the pin at 27:40.
Rating: B. It was a heck of a fight and they beat each other up rather well, but this is what modern Cell matches have become: TLC matches with a big cage on top, which can leave things feeling a little cramped. There’s so much stuff around and inside of the ring that it almost feels messy, which isn’t what I would like to see in a Cell match. Going back and forth with the moves and spots that brought them here (including what is apparently now Edge’s Unprettier) worked, though it never hit that next level. In other words, most modern Cell matches.
We look at Bianca Belair winning the Royal Rumble, sending us to #4.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair
Banks is defending and they both look to be near tears to start. Feeling out process to start with Banks having to slip out of something close to a torture rack but getting caught in a double chickenwing. Banks manages to send her outside but the suicide dive is caught, allowing Belair to gorilla press her and walk up the steps for a toss over the top. Back in and Belair picks her up, does some squats, and slams her but Banks nails a running knee to take over.
The double arm crank goes on but Belair gets up and powers her into the corner. Banks is sent to the floor where she tries to pull Belair’s braid. That’s fine with Belair, who uses it to pull Banks into the post. Banks misses running double knees into the barricade and the both beat the count. Back in again and Belair muscles her up for a suplex, bounces her off the top, leans Banks forward, and then drops her back for two.
Belair shoulders her down again and then drives in some shoulders in the corner. The 450 hits knees though and Banks tries a hurricanrana, which is countered into back to back powerbombs. Banks sends her into the corner though and it’s a kick to Belair’s face, setting up a double springboard tornado DDT for two. With Belair down, Banks goes up and starts with the Meteora but changes into a splash halfway down.
Belair tries to get up so Banks uses the braid to pull her down into the Bank Statement for a rather clever setup. That’s broken up with a roll into the ropes so Banks hammers away in said ropes. Banks goes up so Belair tries a running hurricanrana, only to get tied in the Tree of Woe.
The top rope double stomp misses and so do the running knees, which go into the buckle. Now the 450 connects for two and Belair screams a lot on the kickout. The KOD is countered and Banks grabs the braid, which is used for a heck of a whip. Now the KOD can connect for the pin and the title at 17:20. Cole shouts about a kickout before switching to Belair winning.
Rating: B. I saw someone give the perfect description of this as brains vs. brawn, which is exactly what it was. Belair is an athletic freak and someone who can do almost everything you ask of her in the ring while Banks is the seasoned veteran who knows how to take on anyone. Banks couldn’t hang with Belair physically so she had to fight smart, but eventually you just can’t get around that kind of power and athleticism. Very good match and an awesome story to wrap things up.
There is a HUGE welt on Banks’ side from the hair whip. Belair celebrates to end the show.
We take a long look at John Cena’s return.
Becky likes returns, such as this one at #3.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks
Belair is defending…..but not against Banks, who isn’t cleared, despite being advertised all the way through the Kickoff Show. We have a replacement.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Bianca Belair vs. Carmella
Belair isn’t impressed, but hang on another replacement.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch
Yeah that works and Lynch is challenging, after taking Carmella out that is. We get the big Belair vs. Lynch staredown and Becky officially challenges so the match is on. Bell, right hand, Manhandle Slam, new champion in 23 seconds. I would really hope that there is more to it than what we just saw, as beating Belair, who has been on fire in recent months, like that is a bad idea. There is nothing wrong with pushing Lynch, but don’t sacrifice someone as awesome as Belair to do it.
Video on Drew McIntyre.
From Raw, September 13, here’s #2.
Raw World Title: Bobby Lashley vs. Big E.
Lashley is defending….or he would be if not for his knee injury. Big E. slaps him in the face and that’s enough to ring the bell. Lashley takes him to the mat and the brawl is on. A spear cuts Big E. down for two but he goes back to Lashley’s bad leg. The Big Ending gives Big E. the pin and the title at 1:18!
We’ll wrap it up the only way we could. From Summerslam, here’s #1, after Roman Reigns retained against John Cena.
And then Brock Lesnar comes back. Paul Heyman cowers in the corner and Reigns looks scared. Lesnar gets in the ring and Reigns and Heyman slowly back away. Lesnar, as a good guy for the first time in what feels like forever, poses to end the show. That’s about all there was left for Reigns at this point as Edge beat Seth Rollins, so well done on a big surprise.
Long video on Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns.
Day One rundown, with no match changes announced so far.
Becky and McAfee leave Cole alone, but he tries to follow them. That was rather sad.
Overall Rating: C. This was a really weird one, as you would think it was an advertisement for Summerslam on DVD. There were ten moments included and eight of them were from Summerslam or Wrestlemania. Those are two of the biggest shows of the year, but maybe spread the wealth out a bit? It wasn’t a bad show and it’s an easy two hour sit which helped promote Day One, but this was a weird way to go for a Best Of 2021 special.
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