Big Show vs. Braun Strowman and the Top WWE Matches for Week of April 20
A pair of leviathans, Big Show and Braun Strowman, collided until the very battlefield under them collapsed. The image of two giants lying atop a broken ring helped make that match the best WWE produced all week.
Big Show isn't known for delivering thrillers, but this was a strange stretch of days.
Unexpected names popped up on the list of WWE's best bouts. Tye Dillinger hasn't often been the center of great contests. At least, not yet. And when's the last time Jinder Mahal emerged victorious in a memorable high-octane encounter?
But they were among the stars of WWE's most exciting fare on Raw, SmackDown, NXT and 205 Live.
To decide whose clash topped whose, the following list took into account the matches' in-ring action, storytelling and major moments. Higher stakes help too.
A Six-Pack Challenge and Steel Cage match all left fans talking, but Big Show and Strowman made sure everyone else was fighting for second place.
- Jeff Hardy vs. Cesaro (Raw)
- Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi (SmackDown)
- AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin (SmackDown)
Hardy's first singles match on Raw in eight years had the same issue that held back Flair vs. Naomi: underwhelming chemistry. Hardy and Cesaro didn't click just as Flair and Naomi never fully felt in sync with each other.
Even so, these fresh matchups entertained.
Hardy outlasted Cesaro in an intriguing clash of styles. Flair excelled as the dominant, methodical heel as she became the No. 1 contender for the SmackDown Women's Championship.
Styles and Corbin worked better together, but their match was cut short before it could really start whirring. The Lone Wolf nearly felling Styles again and again created good drama.
This was a warmup for The Phenomenal One as he pursues Kevin Owens. Corbin and Styles are sure to top this should they meet again.
5. Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins (205 Live)
You can always depend on 205 Live to deliver at least one good match. This Tuesday, it was Austin Aries vs. TJ Perkins that came through to keep that tradition going.
Aries felt he needed to take down Perkins before going after cruiserweight champ Neville. A Double soon found himself favoring his knee and suddenly vulnerable in the battle with Neville's minion.
He fought through it, creating some strong drama along the way. Indy wrestler Gran Akuma tweeted, "I thought it was a good balance of fighting through an injury but the injury still being debilitating."
The action never reached the level either man is capable of. Perhaps the plan was for it not to overshadow Aries vs. Neville II.
Contests with higher stakes and bigger moments surpassed it on the list.
4. Sasha Banks vs. Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Raw)
Victory would make one woman the No. 1 contender for the Raw Women's Championship that Bayley wears around her waist.
Sasha Banks looked to have the win locked up at times. Nia Jax plowed through the competition. Mickie James added energy. Alexa Bliss played the bout's crafty fox, sneaking in at the opportune time to steal the predator's catch for herself.
Banks flying out at Jax and James, as well as Bliss screaming "This is my division now!", were among the bout's highlights.
The match flowed well. And its result created an intriguing future matchup in Bayley vs. Bliss.
3. Six-Pack Challenge (SmackDown)
Sami Zayn vs. Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper vs. Mojo Rawley vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Dolph Ziggler
SmackDown decided the next WWE Championship No. 1 contender in a fast-paced, action-filled six-man match.
Rowan and Harper went on flurries that were fun to watch. Zayn excelled as the gutsy babyface who sees victory slip through his fingers.
Mahal emerging as the victor was a curveball for the ages. The Singh Brothers (formerly The Bollywood Boyz) stole a win for The Maharajah in their first appearance on the blue brand.
The match's major flaw was the field. It's illogical that Mahal and Rowan were involved in a fight for a title shot but men like Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura weren't. Even James Ellsworth has a better resume than Mahal and Rowan.
That was partly why an NXT bout outranked it here.
2. Eric Young vs. Tye Dillinger (NXT)
Dillinger's NXT farewell was a stirring culmination of a long story.
Eric Young had long tried to convince The Perfect 10 to join the Sanity faction, but he always refused. Brawls and ambushes followed. This clash in the cage was the final chance for Dillinger to set himself free of this unseemly crew.
A hard-hitting bout did well to cap off that tale.
Young was left bloodied. Dillinger had the crowd chanting for him.
And in the end, the hero's allies carried him away in celebration as his rivals remained locked in a cage behind him. This was a terrific ending to an up-and-down rivalry and a smart way to send off Dillinger from NXT. As Justin James of PWTorch wrote, "The 'feel good' moment of Dillinger winning truly did feel good."
Only a meeting of monsters that a ring couldn't contain outdid it.
1. Big Show vs. Braun Strowman (Raw)
Strowman spent much of Monday's Raw prowling backstage, walloping anyone in his way. Big Show stood up to the bully and a slugfest soon broke out.
Big Show vs. Strowman was part a collision of two bulls, part technical wrestling battle. The giants worked extremely well together and had the crowd red hot even before the ring collapsed. Kyle Fowle of the A.V. Club wrote, "For the second time this year, Braun Strowman and Big Show put on an absolute classic."
Even without tangible stakes, this clash of titans succeeded in a major way. Its energy, adrenaline and the lasting image of referee John Cone being launched into the air put it over the top.
For Strowman, this was just the latest exhibit in his case to be Raw's top star. He has been on a tear of late.
And we can expect more barnburners like this one ahead.