Whatever your opinion of the weekly WWE programme may be, SmackDown and Raw Superstars have thus far in 2022 delivered enough exciting in-ring action. Wrestling this year has been amazing, especially the pay-per-views. Many matches were thrilling on both nights of WrestleMania 38, and every event since then has had at least one or two barn burners.
Notably, the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship haven’t been regularly defended in recent months due to Roman Reigns’ waning schedule. The other players on the roster, who constantly deliver, more than make up for his absence. One constant high point of the spring was the amazing Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins trilogy. Additionally, tag team wrestling has recently regained popularity, thanks in large part to RK-Bro and The Bloodline.
As we approach the halfway point of 2022, let’s look back at the top 10 male matches in WWE history and talk about what made each of these matches so outstanding.
10. Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn (WrestleMania 38)
Given that it was more of a spectacle than a match, this item is sure to stir up controversy. Nevertheless, it was undoubtedly one of the major highlights of either WrestleMania 38 night and deserves to be included on this list.
Prior to WrestleMania 38, Sami Zayn was solely responsible for the buildup to this match. Although it was initially absurd to think that WWE would continue his Royal Rumble programme with the well-known Johnny Knoxville, they far surpassed all expectations with their hilarious antics.
It was absolute anarchy in the nicest way possible during their Anything Goes match at ‘Mania. The whole “Jackass” cast teamed up against Zayn in what was basically a handicap match, but Zayn made every single second of it work.
In the end, Knoxville lifted his hand in triumph, but Zayn is such a pro that he was unaffected. It shouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable as it was.
9. Riddle vs. Roman Reigns (SmackDown, June 17)
Due to his new contract, which is akin to Brock Lesnar’s, Roman Reigns has been appearing on WWE TV far and few between since he recaptured the Universal Championship in August 2020.
Therefore, his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship defence on the June 17 episode of SmackDown felt special. In an effort to exact revenge on The Bloodline, Riddle stripped Reigns of his championship by putting Randy Orton on the sidelines.
Even though it was difficult to consider Riddle a viable contender for the championship, some of those close calls near the end were exciting. Riddle put aside his silly personality and demonstrated that he has what it takes to compete in WWE main events.
Using a quick spear in midair, Reigns prevailed, but only after Riddle had proven himself in defeat. This was a thrilling attraction that gave the blue brand new life for a week at a time when SmackDown could use all the assistance it can get.
8. Bobby Lashley versus Kevin Owens versus Brock Lesnar versus Seth Rollins versus Big E (Day 1)
It’s incredible how just one Superstar can elevate a match to the next level of greatness.
That is not to argue that the initially promoted Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE Championship on Day 1 between Big E, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley would have been substandard. Lesnar, who had been Roman Reigns’ intended opponent, was introduced into the match at the last minute, which undoubtedly raised the stakes and altered the likelihood of a predictable result.
All of a sudden, Lesnar may now be involved in a number of additional contests. The opportunity for fans to see him and Lashley enter the squared circle together for the first time ever was made possible by this.
The match was thrilling throughout, and their hoss fight was all fans had hoped it would be. For eight minutes, there was nonstop action, and each person did their job flawlessly.
The match’s potential length and the conclusion, in which Lesnar pinned Big E to win the championship, were its only two flaws. It was exciting to see Lesnar win the title, but Big E’s run as a main eventer came to an end with the crushing defeat.
7. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens compete against Alpha Academy and RK-Bro (Raw, March 7)
The fact that Raw is a three-hour broadcast has one benefit: It affords some matches more time, which can result in classics.
One of the top Raw matches of the past ten years could (and should) be this Triple Threat tag team fight for the Raw Tag Team Championship from the March 7 episode of Raw.
Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens’ team, Alpha Academy, and RK-Bro had been at odds for months. In this pay-per-view-worthy confrontation, everything of their hostility came to a head and perfectly encapsulated the uniqueness of tag team wrestling.
These six men had incredible chemistry together. In the last seconds of the match, Randy Orton caught Chad Gable with a stunning RKO mid-moonsault; shortly after, Riddle won the match.
The wildly popular RK-Bro, who have been instrumental in taking Raw’s tag team division to heights it hadn’t seen in years, were ecstatic to see the title back in their possession.
6: Drew McIntyre and RK-Bro vs. The Bloodline (WrestleMania Backlash)
Fans had an understandable hostile response when it was revealed that the WrestleMania Backlash main event would be a six-man tag team contest.
It was a touch disappointing that nothing was put up for grabs a month after the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship main event, which was touted as the largest in WrestleMania history. Despite that, the six-man tag team match we ultimately got was fantastic.
The bout made sense because RK-Bro and The Usos were only a few weeks away from uniting the tag titles and Drew McIntyre was close behind Roman Reigns. The raucous atmosphere and big-fight vibe created by the crowd made this battle especially fantastic.
They got out to a hesitant start, then cranked up the pace and had the crowd in a frenzy. Even with one of The Usos taking the losing fall, it could have gone either way, but Reigns actually finished off Riddle to win.
Even if you weren’t pleased with the outcome, The Bloodline once again held sway, and they undoubtedly ended the night on a high note.
5. Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania 38)
Cody Rhodes’ name would almost certainly not have been mentioned six months ago if someone had tried to forecast which artists would be on this list given where he was at the time.
He walked away from the promotion he helped create from the bottom up and returned to his beginnings in a matter of minutes. The cherry on top was having him return at WrestleMania 38 of all places (and keeping it a surprise).
His “Kingdom” entrance music began to play, complete with the American Nightmare presentation, and the crowd erupted. Rhodes and Seth Rollins’ subsequent match was an incredible masterpiece and provided any new fans with a clear demonstration of his abilities.
Rhodes came from the drama-filled wrestling clinic looking like a huge celebrity, just what WrestleMania needed. He received the best possible homecoming.
4: Money in the Bank (The Usos vs. The Street Profits)
The Usos vs. The Street Profits from Saturday’s Money in the Bank event was tag team wrestling at its best and a last-minute addition to WWE’s best matches of 2022 thus far.
Of course, this was not their first encounter. They already engaged in multiple fights for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in late 2021, as everyone who has been watching the product for the past year is well aware.
At Money in the Bank, they amplified their intensity and ended up stealing the show. The Street Profits battled from beneath after The Usos took control of the match’s opening stages, and the fans erupted in support of the babyfaces.
The Usos were as good as ever, and Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins both put out outstanding performances. The Usos’ 1D ending move prevented Street Profits from unseating the champions despite their improbable close call.
Due to Ford’s assertion that his shoulder was up throughout the referee’s three-count, a rematch with Ford should be possible.
3. Seth Rollins versus Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania Backlash)
Seth Rollins declared after WrestleMania 38 that he only lost to the victorious Cody Rhodes because he wasn’t ready for his opponent.
To him, a rematch at WrestleMania Backlash was necessary to establish who the superior Superstar actually was. They were able to start the concert that night and set the standard so high that nobody could surpass it.
This was a little better paced than their first meeting, and the crowd was totally engrossed in the action because the shock of Rhodes’ return had definitely worn off since early April.
They didn’t stop; it was just one thing after another. Numerous finishers were swapped, but Rhodes holding the tights was all it took to get the three count (after Rollins tried the same).
This was a thrilling ride that had been expertly designed. It was impressive to see Rhodes defeat Rollins twice in a row on pay-per-view, but it was unclear whether he could complete the hat trick.
2. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (Royal Rumble)
Seth Rollins had his sights set on Roman Reigns and his Universal Championship at the beginning of the year before beginning his feud with Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania.
When Rollins appeared on SmackDown and boasted that Reigns could never defeat him when it counted most, these two former Shield teammates renewed their feud. All indications were that Reigns would ultimately defeat Rollins at the Royal Rumble, but Rollins prevailed via disqualification.
One of the most energetic crowds of the year attended this game. They were raucous in everything they did, and every nearfall felt like it may put a stop to the event, thus it was a great choice to have them open it.
What really took things over the top was Rollins’ mind tricks when he suited himself in his old Shield gear and entered through the crowd Shield-style. Here’s hope they run it again soon because a flawless ending would have probably given this the top slot.
1. Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins, 11 of 11, Hell in a Cell
It’s debatable who deserves the top slot, but it’s difficult to contest that this amazing piece of storytelling deserves it.
The second match was somehow even better than the previous one, which was wonderful. However, this outing was essentially faultless. A silence descended upon the arena as soon as Cody Rhodes revealed the extent of his torn pectoral muscle, with some spectators in complete shock that he chose to compete in the first place.
Rhodes persisted and persisted against Rollins, who exploited it to his full advantage the entire time and came close to winning. Let it be recorded that this took place within Hell in a Cell and that both men made use of the hellish setting whenever they could.
As the game went on, Rhodes’ injury only got worse, and Rollins was determined to put an end to him once and for all. Rhodes responded and connected with multiple Cross Rhodes for the decisive victory despite having a torn pec.
It’s still too soon to determine where it stands among the best matches ever, but Rhodes’ heroic effort that evening made him much more of a star than he already was and ensured that he would return with the world title gold.
Since 2010, Graham Mirmina, sometimes known as Graham “GSM” Matthews, has focused on writing about sports and culture. For more wrestling-related content, check out his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.