Every month, our own Scott Edwards compiles his own list of the best WWE matches of the month. From Raw, SmackDown, and NXT, the options are seemingly endless. The matches will include ones you may not think about as well as ones you hear about on social media as soon as they finish. PPV or TV, these matches will be the best of the best from the previous month of WWE action and will receive a rating out of the traditional 5 stars. (DISCLAIMER: This list is subjective and is compiled exclusively by Scott Edwards; there will obviously be matches he may have missed that you may feel deserve credit – we encourage you to list some of your best WWE matches of the month in the comments section below to help add to the list!)
WWE matches of the month have taken a serious turn in 2021, as it feels that everyone in the company is putting on their best week after week. In a month that did not feature an NXT TakeOver and was the calm following a crazy WrestleMania month, it’s stunning how incredible the action continues to be in WWE. Here’s a look at the best WWE matches of the month from May.
Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in a Falls Count Anywhere Match (WWE NXT, 5/4/21)
The rivalry between Leon Ruff and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott had been one of the most underrated rivalries in all of wrestling, as the two stars were making each other that much better as they faced off. “Swerve’s” confidence was glowing and it showed in this match, as he dominated in the early going. Scott would throw Ruff around the ring like a ragdoll. But Ruff managed to battle back as the ultimate underdog that he is. The confidence of “Swerve” spilled over, hurting him to the point where Ruff looked as though he would capture the win. He pulled out all the stops, risking his body to stop his rival from coming close to any sort of success. Then in a decision of risk and reward, Ruff got up to a stanchion in the crowd to dive on Ruff.
However, Ruff was met by the debuting AJ Francis, one of Swerve’s Entourage. The massive Francis laid out Ruff, allowing Scott to clean up the match from there and grab the massive win. These two never slow down and showed the world how incredible NXT is outside of just the main event when it comes to the men’s division. “Swerve” is on his way up and he can thank Ruff for such an excellent rivalry. A fantastic television match at that.
Rating: 3.75 (***3/4)
NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships: Ember Moon & Shotzi Blackheart vs. Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell (WWE NXT, 5/4/21)
The third time’s the charm after all. Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart had the number of The Way‘s Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell two times prior to this match-up on NXT — beating them in the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and successfully defending the titles at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver. This time around would be different from the previous two, as it would be made a Street Fight following the attacks by LeRae and Hartwell the week prior. A lot of this rivalry can stem back to Blackheart and LeRae’s problems from Halloween Havoc in October, but most recently it was the flowers that Blackheart and Moon supposedly received from Dexter Lumis that infuriated Hartwell. This led to the most vicious version of “Indi Wrestling” yet, making for an awesome match.
These four women went through an immense amount of brutality in this one as each of them attempted some sort of high-risk maneuver to get fans on their feet. Blackheart, as expected, put her body on the line multiple times, including jumping off one of the beams near the announce table, crashing through Hartwell. The close came down to LeRae essentially, as she fought Moon in the ring. Blackheart was able to get to her feet and give the champions the advantage before LeRae was able to fight them both off. LeRae positioned Moon on a table outside of the ring, leading to a marvelous springboard elbow drop from Hartwell to take her out. LeRae then smashed Blackheart with brass knuckles, hitting the Twisted Step Sister on a chair, and gaining the win and the titles.
A match worth all of your time and attention.
Rating: 4.00 (****)
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Drew McIntyre (WrestleMania Backlash, 5/16/21)
What happens when you put three juggernaut-type wrestlers into one match for the WWE Championship? You get a match that goes 100 miles per hour from start to finish that sees all three men drop bombs on each other like there is no tomorrow. At WrestleMania Backlash, Bobby Lashley defended his gold against Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre in triple threat action. From the opening bell, the hoss fight commenced. At one point in the match, Strowman launched himself from the apron onto both Lashley and McIntyre with a running cannonball. McIntyre hit a diving crossbody to wipe them both out in the ring not too long later.
McIntyre also took it upon himself to throw “The All Mighty” champion through the stage, resulting in sparks flying and the probability that Lashley was done. It left Strowman and McIntyre to take the next chapter of this one. Whether it was the Claymore that Strowman caught to turn into a powerbomb through the announce table or McIntyre’s ability to survive, it was a fantastic outing from all three men. McIntyre would hit a Claymore Kick on Strowman and seemed on his way to a win and regaining his gold. Lashley returned to the ring and tossed out McIntyre, hitting a Spear on Strowman to keep his title and escape an absolute brawl. This is one of the more exciting triple threats you will see.
Rating: 4.25 (****1/4)
Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Cesaro (WrestleMania Backlash, 5/16/21)
MATCH OF THE MONTH: If you have been following along here, the gift that Roman Reigns has gifted WWE since his return is the importance of storytelling. Every match that he has is so special, so important because of the story that he was telling heading into it and during the match itself. This encounter was with Cesaro. A man who was receiving his first singles world title match in his WWE career. It was not only easy to cheer for Cesaro because of that fact alone, but Reigns gave you even more reason to do so. When he forbid Daniel Bryan from ever returning to SmackDown (and maybe WWE), Cesaro felt to be the last man in the defense of WWE and SmackDown. He stood for something. The idea Bryan had been pushing for so long but also there was no true hierarchy over SmackDown.
When you get into the match, it was not as typical as the one’s Reigns had been having. Cesaro looked like he was not only on the top of his game but could outmatch Reigns. From the early going to the very end, they traded blows and attacked ligaments to try and get themselves a leg up over the other. Cesaro’s resiliency was really what made this match as good as it was. Everything Reigns would hit him with, Cesaro managed to survive. The decimation of Cesaro’s right arm had people worrying if he was going to miss time, as Reigns had a serious focus on the destruction of it. It would be a part of the finish, ultimately, as Cesaro was unable to get the Neutralizer due to the arm being too weak to lift Reigns. After multiple tries to finish Cesaro with the Guillotine, it was all over soon after.
One of the best WWE matches this year and the best of the WWE matches of the month.
Rating: 4.50 (****1/2)
NXT North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Bronson Reed in a Steel Cage (NXT, 5/18/21)
Who doesn’t love a good Steel Cage match? It feels as though it has been a long time since we could truthfully say that, but Johnny Gargano and Bronson Reed changed that in the main event of NXT this past month. The two already had a great match at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, so it made sense that they could do it again. This encounter carried a lot of emotion for Reed, who was trying to show the world, most specifically his wife, that these past 14 years were worth it to get to this moment. Austin Theory had his hands on this one from the outside, but “The Colossal” was able to stomp out any help Gargano was receiving to get the biggest win of his career. From the insane reverse frankensteiner to the Tsunami that ended this match, it was one of the best bouts all month long.
Rating: 4.00 (****)
Heritage Cup: A-Kid (c) vs. Tyler Bate (NXT UK, 5/20/21)
Elegant and grueling. Perhaps that is the best way to discuss the match between A-Kid and Tyler Bate for the Heritage Cup. NXT UK has needed a lot of work over the past few years to become a brand worth checking out on a weekly basis, admittedly. But since returning inside of BT Sport studio, they have managed to create an atmosphere worth seeing most weeks. A lot of that change has come with the introduction of the Heritage Cup, which has allowed the Heritage Rules matches to become a staple of NXT UK. These matches, for those who may have not seen them, are competed within five, three-minute rounds. Whoever either reaches three falls or has the most at the end of five rounds is declared the winner. So that’s where A-Kid and Tyler Bate come in.
A-Kid is the inaugural Heritage Cup winner and had held it valiantly but when he would meet Bate for a second encounter, he would eventually lose. These two men went back and forth round after round, displaying flawless transitions mixed with jaw-dropping counters to one another. It was not until the fourth round that it looked like a fall would happen. Bate battled with A-Kid and when it seemed the champion would retain in the fifth round by making Bate tap out, the time ran out and they were nodded at 0:0. They were forced to go to a sudden death Round 6, where Bate managed to get A-Kid’s shoulder down just long enough to get the win and become the Heritage Cup champion. This is one anyone should check out for its uniqueness and brilliance.
Rating: 4.00 (****)
The Usos vs. The Street Profits (SmackDown, 5/28/21)
Who doesn’t love tag team wrestling? Well, when one of the greatest tag teams of all time returns to the ring to face one of the best teams in WWE today, you take notice. The Usos would team for the first time in over a year to take on The Street Profits to open the final SmackDown of May and my oh my did these two teams deliver. What was most notable in the early going is that “Main Event” Jey Uso had taken on a bit of his cousin Roman Reigns’ style as he slowed it down and wrestled at a calculated pace. For a lot of the early going, Jimmy Uso and Jey managed to keep Montez Ford separated from Angelo Dawkins which would aid them in the late going.
The action following the commercial break was nonstop, as once Ford got to his corner, Dawkins brought up the pace. Back and forth The Usos and Street Profits went with an effort to try and simply defeat each other. At one point in the closing sequence, Ford jumped over a downed Jimmy on the top rope to crash down to the outside of the ring, wiping out Jey Uso in the process. It looked as though the Profits were closing in on the win as Ford went for the massive Frog Splash, but Jey Uso pulled out Jimmy Uso just in time to send one-half of the Profits down to the mat. A superkick to the face of Ford by Jimmy resulted in a win for The Usos and the conclusion of a fantastic tag team match worth your time.
Rating: 4.00 (****)
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