WWE is gearing up for one of their biggest international PPVs, and in general, of the year. In a few weeks, Money in the Bank will be coming to us live from the 02 Arena in merry ol’ London. It is a massive deal for one of the Big 5 PPVs to be sent across the pond. It is fantastic to see WWE branch out and bring their big shows to other parts of the world. The British crowd will be white hot for the show, and it will surely be one of the best of the year.
It is not unprecedented that WWE ventures outside of the United States. Around once a year the company will put on a show outside of the lower 50. It is a great way to get exposure for the product and it is always a highly anticipated event, but that doesn’t mean it always goes to plan.
The history of WWE’s international PPVs has been hit and miss. There have been some that knock it out of the park while others fall flat. Below we will look at the best and worst of these international ventures.
Best: Night of Champions (Saudi Arabia, 2023)
The relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and WWE has been tumultuous at best. Political ideologies aside WWE shows have been lacklustre, to say the least. In fact, a few of those shows will be highlighted later so it seemed only fair to include one that was actually a damn fine night of WWE wrestling.
The opener between AJ Styles and Seth Rollins, to crown the inaugural WWE World Heavyweight Champion, was a fantastic match. Both men are at the top of the company, and they meshed well together to usher in a new championship era.
Cody Rhodes and Brock Lesnar provided a physical contest that, while having a telegraphed ending, was still passable. And then Roman Reigns, Solo Sikoa, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn went out and put on one of the best story-driven matches of the year. The Bloodline implosion is compelling and was a fantastic way to end the evening.
Worst: In Your House: The Great White North (Canada, 1995)
For the first time Winnipeg, Manitoba got the privilege of hosting a WWE PPV in their city. Too bad the federation decided to lay a complete egg and put on one of the first shows in WWE history.
The opener was a pretty good tag match between The Smoking Gunns, 1-2-3 Kid, and Razor Ramon but that is where the fun stops. Every match that came after it was a hot mess and not the “good Chelsea Green” kind.
Mabel taking on Yokozuna was five minutes of stumbling around the ring. Goldust had a surprisingly boring match against Marty Jannetty. It was a shame that these were billed at attraction matches when not a single moment of them sparked any interest from the audience.
Then the night ended with an incredibly boring match between Diesel and The British Bulldog. It was not what a WWE Championship match would be and was a disappointing end to a disappointing evening.
Best: SummerSlam (United Kingdom, 1992)
The first time that WWE took its show across the pond was a rousing success for the company. The crowd in Wembley was on fire for the entire evening and the outdoor setting gave the show the grandiose feeling worthy of SummerSlam.
Both main event matches of the evening were fantastic. The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man went to war over the WWE Championship in a criminally underrated contest. They were followed by one of the greatest matches in WWE history as Bret Hart and The British Bulldog tore the house down for the Intercontinental Championship.
This PPV was more than just a two-match show though. There were some great matches on the undercard. Specifically, Shawn Michaels taking on Rick Martel was a fun little contest. It was an exciting heel/heel dynamic and the stipulation of no hitting in the face added an entertaining story point.
Worst: Breaking Point (Canada, 2009)
Centering a WWE international PPV around submission moves was not a good idea. Most of the wrestlers on the roster didn’t have submission holds in their move set so they were forced to shoehorn some in. It made the evening seem forced.
There was also the issue of only a handful of matches involving the stipulation. Only three of the seven matches were fought under a submission stipulation. The other four were plain old matches that took away from the spirit of the entire night.
The submission matches that did take place were boring. D-Generation X and The Legacy was a plodding 21 minutes. Randy Orton and John Cena for the 1,000th time was nothing new and the Montreal Screwjob-esque finish to the main event was groan-inducting. It was a terrible end to a bad night for WWE.
Best: NXT Takeover: Toronto (Canada, 2019)
The Takeover PPV series was the best thing to happen to WWE NXT. It gave the, then known, black and gold brand its own identity, and its popularity skyrocketed because of it. Of course, it was a huge help that the Takeover events put on some of the best shows every time. This was especially true of the fantastic Takeover event in Toronto.
There were only five matches on the card that night but every one of them was fantastic. Each was given enough time to tell a great story in the ring and the Toronto crowd lapped it up. Each title match was excellent and was worthy of having a championship on the line.
A particular bright spot was the two out of three falls match for the NXT Championship. Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano had tremendous chemistry. They used that to put on a clinic for close to an hour. It was a fitting end to a great night of wrestling north of the border.
Worst: Super Showdown (Saudi Arabia, 2019)
Well, we waited long enough to start tearing apart the Saudi debacles. Sure, the most recent venture into the Kingdom was a critical success but that is a lone bright spot in a sea of disappointment. The rest of the time we got to see the flops that were the 2019 edition of WWE Super Showdown.
There was not a single redeeming feature to this PPV. The matches were a thrown-together mess that did nothing to keep the crowd entertained. Frankly, the wrestlers themselves didn’t seem to be too interested in their matches either.
There was also an issue of two specific matches being hot pieces of trash. Shane McMahon going over Roman Reigns was terrible and did nothing to further the angle between the two. How anyone could believe Shane would stand a chance is beyond any of us. Then there was The Undertaker taking on Goldberg. A match that The Undertaker has himself said was a mistake. Just like this entire show.
Best: Clash at the Castle (Wales, 2022)
Holding the WWE international PPV in Wales instead of the London area seemed like a gamble but it paid off for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. The card was fantastic from top to bottom, and they packed a record 62,000 fans inside Principality Stadium.
Looking closer at the card we can see just how great it was. Seth Rollins and Matt Riddle had a great grudge match that built on some real-life heat between the two men. Of course, the main event between Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns was one of the highlights of the night. McIntyre was the conquering hero that had everyone in the arena believing he was going to walk away with the WWE Championship.
Then we had the best part of the night. Gunther and Sheamus put on an absolute banger of an Intercontinental Championship match. The match was hard-hitting and kept its foot on the pedal from the beginning. It was a testament to the conditioning of both men. It was the best part of a night full of special moments.
Worst: Super Showdown (Saudi Arabia, 2020)
It is hard to single out just one terrible WWE international PPV from Saudi Arabia so let’s add the 2020 edition to the list. It was a bad night of wrestling from top to bottom and the booking had far-reaching effects for the company.
To begin the show, we had an awful “Tuwaiq Mountain Trophy” Tournament. The matches were terrible and its inclusion in the PPV was there specifically to set up Undertaker versus AJ Styles at WrestleMania, ugh.
Then WWE dropped the ball, big time, with both of their World Championship matches. The WWE Title match lasted for a total of 1:30, thereby squashing any momentum that Ricochet had. Brock Lesnar loved working with smaller talent so why they would book the match this way is beyond any of us.
That was followed by the awful main event for the Universal Championship. The Fiend was gaining steam as the Universal Champion and looked primed for a good run before Goldberg showed up and squashed the previously unbeatable Fiend in 3 minutes. It was confusing and terrible at the same time and fit with the theme of the evening.
Best: In Your House: Canadian Stampede (Canada, 1997)
The “In Your House” series did not do very well. This series of WWE international PPVs were usually thrown together messes, but even a broke clock is right two times a day. One of those times was the great Canadian Stampede edition of In Your House.
This show was an example of quality over quantity. Only four matches were on the main card but every single one of them was great and brought something different to the night.
Mankind and Triple H had a fantastic brawl that ended up spilling into all areas of the arena. It was the perfect kind of car wreck that start off the show hot. That was followed by a high-flying encounter between Taka Michinoku and The Great Sasuke. A match that introduced a style not often seen in WWE.
A WWE title match between The Undertaker and Vader was a great bridge point to the highlight of the night. The 10-Man tag match between the Hart Foundation and American Wrestlers was amazing. It used national pride as a backdrop as the 10 men tore each other apart. The Calgary crowd ate everything up as the match provided the perfect exclamation point to the evening.
Worst: SummerSlam (Canada, 2004)
One good match does not a good WWE international PPV make. Going into Summerslam the booking was suspect at best for what is to be considered the second biggest show of the year. The thrown-together matches did little to add excitement to the show.
The triple threat for the Intercontinental Championship was a massive letdown. Edge, Batista, and Chris Jericho provided a fantastic dynamic that should have been great. However, the action was stilted, and it ended much earlier than it should have.
JBL taking on The Undertaker had the opposite problem of the IC match in that they were given 17 agonizing minutes. The length was not needed for two men that work slowly and the DQ finish was awful.
Triple H and Eugene was another terrible match that bordered on the insulting. It had no business being a match at SummerSlam and the crowd hated it. Speaking of which, the usually great Toronto crowd sat on their hands for the evening. It added another layer of disappointment to what was a lackluster SummerSlam.
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