From May 2002 to July 2008 WWE found itself in a tumultuous time known as the Ruthless Aggression Era. With WCW gone and big stars like Steve Austin and The Rock on their way out the door, WWE was forced to build up brand new stars and gave midcarders and tag team specialists their long-awaited shot at becoming main events. As a result stars like John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar, Edge, Rob Van Dam Randy Orton started sharing the spotlight with established legends like The Undertaker, Kurt Angle Triple H and Shawn Michaels, and that combination led to a boatload of classic matches.
So while everybody is stuck at home during the coronavirus quarantine, why not pass the time by checking out 10 truly excellent matches from the era? All of these are available on the WWE Network, and some have been bumped to the free tier thanks to WWE's new offer.
Were there any matches we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock — SummerSlam 2002
One of the biggest storylines early in the era was the meteoric rise of Brock Lesnar during his rookie year. Back when he was known as "The Next Big Thing," Lesnar spent just a few short months plowing his way through Raw's midcard before earning himself a shot at The Rock's WWE Championship. Their clash at SummerSlam was a star-making performance for Lesnar, and was one of Rock's last great matches before leaving the company for Hollywood.
Los Guerreros vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio — Survivor Series 2002
If you've ever wanted to know what made the "SmackDown Six" so good, watch this match. Then go watch every match from 2002-2005 involving these six men.
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Booker T — Survivor Series 2002
The first elimination chamber and the last time Shawn Michaels would win a world championship. This match is as violent as it is emotional.
The Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho Rivalry
This one cheats a little because their last match came right after the PG Era got underway, but it's some of the best work both men ever did in the ring so we'll make an exception.
- Michaels vs. Jericho — WrestleMania XIX
- Michaels vs. Jericho — Great American Bash 2008
- The Michaels/Jericho promo during SummerSlam 2008
- Michaels vs. Jericho — Unforgiven 2008 (Unsanctioned Match)
- Micahels vs. Jericho — No Mercy 2008 (Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship)
The Batista vs. Triple H Trilogy
In 2005 WWE pushed the two defining stars of the era — Batista and John Cena — to world championship wins at WrestleMania 21. Cena's win over JBL was somewhat underwhelming (and weirdly short), but Batista's victory was the culmination of a storyline that traced back years to the start of Evolution. But he and Triple H weren't done, as they'd have two more classics at Backlash the following month and at Judgement Day inside Hell in a Cell (which is also one of the best cell matches in company history).
Edge vs. Mick Foley — WrestleMania 22
Fair warning — this is easily one of the most violent matches in WrestleMania history.
John Cena vs. Rob Van Dam — ECW One Night Stand 2006
By mid-2006 fans had already started to sour on John Cena being the face of WWE, and nowhere was that more apparent than when he walked down to the ring at the Hammerstein Ballroom for a WWE Championship match with Rob Van Dam. What followed was an outstanding match with a fist-pumping conclusion for fans of RVD and the original ECW.
The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle — No Way Out 2006
This entire list could be filled with Angle matches, but we'll add in an underrated bout between he and Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship from 2006.
Don't believe us? Watch this:
The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle from No Way Out 2006 was incredibly underrated pic.twitter.com/oY69vVITJN— Alastair McKenzie🏴 (@Mckenzieas93) March 23, 2020
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels — Monday Night Raw (April 23, 2007)
John Cena's victory over Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 23 was, admittedly, expected. But what no one expected was that a few short weeks later the two would meet in a second one-on-one match on Raw and that it what wound up lasting a whopping 55 minutes. That surprise, along with the finish, turned the match into one of the best in Raw history.
Batista vs. Undertaker — Survivor Series 2007
At the risk of overloading this list with Batista entries (don't tempt me!), we'll add just the finale of "The Animal's" year-long feud with The Undertaker. In 2007 the pair met in five matches for the World Heavyweight Championship — Undertaker won at WrestleMania 23, the two finished in a draw at Backlash in a Last Man Standing Match and they drew again in a Steel Cage Match on an episode of SmackDown shortly after. Batista finally picked up a clean win over "The Deadman" at Cyber Sunday, leading to a climactic Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series. The clash was just as epic as fans hoped, but if you're an Undertaker fan you might not like how it ends...
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