wrestling / Columns

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards (Part Four) – The Worst Major Shows of 2021

January 6, 2022 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
WrestleMania Backlash Zombies Image Credit: WWE

Welcome back to Part Four of the 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards of 2021! The Year-End Awards have been out for a couple of years but they’re back, and here’s how they work. For the next couple of weeks, we will present our top choices for a particular topic relating to wrestling in 2021. All the writers here on 411 will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic and the end, based on where all of the votes rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

Once everyone’s had their say, we will tally the scores and get our overall top 5. Tonight we’re looking at the Worst Major Show or PPV of the year. Let’s get right to it…

Rob Stewart

5. N/A
4. N/A
3. N/A
2. WWE Money In The Bank

1. WWE Extreme Rules – First of all, yes I am chickening out. Once you get past Money In The Bank and Extreme Rules, you’re getting into shows I genuinely liked and my complaints would be ticky-tacky. WWE, NXT, and AEW all typically do live event specials pretty damn well, so I’m left with only two shows I didn’t care for. To fill out this list last year, I negged some decent shows, and I don’t want to do that this year.

To quickly note on MitB: you had a Women’s MitB match with a flukey ending that didn’t make any stars, Kofi Kingston getting publicly humiliated worse than what Brock did to him, Charlotte winning YET ANOTHER a title, and Peacock fucking up during the Men’s MitB match.

Extreme Rules, compared to that, gave us THE SINGLE WORST MAIN EVENT FINISH OF THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. So there’s that. Oh, and alternating Spanish and French audio commentary. And a GODAWFUL Charlotte/Alexa Bliss bout, probably the worst WWE women’s PPV match all year.

Jeffrey Harris

5. WWE Fastlane 2021
4. WWE Elimination Chamber 2021
3. WWE Extreme Rules 2021
2. WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2021

1. The Debut of NXT 2.0 (9/14/2021) – And thus, the black and gold era of NXT was over and a new era began. Maybe the Wednesday Night Wars were overhyped, but NXT effectively losing and moving to Tuesday nights, plus other changes in the WWE power structure, represented a massive change for the NXT brand. It had seemed for a while, NXT was almost moving toward being almost a third brand, with a more straight-forward, in-ring product that catered to the sensibilities of older fans and fans of the ROH and indie style. For better or worse, that all changed with NXT 2.0. However, the debut NXT 2.0 show was not one where it changed for the better.

Case in point, LA Knight, who was scheduled to work in the Fatal 4-Way title match, gets jobbed out at the beginning of the show. Von Wagner gets inexplicably put in the title match in his debut for seemingly no valid reason. WWE wanting to get NXT back to a focus on developing future big stars is understandable, but this was not a good sign of things to come. It was an effective end of what had become known as one of the best wrestling shows for fans.

Steve Cook

5. WWE SummerSlam 2021
4. WWE FastLane 2021
3. WWE WrestleMania Backlash
2. AEW Revolution 2021

1. WWE Survivor Series 2021 – be honest, most of the PPVs I watched this year were perfectly fine. None of the Impact shows I reviewed deserve mention here, they were all entertaining enough. The shows making the list for me typically had one thing that turned me off. Revolution had the exploding ring that didn’t explode. Backlash had the zombies. FastLane had the Alexa Bliss/Randy Orton voodoo match. Survivor Series gets the nod to me for having weird stuff up & down the card. The Becky/Charlotte thing didn’t work. There was a battle royal for pizza. The women’s Survivor Series match was one of the spottier pieces of business in quite some time. Then Roman Reigns & Big E had one of the more anti-climatic main events in recent memory. It doesn’t rank as one of the worst shows ever, but I’m putting it below the rest of this year’s crop.

Andrew Cazer

5. WWE Fastlane
4. AEW Revolution
3. WrestleMania Backlash
2. WWE Survivor Series

1. WWE SummerSlam – I may have a bit of bias as I was at the show live and just didn’t really enjoy myself but I think the general consensus was this was one of the weaker Summerslam events WWE has put on. The show was average until the Bianca/Becky match and that really sucked a lot of the show out of me as I was excited to see my first Bianca match live and see what the hype was about. Instead we got what we got and it hurt the show for me dramatically. The show itself had a few good matches but nothing to redeem such a disappointing moment. Brock Lesnar returned to continue his feud with Roman Reigns which is great but still wasn’t enough to save an otherwise boring show.

Jake Chambers

5. WWE Elimination Chamber
4. NJPW G1 31 – Finals
3. WWE Extreme Rules
2. WWE Hell in a Cell

1. ROH Final Battle – Sucks to stomp on graveyard flowers, but I was really hoping for something special from a PPV in the unique position of being the finale to an entire iconic promotion. Granted, it had been a very long time since the ROH that people fell in love with in the mid-2000s was putting on those insane taped-for-DVD shows that were packed full of styles and multiple main events. But still, even if we weren’t going to get a surprise 60-minute CM Punk / Samoa Joe rematch, or Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki to bookend the entire promotion, I was hoping there would be more than just another generic and poorly paced 3-hour PPV like ROH has been putting on for the past few years. Someone who would have fit so well on a 2006 ROH show, Jonathan Gresham, deserved to win the title in a classic main event that paid tribute to those epics of the past.

Ian Hamilton

5. NWA Hard Times 2
4. WrestleMania Backlash
3. Hell in a Cell
2. Fastlane

1. WrestleMania – Night Two – Let me say this off the bat. I prefer two-night shows over the nauseatingly-long epics we’ve had over the years, but if you’re going to split the card in two, you need to at least balance them out. Or at least, don’t bloody open with the latest chapter of the wacky Bray Wyatt horror show.

Kevin Pantoja

5. WWE Elimination Chamber
4. WWE Fastlane
3. NJPW New Year Dash
2. WWE SummerSlam

1. NJPW New Beginning in Hiroshima Night 2 – There actually weren’t really any terrible shows this year. There were some that lacked but nothing offensively bad. Even the Saudi Arabia show was good. So, most of the matches on my bottom five here are still not terrible to watch. I believe the lowest score I gave out for a major event this year was a 5/10 for New Beginning in Hiroshima Night Two. It had some meaningless undercard tags, a nonsense tag match that spawned a five minute EVIL/Okada match that went nowhere, an overly long NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Title match, and a good but disappointing main event between Ibushi and SANADA that most people probably forgot even happened.

Thomas Hall

5. Wrestlemania Backlash
4. Impact Hard to Kill
3. Impact Bound For Glory
2. AEW Revolution

1. WWE Survivor Series – This was the hardest award to do so far as 2021 has to be one of the best years ever for pay per view. I know WWE gets a bad reputation for their TV (and it is 100% earned in some cases), but they can put on a show when it comes to getting in the ring and saying go. That is the case with every other major promotion (or at least the ones I watch). When the lowest overall rating I could give a show all year is a C (or about a 6), you’re in a really, really good place. None of these shows are by any means bad, so we’ll call them the least good.

As for the pick, while I had Revolution rated lower overall (the exploding barbed wire match was not my thing and was never going to be), Survivor Series did not feel important whatsoever coming in and I did not want to watch it. The Battle For Brand Supremacy has become such a chore that even the very good wrestling couldn’t overcome a lot of the problems. It wasn’t a bad show, but it was a show that felt like a chore rather than something I would want to watch, and that’s worse than having bad action.

Jeremy Thomas

5. Impact Hard To Kill
4. WWE Fastlane
3. AEW Revolution
2. WWE Extreme Rules 2021

1. WrestleMania Backlash – I’ll echo some of the others by saying I don’t think this was a bad year for PPVs. WWE often delivered, AEW was on fire, and all the other promotions did really well too. But there were some with notable issues. AEW Revolution was a mostly inconsequential show that will forever be marred by the wet fart of a finish; Extreme Rules was bizarrely the least “extreme” WWE PPV of the year and featured a mind-numbingly bad close as well (Finn Balor losing by inexplicable ring collapse, if you’ve blocked it out of your mind). But WrestleMania Backlash was easily the worst. Even without being kneecapped by the stupid zombie match, it largely consisted of minor permutations of rematches from WrestleMania, which failed to raise the stakes in almost every situation. It’s one of the few PPVs that I found myself realizing during the show I wasn’t turning it off and just reading results later strictly out of obligation to my site duties, as opposed to being actually invested. WWE did a lot of PPVs right this year, but this wasn’t one of them.

AND 411’s TOP 5 Worst Major Show/PPVs of 2021 ARE…

5. WWE Fastlane12 points

4. AEW Revolution13 points

3. WWE Survivor Series14 points

2. WWE Extreme Rules15 points

1. WrestleMania Backlash18 points


* 1. The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: WWE’s Talent Releases – 28 points
* 2. The Best Non-Wrestler: Paul Heyman – 40 points
* 3. The Best Tag Team: The Lucha Bros – 32 points