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Dec 29, 2016
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24. Team Raw (Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman) vs. Team SmackDown LIVE (AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose, Shane McMahon, Bray Wyatt & Randy Orton) — 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Men’s Elimination Match (Survivor Series)
If there was a WWE equivalent to a big-budget summer popcorn flick this year, it was undoubtedly the Survivor Series main event. The heavily hyped battle between Raw and SmackDown LIVE was so packed with marquee stars, high stakes and even comic relief (thanks to Team Blue mascot James Ellsworth) that you wouldn’t have been surprised to find out it was directed by Joss Whedon. The nearly hourlong (!) affair — which saw Roman Reigns almost hospitalize Shane McMahon with the ugliest Spear of 2016, The Shield Triple-Powerbomb AJ Styles through an announce table and Randy Orton & Bray Wyatt walk out as survivors — left us slack-jawed, breathless, and asking one question: When’s the sequel?

17. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins — WWE Championship Match (Money in the Bank)
WE SAID: Nearly seven months after Seth Rollins went down with a devastating knee injury, The Architect battled his one-time Shield brother-in-arms, Roman Reigns, for WWE’s greatest title at WWE Money in the Bank. Both Superstars fought tooth-and-nail, but Rollins finally countered The Big Dog’s Spear by hitting a miraculous mid-air Pedigree for the win. Before Rollins could celebrate, however, the third Shield member, “Mr. Money in the Bank” Dean Ambrose, emerged and cashed-in his contract to take the title just like that. — MIKE BURDICK

THEY SAID: “For me, that was six-and-a-half months off, first pay-per-view match back and trying to get a championship against Roman Reigns. A lot of nerves going in, a lot of uncertainty. But it was like riding a bike. Roman and I know each other so well. Very competitive back-and-forth match. A lot of heart from both sides, and to be able to come out on top was pretty awesome for me, [because] I wanted that badly. I wanted to prove I was still the same guy I was before surgery and rehab. At the end of the day, even though Ambrose walked out of Money in the Bank with the championship, I still proved I was The Man.” — Seth Rollins

14. Finn Bálor vs. Seth Rollins — WWE Universal Championship Match (SummerSlam)
WE SAID: The Demon King emerged from the depths to clash in a WWE ring for the first time at SummerSlam this year. And although Seth Rollins was initially dismissive when it came to Finn Bàlor’s eerie alter-ego, The Architect was definitely a believer after the bout. Bàlor showed incredible tenacity in his quest to become the inaugural WWE Universal Champion, not even letting a serious shoulder injury hinder his ascent to the Raw mountaintop. Fighting through pain after a damaging powerbomb into the barricade, The Demon King ultimately rallied back to finish off “The Man” with a history-making Coup de Grâce. — JAMES WORTMAN

THEY SAID: “That one was difficult. A long weekend for everybody, the fans in Brooklyn included. They got their first glimpse at the red WWE Universal Championship. Obviously, that was an obstacle we had to overcome, and I had never been in the ring with Finn. At the end of the day, it’s a testament to him and how gutsy he is to continue the match with his arm dangling free and come out on top. It wasn’t my best day, but overall, an incredible experience. That was the first match we ever had, but it won’t be the last, and it won’t be the last for the WWE Universal Championship. I’m sure of that.” — Seth Rollins

7. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins – No Disqualification WWE Universal Title Match (Raw, Nov. 21)
Seth Rollins famously bristled when the WWE Universe disparaged the look of the WWE Universal Championship in its debut, claiming that “more important than a title’s appearance is what it represents for the men fighting over it.” He then went and showed just how much it meant to him, taking Kevin Owens to hell and back in a No Disqualification challenge that was so intense, they broke the tables during the commercial break. For Owens, it meant risking his body and his honor, riding an assist from Chris Jericho to retain his prize against The Architect and cap off a top-tier (literally — Rollins swooped down from off a ledge in the arena) match that nobody saw coming. Suffice it to say, that title was looking pretty good by the end, to say nothing of the men fighting over it.


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