The year was 2008, Barack Obama was being voted President, the New England Patriots choked in the Super Bowl, and John Cena was only three years into his run as the face of WWE. It was a different time.
Thankfully, the WWE product was actually pretty good in 2008. Things were not perfect by any means but there were many long-term stories told to perfection that year.
Those stories played out not only on Raw and SmackDown, but on pay-per-view as well and provided many of the best matches of the year.
As such, these are the 11 best WWE pay-per-view matches of 2008.
11. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho – Great American Bash
I will tell you right now, you will be seeing quite a bit of Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho on this list. Their rivalry in 2008 stands as one of the best rivalries in WWE history and some of the best work of either man’s career.
Their match at the Great American Bash was square in the middle of their rivalry. Jericho had turned heel, putting Michaels’ face through the Jeritron 5000 on Raw and this was Michaels’ first chance at revenge.
He managed to get some offense in, no doubt, but this match was not Michaels’ night. Jericho split him open with a back elbow and Michaels was a bloody mess. This was one of the last proper blade jobs in WWE history and Michaels made it count.
The match was a tremendous way to subvert expectations with a referee stoppage finish and it delayed the ultimate payoff of Michaels’ revenge a little while longer. Not the best of their feud, but we’ll get to that.
10. Batista vs. John Cena – SummerSlam
Batista and John Cena had mirrored their careers up to June of 2008.
They had both been called up from OVW in 2002, won their first world titles at WrestleMania 21, switched brands in 2005, won Royal Rumbles, and become three-time World Champions.
So when Batista was drafted to Raw in 2008, WWE immediately started planting seeds for a match with Cena. The match in question took place at SummerSlam.
For two guys who are not known for being the most graceful in the ring, their match delivered on the hype. This was the biggest match of the Summer on Raw and it would have been easy to screw this up.
Thankfully, they didn’t and in a rare case of Cena losing clean as a sheet, Batista pinned him with a Batista Bomb. Very solid stuff adding to Cena’s particularly poor SummerSlam win/loss record.
9. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho – Judgment Day
Hey, it’s Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho again! In perhaps their least memorable match of 2008, Michaels and Jericho battled at Judgment Day in an all-babyface match.
Their rivalry was just getting started at this point with Michaels revealed he had feigned a knee injury during his match with Batista the month prior. Jericho was hurt by Michaels lying to him and the two had a snug but ultimately sporting contest.
They were possibly the two best workers in WWE at the time so even a low-key affair would result in a great match. Michaels Superkicked Jericho off the apron in a great spot but it was Michaels reversing the Walls of Jericho into a roll-up that sealed the deal.
The two had a tense handshake after the match but they wouldn’t be shaking hands much longer.