For those who don’t know, there are often “dark” matches either before or after WWE shows like Raw Smackdown and even pay-per-views. The dark matches before the show usually include mid-card talent or even jobbers as a way to get the crowd ready for the night’s show.
The ones after the show are a completely different concept, though. Those matches are truly main event level matches, often involving headline talent and continuing the night’s storyline in some way. Unfortunately, these are not recorded officially, but thanks to committed fans, these 10 matches have been made known.
Taker teams with Goldust, Ahmed
This match is a prototype of many dark main events, with Undertaker, Goldust and Ahmed Johnson joining forces to take on the Nation of Domination after Raw on March 17, 1997. Oftentimes, some of the combatants will have a storyline tie, with other top players thrown in to complete the match.
In this case, Undertaker, Goldust and Johnson make for an interesting team. Undertaker and Goldust feuded off and on during the Phenom’s early days in the WWF, and Ahmed Johnson just completes a unique squad to take on a legitimate stable.
More 6-man tag action
This one, which took place on April 28, 2009, is another classic example of the type of Team Heel vs. Team Face action that gets thrown into the dark period once the cameras are turned off at a WWE show. For this one, John Cena, Batista and Rey Mysterio squared off against Edge, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton.
The sheer talent in these teams is impressive. All six of these men were world champions at some point in there career, and there was also a unique blend of styles, from Mysterio’s agility and speed to Batista’s power.
Hell in a Cell
This match seems unnecessarily risky for a dark match, but it’s probably not the only time the WWE has rolled the dice just for the fans in the arena. In a match that got a photo gallery on the WWE website, John Cena defended his WWE title against CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger in a Hell in a Cell match.
The match was on Sept. 26, 2011, just days before Cena dropped his title to Del Rio at the HIAC event inside the cell in a match that also included CM Punk. Kudos to the talent for getting in the cage so close to a major event.
Del Rio vs. Sheamus
Putting on a compelling dark championship match in the modern era requires work. Much like a live event, most fans know that the belt isn’t changing hands, so it can be a challenge to keep the fans in the arena for another 15 minutes or so.
That’s the task that Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio took on when they squared off after the Smackdown tapings in late July 2012, though. They would one day be partners in the League of Nations, but this was one of many times they faced off as foes.
Shield 6-man No. 1
The Shield was the most dominant group going by mid-2013, and they became frequent participants in main events of all kinds, both during the show and afterward. One such match came on May 6, 2013, when the trio squared off against Daniel Bryan, Kane and John Cena.
The actual main event from that night actually included Ryback, but he cleared the ring once the cameras stopped rolling, and the rest of the talent took over. This is yet another packed match, as five of the six competitors won the world title at some point, and it’s only a matter of time before the sixth, Dean Ambrose, seemingly joins them.
Shield 6-man No. 2
This might seem like just another Shield match, but the set-up was pretty interesting. Cena and Henry started off seemingly headed for a singles match for Cena’s championship, but the Shield interrupted, surrounding the ring and attacking the competitors.
To the fans’ delight, the faces were saved by Daniel Bryan, who ran to the ring to even the odds. Once the melee settled down a little, the ring announcer let the crowd now that the match would now be a six-man tag team match, and the dark main event was on.
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
The feud between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton will go down as one of the best of the current wrestling era, with the ultimate underdog Bryan chasing the title held by Orton, a protoypical performer with a big-time pedigree in the business.
At the Smackdown tapings on Sept. 3, 2013, Bryan was attacked at the close of the show, but Vickie Guerrero made sure he didn’t get out after just one beating. He was sent back to the ring to face off against Orton, from whom he’d eventually take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30.
Cena/Ambrose vs. Rollins/Wyatt
This is the type of match that would be frustrating from a story perspective on television but works for a dark main event. On November 17, 2014, John Cena started in the ring just looking for an opponent for one more match for the fans. Dean Ambrose answered the call, followed by Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins to set up a tag match.
Now Wyatt should in no way be helping Authority darlings like Rollins, but this was just a good opportunity to get four big-time names in the ring at once for the crowd’s enjoyment.
Wyatts vs. Team Face
On the other hand, this match would’ve likely made a really cool one for television if the story was told well enough. It’s certainly reasonable that the Wyatt Family would inspire the likes of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn to work together like they did after Raw on March 21, 2016.
Unfortunately, this match is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Luke Harper, the only member of the Wyatts to ever hold a championship in the WWE, suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for quite some time.
Reigns and Styles team up
This one wasn’t as much of a dark match as it was a dark segment, and the perceived reasons why it was left dark are as interesting as the segment itself. For this segment that happened after the Smackdown tapings on April 5, 2016, the Dudley Boyz attacked AJ Styles after a tag match that closed out the show. That drew Roman Reigns out to make the save for Styles, the next challenger to Reigns’ world title.
This is an interesting choice, as it clearly puts him back on the babyface side of things, but signs lately have been pointing toward a turn of sorts. It would seem, then, that this was a dark segment so that Reigns could continue his turn on-screen.