WWE made massive improvements to its weekly television and pay-per-views during the pandemic when it moved things over to the ThunderDome. The bio-secure bubble created by WWE in partnership with The Famous Group has made for a unique viewing experience for all fans. With fans from all over the world video conferencing in to watch WWE, it has truly been unlike anything seen in wrestling.
The company has been inside the ThunderDome since August 2020 with Summerslam being the first pay-per-view to take place there. Over the course of the past 11 months, there have been plenty of great matches and moments to take place in the state-of-the-art arena.
WWE will be returning to live touring with fans in attendance, bringing a close to the pandemic era in just over a week. With things returning to normal, it makes for a perfect time to look back on the year that was. In this article, let's take a look at the five best moments to take place inside the ThunderDome.
- Sasha Banks beats Bayley to win the SmackDown Women's Champion inside Hell In A Cell (WWE Hell In A Cell 2020)
- Drew McIntyre defeats Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship (November 17th WWE Raw)
- The Miz cashes in Money In The Bank on Drew McIntyre to win the WWE Championship (WWE Elimination Chamber 2021)
#5. Edge returns and wins the 2021 Men's Royal Rumble (WWE Royal Rumble 2021 - ThunderDome)
Less than a week before the 2021 Royal Rumble, the WWE Universe was shocked to hear that Edge would be returning to enter himself in the 30-Man Battle Royal. Entering the match at the #1 spot, Edge made his first appearance inside the ThunderDome looking to get back to the main event of WrestleMania.
The Rated R Superstar encountered his rival, Randy Orton, to kick off the match with the two men resuming hostilities and fighting all over the ThunderDome. Edge took out Orton and continued on in the match, meeting the likes of Daniel Bryan and Riddle. He would eventually eliminate both Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins to apparently win the match.
However, Edge forgot that he never officially eliminated "The Legend Killer". Orton came from behind and hit an RKO out of nowhere, but Edge reversed Orton when he tried to eliminate him by throwing him over the top rope. The Ultimate Opportunist returned after almost a year away with injury to win the 2021 Men's Royal Rumble Match inside the ThunderDome.
#4. The Undertaker's Final Farewell (WWE Survivor Series 2020 - ThunderDome)
For a while it looked like the The Undertaker would never set foot inside WWE's ThunderDome following The Last Ride documentary. It seemingly cemented his retirement and showed us that The Deadman was satisfied with the highly entertaining Boneyard Match against AJ Styles at WrestleMania 36 and wanted to ride off into the sunset.
Survivor Series 2020 marked 30 years since The Undertaker's debut, so WWE announced his Final Farewell to celebrate this landmark arrival and his career. This Final Farewell would see the return of many legendary names who made their first appearances in the WWE ThunderDome as well. Mick Foley, Godfather, Savio Vega and Kane all showed up for this special event.
Fans were greeted by Triple H, Shawn Michaels and others to close the book on the historic run of The Phenom. Even the Chairman himself, Vince McMahon, arrived at the ThunderDome to pay his respects to The Undertaker and introduce one of his greatest creations for one last time.
The Undertaker made one last walk down the aisle in an emotional scene in the WWE ThunderDome. With all the legends gone, The Deadman said his farewell speech and finally gave one last "Rest In Peace". Putting the cherry on top of this dramatic Final Farewell, The Undertaker did his iconic pose with a hologram of Paul Bearer with an urn in hand in front of him.
It remains to be seen if this will be the final time that the WWE Universe will see The Undertaker inside the squared circle. However, it will surely be the first and last time that The Deadman will be seen inside the WWE ThunderDome.
#3. Bobby Lashley wins the WWE Championship (March 1st WWE Raw - ThunderDome)
There have been many significant title changes inside of the WWE ThunderDome over the course of the past year. However, none might have been as fulfilling as Bobby Lashley winning the WWE Championship. The All Mighty began his transformation into an unstoppable beast when he became associated with MVP.
The association led to him winning the United States Championship and going on a dominant run. Lashley defeated the likes of Apollo Crews, Ricochet and Riddle during his reign inside the WWE ThunderDome. Upon dropping the U.S. gold, Lashley set his sights on the top prize on Monday Night Raw.
After a deal was made between MVP and The Miz, Bobby Lashley attacked Drew McIntyre following his successful WWE Title defense inside the Elimination Chamber. This led to The Miz cashing in the Money In The Bank briefcase to defeat McIntyre and win the WWE Championship inside the ThunderDome. This reign would be short lived though.
With the aforementioned deal in place, this gave Lashley the first crack at the new WWE Champion. On the March 1st WWE Raw, Bobby Lashley completed a 16-year journey by defeating The Miz to win the WWE Championship for the first time. The win made Lashley just the third African American to win the WWE Title.
He parlayed this victory to another dominant run where Lashley has successfully defended the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania 37 and inside Hell In A Cell. He has also beaten McIntyre and Braun Strowman in a triple threat match at WrestleMania Backlash inside the WWE ThunderDome.
#2. Bianca Belair wins the 2021 Women's Royal Rumble (WWE Royal Rumble 2021 - ThunderDome)
The 2021 Women's Royal Rumble Match was the first Rumble to take place inside the WWE ThunderDome. With expectations set high thanks to an exceptional roster of women, this would become arguably the best iteration yet. The star of the match and eventual winner, Bianca Belair, made this her star-making performance.
Coming into the match at #3, The EST of WWE had to display an incredible amount of endurance and fortitude to outlast her 29 other competitors to win inside the WWE ThunderDome. The match saw the returns of Victoria and Molly Holly as well as standout efforts from Bayley and Naomi.
The biggest competition to win for Bianca had to be the debuting Rhea Ripley, who came in late and looked to carry her momentum to victory. Both Ripley and Belair teamed up to eliminate Charlotte Flair, leaving the former NXT alumni as the final two superstars in the Royal Rumble inside the WWE ThunderDome.
The final-two showdown proved to be one of the most compelling in recent memory. The two women evaded elimination at the same time, surviving by the skin of their teeth or, better said, boots. Rhea and Bianca attempted their finishers with both avoiding them. They eventually both looked to eliminate one another, with Belair getting the better of the situation by clotheslining Ripley over the top rope.
Bianca Belair became just the second African American to win the Royal Rumble and the first African American woman to accomplish the feat. The emotion was palpable from Belair following her victory. Her post-match speech showed just how much this Rumble win meant to her with tears in her eyes inside the WWE ThunderDome.
The EST of WWE used that momentum to carry herself to the main event of WrestleMania 37 and made history once again. She and Sasha Banks became the first African American women to close the Grandest Stage Of Them All as Bianca defeated Sasha to win the SmackDown Women's Championship.
#1. Roman Reigns returns (WWE Summerslam 2020 - ThunderDome)
Summerslam 2020 was the first pay-per-view to take place inside the WWE ThunderDome. The state-of-the-art arena was visually stunning and made for a very cool change of pace following months in the Performance Center. The evening would witness some great matches like Asuka vs. Sasha Banks and Dominik Mysterio's debut against Seth Rollins.
However, the end of the show took most of the headlines after this event. Following The Fiend Bray Wyatt defeating Braun Strowman in a Falls Count Anywhere Match to win the WWE Universal Championship, Roman Reigns returned in a scene that could only be described as "you'll never see it coming."
Prior to WrestleMania 36, Roman Reigns decided to take some time off during the global pandemic. In the months to follow, he was out of sight and mind until his shocking arrival at the WWE ThunderDome at Summerslam. This was not only a surprising return, but "The Big Dog" also had a change in demeanor, trash-talking both Wyatt and Strowman during his return.
Reigns furthered this change on the very next episode of SmackDown inside the WWE ThunderDome. It was revealed that Roman had returned with a Special Counsel in the form of Paul Heyman. The new association paid off immediately as Roman defeated The Fiend and Strowman in a triple threat match to win the WWE Universal Championship, which he still holds to this day.
Roman Reigns has transformed into "The Tribal Chief" and has been on the run of his career since then. Whether it's his tremendous run of championship matches, compelling feuds with Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan or deeply engaging family storyline with The Usos, Roman Reigns has become the center of attention for the WWE Universe during this ThunderDome era.
Reigns has put on Match of the Year candidates against Jey Uso at Clash of Champions, Drew McIntyre at Survivor Series, Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble and both Edge and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. He has become the biggest and most important superstar in the entire company. He accomplished all of this during the pandemic inside the WWE ThunderDome
It has gotten to the point where only part-time stars like John Cena or The Rock are considered the best matches for him. He is not just one of their best in-ring performers, but also arguably the best character in the entire business. WWE has finally got Reigns to be the top star that they have tried so hard for him to become over the past six years.
None of this would have been possible without his triumphant return. That is why Roman Reigns' return at Summerslam has to be considered the best moment to take place in the WWE ThunderDome.