There comes a time in every wrestling noder
's life when he takes some
time to take a step back from his normal tasks and tickles his own fancy
for a moment. Stop laughing, you perverts.
Anyway, I decided to take six hours of the cream of the crop, the
Kings of Workrate, the Immortal Battles, the best damn North American
matches (and two Japanese matches to spice things up) of the last two
decades, put them all on the same tape and see how the hell they stacked
These are, in my humble opinion, the best of the best. I put
together this tape in early 1999, so stuff I might have included from the
past few years (the TLC series, Cactus vs. HHH) isn't there.
A few outstanding promos, interviews, and other segments are included
as well where I had some dead air.
Match Numero Uno: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat for the NWA
World Title, WrestleWar '89. Might as well start out with in
style, right? This is widely considered the best North American match
ever, period. Three judges are present (Lou Thesz, Pat O'Connor,
and Terry Funk) to judge the winner in case of a tie. A fair and
unpartial judgement, of course, unlike in boxing. :) I've heard a
whole lot of people describe this a a perfect match, but I disagree.
In fact, one thing bothers me about this match so much that I don't give
it five stars: Flair is on the ring apron at one point. Ricky Steamboat
hits a dropkick on him, sending him crashing to the floor. I use
"hits" loosely, because he obviously misses and Flair sells it anyway.
Maybe I'm just jaded because I was expecting the match to be that good,
but the fact that the dropkick didn't even make contact in a contest applauded
otherwise for its incredible stiffness (among other reasons) really detracted
from the match for me. Don't get me wrong...besides that small flaw,
it's artistry at its finest--but it's still a flaw. Oh, by the way,
Flair wins and Terry Funk goes nuts and beats him up after the match.
Match Two: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a
Cell match, IYH: Badd Blood. Shawn actually had the WWF European
Championship here, but I'm nearly positive it was non-title. This
match has some of the best psychology I've ever seen, as Shawn Michaels
gets his ass kicked eight ways from Wednesday, keeps making comebacks only
by running like a little pansy and resorting to illegal tactics, and personally
wets himself whenever Undertaker shrugs off moves that would put away
just about everyone else. Undertaker, to his credit, sucks less than
usual too. The ending is just as historically remarkable as the match
itself, as Kane makes his first-ever appearance, rips the door off the
cage, tombstones 'Taker, and drapes a bloody and lifeless Shawn Michaels
over him for the win. *****
Match Three: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart in an "I
Quit" match, Wrestlemania 13. This was the match that MADE
Austin's career, as both men were in their prime, uninjured, and ready
to go above and beyond for a Wrestlemania. You can see the subtle
differences in how Austin moves here, before the neck injury he suffered
at SummerSlam '97 at the hands of Owen Hart. This is probably
the most famous and well-executed double turn in wrestling history, as
Austin ends up as a tough son of a BITCH that would rather pass out and
lose rather than submit--even hurt and bleeding buckets--to the Sharpshooter.
Bret finishes his decent into total dickhood by assaulting Austin's leg
with a chair after the match. *****
PROMO: "Vince McMahon's Utopia" segment from Over the Edge '98:
Quite possibly the best Pay-Per-View promo ever.
INTERVIEW: Cactus Jack's "I'M HARDCORE!" ECW Interview: Absolutely
hilarious...has to be heard to be believed.
INTERVIEW: Austin's Post-Match interview at King Of The Ring 1996:
This is where Stone Cold Steve Austin coined his Austin 3:16 catchphrase.
SEGMENT: The ECW Chair Throwing Incident: Just generally hilarious.
The ring is filled with over 200 chairs thrown in by fans, with two wrestlers
Match Four: "The Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat
for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, Wrestlemania III.
If you've never heard of this match or the feud building up for it...well...there's
no hope for ya. Until Steamboat topped himself in his classic match with
Ric Flair at WrestleWar '89, this was considered the greatest match of
all time. Mark, smart, smark, whatever, it doesn't matter This match just
rules. No stips, no 60 minute slobberknockers, just 15 minutes of the quickest,
stiffest, all-around best wrestling you will ever see. And, just to top
it all off, the heat is just as powerful here as the work is. The standing
ovation when Steamboat FINALLY, after months of following Savage around
the country in rage, becomes the NEEEEWWWWWWWW Intercontinental Champion
is unlike anything I've ever heard before. It's just about the only thing
I actually remember about the damn card from when I first saw it way back
in 1987. THAT was the advantage of having champs STAY champs for years
on end...the blowoffs were absolutely monumental. I won't bother to do
play-by-play (do I ever?), which is available tons of other places. The
end comes when Savage picks Steamboat up for a bodyslam, but Steamboat
grabs the leg and cradles Savage --> pin to become the new WWF Intercontinental
Match Five: "Flyin'" Brian Pillman vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
for the WCW Light Heavyweight Title, Superbrawl II. This match
was straight out of '95 Japan, and considering it's '92 WCW that's really
saying something. Considered one of the three best Pay-Per-View
opening matches in wrestling history. The thing that I personally
like best out of this match is the fact that Liger couldn't speak a damn
word of English and was thusly never given mic time, and he was STILL getting
a great crowd reaction on sheer ability alone. So much for your
theory, Vince Russo. Pillman regains the title here, and they
do the Babyface Embrace after the match like only good workers after
a hard-fought battle can. ****3/4
Match Six: Jeff Jarrett vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental
Championship, In Your House 2. I really, really liked this match
at the time, but when I watched it again now...nothing. I donno,
maybe it was just the aura of Michaels winning the title from complete-dick
Jarrett. It's good, but really slow compared to everything else on
this tape. Michaels regains the title due to interference from the
Roadie (who you probably know as Road Dogg), finally waking the crowd
Match Seven: Marty Janetty vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental
Championship, RAW is WAR '93. It has always amazed me how
the WWF could pair up Janetty and Michaels anytime, anywhere, and it
would somehow turn into a ***+ matchup with great heat. It happened
here, it happened earlier that same year during their match at the Royal
Rumble, and it happened three FULL YEARS later during the '96 Rumble itself.
Anyway, Michaels made the DUMB IDIOT mistake of offering an open challenge
to his IC belt, and who should take him up on it but Janetty himself.
A great match follows, with Mr. Perfect appearing and preventing Total
Pussy Shawn Michaels from running away. Perfect ends up throwing
a HAND TOWEL OF MASS DESTRUCTION~! at Michaels, which stuns him long enough
to get rolled up by Janetty and lose the title. I really hate that
the WWF didn't have enough confidence in Janetty to put him over Michaels
cleanly, but I'll live. *****
Match Eight: Chris "God" Jericho vs. Chris
"God" Benoit, Super J-Cup '95. This was the first Japan match
I'd ever seen, and I'll be damned if it didn't get me hooked. On
the relative Japanese scale it might only be ****1/2, but for North America
it's an easy perfect five. Add to that the fact that the crowd is
red-hot, and this is an instant classic. It also made Jericho's
career, as he would vault soon after to ECW and then WCW. *****
Nine: Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Gran Naniwa vs. Terry Boy,
Dick Togo, and Taka Michinoku, Barely Legal '96: ECW might not
be known for great technical wrestling, but they can sure deliver when
they want to! They imported these MPro superstars for the very first ECW
Pay-Per-View, Barely Legal, and even the tough ECW crowd is awed by them.
It's a shame they went almost straight back to Japan right afterwards
(Heyman couldn't hold on to them because of legal problems), but Taka and
Funaki did get signed by the World Wrestling Federation a year later.
Match Ten: Cactus Jack vs. Terry Funk, Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match,
King of the Deathmatch (Japan): The match stipulations pretty much
say it all. Add in the fact that Cactus and Funk are two of the craziest
guys in the business, and you get one of the bloodiest matches you'll find
anywhere. Cactus wins after the ring explodes with
Funk inside it. If you look at Mick Foley's arm even today, you
still can see the permanent scarring caused by the fire in this match.
Eleven: Chris Benoit vs. Great Sasuke, Super J-Cup '94 (Finals):
This match pits Chris Benoit, arguably the best wrestler in North America,
against the Great Sasuke, arguably the greatest wrestler in Japan. Add
to this the fact that it's the finals of a Super J-Cup, and you've got
history. A 45-minute classic that has absolutely no flaws that
I can find. Benoit wins the J-Cup after a gut-wrencher superplex
for the pin. All the tournament participants come into the ring to
congratulate Benoit after the match. Simply stunning, and a fitting
end to the greatest wrestling card ever. *****
Twelve: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Wrestlemania X: Put two brothers
from one of the most famous wrestling families in the ring together and
give them 30 minutes together, and this happens. Wow. Thirty
brutal minutes of taunting, mind games, and psychology. And, best
of all, Owen got the upset win--which no one expected.
Bret would go on to win the WWF Championship later in the night, though,
so it all evens out. *****
Thirteen: "The Macho King" Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior in
a Retirement Match, Wrestlemania VII: Ultimate Warrior's best
match, ever. Warrior has custom tights and kneepads for the event
with airbrushed sketches of Savage and himself on them. Funny moment
as after Warrior tries everything in his arsenal (That's right! All
three moves he knows!) and nothing works, he starts talking to his hands
and looking up to the sky asking, "WHY???" The crowd is ultra-hot
for the entire match, too. Savage eventually loses this match and
is forced to retire, but reunites with Elizabeth after the match and turns
babyface in one of the most emotional moments in wrestling.
It would lead to the two being married (only in the storyline--the two
had actually been married for years) at SummerSlam. ****1/2
Match Fourteen: Mankind vs. Undertaker in a Hell
in a Cell match, King of the Ring '98. Truth is, it's not
the best piece of workrate in the world. It didn't have the best
psychology, it was awkward, and it was extremely gloomy because everyone
really did think that Foley was practically dead. But the
fact remains, it was voted Match of the Year, it got Foley over
with the fans (though not in the way anyone expected), and it has some
of the most wicked and dangerous bumps you'll ever see. Foley first
gets thrown off the top of the cage and falls fifteen through the announcing
table. Then, after refusing to be carried out on a stretcher, he
continues the match and gets chokeslammed THROUGH the top of the
cage, landing on the ring fifteen feet below. Then, just to prove
he really IS insane, he continues, wrestles for another 20 minutes,
and only gets pinned after getting chokeslammed through thousands of thumbtacks.
Fifteen: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan in a "Falls Count Anywhere"
match, Great American Bash '96:
was one of the first ever "Falls Count Anywhere" match. Combine the novel
concept with Chris Benoit's ability to get just about ANYTHING to work,
and a terrific match is the result. The storyline here was that Nancy
Sullivan, Kevin's wife, was cheating on him with Benoit. In real
life, Nancy Sullivan, Kevin's wife, was cheating on him...with Benoit.
I don't know if Kevin knew at the time, but the match sure is even more
entertaining to watch knowing what was going on behind the scenes.
This was the first match to include many of the spots that have long since
become cliched, most notably fighting in the arena bathroom.
"HEAD FIRST TO THE COMMODE!" indeed. ****1/2