Over here in the UK we have a magazine called Power Slam and they recently did a feature naming 20 matches you have to see for certain reasons. Some were awesome matches while others were there because they were significant or so bad you just HAD to see them. Well I thought I’d post 20 matches I feel you should go out of your way to see. Not all of them are ****+ classics but they are all matches I feel every wrestling fan should watch. Let’s start things off then shall we?
These matches are in no particular order they are just in the order I reviewed them.
The Company – ECW
The Show – Guilty As Charged 99
The Match – Justin Credible Vs Tommy Dreamer
The Stipulation – Stairway to Hell
The Back-story – In an effort to get Justin Credible over as the companies top heel Paul Heyman booked him against the biggest faces the company had. The first guy to feud with Justin was Tommy Dreamer. Tommy was fresh off a big feud with the Dudley Boys and was more than ready for a fresh program. Justin caned the hell out of Tommy at the ECW arena and that set up a match at November to Remember as both guys got to pick a dream partner. Justin picked Jack Victory and Tommy revealed his partner as Jake Roberts! After a terrible brawl, lightened only by a Gangstanater run in, Tommy pinned Justin with a DDT on a ladder. However, after the match Tommy was attacked by his mentor and father figure Terry Funk. Funk was offended that Tommy picked the drug addict Roberts over him. Funk was so angry he joined the side of Credible and helped Credible beat Tommy down. Tommy refused to strike his mentor down when he had any opportunity to do so and instead took his frustration out on Credible. The two destroyed each other with ladders leading up to the match and the stage was set for the first ever Stairway to Hell match on Pay Per View
Why I picked it – back in my early days as a fan this was without a doubt my favourite match. I hadn’t watched it in a long time and when I was thinking up the 20 matches to include here I remembered how much this match meant to me when I first saw it. It’s not because of the violence why I like this match though, it’s the story. The match has a great story behind it, Funk betrays Tommy to join Credible, and builds well to the heart crushing ending and leaves you thirsting for more. It’s matches like this why I love ECW as it has all the usual ladder stuff you see elsewhere but has an emotional story to go with it which was Heyman’s specialty
Justin Credible w/ “The Man Beast” Nicole Bass, Jazz and Jason Vs Tommy Dreamer
Justin had one screwed up entourage back then didn’t he? The rules here are that the cane is hanging above the ring and if you grab it you can use it as a weapon. You win by pin or submission. Man in the Box still gives me chills to this day whenever I hear it. Tommy brings out one HUGE ladder with him and sets it up on the ramp, which goes right up to the apron as was the norm for ECW shows around this time. Lock up and Justin unloads with some strikes in the corner but Tommy fights back. Tommy gets a Spine Buster and Justin gets knocked outside. They fight outside and Tommy eats the rail from an Irish Whip. The slugfest outside goes Tommy’s way and Justin gets dropped neck first on the rail. They go back inside and Tommy brings a chair with him but ends up getting back dropped on it. The beat down corner Power Bomb by Justin gets a two. Justin throws Tommy onto the ramp and drop toe holds him on the chair Raven style. Bass gets some cheap shots in and Justin gets some stomps in for good measure. Justin teases using the ladder but flips the fans the bird and takes Tommy back inside. In the ring Tommy gets a Russian Leg Sweep and force feeds Justin some chair. Tommy gets The Dreamer Driver and goes to grab the ladder. Justin and Jason go to baseball slide the ladder in his face but Tommy dodges them and splats the ladder in their faces. Tommy props the ladder between the ring and the rail and plasters Justin with a cookie sheet. Know I don’t know where he got it from. Justin is dropped face first on the ladder and is then tossed into it back inside as the fans approve. Tommy slams Justin on the ladder but misses the second rope elbow. Justin wisely targets the arm and shoulder with a chair and the ladder. Tommy does a good job selling it too. Tommy reverses an Irish Whip into the ladder and Justin goes FLYING outside in a nice visual. Justin is able to suplex Tommy off the apron to the concrete floor in another sick looking spot. Inside, Tommy blocks a superplex and Jason runs in for interference. Tommy fights him off but takes a low blow and snap suplex from Jazz? WTF? Tommy is pissed and all set to DDT her but Jason makes the save pissing off the crowd. Justin misses a baseball slide in the corner and then for some old school comedy as Tommy tries to pull Justin t the centre while Bass holds his legs so Tommy lets go and Justin gets crotched again by Bass. I love that spot. Spicolli Driver by Tommy and he slingshots the ladder into Justin’s face. Ouch that one looked nasty. Tommy climbs for the cane but Justin pulls him down and then lays him on the ladder and tips him outside through a waiting table. Another cool spot. Justin tries to climb but Tommy won’t stay down and he drags Justin down. On the replay Joey says that Tommy was able to brace himself for the fall which explains why he was able to get up so quickly and allows me to forgive the no sell even though hatred for Justin would be another good reason. Tommy takes the ladder spine first and Justin kills him with Rock a Billy swinging DDT. Justin does the old “put the guys head in one of the rungs of the ladder and throw him into the corner” spot which I think is stupid but looks good. Tommy grabs another ladder from outside the ring and sets it up to Justin’s. they both climb up and Tommy gets the Ace Crusher from the top in a clip that was on every ECW opening montage from that day onward. Tommy makes it to the top of the ladder and grabs the cane. He jumps off the ladder to get a DDT on Justin but it looked really contrived and Justin just stood there for 5 seconds. Tommy is about to cane the crap out of Justin when Terry Funk comes down to the ring and hammers Tommy with a trash can busting him open. That’s Incredible on the ladder finishes things. After the match Funk continues to hit Tommy but he refuses to fight back as Joey begs him to do so
WINNER – JUSTIN CREDIBLE
*** – I still love this match. The ending still pisses me off but pisses me off in a good way as in wanting to see the payoff pissed off. Is it still my favourite match? Not really but I still get a kick out of it and feel it still holds up today as the story is timeless.
The Company – WWF
The Show – Royal Rumble 98
The Match – Shawn Michaels Vs The Undertaker
The Stipulation – Casket Match
The Back-story – Shawn Michaels and Undertaker first came to blows in the summer of 1997. At Summer Slam 97, Michaels was the guest referee for the Bret Hart/Undertaker WWF Championship match. Due to a mistimed chair shot by Michaels, Bret walked out the new champion and Undertaker was obviously furious about it. At the Ground Zero pay per view they annihilated each other in a tremendous brawl that went everywhere including the crowd, the stage and was a great **** match. Then at Bad Blood the following month they had, the now legendary, first ever Hell in a Cell match that Michaels won with the aid of Undertaker’s brother Kane. After that Shawn Michaels won the WWF Title from Hart in controversial fashion at Survivor Series 97 and established a new stable in the company. Aligning him self with Triple H and Chyna he formed D-Generation X. Rick Rude was in it for a while too but then he left for WCW. A casket match was then made at the Royal Rumble for Michaels to defend the title against The Undertaker in a Casket match. About a week before the show, Michaels tried to bring Kane into DX but Kane refused and saved Undertaker from a 3 on 1 beating. Going into the Rumble fans assumed that, with Kane backing him up, Undertaker would become a 3 time WWF Champion.
Why I picked it – I chose to include this over the Hell in a Cell match because it is already widely regarded as awesome. Rightfully so in my opinion, so I felt I’d include this match because I truly think it was a great match and has sort of been forgotten. I would have it up in the list of Undertakers best matches and it was nothing for Shawn to scoff at either. It also has a lot of historical significance as in this match Shawn received his back injury that put him out of wrestling for nearly 5 years. It also has a certain sentimentality for me as this show was the first show I ever saw and hooked me on pro wrestling forever more. So chances are I might not be even writing this had it not been for this match
(C) Shawn Michaels w/ Triple H and Chyna Vs The Undertaker
It should be noted that this was during the awesome phase in Takers career where he had a big explosion come out of the corners instead of the lame smoke thing he does now. It should also be noted that Takers face run from 96 to 98 is the only real time I’ve been a big fan of his work. It was certainly the period where he had the best matches. Triple H is on crutches here from an injury. Michaels is pensive to start and peppers Taker with some rights and lefts but Taker just no sells them and keeps stalking Michaels. Michaels just keeps attacking to no avail and ends up in a choke lift. Michaels gets back dropped over the top and lands spine first on the edge of the casket. Michaels gets thrown into the ring post and slammed on the floor. Michaels runs from the casket and they go back inside where Michaels tries to out move Taker but takes a big right hand. Taker misses a leg drop but is able to go to the shoulder and gets the Old School Rope Walk which was just the Rope Walk back then. Shawn tumbles outside again from an Irish Whip but is able to drop Taker throat first on the top rope. Cross body is blocked to a power slam from Taker. Taker rolls Michaels into the casket but Michaels throws powder in his eyes. Taker gets a fluke right hand but Michaels bags him into the corner and jabs away. Taker goes for a Choke Slam but Michaels blocks it with the ropes and gets a Moonsault Press on Taker and pounds away. They fight outside again where Michaels is introduced to the railing. Remember when WWF/E had railing and not barricades? Michaels eats some French table. Remember when WWF/E had a French table? Taker is sent into the steps and Michaels HAMMERS him with the steps. These are some stiff shots too. Michaels then gets the seriously dangerous move of a piledriver on the steel steps. The sound that move makes is just scary. HHH gets some cheap shots in with a crutch for good measure. Michaels throws some chair shots in too and taunts in the ring getting some good heel heat. Back inside Michaels gets a running elbow and tries to put him in the casket but Taker fights back and nails HHH for payback. Michaels gets a neck breaker to gain control back and then goes to the sleeper which is a very smart move to do in a match like this. The fans get behind Taker as he fights up and breaks the hold with a back suplex followed by the sit up. Michaels gets the flying forearm and the elbow and it’s TIME TO TUNE UP THE BAND. Sweet Chin Music knocks Taker down and it’s time to put Taker in the casket. He does so but makes the fatal mistake of showboating and Taker makes him pay for it by grabbing his nads. Michaels begs off and Taker hammers him with right hands and a back body drop. Michaels is flattened by a Taker clothesline and a big boot. Taker misses a flying lariat and ends up in the casket and Michaels drops and elbow from the top onto Taker and both guys are in the casket. I love that spot. Then Michaels tries to crawl out and Taker drags him back and the look on Michaels face as he’s dragged into the casket is priceless. Back inside the ring it’s a MEGA Choke Slam on Michaels and then Taker does another awesome visual by giving Michaels a Tombstone into the casket. He is set to close the lid when the New Age Outlaws and Los Borricuas jump him. Kane makes the save and the crowd is going CRAZY and so was I the first time I saw it. Kane clears the ring and then turns on Taker to shock the crowd, and me. Michaels closes the lid to win
WINNER – SHAWN MICHAELS
***3/4 – This match is a great brawl and I still can watch it today and enjoy it. Oh yeah after the match Kane sets the casket on fire. Randy who?
The Company – New Japan Pro Wrestling
The Show – Best of the Super Juniors 96
The Match – Wild Pegasus Vs Black Tiger
The Stipulation – None
The Back-story – BOTSJ is a yearly tournament held by NJPW. 96 was one of the best tournaments in New Japan history and this match was probably the best. Black Tiger is Eddie Guerrero while Pegasus is Chris Benoit
Why I picked it – I just love this match and feel it is the best one involving these two from Japan
BOTSJ Semi Final
Wild Pegasus Vs Black Tiger
Lock up to start as they feel each other out. Tiger goes to a leg takedown and Pegasus fights up to a hammer lock. Pegasus stays on the arm but Tiger gets out of the hold and goes back to the knee with a sweet counter. Tiger gets the Gory Special and somehow that turns into a pin fall sequence that the fans appreciate. They continue to do some awesome mat wrestling which leads to a lucha test of strength. Pegasus now targets the leg and gets an Indian Step Over Face Lock but Tiger makes the ropes. Tiger gets a Dragon Screw and goes to the leg lock. Pegasus somehow gets his own leg lock from that and goes to a sweet looking elevated Boston Crab. Tiger gets the flip over senton on the inside and then throws Pegasus outside and does it on the ramp. That was some ingenious use of the surroundings. Pegasus back body drops Tiger back in and gets a high angle back drop for two. Pegasus goes to the sleeper hold but Tiger makes the ropes. Pegasus gets some stomps in but takes a rana however being the cold blooded killer that he is he goes right back to the sleeper. After having his arm drop two times Tiger is able to fight out with some elbows but runs gave first into the elbow and Pegasus goes to back to the sleeper which is sound strategy. The Black Tiger section of the crowd gets behind him and he gets out of the hold only to slapped in it again. This is the fourth sleeper so far yet I like it as it’s realistic and really smart as it builds empathy for Tiger and as a result he gets a round of applause for making the results. Pegasus gets some chops in but Tiger gets a roll up as Pegasus gets ANOTHER sleeper. And now pretty much the whole crowd is behind Tiger showing how smart these two are at ring psychology. Pegasus gets a MEGA Power Bomb and heads up top but misses the flying head butt. Tiger back drops him outside and follows with a vaulting body press but Pegasus catches him and sends him into the rail. Pegasus gets a tope to the outside sending Tiger spine first into the rail. Back inside Tiger gets a Brain Buster and a Frog Splash for two. Another Brain Buster is reversed into a…Sleeper! That turns into a Pegasus Dragon Suplex for two. They fight over a Tombstone and Pegasus gets it for two. Pegasus gets a super back drop from the top but can’t capitalise and the fans get behind Tiger. Tiger gets a Splash Mountain Bomb for two. Pegasus goes for a top rope Tombstone but Tiger fights him off and gets a top rope hurricanrana for two. They go up again and Tiger gets a top rope Brain Buster for the win
WINNER – BLACK TIGER
****1/4 – Yes that’s how good they were. Most of the match was a f*cking sleeper yet it was still awesome which is a testament to both Benoit and Eddie. It’s all about the right mixture of big moves, psychology and realism and this match had it all.
The Company – ECW
The Show – The ECW Tag Team Tournament 25th August 2000
The Match – Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri Vs The FBI
The Stipulation – None
The Back-story – In April 2000 Justin Credible and Lance Storm were the ECW Tag Team Champions. However, Justin dumped his tag title in favour of a chance at the World Title. After 4 months of having no champions ECW set up a 12 team tournament at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York to crown new champions. This match was a first round match
Why I picked it – This show had some great matches but I picked this match in particular because as far as stiff violence and selling goes this match is near to untouchable. It’s just a REALLY fun match that anyone can enjoy
Mikey Whipwreck and Tajiri w/ Sinister Minister Vs The FBI w/ Big Sal
Guido and Tajiri start off and they do mat wrestling with a stand off and the fans appreciate that. They have a shoving contest and go to another neat wrestling sequence that ends with a stand off and a appreciative “EC Dub” chant. Tajiri gets some kicks and Guido goes to the arm bar. Mamaluke comes in with a Northern Lights suplex but tales a huge kick from Tajiri and sells it like death. Mikey comes in and now it gets good as they double team Mamaluke with some VICIOUS stuff that includes Double Flapjack, Double 110th Street Slam AND a Double Dropkick to the face that Mamaluke sells with some mustard and balsamic vinegar. Guido comes in and takes some double teams too and even the Minister gets some shots in. fans are screaming for a table. Guido gets a blind tag and it’s heel beat down time on Mikey. They get a sweet Power Bomb/Neck Breaker thing from the top rope for two and Mamaluke gets a CRAZY Tornado DDT for two. Mikey gets a desperation Whippersnapper on Guido and it’s hit tag Tajiri who KILLS everyone in sight with stiff kicks and locks Guido in the Tarantula until Mamaluke saves. Mikey gets a top rope Whippersnapper on Mamaluke and Tajiri finishes him off with a seated dropkick.
WINNERS – TAJIRI AND MIKEY WHIPWRECK
*** – This match is on of the most fun matches I’ve ever seen. I mean seriously some of those double teams were BRUTAL and Mamaluke’s selling was awesome. Man that guy was one hell of a bump machine back in the day.
The Company – New Japan Pro Wrestling
The Show – J-Crown 96
The Match – Shinjiro Ohtani Vs Ultimo Dragon
The Stipulation – None
The Back-story – In 1996 New Japan tried the very adventurous task of unifying 8 induvidual Junior titles in one night to create a J-Crown champion. The ultimate Junior Heavyweight Champion. All belts were fair game including the IWGP Junior Title. Ohtani and Dragon met in the Semi Final with a place in the final against Great Sausuke on the line. They had met before in the 1995 WAR J-Cup it was front runner for one of the best matches of the show and involved a crazy moment where they hit about 6 Tombstones on each other and both no sold them.
Why I picked it – This is one of the finest matches I’ve ever seen. Need any more?
Ultimo Dragon Vs Shinjiro Ohtani
Ohtani is in total serial killer mode here and the look on his face is “Your limbs belong to me now!” they feel each other out to start and fight over a headlock. Ohtani gets a shoulder block and blocks the magistral. He blocks it again and looks at Dragon as if to say “Yeah right like you’re doing THAT to me” Dragon gets the leg head scissors on the mat but Ohanti gets out and turns it into a headlock. Dragon goes to chin lock and then the arm bar which is a big mistake as that lets Ohtani grab a leg lock which you seriously don’t want him to do. Ohtani cranks it on and Dragon makes the ropes so Ohtani calmly drags him back to the middle of the ring again. Dragon stomps his face to break and gets a body slam and elbow for two and goes to a single leg Boston Crab. He turns that into an Indian Death Lock and then bridges into the face lock. Dragon breaks the hold and goes for a vertical suplex but Ohtani blocks it and kicks him down. Ohtani stomps away and gets a beauty of a missile dropkick. He gets a body slam and a senton splash and then goes to the head scissors. Ohtani goes to the arm bar and Dragon is in serious pain and crowd pick up on it. Dragon struggles in agony but can’t break the hold. Ohtani holds on to the arm like a mother holds on to her new born baby and Dragon has to get the ropes. Ohtani stays on the arm as he PREYS ON WEAKNESS. He goes back to the arm in the centre with some excoriating looking holds. Dragon turns the tables going to his own arm lock and then does a Delfin by ignoring the work to the arm and sends Ohtani outside. Ohtani swats away a Dragon vaulting body press and gets a Brain Buster on the floor and follows with a Cactus Jack like Cannonball off the apron. Back inside Ohtani gets a springboard spinning wheel kick to two. That looked sharp and crisp. Ohtani goes for the Dragon Suplex and when he can’t get it he goes to a Tiger Suplex that gets such a long two the fans think he’s won. He misses the missile dropkick and Dragon gets the La Magistral for two and the fans are on the verge of a collective heart attack. Dragon gets a Tombstone and a Moonsault, a usual match winner for sure, but it only gets two. Dragon goes for a rana but Ohtani rolls through and gets a two from it. Fans are very much behind Ohtani here. Dragon gets a Dragon Suplex and Ohtani kicks out at two popping the crowd like crazy. Ohtani’s selling here is amazing. He counters a rana with a Power Bomb and gets a Missile Dropkick followed by a Dragon Suplex for two and the fans are nearly wetting themselves here. They go up top and Ohtani gets knocked down but tenaciously fights up because he’s SHINJIRO FUCKING OHTANI and to him pain is NOTHING! They both fall off the top in spectacular fashion and the crowd is going nuts at this stuff. Running Liger Bomb gets the three for Dragon
WINNER – ULTIMO DRAGON
****1/2 – I still to this day feel Ohtani should have gone over. After the match Ohtani is like “Shake my hand Mother Fucker” and Dragon obliges.
Please send me feedback as I love hearing from my readers
The Inside Pulse
Well That’s the first 1/4 of this epic feature. I won’t give a date for 15-11 but I will say that it is coming soon!