Inside Pulse Feature: Wrestling’s Top 5 Shows

I was thinking of posting a column where I would name my top 5 shows and why. However, I felt it would be much more fun and interesting if I asked other columnists to post there’s as well! Basically here you will see our top 5 wrestling shows. I hope you enjoy this feature as much as we have enjoyed watching all these great shows in the past. And feel free to send your feedback to me

Here’s my offering:

5. Michinoku Pro J Cup 2000
I have noticed how others have included other J Cups in this feature. Myself, being a total sucker for junior heavyweight wrestling, feel that the 94 and 95 J Cups are near to untouchable as far as excitement and quality is concerned. However, my favourite of all the J Cups would have to be the little known M-Pro offering of 2000. While maybe not as star heavy as past J Cups, the action is solid and never boring. The story of the 2000 J Cup centres around 3 men. Jushin Liger, Gran Hamada and CIMA. Liger is entering the tournament as a past winner and a man who wants to cement his legacy as one of the greatest junior heavyweights of all time. Donning a super cool black outfit he makes it clear from the start that he isn’t f*cking around as he beats the piss and vinegar out of anyone who gets in his way including a brutal match with Tiger Mask IV. Gran Hamada enters the tournament as the aging veteran who wants to prove he’s still got what it takes and have one last crack at glory and he has a seriously good scrap with MENS Teioh for old time’s sake. Then there’s CIMA. His story is at the centre of the tournament as he tries to break out and become a new top star in junior heavyweight wrestling. All 3 stories are climaxed in satisfying fashion and there are some great matches in this show. Plus, Curry Man is on it! What more do you need?!

4. WWE Summer Slam 2002
Some shows are just great and this is one of them. Staged at a time when WWE was struggling to relive the successes of the past couple of years this show blew any other offering the company put on that year out of the water. The show starts off with Rey Msyterio and Kurt Angle having a super hot opener that established Rey as possible main event property. Eddie Guerrero and Edge have a good old fashioned wrestling match that is both technically sound and well booked, except for the screwy finish. The crowd bursts into full Xenophobic mode as Booker T and Goldust challenge for the tag titles against those fiendish Un Americans, Undertaker carries Test to something watchable, Chris Benoit makes RVD his bitch and then the two main events kick in. First off Shawn Michaels shows he still has it in a fantastic fight with HHH that has the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout. In fact I can still watch this match today and mark out for Shawn’s comebacks. It’s a true classic that I think was unfairly slated by some because it was a clear ego stroking for both Shawn and HHH. I say so what? At least we got a good match out of it! Then you have The Rock proving he’s company man #1 as he does the clean J-O-B to Brock Lesnar in a quality match full of neat stuff. From top to bottom this show is great and probably the best Summer Slam ever even if it isn’t my sentimental favourite.

3. WCW Great American Bash 98
Sometimes WCW could get it right and when they did watch out! This was one of the times they got it right as they put on a great showing in the mid card and the main eventers didn’t screw it up! First you have Chris Benoit and Booker T fighting in the final of the original and BEST BO7 tournament. From start to finish this match is a great display of how good Booker used to be and how Benoit is just an all round expert between those ropes. From that you have SaturnVs Kanyon in a solid fight, Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho putting on a good wrestling exhibition with a SERIOUSLY screwy ending and then you have Eddie and Chavo Guerrero having a really fun match with some good cheating from Eddie. Then you have Goldberg’s historic 100th win as he murderises Konnan in impressive fashion. Fit Finlay and Booker T have a more than reasonable clash that does nothing but legitimise the BO7. Bret Hart and Hollywood Hogan Vs Randy Savage and Roddy Piper is total crap but at least it’s relatively short. Then Sting and Giant close out the show in a match for the tag titles. As far as solid matches go you really can’t lose here. And looking back at some of the crap WCW dished out in 98 this show was a clear bright spot

2. ECW Heatwave 98
I love ECW. I’ve probably made that clear in the past but I do love it. It may be because it gives me a warm nostalgic fuzzy feeling of when I was younger but I just love it. ECW had some solid pay per views but I think this was their greatest one. First off Jerry Lynn and Justin Credible have a wicked opener full of some neat stuff from both guys and it gets the crowd completely fired up. Then Lance Storm and Chris Candido have a good contest with some fine mat wrestling. Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka have their usual crazy brawl complete with tables, chairs and punishing strikes. Rob Van Dam and Sabu take on Hayabusa and Jinsei Jinzaki in fun spot fest. Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow have a decent arena wide brawl with a unique ending and finally Tommy Dreamer, Spike Dudley and The Sandman take on the Dudley Boys in a weapons filled massacre complete with New Jack run in and a breathtaking dive off a ladder by Spike. Overall ECW put on a hell of a show and I still love watching this one today

1. WWF Backlash 2000
Going into this show I hated HHH and was a huge mark for The Rock so I had lots of enthusiasm for the main event of this show. Indeed I would have given anything for Rock to walk out with the title here and so as for pure excitement going in you couldn’t touch this show for me. But before that match, this show has one hell of an under card. Dean Malenko carries Scotty 2 Hotty to Scotty’s greatest match of all time. Big Show debuts his “Showster” gimmick and has the entire crowd in stitches and then goes on to have a fun little comedy match with Kurt Angle. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho kill each other for the crowds amusement and Eddie Guerrero has a peach of a match with Essa Rios. But then it’s main event time and what a main event it is! Rock and HHH have their usual great match but with an added twist. Going into the show Vince McMahon stacked the deck against Rock by making Shane McMahon the referee and being at ringside himself to ensure a HHH victory. So Linda McMahon puts Steve Austin in the Rock’s corner and everything else just writes itself. A truly dramatic and satisfyingly epic match that was one of my all time favourite moments as a fan.

Troy Hepple’s picks:

5. The Night That Never Happened. RAW 2000
Simple; us wrestling fans were treated to the title change we all wanted to see and knew we couldn’t get. And we got both without any form of contradiction. I forget the rest of the night with obvious reasons, but seeing Chris Jericho defeat Triple H to become World Wrestling Federation Champion was one of the few “Wow” moments I’ve been able to see in my few years of watching wrestling.

4. Survivor Series 2002
The Elimination Chamber. Brock Lesnar verses The Big Show. Trish Stratus verses Victoria. Edge and Rey Mysterio verses Los Guererros verses Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. Is there any reason to dislike this show? The wrestling was good, and while the booking was off, I didn’t care. I was having too much of a ball watching the Elimination Chamber. This was the night where wrestling fans realized just how much potential the Women’s Division has. And this was the only night where I was considered a Brock Lesnar fan.

3. Royal Rumble 2000
Call me crazy, but there isn’t a moment of this event I didn’t enjoy. Why? Simple. This was the first pay per view I saw LIVE. Where I KNEW the storylines, where I KNEW what could happen, and where I KNEW nothing of the results. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, was my very first “Wow” moment as a wrestling fan. Seeing a Pay per View.

2. InVasion 2001
This was back when I was somewhat oblivious to the term “workrate” when it came to wrestling. I didn’t know how bad the matches could be, and I only realized much later that the matches weren’t as good as I thought. The ONLY thing that I knew about this event is that I was watching history. I love history of anything; American, Politics, War, European, Business. I love history of any kind and I hadn’t seen a historic moment before. The only problem with this event at the time I was watching it was that I knew that Stone Cold would turn.

1. WrestleMania X-Seven 2001
It was a toss up between this, and WrestleMania and Summerslam the year before. Whenever I think of the WWF earlier this millennium, I always think of the TRUE three Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches – which, WrestleMania 2000 was, let’s admit it. But this event had stood the course of time much better. It isn’t just a historical event; but it is a fun event which capped off the previous Wrestling Year in a proper fashion, with teasing the upcoming year as well. My one single complaint with this event – is that it didn’t close (or, at least, seem to close) the Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit feud. Which is what WrestleMania is for – ending the feuds. But that’s a minor problem in a grand event.

Gordi Whitelaw contributes:

5. The 2003 ECWA Super 8 (April 5, 2003, Wilmington, Delaware)
I love Indy tournaments. I love the Super 8, the King of the Indies, The IWA Mid-South Sweet Science 16, and the Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling Pacific Cup. These tournaments rule because you almost always get a bunch of guys pulling out all of their best stuff in an attempt to steal the show. Combine that with the fact that wise booking usually means there is at least one seasoned vet in the ring at all times, and you get innovative spots worked into matches that still tell a story. The big names in this tourney are Frankie Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Spanky, and Paul London. The performance of the night was put on, however, by Chance Beckett. Based out of Vancouver, Beckett does such a good job playing his heel character that he gets a crowd of total strangers booing him, then he puts on such an awesome performance in the ring that they start to cheer for him wildly. Watching a local favourite win over an American crowd is what makes this one of my top 5 shows.

4. AJW Big Egg Universe/V*Top Tournament (November 20, 1994, Tokyo)
At its best Joshi Puroresu, or Japanese Women’s Pro Wrestling, is some of the hardest hitting and most exciting wrestling I’ve ever seen. This is definitely Joshi at its best, with legends like Manami Toyota, Dynamite Kansai, Aja Kong, and the sublime Akira Hokuto all at their peaks and doing everything possible to captivate the Tokyo Dome crowd. By general consensus, there are at least four matches from this tournament that exceeded the four star mark. Toyota vs. Kong may not be the best woman’s match ever, but it belongs in the discussion somewhere. There is also a very fun Michinoku Pro comedy match thrown in to spice up the mix a little.

3. WAR Super J Cup (December 13, 1995, Tokyo)
Yet another tournament, yet another handful of four-star matches… The 1994 Super J and the ’96 TOSJ are generally considered to be superior tournaments, and the booking of the ’95 Super J deservedly draws its share of criticism. Still, I think that this show is more fun to watch than any other single night of wrestling that I’ve ever seen. You get Rey Mysterio and Psychosis putting on a Lucha Libre exhibition that blew away every tournament match. You get the unadulterated fun of Chris Jericho swearing in English in his match against Chris Benoit. You get the high comedy of Damien vs. Gran Naniwa. You get Dos Caras, Shinjiro Ohtani, Ultimo Dragon, and Jushin “Thunder” Liger. Even the ‘worst’ matches on this show are still well worth watching.

2. AJPW Champions’ Carnival (April 19, 1997, Tokyo)
Going into the final night of the tournament, Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi were all tied at the top of the points’ race. That set up a one-night Round Robin series to determine the winner of the Carnival.
Misawa and Kobashi start out, and they go non-stop at the highest level for half an hour. Their match is declared a draw, Kobashi leaves the ring, and in comes Kawada. Tosh kicks the living hell out of the exhausted Misawa, and the outcome of this match is never in doubt. That sets up an ultra-dramatic final match, with the winner taking not only Tournament honours, but also the Triple Crown title. The final match goes over twenty minute, and it is more strike and submission based than a typical big AJPW match. Taken together, all three matches tell a hell of a story, and that makes this my number two show of all time.

1. WrestleMania III (March 29, 1987, Pontiac, Michigan)
This show was the greatest viewing experience of my life as a wrestling fan. This was back before the days of widely available Pay per View, and in fact I watched the show on closed circuit TV at the local hockey arena. This was also when the WWF used to be able to take their sweet time setting up angles and payoffs, and there was scarcely a match on the card that my friends and I weren’t excited about seeing. Although the WWE hype machine would have us all believe that WrestleMania III was all about Hogan vs. Andre, my friends and I were equally excited about seeing the culmination of the Danny Davis story, The Piper vs. Adonis feud, and especially Savage vs. Steamboat. To this day, watching the show brings me back to a blissful place where I really wanted the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose.

Matthew Michaels gives us his picks:

A “big wrestling show” can mean something different to each individual wrestling fan. To me, usually, a great show is defined by some particular MOMENT that makes it impossible to forget where I was when I first saw the show. Does a great event have to be ***** from bottom to top? Is one great, classic match enough? Can an “aura” replace by-the-books “quality?” No, yes, and yes. So here are my five favorite wrestling shows, all tied to moments that I’ll always remember and will never cease to spark a bit of emotion, nostalgia or even awe.

5. This is all pretty difficult for me since really I have only been (a) a WWF fan during the Rock N Wrestling Era, until the early nineties; (b) a WWF fan starting pretty much with Chris Jericho’s debut in 1999; and (c) a “smart mark” Internet fan who’s as much interested in the behind-the-scenes rumors and rumblings as the on-air/in-ring product. Therefore, there aren’t going to be any WCW PPVs on my list; TNA is too young for me to put anything in a “top five shows” feature (although Unbreakable 2005 and Christian’s recent title win were great fun); and I never watched ECW in its hey-day. That being said, I have to start off this list with an event that really kicked my (post-college) wrestling fandom into high-gear: the final WCW Nitro, March 26, 2001. Vince McMahon appearing on WCW television? SHANE McMahon appearing live at Nitro to announce that he had bought the promotion?! Surreal is the right word, but not enough to desribe what wrestling fans everywhere were witnessing. The final Flair/Sting match was a great moment, as well — far from a classic, but putting all the pieces of the show together, it’s enough to put it at #5 on this list.

4. ECW One Night Stand/Ring of Honor June 2005. I have to group these together, ’cause MAN was this a great wrestling weekend. The RoH show was my first ever, and NYC was LIVE for this one. CM Punk was in the midst of one of the year’s best storylines (threatening to leave RoH for WWE as World Champion), the perfect heel that got tons of crowd respect due to the knowledge that each night’s performance could be his last for the indie promotion. Shane Douglas getting booed out of the building no matter how hard he tried to play to the crowd. And some insane action that I couldn’t believe until I saw it with my own eyes. Follow that up with the return of ECW on PPV and I can’t see how anyone can complain without picking nits. Good times.

3. Summerslam 2002. I was a Brock Lesnar mark pretty early on, and the road to Summerslam this year was just fantastically booked — quite possibly the last virtually flawless non-Wrestlemania creatively and in the ring of the WWF Golden Era (and as underwhelming as late 2001 into early 2002 was from a “potential” standpoint, due to injuries, the Invasion going in all sorts of odd directions, and the returning nWo being dOa, the Golden Era continued on into the summer of 2002 as far as I’m concerned) — and HBK’s amazing return coupled with Brock becoming the youngest World Champ (and to date, the final Undisputed Champ) in WWE history made for a great event. Plus, being their live to see The Rock heel the crowd as he headed off to Hollywood was awesome.

2. Wrestlemania VI. Hogan vs. Warrior is really the reason I AM a wrestling fan. Definitely not a mat classic, but I still get chills watching it.

1. Wrestlemania XX. I was live at Madison Square Garden for this event, which from beginning to end had me marking out like a little girl. John Cena’s FU on the Big Show to win the US Title. The crowd completely shitting on Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg. Eddie Guerrero retaining the WWE Title by undoing his shoelaces. The return of the ROCK N SOCK Connection. Oh, and Chris Benoit winning a five-star three-way match to capture the Big Gold Belt, followed by embracing fellow Radical Guerrero to close the show as the confetti came down. It doesn’t get any better than this.

And finally, to close us out, Scott Keith gives us:

5. Clash of Champions #1. Still a fun show years later, featuring Sting tearing it up with Ric Flair for the first time and Luger & Windham FINALLY winning the tag titles from the Horsemen to kick off a great heel turn angle for Barry. This was the slap in the face to the WWF that everyone was waiting for, and they delivered bigtime.

4. No Way Out 2001. A grossly underappreciated classic PPV, featuring HHH and Steve Austin having the epic fight everyone was waiting for them to have, and hitting ***** in the process. Plus Kurt Angle jobs the World title back to Rock, only to go nuts and make himself into an even bigger star in the process. Plus Stephanie McMahon of all people gets a *** match out of Trish Stratus, kicking off Trish’s run of good women’s matches. Get this if only for the two top matches.

3. Wrestlemania XX. The top two matches both flirt with *****, and feature the crowning moments in the careers of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, as they win awesome title matches and celebrate together to end the show. Plus HHH redeems himself, if only for a few months, with a ***** classic against Benoit and Michaels, Rock returns and nearly steals the show, and things go REALLY long but cut down nicely for DVD.

2. Great American Bash 1989. The pinnacle for the NWA, as 1989 was the best year quality-wise for the promotion, and this one was like the wrestling equivalent of a martini wrapped around a boot to the head. Wargames! Flair v. Funk! Sting v. Muta! Super atmosphere, **** matches up and down the card, and greatness all over.

1. Wrestlemania X-7. The undisputed pinnacle of the WWF, featuring more **** matches than you can shake a stick at, in a giant stadium, with the top two draws in wrestling fighting each other for the World title.

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