As something a little different this week, I thought I’d share with you, the reading audience of Inside Pulse, some of my favourite wrestling matches. Why? Well, why not?
Well, it’s time for some back-story. I had a discussion with a fellow wrestling fan about his favourite match of all time. He cited one of the bog standard ones – Undertaker v Shawn Michaels, Hell in a Cell. Then he said it could also be the second Michaels v Undertaker Wrestlemania match.
They don’t even feature in my top ten. Or my top twenty. So he demanded to know just what my favourite wrestling matches were/are. I told him a few, and discovered he had seen one of them. Just one. And that gave me the idea for this week’s column. Therefore, this is yet another look back into the dim, dark years of professional wrestling.
There is also an ulterior motive for my doing this – I’d like to get some sort of discussion happening here. I know that what I put here is going to be personal, and that no-one will agree with all of these choices. That’s great. Please, go for it, list your own in the comments section, maybe add the reasons why. Let’s see if we can get something happening here, discover what sort of wrestling fans are out there who read sites like this, and see if there are any matches that appear more than others.
Of course, that could all be a complete waste of time, and no-one might bother to respond. That’s fine, too, as it lets me know where to aim these columns in the future.
And, with that bit of administration out the way, let’s hit five matches I really enjoy. By the way, I have deliberately not chosen any matches from the past five years because they have not yet had a chance to grow into the classics that will draw me back again and again.
TNA Unbreakable 2005: AJ Styles v Samoa Joe v Christopher Daniels – X-Division Title
From the opening where Joe and Styles try to outdo one another kicking Daniels, and then Daniels’ response of, “Stop kicking me!” this match does not let up. We are talking almost half an hour of some awesome wrestling moves, near-falls, pin breaks and yet also some decent selling. This is just move after move with barely a time for a breath. The TNA X-Division tried to replicate this again and again, and never quite made it; the only way AEW is doing it is by doing pure spot-fests. WWE has not even come close. I can watch this match over and over, and the commentators are as excited as the pumped-up, over-hyped crowd. And the ending when AJ Styles reverses the Daniels’ Angels Wings into a pin was so unexpected. Coolest match.
WWF Wrestlemania VII: Ultimate Warrior v Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Retirement Match
Ending highlights package
This was one of the best story-telling matches the WWF/E ever put forth. The build-up – Savage costing Warrior the title – was so simple, but it stretched back beyond that. Savage had won the title with the help of Hulk Hogan at WM4, and gained the favour of the fans. But by the time of WM5, he had lost that favour, dumped the gorgeous Miss Elizabeth and turned heel, losing his title to Hogan. At WM6, he was reduced to fighting Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire in a mixed tag match, Savage being with Sensational Sherri; meanwhile the Warrior captured the WWF Title from Savage’s nemesis Hogan. Savage had gone about as low as he could while Warrior was on top of the world. And so we come to this match. Warrior destroys Savage, but every time he goes for something with more impact, Macho managed to turn it against him. It was awesome psychology. But then, Savage gets the upper hand with the help of Sherri, and he drops 5 of those huge elbows. Warrior kicked out… Then we get to the end and Warrior hits Savage with a series of shoulder blocks and pins him with a foot on the chest. And then, afterwards, Sherri goes to town on Savage, Elizabeth makes the save, and the redemption story is complete. This is the first 6 Star Wars films in one wrestling story arc. My favourite WWF/E match ever.
WCW 1992 Wargames: Sting’s Squadron v The Dangerous Alliance
I was a sucker for the Wargames matches. The sheer brutality of two rings under a cage, the violence of it all, and the blood in the early incarnations just made for a wrestling spectacle that I don’t think has been matched very often at all. If Dusty Rhodes is not remembered for anything else, bringing this match to the world should be his legacy, and despite the deterioration of the concept as time went on, what he came up with was just superb. This match. There was blood, there was the perfect heel manager in Paul E Dangerously (Paul Heyman), there was some nasty looking moves, and this was the first match where I thought Dustin Rhodes was more than Dusty’s son, but a legit wrestler in his own right. The ending came with a heel mistake when Larry Zybysko hit Bobby Eaton in the shoulder with the turnbuckle and Sting locks in a submission. Some prefer the 1991 version, but I don’t really like watching Pillman get almost killed by Vicious, so that makes me prefer this one.
WWF Royal Rumble 1992
This is my favourite Rumble. There did not feel like there was any down time for an hour. The first Rumble where the winner would be the WWF Champion, Ric Flair came in at number 3. He won. Bobby Heenan’s peak as a commentator. I think only about 5 of the competitors did not eventually win a title (World, US/IC, tag team, etc.) in WWF, WWE, ECW, TNA, &/or WCW. It was just stacked with talent, and it felt like it was stacked with talent. Just so well done. British Bulldog finally came across as a legitimate threat as a singles competitor (he would win the IC Title at SummerSlam later that year), Hogan didn’t win and the whole match was actually built around how tough Flair was, and just how much he could take and still keep on going. Rumbles have never been better than this.
WCW Monday Nitro (May 26, 1997): 6 Man Tag Team Lucha Libre Match: Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo & Hector Garza v La Parka, Ciclope & Damien
Let’s call this my guilty pleasure match. I saw this on Nitro way back when. I was already a huge fan of Lucha Libre, and was getting into AAA, but this match just entertained the hell out of me. It’s not as spot-fest-tacular as many other lucha matches, and definitely nothing compared to what we see nowadays, but I just really enjoy this match, watching these guys doing gymnastics-wrestling-flying. Nope, I really don’t care what anyone else says – I enjoy this match way too much. Ending comes when Garza turns a Ciclope rana attempt into a powerbomb, hits the standing moonsault and gets the pin.
(Please note: I only use official videos, that way there is less chance of them being taken down. Sorry.)
And so there you have it: 5 of my favourite matches.
What do you all think?
Tags: 1992, 2005, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Ciclope, Damien, Dangerous Alliance, favourite matches, Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera, La Parka, Lucha Libre, Miss Elizabeth, Nitro, Randy Savage, Randy Savage v Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair, royal rumble, Samoa Joe, Sherri, Sting, Super Calo, TNA, Ultimate Warrior, Unbreakable, Wargames, WCW, Wrestlemania VII, WWE, WWF, X-Division