Ask yourself a question; what’s your favourite WWE wrestling match of all time? It’s a tough one, a subject that has been brought up before on WrestleScoop.com and has caused a lot of debate. How do you narrow down the thousands of matches that have been presented under that banner to a select one or two that stand out above all others? You can check out the final list under the ‘Top WWE Matches’ section of the website and also watch nearly thirty of the incredible bouts at the same time. But all this got me thinking; what about the great matches away from the all-conquering WWE? What about the matches from Japan, Mexico and the now-defunct WCW and ECW? There are so many historic bouts that can easily slip past you, simply because you are unable to pick them up on DVD from your local store. So, this week, I thought I’d throw a few contenders into the ring; a few matches that I think are deserving of classic status. If you’re only familiar with the WWE, then don’t worry; I can assure you that while some of the names and promotions may seem alien to you, the action they serve up is well worth a look. It’s important to state that these are not the best of the best, and there will be many, many matches that I haven’t listed that will be just as exciting. The choices below are just some of my favourites. And if you do manage to watch a few, I’d appreciate your comments.
But where to start…?
WCW was a hugely important part of wrestling history, but many newer fans of the business may not have had the chance to see what great matches they had to offer. Despite purchasing the entire WCW video library, so many terrific matches have yet to be released from the WWE vault. Track down a copy of WrestleWar 1992, which features two must-see matches. The Steiner Brothers Vs Tatsumi Fujinami and Takayuki Iizuka is one of the most hard-hitting bouts that you will ever see. Iizuka in particular leaves the bout legitimatly battered. Later, the team of Sting, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham and Nikita Koloff take on Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko in the annual War Games match. This is possibly the greatest, and bloodiest, stipulation match seen on an American pay-per-view. 16 years later, it still stands head and shoulders above all other efforts. The crowd in Florida that night were incredible, and things get so heated that when Sting and Koloff start beating up everything that moves, the roof nearly comes off the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum. By the end, poor old Jim Ross on commentary has got so worked up he can barely speak a cohesive sentence. The Steiner Brothers delivered another terrific bout a year earlier at SuperBrawl 1991, this time against the team of Sting and Lex Luger. This match is the very definition of ‘high impact’ and Luger nearly decapitates Rick Steiner with one of the greatest ‘clothesline’s you’ll ever see. At Bash at the Beach 1996, Rey Mysterio Jr and Psicosis set the bar for Cruiserweight matches in the US that has never really been beaten. And for any Mysterio fans who wish to see the Luchador without his mask, check out his excellent bout against Billy Kidman at Spring Stampede 1999. For the sheer adrenaline factor, find a copy of Goldberg Vs Hollywood Hogan for the Heavyweight Championship from WCW Monday Nitro (July 6th 1998). This may not be the greatest match you’ll ever see, but the crowd inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta that night have to be heard to be believed. If you don’t know the outcome, I wont spoil it for you. But needless to see, it’s one of the most electrifying and incredible moments in wrestling history. Boy, when WCW were good, they were very, very good.
The AAA promotion in Mexico received international exposure in 1994 when, in conjunction with WCW, it presented its When Worlds Collide pay-per-view event from Los Angeles, California. The event is filled with exciting lucha libre action, and features such familiar stars as Rey Mysterio Jr, Psicosis, Tito Santana and 2 Cold Scorpio. The main event bout, a steel cage match between Konnan and Perro Aguayo, is a bloody and gripping battle, but the stand out contest is another tag-team match. Octagon and El Hijo del Santo Vs Los Gringos Locos (Art Barr and Eddie Guerrero) in a ‘double hair vs double mask/2-out-of-3 falls’ match. Luckily, you can see this match on the WWE produced Cheating Death, Stealing Life biography of the great, and much missed, Eddie Guerrero. And what a match it is; Los Gringos Locos are as hated a duo as you will ever see and the feud between the two teams climaxed with this historic effort. It is truly one of the greatest matches of all time, and is deserving of repeat viewings. It is hard to believe that just three weeks after this incredible contest, and on the verge of taking the tag-team into ECW, Art Barr died at his home in Oregon over the 1994 Thanksgiving holiday. He was just 28 years old…
For those not familiar with it, Japanese wrestling can sometimes be daunting. If all you have known is the WWE-style circus, then NJPW and AJPW could be a culture shock. But don’t worry; ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ has produced so many classics, it is impossible not to become hooked straight away. Again, these are just some of my personal favourites. A good place to start is the NOAH promotion and the GHC Title match, Kenta Kobashi Vs Mitsuharu Misawa (March 1st 2003). It’s no exaggeration when I say that this match is an absolute bona-fida classic. These are two of the greatest wrestlers on the planet, and here they have produced something very, very special. Every great match has that ‘Oh My God!’ moment and when you watch this breathtaking contest, you’ll know it when you see it. From the same promotion just over a year later came Jun Akiyama Vs Kenta Kobashi (July 10th 2004). Another fabulous bout. A classic match from All Japan Pro Wrestling is Mitsuharu Misawa Vs Toshiaki Kawada (June 6th 1994) and you’ll soon see why Misawa is so revered in wrestling circles. NJPW has produced some historic matches, and the semi-final bout of the Super J Cup (April 16th 1994) that see’s The Great Sasuke battle Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger is quite extroadinary, despite the botch at the end. The final of the Best of the Super Juniors (May 16th – June 5th 1997) is another remarkable contest; Koji Kanemoto Vs El Samurai starts at a deliberate pace, but slowly builds to a stunning climax. The action in all of these matches is as hard hitting and high-impact as you’ll see, and only goes to prove just how awful John Cena really is.
Womens wrestling has suffered somewhat at the hands of the WWE, and if you’re only familiar with Lingerie and Evening Gown matches, prepare to be stunned. Two of the greatest wrestling events of all time were AJW All-Star Dream Slam I (April 2nd 1993) and Dream Slam II (April 11th 1993). From Dream Slam I, Akira Hokuto Vs Shinobu Kandori will forever change your attitude towards womens wrestling. No Divas here; just two stunning athletes who deliver as gripping and intense a match as you will ever see. The main event of Dream Slam II see’s Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada Vs Dynamite Kansai and Mayumi Ozaki. This features so many incredible moves and near falls, that some have said that this could well be the greatest wrestling match of all time.
I know that I’ve have rambled on about this match before in previous editorials, but if you haven’t yet seen AJ Styles Vs Samoa Joe Vs Christopher Daniels for the X-Division Championship at TNA Unbreakable (2005), then you are really missing a treat. Believe me, this match is as good as everybody says it is, and I stand by my claim that this is better than anything the WWE has produced this decade. Do yourself a favour and check it out. I promise that you won’t be disappointed. I’m going to end with the WWE, and a match that all younger or newer fans should watch. The main event of the WWE pay-per-view In Your House: Canadian Stampede (July 6th 1997), saw The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, Jim Neidhart and The British Bulldog) Vs ‘Stonecold’ Steve Austin, Goldust, Ken Shamrock and The Legion of Doom. The event was held at the Saddledome in Calgary, Canada, the home of the Hart family. This was at the height of the Canada Vs USA feud, and what a match it was. The 12,000 fans in attendance that night were so loud, you could barely hear the entrance music of the performers. And when The Hart Foundation emerged at the start of the match, the entire arena goes crazy. I mean completely and totally insane. I mean almost hysterical. It will send shivers up your spine, and is one of my fondest memories ever in wrestling. The match is pretty awesome too.
So that’s just a small selection of some of my favourite matches that I hope you’ll also enjoy. And please, let me know any of your favourites that I’ve missed. And if you really want to appreciate how good these bouts are, just settle down before hand and watch Bam Bam Bigelow, Bastian Booger and The Headshrinkers Vs The Bushwackers and MOM (who were all dressed like Doink the Clown) from Survivor Series (November 24th 1993).