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4 Fights that define your wrestling fandom


Jacko
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I don’t no how many of you use twitter but there’s a fun thread about 4 films or games that define your fandom at the minute.

So I was wondering what 4 wrestling matches define your fandom?

My number 1 pick is Hogan vs Andre.

The build is so historic even today with the ripping the crucifix from his neck all the way to the bodyslam that is wrestling 101 for me.

Number 2 is stone cold vs the rock wm 17

This match sums up the best parts of the attitude era that I loved.

Number 3 for me is Daniel Bryan vs HHH at wm 30.

i loved the build so much even go back and watch that opening package on a monthly basis.

number 4 Canadian stampede 10 man tag.

the emotions,the Harts being adored by the local crowd, Austin playing heel for the night and having a blast what’s not to love.

so what would your 4 be ?

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Hart Foundation vs. Demolition - SummerSlam 90

My favourite tag match ever. Odds stacked against our two heroes. Diabolical cheating from Demos but a really fantastic fightback from the harts to win the titles. SummerSlam 90 is a great show for the colours and characters of wrestling to shine and this has a great aestetic with the two babyfaces in pink and the heels in all black (with gimp masks?). It's beautiful. First time I'd ever seen the Road Warriors too and it was love at first sight.

Warrior vs. Savage - WM7.

This will be my favourite match until the day I die. It's just the most brilliant example of pro-wrestling I've ever seen. The feeling around it, the colour, the emotion, the way the people really, really care. The action is good but utterly purposeful and the story is one of the most fantastically told and easy to read there has been. It's lightening in a bottle.

Bret vs. Austin - WM13

Completely different to the two above. If the last one is my favourite, this is best. This is wrestling at it's most believable. It's brutal. It's real. There's incredible hatred and desire to win and it shines through. The execution is excellent, boom boom, but it doesn't feel even a tiny bit like a performance. Warrior/Savage is Cool Runnings. This is Reservoir Dogs.

Michaels vs. Undertaker - Badd Blood 1997

I'd stand this up as wrestling's best gimmick match ever. Again, absolutely brutal, barbaric even but superbly built, logical and well-thought out and then just when you think Michaels has missed his opportunity to escape and Taker has got him, along comes Kane to complete the most perfect debut ever.

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Royal Rumble match 1991

Not the best Rumble but this is the very first WWF I can remember watching and was amazed that Hogan managed to get Earthquake of the top rope.

Royal Rumble match 1992

One of the very best matches in company history. I won't even try to bother explaining why, because many others have said in a far better way than I possibly can. I loved this though and I'm sure this is the match I've watched most.

Owen Vs Bret WM10

This is the match that changed the whole face/heel dynamic for me. Owen quickly became my favourite after this and I hated Bret for holding him back.

Kurt Angle Vs Shawn Stasiak SS 99

Not a classic by any means, but the debut of Kurt freaking Angle. I adored the subtle way he played heel in this match and he instantly became my new top guy.

 

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Hogan v Warrior - Wrestlemania 6 - my two favourite wrestlers going head to head in the main event of the biggest show of the year? I was pulling more for the Hulkster during the match but 4 year old me would have been happy regardless of the result

Hart v Austin - Wrestlemania 13 - the biggest babyface in the company v the biggest heel in a brutal and bloody match that changed both men’s dynamics post match. The visual of Austin passing out to the Sharpshooter with blood pouring from his temple will be played forever

TLC II - Wrestlemania X7 - the Triangle Ladder match the previous year was great, the first TLC at Summerslam was excellent but this was the definitive match of the Hardyz/Dudleyz/E&C feud topped off by THAT spear off the ladder by Edge

Bryan v Triple H/Bryan v Orton v Batista - Wrestlemania 30 - cheating with this last pick as it’s a show long storyline, the biggest babyface since Bret finally gets his payback on the Authority for holding him down by beating the boss and his cohorts in the bookend matches of Mania to be crowned WWE Champion. The ‘miracle on Bourbon Street’ as Cole famously called it on commentary 

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I think for me, these four define my love of wrestling because they're the matches that started my fandom and then rekindled it when I lapsed.

Bushwackers and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs The Nasty Boys and the Mountie- Summerslam '92

I'd been in to wrestling since late 90, mainly seeing odds and ends at a friends but mainly by playing with the figures and through stickers and whatnot. Summerslam '92 was my first tape and on the VHS version this was the opening match and ended up being one I'd watch over and over. I love it, despite the fact it's got the Bushwackers in it. It'll always remind me of the first time I watched the show with my jaw open as they cram so much in to one match, the 6 characters are instantly recognisable and it's got everything a good tag match needs and sets the rest of the tape up wonderfully.

Triple H vs Cactus Jack- Royal Rumble 2000

I'd started getting interested in WWF again in late '98/ early '99 and got back in to it in a similar way to how I discovered wrestling in the first place by finding out results and playing the games on PlayStation. I didn't properly start watching until 1999 when somebody told me Miss Kitty got her tits out at Armageddon which was enough for 14 year old me to want to watch the tape and once again got hooked. I was really invested in the McMahon Helmsley era storyline and the build up to the streetfight at the Rumble is wonderful. The video package before the match is probably only second to Rock/Austin at WM17 in terms of the greatest promo videos of all time and makes the match even better than it already is. That match has everything teenage me wanted from wrestling. The characters are there but gone are the cartoonish giants and bright colours and instead it's vicious and realistic. That thumbtack spot was the first time since being 6 years old that I had to ask myself if it really was fake. I thought I was out, but they sucked me right back in again.

Six man Hell In A Cell- Armageddon 2000

This cemented my newly rekindled love of wrasslin. As soon as I think Attitude Era this is what comes to mind. Angle being a chickenshit, Austin getting the mega pop, the bloodbath in the cage, all hell breaking loose on the cars at the top of the entrance way, Rikishi of all fucking people going off the cell- it's got it all. I watch this at least a couple of times a year and it always puts a smile on my face. 

Undertaker vs Michaels- Wrestlemania 25

I lapsed again in 2002 and it wasn't until 2009 when a mate at work started giving me discs of Raw and PPVs that I got back in to wrestling and this is the longest stint I've stuck at it. This match is perfect isn't it? Fantastic storytelling throughout and an instant classic.

Edited by cobra_gordo
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The Royal Rumble 1992

For me, this was the ultimate Rumble. Looking back at the intro to the PPV where it lists off the competitors it really was a who's who of that era. Fantastic. Throw in the fact that it was for the WWF Title.

Bret Hart vs Davey Boy Smith at IYH 5  

I know the match between these guys at Summerslam is usually considered their best, but I preferred this one if I'm honest. The WWF at the time was still family-focused and seeing Bret get busted open as he did was a real shock at the time. An excellent match.

Bret Hart vs Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13

As others have mentioned, this was a pivotal moment in WWE history, and one of the best matches I've ever seen. Throw Ken Shamrock into the mix as the special referee and you have an all-time classic. The finish was one of the best I can ever recall.

Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake vs Randy Savage & Zeus at Summerslam 89

Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but to 9 year old me Zeus was a scary motherfucker, and he was coming after my hero at the time. The whole angle of someone from a movie crossing over into "real life" really had me in awe, and I was honestly fearful of what would happen to Hogan if Zeus got his hands on him.

 

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Hart Foundation vs. Nasty Boys, Wrestlemania 7

First wrestling match I ever saw.  My two older brothers were watching the video, probably a few months after it had happened, and I walked in.  I was 8.  Had no idea what wrestling was, although I think I'd seen and been confused by some trading cards in school prior to this.  Loved it instantly.  My older brothers eventually grew out of love with it and gave me all their videos and magazines.  My younger brother got into it soon after me.  It was pretty popular at school for about another 9 months, then it took another 8 years for it to be acceptable again.

Robbie Dynamite vs. Jonny Storm

First match I saw live in person.  Took me 10 years of being a fan before finally going to see a live show.  Wish I'd gone to shows as a child with parents, brothers, uncles...anyone, but it took until I was 18.

Goldust vs. Mr Perfect

First WWE match I saw live.  Also such a shame it took me until the day before my 19th birthday to go so WWE live.  

Steve Austin vs. The Rock, Wrestlemania 17

Just my favourite match ever, as with a lot of people probably.  Loved the heel turn at the end as it was such a shock.  Austin was my favourite, naturally, but I welcomed the change.

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I got into the biz a lot later than most of you so a different perspective;

Eddie Guerrero v Brock Lesnar, WWE No Way Out 2004

The match that gave me my first wrestling hero. One of the most feel good matches of all time. Eddie's fire and likeability during this time is unparalleled in my view.

AJ Styles v Chris Sabin v Petey Williams, TNA Final Resolution 2005

Once I discovered The Wrestling Channel I became a huge TNA & ROH mark. This match probably captured my imagination the most. An absolute blast of a spotfest that still holds up, AJ is absolutely other-worldly here and gained a superfan in me with his performance. You might say he looked phenomenal. The best Ultimate X match - a TNA original creation actually worth a shite unlike the backwards universe brainerry that is the reverse battle royal or the ladder match where you have to hang the title up.

Samoa Joe v Necro Butcher, IWA-MS Something To Prove 2005

The sicko side of me who loves excessive violence in pro wrestling is fully satisfied here. A bonafide indy classic which is unique and impossible to replicate. Indy wrestling in 2018 misses nutters like Necro, here he took some of the most disgusting bumps caught on tape. It should not feel so good to see someone get powerslammed on their skull but here we are! Joe during this period was practically god to me, he had such an aura at this time that he's only now getting back character-wise but he never got as good in the ring  as he was at this point. I could've easily added him and Kobashi or the Unbreakable triple threat.

Daniel Bryan v Batista v Randy Orton, WWE Wrestlemania 30 2014

After Benoit left the dogs in the pool area, I thought I was done with this grim industry. A couple things like Punk's pipebomb and the Taker/HBK matches briefly caught my attention but nothing long term. Until I checked Mania 30 on a whim after hearing about the streak being broken - not looked back since. I didn't even know American Dragon, as I knew him from the TWC days, was in the WWE yet here he was winning the title at Mania to one of the best receptions I'd ever seen! The match was fucking awesome on what was a pretty great show and I just had to fill the gaps to see how it got to this point and what I'd missed. The network coming about soon after made that pretty simple.

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Hard to narrow it down to four, but being asked today, I’d say the below:

 

Royal Rumble 1989 – It was the match that turned Curt Hennig into my idol for a very long time, which in turn led to me absolutely despising Hulk Hogan from thereon out. Pretty much the match responsible for turning me into a “superfan” of wrestling which led to my da bringing me home PWI every month (he worked in Dublin Airport and used to get it for free off the lady in the newsagents).

 

Ric Flair vs Terry Funk (I Quit Match) – Saw this at a very young age in my cousins house and it floored me as I never thought wrestling could be so vicious and Terry Funk’s whole demeanour and walk terrified me.

 

Stasiak/Lesnar vs The Hardys at Insurrextion 2002 – Nothing in wrestling made me laugh more – before or since - than the sight of Stasiak sprinting past Lesnar during Lesnar’s entrance. I absolutely adored the Planet Stasiak character and this action summed up everything that I loved about him.

 

Jody Fleisch vs Jonny Storm at IWW in Dublin 2002 – Saw this live and it blew my bollocks off. I was seated and I wound up at the railings with my mate at one stage having no recollection of getting from my seat to the railing at ringside due to excess jumping up and down and giddy excitement. A wonderful, wonderful thing to have witnessed live.

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Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior (Wrestlemania 7): I don't think it's the first Wrestlemania I saw, but I think, thanks to Sky, it was the first one I watched as a regular viewer of WWF television with an emotional investment going in. Savage was my childhood favourite, and I suppose it was the first of many cases of watching my favourites losing big matches. "Get used to disappointment, but enjoy the ride" a big lesson.

The Rock vs. Mankind / I Quit (Royal Rumble '99): Putting aside all real-life concern and later perspective, 17 year-old me was completely enthralled and blown away. Mankind was my favourite of the time, The Rock was The Rock, and it was shocking and brutal. It's not something I want to see all the time in wrestling - it's not even something I'd want to watch again now - but it'd be a lie to say that, sometimes, when you see something that goes beyond the line of what you usually find acceptable, it's incredibly captivating. This is probably the best example of that feeling from my life as a fan.

Vince and Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels and God (Backlash 2006): This is so utterly dumb, and I'm probably the only person who recalls this so fondly, but I always think of it as a prime example of wrestling being absolutely goofy as fuck and having fun with itself. A wrestling show that takes itself completely seriously, with no humour or perspective, is something I can't stand. So while I can barely even remember anything about the match except the intro, it stands in my memory as a peak example of something I need in my wrestling.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 25): Yeah, it's just a tremendous match performed by two guys who were unbelievably good at their job. I've said here before that I'm not one to go back and watch old matches very often - barely ever, in fact - so first impressions count for a lot, and I don't think any other match in my adult life has so completely enthralled me in the moment. It's basically everything you could want in a wrestling match.

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Setting myself the arbitrary limit that I can only use each wrestler once.

 

Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart (Wrestlemania 8)

To me, this is wrestling. It's almost the perfect match. Great wrestling interwoven with a beautifully executed story, playing off the audience's prior knowledge of both men's characters and careers, complimented by fantastic commentary. The whole "what the hell, use the bell!" sequence is a masterclass.
In terms of how it defines my fandom, this is a match that shows the importance of storytelling, that storytelling and great wrestling can go hand-in-hand rather than mutually exclusive, and also the importance of not insulting your audience, and trusting them to follow the story as told, and play their part accordingly. Several times when I've had a hand in booking, this has been my benchmark.
 

Jerry Lawler vs. Terry Funk Empty Arena Match (Memphis, 1981)

Jerry Lawler is an absolute shitheap of a human being, but pops up in a great deal of my favourite wrestling matches and moments, Terry Funk is a strong contender for greatest of all time, and Memphis was my favourite territory. This brings it all together in the best possible way. The production is done perfectly to make it look like this is a video recorded with a skeleton crew and sent into the studio (complete with starting recording Lance Russell a little "early", and catching him on a cigarette break), rather than the kind of glossy over-production that this kind of match would get nowadays, which adds to the grittiness and believability perfectly. Not to downplay Jerry Lawler's involvement, but Lance Russell and Terry Funk are the absolute stars of this, with Russell making the whole thing feel genuinely unsettling at times, and Terry Funk is at his unhinged best. We get the best variation of "MY EYE~!", his crying and begging for forgiveness, and the absolutely horrible animalistic squeal he makes when getting attacked with a splintered bit of wood will never leave me.
How it defines my fandom: I see this as an early experiment in exploring the limits of what wrestling can achieve as a form, and in using television as a means to enhance the story and add new storytelling tools to your arsenal, rather than just a means of distribution. In many ways - while I doubt anyone involved would like to accept the accolade - I can see this is a precursor to a lot of the madder shit from the likes of Lucha Underground or even CHIKARA, when wrestling has been prepared to move beyond the idea that it has to present itself as sport.

 

Aja Kong vs. Akira Hokuto (AJW Big Egg Wrestling Universe)

I had to have a Joshi match on here, and it was close to being Manami Toyota vs. Aja Kong, until I remembered this. An insanely elaborate stage set-up, Aja Kong coming out to the world's greatest entrance music after being lowered on to the stage on some kind of hydraulic spaceship, followed by Hokuto's kabuki entrance all sets this up to feel so huge, just wrestling pageantry done perfectly. That it immediately turns into a terrifyingly hard hitting wild brawl is even more perfect. The ideal combination of styles between Aja Kong as the brutish, immovable object, and Hokuto as an actual crazy person who just won't stay down, and won't stop coming back for more. And then the ending is as legitimate emotion as I've ever seen in wrestling - Aja Kong in floods of tears is a hell of a sight.
How it defines my fandom: In the past 18 months I've been to more women's wrestling shows than "men's" wrestling shows, and several of my favourite wrestlers over the years have been women. Mid-90s AJW is up there with early '80s Memphis for me as just a perfect storm of talent coming together, putting on amazing shows, and changing the rules as to how wrestling works. I could have picked any number of AJW matches, to be honest, I more or less just plucked this one out of a hat.


Team Uppercut vs. The Masters Of A Thousand Holds (CHIKARA King of Trios 2009)

CHIKARA had to make the list. After becoming a bit disillusioned with the WWE in the mid-00s, and not really having the drive I'd had a few years earlier to aggressively seek out more new wrestling, I pretty much stopped watching for a while, though still followed wrestling news and gossip online from time to time. I started seeing people mention CHIKARA, and all these bonkers gimmicks, and thought it sounded like a good laugh. By 2008, they were booking Glacier and Johnny Saint, and I thought anything this off the wall had to be worth checking out. While I didn't become a diehard fan until King of Trios 2011, it was CHIKARA that got me back into wrestling in a big way, and reminded me of everything that I love about it.
This match, though, was just an extraordinary combination of talent - on one hand you've got Claudio Castagnoli, Bryan Danielson and Dave Taylor, on the other you've got Johnny Saint, Mike Quackenbush and Skayde. An absolutely extraordinary mixture, covering almost every style you could think of.
How it defines my fandom: Skayde's performance here (and, later, going back and seeing some of his other work in CHIKARA and elsewhere) made me realise that Lucha Libre wasn't all just flips and dives, Saint reignited my love of the old British style, Claudio at this point was one of the consistently best workers around and seeing him was like watching a star on the rise, Quack would become one of my favourite ever wrestlers, and someone I've been lucky enough to speak with and learn from. CHIKARA would become, for a long time, the only company I followed religiously, and I'd end up meeting and working with a lot of their regulars (something that, when I saw this show, would have been incomprehensible). This match also kind of sums up my approach to booking and independent wrestling - don't do what everyone else is doing, don't book who everyone else is booking, think outside the box and put together something completely unique, a one-off.

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What a great idea for a thread! Look forward to reading everyone's entries.

Mine was actually quite easy to do- the four most important and influential wrestling matches I've seen. They have shaped the way I follow and appreciate wrestling.

 

The match where it all began

Ultimate Warriors VS The Perfect Team, WWE Survivor Series 1990

I started to watch a little bit of wrestling here and there during 1990 and I can't say for sure the first match I ever watched. However, the first match from the first full show I ever watched was the Survivor Series 1990 opener. I was already a Warrior fan going into this, and looking at these two awesome teams looked boss. Everyone looked fucking incredible (I didn't care much for Von Erich at the time, though). Perfect was cool, Demolion and LOD looked menacing and Woyah was god-like. Loved the match and the entire PPV holds a very special place in my heart. This was really the beginning of my journey as a wrestling fan. From there on I was a huge Warrior and WWF fan, and like many of the thirtysomethings on here jumped straight onto the merch train too. This replaced Turtles (which had replaced Ghostbusters, which had replaced He-Man) but unlike the others, it never really went away from me.

 

The match that made me want something other than WWE

Rob van Dam VS Jeff Hardy, WWE Invasion 2001

This match completely changed my outlook on wrestling. I first became aware of ECW after the Dudley Boys and then Tazz joined WWE, not long after I started getting back into WWE. I started to read up on wrestling online and learn a bit more what I have missed, as well as WCW and ECW. ECW piqued my interest, but never enough for me to watch it on Bravo (apart from the odd quick match here and there, a Tanaka VS Mike Awesome match stands out). I became a fan of pretty much every ECW guy that then joined WWE from 1999-early 2001 (except Justin Credible, he was shit) and I had heard a lot about RVD. When I finally got round to watching him for the first time at Invasion, I was blown away. Everything he did was so different and innovative to anything I had seen. Immediately afterwards, me and my friend started to pick up old ECW videos and would then prefer watching it to WWE at the time. However with ECW dead, we were now hungry for an current alternative to WWE. Which leads us to...

 

The match that opened the door to Indy Wrestling

AJ Styles VS Jonny Storm, FWA British Uprising 1

Me and my friends had watched a fair bit of 1998-2000 era ECW at this point and were interested in those that hadn't since signed with WWE. My friend used to listen to the Alex Shane & Tommy Boyd show on TalkSport (or whatever it was called back then) every Saturday at work and mentioned that this promotion called FWA would bring over old ECW guys now and then- he mentioned Little Guido and Steve Corino. By this point we were casting our wrestling interest net quite wide and had attended one of those WWA shows at Wembley Arena (which in some ways was the pre-cursor for TNA), as well as a couple of Hammerlock shows in Herford. We found out FWA were running a show in our local town (the now fabled Broxbourne Civic Hall/Spotlight Centre) and thought we would pop along. The import was Christopher Daniels, who I had heard of. Anyways, we loved the show and then after watching Revival on Bravo, were totally sold on going to see their big show British Uprising at York Hall. We were psyched at seeing Balls Mahoney and Jerry Lynn, and were also intrigued by AJ Styles, whom we had heard quite a bit of noise about- especially when half-following TNA results online.

Then the AJ Styles VS Jonny Storm match happened- wow. What a fucking display of athleticism. We liked Jonny from the Jorge Castano and Jody matches we'd already seen, but AJ had a similar effect on us as RVD did when we saw his Jeff Hardy match the previous year. Afterwards, we wanted more of that kind of wrestling. RoH and TNA's X Division were regularly watched afterwards, and then we started to dig deeper into a rabbit hold of not only indy wrestling, but also Puro & Lucha. This match opened our eyes to indy wrestling.

 

The match that made me appreciate and love World of Sport

Johnny Kidd VS Cameron Knite, RBW Enfield January 2004

Finally, we move onto yet another match that changed my outlook and broadened my horizons when it came to wrestling and this is probably the most personal one. I started training to wrestle in late 2003 and Johnny Kidd was one of the head trainers, alongside Jorge Castano. Before this match, I hadn't attended a Johnny Kidd session yet so I was interested to see him wrestle. One of the promoters in RBW described him as a technical wrestling god, so as a huge fan of technical wrestling, I was keen to see what he was like. From the bits of WOS I had watched over the years I wasn't a fan, but that's because I grew up on a diet of power & paint, OTT colourful characters and hardcore high spots. Traditional British wrestling seemed boring to me. That view was about to change forever. Johnny Kidd won the British Middleweight in a match I can only describe as a masterclass in how to wrestle hold-for-hold and make it look easy. Watching that match was like when Neo was able to see everything in binary at the end of The Matrix. All Cameron Knite had to do was outstretch his left arm and let Johnny work magic- and he did.

This match not only shaped my love for British wrestling as a fan but also as a performer, and afterwards I started to study tapes of Kidd, Johnny Saint, Steve Grey, Mal Sanders and then eventually onto pretty much everyone else from the WOS days- whatever I could watch I would watch it. @herbie747sticking the WOS footage on Sky gave me so much to love and learn from. As well as from a wrestling perspective, Johnny became a trainer and also a friend. A genuine and humble gentleman who has time for anyone. I had the chance to wrestle him working the camps back in 2005 or so, dream come true and career highlight. I can sit there and watching old British technical wrestling for hours on end and lose myself watching it. If you want evidence of the skill involved in being a wrestler, look no further than somebody like Johnny Kidd.

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Great Thread

Sabu/Sheik vs Onita/Goto (Fire Match May 6th 1992)

Remember PWI doing a feature on this match (still have the copy). Sabu was a relative unknown and the Sheik was, well, the Sheik. 3 minutes of sheer madness but compelling viewing . Introduced me to the delights of Onita for the first time.

Lawler / Funk (Empty Arena Match)

Bomber Pat beat me to this one but still one of my favourite matches for every reason that Pat mentions. First saw it on a Rob Butcher 80's compilation which featured quite a bit of the build up. Funk is just awesome in the promo's and the match. 

Hogan / Don Moraco (SNME 1st March 86)

Was only just getting into WWF then, watched this at a friends house who was the only one who had satellite/cable in those days. The match itself is pants but its the Bundy run that is the reason it is in this post. I still "believed" back then and the way Bundy absolutely hammers Hogan was so realistic then i gen thought Hogan was done and i was hooked for WM2

Savage / Roberts (Tuesday in Texas 3 Dec 1991)

EVERYONE is incredible in this. Randy in his comeback after the suspension and snakebite winning and the selling after, Jake is just pure evil the way he taunts Savage and especially Elizabeth. The ref plays his part perfectly trying to get Jake to stop and the commentators really get the angle over. This just edges out Warrior / Savage due to Jake really being at his sick best. Plus its another reason to watch the lead up to it. Still the most gross thing to be shown on WWE (and it got shown on the Saturday shows as well) Roberts / Savage Cobra strike

the way it finishes with Jake laughing at the snake after - what a angle

Edited by Sheffbag
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Hart Foundation vs Brain Busters - SummerSlam 1989

I'm pretty sure this was the first WWF match I ever saw. My previous wrestling viewing consisted purely of ITV's coverage of WCW Worldwide in about 1992ish. I would've been 6 or 7 at the time when my dad brought the SummerSlam 89 tape in one day. I watched it endlessly. And Bret and Jim vs Arn and Tully being the opener, that match got watched most. To this day I love it and it's not just a nostalgia thing. It's a tremendous match in its own right. It has so many things I associate with what I loved about 80s WWF. The colourful ring attire of the Harts, the rabid crowd, the old school orange SummerSlam logo, the team of Schiavone and Jesse on commentary, Heenan being a dastardly bastard at ringside. And there's never a dull moment in the action itself. Everyone involved from the four wrestlers to the commentators to Heenan outside plays their part perfectly. SummerSlam 89 as a show is what really hooked me into wrestling as a kid and this match was my favourite match on the show so it was easily my first thought when I read the opening post. 

Jushin Liger vs Flyin' Brian Pillman - Superbrawl 2 

Think I rented this from Blockbuster. Like the above, this was the opener and I was just mesmerised. To a whole generation of wrestling fans it was the Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid series that blew them away but Liger vs Pillman was that for me. I didn't see the Tiger Mask-Dynamite matches until years later when I got into tape trading. So this match was the first of its kind for me. Looking back at Liger-Pillman now it's probably nothing earth shattering but at the time I'd never seen anything like it. 

Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin - WrestleMania 13 

Can't add much that hasn't already been said about this one. I just remember that by 1997, nobody at my school was talking about wrestling. It wasn't the cool thing to be into. In my school at least, it seemed like wrestling's popularity kind of peaked around the time when every cunt had that sticker album with The Undertaker on the front (93/94?) then died off after that and never picked up again until around 98 with the Tyson-WrestleMania stuff and the Attitude era. But I vividly remember a few kids bringing the Bret vs Austin match up the next day in Monday morning registration. I really loved that feud as a whole actually. I knew wrestling was fake by then but these two played that rivalry so well that I really believed that they must despise each other for real backstage. To the point where I still found it sort of weird to watch when Bret went in the Hall Of Fame and Austin inducted him. Seeing Bret Hart and Steve Austin being all pally was like seeing Batman out having a pint with the Joker or something. But yeah, as for the match itself, it's all been said already. Just about as close to the perfect match as you can get from bell to bell. 

The Royal Rumble 1992 

I had to include this. The Rumble was always one of my favourite matches and highlights of the year for me. Even the shite ones like 1995. Just loved the concept, the excitement of who'd be out next and the anticipation of wrestlers facing off who you'd never seen face off before. This was brilliant. As star studded as you could've asked for and an incredible performance from Ric Flair, going from 3 to 30 and winning the thing, back when that hadn't been done. The title being on the line enhanced it even more, the shock of Hogan being eliminated was a good twist and of course, the commentary. Monsoon and especially Heenan were gold on this. As great as the match was, the commentary was just as great. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Picking just four is hard! I've tried to avoid 'favourite matches' and really tried to stick to things that have defined my fandom.

Mankind vs. The Undertaker, Hell In A Cell at King Of The Ring 1998, as described in 'Have A Nice Day'

I've picked this not as the match itself, but as the blow-by-blow account Mick Foley gave of it in his first book. It was late 2000 and I'd recently got hooked back into wrestling via the first SmackDown game and general 2000-WWF-ness. My friend David was reading 'Have A Nice Day' and had brought the book with him one day when we had a gap between school finishing and orchestra starting. I had a look at it and skipped to the pictures, some of which were from the Hell In A Cell match (which I hadn't seen but already knew by reputation through the 'Don't Try This At Home' ads) - I flicked through to the chapter that talked about the match and was completely engrossed. Possibly Foley's best piece of writing. The match itself could never have lived up to what I pictured in my head reading about it, but it left such a big impression on me without even seeing it on screen. 

TLC II, WrestleMania X-Seven

Probably the match I've rewound and rewatched more than any other. The pinnacle of stunt wrestling, the match you showed to your 'but it's all fake' friends, the best spotfest ever, the best match of its kind, on my favourite ever wrestling show. Sublime. 

It also inspired every gimmick match I ever played on a wrestling game, including a Hardys vs. E&C vs. Shawn Michaels & RVD triple threat tag team Ladder match on SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth that was full of insane moves and dives, went 29 minutes, and is still such a fond memory I almost included it in my four despite it being on a game and never really happening.

Jonny Storm vs. Teddy Hart, TNA Super X Cup

Thank you, The Wrestling Channel. TWC opened my eyes to a world of wrestling beyond anything I'd ever seen before, expanded my fandom (launching me into my regrettable indy-wanker 'push the cruisers' phase) and vastly increased my knowledge and appreciation for wrestling while helping my enormous appetite for more of it. Jonny Storm vs. Teddy Hart was probably less than five minutes of movezzzz!~!~! but it was the first match I ever saw on TWC and was full of insane stuff I'd never seen before.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H, WrestleMania XXVII

2011, and I'm not a lapsed fan but I don't really watch much wrestling. I read the Raw and SmackDown results, watch the odd WWE highlight and try to catch the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania and Summerslam and that's about it. But in over a decade, I'd consumed as much wrestling as I could have hoped for without the Network, with DVD box sets, YouTube, downloads and so on to allow me access to great matches from the past and present, and the UKFF to discuss stuff on. This match made me feel like a true, proper fan again. Twists, turns, shocks, drama (the best melodrama WWE have managed to pull off), emotion, spectacle, this one had everything. And the best near fall ever. 

 

Honourable mentions to Savage vs. Warrior from Mania VII (the one from my top 3 matches that didn't make the cut here) and Billy Kidman vs. Rhyno from the SmackDown UK Tour in April 2004 (first match I saw live).

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