3.10.2010

Wrestlemania!!!!

Due to the INSANE popularity of last years Royal Rumble countdown post... Erik and I have decided to countdown the 10 greatest matches in Wrestlemania (it's later this month) history!



Compose yourselves.

Here's the email exchange of how it all went down. Enjoy.

ERIK:

Alright, let's do this shit!

10. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels - 21

In preparation for this list, I recently re-watched some of my favorites. What shocked me about this one was that when Michaels came out the crowd was pretty dead (and I guess we only have ourselves to blame Finn). Then I remembered that around this time Michaels was kind of wearing thin for a lot of people, there were even some audible boos, but mainly just malaise. That didn't last long. This match tore the roof off the joint (a construction nightmare that the Staples Center only recently recovered from). The crowd was progressively won over, resulting in a few Let's Go Michaels/Let's Go Angle chant battles and culminating in a huge pop after Michaels kicked out of a top-rope Angle Slam. Michaels ends up tapping after a long struggle in the ankle lock which was a genuinely surprising ending (an ending that would be cheapened a couple years later when Michaels tapped to John effing Cena at WM 23).

So there's my #10. What about you ...

MR. F

My # 10 is from Wrestlemania 3... Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant


The match isn't the greatest... but it put 'Mania on the map, and if I didn't throw a FEW old school matches on here... well... jesus... I just couldn't live with myself. No I could. But... just felt symbolically, that this match should be on here.

What's you're #9?


ERIK:

I'll get to Hulk/Andre later ...

My #9

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - Wrestlemania X



I'm sure ladder matches had happened before this one (rarely is WWF the actual innovator of something like this) but this was definitely the first time I had ever heard of, or seen a ladder match, and it was awesome. This was a time before anyone had even been put through a table, so this qualified as the craziest thing my 8 year old eyes had ever seen (holy shit, I was only 8?). This match set the tone for every future ladder match and basically every other "hardcore" match that would take place in the from here on out. It's something that's taken for granted now, but honestly, a fucking ladder in a wrestling match? It's a strange concept, that could have easily failed, but this match made sure it didn't.

MR. F:

Yeah... I didn't want to put it on here, because it was a gimmick match... that being said, it's the starting point for all future ladders matches (including, TLCs and MIB's (Tables, Ladders and Chairs, and Money in the Bank matches, for all you noobs!) which I think we decided to leave off the list, because they're all awesome and would dominate).

My #9? Glad you asked... It's The Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Randy Savage from Wrestlemania 7


Retirement Match. One of these men would never wrestle again! Ok, maybe not. But this match was pretty good for an old style with a dude who could barely wrestle. I mean c'mon... Warrior carried this thing. (that's a joke for all you HCMers out there who don't watch wrestling... so... you're probably not reading this... but Savage is still one of the more under appreciated wrestlers in history... in my... opinion... ... ok... )

Plus the ending... like 2 HUNDRED elbow drops, and the Warrior kicks out!!! Then he finishes Randy with a barrage of... um... shoulder launches? Anyway... the REAL ending has an enraged Sensational Sherry kicking the crap out of Macho, because let's face it, he just cost her her career (again, not really... Sherri, being the crafty lady that she is, hitched her wagon to the up and coming STUD that was HBK! Talk about upgrade!!! Am I right ladies?!?! Umm... nevermind). Randy is hurting, he lost his career, his lady is kicking the crap out of him... and who makes the save? His one true love Miss Elizabeth! They are reunited (after Savage asks the audience what he should do)... and even though his career his over and he will DEFINITELY never wrestle again, at least he's found true love. There were legitimate tears shown throughout the crowd (and I'm not talking about the ones you shed earlier after Randy lost). There was a normal housewife type, some kid... aaaaand....

ERIK:

(Erik really dropped the ball here. I was hoping he'd say THE SOBBING TRANSEXUAL IN RAIN GEAR!!! But he didn't... bad job by you Erik)

I love Warrior as much as the next guy, in fact, more than the next guy, unless of course the next guy is actually Warrior himself. But anyway, this one didn't make my list because of the actual ending. Shoulder blocks? Really Warrior? You couldn't give us the gorilla press? And the one-foot pin still rubs me the wrong way. Anyhow, let's move on:

8. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant - Wrestlemania III

I put this a little higher than you, and it makes my list for basically the same reasons. It wasn't so much about the match as it was the spectacle. I also have a rule that any match that can draw 90,000+ makes the top 8. Let's be honest, the actual match is crap, but what did you expect from these two? Saying this match is boring in comparison to today's matches isn't fair. It's like saying the Luke/Vader lightsaber fights were boring. Sure they look tame now but at the time they were mesmerizing.

I guess we already have you thoughts on this one, what's your # 8?

MR. F:

#8 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Rock (No. 3) @ Wrestlemania 19 in Seattle

Seattle had to make this list, and it was either this, or HBK vs Jericho (sorry Angle/Lesnar... maybe if you hit that shooting star press). The HBK/Jericho made my just missed list, and probably just because HBK is on here enough.

The Austin/Rock feud will go down as one of the top 5, maybe 2 or 3 feuds of all time, and this was the culmination, with The Rock finally getting the upper hand. Probably the loudest the crowd was all night, and I even saw some kid changing t-shirts with the eb and flow of the match. One second the Rock was up and he had that Tshirt on, the next it was Austin! Truly Amazing!

Plus this Austin's last match... so that's pretty cool!

We'll hear from these two again on my list BTW (stands for bet the world ... on that)

What's #7?

ERIK:

That one didn't make my list, but yes it was a great match, made greater by the fact that Austin was in the hospital the night before feeling like he was going to die apparently.

Anyway, remember earlier when I said I really liked Warrior?

7. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan - Wrestlemania VI

Once again, not the greatest technical wrestling match, but c'mon, it was Hogan and Warrior, you wanna talk about heat? These mother effers had heat! The idea for this match was pretty revolutionary: the two biggest faces in the company fighting each other for both the World AND Intercontinental titles. And it was also historical because Hogan lost clean, which hadn't happened up to this point. Also, this one has sentimental value for me because it was far and away my favorite match as a kid. It's tough to say if this one topped there re-match at Halloween Havoc '98 ... What's that? We've decided to forget that ever happend? Ok, fine by me. (I actually just looked it up to make sure '98 was correct, and the cover of the VHS says "Wrestling's Most Terrifying Event" Yep, sounds about right.)

I'm guessing this one didn't make your list, but then again I'm not entirely sure, what's the verdict?

MR. F:

You named all the right reasons for that Warrior/Hogan match... it JUST missed my list... like number 11 probably.

My #7 is also from the Seattle Wrestlemania. Booker T vs Triple H

Both of these guys just pushed each other to the limit! Each man was exhausted, from what seemed like the opening bell.

Just kidding, unfortunately that match was a steaming pile of horse crap.

My real # 7 is Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart, Iron Man Match, from Wrestlemania 12

Just a great match. 1 hour and change, and it doesn't have too many lulls. Also, one of the few Mania matches that HBK actually wins.... although... I think Hitman has a legitimate gripe here. Overtime rules should have been in place before the match began. I mean.... he had the best submission hold in wrestling, the Sharpshooter, locked in, in the middle of the ring! He RELEASED the hold because the match "ended". If he never has to release the hold HBK either passes out from the pain (Bret wins) or HBK taps (Bret wins again). And this is coming from a huge HBK fan. And you know this.... maaaaan.

#6?

ERIK:

That's a good point. It would have worked out better for Hitman if they had gone with Piper's original time suggestion ... "NO LIMIT!" I'll get to this match when it shows up on my list.

6. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat - Wrestlemania III

I feel the same way about this match as I do the aforementioned ladder match; there have been matches like this one that may have been better, but this one was the first (at least on that big of a stage). This match proved that you didn't need to put two huge dudes in a ring to make it a big-time match, in fact, most of the time it was a hell of a lot more entertaining when that wasn't the case. (A concept that the WWE seemed to forget at times, resulting in the Great Khali title reign.) Another telling factor is that this is a lot of wrestler's favorite match, and since we agreed that #6 would be our "Match with the Most Telling Factors" spot, I'll have to put it here.

Did this one make your list? I think I remember you saying it was overrated at one point, but 6 seems about right to me.

MR.F:

Yep.... every time I try to watch it, I just end up fast forwarding. Maybe if I had seen it live. Matches like that tend to resonate more if you watched them live for the first time.

My #6 is Bret the Hitman Hart v Stone Cold Steve Austin @ Wrestlemania (help) in an I-Quit match.

Just because of Kenny Shamrock. His first official involvement in a match. A referee. Just kidding. Although, all things considered, Ken Shamrock was a pretty great pro-wrestler, considering he was just crossing over.

Anyway... back to the match. It's pretty iconic... and although it really represents the slippery slope that Bret was sliding down... the match was still cool and it made Stone Cold into a bright shinging star. Only instead of whipping his dick out (lame Boogie Nights ref.) he just passed out from the pain of the sharpshooter (sort of like HBK would have if they;d let my last match keep going) with blood running down his face. Austin screaming out in pain with the blood running down his face and over his teeth is one of the more memorable shots in Wrestlemania (or Pro Wrestling even) history.

Your #5? (By the way, I'm at work so I don't remember my #5 off the top of my head).

ERIK:

I'm gonna get to that match later ... believe me man, I will.

#5. Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin - Wrestlemania XIV

What's that? Too low you say? Well, initially I would agree, but the last time I re-watched it I wasn't as impressed as I remember being in the past. It might have something to do with Michaels coming back and wrestling for 6+ years, making this no longer his last match. And not only that, but I feel like he's topped this performance at least once at 'Mania since then (SPOILER ALERT!!! Oh, no one cares? Not even you Foy?)

BUT let's look at the positives. First of all, it's a very entertaining match between an established, all-time great heel and a skyrocketing face, basically the perfect set-up for a 'Mania title match. Secondly, Michaels had to gut the match out with what a appeared to be a near-crippling back injury. Third, Mike Tyson was there! Oh, wait that's actually a negative. He taints the match at the end with his fast count, and is one of the reasons this only makes #5 for me.

I believe you have this one higher, so what's your #5?

MR.F:

Yep.... it was my #1. But for some of the reasons you just mentioned, I probably ought to change the list. You convinced me. In fact (minor spoiler alert), you convinced me to drop my #2 as well... and now we have a new #1.

I did/do still love that match though. HBK is broken and giving it his all. Also, Stone Cold becomes the biggest thing in wrestling... possibly of all time. It's him and Hogan neck and neck for the 1 and 2 spot with the Rock a close 3rd.

Anyway, my #5 is the triple threat main event from 'Mania 20... Triple H vs HBK vs The Crippler Chris Benoit.

I won't make any jokes or really even bring up Benoit's unfortunate demise. But this is a perfect triple threat match and the ending is one of my all-time faves. HBK is out of the picture (I think he crotched himself after missing Sweet Chin Music and then someone dumped him out and then Benoit locks in the crossface on HHH. He's in it for a loooong time and you think he's about the break it and he rolls out, but Benoit rolls through... and then HHH taps. Big win. Eddy Guerrero comes out to celebrate with him. Pretty tragic now that I think about it.

What's your #4?

ERIK:

That's a great match that didn't make my list. Why? HHH's white boots. It's as simple as that. Well, alright not really, jay slash kay. I don't know why, but it just didn't crack the top ten.

#4 The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan - Wrestlemania X8

The main reason I have it this high is the atmosphere that enveloped the match. Going into it Hogan was a full-blown heel and the Rock was as popular as ever. But there were a couple interesting factors: 1. This was Hogan's first real match with the WWE in almost 9 years (Apparently it takes that long to rehab face burns from a close-range exploding camera flash). 2. The match was taking place in Canada. The canucks play by their own rules when it comes to football and rooting for wrestlers, but the football part isn't as important to this conversation. So, what exactly would the crowd sound like? When Hogan walked down the aisle it was clear that he had a considerable following. As the two stared each other down before the match there were loud Hogan chants that made each wrestler look towards the crowd in disbelief. And then, when Hogan threw The Rock to the ground out of the opening grapple the crowd went wild; a few seconds later as he commenced his classic flexing the place exploded. Things were being thrown about in the crowd that was now a sea of flailing arms and general madness. It legitimately may be the most amazing thing I've seen as a wrestling fan, and it was the result of a shove to the ground.

The match itself is more or less a vintage Hogan bout, complete with a Hulk-up at about the 15 minute mark. It's at this point that the crowd gets as loud as, if not louder than, their opening effort. At one point, as Hogan blocks a punch and returns fire with one of his own you can actually see the Rock's eyes dart to the big screen at the end of the entrance; it's as if he's watching the match himself, maybe in disbelief that he's actually fighting Hulk Hogan. I think that kind of mirrors the crowd's attitude and explains their fervor. Hulk Hogan had turned back the clock, but not just 9 years but 15 years, right in the heart of Hulkamania, and the fans in attendance couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Why wasn't it higher than 4? Well, like I said, it's a typical Hogan match which means not too much in the way of actual good wrestling. Also, I know it was a better ending to have The Rock win, but I have to think I'd like it more if Hogan had won.

This has to be on your list right?

MR. F:

Ok... Erik... settle down... maybe sit the next few picks out...

Actually, I had this match listed in the exact same spot... but moved it to #2 after your last comments, and these comments. It was awesome. I thought it was the best Hogan matchof all time, and right up there for the Rock. Electric. I wish more of the crowd had been for The Rock... just to even things out. Although, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe he did get a pretty good pop when he won. Almost, like the crowd was saying... yeaaaah, we knew you'd win, and we're glad, but this Hogan comeback is too rad not to go crazy for. Right?

So... to reiterate This was my 2nd greatest match up of all time, and my 4th was the HBK/Austin match up.

ERIK:

#3. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - Wrestlemania XXV


Two living legends put on hands-down the best match of the night despite the fact that they're both 40+. One of Michaels best performances ever, and definitely Taker's. There was good drama in this match because for the first time in years it felt like Taker's streak might actually end. When it comes to Mania, the streak carries more weight than either of the titles at this point, so when someone has legit shot at breaking it, the tension is high. Let's be honest, a lot of Taker's opponents have been duds:

-Snuka
-Giant Gonzalez
-King Kong Bundy
-Big Bossman
-Big Show & Prince Albert
-Mark Henry

Michaels is the highest caliber Mania opponent there is, so this match was poised to be great before it started. It delivered on that promise with a lot of back-and-forth action and plenty of big spots, including Taker jumping out of the ring and landing directly on his head (Mainly due to a "cameraman" failing to break his fall. Think that jobber ever got another call?) My favorite moment in the match is when Taker catches Michaels, who is skinning the cat, and tombstones him, only to have Michaels kick out. Taker just lays on top of Michaels, exhausted and stunned. It basically sold the whole match because Taker has been pronounced dead on multiple occasions and should theoretically have no emotions, but this got to him.

MR.F:

Nice job. But this is the greatest match in Wrestlemania's history. My #1. For all the reasons you listed. I can't really add too much. It's an old school match that is actually watchable. Feels weird picking a match from LAST years 'Mania... cuz wrestling sucks now... but going down my list this is just how it worked out.

My #3 is HBK vs Ric Flair w/ Flair's career on the line.



Debatably the two greatest TOTAL package (sorry Luger) wrestlers of all time. One way past his prime (Flair) but the other ... I mean you'd think he's past... but HBK keeps hitting homeruns every 'Mania. The match is pretty standard, but the ending is great. HBK has Flair beat, but he can't pin cuz he doesn't want to end the "greatest career" of all time. In his moment of weakness, Flair slaps on the figure four and almost gets Michaels to tap. Michaels escapes... batters Flair and then Flair is done... slowly climbs to his feet his dukes up, saying "C'mon, C'mon..." basically accepting that he's done for and Michaels mouths "I'm sorry" super kicks his head off and pins him. Flair immediately starts sobbing (which is weird because shouldn't he be unconcious?). Anyway... pretty sissy stuff really, but it was awesome. The only thing that taints this moment is that Flair wrestled again and looks like it'll be on pretty large scale in TNA. What a shit head. Then I'll have to drop this pretty far down.

What's your #2?

ERIK:

I left the Flair/Michaels match off my list. I loved the match, and the ending was truly great, I guess I just don't remember enough from the rest of the match to put it on here.

#2. Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart - Wrestlemania XII

You already covered this one when you rated it too low at #7. It wasn't the most exciting match on the list, in fact, the first 15 minutes or so are pretty boring with both guys trading headlocks for the most part. But the action picks up from there. The reason I put it this high is because it was an hour long! I feel like it desrves our respect. After having seen other Iron Man matches since, it seems even more unbelievable that they would decide to go the full hour without one fall being recorded. Of course, with Michaels being the dickhead that he was back then there's a good chance that he refused to drop even one fall, which may be the reason they did it that way.

While I'm on Michaels, his Wrestlemania career is pretty amazing. Like I mentioned earlier, his career was over after XIV, only two years after winning his first WWF championship, and he was already considered one of the best ever. THEN he comes back about four and a half years later and proceeds to put on, arguably, the best match at every Wrestlemania since. And if we go back even further he's had the best match at the last 11 Mania's he's wrestled at.

X. vs. Ramon (Ladder Match) - YES
XI. vs. Diesel - YES
XII. vs. Hitman - YES
XIII. (LOST HIS SMILE)
XIV. vs. Austin - YES
XV. - X8 RETIRED
XIX vs. Jericho - Maybe (Could also argue Rock vs. Austin or Angle vs. Lesnar)
XX vs. Benoit vs. HHH - YES
21 vs. Angle - YES
22 vs. Vince - Maybe (Could also argue Foley vs. Edge or Angle vs. Rey vs. Orton)
23 vs. Cena - YES
XXIV vs. Flair - YES
XXV vs. Undertaker - YES

And that's not even taking into account that his match at IX against Tatanka may have been the bestone there. Unfortunately, all copies of that event have been destroyed to protect the innocent. But that's really incredible. The guy retires as one of the best ever, then comes back and steals the show at 7 consecutive Manias. Is it even an argument now that he's the best ever? I say no.

What do you think?

MR. F:

There's no argument here. I don't even think it's close. Some will say Flair. But those people are idiots. Flair can't touch Michaels... in any arena. Pun intended.

We've listed all my matches and yours... I'm guessing, but you haven't revealed your #1 so let's hear it... then you've inspired a new list... not greatest wrestlers of all time, but greates Mania performers of all time! IN fact I'm really over this list and just want to get to the next one. Kidding... sort of... let's hear your #1 and then a recap with some just misses and honorable mentions.

What's your #1?

ERIK:

#1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin - Wrestlemania 13


I enjoy this match, like many on my list, more for the angle surrounding it and the crowd reaction during the match. Going into the match these two were headed in opposite directions. Hitman had returned 4 months earlier to find that things weren't the way he left them, thanks in large part to his main antagonist Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin was steadily gaining popularity even though his character had made little to no change since the last time the two fought at Survivor Series, when he was clearly the heel. Hitman's popularity was waining even though he was doing the same thing he'd done for years that made him one of the most popular wrestlers in the biz (told you I'd use it again). It reminds me of a line in "Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town," by popular rock band Pearl Jam (ever heard of these guys? You should check 'em out big bro). The line says, "I changed by not changing at all.," and I think it pretty much sums up what was happening here. The characters hadn't changed, but what the fans' were looking for had.

As for the match, it's pretty much chaos from the get go. Austin tackles Hitman even before the bell, and after that there's no looking back. As you mentioned, the bloody-faced, screaming Austin is one of the iconic moments in Mania history, with the crowd chanting his name while he struggled to stay consicous in the Sharpshooter. At the start of the match these two were meeting in the middle in terms of popularity, by the end of it, however, Austin was well on his way to becoming one of the two most popular wrestlers ever, and Hitman was headed towards a nice run as a heel followed by his historic departure from the WWF. This match was a watershed moment in the league's history, and that's why it's my #1.

MR. F:

Well done. I've compiled our lists and assigned a # value and added them all up, (1 pt for 10, 2 pts for 9th, etc.) We had 14 different matches so these four just didn't make the top 10:

HBK vs Angle, Warrior vs Macho, HBK vs Razor (although if I hadn't taken a stand on ladder matches it would have been much higher), & Austin Rock.

The Top 10 Greatest Matches in Wrestlemania History:

10. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan

9. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant

8. Ricky Steamboat vs. The Macho Man Randy Savage

7. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels

6. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

5. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels

4. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs. Bret the Hitman Hart

3. Bret the Hitman Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

2. The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan

1. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

We did it. We really did it.

Now... we could go statistically and add up the competitors pt totals and pick a greatest performers list of all time... but we gotta couple more weeks, how about another countdown?


4 comments:

Mr. F said...

Sorry about the lack of youtubes... I know ya love them. My browser is old and I won't be bullied by youtube and their upgrade demands.

Mr. F said...

Well Erik... I guess this officially puts an end to our wrestling countdown lists.

Erik said...

No way. Once Foy learns how to read, this comment section will really HEAT up.

Don't worry, I've got plenty of ideas for future lists. Next up: Greatest Savio Vega Moments. And yes, Kwang matches count.

Andy said...

Oh no, no, Mr. Van Helsing! I'm still standing!.. Sorry... But this is truly a great list. I haven't followed much since Mania 19 in Seattle so it was great to rehash the matches. Never saw Taker-Michaels but it sounds exceptional. I'm an easy fan so Stone Cold and Hogan we're always my favs.. And this list forced me onto YouTube to watch the Hogan-Rock match. Thanks HCM!