Tonight is WWE Backlash. We have been promised ‘The World’s Greatest Wrestling Match’ between Randy Orton and Edge.
Are we going to get it? Almost certainly not. But it’s got us talking, hasn’t it? Job done I guess.
Ahead of that, Hooked On thought we should compile our list of what we think are the 10 greatest matches in WWE history.
It goes without saying that this list is subjective. This list won’t be the same as your list. Or your friend’s list. Maybe anyone’s list. And that’s great. Wrestling is a rich tapestry and we all have our reasons why we favour certain matches over others.
So please, have a read. Feel free to disagree and wonder if we’ve ever actually watched wrestling before.
But if you do disagree, that’s part of the fun. So tell us. Jump on Twitter and give us your take. Tell us your favourites and let’s use this article as the basis of a discussion. You can @ us here.
These matches are in no particular order. Asking us to pick our 10 favourites is one thing. Asking us to rank them? We’re not savages, you know!
1. Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin – Submission Match @ WrestleMania XIII
When perfect booking meets incredible execution. This match sees two of the absolute best of all time, both with a huge point to prove (for very different reasons) and a huge amount of mutual respect clash for almost the perfect match. The double turn must have sounded great on paper but to make that a reality it needed two performers who knew their characters intimately, pulling things together perfectly. And my word did they pull it off.
2. 1992 Royal Rumble Match
Simply put, the best booked Royal Rumble match ever, with an incredible amount of star power, high stakes and a virtuoso performance from one of the greatest sneaky heels of all time, Ric Flair. A massive assist also from Bobby Heenan, who provided arguably the single greatest wrestling commentary display in history.
3. The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania XXV
This could really have been any pick of their matches from this WrestleMania, the following year and Hell In A Cell from Badd Blood 1997. It’s a close call but if we’re picking this one, let’s go with this. Thought by many to be the best match in WWE history, it’s a masterclass by two of the greatest legends of all time. These two guys were kept apart so well during their careers that every time they came together it felt like a major happening. And this match, like their other major encounters, never came close to disappointing.
4. AJ Styles vs John Cena @ Royal Rumble 2017
John Cena on a greatest match of all time list? Blasphemy! And it won’t be his last entry either. And that’s because despite the opinion of many, John Cena was actually a master of his craft. And that craft was having incredible matches on the biggest stages with stars that the majority of the crowd watching desperately wanted to beat Cena. Case in point here. A wonderful match that is WWE style wrestling as its absolute finest.
5. Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania XXI
What is there to say? Two of the absolute best in-ring storytellers given a huge stage and a blank canvas to paint a work of art. And they made every single metaphorical brush stroke add up to one of the most breathtaking pure wrestling matches of all time, on any continent.
A match so wonderful it should be hung in the Louvre.
6. The British Bulldog vs Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart @ SummerSlam 1992
Passion. That’s what this match was all about. The passion of the London fans in Wembley Stadium for both competitors. The passion that both men had for putting together a wonderful match and the passion to make each other look incredible that only two men with enormous shared experience and a family bond could share.
One of THE most emotional matches of all time and never to be forgotten by fans in the UK in particular in front of the second biggest crowd in WWE history.
7. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior – Career vs. Career Match @ WrestleMania VII
OK, all of us reading this know wrestling is a drama. Scripted for our entertainment. But watch this match even now and I defy you not to second guess your knowledge on that. The pure desperation that Savage and Warrior convey matches the career vs career stipulation and has every single watching viewer gripped by the ebb and flow of these two titans going to war.
And that’s without even mentioning THAT aftermath….
8. ‘Hollywood’ Hogan vs The Rock @ WrestleMania XVIII
Proof positive, if ever it was needed, that a match can be one of the all-time best without being a technical masterpiece. Because when two all-time greats are so wonderfully skilled in reading and playing an audience, who needs a catch-as-catch-can classic?
These two legends of the ring put on nothing short of an iconic match that makes us all young again as we see the crowd turn on the young upstart and flock back to the side of Hogan, the old warhorse. The emotion these two wring out of the match is unparalleled. There’s no hurricanranas on show but I defy you to show me a match with more overall skill as a ‘sports-entertainer’ on display.
9. Shawn Michaels vs Triple H – Unsanctioned Match @ SummerSlam 2002
Time and again on this match, the overarching theme of these all-time great matches is genuine love for the competitors involved and the feeling or real stakes. This was Shawn Michaels’ first match back after a four -ear injury lay-off and every single person winced whenever he took so much as a glancing blow to his back. We bought it hook, line & sinker.
It was an exceptionally well-crafted match on its own, but with the added personal stakes involved..? Breathtaking.
10. John Cena vs. CM Punk @ Money In The Bank 2011
Look at that picture. You can hear the crowd, can’t you? The United Center is likely still echoing from it almost nine years on. This was a moment. A moment that a fanbase and a city made a superstar overnight.
What started with a pipebomb ended with a bombshell of a match. Every single person watching wanted Punk to win with every fibre of their being and the emotion released when he did is like nothing we’ve seen since in WWE. Just unashamed joy and ecstasy. A truly magical moment.
Do you agree with all of our choices? Any of them? Join the debate with us on Twitter at @ho_wrestling.