May’s a brilliant month.
Long adventures out in the sunshine, cup finals aplenty, brilliant springtime gatherings with friends and family…
…yeah, this hasn’t felt like much of an actual May at all, has it?
The good news is that we at Hooked On have come up with an idea that may help us wrestling fans really feel as if we’re in month five on the calendar.
Each of us has picked a match that took place in May. Any year, any promotion. The end result is a wonderful nostalgic playlist from around this time of year, back when things were normal.
Links to the matches are included, so go nuts and hopefully come June, we’ll be slowly easing back towards a proper summer.
Paul Benson: Shawn Michaels/Steve Austin vs Bulldog/Owen for the tag teams titles on Raw in 1997. A solid gold classic. The best ‘partners don’t get along’ match I’ve ever seen.
HBK had just returned after finding his smile and was about to embark on his epic 1997 ‘dickhead’ run. This match was, up to this point, the best match ever on Raw and it was made so memorable by the heel tactics of Bulldog & Owen who took every last opportunity to bend the rules and build the heat for their opponents’ big comeback. Sensational.
Also, a great moment came after the bell when, having won the titles, Austin had to choose between saving his new partner from a Hart Foundation beatdown or finally getting his hands on an unprotected, wheelchair-bound Bret Hart. You can guess which option he chose in all of a nanosecond!
Liam Happe: Rey Misterio Jr and Billy Kidman vs Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit vs Raven and Saturn for the tag team titles, WCW Slamboree 1999. Spring Stampede a month prior was the last truly great World Championship Wrestling PPV, and it’s general consensus that the promotion’s health was pretty much downhill from there. But, that didn’t stop these six from setting the early ’99 undercard ablaze while the ageing main eventers outstayed their welcome.
Rey and Kidman snatched the belts from the Horsemen during the latter duo’s feud with reunited former Flocksters Raven and Saturn, while at the same time battling each other for the cruiserweight belt! The triangle-tag culmination of this rollercoaster sits behind only the obvious picks in a ranking of Best PPV Openers Ever.
Amazing offense, an exciting photo-finish finale and even an Arn Anderson spinebuster, for old times’ sake. A true diamond in the ever-growing rough of latter-day WCW.
Steve Cox: Undertaker vs Stone Cold Steve Austin from In Your House “Cold Day In Hell” for the WWF title in ’97. I just love Austin during this period, he and Taker are at the prime of their careers here and the Hart Foundation, seated in the front row, are in their brilliant “Bret in a wheelchair” phase of heelish antics.
The match isn’t a 5 star classic but it’s certainly 5 star character/story build. There are specific ‘breaks’ in the action where King and JR are just building and building story. Plus the ref double finger is priceless! It’s a slow burner but such a good storytelling match.
Dean Ayass: WCW Slamboree 1998. A Battle Royal that leads into the winner having a shot at Chris Jericho’s WCW Cruiserweight title immediately afterwards. At the end of a pretty plain battle royal, Ciclope unmasks to reveal himself as Dean Malenko, who had been absent from the promotion for two months after being hounded and mentally broken down by the heel Jericho previously.
The pop for the reveal is insane, and the ensuing match is as heated and intense as I’ve ever seen Malenko. We reviewed this match on episode 42 of the Because WCW podcast and it’s one of my favourite WCW matches of all time.
Jason Auld: Got to be The Rock vs Triple H in an Iron Man match at Judgement Day 2000. Can’t quite believe it was 20 years ago. Many of you will groan at the idea of watching 60 minutes and multiple falls but thanks to the Rock and HHH’s chemistry and a thrilling return from a new-look old favourite, it’s one of the best matches of a red-hot year for WWE.
Joe Kennard: I’ll go with Becky Lynch Vs Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover Unstoppable 2015. I love this match. It’s really the first time we truly saw the talents of Becky Lynch and alongside Sasha Banks she put on an instant classic. It stole the show and once again showed that the women of WWE could do it just as well, if not better than the men.
Leanne Culverhouse: Jimmy Havoc vs Paul Robinson in a Death Match at Progress Super Strong Style 16 2019, Day 3. Jimmy Havoc’s final match at Progress before heading to AEW came against Robbo, who had been both Jimmy’s ally and a thorn in his side. Having rewatched this over the weekend it reminded me that this match IS NOT for the faint hearted but it is an absolute belter.
Marc Hemingway: In Your House 8: Beware of the Dog (1996). The main event saw Goldust defend his Intercontinental title in a casket match against the Undertaker. ‘Taker is in full on Phenom mode, appearing in the ring at the start. To be honest, Goldust is looking very much the aggressor for 80% of the match. Taker rallies, tombstones Goldust, opens the casket and MANKIND IS IN THE COFFIN!! He puts the Undertaker in the casket and Goldust retains. Then smoke starts coming out of the casket and when they finally get it open, it’s empty. Oh my life.