Hello and welcome back to Hooked On Roundtable!
This week, with no PPV card to predict, the HO team were asked to name one wrestling match they could watch once every day until the COVID-19 lockdown finally ends.
We didn’t specifically ask for their favourite match or one they thought was the best, so it’ll be interesting to see which bout from any promotion or time period struck them as having such good rewatch value while we’re all stuck indoors.
Liam Happe: Rob Van Dam vs Jerry Lynn from Living Dangerously 1999 was the first time I felt like I ‘got’ ECW. I missed out on the early years, being just a primary school kid during a cultural peak for 18-30 males. I then played catch-up and soon realised that they offered both crazy hardcore stuff and amazing wrestling.
But this show was the first VHS of theirs I bought, and the TV title match was everything ECW did great rolled up in one mesmerising hybrid. The frantic Van Daminator reversal spot that ends with Lynn hitting a famouser onto the chair is one of the all-time greats and I would watch this (and their entire series) on loop.
Paul Benson: For me it’s Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs Rey Mysterio & Edge vs Los Guerreros from Survivor Series 2002. I have a preference for tag team wrestling over singles matches anyway and this is three teams made up of six of the very best wrestlers of the time, all desperate to prove their worth as they strived to get to the main event. No surprise that five of the six made it.
It’s just glorious. Action that never stops but is never contrived and a genuine ebb and flow that makes me believe the near falls even after all these times I’ve seen it. No gimmicks, no short cuts, just six hungry guys who are masters of their craft.
Steve Cox: Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25. I just remember the anticipation going into it, I was always in awe of just how much ‘punishment’ HBK could take, well both legacies are right up there at the top of the tree. The match delivered. Oh and that kickout? Electric to this day.
Marc Hemingway: For me it’d be the Royal Rumble match from 2001. Kane at his physical peak and being an absolute monster in the match. Honky Tonk Man getting laid out by his own guitar after a bit of a sing-song. The look on Scotty 2 Hotty’s face when he saw Kane and the Undertaker waiting for him to get in the ring. And, at the end of it all, Stone Cold Steve Austin winning the whole thing for a record-breaking third time. It had SO much going on all the way through!
Dean Ayass: I’d say Ric Flair vs Terry Funk from Clash of the Champions IX. I bloody love that match. The whole drama of the feud from start to finish: how it began; how it continued; using a plastic bag as a weapon on Flair; it all culminated in this dramatic match. The epitome of how to do an I Quit match and make the stipulation add to the match.
Justin Czerwonka: The 1992 Royal Rumble match. For me, the peak of WWE during that era. Bobby Heenan puts on an all-time classic performance on commentary during the entire match. The moments booked with Flair throughout the Rumble are perfect. The crowd is hot throughout the whole match. We get a great ending with Flair winning. And you start to see signs of the crowd turning on Hulk Hogan as they are pretty firmly behind Sid.
And if you have never noticed it, check out the guy with the “Hulk Who?” sign across the camera during all of this. He’s freaking out the entire showdown between Sid and Hogan. But this match is such a simple and easy watch that it seems like it flies by.
Jason Auld: The Hardys vs The Dudleys in WWE’s first-ever tag team table match. Royal Rumble 2000, Madison Square Garden, rabid energy from the crowd. Hard hitting, the table spots go without saying and none of the chair shots were pulled (although the head shots are a little hard to stomach).
The iconic Swanton bomb to finish, probably the first in Jeff’s high-flying catalogue, was the coup de grace. From the crowd, atop an exit, smashing D-Von through a table for the win. The icing on the cake, Matt flopping Jeff over the barrier, still selling the beatdown and intensifying the carnage we just saw. It’s fast paced, no fat to speak of. Only requires a spare 10 minutes. Highly recommended.
Leanne Culverhouse: Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne and Los Federales Santos Jr) vs Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Bill Carr) from Progress Chapter 79: One Big Neck with Sausage Hands. Full disclosure – I like comedy in wrestling when it’s done right, and the Anti Fun Police are a duo who can pull off excellent comedy matches AND serious matches.
I won’t give too many details as it’ll spoil the laughs, but go in knowing that both teams have a police gimmick which is the jumping-off point for the hijinks involved. Seeing two big dudes like Santos and Carr pulling off ‘Lucha moves’ always makes me smile.The crowd at the Electric Ballroom keep the energy high and there are little nuances that bring me back to this match time and time again.
Lewis Brown: For me it’s got to be Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25. I was still quite young when this happened and loved the spectacle of it so watching it always gives me the nostalgia vibes but going back watching it as an adult, it’s two geniuses of the industry putting on a showcase. All the false finishes just kept the atmosphere building and I recall honestly thinking Shawn was going to win.
Mike Paul: The 1996 Royal Rumble match for me personally, because it was the first ever WWE PPV I saw, and my nostalgia for it is just so strong. Plus, Mr Perfect on commentary is… well, perfect.
Joe Kennard: Got to be Shawn Michaels vs Triple H at Summerslam 2002 for me. I love the story they tell in that match. It was Shawn Michaels’ first match in four years and he put on such an amazing show.
At the time it blew my mind and really solidified my love for wrestling. JR was on fire on commentary and that sledgehammer shot to the spine of Michaels at the end was sickening.
So, what did we learn from this Roundtable?
- HBK/Taker from Mania 25 was the only bout to get picked twice
- Royal Rumble matches seem to be helping wrestling fans a lot in this lockdown (1992, 1996 and 2001 all nominated, plus an undercard match from 2000 as well!)
- WWE unsurprisingly provides the majority of the answers, but there are also shouts from NWA/WCW, ECW and even PROGRESS
- Shawn Michaels has some serious rewatchability – not only was the classic vs Undertaker picked twice, he was also nominated alongside Triple H AND was the star of the ’96 Rumble! He was in there in ’92 as well, but that was much more of a cameo.
Now, we want to know what you think.
Which one wrestling match could you watch at least once a day, every day until lockdown ends and things are finally back to normal?
Share this article on social media and add your own pick when you do. We want to know!