Wrestling's Most Important Matches of All Time

Thomas J. Harrigan Jr.@@tharrigan_88Correspondent IMarch 5, 2012

Wrestling's Most Important Matches of All Time

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    Modern professional wrestling history can be whittled down to 50 matches. Fifty moments that combine to tell quite an entertaining story.

    Sure, not all of these matches are five-star classics, but each one has a place on the road to professional wrestling's present, a road that is paved with booms, busts, fantastic highs and epic lows. 

    Along the way, there were matches that served to create an entire era, while others were instrumental in beginning a steady decline toward irrelevancy. 

    Then there were those that were influential in popularizing a certain style of wrestling or a particular match type. 

    Without any of these 50, history would be altered, and certain memories, moments and careers would cease to exist. Heck, professional wrestling could very well have died off altogether years ago without some of these matches taking place. 

    The question I asked myself when deciding if a match was worthy of this list was, "if this match had never taken place, how would that have affected wrestling's narrative; would anything be dramatically different?" Some matches may be all-time greats, and we may be thankful that they occurred and that we witnessed them, but if they never happened, not much would be different in the grand scheme of wrestling history. That was the deciding factor. 

    With that said, here are the 50 most important matches in wrestling history, aptly given in chronological order: 

Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco

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    What: Steel cage match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship 

    When: Oct. 17, 1983

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

    Significance: The joke here is that every wrestler has at sometime claimed to be in the crowd for this match and that Jimmy Snuka's cage dive inspired them all to pursue a career in wrestling (in reality, it was only Mick Foley, the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer and Bubba Ray Dudley, as noted in Foley's first book, Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks). Still, Snuka's Superfly Splash off of the 15-foot steel cage onto the Magnificent Muraco was quite the spectacle for its time. 

Hulk Hogan vs. the Iron Sheik

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship 

    When: Jan. 23, 1984

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

    Significance: "Hulkamania is here," exclaimed Gorilla Monsoon, moments after Hulk Hogan had dropped the big leg onto the Iron Sheik to win his first WWF Championship. Indeed, this match ushered in the era of Hulkamania in the WWF that would last until 1993, carrying professional wrestling to new and improbable heights in the 1980s. 

The Fabulous Moolah vs. Wendi Richter

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Women's Championship 

    When: The Brawl to End it All, July 23, 1984

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

    Significance: Part of the crossover promotion, the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection, this match aired on MTV, with Cyndi Lauper in the corner of Richter and Captain Lou Albano in the corner of Moolah. The Fabulous Moolah was recognized by the WWF as having been Women's Champion for nearly 28 years. In front of 15,000 fans at MSG, Richter knocked off Moolah in a match that put women's wrestling on the mainstream map.   

Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: The War to Settle the Score, Feb. 18, 1985

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

    Significance: At the second Rock 'n' Wrestling Event that aired on MTV, Roddy Piper faced Hulk Hogan in a match that would ultimately set up the WrestleMania I main event. Mr. T entered the ring to help Hogan and Cyndi Lauper after Piper, Paul Orndorff and Bob Orton attacked Hogan. The popularity of this event helped Vince McMahon successfully promote WrestleMania I. 

Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff

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    What: Tag team match

    When: WrestleMania I, March 31, 1985

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. 

    Significance: If WrestleMania failed, there would be no WWE. The inaugural supercard was built around this match, pitting Hogan and his good friend, Mr. T, against Piper and Orndorff. WrestleMania proved to be a huge success, receiving much fanfare and publicity and propelling the company into the future. 2012 will see the 28th edition of WrestleMania. 

Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

    When: WrestleMania III, March 29, 1987

    Where: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Mich. 

    Significance: Widely considered one of the greatest matches the WWF/E has ever had, Steamboat and Savage wrestled a classic at WrestleMania III in the biggest match in the history of the Intercontinental Championship. This match lent credibility to that title, showing what a coveted prize the belt was. 

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania III, March 29, 1987

    Where: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Mich. 

    Significance: Andre, undefeated for 15 years, fully passed the torch to Hogan in this match. In a moment full of symbolism, Hogan body slammed the gargantuan Andre in front of 90,000-plus fans. Hogan had won the WWF Championship in 1984, but it was three years later that he truly became "the man" in the WWF. 

Ric Flair vs. Sting

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    What: Singles match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Clash of the Champions I, March 27, 1988 

    Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C. 

    Significance: On this night, Flair made Sting, plain and simple. Sting wrestled the Nature Boy to a 45-minute draw at the inaugural Clash of the Champions, a supercard booked by the Jim Crockett Promotions and aired for free on TBS opposite WrestleMania IV. Even though Sting didn't win the title on this night, he proved he could hang in the ring with the best in the business. 

Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat

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    What: Singles match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Chi-Town Rumble, Feb. 20, 1989

    Where: UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Ill. 

    Significance: You can really take your pick as to which Flair-Steamboat showdown was best, as this and their matches at WrestleWar and Clash of the Champions VI were each awarded five stars by Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Dave Meltzer.

    However, I tend to go with their first five-star clash when deciding which one is most important to wrestling history. Steamboat won the NWA title from Flair in an exciting bout. Just a picture-perfect example of how to book a wrestling match. 


Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania V, April 2, 1989 

    Where: Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, N.J.

    Significance: Two of the most iconic and successful superstars of all-time collided at WrestleMania V. The Mega Powers were broken apart by paranoia and jealousy, leading to this clash. The question about who was really No. 1 between Hogan and Savage was answered when Hogan claimed his second WWF Championship.


Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship and WWF Intercontinental Championship

    When: WrestleMania VI, April 1, 1990

    Where: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

    Significance: Dubbed the "Ultimate Challenge," Hogan faced Warrior to determine the strongest force in the WWF. While Warrior never became the huge star he could have been coming out of this match, there is no doubting how popular the man was around this time. Hogan put him over big time as Warrior became the WWF Champion. 


1992 Royal Rumble Match: Ric Flair Wins WWF Championship

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    What: 30-Man Royal Rumble match for the WWF Championship

    When: Royal Rumble, Jan. 19, 1992

    Where: Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, N.Y. 

    Significance: A huge moment for the WWF in its early rivalry with WCW. Ric Flair had left WCW with the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and showed up on WWF television with the title, claiming he was the "real world champion."

    In a performance for the ages, Flair entered No. 3 and proceded to last nearly 60 minutes to win the WWF Championship. In a promo after the match, Flair put over the WWF Championship as the "only title in the wrestling world that makes you No. 1." 


Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania VIII, April 5, 1992

    Where: Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, Ind.

    Significance: Perhaps this is more significant for what didn't happen than what did. Flair never faced Hulk Hogan one-on-one during his time in the WWF. Instead, Savage stepped in to challenge Flair for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania. Even though the two ceded the main event spot to Hogan and Sid Justice, Savage and Flair stole the show, with Savage pinning Flair by holding his tights on a roll-up to win his second WWF Championship. 

Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk vs. Sabu

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    What: Three-way dance for the ECW Championship

    When: The Night the Line was Crossed, Feb. 5, 1994

    Where: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Penn.

    Significance: ECW had some revolutionary concepts that were adopted (or outright stolen if you ask Paul Heyman) by WCW and WWF. In 1994, ECW hosted the first-ever three-way dance between Douglas, Funk and Sabu. Never before had three men squared off in a one-on-one-on-one match. This classic lasted one hour, but its influence on the wrestling world lasted much longer than that. 

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon

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    What: Ladder match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

    When: WrestleMania X, March 20, 1994

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. 

    Significance: Sure, this wasn't the first ladder match in the WWE (Michaels faced Bret Hart in one nearly two years prior), but this one put the match on the map. Credit the two wrestlers involved for an influential performance on a grand stage. 


Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Bash at the Beach, July 17, 1994

    Where: Orlando Arena, Orlando, Fla. 

    Significance: In Hogan's first WCW appearance, he faced World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair. Hogan, accompanied by Shaquille O'Neal, set the wheels in motion for WCW by providing the company with a star power that it sorely lacked for years as the WWE's little brother. 

Shane Douglas vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

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    What: Singles match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship 

    When: NWA/Eastern Championship Wrestling Supershow, Aug. 27, 1994

    Where: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Penn. 

    Significance: This match defined an entire company. After defeating Scorpio in the final match of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship tournament, Douglas began a speech about all of the great legends who wore the title previously. However, he changed his tune, saying all of those men could "kiss his ass," and then threw down the NWA title. Douglas said he would not be the one to accept the torch from an organization that "died seven years ago."

    Douglas declared himself the new ECW World Heavyweight Champion and announced a new era in professional wrestling. This was the night that ECW distanced itself from all tradition and set out to create a new alternative in professional wrestling. 


Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Psychosis

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    What: Singles match

    When: Gangsta's Paradise, Sept. 16, 1995 

    Where: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Penn.

    Significance: Even though WCW's cruiserweight division set the wrestling world on fire with excitement in the late 90s, the lucha libre style of wrestling was integrated into the United States by Paul Heyman's ECW. Mysterio, Jr. and Psychosis each made their United States debut in this 1995 contest, which was a preview of things to come for cruiserweight wrestling. 

Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart

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    What: Iron Man match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania XII, March 31, 1996

    Where: Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, Calif. 

    Significance: The first-ever Iron Man match saw Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels grind out an hour of wrestling with no outcome on the biggest stage in wrestling. In overtime, Michaels caught Bret with Sweet Chin Music to win his first WWF Championship. Michaels had already been a trailblazer up to that point, and this match and victory cemented his place in history. 

Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage vs. the Outsiders and Hulk Hogan

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    What: Six-man tag team match 

    When: Bash at the Beach, July 7, 1996

    Where: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Fla. 

    Significance: In arguably the most important match of the 1990s, super babyface Hulk Hogan was shockingly revealed to be the Outsiders' third man. Together, the trio formed the New World Order, a faction that helped revolutionize wrestling and made WCW the top company for 84 straight weeks in the Monday Night ratings war with WWF. 

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

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    What: Submission match 

    When: WrestleMania 13, March 23, 1997

    Where: Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, Ill. 

    Significance: Austin lost to Hart, but his toughness displayed at the end of the match added to the mystique of his character. Austin came in as the heel, but Hart's refusal to let go of the Sharpshooter after Austin had passed out forced a rare double turn. Austin turned face and began his run as one of the most popular wrestlers in history. 

Taz vs. Sabu

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    What: Singles match

    When: Barely Legal, April 13, 1997

    Where: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Penn.

    Significance: A long-standing grudge between Sabu and Taz was used to sell ECW's first pay-per-view, Barely Legal. For nearly a year, Taz called out Sabu, his former tag team partner who had been legitimately fired by Paul Heyman in 1995 for no-showing an event. At the November to Remember event in 1996, when Taz again challenged Sabu, the lights went out and Sabu appeared to finally accept. 

Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker

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    What: Hell in a Cell match

    When: Badd Blood: In Your House, Oct. 5, 1997

    Where: Kiel Center, St. Louis, Mo.

    Significance: The inaugural Hell in a Cell lived up to its name, as 'Taker and Michaels took each other apart for a half-hour in an epic encounter. To add to the mayhem, Kane, the Undertaker's storyline brother, made his debut, tearing the door off its hinges and attacking Undertaker. 

Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero

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    What: Mask vs. Title match for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship 

    When: Halloween Havoc, Oct. 26, 1997

    Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev. 

    Significance: In one of WCW's best worked matches, Mysterio, Jr. and Guerrero showed what the WCW cruiserweight division was all about. This event sums up WCW's formula in the late 90s: exciting, fast-paced mid-card matches and slow, plodding main-event matches (Roddy Piper vs. Hollywood Hogan, aka "age in the cage," was the main event of Halloween Havoc 1997, while this classic between Guerrero and Mysterio, Jr. went on second). 

Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: Survivor Series, Nov. 9, 1997

    Where: Molson Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 

    Significance: The infamous Montreal Screwjob led to a brutal real-life falling out between Hart and Vince McMahon. Hart was already leaving for a lucrative deal with WCW, but he did not want to drop the title to Shawn Michaels, especially with the match taking place in Canada.

    Without Hart's knowledge, McMahon had Earl Hebner rang the bell after Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter. In front of the camera, McMahon embraced the role as the evil boss, becoming Mr. McMahon and providing a foil for Stone Cold Steve Austin's unruly character, while Hart was misused by WCW for several years. 

Sting vs. Hollywood Hogan

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Starrcade, Dec. 28, 1997 

    Where: MCI Center, Washington, D.C. 

    Significance: The buildup to this match was massive, but the payoff didn't live up to the hype. Sting didn't go over Hogan cleanly, basically undoing everything WCW had done to build him up as the unstoppable savior of WCW. The nWo storyline would live on far too long, growing stale throughout 1998. 

Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker

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    What: Casket match for the WWF Championship

    When: Royal Rumble, Jan. 18, 1998

    Where: San Jose Arena, San Jose, Calif. 

    Significance: Michaels herniated several discs in his back after he was back body dropped on the casket. This forced him into an early retirement after his match at WrestleMania XIV with Steve Austin. Even though Michaels would return in 2002, he lost four years of his storied career thanks to this match. 

Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania XIV, March 29, 1998

    Where: FleetCenter, Boston, Mass. 

    Significance: Michaels gutted out one last match before retiring due to injuries sustained at the Royal Rumble. He passed the torch—and the WWF Championship—to Austin, putting the Austin era in full swing. 

Mankind vs. the Undertaker

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    What: Hell in a Cell match

    When: King of the Ring, June 28, 1998

    Where: Pittsburgh Civic Center, Pittsburgh, Penn. 

    Significance: Foley's willingness to take huge bumps and get back up led to him gaining adoration from the fans over time. As wrestlers continue to push the high-risk envelope, this match can be looked at as the one everyone has tried to top. 

Goldberg vs. Hollywood Hogan

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Monday Nitro, July 6, 1998

    Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga. 

    Significance: Goldberg, billed as 106-0, walked in with the United States Championship and put the streak on the line against an all-time great in Hogan. In a match given away for free on Nitro, Goldberg defeated Hogan to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It would be one of the final times WCW would defeat WWF in the Monday Night ratings war. 

Goldberg vs. Kevin Nash

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Starrcade, Dec. 27, 1998

    Where: MCI Center, Washington, D.C. 

    Significance: More than five months after winning the belt, Goldberg, now 173-0, put the gold on the line against Kevin Nash. Bam Bam Bigelow attacked Goldberg, causing the security staff to intervene. Scott Hall, wearing a bright yellow event staff shirt, used a stun gun on Goldberg as he was ready to spear Nash. Nash Jackknife Powerbombed Goldberg and ended the undefeated streak. 

Hollywood Hogan vs. Kevin Nash

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Monday Nitro, Jan. 4, 1999

    Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga. 

    Significance: Goldberg was booked to face Nash in a Starrcade rematch, but Miss Elizabeth accused Goldberg of harassment, leading to an arrest. Hogan, who had previously announced his intention to run for U.S. President, appeared, causing new WCW boss Ric Flair to book him in a match with Nash.

    In another NWO swerve, Hogan poked Nash—using the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom—and pinned him to win the title. The move was just another example of WCW not living up to its promises to the fans. Fans expected to finally see Nash vs. Hogan, but instead, got a sham of a match. Also, Nash just handing the title over to Hogan after beating Goldberg devalued the title. 

Mankind vs. the Rock

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: Raw is War, Dec. 29, 1998 (aired on Jan. 4, 1999)

    Where: Worcester, Mass. 

    Significance: On the same night as the Fingerpoke of Doom, Tony Schiavone gave away the results to this tape-delayed Raw at Eric Bischoff's request, saying that Mick Foley would win the world title and used the now-infamous line, "that's gonna put some butts in the seats."

    According to WrestleCrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wresting, several hundred thousand viewers switched to Raw immediately after Schiavone made those comments. 

Triple H vs. Mankind

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: Raw, Aug. 23, 1999

    Where: Ames, Iowa 

    Significance: A career 13-time World Champion, Triple H won his first WWF Championship in 1999 by defeating Mankind, who had won it one night earlier in a Triple Threat match at SummerSlam by pinning Steve Austin. This match kicked off a decade of dominance of the world title picture by Triple H. 

Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

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    What: Ladder match, final of the Terri Invitational Tournament

    When: No Mercy, Oct. 17, 1999

    Where: Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio 

    Significance: The first-ever tag team ladder match, this bout would be the precursor to the Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches that would take place over the course of the next several years. 

Triple H vs. Cactus Jack

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    What: Street fight for the WWF Championship

    When: Royal Rumble, Jan. 23, 2000

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

    Significance: In Triple H's finest hour, he defeated Cactus Jack (Mick Foley) in a street fight ripe with brutality to retain the WWF Championship. Foley put over Triple H as a legitimate main event superstar in this match and helped to grow the Game's vicious and remorseless character.

Edge and Christian vs. the Hardy Boyz vs. the Dudley Boyz

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    What: Triangle ladder match for the WWF Tag Team Championship

    When: WrestleMania 2000, April 2, 2000

    Where: Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, Calif. 

    Significance: Like the tag team ladder match at No Mercy 1999, this match was a precursor to the TLC matches between these three teams that would take place over the next year. Even though it did not have the title of TLC, the match featured a bevy of tables, ladders and chairs, and plenty of excitement. 

David Arquette & Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eric Bischoff & Jeff Jarrett

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    What: Tag team match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Thunder, April 25, 2000 (aired on April 26, 2000)

    Where: Syracuse, N.Y. 

    Significance: Oh where to begin with this match? This match will go down in history as WCW's lowest moment. In a match that's become a punchline over the years, David Arquette, an actor who starred in Ready to Rumble, won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It completely removed any value that the title had left.

    The match was a microcosm of the Vince Russo era in WCW—Russo would do anything to shock the fans, including continually hot-shotting the World Heavyweight Championship and putting it on an actor. Arquette wasn't even a big enough star in Hollywood for this to be big news. WCW was already in dire straights at this point, and this just contributed greatly to the decline. 

Hollywood Hogan vs. Jeff Jarrett

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    What: Singles match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Bash at the Beach, July 9, 2000

    Where: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Fla. 

    Significance: Hogan's last match in WCW involved another Vince Russo swerve. Russo thought everyone wanted to know about what went on backstage, so he constantly had angles involving wrestlers being angry with booking decisions. The problem with worked shoots is that you're basically admitting that everything else in wrestling is fake and scripted.

    Hogan was supposed to face Jeff Jarrett, but Russo had Jarrett lay down for Hogan before reemerging to verbally slay and fire Hogan for being a backstage politician and refusing to lose.

    Once again, WCW screwed its paying customers (which included me!) by not providing the matches advertised. As noted in The Death of WCW, once Hogan's star power was gone, the company took on more of a ghost-town feel, and the decline was that much more palpable. 

Edge and Christian vs. the Hardy Boyz vs. the Dudley Boyz

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    What: Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWF Tag Team Championship

    When: Summerslam, Aug. 27, 2000

    Where: Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena, Raleigh, N.C. 

    Significance: The match that defined an era of tag team wrestling and eventually spawned its own pay-per-view, TLC I was a culmination of the previous revolutionary matches between these teams. To date, there have been just 12 TLC matches in the WWE. 

Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. Undertaker vs. Rikishi vs. Rock vs. Kurt Angle

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    What: Six-man Hell in a Cell match for the WWF Championship

    When: Armageddon, Dec. 10, 2000

    Where: Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, Birmingham, Ala. 

    Significance: Four of the most popular superstars of all time (plus Rikishi) were gunning for Kurt Angle's WWF Championship in late 2000. All six men had beef with the others, so commissioner Mick Foley decided to throw them into Hell in a Cell. The previous six HIAC matches were either singles or tag team contests, so putting six men inside Satan's structure was a fresh take on an already-revolutionary concept. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. the Rock

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Championship

    When: WrestleMania X-Seven, April 1, 2000

    Where: Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Tex.

    Significance: Compare this to WrestleMania VI. Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior were two babyfaces, and the two most popular wrestlers in the company. Fast forward to 2001, and the Rock and Austin were in a similar situation. The two would battle one-on-one to see who the most dominant force in the company was, with Austin prevailing thanks to interference from his longtime nemesis, Mr. McMahon. 

Team Alliance vs. Team WWF

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    What: Traditional Survivor Series elimination match, "winner take all" 

    When: Survivor Series, Nov. 18, 2001

    Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C. 

    Significance: It's a telling sign that eight out of the 10 wrestlers in this match were WWF superstars. The only true WCW/ECW wrestlers were Booker T and Rob Van Dam. When Rock pinned Austin, Vince McMahon got exactly what he wanted: The WCW was mercifully laid to rest at last, and the WWF stood on top as the No. 1 company in wrestling. 

Chris Jericho vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

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    What: Singles match for the WWF Undisputed Championship

    When: Vengeance, Dec. 9, 2001

    Where: San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, Calif. 

    Significance: A huge night in the career of Chris Jericho and for wrestling history as well. Jericho beat Rock and Austin back-to-back to unify the title lineages of the WCW and WWF Championships, creating one Undisputed Champion in professional wrestling for the first time. 

Hollywood Hogan vs. the Rock

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    What: Singles match 

    When: WrestleMania X8, March 17, 2002

    Where: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Significance: Icons from two different eras squared off in a dream match for the ages. True, Rock was never as important to the WWE's success as Steve Austin, but he was still a major force behind the Attitude Era. Hogan received huge cheers throughout the match (despite trying to straight-up murder the Rock with a semi truck several weeks prior) and turned face at the end.

    In the months following the match, Hogan would return to his red and yellow roots as Hulkamania captured the hearts of the WWE fans one last time. 

Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Booker T vs. RVD vs. HBK vs. Triple H

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    What: Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship

    When: Survivor Series, Nov. 17, 2002

    Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. 

    Significance: In a match influenced by the Royal Rumble, WarGames, Survivor Series and Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels completed his miraculous comeback to wrestling by winning the final world championship of his career. Like TLC, the Elimination Chamber has since received its own pay-per-view event and is now a staple on the road to WrestleMania. 

Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar

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    What: Singles match for the WWE Championship

    When: No Way Out, Feb. 15, 2004

    Where: Cow Palace, Daly City, Calif. 

    Significance: Sure, you can easily suggest Chris Benoit's WrestleMania XX title win for this spot, but Eddie Guerrero did it first. By defeating Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004, Guerrero proved to his fans that hard work and dedication does pay off in the end, even when the obstacles are seemingly insurmountable. Guerrero first battled through his demons to get back to the WWE and then knocked off major favorite Lesnar to win his first, and only, WWE Championship. 

John Cena vs. JBL

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    What: Singles match for the WWE Championship

    When: WrestleMania 21, April 3, 2005

    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif. 

    Significance: John Cena defeated defending WWE Champion JBL at WrestleMania 21 to win his first (of many) world titles. Batista was groomed to be just as big of a star at this time, as he defeated Triple H in the main event to win his first world title, but Cena far surpassed him in the years that followed, becoming the face of the company and the most polarizing superstar in wrestling history.

AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels

49 of 50

    What: Three-way dance for the TNA X Division Championship

    When: Unbreakable, Sept. 11, 2005

    Where: TNA Impact! Zone, Orlando, Fla. 

    Significance: The only match in TNA history that was awarded five stars by Dave Meltzer, this was one of the matches that put TNA on the map. Without the performance of this trio at Unbreakable 2005, the company might not even exist today. This is also proof of what the X Division Championship used to mean, as the match went on last, after the NWA World Heavyweight Championship match. 

CM Punk vs. John Cena

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    What: Singles match for the WWE Championship

    When: Money in the Bank, July 17, 2011

    Where: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill. 

    Significance: It was a perfect storm of events for the WWE on July 17, 2011. An audience sick of John Cena finally had a wrestler who called out the WWE brass for not giving the fans what they wanted, and his contract happened to be expiring, adding an interesting wrinkle to the match.

    Still, it may not have worked as well as it did if Money in the Bank didn't take place in CM Punk's hometown of Chicago. WWE lucked out as everything came together, and CM Punk became a bigger star than any of us ever could have imagined, sparking a potential new era in the WWE.