Ranking WWE's 10 Most Exciting Triple Threat Matches Ever
Few matches in WWE's arsenal are as exciting as the Triple Threat match.
WWE's library is stocked with classics of three men battling each other at the same time, from Rey Mysterio's hometown win to WrestleMania XX's all-time classic.
The uneven number of opponents creates temporary alliances, double-team opportunities and the third man preventing the other two from deciding the match without him. When done properly, the Triple Threat is dizzying theater, fast-paced and hard to predict.
Curtis Axel, The Miz and Wade Barrett head into WWE Payback on Sunday looking to leave as Intercontinental champ and perhaps add their names to the long list of great, thrilling Triple Threat matches fans have witnessed over the years.
Ranked on a combination of high spots, dramatic endings and overall excitement, here are the WWE Triple Threat matches that most accelerated hearts and slid fans to the edge of their seats.
Others Deserving Consideration
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle at Taboo Tuesday 2005
Alberto Del Rio, John Cena and CM Punk delivered high drama in between walls of steel at Hell in a Cell 2011.
Cena was also a part of great Triple Threats against Triple H and Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2009 and against Michaels and Kurt Angle at Taboo Tuesday 2005.
At Extreme Rules 2011, Cena also had a thrilling battle against The Miz and John Morrison inside a cage for the WWE title.
Allegiances, mutiny and revenge all played a part in the dramatic Submissions Count Anywhere match between Daniel Bryan, The Miz and John Morrison at Hell in a Cell 2010.
10. Vengeance 2005: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian-full match
This match in some ways is the blueprint for excitement via Triple Threat.
John Cena vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian had an intriguing three-way feud, high stakes in the form of the WWE Championship and a fun, fluid pace.
Jericho and Christian began the match double-teaming Cena. Their partnership quickly dissolved, of course.
The fast-paced action featured great chemistry between Jericho and Cena, Jericho teasing a suplex through a table spot and Christian nearly pulling off the upset with an inside cradle.
There have been matches that have felt better and have been more emotional, but few have had the enthralling energy that this clash had.
9. King of the Ring 2001: Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit
Highlights of Steve Austin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit
Sloppiness hurt this match some, but Steve Austin fending off two challengers on the rise was a highly entertaining main event.
Austin, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit opened the action with brawling outside of the ring and in the crowd. The focus soon shifted to inside the ring and to Austin as both Jericho and Benoit beat on him.
The battle was an exciting blend of high-flying and power with a number of memorable spots.
Benoit swinging the chair wildly at both foes, Austin and Jericho chopping each other from their knees and Benoit going on a German suplex rampage helped make this match a thrilling one.
Drained and increasingly desperate, the three men fought on until Austin managed to pin Benoit and survive as champion.
8. Armageddon 2008: Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H
Edge vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Triple H-full match
This was during one of then-WWE champ Edge's best periods: crazed, hungry and hard to look away from. This night, though, belonged to Jeff Hardy.
It was Hardy who provided the match with stunning moments as he dove over the ropes and flipped onto his opponents.
A great flow powered this match and kept it entertaining from start to finish. In a race to the championship, all three men smashed each other into barricades and tossed each other over tables.
The Vladimir Kozlov and Matt Hardy run-ins along with the emotional power of Hardy winning the title made this an awesome thrill ride.
7. Vengeance 2003: Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
Highlights of Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
Brutality, blood and mat wrestling combined to create one of the most exhilarating matches WWE fans have seen.
Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar's fantastic chemistry had them create something special every time they clashed. This time, with Big Show added to the mix, was no different.
The hyped crowd saw Big Show chokeslamming both of his opponents, a nasty F5, a ring-rattling powerbomb and an Angle Slam through a table.
The action built perfectly toward the climax, a chaotic exchange of finishers and Angle coming out on top.
6. TLC 2011: CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio
Highlights of CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio
Opening with a rapid aggressive pace, the main event for TLC 2011 had a number of memorable moments and an unpredictable feel.
Punk's Houdini-like escapes created the match's lasting image: the champion in trouble, unscrewing his way free from being handcuffed in the corner, the ropes falling limply on the mat.
Alberto Del Rio played the part of Punk's dastardly foil. It seemed that he had outsmarted and outplayed his opponents on several occasions.
High drama, great ladder spots and a hypnotizing chemistry between these three men make it one of the best Triple Threat matches yet.
5. SummerSlam 2000: Kurt Angle vs. The Rock vs. Triple H
Highlights of Kurt Angle vs. The Rock vs. Triple H
There have been prettier and smoother matches, Triple Threat or otherwise, but few have used a compelling wildness to such powerful effect.
The match was already a great clash between rivals, Triple H and The Rock. When Kurt Angle got involved in the match again after being taken out on a stretcher, he elevated the drama and excitement of the battle.
It was his feud with Triple H over Stephanie McMahon that helped lift this match to a fever pitch.
A sledgehammer, suplexes and pulsating hate took fans on an electrifying journey.
4. SmackDown Sept. 26, 2002: Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
Highlights of Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle
Rey Mysterio's hometown crowd witnessed a classic.
From the beginning, the match had a furious, throbbing energy. Mysterio, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle kept up a wild pace and never seemed to let off the gas.
There were moments that built on Angle and Benoit's great chemistry and history, but for much of this battle it was Mysterio's thrilling style and his flying around the ring that charged up the San Diego fans.
Mysterio hit a double 619 on both foes and delivered a massive leg drop onto Benoit as he grappled with Angle.
This may not have had the monumental moment that Mysterio's Triple Threat at WrestleMania 22 had, but it was a more captivating match overall.
3. Backlash 2004: Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
Highlights of Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels and Triple H followed up their WrestleMania XX classic with a match that was nearly as good.
This time Benoit walked in as champion and in front of a Canadian audience, fended off his challengers with gutsiness and his array of submission holds.
Michaels missed his foes and crashed into a table. Sledgehammers, low blows and heads clanging on ring posts all played a part in creating a thrilling show.
These men gave a performance that in some ways topped their first try, but wasn't quite as exciting because it didn't have the same powerful moment where Benoit and his friend Eddie Guerrero celebrated under confetti rain.
The ending was still a fabulous one though. Benoit clamped the Sharpshooter onto Michaels as Triple H reached for him in desperation with the crowd exploding around them.
2. Vengeance 2002: The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle
The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle-full match
Kurt Angle, The Rock and The Undertaker composed a masterpiece in the Joe Louis Arena.
Their battle felt like an infusion of several matches, a brawl, a mat wrestling clinic and a showcase of power.
With great rhythm throughout, fans saw a liberal borrowing of finishers, as The Rock chokeslammed Undertaker and hooked the ankle lock on Angle, while Angle stole the Rock Bottom and Undertaker pulled off an Angle Slam.
The last third of the match featured a hectic pace full of drama. Few matches have left the audience gasping so often, every two-count and near-finish more exciting than the last.
1. WrestleMania XX: Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
Highlights of Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
The culmination of a long journey for a wrestler who purist fans loved couldn't have ended with a more masterful performance.
Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels and Triple H exuded desperation from the beginning. They all made it clear that they'd be willing to put themselves through hell to end the night as champion.
Their fluid and hard-hitting fight featured stiff chops, suplexes and spinebusters and blood dripping onto the mat.
The excitement of this match was about more than the sum of its violence though: it was a story of a man making his mark, staking his claim on the mountain top and having to fight off two icons to do it.