Pro Wrestling Countdown: My 10 Favorite Matches of All Time
It has been a long time since I have written anything here so for my 'big' return I have decided to shake off my ‘writing cobwebs’ with everyone’s favorite top ten: The Pro Wrestling Countdown!
Every once and awhile you watch a match and after the match you have that feeling you just watched something truly amazing. These ten matches all did this to me.
All are amazing, but they are in a particular order. The 10th match has that effect on me, but not quite as much as the No. 1 match on this list.
The following ten matches are all amazing in their own way and are all without a doubt my true favorites of all time.
Be sure to tell me your ten favorite matches of all time in the comments section! Enjoy the slideshow!
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (Wrestlemania 21)
Seeing Shawn Michaels face Kurt Angle had been nothing more than a dream in the minds of wrestling purists up until this point, but at the Staples Center in Los Angles California on April 3, 2005, fans dreams came true.
This contest has since become one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches in recent memory.
The most incredible thing about this match is that this was the first time Angle and Michaels were ever in the ring together one on one. If I didn't know any better I could have sworn that it looked like these two had been wrestling each other for years.
Michaels did a great job of changing his game up to keep up Kurt Angle. He spent a lot of the match using Kurt's own style against him. Shawn spent the early part of the match out wrestling Angle on the mat. Nobody expected that.
For the rest of the match, the two slowly built the intensity and the match came down to several near falls, Sweet Chin Music, Angle Slams, and an Angle Lock. Shawn eventually tapped after the pain became too much for him. In my opinion, this match made Wrestlemania 21.
What I really love about this match today is that I can watch it a thousand times and never get bored with it.
It is like I’m watching something new every time I see it even though I’ve seen it dozens of times.
This is proof that Shawn and Kurt are two of the greatest performers of the last 20 years.
9. Bret Hart vs. Curt Hennig (SummerSlam 1991)
This to me is what pro wrestling was all about in the 1990s. Forget Hulk Hogan. Bret Hart and Curt Hennig were the real reason to watch the WWF.
This match is a like a 'How To" wrestling guide. It was almost like Bret and Curt went out there and showed all the guys in the back how to actually have a good match.
This match wasn't anything pretty like what Hart and Hennig are usually known for. This match was nothing more than Curt trying everything he could to retain his Intercontinental Championship and Bret trying to take it from him in the same fashion.
Curt even tried to escape the ring and retain the title via count out, but Bret wasn't having it.
Curt played his heel persona perfectly here using every trick in the book to try and get the upper hand, but Bret overcame all of it come back and win with his signature sharpshooter to win the Intercontinental title with his parents looking on from ringside.
Truly, these guys made the Intercontinental Championship.
This is one of those matches that seem timeless. Every time I watch it I forget that this match is nearly 20 years old.
8. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio (Halloween Havoc 1997)
In all honesty WCW did many things wrong during the ‘Monday Night Wars’, but one thing they did do right was their focus on their cruiserweight division.
In this match you have two of the most recognizable Latino wrestlers in the prime of their in-ring life. This match was a mask vs. title match and one of the finest matches ever preformed under WCW's banner.
This was the match that truly made me appreciate Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. I remember watching it on dvd for the first time and I had to rewind the disc several times so that I could watch some of the spots over again.
The chemistry Guerrero and Mysterio had was truly incredible. Every time Rey was in control the pace of the match speed up and just has Rey got the upper hand Guerrero used his strength advantage to slow it back down.
Near the end Guerrero looked to be in control, having used his strength to completely throw Rey off his game.
In the end however, Rey managed to reverse Guerrero’s belly-to-back suplex on the top rope into a sunset flip followed by a roll up for a quick three count to win the Cruiserweight Championship.
This is what cruiserweight wrestling is all about.
7. Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage (Wrestlemania III)
In the 1980s wrestling exploded thanks to guys like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant and while people came to see Hogan and Andre they stuck around thanks to guys like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat.
Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat made the Intercontinental Championship feel important the same way Bret Hart and Curt Hennig did years later. This match is often described as one of the best in Wrestlemania history.
The ‘Macho Man” and ‘The Dragon’ had the most technically pleasing match at Wrestlemania, but for years this match was overshadowed by the most legendary match in history Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant that took place later that same night.
However, in later years Steamboat and Savage have gained more credit for their match at Wrestlemania III. This match for me is all about nostalgia.
Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat’s over the top characters and the 93,000 fans come together to make a match that is nearly 30 years old still seem as entertaining as ever.
6. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (Wrestlemania XX)
Wrestlemania has had dozens of 5 star main event matches but this is by far my favorite Wrestlemania main event of all time.
It has everything. You have the ‘underdog’ story in Chris Benoit and the personal rivalry between HBK and HHH. The match itself is truly an epic.
It has crazy spots like Michael’s moonsault to the outside of the ring and HBK and HHH tossing Benoit thru a table.
The match encompasses every type of good match any wrestler could ever hope to have. It dips into each genre, but only for a few moments before it changes styles.
You see mat wrestling, brawling, high-flying action, and even technical wrestling all wrapped up for one fantastic main event featuring three of the most talented men to every walk through a WWE curtain.
When Benoit finally won, we were left with one of the greatest Wrestlemania moments of all time as Eddie Guerrero came to the ring and the two men celebrated their wins after nearly 20 years of both men trying to climb to the ‘top of the mountain.’
5. Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam (ECW Living Dangerously 1999)
This match was for the Television Championship.
For me, this is what hardcore wrestling is all about. This match is what comes to my mind when I hear that “E-C-W-E-C-W-E-C-W” chant.
No, you're right, it doesn’t have flaming tables, barbed wire ring ropes, or people hanging from crosses but this match is why I became a huge fan of ECW.
Jerry Lynn is one of the most underrated guys in wrestling history and back in the day Rob Van Dam knew how to have a hell of an exciting match. This match walked the line of hardcore and fast paced action.
This match had diving crossbodies into the crowd, reversal after reversal, and all sorts of fast paced innovative high impact action that ECW built its name on.
The match ended when the 20 minute time limit expired. The referee wanted to give the Television title to Jerry Lynn, but right before he was about to award Lynn the title Jerry begged for 5 more minutes.
He would later regret this as “The Whole F’n Show” hit the 5 Star Frog Splash for the win.
I love this match and it is really one of the best contests under the ECW banner and one of my favorite matches of all time.
4. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (Royal Rumble 2003)
In 2003 Kurt Angle was on top of the wrestling world or what would later become known as Friday Night Smackdown.
Angle had climbed to the top of the mountain and back and had beaten all challengers, but one day an old challenger came knocking on Kurt’s door. Enter Chris Benoit.
These two have had dozens of fantastic matches. One of them actually narrowly missed making this top ten. The match I’m talking about was their one on one match at Wrestlemania X-7. However something about their contest at the Royal Rumble felt much more important.
Benoit and Angle had a very back and forth contest. They tore each other apart with all sorts of suplexes, submission holds, and even a few moves off the top rope.
The match ended with Angle getting his hand raised, but it is what happens after Angle leaves that I remember this match for. As Benoit crawls up from the mat the entire crowd in the arena began to give Benoit a standing ovation.
He begins to slowly make his way to the backstage area and the fans continue to applaud. This moment meant a lot to me and after the way Benoit left this world, I think it even means more to me know.
3. Bret Hart vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 13)
As far as epic Wrestlemania matches go you would be hard pressed to find a more intense brawl than the match ‘Stone Cold’ had with ‘The Hitman’ at Wrestlemania 13. We will most likely never see a match this brutal again in the WWE.
Bret had come back from a 6 month absence to a very different WWF. The times were changing and Bret sort of represented the old WWF. Austin, on the other hand, represented the new ‘edgier’ WWF.
This was not a pretty match by any means. Bret and Austin make this match seem very personal due to all the emotion they put into each and every move they perform.
They used the ring, chairs, cables, ring-bells, and even the crowd itself as weapons. Austin’s strategy was to beat the hell out of Bret until he couldn’t take it anymore, but Bret strategy was a bit more sound.
He targeted the injured leg of Austin abuse it throughout the entire match.
Then Austin began to bleed. Which lead to the final nail in the coffin which was Bret Hart locking in the sharpshooter which lead to one of the most iconic moments in WWE history: the image of Austin bleeding all over locked in the sharpshooter.
To his credit Austin never said ‘I quit’ he passed out. After the match he limped to the back without help from the trainers. This is truly when ‘Stone Cold’ earned the respect of all the fans.
2. The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle (No Way Out 2006)
This match only missed out on being my No. 1 favorite match of all time by a narrow margin. The only thing that made me change my mind was after I watched my No. 1 match again. More on that later.
If you didn’t know, Kurt Angle and The Undertaker are two of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Both men try to have amazing matches every time they walk into the ring and usually succeed. This match is no different.
The fantastic thing about this match was the big match atmosphere it generated along with why Taker and Angle paced the match. Nothing ever moved too quickly or too slowly.
They took their time selling moves and kept the action moving with a perfect balance of high impact moves and submission holds or ‘rest holds.’
Kurt Angle really had the Undertaker scouted in the match. Almost every time Taker went to finish Angle off he reversed his signature maneuvers into his dreaded Angle Lock.
The match ended when Taker locked in the triangle choke and Kurt leaped over Taker and scored a quick 3 count before ‘The Deadman’ even knew what hit him.
This is one of the most underrated matches in WWE history.
1. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels (TNA Unbreakable 2005
It may be a bit shocking that my favorite match of all time came from a company that can’t seem to do anything right anymore. Even though TNA can’t seem to do anything right these days this match did everything right.
No matter what dumb decision TNA makes, like bringing in Tommy Dreamer, they can still take credit for being home to three of the most talented individuals to never make it in WWE.
This match was all about what was previously the most prestigious title in TNA that represented the division that got people watching TNA in the beginning, the X Division Championship.
Here was the dynamic. Daniels was the champion, Samoa Joe was undefeated, and AJ Styles was the ultimate babyface that had already climbed the mountain. Samoa Joe couldn’t afford to lose and neither could Daniels, but Styles could only go up.
It almost seemed to be more about them having an epic match than the X Division Championship. I often forget about the title when I’m watching the match. I’m more focused on picking my jaw up off the floor after watching one of them pull off yet another epic move.
The match itself is what I thought TNA was all about, but now it is only what TNA should have been all about. This fact actually makes me appreciate it even more, which is why Taker vs. Angle isn’t my favorite match anymore.
What Styles, Daniels, and Joe did at Unbreakable is a big reason TNA ‘hit it big’ and got people to pay attention.
They gave true wrestling fans hope that real wrestling still existed, but now I can only watch the match thinking about what could have been if the ‘higher ups’ had made better decisions with their talent.
However the match is still a blast to watch. It is filled with innovative fast-paced action, high-flying moves, and unreal double-team maneuvers. By far the best three way dance since Benoit/HHH/HBK from Wrestlemania XX.
If you have never seen this match then you don’t understand why some wrestling fans hate TNA. They missed the chance at becoming something different.
They did this by not making their own stars the focus and decided that bringing in big names from past companies would be better for business when in reality it is just slowly killing then, but at least we can still enjoy TNA’s classic matches from when there was still hope for them.
While the decline of TNA is one of biggest disappointments in recent wrestling history this match is still the company's crowning jewel.