Wrestling's Greatest Battles: Ranking the Top 100 Matches in WWE History, Part I
The WWE has long maintained a tradition of larger-than-life characters. Some of those characters were privy to participate in the 100 greatest matches in company history.
There are only so many words you can use to describe the perfect match. When two (or four, or six, or even 40) wrestlers lock up in the center of the squared circle, the anticipation is electric. The crowd awaits with bated breath to see which titan of the ring will come out victorious.
In its near-50 year history, World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World [Wide] Wrestling Federation) has played host to some of wrestling's most lovable and larger-than-life characters. But it's also been center-stage for some of professional wrestling's greatest matches.
Bleacher Report has assembled a collection of 100 of the greatest matches in the history of WWE. And we've ranked them, from No. 100 all the way down to No. 1. The process was long and arduous, but shall certainly provoke passionate responses from the readers!
Can you guess where the list will go? Perhaps you're ready to start this "classic confrontation" with the 100th greatest match in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment...
100. Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac (Unforgiven 1999)
Sean "X-Pac" Waltman and "Y2J" Chris Jericho hooked up at the Charlotte Coliseum in an mid-card match at Unforgiven 1999, and would have promptly stole the show had they not been upstaged by the night's main event...
X-Pac won the match via disqualification.
99. TAKA Michinoku vs. Jerry Lynn (Monday Night Raw 1997)
Though many long-time fans may remember the great TAKA Michinoku (of Kaientai fame) during his WWE run—and the talented Jerry Lynn as an upper-card threat in ECW during its final years—many fans may not remember that both men were apart of the WWE's experimental Light Heavyweight Division in the summer months of 1997.
The match that these two put on during an episode of Monday Night Raw was memorable enough to make our list.
TAKA wins with his patented Michinoku Driver.
98. Bret Hart Vs. 1-2-3 Kid (WWE Championship: Monday Night Raw 1994)
Former five-time WWE Champion Bret "Hitman" Hart had a number of unusual title defenses following WrestleMania X in 1994.
But none were more exciting than his bout with Sean Waltman, competing under the moniker "the 1-2-3 Kid'.
The Kid fought valiantly, but the "Excellence of Execution" prevailed in the end.
97. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock (WCW Championship - No Mercy 2001)
In the waning months of the "InVasion" angle, Internet darling Chris Jericho finally broke through the walls and captured some serious gold in WWE.
At No Mercy 2001, Jericho made a humongous splash when he bested Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson in one of WWE's most memorable matches from the InVasion Era.
Though dubious means were used, Jericho still took home the "Big Gold Belt" in the end!
96. Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (SmackDown 2002)
The famed "SmackDown Six" (Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and Chavo Guerrero) produced some incredible matches during the final months of 2002.
This one was no exception, as the late, great Eddie Guerrero took on the soon-to-be "Rated R Superstar" Edge in one of their many classic confrontations.
95. Edge vs. Kurt Angle (King of the Ring 2001)
The only person that Edge wrestled with more between 2001 and 2003 other than Eddie Guerrero was Kurt Angle.
In this bout, Edge and Kurt Angle competed for the coveted King of the Ring label in the finals of the 2001 tournament.
Edge came out victorious in this match, but Kurt Angle would be victorious in his later match with Shane McMahon.
94. Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship - No Way Out 2004)
Eddie Guerrero was a part of many special moments during his legendary career, but few were more special for his fans than his WWE Championship victory over Brock Lesnar at No Way Out 2004.
Guerrero, a decided underdog against Lesnar, managed to reverse the F5 into a tornado DDT on the WWE Championship belt.
One frog splash later, and Guerrero was the champion.
93. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock (World Championship - Vengeance 2001)
Chris Jericho made history at Vengeance 2001 by becoming the very first WWE Undisputed Champion. To get there, though, Jericho had to wrestle twice—once against Steve Austin in the main event of the evening, and in this bout against World Champion The Rock.
Despite being favored heavily, the Rock was upset by Chris Jericho en route to Jericho's final victory over Steve Austin to become the Undisputed Champion.
92. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (Monday Night Raw 2001)
In the midst of the InVasion angle, there were few wrestlers more popular (and later, despised) than Kurt Angle.
At a live Raw show in Indianapolis, Ind., the "Olympic Gold Medalist" competed against the "Texas Rattlesnake" Steve Austin in a WWE Championship title defense.
Unfortunately for Angle, interference from William Regal ended his championship reign, as Austin took the title with a Stone Cold Stunner.
91. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (WWE Championship - WrestleMania XIX)
There have been 26 WrestleMania events since 1985, each with a very special main event.
But arguably the most athletic and competitive of WrestleMania main events occurred at the 19th WrestleMania card, where Kurt Angle defended the WWE Championship against Brock Lesnar.
The match was a memorable affair, with Lesnar taking the title (despite nearly killing himself with a botched shooting star press!)
90. The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (Royal Rumble 1991)
Shawn Michaels has worn many hats during his illustrious career, but the first among many came as part of the Rockers with Marty Jannetty.
Known as "tag team specialists", the Rockers took on the tandem of Paul "Kato" Diamond and Pat Tanaka at the 1991 Royal Rumble.
What followed was one of the greatest tag team matches in WWE history.
89. Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit (SmackDown 2002)
Having captured the newly-created WWE Tag Team Championship at No Mercy 2002, the unlikely duo of Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle found themselves in the midst of a three-team feud along with Chavo and Eddie Guerrero and the team of Edge and Rey Mysterio.
On an episode of SmackDown following their title win, Benoit and Angle found out the hard way just how tough the SmackDown tag division was in one of the great matches of the era.
88. The Rockers vs. The Brainbusters (1989)
Two of the great all-time tag teams collided at the Boston Garden in 1989, when Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty—the Rockers—took on the team known as the Brainbusters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard during the final months of the Busters' stay in the promotion.
The two teams put on a clinic inside the squared circle, with many calling the bout one of the greatest tag team matches of the 1980s.
87. The Raw Elimination Chamber Match (No Way Out 2009)
Edge, Triple H, the Undertaker, Jeff Hardy, the Big Show and Vladimir Kozlov competed for the WWE Championship inside the confines of the Elimination Chamber, the WWE's answer to the War Games match from the NWA.
This classic from the Raw Brand in 2009 at No Way Out provided plenty of drama and excitement, as five legendary competitors gave it their all to win the most coveted prize in the industry.
The finale came when Triple H pinned the Undertaker after a pedigree to win the title.
86. Tito Santana vs. Greg Valentine (Intercontinental Title: 1984)
Tito Santana and Greg "the Hammer" Valentine had one of the most grueling feuds in WWE history over the Intercontinental Championship.
The two would meet on a number of different occasions, including a very memorable steel cage match in Baltimore, Md.
Yet among their many encounters in the mid-1980s, their showdown at Madison Square Garden has gone down as one of the better matches of the decade.
Tito lost the match via countout, but he would hold onto the Intercontinental Title for a while longer before losing the title to Valentine.
85. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Street Fight: Summerslam 2002)
Shawn Michaels had retired from professional wrestling after dropping the WWE Championship to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV.
With a back injury that most people thought would keep him out of the ring forever, Michaels decided to make his grandest comeback four years later at Summerslam 2002 against his friend, Triple H.
Michaels would end up winning the match, and would go on to enjoy nearly eight more years in the business before retiring again after WrestleMania XXVI.
84. The Raw Elimination Chamber Match (No Way Out 2008)
By 2008, the Elimination Chamber match had become a staple on the WWE's annual calendar. Taking place immediately following the Royal Rumble pay per view in January, February's traditional "No Way Out" card played host to several exciting cage matches.
Yet it was 2008's offering from the Raw brand that stood out as one of the greatest Elimination Chamber matches in history.
Triple H would win the first of two straight Elimination Chamber matches (one with the Raw brand, the second with the SmackDown brand) in 2008, outlasting D-X teammate Shawn Michaels, Umaga, Jeff Hardy, JBL, and "Y2J" Chris Jericho.
83. Kurt Angle vs. Edge vs. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero (SmackDown 2002)
Four of the greatest in-ring competitors WWE has ever seen: Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit and Edge took part in a Fatal Four Way elimination match to determine who would face Paul "the Big Show" Wight for the WWE Championship at Armageddon 2002.
The bout would become the defining moment of the "SmackDown Six" Era, and would feature one of the most memorable finishes to a match in network television history.
In the climatic finale, Kurt Angle hit a pop up, leaping top rope Angle Slam on Edge, who was flattened on the mat for the academic pinfall. Kurt Angle would go on to defeat the Big Show for the WWE Championship the next month.
82. Bret Hart vs. The Undertaker vs. Steve Austin vs. Vader (Final Four 1997)
Though "fatal four-way" matches are fairly commonplace today, they were an absolute rarity in the WWE back in 1997.
The "Final Four" match at the February In Your House pay per view that year was a little different than the concept that we're used to today. In order to win this match, the wrestlers had to be thrown over the top rope, like a battle royal.
The match pitted four of the most famous wrestlers in North American history, with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, the man they call Vader, Bret "Hitman" Hart and the Undertaker competing for the vacant WWE Championship following Shawn Michaels' infamous knee injury.
Despite numerous run-ins, Bret Hart would secure his fourth WWE Championship by finally eliminating the Undertaker last.
Hart's fourth reign as WWE Champion would last only 24 hours, though.
81. WWE Championship Six-Pack Challenge (Unforgiven 1999)
An unusual turn of events led to the vacating of the WWE Championship in the late summer months of 1999. Triple H, in the midst of his first run as the WWE Champion, had lost the title quickly to the most unassuming of challengers—none other than the Chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon himself!
McMahon quickly vacated the title, putting it up for grabs at the Unforgiven pay per view in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The match, a "Six Pack Challenge" featuring the Big Show, Kane, Mankind, the British Bulldog, the Rock, and Triple H, was a chaotic affair, with wrestlers and referees alike getting into the madness.
With "Stone Cold" Steve Austin acting as the enforcer for the match, fans were left bitterly disappointed when Triple H came back out on top and recaptured the WWE Title.