Pro Wrestling's Greatest Champion vs. Champion Matches
With WWE’s summer block buster around the corner (SummerSlam), it looks like the event is starting to take shape!
WWE is looking to set a probable epic champion vs. champion match between CM Punk and John Cena, who tore the roof off the Allstate Arena in Chicago at this year’s Money in the Bank.
The current feud/story-line between CM Punk & John Cena is compelling enough but adding champion vs. champion should and will spark even more interest.
Back in the good ole days of sports entertainment/pro wrestling, champion vs. champion bouts meant to be instant classics, which garnered great amounts of attention.
We have seen many great feuds in the past which led to climatic final matches with the victor leaving with the victory, title and ultimately bragging rights.
We rarely see this concept now-a-days this element of sports entertainment has been lost, but we may see it brought back at this year’s SummerSlam event.
But until then why not take a stroll down memory lane and relive some great champion vs. champion bouts in sports entertainment/pro wrestling history!
The Ultimate Challenge
Hulk Hogan, arguably the biggest star of the 80s and 90s, was rolling high in the WWE (WWF at the time), but was looking to be surpassed by the high energetic Ultimate Warrior.
Ultimate Warrior’s popularity was on a rise and was even seen to be the big thing of the 90s leaving Hulk-mania in the 80s.
But Hulk Hogan was not willing to let that happen so easily, this would lead to numerous confrontations between the two.
After a confrontation at the 1990 Royal Rumble, it was planned for the two to meet at the grandest stage of them all: WrestleMania 6.
The bout was dubbed the “Ultimate Challenge,” which would take place on April 1, 1990 at the Sky-Dome in Toronto, Ontario, to a record breaking attendance of 67,678 (according to Wikipedia.com).
This was highly likely due to the much anticipated champion (WWF champion) Hulk Hogan vs. champion (Intercontinental champion) Ultimate Warrior.
From entrance to finish, the crowd was electric which made this match even more enjoyable.
Ultimate Warrior & Hulk Hogan were not the greatest in-ring technicians but with all the elements mixing together, the match became an instant classic.
The bout would start off with a shove match, as neither man was backing down.
This would lead to both men trying to overpower the other, with Ultimate Warrior getting the upper hand.
Hogan would assume the role as the come-back artist and would look to answer Warrior's maneuvers.
The match would go back and forth but Hogan would capture Warrior in a sleeper hold looking to put the ragging dog down.
Ultimate Warrior would fight back with the roaring cheer of fans in the background; this would lead to a clashing double clothes-line putting both men down.
Ultimate Warrior would take control and capitalize on what Hulk Hogan did best, assume the role as unstoppable force where you can’t be stopped no matter what you hit them with.
Hulk Hogan would once again fight back but this would be to no avail as it was Ultimate Warrior’s time and Warrior would capture the WWF title with the Warrior splash.
Being a good sport, Hogan would personally hand over his lost title to the newly crowned champ and raise his hand. Ultimate Warrior would relish the moment and feel the electric force in the air brought by the fans.
No matter how much we criticize or bash these guys now, at the end of the day they created a classic, historic moment in sports entertainment history.
Will the Real Intercontinental Champion Please Stand Up?
The next match would be only the second ladder match in WWE history.
Shawn Michaels would spark a feud with Razor Ramon as to who was the true Intercontinental Champion, as both looked to take the claim.
Michaels would be stripped of the WWF Intercontinental title by Jack Tunney (on screen President of the company at that time), as he had felt Michaels was not defending it enough.
It has also been speculated that Michaels was truly stripped of the title as he refused to drop the belt (according to Wikipedia.com).
This would lead to a battle royal with Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) coming out as the victor and new I.C. champion.
Shawn Michaels claimed to be the true champion and would not acknowledge Ramon as the owner of the title.
This would create a heated feud between the two, with Michaels seeking revenge on Ramon for taking claim to what Michaels felt was his Intercontinental title.
The two were set to meet at WrestleMania 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York on March 20, 1994.
This match was said to be, “one of the most ground breaking matches in wrestling history.”
Not only that PWI (Pro Wrestling Illustrated) named it match of the year in 1994 while IGN placed it at No. 3 in its Top 20 Matches in WrestleMania History.
It's no wonder why as the two went at it from start to finish utilizing the element of the ladder in almost every aspect of the match…well it is a ladder match.
The match had it all as it was entertaining, exciting and had fans at the edge of their seats till the very end.
This match has and forever will be one of the greatest ladder matches in pro wrestling history.
WWE had bought out their long time competitor WCW. This led to an overstocked roster with two major title belts WCW heavyweight title and the WWE (WWF at the time) title.
After the “invasion” angle had fizzled and WWE once had gained control over the ECW-WCW faction, the Alliance, it was time to declare an undisputed champion.
A three match tournament was set to take place between Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle.
Austin and Angle had a heated rivalry beforehand feuding over the WWE (WWF) title, as well as The Rock and Jericho.
Jericho had become jealous of The Rock for capturing the WCW world title which Jericho had never held.
Jericho would defeat The Rock at one point to win his first major title and become the WCW world heavyweight champion. But The Rock would reclaim the title on an edition of Raw.
Both feuds would lead into Vengeance, as each man was looking to be dubbed the undisputed champion.
Austin vs. Angle would start off the tournament in a back and forth technical match which saw Austin stunning Angle to capture the WWE (WWF) title and move on to the finals.
The next bout was grudge match between The Rock and Chris Jericho to determine who would face Austin in the finals.
Jericho and The Rock's match was another intense highlight of a match which saw Jericho getting the upset with the help of Vince McMahon.
The finals were set and Austin did not waste anytime as his entrance music hit just as Jericho began to celebrate his win.
It would be Jericho the WCW world heavyweight champion vs. Austin the WWE (WWF) champion.
Austin was on the attack, like a shark smelling fresh blood in the water.
Austin looked to pounce on the worn down Y2J who just had a tiring match with The Rock with no rest.
The match was everywhere around the ring, this had fans full attention.
Once again Mr. McMahon would play a factor as he had the returning Booker T interfere to have Jericho claim the prize of the first undisputed champion.
One Last Clash
As WWE (WWF) had bought out WCW, the stage was set for the last Monday Night Nitro which had been named, “Night of Champions” by Eric Bischoff.
The event would take place in Panama City on March 26, 2001.
The show was a surreal moment as the show had begun with Vince McMahon appearing via satellite from Gund Arena in Cleveland, OH as he was at Monday Night Raw.
All the titles were set to be on the line that night which led to a epic final bout between then WCW world heavyweight champion and newly crowd United States heavyweight champion, with the winner claiming both titles.
This feud was one of the best feuds of WCW’s dying days as the two became the main staples of the decaying organization, with guys like Kevin Nash, Goldberg, Sting, Hogan and others either leaving or just taking a back seat.
These two men looked to give it their all as both were looking to end their careers in WCW with a bang, as well as to impress WWE (WWF) officials.
These two would go back and forth in a rough and tough showcase of a match, as the two knocked each other all over the ring.
The fans would stand on their feet as Booker T would surprisingly, pull off the “Book end” (Booker T’s version of The Rock’s Bottom) and would capture his fourth WCW heavyweight title.
Booker T would go on to WWE (WWF) to play a major role in the “Invasion” storyline.
Showdown in the Tokyo Dome
After leaving WWE, Brock Lesnar would not pursue his MMA career just yet, as he made a quick pit stop to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
This would happen after Lesnar's attempt to pursue a career in the NFL had not gone the way he had hoped.
This did not stop Lesnar as he was a competitor and looked to bounce back quickly.
Lesnar would debut for NJPW and would win the IWGP heavyweight championship, in a three way match in the Tokyo Dome. He defeated Kazuyuki Fujita and Masahiro Chono.
Lesnar would go on to defend the title with WWE trying to interfere as the company filed an injunction to prevent Brock Lesnar from working for NJPW (according to Wikipedia.com).
This would not work as WWE tried numerous times and was denied.
Lesnar would move on and would continue to perform for the company and defend his title.
He would face the winner of the New Japan Cup in 2006 which would be Giant Bernard (Albert, A-Train).
This was a rare American vs. American bout for the organization. Brock Lesnar would retain the title.
Lesnar would be stripped of the title later on due to “visa issues." A new champion would be crowned.
But on June 29, 2007 (a year later), Lesnar would be dubbed the “proper” champion by IGF promoter Antonio Inoki, as he was never defeated.
This would set up a instant classic champion vs. champion match.
This would make a outside of the WWE WrestleMania 19 rematch between Lesnar the IWGP heavyweight champion vs. Kurt Angle TNA world heavyweight champion.
This was very intriguing as each man still claimed to be the better wrestler.
Although not on American soil, the match was an entertaining bout for the fans in attendance.
Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar looked to get the upper hand by out wrestling and over powering one another just like their WrestleMania 19 bout.
This match was made even more exciting as the wrestling aspect is taken very seriously in Japan so every little maneuver is applauded which creates a nice atmosphere!
Angle would get his revenge from their past bout at WrestleMania 19, as he would reverse an attempt of the ankle “Angle” lock by Brock Lesnar who would have no choice but to tap out.
Now Kurt Angle still is in TNA Wrestling, while Brock would go on to dominate in the world of the UFC/MMA, but has had a set back due to diverticulitis.
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