Viewers Guide to the Best Matches Available on the WWE Network

Ryan Dilbert@@ryandilbertWWE Lead WriterSeptember 10, 2014

Credit: WWE.com (Courtesy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated)

Getting lost in the treasure trove that is the WWE Network is easy.

Among the hours and hours of programming on the streaming service, there are a large number of great matches to discover or rediscover. That river is filled with gold nuggets if you dip your hand in the right place.

It's best not to just watch every archived WWE, WCW and ECW show from start to finish. One's social life and personal hygiene would suffer with that approach.

As an alternative, take a look through the following guide, complete with recommendations for thrilling high-flying bouts, top tag team clashes and some of the best action delivered inside a steel cage.

Fans will find some clips of Bruno Sammartino and "Superstar" Billy Graham, but there isn't as much material from the '60s and '70s as there is from the Hulkamania era and beyond. Still, there is plenty of history to soak up and nostalgia to experience.

Getting every new pay-per-view is one of the biggest selling points of the WWE Network, but so is traveling back to a time when Dynamite Kid was painting masterworks between the ropes.

Recommended Technical Wrestling Matches 

  • Dynamite Kid vs. Randy Savage (Wrestling Classic 1985)
  • Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (WrestleWar 1989)
  • Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (King of the Ring 1993)
  • Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (WrestleMania X-Seven)
  • CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan (Over the Limit 2012) 

Larger-than-life characters, spectacle and the excitement of men leaping from ladders all make for stellar entertainment.

Sometimes, though, two wrestlers rely more on wrestling to tell their story. When pro wrestling leans on his grappling roots, there is something uniquely captivating about it.

Dynamite Kid is one of the finest technical wrestlers of all time. His career mostly predates the pay-per-view era, so there aren't a whole slew of his matches on the network. Digging through his work that is available is likely to lead one to a new appreciation of mat wrestling.

Few men have ever been as crisp in the ring.

That's on display in this short matchup with the Macho Man. Dynamite, along with Ricky Steamboat, Chris Benoit, Bret Hart, Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan are all wrestlers grappling fans should put in the WWE Network's search engine in search of technical greatness.

Bryan and CM Punk put on a tremendous show two years ago. That's certainly worth rewatching. 

Anytime that Angle met either Benoit or Brock Lesnar, something tremendous happened. It's hard to go wrong with any bout involving those two pairs of rivals.

Perhaps no one, though, had better chemistry together than Ric Flair and Steamboat. They spent 1989 crafting masterpieces together.

Some fans may prefer their Chi-Town Rumble match, but the WrestleWar showdown had the benefit of better buildup, with their rivalry reaching its apex.

As a bonus, one gets to watch Terry Funk and Flair's rivalry begin at a boil after the title match. Few tables spots have been as emotionally powerful as Funk piledriving Flair out cold.

Recommended High-Flying Matches 

  • Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (Halloween Havoc 1997)
  • Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon (Bash at the Beach 1997)
  • Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam (Hardcore Heaven 1999)
  • The Hardy Boyz, Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (WrestleMania 2000)
  • Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville (NXT Takeover)

For fans of faster-paced, gravity-defying matches, WWE's collection of WCW pay-per-views and episodes of Monday Night Nitro will make it feel like Christmas several times over.

The WCW cruiserweights in the '90s provided the glue for the company. Men like Jushin Liger, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio consistently stole the show.

Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero and Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon are two of the best examples of that. Those men seemed to buck against the laws of physics.

Those bouts are far from the only classics the cruiserweights produced. Search for action featuring those wrestlers in the late '90s and there will be plenty to dive into.

Jerry Lynn and Rob Van Dam had electric chemistry together. If one wants to find an entryway to all the ECW material WWE has, this is a fine one.

One doesn't need to know the background of the guys involved or the story of their rivalry. It's simply speedy, creative ring work that wows.

Watching any of the tag team collision between the Hardy brothers, the Dudleys and Edge and Christian is a good move. Their matches at WrestleMania 2000, WrestleMania X-Seven and SummerSlam 2000 will all astound those fans who have never seen them before.

For those who have, the insane spots that these guys performed are well worth rewatching.

It may be depressing, though, to see that none of these guys are active in WWE today. Christian is still recovering from a concussion and may be done competing, Edge is retired and everyone else works elsewhere.

To make one feel better, tune into Adrian Neville making his case that he'll be the next great high-flyer. If you don't watch NXT regularly, his battle against Tyson Kidd is a good place to start.

Recommended Bloody Matches 

  • Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine (Dog Collar match) (Starrcade 1983)
  • Triple H vs. Steve Austin (Three Stages of Hell) (No Way Out 2001)
  • Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker (Hell in a Cell, No Mercy 2002)
  • Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley (Backlash 2004)
  • John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (Extreme Rules 2012)

It's rare to see blood on WWE programming anymore. The company has moved away from that element of the art form.

With the WWE Network, the PG TV rating doesn't apply. Blood is back at the click of a mouse.

For those who believe that the Attitude Era was where wresting got brutal, be sure to pop in Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine. It's hard to get much more intense without committing crimes in the ring.

Piper is left a blood-soaked mess.

That's true for many of the men in the other recommendations. The three bouts from 2001 to 2004 are not just bloody but enthralling. The violence and the bloodshed are accents on memorable in-ring stories. 

The most recent clash on the list was bloody on accident: an errant elbow opening John Cena up. It added to what was already a physical battle complete with chains, steel steps and a failed dive that could have seriously injured Lesnar.

If you missed it the first time around, be sure to go back and check it out.

Extreme Rules 2012 is worth watching in its entirety, actually. Before Cena's blood wet the mat, Bryan and Sheamus put on a thriller, and Punk and Jericho composed a memorable Street Fight.

Recommended Tag Team Matches 

  • Ole and Arn Anderson vs. The Rock 'N' Roll Express (Starrcade 1986)
  • The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (Royal Rumble 1991)
  • Dick Togo, TAKA Michinoku and Terry Boy vs. The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Masato Yakushiji (Barely Legal 1997)
  • Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas vs. Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio (Vengeance 2003)
  • The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Ryback (TLC match, TLC 2012)

Today's tag team division has flashes of promise followed up by inactivity.

WCW in the '80s and WWE in the late '80s and early '90s consistently featured the beauty of tag team wrestling. The unique excitement of allies working together, tag strategy at work and an abundance of star power were keys to the division's success then.

The Rock 'N' Roll Express is a team that many younger fans don't know enough about. They were as smooth and cohesive a duo as one will see. Their battle against the Andersons is well worth a look. 

The Rockers excelled as well. The aforementioned Royal Rumble match is well-paced fun.

For further appreciation of the tag team art, search for work from The Brain Busters or The Hart Foundation. Hard to go wrong with either of those squads.

The six-man bout from ECW's Barely Legal is one of the promotion's gems. It's also a great introduction to Japanese wrestling.

More recent great stuff comes from The World's Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. In addition to their battle with Mysterio and Billy Kidman, seek out any of their matches against The Guerreros. Nearly every one of those battles was a home run.

And even though The Shield's in-ring debut was only two years ago, some fans may have forgotten just how special it was.

Ryback was at his peak in popularity. Everyone in The Shield made the most of their time on stage. And while Bryan recovers from injury, the WWE Network makes it easy to see him pinfall around the ring again.

Recommended Cage Matches 

  • Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA (Starrcade 1985)
  • Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior (SummerSlam 1990)
  • Sting, The Steiner Brothers and Brian Pillman vs. Barry Windham, Ric Flair, Larry Zbyszko and Sid Vicious (War Games, WrestleWar 1991)
  • Matt Hardy vs. Edge (Unforgiven 2005)
  • Triple H vs. Undertaker (Hell in a Cell, WrestleMania 28)

Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA may be the greatest cage match ever. The amount of fury and passion they poured into the structure that night is unparalleled.

It will satisfy fans of brutal matches, especially with its violent climax.

Rick Rude continually brought out the best in the Ultimate Warrior. This may be the recent addition to the Hall of Famer's best work. They both successfully delivered that coveted big-fight feel.

Most of the early War Games matches were classics. Avoid the one featuring The Dungeon of Doom and you'll be fine.

The War Games is a double-caged matchup that some fans have been pining to see in WWE for a long time. It may never happen. Rather than wish it would be revived, it's better to relive its peak. The Four Horsemen provided that here.

Matt Hardy and Edge's cage match is less talked about than other more famous ones, but it's excellent. Fans may think first of Ladder matches involving these men, but these wrestlers proved that night that they could thrive in a cage as well.

Triple H vs. Undertaker is one of the finest matches in recent history. It's a good go-to whenever a fan is doubtful that the modern era is worth watching.

It was also in the heart of Undertaker's run of instant classics at WrestleMania. It wouldn't be a bad way to spend a free day watching him take on Edge in 2008, Shawn Michaels in 2009 and 2010, Triple H for the next two years and Punk at WrestleMania 29.

Recommended Underrated Matches 

  • Jake Roberts vs. Randy Savage (This Tuesday in Texas) 
  • Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinamim (SuperBrawl I)
  • Taz vs. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka (Anarchy Rulez 1999)
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Tajiri (No Mercy 2003)
  • Evan Bourne vs. Chris Jericho (Fatal 4-Way 2010)

Jake Roberts and Randy Savage are both beloved, but their emotional collision back in 1991 doesn't get talked about nearly enough.

There has rarely been as good a story as told in the ring. Much of the drama comes after the match with Roberts playing the grinning predator and Savage suffering. Spoiler: Roberts' snake gets involved.

Flair's list of great matches is so long that it's easy to forget some of them. A convoluted story and cheap finish can't ruin his and Tatsumi Fujinami's work together. If you're pulling up SuperBrawl, you might as well check out the great meeting between The Steiner Brothers and Lex Luger and Sting as well.

Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka seemed born to fight each other. Their one-on-one matches are some of ECW's best offerings. This Triple Threat is highly entertaining as well, though.

Tajiri's best WWE match and a peak from Evan Bourne that many may have forgotten round out the list. Both are powered by quickness and some athletic excellence.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of the great matches on the WWE Network; it's a means to skip right to some of the best material available for viewing.

Whether you are trying to see if matches will be as good now as they were when you were a kid or looking to explore periods of wrestling history you missed, the above lists offer some starting points. From there, there is much more wrestling awesomeness to soak up.


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