Last week I left off at number 5 and Eddie Guerrero’s tribute night. This week we kick off at number 4 and some of my favourite matches of all time…
4. Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit at No Mercy 2002. One of, if not the best tag team match of all time! Before the No Mercy PPV the first two rounds of the tournament to crown the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions were held, and the grand finale came in the form of these four men battling it out. Angle and Benoit, two of the most talented technical wrestlers to ever step foot in the squared circle to take on two of WWE’s biggest stars. This match did not disappoint. Angle and Benoit famously did not get along, however on this night they were able to overcome their differences to ultimately be crowned the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions. We don’t see alliances like this often enough these days and I can say with confidence that the tag team division will quite possibly never be as strong as it once was. It is matches like this that I remember why I became a fan in the first place.
3. The Montreal Screwjob. One of the most controversial and talked about moments in WWE history unfolded that night in Montreal, still talked about almost 15 years later, it remains a moment fans will never forget. It was the birth of MR McMahon and the ending of an epic run for Hart. Vince McMahon famously double crossed the defending WWF Champion Bret Hart during the main event of Survivor Series 1997. McMahon had decided Shawn Michaels would win the WWF Championship from Hart no matter what and under any circumstance necessary. This match defined McMahon as the biggest ‘heel’ in WWE history. After discussing with Michaels and the match referee Earl Hebner they devised a scheme to rob Hart of the Championship. The plan was executed by Hebner when he called for the bell and ended the match with Michaels holding Hart in Hart’s signature submission hold The Sharp Shooter. Hart did not tap out, but Michaels was crowed the victor and the new WWF Champion. We don’t know to this day if it was a ‘work’ or not, I guess we will never find out, it did however get Hart ostracized from the WWF and caused angry responses from fans for years to come. Hart and Michaels had one of the greatest rivalries of all time; again, we struggle these days to find true greats like these. My two favourite wrestlers of all time, and two of the best wrestlers of all time.
2. Undertaker vs. Mankind – Hell in a Cell. The most brutal match I’ve ever seen. Foley was always hardcore, but tonight he went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! ‘Good God almighty, they’ve killed him! As God as my witness, he is broken in half!’ The famous words of Jim Ross as Mankind plunged 16 feet off the top of a steel cage onto an announce table below. The match started with Mankind on top of the steel cell, steel chair in hand, Taker climbed to face him and after exchanging several brutal blows and chair shots The Undertaker, seemingly out of nowhere launched Mankind off the top of the cell and into the Spanish announce table. Medical personnel rushed to his aid and the cage was removed so they could carry him off. That familiar King of Hardcore smile crept across Foleys face and the medical personnel looked on in horror as he again began to climb the steel structure. With the crowd behind him he continued to fight on before eventually getting chokeslammed through the roof and onto the canvas below. Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler exclaimed ‘that’s it, he’s dead’. The Deadman still went on beating the living daylights out of Foley. With a bizarre shift of domination Mankind went on to give Taker several piledrivers before acquiring thumbtacks from under the ring. Mankind got The Phenom in the mandible claw sleeper hold but Taker was able to get free and after a massive slam into the thumbtacks, a chokeslam and the infamous Tombstone, The Undertaker was victorious. Looking back, I can’t believe it was allowed to continue. We will never again witness such feats of danger and brutality, quite simply one of the moments in history that defines the greatness of The Hardcore Legend and WWE as a franchise.
1. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania13. Quite easily one of the most memorable matches in Wrestlemania history. I have watched this so many times over the years and it is still as exciting now as if I’m watching for the first time! It was the meeting of the biggest ‘heel’ and biggest ‘face’ of WWE at the time. No one could have predicted a match of such epic proportions. Looking on in disbelief as Austin bled all over the ring and seemed to be fading right before my eyes. Blood in wrestling was a more uncommon sight at the time and made it seem all the more real, I know wrestling is scripted and choreographed, but this match to me, at the time, was as real as the nose on my face. The image of Austin lay bleeding at the hands of Hart in a brilliantly executed Sharp Shooter was the iconic moment that defined his character and opened up the beginnings of the Attitude Era we all love so much. This is a prime example of two greats going toe to toe that I doubt can ever be matched! Most great matches now are defined by the build up, countless, endless promos and multiple tiresome run ins, this match was all about the wrestling, it told its own story and will forever be my favourite Wrestlemania match in history.
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