Favorite Matches: Honorable Mentions

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been on a quest to pen love letters to my ten favorite wrestling matches. Nine of them have already been written with one more to go. Professional wrestling, like any form of entertainment, is subjective. What I like is going to be different from what someone else enjoys, and that’s ok. That is part of the reason why I wrote about each of these matches. To celebrate, not delineate, or force my opinion upon anyone. As my good buddy Dave once told me, “Hey, you like what you like.”

Before reveal post reveal my favorite match of all time, I’m going to dedicate this post to some of the matches that go in my honorable mentions category. Anyone of these matches could have taken a spot in my top ten. Some of them did when I started this journey. Some of the matches will speak for themselves, while others will require more explanation.

Without further ado…

Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard: I Quit Steel Cage Match – Starrcade 1985: A lot of wrestling matches today resemble a dance more than a fight. Magnum and Tully exuded utter hatred for one another that may never be duplicated. Every punch and kick was thrown with the sheer intention to make the other man say the words “I Quit.” Magnum finally won the U.S. Championship after months of Tully escaping by the skin of his teeth. Side Note: This match inadvertently exhibits how wrestlers today can’t throw a punch.

Ric Flair vs. Ted DiBiase – Mid South Wrestling 11/6/85: An angry Dick Murdock came out before the match, saying he was the rightful contender. DiBiase told his old mentor that he was yesterday’s news and received a brainbuster suplex on the concrete floor for his troubles. Blood, blood everywhere. DiBiase somehow got to his feet and competed in the match. Everyone was on the edge of their seat, wondering if a heel DiBiase could pull off the miracle of miracles to win the world championship. All around phenomenal storytelling.

Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page – WCW Monday Nitro 3/23/98: This was an unadvertised babyface vs. babyface affair as U.S. Champion DDP challenged Sting for the world title. I felt so lucky to see this match at the time. It was a clean match with no shenanigans or outside interference where both wrestlers fought tooth and nail. Sting won with the Scorpion Death drop, helped DDP to his feet afterward, and shook his hand out of respect. DDP lost but showed everyone he was world championship material.

Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1/4/19: Sometimes, I get so excited about something, the finished product is doomed before it can begin because it can never live up to my impossible expectations. Omega vs. Tanahashi is the match I wanted more than any other from the moment I became a fan of the current form of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Despite the pre-match drama of Omega’s eventual departure from the company, both wrestlers put on a stellar performance. If you played a drinking game of how many times my jaw dropped during this match, your liver would tap out.

Macho King Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VII: This career match between two titans of the squared circle personified professional wrestling. Great action and high-stakes drama were executed to their fullest. Warrior vanquished the Macho King. Moments later, the Macho Man was reborn as he reunited with the lovely Miss Elizabeth. Tears galore were shed as wrestling’s it couple paraded around the ring. I can’t believe this match didn’t make my top ten.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H:  3 Stages of Hell – No Way Out 2001: A two out of three falls match where each fall had a different stipulation. The first fall was a regular match. The second fall was a no disqualification match. The third was a steel cage match. This was the big blow-off where Austin would finally get revenge against Triple H for having him run down by a car one year earlier. Austin made his big return, won the Royal Rumble, and was set to main event WrestleMania 17 against The Rock. The action, storytelling, ring psychology, and selling were all on point. It was all topped by a shocking finish where Triple H pinned the rattlesnake.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero – Halloween Havoc 1997: Many call this the greatest match in WCW history. Mysterio put his mask on the line to get a shot at the WCW Cruiserweight title. They took high-flying wrestling to the next level and had a great story going into the match. Eddie was a bastard of a heel, and Rey exuded the heart of a warrior. There was no doubt after this one that Eddie and Rey were two of the best in the business. Another match that could have easily made my top ten.

 Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask: New Japan Pro Wrestling 8/5/82 – Tokyo, Japan: Between April 1981 – April 1983, Tom Billington and Satoru Sayama revolutionized the wrestling business with seven innovative matches. The emotion and athleticism these two put on display were uncanny and still holds up today. The fifth match is considered their best outing and won the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year. However, you can’t go wrong with any of their bouts.

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VI: This was the wrestling equivalent of Superman versus Batman. An epic dream match where no one knew who was going to win. Warrior won in a torch-passing moment to capture the world and intercontinental titles. It doesn’t hold up too well today as to match quality. However, at the time, it was great.

Maverick Wild vs. Doug Williams: NECW – Somerville, MA 6/22/01: This match occurred on an independent show promoted by New England Championship Wrestling (NECW). I attended the event as a networking opportunity when I was breaking into the business. Maverick Wild had been the best wrestler in New England, while British grappler Doug Williams earned the same reputation across the pond. They wrestled a superb fifteen-minute draw that got better and better with each bump on the canvas. The wrestling, ring psychology, and intensity represented everything I wanted to be as a professional wrestler. This match will stay with me forever.

My Favorite Matches

Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996

Kurt Agle vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2003

Bret Hart vs. Undertaker – One Night Only 1997

Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man Randy Savage – WrestleMania 3

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – Summer Slam 1991 

British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart – Monday Night Raw 3/5/97

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog – Simmer Slam 1992

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