Wow, it has been a while since I’ve posted.
2020 hasn’t been kind to us. Some are returning to a version of normal, while others are still struggling. I’m in the middle of a 14-day quarantine after recently returning to my office for the first time since March.
I was nervous about the test results since I had some symptoms a few days after exposure. Knock on wood; my COVID test came back negative.
Like most people, my wife and I have spent a lot of time with various streaming services. My ever-growing list contains many movies and television shows that I wouldn’t have watched otherwise.
I wondered, what if I wrote a blog that might get people into professional wrestling?
There are many great matches and moments from a multitude of wrestling promotions all around the world. I stuck to WWE since it is the brand most people associate with wrestling.
This isn’t a “best-of” list. Consider this pro wrestling 101 for the uninitiated, citing ten matches that best illustrate the squared circle’s essential story elements.
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant: WrestleMania 3: For a generation of wrestling fans, it all starts here in terms of lore. The two biggest names in the industry locked horns in front of a reported 93,000 fans in the Pontiac Silverdome. Hogan was the dominant champion, but could he defeat the undefeated giant, who was also his former friend?
The story in the ring is easy to understand. Andre imposed his will until Hogan rocked the big man and did the unthinkable. He body-slammed Andre in the center of the ring, hit the big leg drop to send the giant packing. While no one would mistake this match for being a technical masterpiece, it’s a legendary spectacle worth experiencing.
Shawn Micheals vs. Razor Ramon – Ladder Match: WrestleMania 10: In 1993, Razor Ramon won the vacant Intercontinental Championship after Shawn Michaels was suspended and stripped of the title. However, when Michaels returned, he still carried his belt, claiming he was the rightful champion.
WWE’s first televised Ladder Match was held at WrestleMania 10 where the two titles were placed up high above the ring. The first person to climb the ladder and grab both belts would be the undisputed Intercontinental Champion.
Fans went into the event wondering who would leave Madison Square Garden as the WWE Champion. Everyone left, however, raving about the Ladder Match.
The show-stealing performance by both wrestlers not only made for an all-time classic but brought an exciting new concept to the genre. In the years that followed, Ladder Matches have become a must-see action-packed and death-defying affair.
Undertaker vs. Mankind – Hell in a Cell: King of the Ring 1998: If the goal is to show someone who has never watched wrestling how brutal and crazy it can get, look no further.
Mankind made Undertaker’s life a living hell for the better part of two years. Finally, Undertaker got his revenge and gave Mankind the beating of his life.
A giant steel cage coupled with some of the most iconic visuals that are indelibly etched in wrestling fans’ minds.
Words don’t do it justice.
You must see this spectacle to believe it. This is the match that made Mick Foley a superstar.
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior: WrestleMania 7 – Career Match: Randy Savage challenged the Ultimate Warrior to a future WWE Title match at the 1991 Royal Rumble. Warrior refused, and later that night, an enraged Macho Man interfered in the Warrior’s match against Sgt. Slaughter. Behind the referee’s back, Savage smashed a glass scepter between the Warrior’s eyes and cost him the championship.
WWE was no longer big enough for both of them.
The two squared off in a career match where the loser would leave the WWE. What is considered to be Warrior’s greatest match and one of Savage’s best bouts had everything you could ask for. Action, suspense, betrayal, and a romantic reunion that had everyone in tears.
It was a soap opera inside the squared circle. There might not be a better match that encapsulates what professional wrestling is all about.
Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin: I Quit Match – WrestleMania 13: In 1997, the thought of one of these men screaming uncle seemed impossible. The lengths they would have to go to get the other to quit seemed scary. So scary, in fact, that WWF brought in UFC star Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee.
Austin and Hart brawled all over the arena with a ruckus crowd enjoying every second. Later on, the blood flowed as Hart locked up Austin in his signature submission hold, the Sharpshooter.
I’m not going to spoil the finish, but the ending and aftermath produced a simultaneous double character turn. Hart became an anti-American villain, and Austin became the biggest babyface in wrestling history.
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs – TLC 2: WrestleMania 17: The Dudley Boyz, Edge & Christian, and The Hardy Boyz evolved the Ladder Match. Their previous outings against one another accentuated their legendary rivalry. However, this is their most memorable encounter.
WWE was at the height of its popularity, and these three teams stole the show at what many consider to be the greatest WrestleMania of all-time. Five of the six wrestlers eventually went on to hold a version of the world heavyweight championship.
Undertaker vs. Shawn Micheals: WrestleMania 25: To the current generation of wrestling fans, this is widely considered the greatest wrestling match of all-time. It’s fitting considering the legendary status of the two wrestlers. Undertaker’s undefeated streak faced its toughest challenge. Consider a perfectly cooked piece of barbecue. It was slow to cook at first, then color and caramelization came in, which produced a sweet and gorgeous flavor that you will never forget.
Hulk Hogan vs. Nikolai Volkoff: Saturday Night’s Main Event 10/5/85: The geopolitical tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were used as a vehicle to promote a Flag Match for the WWE Championship. This battle between the dastardly Volkoff and the patriotic Hogan is as basic as it gets. It’s a short affair with nothing too flashy, simple to understand, and still entertaining. If I had to explain pro wrestling to someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the concept, this match is a highlight of my lesson plan.
Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles – Survivor Series 2017: The modern style of wrestling often resembles a well-choreographed dance instead of a fight. Lesnar/Styles exhibited the latter in the ultimate David vs. Goliath showdown. Lesnar’s dominance coupled with Styles’ tenacity made for an engaging and believable affair.
Considering this first-time dream matchup was booked at the last minute, it didn’t hamper the finished product in the slightest. Most undersized wrestlers can’t make a crowd believe they can beat Brock Lesnar. Clocking in at 15:25 – AJ Styles made the audience believe.