Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who Are The Real Showstoppas?!

This coming weekend is Wrestlemania 24, live from Orlando, Florida and it looks to be their most solid Wrestlemania since Wrestlemania 22. You have a triple threat match that could turn into a real classic, arguably the two greatest wrestlers ever facing each other, two great streaks going head to head and a Money in the Bank match that I have more hope for then others do. So the remainder of the week we will have a top 24 list each day, starting today with the best matches and ending on Friday with the Wrestlemanias ranked in order.

I created an initial list of 42 and reduced that to 24, and just so you can complain about a favorite match of yours not making it, here are the matches which did not make the cut from the initial list. This will no doubt cause a huge stir with passionate wrestling fans, but bring it on jobbers, I'll go one on five thousand.
Mr. T vs Roddy Piper Mania 2
The Brainbusters vs Strike Force Mania V
Undertaker vs Jake The Snake Roberts Mania VIII
Ric Flair vs Randy Savage Mania VIII
Randy Savage vs Crush Mania X
Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie vs The New Age Outlaws Mania XII
Steve Austin vs The Rock Mania XV
Edge & Christian vs The Dudley Boyz vs The Hardy Boyz Mania 2000
Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit Mania Mania X7
Shane McMahon vs Vince McMahon Mania X7
The Gimmick Battle Royal Mania X7
Matt Hardy vs Rey Mysterio Mania XIX
Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle Mania XIX
Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle Mania XX
Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels Mania 21
Money In The Bank 2 Mania 22
Shawn Michaels vs Vince McMahon Mania 22
Undertaker vs Batista Mania 23

24 (tie). The Undertaker vs Diesel Wrestlemania XII

I enjoy this match more then most people, but for my money I don't know if we've ever seen a better match between two seven footers. I don't know if I've ever seen Diesel have a better match with a "big man" and this was the Undertaker's first real strong showing at Wrestlemania in my opinion. I think it is generally overlooked because of the fan following the Iron Man match received later in the night, but I love watching this match.

24 (tie). The Macho Man Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior in a Retirement Match Wrestlemania VII
Macho King Randy Savage v. Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII

Another match that isn't appreciated in my opinion, probably because of the two personalities involved more then anything else. We all know Warrior Warrior has gone bat-shit crazy, and Randy Savage has now become the steroid filled version of Eminem, but at Wrestlemania VII they both had one of their finest matches in their careers. You literally saw two competitors fighting for their respective careers, and you could actually by that they were fighting to keep wrestling and putting everything on the line.

23. John Cena vs The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship Wrestlemania 23

I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not a big John Cena fan. Well, I'm not a fan of how the WWE makes him wrestle. I'm sorry, I'm apart of the group of fans who want to see what folks can actually do, not just the same five or six moves every match. I will say this though, "Mr. Wrestlemania" enable John Cena to have the match of his life that night. I saw some of the glimpse of what I thought John Cena could be when he first appeared in the WWE.

22. HHH vs Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Championship Wrestlemania X8

I'm not a HHH hater like those out there, folks he really is this good and gets the pushes he deserves. Now I'm not saying being married to the bosses daughter doesn't hurt, but it's not the only reason he gets the matches. It's because when he gets the matches he delivers, of course it doesn't hurt when you're working with Chris Jericho who could make Maven look like a Main Eventer.

21. The Undertaker vs The Nature Boy Ric Flair in a No DQ Match Wrestlemania X8

This was the time people really started saying Ric Flair should retire, but this match with the Undertaker quelled that talk...if only for a month or two. This was a time period where Undertaker was having his best matches, even if he wasn't the "Deadman" anymore. It was the greatest wrestler of all time versus the greatest gimmick of all time, if only it could have happened when both wrestlers where doing their best work, this could have been the grand daddy of them all.

20. Raven vs Kane vs The Big Show for the WWE Hardcore Title Wrestlemania X-Seven

Now both WCW and WWF had been trying to adapt the ECW style into their shows, with the WWF being much more successful with the Hardcore Title. WCW's version was an abortion and WCW Uncensored is still in my opinion the worst pay per view in the history of man and beast. This was the high point for the Hardcore Title as this very well may have been the greatest WWF Hardcore Title match of all time. Think about this, the Big Show was just named in a participant in an all time great match, that's how good this match is.

19. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship Wrestlemania XIV

I know a lot of you will argue that this match belongs in the top ten, but I'm not one of those. It does belong in the top five of gutsiness performances of all time knowing HBK's physical problems at that time though I will give you that. It made Austin a World Champion and showed that HBK was the greatest of his generation, but as a Wrestlemania Top Ten match, I just don't see it. Maybe if there wasn't any Mike Tyson bullshit it would have turned out better, but for my money it cheapened a moment that could have been classic.

18. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs Big Daddy Cool Diesel for the WWF Championship Wrestlemania XI

At Wrestlemania X you saw that Shawn Michaels could steal the show, Wrestlemania XI showed that no matter what his size he could be a main eventer. Now we all know that Vince McMahon has some preoccupation with large steroid filled men, but hey that's a life choice and who are we to argue. HBK showed that a man maybe 225 pounds could be the main event attraction because he was just that damn good. This was also Diesel before he started believing his own press and really just stopped trying for the most part.

17. Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship Wrestlemania III

I don't know if there was a bigger wrestling match in the history of professional wrestling before this match. Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan before the largest crowd in professional wrestling history (at that point, Flair drew more later HA!) was nothing short of amazing. Andre's performance is also up there on that gutsiness scale as he reportedly had something like a 104 degree temperature during this match.

16. HHH vs John Cena for the WWE Championship Wrestlemania 22

Again John Cena makes this list, much to my chagrin, but it shows he won't drop the ball when wrestling with better workers. I didn't put the match up because the best thing about this match is HHH's entrance, which may be the best entrance in Mania history, though I know some will argue the Undertaker with druid and flames and HBK's coming from the ceiling can have fighting words as well. I remember watching this, the entire house was filled with Conan and HHH fans, and were ready to destroy the TV at the end.

15. Kurt Angle vs Chris Benoit vs Chris Jericho in a Two-Fall Triple Threat Match for the WWF Intercontinental and European Championships Wrestlemania 2000
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Let me put it simply so all can understand, I understand what Benoit did but I will not punish a match because of a man's later actions. He may be a double murderer, but he is still one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. Hell, he probably faced more wrestlers who could be on that list of greatest ever then anyone else in Wrestlemania history. This match was phenominal, one of the only saving graces from one of the worst Wrestlemanias ever.

14. Undertaker vs HHH Wrestlemania X-Seven

I would be hard pressed to find a better Undertaker match, period. Be it Wrestlemania, pay per view, television or just some house show, this is Undertaker at his absolute best. This is just another reason that Wrestlemania X-Seven was the best Wrestlemania of all time, and if you don't believe me you're smoking something given to you by X-Pac.

13. Edge vs Chris Jericho vs Christian vs Chris Benoit vs Kane vs Shelton Benjamin in Money In The Bank Wrestlemania 21

This began the downward trend toward tag team competition in the WWE. The WWE found many of their biggest stars in the tag team division, HBK and Bret Hart for example. The destruction of the tag team division sickens me people, I just wish there was some way for all of us to express our disappointment to Vince McMahon. This match was the beginning of Edge's push to the Main Event, but it was stolen by Shelton Benjamin who showed he may be the most physically gifted athlete ever to step into the ring. To bad athleticism doesn't translate to charisma or drawing power.

12. Chris Jericho vs The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania XIX

Chris Jericho grew up more or less being a huge mark for Shawn Michaels, which is odd since they're not that far apart in age but I digress. He has stated that this is one of his favorite matches of all time, and with good reason, this match steals Wrestlemania XIX and should have been the main event of the evening. Hell, I would have put it for the title, it would have been better then HHH and Booker T at the very least.

11. Edge and Christian vs The Dudley Boys vs The Hardy Boyz in Tables, Ladders, Chairs for the WWF Tag Team Championship Wrestlemania X-Seven

I know many think this should be a top five match, and for high spots it's likely number one. I, however, am a old school wrestling fan and story, psychology and other aspects I love more then ladder, chair, run in, fake dusty finish, table, run in, etc etc etc. I really have to sit down and see which TLC I love more, but don't get me wrong, it is a tremendous match that saw four young wrestlers and some cagey veterans put on probably the best matches they had up to that point. One could argue that this match is what started pushing Edge and Jeff Hardy towards main events.

10. Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior Title versus Title Wrestlemania VI

After Andre and Hogan they were looking for the next big match, they tried with the Mega Powers explode but you knew Hogan was walking out of Wrestlemania V with the belt. The Ultimate Warrior had been getting Hogan like pops and you honestly had a completely split crowd, half were Lil Warriros half were Hulkamaniacs. Well, who were there at least, some of us were watching the match shaking our heads and going WOOOOOOOOOO! This was big in the wrestling business at the time, you NEVER saw the good guy versus the good guy, never.

9. The Rocket Owen Hart vs Bret The Hitman Hart Wrestlemania X

I'm sure many of you don't have this match this high, but I'm biased I met Owen Hart on a few occasions and he was nothing but pure class and great to his fans, which included myself. This was a beautiful old school wrestling match that I think time has forgotten due to everyone's attention being on the Ladder Match later in the evening. Folks have forgotten the wrestling clinic that the two brothers from Calgary put on for everyone in the wrestling business. Personally, every kid who is learning to become a professional wrestler should have to sit down and watch this match over and over so they know what perfection looks like.

8. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs Bret The Hitman Hart in an Iron Man Match for the WWF Championship Wrestlemania XII

There has been arguments over the years as to whether this is a classic match. This usually comes down to two camps, the new crowd who are nothing but high spots and crappy technical skills, and the old school camp who would rather watch Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat ten times in a row then one Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles match. For my money this is another match students should have to sit down and study, to keep a crowd's interest for an hour plus takes the most devoted professional and I can think of a handful of other wrestlers who could do it as well as HBK and Bret Hart.

7. The Rock vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan Wrestlemania X8

I can hear the hate mail coming, I can see it lumbering toward me like an out of control locomotive. How can I possibly have The Rock and Hollywood Hogan only at number six. Why, let me explain to you. Yes, this probably has the best crowd reactions in the history of Wrestlemania, I won't argue that point. But Hogan was a long way away from his prime and the Rock had already began the sloppy looking work inside the ring. Hogan was in it for one last run, before his next one last run, and the Rock was already looking towards Hollywood. Yes, it's a great match, hell it's number six, but there is no way in hell I can put it in the top five let alone number one. I understand it is icon versus icon, but I love WRESTLING, good ole fashioned wrestling.

6. Bret The Hitman Hart vs Rwody Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental Championship Wrestlemania VIII

For the first time in Roddy Piper's career at Wrestlemania he wasn't involved in some kind of funky gimmick match. You had the tag with Mr. T, the boxing match with Mr. T, Adrian Adonis, Piper's Pit, Bad News Brown, but finally he was able to show just how good of a wrestler he was. This match also really put Bret Hart on the map as being able to wrestle the top level guys and steal the show from the likes of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. Think about this, a card that had Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker and Randy Savage and it was stolen by Bret Hart and Roddy Piper. In my opinion this is Piper's second greatest match of all time, second only to the Greg Valentine dog collar match at the first Starcade.

5. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Rock in a No DQ Match for the WWF Championship Wrestlemania X-Seven

This will no doubt where I will get a lot of hate mail from, this top ten. Steve Austin versus The Rock is in my estimation the greatest Wrestlemania feud of all time. They faced off three times and Austin has the lead 2-1. Out of the three matches, this is their best performance, even with the Dusty-Russorific finish at the end. Hell, Austin and McMahon joining forces to defeat the Rock is partly why it is such a great match.

4. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship Wrestlemania X
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Not the first Ladder Match in wrestling history, even though the WWE would like you to think so. Hell not even HBK's first Ladder Match in the WWE, he wrestled Bret Hart in one the year prior. Without a doubt, though, the first outstanding gimmick match in Wrestlemania history, with apologies to the Blindfold Match at Wrestlemania VII. I always thought Scott Hall made a poor career choice going to WCW. With Shawn Michaels the top dog in the WWE it wouldn't have been long until he got to belt off of HBK in their third ladder match. That's all just a sidetrack thought though, this really showed what we would later expect in the WWE. I think this was the tip of the attitude style of wrestling that would make its real debut at Wrestlemania 13.

3. Ricky The Dragon Steamboat vs Macho Man Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship Wrestlemania III

I initally had this as the number two match of all time, but decided against it knowing the story Steamboat has told where Savage brought him down to Florida and they worked a long time over this match. For many years it was considered the greatest wrestling match in Wrestlemania history. Hell, some thought it was the greatest match of all time period. I will say it is probably the greatest pre-choreographed match in wrestling history. No, they're not all choreographed the way this one was so get off that kick already. Savage and Steamboat, for the IC title, if only that had been Ric Flair versus Ricky Steamboat. That is one big sadness, we never got to see Steamboat versus Flair on the biggest stage of them all.

2. Chris Benoit vs HHH vs The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship

I'm not gonna punish Shawn Michaels and HHH for what Chris Benoit did later in life. This was the perfect match for the twentieth anniversary of Wrestlemania. The underdog, the person who was always told he would never be THE man won over all odds and began HHH's tradition of submitting in the main event at Wrestlemania. It was the culmination of a long journey for one of the best in business and he went up against arguably the best wrestlers of their respective generation and out shined Mr. Wrestlemania. I can't forgive Chris Benoit for what he did, but I can honestly say I miss him performing week in and week out.

1. Bret The Hitman Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin in a Submission Match Wrestlemania 13

I included the entire match for you all to watch because it's such a thing a beauty. The classic style and the new attitude style never blended better then Steve Austin and Bret Hart. Stone Cold had already started a movement the year before at the King of the Ring with Austin 3:16, but he didn't become completely over until this match. It's hard to say if either gentlemen had a better match in their career. This also may be the greatest wrestling finish in the history of the business. It gets over the loser, shows how tough he is, and the winner doesn't lose face in the process. I can't see a single flaw in this match and that is one reason why Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret The Hitman Hart are ranked number one.

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