A while back I took a look at my favourite video games of all-time and I enjoyed the process, so I decided to give it a bash with wrestling matches as well. Of course I’ve watched a lot more wrestling matches in my life than I have played video games, so this list was slightly harder to dwindle down to 25.
There’s always a chance that as time and my own personal tastes change that this list might look a little bit different, but as of early 2020 these are my personal 25 favourite wrestling matches. Please note that the reasons for these matches finding their way onto the list aren’t solely down to actual match quality, with some of them making it more for sentimental reasons than anything else.
Please feel free to share your own personal favourite bouts in the comments section as I work my way each week to the #1 slot.
WWE WrestleMania XXX – 6th April 2014
Daniel Bryan Vs Triple H
This is not only a great performance from Daniel Bryan, as he turns WrestleMania into “YESleMania”, but it’s also probably the last truly great performance from Triple H. Sadly after this the culmination of a careers worth of injuries slowed Triple H down to the point that a performance like this was beyond him, but for one last night he was still able to turn it on here.
This match is another that tells a great story, as Triple H is the insufferable bully who tries to put a hurting on his smaller opponent, but Bryan refuses to go quietly into the night and the end result is a thrilling contest as Bryan battles the odds to earn himself a WWE Title shot later in the evening.
There are so many bits of this match that I love, with some of them being so simple but effective at the same time. At one stage, Triple just starts dropping knee after knee to Bryan’s face to break his way out of Bryan’s LaBelle Lock submission hold. It’s brutal, primal and feels authentic in a way that WWE matches sometimes just don’t. This one is an absolute classic and would probably be my personal pick as the best WrestleMania bout of the entire decade.
WWF Badd Blood – 5th October 1997
Hell in a Cell
Shawn Michaels Vs The Undertaker
This was the original Hell in a Cell bout and you can make an argument that it is still the best one even after all these years. The build-up for this match featured a bout between the two where the two men brawled to a no contest, leading to the freshly heel turned Michaels fleeing for his life. Thus the Hell in a Cell was introduced, a cage that covered the entirety of the ringside area with a roof on top, to ensure that such a situation would not replicate itself.
Of course both men did indeed brawling outside the cage, but efforts were made to explain it by having the authorities coming in to assist a fallen crew member, thus giving the two men excuse to brawl both around and, eventually, on top of the ghoulish metal structure. What makes this match so enjoyable for me though is the story it tells, with Undertaker annihilating Michaels in the early going until Michaels is finally able to get some attacks of his own in. The heel Michaels is obviously outmatched, which would normally lead to him garnering sympathy, but the fans hate him so much that they stay firmly behind Undertaker.
These two just have fantastic chemistry together and have always managed to work the size difference between them into believable matches that still garner the reactions from the crowd that they seek. This match works so well as a payoff to the feud as well, which started initially due to a Michaels chair shot to Undertaker. Undertaker eventually manages to crack Michaels with a chair shot of his own, thus paying things off beautifully and giving him his revenge, but before he can tie things up with a pin fall the debut of his brother Kane leads to Michaels picking up a last gasp win. This not only moves both men onto new opponents but also leaves the door open for another great match between them at Royal Rumble 1998. That’s good wrestling!
This not only is a great brawl between two heated rivals, but it is also such an excellent match overall that it has led to Hell in a Cell becoming one of the most revered and enduring WWF/E gimmick matches of all-time.
WWF Royal Rumble 1992 – 19th January 1992
Royal Rumble Match
For many, this will always be known as “The Flair Rumble”, the same way that the 1953 FA Cup Final is known as “The Matthews Final”. In both instances, two legends of their particular fields delivered a performance so brilliant, that it became one of their defining moments. For Stanley Matthews it was being the catalyst for an epic Blackpool fight back against Bolton Wanderers. For Ric Flair, it was coming in at #3 and lasting all the way to the end to become WWF Champion.
Flair truly is magnificent in this match, as he not only keeps up the pace for the majority of the bout but also makes a point of trying to do at least a spot with everyone who enters the match. Having the Rumble itself be for the WWF Title ensures that there is a star studded cast of characters for Flair to do battle with, including the likes of Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Kerry Von Erich and Shawn Michaels.
Aside from Flair’s excellence, the match also sees Roddy Piper on a quest to become a dual champion, whilst Randy Savage is hell bent on getting some revenge on Jake “The Snake” Roberts. The crowd are with the match all of the way and are not afraid to voice their displeasure when Hulk Hogan causes the elimination of fellow babyface Sid Justice. Indeed, their reaction is so vociferous that the WWF felt the need to edit it out in post-production when it was replayed on television. This is not only one of the best Rumble matches ever but you could make a genuine case that it is the definitive best of all time.
WWF Survivor Series 1995 – 19th November 1995
No Holds Barred
Bret Hart Vs Diesel
Following two inconclusive Pay Per View battles at King of the Ring 94 and Royal Rumble 95 respectively, a No DQ gimmick was added to this match to ensure we’d finally get a clear cut winner. Both men make good use of the stipulation, with Diesel slowly morphing back into his old heel persona whilst Bret goes all out to win by attacking his bigger opponent’s legs with weaponry. It’s also a history making bout as it presents the debut of the “Spanish Announce Table Bump” spot, which is something that would go on to be used in many more WWF/E main events over the following years.
What I like about this match is how, despite being babyfaces, both men are fully prepared to go to any length in order to get their hand raised, even if it means indulging the dark arts to do so. I also like how it’s a brief moment of mercy from Diesel following Bret’s tumble through the table that spells his undoing, as it allows The Hitman to deliver a cheeky inside cradle to get an unfathomable flash pin fall win. This is made even better by Diesel being a sore loser and destroying Bret after the fact, symbolically killing his lame babyface character in the process.
Quite a lot of people point to Kevin Nash’s battle with Shawn Michaels at “Good Friends, Bitter Enemies” as being his best ever singles match, but I definitely think this match should also be in the discussion. It’s worked differently to the Shawn match in that that one was based more around Shawn taking an horrific beat down before making the superman comeback, whereas this match is based more around Bret matching Diesel throughout before getting creamed in the closing section, but both matches are great and well worth a watch.
WWF WrestleMania X – 20th March 1994
Owen Hart Vs Bret Hart
This would still be my pick for the greatest opening match of all time, as Bret Hart makes a star of his little brother in one night by putting him over clean as a sheet on the grandest stage of them all. Owen really is a fantastic heel in this match, drawing unreal heat just for his entrance alone and being the despicable little dirt bag that you just want to pop in the mouth.
The build up to the match is fantastic as well, with Owen getting increasingly jealous of being in Bret’s shadow, leading to him eventually kicking his leg out from under his leg to go heel and start a run that would see him win the King of the Ring later in the year before rematching with Bret at Summer Slam. The wrestling in this match is absolutely superb, with both men being fantastic wrestlers, but everything has an edge to it. It’s exactly what you’d expect a match between two brothers to look like, as they get the balance between mat wrestling and fighting just right.
This really is an absolute classic in my opinion and a match I can heartily recommend. Owen is a fantastic heel and Bret is wonderful babyface and both men are such talented wrestlers that the match is as close to perfect as you could possibly get. I still enjoy coming back to watch this one and I’ve watched it countless times. I’d put this high on the list of greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Seriously, if you’ve not watched this then you are really missing out. Go watch it now, fly you fools!
Thanks for joining me on this journey. Hopefully I’ll see you all next week when I cover matches 10 to 6!