David D.’s 25 Favorite Wrestling Matches Of All Time

09.22.11 6 years ago 46 Comments


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There are a few things I learned about myself and my wrestling fandom after compiling this list:

— Shawn Michaels is the greatest in-ring performer I’ve ever seen. I literally had 15 of the 25 matches as Shawn matches, so I had to take a ton of his classics out to make room for the rest. These include his match with Jericho at WrestleMania 19, his match against Mankind from the mid-90s, the second ladder match with Razor and his RAW match with Shelton Benjamin just to name a few. Flair may be my favorite all-around performer, but Michaels is peerless in the ring.

— I wanted to include way more ROH matches including the tag match between the Briscoes and Aries/Strong from Liverpool, UK and a match from the Erick Stevens/Roderick Strong feud, but ROH matches are f*cking impossible to find on Youtube, so I opted to leave them out in place of matches that had videos. It’d be pretty boring just to have me explain them to you with no visuals. Sorry, ROH.

— There’s actually a TNA match on the list. If you know about them, then you can probably already guess which match it is.

— They’re in as close to chronological order as possible. No way I was going to put them in order and pick my absolute favorite match as that changes by the year.

— Yes, there are some undeniable classics left off, but I’m limited to 25, so that’s what you’re getting. *waits for people to complain about “the order” of the list*

— Finally, since I’m such a great guy, I have links to the DVDs where you can find most of the matches on. They’re all worth buying and serve as nice trips down memory lane.

Now, on to the list.

25. “Retirement Match” – “Macho King” Randy Savage Vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VII — For most of my childhood, I considered this the coolest f*cking match ever. Ultimate Warrior was my hero (screw that Hulk Hogan guy) and Macho Man was insane. The match featured Macho delivering half a dozen elbow drops on Warrior, resulting in the most bad a$$ kickout of all time. Plus, the end with Macho and Elizabeth – the Ross and Rachel of the 80s – is just heartwarming.

Available On: The Self-Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior | Buy

24. NWA Heavyweight Title Match – Ric Flair Vs. Terry Funk – Great American Bash ’89 — People point to the “I Quit” match as their classic, but I enjoyed this more. I loved when WCW used to have those double rings and wish WWE would adopt them. Bonus: watch Ric Flair lose his absolute sh*t when Terry Funk throws the chair back in the ring after the match. Dude absolutely lost his mind. It was like something you’d see at The Source awards.

Available On: WWE: Nature Boy Ric Flair – The Definitive Collection | Buy

23. WCW Tag Team Title Match – Sting and Lex Luger Vs. The Steiner Brothers – SuperBrawl ’91 — Sting, Luger and the Steiners were like superheroes. They were the ultimate WCW good guys, but none of them were really ring technicians. But somehow, through sheer power and athleticism, they had a monster of a match that’s one of my favorite tag matches and face/face matches ever. I’m not sure if they ever wrestled again, but this was lightning in a bottle.

Available On: The Rise And Fall Of WCW | Buy

22. WWF Intercontinental Title Match – Bret Hart Vs. Mr. Perfect – Summerslam ’91 — This was the first match I saw that showed me what a real wrestling match looked like. Bret Hart had a monumental role in changing WWF from being all about flash to having a credible in-ring product. And of course, Mr. Perfect was just money.

Available On: Bret “Hitman” Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be | Buy

21. Sting Vs. Vader – All Of 1992 — I’m cheating here. Want to see pitch-perfect David Vs. Goliath storytelling? This is it. Vader dominates. Sting battles back. Vader kills momentum. The end. Every time Sting would do anything to Vader the crowd would turn nuclear. Their feud lasted years and I don’t remember a really bad match between them.

Available On: The Rise And Fall Of WCW | Buy


20. The Royal Rumble 1992 — Ric Flair. Hulk Hogan. Macho Man. Shawn Michaels. Jake The Snake. The Undertaker. Kerry Von Erich. Ted DiBiase. You name him, and this match had him. There will never be another match with this much star power in it. Flair entered 3rd and lasted 60 minutes to win the title. A gem, though, is Bobby The Brain’s hilarious commentary throughout.

Available On: The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection | Buy

19. Ladder Match For The Intercontinental Title – Shawn Michaels Vs. Razor Ramon – WrestleMania X — This is probably one of the five most important matches in wrestling history. Shawn Michaels went out and had a match with a ladder and it tore the house down. With one match, high-risk wrestling became a fixture on the mainstream. Yes, there were ladder matches before, but this one set the standard.

Available On: WWE From the Vault – Shawn Michaels | Buy

18. The Undertaker Vs. Diesel – WrestleMania 12 — Want to know a secret? I hated Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart’s Iron Man Match from the main event of this show. People say it’s a classic, but only the last 20 minutes were great. The match that not enough people talk about is the ‘Taker/Diesel bout that was textbook big man wrestling. It was one of the first great ‘Taker WrestleMania matches. He’d definitely have more.

Available On: WWE WrestleMania – The Complete Anthology, Vol. 3 – 1995-1999 (WrestleMania XI-XV) | Buy

17. Hell In A Cell – Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker – Badd Blood ’97 — Again, Shawn Michaels was part of a match that revolutionized the sport. This was the first cell match in the WWE and he and Taker had a classic. Yes, the Undertaker/Mankind match had the more memorable bump, but this was an actual wrestling match.

Available On: WWE From the Vault – Shawn Michaels | Buy


16. Title Vs. Mask – Eddie Guererro Vs. Rey Misterio Jr. – Halloween Havoc ’97 — The late-90s were dominated by WCW and sh*tty main events. But the undercard featured cutting edge lucha libre style wrestling and nobody was better than Guererro and Misterio. Some call this the best match of the decade and it’s at least the best WCW match of the decade by far.

Available On: Rey Mysterio – The Biggest Little Man | Buy

15. ECW Television Title Match – RVD Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow – April 4, 1998 — Rob Van Dam could do things in the ring that no mortal human being should be able to. I don’t think there are many people more naturally and athletically gifted than him. This match essentially has two spots: RVD jumping from the ropes onto the f*cking crowd!

*Bonus* ECW TV Title Match – RVD Vs. Jerry Lynn – Living Dangerously ’99 — RVD’s best opponent was Jerry Lynn and they had matches that looked like sh*t you’d see in The Matrix. Say what you want about RVD’s inability to sell or cut a promo, but he is one of my favorites just off the wild moves he tried in the ring.

Available On: Rob Van Dam – One of a Kind | Buy

14. WCW Championship Match – Sting Vs. DDP – April 26, 1999 — I was so glad that the newest DVD about WCW had this match as it’s an unsung great. DDP had great matches? Not often, but somehow they pulled off a masterpiece.

Available On: The Very Best of WCW Monday Nitro | Buy

13. Iron Man Match For The WWF Title – The Rock Vs. HHH – Judgement Day 2000 — The ending was horribly botched and over-booked, but I loved every minute of the match before that. This was during HHH’s hot streak of great matches before he started drinking his own Kool-Aid and ruining every wrestler and storyline he touched.

12. TLC II – The Hardys Vs. Edge and Christian Vs. The Dudley Boys – WrestleMania 17 — Many consider WrestleMania 17 to be the best PPV of all time. It’s definitely my top five and this match is one of the main reasons. Six men went out there and put their lives on the line. This was the peak of the tag team golden age.

Available On: WWE WrestleMania – The Complete Anthology, Vol. 4 – 2000-2004 (WrestleMania XVI-XX) | Buy


11. WWF Title Match – Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. The Rock – WrestleMania 17 — This was the main event from that very same WrestleMania and it’s only gotten more legendary with time. The Rock and Austin had the best rivalry in wrestling history and they made magic every time. Their WM17 main event hit on all cylinders and is the pinnacle of their greatness.

Available On: The Legacy of Stone Cold Steve Austin | Buy

10. Ric Flair Vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania 18 — Flair/Taker is a microcosm of Ric Flair’s career. He went out and bled and left his heart in the ring. But everyone talks about the Hulk Hogan/Rock match from the same event that was drastically inferior but a grand spectacle. But this was definitely the best match. And Arn Anderson’s surprise run in is something out of Marvel Vs. Capcom where your partner just runs in out of nowhere and f*cks up your opponent.

Available On: Undertaker 15-0 | Buy

9. No Holds Barred Match – Shawn Michaels Vs. HHH – Summerslam 2002 — On occasion, wrestling can provide some truly emotional moments. This match is one of them. HBK ruined his life through drug use and broke his back in 1998, forcing him to stay out of action for four years. This was his first match back. A newly religious, clean and inspired Michaels put on the match of a lifetime. The crowd was genuinely fearful for his health as nobody knew how his back really had healed. There’s not a more edge-on-your-seat match than this.

Available On: WWE From the Vault – Shawn Michaels | Buy

8. WWE Title Match – Chris Benoit Vs. Kurt Angle – Royal Rumbe 2003 — Wrestling was getting out of hand in the new millenium. Wrestlers were killing themselves with violent high-risk matches that shortened life expectancy with each chair shot. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit set out to change the status quo by having a compelling in-ring contest that didn’t have any high risks, just great wrestling. And they definitely succeeded.

Available On: Hard Knocks – The Chris Benoit Story | Buy


Summer of Punk 2005 Part 1: CM Punk vs…

7. ROH Title Match – CM Punk Vs. Austin Aries – Death Before Dishonor III — This ROH match had a video, so it gets included. Punk was supposed to be leaving ROH after this title match, but it ended with one of the biggest legitimate surprises in wrestling. The angle and match come together for a historic event that made CM Punk a star.

6. Triple Threat Match For The World Heavyweight Title – HHH Vs. Chris Benoit Vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 20 — People have so many different opinions on how to react to these matches after the Chris Benoit murders. I’ll just say this: at the time of this match, it was my favorite match of all time. So it gets placement on this list for the greatness that went on in the ring that night.

Available On: Hard Knocks – The Chris Benoit Story | Buy

5. Triple Threat Match For The TNA X Division Title – Samoa Joe Vs. A.J. Styles Vs. Christopher Daniels – Unbreakable 2005 — Hey, TNA!!!! Samoa Joe is one of my favorite wrestlers and it’s a damn shame that TNA has no clue what to do with him. But this match with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels is on a whole other level of athleticism. The sunset flip into the huracanrana spot gets me every time.

Available On: The Best of Samoa Joe: Unstoppable | Buy

4. ECW Heavyweight Title Match – The Big Show Vs. Ric Flair and Ric Flair vs. Randy Orton – Monday Night Raw — These two matches are included because I saw them live. The match with Big Show happened in Minneapolis – minutes from where Flair actually grew up – and the other one came in Charlotte, NC where Ric made his name. For the match in Charlotte, I sat behind a woman who dragged her husband and kids. And when Flair talked she stood up and screamed her heart out. I’ll never forget that.

3. WWE Title Match – John Cena Vs. Shawn Michaels – Monday Night RAW — These guys had an hour long match on live television. No gimmicks. No clock. Just a match for an hour. After a slightly disappointing WrestleMania main event, Michaels and Cena went out to prove critics wrong and they did just that.

Available On: The Shawn Michaels Story – Heartbreak & Triumph | Buy

2. Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25 — If I want to show anyone that’s never watched wrestling a match to convert them, this would be it. The two icons battled and exceeded all expectations. I actually stepped away after the first tombstone because I thought the match was over. I didn’t know they’d wrestle for another freaking 10 minutes. It does not get better than this.

Available On: Shawn Michaels – My Journey | Buy

1. WWE Title Match – John Cena Vs. CM Punk – Money In The Bank 2011 — The crowd was white hot for this match. Punk and Cena put on a wrestling clinic that lived up to all of the hype. Add in a genuine surprise ending and you have a five-star match. Unfortunately, WWE totally botched the storyline since then by inserting HHH, Kevin Nash and a stupid text message story. But for one night, WWE looked like it was ready to be great again.

Available On: Money in the Bank 2011 | Buy

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