100 Greatest Matches Part 1 (100-81)

 

100. Bruno Sammartino vs. Pedro Morales (WWWF Championship: Showdown at Shea Stadium, Sept. 30, 1972)

Showdown at Shea was the WrestleMania BEFORE WrestleMania ever existed. It was the Original Supercard of Wrestling. For years, Bruno Sammartino had been the biggest star of the WWWF, but Pedro Morales was on his trail by 1972. Their match drew 22,000 fans to Shea Stadium. During that time, it was rare for two babyfaces to collide in the squared circle. These two legends of their Era wrestled to a draw at 65-minutes. This show was the Precursor to what we know now as the Pay Per View.

99. Randy Orton vs. Christian (Summerslam 2011)

Four months earlier, Edge retired because of injuries. As a result, he had to forfeit the World Heavyweight Title. Christian would later become Champion as a way to pay tribute to his best friend ever. Fans were generally happy because Christian was a longtime veteran who was mainly seen as Edge’s sidekick. Not soon afterward, Orton would reemerge to defeat Christian for the Title. Christian had the support of Edge and the fans at first until he used heel tactics to win the title. The roles reversed as Randy would become the babyface. Regardless of who was face or heel, Christian and Randy proved to have great chemistry in the ring. Their matches were among the most noteworthy for Smackdown in 2011. The Viper would walk out of Summerslam victorious to become the World Heavyweight Champion.

98. CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship: WWE Over The Limit 2012

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are regarded by many as the Greatest Stars that the Independent Circuit has ever produced. Both were well renowned among the “Internet” crowd as their grassroots following continued into WWE. By this point, Punk was the reigning WWE Champion, while Bryan just lost the World Heavyweight Title to Sheamus in the famous 18-second match at WrestleMania XXVIII. Daniel would also lose the rematch to the Celtic Warrior in a 2/3 Falls Match at Extreme Rules match. Bryan’s fortunes would change when he clashed with fellow Ring of Honor Alum CM Punk. It was a true testament of greatness to both ROH Stars that the WWE Championship revolved around them during the Summer of 2012. CM Punk proved that he could not only have great matches with the likes of John Cena, Jeff Hardy, Triple H, and Undertaker, but he could also deliver a great technical match with a fellow ring general like Daniel Bryan. For those that are enthusiasts about technical wrestling, this is a great treat. Punk would retain the title in a show stealing match. This storyline also introduced AJ Lee, as she would play a huge role in the culmination of their feud.

97. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Dude Love: Over The Edge 1998

After winning the WWF Championship from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV, it seemed as if Stone Cold Steve Austin would not have a great feud to initially start off his run as Champion. That was until Mick Foley transformed from Cactus Jack to Dude Love and interrupted Austin’s “Match” with Vince McMahon. Instead of giving Vince the Mandible Claw, Dude turned around and gave it to Austin. Interestingly enough, Dude Love was also the replacement for Shawn Michaels when it came to being Stone Cold’s tag team partner. They were good partners but better rivals. Their match at Over The Edge was the culmination of their feud as it personified The Attitude Era. It was a pure street fight from start to finish. As Foley would say “It was wild for all the right reasons”. The biggest twist in the match was Vince McMahon himself as the Referee, along with the involvement of Vince’s stooges, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco. The Officiating was shady until The Undertaker got involved in the chaos. The Texas Rattlesnake would put the nail in the coffin with a Stunner while using Vince’s lifeless arm to make the three count.

96. Trish Stratus vs. Lita (WWE Women’s Championship: Unforgiven 2006)

When it comes to Women Wrestlers at the Dawn of the New Millennium, Trish Stratus and Lita were the Top Flagbearers (Besides Chyna). Trish vs. Lita was the Female Equivalent of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. Trish was Bret and Lita was HBK. They carried the torch for Women very well going from the Attitude Era into the Ruthless Aggression Era. It is a testament to their greatness anytime Women can Main Event RAW. They opened the door for the likes of Natalya, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, AJ Lee and others. That is why it was fitting for Trish to have the Final Match of her Career against her Arch Rival in her Hometown of Toronto, Ontario Canada. Trish would defeat Lita with the Sharpshooter and ride off into the Sunset on Top.

95. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (World Heavyweight Championship: Summerslam 2009)

In 2009, CM Punk and Jeff Hardy had a very heated and personal rivalry. Punk took shots at Jeff’s personal demons and drug problems in his promos. At Night of Champions, Punk lost the title to Hardy. The feud would continue going into Summerslam. On this night, CM Punk and Jeff Hardy clashed in a TLC Match for the WHC. The best element to add to this match was the difference in ideals. Punk was Straight Edge and Self-Righteous, while Jeff was Extreme and Live for the Moment. Punk would emerge as the winner and new World Heavyweight Champion. This match was the right Main Event because it absolutely stole the show, as it was also the pinnacle of the feud. After the match, CM Punk would be attacked by The Undertaker.

 

94. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page (Spring Stampede 1997)

Spring Stampede 1997 was the high point for what was the Feud of the Year in WCW during 1997. Savage was at his most intense and unhinged state at that time, while DDP was at his most resilient. This match had everything you wanted in a brawl, especially when it came to weapons (chair, trash cans, etc). They brought the fight to each other. It was the hardest working man in WCW (DDP) vs. the most insane man in WCW (Savage), and they held nothing back.

93. Hulk Hogan vs Iron Sheik (WWF Championship Madison Square Garden 1/23/1984)

The Iron Sheik kicked off the New Year by ending the 5-year WWF Title Reign of Bob Backlund with the Camel Clutch (along with Arnold Skaaland throwing in the towel). With Backlund’s injuries, wrestling needed a new American Hero. Enter Hulk Hogan. Hulk had just left AWA to return to WWF but under new ownership. The Hulkster was the hot new star that Vince McMahon Jr would pin his hopes on to be the Future of Wrestling. Vince Jr made the investment and it paid off. Hogan would challenge Sheik for the Title with Bob’s endorsement. On January 23, 1984, Hulk Hogan would battle the Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden for the WWF Championship. Hogan was on fire during this match, as Iron Sheik could not handle him. The Hulkster ran wild that night. Hogan powered out of the Camel Clutch before nailing Sheik with the Big Boot and The Leg Drop for the 1,2,3. This match is significant because it launched the Phenomenon known as “Hulkamania”. It would mark the start of Hogan’s 4-year Reign as WWF Champion. This was the starting point to a journey that took wrestling to incredible new heights. The rest is history.

 

92. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Women’s Championship, NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)

Since NXT has exploded in popularity and quality of talent, the Women’s Division has made a comeback. The Leaders of the new “Divas Revolution” in WWE have been the “Four Horsewomen” (Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch). In NXT, the Top feud among the Women was between Sasha and Bayley. They set a new standard for Women’s Wrestling not just among modern wrestling, but also of all-time, well before they have even started to decorate their resumes. NXT Takeover: Brooklyn has been considered to be critically better than the Summerslam PPV the following night. The card itself for NXT was great, but the match that carried that event was Sasha vs. Bayley for the Women’s Championship.It was Bayley’s will and determination as the Underdog vs Sasha’s arrogance as the Champion. Sasha constantly targeted the arm just in time for the Bank Statement. However, Bayley’s aggressiveness won out in the end as she defeated Sasha with the Bayley to Back Suplex to become the new NXT Women’s Champion. The other Horsewomen (Charlotte, Becky) joined them to celebrate.

91. Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant (WWF Championship, WrestleMania III)

The Irresistible Force vs. The Immovable Object. This match has been a part of wrestling lore and mythology for nearly 30 years. Two of the figureheads of wrestling for their time. Andre The Giant during the 70’s was the symbol of wrestling all around the World going into the early 80’s. Hogan would take the torch and run even further in the 80’s. Andre the Giant was “Undefeated” for 15 years leading up to this point. However, there was one prize that had eluded him during his winning streak, the World Title. His good friend Hulk Hogan sat on the throne as WWF Champion. Filled with inner frustration and jealousy, Andre joined Bobby “The Brain” Heenan in the Mission to dethrone Hogan. The frustration reached it’s fever pitch at WrestleMania III as two of the Biggest Titans of their Time collided. While the match is not as aesthetically pleasing as Savage vs Steamboat was earlier that night, this match was the Top Draw of the PPV. Hogan vs Andre was a Spectacle of Monumental Proportions. The Defining Moment of the Match was the Slam Heard Around The World, as the Hulkster used every ounce of strength to pick up the 525 lb Giant to Bodyslam him before Finishing him off with The Leg Drop as the Exclamation Point. This match was the Official Confirmation that the Torch had been Passed for the first time in WrestleMania History. This was Super Hogan at his Apex.

90. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat Women’s Championship Match: WrestleMania 32)

In July of 2015, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch were all brought to the Main Roster as they were announced by Stephanie McMahon on RAW. This would be considered the start of the “Women’s Revolution” in wrestling, as they would soon carry the Women’s Division on their shoulders. Charlotte would defeat Nikki Bella to end her reign as Diva’s Champion, soon ending the Era of the Divas. At WrestleMania 32, Lita unveiled the new Women’s Championship, as Charlotte, Sasha and Becky would compete in a Triple Threat Match to crown the new Champion. Charlotte had the Diva’s Title as well as the help of her Legendary Father Ric Flair. This match was the perfect storm of the top three figureheads of the Women’s Division. Sasha even made a tribute to Eddie Guerrero with the design of her tights as well as her Frog Splash. The Chemistry between these women was excellent. The ending of the match saw Becky Lynch give Charlotte a fisherman suplex from the top rope. Charlotte would then roll to the floor, which opened the door for Sasha Banks to apply the Bank Statement on Becky. However, Charlotte returned just in time to throw Sasha out of the ring so that she could lock the Figure-Eight Leg Lock on Lynch. Meanwhile, Ric Flair distracted Charlotte from getting back in the ring. During that time, Charlotte made Becky submit to the Figure-Eight to become the Inaugural Women’s Champion.

89. Chris Jericho vs Rey Mysterio (IC Title Match: The Bash 2009)

Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio enjoyed great matches dating back to their time in WCW over the Cruiserweight Championship. However, they had never established a true rivalry until 2009. By this point, Jericho was at his Best as an Arrogant Heel that wore suits and insulted fans with big words. He was obsessed with taking off Rey Mysterio’s mask. Not only was the Mask the focal point of the feud, but so was the Intercontinental Title (similar to Rey vs. Eddie in WCW). This personal element is what added to an already spectacular match on paper. They turned back the clock a Decade and put on a match that is a classic in both of their match libraries. Jericho accomplished both of his goals of unmasking Mysterio and winning back the Intercontinental Championship.

88. Money In the Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)

These days, Money In The Bank has become a staple in WWE. Arguably, it has taken the place of Survivor Series, because we have been treated to many good to great MITB Matches and Cash-Ins. However, nothing compares to the Original, which took place at WrestleMania 21. The Concept of Winning a Briefcase to become Number 1 Contender for a World Title originated with names like Edge, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Christian, and Kane. Shelton Benjamin set the standard of creativity for MITB in this match. Ultimately, it was only fitting that The Ultimate Opportunist Edge would seize the briefcase and set the path to becoming a Main Event Star and Perennial World Champion.

87. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (Career Threatening Match: WrestleMania XXIV)

Student vs. Teacher. Shawn Michaels grew up watching Ric Flair and wanted to be like him. HBK used elements of Flair’s character and added his own twist. When it comes to great in-ring performers and showmen, you can say that Shawn was Ric’s successor in the 90’s. That is why it only made sense for Flair to end his Career with the Man that not only admired him but the same Man that is forever Synonymous with WrestleMania. That would be none other than “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels. This was the match that told the Greatest Story of them all that night. Shawn went from being the kid in San Antonio that wanted to be like Flair to sending his hero into Retirement. This was the best match that Flair had during his run in the 2000’s. Michaels put the Nail in Flair’s Coffin with an “I’m Sorry, I Love You” Sweet Chin Music for the victory.

 

86. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena (WWE Championship: Summerslam 2014)

Coming fresh off of Breaking The Undertaker’s Iconic and Mythic WrestleMania Streak, Brock Lesnar was a natural choice to be the Number 1 Contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Following the injury of Daniel Bryan, the WWE Title was Vacated for a Six-Man Ladder Match at Money In The Bank. John Cena won the vacated WWE Title and became a 15-time World Champion. The Stage was set to take on The Beast of Suplex City at Summerslam. Brock decimated and annihilated Cena. It looks like John took Daniel’s place as Lesnar’s punching bag. Brock unleashed a Flurry of 16 German Suplexes. Cena put up very little Offense in this match, but it was nothing against Terminator Brock. Super Cena’s Kryptonite is clearly a German Suplex, and Lesnar was Doomsday. After 16 German Suplexes and 2 F-5’s, Brock Lesnar was the new WWE Champion. This is an all-time classic just for how Lesnar dominated Cena throughout the match. This was the best way to make up for the match at Extreme Rules 2012. Doomsday Lesnar Conquered Superman Cena.

85. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho (Last Man Standing Match: Fully Loaded 2000)

By 2000, Triple H was Truly at the Top of his Game (pun intended). The Game was at his Best as the Quintessential Villain of Wrestling. He was the Ultimate Heel that made you despise him. Coming off of a great run as WWF Champion, The Game was firing on all cylinders. On the other hand, his latest rival Chris Jericho was in a transitional phase of his Career. The transplant from WCW had established himself as a world-class ring technician with a flair for great promos but lacked the hard edge that fans were looking for. That was until he went toe to toe with Triple H. The same way that Trips displayed his aggressive side against Mick Foley, Y2J showed his resilience against The Cerebral Assassin in a Last Man Standing Match at No Mercy. Since Jericho enjoys using “Spinal Tap” and other Rock references, he turned his Intensity up to 11 with his combination of fists and chair shots. Jericho took everything that Triple H threw at him and he still kept going until the end. The Game won, but Jericho made a statement that he could hang with the very best in the Main Event during the Attitude Era.

 

84. Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville (NXT Takeover: R: Evolution)

Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville took NXT to another level. The Card itself was already great, but this match is what carried the show and put that year’s “Hell In A Cell” PPV to shame. Zayn vs. Neville was a Career vs. Title Match for the NXT Championship. This match had the classic high-flying, and intensity that kept fans hooked on their every movement. Sami fought with a passion and never say die attitude. The storytelling was very accurate as Zayn gave his all in this match, as did Neville. Sami threw everything at Neville, from the Blue Thunder Bomb to the Exploder Suplex to finally the Helluva Kick to finish off his opponent to save his Career and win the NXT Title. After the match, the NXT Roster came out to celebrate a match that will live on in NXT History. During the Celebration, Kevin Owens came out to congratulate his longtime friend/rival Sami Zayn. However, the celebration was short-lived as Owens attacked Zayn and gave him a Powerbomb on the apron as the show ended.

 

83. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor (NXT Championship, Beast in the East)

The WWE Network Exclusive Special “Beast In The East” took place on the 4th of July in Tokyo, Japan. Brock Lesnar was the Main Attraction, but the match that was the highlight of the day was Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor for the NXT Championship. Owens was the vicious heel Champion that did not care about tradition as he threw the bouquet of flowers out of the ring before the match started. Balor was a major star in NJPW, so this was a homecoming for him in a sense. KO trolled John Cena by using the Five Knuckle Shuffle and Attitude Adjustment. Kevin also copied Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” by telling Finn “You Can’t Beat Me”. Owens brought the intensity with his physicality, but Balor did not give up. Finn countered the Pop-Up Powerbomb with a lariat. After taking down the Champ with two Dropkicks, Balor finished the match with the Coup De Grace (Top Rope Double Stomp) for the win and the NXT Championship.

82. Triple H vs. The Rock (Ladder Match for WWF Intercontinental Championship, Summerslam 1998)

After WrestleMania XIV, there was a changing of the guard for two of the Best Factions in the WWF. The Rock became the Leader of the Nation of Domination, while Triple H became the Leader of D-Generation-X. From that point, DX and NOD feuded like Gangs fighting over Territory. It was a War that became one of the highlights of the Attitude Era next to Austin 3:16. The Alpha Male Leaders of each group feuded over the second richest prize in the company, the Intercontinental Title. They settled their feud in a Ladder Match for the IC Title at Summerslam. This was not the typical Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon Ladder Match where you had the High-Flying Acrobatics of HBK vs the Power and Aggressiveness of Razor. Instead, you had two warriors who were identical in size and strength. It was a pure brawl that included a Ladder. Their personal hatred was on display in this match. The Fans could feel the Story that they told. Helmsley would defeat The Brahma Bull thanks to a Low Blow from Chyna to become the new IC Champion.

81. Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude (30-Minute Ironman Challenge: Beach Blast 1992)
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Ravishing” Rick Rude battled each other in one of the greatest tests of stamina in all of wrestling: an Ironman Match. However, instead of going the full Hour like Flair vs. Steamboat (Clash of Champions VI) and Bret vs. HBK (WrestleMania XII), Steamboat and Rude went for half an Hour. Ravishing Rick had the advantage planned out, as he tried to gain a 3-1 lead in the first ten minutes of the match to make things out of reach. Steamboat had other plans in mind, with his will to win as he tied the match at 3-3 with ten minutes left. After reversing a sleeper hold into a pin, Steamboat took the lead and the win as time expired.

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