The Top Five
Because it's my blog and I can talk about whatever I want...and because I've managed to keep the pro-wrestling talk on this blog to a minimum....here now, my top five favorite professional wrestling matches.
5. Roddy Piper beats the Mountie to win the WWF Intercontinental Title, Royal Rumble 1992
Wrestling is vengeance stories. Generally, it's a righteous vengeance. Plain and simple. It's a tough world we live in, where a lot of us feel wronged some of the time. And simply put, most of us when wronged, simply have to bite the bullet and live with the wrong. But in wrestling, it's a whole different story.
The Mountie (Jacques Rougeau in a ridiculous evil-Canadian gimmick) had beaten Bret Hart in an untelevised house show for the title. Hart had "against doctor's orders, wrestled with a fever of 103!!!!!!"
Piper felt the Mountie had taken advantage of his cousin Bret Hart, and set out to avenge him.
It's not a great match athletically...both guys are from the school of throwing punches and then stalling to amp up the crowd.
The Mountie had a stupid shock prod, too, which he would use illegally from time to time. In typical righteous vengeance form, Piper was able to take the prod from him, and use it against the bad guy.
I just like this match for Roddy's celebration afterward, as it was the only title he ever won in his time with the WWF.
4. Low Ki vs. A.J. Styles vs. Jerry Lynn, triple ladder match.
This is my favorite match that I've ever seen in person. At the NWA TNA asylum last summer, this match was the climax of a marathon 4.5 hour taping session. Most of the crowd had already left to go home, but those who stayed were in for a treat.
Jerry Lynn and A.J. Styles had feuded over the course of the summer over A.J.'s X-Division Title. Low Ki surprisingly upset A.J. one night. And the next week, A.J. fought Jerry to see who would next fight Low Ki. When no decisive winner emerged from that contest, Low Ki came to the ring and challenged them both to a Three Man Ladder Match....and promptly kicked them both in the head when they agreed.
The match is absolutely great. Many spots where you have to ask yourself "why does a grown man choose to do this?" They were hitting each other with the ladder and jumping off the ladder and throwing each other into the ladder. It's great. Jerry Lynn piledrives LowKi off an 8 foot ladder to win the thing.
3. Ric Flair vs. Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, Clash of Champions VI
Remember what I said about vengeance stories? Well, wrestling also likes the underdog, by and large. And Steamboat was the underdog, by and large.
This match took place in 1989, and was probably the career-defining moment for Ricky Steamboat. He was coming back to the Mid-Atlantic region and WCW after a few years of working for Vince McMahon's WWF...where he achieved some success, but seemed stuck behind the Hulkamania machine from ever reaching the World Title.
Flair was WCW's constant heel champion. He was a bad guy, and the good guys were always trying to take the brass ring from him. He's probably the best heel we've had over the past few years...people love to hate Flair.
The match was 2 out of 3 falls. Steamboat took the first fall, if I'm remembering right, making Flair submit for the first time I could remember at the time (I was 12) to a Chicken-Wing submission...which, we discovered later, if done right, didn't hurt at all...but if done wrong, could easly dislocate both shoulders!
Flair won the second fall, but Steamboat won the third fall, in what was actually one of the better story-telling angles I remember....Flair's foot was under the ropes, but referee (Teddy Long, I believe) didn't see it. So Steamboat was champ...but the rules stated that Flair had a right to a re-match, since the match ended controversially.
2. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Wrestlemania X
Bret Hart is my favorite wrestler of all time. And this was his best match. And he had to fight his own brother!
Probably one of the WWF's best jobs of stretching things out over a long period of time, yet losing none of the intensity. The animosity between the brothers Hart began in the summer of 1993, not too long after Bret had lost the World Title to Yokozuna!
But things would die down. Bret and Owen would get into a shoving match, only to be calmed down. At the Survivor Series, Bret and Owen would team with two other brothers Keith and Bruce against a team of evil Knights.
Owen was the only Hart brother eliminated from that match. He was distracted when Bret was knocked to the ground when Owen was rebounding off the ring ropes, and Owen ended up getting pinned by Shawn Michaels.
After the rest of the brothers Hart won, Owen came out to re-join the celebration, but instead got into a shoving match with brother Bret, whom he blamed for distracting him. Owen challenged Bret to a match.
But cooler heads prevailed, and the two made up, and vowed to team up to take the Tag Team titles from Jacques Rougeau and Karl Oulette at the 1994 Royal Rumble.
It didn't happen. An injured Bret didn't tag in his brother Owen, instead trying to win the match himself, and Bret got pinned.
Owen went ballistic. He kicked Bret's injured legs out from under him.
And the two would meet at Wrestlemania, in the opening contest. It was the first of two matches for Bret, who would also face the winner of the Lex Luger/Yokozuna match for the World Title.
It's a technical marvel, in my mind. One of the best exhibitions you'll ever see. Owen wins with a victory roll out of nowhere. It was a good match between two of the better athletes to ever wrestle. This is not your punch and kick and stall classic.
The win came out of nowhere. And you thought that there'd be a mutual respect after the match....but no. Owen went backstage and trashed his brother.
Later in the night, Bret would come out of nowhere to pin Yokozuna to regain the World Title. There was a huge celebration in the ring afterward. Owen refused to join them....and it left an interesting question. Owen had proven he was Bret's equal, if not superior. Could Owen be World Champ?
1. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, Wrestlemania III
I hated Randy Savage. This, you have to understand. Remember how I said wrestling was vengeance? Well, Randy Savage, in the eyes of this 10-year-old, needed his behind handed to him badly.
He was the Intercontinental Champion. After having gained the title under questionable circumstances 16 or so months earlier, he had become the most fighting champion in WWF history.
He beat everybody. Fairly. And then he would beat on them. He would attack them after the match. Before matches. When they weren't even scheduled to fight.
He crushed Ricky Steamboat's windpipe.
You have to understand that I was 10, and all this was completely real to me. Pro Wrestling was a competition. A violent competition, yes, but it was real. And things were supposed to happen between the ropes and between the bells. And there were things you just did not do
On an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event (I think...it could have been WWF's syndicated show Superstars), Randy Savage took the ring bell and dove off the top rope with it in hand, and hit Ricky Steamboat in the throat. And Ricky, who could sell the hell out of any move, making anything look real and painful, writhed around in agony, clutching his throat, while announcers screamed "He can't breathe!"
He was out for a little while, but not long.
Steamboat came back on another episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. And a match was set for Wrestlemania III.
And in front of 93,177 people in the Pontiac Silverdome, Savage (who was as infuriatingly good as he said he was) and Steamboat went at it for 17 minutes. It had everything, but in the space of 17 minutes, they told the best in-ring story that could be told.
They fought. They bit. But in the end, Steamboat won out. It wasn't a big finish like all of today's matches have
to be. Steamboat rolled Savage up into a small package, and the referee counted 1-2-3. And it was over. And Savage had been beaten. Dejected, he rode back to the back with Miss Elizabeth doing her best to comfort him.
It was awesome. The good guy had won, and the bad guy had lost...where it mattered...in the ring.
Steamboat lost the belt two months later and by November, was friends with a newly turned good-guy Randy Savage. It was one of the things that made me start to realize that it was all show.
Because if a guy crushed my windpipe with a ring bell, maybe I could forgive him. But I wouldn't team with him in a Survivor Series match. No way. No how.
Thanks for reading, if you've gotten this far.
Now back to the nostril jokes....