Top 10 Wrestling Matches of the 1990s

It’s a no brainer to say that wrestling in the 1990s was the best decade of wrestling. Really, today we only have a bunch of indie promotions that only wishes they can compete against WWE that’s still the only wrestling company that dominates the wrestling industry. Back in the 90’s we had WCW, WWF, and ECW that were all competing with each other and competitions is great for business. They grow, evolve and deliver the unexpected and that’s something that I truly miss in wrestling today. I always love going to back at these old matches where the the 80’s rock and wrestling reaches it’s end, the short-lived new generation era, to the very famous Attitude era of wrestling for the WWF! Wrestling took a big evolution in the 90s to become more realistic, edgier, rambunctious, and daring just to give us our entertainment. Without out doubt, wrestling never got more entertaining that this decade as a whole and it left a historical impact on television history! These are the best wrestling matches that forever left us an impression and still continues to be entertaining many years later!

Honorable Mentions

 Sumerslam ’94:  Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Steel Cage

If Shawn Michaels is “Mr. Wrestlemania,” then just call Bret Hart “Mr. Summerslam,” because as showcased by this list, Hart produced some of the most memorable matches at WWE’s premier Summer pay-per-view. The two Hart brothers would have perhaps their greatest match against one another on this night, battling for the then-WWF Championship inside a steel cage. As Bret has said, this was perhaps his favorite match against his brother in the WWE, and he felt that they were able to give the audience something different than the stereotypical cage match. The two sold the sibling rivalry to the audience and showed that there doesn’t need to be weapons and bloodshed involved to have a historic cage match.

Heatwave ’98: Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka

These two are the best rivalry that ECW has ever had just simply because both of these men never had a bad match together and Heatwave ’98 was their best! Awesome’s athleticism gets the crowd to pop at every big flying move. He was dominant to open, but soon found himself colliding with a chair thanks to Tanaka. Tanaka charged at him on the ramp, waving the chair above his head like a knight readying a sword. Dives into the crowd, awesome-bombs through tables and DDTs onto chairs highlighted the rest of the match. The energy of this match, how Tanaka and Awesome masterfully worked the crowd makes this a bout worthy of watching, several times over.

Great American Bash ’90:  Ric Flair vs. Sting

The Ric Flair and Sting feud spans several years because it was WCW’s most iconic rivalries in that promotion. Their best outing however would be at WCW’s The Great American Bash pay per view in 1990. At this point, both wrestlers knew each other very well and complimented each others wrestling styles. Additionally, the crowd was heavily invested in the storyline, which went beyond Sting and Flair. Standing ringside for the bout was The Steiner Brothers, Junkyard Dog and more. This was to insure there would be no interference from Ole Anderson and The Four Horsemen. Throughout the match, Flair tried numerous times to cheat, each time being thwarted by the good guys at ringside. Flair seized the opportunity and went for his patented figure four leg lock. But Sting quickly counted the move with a small package and got the three count. The crowd erupted, as Sting celebrated with The Steiner Brothers and Junkyard Dog. Despite losing the title for the 6th time, Flair would go on to win the championship several more times.

Royal Rumble ’94: Yokozuna vs. Undertaker

I guess I have a huge guilty pleasure for this match because Yokozuna is my favorite over-size wrestler and his best match (that didn’t involve his Tag Team match with Owen Hart) was his Casket Match with Undertaker at Royal Rumble ’94. Undertaker was so over-powered that it took half of the heel roster to finish him off and put him in the casket. It was a very chaotic match that made it amazing to see all the heels doing their most evilest to beat the powerful force of ‘Taker. But after Yokozuna finally put Taker in the Casket, then came the scariest moment in all of wrestling, Undertaker’s resurrection inside that casket! It didn’t have a great in-ring work but it had the some of the best drama and finishes that I’ve ever seen in a single match.

Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. Kenta Kobashi

This is some of the toughest looking matches I’ve ever seen. Dr. Death Steve Williams is some of the best technical powerhouses the world of wrestling has ever had. His moves were some of the most painful looking I’ve ever seen and to my surprise, Kenta Kobashi was able to withstand and endure every trick that Steve Williams had to pull. You probably have seen wrestling like this before, but this is one that had some of the devastating effect that I’ve seen throughout the 1990s. Throughout the entire match, we always had near-falls and multiple instances where it looks like it can end, but they kept going. This match is really damn good, but what it’s missing the most is a good story to tell which is why it’s off the list.

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Number 10.  –  King of the Ring ’98RAW 6/29/1998: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kane

My favorite time of being a WWF fan was 1998 when we had only four major stars tearing each other up; Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Mankind, and Kane (and possibly Vince McMahon if you believe that). Though this was Austin at his prime, this was also Kane’s prime as well were we had an actual horror-like monster as a wrestling persona that happened to be one of the best mystique characters of all time. He’s had a an awesome debut interfering the Undertaker’s match with HBK in the first Hell in a Cell, nearly this close to finish Undertaker at Wrestlemania, Tombstone Pete Rose (twice), and even even took his rivalry with Taker in the most dangerous match, the Inferno Match! It really built his character all the way to a WWF Championship against Stone Cold. And quite frankly, I’m putting two matches in two consecutive nights in this very list!

Sure, everyone thinks it’s blasphemy that I put this match over the King of the Ring Hell in the Cell match between Mankind and Undertaker, but the match between Kane and Austin is what truly defined the Attitude Era more-so than that match! It’s really cool to see a first blood-match but pretty obvious of who’s going to loose because Kane had his mask on, but it didn’t matter because this very match this match threw everything on the table to make it recognize it as Attitude. We’re talking about taking the fight to the crowd, interferences with Taker and Foley, close-call finishers, many attempted murders (pouring gasoline on Ref), and even bringing the Hell in the Cell down making it a gimmick match that was damaged earlier (Mankind vs. Undertaker). But that nasty chair shot that Taker did on Austin was some of the most effective and it gave Kane his title. That was some of my favorite heel victories of all professional wrestling because it left us asking for more!

And more is what we got because the following night on free TV, we were given a rematch between the two as main event of Raw is War. Thought it probably could have been better, this was a fantastic climax between the two that captures fan satisfactory! It we’re judging on fan reactions for this match, there was no bigger fan reaction than seeing Austin win the championship on free TV. The way he stunnered Kane for that victory was some of the most brutal that I’ve ever seen from any stunners that Austin gave to his victims. Many say that it wasn’t fair that Kane only had his championship in less than 24 hours and they should have made that title-reign longer, but I doubt we’re ever going to see the same Kane from the 1990s because his mystique is completely gone. Nevertheless, this was some of my favorite moments in the WWF and each time I look back at it, it reminds me why I’m still a wrestling fan!

Number 9.  –  Bad Blood ’97:  The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, Hell in a Cell

This was the very first Hell in a Cell match in the WWF and it still is one of my favorite matches that the promotion has has delivered. At Bad Blood in 1997, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker faced off for the chance to battle Bret Hart at Survivor Series for the WWF Championship. Before we had that infamous screwjob in that Pay Per View, we were given a taste of what would the WWF be heading to in the Attitude Era. Undertaker was quick to bring the fight to Michaels during the beginning of the match with Michaels mostly unable to mount an offense of his own. Taker was so brutal and unforgiving that he even woke up from a Sweet Chin Music-Super Kick from Michaels and brought the match outside of the cage. At one point in the match, both men were fighting on top of the cell and Michaels was knocked off. With Michaels dangling helplessly, Taker stomped on his fingers forcing him to let go and fall through the spanish announce table. To my surprise, he fell off from the cage to the table a year earlier than the Mankind incident in King of the Ring ’98 in the same match-type from the same opponent. Some of you are wondering why I didn’t put the Mankind vs. Undertaker match in the list of the greatest matches of the 1990s. Well, I have full respect to that historic event, but the match was too real and when there’s no wrestling going on, it simply tested my patients.

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The match between Michaels and Taker was so much better and more real than that other Hell in a Cell match. In fact, this match was so damn real that when Shawn Michaels was dripping blood from the top of the cage, the camera man who was below them had Michaels’s drops of blood landing on him and he shouted “Ah shit!” Once the two made it back into the ring, Taker was ready to put Michaels away… until the debuting Kane hit Taker with a Tombstone Piledriver, ultimately handing the win to Michaels. That debut of Kane was some of the most exciting, surprising, and epic debuts that any professional wrestler has ever had! It was the biggest turning point that I’ve ever see in in a wresting match but it was one hell of an impression! This still is the best Hell in a Cell match that I’ve ever seen and that’s all thanks to the non-stop action that kept going throughout!

Number 8.  –  Wrestle War 92: Sting Squadron  vs. The Dangerous Alliance  – War Games

We have the greatest faction vs. faction of all time and this was all thanks to the genius Paul Hayman (Paul E. Dangerously) who made this into a reality. We have Sting, Nikita Koloff, Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham to go up against  Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Steve Austin, Larry Zbyszko, Rick Rude. All of these men have a huge history with each other. The War Games has always been WCW’s best gimmick matches where they take a large team against another team in a two-ring cage that makes a chaotic experience. Violence, brawls, and athleticism were all displayed perfectly in this very match.  One by one as the wrestlers got into the ring, kept the adrenaline with between these teams to be more fierce and violent at the point where it has became the best that WCW has ever had to offer. Not even the New World Order would dare to make a masterful match like this one. I never got bored watching this War Game. Hell it was crazy to see Madusa (valet for Dangerous Alliance) to go up the cage to give her teammate a weapon and Sting came chasing after her. When Sting finally came into the ring, it became the most electrifying moment of the match. All of these men have done almost every wrestling trick in the book, plus more like taking off the top rope ring because the hatred between these two teams were that intense. It is hands down the best WarGames match in existence, thanks in major part to the caliber of athlete who participated in the match. Over half the participants bled buckets in the match, featured great storyline and paid off the months long rivalry between The Alliance and their biggest rivals.

Number 7.  –  Hardcore Heaven ’99: Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn

For those wondering why this is the only ECW match that made it on the list it’s because some of the sloppy hardcore matches had great stories and the athletic matches get no story in them. That’s why Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn is a perfect balance between both and delivered some of the greatest matches I’ve ever seen. If someone told fans that Rob Van Dam and Jerry Lynn were each created with the other mind, it’d be hard to argue. Their fantastic chemistry led to a number of great matches for ECW including their bouts at Guilty as Charged 2001 and Living Dangerously 1999. It’s their match at Hardcore Heaven 1999 that is their masterwork. An incredible pace saw Lynn and Van Dam hit move after move, leg drops and avalanche bulldogs and just about everything in each man’s arsenal. The match featured more mat wrestling than one might expect, but plenty of the most furious flying moves as well. Their fight spilled to the outside; their fight hypnotized. There were most instances where it looks like they’ve botched, but they somehow kept going in delivering some of the best performances that the promotion has ever had! I was in complete awe when watching this match for the first time and wonder why WCW and WWF hasn’t had performers in their roster that could make matches and storytelling like this. This was all about being “The Whole F’ing Show” and they had to prove it, televised. What separates this from their other matches is how much drama they created near the end, how real their desperation felt and how drained it all left fans afterward.

Number 6.  –  Nitro 4/26/99:  Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page

This may shock a lot of people that this match sits on at the top of my list. This match for the WCW World Title and in my eyes the best television match ever aired on WCW programming and possibly one of the best matches in the whole Monday Night Wars. Sting and DDP put on an instant classic on this edition of Monday Nitro on April 26, 1999. The battle between two of the most popular WCW competitors of all time was a truly memorable moment among the chaos that was unraveling in the WCW front offices. But don’t think this was some technical classic. The match quickly degraded into an all-out brawl as DDP and The Stinger taunted each other and exchanged blows in the center of the ring to start the match. As the action spilled in and out of the ring, neither legendary grappler maintained an advantage in the contest. It was a thrilling back-and-forth war, but the true highlight of the contest was that there was no outside interference. Instead, two of WCW’s finest waged war in an effort to determine the champion. DDP was the heel champ and at this point in his career was in his prime. Sting on the other hand was past his prime yet still had what it took to put on a great World Title Match. The uninterrupted contest finally came to an end when Sting countered the Diamond Cutter into a Scorpion Death Drop to win his fifth WCW Title. We haven’t seen a crowd pop for the three count since Goldberg defeated Hollywood Hogan or Austin and his zamboni and it was magical to see such a roar happen at the end of the match. Sadly, Sting’s fifth World Title reign would not last long. He would lose it in a Four Corners Match 90 minutes later. Make it a point to watch this match. It was indeed one of Sting’s great, if not his greatest of matches.

Number 5.  –  Wrestlemania X:  Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon

This match was the first ladder match ever on WWE PPV and probably the best one ever as well. Shawn Michaels had been the Intercontinental Champion until he got suspended and had to forfeit the belt. Razor Ramon was the new Intercontinental Champion with Michaels out and when the Heartbreak Kid returned, their was dispute over who was the real champion. There was so many creative ways that they used the ladder against each other that left an imprint on both of their careers. HBK went out there and had a match with the ladder. For that time in wrestling, it was one of a kind and nothing we have ever seen before! The bumps these two were taking were amazing and had our eyes glued to the TV. No wrestling fan will ever forget the splash HBK took from off the ladder to Razor. That image will remain as one of the most important images in WWE history. The reason why is because this match made Shawn Michaels, Mr. WrestleMania and this really showed that he was ready for the main event! This was the first night he stole show and he never looked back after it! The Showstopper had arrived! They settled their differences in this ladder match at WrestleMania 10. Although Shawn Michaels put on one of his best performances ever, Razor Ramon won the match and became the undisputed Intercontinental Champion. Razor and Michaels had a second Ladder Match again in SummerSlam ’95 but it wasn’t as beautifully worked as their match at WrestleMania X.

Number 4.  –  Wrestlemania X: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart 

It has been debated which match was the best part of Wrestlemania X? Well since I’ve already mentioned the ladder match in the Number 5 pick, obviously I had have to go with Bret vs. Own as the best match of WMX. This is without a doubt the best opening match that I’ve ever seen! We’re talking about two brothers going at it one-on-one by delivering the best technical match you can possibly ask for!  On any other night, the classic between Bret “Hit Man” Hart and his brother Owen Hart would have been considered the match of the night. The Hart brothers put on a memorable clinic in their opening match of WrestleMania X. Owen had an early advantage and worked on Bret’s injured leg for much of the match, but Bret looked to have things going his way as the match progressed. Both brothers connected with a bulldog, piledriver, superplex, sharpshooters, and almost every wrestling move that I can imagine all put in here but nothing could keep each other down. You have to see this match to believe how much of a masterpiece of a match that they’ve created. Bret tried to send Owen into the corner with an Irish whip, but Owen countered and followed him in. Bret went for a victory roll, but Owen reversed into his own pinning combination and scored the major upset, but it still is today the best opening match in any PPV. We’ll never see Owen be a main eventer, but Bret unselfishly gave his brother a moment to remember, even despite the fact that he had a main event match on the same night. I mean it when this match is very good and it deserved to last as long as it needed to be because it was a fantastic feud between the two. It was all athleticism in wrestling at it’s purest and it should be watched if you want to get into the wrestling business. love this match and this holds up as the best match of Wrestlemania X! For the fact that we have Wrestlemania X matches in this Top 10 should show you why Wrestlemania X is one of the best wrestling shows of all time!

Number 3.  –  Wrestlemania 13:  Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

I will always say that the Wrestlemania 12 match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels is the most overrated match in wrestling history. It is the Titanic of wrestling, where no matter how hard you try to convince me that it’s the greatest, the reasons will always be irrelevant. Bret Hart has redeemed himself by putting on a much better wrestling match with his best rival Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Now if you want to talk bloody matches, here’s one for you. It would be on this night that Austin would truly become “Stone Cold” and begin his march to the top of the WWF. This match would be one much different than their Survivor Series battle. In the fact this was less of a wrestling match and more of a street fight.

Bret Hart came in as the face and Stone Cold was the heel, but after this match, which Bret Hart was declared the winner, their roles switched and made Stone Cold Steve Austin the star that he is today. This match was filled with the use of outside objects and Austin was cut open and bleeding from his head by the end of the match.

This match was certainly not Hart’s specialty, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the match. “The Hitman” was just as ruthless and cold as Austin on this night, eventually leading to the unforgettable Shapshooter that would leave “Stone Cold” unconscious and bloody in the middle of the ring.  Although Austin never said the words “I quit,” he passed out from the pain and loss of blood, so referee Ken Shamrock declared Hart the winner. Austin may not have won the match, but his performance made him the new top guy in the company. This match sparked the ‘Attitude Era’ and was the birth of Stone Cold Steve Austin as the face of the company.

Number 2.  –  Wrestlemania VIIMacho King Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior 

Many can say Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI was the best match of the early 90’s and many say that Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania III is the best match of the 1980s, but I can easily say that this Wrestlemania match is better than both of those matches combined! Yes, I said it and I regret nothing! The stipulation was the loser of the match has to retire and the stakes were so much higher than anyone’s booking in a Wrestlemania. Warrior came in walking (not running) in the ring trying to save his energy because never was a wild man like him ever so serious about one match. The match started with each man posing for the crowd as Macho King gets booed and Warrior gets cheered. From then on, the match kept pacing itself effortlessly with great athleticism and amazing backfire of the ruse of Savage and Queen Sherri. Sherri’s involvement in the match was pure genius as it continues to bring heat on the king and queen. It was babyface vs heel at it’s finest as Macho did everything imaginable to take down the power of the Warrior. I never seen a match between two wrestlers to be so intense that it continues to bring chills down my spine because it combines physicality, athleticism, showmanship, and technicality all into one and it went non-stop. Sherri was definitely the most hated in the match because of interfering way too much in this match that made Warrior so desperate to knock her out.

Just a perfectly booked match with so many memorable moments throughout! I still can’t believe that Warrior kicked out of five top-rope elbow drops by Macho King and Macho kicking out of Warrior’s press slam-splash combo. I still couldn’t believe how unpredictable this match really was and it kept me wondering who was going to win this match. Nobody wants to retire when they’re still at their prime and both of these wrestlers showed their passion of this sport because of everything they’ve done in this very match. Warrior was about to leave the match because neither one of these men could give up this match but the excitement kept going non-stop. And then finally this match finally ends when Warrior applied three running shoulder blocks on Savage that took the wind out of him that left him out of victory.

But the story of this match doesn’t end there. The real drama, however, occurred after the match when Macho was attacked by his manager Sensational Sherri and then saved by his former manager and ex-girlfriend Miss Elizabeth. As the real life couple reconciled, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This was some of the best babyface turn I’ve ever seen where even though the heel lost the match and his manager, he won everyone’s hearts by returning to his lover Miss Elizabeth. There is a clear reason why these two deserve my ranking of as the number 1 couple of professional wrestling! We’ve waited forever for these two to come back together and there was no perfect time to put these two back together than in Wrestlemania 7 that lead to the best on-screen wedding in wrestling at Summerslam 1991. No doubt, this is THE Best post-match moments of all time! This is a match that goes down as one of, if not, the best Wrestlemania match of ever because it went beyond anyone’s expectations and towards the end of the match, the loser is celebrated like the Rocky movie! It’s a moment that can never be replicated and it holds a special place in many of our hearts!

Number 1.  –  Royal Rumble Match 1992

Every year when the Royal Rumble comes around, a sense of nostalgia kicks in as wrestling fans remember Rumble moments from the past and relive them because they are what made the Rumble such an important match in the first place. In terms of the actual Royal Rumble match and which one was the best, the clear choice is 1992. While there were many others that can be considered great, Four words: Ric Flair, one hour, along with the greatest collection of wrestlers and spots ever in a singular match. Flair just came from WCW and WWF treated their best wrestler like a star. Though he only came out at number 3, at that point in time never was there a wrestler that stay in that ring as long as Ric has to the very end of the match. Part of what made the Royal Rumble 1992 so damn special is that it’s the ONLY Royal Rumble where the winner wins the vacated WWF Championship. For the fact that it still stands as the only Royal Rumble match for the WWF Championship makes the storytelling and the in-ring action even more exciting to watch.

If you look at the star power in the 1992 Royal Rumble, it can be argued that it was the most star studded Rumble ever. Here’s a listing at some of the names in the match that are already in the WWE Hall of Fame or likely will be one day: British Bulldog (#1), Ted Dibiase (#2), Ric Flair (#3), Shawn Michaels (#6), Tito Santana (#7), Texas Tornado (#9), Greg Valentine (#11), Nikolai Volkoff (#12), Big Boss Man (#13), Roddy Piper (#15), Jake Roberts (#16), Jim Duggan (#17), Jimmy Snuka (#19), The Undertaker (#20), Randy Savage (#21), Hulk Hogan (#26), Sgt. Slaughter (#28) and Sid Justice (#29) Those are 18 names. Of those names, if you picked out the top five all-time stars in the match you could go with Hogan, Flair, Michaels, Undertaker and Savage as one of the strongest groups of top five names in Royal Rumble history. That’s without mentioning a guy like Piper too. A key part of every Rumble is building up contenders to win. The fans watching at home have to believe most of the performers have a chance to win.

If the big names of the contestants in this Royal Rumble didn’t even excite you (hard to imagine anyone wouldn’t be half amused), you had the best commentary, best surprises, best spots, and some of the most surprising moments that occurred in this match. I mean for fuck sake, Hulk Hogan didn’t even win the match and that was certainly a highlight of the show. For an hour of a match, the excitement never stopped thanks to commentary job by Heenan, who was firmly in the corner of Ric Flair. He was known as an advisor to Flair and whenever he did commentary of Flair’s matches he made it no secret that he was going to support his friend no matter what anybody else thought. At one point he looked like he was going to have a heart attack and that’s part of him being a lovable heel. This is the match that truly showcased why Flair (thought his stay there was short-lived) was the Man for WWF fans who might not have realized it.

They really featured Flair as the guy to be the main guy in the match. That’s exactly what he was. Flair lasted the longest in the match by going 59:26 as the 3rd man in. He was responsible for the elimination of five men: British  Bulldog, Texas Tornado, Big Boss Man, Randy Savage and Sid Justice. Savage would be his opponent at WrestleMania 8 a couple of months later, so it was smart to have Flair eliminate him here. A lot of the guys attacked him when they got in the ring whether they were heel or face. It was as if he was the guy that had the target in his back because he came from the NWA/WCW and they didn’t want him to win the match. He did so many Flair flops and had so many moments where it looked like he was going to get eliminated. This was before the days where Shawn Michaels would skin the cat all the time and people would copy him. It was more basic moves to save himself, but Flair did everything he could to hang on. The final four in this match was the best choice of four wrestlers ever with Hogan, Savage, Sid, and Flair. Savage got eliminated, but what’s surprising of all is that Hogan didn’t win the match. The crowd popped the moment Sid threw Hogan over when Hulk tried to eliminate Ric Flair. And the moment Flair won, it was fan-pleasing moment when we all heard Bobby Heenan shout “YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! I told you Monsoon! I told you Monsoon!” Sure there have been better in-ring action and more well-told story lines in wrestling over the years, but no other match really had so much excitement. Hell, even the post-match interview with Flair was biblical! A lot of these feuds after the match carried on at Wrestlemania 8, but for this very match where everything was on the line, Flair showed everybody with his performance at the 1992 Royal Rumble that he truly is one of the greatest wrestlers ever. It was Flair at his absolute best. Woo!!!

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