One of the big reasons why I have a really soft spot for the New Generation Era is the fact that matches were more physical, technical, high flying, and aggressive than anything seen in the Golden Era of Wrestling. A lot of people over looks what this era had to offer because they’re more fond to the Attitude Era. Many of the smaller guys in the Golden Age were able to show what they were capable of and it made the whole professional wresting scene in the World Wrestling Federation look more sportsman like. Not to mention, that in the later years of the New Generation, many of the star were actually doing hardcore stipulations one at a time that was slowly evolving into the Attitude Era that we all know and love. I’ve already named ten of the best wrestlers of the New Generation Era so go check that list out. In the mean time, I can easily say that this is the most underrated and under appreciated era of wrestling and you should watch these ten matches that came from this era (mid 1992 – early 1997) to realize what wrestling today lost that this era had.
Number 10. – Roddy Piper vs Goldust (with Marlena) – Hollywood Backlot Brawl- Wrestlemania 12
Back in 1994, the infamous the OJ Simpson chase was huge! It got media press everywhere when it happened and the OJ Simpson trial was the biggest trail of the century. The OJ Simpson incident and trial went on for over a damn year. This was everywhere where it dominated American pop culture and it’s a huge inspiration for this match. The Hollywood Backlot Brawl was a parody of the OJ Simpson White Bronco chase where the fight began after the Cornette Camp vs. Yokozuna’s team where it lead to a car chase, that’s similar to OJ’s chase. The rivalry between Piper and Goldust was intense because Goldust had a huge “thing” for someone as manly as Piper and Piper was so sick of it that he wants to make a man out of him by beating the life out of him. Throughout Steven Austin vs. Savio Vaga’s match, Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawer at commentary got phone calls of Piper while he was chasing down Goldust by car, only to have them perfectly comeback to the Wrestlemania event that start the whole match. This match was chaotic, it was brutal, physical, and the kind of stuff that you get a chance to see in the attitude era. This was a certainly different direction for the WWF to do that certainly amazed everyone watching. Of course if you had this match in Wrestlemania 15, 16, 17, or 18 when Attitude era and hardcore wrestling was still around, this would of been another one of those matches that blends well with the them of the show, but when we’re talking about having a hardcore match during the New Generation Era, it was not only innovative for the WWF, but it was a precursor of what will be the standard of the Attitude Era’s hardcore wrestling. They both brought the fight all the way to the ring where the fight finished. I loved this match because it was dynamic and the built-up towards this match more than just delivered, it came beyond expectations. This was our very first hardcore wrestling match in the WWF. Although it was bizzard to see Piper rip-off Goldust’s attire and revile that he’s wearing a lingerie underneath (for humiliation purposes), it didn’t have a proper finish, but it didn’t need to. After that brutal beatdown, it’s obvious who won the fight. It was an impact for Wrestlemania that was the steppingstones to the Attitude Era the following year and for it to be a first time ever done in the WWF, it was historic!
Number 9. – Hart Brothers vs. Steiner Brothers – Wrestlefest 1994
Time for what should be an excellent tag team match and there are no introductions in this match. It should be noted that this match was taped prior to the 1994 Royal Rumble on Jan 11th 1994 in Florence SC. It’s was incredibly sportsman like to see a brotherly team up of technicians (Owen and Bret) against the brotherly team up of powerhouses (Rick and Scott). It’s a shame to see how forgotten the Steiner Brothers are over the years because they were definitely the best tag teams of WCW that only had a brief run in WWF. It’s wonderful that these tag teams were 100% pure wrestling, instead of the traditional face vs. heel. It’s impressive to see how these four men worked together like no other tag team wrestling match ever. The slams, the submissions, and the team work displayed in this very match is phenomenal to watch. Not only were the moves pulled by both brothers were physical, but it was vicious causing a huge impact when going back and watching what they were doing. The best part of this match was when the Steiners go for the double team bulldog on Owen and Bret comes in for the rescue to just have all four men brawl in the ring like crazy. All four men brawl out of the ring ending up being counted out. It was smart to have a double count out because I’m such a huge fan of these brothers and I can’t imagine any one of them being better than the other. Fantastic Tag Team Match here between these four great back and forth match between everyone although the finish was a bit of a let down the rest of the match was excellent and probably one of the best tag team matches to never be seen on television (only on VHS). After the match Scott Steiner gets the microphone and calls the Harts back into the ring thus having all four men continue to brawl and referees and agents come out to break it up because we couldn’t get enough of it. After the fight cooled off, all of these four men celebrated and I couldn’t have it done any better. If there’s any match not seen on TV that you need to see, it has to be this match.
Number 8. – Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel – In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies
Diesel (or Kevin Nash) is responsible for destroying WWF’s popularity in his reign as Champion throughout 1995. He was never a draw for the company and for the fact that he put a lot of potential stars (outside of the Kliq) down and thus not creating stars. He’s definitely one of the worst WWE Champions ever, but whenever he’s working with Kliq and any of the Hart family members (Bret, Owen, Davy Boy Smith) he really makes good matches. Though these two had a really overrated match at Wrestlemania 11, this is the rematch that seriously set the bar for the New Generation Era. The story of the match is that Shawn pretty has to stick and move but he keeps getting overpowered at every turn. Shawn takes Hugo Savinovich’s boot and clobbers Big Daddy Cool with it. Nash keeps talking trash to Vince in a sort of worked-shoot angle between them. Then he lays in some brutal shots on Michaels’ back. Diesel swings a chair which ricochets off the top rope and back into his face. Shawn grabs the chair but gets blowed low. Diesel Jackknifes Shawn through the table in a pretty big spot for the time. He gets back in the ring and puts on the belt. Vince is screaming at Shawn to “let it be over,” but Shawn crawls and scrapes his way over to the ring and grabs a fire extinguisher. Diesel gets blinded by it and now Michaels can lay in some stiff right hands. Flying forearm! Kip-up! Crowd is rockin’. Michaels counters a Jackknife attempt and hits the Savage Elbow off the top. He’s warming up the band!!! SWEET CHIN MU— No! Diesel blocks it and nearly rips Shawn’s friggin’ head off with a clothesline. The great thing about that spot is it certainly FELT like the end of the match. Diesel heads out and RIPS OFF MAD DOG VACHON’S LEG!!!! He would probably get huge face heat for that these days but this was a different time. Shawn lowblows Diesel before he can us it and then Shawn clubs him with it himself. Sweet Chin Music finishes moments later. Shawn stands in the ring taunting Hogan and Hall and defiantly challenging all comers. This is the standard for all big man vs. little man matches, but what made this match work is the fact that these two were former best friends and they knew each other very well to tell a such a great story. I can’t think of any that surpass it.
Number 7. – Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect – King of the Ring 1993
The first everKing of the Ring is famous for Yokozuna destroying Hulkamania and establishing Bret Hart as the new face of the WWF. The best part of the whole PPV is the second round tournament with Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect. These two both had a tremendous match in Summerslam 1991 and this rematch was bound to happen again. The sad thing is that there has never been a better King of the Ring match that the one with these two. It seemed that whenever Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart got into the ring, the match was going to steal the show. En route to Hart winning the 1993 King of the Ring, he had to defeat three superstars in one night. Perfect would be the second wrestler Hart faced that night, and though it wasn’t their best bout, it had the same feel as the battle these two had at the 1991 SummerSlam for the Intercontinental Title. In Hart’s WWE DVD he talks about this night and how he felt he had three great matches with three completely different superstars in terms of style. His favorite and many others was his match with Mr. Perfect in the semifinals, and it’s not difficult to see why. The match was technically classic, with many submissions and counters that you’d expect from these two. Often an underrated match, this battle deserves to be mentioned among the best of Hart & Hennings’s career.
Number 6. – Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind – In Your House: Mind Games
Mick Foley brought a taste of some ECW wrestling to the WWF in his match with Shawn Michaels at In Your House: Mind Games in 1996. This match grew a cult following over the years because this was the time when both of these men where at their prime and they delivered one of the most surprising match of the decade. Although there was some action outside the ring, it was essentially a normal wrestling match, which is something Foley has never been known for. To make things even more difficult, he had to keep up with Michaels in his prime, which was no easy task as many consider HBK to be the greatest in-ring worker of all time. Foley got strangled on the middle and top rope, brawls were very physical, and both men went through the announcer’s table at ringside. Despite that, Mankind was able to hang in there with Michaels and acquitted himself extremely well. On top of that, he made Michaels look like a million bucks and put him over as a great champion. I can understand why Mick Foley considers this one of his favorite matches and that is because of the storytelling that made it a classic. The only thing that prevents this contest from being a little higher is the ending. Michaels was obviously going to win regardless as Mankind wasn’t yet world title material, but having Michaels win via disqualification due to interference from Vader was a bit unsatisfying. Aside from that, this was Foley’s best pure wrestling match in the WWE.
Number 5. – Razor Ramon vs. Diesel (w/ Shawn Michaels) Summerslam 1994
Everyone in the locker room hates the Kliq and their politics, but if there’s one positive about the faction, it has to be the fact that they were all so good together whenever they wrestle. I can honestly say that this is definitely one of my favorite Razor Ramon matches because the team up with Shawn and Diesel was so wild and fast paced. Diesel was just starting to catch on around this point after having a great match with Bret Hart at the King of the Ring, so he was rewarded with not only the Intercontinental title, but he and Shawn also won the tag titles. Right from the get go, the match refuses to slow down and the whole crowd was right behind this match all the way through! Even match to start off with both men trading clotheslines and elbow until Diesel hits a backs suplex and sends Razor to the outside. While the ref is giving Razor the count, Shawn uncovers the pad from one of the turnbuckles. Shawn Michaels was very part of the match as these two were and his involvement just makes the match crazier and crazier. Hell, HBK grabbed the IC title to hit Razor with the superkick, but Razor moves out of the way and he hits Diesel instead! The ref slides back into the ring and before Shawn can stop him, Razor drapes an arm over Diesel for the 3 count, winning his second Intercontinental championship. The typically good match you’d expect from two Kliq members around this time, though a bit of a forgotten match. If you want to see many more of them like this match check out the Diesel vs Razor in an episode of Raw and WWF Superstars. Diesel & Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon is still one of my all time favorite rivalries and this is one of my all time favorites with the three of them together!
Number 4. – Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – Cage Match – Summerslam 1994
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. His fees with Owen was one of the most well-written feuds in WWE history. Owen had defeated his much highly publicized brother at WrestleMania 10 and in between then and SummerSlam, he had won the King of the Ring tournament. He was completely ready for a shot at his brother’s World title. The match would take place inside a steel cage and it went for over a half an hour, with the two brothers having an excellent contest. When Owen got his leg caught inside the cage, Bret was able to climb out to win the match, avenging the WrestleMania loss and retaining the title. If you’ve never seen this match, go out of your way to do so. 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.
Number 3. – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Ladder Match – Wrestlemania X
And speaking of Diesel, Shawn Michaels, and Razor Ramon, none could have been better than this match. Being that this was the first ladder match ever on WWE PPV, is probably one of 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. No matter how many times they used the ladder against each other, each of them kept coming back after each other and punish each other some more. I’ll never forget that ingenious finish at the end where Shawn Michaels got caught up on the ropes as he struggles to free himself as Razor climbed on the ladder to reach the Intercontinental Championships. Although Shawn Michaels put on one of his best performances ever, Razor Ramon won the match and became the undisputed Intercontinental Champion, a fine finish to some of the most talented and appealing wrestlers in the WWF. This was the very match that embodies the New Generation Era. 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 2. – Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart – Wrestlemania X
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 1. – Bret Hart vs. Davy Boy Smith – Summerslam 1992
This is without a doubt the best Intercontinental Championship match, best main event, and best SummerSlam match of all time all at once! It was in London, England and a lot of people may not know this but it was taped on August 29th and then shown on August 31st in 1992 with just over 80,000 fans in attendance. The main event wasn’t the Savage/Warrior match for the WWF Title, but the Intercontinental Title match between champion Bret Hart and challenger the British Bulldog , who was wrestling in his home country. It was a face vs. face match with the added dynamic of Bulldog’s wife Diana being at ringside, who was also the sister of Bret Hart. The work in the match was special from the beginning. Through a lot of it, Bret was working as a heel because I think he realized he needed to in order to get the crowd totally behind Smith. It wasn’t aggressive heel work, but it was basic stuff that helped the match because it built up the support for their countryman. It’s interesting to note that Bret Hart wrote in his book about how Bulldog was blown up (aka tired) very early in the match, so he forgot a lot of the things that he had to do. You could tell Bulldog had lost it a little bit because of the bump where Bret did a slingshot over the top rope and Bulldog was supposed to catch him. Instead, he was hunched over against the side of the ring where he was trying to catch his breath. Hart ended up grabbing him by the shoulder to pull him down. Like he says on his DVD, he could have easily tore his knee. Let’s jump to the awesome finishing sequence. After a double clothesline spot, Bret wrapped Bulldog up in the Sharpshooter while they were on their backs. He sits in it, the crowd is going NUTS freaking out and Bulldog gets the ropes. Bret whips him into the ropes, does a sunset flip, Bulldog drops to his knees, hooks the arms, leans forward for the one, two and three for what might be the loudest ovation I’ve ever heard. The new Intercontinental Champion was the British Bulldog. Post match, Bret sold dejection and he even teased leaving, but he hugged his brother-in-law and the crowd popped huge for it as Diana went into the ring for the big family celebration. The match went 25 minutes. One guy went over (Bulldog), but the other guy became a bigger star after it was finished (Hart). That’s the point of wrestling. It’s not about the wins and losses; it’s about telling stories, getting over and creating memories to last a lifetime. That’s exactly what they did here. I’ll never forget how loud that pop was when Bulldog countered Bret, dropped down and cradled him up to get the victory. At the end of the match, Vince McMahon called it one of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time and for once, Vince McMahon made a statement that all fans can agree!