Wrestling in the 2000s was a new era in wrestling where the World Wrestling Federation bought their competition WCW and ECW, changed their name to “World Wrestling Entertainment,” and the Attitude era ended so soon. This was a really up and down time in wrestling where new faces can never be as good as the old stars of Attitude (mainly blame Cena, Orton, Batista) and many of those wrestling fans stopped watching wrestling all together because of bad storytelling, predictable outcomes seen in so many matches, and backstage politics destroying the inevitable throughout the decade. Hell if the resurrection of ECW even made old ECW fans turn away from wrestling it should tell you how much wrestling has fallen having nothing but WWE and no real competition. But on the plus side, we did had old faces of yesteryear giving their best matches in this decade with Shawn Michaels having the best comeback of any wrestler, Undertaker back as the deadman, and Kurt Angle having the best matches of the decade. Mainly those three individuals saved this decade of wrestling from being so awful. While WCW and ECW has faced their demise, new wrestling companies rose to be number 2 wrestling organizations in America like Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and Ring of Honor offering new faces and show the world a brand new style of indie wrestling. Stuff like TNA’s X-Division and ROH’s code made us appreciate in-ring work more than storytelling, which is missing in wrestling today. I have a lot of mixed feeling about this decade of wrestling, but I must say that 2002-2003, or the Ruthless Aggression era, was the best era since Attitude and quite possibly the last good wrestling era.
Even though the Monday Night Wars is the center point of the battle between WWF and WCW, it’s really the Pay Per View buys that makes the most money. The attitude era would have been nothing without these pay per views that many episodes of Raw did their damnedest to promote! Without the edge and excitement going around Raw is War each week, it wouldn’t encourage us to buy these shows. As stated in the last blog, The Attitude Era was a huge pond filled with big fishes and if you wanted to see these stars put to the test, more times than not the Pay Per Views in the Attitude Era certainly delivered their fullest potential. You could never see so much recklessness and variety match ups before with many of these pay per views and modern wrestling today lacks all excitement and entertainment value that these shows form this era upholds. It was an ultimate party that everybody wanted to see and the show certainly delivered many of things that we don’t get a chance to see on Raw like title changes, impact moves that really cause a huge reaction to the crowd, and match finishes that were incredibly creative and given an everlasting impression more so than any other television broadcasting. And that’s why I’m here to count down the ten of the best pay per view shows in the Attitude Era that everyone needs to see!
Number 10. – Backlash 2000
Wrestlemania 16 was a terrible show and it was definitely going to be hard to have a good show that will follow up the grandest stage of them all. This card certainly outdid Wrestlemania 16 by delivering results that the fans can all agree was necessary! Edge and Christian defeated DX members X-Pac and Road Dogg was a good opener, the 6-Man hardcore match for the hardcore championship was wild, Big Show-Kurt Angle was a great squash match, and th Benoit-Jericho match was one of the best technical wrestling that the attitude era had in store for us fans. And if you love the attitude era because of the level of sexiness involve, this pay per view is in stored for you when Trish Stratus was powerbombed through the table by the Dudley Boys and Chyna getting stripped by Lita was incredibly hot! And of course the main event between Triple H and The Rock was something that should have been in Wrestlemania 16. A lot of people bought this pay per view just to see The Rock win the WWF Championship and have the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock had all the odds against him with McMahon’s minions saving Triple H from loosing the title. It’s up to The Rock’s old rival to save him and as soon as the audio clip of the glass shattered, the whole arena roared when Austin finally made his return hitting everyone with a chair. Having the Rock win the WWF championship from Triple H at Backlash was one of the most satisfying moments of the Attitude Era, leaving The Rock and Austin drink beer together to close the show.
Number 9. – SummerSlam 1999
A lot of people over looks this Summerslam and favor more for the 1998 event instead. I agree that the only dud in this whole show would have to be Rock-Mr. Ass kiss my ass match that was a horrible gimmick, meanwhile the rest of the card was incredibly solid! I still remember Al Snow–Big Boss Man hardcore title match went from the arena all the way to a local coffee shop that I couldn’t believe was able to pull off. Jeff Jerret trolled the whole audience like he was separated with Debra but she backfired D’Lo and reunited Jeff retaining his Eurocontinental title. Brilliant! The underrated Lion’s Den Weapons match between Ken Shamrock and Steve Blackman was perfect for these two martial artists! Kane and X-Pac had their final Tag Team run together here in this Summerslam when Undertaker and Big Show creamed them for the titles. And one match that everyone forgotten over the years has been Test-Shane McMahon Street Fight. It’s forgotten now because the stipulation is that if Test wins he keeps his relationship with Stephanie and looking at the boss’s daughter now married to Triple H, it’s no wonder why Test is forgotten. It was one hell of a brawl and definitely the ten greatest Summerslam matches. And the main event between Mankind-Aust-Triple H was the second greatest triple threat because we had ourselves the best special guest referee of all time, Jessie “The Body” Ventura that made that match and screwed over the heel like a pro! It was genius to have Mankind leave the arena with the WWF Championship leaving Austin getting beat by Chyna and Triple H as closure to the show. Is this one of the most underrated Summerslams? Definitely!
Number 8. – Over The Edge 1998
This In Your House show is one of those special wrestling show that captures the the appeal of the Attitude Era. Not only was this card one of the best ones, but the in between match segments and brawls seen in this show was totally entertaining. All the story lines happening during May 31, 1998 were really pushing it forward into engaging story lines and fantastic match ups. Things like Farooq attacking The Rock, (after an awesome opener with Legion of Doom winning), or Marc Mero shoot matching Sable, D-X brawling with the Nation, and even Pat Peterson giving an intro to Vince McMahon as special guest referee and Dude Love was fantastic to build up for what’s later to be seen in the show. And the anticipation never disappointed which is what’s seriously lacking in many other wrestling shows. There were a lot of surprise in this show like Marc Mero beating Sable, Kaientai-Taka Michinoku/Justin Bradshaw match were high flying action that we tend to forget happened in Attitude, many more took me off guard. And there were headline matches that exceed our expectations. The Rock-Farooq match certainly delivered after a long storyline with former leader and then-current lead of Nation of Dominaiton while earlier the feud was so good that they brawled earlier in the show. Vader making his last appearance in the WWF after getting creamed by the awesome Kane was certainly emotional & memorable. But still remember the long awaited D-Generation X vs. Nation of Domination has been one of the best faction vs. faction match that doesn’t happen often in wrestling. Sure a lot of heels in this show won many of these matches, but I really enjoyed & fully appreciated that every aspect of the show felt different from the other. This isn’t a card with basic matches, Over The Edge ’98 was a professional wrestling experience that has was incredibly varied and creative all at once! And the match that certainly paid off is the main event with Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin with Vince McMahon as special guest referee. It was a brawl of a life time, but the whole match was a fantastic shoot of McMahon and Austin. All the plans of trying to take the WWF Championship away from Austin was backfired when Austin knocked both Dude Love and McMahon having Austin to use McMahon’s only hand to make the three count to retain as Champ. This pay per view was completely wild and never stopped being entertaining from beginning to end. Everything that you want from Attitude, you got them all in Over The Edge 1998
Number 7. – Armageddon 1999
This show has a very special place in my heart because it was the last WWF PPV of the 20th century and entering the new millennium, Armageddon gave us a huge impact! I’ll still remember that this is the only Rock & Sock Connection match in a PPV in the whole Attitude era and seeing them work as a team was priceless gold! Chris Jericho winning the Intercontinental Championship for the first time from Chyna was a historic moment and Kane beating X-Pac in a Cage match after an emotional betrayal was a fantastic finish, Big Show creaming Big Boss Man was one of the best burying I’ve ever seen, and the Four corners Evening Gown Pool match was one of the hottest Divas stipulation matches ever! But the final match with Triple H and Vince McMahon was one of the best hardcore matches of the entire Attitude Era! It took place all around the arena and almost got Triple H kicked from a car crash. And the finish of the match was one of the most devastating moments of all finishes to a pay per view where Triple H not only beat Vince McMahon, but he captured Stephanie’s, his daughter, heart! It was the beginning of my favorite angle the McMahon-Helmsley Era forever changing the Stephanie McMahon character from an innocent daughter into a spoiled brat. For some wondering why I like Armageddon 1999 over the 2000 because 2000 was a one match show having the 6-Man Hell in a Cell that’s only worth watching. 1999 was an incredibly strong card in comparison. If the Y2K problem was really going to happen, this show was prepared to entertain everyone to at last celebrate like it’s 1999
Number 6. – St. Valentines Day Massacre
This is the Pay Per View that all WWF fan who was with the company in the start of the Attitude Era wanted to see the most. This show is very much like No Way Out 2001 where it was a build up to Wrestlemania 15, and just like No Way Out 2001, St. Valentines Day Massacre is much better than the Wrestlemania show it’s building up! Even right from the beginning the crowd roared for Goldust to give Bluedust (Blue Meanie) a shattered dream, to a Bob Holly–Al Snow hardcore match, and Val Venis beating Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental Championship is what made this show stand out so well. Sure there were a bit of some dud like Owen & Jerret beating Mark Henry and D’Lo Brown, and Big Boss Man defeating Ministry member Medion. But the final three matches certainly made the show as memorable as it is. One of my favorite tag team matches of the whole Era was Kane and Chyna (representing the Corporation) vs. Triple H and X-Pac (representing D-Generation X). This whole story goes when Chyna betrayed DX for the Corporation and the team work of HHH and Pac was magnificent. And the best ever Last Man Standing match between Mankind and The Rock fantastic, even though it wasn’t as good as the “I Quit” match in Royal Rumble 2000. The Rock hated Mankind so much that he had to take a break from wrestling and commentate for a moment and even got a mic and sang to the crowd! Hilarious! It was still amazing to see these two beat each other so badly that it knocked resulting a draw. And the main event is what we came to see. A full year of Austin vs. McMahon we finally had a cage match with these two and it was complete satisfactory to see McMahon getting his ass kicked so badly it enter my Top 5 favorite Attitude Era Matches! This show so much fun to watch and one of the forgotten PPV’s of the Attitude Era.
Number 5. – King of the Ring ’98
I make no hyperbole when I say that, this is the show that truly defined the whole Era of Attitude! From the opening with The Headbangers/Taka Michinoku–Kaientai match, Sable returning, Ken Shemrock beating the Rock in the King in the Ring Final Round, Vince McMahon shoot interview on the main event, D-Generation X’s dominance over Owen & Midnight Express, the hilarious Al Snow & Head beaten by Too Much (now known as Too Cool), and the final two matches that went completely chaotic! Everyone around the world should remember the Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker & Mankind. It is the most brutal, fearsome, and unpredictable match of all time. If there’s a reason why Hell in a Cell is such a popular match type, it has to be because of the impact that this match given us. If the Golden Age’s defining moment was Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre The Giant in Wrestlemania III, Attitude Era’s defining moment was when Undertaker tossing Mankind off the Hell in the Cell, not once but twice. To me this was the most important match of all time because it exposed the violence and seriousness of professional to the mainstream. I seriously think that without this match the WWF would never get so much popularity and the sake that Mick Foley sacrificed his own life for the company because he is the most hardcore individual who ever lived. The sake that he was tossed off the cell, had a piece of his took coming out of his nose, and even landing on thumbtacks left us an impact and made Mick Foley a big name in the wrestling world. And yet that never stopped either Undertaker or Mankind because they came back to interfere in the main event with Kane vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin in a first blood match. This main event certainly became one of my all time favorite matches in the whole attitude era because for a First Blood match, the Hell in a Cell came down and the level of chaos never slowed down. That chair shot that hit Stone Cold’s head caused him to loose the match with blood pouring off of his skull. It was an anticlimactic ending for many who bought the pay-per-view, but I love that it was a follow up to my favorite episode of Raw is War when Austin had his rematch and beat Kane for the WWF Championship. Sure this Pay Per View was a build up to an episode of Raw, but the historical impact and significance that this show accomplished will forever appeal to wrestling fans and non wrestling fans alike!
Number 4. – Royal Rumble 2000
If you don’t know what attitude is all about, it’s about great variation of matches, entertaining in-ring & backstage segments, everlasting moments. This show captures all of it! This show show was quality, quality, quality! Right when this Royal Rumble began, Kurt Angle had his undefeated streak come to an end when Tazz made his WWF debut from ECW and make him tap out. Follow that up with The Hardy Boys beating The Dudlies in a Elimination Tables match, Chris Jericho-Chyna-Hardcore Holly triple threat to finally establish the real Intercontinental Championship, and the legendary Bikini Contest that surprised all of us to see May Young win it. I love going back to this show and see every aspect of the show to be 100% entertaining! But there are two thing that will always be the best part of the show, the best Royal Rumble match and the match of the decade. I will always say that Triple H vs. Cactus Jack to be one of the greatest hardcore match of all time! It was a rematch of their 1997 Raw episode but was 10 times the more brutal and more awesome. And seeing Cactus back dropped & Pedigree to the pile of thumbtacks still give me an impression to this very day! Even though as a child I was so pissed at Triple H winning, it still left me in complete amazement. And of course the Royal Rumble match! All of my favorite wrestlers in the 2000 Royal Rumble made it into the show, but it was freaking awesome to finally have the Rock win the Rumble! It was the happiest night of my life as a child seeing the Rock eliminate the unstoppable Big Show and have his victory! We haven’t had a Royal Rumble event this good since 1992 and 2000 simply dominated all the Royal Rumbles before and after it! This match captures the essence of Attitude and never let us go from the presenting what this era was all about!
Number 3 – No Way Out 2001
2001 was a very terrible year for professional wrestling due to the fact that WCW & ECW were bought out by the WWF, the Invasion Angle was one of the biggest disappointments in professional wrestling history, and it was the end of the Attitude Era. But before we even got any of that garbage throughout 2001, we were given the last great pay-per-view before the Attitude Era had to end. We were given a tremendous card that delivered the best out of the Attitude (even better than the overrated Wrestlemania 17). Minus the Stevie Richards-Jerry Lawler match, this card as a whole was the strongest ever seen from this era. This show opened with a great hardcore match with Big Show and Raven, followed up a fantastic Intercontinental Championship with X-Pac, Eddie, Benoit, and Jericho, and the forgotten Triple Threat Tag Team Tables Match! But there are three matches that really stood out for me from this show. The Stephanie-Trish Stratus match was the best Divas match of the whole era where it told a great story between father’s daughter and father’s new girlfriend. This is the match that made Trish a star rather than just another eye looker! Then we also have a great match that’s in the middle of the card, the first ever 3 Stages of Hell with our final battle between Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This fantastic brawl went all the way to the final fall in a cage match with a surprising result of Triple H winning! And let’s not forget one of the best WWF Championship main event between Kurt Angle and The Rock. It was brilliant to see a mixture of athleticism, technicality, and showmanship at full force leaving the Rock win the WWF Championship. Though this match was a build up for Wrestlemania 17, but argue that this is the best Pay per view of 2001 and the last great major show of the Attitude Era! This was a near perfect show that will forever cherish for the rest of my life!
This has to go down as some of the best Wrestlemania of all time. There was not a single bad match in this card. Rather than just calling all the matches on the card good matches, each of these matches represented aspects of the Attitude Era and what is to come for the WWF after this show. There are so many things that made the Attitude Era the most beloved time of Wrestling and it’s all thanks to this very Wrestling show. There was so much hype and build up leading to this show that blew everyone away, only to have the WWF to deliver even more stuff like this in their later years. New stars were being made, more memorable moments were created, and even more surprises that forever leaves us with an undying impression. Because of the main event, Stone Cold Steve Austin is some of the biggest names of the wrestling world and still to this day he continues make everyone excited which is what wrestling is seriously lacking today. There was not a single bad match on this show – it was really consistent throughout with starting out with the awesome victory of Legion on Doom dominating the 15-team battle royal, the surprising and forgotten match with Taka Michinoku vs. Aguila, Sable proved to be the dominate female in the company, Ken Shamrock snapping and going ape shit on The Rock, the Nation of Domination, and the referees, Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie trashing New Age Outlaws in a Dumpster, Pete Rose getting Tombstoned by Kane, and the best match of the night, Kane vs. Undertaker that came so damn close to ending the streak! I will always remember Stone Cold looking like he had no chance of winning because Vince McMahon, D-Generation-X and Mike Tyson were all against him. It was a true Wrestlemania moment where Tyson screwed Shawn Michaels, punched him square in the face, and raised Stone Cold’s hands in the air as the new WWF Champion. Shawn Michaels definitely got what he deserved for the Montreal Screwjob and this finish was a redemption from that tragedy! That should tell you why this show is a must see for everyone, not just wrestling fans! Nobody can ever take away the historical significance, the meaning of this show, and what it represents. The WWF was trying to find a direction and finally nailed it with Mike Tyson’s help and went full force for many years to come. Like Wrestlemania 3 that took wrestling to an entirely different stratosphere, Wrestlemania 14 was that moment in time that did it once again and helped the company to be later to be once again the king of professional wrestling again. I like to go back to this Wrestlemania and watch it in its entirety because it really is one of my favorite entities in professional wrestling!
Number 1. – Fully Loaded 2000
The only flaw this PPV has is that it doesn’t feature Stone Cold Steve Austin who’s the face of the PPV. Other than that elephant in the room, this is without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had that wrestling has ever provided, let alone the Top 3 Wrestling PPVs. It’s the most forgotten event in wrestling because the main even features… who later became a wife killer. But as much as WWE wants to throw as much propaganda as Vince wishes, I’m never forgetting what I witnessed here. Every match, promo, backstage segments, and highlights here is the tipping point of the WWE’s peak in the Attitude Era. Who can ever forget the opener with the Lita vs. Trish rivalry booming with the opener with Team Xtreme vs T&N (with Trish), Val Venis taking the squash from Rikishi jumping off from the cage, Kurt Angle at his out-most hilarious with Undertaker, and even the incredible Triple H vs. Chris Jericho last-standing match. And don’t get me started with a one-shot Championship Match with Chris Benoit taking on The WWF Champion, The Rock that felt like something from a Rocky movie. That was one of the most exciting main event of all time and my personal favorites of them all as well. While you have access to the WWE Network, go ahead and watch the Fully Loaded 200 show and see exactly why The Attitude Era was the best eras in all of professional wrestling.
There are only three things about the Attitude Era that everyone should definitely watch; the storytelling that was a significant improvement over the New Generation Era, the segments/promos that were incredibly entertaining, and the matches had were so varied and physical than any other time in the WWF. Because crash tv in the late 1990’s was so popular, WWF had to final stick with the times to survive in rivalry with WCW. It is considered one of the most dangerous times of being a wrestler because of all the stunts and bumps they all took, but because they made its audience so vicarious and entertained, it left all of us a huge impression. So huge in fact that it was more historic than anything that the WWF could ever do nowadays and still remains timeless. Many wrestling fans cherish these moments of the Attitude Era so passionately because there never was a better time of wrestling where finishes were creative, the action going on keeps us on the edge of our seats, and the storytelling in the match always feel different in each and every one of those matches. All of the sudden we’ve gotten a brand new audience who never watched wrestling before now wanting to see these matches. There were so much exposure to the WWF/WWE product during this era because nobody in mainstream television was doing all the things that they were doing. It was not just strategy of how to win the match that’s now in play, but how much pain and punishment could they endure when the hardest bumps and so many foreign objects hits you. If there’s one thing that the Attitude Era avoided perfect, they avoided repetition. All of the matches from King of the Ring 1996 to Wrestlemania 17 were different and 100% watchable, if not entertaining. And these are the ten best wrestling matches that exceeds my love for the Attitude Era as a whole!
Over The Edge: Dude Love vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The match was a fantastic brawl that had an incredible ending perfect as it gets with multiple referee bumps and outside involvement, and it certainly went over the top. This is the reason why I miss the Attitude Era so much because they always come up with a creative finish and the finish was perfect! Austin pinned Dude Love by slapping the lifeless hand of Vince McMahon to the mat three times that allowed him to retain the WWE Championship to the roar of the Milwaukee crowd. This match worked because no one involved took it too seriously. Bodies flew everywhere, and Austin one-uped Vince McMahon again.
Unforgiven 1998: Undertaker vs. Kane – Inferno Match
The gimmick of fire surrounding the ring takes so much attention off the quality of the in-ring work. And that’s why it’s perfect for a brotherly feud between Kane and Undertaker. After Kane screwed Undertaker from the first Hell in a Cell match, they kept fighting each other non-stop throughout 1998. After coming so close to defeating Undertaker at Wrestlemania 14, Kane wanted to go beyond winning over Undertaker, he wanted to burn him alive. Each time someone slams on the mat, the fire burst out. It’s insane that they even took the fight outside of the ring because the level of hatred couldn’t hold them from the heat coming in the ring. One of the most dangerous matches perfect for the darkest of wrestling angles.
Armageddon 2000: 6-Man Hell in a Cell
I’m not a huge fan of over-booking in a singular match, but this is an exception because these 6 men were the attitude era’s biggest fishes and they given one of the most memorable Hell in a Cell matches of all time! No way was this match going to be kept in the Cell so we were definitely treated with brawls in, out, and on top of the Cell. Hell, Even Rikishi was tossed off the top and landed on a truck that Vince brought in to tear up the Cell. And what’s a huge surprise of all, is that Kurt Angle won this match! If you love matches that are very chaotic, look no further than this match! Was it the right booking decision, maybe, but with 6-men involved its hard to believe that the WWF Champion retained his title with all the odds against him.
No Way Out 2001: Trish Stratus vs. Stephanie McMahon
Let’s not forget that the women wrestlers were just as part of the Attitude Era as any of the guys. Trish was definitely the hottest woman in WWE history and during this time she was smoking hot. And what made her hotter was her feud of bitches with Stephanie. It was incredibly to see that these two made their rivalry look so fiery and they did so many sexy moves that it made it one of the best Divas matches of all time. Trish getting spanked, water poured, and even the bumps that they’ve took looked effective. Too back the finish could have been better if there was a clean victory.
Number 10. – Breakdown: The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind – Cage Match
A while ago I said it’s a shame that Ken Shamrock never went as far as he could have been in the Attitude Era and I think it’s because of this big loss in this match. Nevertheless, we haven’t seen a cage match this good since Owen vs. Bret at Summerslam 1994. It’s ashamed that this match is forgotten over the years, but it’s certainly one of the Attitude Era’s most hidden gems. The fact that this cage match was also triple threat show how much hard it is to get out of the cage or win with a fall. There were so many bumps made in the ring that felt like a real physical match. Each of these men really knocked each other out. I still remember Mankind took a high risk elbow drop from the top of the age and just crashed like crazy. I definitely love the finish of the match were Mankind brought in a chair and sacked it out of Ken Shamrock’s head. Just as Mankind was climbing up the cage just place both feet on the floor, The Rock pinned Shamrock for the victory. It was a creative finish that had a very incredibly worked match happening in the cage. If there’s one forgotten match from the Attitude Era that you need to see, look no further than checking out WWF Breakdown 1998!
Number 9. – Wrestlemania 14: Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This was the match that set the standard of what the Attitude was all about. Shawn Michaels was infamous for being responsible for the Montreal Screwjob and he had no sympathy for what he has done to Bret Hart. The only man left that was worthy of facing The Heartbreak Kid at a Wrestlemania main event was the man who did not tap out when he face Bret Hart in last year’s wrestlemania; Stone Cold Steve Austin. Because Austin showed how much of a badass he was when he passed in the sharpshooter and started to piss Vince McMahon since, got his popularity rising up and this was the match that he needed to forever establish himself as the all time great! Austin set himself for trouble when he got the whole D-Generation-X, Vince McMahon, and even Mike Tyson to go against him, how’s able to win this match? The answer, do what Stone Cold does best. Shawn Michaels was also in some serious shit when he injured himself in that Casket Match against the Undertaker at Royal Rumble 1998 and it didn’t look like he was going to last very long in this match. Surprisingly enough, he managed to keep up with the match and did his best to keep Austin down. For a man with an injured back, Shawn was able to move just like he normally did. Still, Austin gave Michaels a beating of a life time and the crowd was cheering with all their might for Austin to win. It was insane that Triple H and Chyna interfered in the match to save Shawn but was sent out of the ringside area to continue their one on one fight. The moment Stone Cold hit the stunner on Michaels, Mike Tyson came in the ring and fast counted for Austin’s victory having Jim Ross shouted “Austin! Austin! Austin! The Austin Era has begun!” and right he was. Shawn represent the New Generation Era and the times had to continue with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the face of the company. 1998 was the year of Austin and McMahon as their rivalry really brought back the audience to tune back into the WWF’s product. The best part of the whole match was the aftermath when Shawn got back to call betrayal to Mike Tyson only to get punched square in the face and lie flat on the floor. This was the right booking for the right winner and it was certainly one hell of a memorable Wrestlemania moment! And to say that this is the second greatest Wrestlemania main event and it’s only number 9 shows how awesome the attitude era really was!
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 7. – Backlash 2000:
The Rock vs. Triple H
The Rock and Triple H has been rivals even before they were both leaders of Nation of Domination & D-Generation X. It’s a fierce rivalry that was a backbone for the Attitude Era that delivered so many matches with them together. They had an iconic Ladder Match at Summerslam 1998, they main evented the very first Smackdown episode, and so much more. They both pushed each other to the limits; racing each other to their prime. But I wouldn’t say all of their matches together were great because the Wrestlemania 16 main event left a horrible taste in my mouth and this match needed to deliver. The build up towards this match was that Stone Cold Steve Austin was coming back to end the McMahon-Helmsley Era and help The Rock capture the WWF title once more. This is the match that should have main evented Wrestlemania 16! These two were physical as ever and it was clearly a heel vs. babyface storyline at its best. The Rock had all the odds against him where Vince and Steph cheap shotting at ringside, Shane, Paterson, & Brisco were Special Guest referees, and the Rock only had only Austin left to save him. The match throughout was amazing to watch with both men giving off the most physical match of this whole era. The Rock never gave up the fight and each moves pulled here from both men caused a great impact and effect while watching. I still will never forget The Rock gave a double Rock Bottom to HHH & Shane on the announcer’s table. Just when Brisco and Paterson came in to gang up on Rock, Austin’s music hit and the whole audience roared! This was the best comeback to a wrestler who’s had a long absence having Austin knocking out all of Triple H’s allies with a chair. His return cause so much carnage to all of Rock’s enemies leaving the Rock giving HHH the People’s Elbow for the WWF Championship. If there had to be one of the best title changes in the WWF Championship’s history, The Rock winning it from Triple H at Backlash has got to be the best one! It was a great victory having Austin and Rock drinking beer for this victory. This should have been the finish and main event to Wrestlemania 16 and because this was booked after Wrestlemania is why it’s forgotten. Go ahead and go see this match to see how good this match really is!
Number 6. – St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon – Cage Match
No, this match didn’t have any good in-ring work or any spectacular moves (which is why it didn’t enter my Top 10 Wrestling Matches of the 1990s), but what this match had is one of the best build-up from a full year of great story telling and delivered with fantastic in-ring storytelling. That’s what matters and the whole point of even watching wrestling in general (in-ring work secondary). Everyone knows how fantastic the rivalry between Austin and McMahon really was and there weren’t a whole lot of matches with them together. This feud started all the way from 1997 and since then McMahon tries his damnedest to keep Austin down. Since he won the WWF Championship in Wrestlemania 14, McMahon and Austin’s hatred with each other just went rampant. So many segments had each of them getting back at each other, they kept shooting each other non-stop, and so many schemes from both men were set to win over each other. For the longest time we just wanted these two face each one-on-one with a clear victory. After Vince McMahon won the 1999 Royal Rumble match, it was clear that we needed to have a match with just these two on the road to Wrestlemania 15. Even before the match even started it was began telling a fantastic story with Austin beating Vince out of the cage and threw Vince off the top of the cage to the announcer’s table. Just when the medics were about to let Vince leave the building on a stretcher, Austin grabbed the mic and said the bell didn’t ring so the match hasn’t started. Instantly Austin grabbed Vince out of stretcher and sent him to the cage. Already Vince was hurting like hell, but each time Austin was about to leave the cage for the victory, Vince kept flipping the bird just to make sure he doesn’t win the match, like he rather be beaten to death rather than having Austin win. As soon as Austin was about win, Big Show making his WWF debut to helped Vince beat Austin. Just when you though Vince was going to win the cage match, Big Show tossed Austin to the cage door and it open having Austin win with both feet on the ringside floor. I love the Attitude era so much for making so many creative and unpredictable finishes and this one here is one of the best ones because it’s Vince’s biggest humiliation and Austin’s biggest victory. Though the rivalry continued after this match, I consider this a highlight of the whole feud.
Number 5. – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boys vs. Dudley Boys – Triangle Ladder Match, TLC (SummerSlam 2000), TLC 2 (Wrestlemania X7)
If rivalries were to have the right amount of rematches, it would have to be a trilogy of matches. It’s amazing that the tag team division was able to deliver one of the best trilogy matches ever and what’s even more amazing is that they were all rookies in the WWF! For a debut Wrestlemania match for all three of these tag teams, and see them gave us their all shows how awesome this match really was. At first we were looking into this match like a ladder match with a lot of wrestlers involved, but suddenly because of the Dudley Boyz (may favorite tag team) being so obsessed with tables and hardcore wrestling, this all of the sudden turned out to be a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. I kid you not that way they used the ladders and then suddenly turned out to be more hardcore when the tables and chairs got involved. I remember Edge took a diving spear on Jeff Hardy from the ladder, Buh-buh Ray gave Christian a cutter from the ladder, Matt Hardy power bombed to the table and the Swanton Bomb from that Jeff Hard did just to take the Buh-Buh Ray away. The finish of this match was some of the most epic moments ever as Jeff sacrificed his body to land on Buh-Buh out of the ring through the table. Edge & Christian were the last ones left facing D-Von and Matt Hardy as they raced to grab the tag team championships. The survivors were emotional just to win this carnage. As Matt and Christian were fighting each other on top of the table held by two ladders, Edge came to the rescue and pushed Matt off to the table below and won the tag team championships. What a beautiful finish to a match to a bunch of small stars that all became big names after the match. All three of these tag teams has gone through a lot just to have a Wrestlemania match like this one and because of their fantastic display of wrestling, this has made the tag team division so important!
We were absolutely amazed that these 6 rookies could do so much at Wrestlemania 16, so they had a rematch with the same teams calling it Tables, Ladders, and Chairs at Summerslam 2000! The match had a lot of moments where guys are falling off ladders, taking chair shots or going through tables making you say “ouch” with everyone. Bubba’s full nelson bomb on Christian off the ladder was a sick spot early on. Then there was Jeff Hardy getting shoved off the ladder by Edge, only to land on a prone ladder that ended up slingshotting into Matt’s face while he was on the ground. There were parts of the match where Edge was creaming the Dudleys with really stiff chairshots (those aren’t even allowed today), but they barely get a reaction because it seems like nothing compared to the Hardy’s legdrops off the ladder or Christian getting tossed off the top landing on Edge while he is sandwiched in between a ladder. Towards the end, Bubba climbed the “20 foot ladder” in the middle only to be shoved off over the top rope all the way to the stacked tables on the floor. So then Matt gets to climb, but D’Von pushes the ladder back backwards into some tables on the other side of the ring in another sick landing. The finish came when E& C knocked down Jeff Hardy while he was hanging from the titles, unable to pull them down and the champs made the climb to retain after 19 minutes of pain. That one was really dangerous. There were plenty of title matches and great moments between these teams over the course of a couple years, but this match is always going to stand out in my mind as one of their best moments.
Then the three of the teams had their last battle with the 6 of them together at Wrestlemania 17. This match between Edge and Christian, Dudleys, and Hardies is not only better than their previous Wrestlemania match, but perhaps one of the best ladder matches that the WWE has ever delivered. It’s crazy to see all six men risking everything [again] in the same style of match-up, but do it much more radically! Everything seen from previous matches is doubled here in this match. You want to see Jeff Hardy take a top ladder leap, you have twice of those! You want Buh-buh Ray power bomb through tables, you got twice of the amount! You even want a better spear by Edge done in this match, you certainly got yourself the best spear in wrestling. You get the picture! This match saw many different risks that were taken and when Edge hit Jeff Hardy, who was hanging mid-air from the belts, with a spear, it became one of the most jaw-dropping moments ever in the history of Wrestlemania. Just when you thought it wasn’t enough Spike, Rhyno, and Lita came done for interference to save the team they’re routing for, only to as well get involved with the collision everyone’s taking in this match. Because this match was filled with so many risk-taking things, it is obviously seen as one of the most hardcore/extreme matches the WWE has ever put on. If Wrestlemania 17 really was the end of the Attitude Era (which certainly isn’t) they certainly left us one hell of an impression of everything appealing and exciting about this era of wrestling into one singular wrestling match. What’s amazing is that Edge and Christian won all this trilogy of matches and it embodies why it takes to win a ladder match!
Number 4. – Royal Rumble 1999:
The Rock vs. Mankind: I Quit Match
Heading into January of 1999 and the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, The Rock was on top of the world. For the first time since debuting a little over two years earlier, it appeared as though the third-generation Superstar was living up to his potential. It was perfect for the I quit match stipulation given to the fiercest rivalry in the Attitude Era: Mankind & The Rock. Since The Rock screwed Mankind at Survivor Series for the WWF Championship, these two had so many great matches together pushing The Rock to fame and changing babyface Mankind into a lovable hardcore individual that can’t be easily defeated without seriously damaging him. With that in mind, The Rock would have to show a different side of himself. He would have to wrestle Mankind’s type of match. This is the best “I Quit” match of all time where the Rock evolved from a cocky and arrogant heel to a performer who could be as vicious and cold-hearted as any on the roster. These two beat each other like no other wrestler in the roster at the time. Weapons were smashes, Mankind fell on the power generator that caused a black out, The Rock sang on the microphone… everything about this match was so much fun! After nearly 20 minutes of slamming one another into just about anything and everything but the inside of the ring, a handcuffed Mankind passed out on the entrance ramp. The Rock, taunting, the fans and his opponent just to create even more drama in the storytelling of the match. Foley was an absolute punching bag in the match and may have taken more offense here than any other match. As The Rock bash his head in with twelve consecutive steel chair shots while handcuffed, making even the most hardcore wrestling fan cringe, it became apparent that The Rock was capable of playing the ruthless S.O.B. when necessary. I’ve never known how to feel about the unique ending to this match. A sound clip of Foley saying “I Quit” was played by the Corporation while The Rock held the microphone to the lips of an unconscious Mankind. The funny part was Mick Foley never said the words “I Quit” it was played through audio recording just to give The Rock the victory. The Rock would win the match via less-than-honest means, but the result was not what mattered. The match, in one night, established two characters in just the manner WWF needed. The Rock was the cocky-yet-sadistic asshole—Mankind was the never-say-die, loveable babyface that never really figured out when to stay down. It was a contrast of styles, a contrast of characters and it made for one of the most memorable matches in the Attitude Era, one that was immortalized in the documentary Beyond the Mat.
Like I said in the number 4 pick, if rivalries were to have the right amount of rematches, it would have to be a trilogy of matches. None could have been a better trilogy match than Cactus Jack and Triple H. Sure Mankind had his fair amount of battles with Triple H, but when Mick Foley changes his alter ego to Cactus Jack, he certainly puts Triple H to the limits. It all started when Triple H (with Chyna at ringside) was scheduled to wrestle Dude Love, but Dude Love made a quick interview with Mankind, together on screen mind you, telling each other that neither of them could damage Hunter as the other Mick Foley alter ego. Then finally all on the same screen, Cactus Jack made his debut on WWF television and gave Triple H an ECW style brawl. Their first match together is one of the best matches on free television and a historic episode of Raw history. Jack used all of his signature stunts seen from WCW and ECW right here on television like diving elbow off the ring, use every object as a weapon, and so many more. Before when Triple H was called Hunter Hearst Helmsley, many of his matches were boring as hell, that was until Cactus Jack gave Triple H that aggressive edge in this match that definitely changed the direction of his career. The match gotten so crazy that he even knocked out Chyna and piledriven Helmsley through the table on the ramp for the 3 count victory. What a way to bring back an abandoned character in wrestling and surprised all of his long time fans.
I must admit, Triple H wasn’t in his prime in their first match together and the match could have done more to be legendary. Thankfully, the writers and bookers remembers how great Cactus Jack and Triple H’s match on Raw was so they had to perfect it. At the time when they had their rematch, Triple H married Stephanie McMahon and owned the WWF in the McMahon-Helmsley Era putting all wrestlers like The Rock and Mankind down. Triple H was unstoppable until Mick Foley brought back Hunter’s worst nightmare back to haunt him. Once more, Cactus Jack’s return got fans to see this rematch at Royal Rumble 2000. It was certainly better than their original match together where brutal fight between HHH & Jack were more balanced and violent. This time around, it was just these two one-on-one (no Chyna involved) and they had to do everything to keep each other down. It would take a lot more for Cactus to go down that easily where they’ve We got one of the classic matches of the last decade, with a level of brutality rarely seen in a WWF ring. It cemented Hunter as a real star, and gave Foley one hell of a final great match to go out on (at the time). Foley brought out the barbed wire baseball bat, mallets, steel chairs, and more. Triple H may have been out of his element compared to the sadistic Cactus Jack, but it never takes the “Cerebral Assassin” long to adapt. Triple H, while bloodied, managed to stay in control as the match entered it’s final moments. He back -dropped Foley on the very tacks he poured in the ring then delivered the Pedigree, but to his shock Cactus Jack was not finished. He kicked out at two! Jack got up and charged “The Game” again, but got kicked in the gut and ate another Pedigree for the finish.
It was completely barbaric to see a stunt happen like that but yet, the rivalry finally ended at Now Way Out 2000 in a Hell in a Cell match. I have to say not only was this my favorite match in the whole Cactus Jack vs. Triple H trilogy, but this is my favorite Hell in a Cell match ever. I know a lot of people considers Mick Foley’s Hell in a Cell match with Undertaker-Mankind iconic, but the HHH-Cactus Jack Hell in a Cell match went non-stop and it certainly topped Mankind’s Hell in a Cell match. The two would fight with everything from steel chairs to a flaming 2×4 wrapped in barbed wire from in, out, and on top of the Hell in a Cell. After breaking through the cell wall, the two men carried their fight to the top of the cell. Once more, Cactus Jack feel off the Cell and landed on the table. Though it wasn’t as iconic as his drop from Undertaker in ’98, Cactus just didn’t waste time and got back up on the top of the Cell. Jack attempted a piledriver, but Triple H reversed it sending him through the cell roof to the ring below, where the ring would buckle. A pedigree to Jack immediately after gave Triple H the win and ended Foley’s career (and NO Mick Foley’s Fatal Four Way match at Wrestlemania 2000 never existed!) There have been a lot of rivalries over the years that was over dramatic, but none displayed the amount of hatred with each other than three of these matches. I can go back and watch these trilogy of matches just to see how they both evolved as wrestlers and barbaric fighters. This was a way to start the new millennium for wrestling which unfortunately never got better than this.
Number 2. – Wrestlemania 13: Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin Submission Match
Let’s make this loud and clear, [the Attitude Era began when Stone Cold Steve Austin made his first swear after winning King of the Ring 1996], not when Vince announced it on an episode of Raw on Dec. 15, 1997. Since then, wrestlers were able to make their matches physical and more violent (and perverted) than ever before. It was time for the WWF to change in order to survive from losing to WCW. The only wrestler that couldn’t stand many of the changes happening to the WWF was Bret Hart. It is crazy to see Stone Cold playing as a heel somehow catching everyone’s attention and cheer for him, while the traditional babyface like Bret Hart are getting despised for not being as awesome. Though Bret was sorrow for losing to Shawn Michaels in the Iron Man match at Wrestlemania 12, he has redeemed himself by putting on a much better Wrestlemania 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 used to ram each other and Austin was cut open and bleeding from his head like a stuffed pig. 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. Everyone respected Austin passing out in the puddle of his own blood rather than giving up. This match sparked the ‘Attitude Era’ and was the birth of Stone Cold Steve Austin as the face of the company. I still regard this as one of the best wrestling matches I’ve ever seen. If there’s one wish that I would love to see come true is if Bret Hart stayed with the company longer to make many more memorably moments in the Attitude Era. But whatever the case, this is the one match that certainly opened door to this beloved era of wrestling and since then we honor this match for allowing the WWF giving its fans many more like this one many years to come!
This was the very first Hell in a Cell match in the WWF and it still is my personal favorite match that the promotion has has delivered, not just Hell in a Cell. 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. And let’s not mention that, just like that match, every Hell in a Cell match up is trying to one-up against Hell in a Cell ’97; fight on top of the cell, the big bump to the announcer’s table, and tremendous shock value throughout. 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 to the camera man who was below them had Michaels’s drops of blood landing on him and he shouted “Ah shit!” And let’s not forget the every first bump from the top of the cell that every Hell in the Cell match after it tries to one-up, but at the end, end up just imitating. This match is one that’s still fun to watch over and over again, and it’s never boring. 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! And who can ever forget Vince McMahon on commentary making the revolutionary qoute, “That’s gotta be… That’s gotta be… That’s gotta be Kane! That’s gotta be Kane!” It was the biggest turning point that I’ve ever see in in a wresting match but it was one hell of an impression! I’m not one who likes interference in any sport, but this here is a BIG exception because Kane was nowhere to be seen, but Paul Bearer (Undertaker’s former manager) kept building up and hinting that Undertaker burned his brother for dead only to announce that he’s still alive. And even the outfit and props certainly made his presence look so menacing that he’s worth keeping in the WWE roster to this very day. No longer was Undertaker the most intimidating figure of all of wrestling, but also made Kane a run for his money in terms of being a big highlight. So what makes this Hell in a Cell match better than any cage stipulation in the whole industry? How about doing all of these innovative things that ended up being the standard or even the ultimate measuring stick for every blood-sport caging up their contenders? 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! If I could pick one match that I like to present to the world that wrestling is a hobby worth anyone’s time, I can’t think of a more exciting event in the sport’s history than the first ever Hell in a Cell match.
There was never a better time to be a pro wrestling fan than during the period from 1996-2002, when WWF was in the midst of its legendary Attitude Era. This era of wrestling made it in number 4 of the best things of the 1990s and still to this day I can go back and watch any episode, segment, or match from the Attitude Era and remind myself why I am a wrestling fan. Though I do have a very soft spot for the New Generation Era, it was important for the company to change from the family-friendly image to keep up with the times. TV ratings were at an all-time high, it was cool to be a fan and you could find a good wrestling product on TV just about any time you wanted to. Sit through one three-hour episode of Monday Night Raw, and you’ll be longing for the old days, even if you weren’t a wrestling fan in the old days. This era captures everything that I truly miss about wrestling; proper storytelling, amazing in-ring work, varied match stipulations, and outrageous character that definitely felt bigger than life. Outlandish things were happening, but there was always a reason behind them, and the stories were most often very interesting. These are not just story lines, these were epic sagas that was happening in wrestling and never again did we ever felt the same with the media again. If that’s not enough, the matches in this era took risks. In the Attitude Era, WWE climbed back to the top of the wrestling world by taking chances. People got hit with chairs, set on fire, thrown off the top of gigantic structures and run over by cars on a weekly basis. All of these things kept my interest and mixed that up with a good story, you’re presented with the most awesome moments in life! Sure, The Attitude Era ripped off Extreme Championship Wrestling’s hardcore wrestling phenomenon, but for the fact that this single era brought the highest ratings that the WWE has ever had should tell you about the success and reception it deserved. And who do we have to thank for all that was given to us in the Attitude Era? None other than Vince McMahon. Sure, the man has done some of the most questionable decisions in the business, but starting this trend in wrestling was the best thing he’s ever done for the company and wrestling itself. This was an era of wrestling that was so innovative, captivating, and so entertaining, that it’s always worth coming back to. Wrestling fans to this day are still waiting for another era like this but unfortunately since WWE went back to the times of PG, not giving two shits about telling good stories, and over enthuses on pointless in-ring work more-so than anything else. As a result of seeing wrestling getting worse and worse, it makes going back to the Attitude Era a lot better than we remembered. And these are the ten wrestlers that are responsible for making the Attitude Era so great!
Number 10. – Ken Shamrock
UFC legend Ken Shamrock came to the WWE in 1997, debuting on Monday Night Raw in February of that year to referee a submission match between Steve Austin and Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13. Afterward, he began to wrestle full-time, engaged in various feuds, won the 1998 King of the Ring tournament and captured the Intercontinental and World Tag Team Championships. It’s not just his accomplishments that made him in the list, it was his ruthless attitude that’s aways entertaining to watch whenever he snaps and goes berserk. There really no wilder character than “The Most Dangerous Man in the World.” I really dug the Ken Shamrock character because he was the wildest babyface of all time! With a character like that, you would of’ve think that he gone far in his wrestling career. Unfortunately, that was not the case because the bookers didn’t really give him a whole lot of TV time, he was shoved in too many mid-card feuds, and we never really had an Austin vs. Ken Shamrock match, that would have been a chaotic fight! After he left the WWE in 1999, Shamrock returned to MMA and UFC. He also made appearances in Ring of Honor, TNA and Juggalo Championship Wrestling. Today, he still has the occasional fight, with his last bout being in 2010. Would Ken Shamrock been a big wrestling star? He would have because nobody had the temper like he did and whenever he snaps, get ready for the ride of your life!
Number 9. – The Dudley Boys
This the best Tag Team of this era. This is the only Tag Team that won the WWF Tag Team Championship, World Tag Team Championship, WCW Tag Team Championship, ECW Tag Team Championship, and TNA Tag Team Championship. The two “brothers” from Dudleyville are the most decorated tag team within recent years, having won 23 tag team championships within every organization they’ve been in. Anything that you want to see in Hardcore wrestling in the Tag Team division, the Dudley Boys always deliver! The Dudleys are the most famous wrestlers to make use of tables during their matches as part of their gimmick and being part of the historic double TLC matches for the WWF Tag Team Titles at SummerSlam 2001 and Wrestlemania X-7 against the Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian. Let’s not forget that they’ve created the created Tag Team finishing maneuver called the Dudley Death Drop (3D) that still can’t be matched. The Dudley Boys are completely impulsive but we love them for being responsible for brining life back to the Tag Team division and no other tag team has lasted long together as these two!
Number 8. – The Undertaker
One of the best things of the Attitude era was that they took the dead man gimmick and update him to a much darker and more demonic direction before the gimmick became an outdated Halloween spook. It all made the tables turn when Undertaker faced Shawn Michaels in the first Hell in a Cell at Bad Blood ’97 and his brother Kane debuts and cost him his match. The back story of the Kane character is that Undertaker set his family house on fire as child leaving all of his family members to burn, except that Kane survived and wanted nothing more than revenge. Throughout 1998, Kane and Undertaker had a fierce rivalry together at Wrestlemania 14, having two Hell in a Cell matches, an Inferno match, and so many wars together that went on and off as brothers. It was the second biggest rivalry of the company in 1998 only right behind Austin vs. McMahon. Hell, he even threw Mankind off the Hell in a Cell twice and made history! Of course the darkest part of the Undertaker character was when he began his own faction called the Ministry of Darkness. In 1999, Undertaker was the biggest heel of the WWF and wanted to destroy McMahon and Austin. Part of the reason why I can’t put Undertaker higher on the list is because that Ministry of Darkness storyline went too far by having him to be in a weak Hell in a Cell match with Big Boss Man at Wrestlemania 15 and having Vince McMahon as the higher power of the Ministry of Darkness into the Corporate Ministry was bar-non-stupid. It pushed him into mid card status and became tag team champion with Big Show. And yet the worst part of all is…
…(sigh) his American Badass Biker gimmick. I’m not at all a fan of Biker Undertaker because all of the mystique of a deadly character made tremendous storytelling and as a biker, why keep the name “Undertaker” who buries his victims, not become a member of a Harley Davidson bike gang. It would take four years after this immediate change to bring back the “Dead Man” because I did no like this character trying to compete against Stone Cold Steve Austin’s badass character.
Number 7. – Chris Jericho
One of WCW’s most talented stars never made it outside of the mid-card zone, but when Y2J made it to the WWF, the bookers pushed him as far as they could. After Shawn Michaels retire, we never could imagine another wrestler could match up to his stature, but Jericho delivered everything that we’ve waited from WCW. Jericho just had the attitude, charisma, and flying-technical skills that made him one for the millions. The moment when he made his WWF debut during the millennium countdown was some of the best debuts ever in company. Jericho didn’t disappoint his potential. He kept giving off some of the hardest hitting matches, craziest technicality, and cut the wildest promos. He was a despicable heel (reminiscing to Rowdy Roddy Piper) but was a lovable babyface. He knew how to control people’s emotions and almost every impact he delivers causes a huge reaction. I especially love it when he constantly mocks Stephanie McMahon making it a fierce rivalry between rebel and spoiled brat. Chris Jericho’s rebellious behavior and undying ego got his popularity rising to the top faster than any mid-carder in this era. And to even add more credibility to Chris Jericho’s resume, he was the first ever WWF Undesputed Champion (winning the WWF Championship and WCW World Heavyweight Championship) from The Rock and Austin. I can’t imagine a harder working wrestler than Chris Jericho. He started as the lion heart into Raw is Jericho that ran rampant throughout the years!
Number 6. – Kane
Kane, back when he used to have mystique, was some of the most fierce and feared competitors of the whole roster. At one point in time, he really was scarier than the Undertaker reminiscing to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When Kane wore his mask and hides his burned face, you know something terrible is going to happen. At one point in time (1997-2001) Kane was just an unstoppable monster that had only very little wrestlers could take down. Scariest part is that he’s the brother of the Undertaker (kayfabe). It’s the scariest backstory that any wrestler in the history of wrestling where the two brothers had a rough childhood, and Kane was horribly burnt in a fire. He had to wear a mask and a full bodysuit because of the scars that covered his body. No wrestler in their right mind would want to face him. At Wrestlemania 14 he was the very first opponent that was this close to end the Undertaker’s streak. Hell, he had an undying hatred for Undertaker that they would go far as to burning each other in an Inferno Match. He was the devil’s favorite demon, and capable of annihilating his opponents while showing no sign of remorse… and then they became tag team partners more times than not. Kane, even though he was incredibly mysterious and disturbing, had a lot of memorable moments such as teaming with X-Pac as a tag team and ended up in betrayal, taking Stone Cold’s WWF Championship (for a single day), and so many more. I would love to put Kane higher, but Kane today lost a lot of credibility since he took off his mask and did an awful miscarriage storyline with Lita, Matt Hardy, and Gene Snitsky. It’s because we really miss the mystery of Kane so much that it made going back to attitude era so worth it all.
Number 5. – Kurt Angle
It’s not every day that we get an athlete from different sport enter the wrestling world and make it his new profession. After winning a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics — with a broken neck, no less — celebrated amateur wrestler Kurt Angle would find his way to WWE in late 1999. Clad all in red, white and blue, Angle attributed his success to his “Three I’s” (intensity, integrity and intelligence), all the while lambasting members of the WWF who did not live by his example. Remember, this was the era where wrestling is filled with so many tough guys and hardcore wrestlers willing to bash anyone’s heads, and then Kurt Angle came along and made himself an idiotic character who thinks America still wants their hero to be patriotic, standards, and believe in the American dream. He’s one of the most lovable wrestling characters I’ve ever seen in wrestling where it just made himself look gullible and laughable. Angle was frequently responsible for some of the most humorous moments of the era, including his association with Edge & Christian (as a member of “Team ECK”), strumming the ol’ guitar with Austin, getting annoyed when the crowd chants “What?,” and his Texas Rattlesnake–esque milk truck assault on The Alliance in 2001. But as much as you like to laugh at his character, remember we’re dealing with an olympic gold medalist here. Kurt Angle reintroduced the technicality that once was lost in the WWF since they departed their ways from the New Generation Era. Even though Kurt Angle stole the moves from the likes of Ken Shamrock, he delivered physical moves that no other wrestler in the roster was doing; suplexes, german suplex, choke holds, dynamic slams, and so many more that categorize to the technical side of wrestling. Because he was so damn talented it pushed him a lot faster than any other wrestler at the time winning the Intercontinental Championship & European Championship (as EuroContinental Champion), King of the Ring, and even the WWF Championship within just a year since his wrestling debut. Not that many rookie was went as far as Kurt did and he still stands as one of the top stars in the wrestling world. There is no individual that deserved as much as he did and still to this day he put a good name in professional wrestling.
Number 4. – D-Generation-X
I simply couldn’t choose just one of these wrestlers in this faction to be in the list so I decided to just place all of the members into one list… except for Shawn Michaels. A lot of people considers D-Generation X as rip-offs of the WCW’s New World World, but what DX has over NWO is the right amount of members that all are stars in their own right. In a matter of fact, each of these members were big stars instead of being overshadowed by rank. Admittedly, this faction started just to save Shawn Michael’s ass from losing since the Kliq were no longer around. But after Shawn Michaels retired after Wrestlemania 14, Triple H was left bringing back X-Pac from WCW and made the New Age Outlaws a big deal. Meanwhile, Chyna became a bigger star instead of just being Hunter’s bodyguard and made history of becoming the first Woman to be Intercontinental Champion. DX ever some of the best parts of watch Monday Night Raw because of their over the top segments and shoots that were perverted, surprising, and extreme. In a matter of fact, let’s take a look at each of the members.
Triple H – No longer was he that stupid Hunter Hearsh Helmsley high clansman character, he was a top notch badass who done a better job as leader than Shawn Michaels ever did. What became a faction for Shawn’s ego turned into an iconic stable of Attitude where he lead and kept the groups strong and united. Being the master genius that he always is, he not only made DX popular in the ring, but also outside of the ring as well! Who can ever forget their trip to New York City, Invading WCW, and shouting “Leeets Get Ready To Suck It!” It’s crazy that he wasn’t just living in the times, the times was living with him. He made this sexual revolution a reality by starting small when Shawn Michaels left into a pop culture phenomenon and there’s a reason why he’s the CEO of the WWE today!
Chyna – The 9th Wonder of the World isn’t just a nickname, it’s a reputation earn by the hardest working woman in the wrestling world. She did what no other woman wrestler accomplished since and after. First woman ever to win Intercontinental Champion twice, enter the Royal Rumble, and wrestle so many men and beating them. She was extremely reminiscent to Xena and once she broke out that persona of just being Triple H’s bodyguard and lover, she became an unstoppable force. Not only that, she made muscular women accepted to the public where she can be jacked-up while looking sexual at the same time. It’s definitely hard for male wrestlers and audiences alike to not focus on the garments that she wore, but it was part of her feminine dominance that ran full force in her wrestling career. It’s funny that she’s still continues the D-Generation X ways today by becoming a pornstar… If you ain’t down with that! We got two words for ya! SUCK IT!!!
X-Pac – If there’s any member of D-Generation X that was not only as loyal, but the spirit of this entity, it has to be X-Pac. This character change was so much better than his 123 Kid gimmick and his Syxx character in the NWO. Even when DX broke up in Wrestlemania 15, he still continues the cross chops and kept the intro music with New Age Outlaws and Kane. Even today, since he hasn’t came back to the WWE roster, he still carries the essence of DX and I never seen anyone that is reluctant to the changes in the wrestling world today like Shawn Waltman. He does more cross chops, shouts “Suck It”, and even X-Factor & Bronco Buster his opponents more than anyone in the faction and without him, DX would have faded away and never have a reunion.
New Age Outlaws – These are are arguably the best tag team in the WWF and are suitable for this team than anyone else in the roster. As stated, D-Generation X made the mid-card a special attraction in the Attitude Era and these guys are responsible for it. Their “oh you didn’t know?” catchphrase popped crowds across the country, and fans chanted along with the pre-match spiel of “Road Dogg” Jesse James each and every night.
D-Generation-X was the sexual revolution of professional wrestling doing that iconic DX-chop and broken so many rules that television refuses to air. Even when Triple H disbanded the faction at Wrestlemania 15, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn continued the DX tradition; keeping fans aware that the faction’s popularity is still alive and well. And we finally got D-Generation-X back when Triple H married Stephanie McMahon and begun the McMahon-Hemsley Era (just without Chyna around). D-Generation-X was the biggest thing in Attitude Era, and it wouldn’t’ the same without them. They’ve made mid-card and main events special whenever they’re involved in these shows. If you ain’t down with that we got two words for ya! SUCK IT!!!
Number 3. – Stone Cold Steve Austin & Vince McMahon
I just can’t separate these two because they were really made for each other than any other rivalry in wrestling history. These two are responsible for bringing back the WWF from being defeated by WCW in the Monday Night Wars by simply putting the most intense rivalry ever seen in television. Ever since Vince McMahon screwed Bret in the Montreal Screwjob, the whole world knew how big his ego is. It was genius for him to face the consequences and exploit that ego to create controversy. And for an individual that could push that ego into full force was the new face of the WWF, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin did what Bret Hart should have done, and that’s break every rules that McMahon created and Austin not only did that, but he made it extremely personal. Stone Cold is the polar opposite of Vince where he swears, fights dirty, and drinks constantly making Vince lose all of his temper to wage war on Stone Cold since he was incapable of putting him caged up from being so reckless. Austin always foiled Vince’s plans and rarely does Vince reign supreme. They are the most important feud in WWF history because it was everything we hate about our bosses and have Stone Cold to represent the common man who stands up against the higher ranks. These two have so many damn memorable moments that it’s worth going back to watching them grind each other’s gears from 1997 all the way to 2000. Austin’s rebellious behavior is what made the Crash TV movement so popular, not just WWF. And night after night after night Vince would just love to piss off fans and Austin comes back to get even. Sometimes a feud is not just about the matches they have, but the segments and events that they’ve done together. The chemistry between the two is the ultimate measuring stick of what makes a wrestling feud great. Sure you can place Austin as his own spot on the list as the greatest of all time, but all of his other feuds didn’t make him an all time great, his hatred and battles with Vince McMahon did! That’s why they’ both made it in the list together. For two consecutive years these two were recognized as the best rivalry of the professional wrestling world and still to this day we get a chance to see Austin to continue to ruin Vince’s life. People still pay money to see it and it never get old! No other rivalry can ever say the same thing.
Number 2. – Mankind
I’m so much of a Mankind fan that I just went crazy for this character. It was genius to make what once an extremely dark character into a gullible hardcore nut that had so much brain damage. Wether if you like Mankind, Dude Love, or Cactus Jack, Mick Foley brought ECW hardcore wrestling style to the New Generation Era that lowly evolved into Attitude. He became a huge attraction of the WWF when he took the hardest bumps and faced the most violent matches. Without him, this Crash TV image that the Attitude Era needed wouldn’t’ get so many audiences tune in and bring out their vicarious behavior. Part of what made Attitude work is that it showed that anyone can be a star and Mankind accomplished that dream. The reason why I put Mankind over all of Mick Foley’s characters is because the Mankind persona was iconic, gullible, and lovable all at once. We all feel sorry for Mankind who had a heart of gold to damage his body but we love him for doing it for our own entertainment. Who can ever forget all the times he knocked people out with Mr. Socko, being the first ever Hardcore Champion, tossed off the Hell in a Cell with Undertaker twice, Rock This is Your Life (highest rated episode of Raw), and taking more high risk moves and crash landed harder than any one else in the ring? He was the happy-go getter of a roster filled with badasses. He was the most different of all the wrestlers, appearing like a human Crash Test Dummy! Sure Austin vs. McMahon got people tuning into the product and Austin started the Attitude Era in King of the Ring 1996, but the night that Mankind won the WWF Championship was when WWF started beating WCW in the ratings! Without that historic episode of Raw is War, who knows how would WWF beat WCW in the Monday Night Wars. And yet, he didn’t even stop the gaining ratings when he did the Rock This Is Your Life segment that still stands as the highest rated episode of Raw history! Not even Stone Cold Steve Austin drew as much money as Foley did! Mankind is one of the most important figures of the whole WWE product and WCW would probably destroy WWF without his involvement of the company. We sympathized, we laughed, we were in awe, and we amazed with almost everything Mick Foley succeeded and it’s a darn shame people forgot about that. Nobody has ever took as many stunts and bumps as Mankind and for that we honor Foley as God for never giving up after all the beatings that he has received for the WWE!
Number 1. – The Rock
There was no doubt in my mind that The Rock had to be number 1 on this list. Sure a lot of fans would have argued that Stone Cold Steve Austin is a better wrestler, but Steve Austin wasn’t the best of his time. There were too many big fishes in the pond and The Rock did a lot more for the Attitude Era as whole than Austin ever did. Austin’s whole purpose was to fight Vince and he went absent in mid 1999 leaving the Rock to carry the company. And The Rock not only had the Attitude era right behind him, but also became the biggest star that the WWE has ever had. The Rock started out as an outdated smiling babyface that was behind the times, became a member of the hated Nation of Domination, became the corporate champion when he won The Survivor Series 1998 tournament, teamed up with Mankind as Rock n’ Sock Connection, and broke free as the greatest single wrestler since Hulk Hogan. You simply can’t argue with all of the iconic aspects of the Rock’s character like him raising his eye brows, raising his right fist in the air as he stand on the mid rope, mocking his opponents, and shouting “If You Smell What The Rock… Is Cookin’!” That is single handedly the best catch phrase in all of wrestling and none after it could even come close. And whenever he cuts promos, he makes it like he’s the resurrection of Muhammad Ali. He’s not all talk, he’s also brutal in the ring. The Rock had some of the best move sets as well like his iconic Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow that still continues to raise people off their seats and yell for Rocky! The way The Rock moves is incredibly where he keeps jumping back to his feet and sometimes when he gives someone a pump, he poses out with reaction. While a lot of the characters in the Attitude Era look like trash hardcore wrestlers, The Rock dressed with class while still with the crash tv times. Everything that the Rock does is purely entertaining and very little wrestlers out there could ever match up to him. Even though Vince McMahon brought the best out of Stone Cold, The Rock brought the best out of everybody else and still managed to beat many of them. The Rock also has a talent for everything that can keep everyone interested no matter what, that’s why he’s a big Hollywood movie star today. Not only that, but almost everything he does creates as significance to the WWF product. If you disagree, how about the term Smackdown he used a lot that became a word in the webster’s dictionary and a secondary weekly show to compete against WCW’s Thunder? Almost everything that the Rock did is memorable and it’s the reason why he’s so famous around the world. If anything The Rock deserves all the credibility given to him and he deserves nothing more than to be the best wrestler of the attitude era and possibly the best WWE wrestler of all time!
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!
From 1992 to 1996, this was a whole new era of professional wrestling that tries it’s best to differ away from relying on Hulk Hogan and many of their old stars for the purpose of creating a new image for the company and try to keep up with the times. This was the era of wrestling that started Monday Night Raw and went in a televised ratings competition against WCW Monday Night Nitro. This was also an era where they delivered more pay per views than ever before with the awesome and underrated “In Your House” PPV’s. At first this was going to look like World Wrestling Federation’s path to the right direction, but unfortunately, this short lived era of wrestling has dealt with the worst characters, story lines, and even booking decisions that really damaged the company’s popularity and finance. The audience were not interested in super clean and G-rated materials that almost had the company go out of business. WCW really kicked WWF’s ass by using WWF’s former stars against their own stars, story lines were more tasteful, and the product was more appealing to the wrestling fans. But for some odd reason, I just have a great appreciation for what is known to be the WWF’s worst era. I started to become a wrestling fan in this era with Wrestlemania X being my first ever wrestling viewing, but it’s not just nostalgia that this era has over all the other eras in wrestling. When you focus on the good from this era, this was actually a time where wrestlers delivered a more physical, technical, and high flying style of wrestling as opposed to slow paced wrestling seen in the Golden Era of Wrestling. All of the sudden, the new generation era offered a much more diverse roster instead of a line of wrestlers that were jacked with steroids. We had matches that was all about more than one signature moves, strategies of how to win matches to make the experience varied, and even the spectacle felt down to Earth. I can easily say that this is the most underrated and under appreciated era of wrestling and you should watch some of the best matches that came from this era to realize what wrestling today lost that this era had. With that being said, here are the ten wrestlers that help made this era special to many wrestling fans around the world!
Number 10. – 123 Kid
Starting this list, we finally have our first member of the Kliq. The 123 Kid character was inspirational for the fact that he was an underdog that tries his very best to be good. He was a little guy with big dream and what’s so inspiring is that even though all the odds are against him, he still chases after them. He was the original common man that we know that he can’t win, but we route for him because his heart was in it. He took bumps that made you sympathetic and he captures your emotions by trying to hard. It’s one of the reasons why when he defeated Razor Ramon in an episode of Monday Night Raw, it was a big deal. You feel like you’re like the 123 Kid and whenever he makes success in his career, it makes our day. Not only that, but he has a unique style of martial arts and high-flying moves that shows how much of a talent he really is. He even had great matches against legends like Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and so many big stars in the business. Sure, Shawn Waltman had a better wrestling character names with Syxx, X-Pac, and so many more, but I still have a deep soft spot for the Kid.
Number 9. – Macho Man Randy Savage
Macho Man was my number 1 pick for as the best wrestler in the Golden Age and it’s a shame that he didn’t have that many great moments in the New Generation Era, even though he stuck around. One of the biggest mistakes Vince McMahon has ever done has been putting Macho Man in commentary. Admittedly, I love to hear Macho Man’s voice all day, but he was born to perform. However, Macho Man did indeed contributed to the New Generation by putting new talents over like Yokozuna winning the Royal Rumble 1993, Shawn Michaels, Crush, and many more. To show some important to the New Generation era, he was WWF Champion when the era started. Even though we didn’t get much to see him and Miss Elizabeth like we did in the Golden Age, Macho Man Randy Savage was still the same hero that we all know and love. Hell, he even made those famous slimjim commercials that made him an icon in the wrestling world. But for the fact that Vince McMahon put him in commentary (and issues with the Kliq), is one of the big reasons why he never came back to the WWF and made better matches in WCW. But for the fact that Randy actually did help some of the talents to make this era stand out, he deserves to be on the list.
Number 8. – “The British Bulldog”
Davey Boy Smith
Where do I even begin with the late, great Davey Boy Smith? He was built like a freight train and was as strong as an ox. He was EVERYTHING Vince McMahon looks for in a World Champion. He had the look, power, charisma and he was over in a big way. People loved The British Bulldog. Once he branched out of his tag team with the Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith was thrown into the upper mid card almost immediately. He had some great feuds with Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow and most notably Bret Hart and their incredible match in England at Summerslam in 1992, where Bret would drop the Intercontinental Championship to The Bulldog. If you get a chance, you must watch the crowd’s reaction, it was AMAZING. Needless to say, that match was the highlight of The Bulldogs career which is really just sad to say. Even though he never goth a better spot in the wrestling world, he did contribute to the New Generation Era by giving some of the best mid card machos in the mid 90s. If you seen how he wrestled, it made watching all of his matches worth your time. Such a talented, athlete and a guy with a phenomenal physical presence. In the end, his internal demons got the better of him and Davey Boy has since past. However that won’t tarnish his legacy as one of the top WWE SUPERSTARS of the 90′s.
Number 7. – Mr. Perfect
Mr. Perfect was the best intercontinental champion and one of the best technical wrestler the WWF has ever had. Even his name lives up to his reputation even despite the fact that he never won a WWF Championship. Mr. Perfect is the wrestler that introduced technical wrestling to the golden age and that opened door to the New Generation Era with the similar style and attitude. As one of the most famous in ring technicians, everyone loved working with Curt. He could have a great match with anybody. His charisma shined through every time you saw him. Not only that, Mr. Perfect had one of the best personality that suits incredibly well for a heel. He always constantly love to brag about how perfect he is just to anger everyone. Whether that’s true or not (and most likely isn’t), it makes for a good story. What makes it so interesting is trying to picture anyone else as Mr. Perfect. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, basketball or bowling, he was simply the best. Perfect could have been an all-star in any sport, but he came to the WWF to show off his skills. While he had a great run in the AWA, it was Hennig’s cocky Mr. Perfect persona in the WWF that truly made him worthy of the Hall of Fame. It’s almost sad to write about such an amazing man, athlete and competitor who is no longer with us. Especially knowing he deserved to be treated so much better while in the WWE. Mr. Perfect is easily one of the most under appreciated talents in wrestling history. Hopefully by you reading this, you can get a glimpse of just how good he was. One thing’s for sure, the 2007 WWE Hall of Famer will never be forgotten.
Number 6. – The Undertaker
The Undertaker was all spectacle that everyone wanted to see. He was that character that haunted our nightmares, but we couldn’t stop watching because the believability was all in there. However the reason why I can’t put him any higher in the list is because he didn’t have that many good matches in the New Generation Era. But we forgive Undertaker’s slow pace wrestling that didn’t get physical till the Attitude era because his character was so precise and demeaning that we put our fullest attention upon him. What he brought in the wrestling world is the bizarreness and unusual storytelling in his matches. Such as Paul Bearer losing his urn to control the will of the Undertaker, dealing with creeps like Mankind, and even doing untraditional gimmick matches like bury alive matches & casket match. This was the first time ever where a wrestler could ever stay so much into character and made all of use believe that he was from beyond the grave. It scared all of us fans of WWF and little did fans know the terror he would unleash for over two decades. He has a long lasting streak in Wrestlemania and brought satanic references in pro-wrestling, which is all innovative. In his early days, he almost looked as he was impervious to pain. When he was ambushed by Yokozuna and half the roster in Royal Rumble 1994, he was put in a casket, but the whole arena blacked out to show a titan-tron of Taker still in the casket saying that he’ll return and then he popped out of the screen ascending over the crowd was actually the scariest moment in pro-wrestling.
Number 5. – Yokozuna
Yokozuna has got to be that wrestler that’s under everybody’s radar. This is the heel that DESTROYED Hulkamania after Hulk Hogan departed to WCW and reigned as WWF Champion. Whenever somebody defeats Hogan for the WWF Championship, it really means that this guy is a big deal. It was incredibly amazing what the guy could do in the ring early on in his career with his enormous size. The only huge wrestler that can move as much as Yoko can is Bam Bam Bigelow and Big Van Vader, but Yokozuna has more significance than any large man since Andre The Giant. He won the Royal Rumble in 1993, won the WWF Championship twice, main event Wrestlemania twice, and even squashed countless opponents using the best finisher of all time; The Banzai Drop! Yokozuna is an important figure to the New Generation Era where he displayed culture to the main stream wrestling. Even though he was Samoan in real life, Yokozuna embellished the Japanese culture with his manager, Mr. Fuji by showing what Sumo Wrestling training is all about, the behavior a honorable Japanese athlete acts, and even shows a unique style of intensity only seen outside of North America. But what I really admire about Yokozuna is for a guy that large, he has moves like side kicks, running leg drops, belly to belly suplexes, and of course, the feared banzai drop that nobody has ever broke out of it. The fact that he was so massive and could still keep up with Bret and The Undertaker and make the matches interesting proves he was good in the ring. Whenever he collapses from a big move, it really has a huge impact. And unlike any other heels, he didn’t Mr. Fuji interfering in his matches to save the day all the time; Yoko carried all of his matches and he was not a chicken-shit heel that we constantly see in wrestling. He deserved to be the main heel spot for that period of time and one of my favorite times with Yokozuna was when he partnered up with Owen Hart, making it one of the most underrated tag teams of all time. He deserves to be on this list because he was inspirational that not all wrestlers need to be jacked or close to 7’feet tall. Because he showed that even obese wrestlers can even make it to the same spotlight is why he’s this high on the list!
Number 4. – Owen Hart
In my opinion is the most underrated wrestler of all time. Maybe it’s because he was stuck behind his big brother Bret (at least, storyline wise, it was to Owen) or maybe not, but critics often look past Owen when mentioning the major stars of the 90s and right to the older Hart. He was an amazing heel, was involved in some of the greatest matches of the mid-90’s with Bret, HBK and Bulldog, and could cut a great promo to boot. His style in the ring was also detrimental to the evolution of the quality of matches in professional wrestling. His natural sense of humor also took his on screen character to new heights (stealing slammy’s was priceless). Let’s not forget his achievements in the ring; 2 Time Intercontinental Champion, 4 Time Tag Team with Yokozuna (my favorite underrated tag team) and British Bulldog, 1 Time European Champion, King of the Ring Winner, Match of the Year with brother Bret in 1994 in Summerslam 1994 Cage Match, and 2 Time Slammy Award winner. He was also involved in huge storylines with The Hart Foundation and Nation of Domination. He went toe to toe with HBK, Bret Hart, Stone Cold, The Rock and pretty much any other big name in WWF during his time with the company. I honestly cannot recall ever seeing a bad Owen Hart match. He was a high quality wrestler, a high quality worker and an overall great superstar of the 1990’s that got overlooked by far too many critics while he was alive. I miss Owen with a great passion. Seeing him wrestle against Bret in Wrestlemania X was my first wrestling match that I’ve ever seen and it got me emotional to see two brothers fighting each other, while I was watching the whole storyline with my younger brother with me. I always blame Vince’s decision to make it an on and off decision in deciding to put him as Owen or the Blue Blazer. Either way, Vince had the perfect opportunity to make Owen a star, but he had too many bigger fishes in the pond with him. I will alway honor and remember what Owen delivered in the wrestling world and without him, the New Generation Era wouldn’t be a special as it once was.
Number 3. – Shawn Michaels
I’m really conflicted about Shawn Michaels during the New Generation Era. On the one hand, he was the most talented and best in-ring worker of whole company. On the other hand, he was a spoiled brat that gave Kliq a bad name. Back when he took the name Heartbreak Kid and departed his ways with Sensational Sherri, he was one of the coolest bad guys since Razor Ramon. His streetwalker gimmick attracted a lot of female audiences to tune into Monday Night Raw and see him dance and move around. His team up with Kliq member Diesel was some of the best wrestler-body guard partnerships that I’ve ever seen in wrestling. Though I refuse to put Diesel in the list because having him as WWF Champion for an entire year in 1995 was both selfish and stupid, his team up with HBK was highly entertaining. Not only that, but he was an innovator by being the first to win the Royal Rumble more than once, being in the WWF’s first Ladder Match, and so many more! As a fan, I really enjoyed watching Shawn Michaels with my family because he did high flying technical wrestling like nobody else. It’s amazing that he’s able to wrestle this style throughout the rest of his career in the 2000’s which is proof why he’s one of the best of all time. But his personal rivalry with Bret Hart is what I find most uncomfortable. Shawn Michaels was getting really spoiled with demanding a lot of attention, getting all credit, and putting a lot of guys down in the roster. It’s no wonder why Kliq’s backstage politics is infamous among all the wrestlers who suffered during their reign. If you don’t believe me, look at Shawn when he defeated Bret Hart in Wrestlemania 12 and told him to get out of my ring ,or when he faced Vader in Summerslam 1996, he kept shouting him “Move” like an immature man-child. Nevertheless, whenever he’s well behaved during the New Generation era, watching him wrestle is gold. Shawn Michaels just had everything that you can consider talent and it’s the reason why people watches wrestling today! Shawn Michaels just continue to live on the legacy giving us terrific matches many years to come.
Number 2. – Razor Ramon
One of the biggest things that the New Generation Era that wrestling today doesn’t have is great characters. I can’t name a better character in wrestling that had the coolness factor to the max. Razor Ramon’s personality was similar to Scarface and his fake Cuban accent was none other than priceless whenever he spoke on the mic. Even the look of this guy was like an idealized version of a real man come to life. He made being a heel or “The Bad Guy” the coolest position in wrestling and it’s no wonder why he grew so much popularity. It was like Star Wars fans loving to route for the villains because they were so much cooler than our heroes. Throwing tooth picks at his opponents, feel relaxed whenever he speaks, and had a hard-hittle style, that even influenced The Rock to copy his style, shows how significant Razor really is. To me, Razor Ramon is the embodiment of The New Generation era. I still will always remember how mind-blowing his match against Shawn Michaels in Wrestlemania X is still one of my favorite matches of all time. They even had another ladder match together in Summerslam 1995 which was the best match in that horrible year in wrestling. Hell, his rivalry with his Kliq colleagues with Diesel, 123 Kid, and Shawn Michaels was some of the most entertaining things in wrestling! As a kid, I always routed for Razor Ramon to defeat the “Dudes With Attitude” because it was so much fun seeing the way they wrestled and handled the intense rivalry. To even show even more importance to Razor Ramon, he even made wrestling history in the Madison Square Garden Curtan Call Incident when he came in and hugged the Kliq members to establish the backstage faction. Sometimes I really wished that Razor Ramon can continue his journey to winning the WWF Championship instead of making history of the NWO in WCW, but what ever the case, Razor Ramon remains one of the best gimmick of all of wrestling!
“The best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be” truly lives up to the name. Bret Hart is the milestone for the new direction for the WWF after the Golden Age has ended. It started when Bret Hart departed his ways with Jim Neidhart from the Hart Foundation and became one of the best solo wrestlers of all time. He began to win the Intercontinental Championship, win the first ever King of the Ring, won the WWF Championship multiple times, and even told the best story lines the WWF has had during this era. Bret Hart style really separated 80’s to the 90’s and he earned that spot to become the face of the company. Bret Hart was a really fantastic storyteller where he showed a lot of emotion whenever he get hurt that caused the entire audience to sympathize with him. It’s wondrous to see that when his character evolves, the company evolves along with him. He told really personal story lines such as Davey Boy Smith’s relationships with his sister, Owen Hart brotherly jealousy, and so many more. Not only that, but Bret Hart’s matches were the best parts of the New Generation Era. I don’t ever recall seeing a bad Bret Hart match from 1993 to 1997, even despite the fact that some of the story lines he’s been involved in were badly written. Heck one of the reasons why there was an attitude era to begin with was because of his involvement with Stone Cold Steve Austin knocking him out cold. Part of his in-ring storytelling being so good is that Bret has the best versatility of this era. Bar none while I think Bret’s best years were occurring when the WWF was not at its very best commercial success-wise. Bret was a competitor that made the WWF a watchable program even in the WWF’s dark ages where you had garbagemen, plumbers and hog farmers as the staples of the Federation. Bret Hart while in today’s WWE gets a lot of praise for his contributions it wasn’t until 2010 when he’s truly been given the acclaim he’s deserved. To me Bret Hart made every match just look like an all out actual fight, no matter who he was wrestling be it Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Jeff Jarrett, Diesel, Shawn Michaels or Razor Ramon, Hart had a flare to show just how his style was a breath of fresh air after Hulk Hogan left the WWF and the title scene needed new faces. Bret brought the title scene back to something it had not seen since Bob Backlund’s days as the champion. People who might knock The Hitman’s lack of personality I implore to just watch his body language in the ring and the way he would perform his move set that are always different in everyone of his matches. Everything Bret did had a reason and a method and the way he’d react to a loss in the ring just spoke better than any words he could ever say. That combined with the fact that he wrestled three different matches at King Of The Ring with three very different opponents and they all ended in their own unique way. This led to him winning the tournament and in my mind this legitimized him just as much as his World Title win over Ric Flair if not more so to be honest. WrestleMania X was another showcasing of Bret’s resourcefulness in the story lines, he goes from losing one match to Owen (and showing the best reaction I’ve ever seen a wrestler display after a loss) and afterwards in the same evening avenging his loss from the year before by beating Yokozuna in a rematch to win back the strap. His subsequent World Title feud with Owen in a cage match was a great showing too and I remember those days just like they were yesterday. For this alone I don’t think there’s anyone better at working within different dynamics than Bret Hart, yes I do indeed hold in high regard individuals like Shawn Michaels and all the other from the New Generation Era, but when it comes to this category I don’t think anyone touches Bret Hart. I can only wonder what things would have been like had he stayed with the WWF further into the Attitude Era instead of leaving during its transition point. Bret Hart has always been my biggest hero and there hasn’t been another individual that did more for me as a wrestling fan than Bret Hart!
Now you know who are the best wrestlers of the New Generation Era, be sure to check out the Top 10 Matches of the New Generation Era!!
If you can go out on the street and tell anyone about any wrestler that’s currently in any wrestling organization, chances are they won’t even know who you’re talking about. However, if you instead talk about wrestlers that came from the 1980s to the early-1990s, chances are, people would recognize who you’re talking about. Just what is it that makes these wrestlers more iconic and recognizable than the wrestlers of today? How about the fact that each of them had a diversity of characters that felt bigger than life itself. Many of these wrestlers are the image and embodiment of professional wrestling and still to this very day we talk about each of their legacy. Even the WWE knows the impact that these wrestlers given us for making wrestling as big as it is today. We call this the Golden Age of Wrestling because WCW and WWF were in big rivalry with each other and they did almost everything to beat the competition. Dusty Rhodes created the Super Bowl of Pro Wrestling called StarCade in 1983 and Vince McMahon wanted to make a bigger event calling it Wrestlemania. Since then, wrestling started to deliver bigger events like The Big Four PPV’s and many more. This was the first time professional wrestling went on mainstream by getting celebrity involvement (Cindi Loper, Muhammad Ali, Mr. T, etc.) and also putting wrestlers in public appearances outside of the ring and backstage area. Each of these wrestlers really felt like real-life superheroes and it drew huge attendance records and television ratings. It’s all thanks to these wrestlers that made wrestling huge as it once was and it’s time for me to pay respects to ten of my favorite wrestlers of the Golden Age of Wrestling (from 1983 – 1991).
Number 10. – Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow was one of professional wrestling’s most unique individuals. With his tattooed head and large frame, Bigelow was unlike anyone or anything else in the world of professional wrestling. His uniqueness went beyond his looks, however. In an era of lumbering big men, Bigelow broke the mold, demonstrating a work rate and level of agility never before seen, by a man of his size. During the late eighties and early nineties, it was rare to see wrestlers in the United States pulling off moonsaults, much less 350+ pound monsters doing so. Bigelow’s matches never cease to amaze me with the things he was able to do in the ring, and the matches he put on. He’s the only wrestler from the Golden Age that managed to keep himself relevant in the later years of wrestling such as The New Generation Era, Attitude, WCW’s Bishoff-era, and even ECW’s top star. He was everything you wanted in a monster heel and a great babyface. He was the stuff that your mother’s nightmares are made of. Every movement he made and syllable he uttered just gave off the impression of a bad ass mofo who was there to absolutely raise hell. There was no wrestler whose character fit his look better than Bam Bam Bigelow.
Number 9. – Jake “The Snake” Roberts
So what makes Jake the Snake Roberts such an iconic name in the wrestling world? He didn’t have a good wrestling ability, didn’t have the look, he lost a lot more matches than winning them, and he didn’t have the “it” factor which is why he never won a WWF Championship. What Jake Roberts offered as a truly dark character in wrestling. His dark persona inspired many future stars like The Undertaker & Stone Cold Steve Austin that being the happy, smiling wrestler can’t be the only wrestler to love. Jake’s interviews simply give us chills down our spines and he was intimidating none the less. If his interviews didn’t get you at ease, then his python, Damien will. Damien and Roberts were a huge attraction when tuning into the WWF product because it was terrifying to see it but we want to know who’s Damien was going to get. Better yet, Jake Roberts introduced in-ring psychology where what’s happening in the ring was just as well telling a story as much as an interview. Jake Roberts was a true innovator of the wrestling world and he became famous for it. Even despite the fact that he never won a WWF Championship, it’ was his character that made him such a big name today. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the wrestling’s appearance or skills, it’s his character and how he slivers to our hearts.
Number 8. – The Ultimate Warrior
Most people would like to look at the Ultimate Warrior like a 1990’s comic book character or He-Man come to life, but Ultimate Warrior was simply the most intense wrestler of all time! No one had as much energy and intensity as Warrior did and we all believed that he was that powerful. It’s always so damn exciting to see Warrior do what he does best because as soon as you hear his entrance music, you know he’s rushing in the ring and shaking the ropes like no tomorrow! Every young WWF fan loved the Warrior’s character, even though he doesn’t make any sense most of the time, he captured our attention because of his undying passion to wrestle. His powerhouse style was completely freakish. He was the second best baby face the company had, right behind Hogan. I’ll never forget Ultimate Warrior finally defeated Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental Championship streak and went on to face Hulk Hogan. For the first time ever, babyface vs. babyface in Wrestlemania 6 and it was a defining moment for the wrestling world. A year later, Warrior took on Macho Man in Wrestlemania 7 in the best match of his career. He sure had a lot of backstage problems with Vince McMahon, but that didn’t’ stop him from being as awesome as he was. There was so many great moments of the Warrior that made him one of the biggest names ever! His character was so unearthly and his style was so fiery, it made you believe the power of the Warrior.
Number 7. – Sting
I really want to put Sting higher on the list, but he had a much better time after this era has ended. But if there was a star that WCW built up extremely well, it had to be Sting. Sting, in his early year, was a unique mixture of flying, technical, and powerhouse style of wrestling. It was like he was WCW’s version of the Ultimate Warrior, but much more understandable and relatable. I know a lot of wrestling fans prefer Sting in black and white instead of blonde and colorful, but I really enjoy Sting’s presence before the Bishoff-era. He really was a star that really gets us engaged. He wrestling like no other individual as he flew and slammed his opponents with so much energy. Sting just simply had the it factor for WCW and there were a lot of people that tuned into the product just to see Sting do what he does best. He’s also the innovator of the Scorpion Death Drop (reverse DDT) and the Scorpion Death Lock before it was even called the Sharpshooter. No other young wrestler grew as much popularity fast as Sting did. He faced legends like Ric Flair, The Great Muta, and many more WCW wrestlers and pushed each of his opponents to the limits. I really think blonde Sting is unappreciated because he’s one of the few WCW stars that made World Championship Wrestling so big.
Number 6. – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Steamboat may be the least iconic or memorable wrestler in the list, however he delivered technical martial arts in the ring making him look like the Bruce Lee of wrestling. Ricky brought nothing less than intensity in each and every one of his matches that makes the all worth coming back and watching them. No one shall ever forget that he stole the Wrestlemania III show with his match against Randy Savage winning the Intercontinental Champion. It’s remembered as one of the best greatest matches of the 1980s. Despite his Wrestlemania 4’s poor tournament structure, he didn’t make it pass Round 1 and all of the sudden started to loose fame in the WWF. However, he did kept the momentum going when he joined WCW and delivered matches that were so much better than his time in the WWF! Ricky made tremendous legacy in wrestling in WCW with rivals with Ric Flair. Steamboat and Flair never had a bad match with each other, rather they were all a series of 5-star matches that all rivalries wishes they have. I argue that his time in WCW is so much better than his time in WWF, even despite the fact that WWE wants everyone to forget about it. Anyone can watch any of his matches and want to be a professional wrestler. The is one of the most recognizable Intercontinental Champions and NWA World Champion of all time.
Number 5. – Andre The Giant
Before Hulk Hogan was the biggest star in professional wrestling, Andre the Giant was the most popular and iconic wrestler in the world. Without him, wrestling and Wrestlemania wouldn’t be as big as it is today! Even people who doesn’t watch wrestling know who this guy is! Before Wrestlemania III, Andre The Giant was undefeated for 15 years. Sure his style is slow, but there was so athlete that was as big or as strong as Andre was. He was a huge attraction to the masses because he was unlike any human being ever seen and even his opponents were scared of what he was capable of. It was certainly a wise move to turn Andre heel by betraying Hulk Hogan to side with Bobby “The Brain” Henan, it made him the most despised man in the whole wrestling industry. He made Wrestlemania III to have the attendance record of 93,173. Sporting events ever had an attendance record that big until the 2010 NBA All-Star series. The show also delivered by having him get body slammed by Hulk Hogan and for the first time became defeated. His feud with Hulk Hogan continued by creating the big four PPV’s in main eventing the first ever Summerslam, Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series. He really made the big four PPV’s happen, but unfortunately, after his rivalry with Hulk Hogan was over with, Andre’s popularity faded because Hulk Hogan began to have bigger rivalries with heels like Macho Man, Ultimate Warrior, and many more. Andre also showed that his back is hurting and it affected his wrestling ability. He deserved a retirement in the early 1990s. To even show how much of a legend Andre is, when he passed away in 1993, he was the first ever inductee in to the WWE Hall of Fame. We did have 7′ footer wrestlers, like Big Show, Great Kahli, Giant Gonzalez, etc., that reminded us of Andre, but nobody can match up to the Eight Wonder of the World. Nobody has done more for the wrestling business than Andre the Giant and it’s all thanks to him that me made wrestling all possible!
Number 4. – Rowdy Roddy Piper
I simply love Rowdy Roddy Piper. He’s a wrestler of many sides, many wrestling abilities, and dared to be the most hated wrestlers above all else. I admire Roddy for being such a wild character that is willing to be all over the place. From main event heel, become a lovable face, to Piper’s pit, to even helping the mid-cards like Bret Hart to become a big name. He was such a rebellious individual and this was around the time where the public won’t stand for it. He went wild with this direction and became the most hated guy. It’s highly entertaining to see Roddy Piper do what he does best because nobody else was doing it. Piper’s Pit is always one of the best wrestling interview segments ever as it continues to surprise fans who gets interviewed with Piper that continues to created history. Piper’s responsible for making the Rock and Wrestling Connection work and make Wrestling big as it is today because who else would take the job as being so hated the people would want to pay money to see him get beat? He knows very well that controversy creates cash and because he became such a different character, it certainly made him stand up against all else. And as for his wrestling skills, it also lives up to the name as he introduced technical brawling style before Stone Cold Steve Austin flipped the bird on camera. Today, Piper still is part of the wrestling world and does all he can to keep the business going. Hell, even when the Golden Age era was over, Piper did not slow down as he continued to be part of both WCW and WWF and make Wrestlemania moments like in Wrestlemania 12 against Goldust. I always have a lot of fun watching Piper and never was I ever bored watching what he does.
Number 3. – Hulk Hogan
Surprised to see Hogan not number 1? I really have nothing against Hulk Hogan, I just like a few other wrestlers more than Hogan from this era. When Hogan became the top star in the WWF, he was a big fish in a huge pond. To make him the top star, he had to be main event, give promos unlike any other, win his matches, and had to become a fan favorite no matter what the cost. That’s what Hogan did. Andre The Giant used to be the biggest name in the wrestling world, but after he allowed Hogan to put him over in Wrestlemania III, he passed the torch to Hogan and became a bigger star than Andre was. People who never watch wrestling knows very well who this guy is. Hogan really is the face of professional wrestling and he’s the measuring stick of what other wrestlers strived for. Everyone remembers him ripping off his shirt, putting his ear to the crowd, his poses, and his interviews about “Eating your vitamins, saying your prayers” & “Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania comes after you!” Everyone loves to impersonate the Hulkster like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Beatles, and more. He is what everyone wishes to be and to be with. He was such a babyface that definitely is a positive influence to the masses around the world. He really made routing for the good guy cool and to see him fight for what’s right was so damn engrossing. Hogan is such an amazing storyteller as he dealt with betrayals that is after his popularity and faced the most hated heels that deserved the Hogan treatment. No one has ever accomplished as much as Hogan did. He had the most WWF title reigns of the era, held it the longest, and main evented in almost every Wrestling event that he’s been in. You might think Hogan was too invincible, but you have to remember that in the Golden Era of Wrestling, fan everywhere took their babyfaces extremely seriously. If there was anyone that was to save the day, it had to be dear old Hulkster. We always relied on Hogan to do the job and he always effortlessly deliver the goods. Hulk Hogan is responsible for all the success that the wrestling world has succeeded and still to this day people tune into a wrestling show if Hulk Hogan is in it. Even though all of his matches isn’t exactly the best that we seen in wrestling, what mattered was to see Hogan defeat the odds and show that fighting for what’s right is meaningful to all the Hulkamaniacs. What Hulk Hogan does, that not many wrestler can do, is really connect with the crowd and because he was so good in presenting himself to be very likable, he earned that reputation as being the greatest and most successful wrestler in the industry. Only little number wrestlers can live up to Hulk Hogan’s stature and we all strive to be as big as him.
Number 2. – Ric Flair
I’m one of those wrestling fans that argues that Ric Flair is a better wrestler than Hulk Hogan. While WWF’s biggest star was Hulk Hogan, WCW’s star was Ric Flair. Flair, is just like Rowdy Roddy Piper, in which he’s all all the map in his wrestling career. He’s very good in being the main event, help the mid-cards to become a bigger star, he was a really good heel, a very good babyface, his interviews were incredibly intense, and his wrestling stills were gold. Flair just did a lot better things than Hogan did. He was a pioneer of main eventing StarCade before Hogan even started a Wrestlemania, he created and lead the Four Horsemen, and he never stopped fighting his spot in the World Heavyweight Championship. Flair also is iconic for his wrestling abilities for the Figure Four Leg Lock, turning upside down when running into a turn buckle, and slapping his opponents in the chest to shout “Woo!” This is a man with class and style and throughout his career, people want to see it again and again. He continue this trend for over 2 decades and he became successful for it. Even more important, Ric Flair just had very good rivalries with many of the best talents in the WCW like Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, and so many more. There’s no doubt in my mind that because Ric Flair has accomplished so much in the wrestling world, he has to be the second greatest wrestler of the 1980s.
Number 1. – Macho Man Randy Savage
There’s simply no other wrestler that is at all similar to the Macho Man. Macho Man is such an amazing storyteller where he knew how to cut promos and had the charisma to engage us in it. Macho Man just has everything that I want to see from a wrestler; charisma, storytelling, in-ring ability, emotion, and the ability to connect with the audience. Savage is such a unique character that he can really endure the toughest challenge, but at the same time grab sympathy to the audience because he tries harder than anyone in the business. I always loved seeing his partnership with Miss Elizabeth because they were the best romantic couple of the wrestling world. Still to this day they both capture all our hearts by showing how much they love each other on screen. More importantly, Randy Savage has been involved in some of the best matches of the ’80s/early ’90’s like Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, Ric Flair, Honkey Tonk Man, Hart Foundation, Tito Santana, and so many more that each of them had a relatable story into them. Even though Savage had a match against Steamboat that stole the Wrestlemania III show, he had his big break by winning the Wrestlemania IV tournament and holding the WWF Championship for an entire a year. I’m also a big fan of his Macho King persona when he betrays Hulk Hogan and Miss Elizabeth. He was such a ferocious heel and his King gimmick was so lovable. I still will never forget his match against Ultimate Warrior in Wrestlemania VII where he lost but we route for him when he reunited with Miss Elizabeth that always gets me that emotional feeling. Not to mention that in Summerslam in that year, both of them had the best on-screen marriage in Wrestling period! If people didn’t know who Hulk Hogan is, they surely would know who Macho Man Randy Savage is because of his entertaining slimjim commercials, many movie/television appearances, and his merchandises that sold millions. Savage such a tremendous storytelling and a very entertaining wrestler that inspired every single man in professional wrestling today. His spirit will live on in the squared circle forever as the best professional wrestler of all time!