Thursday Thive: Wrestlemania XI-XX Matches

Posted on March 16, 2012

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My Top 5 Matches from Wrestlemania XI-XX
I don’t think I can put into words just how difficult this was to put together. Between Wrestlemania XI and XX, the WWF became the WWE and they really upped their game when it came to Mania. Somewhere along the way the cards stopped being too long, they stopped being about getting everyone on there, and it started to really be the showcase of the year. The match quality also went skywards, and this could very easily be a top 10. Easily. For an example of how good some of the matches were in these years, the TLC between Edge/Christian, the Hardys and the Dudleys doesn’t feature here. Neither does the HBK/Bret Hart IronMan match from WMXII. Other genuine classics, such as Angle/Benoit (XVII), Guerrero/Angle (XX), Rock/Hogan (XVIII) and Rock/Austin (XIX) didn’t even get a look in. This was when WWF really upped their game, new stars were made and the business went supernova. Here’s my top 5.

V: HHH vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania XX

The triple threat formula is a little over done these days, and we all know how it goes. One bloke gets taken out of the equation, comes back, everyone breaks up each others pins, until something big happens towards the end. Whilst this match does follow the formula to a degree, it is just quite simply the best triple threat the WWE has ever had. It’s difficult to watch without feeling sad however, because of the well documented end to the life of Chris Benoit and his family. Still, the end gives me goosebumps, and the post match hug with Eddie Guerrero was a really big deal at the time. Yeah, goosebumps.

IV: Bret Hart vs. ‘StoneCold’ Steve Austin – Wrestlemania XIII

A lot of people will have this as the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time, and for good reason. Wrestling bloggers around the world love to talk about the Attitude era, heck the WWE still does today, and in particular when it began. It’s almost unquestionable that the emergance of Steve Austin was the big factor in it, and this match was what one writer has accurately called the WWF’s Independence Day. The image of Austin locked in the sharpshooter with blood streaming down his teeth is my generations Hogan slamming Andre, without doubt. The double turn in the match was beautiful as well, especially for me as a big Bret Hart fan, to come out of it on Austin’s side was a show of how good this was. A turning point for professional wrestling.

III: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho – Wrestlemania XIX

I absolutely adore this match. The story going in was brilliant, Jericho had idolised Michaels growing up, now he wanted to end him. Simple, effective. If anyone was making a list of the top 10 workers in the companys history, these 2 would be near the top of the list without doubt. The pace they worked throughout was incredible, and the little nod’s to the story with Jericho apeing Michaels throughout just made it that little bit more special. The last Sweet Chin Music from Michaels is absolutely brutal as well. This was professional wrestling at its best, simply put. A great story, a brilliant match, and a beautiful post match angle. I miss Y2J Jericho, and I’ll never tire of watching this match.

II: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – Wrestlemania XIX

In my particularly humble opinion, Kurt Angle is the best professional wrestler of all time. The man had, and still has, everything. Perfect in ring, fantastic selling, great on the microphone, great at the comedy, just great at everything. Wonderful. This match reminds me of just how good Brock Lesnar was as well, especially for a man of his size. He was still a relative rookie at this point, and he went toe to toe with Angle in the main event of Wrestlemania and didn’t miss a beat. I could watch these two for hours. Sure, the ending SSP is botched, but in a way it almost added to the drama and feel of the match. What the heck is a man of Lesnar’s size doing attempting a shooting star press anyway? Absolutely love this match. If I watched it drunk now I would spend a lot of time afterwards blathering to Barry about it being 5 stars.

I: ‘StoneCold’ Steve Austin vs. The Rock – Wrestlemania XVII

Well, what else was it going to be, really? Even from before the match, you knew this was going to be special. Heck, the promo video, linked above, is probably the best promo video the company has ever done, and they do a lot of really good promos. The the match itself, what can I say? Ok, so maybe Angle/Lesnar is better with regards to technical wrestling, and Hart/Austin is a better brawl, but if you put everything you could possibly want from pro wrestling into a blender, add a brilliant crowd and quite possibly the best unbelievable deal with the devil ending, and you have the main event of the best wrestling PPV in history. Just wonderful. There’s no point me even trying to describe it, just watch the promo above and then watch the match. This is one match that even non-wrestling fans can appreciate. It was the pinnacle of the sport, and as negative as it sounds, it’ll never be matched. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it’s just that this is Pro Wrestling’s pinnacle.

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