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  • Writer's pictureHunter Howe Cates

The 30 Best WWE Matches of All Time



Originally published on Wrestling, Inc. on Dec. 3, 2022


Any "best of" list is bound to stir up opinions; this one is no different. Before you get out your pitchforks (or perhaps we should say "steel chairs"?), here's our criteria. First, it has to be a great match, not just a great spectacle. So Hogan vs. Andre at WrestleMania III and Undertaker vs. Mankind at King of the Ring 1998 are out. If the match would still be a classic with the sound off, it makes the cut. Second, the match must have historical significance, so no Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero from Vengeance 2003 and the like. Dave Meltzer may give these matches all the stars, but we're looking for matches that stand the test of time.




Third, there must be a conclusive winner(s), so Shawn Michaels vs. Mankind from Mind Games 1996 and Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle from SummerSlam 2001 are out. This one hurts, but tough choices must be made. Finally, there are no NXT matches (we can hear you throwing your laptops now). Yes, NXT has produced some of the best matches of the past decade, but it has always been positioned as a developmental promotion for the main roster, thus we chose not to include it and focus entirely on the main roster product. Trust us, putting this list together was tough, and there are bound to be omissions, but these matches truly are the "best of the best," and belong on any all-time list.




30. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XII




When you put on a bout between two of the best wrestlers from their era, or any era, you're bound to get one of the greatest matches of all time. That's the case here. Truthfully, on paper Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart should have been a top five "best ever." Alas, while this match does hold up, it is also hampered by its stipulation. In an hour-long Iron Man match, both Michaels and Hart infamously refused to take the first fall. Had the match featured actual falls throughout, or better yet, not been booked as an Iron Man match, but simply a singles match that happened to go the full Broadway, plus overtime, it'd be higher.




So while Michaels vs. Hart at WrestleMania XII isn't perfect, it belongs on this list for its unprecedented display of pure athleticism and emotional storytelling. Michaels and Hart made their match feel real, as real as any boxing match or MMA fight. Watching these two work at that level for 60-plus minutes is an impressive display today, and was practically unheard of (in the WWE) then. Michaels refusing to tap to the Sharpshooter as the clock ticked down is still suspenseful, while his out-of-nowhere Sweet Chin Music and post-match celebration always makes the historical highlight reels. Both would have better bouts against others, but for two of the greatest, this was their best ever against each other.




29. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family - Elimination Chamber 2014




Pro wrestling fans chanting "this is awesome!" has become every bit as boilerplate as shouting "What?" during a promo. That was not the case in 2014. When fans chanted "this is awesome," it was awesome. And one of the most famous examples from this era wasn't a highspot or a 2.75-second nearfall, but a simple staredown between two of the most famous factions ever, The Shield and The Wyatt Family on "Monday Night Raw." Sometimes the best feuds are the ones you didn't know you wanted until they actually happen, and this was 100% the case here. The crowd was red hot for this feud.




While fans can oftentimes get overhyped for a match and disappointed in the results, The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014 over delivered even the wildest expectations. The match worked because it highlighted the characteristics that would shoot the competitors to the main event: Dean Ambrose's chaotic frenzy, Seth Rollins and the late Brodie Lee's (Luke Harper) ring general workrate, and Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns' WrestleMania main event-level starpower. Every wrestler knew his future depended on this match and each brought it in a big way. While The Wyatts won, every wrestler emerged a superstar, and that's the definition of a classic.




28. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan - SummerSlam 2013




Things don't always go according to plan in pro wrestling. Case in point, Daniel Bryan's 18-second World Championship loss as a heel to Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII resulted in one of the greatest face runs of all time ... for Bryan, that is. The fans turned Bryan babyface in a big way, and a year and a half later he was back competing for the big belt. While his "Yes!" chant helped make him the biggest babyface on the planet, it was the other biggest babyface on the planet, WWE Champion John Cena, who picked him as his challenger for the main event of SummerSlam 2013.




The match was a clash of styles, but in a good way. Bryan, the world-class technical pro wrestler who also had star power vs. Cena, the natural-born sports entertainer who'd blossomed into one of the best big match workers in the business. The match told a simple but compelling story about two driven men competing to be the best. But on that night, only one man could. Cena put Bryan over clean as a sheet, succumbing to the "Yes Kick," kicking off Bryan's short-lived (almost literally three minutes) title reign. But while the reign was short, the match stands the test of time.




27. Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins - Hell In A Cell 2022




Is it a little premature to declare Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins from Hell In A Cell 2022 an all-time classic? Absolutely not. Consider this: the Hell In A Cell match was once the ultimate stipulation. Scarier than a ladder, more dangerous than a cage, and more vicious than a street fight, the Hell In A Cell was a match where wrestlers who hated each other could finally settle their score, at risk to their lives. And then themed PPVs happened. Throughout the 2010s, the HIAC went from being a battleground where only blood feuds ended to "just another match" where any feud began. Due to overexposure, "the Devil's playground" became basic.




The Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins' blood feud brought the bout back to its former glory in an unforgettable way. There's no doubt that part of the match's power is cringe-watching Rhodes wrestle with a completely torn pectoral muscle, his solid purple chest ultimate proof of just how much he wanted to defeat Rollins. At a time when pro wrestling in general, and WWE specifically, had lost the raw authenticity that makes the business "beautiful" (in its own absurd and grotesque way), Rhodes vs. Rollins felt real.




26. Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit - Monday Night Raw




In 2001, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Triple H were running roughshod over the WWE as the "Two-Man Power Trip," basically an evil version of the Mega Powers. They had toppled The Brothers of Destruction, Undertaker and Kane, to win the tag team championship and appeared unstoppable. But then the most unlikely of challenges appeared in the form of Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. While the "Canadian Chrises" were universally acknowledged as among the world's best workers, they were still viewed as mid-carders at the time. That changed on May 21, 2001, when the duo challenged Austin and Triple H for the belts on "Monday Night Raw."




Triple H was at his in-ring peak, Austin's heel run revitalized his work (though hurt business), while Jericho and Benoit were hungry to prove they belonged at the top. While the match is a clinic, it's most remembered for Triple H's gut check-performance, finishing the bout as planned despite tearing his quad. While he'd still have great matches, this injury ended his legendary 2000-2001 run, when he seemingly couldn't have a bad match. But what better way to go out than one of the greatest tag team matches in WWE history, and the greatest "Monday Night Raw" match, period?




25. Royal Rumble 2010




The Royal Rumble is the easiest match to book, but the hardest match to book well. At its worst, it's just a battle royal stretched out for 60 minutes, with a bunch of random guys punching each other, while the audience impatiently counts down the next entrant. At its best, the Rumble is one cohesive story made up of several smaller stories that not only manages to entertain fans for more than an hour, but also elevate all 30 men involved. The Royal Rumble in 2010 is definitely in the latter category.




The match has it all — from CM Punk's early match domination, to one of Kofi Kingston's most creative survival attempts, to Triple H's shocking elimination by his best friend, Shawn Michaels, to massive amounts of star power (Cena, Batista, Jericho), to a shocking return and subsequent victory that nobody predicted (Edge). There's more, but that's the beauty of this match. While Edge would prevail, all 29 men and one woman (Beth Phoenix) got over. But the biggest winners would be the fans.




24. Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan - Wrestlemania 30




The best matches always have an element of truth to them. But Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H at WrestleMania XXX had more than just an element of truth to it – Bryan's quest to reclaim the title stolen from him against the Authority's wishes was pretty much how it went down. While Bryan was the world's best wrestler since Day 1, his character work elevated him to WrestleMania main event-level status, especially his super sticky "Yes!" chant. Yet Vince McMahon had other plans in 2014, specifically an ill-conceived bout between former Evolution teammates Randy Orton and Dave Batista. Yawn.




Fans revolted and rather than have his WrestleMania main event hijacked, McMahon relented and set up Bryan for the big bout ... but first he had to go through Triple H, the face of The Authority. Fans were rabid for this match, creating an absolutely electric environment. The fact it was against Triple H (whose "Reign of Terror" in 2003 was still fresh in fan's minds) made it that much more tense. In the end, Bryan prevailed, defeating Triple H in what one of the best opening matches in WrestleMania history, and Triple H's last great match before retiring in 2022.




23. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - Survivor Series 1996




There's never been a better example of how to make a star than the Bret Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin feud from 1996 to 1997. And not just because it created was the biggest draw of all time, but because of the story it told and especially the matches it produced. Hart had come back from an extended absence to work with who he felt was the WWE's best wrestler, before regaining his title from Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 13 (yeah, so much for that). Who was Bret's handpicked opponent? Steve Austin.




It's easy to forget, but Austin was once one of the world's best workers. Put him against The Excellence of Execution and you get one of the top 30 matches in WWE history. While this match would be far overshadowed by their WrestleMania 13 bloodbath, their Survivor Series 1996 showdown remains one of the finest examples of in-ring storytelling you'll ever see. Both men were in full command of their craft and characters, telling a story of a hero trying to win the right way and a vicious psycho who'd do anything to win. It'd be the psycho who became the babyface, but that's the Attitude Era for you.




22. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - Wrestlemania XXVI




How do you possibly top one of the greatest matches of all time, The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels match at WrestleMania 25? You don't, but The Deadman and The Heartbreak Kid certainly gave it a darn good try at WrestleMania XXVI, resulting in one of the best matches in WWE history. The storyline went that Michaels was willing to do anything to get his rematch against Undertaker, including eliminating his best friend Triple H from the Royal Rumble and costing Undertaker the title at Elimination Chamber. 'Taker finally granted Michaels his wish, but for a price — HBK's career.




Thus the much-anticipated rematch became a Career vs. Streak match, as both men had everything to lose. That nerve-wracking tension ran throughout the match, which kept the thousands fans in attendance, and the millions watching around the world, on the edge of their seats. Ultimately, the match ended the only way it could — with Michaels' final defeat following two Tombstones. Still, Michaels went down swinging (literally slapping 'Taker), but lost the match and his career, in an emotional finale for one of the greatest in-ring workers ever. The fact he came back for that sweet Saudi payday in 2018 doesn't take away from the finality, or the greatness, of this match.




21. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar - WrestleMania XIX




Kurt Angle was on another level in the early 2000s, reaching the absolute peak of his character work and in-ring abilities, resulting in a feral intensity and storytelling prowess matched by few wrestlers before or since. Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar truly was "The Next Big Thing," being put in the main event on a WrestleMania card featuring Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. It was a lot to put on Brock's massive shoulders, but he was up to the task. And you couldn't ask for a better opponent than Angle.




Billed as a battle between the two best pure athletes in WWE history, the match felt appropriately Olympics-esque (by way of Vince McMahon's pro wrestling circus, of course), with both guys mixing mat wrestling with devastating suplexes. While Angle entered the match needing neck surgery, it was Lesnar who left the match injured, following his infamous botched shooting star press. The fact he missed it keeps this match out of the top 20, but there's no denying few WrestleMania main events aimed higher and absolutely nailed the landing.




20. The Undertaker vs. Triple H - WrestleMania XXVIII




Your opinions of The Undertaker vs. Triple H's Hell In A Cell match at WrestleMania XVIII may vary. Some feel it was an overlong and indulgent display on the part of all three performers (especially Shawn Michaels as the anxiety-ridden ref). We disagree, and believe this match delivered exactly what it promised –- The End of an Era. Okay, so Undertaker and Triple H would lock up again, but this match felt like the culmination of the Attitude Era and the blood feud that bound two of its biggest stars for more than a decade. It also pitted the two men most associated with the HIAC match in a final battle within that demonic structure, which even got its own entrance music, "Memory Remains" by Metallica. Yeah, it was pretty metal.




Undertaker and Triple H felt less like a wrestling bout, and more like Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi Wan Kenobi at the end of "Star Wars: Episode III –- Revenge of the Sith." The only thing missing was John Williams' score, though the rapid Miami crowd more than made up for it. Despite several heart-stopping near-falls, Undertaker's streak continued. In the ultimate show of respect, the Deadman and the Heartbreak Kid held up The Game as they left the stadium, battered, beaten and bloodied. Matches don't come much more epic than this, and for that reason it is one of the best WWE matches ever.




19. Ric Flair vs. Macho Man Randy Savage - WrestleMania VIII




In an era dominated by massive personalities, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair and "Macho Man" Randy Savage were not only two of the biggest superstars, they were also two of the best workers in the world. While both guys could play heel or face perfectly, Naitch was at his best as the bad guy, while Savage was the good guy you loved to root for, especially when he's fighting for the honor of his valet (and real-life wife) Miss Elizabeth.




While Savage vs. Flair for the WWE Championship would be enough of a draw for most fans, this was McMahon Land after all, so the two were also feuding over Flair's less-than-gentlemanly treatment of Miss Elizabeth, who Flair "dated" before Savage ("She was mine before she was yours!"). It was over-the-top and cartoony in the best way, and resulted in a bout that ended with a bloody Flair getting rolled up by Savage for the 1-2-3. While Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Vicious would close the show, Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage stole the show, showcasing two of the best ever at the top of their game




18. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H - No Way Out 2001




Triple H was in the midst of his 2000-2001 run as the WWE's resident big bad, when he seemed physically incapable of having a bad match. Meanwhile, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had just returned from career-threatening neck surgery and looked to prove to everyone that he was still "The Guy" in WWE. The two collided at No Way Out 2001, on the road to WrestleMania, in the finale of a blood feud that felt as big as any WrestleMania main event. And trust us, feuds don't come much bloodier than this.




The gimmick was clever, a Three Stages of Hell match, a modified 2 out of 3 Falls match. The first fall was a regular one-on-one match, the second fall was a Street Fight, and the third fall was a steel cage match. While gimmick matches can be used to disguise weak selling and bad storytelling, that was not the case here. You could truly feel that Austin and Triple H hated each other, and were both willing to stop just short of murder to win the match. Thankfully, it didn't come to that, but it did end with both men — bloody, battered, beaten — collapsing into a heap, with Triple H landing on Austin in a twist of fate. Triple H picked up the "W," but both men emerged changed forever. And that's how you know you've told a powerful story.




17. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit - WrestleMania XX




Fans weren't too pleased when Shawn Michaels was shoe-horned into the main event of WrestleMania XX, turning a World Championship bout between Triple H and Chris Benoit into the first triple threat main event in WrestleMania history. Welp, fans certainly swallowed their words a month later when the three put on one of the greatest WrestleMania main events ever — and the best triple threat match of all time. The challenge with triple threat matches is they frequently become contrived, as one guy has to sell a move by staying out of the ring for several minutes at a time, while the other two fight. Wash-rinse-repeat.




This match was so brilliant because it was non-stop, wall-to-wall action that still took time for selling and storytelling. From Triple H holding Michaels' hand to keep him from tapping to Benoit's crossface, to the former DX best friends turned bitter enemies teaming up to take down Benoit so they could settle their own issues. The match ended with one of the greatest conclusions in WrestleMania history, as Triple H tapped out to Chris Benoit, followed by the emotional Benoit celebrating his first (and only) World title win beside his best friend, Eddie Guerrero. We must acknowledge that Benoit's heinous actions in 2007 puts a huge black cloud on this match, but taken in isolation this is truly one of the greatest WWE matches in history.




16. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - WrestleMania 21




WrestleMania 21 ended with John Cena as the new WWE Champion and Batista as the new World Champion, setting the stage for the next generation of WWE superstars. However, the event was stolen by two veteran wrestlers — Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. Well, one veteran, as technically Kurt Angle had debuted only five years earlier, but by then had already established himself as one of the best ever. And Shawn Michaels? Well, he probably was the best ever. Put them together and you get more stars than the Milky Way galaxy.




By 2005, Angle had abandoned his dweeby heel persona for a bloodthirsty, one-man wrecking crew willing to do anything to win. Meanwhile, Michaels had supplemented the multifaceted, in-ring abilities that made him great in the 1990s, with the superb pacing and storytelling that comes from experience. The back-and-forth bout ended with the plucky, ever-resilient Michaels failing in his comeback and succumbing to Angle's vicious ankle lock. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle found two of the best, at their best, in a battle to see who was best. Simple as that.




15. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar - Summerslam 2013




Brock Lesnar and CM Punk are two of the greatest "Paul Heyman Guys," both in real life and in storyline terms. However, something's gotta give, and Heyman betrayed "The Best In The World" for "The Beast Incarnate," instantly creating a main event-level feud for SummerSlam 2013. While CM Punk was wrestling some of the best matches of his career, Lesnar was in a bit of a rut, having lost to John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 (in an awesome match that was this close to making our cut), and going 2-1 in a poorly received feud with part-timer Triple H.




The mini-CM Punk feud gave Lesnar his mojo back, even if it spelled the beginning of the end of Punk's WWE run. But whatever followed, we'll always have this match, an expertly paced, old school brawl that had both guys emerge even bigger stars. Brock was once again a monster (which his streak-ending victory over The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX would cement), while even in defeat, CM Punk was again a beloved babyface. This match, and the standing ovation that followed, would be CM Punk's last great moment in WWE.




14. Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero - No Way Out 2004




"David vs. Goliath" is one of the most popular storylines for a reason: it works. And it has rarely ever worked better than Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar at No Way Out in 2004. Eddie Guerrero was the industry veteran who was in the midst of one of the greatest comebacks in pro wrestling history, after conquering his personal demons and the perception he was "just a cruiserweight." Brock Lesnar was the most successful rookie of all time, a 6'3, 290 lbs. solid block of Midwestern muscle mass that looked like he was summoned to life from Vince McMahon's dreams.




The two collided on the Road To WrestleMania in a match that highlighted not only their "types" (high-flyer vs. power wrestler), but also the little things that made them two of the best ever. Namely, Guerrero's nuanced character work, which elevated everyone around him, and Lesnar's selling, which managed to make him look vulnerable, even when wrestling a man half his size. The match didn't lie to fans — Guerrero couldn't beat Lesnar. Not fairly. So he lied, cheated, and stole, with Lesnar succumbing to Goldberg's spear, a belt shot to the head, and a Frog Splash, before finally going down for the 1-2-3. What followed was the most emotional post-match celebration ever, as the late, great Eddie Guerrero basked in the much-deserved glow for his first, and only, WWE Championship victory.




13. The Dudley Boys vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian - WrestleMania X-Seven




Picking our favorite ladder match involving The Dudley Boys, The Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian is like picking the best Beatles album. All are masterpieces, but with careful consideration the choice is clear — Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and TLC II at WrestleMania X-Seven. Due to the influence of indie wrestling and ECW, pro wrestling was dominated by more high spots and less selling in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a trend many argue continues to this day. What made TLC II so excellent is it is a painstakingly — and let's be honest, painful — assembly of jaw-dropping moments that coalesce into a single story.




Namely, each man's willingness to do anything to win. The high spots (and there are many) aren't just there to pop the crowd. Each one makes sense in the context of the match. For example, the most famous spot, when Edge speared a dangling Jeff Hardy from a ladder. This wasn't just a stunt, it made sense because Hardy had the belts, was 10 feet in the air, and spearing him was the only way for Edge to save the match. There's more, but the fact remains that these three teams managed to turn what in lesser hands would be a "garbage match" into a work of art that would impress even old-school purists.




12. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XIX




Shawn Michaels, before his 1998 injury, was one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. Shawn Michaels after his 2002 return is arguably the greatest in-ring performer ever. One of the reasons was his match at WrestleMania XIX against another G.O.A.T. contender, Chris Jericho. To be sure, Michaels' return match against Triple H at SummerSlam 2002 is a Top 50 contender, but was aided by the "Non-Sanctioned" gimmick. His bout with Jericho was "just" a match. No gimmicks. No weapons. Nothing to fall back on but both men's raw talent. Good thing both of them had a lot of it.




It's a match that would feel fresh in any era, with a simple story about an egomaniac (Jericho) trying to break out of his hero's shadow, while that same hero (Michaels) wants to prove he's still got it. Even in defeat, Jericho stayed strong, as he lost to a simple roll-up, as the wily Michaels capitalized on Jericho's arrogance. And then, to top it off, Jericho emerged an even bigger heel, hugging Michaels as a ruse to kick him in the junk. Only in pro wrestling is a groin shot a thing of beauty.




11. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack - Royal Rumble 2000




Triple H was a multi-time champion by the end of the millennium, but still wasn't connecting with fans at a main event level. The shift began with his on-screen marriage to Stephanie McMahon and her subsequent turn to the dark side, betraying her father and forming the McMahon-Helmsley Faction. This angle got him over, but he was still a sniveling heel of the Edge or Seth Rollins variety, not the cold-blooded killer, a la Jake Roberts, WWE needed as a foe for The Rock. Enter Mick Foley. Or should we say, Cactus Jack.




For Triple H's Royal Rumble opponent, WWE turned Cactus Jack into a mythic figure — less a flesh-and-blood man than violence personified. Speaking of "flesh and blood," a lot of it was spilled in Madison Square Garden, as Triple H and Cactus Jack battled in the greatest Street Fight of all time. This wasn't just a mindless gore fest. It was a 20 minute masterpiece of mayhem, telling a story about how Triple H had to reach new levels of evil in order to defeat the Hardcore Legend. Truly great matches don't just get stars, they create them. And Triple H emerged from this match changed forever, while Mick Foley put a blood-soaked exclamation point on his extraordinary career. Anyone who says Foley was just a "gloried stunt guy" needs to watch this match to see what an exceptional storyteller he could be.




10. Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog - SummerSlam 1992




It has been said a great wrestler can make a broomstick look good. Perhaps there's no greater example in WWE history than Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992. No, Davey Boy Smith wasn't a broomstick, but he was a power wrestler who was at his best when getting the hot tag, while his tag team partner, "The Dynamite Kid" Tom Billington, did the work. But this wasn't a tag team match. It was the main event of the second-biggest PPV of 1992 in front of more than 80,000 of Smith's fellow Brits at Wembley Stadium. Good thing Smith was in there with his brother-in-law, Bret Hart. Hart had his work cut out for him.




Smith was "high as a kite" on the plane flight, so fearing disaster, Hart meticulously prepped the match and had Smith recite it back to him. But within a few minutes of the bell ringing, Smith was blown up, so Bret basically had to wrestle himself. The fact Hart not only salvaged the match, but produced an all-time classic that made both men look like stars, is a testament to his brilliance. Smith's victory blew the roof of the building, but Hart was the real hero here. Bret Hart had better matches, but they were against better opponents. His performance here proved he truly was "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be."




9. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart - WrestleMania X




Wrestlemania X ended with Bret Hart as new WWE Champion celebrating on his friends' shoulders while the New York crowd roared in approval. It was an all-time moment in his career, but given Bret Hart's love of pro wrestling, we bet he preferred what happened earlier in the show: his match versus his brother Owen Hart. The story was simple, as the envious younger brother Owen wanted to break out of the shadow of his older brother Bret, who by that point was already a former WWE Champion and WrestleMania main eventer.




But while the story was simple, the match was complex, as the two Hart brothers -– both graduates of their father Stu Hart's famous basement "dungeon" -– put on a pro wrestling clinic. In the end, Bret underestimated his baby brother and lost to a rollup. Sadly, Owen's life would end in tragedy just a few years later, while Bret's historic first WWE run would end in controversy. But on this night, the Hart brothers stood tall: Bret for winning the title, Owen for beating his brother, and both for putting on the greatest opening match in WrestleMania — and WWE — history.




8. Royal Rumble 1992




The Royal Rumble concept is Pat Patterson's masterpiece. Royal Rumble 1992 is Ric Flair's. Or at least, his WWE masterpiece. Despite being a multi-time NWA/WCW champ, with multiple hour-long classics under his belt, Flair wasn't connecting at a main event-level with the WWE fans. This was before the internet, so it's likely that many regional fans weren't familiar with Flair. And WWE's younger fanbase, who grew up with WWE's larger-than-life giants, was underwhelmed by the 43-year old claiming to be "the real champ." That all changed at Royal Rumble 1992.




The Nature Boy entered at #3 and, despite having at least 10 years on most of his opponents, wrestled at full speed for more than an hour without ever needing to take a breath. He wasn't napping in the corner either (looking at you, Roman Reigns), but carried the match. While Flair was the highlight, all 29 other guys delivered the goods. In the end though, it was Flair who emerged the winner and consequently the champion. There are many contenders for "Top 5" Rumbles (2001, 2004, 2010), but 30 years later there's really only one number one: 1992. Woooooooo!




7. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - Badd Blood 1997




Shawn Michaels was the cowardly heel who had managed to escape Undertaker's clutches. The Dead Man was the former champion who wanted vengeance against Michaels for costing him the title at SummerSlam. Undertaker would get his chance at Badd Blood 1997 in the first-ever Hell In A Cell match. The gimmick matched the storyline, as WWE put a roof on the cage so that Michaels couldn't escape. But the gimmick earned its reputation as "The Devil's Playground" due to what went down in this match (and to be fair, the infamous Undertaker-Mankind match at King of the Ring 1998).




While the idea was to keep both guys in the cage, a cameraman got "injured" and needed treatment, allowing Michaels to escape. Undertaker would not be denied, as he continued his assault on Michaels on top of the cage, even knocking The Heartbreak Kid off the structure, in what was at that point the biggest bump in WWE history. Undertaker had a bloodied Michaels beaten until the lights went black, chilling organ music began, and out of the flames emerged Undertaker's long-lost brother, Kane. The Big Red Machine tombstoned The Dead Man, while a broken-down Michaels crawled over Undertaker to steal the win. From start to finish it was brilliant storytelling. Not only did it feature the greatest debut of all time, but the first Hell In A Cell match remains the greatest Hell In A Cell match.




6. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky The Dragon Steamboat - WrestleMania III




To truly appreciate "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat's Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania III, you have to watch the card in its entirety. While WrestleMania III is one of the greatest WrestleManias ever, it relies largely on pure pageantry and feels very much from its era (there was even a six-man tag match featuring Hillbilly Jim and four little people). The 1987 WWE fanbase had been conditioned to watching 6'5 giants with outlandish gimmicks take turns punching each other, with the biggest move being a bodyslam. Savage and Steamboat wrestled in a fast-paced, athletic classic that never slowed down for even a second during its entire 15-minute runtime.




After the match, you halfway expected Michael J. Fox to show up like in "Back To The Future" and say: "I guess you guys aren't ready for that. But your kids are going to love it." Except fans were ready for it, like hard rock lovers listening to Nirvana for the first time after a decade of hair metal. Steamboat vs. Savage was way ahead of its time and for fans of pure pro wrestling still holds up to this day. Not because the guys were doing "movez" or no-selling high spots, but because they told a story. So while Hogan vs. Andre gave WrestleMania III its spectacle, it was Savage vs. Steamboat that made it special.




5. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - WrestleMania X-Seven




"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock is one of the greatest feuds in WWE history because it featured one-half of the proverbial "Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling." While their feud had no shortage of great moments, their undisputed masterpiece was the main event at WrestleMania X-Seven. Both guys were at their peak, both in terms of star power and workrate (yes, Austin's peak as a technical wrestler was in 1997, but as a brawler he was never better than in 2001). Yet what made this match special wasn't the spectacle, but the storytelling.




You truly believed Steve Austin would do anything to beat The Rock. In the end, he did the unthinkable — align with his arch-enemy, Vince McMahon. It was a bold, risky move this match earned and was absolutely brilliant from a creative standpoint. Alas, from a business standpoint, it killed the Attitude Era. But really, where could it go from here? This wasn't just the end of the Attitude Era; it was its peak. Not only was Steve Austin vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X-Seven one of the "biggest" main events in WrestleMania history (right up there with Hogan vs. Andre), but it was also the best WrestleMania main event.




4. John Cena vs. CM Punk - Money In The Bank 2011




Two generational stars. A deafening crowd. A red-hot angle. A technical classic. Any of the above can make a match one of the best ever. Put all of them together and you get John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Money In The Bank 2011. This match was iconic before the bell even rang, because on a deeper level it represented two schools of pro wrestling. In John Cena, you had the larger-than-life, musclebound, clean-cut babyface favored by Vince McMahon and mainstream "sports entertainment" fans; and in CM Punk you had the tattooed, flip off the system, indie wrestler beloved by a large segment of the fans. These same fans felt ignored by the WWE for decades and poured their frustrations into CM Punk, who carried their dreams on his shoulders like he was delivering a GTS.




Nowhere was this more true than in Punk's hometown of Chicago, which featured a crowd loud enough to register on the Richter scale. Seriously, the Chi-Town crowd was so hot that Cena and Punk could've slapped each other like King Kong Bundy vs. Hercules Hernandez, circa 1986, and the fans still would've popped. Instead, they put on a clinic that to this day still keeps you on the edge of your seat, even with the sound off. John Cena vs. CM Punk is not only the best match of either man's careers or even the best match of the 2010s.




3. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania X




On any other event, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart would've stolen the show. But this wasn't any other event; it was WrestleMania X and the "match of the night" belonged to Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match. We'll be the first to admit that the ladder match has been done to death in the three decades since WrestleMania X, but that wasn't the case in 1993. The fans in Madison Square Garden, and mainstream wrestling fans in general, had never seen anything like this. But this match is among the greatest not just because it was fresh for the time, but because it still works to this day.






The match feels real — at least as real as a fight between two guys forced to climb a ladder — as both guys used the ladder as a weapon to win, not as a prop to pop the crowd. Unlike the countless spot-fest ladder matches that followed in its wake, this match stole the show because it wasn't trying to steal the show; it was trying to tell the story of a high-flying prima-donna and a wily brawler being thrown into unfamiliar territory and being forced to improvise in order to win.




2. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania 25




You can teach pro wrestling moves. You can teach selling. But you can't teach chemistry; you either have it or don't. It's chemistry that turns great matches into all-time masterpieces. Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. Steve Austin and Bret Hart. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Some dudes just "click" and that certainly applies to Mark Calaway and Michael Hickenbottom, better known by their respective ring names of The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. The Dead Man is debatably the greatest big man ever. Shawn Michaels is arguably the greatest in-ring performer ever, period. Their bouts are the greatest "David vs. Goliath" matches ever, and their feud is the only one that features three matches among WWE's 30 greatest ever.



So what makes their bout at WrestleMania 25 the greatest? Like jazz music or a delicious dish, you can't quite put your finger on it, you just know it. That said, we think it boils down to two all-time greats being in absolute command of their characters, their craft, and the crowd. Every near-fall is suspenseful. Every high-spot is purposeful. Every minute is momentous. What makes it even more impressive is there were no gimmicks (HIAC or Casket) and no stakes (like HBK's career), besides of course, Undertaker defending his streak and the pride of victory. If you know someone who doesn't "get" pro wrestling, show them this match. If they still don't get it, pro wrestling isn't for them.








What more can be said about Bret Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's submission match at Wrestlemania 13? The greatest double-turn ever. The most brutal brawl of all. The best example of an established star elevating a new star. A showcase for the greatest pro wrestler and the biggest superstar ever. It's all of the above and so much more. What's even more remarkable is that it was billed as a submission match with one guy who didn't have one (Austin), a recipe for disaster. Instead, it turned into a brutal, "No DQ" brawl between two technical wrestlers putting on a violent, bloody masterpiece.






Yes, it's easy to forget Austin was once one of the world's greatest technical wrestlers, but this match (and his neck injury later that year at SummerSlam) transformed his style and the "WWE style" for the next decade, making this arguably the most influential match ever. It also featured an ending every bit as iconic as Hogan slamming Andre, with Austin's screaming in pain, his face a bloody mess, yet refusing to submit to Hart's Sharpshooter. Hart won, but emerged a villain. Austin lost, but became a hero. Both guys came out bigger stars then they were before. No matter how many stars other matches have gotten before and since, Bret Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin remains Hart's best, Austin's best, the greatest WrestleMania bout ever, and the best WWE match of all time.




Read More: https://www.wrestlinginc.com/1124447/the-best-wwe-matches-of-all-time/?utm_campaign=clip

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