There comes a time in every wrestling noder's life when he takes some time to take a step back from his normal tasks and tickles his own fancy for a moment.  Stop laughing, you perverts.

Anyway, I decided to take six hours of the cream of the crop, the Kings of Workrate, the Immortal Battles, the best damn North American matches (and two Japanese matches to spice things up) of the last two decades, put them all on the same tape and see how the hell they stacked up.

These are, in my humble opinion, the best of the best.  I put together this tape in early 1999, so stuff I might have included from the past few years (the TLC series, Cactus vs. HHH) isn't there.

A few outstanding promos, interviews, and other segments are included as well where I had some dead air.

Match Numero Uno: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat for the NWA World Title, WrestleWar '89.  Might as well start out with in style, right?  This is widely considered the best North American match ever, period.  Three judges are present (Lou Thesz, Pat O'Connor, and Terry Funk) to judge the winner in case of a tie.  A fair and unpartial judgement, of course, unlike in boxing. :)  I've heard a whole lot of people describe this a a perfect match, but I disagree.  In fact, one thing bothers me about this match so much that I don't give it five stars: Flair is on the ring apron at one point.  Ricky Steamboat hits a dropkick on him, sending him crashing to the floor.  I use "hits" loosely, because he obviously misses and Flair sells it anyway.  Maybe I'm just jaded because I was expecting the match to be that good, but the fact that the dropkick didn't even make contact in a contest applauded otherwise for its incredible stiffness (among other reasons) really detracted from the match for me.  Don't get me wrong...besides that small flaw, it's artistry at its finest--but it's still a flaw.  Oh, by the way, Flair wins and Terry Funk goes nuts and beats him up after the match.   ****3/4

Match Two: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match, IYH: Badd Blood.  Shawn actually had the WWF European Championship here, but I'm nearly positive it was non-title.  This match has some of the best psychology I've ever seen, as Shawn Michaels gets his ass kicked eight ways from Wednesday, keeps making comebacks only by running like a little pansy and resorting to illegal tactics, and personally wets himself whenever Undertaker shrugs off moves that would put away just about everyone else.  Undertaker, to his credit, sucks less than usual too.  The ending is just as historically remarkable as the match itself, as Kane makes his first-ever appearance, rips the door off the cage, tombstones 'Taker, and drapes a bloody and lifeless Shawn Michaels over him for the win.  *****

Match Three: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart in an "I Quit" match, Wrestlemania 13.  This was the match that MADE Austin's career, as both men were in their prime, uninjured, and ready to go above and beyond for a Wrestlemania.  You can see the subtle differences in how Austin moves here, before the neck injury he suffered at SummerSlam '97 at the hands of Owen Hart.  This is probably the most famous and well-executed double turn in wrestling history, as Austin ends up as a tough son of a BITCH that would rather pass out and lose rather than submit--even hurt and bleeding buckets--to the Sharpshooter.  Bret finishes his decent into total dickhood by assaulting Austin's leg with a chair after the match.  *****

PROMO: "Vince McMahon's Utopia" segment from Over the Edge '98: Quite possibly the best Pay-Per-View promo ever.

INTERVIEW: Cactus Jack's "I'M HARDCORE!" ECW Interview:  Absolutely hilarious...has to be heard to be believed.

INTERVIEW: Austin's Post-Match interview at King Of The Ring 1996: This is where Stone Cold Steve Austin coined his Austin 3:16 catchphrase.

SEGMENT: The ECW Chair Throwing Incident: Just generally hilarious.  The ring is filled with over 200 chairs thrown in by fans, with two wrestlers buried underneath.

Match Four: "The Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, Wrestlemania III If you've never heard of this match or the feud building up for it...well...there's no hope for ya. Until Steamboat topped himself in his classic match with Ric Flair at WrestleWar '89, this was considered the greatest match of all time. Mark, smart, smark, whatever, it doesn't matter This match just rules. No stips, no 60 minute slobberknockers, just 15 minutes of the quickest, stiffest, all-around best wrestling you will ever see. And, just to top it all off, the heat is just as powerful here as the work is. The standing ovation when Steamboat FINALLY, after months of following Savage around the country in rage, becomes the NEEEEWWWWWWWW Intercontinental Champion is unlike anything I've ever heard before. It's just about the only thing I actually remember about the damn card from when I first saw it way back in 1987. THAT was the advantage of having champs STAY champs for years on end...the blowoffs were absolutely monumental. I won't bother to do play-by-play (do I ever?), which is available tons of other places. The end comes when Savage picks Steamboat up for a bodyslam, but Steamboat grabs the leg and cradles Savage --> pin to become the new WWF Intercontinental Champion.  *****

Match Five: "Flyin'" Brian Pillman vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger for the WCW Light Heavyweight Title, Superbrawl II.  This match was straight out of '95 Japan, and considering it's '92 WCW that's really saying something.  Considered one of the three best Pay-Per-View opening matches in wrestling history.  The thing that I personally like best out of this match is the fact that Liger couldn't speak a damn word of English and was thusly never given mic time, and he was STILL getting a great crowd reaction on sheer ability alone.  So much for your theory, Vince Russo.  Pillman regains the title here, and they do the Babyface Embrace after the match like only good workers after a hard-fought battle can.  ****3/4

Match Six: Jeff Jarrett vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, In Your House 2.  I really, really liked this match at the time, but when I watched it again now...nothing.  I donno, maybe it was just the aura of Michaels winning the title from complete-dick Jarrett.  It's good, but really slow compared to everything else on this tape.  Michaels regains the title due to interference from the Roadie (who you probably know as Road Dogg), finally waking the crowd up.   ****1/4

Match Seven: Marty Janetty vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, RAW is WAR '93.  It has always amazed me how the WWF could pair up Janetty and Michaels anytime, anywhere, and it would somehow turn into a ***+ matchup with great heat.  It happened here, it happened earlier that same year during their match at the Royal Rumble, and it happened three FULL YEARS later during the '96 Rumble itself.  Anyway, Michaels made the DUMB IDIOT mistake of offering an open challenge to his IC belt, and who should take him up on it but Janetty himself.  A great match follows, with Mr. Perfect appearing and preventing Total Pussy Shawn Michaels from running away.  Perfect ends up throwing a HAND TOWEL OF MASS DESTRUCTION~! at Michaels, which stuns him long enough to get rolled up by Janetty and lose the title.  I really hate that the WWF didn't have enough confidence in Janetty to put him over Michaels cleanly, but I'll live.   *****

Match Eight: Chris "God" Jericho vs. Chris "God" Benoit, Super J-Cup '95.  This was the first Japan match I'd ever seen, and I'll be damned if it didn't get me hooked.  On the relative Japanese scale it might only be ****1/2, but for North America it's an easy perfect five.  Add to that the fact that the crowd is red-hot, and this is an instant classic.  It also made Jericho's career, as he would vault soon after to ECW and then WCW.  *****

Match Nine: Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Gran Naniwa vs. Terry Boy, Dick Togo, and Taka Michinoku, Barely Legal '96: ECW might not be known for great technical wrestling, but they can sure deliver when they want to! They imported these MPro superstars for the very first ECW Pay-Per-View, Barely Legal, and even the tough ECW crowd is awed by them.  It's a shame they went almost straight back to Japan right afterwards (Heyman couldn't hold on to them because of legal problems), but Taka and Funaki did get signed by the World Wrestling Federation a year later.   ****3/4

Match Ten: Cactus Jack vs. Terry Funk, Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, King of the Deathmatch (Japan): The match stipulations pretty much say it all. Add in the fact that Cactus and Funk are two of the craziest guys in the business, and you get one of the bloodiest matches you'll find anywhere.  Cactus wins after the ring explodes with Funk inside it.  If you look at Mick Foley's arm even today, you still can see the permanent scarring caused by the fire in this match.  *****

Match Eleven: Chris Benoit vs. Great Sasuke, Super J-Cup '94 (Finals): This match pits Chris Benoit, arguably the best wrestler in North America, against the Great Sasuke, arguably the greatest wrestler in Japan. Add to this the fact that it's the finals of a Super J-Cup, and you've got history.   A 45-minute classic that has absolutely no flaws that I can find.  Benoit wins the J-Cup after a gut-wrencher superplex for the pin.  All the tournament participants come into the ring to congratulate Benoit after the match.  Simply stunning, and a fitting end to the greatest wrestling card ever.  *****

Match Twelve: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, Wrestlemania X: Put two brothers from one of the most famous wrestling families in the ring together and give them 30 minutes together, and this happens.  Wow.  Thirty brutal minutes of taunting, mind games, and psychology.  And, best of all, Owen got the upset win--which no one expected.   Bret would go on to win the WWF Championship later in the night, though, so it all evens out.  *****

Match Thirteen: "The Macho King" Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior in a Retirement Match, Wrestlemania VIIUltimate Warrior's best match, ever.  Warrior has custom tights and kneepads for the event with airbrushed sketches of Savage and himself on them.  Funny moment as after Warrior tries everything in his arsenal (That's right!  All three moves he knows!) and nothing works, he starts talking to his hands and looking up to the sky asking, "WHY???"  The crowd is ultra-hot for the entire match, too.  Savage eventually loses this match and is forced to retire, but reunites with Elizabeth after the match and turns babyface in one of the most emotional moments in wrestling.   It would lead to the two being married (only in the storyline--the two had actually been married for years) at SummerSlam.  ****1/2

Match Fourteen: Mankind vs. Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match, King of the Ring '98 Truth is, it's not the best piece of workrate in the world.  It didn't have the best psychology, it was awkward, and it was extremely gloomy because everyone really did think that Foley was practically dead.  But the fact remains, it was voted Match of the Year, it got Foley over with the fans (though not in the way anyone expected), and it has some of the most wicked and dangerous bumps you'll ever see.  Foley first gets thrown off the top of the cage and falls fifteen through the announcing table.  Then, after refusing to be carried out on a stretcher, he continues the match and gets chokeslammed THROUGH the top of the cage, landing on the ring fifteen feet below.  Then, just to prove he really IS insane, he continues, wrestles for another 20 minutes, and only gets pinned after getting chokeslammed through thousands of thumbtacks.  **

Match Fifteen: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan in a "Falls Count Anywhere" match, Great American Bash '96: This was one of the first ever "Falls Count Anywhere" match. Combine the novel concept with Chris Benoit's ability to get just about ANYTHING to work, and a terrific match is the result.  The storyline here was that Nancy Sullivan, Kevin's wife, was cheating on him with Benoit.  In real life, Nancy Sullivan, Kevin's wife, was cheating on him...with Benoit.  I don't know if Kevin knew at the time, but the match sure is even more entertaining to watch knowing what was going on behind the scenes.  This was the first match to include many of the spots that have long since become cliched, most notably fighting in the arena bathroom.  "HEAD FIRST TO THE COMMODE!" indeed.   ****1/2

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