Well, folks, today is my 21st birthday, and I can’t help but reminisce about how much I’ve been through and how much my wrestling fandom has grown. First and foremost, I want to say thanks to all of you for your good wishes and thank you for making me feel welcome here at eWrestlingnews. It has been the honor of a lifetime to provide writing content for this site for three years running, and I’m looking forward to more of the same. To celebrate, I figure I’d compile a list of my 21 favorite matches in WWE history. It’s all a matter of opinion, so I’m sure your list will probably be different than mine, but maybe you’ll find some similarities here and there. This will be strictly WWE (not including NXT) simply because that’s what I’ve been most exposed to, but I’ll provide some extras from other promotions in the comments. I’ve also taken the liberty of posting links so you can watch it at your own leisure. With that said, let’s get started.
21. Triple H (C) vs. Cactus Jack – No Way Out 2000 – WWF Championship (Hell In A Cell)
Mick Foley was the superstar to really put Triple H onto the main event scene starting in the summer of 1999, and since that time Triple H essentially dominated the WWE for the next year. This match, however, is what I believed made Triple H a true superstar. Going inside Satan’s structure with a guy that had been brutally battered in previous affairs with the likes of the Undertaker made Triple H earn his main event stripes. This was also a “retirement match” and it wasn’t completely obvious who was winning until the ref counted to three, which added an extra element of unpredictability that I appreciated.
20. Edge and Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle – No Mercy 2002
This one’s a throwback as for the longest time I considered this the best straight up two on two tag team match. These were the type of matches that made Smackdown destroy RAW in the weekly ratings. Edge, Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit were competing to see who would become the first Tag Team Champions in a new tournament exclusive for the Smackdown division, and the intensity of this match lived up to what the stakes were. Both teams had incredible chemistry not only with each other but with their opponent. The best thing about this match is that I’m able to watch it over and over and not feel tired of it. It feels fresh every single time and I love it.
19. Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin – RAW 5/3/05
Probably not going to make anyone else’s list, but I had such an infatuation with Benjamin back in the day, and while this match is really remembered more for Shawn Michaels absolutely knocking out Shelton Benjamin with his best Sweet Chin Music to date, Shelton also showed that he was game for extended ring time. Benjamin was really nothing more than a mid-carder for his WWE career and will be no more than that, but he was one hell of a performer in his prime, and I wanted to show him some love here.
18. Edge vs. Eddie Guererro – Smackdown 9/26/02 (No Disqualification)
I had to fit in an Eddie match in here, and while there were a plethora of matches to choose from, this match always seems to have a special place within me. What I loved about this match was that these two weren’t afraid to take risks, and while this would be the beginning of Edge’s prolonged neck issues that shortened his career, it also showed just how far they were willing to go to entertain. In addition, this was Smackdown at its apex from 2002 to around 2004. Quality television with even higher quality matches.
17. Edge vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian – WrestleMania 21 (Money In The Bank)
The concept of Money In The Bank at WrestleMania was an ingenious move suggested by Chris Jericho, with the winner obtaining a contract for one world title match at any time of the winner’s choosing. TO this day, I firmly believe that no match has topped the original. Shelton Benjamin was the show-stealing performer of the match, with him using the ladder with such creativity the likes of which I haven’t seen before. Also, this guy’s athleticism at his peak was really something to behold. The styles of the other competitors worked well and everybody was able to get a decent amount of offense in before Edge took advantage of Chris Benoit’s state and won the first ever match that remains the standard-bearer of what Money In The Bank means.
2002 was a solid year for the WWE, and one of the crowning achievements for them was the introduction of the Elimination Match in 2002 that featured six of RAW’s top stars with the World Heavyweight Championship up for grabs. Of course, everyone expected it was going to somehow come down to Shawn Michaels and Triple H, and in a match that saw Rob Van Dam crush Triple H’s throat and a number of brutal spots with the steel, Shawn Michaels came out on top to win his final World Championship at MSG.
The most recent entry out of this long list, I absolutely loved the creativity of this match. The New Day and The Usos had an incredible rivalry this year that perfectly culminated inside Hell In A Cell, and I was left literally speechless at the ingenuity and brutality that they displayed. The countless callbacks to spots from previous matches and all of the bitter feelings that they had towards each other for months on end were displayed here. There wasn’t one minute where my heart wasn’t pumping here, and these two teams had what I believed to be one of the greatest HIAC matches in the history of the stipulation.
14. The Shield vs. Kane, Ryback, and Daniel Bryan – TLC 2012 (3 on 3 TLC Tag Team Match)
The Shield made a name for themselves at the Survivor Series in 2012 and made an even bigger name for themselves with their first match as a unit here at TLC 2012. Three of NXT’s standouts were given their first major test as a unit against three established stars in the industry, and it was going to be in the first ever six-man TLC tag team match. The teamwork the young unit in black displayed here was marvelous and the tag team champions along with Ryback were the perfect trio to put them over in the fashion that they did. What was most impressive was that despite being a heel faction, The Shield never really used any underhanded tactics. They just used incredible teamwork to give themselves the numbers advantage in the match a lot. Sure enough, they would come out victorious and would soon leave a path of destruction in their wake.