This is part 1 of my favorite WWE matches. This list obviously also includes WWF matches. Remember, this is only my opinion. It doesn’t mean that you’re not entitled to yours. The odds of us agreeing on every single match is slim to none, so please take that into account.
My Top 20 WWE Matches Of All Time (20-10):
20. Raw 1997: Davey Boy Smith vs. Owen Hart —
Hart and Smith shows some top-notch athleticism that WWF fans were not used to at the time. This had swift back-and-forth action along with great pacing and timing. Most importantly, there was reason behind each individual spot. They were not doing spots for the sake of doing them, as you might see in a typical independent match. If this match had longevity or more importance, it would be ranked much higher.
19. Survivor Series 1996, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin —
This was different than their famous “I Quit” bout, though it was awesome nonetheless. This scientifically sound match built to the finish and transitioned at each turn. It should be noted that Steve Austin called most of this match, proving Hart trusted him enough to lay out this entire match. Pre-neck injury, Austin could mechanically wrestle with some of the best.
18. Summerslam 1994, WWF Championship: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart —
This is the best cage match that had the escaping rule in effect. The teases and false finishes were well done and greatly timed. There were so many times where the match looked like it was going to end before it finally did. These two had great chemistry, and it was on full display here.
17. Wrestlemania 7, Career Match: Ultimate Warrior vs. Macho Man Randy Savage —
Savage carried Warrior to not only his greatest match but also one of the best matches ever. Savage played to Warrior’s strengths by doing a great job of dictating the pace as well as setting up Warrior’s hope spots and comebacks. I used to believe matches that were called on the fly came off more natural, though Savage proved that a match could be mapped out in advance and come off equally organic. It is a credit to Savage’s imagination that he could see everything playing out exactly when he was designing this match. The match had one of the most historic and emotional moments in wrestling history when Savage and Elizabeth reunited. The entire post-match segment was so well booked with Savage teasing and selling it perfectly. It made up for a rather lackluster finish to the contest.
16. Mind Games 1996, WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels vs. Mick Foley —
This match proved that Mick Foley was more than a glorified stuntman. He went move-for-move, hold-for-hold, and toe-for-toe with HBK for half an hour. Some wrestlers have a tough time selling consistently, lacking the ability to tell a compelling story surrounding an injury. Foley, however, sold TWO body parts at the same time and weaved a great narrative in which he had to adapt to those injuries. Both played their roles and strengths, and the only thing that marred this match was the botched finish. Otherwise, it is was perfect.
15. Canadian Stampede 1997, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, Brian Pillman & Jim Neidhart vs. Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock, Goldust & the Legion of Doom —
This is one of the greatest booked multi-man matches ever. It had nuclear heat, and it was well structured, especially for a match that had so many wrestlers in it. The mixture of intensity and psychology made this an outstanding match, though the pure emotion radiating from the crowd elevated it to an unprecedented classic.
14. Summerslam 2000, TLC I: Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz —
All the workers in this busted their ass to get this match over. In the process, they got each other even more over. These three teams refurbished WWE’s tag division and ergo transformed a once lacking tag division into one of the best. Surely, they raised the bar every time they wrestled. This had bell-to-bell action with no downtime. It was innovative; it told a great story; and instead of having contrived spots, it instead had countless “Holy Shit” moments. As the bodies piled up, the intensity continued to rise…all the way to the crescendo.
13. No Way Out 2002, Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle vs. Edge & Rey —
Both Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle were the greatest “strange bedfellows” tag team. Once again, they put their differences aside here and had one of the greatest tag matches in WWE history. They all wrestled each other differently, bringing an incredible level of psychology into the match. Quite awesomely, the wrestlers were three steps ahead of everyone watching. Just when you assumed that they were going in one direction, they would go into a different direction. They built their reversals and counters based on their clichéd spots and made this into a match that had so many twists and turns. A creative, action-packed match.
12. Raw 2001, Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit —
This is best non-gimmick tag match in WWE and incredibly underrated. This should have been on PPV. If it had been, it would receive more of the recognition it deserves. The four used every trick conceivable to keep the babyface in peril on an island away from his partner, preventing him from making a “hot tag.” They did so much to build up the tag that the crowd exploded when Jericho finally tagged in Benoit. The work rate was awesome, as the wrestlers were able to read the crowd’s reaction, identify the boiling point, and then make the tag as the crowd was at its fieriest. This was exceptionally hectic, as the action spilled out all over the announce table.
11. Wrestlemania 26, Streak vs. Career: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels —
This was one of the most emotional rollercoaster rides since HBK’s match against Ric Flair, though work rate was much better in this. The Streak seemed indestructible, yet both wrestlers did an fine job in building the idea that HBK had a chance of winning. This was accomplished through A-1 selling, not only moves, but the entire match as a whole. It took the fans on an eventful journey that they did not want to end, especially due to the fact they did not want either man to lose. Slowly, Shawn Michael’s entire career was flashing before us (which enforced the fans rally behind him). Most of us did not think he was going to win, though we did not want to believe he was going to lose. This had all the other the usual elements a terrific match has: psychology, storytelling, timing, in-ring characterizations, and so forth. Even in his last match, HBK was able to steal the show. How many wrestlers can say that?