Jamie Lithgow, Benjamin Trecroci and Craig Wilson
There are many wrestling events that it is often difficult to explain why they are so special to you. Whether it was the first tape you bought or even the first show you attended, there are some shows you rate higher than most people do. In today’s Top Five we take a look at some of those underrated wrestling PPVs.
5. WWF King of The Ring 1993: Does it still hold up today? That’s debatable, but I think it does. At the time I loved this show because tournaments in the WWF were really rare and it was built up as a really big deal. There is some silly nonsense on this show too, as was usually the case in the early 90’s, but the actual King of The Ring tournament is really good, even if you just follow The Hitman through it. He wrestled three matches which were each different yet still entertaining. Not bad for a guy with just five moves.
4. WWF Halloween Havoc 1996: I’m a sucker for this, as a youngster I always loved WCW’s Halloween themed shows. 1997 boasts the best match from WCW’s October show with Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero in an absolute classic, but I’d argue that the 1996 offering is the better show. Rey still wrestles the best match of the night, this time against Dean Malenko. However, there is added extra from the ’96 card in the form of Chris Jericho vs. Syxx, Arn Anderson making Lex Luger look amazing and Harlem Heat wrestled a good match with The Outsiders before Hall and Nash lost their motivation half way through 1997. Even the main event of Hollywood Hogan vs. Macho Man is entertaining in its own way. There’s also a big angle moving forward too. This was quite a productive show from WCW.
3. WWF Survivor Series 1992: This is my show! The first wrestling video I ever bought with the pocket money I had saved up for ages. I made the right choice too. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Title in the main event of the Survivor Series was such a good idea they did it twice. As good as that match was though, my mind goes straight towards the heat for Ric Flair and Razor Ramon vs. Macho Man and Mr Perfect bout. This was probably one of the best examples of a wrestling company scrambling at the last minute and managing to knock it out of the park. As big a mark for the Ultimate Warrior as I was, I did not miss him in this match. The rest of the card is pretty cool from a historical point of view too. The first casket (or coffin) match, Yokozuna’s first PPV appearance and Owen Hart wearing parachute pants.
2. WWF Backlash 1999: The final ‘In Your House’ branded pay per view was my first, having gotten back into wrestling just after Wrestlemania 15 the previous month. At the time, I just loved everything about this PPV and the WWF in general due to it being new and fresh to me. In hindsight, Backlash was the show Wrestlemania should have been, in booking and execution. The card is similar to ‘Mania with any differences generally being improvements. The main event pitting The Rock against Steve Austin being the prime example of this.
1. WWF Survivor Series 1995: In contrast to much of the WWF’s output in 1995, this show was pretty good. The Darkside vs. The Royals isn’t the best elimination tag match you will ever see, but everything else is worth a look. The women’s match, in particular, is a hidden gem; it’s easily the second best match on this card and debatably in the company’s top 10 for the whole year. The main event, as it really should be, is the best match on this show and is probably Diesel’s best outing as WWF Champion. It will come as no surprise to learn that his opponent was Bret Hart.
5. WCW Road Wild 1997: Know a lot of people hate these shows, but the spectacle itself is something I always liked them. This was coming off of Lex Luger’s title win over Hogan on Nitro just six days earlier. So Luger is the champ here. Steiners and Outsiders continued their feud. DDP faced the newly debuted Curt Henning in a decent match. Ric Flair and Syxx had a random feud during this time but it seemed like a shoot as they were getting really personal. Hogan and Lex put on a solid event, wasn’t sure if Hogan was going to win but figured he would.
4. WWE Backlash 2001: Personally a fun one for me as I was in attendance for this show at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. The crowd was red hot from beginning to end. Of course, this show will forever be remembered as the PPV Shane McMahon did a Leap of Faith off the Titantron onto The Big Show in an absolutely insane spectacle! Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle put another one of their clinics in a thirty-minute submission match. Matt Hardy, Eddie Guerrero and Christian put on a real good show for the European Championship. Then the main event was all four championships on the line as The Two-Man Power Trip (Austin and Triple H) took on Kane and Undertaker. I’m still a huge fan of Austin’s heel run and it was really cool seeing Trips and Austin walk out with all the belts.
3. WWF: In Your House 13: Final Four 1997: This was the show with The Fatal Four Way leading into Wrestlemania 13 with HBK, Steve Austin, Vader and Undertaker. That match was absolutely on fire and still holds up to this day and was a precursor to the Attitude Era. Also this one of the first marquee matches between all-time rivals Triple H and The Rock. Always liked the combination of them in the ring and they had a real nice match this night. The undercard wasn’t the best but the tag-team championship was good between Owen and British Bulldog vs. Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon.
2. WWF King of the Ring 1993: This is a such an important show in the overall world of wrestling for two reasons; the last Hulk Hogan appearance in a PPV in this era until his return in 2002 and Bret Hart’s leap into superstardom. The tournament itself was good as Bret wrestled three matches against Razor Ramon, Mr. Perfect and Bam Bam Bigelow in the final. Then Hogan’s match vs. Yokuzuna was just weird because it felt like Hogan was out of place at this time as we wasn’t around much. The crowd popped pretty heavy when Yoku got the pin with the help of the exploding camera. Good show.
1. WCW Fall Brawl 1997: One of those shows that I remember “listening” to on scrambled cable and thought it sounded great. Then after finally watching it was just as good. The NWO had a weird group with Nash, Konnan, Buff and Syxx but it worked for them took on The Four Horsemen (Benoit, Flair, Mongo, Henning) in a War Games Match. This was right after the infamous NWO skit ripping on Arn’s retirement and his “spot” in the Horsemen. Henning would turn on the Horsemen in a brutal attack on Flair, smashing his head in the cage door. Eddie Guerrero and Jericho had a real good match. A cool show that still holds up.
5. WCW Wrestle War 1991: Quite rightly, the 1992 edition of this show, particularly its main event, gets plenty of plaudits. It’s no wonder, the Dangerous Alliance vs. Sting’s Squadron is a remarkable match and the last ever NWA/WCW match that the Wrestling Observer gave five stars to. Although, as is fairly well documented on this blog, I was never the biggest WCW fan, I did have this show on tape. Even now, I still get some enjoyment out of this show’s main event. Sure, it features the infamous bump which Brian Pillman took at the hands of Sid Vicious but ahead of that, we had a pretty exciting tag team War Games bout pitting Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious and Larry Zbyszko against Sting, Brian Pillman, and the Steiners. There’s also a typically brutal and hard-hitting, albeit short, match between Vader and Stan Hansen that’s like nothing you saw in American wrestling in 1991.
4. WWF Survivor Series 1995: Another that I had on tape as a kid, I loved this show – in a year hardly littered with WWF highlights. From Mr. Perfect’s commentary through to the wildcard match via a strong women’s elimination tag and the opening bout featuring lower card talents with nothing to lose. A lot of events in 1995 felt fat or packed full of nonsensical booking. This had the air of a show where everyone gave it all with much, if not nearly all, of the silliness, stripped away. The result? A very strong show with something for everyone. FYI: they followed this show up with one that featured a hog pen match… But, yeah, check this fun show out. No real long-term significance but still…
3. WWE Vengeance 2003: If they skipped out the silly Vince/Stephanie McMahon stuff, including the terrible match with Zach Gowen, this would be more widely talked about. The opening 20-minute bout between Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit is, as you’d expect, outstanding, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas also had a fantastic 15-minute clash with Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman over the tag titles. Then there was the main event, a triple threat main event, pitting WWE Champion Brock Lesnar against Kurt Angle and the Big Show that is a ten out of ten classic match. Oh, and some relatively new guy called John Cena takes on The Undertaker.
2. WWE Payback 2013: One of the most recent additions in this Top Five. 2013 isn’t a year in the WWE that really gets all that much love at all but this show was ace. Packed full of a really strong line-up. We got CM Punk vs Jericho, a very nice AJ Lee bout with Kaitlyn, a match between Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler where the latter made the former look like a million dollars, The Shield vs Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan. Hell, even Ryback vs John Cena was very good. One of those nights where the WWE gave us a sow featuring top names and everything clicked into place.
1. WWE Backlash 2000: What a hell of a show this was. In fact, the same really goes for the 1999 instalment. Although both came after that year’s WrestleMania, both were far better shows than the one that grabbed all the headlines. But it’s the 2000 one I’m featuring here. This delivered in a lot of ways that WrestleMania 2000 failed to. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit was fantastic as was The Rock vs. Triple H. Oh, and we got the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin. All in all, not too bad at all. And the criminally underrated Scotty Too Hotty vs Dean Malenko match. It’s the show that straight away jumped into my head when Jamie proposed this Top Five. After getting back into the WWE in 1999, when we got Sky installed, the two Backlash shows are two of the best things I saw in the first few years.
You can read all previous ‘Top Five’ pieces here.