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The Nitro strategy

Hey Scott,

Given that watching Raw now resembles the most painful form of medieval water torture - would WWE benefit from trying the early Nitro (95-96) approach? I always seem to recall it being an hour and a bit of blistering Guerrero, Malenko, Benoit, Jericho matches, and then a snooze-fest involving Hogan. But it worked.

Throw Ziggler, The Usos, Harper, Kingston, Kidd, Cesaro, Zayn, Neville etc out there to have those good rasslin' match things that Vince doesnt understand, and then we can all watch something else for the final hour where Cena says poop and Ambrose plays with a mannequin?

best wishes,

Gareth

​I think the most basic issue is that Vince is turning into Verne Gagne and Bill Watts and all the other people he destroyed in the 80s:  The out of touch wrestling booker who won't change or pay attention to new trends and just needs to go away and be a executive or whatever.  ​

Comments

  1. MaffewOfBotchamaniaOctober 25, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    I second Bret v. Shawn Iron Man match. Bret's refusal to sell HBK's arm-work and the utter lack of decent story-telling between two men who should have knocked it out of the park make it 'just a match' for me.


    Five-star backstage feud though.

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  2. Hogan-Flair at Bash at the Beach and Halloween Havoc in '94. Both **** matches but I can't stand how Flair was essentially squashed, twice.

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  3. Ironman match for me as well. It gets downright boring after a while, whereas the 55+ minute Flair-Steamboat match at Clash VI had my attention the entire time.

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  4. Any of Benoit's great matches. Yes, they're great, but...you know. Another is the Mankind vs Rock match from Royal Rumble 99. I loved it at the time, but knowing what we do now about chairshots and concussions it's just too much.

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  5. I wouldn't say I "hated it", but the Michaels-Undertaker rematch at Wrestlemania 26 left me wanting, since there was no way they could top the WM 25 classic.

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  6. MaffewOfBotchamaniaOctober 25, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Definitely agreed. Not to sound cunty, but it felt they were trying too hard and as a result it didn't work as well.

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  7. Gareth?
    Cute story.
    Gareth Cutestory?
    Maritime lawyer?

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  8. For me, Iron Man Match. I acknowledge it's a good wrestling match, but I don't enjoy watching it.

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  9. It's amazing Mick hasn't killed anyone yet with all the concussions he's suffered. It just sort of turned him into an ultra annoying shell of himself.

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  10. For me, it's the Canadian Stampede 10 man tag. I find the "Put the crowd on mute" argument stupid though. The crowd made it a special, unforgettable event, but the match itself wasn't THAT good, and it ended with a distraction/roll up finish to close out a PPV. So really, nothing at all was settled, it was a filler match to set up SummerSlam.

    But that crowd though. Hell yeah I'd watch it again.

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  11. Extant1979 Most Must-See BoDerOctober 25, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    I don't know what you guys are talking about, I LOVE the Bret-Shawn Iron Man match. Whenever I can't sleep, I throw that on and I'm out about halfway through.

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  12. Matches that are still awesome but were dampened by Horrible Commentary:


    HBK/Undertaker @ Wrestlemania 26: I think if JR calls this match instead of Cole, it is remembered a lot more fondly. There are a ton of little things that go completely unmentioned by commentary that JR would have been all over. The feud really started when Shawn admits he "came up a little short" against the Undertaker. He missed every moonsault he went for in the first Match, with the last one leading to the finish. He tries AGAIN in the rematch and gets tomb-stoned AGAIN, this time on the floor. Shawn FINALLY hits it through a table, nearly breaking UT's Injured leg, and it is completely missed by the Commentary team in favor of Cole's hollow as hell "The Streak is Over!" call that he does for every match. Taker was almost RUNNING away from Shawn after the table spot as Shawn was urgently trying to get him back into the ring, the crowd was buzzing like crazy, and JR would have sold that moment with a Hall of Fame level performance. 25 and 26 were both great matches, but 26 had the better story that the commentators failed to acknowledge, IMO.


    Its really part of WWE's problem with telling stories in general: They can seemingly only tell one story at a time. They relied on the stakes of the match to tell the story, and ignored the story being told by the action. The angle was Streak vs Career. The story of the match was Shawn's quest to finally hit the move he thought cost him the match a year earlier. When he does it and still can't win, he pretty much resigns himself to defeat at the hands of the better man. He finally got the answer to the question which had plagued him with doubt for the past 12 months, and as he said, if he can't beat the Undertaker, he has no career.

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  13. I probably have watched the Bret/Shawn Ironman match maybe twice in my life and while it's a good match, I have little desire to watch it again, however, Rock/HHH Ironman from 2000 is very entertaining and despite the screwy ending, I'll watch that every single time.

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  14. Any of the Flair/Steamboat trilogy. Hate is too strong a word, I just have no interest in every watching them again.

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  15. im not a fan of the japanese matches alot of you gush over. Great workrate and all, but idk its not for me.

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  16. Just break up the booking, excuse me the writing team up into different categories. Main Eventers,Mid-Card,Divas,Tag-Teams, have quarterly writing summits where you invite some actual wrestling minds like Paul Heyman,Dusty Rhodes and any number of road agents and legends to throw some ideas on a whiteboard and to go over any plans the regular writing team has come up with. I won't even try to imagine a day when Vince & Stephanie ever rid themselves of their soap opera dropout writing team so this is my compromised solution.


    How hard would that be? Hell nowadays there's not even angles for at least half the active tv roster, that number grows to 2/3 when you take into account all the people on staff who barely make tv to begin with.


    Shake things up, what is there to lose?

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  17. steamboat has always been too vanilla for me (character wise), but with that said the trilogy is amazing!

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  18. Interesting opinion....


    I actually think those trilogy matches actually hold up well today and tell good stories over the 3 match series, I can't hate on these matches.

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  19. AJ Styles vs. Paul London at ROH's Night of the Grudges. I hate, hate, hate, HATE the finish.

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  20. I have no problem with people liking them ,and I understand why they do. Just, to me, they're not something I would never go out of my way to watch.

    But then, i'd rather watch Flair talk than wrestle.

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  21. I second this. Especially their 2/3 falls match. Part of it may be that I did not grow up on NWA/WcW style so Flair has never been a favorite of mine.

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  22. And I probably think a lot of the Japanese matches you don't find interesting to be some of the greatest wrestling ever.

    Apples, oranges, etc.

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  23. Wow, you sure when on a long rant due to the announcers missing ONE minor detail in a 30 minute match. I'm not saying you don't have a point about the little detail, but it didn't mean they did a bad job commentating either.

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  24. Here's what I think could be an interesting question. Steamboat's face character is closely similar to John Cena's face character today, totally squeaky clean face. Yet back then, you didn't get half the crowd booing Steamboat like they boo Cena today. I know part of it was that it was a different point in time and white bread faces were more popular back in the day, but is there anything fundamentally different between the two?

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  25. Gunther the Nasty LoserOctober 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Whatever your opinion is, it's wrong.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!

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  26. I get the Steamboat/Savage thing. It's a great match because of the angle and the pacing, but it is a little anti-climactic to blow off a major feud with a small package. To its credit though, it did make sense that Savage was the one who wanted to make it personal and Steamboat took the thing that mattered most to him (arguably more than Elizabeth) by keeping his cool and outmaneuvering him.

    I think Steamboat's over-reliance on flash pins is a strike against his work. The guy never developed a real finisher. He had the Cross Body, but every babyface uses that move and it never finished his big matches, not even when he did it from the top of the cage. Steamboat is basically Bret Hart if Hart had never adopted the Sharp Shooter.

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  27. Stranger in the AlpsOctober 25, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    So for the third week in a row, the Network adds three more RAW episodes. 10/9/95, 10/16/95 and 10/23/95 have all been added to the In Ring > RAW Replays section of the vault. I guess this will be the pace they will be added at.

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  28. Will WWE use the Nitro strategy?!

    TUNE IN TO NITRO TO FIND OUT!!

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  29. Then again other than his World title reign, Steamboat was never the focal point of any promotion.

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  30. While the OP has a good point about this, I think it even comes down more to how you prefer the announcers to sell the match......I don't even know how much of a choice Michael Cole has to call the action, but with any action today, little intra match stories are never referred to, and it's sad because it's a really easy way to get fans into the actual action. Why can't one time they mention "Wrestler X lost to Wrestler Y because of Z, but he learned from that last time, and did A to counter that and win".....but I guess that's not telling stories.

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  31. Gunther the Nasty LoserOctober 25, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    Reading the comments here gave me the image of a "Men on Films" type critique, where one of them goes on about all the good qualities while subtly mentioning something nitpicky, then stopping and both of them are like "Hated it!"

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  32. Any time HHH and HBK were in the ring together, even their 2002 street fight, can't watch it.

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  33. Gunther the Nasty LoserOctober 25, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Out of touch?

    WE HAVE A BULL THAT TWERKS, MAGGLE!

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  34. "Throw Ziggler, The Usos, Harper, Kingston, Kidd, Cesaro, Zayn,
    Neville etc out there to have those good rasslin' match things that
    Vince doesnt understand, and then we can all watch something else for
    the final hour where Cena says poop and Ambrose plays with a mannequin?"

    In all seriousness, isn't that what is already happening? Isn't all this "50/50 booking, no direction midcard" stuff that I hear pretty much those guys going out there and having matches?

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  35. Dave gave Lesnar-Cena at Summerslam 4.25 stars (I don't think Scott rated it as highly), so that one: incredibly boring to watch a Scott Steiner-suplex machine, far too long, and (even ignoring how badly WWE's booked it since) what story could you tell coming out of it?

    Yes, the guy who beats Lesnar at 'Mania would look great, but who could realistically challenge for the title over the next eight months considering he just squashed the (/kayfabe) best/strongest wrestler for the past decade? Why not give him the title closer to 'Mania (even at the Rumble, which needs a buyrate boost just about as much as Summerslam)? By going so many months without a (new/realistic) challenger, Lesnar doesn't look "unbeatable." I know Mike Tyson proved for a while that people would PPV just for a quick KO, but (a) Brock didn't do that and (b) wrestling is FAKE so you can tell a (good) story. The problem is that the good story coming out of it IS Rocky III: the hero (Cena) avenges his defeat, and people would (understandably) complain that the guy who broke the Streak didn't need to be fed to Cena. If the argument was that Brock = $ (undermined by WWE reportedly redoing his deal and THEN deciding he wasn't worth the extra money), would people who weren't subbed already really pay to see Big Show or Cesaro or Rusev vs. Lesnar? Maybe, MAYBE if you told a perfect story, but WWE creative is not in a position to do so.

    And then look at what has actually happened so far: little (if any) Brock presence, with even Heyman disappearing for a few weeks. No explanation of the 30-day rule (which passed). The lousy run-in finish of NoC (if you don't want to book a finish, don't book the rematch so quickly) with Rollins' attempt to explain it at least earnest. Cena selling the injuries for 1 freaking week. Then, the #1 contender (at some future date) being between the guy who lost a POLE match and the consolation prize who has been utterly neutered (the pending face turn does NOT make the last year worthwhile for Orton), announced just the week before the PPV without building it up as the former champ who was screwed out of his rematch clause and a former champ who never got his one-on-one rematch.

    To quote the future babyface and potential challenger to Lesnar: "stupid. stupid, stupid!"

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  36. I totally agree with you, that's the only odd thing about that Wrestlemania III match, having a small package end a blood feud, doesn't quite make sense.


    I didn't necessarily mind him not using a finisher, he's the "wrestler's wrestler" who uses wrestling skill to beat his opponents, but perhaps he should've had some special finisher to use when he's "really" pissed off.

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  37. Yep, agreed. Unless we go with "Taking the title from him was revenge enough". But was it really? The guy almost ended his career.

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  38. Flair/Vader jumps to mind. I didn't even think it was particularly good.

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  39. I think so. The main event stable gets promo time to set up the night, midcarders trade wins in good matches, some dumb shit, and then whatever the main event match/angle is.

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  40. Such a weird and awkward finish too.

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  41. True good point, I wonder if:


    a) Could Cena learn anything from Steamboat's face character which could help him today?
    b) Would Steamboat be in the same boat (hahaha) as Cena today as far as modern crowd reactions?

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  42. "The Nitro strategy" was really to have a bunch of differnt stuff to appeal to a wide variety of viewers: tag teams, Cruiserweights, the nWo, the Horsemen, Goldberg... distinctly different acts instead of a bland hemoginized product.

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  43. that's what I find intriguing. Raw seems to have 4 to 5 matches per week that are 3 stars of higher, and it's still apparently unwatchable. I get that they are interchangeable and filler matches, but aren't good matches on free TV still a good thing, and better than "Water torture"?

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  44. Steamboat isn't really a guy I'd worry about kicking my ass though. Just not his style.

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  45. As a fan of the Japanese matches, I think that's totally reasonable. Not everyone's going to like the same stuff. But at least you gave it a shot...and it doesn't matter how long. Maybe 30 seconds into it you were like, "nope, not for me."


    I just get a little worn down by people who don't even try anything non-WWE and then complain about the WWE endlessly. If they don't like it, why not try something else?

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  46. Flair doesn't do much for me. I liked the Savage match at Wrestlemania, but his Steamboat classics didn't do much for me.

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  47. I still love Savage/Warrior from Mania 7; i just can't watch it without getting depressed, because everyone involved is dead.

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  48. Would he pee in the river?

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  49. Bret v Owen in the cage at ss. Two of my favorite performers but always thought that match was totally boring. Seems most people love it but never saw the appeal personally

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  50. Same for me for a lot of lucha/X division/cruiserweight stuff. Back when it first came out, I was like "wow this is awesome", but today looking back on a lot of that stuff, it seems WAY too contrived.

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  51. I know I'm in the minority but I prefer the 26 match over 25.

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  52. Savage and Steamboat is mine too

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  53. I dislike almost all "escape rules" cage matches. 2 guys have a blood feud, and they needed to settle it once and for all? Let's book a match where the guy who runs away is the winner!!!

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  54. And Owen wasn't even trying to avoid a match with Bret, he wanted the title shot.

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  55. It's not outright bad. Raw is just stagnant, pointless and frustrating.

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  56. I'm not a huge fan of HBK vs UT WrestleMania matches. I loved the buildup but I had no doubt that UT was going over so I had a hard time buying the near-falls. I think Brock vs Angle at WM 19 is overrated too.

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  57. Not a fan of any of the Bret/Diesel matches

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  58. I've always thought that anything Flair related was a bit overrated, but that's probably just because I didn't grow up as an NWA kid.

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  59. I see a lot of people mention Flair, which is fair (tm Bobby Heenan), if you didn't grow up on the NWA/WCW. I was mostly a WWF kid when I watched wrestling back then, but I did catch Saturday night when we got cable. Flair (imo) did a great job (at least in the 12 year old me), making it seem like EVERYONE had a chance to beat him if the right conditions were there and the Horsemen didn't get involved. He'd have a random match with Marcus Alexander Bagwell, and I actually thought that Bagwell had a chance to beat him at a point during the match. To me that was his biggest strength and made his matches interesting is that the other guy looked like a MAJOR threat in his matches.

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  60. >I was 12 and a huge Ricky Steamboat fan when the throat belling occurred. I wanted REVENGE. I wanted Savage to be bloodied and battered; to be stretchered out, never to be seen again. Anything less would be a disappointment.


    For someone who was following at the time, it's surprising that you didn't get the story of the match

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  61. Steamboat tried to make it a blood feud but he kept getting DQed. He knew he had to out wrestle Savage to win

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  62. It was political. AJ couldn't job.

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  63. I was thinking the same thing. It was too sloppy.

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  64. The WWF DID run a Steamboat-out-for-bloody revenge match...in Toronto, in February. And Steamboat was so intent on anger and revenge that he lost focus and Savage was able to steal a victory. The WM3 match actually fit the story as it went, full circle.

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  65. I had no idea this happened. Was it on TV?

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  66. Main event of WM20 now for me. What was such a great moment now forever tarnished. I don't even have a desire to ever watch that show again honestly.

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  67. Steamboat didn't go out trying to be a comedian, for one thing. His squareness was sort of part of his charm, at least until the "Family Man vs. Flair" stuff overdid it. But at the same time, you didn't have commentators and other wrestlers shitting on him for being square, either.

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  68. John Cena seems more like Hulk Hogan than Ricky Steamboat. Hogan was more of a superhero type while Steamboat was more the everyman who stood up to his tormentors and fought back. Cena's character is more the superhero rather than the everyman.

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  69. Yea, that's what I've been trying to tell people. Steamboat knew he couldn't go crazy and try to kill Savage. Plus, aside from Elizabeth, he valued the title more than anything

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  70. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I remember being in near tears at the end, as Eddie and Benoit had been my favorite wrestlers since I discovered WCW as a kid and here they were at the top finally. Now it's just fucking eerie and sad.

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  71. I was at the show and nearly blacked out at the end. The superkick when Benoit had him in the sharpshooter was not nice.

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  72. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    For once, I'm 100% in agreement with you. I hate escape rules with a passion. One would think the point of the cage is to keep two guys in a cage so no one can run away, and all they do is most of those matches is run away.

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  73. Ok makes much more sense now, I didn't become a wrestling fan until 88-89 so I've only seen the Wrestlemania match and not anything in between.

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  74. THIS. I think most of the faces in WWE would be much better received if they didn't have them try and be comedians. Even ambrose is starting to lose appeal thanks to the writing team trying comedy with him. They ruin appeal

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  75. That's a fair point, and Hogan is probably closer as a comparison to Steamboat, although neither no-sold their opponents like Cena does today (whether it's by edict from Vince McMahon or not).

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  76. Even as a teen I "got" that the reason they had the escape-the-cage version was so in case Hulk Hogan lost, he didn't really lose because he hadn't been pinned (Hogan being the first one I ever saw in the big blue cage matches). Except he never lost any of the damn things so I was like WTF? (The Orndorff "tie" being the closest.) There's a question for the BoD: When & where were the blue cages first used? I honestly don't know myself.

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  77. Exactly. Eddie's death and later Benoit's just turned me away from wrestling for many years. Its just too painful to watch now.

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  78. I have sour memories of the Shawn vs. Cena WM Main Event a few years back. Ima re-watch and report back. I remember it being pretty slow and Shawn's selling making me think the match was handicapped by a real injury.

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  79. No doubt...now that's a match I'd love to see. Out of control *Steamboat*?!?!

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  80. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 25, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    Never really liked HBK/Flair. It just felt sad, and not in the intended Flair's last match way, but in the "putting a horse to pasture" way. It didn't feel like true desperation Flair, where he should've been 100% Dirtiest Player in the Game and it just felt like it was busted out here and there like a WWE 2K story objective ("2. Do a low blow"). The "I love you" stuff was too silly.

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  81. Totally understandable, but there is a lot on that show that IS very watchable (Rock and Sock Connection vs Evolution, Jericho vs Christian, and then if you like comedy, Goldberg vs Lesnar.

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  82. Is this it?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNRmRVr29R8

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  83. I don't think it's a ***** match or anything, but it was a fitting way for Flair to go out. He went one on one with with the best at the biggest show of the year and lost.


    I know Scott wanted a big Four Horsemen run-in or something stupid like that ,but Flair wanted to prove he could still go. He didn't want to win via help or anything like that.


    The low blow is just Flair being Flair

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  84. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    He went that high for SummerSuplex? Guess Cena getting dumped on his neck gave him a semi.

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  85. I was at that show as well and also lost it. For me the moment of terror is when Benoit tosses HBK out and HHH comes up behind him I was expecting kick wham pedigree and going home pissed off... moments later my favorite moment ever happened.

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  86. I am convinced the crowd would've rioted if HBK or HHH won

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  87. To be fair, after I read wynx's summary it comes off as a huge, match-defining detail. I wish they would have covered it.

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  88. The American InsomniacOctober 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM

    The Raven/Stevie v Pit Bulls doesn't hold up anymore. It seems more about "let's see how many angles can we fit into one match" than anything else. It got a lot of props at the time (and deserved it) because it was so different than what WWF and WCW were doing at the time, but now it doesn't seem that great,

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  89. The escape the cage steel cage match was always a WWWF thing dating back to the Bruno Sammartino days. The main point was to beat your opponent so badly that they didn't have the ability to leave the cage under his own power. That point was driven home during the Sammartino and Backlund title reigns.

    The reason for the blue cages was because Hogan's opponents were generally bigger and less athletic so they had a harder time climbing the steel fence cages.

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  90. Times have changed and attention spans are shorter. People have many alternatives now and three hours is an eternity to invest in anything. Plus the stale product isn't helping. I don't even bother DVring it anymore personally. I can catch up online with quick recaps.

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  91. All of the Undertaker WM wankfests from 25-28. I assume they're great matches because most people say they are, but I've never been able to stand them.

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  92. davidbonzaisaldanamontgomeryOctober 25, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Wow

    much confusion

    such weirdness

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  93. The Harts/Rockers "match of the year" from 1990 is barely anything.

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  94. I don't agree with your "everything with the WWE" is awesome thinking, but Raw is much more enjoyable when you're not in the live thread on Monday. The negativity in those threads is why I started to become negative on the product.
    I certainly don't think that the WWE is as good as it was in say, 2000 or 2008 but it's still my favorite pastime and it's better than whatever else is on TV.

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  95. And it was all that damn Demolition's fault!! Ventura gave them a verbal beating.

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  96. Shawn/UT at Mania 25 is not hard great. IT nearly kills himself missing on a drive and lays around for dice minutes unconscious and everyone praises it as "great selling."

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  97. I thought it would be the favorite match ever for all the Cena haters.

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  98. I'm on the other side on that one. WM 25 was in the middle of my "I haz no carez" period for wrestling, and it was almost the only show I watched that year, and that match had me on the edge of my seat. I remember watching 26 thinking Shawn was gonna win because he lost 25. For whatever reason it's just never clicked with me. I dislike the two matches against HHH as well. Well maybe 'dislike' is too strong... I'm just not drawn to them--and I'm the world's biggest mark for the Undertaker and The Streak.

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  99. If "this" is the match you're referring to, not sure I would call it "out of control" lol, but he was a little more animated/blood thirsty than usual. By the way, this match I would clock in at **** if I were the stars giving type.....

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  100. I liked the match ok, but HATED the I love you stuff.

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  101. The HHH matches honestly felt like "Well, Shawn had awesome matches with Taker, so my matches will be awesome too"

    And I say that while trying to be objective as possible about HHH. It was just the vibe I got from them.

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  102. It is... it is. Seriously though, it's like the Rock/Hogan WM match, or even Hogan/Andre. The match itself is maybe ***, but the spectacle of it, the build, the uniqueness... the intangibles can boost it up depending on your mileage. For me it's a ***** symphony of ass-kickery.

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  103. This makes me think of the Flair vs Angle match from some random Raw where Flair kept hitting Angle with low blows because he just couldn't hang with him hold for hold.

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  104. I think if Flair was play wrestling with his kids, he would still nail them in the nuts

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  105. Adam "Colorado" CurryOctober 25, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    HHH/Taker HITC. That match was dog shit.

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  106. Sounds like pretty much his entire career as a heel, actually.

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  107. The small package makes sense because he was constantly the guy losing his cool and getting DQ'd leading up to the match, and in the case of WM3 he out-waited Savage and let him finally go nuts and try for the bell again before pouncing with the small package.

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  108. HHH vs Taker at WM part 3: Age in a Cage is God Damn boring.

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  109. I often wonder if I just hated it so much because of the Bryan/Sheamus debacle, but even watching Just that match, it's sooo god-damn boring.

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  110. And George Steele finally gets his revenge too

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  111. The superkick->Pedigree match rules everything

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  112. Virgil's Gimmick TableOctober 25, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I remember being on my feet the whole time while it was happening live. My opinion of it gets lower and lower on repeated viewings.

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  113. Yeah, years after the fact I noticed a number of pre-Hulkamania matches with the escape rule, even in places other than the WWF. I remember seeing a tape with a match from Texas and the "cage" was made of wood and barbed-wire, that was from sometime in the 70's. I just can't remember if I've seen a match with the bar style cage that predated Hogan.

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  114. Vince's pride when Dutch Mantell-booked Divas angles get over better than his own booking of the main event.

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  115. I was so excited to see Roddy Piper come back to face off against Jerry Lawler at the 1994 KotR, but it will be forever marred with memories of Art Donovan asking how much everyone weighs.

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  116. Nothing wrong with the quality of actual wrestling on Raw, there's just nothing interesting happening. The last 4 weeks of Raw have been, in a sense, literally the exact same show

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  117. That's the mark of a great NWA/AWA heel champion. He and Harley were probably the best at that.

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  118. Exactly, and you can add Bockwinkel to that list.

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  119. So much of Bockwinkel shone through in Flair's matches. You can tell Ric was a fan.

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  120. Magoonie NOT Teddy BelmontOctober 25, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    I'll have to go with Bret vs Shawn Iron Man Match as well, I can appreciate it from a technical standpoint but it does little for me. I remember being hyped for it and then watching it live it was just kinda blah.

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  121. Six man tag involving the usos, Ambrose being #cuhrazy!, Cena and Ambrose against some combination of Orton/Kane/Rollins.

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  122. Lawler - Von Erich. It was the last shot for there to be a real #3 promotion and despite being a surprisingly good match they go with a fuck finish.

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  123. Be glad they could get a finish at all for that one.

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  124. Magoonie NOT Teddy BelmontOctober 25, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Yeah, 16 year old me though that RR match was awesome and brutal. Years later after watching Beyond the Mat it just makes me cringe and feel uneasy, I honestly don't watch that match anymore.

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  125. On a related note, hopefully Lawler will give the AWA belt back to the Gagnes before Verne passes. The sick old man can't pay, Jerry.

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  126. I think the early Nitro strategy worked because it was just an hour long. Once Nitro got stretched to 3-hours, they had some pretty bad shows too. It'd be the same thing with NXT--a great 1 hour product, but if they made it longer on a weekly basis it just would work as well.

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  127. Edge/Foley. Maybe it's because I've always considered the hardcore style to be garbage, but the whole flaming table thing struck me as mindboggingly stupid. YMMV, but stuff like that annoys me. The HIC match v Taker was a different beast, in that it still came off as realistic, but this one was borderline cartoony.

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  128. Call me kooky, but I never really cared for Bret/Owen at WM X. It's fine as a match, just not "all that" for me. Curiously I enjoyed the SS cage match a bit better, just felt like it ran a bit too long.

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  129. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    I don't know didn't feel so cartoony to me, when my sister was 7 or 8, that was her favorite wrestling match.

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  130. Interestingly, Bret won surprisingly few of his 'big' matches via the Sharpshooter. He used a lot of flash pins and leverage moves to win, getting over the fact that Bret is a technical whiz and can outthink his opponents.

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  131. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    I never cared for HBK vs Taker at 25, maybe it's because I was watching the DVD, and already knew who was going to win, but it just didn't strike me on the same level that it did for others.

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  132. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Ha! Age in the Cage, I like that.

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  133. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    Hey, welcome back! Haven't heard from you for a while.

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  134. Edge's face after the move is awesome.


    For what it's worth, both Foley and Edge have admitted it was an incredibly stupid spot to do despite all the precautions. I think Edge suffered 2nd degree burns?

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  135. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    I can see both ways, how they were viewed as great and bad.

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  136. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Hey, that's one of my favorite matches!
    Keep quite Meekin!

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  137. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    For me, I can watch his matches, but Backlash being centered all around Benoit being a national hero was more eerie for me.

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  138. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    That shaking after the match told the story, he was probably suffering even though it looked like Foley took most of it.

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  139. Foley took it on his back. Edge is the one who dove face first into fire

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  140. I was 10 when the Iron Man match happened and Bret was hands down my favorite wrestler. I always hated HBK after the Rockers breakup and I was super pissed watching him win the belt. I had this logic that since Bret had HBK in the sharpshooter when the time expired that when they restarted the match, they'd have HBK back in the sharpshooter and resume from where they left off. When they rang the bell with both guys standing, I was asking everyone in the living room, "Why aren't they in the sharpshooter?!" When HBK got the win, I was totally deflated. Pretty funny looking back, but I never really enjoyed the match.

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  141. Except that he ripped it off from when HHH said it in late 1997 about Hogan/Piper. So he loses points. :)

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  142. It's an Arrested Developement thing.

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  143. "Yep Mode" Abeyance Brown ©October 25, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Yep, they can only do Cena, Kane, Orton, Ambrose, and Rollins so many ways.

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  144. I was there as well and I remember the loud groan with that spot... everyone was so worried they were gonna screw Benoit.

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  145. Exactly -- which is one of the biggest issues with the WWE today in that, despite the different personalities, the wrestling style is all very similar AND the style of presentation gives everything that stifling, overproduced "WWE gloss" that feels very samey and souless.

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  146. Fun topic. I don't know about matches that are five stars that out and out suck, but I'll give a couple that were hugely disappointing to me.

    For the WWE/F, I'd actually say it's UT/Taker from WrestleMania 28. Rock/Austin at WM X7 is actually kind of the precursor -- it didn't suck obviously, it's a very good match, but it's totally emblematic of the meanding-brawl WWF main event style of wrestling that got dragged out of the mothballs for this one. Typical characteristics -- overly long duration, extended passages of guys laying around to 'build drama' after big, garbagy spots, somewhat sloppy and a total reliance on character and story to carry the match instead of actual wrestling action.

    For WCW, I'd say Flair/Funk from Clash IX. It's a good match too -- but the Great American Bash 89 match has so much more -- a crazy hot crowd, palpable hatred between both guys, a more frenetic pace, better wrestling, a better finish, etc. It just feels like the culmination of a blood feud, where the Clash IX match feels more like a respect match which feels like the wrong dynamic.

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  147. 25 was great, no argument there.
    26 had UT hobbled early from an Old School attempt (I think he rolled his ankle, but I haven't seen the match in years), but the match was still solid.
    27 wasn't bad, merely average and slow.
    28 was not good, and is probably the most overrated of the four.

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  148. More than seven years, so no infringement. HA!

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  149. I love the iron match. Fantastic match.

    I like every match that below listed below, but I guess my answer would be hhh vs undertaker at wm27. Although a lof of people didn't give it a good rating anyways. The rematch is great. The first one is AWFUL. Like not even a wrestling match.

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  150. Agreed on Bret/Shawn.

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  151. Damn reading through this thread you guys are naming all my favorite matches lol!

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  152. I know I feel that way about a lot of them too haha. I guess it goes to show how many different things people get out of wrestling and all the different ways that materializes as a 'peak' moment for a fan.

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  153. I was driving the 'I Hate Shawn' bus.

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  154. I love the Rock/HHH Iron Man. No one expected either of them to be able to pull it off and they delivered. Also, the HHH promo where he set up the match was one of his best. "Can you hang, Rock?"

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  155. I hate Cena/Shawn from Mania 23. Always have and recently watched it again to see if anything had changed. Shawn's working of the knee consists of punching and kicking it nonstop. Its so stupid when the ref wrestles cena off of him for not letting go right at the rope break, that it makes me wanna punch a dog. Also, the taker/hhh cell match might not have been great but I enjoyed the drama of it and dont find it offensive. Their previous match at 27 sucked balls.

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  156. Oddly enough, although I dug the WMX match, I'm not really a fan of the SS match. Then again, the blue cage never did anything for me.

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  157. Yeah, I think this is an interesting pick. I guess I do enjoy it overall more than most do, but it *does* feel a little flat and maybe not quite worthy of being the biggest match on the biggest show of the year (although to be fair, even WrestleMania by that point was starting to feel flat itself, so at least it was on the right WM lol)



    I like what you said about "why aren't they in the sharpshooter?" It's a good point haha

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  158. Well, if HHH used it, and Glen is using it for a match that HHH was actually in, he should GAIN points!

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  159. The only thing I remember about it is HBK sitting in the corner with his shitty acting. And I love HBK.

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  160. I like the Royal Rumble 1995 match, but I actually agree with this -- the Survivor Series 1995 match in particular feels VERY overrated. Good finish though.

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  161. I *did* grow up as an NWA kid, but not really a fan of Flair from 1991 on.

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  162. YankeesHoganTripleHFanOctober 25, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    The Bret/Shawn Iron man match was boring. On the subject of Shawn though...I went though my entire workout today with my lower back in agony from the first few sets of squats on, (there will be some liquid painkillers later tonight.) I say this not to brag or anything but I now have TOTAL respect for what Michaels did at Wrestemania 14.

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  163. Yeah agree with this too -- Flair is SO out of character in this match. They wanted to do a Flair vs Steamboat match, when it should have been a Flair vs Sting match.



    He should have been doing every cheap heel trick in the book, feet on the ropes, holding the tights, everything. They approached it more like he knew he didn't have a chance going in and Shawn was just there to put a bullet in him -- so the whole thing comes off very sad, especially since Flair can't really keep up.

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  164. Taker versus Triple H is exactly what's wrong with modern Cell matches today. Especially when you don't even use the Cell and the entire match consists of chair shots to the back and Shawn Michaels crying in a corner.

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  165. Stranger in the AlpsOctober 25, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    I hate any match Meltzer gave ***** to. It comes off as fanboy wanking. I'm sure they're all good matches, but I'm not going to watch them because some puro dork suggested it.

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  166. Flair vs Steamboat at Wrestle War. Used to try and watch it so my smark card wouldn't get revoked but I fall asleep every time.

    I also hate the finish to Hell in the Cell 2000. Not that the finish was terrible, I just wanted Mankind to win and fulfill his dream.

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  167. Stranger in the AlpsOctober 25, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    The fall through the roof to the rigged mat below kinda took me out of it. ****

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  168. I'm glad they rigged it, but it still had to hurt. When Mick started moving his arm after about 5 minutes I just lost it. I knew right then that he was going to win. Man that match should be six stars

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  169. The Flair/Steamboat trilogy has put me to sleep before. To me, however, that is a GOOD thing.

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  170. I loved the first one. It had so much drama. Kinda had that big fight feel to it. I watched the second one live and it never stood out in my brain but I haven't since then.

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  171. Theberzerker! HUSS!October 25, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    Interesting you say that, because I watched the Flair/Steamboat trilogy recently, and I realized I actually like their Chi-Town Rumble match a LOT better than the other 2. It's considered the lesser of the series, but to me it's the best...more intensity, longer than Wrestlewar, and the thrill of someone dethroning Flair after a long time of him being champ.

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  172. For me it's the spot where Edge spears Foley at first and it's revealed Foley wrapped his stomach with barbed wire.


    Are you fucking kidding me?

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  173. Precisely my reasons. Plus, Steamboat was hurt by not fitting into the NWA babyface archetype. It's strange. You've got this big family man in the heart of the bible belt and the fans decide they want to cheer the playboy instead.

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  174. Theberzerker! HUSS!October 25, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    I'm with those who don't really get UT/HHH from WM27. Good match with some great spots, but to me it was only a solid ***...nothing could fix the 15 minutes they collectively spent lying around on the mat after each move. Hell that's what ruined the HHH/Shawn Last Man Standing match from Rumble '04. I was there live and was so hyped for that match, and they just lied around and bled.

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  175. Theberzerker! HUSS!October 25, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Being cool will always trump being right.

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  176. In 97 I hated the first hour of nitro and just wanted to see the nWo stuff. By late 97 all the midcarders started growing on me because they were all given some direction. We are familiar with the Benoit is GOD stuff but no one cared about him until the flock feud.

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  177. You must be a big fan of Billy Kidman who takes a DDT off the top rope and is back up at 100% 8 seconds later, ready for the next spot.

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  178. I go Clash VI, Chi-Town, WrestleWar in order of favorites. But even then, that's complaining about a ****3/4 vs. a *****. Even the weakest is still stronger than 95% of other feuds' BEST matches.

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  179. There's no selling, selling properly, and selling like a floppy soccer player. UT/HHH was the latter.

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  180. Haha I actually laughed out loud. Well said

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  181. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 25, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    100% agreed. That match and angle could have been epic, but instead they went for sentimentality over fun. Bad call.

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  182. Theberzerker! HUSS!October 25, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    8 seconds? No. 16 seconds? Now you're talkin!

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  183. The best thing Raw could do is open every show with a match ... just get it started hot and have the interview segment come next. It's just death to start a show with HHH grunting his way through 20 minutes of interview time.

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  184. Kevin Sullivan disagrees. Benoit being in the middle of the Horsemen-Dungeon stuff helped make him someone to be watched.

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  185. He must be, because it's only one or the other.

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  186. That's exactly the vibe I got from them. I thought they were great but I couldn't help but think during the match that HHH was trying to either match or one-up Shawn. Sorry brother, wasn't gonna happen.

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  187. Theberzerker! HUSS!October 25, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    Good selling that's still annoying to watch? Sounds pretty on-topic for this thread. Imagine that.

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  188. That's a really poor reason not to watch something, but alright.

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  189. The Love-Matic Grampa!October 25, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    The HHH/UT trilogy stands out the most for me. As noted below, Flair/HBK was disappointing for a number of reasons. And I'll be honest, I never thought much of Bret vs. Shawn as an overall feud. Aside from Montreal (which was memorable for all the wrong reasons), I thought it was mostly forgettable and that both guys did their best work with other people.

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  190. Always thought hitc 2000 was overrated. Esp compared to the rr match they had just the month before. For years that was my favorite wwf match of all time. But watching it recently it doesn't hold up as well. Still 5* in my opinion but not best ever.

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  191. See, that's some storytelling I really enjoy. I wasn't born until 87 so I've only seen the match...just as the match. Yea I know about the whole ringbell/throat incident, but that's it. Next time I watch that match I may enjoy it more, even though I already enjoy it enough, it's such a technically perfect match. Thanks!

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  192. I can't get into the Rock-HHH Iron Man

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  193. It is. I was commenting on VJ's take on selling.

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  194. Hyperbole much?

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  195. ... and there's no sense the show itself means anything from week to week. You watch the night after a PPV and you pretty much know what the next PPV card is, because you just watched it for free on TV. The next 3 weeks are just the same matches with slight variations. It's maybe smart business-wise, but they've strangled all the creativity and spontaneity out of the TV product. They've swung the pendulum too far back from paying too much attention to ratings and ignoring the PPVs. There has to be a medium ground but they can't seem to find it. What focus they do put on the shows seems to be limited to guest celebrity hosts.

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  196. I loved seeing Cena get absolutely manhandled AND lose the match pretty decisively. I think I enjoyed it more for the fact that they actually went there than what happened in the match. Because let's face it, outside of the 16-17 german suplexes there wasn't much to it.

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  197. Agree with wm17. I've said it in other posts but I never saw what was so great about that. And that was before that dopey overbooked ending. Plus there were two matches in the same card that were far and away better

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