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Introducing someone to pro wrestling

Hi Scott,
Long-time fan.
Question: suppose you meet someone who is vaguely familiar with pro wrestling, but has never really watched it and knows very little about it (I work with a lot of people from foreign countries, especially China).  I was wondering, if you could offer this person only one match to show them what our so-called sport is really all about, what wrestling is when it's at it's best, what would it be?
Then I got to thinking: there are so many different choices for this because there are so many different types of wrestling styles in the world.  If this hypothetical person was patient, could you think of example matches in each of these sub-sections (feel free to add or ignore groups as desired)?
* the best lucha match
* the best puro match (e.g., Misawa vs. Kobashi)
* the best "WWE Main Event Style" (e.g., Rock vs. Austin)
* the best wild brawl (e.g., something from ECW, Benoit vs. Sullivan)
* the best ladder match / TLC / MitB (e.g., Michaels vs. Razor)
* the best cage match / HiaC (e.g., Michaels vs. Taker in the very first HiaC, the Mankind vs. Taker one)
* the best tag team match (e.g., R 'n' R Express vs. Midnight Express)
* the best good vs. evil match (e.g., Hogan vs. Andre)
* the best comedy match
* the best WCW cruiserweight (e.g., Pillman vs. Liger, Mysterio vs. Eddie)
* the best from Ric Flair's prime (vs. Steamboat; vs. Sting)
* the best from other big names like Savage, Jericho, Benoit, Angle, Guerrero...

I'm going to artfully dodge the question by noting that showing someone matches rarely works.  That's generally how you hook someone on legit combat sports like UFC, but wrestling is a different animal.  I would opt instead for showing them a really awesome ANGLE, because that's what hooks new viewers.  Like the early nWo stuff, or Batista turning on Rey, or something very soap operatic like that.  The matches are generally a means to an end for newer fans, I find.  But if readers want to come up with a list, have at it!  


  1. It's 2012...why would you want to introduce someone to professional wrestling now? If they haven't stumbled upon it by themselves by now, they probably wouldn't be interested in it anyway.

  2. I agree. All fun hypotheticals must have an immediate real-life application.

  3. Rey vs. Eddie from "Halloween Havoc" 1997 or Rey vs. Psicosis from "Bash at the Beach" 1997 spring to mind for North American lucha/cruiser type matches.

    Brawls like HHH vs. Cactus from "Royal Rumble" and/or "No Way Out" 2000 packed the sort of drama and flow that I could see grabbing someone's interest.

    Outside of RnR-MX tag matches, maybe something like Austin/HHH vs. Benoit/Jericho from RAW 2012, any number of TLC matches, or some of the SmackDown Six stuff from 2002.

    Any of the HBK/UT/Foley/HHH cell matches are good picks. For the more "classic" cage match, maybe Bret vs. Owen from "SummerSlam" 1994 or even the TV one between Angle & Benoit (2001). Of course, the more old school NWA cage matches (Tully, Magnum, WarGames, Dusty, Race, Flair, etc) could satisfy multiple categories.

    For the WWE Style "big match" feel, I would go either Austin vs. Rock (WM17) or Hogan vs. Rock (WM18). Michaels vs. Austin from WM14 (with Tyson) could probably hook a viewer or two.

  4. The problem with trying to hook a newbie with the early nWo angle is that it's all based on having prior knowledge of the business. If you didn't know that Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were huge stars in WWF (the mortal enemy of WCW), then that doesn't work, The whole idea was that it was marketed as an invasion of guys from WWF. Or if you don't know that Hogan is such a legendary babyface, his heel turn doesn't mean anything.

    The idea (an invasion from outside the company, the corruption of the good guy, etc.) is a good one, but if you don't know who any of those people are or why they matter beforehand, it doesn't pack any punch.

  5. Just give him a copy of Wrestlemania X-7. If that doesn't hook them, nothing will.

  6. I would show them something from the past 5-10 years. Anything beyond that, what's the point? It would be like showing them a football game or basketball game from 2000. Would I suddenly start to watch basketball or football by watching Michael Jordan from the 90s or Joe Montana/Tom Elway from the 80s-90s? It would be hooking people into wrestling by watching Bob Backlund or Bruno Sammartino when Hogan was on top in the 80s.

    People want to invested with the current stars that they have heard or the players they grew up with. If they have a passing knowledge of wrestling, I would show them Cena vs Punk from MitB 2011 with the promos beforehand, HBK/Y2J saga from 2008, or HBK/UT saga from Wrestlemania 25-26. Most average people have heard of the people above through numerous ways.

  7. I suppose I'll give this a crack.

    Best lucha match: the best lucha title match is El Dandy/Negro Casas, 7/5/92. For hair/mask matches, I'll go with MS-1/Sangre Chicana, 9/23/83.
    Best puro match: Misawa/Kobashi vs. Kawada/Taue, 6/9/95, which is also the greatest match of all time. Best singles match is Misawa/Kawada, 6/3/94.
    Best WWE Main Event Style match: HBK/Mankind, Mind Games.
    Best wild brawl: Sgt. Slaughter/Iron Sheik, boot camp match.
    Best ladder match: HBK/Ramon, WMX.
    Best cage match: Wargames, Wrestlewar 92.
    Best tag match: The aforementioned 6/9/95. For US matches, I'll say HBK/Diesel vs. Ramon/Kid from Action Zone.
    Best good vs. evil match: This is crazy broad. I guess I'll say Sting/Vader from Starrcade.
    Best comedy match: I suppose Cornette/Dangerously from the 89 Bash.
    Best WCW cruiserweight match: Hard to go against Eddy/Rey from Halloween Havoc.
    Best prime Flair match: My favorite Flair match is vs. Funk at the 89 Bash.
    Best of others:
    -Savage: vs. Steamboat, WM3.
    -Jericho: vs. Rock, No Mercy 2001.
    -Benoit: vs. Eddy, BOSJ 96.
    -Angle: vs. Austin, Summerslam 2001.
    -Guerrero: vs. Lesnar, No Way Out 2004.

  8. They said they worked with a bunch of people from China. I work in an accounting firm and you'd be surprised what some people don't know.

  9. All the major angles and matches involving Randy Savage from WM3 to WM8.

  10. Was the original Tables, Ladders and Chairs DVD any good? I never saw it. But the build up of those three teams to that match was, IMHO, the best multiple tag team build to a single event that I've ever seen. And Foley being the arbiter of the whole thing....Just awesome. That's what I'd show people. Christian was gold on the mike at that point. The Hardy's were nutty and acrobatic and cool, and of course any mention to Get the Tables was met with cheers. All of it just makes me happy. That's what I'd use to introduce anyone to it.

    Other than that, I've been using the Kane Bryan stuff of late.

  11. you must have failed sarcasm 101

  12. * the best lucha match - I'm well versed in lucha libre, but I do love the Japanese hybrid lucha/puro style. I'd go for Ultimo Dragon vs. Shinjiro Otani Semi-Final match from the J-Crown tournament. Easy to follow story (Dragon upset Liger with La Majistral Cradle, and Otani does his damndest not to fall the same way)
    * the best puro match - Tag - Misawa/Kobashi vs. Kawada/Taue (6/9/95). Single - Misawa vs Kobashi (either 1/20/97 or 10/31/98)
    * the best "WWE Main Event Style" - either Hogan vs Savage from Wrestlemania V (not the best match, but the storyline will suck them in and Savage is so fun to watch), Rock vs Austin from Wrestlemania X-7 (especially if you include the "My Way" video package), or one of the HBK vs. Undertaker matches from Wrestlemania.
    * the best wild brawl - HHH vs Cactus Jack from Royal Rumble '00
    * the best ladder match / TLC / MitB - HBK vs Razor (Wrestlemania X)
    * the best cage match / HiaC - this one is tough because of the different kinds of cage matches... Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA "I Quit" cage match from Starrcade '85, Bret vs Owen from Summerslam '94, HBK vs 'Taker Hell in a Cell '98
    * the best tag team match - Owen/Bret vs. The Steiners (1/94)
    * the best good vs. evil match - Savage vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts in '91. Terrible match, but Roberts is the pure epitome of evil.
    * the best comedy match - Fingerpoke of Doom
    * the best WCW cruiserweight - Eddy vs. Rey Mysterio from Halloween Havoc '97
    * the best from Ric Flair's prime (vs. Steamboat; vs. Sting)

  13. I don't really see the point trying to hook fellow adults. You either grew up a fan and remained one on a regular / casual basis or lost interest entirely.

    There are certain "event matches" that will pop up from time to time that will draw in people who have little to no interest in watching WWE on a regular basis such as Cena/Rock, Hogan/Rock, or HBK/Taker but most of them are matches created separately from anything else going on in WWE so they don't retain viewers in the long run.

  14. i would show bret hart matches since the story, work and psychology were so tight, they could suck you in with the drama.

  15. Agreed, but I'd cut most anything involving Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho or the Undertaker since they're pretty much done. CM Punk's run on top produced some quality matches, also some of Bryan's RoH work could acclimate people to him and what he does.

  16. Right...if you think the reader's question was "hypothetical", then I'd like to discuss with you some concerns I have for my friend, Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo.

  17. Oh, you are the master of sarcasm! You should start your own Sarcastiball team!

  18. I say show them the worst of wrestling. Undertaker/Undertaker, Hogan/Sting, Hogan/Warrior (the WCW one), the lucha match from RR97, Black Scorpion, Katie Vick, the works. If they sit through that shit and still ask for more than you've got a fan for life, even the worst episode of Raw will look like WMX compared to that garbage.

    But seriously...

    Lucha: not a big fan of pure lucha libre, I really just don't get it, maybe if my Spanish was better...
    Puro: Does the Jr. HW stuff count as puro? If so than the entire Super J Cup from 94 or 95. If not, than I guess the Muta Scale match. Not an king's road style fan.
    WWE Main Event Style: Austin/HBK from WMXIV, or the Rock/HHH ironman match.
    Wild Brawl: Raven & Stevie/Pitbulls, or anything from that period of ECW.
    Ladder: Shawn/Razor, followed up by the first MITB. And underrated classic is the 3 Count/Jung Dragons/Noble & Karagis match from Starrcade 2000.
    Cage. First HITC match. For a normal cage match, Steiners/Money Inc, if you can find it.
    Tag team: Young Bucks/C+C Wrestling Factory, from ROH TV about 6 weeks ago.
    Comedy: HHH/Steiner, RR03. (Wait, that wasn't a comedy match?)
    WCW CW: Rey/Psicosis, BATB96, or any of their ECW matches. There's also an AWESOME 8-man Mexican match that opened one of the WCW PPVs. Can't remember which one, someone help me out on that.
    Ric Flair: his great period was before I started watching, and I'm not really into technical wrestling. I defer to everyone else on this one.

    Also, I recommend the AJ Styles/Christopher Daniels match from this years Destination X, my MOTY by far and in the top 5 of best matches I've ever seen. And if you want to show someone a good angle, Tommy/Raven/Beulah is a must.

  19. Bret Hart (vs) Steve Austin seems to be the best overall choice for mixing storyline (which Scott pointed out) with great work- you can get plenty of guys into wrestling by showing them that one, especially with the intro vids.

  20. I recently converted a buddy to wrestling and honestly the way I got him interested was by playing Ric Flair and The Rock promos and interviews

  21. This brings up an interesting question -- how many of you we're in your 20s or older when you first became a fan?

    Not I.

  22. I vote show them big bossman making al snow eat his dog pepper

  23. ... that's the worst name I ever heard.

  24. But HBK, Y2J or Undertaker are not current stars. That would be Sheamus, Cena, Punk, Ziggler, Del Rio, Bryan and Kane. Maybe the Kane & Bryan stuff could hook someone new. Wrestling wise I would show them some TNA stuff, because the WWE wrestling is boring, because they work all the same style.

  25. Show them Murder City Machine Guns vs The Briscoe Brothers from ROH So Long and Thanks for the Memories. The pure awesomeness would hook anyone, of course no one has come close to it since. :P

  26. I think having someone watch Michael Jordan would be a great way to introduce them to basketball.

    Might you not show someone 'Citizen Kane' if you wanted to interest them in serious filmaking?

  27. dunno, the ending of Austin/Rock might leave them confused.

    I am still confused by it.

  28. Which of course means that will be Tyler Black's name when he debuts on RAW.

  29. I just stormed out of this place crying because that's my real name. 8..(

  30. Tastes like chicken!

  31. Since I agree with the guy who said showing old stuff wouldn't be very effective in creating a new fan, I'd show them Cena/Punk for the same reasons.

  32. No, they don't all work the same style. That just is flat-out untrue.

  33. I was 14, which I'm guessing is on the older end of the spectrum for becoming a fan.

  34. I'm not sure how HHH-Taker, Lesnar-Cena, Bryan-Sheamus (Extreme Rulez), Punk-Jericho (either one), Punk-Bryan (any one) are all the same style. If anything, I'd say the PPV matches from this year have been excellent in terms of quality and diversity. But if you're talking about Raw matches, then you have a point.

  35. If the person is female, show them HBK, HHH, The Rock, or John Morrison stuff... promos and matches. If the woman is open-minded about things in general, she'll probably watch a wrestling match and interview or two. And if she sees one of those guys, she'll normally be happy that she did.

    Anyone else... the first Foley book, one of the first two HiaCells, the crazy TLC matches. Those are the things that make definite impressions (and it quickly shuts up the skeptical people who are dumb enough to think that nothing hurts in wrestling). However, I love it when a friend or family member can sit through a Bret Hart match. They might be bored with some token knee/leg work Bret is targeting early on. But by the end of the match, their mind is blown from the storytelling.

  36. Lucha: El Santo & Octagon vs. Los Gringos Locos from When Worlds Collide is a great match.

    Puro: Benoit vs. Great Sasuke finals match from the 94 Super J Cup.

    WWE Main Event-Style: Rock vs. Austin WM 17

    Wild Brawl: Tupelo Concession Match

    Ladder Match: TLC WM17

    Cage: Magnum vs. Tully Starccade 85

    Tag: Midnights vs. Southern Boys GAB 90

    Good vs. Evil: Steamboat vs. Savage WM III

    Comedy: ???

    WCW Cruiserweight: Rey vs. Psychosis BATB 96

  37. Raw matches being the same is more of a problem with the limitations of TV then anything else.

  38. I'd do Birth of a Nation.

  39. I was 15. It was Rock/Jericho promos mostly, then I started moving onto matches, and it was a lot of early TNA/RoH stuff that hooked me, hybrid shit.

  40. Dirty_Dave_DelaneyOctober 1, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Best lucha match: Eddie Guerrero/Art Barr v El Hijo Del Santo/Octagon AAA When Worlds Collide

    Best puro match: I haven't watched enough puro but one that sticks out in my mind is Dan Krofatt/Doug Furnas v Kenta Kobashi/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi AJPW Super Power Series 1992
    Best WWE Main Event Style match: The Rock v Triple H Backlash 2000
    Best wild brawl: I really enjoyed the Abyss v Bully Ray from this year's Genesis ppv and it was a pretty sick and violently entertaining brawl.
    Best ladder match: TLC II Wrestlemania X7
    Best cage match: HIAC Undertaker v HBK Badd Blood 1997
    Best tag match: Raven/Perry Saturn v Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko Spring Stampede 1999
    Best good vs. evil match: The Rock v Triple H Backlash 2000
    Best comedy match: Samoa Joe v Delirious v Jack Evans v Ebetaro ROH Final Showdown 2005
    Best WCW cruiserweight match: I'll have to go with Rey Mysterio v Eddy Guerrero too
    Best prime Flair match: Ric Flair v Terry Funk Clash of the Champions 9

    Best of others:
    Guerrero: Kurt Angle v Eddie Guerrero Wrestlemania XX
    Angle: Undertaker v Kurt Angle No Way Out 2006

    Jericho: Chris Jericho v HBK Wrestlemania X9

    Savage: Randy Savage v Ric Flair Wrestlemania 8

    Samoa Joe: Kenta Kobashi v Samoa Joe ROH 2005

    Undertaker: HBK v Shawn Michaels Wrestlemania 25

  41. But when they had guys like Jeff Hardy, The Rock, Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley and Kurt Angle, the matches were WAY more different.

  42. Seriously? No mention of Brock Lesnar? If you're trying to get someone with no knowledge of wrestling to start watching, why not start with one of the guys that has the biggest mainstream appeal? Would someone with no knowledge of THIS BUSINESS care about "The Streak", how Punk has been held down, or why some jagoff in jorts wants everyone to respect one another and play nice?

    OR, do you show them Lesnar/Angle and wait for them to say, "Hey, isn't that the guy from UFC? HOLY SHIT, DID HE JUST DO A BACKFLIP OFF THE TOP ROPE?!"

  43. I'm really surprised that no one has specifically mentioned the Hogan-Savage-Liz storyline (yes, I saw that someone stated everything Macho from 87 to 92). Yes, it's old, but two friends getting into a fight over a woman, with one of them being insanely jealous, is pretty much timeless. Most people can understand such a story. Even better if they can get through to the Savage-Liz reconcilliation.

    Though the promo work isn't as good, the setup for the Bret-Owen feud works really well too. One sibling getting jealous over another, and it leads to a fight? Wow, how could anybody relate to that? (Sarcasm detector overloaded)

    I find that if a non-fan is given a story that they can understand at a basic level, and the characters are at least somewhat interesting, they will endure the rest, whether they like the physical aspect or not.

  44. This may sound backwards, but I found that if you can get someone hooked on wrestling games, they may develop a taste for the real thing. I've had friends who thought wrestling was stupid whip up a quick create-a-wrestler, browse through the moves for a finisher, and next thing you know, they'll give the show a chance.

    Part of it is they'll begin to associate things they saw from the game with the show. Like, a high-risk maneuver or a submission is just so much white noise to a casual observer. But play the games enough and the reaction changes. It's like, oh man, this could end the match. Even if they don't care about the guys in the ring, they'll take notice because they're already introduced to the language of the ring.

  45. I'm still confused by "X-7"

  46. Don't try to interest foreign people in professional wrestling, we're an embarrassing enough country as is.

  47. Yeah, that's a good point- making them see how good wrestling USED to be might prove ineffective.


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