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The Top 10 Greatest WCW/JCP Matches


I mistakenly pressed "publish" during my first draft of this. Foolishly, I was sitting there wondering how people were viewing it when it was a draft. Then, I finally figured out that I published it. Yep, that was my dumb moment of the week. So if you were one of the people who read it, and then wondered where it went, now you know.

I am drawing a blank once I passed the Top 10 part of the list again. Just soooo many worthy matches deserve to be on the Top 20 list. Thus, I am just going to leave it at 10. However, the good news is I have honorable mentions, and I am going to try to, possibly, make a list of the greatest in American wrestling history if I have the opportunity.

Honorable Mention: Great American Bash 1996, Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan -

 Benoit and Sullivan had a never-ending feud that dragggggeedddddd. It overstayed its welcome and resulted in a lot of terrible matches, but they were feeling it on this night. This innovative, well-structured and stiff brawl escalated all over the arena, even in the goddamn men’s bathroom. It was also a star-making performance from Benoit. You know that guy everyone thought would become a top-tier star in WCW. However, the Hogans, Nashs, Halls, and Savages (yes, literally, savages) did not want to give up their place, so WCW never pushed him to the main event despite him (and tons of others) being liked by the fans. Well, at least WWE was smart enough to push him to the moon. On second thought….

Honorable Mention: Great American Bash 1990: Southern Boys vs. Midnight Express -

Everyone talks about the Midnight Express and Rock and Roll Express matches. People need to start talking about this more. Why? The amount of energy and intensity is off the chains. They were bouncing like those giants bouncy rubber balls someone played with as a kid off the ropes. The Southern Boys were nearly coming out of their boots after getting a hot tag. The countered and reversed trademark and clich├ęd spots were ridiculous, and I never knew what was going to be reversed or what was not going to be since everything was based the match off the crowd’s response. They played them like a yo-yo. Jim Cornette also said it was one of his favorite Midnight Express matches ever. Enough said.

Honorable Mention: SuperBrawl II, Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman -

The spots do not age as well as Arn Anderson did, but both men’s ability to read the crowd surely does age well. Reading the crowd is so difficult to pull off so it never gets boring. They also did a compelling job of speeding and slowing the pace down at the right times. The difference between this and most high-flying match is this tells a lucid story, and it makes this come across as an athletic competition rather than a contrived-looking stunt show.

10. WCW Nitro 1999: Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit - 

This was the  first time Hart wrestled since his brother’s horrifying death, and it was just one of those matches where someone had to watch it live to appreciate it fully. I will not lie; this competition was one of the few things in wrestling that made me almost shed a tear. Real men do cry. This was also scientifically sound as it was a chess match with hard strikes, chain wrestling and, of course, unparalleled emotion.  


9. Great American Bash 1987, Opening Match: WarGames -

This is the greatest gimmick match ever, hands down. It is all thanks to Dusty Rhodes, the brains behind this amazing concept. It was a match that had two rings near each other and a cage with a top surrounded them. It starts off with two opposing wrestlers facing each other for five minutes. Another wrestler enters after the five minutes are up. Oh, and a coin flip is what decides which team gets the man advantage. (Spoiler alert: the heels always win, except in TNA of course because well they can never do anything right). Once everyone enters the ring it then becomes an “I Quit” match. Its purpose was to blow-off a long feud between two teams that hated each other.

This is an all-out warfare with tons of insanity, but what was so remarkable was it never feels disjointed. It used a formula that just worked: The heels would get the heat on the outnumbered babyfaces and then another babyface would enter the match to save their teammate.  The crowd just ATE this up with forks, spoons, knives, and even their mouths. I mean they popped HARD every time the babyfaces would beat the holy hell out of the heels.

It was well-structured, innovative, historic, and barbaric.

8. Crockett Cup 1987: Barry Windham vs. Ric Flair -

This was an unheralded feud. Everyone talks about Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Terry Funk, and so on, but not many people talk about this. I do not understand why. Maybe because Windham wasn’t the most charismatic guy? Nevertheless, this feud resulted in great matches, although this has to be my favorite one. Both the pacing and timing were on key. Flair, as usual, tried to cheat his way to victory, but Windham was just countering everything, including the kitchen sink. That was until Windham rolled up Flair, but the Nature Boy reversed it with a roll up of his own and then proceeded to grab onto the tights. I never understood why that was illegal, but at least it gives heels more rules to break, right? It was a very entertaining match.

7. Starrcade 1985: “I Quit” Cage Match, Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA -

"SAY IT! SAY IT! SAY IT!" Magnum: "NOOOOOOOOOO, AAARRGHGHHGH!!!".

If this is not an underrated gem, I do not know what is. These two had HATED each other, so they settled their feud in the first ever “I Quit” cage match. I am not exaggerating when I say this was not for the weakened heart. There have been matches that try to be grueling, but not many of them are as dramatic or horrifying as this was, and this did not even have much blood. Deception is the reason this worked so much as it was the illusion that they were trying to kill each other. I just loved how they screamed in agony; it added so much gut-wrenching drama.

This also could be a great example of how less can be more for the young wrestlers out there, too. They did not do a bunch of fancy spots to get the fans into it. They instead got people emotionally attached by selling the drama via facial expressions, body language, mannerisms, and selling. Pay attention Davey Richards.

The finish is one of the great shock moments in wrestling, and it made me somewhat squeamish. TA broke off a piece of wood from a chair that Baby Doll threw in, and viciously stuck it in Blanchard’s eye, causing him to squeal in pain. Grosssssssssssss. That spot is truly an excruciatingly awesome moment.

6. Halloween Havoc 1997: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio Jr –

Rey Mysterio Jr had to put his mask on the line to get a shot at the Cruiserweight Championship. This was an amazing display of splendid athleticism with state-of-the-art moves and inventive spots. More importantly, the spots were integral to the story being told. Telling a story is what a lot of high-flying wrestlers struggle with, but these two never struggled in that department. They were masters at it.

Guerrero had more experiences, power and technical expertise, and he was not afraid to lie, cheat, or steal. Those combustible elements played a big reason in why he had the advantage for most of the match. However, Mysterio had something that overcame all that: miles and miles of heart. He played that type of  face-in-so-much-peril plucky underdog so well that made nobody want to cheer against him.

By the way, Mysterio was not fighting just for the Cruiserweight title; he was fighting for his legacy. Nobody wanted to see poor Rey lose his mask. Oh, and I have to give credit where credit is due: Tenay did a great job of elucidating how significant the mask was to a luchador. This was just a dramatic roller coaster ride with a heartfelt ending.

5. Wrestle War 1992: WarGames -

Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance was becoming dangerous (pun intended), so a few protagonists decided to form an alliance to put a stop to their Triple H power trip. Ha, I made fun of HHH without him even being mentioned. Andy PG would be proud. Both teams settled their problems like men: inside the most demotic and unforgiving structure ever constructed. Taking into account the story, this was more superior to the original. It was also a textbook example of how to end a feud that has the villains getting their well-deserved comeuppance for tormenting the protagonist for so long.

The heat segments were ruthless; the babyface comebacks were energetic; the psychology was realistic; the momentum swings were tense, and the ultra-hostility just puts the icing on the cake. Even Shakespeare would have been impressed with the culmination of this struggle between good and evil.

4. Chi-Town Rumble 1989: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat -

Flair was the king of the mountain. Sorry, Jeff Jarrett, you were never the king of everything. I would consider you may be the king of the hill, but you do not sell propane. Nevertheless, Flair was the man and overcame everyone who faced him. That was until a mystery opponent pinned him. Who was it? It was Ricky Steamboat. This set up the first chapter of their epic set. The bout was a chess match, with feeling out processes, lots of heat segments, and hope-comebacks, and around-the-clock action. At the start, both wrestlers worked over a body limb Flair worked Steamboat's the leg over to set up his figure-four, and Steamboat worked over Flair's  arm.

Seriously, though, I thought Steamboat was going to make his entire comeback at least three times. That was how good the teases of a comeback were. In fact, the entire match pretty much had me guessing, and the finishing sequence is so mentally exhausting that it drained the life out of me. Most wrestlers dream of having a match this good, and this was only their third best one. Scary, huh?

3. Clash of Champions IX: I Quit Match, Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair -

People were starting to cheer for Flair because they realized he was one slick dude, so the committee turned him face. They made him into a sympathetic one by having Terry Funk unmercifully pulverized him right after his hard-fought battle against Ricky Steamboat. Funk puts a cherry on top on the beat down by pile driving him on a table. (In case you are not aware, this was a time where angles and moves had a lot of meaning and a purpose. A piledriver was a very dangerous move that usually was used to write someone off TV. They even ended people’s careers, so you can imagine how scared the fans were for Flair’s wellbeing.)

 Easily, this is a top-five feud of mine. The unalloyed hatred among the two was sharper than a knife, and their detailed promos did a great job of vividly describing what they were going to do to each other. In the match, Funk’s coldhearted actions, as he tried to rupture Flair’s wounded neck, made this quarrel somewhat disturbing. They injected EVEN MORE hostility in this by yelling and screaming at each other and trying to persuade the other one to quit.

“Flair, don't you remember your neck? Don't you, don't you wanna quit… before I, before I… hit you?!”

Funk used neck breakers, forearm clubs, piledrivers, and other moves injury Flair’s impaired neck even more. However, Flair retaliated by attacking Funk’s knee, prompting Funk to limp away like a scalded dog. Then, Funk ended up saying those famous five words as the pain from being in the figure-four leg lock had been just too much to endure.

This was just a fabulous display of selling, hatred, intensity, storytelling, psychology, and prodigious booking.

2. Clash of Champions VI, Two out of Three Falls: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat -

This is just another stroke of genius from these two. They both reached their apex around this same time and created matches that are talked about today. This was just about 60 minutes of nonstop action, with no down spots or noticeable blemishes. Everything done had a purpose in the context of the story being told.

Flair cheated to gain control, dictating the pace by methodically working over Steamboat. However, Steamboat would not back down. He kept putting up a fight, but Slick Ric kept countering his offense.

There were so many layers to this masterpiece, with each one building to a high spot of the match. After they got the response from the crowd they wanted, they started rebuilding a new subplot. The effort, characterizations, execution, psychology, pacing, and timing are all top-notch, and this served its main goal by creating eagerness for their last match.

1. Wrestle War 1989: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat -

I was not sure which match I liked more: this one or the two-out-of three-falls match. All three matches were similar to a book as each chapter led to the upcoming one. I decided to go with this one just because it was the culmination of this exemplary series.

What makes this match so exceptional?  Everything. Just absolutely everything.

You have Ric Flair, the deceitful loudmouth that was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, going against the Ricky Steamboat, the family oriented, diligent everyday man. In the match, both men stayed true to their characters, and used them to articulate an in-ring story.

Honestly, its simplicity is why it is evergreen and why it would get a rise out of a sold-out crowd even today. It is just a textbook demonstration of how to wrestle a compelling match. Above all, nothing is forced. There are not any convoluted spots, swerves, bells or even whistles. Everything felt natural.

It holds up to this day because they did moves that would never lose their essence; after all, they are malleable and fit into the context of any story. The most important reason even to this day people do not get bored of it is because of the way the moves are executed.

For example, look at how Flair took an arm-drag, flying way up in the air, traveling post-to-post, and then coming. Look at how Steamboat sprang off the ropes. Look at how they sell everything and make every move look impactful. Look at how they bump. It is all extremely well done. 

These two knew exactly when, where, and why to do something. They knew the best time to get the heat on the babyface. They knew where to inject a hope-spot or full comeback. And they knew why to speed or slow the match down. Simply put, they MASTERED the fundamentals of wrestling psychology.

This truly had everything in it, and it is no wonder why people call it the greatest match ever.





Comments

  1. Need a page break, buddy.

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  2. This was Bret Hart first time on TV since his brother’s horrifying death,

    No it wasn't.

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  3. You missed a big one. The July 9th , 1985 World Wide show which had RnR vs Ivan Koloff/Krusher Kruschev tag title switch. Truly one of the best if not the best tag matches of all time for any territory.

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  4. I liked it a lot, just not as much as others.

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  5. Good job including all the great Flair matches.It is very in vogue to knock Flair and these classics but you kept it real. Thank you.

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  6. The greatest overall American wrestler ever. I wouldn't allow his personal life to mar his stellar career.

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  7. Some dick will down vote this.

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  8. Charismatic e-Negro Jef VinsonSeptember 20, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    No Honorable Mention of the Mulkeys winning their first match and qualifying for the Crocket Cup?

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  9. I don't think Bret Hart reads my writing.

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  10. How is Tully v. Magnum an underrated gem?

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  11. Because I looked at other lists, and it wasn't on any of them.

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  12. It gets ***** by most reviewers and is often proclaimed as a classic. It even made WWE's Starrcade DVD. It's pretty rated

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  13. 10. WarGames 96
    9. Outsiders vs Savage/Luger/Sting
    8. Hogan vs Flair
    7. Sting vs Vader
    6. Piper vs Valentine
    5. Flair vs Vader
    4. Eddie vs Mysterio
    3. Cactus vs Vader
    2. WarGames 92
    1. Sting/Luger vs Steiners

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  14. I thought so too, until I saw a few lists which didn't include it. Even Floyd's top 100 list.

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  15. Did you even watch WCW?

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  16. The problem with stuff like this is that it's just going to be the same matches on every other greatest list. The order may be different, but the matches will be the same. How bout next time do the 10 important matches in WCW/JCP history? At least that way everyone's list will not run together.

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  17. Sting/Luger vs. Steiner Bros. says hello

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  18. Sting/Luger vs. Steiner Bros. says hello

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  19. Does anyone remember the random Mysterio/Juvy vs. La Parka/??? on Nitro? It was before all the unmasking nonsense, and these 4 went out and had an amazing 5-10 minute tag match. Everyone hit their moves and hit them crisply. Wish I could remember more details because the match was pretty awesome.

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  20. Found it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKw2wwJ3QXI



    Around 5 minutes the crowd starts getting into it and even the Gang of Idiots stop talking about the nWo to call the match. Not as fantastic of a match as I remember, but good lucha fun.

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  21. hot damn that was a fun match

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  22. Just to be funny - top ten Hulk Hogan matches - from memory

    10. Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels: Hogan knew Shawn was going to oversell out of spite, but did a great job with handling the overselling. Maybe the last dream match Hogan could of had. It's a fun little match. **

    9. Hulk Hogan vs. Brock Lesner: Maybe Hogan had been promised a title shot down the road, but I think that is just disguise Hogan actually agreeing to put Brock over clean as a sheet. Hogan took bumps he wouldn't dare take ten years earlier. **3/4

    8. Hulk Hogan vs. Greg Valentine: Early in Hogan's run, and shockingly one of his better matches. ***3/4

    7. Hulk Hogan vs. Bob Backlund: A green heel Hogan having an impressive outing with the then World Champ. ***3/4

    6. Hulk Hogan vs. Akira Madea: Years before Madea had true distain for Hogan. ***

    5. HulknHogan vs. Randy Savage

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  23. Apparently you are in the same boat as me. Not all that crazy about Flair Steamboat. I REALLY don't get the Flair-Funk love.

    My personal favorite is War Games 92. Just so much awesome stuff in that match.

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  24. That was a pretty great match!

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  25. Nothing tops Wargames 1992 for me. The star power, the stakes, the perfect blowoff to the long Dangerous Alliance storyline, every guy with their working boots on, blood, a red-hot crowd, Ross and Ventura on the call......perfect match.

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  26. I liked Flair/Funk at the Clash a lot, but I would never put it above WarGames 92. In fact, it doesn't make my Top 10 list.


    I'd have ranked Magnum/TB a bit higher, but that was because it was somewhat unchartered territory for both guys' characters - imagine 80s Hogan resorting to digging a piece of a chair in someone's eye to win a match.


    And this list is missing four very important gems:
    1) Barry Windham vs. Ric Flair, NWA Title match (60 minute Worldwide; rank this above their Crockett Cup battle)
    2) Dustin Rhodes/Mystery Partner vs. Arn and Larry Z, 1992 (World Tag Team Title, and an awesome payoff all around)
    3) Steiners/Sting and Luger (at least an honorable mention)
    4) Nasty Boys/Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan, Spring Stampede 94 (Tag Titles)

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  27. Yeah, it's the only WarGames where everyone in the match could wrestle, tons of subplots, lots of blood, and an inventive finish. If you're going to blow a feud off, THAT'S the way to do it.

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  28. "THERE'S A LADY IN THE MAN'S BATHROOM!" - God, I love dusty Rhodes...LOL

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  29. Ditto on the Flair/Windham tv match. Absolutely brilliant..

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  30. Props on acknowledging the best tag team match in North American history.

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  31. Very very good top 10 list. :)

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  32. Important matches...that's a fun topic.



    I'm gonna stick with just WCW as that's what I know better personally.



    Off the top of my head I would have to pick things such as Goldberg-Hogan, Sting-Hogan, the Bash '96 six man, Luger-Windham from GAB '91, Ron Simmons-Vader, a Sting-Vader match, a Vader-Cactus match, Pillman-Liger (either the '92 classic or the first ever match on Nitro), a Rey match (his debut against Malenko, his BATB opener against Psicosis or the Eddy masterpiece), the Fingerpoke of Doom, the first two Hogan-Flair matches from '94, WarGames '92, the first World War 3, Page/Malone-Hogan/Rodzilla and of course Booker-Buff from Tacoma. *cough*

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  33. Guess I'll go off the top of my head too. If they ever turn it into a post I'll put a bit more thought into it. I'm going to start in 90 since I think that was when they split from the NWA.


    1. Cage match from Clash of the Champions in Feb 90
    2. Hogan-Flair BATB 94
    3. Six man from BATB 96
    4. Pillman-Liger 92
    5. Hogan-Sting Starrcade 97
    6. Fingerpoke
    7. David Arquette match
    8. Luger-Windham GAB 91
    9. Nasty Boys -Cactus Jack and Max Payne
    10. The Rey debut match

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  34. Oh yeah that Arquette one is an obvious choice I forgot, along with some Sting-Flair match. And a Nasty Boys brawl from '93 is a good choice.

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  35. I started to include a Sting-Flair match, but I really don't think any of the matches under Turner were important. I think the biggest one, is the one that didn't happen. That's why I included the Clash of the Champions match.


    After some thought I'm not sure that Pillman-Liger is really important either. I think the Steiners-Nasty Boys from Halloween Havoc 90 is a better choice cause it introduced the spotfest.

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  36. Liger-Pillman introduced a lot of American kids (like me) to a kind of pro wrestling I had never seen. For Sting-Flair I'd have to go with their unification bout from '94 or the last match ever on Nitro.

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  37. The reason I don't think it's a top 10 is because it didn't really change the direction of wrestling or the company. That match just exists in a vacuum. Whereas Rey-Malenko really had an impact on changing wrestling. It gave other luchas a chance and it forced Vince to start booking them.


    Again, in the big scheme of things if Flair and Sting never wrestled after 91 no one really would have raised a fuss. They did some awesome stuff together but nothing that shaped or impacted the business to be top 10

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  38. Oh yeah I'd pick Rey-Dean over the Liger match to fit that cruiserweight/lucha category on the list. But I think Sting-Flair needs to be included just for the sheer vastness of the rivalry and the historical tidbit of it being the company's last official match.

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  39. I respect your opinion on the Sting-Flair rivalry, but I don't think it made any real impact on the industry. My favorite is the match from Halloween Havoc 95 when Flair turned on Sting, but again that angle and all their other angles and matches didn't really impact the company.

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