“PPV is dead… except for this one last time”

Hi Keith,

When a boxing match, an industry declared dead 20 years ago, makes more PPV money with the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight than in the history of earth, how bad is it going to look to investors that were told the PPV market was dead anyway to justify crappy Network numbers? How long until looking bad becomes looking incompetent?

Someone needed to remind Vince you can't hardsell a subscription service, and the hardsell was his family's entire business model.

 Unrelated note, wasn't cowboy hat Macho King awesome? Him screwing over Warrior just to be a jerk at Rumble 91 was what hooked me on wrestling.

"Free month of May" sure feels like a hard sell to me.  As others have noted, if this is the route they're going they should just do the "first month is free for new subs" model like Netflix and be done with it.  Although WM did 250K buys this year, which is pretty much free money at this point.  All they have to do is fire another 10% of their workforce and they'll be profitable for years!  

People are talking about 4 million buys for the Pacquio/Mayweather fight, though, which sounds ludicrous.  Still, even 2 million at $100 a pop is crazy money and shows that the right attraction will still draw.  

Great time to be a fan

HI Scott,

What a great time to be a fan don't you think? There is so much entertaining wrestling out there today and you don't even have to look very hard. Lucha Underground feels fresh, NJPW is a workrate paradise, and even NXT has become 'can't miss' wrestling fun, isolated from the rest of WWE's poor programming. Why is everyone so hung up on staying with the WWE's main shows for their fix? Even worse, why do people insist on complaining and generally being negative about it all when there are alternatives available which address all their complaints? The WWE will continue on its existing course regardless what people say, because those same people continue watching. 

To quote Lisa Simpson from that Halloween special when all the giant statues came to life: "Just don't look". 

I have been a fan of the WWE ever since I watched Jim Duggan and Harley Race brawl through the backstage area at the Slammy's in 1987. That's almost 30 years of investment in the product. But I simply don't enjoy watching the WWE any more, and I won't waste my energy being negative about things out of my control. What I do control is what I choose to watch, and I am very happy that the alternatives exist so that I can be entertained once more. Have you watched all the NJPW on AXS TV episodes? Okada vs. Tanahashi are tremendous matches with exciting commentary. What's not to enjoy with Finn Balor's ascent into super stardom? Great matches and an insane special entrance. How great is Prince Puma in Lucha Underground? Incredibly gifted wrestler, with an intriguing backstory that has still to play out. 

Wrestling is FUN again! 

​That may be, but for lots of people WWE is the only option.  I can tell you, for instance, that if I ever want to see a live show with people that I know, my only hope is to wait for WWE to visit the one or two times per decade they come here.  But absolutely, New Japan is awesome right now and NXT is a fun alternative, and I'm glad they exist and can provide people with something better than the junk we're getting on Monday nights right now.  ​

Best women’s matches of all time

I saw you ranked last night's women's match as four stars.  I certainly wouldn't disagree. 

So is that the first time you've given a women's match four stars?  I said the match from the last NXT special (Charlotte/Banks) was the best women's match I've ever seen.  Last night may have topped it.


​I also gave Trish Stratus v. Lita from RAW that rating (upon second viewing years later) and I think I gave one or two of the Jumping Bomb Angels matches that rating as well.  I belive Stephanie v. Trish was shockingly great as well.  But really, this shows how amazing that Sasha Banks has become and how effective their development system for the women really is.  Unfortunately it's a total waste once they get to the main roster and have to do shitty skits with Jerry Springer and the Bella twins instead of wrestling.  ​

Long Time Reader, First Time Emailer


Reader since pre-Rantsylvania days, multiple-time book owner (even e-book owner), longtime lurker, and occasional poster Sirplss here with a question/plug request.

Question for you and the blog – with the actual WWE product at a creative low point, and your interest in said product waning for years now, do you still find enjoyment in wrestling at all?  Do you enjoy the wrestling-related discussions on the blog?  How much of the daily content do you read?

Also, if you wouldn't mind the plug, I appear weekly on a wrestling podcast (we only get around 1k listens, but every little bit of traffic counts) here – https://soundcloud.com/cedtalks

Thanks a lot, and thanks for the incredible amount of entertainment over the past 17 years.


PS.  Will obviously return the favor on the plug on the podcast 🙂

​Hi Joe.
I still do follow the product via YouTube's pretty great "Top 10 RAW / Smackdown moments" videos because it's only a couple of minutes and catches up anything notable, plus WWE posts individual RAW segments to YouTube pretty quick, and the "This Week in WWE" show on the Network is also a great way to follow without having to actually pay serious attention.  
I actually have a job during the day and so can't follow the daily threads and would probably lose my mind attempting to do so anyway.  I do absolutely follow the discussions on the questions I post or retro TV show recaps.  As for wrestling in general, I love recapping Nitro.  Love it.  I wish I could have watched it live in 1995/6 because it's just the bee's knees and makes me happy to be a fan because it feels so fresh and interesting.  I know that changes fairly soon into 1997, but there's still a whole year on the Network for me to watch.  ​I also love going back and watching the old Primetimes up on the Network with ridiculous Iron Mike Sharpe double countouts against tag wrestlers over two commercial breaks, because the announcers actually TALKED ABOUT THE MATCH and didn't make you feel like an idiot for watching it.  And people who know me IRL, if you will, and know I'm a wrestling guy often like to chat about wrestling stuff, and I'm always happy to talk about it even though I hate the current product.  If they ever fucking came to Saskatoon again (four years and counting now) I'd probably go and I'd probably have a fun time because I love wrestling and house shows are fun.  
So there you go. 

The Time Limit

While reading through the blog, I noticed in a 80’s tv show report, a match that ended with a time limit draw.  I remember back then whenever two non jobbers would fight on WCW/WWE tv, if there wasn’t a disqualification, there would be a time limit draw to protect the stars.  When did the idea that matches having time limits end and what was the last “significant” time limit draw in wrestling?

​That reminds me, I was watching the first episode of Primetime posted to the Network as background noise while I wrapped presents this week, and holy balls who decided that Lanny Poffo v. Rene Goulet should run through a commercial break?  I can only imagine the reaction if they tried to fill 2 hours with the kind of curtain-jerking garbage that filled that show.  Main event of Sgt Slaughter Jr. v. Iron Sheik with a DQ finish?  NO BUYS.
Anyway, it's been a long while since there was a draw on TV, actually.  The Regal TV title matches in the 90s were the last ones I can think of off the top of my head.  Cena v. Michaels came close but then they did a finish instead.  So I'm of literally no help here.​

Maggle Cole – Best of all time (?!!)

Hi Scott,

Although it's just JBL's opinion, it still speaks very loud for how Michael Cole is viewed by his peers in the company:

JBL: "I do think Maggle is the best play by play guy WWE has ever had."  

I personally think he's pretty bad at this point, but I understand the pressure he has.  But I would never EVER confuse him as the best ever.  Ugh.  He wasn't half bad during the 2001-2005 Taz era.  Taz is another story though.

Your thoughts on Cole as best ever?

thanks,  Anthony V., NY, NY

Am I being trolled here?  

Billionaire Ted Time Warner Merger

Hey Scott, I just recently watched an episode of Raw from early 1996, and at the end of one of the Billionaire Ted skits Vince mentions that the WWE paid for an ad in the New York Times warning stockholders in Time Warner of the millions of dollars that Turner Broadcasting was losing from propping up WCW. Was this the same merger that eventually did destroy WCW, or something else? If it was the same it's pretty amazing that Vince, or people around him, had the foresight to realize that WCW would probably have to go if a merger took place and that it was a big sticking point for the merger to even happen.

Well, that would certainly be some misleading math.  They were certainly not losing millions of dollars in 96.  It wasn't like boom period numbers or anything, but Nitro was doing pretty damn well for them.  

And really, WCW was not a sticking point for anything.  It was always Ted Turner's cheap programming source and tax writeoff plaything and everyone knew it.  If they weren't mismanaged into the ground in 2000 they'd probably have been kept around on TNT or at least TBS for that exact purpose.  But nearing 100 million in losses for those couple of years was just too much to swallow, no matter who was running the company.  

That time Hacksaw Jim Duggan sang the song from “Frozen” to my stepdaughter

Canadian Bulldog here (don't pretend like you don't know who I am!!!). You and I are the last surviving members of the Hart Dungeon; Tyson who?

I recently posted an article on my website about meeting one of my wrestling heroes that I feel may be of interest to your readers. It's one of hundreds of pieces on http://canadianbulldogsworld.com about wrestling books, DVD's, action figures, comic books, Top 50 lists, magazines and other merchandise and memories.

Thanks for your consideration, Scott. I'll never forget this – just like I won't forget that time you put Smith in your patented reverse armbar and made him tap like a woman.
I already forgot who wrote this e-mail, sorry.  

Is it time for WWE to bring back the jobbers/enhancement talent?

Just wanted your thoughts on this.  Do you think it's time to bring back the jobbers/enhancement talent?  One of my issues with RAW  and PPV's is how stale a lot of the matches have become.  And they are stale cause they have no choice but to do rematch after rematch due to the 3 hours they have to fill Mondays, not to mention Smackdown and the Main Event.  Take Summerslam for instance.  Since that show, we have gotten 5 rematches on RAW since(Bray/Jericho, Reigns/Ortons next week makes 5).  Now, I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but bringing back the jobbers can keep the main matches fresh cause it allows you to keep the two guys feuding, separate.  It also allows each guy in the feud to look strong rather than the stupid 50/50 booking they always do.  Instead of their usual 'guy beats the champion to earn a title shot', they can have them squash jobbers instead and look like a killer.  It will also get the midcard over.  Look at recent
 history and look what squashing jobbers did for Ryback early on in his career.  It elevated him to the main event.  You don't watch TNA anymore but that same idea got Ethan Carter over too.  I'm not saying the whole show should be these matches, but wouldn't this be a good way to get more people over?

​Of course, and I've been advocating this idea for years.  Problem is that USA controls a lot of the creative content on RAW and I guarantee that doing any more than one squash per show would cause someone to flip out.  Although it's not like they're making any better use of the three hours as it is.  But for example, but we get squash matches on NXT all the time and it's fine.  No reason they couldn't do the same on Main Event and Superstars as well, like they did in the Jakked/Velocity days.  Give some indy guys exposure​, fill time more easily with something other than recaps, etc.  

Paul Heyman: The Greatest Manager of All Time

The previous Masked Man article was completely no-sold by the Blog of Doom, most likely because there weren’t any Scott Keith references contained within.  But it is worth a read, as it explains in meticulous detail why Paul Heyman is the biggest pro wrestling star in the industry today.


Now I will go a step further and explain when Paul Heyman is, unequivocally, the greatest wrestling manager of all time.

There are generally two men that, based on the breadth of their careers, the large variety of stars they have associated with, and the extent to which they enhanced those stars, are considered in the conversation for being the greatest wrestling manager of all time: Bobby Heenan and Paul Heyman.  There is a third that belongs in the conversation that most people reading this post are too young to remember: The Grand Wizard.

All of these managerial geniuses reached their peaks in different eras, so it is difficult to compare and contrast the impact that they had in the traditional manager role.  Since they were the best of their eras, and since we have no real way to match them up against each other in a competitive manner, I like to simplify matters and say that they are all on equal footing.

However, in recent years, there are two factors that set Paul Heyman apart from his peers:

1.Both The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were at their peak in eras where managers were the norm.  It was an established pro wrestling position to enhance talent, and while these men were the best at what they did, they weren’t really breaking new ground with what they did.

But by 2012, the wrestling manager was an anachronism, tucked away with the wishbone offense, long relievers, and underhand free throws as a relic from a bygone era, killed by the move from bookers to Creative that eliminated the need for a manager to speak for a wrestler because the wrestler’s every word was meticulously scripted and memorized.  This in turn made the product so bland that WWE was forced to spend millions of dollars on movie stars and UFC fighters to keep people’s interest.

But the movie star couldn’t stay, and the UFC fighter couldn’t talk.  He wouldn’t talk.  To save Brock Lesnar’s mystique, to save the last special attraction that WWE had left, everyone dragged Paul Heyman back, kicking and screaming, after being away for the better part of a decade, to bring back the lost art of being a pro wrestling manager.

The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan perfected the art of managing.  Paul Heyman rebuilt it from scratch and took it to a still higher level than either of them.  Because…

2. The Grand Wizard and Bobby Heenan were great at supporting the wrestlers.  Paul Heyman has become great at supporting the entire wrestling promotion.

Paul Heyman single-handedly returned Brock Lesnar to beast status.  Paul Heyman single-handedly cemented CM Punk’s heel turn, single-handed cemented CM Punk’s face turn, and single-handedly squelched the protest movement once CM Punk left.  Paul Heyman single-handedly squeezed value out of the ending of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak.  And finally, Paul Heyman single-handedly closed the flagship show with a ten minute monologue introducing the Summerslam main event.  The final RAW spotlight was on a fat Jew running his mouth off…and it was the best thing on TV in months.

In the foreword to Bobby Heenan’s first autobiography, Hulk Hogan said of Heenan “In the wrestling circles, he made sure that, in between the geeks, the freaks, the midgets, and the ladies, his spot didn’t overshadow anyone.  He could have – he was so talented.  He could have stolen your spotlight at any moment.”

But Bobby Heenan never had to give a 10 minute promo in front of a live audience to hard sell Wrestlemania.  Paul Heyman took the main event spot on RAW and used it not to get himself over, but to make John Cena and Brock Lesnar look the most compelling they’ve been in years.  More people cheer Cena than ever.  More people fear Lesnar than ever.  The desperate quagmire of only a couple of months prior has been replaced with mega-anticipation for August 17th.

All because of Paul Heyman.

No promotion has ever relied on a manager to the extent that WWE now relies on Paul Heyman.  And no manager has ever delivered to the extent that Paul Heyman does now.

For taking a dead art and elevating it to levels that have never been seen, and never will be seen again, Paul Heyman is the greatest wrestling manager that has ever lived.

Time Limit Draws

Marc Clair wrote up a neat piece on time limit draws in wrestling, thought it could stem some discussion.

Whatever Happened to The Time Limit Draw?

A couple of other notes…

Roger checked out the Undertaker/Shawn Michaels feud from 1997-98

PTB reviewed Backlash 2002

Also, DDP joins Kevin Kelly this week, that will be posted Wednesday night! If you have any questions for either, post them here too. Thanks!

WWE Network Updates in Real Time?

I'm watching Superbrawl 1997 and just noticed that little blips along the progress bar. Hovering over them reveals important points during the course of the. The start and end of each match. That's a nice touch.

These weren't present the first time I tried to watch the show just 15 minutes before.

My only complaint with the video archive is the freezing, which could easily be resolved by allowing things to load as they do on Youtube.  It seems to load ten seconds of video every five seconds, which is more complicated than it needs to be.

It's obviously a work-in-progress and they seem to be using us as their beta testers, which kind of sucks for obvious reasons because they should have just done, you know, BETA TESTING.  However, as much as I wish they were a bit more transparent with the issues and fixes, it's WWE so you get what you get and you don't get upset.  Last night I was able to watch the live stream on PS3 without an issue, and I even started the Countdown show from the beginning and then accidentally exited out and had to fast-forward through the archived version to catch up again.  And it worked BEAUTIFULLY!  So then I tried to watch the 1981 MSG show and I guess that was pressing my luck because it froze up at the 1:30 mark and never recovered.  
But yeah, if they'd set up a feedback site with status updates and stuff, I think there would be a lot more good will towards them.  But that's not how they roll.  

Hypothetical Time!


> Frankly, I'm getting tired of the constant bitching about D-Bry. In three and a half years with WWE he's gone from being an undersized indie worker to the most popular performer in the company and a three time world champion, tag team champion, money in the bank winner, and US champion. I'm not saying "give it time", but give it time.


> Now, on to totally random hypothetical questions that I'd love your/the board's thoughts on:


> 1. What if Magnum TA didn't get into a car accident?

> 2. What if Brock Lesnar signed with WCW instead of the WWF (if I recall correctly, WCW was heavily scouting him as well).

> 3. What if the Radicals (I refuse to use the "z") didn't leave WCW when Bischoff gave them their releases?


As a wise man once rapped, your time is up, my time is now.

1. He would have done well.

2. Given he spent 2001 in the WWE developmental system anyway, not much would have changed there.

3. Just would have delayed the inevitable by a year. Eddie and Chris were gonna get over on hard work either way.

Stranger Things Presents: The Top 5 January PPV Matches of All Time.

Happy New Year, Little Doomers. It’s January, and that brings us to our monthly look at pay-per-view matches that took place during this month. I only look at the big two, WWF/E and WCW. If you have favorites from TNA, ROH, ECW or any other company, feel free to give them some love here.

For WWF/E, PPV shows have included Royal Rumble (of course), with the pay-per-view version beginning in 1989 running through today. They also had New Year’s Revolution from 2005-2007. For NWA/WCW, they ran a Bunkhouse Stampede show in 1988, Souled Out from 1997-2000, and then Sin in 2001, before their untimely demise. They have been many contenders from these shows, but I have studiously whittled it down to five. But this time, I have decided to include an Honorable Mention section, to show that it was very difficult to decide on just 5. Let’s do this!

First, the Honorable Mention Section:

1. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit – Ladder Match – WWF Intercontinental Championship – Royal Rumble – January 21, 2001.

2. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Championship – Royal Rumble – January 19, 2003.

3. Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 29, 2012.

4. The Rock vs. Chris Jericho – WWF Undisputed Championship – Royal Rumble – January 20, 2002.

5. Jushin Liger vs. Ultimo Dragon – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – WCW/New Japan Supershow – January 4, 1993.

Now to the A+ GOAT Top 5 match list. Remember, completely subjective on my part, and meant to spark conversation.

5. Chris Benoit vs. Raven – WCW/NWO Souled Out – January 24, 1998.

I could easily have plugged in Benoit/Angle here, but I feel that this match does not get the love it deserves. It’s not a long match, and I think if it had more time, it would be remembered as a classic. It’s probably Raven’s best match, even better than the (“gasp! He’s not going there!”) dog collar match in ECW. But as for Benoit, he was just getting started, as evidenced by the fact that he is all over this list.

4. 2010 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 31, 2010.

Let’s start by saying that CM Punk OWNS the first 1/3 of this match. He was in his Straight Edge Savior phase and was cutting promos while eliminating guys. Until you-know-who shows up. This Rumble had great pacing, the storyline of Shawn Michaels needing the win to face Undertaker, and the surprise return of Edge at the end. I call it a ***** Rumble.

3. 2004 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 25, 2004.

Let’s face it. WWE has gone through painstaking hoops to eliminate Chris Benoit from their history. In my opinion, that is a shame, because he was one of the best in-ring performers of our time. Without dwelling on WHY he is wiped from memory, we should remember the many hours of entertainment he brought to our eyes. This match is probably his crowning achievement, even more so than the WMXX moment.

2. 1992 Royal Rumble Match – Royal Rumble – January 19, 1992.

The first truly great Rumble match. The WWF Championship was up for grabs, so you had plenty of star power with Hogan, Flair, Savage, DiBiase, Piper, Roberts, Undertaker. But the big deal in this one was Flair with an early draw, and lasting to the very end, which had not been done prior to this. Those that had not been exposed to his NWA days would find out, with this match, that he was “the man”.

1. Cactus Jack vs Triple H – Street Fight – WWF Championship – Royal Rumble – January 23, 2000.

Triple H vs Cactus Jack (Royal Rumble 2000… by puropwgwwestuff

I could not, in good conscience, put a Rumble match over a singles match in the #1 slot. Also, when you consider historical perspective, this makes more sense. This kicked off Triple H’s awesome 2000 run of great PPV matches. This is one of those matches that builds slowly, and then comes to a boil, before finally exploding our eyeballs. I’m calling it the greatest January PPV match of all time.

There you have it. Any controversy here? Too many Rumbles? Too much WWF/E? Remember, WCW didn’t run a regular January PPV until 1997, four years before their closing. I welcome your opinions, and as I mentioned, feel free to give love to your favorites.

See you in February with the next list.

WWF Prime Time: Money Inc. vs. Natural Disasters

Everything about this match fascinates me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS3uUERV0ic

1) The announcing duo of Jim Ross & Bobby Heenan re-doing commentary at least 10 months after it happened for a Coliseum release.
2) JR making a Shockmaster joke – “Typhoon never trips, right Brain?”
3) JR going crazy on the referee
4) Brain residing on another planet with his commentary 
5) Earthquake playing the largest version of Ricky Morton in history and doing it extremely well
6) And then out of nowhere, a historic WWF Tag Team title change.

Hey now, spoilers, man.
I was pretty checked out of wrestling at this point and I never even saw the original title change, but the notion of the Natural Disasters as babyfaces was always a weird one for me.  Odd as it sounds, the internet scene really rekindled my passion for THIS BUSINESS again when I discovered it in 93.  

Top Twenty WWE Matches Of All Time

I originally wanted to do the top 20 greatest
 North American matches, but I figured out that there are just way too
many awesomely wrestled independent matches, and I was not quite sure
where to put them on the list. So, I just decided to do a top 20 WWE list
because I didn’t want to go crazy from trying to include every single top-tier North
American match. The reason I did this was because I
was completely bored on a day off from work and school.
Top 20 WWE Matches Of All Time:
20. Raw 1997: Davey Boy Smith vs. Owen Hart —
Hart and Smith displayed some great athleticism that most
WWF fans were not accustomed to at the time. This had tons of back-and-forth
action and great pacing and timing. More importantly, there was reasoning
behind each individual spot. They were not doing them just for the sake of
doing them, like you might see in a typical independent match. If this match
had longevity or more importance, it would be ranked higher.

19. Survivor Series 1996, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve
Austin —
This was a very different match than their famous “I Quit”
bout, but it was awesome nonetheless. This scientifically sound match built to
the finish and transitioned at each turn. It should be noted that Steve Austin
called most of this match as it proved that Hart knew he good was. Pre-neck
injury Austin could mechanically wrestle with some of the best of them.
18. Summerslam 1994, WWF Championship: Bret Hart vs. Owen
Hart —
This is the best cage match that had the escaping rule in
effect. The teases and false finishes were both well done and greatly timed.
There were so many times where the match looked like it was going to end before
it finally did. These two just had great chemistry, and it was on full display
17. Wrestlemania 7, Career Match: Ultimate Warrior vs.
Macho Man Randy Savage —
Savage carried Warrior to not only his greatest match ever,
but also one of the best matches ever. Savage played to Warrior’s strengths,
doing an excellent job of dictating the pace and setting up Warrior’s hope
spots and comebacks. I used to believe matches that were called on the fly came
off more natural, but Savage proved that a match could be mapped out in advance
and come off equally organic and genuine. It really is a credit to Savage’s
imagination that he could see everything playing out almost exactly when he was
designing this match. The match also had one of the most historic and emotional
moments in wrestling history when Savage and Elizabeth reunited. The entire
post-match sequence was so well booked, and Savage teased and sold it
beautifully. It also completely made up for a rather lackluster finish to the
 16. Mind Games 1996, WWF Championship: Shawn
Michaels vs. Mick Foley —
This match proved that Mick Foley was more than just a
glorified stuntman. He went move-for-move, hold-for-hold and toe-for-toe with
HBK for half an hour. Some wrestlers have a difficult time selling consistently
because they lack the ability to tell a compelling story surrounding the
injury. Foley sold TWO body parts at the same time and weaved a great narrative
in which he had to adapt to those injuries. Both wrestlers played their roles
and strengths, and the only thing that marred this match was the botched
finish. Otherwise, it is virtually perfect.
15. Canadian Stampede 1997, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, the British
Bulldog, Brian Pillman & Jim Neidhart vs. Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock,
Goldust & the Legion of Doom —
This is one of the greatest booked multi-man matches ever.
It had NUCLEAR heat and atmosphere, and it was incredibly well structured for a
match that had that many wrestlers in it. The combination of intensity and
psychology made this a prodigious match, but the pure emotion radiating from
the crowd elevated it to an unprecedented classic.
14. Summerslam 2000, TLC I: Edge & Christian vs. The
Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz —
All the workers in this busted their tails to get this match
over, and they got each other even more over in the process. These three teams
refurbished WWE’s tag division and, in the process, transformed a once lacking
tag division into one of the best in wrestling history. They essentially raised
the bar every time they wrestled, too. This had bell-to-bell action with zero
down time. It was innovative, told a great story, had very few contrived spots
and countless “Holy Sh*t” moments. Most importantly, as the bodies piled up,
the intensity continued to rise, all the way to the crescendo.
13. No Way Out 2002, Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle vs.
Edge & Rey —
Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle were arguably the greatest
“strange bedfellows” tag team ever, and the only reason they coexisted was that
they would be suspended if they did not. They put their differences aside here
and delivered one of the greatest tag matches in WWE history. They all wrestled
each other differently, which brought an incredible level of psychology into
the match. And quite awesomely, the wrestlers were three steps ahead of
everyone watching. In other words, just when you assumed that they were going
in one direction, they would go into a totally different direction. They built
their reversals and counters based on their clichéd spots, and they made this
into a bout that had so many twists and turns. Just a creative, action-packed
12. Raw 2001, Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H vs.
Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit —
This is best non-gimmick tag match in WWE, and it is also
incredibly underrated. There is no doubt about it: This should have been on
PPV. If it had been, it might receive more of the recognition it rightfully
deserves. The four used every trick conceivable to keep the babyface in peril
on an island away from his partner and prevent him from making a “hot tag.”
They did so much to build up the tag that the crowd absolutely exploded when
Jericho finally tagged in Benoit. The work rate was incredible, and the
wrestlers were able to read the crowd’s reaction, identify the boiling point,
and then make the tag as the crowd was at its fieriest. This was also
exceptionally hectic, with the action spilling out all over the announce table.
11. Wrestlemania 26, Streak vs. Career: Undertaker vs.
Shawn Michaels —
This was one of the most emotional roller
coaster rides since HBK’s match against Ric Flair, but work rate was much
better in this. The Streak seems essentially indestructible, but both wrestlers
did an excellent job in building the idea that HBK had a chance of winning.
This was accomplished through impeccably selling not only moves but the entire
match as a whole. It took us on an eventful journey that we simply did not want
to end, especially because we did not want either man to lose. Deliberately, however,
Shawn Michael’s entire career was flashing before us (which enforced the fans
rally behind him). Most of us did not think he was going to win, but we just
did not want to believe he was going to lose. This also had all the other the
usual elements a terrific match has: psychology, storytelling, timing, in-ring
characterizations, etc. Even in his last match, Shawn was able to steal the
show. How many wrestlers can say that?
10.  Money in the Bank 2011, WWE Championship: CM
Punk vs. John Cena –
This had a big match feel to it that I have not experienced
in WWE since possibly The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 17.
There was so much to win, and neither man could afford losing.
The atmosphere made it feel as if the Chicago Cubs were facing the
Boston Red Sox in the World Series. This had genuine, not fabricated, drama,
intensity, and heat. And, most of all, Punk and Cena just didn’t do things for
the sake of doing them. Everything made sense and fit the context of the story
they were telling. Nothing happened that was impractical like, oh let’s just
say Cena hitting a DDT, flipping Punk over, and then putting in the STF. No,
instead, a spot in the match went like this: Punk went a cross body, but
Cena caught him and rolled through. Cena went for a FU, but CM Punk wiggled
out. He set him up for the GTS, but Cena caught Punk’s knee and locked in the
STF. Sequences like that allowed everything to feel natural and to flow like a
This also had impeccable pacing and timing, and they
magnificently built the match to its crescendo. The finish also enhanced the
drama. Then, ultimately, Cena’s concern for his  “goody two shoe” image
wound up being a character imperfection that caused him to fail. Sometimes, you
know, nice people finish last. There were some sloppy spots, but it made me
realize that it sold them being both fatigued and desperate better. There were
also great things in this, such as Cena’s body language showing his nervousness
as a result of the atmosphere in the beginning and then his intense
determination toward the end; Punk changing his wrestling style to fit his new
character, and the perfect blend of 80s storytelling and psychology but with
today’s state-of-the-art moves and characterizations.
9. Royal Rumble 1992: Royal Rumble —
Pat Patterson was a mastermind at booking two things:
finishes and Rumbles, and this match was a definitive illustration of that.
Flair was booked to steal the show, and he did just that and then some. Every
Tom, Dick and Harry tried to eliminate him, but he was able to overcome the
odds. And, unlike Rumble matches nowadays, this had boatloads of star power,
and it very much uncertain who was going to win. There were particular
mini-stories that went on during the Rumble, which made things more
captivating. It also helped the Rumble avoid some of the tiresome “let’s just
do stuff until the bigger stars enter” routine that often plagues the match.
This had prodigious elimination teases, too, particularly with the bigger
stars. There were many occurrences when I believed someone was going to
eliminate Flair, but he ended up finding a way to stay in the ring. The
greatest booked and performed Rumble ever.
8. Royal Rumble 2000, Street Fight for the WWF Title:
Cactus Jack vs. Triple H —
This was one of the best WWE feuds ever. Foley was
frustrated of being constantly beat up by Triple H, so he brought back the most
evil, sadistic and remorseless persona he had back: Cactus Jack. This was one
of the greatest structured hardcore brawls ever. They did not do high spots to
receive a cheap pop from the crowd. Every spot they did fit squarely in the
context of the story they were trying to tell. Everything that they did had
purpose. This was also a star-making performance from Triple H, as the fans started
to take him more seriously after this. And even though he played a douchebag
character, Triple H’s toughness shone, and the fans respected him for it. Mick
Foley ended up making Triple H a star, and Hunter ended up making Foley more
sympathetic. Talk about elevating each other to a higher level.
7. WrestleMania X-Seven, WWF Championship: Stone Cold
Steve Austin vs. The Rock —
When I evaluate a wrestling match, I take everything into
consideration, including the way the booking team built up to the match. With
that in mind, the Rock and Austin’s angle was one of the most dynamic stories
ever told in professional wrestling. Granted, Austin’s heel turn did not work
out in the long run, but what happened in the aftermath doesn’t change a thing
about how outstanding the rising action leading up to their encounter was.
After being hit by a car, Stone Cold was just not the same ass-kicker that he
had been before the accident. This was clearly communicated when failed to put
Triple H away once and for all in a loss at No Way Out.
Austin’s heel turn came as a total shock to many, but in
retrospect, the WWF writing staff brilliantly left a trail of breadcrumbs for
anybody who had paid close attention. In a sound byte that was replayed over
and over in promos leading up to the match, Austin told the champ “I need to
beat you, Rock. I need it more than anything.” What seemed like traditional
fare for a pre-match build took on new meaning after the match. Austin knew he
lacked the killer instinct he once had, but he desperately wanted to become
champion, so he sold his soul to the devil himself… Mr. McMahon. The match
itself was amazingly energetic, and it had 60,000 fans in attendance all
screaming at the top of their lungs as the two biggest megastars of the 90s
slugged it out and pulled out all the stops to be crowned champion. This match
had as much of a “big fight” atmosphere as you’ll find anywhere. After adding
up all the intangibles, this match deserves to be ranked as one of the all-time
6. No Way Out 2001, Three Stages of Hell: Triple H vs.
Stone Cold Steve Austin —
This phenomenal, old school fight mirrored the intensity of
Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A.’s “I Quit” cage match from Starrcade ’86.
Simply put, it was just two guys that hated one another trying to kill each
other, and that was all it had to be. This match had everything a brawl needs:
It was brutally violent, cleverly booked and diligently worked, with both
wrestlers playing their respective roles to a tee. The finish played marked a
pivotal moment that contributed to Austin’s heel turn, too, as noted above.
Additionally, the stipulations were creative, unique, and made the bout feel
more like all-out warfare than a sanctioned match.
5. WrestleMania X, Ladder Match for the IC Title: Shawn
Michaels vs. Razor Ramon —
I did not think I could love this match any more than I
already did. That was before Kevin Nash talked about how many things upper
management told them they could not do. Michaels envisioned, layered and
structured the entire thing, and singlehandedly made the ladder match what it
is today. This still holds up today, even though the bumps aren’t seen to be
that exceptional nowadays, because HBK scripted a mesmerizing story while
wrestling a ladder and, oh yeah, Razor Ramon too. The thing I also liked about
this was its believability. In contrast to many ladder matches, this one
actually gave off the impression that it could be real. This was beautifully
paced, timed and executed, and, most importantly, innovative. To this day, it
remains the greatest ladder match ever, and it is all because of Shawn
4. WrestleMania III, Intercontinental Championship:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat —
This is the greatest 15-minute match ever and way ahead of
its time. It was a light heavyweight bout that had nonstop action and executed
the most flawless looking spots I have ever seen. The pace was constantly
accelerating, while the psychology was off the charts. Other than its
originality, the thing that makes this superior than any of its imitators was
its flow and realism. Savage and Steamboat did not reach for any convoluted
spots (which, in most cases, just seem contrived and hurt a match’s flow). The
finish was flawed, no doubt about it. The involvement of George “The Animal”
Steele was unnecessary. I am not a fan of him saving Steamboat, even if Savage
was trying to end his career. I believe a babyface should overcome arduous
situations by themselves. The finish also was just way too complicated to
impeccably pull off, and they should have done a finish that would have been
much easier to do, too.Nonetheless, Steamboat received a deafening reaction
when he won, so, ultimately, it really did not matter and is just me
nitpicking. Regardless, a mediocre finish does not mar an otherwise
outstanding, immaculately choreographed match.
3. Badd Blood 1997, Hell in the Cell: Shawn Michaels vs.
Undertaker —
This was the only time the Hell in the Cell match had a
purpose behind it other than “I hate you, you hate me. Let’s fight in a Cell”.
Before this, a cage match was a way to settle a difference without people
interfering, but someone realized that it was making the wrestlers look very
nonathletic since they could not climb a cage (something I was able to do at
the age of 10). Therefore, being the smart booker that he is, Jim Cornette came
up with this genius idea. He will tell you that it was not an original idea. It
was just a hybrid between War Games and the Memphis Cage Match, but the design
and purpose were brilliant nevertheless. The towering structure served twin
purposes, both as a barrier preventing any outside interference and
simultaneously a death trap devised to keep Shawn Michaels from escaping the
comeuppance he deserved at the handers of The Undertaker. The latter point
really sold this match, as Undertaker brutally beat the hell out of Shawn
Michaels. HBK’s shuddering bumps and exquisite selling made the pain seem very
genuine, and just when it appeared HBK was finally going to get the upper hand
and deliver one of his signature moves or his finisher, Undertaker shrugged it
off, leaving viewers wondering if it was even possible for HBK to emerge
And that made the finish even more powerful. I do not know
why people seem to hate it so much. In one fell swoop, they finally debuted
Kane, they made him look like a total badass by tearing the locked Cell door
clean off its hinges, and they allowed the cowardly heel Michaels to win yet
another tainted contest, all without damaging The Undertaker’s credibility.
Honestly, it’s Booking 101. And what better way to end the HBK and Undertaker
feud than with the heel coming out on top. This was a very original and intense
match that included the long-awaited début of Kane. Everything about it was
just about perfect.
2. WrestleMania 10: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart —
Bret Hart wrestled twice this night, as he faced Owen Hart
in the opener and then Yokozuna for the WWF Championship in the main event.
This was a technical masterpiece and arguably the best ever. The timing of the
spots, the smooth transitions, the unparalleled chemistry, and both wrestlers
being able to progressively build the match all the way to its crescendo
solidifies this as the blueprint on how to correctly carry out a wrestling
magnum opus.
On top of that, the match told a great story. Owen Hart was
fed up being overshadowed by his older brother, so in order to exercise his
demons, he decided to prove once and for all that he was better than big
brother Bret. The contest illustrated that Bret was definitely the superior
wrestler, as he was always one step ahead of his young brother. But Owen was
able to pull off a key reversal that allowed him to pull off a major upset.
Owen treated his fluky win as though it had been a dominant performance, which
helped him develop into an even more exaggerated, overemotional heel. After
Bret Hart finally conquered his long-lasting quest to become WWF Champion, Owen
came out with a look on his face that said, “Did you forget something? You
didn’t beat me.” What was supposed to be a beautiful moment for Bret ended up
as a bittersweet moment, because Bret knew that even though he finally won the
title, his loss to Owen earlier in the night cast a shadow over what should
have been the biggest night of his career. Like I said, there is a case for
this match as the greatest of all time thanks to phenomenal booking with superb
work rate to match.
1. I Quit Match, WrestleMania 13: Bret Hart vs. Stone
Cold Steve Austin —
This was not a wrestling match. This was a battle. These two
were both incredibly gifted wrestlers that just seemed to click with each
other. As a result, they put on some compelling bouts. On an otherwise
uninspiring WrestleMania card, both of these ring magicians defined the
suspension of disbelief. This match had nuclear heat, as it gave off the notion
that both men truly wanted to massacre each other. They turned a completely
bored crowd into one that was on the edge of its seat. And really, that’s just
a figure of speech because nobody was sitting down. Everyone in the arena was
standing. It had everything you could want in brawl: psychology, storytelling,
emotion, selling, realistic facial expressions, an incredible atmosphere and
prodigious booking. 
Above all, both men pulled off exactly what Vince McMahon
wanted them to do: Bret Hart turn into a narcissist that only was concerned
about winning, which made the fans feel as if he completely turned on him. And while Stone Cold wasn’t your conventional babyface, this
brawl revealed his inner face-like qualities. He had heart and perseverance,
and he showed that he was never going to quit. The finish exemplified just
that, as refused to tap out to the Sharpshooter to the point where he passed
out from the pain. Contrary to modern wrestling, signature moves had a great
deal of significance back then. Hart would never lock in his finishing
submission maneuver just to inject drama into a match. When Hart put an
opponent in the Sharpshooter, winning was usually a foregone conclusion. Long
story short, it was a surreal moment when Austin lasted as long as he did in
the Sharpshooter. This match was historic, important and just flat-out

Its time to play the game…

Scott, I know we've beaten this into the ground but I think I've recently changed my opinion on the HHH/Bryan angle and wanted your opinion.
Im on record as liking the angle as a whole so far, and was trying to be objective about HHHs involvement, and not let his past transgressions impair my judgment of his current role.  However, wouldnt it be a much better angle if it were just the hottest babyface in the business (D Bry of course) vs. a well established superstar fresh off a delayed heel turn (Orton obviously.)  Forget all the "is the face taking to much of a beating every week", "does it make the rest of the roster look weak", etc. talk. Wouldnt just a straight up Bryan vs Orto


feud work better in your opinion?  

No, because the whole reason Orton is such an effective heel is that HHH is making him one.  If it was just Orton v. Bryan then Orton would get turned babyface by the crowds and negate the whole point.  

Time of death?

The bad news keeps piling on for TNA, and I really am curious as to what your thoughts are for the survivability of the company.  Are these really necessary measures which are going to sustain TNA, or the last desperate attempts of a dying company to stay afloat for a tiny bit longer?


ah, their survival is 100% dependent on Spike and Panda and nothing else.  They could die tomorrow at the whim of both companies, but Spike keeps them around for solid ratings in that timeslot and Panda presumably uses them as a tax writeoff.  The question is how MUCH money can the company lose before Panda no longer finds them useful as a plaything, which is probably why Dixie is doing the desperate cost cutting to remain an attractive loss leader instead of a giant albatross ala WCW 2000.  If they're content with giant losses, TNA will be around forever.  If not, they'll be shut down next week.  No way to call it otherwise.