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The 50 Greatest Matches


The Pain

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I was going to open with a hearty "morning all," but then I realized that it may not be morning wherever you're reading this, and that "all" may only be half a dozen people after the fiasco that was last week's column. The good news, is controversy creates MANY HITS~! So hopefully some readers will have stuck with me to see what "oh my God, you're a total mark!" material I'll come up with next.

Like I've been saying, next week will be dedicated to feedback on all three of my retrospective columns, so all the venomous hate that filled the comments section will be addressed.

But for now, we have another list to get to! I don't think this one will cause as much of an outrage, buy you never know. Let's get to the Top Fifty Matches of the Last Decade!

Some Facts And Figures Regarding The List:

- A total of 92 matches made the short list; 42 had to be cut.

- Of all the years, 1998 had the least matches make the short list with just 2. However only half of the year was eligible, but if we double that tally, it still has the worse total.

- Of the 92 on the original list, just 9 were TNA matches, though it is worth pointing out that the company has been around for just 6 of the eligible years.

- No ECW (original) or WCW matches were featured, because I did not watch either company. Similarly, no indy or foreign matches were featured for similar reasons.

- Ric Flair had 4 matches in the top fifty, a great achievement under the circumstances.

- Lita and Beulah McGillicutty were the only women to make the list. If the Lita/Trish Stratus match from a 2004 edition of Raw had not been cut, Lita would have been the only female to appear twice.

- TNA's AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels each had 4 appearances; TNA had 6 matches overall in the top fifty.

- 8 of the top fifty matches were variants of a Ladder match. Many more were axed from the short list.

- Hulk Hogan appeared twice and I feel dirty.

The criteria for judgment included (but was not limited to):

- Historic significance

- Atmosphere (crowd participation, showcase event etc)

- Memorable moments

- In-ring quality

- Surprise element

The Top 50

50. WWE Championship Match: Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Survivor Series 2007)

This match had some tremendous psychology involved; Michaels was unable to utilize Sweet Chin Music or he would have been disqualified, so he wore Orton down and tried to put him away with various submission moves (the ankle lock, figure four and the controversial Crossface). However that didn't work so Shawn desperately tried the kick, but hesitated and gave Orton just enough time to catch him with a RKO. Orton was at his best at this point and Shawn Michaels is Shawn Michaels. This was a great effort from both men and a match that'll ultimately be under looked, I feel.

49. WWE Championship Match: Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (WWE Summerslam 2001)

This was the best match these two men had and was full of drama. Taking place in the middle of the disappointing Invasion angle, Austin was a heel and Angle was the face, and the dynamic worked surprisingly well as the pair put on an awesome title match. Of course, the Screwjob finish means that this leaves a sour taste in most people's mouths, but tack a clean ending on the end of it and it's a classic. Alas, no clean ending, no classic status.

48. WWE Championship Match: Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy (WWE Raw 2002)

This was their ladder match that took place during Taker's heel run and has been an IWC cult favourite for many years now. However some people are starting to come to the conclusion that it's overrated and to a certain extent it is. It's a decent ladder match, but it gets such praise because of the amazing atmosphere surrounding the match. Taker and Hardy deserve a ton of credit for getting the crowd involved and actually believing that Hardy had a legitimate chance at winning the gold.

47. Street Fight: Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle (WWE King of the Ring 2001)

We've all seen Shane McMahon do some crazy ass things, but never have I feared for his health more than I did in this great brawl. Possibly overrated, the match is remember for a series of spots where Angle belly-to-bellied Shane through some plexi-glass, the only problem being that the glass just didn't want to break and Shane kept bouncing off of his head. Still, for sheer brutality and the fact that everyone remembers this match, it gets a fairly respectable place in the top fifty. This match needs to be put on a DVD someday.

46. 2007 Royal Rumble Match (WWE Royal Rumble 2007)

This is one of my favourite Rumble matches ever for a number of reasons. The main portion of the battle royal is very good in and of itself, but of course, everyone's favourite part comes when we get down to Shawn Michaels and Undertaker. That eight minutes of awesomeness has had people clamoring for one more Taker/Michaels match ever since, and if we don't get it, I'll be satisfied in knowing we at least got this little gem here.

45. Steel Cage Match: Triple H vs. Ric Flair (WWE Taboo Tuesday 2005)

"Put me in a cage with that sonuvabitch!" pleaded Ric Flair. So we did, and The Game and Flair gave us one hell of a match. This was an old school, brutal, bloody, intense, dramatic, vulgar match that saw Flair at his best for the first time in many, many years. The image of a bloodied Flair giving Trips the middle finger while holding him the figure four is etched on my mind, as are Flair's hysteric shouts of "fuck you! Tap! Fuck you, you son of a bitch!" And that sad part is that people complained that the Intercontinental Championship lay forgotten.

44. NWA Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels vs. LAX (TNA No Surrender 2006)

This was the fantastic Ultimate X match. Although these two duos had many memorable matches in 2006, none were better than this breathtaking affair. Any time these four got in the ring together, they did some amazing stuff and this was obviously no exception. Although Edge & Christian vs. The Hardys vs. The Dudleyz will go down as the greatest modern tag team rivalry, some of the matches these guys were having in 2006 were as good as any of the tag wrestling WWE has produced in the last 10 years.

43. World Heavyweight Championship: Undertaker vs. Batista (WWE Survivor Series 2007)

I'm one of few who think this match was the best one that Taker and Batista produced, but I really think that this is one of the better Hell in a Cell matches. They took the stuff they'd been doing in their previous matches to a whole new level and the drama was off the charts. The conclusion may not be to everyone's taste, but I loved Edge's interference and what it meant to the rivalry. As far as I'm concerned, this is a fitting final chapter to a tremendous rivalry.

42. WWE Tag Team Championship: Paul London and Brian Kendrick vs. MNM vs. The Hardys vs. William Regal and Dave Taylor (WWE Armageddon 2007)

This may be the most dangerous match I've ever seen; there were just so many scary moments here that it almost hurt my enjoyment of it. Joey Mercury getting his face smashed in was insane and one the sickest things I've ever seen in wrestling. Paul London could have broken his neck taking a suplex from Regal onto a ladder and Brian Kendrick almost broke his own neck trying a Sliced Bread from the ladder. This was non-stop action, non-stop amazement and all round goodness.

41. 30-Minute Iron Man Match: AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (TNA Bound For Glory 2005)

This was a highlight of a long lasting rivalry that produced many great matches, but I feel this is their best. This was a great battle of one-upmanship, as was their entire feud, and it was only fitting that there was just a single fall in the match. TNA was awesome during this period, and this is one of their best matches from the two men that always delivered for TNA in the early days.

40. Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan (WWE Summerslam 2005)

This truly was Legend vs. Icon and a mesmerizing match. Although not technically up to much, the fact that it was Hogan vs. Michaels alone made it an automatic great match and the crowd ate it up. Michaels' over the top selling just made the match all the more entertaining, and even though you and I both know the wrong man went over, it's still a great match in its own right and one that won't soon be forgotten.

39. WWE Championship: The Rock vs. Mankind (WWE Royal Rumble 1999)

This was another great brawl from the Attitude Era and another great match that goes forgotten, I feel. Some of the chair shots in this match were horrendously good and the booking up until the finish is more or less perfect. Both men brought their A game and they had a great match, as we would expect from these two really. Overall this was just a brutal affair with lots of sick shots, lots of brawling and a ton of fun.

38. Ladder Match: Edge and Christian vs. The Hardys (WWE No Mercy 1999)

This match made four stars that would go on to raise the bar every time they got in the ring together. Everything worked perfectly for these guys on this night and the standing ovation they received is a suitable tribute to the work they put in. And even today, this match holds up really well, which is surprising considering all the chaos involving ladders we've seen in recent years. This is really the foundation for an unbelievably next eighteen months for these four young men.

37. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WWE WrestleMania XIX)

This match definitely gets bonus points for what was a fantastic built, but the match itself is a classic tale of a young man meeting his idol. I loved Jericho was emulating Shawn in this match, the near falls and the counters, and everything else. This was just great story telling from two great storytellers on a mammoth stage. Of course, the best part came after the match when Jericho solidified his status as a dick by low blowing Shawn as they embrace in the middle of the ring.

36. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Umaga (WWE Royal Rumble 2007)

Although this was many people's MOTY in 2007, I do think it was ever so slightly overrated, hence it reaching just 36 here. But make no mistake about it, this is a wonderful match packed with intensity, inventive spots and drama. You know this match must be a great one because this is really where a lot of the "Cena haters" began to see what a great performer Cena can be. As Last Man Standing matches go, this one is one of the best.

35. Extreme Rules: Mick Foley, Edge and Lita vs. Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk and Beulah McGillicutty (WWE One Night Stand 2006)

This might just be the most brutal match you'll see come up on this list. The fact that Funk, at his age, can go like he did here is simply astounding. And the same could be said for Foley. And although this was essentially a violent, nasty brawl, the story telling is somewhat epic and the little touches like the Rated R pin fall are what make it stand out to me. Having read Hardcore Diaries, I know Mick would have liked things to have been done differently, but he'd have struggled to produce a better match at the end of it.

34. Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Mankind (WWE King of the Ring 1998)

No matter how many people cry foul because "the match is just two big spots," this match is currently and will always be one of the most iconic matches in wrestling history, right up there with Hogan vs. Andr? at Mania III. Even non-wrestling fans have been amazed by the site of Foley being tossed from the top of the Cell and it's the kind of thing we are not likely to ever see again, so it's worth appreciating this kind of match that won't ever be emulated.

33. Samoa Joe vs. Kurt Angle (TNA Genesis 2006)

Of all their encounters so far, this one has been my favourite, and it was their first. Now many people say that this and all their other matches have been big disappointments, but I don't think I've ever witnessed such high expectations for a match as I did with this one, so they were always going to struggle to meet the expectations of most. But this is still a fantastic match where they just went balls to the walls for fifteen minutes and left it all in the ring. This is great stuff from two great performers.

32. World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H vs. Ric Flair (WWE Raw 2003)

I'm sure you all remember this match. Much like the Taker/Hardy match earlier, these guys deserve a lot of credit for having the fans on the edge of their seats because they believed that Naitch could pull it off one more time. Of course, this was not to be, but this is one of the most exciting battles in the history of Monday night Raw and the aftermath was one of the show's greatest moments. Any time these two stepped into the ring, they brought their best and they made magic.

31. WWE Championship: Edge vs. Ric Flair (WWE Raw 2006)

And this would be the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match. Although it may not be the most breathtaking TLC match and it may not have the biggest and best spots, when you consider that this was 57-year old Ric fucking Flair in there, this is another of the most amazing matches in the history of Raw and once again, it featured Ric Flair. Flair was a bloody and battered mess when this one was done, and it's a testament to his performance that a lot of fans had even more respect for Flair than they already did when this was over.

30. Intercontinental Championship Match: Randy Orton vs. Cactus Jack (WWE Backlash 2004)

This match, this performance, made Randy Orton a star. Don't get me wrong, he was already on the way but the fact that his body when through what it did here and he still came out a winner made him seem like a legitimate badass in the eyes of most fans and that counts for a hell of a lot. Foley also deserves a lot of credit for his effort, and while the tacks and the stage tosses are what stands out, it's worth giving a nod to the creative force behind this angle because it was one of the best booked feuds in recent history.

29. 2001 Royal Rumble Match (WWE Royal Rumble 2001)

This is quite possibly my favourite Rumble match of all time because there is never a dull moment. I loved the Hardys' interaction, I loved the Drew Carey stuff, I loved the hardcore bits, the Taker/Kane reunion, and the dominance of Kane and the return of Big Show. Cap all of that off with Triple H trying and failing to get revenge of Steve Austin for screwing him out of the WWE Championship and you what amounts to more or less a perfect Rumble match. There's nothing about this match that I don't like and that's rare.

28. Intercontinental Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Royal Rumble 2001)

I can't believe this match is only here; it's one of my favorites. Anyway, this is an old-school style ladder match in that it was more about the physicality than the crashing and burning, and believe me when I say it was very, very physical. If you haven't seen it, you'll come to a new understanding regarding Chris Benoit's 85-year old brain when you see him suicide dive a steel chair. This is one of the most hard-hitting matches I've ever seen and I loved every minute of it, and I don't think Benoit and Jericho could have put in a greater effort to end their year-long rivalry. This kicked all kinds of ass.

27. Six Sides of Steel: America's Most Wanted vs. Triple X(TNA Turning Point 2004)

Many people have called this the greatest cage match of all time and I find it quite hard to disagree with them, because this match is more insane tag team action from TNA at its best. Some of the things these four men pull off have to be seen to be believed, and having seen the match numerous times, I still can't believe it. This is just a fantastic match packed with intensity and insanity. Many people have even said this is TNA's greatest match and by my reckoning, they're not too far off. If you haven't seen this, go out of your way to do so whenever you get the chance.

26. World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. The Undertaker (WWE One Night Stand 2008)

Depending on what websites you believe, Undertaker is either 43 or 46 or anywhere in between. Whichever it is, I'd wager is too damn old to be falling from 15ft ladders through 3 tables (no matter how many times they set up 4, there's always one that doesn't break, huh?). This match was another outstanding Tables, Ladders and Chairs showcase and a fitting end to what has been a brilliant feud. Some might think I've overrated it but I was very impressed by what Taker was able to do, and some of those unprotected chair shots are the sickest I've seen since the aforementioned Rock/Foley I Quit match.

25. World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Raw 2003)

These two men have had some brutal brawls in environments like Last Man Standing, Hell in a Cell and Street Fights, but put them in a straight up wrestling match, in Shawn's hometown nonetheless, and they still manage to bring the goods. This is a magnificent effort from both men and arguably their best match together. Some people don't like the messed up finish, while I love the concept of it even if the execution was a little off (Triple H wasn't covering Shawn, so there was no pin there). All things considered, this is simply two great wrestlers having a great wrestling match in front of a ridiculously hot crowd that took the match over the top.

24. WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero (WWE No Way Out 2004)

Jesus Christ, this was awesome stuff. This is an absolute epic encounter and one of the best big man-little man matches of all time. The storytelling here is great and the emotion is off the chart as well. The bulk of the match worked well to build up a ton of drama leading to the big finish, the interference from Goldberg followed by the Frog Splash and a new champion. Never have a seen a wrestler more elated to win the championship and this was truly a great moment for any wrestling fan to have witnessed. While some hate the Goldberg interference, I think that the emotion is almost so powerful that a little thing like Goldberg couldn't even bring it down.

23. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Triple H (WWE WrestleMania 22)

One word sums up this match for me: atmosphere. This was just incredible stuff and it made for great viewing as the Chi-town crowd booed the crap out of Cena and cheers for the heel who's inevitably going to win, Triple H. Although The Game and Cena didn't do much in the way of having a great match, they didn't have to, because they have the ability to take the crowd along on a rollercoaster of elation and disappointment (that's the true measure of a great wrestler, by the way). And while some may question me putting this match up this high ("WWE mark!") if you go back and check my criteria, this match pretty much puts a big tick in all of those boxes.

22. Hardcore Match: Edge vs. Mick Foley (WWE WrestleMania 22)

And from that same event comes this hardcore dose of flaming beauty. After losing the WWE Championship after just three weeks, Edge's status was in question, but that all changed when he went to war with Mick Foley at Mania. This match was crazy stuff and that rare hardcore match that carries meaning. They had some really stiff stuff going down here, some great spots and nasty moments. Lita played a big role in this match and deserves some credit too. Of course, everyone remembers that big spot at the end, and that's because it is an absolutely sensational moment. It takes balls to fall through fire, and Foley and Edge proved just what they are willing to do to create that little bit of WrestleMania magic.

21. World Tag Team Championship: Triple H and Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho (WWE Raw 2001)

It seems that all most people remember of this match is Triple H's injury, but there was so much more to it. This is often hyped as the greatest match in the history of Monday Night Raw and I don't think anyone would strongly disagree with that sentiment. This is three guys and Steve Austin at their absolute best, bringing everything they had to the table and letting their ability do all the talking. While it's not a faultless match, it's not far off and the storytelling, once again, is incredible. This is another match that needs to find its way to a DVD sooner or later, although thanks to the events of last June, that probably won't be happening for a while.

20. World Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian vs. The Hardys vs. The Dudleyz (WWE WrestleMania 2000)

This would be the Triangle Ladder Match, or if you remember it well you might know it as TLC 0 because it was essentially TLC before TLC was invented. These kinds of matches have been documented to death really, and we all know how good these matches are. This one had some particularly nasty spots including Matt Hardy breaking a table into a thousand pieces like it owed him money. This one also saw the first massive Jeff Hardy swanton and arguably the most iconic – the 20ft Swanton in the aisle. That was just breathtaking stuff there, and although it may seem impossible to duplicate or better efforts like these…

19. World Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian vs. The Hardys vs. The Dudleyz (WWE WrestleMania X-Seven)

Also known as TLC II, this one took things just that little bit further. To be honest, I find it very difficult to separate this and the Triangle Ladder match in terms of quality, but there are two moments in this match that made me decide to put it as one better than Mania 2000; one is possibly the coolest visual I have ever seen in pro wrestling, and that is Edge spearing Jeff Hardy some 20ft in the air, and both men come crashing down to the canvas. The other is Lita declothing herself. Fine margins I know, but I had to separate ‘em somehow. Regardless, this is a phenomenal match and really sets the bar when it comes to spot fests, although I'd be stunned if anything came close to topping this effort.

18. WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield (WWE Judgment Day 2005)

This was the "I Quit" match that took their somewhat disappointing feud to a whole new level. After Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels went 7 minutes too long at WrestleMania 21, these guys lost a big chunk of their title showdown and as many have said, that match ended up being ridiculously unspectacular. But on this stage they were given the chance to right that wrong and they did just that. This is the performance that made John Cena a star and this is the performance that made a lot of fans stand up and take notice. JBL played his part brilliantly as well and the pair had a very exciting, very bloody and very intense brawl. And while it may not be Funk/Foley, it pretty much embodies everything an "I Quit" match should be.

17. X Division Championship: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (TNA Against All Odds 2005)

Take one phenomenal AJ Styles and one Samoan Submission Machine, put them in the ring together and let them work their magic; they'll give you a classic. And this match was no exception. This was beautifully paced and saw two of the best young wrestlers just tearing shit up and producing one hell of a match. I really struggle to see any faults in this match as the booking is practically flawless, and how often is it you can say that about TNA. They seriously need to go back and see the kinds of things they were producing two or three years ago and emulate some of that stuff, because is what TNA is all about; amazing wrestlers having amazing wrestling matches.

16. WWE Championship Match: The Rock vs. Triple H (WWE Judgment Day 2000)

This is the Iron Man match and quite easily the best match The Game and The Rock ever had with each other. The finish gets knocked by some but it is one of my favourite finishes to a match ever. And for an hour here, the psychology is ridiculously good. I touched on it a couple of columns ago, but some of the spots they utilize are perfect for this type of match including the sleeper holds and sacrificing a DQ to regain a fall and damage the opponent. This is how you can perfectly book a clusterfuck ending of a match and others (TNA, and indeed modern day WWE) should take note. Triple H was at his best at this point so he was always going to have a great match, while The Rock did more than his fair share of the work. Everything just clicked for them that night, and this is simply a brilliant match.

15. Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (WWE Raw 2007)

And from one hour-long classic to another, this would be the 56-minute match that took place in England last year. I was lucky enough to catch this one live and I was loving every single minute of it. While the storytelling may not be as good as in the Rock/Game Iron man, the fact that this was a complete surprise to all watching makes it a slightly greater and more memorable match. Besides, I could watch Cena and Michaels find new counters to each others finishers for many hours, not just one. I can speak from experience and say that this one had the crowd literally on their feet for the entire time as they watched two artists paint a masterpiece on the canvas.

14. No Holds Barred: Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (WWE SmackDown 2002)

As you will see a little bit later on in the list, SmackDown in the latter half of 2002 produced some of the greatest free TV matches in the history of the spot courtesy of 6 great wrestlers, and this may be the pick of the bunch. Edge and Eddie had a terrific match at Summerslam that summer, and then they went and topped it at Unforgiven the next month and then somehow, they managed to top that on SmackDown. This match was brutally fantastic and had everything you could ask for from a hardcore match; stiff shots, high-flying, breathtaking moves and all. After the match, the fans gave Eddie Guerrero a standing ovation despite the fact that he was the heel and he lost, and that should tell you just about all you need to know about this match.

13. World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker (WWE No Way Out 2006)

And this is another of those matches where you're expectations aren't too high, but you think they'll do OK. As it turns out, Undertaker was feeling frisky on this night and was in the mood to have a really good match. And it just so happened that his opponent for the evening was Kurt Angle so as it turned out, they had an unbelievably good match. The wrestling in this match was simply sublime and the drama they managed to build up over time was fantastic and made for brilliant viewing. These two had a couple of stinkers early in Angle's career and six years later they're tearing the house down for a chance to go to WrestleMania. It's amazing what a little bit of motivation can do. This may well be one of Undertaker's greatest matches ever.

12. Career Threatening Match: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE WrestleMania 24)

As far as emotion and storytelling go this should be at the top of the list. But a Ric Flair approaching 60 and Shawn Michaels with a bad back, bad knees and bad hair mean that this wasn't an in-ring clinic. But with these guys, it didn't need to be. It was fantastic emotionally and they had you the moment they were in the ring. Michaels and Flair are probably the two greatest professional wrestlers ever, and this is why. Even at their advanced years, they can still pull something like this out of the bag, and that just goes to prove that wrestling isn't about how good a lariat you can throw and how crisp your small packages are. The words "I'm sorry, I love you," will carry significance with wrestling fans for the rest of their lives now; this was a truly magical match.

11. WWE Tag Team Championship: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio (WWE No Mercy 2002)

This has got to be one of the greatest tag team matches of all time. At the time, these four men were pretty much untouchable and the matches they were producing were criminally good and this is one of their best. This is tag wrestling 101. Everything works, everything clicks. Both teams are so cohesive and this puts any recent tag team match to shame. And the fact that these were two thrown together teams just goes to show what fantastic performers all four of these men are (were, in Benoit's case). The innovation that Edge and Mysterio came up with was great, and the whole Benoit/Angle saga only added to the excitement and drama that made for a fantastic match that would go down in history as the last great tag team match in WWE if it wasn't for their later match.

10. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (WWE WrestleMania X-8)

I hate Hulk Hogan. I can't stand the guy. Maybe it's because I didn't watch during the eighties, or maybe it's just because I've got taste, I don't know, but the guy makes my skin crawl. But only he could step into the ring with The Rock and make the kind of magic they did in Toronto. This was possibly the most rabid crowd I've ever seen at a wrestling show, and that's due to the sheer electricity created by the most charismatic individuals in the history of wrestling colliding in front of 60,000 people at WrestleMania. Hogan and Rock and truly icons, and this may be the greatest dream match to ever take place. Watching this back as I did this week, one has to wonder what kind of excitement and reaction we would witness had it been Hogan standing across the ring from Stone Cold Steve Austin.

And while no one is going to fool themselves into thinking that this is a great technical match, its historical relevance and astounding atmosphere earn it a place in the top ten.

9. WWE Tag Team Championship: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio (WWE SmackDown 2002)

This has got to be one of the greatest tag team matches of all time. At the time, these four men were pretty much untouchable and the matches they were producing were criminally good and this is one of their best. This is tag wrestling 101. Everything works, everything clicks. Both teams are so cohesive and this puts any recent tag team match to shame. And the fact that these were two thrown together teams just goes to show what fantastic performers all four of these men are (were, in Benoit's case). The innovation that Edge and Mysterio came up with was great, and the whole Benoit/Angle saga only added to the excitement and drama that made for a fantastic match. And this may well go down in history as the last truly great tag team match in WWE. What this match had that their No Mercy match didn't is simply two extra falls (three if you count the one that didn't count…). Had the match ended after the first fall, it's a great match. 3 falls? That's a classic.

8. WWE Championship Match: Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (WWE Royal Rumble 2000)

This was the street fight at Madison Square Garden. I'm pretty much in love with this match as it's pretty damn perfect. There's a pattern developing here and that's that any match Mick Foley is in sees him helping cement someone as a star and here it is the turn of Triple H. This and the next month's Hell in a Cell brawl saw Triple H rise to the very top and become not just the biggest heel in the company, but also the best wrestler on the planet, bar none. The match itself is awesomely brutal, with all kinds of weapons thrown in including hammers, tacks and barbed wire. There's some awfully good bumps and even a cameo by The Rock to enjoy, so there's nothing not to enjoy here. And even though Cactus got the last laugh, it was Triple H who's legacy was only just beginning to unfold with a little help from classic matches like this one.

7. 3 Stages of Hell: Triple H vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWE No Way Out 2001)

And this one, which just so happens to be just a little bit better. 3 Stages of Hell = 3 stages of fantastic wrestling. Like I said about the tag team 2 out of 3 falls match, if it ends after one fall, it's a great match. But now this is a classic. And as well as being an amazing brawl, there is also such a good story in every fall that really takes this match to a whole new plateau. I love every last detail of this match, to the way Austin wins Trips' favoured fall and vice versa, to the finish which sees Triple H land on top of Austin to get the win, a mirror of their entire feud really, with Triple H technically coming out on top, but Austin getting the last laugh as he did with a Stunner post-match. There are few better ways for a wrestling fan to spend forty-five minutes watching wrestling than with this blockbuster of a match, perhaps the most fitting closure to a magnificent rivalry.

6. X Division Championship: Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels (TNA Unbreakable 2005)

TNA worked out a formula; if you put Joe, Styles and Daniels in the ring together at any one time, they were guaranteed to come up trumps and never was that more the case than at Unbreakable when the three men waged war in what is widely considered TNA's greatest ever match and according to me, one of the best of the last ten years. With the X Division title on the line, all three guys left everything in the ring that night, went balls to the wall and did what they do best. For a good twenty-five minutes this was nothing but awesome move after awesome move and nothing else, and sometimes that really is all you need to make a classic match, which this very much is. I've shown this match to non-wrestling fans and they've been just as impressed with the athleticism and showmanship as I was upon first seeing it. Nothing beats these three guys tearing it up; pure perfection.

5. WWE Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (WWE Royal Rumble 2003)

These two men have had some great battles in the past; Mania X-Seven, the cage match in June of that year, Ultimate Submission, 2 out of 3 falls and more. They were even tag partners a few short months before this match. But no one gave Benoit a chance at winning this one because we all knew it would be Angle taking on Lesnar at Mania, but those bastards once again had us believing that some how, some way, the underdog would pull off a victory. I've heard this match called overrated and simplistic, but it really isn't because it's virtually flawless. It's matches like this that can save or steal a show and matches like this that ultimately go down in history as some of the greatest ever, and this really is one of the best from arguably the pure greatest technicians in the history of mainstream professional wrestling, and it's just a shame that one of them is no longer with us physically, while the other is no longer with us mentally.

4. Non-Sanctioned Street Fight: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (Summerslam 2002)

Under no circumstances did this have any right to be as good as it did. Shawn Michaels hadn't wrestled for over four years and Triple H's performances so fat that year had been average at best in comparison to the quality of show we're used to from The Game. But damn, this was such a wonderful match. I'll always remember the video package before the match as being one of the greatest ever, and so how fitting is it that it was followed up with one of the greatest matches ever. We would quickly find out that Shawn hadn't missed a step and soon he and The Game were tearing it up and the crowd was loving it. Every time Michaels looked to take a bigger risk, the further in the crowd was drawn and the better it got. I loved the way HBK went all out with tables and ladders and then won with a simple reversal and a roll-up. And the post-match beatdown was a perfect way to prove just how big a prick Triple H was and a great ending to a fantastic match. Although they would try many more times, HBK and Triple H would never be able to reach the heights of this match again.

3. WWE Championship: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWE WrestleMania X-Seven)

This is one of the greatest main events in the history of WrestleMania and one of the most dramatic and intense matches to ever take place, and 67,000 fans who crammed into the Astrodome that night would testify as such. This was the two of the biggest and baddest stars in the history of professional wrestling butting heads and locking horns on the grandest stage of ‘em all. Simply put, it doesn't get much better than that. Rock and Austin had an amazing night that night, busting out submission, brawling, getting bloodied up and shocking the crowd with a turn no one really saw coming. Although Austin wasn't immediately the heel the company wanted him to be, I think the crowd's response that night only added to the occasion of it all. As for the match, it was the best of both men. I loved the image of a bloodied Austin giving the referee the finger as he refused to relinquish the sharpshooter. I loved Austin using the million dollar dream in desperation and I even loved the sixteen chair shots used to finally win the match: a desperate and crazy challenger snaps to win the title. This was an unbelievable all round match to close the greatest pay-per-view of all time.

2. World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (WWE WrestleMania XX)

Is this the most tainted match in the history of the sport or what? But it's still one of the best. This is one of those matches where they don't do anything too out of the ordinary, and they don't try and be too clever and in the end everything comes together perfectly and the closing moment is an image that is etched in wrestling fans' minds for the rest of their lives. That image would of course be that of Eddie Guerrero and new World Champion Chris Benoit embracing in the middle of Madison Square Garden, an image that only draws sadness when thought about these days. But this match wasn't all about Benoit. Shawn Michaels put in a hell of a performance here and even delivered one of my favourite ever Chin Musics to break up the sharpshooter. But ultimately, and rightly so, it was Triple H who's Pedigree was countered, and The Game tapped cleanly to the Crossface in one of the greatest moments in wrestling history, which is now pretty much worthless. That doesn't take away from the sheer awesomeness of this match, one that will go down in history as one of the best ever.

1. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (WWE WrestleMania 21)

The two greatest wrestlers of our era? Maybe. The greatest match of this era? I sure as hell think so. This match is simply amazing. It's so over the top in its delivery that you can not help but watch it and be in awe of the showmanship that these two men posses. A rivalry based on who's the better wrestler, this match served to prove that Angle was the better wrestler, but Shawn always had the heart and determination, and he managed to out-perform Angle on this night, his last-ditch Sweet Chin Music coming out of nowhere and causing the LA crowd to go apeshit. The best word I can conjure to describe the feel of this match is simply epic, because it's the two best in the business going at it for nothing but pride, at the biggest show of the year. If I had to pick one match to view as my last, this one would be it as it has everything I could ask for from a match. This is classic stuff, and these are the kinds of matches that make me proud to be a fan. Having said that, separating the final few matches was nearly impossible for me to do, but in my mind this one stands just that little bit taller than the others.

And so that concludes our list of Top Fifty Matches of The Past Ten Years. Allow me to reinforce that last part… the last ten years. The first person to ask where's Flair/Steamboat gets a metaphorical beatdown from me.

This would usually be the part where I segue way into the TNA vs. WWE fantasy book, but for a couple of reasons, I'm not running that this week; 1) The Top 50 was always going to be the focus of this column, 2) these things have a word limit that would've been smashed had I run through No Surrender and 3) I did get some negative feedback on it last week. So with that in mind, the future of the booking is in doubt, but ultimately, I will leave it up to you guys to decide whether it returns or not. Simply state whether you want me to keep going with the booking in the comments section and whichever side gets the most votes wins, essentially.

Now then, onto a more pressing issue. Last week's column received almost 100% negative feedback as very few people agreed with my opinions regarding the Top 25 Greatest Wrestlers of the past decade. Next week's column is dedicating to feedback on the series, but I do want to make it clear now that "wrestler" was a poor choice of word because many people thought I was judging based on in-ring ability alone, hence the countless "where's Bryan Danielson and random Japanese guy?" comments. Maybe "performers" would've been a better word to use, but whatever. It is worth noting however, that when as far as I'm concerned, the talents of a wrestler are not measured by the stiffness of their chops or the tightness in the ring, but by the star power, their charisma, their look, their popularity, and their in-ring ability. So there that is.

But to please the masses (because that's all I try to do here), I've devised a way of coming up with the top 25 in-ring performers, excluding indy, Japanese, Mexican, WCW or original ECW guys, because as I've stressed so many times now, I'm a WWE/TNA guy who never watched WCW or ECW.

I wasn't going to come up with a whole new list with blurbs etc, but using my top fifty matches list, I've used a point system to see who's truly great in the ring. For participation in the number one match in the list, a wrestler earns fifty points;

Kurt Angle: 50pts

Shawn Michaels: 50pts

For participation in the fiftieth match on the list, a wrestler earns one point;

Randy Orton: 1pt

Shawn Michaels: 1pt

And so on. It's not a rock solid system because we're obviously judging just fifty matches, but it should give us a rough idea of who's been the best in-ring performer of the last decade. Let's see how the points system works out.

Who's The Best In-Ring Performer of the Last Decade?

Now like I said, this isn't a rock solid system because some of the guys haven't been in the business for the entire time frame so they've obviously had less matches eligible for the top fifty, but I think that we can agree that this should at least give us a decent sort of idea as to who has consistently delivered in the ring. Let's take a look at the top ten points-earners.

* 10. The Undertaker – 96 points (6 matches)

* 9. John Cena – 112 points (4 matches)

* 8. Mick Foley – 138 points (6 matches)

* 7. Stone Cold Steve Austin – 146 points (5 matches)

* 6. The Rock – 158 points (5 matches)

* 5. Chris Benoit – 230 points (6 matches)

* 4. Kurt Angle – 240 points (8 matches)

* 3. Shawn Michaels – 278 points (10 matches)

* 2. Edge – 285 (10 matches)

* 1. Triple H – 327 points (10 matches)

Is that proof that the system was indeed a dodgy one, or does it reinforce the system's usefulness? I think when you factor in the lengths that some of these guys have been active, it's pretty telling, for instance if Shawn had not gotten injured in 98, he'd probably be top and if Rock and Austin were still active, they too would be higher.

Take from that what you will. There's the list; a little bit less controversial, no?

Now that I think about it, it's been a long time since I've done a nice, normal column and I did want to do something to preview the Draft, so I'm not 100% certain what we'll get up to next week. Regardless, I'm sure it'll be fun anyway. Feel free to leave your thoughts on my list, any glaring ommisions, any matches far too high etc.

Отново една хубава класация,макар че бих добавил още няколко мача от TNA и ROH,но както и да е.Интересно четиво :)

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TLC II е на 19-то място. Не крия, че е най-добрия мач EVER за мен, но това не е от маркщина. ЗАД RIC FLAIR-MICHEALS И CENA-JBL ??? И още куп мачове, които много, ама страшно много отстъпват на TLC-то. За щастие поне първия мач е добре избран. Надявах се на TT Wrestlemania XX, ама мак'я.

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Randy Orton vs. Shawn Michaels (Survivor Series 2007) е в класацията а Randy-Triple H LMS от NM 2007 го няма?WTF?Мача на Шон и Ренди си беше добър но има къде, къде по-добри от него и LMS между Ренди и Трипс от NM 07 определено беше по-добър.Също не разбирам какво прави Triple H-Cena (WrestleMania 22) в класацията но всеки с мнението си предполагам...

Edited by DareDevil

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^ И сега ако кажеш,че мача беше лош...най-малкото атмосферата беше уникална.Имаше голям шанс Трите Хикса да спечели..мача като качество беше добър.

Иначе класацията не ми допада много,много...,но може да се приеме. :)

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^ И сега ако кажеш,че мача беше лош...най-малкото атмосферата беше уникална.Имаше голям шанс Трите Хикса да спечели..мача като качество беше добър.

Иначе класацията не ми допада много,много...,но може да се приеме. :)

Не беше лош.Добър си беше.А и беше забавно как Трите Хикса направи Сина на нищо.Но има много по-добри от него...

Edited by DareDevil

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Забравяте,че човека определя мачовете по тези критерии:

- Historic significance

- Atmosphere (crowd participation, showcase event etc)

- Memorable moments

- In-ring quality

- Surprise element

Така че,Сина vs ННН напълно заслужава да е в списъка ;)

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17. X Division Championship: AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (TNA Against All Odds 2005)

Такъв мач няма. Joe дебютира в TNA три месеца след AAO 2005. Така че става въпрос или за сблъсъка им от Sacrifice, или за този от Turning Point.

Иначе цялата класация не смятам да я коментирам, защото нещата са доста субективни. Ако ставаше дума за топ 10, можеше и да дам някакъв коментар, но е изключено да коментирам дали 50 мача са подредени както трябва в дадена класация.

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Freddy Kruger

Класацията явно е само за WWE & TNA, защото нито 1 от ***** мачове в ROH не е в листата и има доста, къде къде по-добри мачове от :Сина Умага примерно!

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martinesko36

42. WWE Tag Team Championship: Paul London and Brian Kendrick vs. MNM vs. The Hardys vs. William Regal and Dave Taylor (WWE Armageddon 2007)

Опс, май има грешка :D .Иначе като цяло анкетата е добра, но доста от мачовете са за титли, което значи, че WWE разчитат само на Main-Events....

Edited by martinesko36
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