The 411 Wrestling Top 5 12.22.12: Week 200 – Top 5 Wrestling Memories
Hello everyone and welcome to 411 Wrestling’s Top 5 List. What we are going to is take a topic each week and all the writers here on 411 wrestling will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, plus up to three honorable mentions.
So, on to this week’s topic…
Shawn S. Lealos
These are MY most memorable moments in wrestling. These are not the most memorable or the best, but the ones that I have the best memories of.
5. Chris Jericho Arrives in the WWE – Let’s start with one of the most recent incidents on my list. I was a HUGE Chris Jericho fan in WCW and the Internet was abuzz that he was coming to the WWE. I was waiting to see when it would happen, and was pretty damn excited. Then, of all times, during a Rock promo, the lights went out, the countdown began and then Jericho broke the walls down. Jericho got to cut a great promo against The Rock, turning from cheers to boos in a matter of seconds, and started one of the most exciting careers in the WWE.
4. Undertaker Throws Mick Foley off the Cell – This might be No. 1 if you just go for the “OH SHIT” factor, but that is not what makes moments “memorable” for me. However, this is still the biggest “OH SHIT” moments I know of and that means it deserves a spot on my list. The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, Dudleys and ECW have their fair share of moments, but this one is the most special.
3. Shawn Michaels Throws Marty Jannetty through Window – I was one of Shawn Michaels biggest fans when he was in the AWA as one-half of the Midnight Rockers. I thought it was a great thing when they signed with the WWF, but then the promotion dropped the ball and never gave them the tag team titles. Then something magical happened, and on an episode of the Barbershop, Shawn Michaels superkicked Marty Jannetty and then threw him through the Barbershop window and HBK was born. He is still my favorite wrestler of all time and this is where his career really took off.
2. Start of Freebirds and Von Erich Feud – I’m an old school wrestling fan. I still watch, and love, the product today, but I like the territory days much better – at least in my memories of them. I live in Oklahoma, so I got Mid South and World Class Wrestling as the two “local” promotions I followed. While I love Mid South over all others, the Von Erich brothers were my favorites. The match was Kerry Von Erich vs. Ric Flair for the NWA title and Michael Hayes was the referee. Hayes tried to help Kerry win by cheating, but Kerry wouldn’t accept it. That pissed off Michael, and after Terry Gordy slammed the door in Kerry’s face, the Von Erichs vs. Freebirds feud began. It is the best feud of all time in my mind, and it all started here.
1. Scott Hall Shows up in WCW – I was a WCW fan, I defended it until the day it died and the day that WWE bought them out was the worst day in my life as a wrestling fan. I will also admit that the matches were not always great until they started Nitro, and then one day Scott Hall jumped over the railings and told the audience that he was there to take over. With the arrival of the nWo, things in WCW shot to the roof. I know that there were problems during the nWo period (finger poke of doom), but the nWo made WCW much watch TV and things really started moving after that. Regardless of what anyone thinks of the entire angle and the downfall of WCW, the moment Scott Hall showed up should always stick in the mind of every WCW fan.
5. Cena’s Royal Return Yes, I’m a Cena fan, I admit it. But even those who hate the guy can’t deny how he made the 2008 Royal Rumble so memorable. Out for months, the prognosis was that Cena wouldn’t be back until Mania at the earliest, more likely SummerSlam. Most didn’t even think about him as the Rumble progressed with returns from Mick Foley, Roddy Piper and Jimmy Snuka alongside great clashes and HHH seemingly set to win it. Then the final number came, the music hit and you saw 20,000 people in Madison Square Garden do a collective “WHAT?!” The pop was massive as he came out to toss out about four guys in ten seconds and amaze everyone with how well he was coming back from such a serious injury. The final clash with HHH was thrilling as Cena finally got him out for the win no one expected to see. The “surprise return” has been a common thing for the Rumble since but Cena did it better than anyone and proved his star power with how his comeback got the WWE fans buzzing like no one else of his time could.
4. The Sandman Returns By late 1999, ECW was waning in its strength but still in there punching. They proved that with a clash at the ECW Arena as unlikely allies Tommy Dreamer and Raven defended the tag titles against Lance Storm and Justin Credible. Rhino came in to help the heels, nailing Dreamer and Raven as the Impact Players set the champs up for power-bombs, ready to win…then the lights went out. The crowd was instantly ready for something but it was still a shock when a lone spotlight hit the rear of the arena to show the Sandman, fresh from a WCW run, standing shirtless on a stage. As the crowd went nuts, he cracked open a beer, marched to the ring and used his cane to clear out the heels and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard a few hundred wrestling fans sing the lyrics to “Enter, Sandman.” A massive “Welcome back” chant echoed as Raven and Sandman looked at each other with respect before Sandman and Dreamer cracked beers together. It was a wonderful moment to remind you why ECW was special to so many and why its legacy remains big today.
3. Hogan and Warrior Rumble Today, both men are considered a bit of jokes by fans. But make no mistake, in 1990, no one in the WWF were as huge as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. The idea of the two going at it one on one was intriguing but thought it wouldn’t happen due to their popularity. So when they found themselves alone in the ring at the Rumble with a minute and a half before the next entrant, the buzz was huge. Tony Schivone wasn’t exaggerating when he said “there is not a person sitting down!” as the place was going nuts, a pop wrestling today should only hope to get. The two stared at each other, circled and exchanged running charges before knocking each other down with a clothesline. It was truly epic, you could feel the power bouncing off the crowd at the time and set up their classic clash at Wrestlemania VI. It’s unlikely you can replicate that today as these two larger-than-life personas went at it and showed the fun of the Rumble and how it felt watching such a clash occur.
2. Ultimate Warrior destroys the Honky Tonk Man Believe it or not, this is my all-time markout moment. For a year and a half, we had to watch the Honky Tonk Man, one of the most laughable workers imaginable, continue to reign as Intercontinental champion, a time when the belt really meant something and he was so undeserving yet kept winning time and again, sneaking away with the title. At the first SummerSlam, he was due to face Brutus Beefcake but Beefcake had to bow out due to injury. The arrogant HTM basically said to get anyone out there, the fans buzzing. Then the music hit as the Ultimate Warrior charged out and in the space of thirty seconds, utterly thrashed HTM to pieces. The pop when the ref made the pin was monster and pure joy to see HTM’s run end at last. Say whatever else about Warrior but he will always have a place in my heart for ending this joke of a title run and provide a classic moment in the process.
1. Seeing Austin vs. Bret live This is all about personal memorable moments and thus, this has to rank as mine. Yes, most will say Bret vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 13 was a huge moment but for me, it’s different as unlike many at 411mania, I was at the show in person. And I can tell you, as amazing at it is to watch on TV, even more to be there live as the two went at it and you could feel the tide of the crowd shift as the match went along. Bret may have gotten cheers as he entered but as the match continued, more and more of us began cheering Austin, popping when he hit Bret with a chair and threatened a sharpshooter. I was right there screaming for Austin to get out of the sharpshooter, truly stunned when the bell rang only to cheer again as he left the ring, bloodied but unbowed. In that moment, I became a Steve Austin fan big-time and I wasn’t alone. To be part of such a major turning point for the entire business remains my favorite moment as a fan and why I still love this sport today.
5. Bryan/Sheamus Wrestlemania 28 – Can an 18 second match really be one of my most memorable moment in wrestling history yes it can. It was the perfect blow-off to Bryan run with the belt and gave him his Wrestlemania moment he will be remembered for years. Yes it was disappointing to see the World Title belt in the opening match on the grandest stage of them all but what that title match spawned with Daniel Bryan character through out this year will live long in my memory
4. Punk’s Pipebomb in Vegas June 27th 2011 – Fairly Recent but still a very memorable moment in my eyes at least, it set the wrestling world buzzing as well as setting mainstream news wires alight as well which in these times is a huge achievement. To see a man air his grievances in such a real way was refreshing to see and it really set up the match in Chicago with the unpredictable feeling about was Punk going to walk out with the WWE title and leave the company. It set up Punk staying with the company, and his two runs with the belt and created the second biggest star in the company.
3. Eric Bischoff first appearance on Raw July 15th 2002 – The moment nobody thought would happen and when it did not disappoint the hug heard seen around the world, from the limo pulling up to the mystery person walking through backstage past Booker T getting interviewed with Booker not believing who he is seeing gave the feeling who could this mystery man be and why was he here a real unpredictable feeling. Post WCW going out of business I expected to see most of the guys that did come over to WWE in the end (Hogan,Nash,Hall,Steiner,DDP and Booker T) but save for Sting I thought there would be no chance, that Bischoff would show up in WWE. Seeing the two men in charge of the two biggest wrestling companies in wrestling hottest period the Monday Night Wars together sharing the same stage and hugging each other made the hair stand up on the back of my neck a moment I never thought I would see happen.
2. Cena drafted to Raw 2005 – After an under whelming draft in 2004 with the only big move Triple H to Smackdown being changed later that week on Smackdown, I did not have much hope for the 2005 draft how wrong was I the first move blew me out of the water and set the stage for the main event star on Raw that is still going strong today, John Cena was a Raw Talent. It really gave the feeling that the 2005 draft was going to be a unpredictable ride and it gave Raw it’s biggest star for the past 7 years, John Cena had really arrived his WWE title win at Wrestlemania 21 was a big moment but to get put on the A show gave the feeling that WWE had declared him their number one guy for years to come.
1. Bret Hugs Shawn January 4th 2010 – After all that has been said about Montreal it’s was a hugely memorable moment at least in my eyes to see the two men that competed that famous night in Montreal in the same the ring together. It was the sight of two guys who had changed hugely, since November 9th 1997 with Bret going through the loss of his brother and the various health problems and Shawn doing a complete 180 going to being a man of god instead of being the life and soul of the party. Both men had found peace in there lives but people still wondered would they ever be in the same ring again, many thought it was imposable but on January 4th 2010 the imposable became true and first off seeing Bret back in the WWE was very memorable in itself but to see him embracing his rival through the mid 90’s and the guy he faced that fateful day in Montreal had the hairs standing on the back of my neck.
5. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI – The year was 1990. I was seven years old. And only one debate was in the hearts and minds of me and my compatriots on the playground: Who was better, Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior? Younger fans may scoff at such a matchup today, but this was a huge deal at the time. Both men had large fan bases at their disposal and many an argument was settled on that fateful day in Toronto. This match is the first I took a vested interest in. The first I HAD to know who won. The first time I asked my parents to buy a Pay Per View (and the first time they told me no). Two huge stars battling it out on the biggest stage of them all, and the program that turned me into a true fan rather than someone who just watched a little when there weren’t any good cartoons on. I’d call that memorable.
4. Tommy Dreamer blinds the Sandman – The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer feud in early 1994 was a true work of art that weaved an elaborate tale involving about seven different people. The most compelling part of the feud however was not Tommy’s willingness to take extra hits from a “Singapore Cane” or the mixed tag matches that came from Sandman’s new valet Woman (against Tommy Caino and Lori). Rather it was during an “I Quit” match between Dreamer and the Sandman. Simply put, a lit cigarette was “pushed into” Sandman’s eye. The ramifications of this move are still being felt to this day. Immediately, both Dreamer and Sandman broke kayfabe with Tommy shouting that he didn’t mean to do it. Sandman was rushed to the back where ECW cameras followed him and face and heel a like were quick to check on him completely and unchangeably blurring the line between “good guys” and “bad guys” and making the fans really believe that something had gone wrong. It was announced Sandman was blind and would have to retire, and in an emotional speech Tommy dedicated his career to the Sandman. The result? It was a work. Sandman wasn’t blind and this was all a ruse. This is memorable because it’s the first time a wrestling company tried to work the “smark” fans by taking us behind the scenes, and as usual ECW did so brilliantly.
3. Foley takes flight – For the two years of his WWF run prior to this match, Mick Foley had a decently successful run. He had provided a competent foil for the deadman, built a relationship with Paul Bearer, had a memorable bout with HBK, and even got to show some true emotion to the fans through a series of well-done interviews which lead to his “Due Love” and “Cactus Jack” personas getting some WWE run. During these interviews the image of Foley jumping off his roof was played repeatedly. This was crucial. Even if you saw his WCW run, unless you were heavily involved in the tape trading scene you probably hadn’t seen his Hardcore Japanese stuff and didn’t realize how brutal he could really get. Once Dude Love was “fired” for failing to take the title off Steve Austin the stage was set for Mankind to come back. And comeback he did. While the match itself is at the heart of much controversy regarding how many snowflakes it should get in a rating system, the image of Mick Foley flying off the top of the cage has been replayed time and time again and put his willingness to sacrifice his body front and center.
2. Montreal screw job – What else do I need to say? Of course it’s memorable. As recently as a week ago this very site had multiple articles speculating as to whether it was a work or a shoot. 15 years later. That’s pretty impressive. In addition to allowing Bret to jump to WCW, jumpstarting the Mr. McMahon character, and setting the stage for Austin’s first tile run; this moment has become a source of heated debate for years after. Hell even though it was a shoot, it’s a finish that has been adapted into a work multiple times since then (with Survivor Series Deadly Game being the best example and WCW Starcade 97 being the worst). No matter whose side you took in the debate (I’m an HBK guy) it’s undeniable that the image of Vince telling the ring announcer to “Ring the **** bell” is an image that not only changed wrestling but lives on in the memory of everyone who saw it live, and proceeded to get very confused.
1. Vince McMahon appears on WCW Nitro – I debated going with Scott Hall shows up on Nitro but while it’s memorable in retrospect it was just confusing at the time. Razor Ramon showing up during a Mike Enos and Steve Doll match may have shifted the Monday Night Wars into high gear, but this was their official end. Vince McMahon appearing on Nitro was a strange sight to behold and I can remember flipping back and forth between the stations as his interview at the end (and Shane showing up) was simulcast on each. Even with all the tribulations of the Monday Night wars (WWF falling, WCW booking itself into oblivion) it never really seemed like this day would come. Growing up I was a huge fan of the NWA/WCW and this was the moment that ended that legacy forever. One week later at WrestleMania 17 the Attitude Era itself came to an end as Steve Austin made the most ill advised heel turn ever and the Invasion storyline started. Not only is it memorable because Vince was appearing on WCW. It was memorable for being the end of the most successful period of pro wrestling’s history.
5. Punk Signs WWE Contract on ROH Title – One of those things that the indys can get away with and WWE and TNA can’t. The original Summer of Punk in ROH was good TV. Punk was on his way out, it was no secret, yet he won the ROH World Title defeating Austin Aries. In a moment that shocked and amazed many, CM Punk, looking very corporate donning a suit, proceeded to sign his WWE contract on the ROH World Championship belt. My jaw dropped, and I thought it was a ballsy move. Yet, at the same time it could seem like it belittled the ROH title. Either way, Punk became a huge star and this was one of his better moments.
4. Blue Panther Loses Mask – This moment came out of nowhere, it’s not as iconic as others, but to me it solidified the statement that nothing is certain in wrestling. Blue Panther is a lucha icon. Many have spoken positively of him, guys like Rey Jr. and Rey Sr. have referred to him as a true in ring general and a master. So when the feud between Villano V and Blue Panther culminated with a Mask Vs. Mask match in 2008 it was a no brainer that Panther would walk out with a trophy of sorts. No offense to Villano V, he might be one of the standouts, but he was no Villano III, and Villano III lost his mask to Atlantis. September 19, 2008 arrived and one of the biggest upsets in lucha history occurred when Villano V pulled the win, taking Panthers mask. One of the few guys I was certain would retire masked. Wrestling is funny, while many of us marks, or smarks find out or can easily guess outcomes, every now and then a moment can come out of nowhere leaving us dumbfounded.
3. “Cane Dewey” – “I’ve made my bed of nails and now I got no other choice but to be powerbombed on it!” There is a reason Mick Foley is on my top five dead or alive. I saw the hardcore moments, the exploding ring matches, the Max Payne, and Cactus Jack versus the Nasty Boys, his classic with Sting at Bash at the Beach, Mind Games, the Hell in the Cell, flaming table with Edge. I’ve also gone through the comedy bits, read his books and even watched some of his lesser-liked moments like Dude Love, Socko, and some of his TNA run. Yet it was a six-minute plus promo that made me a Mick Foley fan for life. Cane Dewey, as classic as can be, and in my opinion, still the best promo ever. The emotion was all over the place, no one scripted this, and you could feel the anger, yet as insane as Foley sounded, he made sense. Kind of scary. This is what’s lacking in today’s wrestling. If Punk had his moment with a pipebomb, Foley had himself a nuke with this one.
2. Macho Man Vs. The Cobra – Savage Vs. Roberts, that’s like gods gift to wrestling fans! Yet when this feud occurred in 1991, the one thing I could recall like it occurred yesterday, was not the matches, it wasn’t the fact that this feud led to the Undertaker becoming a face. No, the one thing that is embedded in my brain was the episode of WWF Superstars where Jake Roberts goaded Savage to go in the ring. Savage was attacked before he could make it all the way in, and Roberts tied up Savage with the ring ropes. The big reveal was Roberts taking out a cobra, and proceeding to have it bite Savage’s arm. There was a close up to the damn thing, and that cobra had a hell of a grasp on Savage. Quite a sight when you’re only eight years old.
1. Eddie Guerrero’s Championship Celebration – Las Cruces is my hometown, about 20 minutes from El Paso, Texas. So it would make sense for me to be a huge Eddie Guerrero fan. Hell, the Guerrero family as a whole are seen in the same way as the Von Erich’s were in Dallas. I can recall stories of my grandfather being a frequent visitor of the El Paso Coliseum when Gory Guerrero was running shows, or my father having a beer with Mando Guerrero. So when Eddie Guerrero faced Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at No Way Out, I was glued. Goldberg lent a helping hand, but a Frogsplash and 3 count later and we were off to a heartfelt celebration. The fans were involved, the Guerrero family was at hand and Eddie celebrated like only Eddie could.
Robert S. Leighty Jr
5. Edge Cashes In: Part II – I was there in the Old Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh when Edge cashed in his second Money in the Bank against Taker. What made it all the more memorable was as a smart fan I knew it was coming and it didn’t take away my enjoyment. It was the most I ever marked out over a live moment. There was a young teen dressed as Taker and I still remember him nearly in tears screaming that me and my cousin sucked as we cheered wildly for Edge.
4. Hogan Heel Turn – July 7, 1996: My boyhood hero turned heel and I remember running around the house screaming with excitement. Hogan turning heel was so big that it even shocked my mother who couldn’t care less about wrestling, but she knew Hulk Hogan and knew he stood for everything good.
3. Broken Sternum – This is most bizarre memory I have in my wrestling fandom. It was April 19, 1998 and I was watching WCW Spring Stampede with my then girlfriend. She wasn’t much into wrestling, but she supported me watching it just to be with me. Well we started wrestling during the PPV and it was during the Hogan/Nash vs. Giant/Piper bat match that I delivered a DDT to her on a bed. The problem was that after the move I couldn’t sit up anymore. We were the only 2 people home so she called my grandma who took me to the hospital. It was first time they ever met, and after a few hours I was sent home with a cracked sternum.
2. WrestleMania III: Hogan vs. Andre – I was 6 years old and this is still oldest memory I have that I can recall at drop of a hat and clearly see what I was doing. My grandparents had ordered WrestleMania III for me, and when it came time to see my hero face Andre The Giant I got scared. I was too afraid to watch the match, so I remember sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, covering my ears to avoid hearing what was happening. I entertained myself by playing with an empty box of spaghetti and putting my arm in it to use it as a cast alas Bob Orton. I soon heard that Hogan had won and I rushed into the living room to see the replay of the slam and leg. This moment is even more special now as my grandma who ordered my first Mania for me, just passed away this summer.
1. WrestleMania XXV – I have been a wrestling fan basically since birth as my father was a fan and raised me on AWA, NWA, and WWF. One of my dreams was to make it to a WrestleMania at some point in my life. Finally in 2008 I made the decision that I was buying a travel package to Mania XXV no matter where it was going to be held. My cousin agreed to go with me and soon we found out we would be heading to Houston, TX in 2009. That entire weekend was the culmination of a childhood dream, and one I will never forget. The most emotional moment came as I was in Reliant Stadium standing in the risers near the ramp and they played the awesome Mania lead in on the Big Screen. Hearing the current stars talk about their favorite WrestleMania moments brought back so much of my childhood and it was then it hit me that I had made it to a Mania. My eyes got weepy and it was just a surreal experience.
List your Top Five for this week’s topic in the comment section using the following format:
5. CHOICE: Explanation
4. CHOICE: Explanation
3. CHOICE: Explanation
2. CHOICE: Explanation
1. CHOICE: Explanation