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Top 7 Wrestling PPVs Of All Time: Where Would You Rank AEW All Out?

September 9, 2021 | Posted by Steve Cook
AEW All Out Bryan Danielson

I see many folks online talking about AEW’s most recent PPV offering. I checked it out myself, as I had a feeling that something big was going to happen and I needed to see it. You know there’s a pretty good hype job surrounding an event if you can get me to put down the cash. I’m a jaded old fart that’s seen everything several times over. It takes a lot to get my attention.

That being said, All Out 2021 exceeded any expectations I had. Big debuts. Crazy matches. Compelling situations that made me want to see more. From my perspective, they hit a home run. Heck, a grand slam. Some of you might disagree. Others of you are already calling it one of the greatest PPV events of all time.

Me? I like to take a long view of these things. Let these events age like fine wines. Some don’t stand the test of time. Many don’t stand the test of one night. Today, we take a look at what I consider to be the seven most magnificent PPV events of all time.

7. ECW One Night Stand 2005

ECW had some better shows during its existence. Barely Legal comes to mind, as does Heatwave 1998. However, none of those events quite have the same appeal as the first ECW event to take place after the company closed in early 2001. Fans at the Hammerstein Ballroom on June 12, 2005 got to stroll down memory lane thanks to a DVD selling well. Remember DVDs? Those were the days.

We saw some pretty interesting matches featuring people many of us first saw in ECW. Chris Jericho faced Lance Storm in Storm’s first retirement match. A three-way with Super Crazy, Tajiri & Little Guido. Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis. Sabu vs. Rhyno. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero. Paul Heyman talking about how Triple H didn’t want to work Tuesdays. All good times, but two things stand out most from this show. One being Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka where they did all their stuff and the WWE wrestlers in the crowd went crazy because they were killing the business.

The other? Sandman’s entrance. You won’t see the proper version on Peacock, or anywhere else I’ve looked, but surely somebody’s got that entrance to Enter Sandman somewhere.

6. AAA When Worlds Collide

WCW presented this event, held in Los Angeles on November 6, 1994, on PPV. I’m not sure how it never made it to WWE Network, especially considering that one of the matches made it on a WWE-produced DVD. One of those things that bugs me. Anyway, it was pretty much the high point for AAA in the United States, as they were running shows in major markets and drawing bigger crowds than anybody else in wrestling was at the time. AAA had been formed in 1992 by Antonio Pena with Konnan & most of CMLL’s best young talent following him along, and he had big plans. Including expansion into the US market with shows like this one, which introduced American wrestling fans to a number of wrestlers that we still regularly talk about today.

Rey Mysterio Jr. & Psicosis made their PPV debuts in a six-man tag team match. They had been feuding prior and would feud afterward in promotions all across the continent. Louie Spicolli was also in the match, and got signed by the WWF shortly afterward. Louie was one of the bigger guys on the show, so this didn’t surprise too many people. This show also marked the first US PPV appearances of La Parka, Eddy Guerrero & Konnan, all of who would feature in ECW & WCW not long after this show.

One match stood out from the rest, that being the mask vs. hair tag team match pitting Octagon & El Hijo del Santo against Guerrero & Art Barr. It still ranks as one of my favorites of all time due to the performance, crowd heat & story. Eddie & Art were really catching fire as a tag team, and were ready to make a big impact on the American scene when Barr passed away seventeen days after this show. The Mexican economy also took a dive around this time, which led many of AAA’s non-Mexican wrestlers to seek work elsewhere, including Guerrero. Konnan would gain influence in ECW & then WCW, taking many luchadores with him to those promotions and eventually out of AAA completely. This is how AAA’s biggest moment ended up being the end of its American expansion. We still remember it as a pretty kickass show that introduced America to a new style of wrestling & some new wrestlers.

5. WWF In Your House: Canadian Stampede

I re-watched this show last year for a podcast Larry Csonka recorded that never got released for public consumption. We were going to review a bunch of old shows with the idea that pro wrestling was going to slow down during the pandemic. (Spoiler Alert: It didn’t.) Larry wanted to do the Canadian Stampede because it was a great show. No other reason than that, and does one need any other reason?

When you talk about shows with unique atmospheres, this one just might be at the top of the list. It was July 6, 1997, right in the middle of the Hart Foundation feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels while defending Canada & the rest of the world against the United States. When Bret, Owen, Davey, Jim & Brian would appear in the US, they would get booed out of the building. When they appeared in Canada or anywhere other than the US, it was a different story. Especially in Canada though, and especially in Calgary. The Hart Foundation taking part in a 10-man tag team match on a PPV was like the Green Bay Packers playing the Super Bowl in Lambeau Field, or Brazil playing the World Cup in…ok, so that’s a bad example, but you get what I’m saying. The main event of this show is among the most heated matches in wrestling history. Those fans couldn’t have been more excited when the Hart Foundation came out, or when they won the match.

Canadian Stampede was a short show. Only four matches on the card. What that meant was we got a show that was all killer & no filler. Triple H & Mankind had a heck of a brawl that went all over the place and set the stage for the rest of their in-ring relationship. Great Sasuke & TAKA Michinoku had a tremendous match that got TAKA a job. Undertaker vs. Vader wasn’t bad either. Everything was elevated by the crowd, everything was good, and I can’t think of a single thing to complain about with this show.

4. The Great American Bash 1989

There was some controversy in the comment section of our recent Top 7 Great American Bash Moments column when this particular show wasn’t mentioned. There’s a simple reason it wasn’t. There wasn’t one moment I could nail down as a singular moment like Dusty winning the title in 86, or Sting winning his first World Championship in 90, or the debut of War Games.

Maybe Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously? It was much better than it had any business being, and was funny to look back after they started feuding for real. The Steiners vs. Varsity Club was short, but pretty crazy. Sting & Great Muta were great. Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat was awesome, War Games was fun as always.

Oh, and then there were Ric Flair & Terry Funk in the main event. Then there was the post-match brawl with Jim Ross yelling about how Doug Dillinger was a civilian. Maybe that should have been the moment, it’s tough to say. What I do know is that the 1989 Bash belongs on any list of great shows, and I don’t mean to disrespect it. Folks lucky enough to be in the Baltimore Arena on July 23, 1989 got to see a show that we still talk about more than thirty years later.

3. WWE Money in the Bank 2011

Back in the days before some of us were totally burned out on the MITB gimmick, this show featured two of the best ladder matches that took place under the name. Daniel Bryan won one, setting up his first World Championship victory a few months later. Alberto Del Rio won another one, and it was pretty awesome mostly due to the likes of Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston, guys made for such matches. Christian & Randy Orton had quite a barn burner. It was a pretty interesting night in Rosemont, Illinois on July 17, 2011.

Oh, wait. I forgot something. Yeah, CM Punk beat John Cena in the main event and walked out of WWE as WWE Champion. It was in the middle of the angle that cemented Punk’s status as a hero to hardcore wrestling fans, even if there were some awful steps along the way. Heck, the fact that WWE was seemingly trying to torpedo Punk at certain points just served to make him more popular, and an avatar for people that don’t love everything about that company. I’d say it worked out pretty well for him. Also, great match that gave the people what they wanted. Tough to beat that.

2. WWF WrestleMania III

This certainly has to be the show I’ve watched the most over the years. The Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan held somewhere around 93,173 people on March 29, 1987. They were mostly there to see Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant, and the Hulkster managed to slam that 800-pound giant brother, tearing every muscle in his back in the process. He still managed to wrestle twice the next day because he was Hulk Hogan, jack. Seriously though, nobody’s denying what a big deal this match was, and that it gave the people what they wanted no matter how many stars one wants to give it.

The rest of the show more than held up its end, with several WrestleMania Moments that still stand the test of time. Randy Savage & Ricky Steamboat had one of the best matches ever seen to provide a climax for their compelling feud. Roddy Piper had his first retirement match against Adrian Adonis, which saw the first time Brutus Beefcake cut somebody’s hair. Alice Cooper was in Jake Roberts’ corner. King Kong Bundy elbow dropped Little Beaver.

It was a busy show in a memorable setting at a time I’ve loved going back and watching everything from. WWF 1987 was pretty good shit, pal.

1. WWF WrestleMania X-Seven

Larry Csonka & I broke this show (and the night after) down back in March 2020.

The apex of the Attitude Era. We didn’t know it at the time, but the WWF would start to trend downward in critical appeal & mainstream acceptance during 2001. With WCW & ECW going out of business shortly before this event, pro wrestling was in for a rough stretch. Before we got to that, we got what many people consider to be the greatest PPV event of all time. It’s tough to argue against it for a number of reasons which become obvious when you look at the card.

Chris Jericho & William Regal got things off to a good start. After a brief six-man tag, Kane, Raven & Big Show had a really fun Hardcore Championship match that got the fans going. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit put on a wrestling clinic that picked things up even more. Chyna vs. Ivory wasn’t a workrate classic, but it gave fans what they wanted.

Then we moved into the big time portion of the card. Vince & Shane McMahon beat the heck out of each other, and as much as the McMahon family stuff doesn’t really age well, the drama was over with this crowd. TLC was everything it needed to be and then some. The Gimmick Battle Royal was a great choice for a cool-down match, then Undertaker & Triple H went out there and had arguably their best WrestleMania match. This all led to one of those main events pitting two titans of their generation.

Yes, Steve Austin turning heel and aligning with Mr. McMahon in Houston, Texas on this show was a mistake. There was more money to be made off of Austin as the rebellious anti-hero. Even considering the finish, Austin vs. The Rock was one of the most heated PPV main events of all time. The crowd was into everything, largely because of who was involved. It was impossible for these guys to have a bad match in that scenario, even with what came after.

Where would you rank AEW All Out 2021 among these shows? Would you rank it at all? What shows are your BOATs? Let me know in the comment section or via the Twitter @stevecook84. Thanks for reading!

411’s Blake Lovell and Steve Cook discuss Steve’s top seven PPVs of all time list, whether AEW All Out deserves to be in the conversation, other PPVs that should be in consideration (SummerSlam 2002!), and much more in our latest podcast, which you can view below.

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AEW, AEW All Out, Steve Cook