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Thread: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

  1. #141
    When the black man talkin
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #61

    WWE Championship - Ironman Match: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE SmackDown, 18th September 2003

    Daily Motion
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    Why I rated it #61

    Ironman matches can be quite contentious things. A lot of people aren’t keen on them because they feel like knowing how long a match goes hurts the drama of it. To that I disagree, because you wouldn’t consider a football game to lack drama because it has a set timer (unless you are like me and happen to be a Ravens fan this weekend ...). It’s a great way of creating drama in the last few minutes and creating interesting stories in the meantime.

    Lesnar is, to me, the most complete in-ring wrestler ever. And I don’t just mean that in the sense that he’s fast, strong, etc, but every facet of being a wrestler he excels. He’s a monster but his selling is amazing. He’s big but he’s a fantastic bumper. He has a presence that few in history can match. He is a great base for little guys and brilliant at wrestling from beneath against bigger guys. If he had a longer career, he'd probably be very high in the conversation of best wrestler ever. This match is all about showing every single positive that Brock has as a worker. He walks a fine line between being a monster and being a cheating prick very well, which is not an easy thing to do.

    They take the Steamboat/Rude route of having Lesnar intentionally disqualify himself to give himself an advantage in the long run. Brock outsmarts Angle in the first 15 minutes to get the advantage and get himself up 3-1. The next 15 minutes are almost all Lesnar, with Angle just trying to survive and not fall even further behind.

    Angle is pretty good here. I praised him in the review of the Unforgiven 2001 match with Austin as a natural babyface wrestler and I stand by that here. His offence is explosive, and oftentimes desperate. When Angle starts to get momentum Lesnar works out how to get around him: Angle starts using suplexes, so Lesnar works out that’s Angle’s strategy and works around it; Angle uses some high risk moves, so Lesnar lets him crash and burn off a moonsault.

    Despite them going 60 minutes they never let the match slow down at all, and they never hold back on their offence. It all looks fantastic, they bump like madmen for one another. Their selling (especially Lesnar’s) never slips to the ridiculous, and one moment I loved was in the final stretch when Lesnar hits another F5 on one leg – that leg attack by Angle was enough to give Angle enough time to kick out.

    I think one thing that doesn’t get stated enough is that they were extremely clever with the ankle lock. It’s Angle’s killer move – the move he knows can beat Lesnar, but he just can’t get an opening to lock it in until right at the end. He’s two falls down, and uses the ankle lock to pull one fall closer, but it isn’t enough. Lesnar’s big defeat in 2003 came at Summerslam because of the ankle lock and he goes out of his way to avoid it. I think the final ten minutes here are incredible and well paced. Angle wrestles at a menacing, desperate pace, whereas Lesnar sticks to very high impact moves that gives him time and space. The use of suplexes is fantastic because it eats up the clock so even when Angle is hitting some of his own, he’s losing precious time which adds to the drama.

    If you are going to watch this, I definitely recommend watching the full version (ie. the version that shows what happened during commercials too). You get a much more complete match, and it makes it much more enjoyable.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    Back in the day this was considered one of the best matches to not be readily available in high quality. It took them forever to finally release this match on DVD, so before that all we had was some shitty dailymotion quality videos and torrents. Now in the Network era this match is very easy to access of course, but that wasn’t always the case. I think this match got its reputation increased by not being available so easily.

    At the time this match was very highly regarded. For some it’s one of the best WWE matches of 2003, and more incredible work from the SmackDown main event scene during the Lesnar era of SmackDown. It’s the first Ironman match to be given away on free TV, so it was a huge deal at the time – unheard of from WWE to dedicate an entire hour solely to wrestling. It’s been done since with Benoit vs HHH, or the Roman and Bryan gauntlet among others, but this feels like the pinnacle of SmackDown’s push of “real wrestling”. The Lesnar era would continue for a few more months but by this time next year, the idea of two collegiate wrestlers (and being pushed as such) main eventing WWE programming was absurd.


    If you liked this match, you might like:


    The Rock vs. Triple H – WWF Judgment Day 2000
    Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Summerslam 2003
    Chris Benoit vs. Triple H – WWE Raw, 26th July 2004


    #60 Teaser:

    One of my favourite Raw matches ever from 2000.

  2. #142
    I'm gonna blame the movies
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    One of my favourite all-time matches and feuds. I saw the Brock heel turn a month before live.
    [07:31 PM] Stonewall Dakson
    : I have a good friend that lives near Seattle. He says I should come visit sometime but that is like the exact opposite side of the country from me.
    [07:31 PM] Jon Snow
    : theyve got planes for that
    [07:31 PM] Stonewall Dakson
    : And those cost lots of money
    [07:32 PM] Jim
    : send yourself in a box without any holes with the USPS. Best case scenario, you get cheap traveling, worst case, you're gone forever
    [10:00 PM] Kairi HoHo
    : Jerk it in my honor Dak bye.
    [06:18 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : Guys, I am going to see President Trump tomorrow.
    [06:19 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : He's holding a rally in the town I live in. Gonna skip outta work and go.
    [06:19 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : Not the town I live in, the town I work in.
    [06:19 PM]RecyCocks
    : You should bring TGR with you
    [06:20 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : If I was taking a long walk off a short pier I would gladly bring TGR with me.
    [11:40 PM]
    Kairi HoHo
    : Pretty sure I said I would go gay for Ryan Gosling just saying lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kairi HoHo View Post
    I'll be fine Daddy.
    BS Mafia 4 Lyfe: Dakstang Dook Duke HoHo Punk Wolf CocksDynamite Creeping Death Swamps

  3. #143
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #60

    Cactus Jack, Grandmaster Sexay, Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty & The Rock vs. Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Triple H & X-Pac – WWF Raw, 14th February 2000

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-koj9Uwdr4


    Why I rated it #60

    I don’t quite know how to write why I rated this one number 60. It’s a match that’s pretty self explanatory and I can’t imagine anyone watching this and not thinking it was one of the most fun matches ever. This is just an incredible, incredible ten minutes of wrestling that fully encapsulates how great a fast pace and a mental crowd can be.

    Not only is the action fast and furious, but the match benefits from having a whole bunch of guys with bags of personality that the fans loved and cared about. There’s not a lot else to say: it progressed the storylines going forward, it was an exceptional sprint that never lost its steam. Just go watch it! It speaks for itself! (and don’t forget to watch the post-match too – basically this is about as good a twenty minutes of TV ever produced by WWE).


    What is the legacy of this match?

    It's a fondly remembered match to this day too, and remains one of the standout TV matches of the attitude era. For me this is the best TV match between 1998 and 2000 (by some distance) and one of my favourite Raw matches ever. It’s pretty before its time as well. I watch this match and all I think about is some of those Bryan vs Shield matches from 2013. Or one of those really fun ROH multi man openers where the crowd was red hot and the action was great.


    If you liked this match, you might like:


    Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Diamond Dallas Page & Rhyno vs. Chris Jericho, Kane, Kurt Angle, Steve Austin & The Undertaker – WWF Invasion 2001
    Batista, Randy Orton, Ric Flair & Triple H vs. Chris Benoit, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels & Shelton Benjamin – WWE Raw, 12th April 2004
    Alberto Del Rio, Christian, Cody Rhodes, David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger vs. CM Punk, Evan Bourne, John Cena, Kofi Kingston, Mason Ryan & Sheamus – WWE Raw, 3rd October 2011


    #59 Teaser:

    Shawn Michaels pisses off the wrong man.

  4. #144
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shock
    Shawn Michaels pisses off the wrong man
    Me!

    Funny that you bring up a match within the Jack/HHH feud after I talked about this yesterday. This match is a really fun time killer, everyone got to do something, and it's just feels so chaotic. Feels really before it's time as well. God bless the Jack/HHH feud and WWE 2000.
    -------
    [07:37 PM] Shake: I am obsessed with Nicky its true
    People Obsessed With Nicky: RainShaker, indyfan
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!

  5. #145
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #59

    Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – WWF In Your House: Ground Zero

    Daily Motion
    ERROR: If you can see this, then Dailymotion is down or you don't have Flash installed.



    Why I rated it #59

    Okay, confession time – I’ve cheated a bit with this match. I’m sorry all. See, from bell to bell this match is just good. But when you look at everything – the pre-match and the post-match, it’s really fantastic. Jim said it best in his recent review, it’s a great segment but not so much a great match, which I can agree with. But honestly, the pre-match feels like a match in itself, so I don’t care. Even before they start interacting with each other Shawn, in his coked up jackass 1997 typical style, gets mad at his pyro for not going off at the right time. I love dickhead Shawn

    For simplicity’s sake, whenever I say “the match” in this review I’m talking about everything from the entrances onwards.

    This match is basically the Hell in a Cell match from a month later but with no cell. And while that sounds redundant, it makes perfect sense because here we see Michaels running from Undertaker at every chance he gets while Undertaker chases after him and beats the shit out of him where he can. Michaels bounces around ringside like only he can, and some of it may come across as overselling but I honestly didn’t feel like it was hurting the match at all.

    Right from the get-go this match is awesome. Michaels hides behind the referee to create distance, and then throws the referee at Undertaker. And in a brilliant moment, Undertake basically says “okay, fuck this” and punches the referee. Undertaker had such a great 1997 (funny that when you pair him with Bret and Michaels rather than whatever shitty big man Vince wanted to push you get good results), but what I love most about him is his mannerisms. He just oozed badassery like he never had in his career before then. He wrestles this match exactly like a pissed off monster should, and you always got the impression that he just wanted to murder Michaels.

    Much like the Hell in a Cell match this is almost an extended squash match with Michaels having to use his resourcefulness to muster up any sort of offence at all. And he relies on a shit load of interference at the end to start to keep Undertaker down. As the match gets more and more chaotic it gets more and more fun. They even managed, despite the match being essentially a squash for the most part, to make Michaels look strong even after an almighty ass kicking simply because of his kickout after the brass knuckles shot. That one little spot reminds the fans that Michaels, while he might be a little bitch, is still a tough guy.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    There are very few matches in WWE history that have absolutely no finish and still be this quality. You’d be hard pressed to find a better example in WWE of a non-finish done right. And what this led to was the logical step towards Hell in a Cell.

    Like all things, when these two got in the ring with one another magic happens. This is probably their fourth best match and yet it’s still incredible and better than most wrestlers can muster in their career.


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – WWF Royal Rumble 1998
    Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker – WWE Unforgiven 2002
    CM Punk vs. The Undertaker – WWE Wrestlemania 29


    #58 Teaser:

    Another one of those matches where nobody will be happy with the placement. Hell in a cell coming.

  6. #146
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    Hmmm, a Hell In A Cell match where no one will like the placement. Either it's an okay one ranked high or one of the three rad ones (HBK/Taker, HHH/Foley seems like it would be higher, or Big Dave vs Trips)

    I'm gonna say you went Taker/Foley, although your love of WWF 2000 makes me think it's the six pack.
    -------
    [07:37 PM] Shake: I am obsessed with Nicky its true
    People Obsessed With Nicky: RainShaker, indyfan
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!

  7. #147

    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    I hope it's HBK/Hunter just to see Nicky's rage.

  8. #148
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    I would only rage because I just bonded with Shock about how that match sucks and it would be hypocritical as shit
    -------
    [07:37 PM] Shake: I am obsessed with Nicky its true
    People Obsessed With Nicky: RainShaker, indyfan
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!

  9. #149
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #58

    Hell in a Cell - WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. The Undertaker – WWE No Mercy 2002
    Daily Motion
    ERROR: If you can see this, then Dailymotion is down or you don't have Flash installed.



    Why I rated it #58

    Maybe my teaser wasn’t so appropriate – after Nicky’s review of this very match a few days ago it seems like some people might agree with this placement after all. But to most people this is considered an undoubted classic. And I would agree to an extent. As a match designed to put Lesnar over and put him over the top, this is a success by every metric. He beat Undertaker dominantly, and while it wasn’t totally clean (breaking Undertaker’s hand giving Lesnar the edge), nobody beat Undertaker clean anyway so it was as close as you were going to get. It’s also another classic early into Lesnar’s career, proving that WWE’s faith in him wasn’t misplaced. And as an individual Lesnar performance this remains one of the better ones in his whole career.

    First of all, I’ll do this review slightly differently and start off with the negative, because it is a big fat glaring elephant in the room. Undertaker’s selling of the hand is maybe some of the worst selling you’re likely to see. The entire match is built around the injured hand, from the cast being used as a weapon, to the focus of Lesnar’s offence. If you build your entire match around it, you don’t disregard that just to hit your spots because you’re too inept/lazy/forgetful to change it up according to the situation. Once the cast comes off, Undertaker still uses his hand to hit picture perfect chokeslams, punches, everything, with barely so much as a flinch. It forces the commentators to look like complete idiots while they scramble to come up with excuses as to why Undertaker is able to use the right hand so flawlessly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this match, had the selling down the stretch not been so bad, this match probably would be fighting for a top 10 place on this entire list. As I said in Nicky’s excellent thread, it’s the most frustratingly good match ever.

    Onto the good, and quite simply it’s absolutely everything else. I was never super high on this match beforehand, but I watched it again in preparation for this list and I thought I’d be doing it a disservice to omit it from the list. I’d have just been a contrarian for the sake of it to leave it off completely.

    Lesnar is fucking amazing in this match. I’m struggling to think of many better Lesnar performances. Maybe the Reigns match, maybe the Cena Extreme Rules match, maybe the Eddie match. But his performance in this match is flawless. They tell an amazing story, almost a coming-of-age sort of story where Lesnar gets dominated in the early going and bumps around like a madman for Undertaker. He bleeds heavily afterwards. As Lesnar gets destroyed, he has to man up and match Undertaker blow for blow. He uses the injured hand as an out to get control of the match, and the work on the hand looks brutal and is incredibly engaging. The stuff involving the hand is great because it makes the early parts of the match unique, and allows for focused offence from both. Lesnar smashing the cast to pieces using the chair is brilliant.

    Undertaker is good for the first half of the match. He sells well when he needs to and his offence looked good. Obviously Lesnar’s bouncing around like a pinball helps. In the later point of the match he gets busted open and it’s a really sick blade job that adds so much to the match. I think visually this is the most impressive Hell in a Cell ever and that's because of the blade job and the work with the cask. A lot of classic Undertaker matches, particularly later in his career, are all built on a phenomenal finishing sequence with lots of finisher kickouts. This match is a contrast to that as they don't rely on heavy kickouts, so it's a nice change of pace to your usual revered Undertaker match too.

    The other man that deserves praise is Paul Heyman who is just sensational in this match. From his screaming on the outside to the bumps he takes, and the slight assists he’s able to give Lesnar. Great stuff from Heyman even from outside the cell.

    What else I liked about this match is its the first cell match that feels like it’s exactly how the cell was designed to be. Just two guys in the cage tearing the living piss out of one another and not able to get out. Every cell match before this had them escaping the cage. Sometimes that worked well, other times (Jericho vs HHH for example) it felt like they had to force it because they felt obligated to leave the cell.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    A lot of people consider this to be one of the best Hell in a Cell matches ever and to be honest its easy to see why. While there’s still a couple of cell matches that will place higher on this list, I know that many people would have this much higher. It’s a big match in Lesnar’s career as it’s another example of him having a great main event match so early into his career, and defeating a legend pretty comprehensively. They went all-in on the Lesnar push and it worked wonders.

    Of all the Lesnar vs Undertaker matches, they had a fair few good ones but this is their best. Fans of this one should check out the 2015 HIAC if they haven’t already. It might be a lot of smoke and mirrors but it’s a pretty terrific effort especially from a very-old and broken Undertaker.


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Batista vs. Triple H – WWE Vengeance 2005
    Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena – WWE Extreme Rules 2012
    Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker – WWE Hell in a Cell 2015


    #57 Teaser:

    Yet more SmackDown action as two men nearly kill themselves for our entertainment.

  10. #150
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    "The most frustratingly good match ever" is such an ace dscription of this match. I don't have a problem with the placement.

    Heyman with one of the best Cell performances of all time.
    -------
    [07:37 PM] Shake: I am obsessed with Nicky its true
    People Obsessed With Nicky: RainShaker, indyfan
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!

  11. #151
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #57

    WWE Championship: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Wrestlemania XIX

    Daily Motion
    ERROR: If you can see this, then Dailymotion is down or you don't have Flash installed.



    Why I rated it #57

    If you go into this match knowing what was happening to Angle’s body beforehand (check out the fantastic WWE 24 special on Angle for a good insight). Basically, Angle is fuuuuucked going into this match and there was a time when this looked like it could have been his last match ever. His neck is basically hanging on by a thread even before the match starts. People talk about manly performances from the likes of HHH after his quad injury or Survivor Series 2002, but Kurt’s performance here is bordering on the absurd when you think about it.

    What I like about this match is its very unique for a Wrestlemania main event. It’s one of the few Wrestlemania main events that is centred completely around the wrestling aspect of the match. There wasn’t any particular grudge or hatred going into it, just two men seeing who is the better wrestler. I’m scratching my head trying to think of others like it: maybe Cena vs Triple H at a stretch was centred more on wrestling acumen than anything else, but even that stylistically is vastly different to this one. Early going of this match is centred around trading holds and mat wrestling.

    People that are critical of the “Angle formula” needn’t worry about this one. In fact it’s far less of the Angle formula than the more beloved Angle vs Benoit Royal Rumble match. Here, Angle has the focus of the back and sticks to it for a long period of the match, and Lesnar doesn’t ignore the selling throughout. And it also made the suplexes make more sense too.

    Lesnar has a mixed performance here, at least by his extraordinary standards. His selling and bumping is top notch, as it pretty much always is. As mentioned, he never ignores the ribs. But I think the weakest part of the match, apart from an extremely long and jarring rest hold by Angle, is Lesnar’s comeback. It just feels weak and lacks intensity compared to the rest of the match. I think that this match is a very good match that misses out on being a classic because it never evolves. So it starts out as a match to determine who is the better wrestler, and it never deviates from that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you compare it to, say, Angle vs Michaels from Wrestlemania 21 – that has a story that changes throughout and makes it much more interesting and easier to stay involved in. This match is fantastic on the whole, but it just lacks the bit of depth to make it special.

    Once it kicks into the finishing sequence, this match rules as you’d expect. They don’t go over the top with the finishers, and the counters are really impressive and smooth. Lesnar becomes the first man to survive the grapevine Ankle Lock just by sheer force. I wish more of a big deal was made about that.

    Of course, I’d be remiss if I hadn’t talked about the finish. It’s a scary, frightening, memorable, incredible, stupid – all words you can use to describe this. The problem wasn’t the attempt, it was the distance. For such an amazing and naturally talented wrestler, him going to the far corner was really dumb.


    What is the legacy of this match?


    Unfortunately this is a match clouded by its finish. Had Lesnar hit the SSP, it’d probably be revered as one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history. I wouldn’t agree, but I can easily see that being the consensus opinion. Instead, it’s infamous, and most people just acknowledge it as a very good/great match.

    As I mentioned earlier on, this is unlike any other Wrestlemania main event ever in its style. It’s never been seen before this one and it hasn’t been since. For two wrestlers with amateur backgrounds to have a match that’s story is simply: “who is the better wrestler”. That’s unheard of.

    The match is really good, but ultimately Tazz’s line on commentary sums up the whole thing more than I ever could:

    “Oh my god, how is Lesnar not dead right now”


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Royal Rumble 2003
    Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Summerslam 2003
    Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero – WWE No Way Out 2004


    #56 Teaser:

    The end of one of the biggest failures of all time.

  12. #152
    I'm gonna blame the movies
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    I really like the match but I agree that Lesnar's comeback in the match was very underwhelming.
    [07:31 PM] Stonewall Dakson
    : I have a good friend that lives near Seattle. He says I should come visit sometime but that is like the exact opposite side of the country from me.
    [07:31 PM] Jon Snow
    : theyve got planes for that
    [07:31 PM] Stonewall Dakson
    : And those cost lots of money
    [07:32 PM] Jim
    : send yourself in a box without any holes with the USPS. Best case scenario, you get cheap traveling, worst case, you're gone forever
    [10:00 PM] Kairi HoHo
    : Jerk it in my honor Dak bye.
    [06:18 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : Guys, I am going to see President Trump tomorrow.
    [06:19 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : He's holding a rally in the town I live in. Gonna skip outta work and go.
    [06:19 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : Not the town I live in, the town I work in.
    [06:19 PM]RecyCocks
    : You should bring TGR with you
    [06:20 PM]Stonewall Dakson
    : If I was taking a long walk off a short pier I would gladly bring TGR with me.
    [11:40 PM]
    Kairi HoHo
    : Pretty sure I said I would go gay for Ryan Gosling just saying lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kairi HoHo View Post
    I'll be fine Daddy.
    BS Mafia 4 Lyfe: Dakstang Dook Duke HoHo Punk Wolf CocksDynamite Creeping Death Swamps

  13. #153
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #56

    Booker T, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Shane McMahon & Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Big Show, Chris Jericho, Kane, The Rock & The Undertaker – WWF Survivor Series 2001

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    Why I rated it #56

    The match kicks off with Rock and Austin (as it finishes), and generally the rule of thumb for this match is that if it contains those two, Angle or Jericho, it’s usually good. Those four absolutely carried the company in the second half of 2001 and were the only four guys that came out of this miserable storyline with any credibility, not just for their booking but their motivated performances as well. Austin especially is probably the best wrestler in 2001, as I will go in to more detail later in this thread.

    One of the early themes of the match is Shane McMahon constantly saving his teammates in the early going. That at least gives the match some much needed story in the early going before the eliminations begin. I do always get a chuckle out of JR burying Big Show for being such a disappointment on commentary

    I’m not going to lie, there is a significant lull in this match, and it’s mostly when some of the also-rans of the storyline get involved (e.g. your Kanes, Undertakers and even Booker T). Once it gets down to 4 on 2 with Rock and Jericho fighting for the WWF team, the match picks up big time. Rock gives the match some much needed energy after the lull, and gives some more focus to the match and allows the match to follow a simple face-in-peril structure. One thing I give this match props for is its perfect order of elimination. The guys that the crowd cared about (the four previously mentioned plus RVD) lasted the longest while the rest of the scrubs got eliminated first. Part of me thinks that’s pretty predictable, but the alternative would be letting someone like Undertaker go longer in the match, which would suck.

    Rock is the MVP of this whole match by a long way. While I’ll praise 2001 Austin forever and ever, and he’s fantastic here too, it’s Rock that brings this whole match together. He’s the one guy that goes above and beyond to sell the importance of the match and bring energy to it. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, this match is at its best when it reaches Rock and Austin and they carry on right where they left off at Wrestlemania.

    This match is one of the few shining lights of the whole storyline. Much like my review of the 2014 Survivor Series match, if you forget about the fact it’s completely meaningless, it’s a really fun match especially with so many big names in it. Good stuff.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    This is the big flaw here, and stops me from rating it any higher on the list. It’s impossible for me to get invested fully in this match because the storyline coming into it was such an incoherent mess. The grand WCW vs WWF feud ends with this collection of wrestlers. The emotional impact of Jericho finally turning on The Rock was lost almost immediately because of Kurt Angle. The stakes of the match were complete nonsense because everyone was on TV within a month.

    Nonetheless this match is quite fondly remembered by a lot of people, particularly those that were younger at the time. The WWE did a good job, at least within the confides of this match on its own, of making the stakes feel big. The failures of this match, as far as storytelling goes, is all the stuff that came before it: the idea that these ten made up the conclusion of the WWF vs WCW storyline; the failures of making the WCW team look remotely credible / making the WWF team look vulnerable; the lack of depth and originality to the storyline; the nonsensical turns. As a match that stuff is shifted to the side for this match, so maybe that is why this match is looked fondly upon even if the rest of the storyline is not.

    As well as that, there are very few matches in WWE history with as much star power as this.


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown – WWE Survivor Series 2005
    Team Authority vs. Team Cena – WWE Survivor Series 2014
    Team Raw vs. Team SmackDown – WWE Survivor Series 2016


    #55 Teaser:

    Early 2000s SmackDown continues its amazing run in this thread with another WWE Championship between two of the best wrestlers on the list.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #55

    WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Chris Benoit – WWE SmackDown, 4th December 2003


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    Why I rated it #55


    More amazing SmackDown matches.

    For anyone that hasn’t seen this match before, one look at the names involved should tell you that it’s going to be a good one.

    I said in a different thread this week that I thought Lesnar was, all things considered, one of the best wrestlers of all time with only a short resume being the thing that keeps him away from the very very best. When he’s in the ring, there’s very few things that he’s not exceptional at. Because he’s a naturally credible wrestler with amazing offence, the best thing Lesnar can do is selling. He’s one of my favourite sellers ever because he’s so good at making his opponent look good. He can bump around like a madman, as we all know – but as guys like Dolph Ziggler will show you, the ability to bump isn’t the same as the ability to sell. Lesnar is wonderful at the attention to detail and prolonged selling, and that is apparent here. Because Benoit had a match earlier in the night, his offence is few and far between, so Lesnar has to stagger his selling accordingly.

    The story of this match is that Lesnar is determined to make Benoit tap out. That leads to three stages of the match: when Lesnar tries to make Benoit tap; when Lesnar tries to win via pinfall instead; and when Lesnar tries any means necessary to beat Benoit (ie. Cheating, running, etc). And while the latter might sound terrible for a guy like Brock, these two make it work because they’re very good at their job. Once Benoit gets his offence in, Brock begins to panic, make mistakes and get desperate. The storytelling of Brock going more and more insane through the match is excellently done.

    Speaking of amazing selling, Benoit’s selling through the whole match is great, but especially for the Brock Lock.

    This match did a tremendous job of making Benoit look great, and really kickstarted his big push into Wrestlemania. If this were any other two wrestlers, I’d be delighted with this, but because it’s these two, I think they probably could have produced a classic, instead we’re left with just a great match. Maybe if they hadn’t moved Benoit to Raw this story could have concluded at Wrestlemania, but I think it worked out better the way it did.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    It’s probably getting a bit tiresome to listen to me ramble about SmackDown’s early 2000s run. The list has been dominated by SmackDown matches so far, whether on PPV or on free TV. When I was making this list and going through, rewatching all the potential listworthy matches, I found myself with an extortionate amount of SmackDown matches to watch. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone: the SmackDown Six era is renowned for its high quality wrestling. But I feel like the term “SmackDown Six” era doesn’t tell the whole story, since that was only a couple of months, and excludes one major reason why SmackDown was producing high quality matches. Brock Lesnar was such an amazing addition to WWE programming and his match quality from 2002-2004 was fantastic, and that’s why he’s so heavily represented on this list.

    Oh yeah and Benoit is undoubtedly the MVP of the whole list and half-decade. I’ve always thought he was one of the best ever, but when you sit down and have to watch so much of his work like I have for this project, it cements that idea so much more. Hell even on this episode of SmackDown alone he had a terrific TV match with Cena that never made the list.

    I reckon this match would be even more revered had it had more of a long term impact. While it did look at one point that the plans were for Benoit to wrestle for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania, obviously at some point the plans changed and Benoit never got his big win over Lesnar (Survivor Series aside).


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – WWF Wrestlemania X-Seven
    Chris Benoit vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – WWF SmackDown, 31st May 2001
    Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero – WWE No Way Out 2004


    #54 Teaser:

    “How far will the bar get raised tonight”.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #54

    WWF Tag Team Championships: Tables, Ladders & Chairs – The Dudley Boyz (c) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz – WWF Wrestlemania X-Seven

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    Why I rated it #54


    “How high will the bar be raised tonight” – JR

    That line from commentary is so great. It’s such a simple line to hype the match but it works because we the fans know that the matches between these three teams just keep getting bigger and bigger. From No Mercy, to the 2000 Royal Rumble, to Wrestlemania 2000, to Summerslam 2000 – everything has built to this match. And JR’s statement works because they do exceed all the expectations once again.

    If you’ve followed this thread you’ll have seen my reviews for the above matches (sans Wrestlemania 2000 which I have never cared for), but you will see a pattern in those reviews in that I praise the matches as being very cleverly laid out. This one is no exception, but unlike the last few matches where they let the big spots escalate to the end, in this one they mix it up a little bit. Jeff Hardy’s big dive off the ladder – which was the highlight spot of Wrestlemania 2000 and Summerslam 2000 – comes near the middle of the match. Why? Because they weren’t satisfied with just that. Instead they leave two more big spots for the very end of the match.

    What is very clear about this match is how little they care about their own health. The chair shots are violent. Watch the bump Christian takes to the outside from the top of a ladder. They don’t stand out in this match, but it’s a really scary looking spot when you concentrate on it. Watch how violently Rhyno spears Matt Hardy through the table. Watch the final table spot and think about what happens if Matt and Bubba Ray don’t hit the table at the same time. Absolutely no regard for their own health and it made the match so much more fun to watch. If you’ve watched the Greatest Rivalries with Edge and Matt Hardy, they talked about how they all wanted to steal the show and that is very very clear to see.

    Innovation is a big part of the match that makes this stand out among the crowd. Stuff like the interference from Rhyno, Spike and Lita gave the match a totally different feel. Then the actual spots were stuff that had rarely been seen on a big stage: Edge spearing Jeff off the ladder; Spike’s Dudley Dog through the table; Bubba slamming Jeff Hardy through Edge through the table; two guys going through the final stacked tables. All fresh spots as far as these matches went, all put together in this one match.

    The big spot, of course, is the iconic Edge and Jeff Hardy spear from the titles. It’s still one of the most amazing spots ever, and is truly incredible. Probably the only negative of this match is the set-up of the spot is a bit off, but nobody really remembers that when they see the actual spot itself.

    I don’t think there’s many better garbage match spotfests in WWE history than this one. I think there’s been better ladder matches, in fact we’ll see some later on (and that’s mostly just my personal preference for enjoying story-driven matches more), but this match is peerless in WWE as far as ladder spotfests go.


    What is the legacy of this match?


    Huge. While this isn’t the best match involving these guys from this era (one more is still to come), this is seen as the pinnacle of that era. It takes place on the biggest show of the year, on what is widely regarded as one of the greatest pay-per-views ever. The big spot of the match is replayed every single year for Wrestlemania in the build up packages and is one of the most visually impressive spots in WWE history. As mentioned in the review, few spotfests in WWE have felt as chaotic and memorable as this one. There’s just something about this that makes it stand out. The setting certainly helps, but more than that the feeling that this match came about as a natural progression from the previous matches.

    The futures of these guys was built on these matches. Edge and Jeff Hardy are obviously the big ones, becoming two of the biggest stars of the 2000s being successful and incredibly popular. But their partners, Christian and Matt Hardy, both enjoyed very respectable singles success as well. Even the Dudleyz had a lot of success as singles wrestlers, less so D-Von, but Bubba Ray had a brilliant heel run in TNA – being one of the few wrestlers who can say that their TNA career was a positive part of their career. Without these matches, whose to say if their careers would have panned out the way they did.


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    The Dudleyz vs. The Hardyz vs. Edge & Christian – WWF Summerslam 2000
    Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian vs. Edge vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin – WWE Wrestlemania 21
    The New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. The Usos – WWE TLC 2015


    #53 Teaser:


    More ladder action with an amazing intercontinental championship match on Raw.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    #53

    WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match: Christian (c) vs. Rob Van Dam – WWE Raw, 29th September 2003

    En1yft9-Nkg&fs=1" width="425" height="329">En1yft9-Nkg&fs=1" />En1yft9-Nkg">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En1yft9-Nkg


    Why I rated it #53

    What I like about this one, and it’s not something that can often be said about RVD in these sorts of matches, is that it flows very nicely. All the spots make sense and don’t feel contrived at all. Even the big spot at the end comes up from a cleverly organised moment where RVD gets lucky off a potential fall from the ladder. Instead of setting up a spot and doing it and then setting up another one, they work a very smart and logical match. It feels like a match that is called on the fly. The spots feel pretty simple, but that works in this match because they were violent and felt painful. I know it sounds a little silly to say, but this match made me appreciate just how much it matters that the spots sound violent, and how the wrestlers react to them.

    If the last review was all about the craziness of the big spots, this match is all about keeping it simple and working with the basics. It’s like a more refined version of Razor vs Michaels – not to discredit that one because it’s great and influential – but this follows a similar structure but with extra violence and a little bit more flash from RVD.

    Whisper it quietly, but I think I’m becoming an RVD fan again through this series. He’s amazing in this match, with some great selling and his bumping is, of course, off the chain. I think a big part of that is that I'm cherry-picking his best matches but fuck is he fun to watch at his best.

    If you haven’t seen this one it’s certainly worth checking out. It’s a fairly compact match so it doesn’t outstay its welcome and they pack a great deal into that time. Probably the best Raw match (TV or PPV) from 2003.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    Unfortunately this match gets forgotten about for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious is that the Eddie vs RVD ladder match from Raw 2002 is seen as one of the best Raw matches ever. I disagree with that and find that match very overrated, but to the majority of the people it’s seen as a classic. The spots from that match, for better or worse, are much more memorable than this one. The second reason that this was forgotten about was that until the network era this was a hidden match that wasn’t released on DVD until the Ladder Match 2 DVD. And finally it took place on Raw in 2003, which is seen as a major down period for the company.


    If you liked this match, you might like:


    Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Summerslam 1995
    Carlito vs. Jeff Hardy – WWE Raw, 10th December 2006
    Alberto Del Rio vs. Christian – WWE Extreme Rules 2011


    #52 Teaser:

    We’re going back to my favourite WWE year, with a terrific Raw tag match.

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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    I honestly don’t really remember that match so I just checked it it out. Very good but it feels like a personal favorite more than a near top fifty of a decade’s span. I do agree that RVD/Eddie was very overrated.

    Has Eddie Guerrero ever had a “great” ladder match? All of his ladder matches seem overrated or just okay at best to me.
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    Re: The 100 Greatest WWE Matches (1996-2005)

    Quote Originally Posted by Darling Nicky View Post
    I honestly don’t really remember that match so I just checked it it out. Very good but it feels like a personal favorite more than a near top fifty of a decade’s span. I do agree that RVD/Eddie was very overrated.

    Has Eddie Guerrero ever had a “great” ladder match? All of his ladder matches seem overrated or just okay at best to me.
    I disagree, actually. I think this list, as opposed to the previous top 100 I did, shows that between 1996-2005 the list doesn't get truly great until, funnily enough, around the top 50 mark. The lower half of the list is all very even in terms of quality so it allows for some more personal favourites (like the next match on the list).

    Eddie & Tajiri vs WGTT was good, but other than that no - he didn't have good ladder matches. Though the RVD one he was fantastic in it, but he was basically wrestling himself.

    ---------------------------------------------------------
    #52

    WWF Tag Team Championships: British Bulldog & Owen Hart vs. Shawn Michaels & Stone Cold Steve Austin – WWF Raw, May 26th 1997

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    Why I rated it #52

    Another personal favourite of mine (and frankly most people that have seen it too). This is Michaels’ big return after losing his smile, and he puts in a great performance on his return. It feels like this whole match is designed to put over Michaels and show just how good he is, and it works. His offence is great, his character work is excellent, and his selling and bumping is incredible. Just watch the way he bounces off Bulldog at multiple times in the match.

    I always have a big respect for matches that can cram a lot of action into a short amount of time, and as people will have gathered by now, I love a good sprint. And this is a perfect example of that. They wrestle a smartly worked southern style tag match and cram it into just over ten minutes. The timing of everything here, and how they worked the tag teases were well done. With a bit more time and a longer finishing sequence this would have likely been one of the best tag matches in the company’s history, but as it is it’s one of the best “short” tag matches the company has ever run. A fantastic little match, and a great Raw moment to boot. To me this epitomises everything that you should want in a TV match: it’s compact, it’s energetic, there’s lots going on, the crowd is excited, and it progresses the stories going forward.


    What is the legacy of this match?

    Certainly one of the more memorable matches in Raw history for me. Not only is it a big return for Shawn Michaels, but it’s a continuation of the biggest feuds of the year. In a year stacked with amazing moments and matches, this is another great addition to the year. I think someone could correct me on this, but I feel like this is the first time they ever ran with a "tag partners that hate each other" storyline, which would become a staple of WWE going into the attitude era and beyond. And yet it was rarely done this well again (though stuff like Bryan and Kane and Sheamus and Cesaro certainly would come to mind).

    As with a few of these 1997 entries, the post-match makes it all even better and probably lifts my opinion of the match as a whole.


    If you liked this match, you might like:

    Dude Love & Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. British Bulldog & Owen Hart – WWF Raw, 14th July 1997
    Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin & Triple H – WWF Raw, 21st May 2001
    Edge & Randy Orton vs. John Cena & Shawn Michaels - WWE Raw, January 29th 2007


    #51 Teaser:

    Benoit and Angle have a classic before their classic.

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