We’re down to the FINAL 6 entries of Pass Me the Mike’s list of 30 (and then some) Unheralded Wrestling Gems. This thing took many hours to put together and I truly appreciate everyone who has taken the time to check it all out. For those who are seeing this for the first time or those who need a refresher, click the links below for all other entries.
Entries 30-25 can be found HERE.
Entries 24-19 can be found HERE.
Entries 18-13 can be found HERE.
Entries 12-7 can be found HERE.
Looking back at all of the entries, it’s baffling that WCW could be run so poorly, yet still put out some of the most incredible matches. Don’t get me wrong, there was a TON of crap, but man….there was a lot of greatness, too.
6) Steve Austin vs. Triple H (WWF No Mercy ’99 – October 17, 1999)
These two guys have so many matches under their respective belts that it’s really easy to forget all the stuff they’ve done. As this list has shown, I do love a good brawl and this Anything Goes Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Title was a fight from the start. One of the neater moments of the match saw Austin make use of a camera boom to take Triple H down, complete with an instant replay from that camera’s view of the action. Great pacing with Austin and Triple H keeping things rocking for 20-plus minutes. A sledgehammer miscue from an interfering Rock cost Austin as Triple H retained the title.
AND THEN SOME: The primary match that gets remembered from this show (aside from the classic Good Housekeeping Match, of course) is the tag team ladder match with Matt and Jeff Hardy (Then part of The Brood with Gangrel) taking on former Brood members Edge and Christian. With $100,000 and the services of Terri Runnels on the line (This match was part of the Terri Invitational Tournament – The T.I.T. Hilarious, I know.), the Hardy brothers were victorious in a match that set the table for some amazing tag team ladder and TLC matches in the future between these teams and The Dudley Boyz.
5) Bret Hart vs. Jean-Pierre Lafitte (WWF In Your House 3 – September 24, 1995)
While I always kind of liked Carl Ouellet (I dug The Quebecers), he was definitely an odd choice for a program against one of the WWF’s top guys in Bret Hart, as he had never had a big singles run in the promotion. Nevertheless, this pay-per-view match between Hart and Ouellet, as Jean-Pierre Lafitte – a pirate character, was a bright spot during a pretty gross period for the WWF. A dive by Hart to start the match nearly ended it before it could get going, as he almost landed on his head. A great spot in the match saw Lafitte take a back body drop over the top rope, land on his feet, pull Hart out of the ring and Irish whip him into the ring steps. Lafitte was always really agile for his size, which he later showed when he took a SICK bump on the floor. With a running start, he did a somersault plancha, which Hart dodged, leading to Lafitte taking an insane flat back bump on the floor. Hart really took some shots in this one, too, beginning with that dive and followed by a couple of HARD chest-first bumps into the corner. Good, good stuff here.
4) Brian Pillman and Jushin Liger vs. Beef Wellington and Chris Benoit (WCW Clash of the Champions XIX – June 16, 1992)
This match took place on a show that was a real mixed bag. WCW held the first round of the NWA Tag Team Title Tournament on this Clash and gave the fans some good, some meh and some bad. The promotion completely wasted an appearance by the Japanese team of Hiroshi Hase and Akira Nogami by booking them against a jobber masked team “from the Dominican Republic;” The Silver Kings and Freebirds had a train wreck of a match; a really good Steiners/Miracle Violence Connection match was given away on free TV instead of waiting for The Great American Bash, where people would have to PAY to see it; and viewers were treated to a solid match with Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes defeating Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. This match featured some relative unknowns to American fans. Pillman was established in WCW and Liger had been featured on WCW TV, along with a couple of big matches against Pillman for the Light Heavyweight Title. Wellington and Benoit were new to the fanbase, but not to their opponents. These four tore it up and put on a hell of a match. As a kid watching the Clash at home, this match stole the show. They should’ve had both Wellington and Benoit back on a more regular basis, if at all possible.
3) Doom vs. Arn Anderson and Barry Windham (WCW Starrcade ’90 – December 16, 1990)
This was originally supposed to be a rematch from Halloween Havoc with Anderson and Ric Flair taking on Ron Simmons and Butch Reed. Flair had been taken out by Doom and was replaced by fellow Horseman Windham in this Street Fight for the WCW World Tag Team Titles. Flair would end up being a part of the Black Scorpion debacle in the main event of a mostly forgettable show. This match kicked all kinds of ass as these four guys, well, pretty much kicked each other’s asses all over the joint. They even showed up dressed in cowboy boots, jeans and belts – all staples of a good Southern wrestling fight. A tremendous, stiff brawl from bell-to-bell that will always be one of my favorite matches, despite the lame double pin finish and it being so short. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it. Simmons and Reed were just awesome.
2) Ricky Steamboat vs. Terry Funk (NWA Clash of the Champions VII – June 14, 1989)
The men who, in 1989, were involved in two of Ric Flair’s most memorable (and amazing) feuds met here in the main event of a Clash that is infamous for the debut of The Ding Dongs. Steamboat was fresh off his run with a heel Flair and Funk was headed straight into his. Here, Funk was the No. 10-ranked challenger for Flair’s NWA World Heavyweight Title, while Steamboat was the No. 1 contender. Funk had attacked Flair after he defeated Steamboat to regain the title and wanted his shot against the now-fan favorite “Nature Boy.” Words cannot express how much I love Terry Funk and Steamboat was just unbelievably awesome for the NWA in 1989. The unorthodox Funk and the flashier, more technical Steamboat made for a fun pairing. Funk got disqualified, which brought out Lex Luger for the apparent save. Luger had another idea, as he attacked Steamboat, which led to the two meeting at The Great American Bash in July. Steamboat headed out of the promotion shortly thereafter.
AND THEN SOME: One of my favorite childhood wrestling memories occurred on November 19, 1991, when Steamboat returned to WCW for the first time since leaving in 1989 as Dustin Rhodes’ mystery partner at Clash of the Champions XVII. It was his first Clash since facing Funk at Clash VII, and as a replacement for the injured Barry Windham, he and Rhodes defeated The Enforcers (Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko) for the WCW World Tag Team Titles. I will never forget the crowd’s reaction when Steamboat was revealed as the mystery partner, as everyone in the building went ballistic. SERIOUSLY! Listen to that pop in the video below! A great match with great heat.
1) Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Psicosis (WCW Bash at the Beach ’96 – July 7, 1996)
Hulk Hogan’s heel turn and the formation of the New World Order is the one thing from this show that gets talked about, but this match was the real highlight and one of my all-time favorites. A buddy of mine recorded the show the night before and let me borrow the tape at school the next day. I went home and had my mind blown when I watched this match. Absolute insanity from these two and probably Psicosis’ best match in WCW. Psicosis doing a senton to the floor is something I’ve never forgotten and is just as crazy to me now as it was when I first saw it. These guys pulled out all the stops and delivered something truly special. It’s a shame that the NWO stuff had to happen the same night and overshadow this match, but I’ll always remember watching this for the first time and being amazed at the things I saw.
AND THEN SOME: The following night on Nitro (the same show as the Flair/Powers match from EARLIER in the countdown), Rey and Psicosis went out and had two more great matches. Mysterio captured the WCW Cruiserweight Title from Dean Malenko to kick off the show and Eddie Guerrero defeated Psicosis later in the night in the match seen below.
And that does it! Thanks again for checking this out and feel free to hit me with some feedback on Twitter @PMTMike or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org!