10. Hell in a Cell: Undertaker vs. Edge (2008)
This feud lasted almost the entire year–Undertaker won at WrestleMania, Edge won a rematch later in the year in a TLC match, and this was the rubber. WWE had recently switched to PG-TV, which spelled doom for a match as potentially gory as HIAC. This feud had a great buildup that lasted months–very well done. One of the big spots saw get Speared through the side of the cage. Nice. Edge continued to beat on him on the outside. Edge ran across the announce tables and Speared Undertaker through one of them. Craziness. Shortly after, both men engaged in a series of near falls. Edge mocked Undertaker with an Old School , but Taker caught him and Chokeslammed him through a table. Taker mounted a comeback, performing all of the moves that Edge had done to him before finishing him off with a Tombstone at 30 minutes. Post-match, Undertaker chokeslammed Edge through the ring, causing flames to fly up through the hole in the ring. “Straight to hell,” if you will.
9. WWE Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (2003)
These two had the main event at WrestleMania 19 that saw Lesnar go over clean (also the match where Lesnar botched the Shooting Star Press that nearly killed him). While Angle recovered from neck surgery, Lesnar held the title until this match. Angle locks in the Ankle Lock, and Brock is tapping, but the ref is knocked out. Vince McMahon runs in and hits Angle with a char, prompting Lesnar, now selling the ankle injury, to hit a one-legged F5. Absolutely ridiculous. Vince orders Brock to do it again, but Angle reverses it into an Ankle Lock. Lesnar reaches the ropes a few times, but Angle keeps pulling him back, eventually getting Lesnar to tap out. A great match with unexpected twist and turns. These two had great chemistry.
8. World Heavyweight Championship–Tables, Ladders & Chairs: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (2009)
Punk cashed in on Hardy after he had just won the WHC, causing Punk to turn heel. Punk, known as the Straight Edge Superstar, ran a series of promos on Jeff’s part drug abuse. The buildup and storyline to this was so new and refreshing, and the fact that it touched on elements of real life in both men was the cherry on top. Like with almost all Jeff Hardy matches, this one was loaded with spots: powerbomb off the ladder, Swanton Bomb off the ladder through a table, etc. For the finish, both men climbed the ladder, but Punk gave Hardy a shot to the ribs, causing him to fall off the ladder as Punk won the title. Unfortunately for Jeff’s WWE fans, this was the beginning of the end–Jeff’s contract was expiring, and he was believed to be going back to TNA. He eventually left WWE after the feud, and was later caught with possession of drugs, a court battle the continues to go on to this day. This match would be the final encounter between the two, and Punk’s continued promos on Jeff following their feud has caused incredible beef between the Hardy brothers and Punk.
7. WWF Intercontinental Championship: Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect (1991)
These two men are arguably the two best technical wrestlers in WWE history. This SummerSlam match was a pure wrestling match in the most technical of terms. This match featured the first ever kickout of a Perfect Plex, never before done. Perfect sold it…well, perfectly. He eventually went for a leg drop, but Bret caught it and applied the Sharpshooter in one of the nicest, smoothest finishes I’ve seen. This was one of the best matches either man had ever put on.
6. Street Fight: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (2002)
HBK made his much anticipated return to the ring after missing four years due to knee and back surgeries. I remember watching this at home, thinking, there’s no way he’s going to be the same HBK that I fell in love with. Thankfully, I was wrong. HBK, arguably the greatest wrestler of all-time, was selling every bump as if it were his last. In the most memorable spot, HBK set up a table on the outside and laid HHH across it before landing a splash off the top rope. In the ring, HBK climbed the ladder, circled his ear with his hand, motioning how crazy he was, before landing his vintage elbow drop. For the finish, Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree were blocked before HBK scored a cradle for the pinfall at roughly half an hour. 30 minutes in your first match back after four years!? Lunacy. After the match, HHH took him out with the sledgehammer, knocking HBK out of action for a few more months. At the time, it was believed that HBK was close to retiring due to injury, and that his days in the ring were numbered. As time would tell, The Heartbreak Kid continued to be the Showstopper for another eight years.
5. WWF Championship: Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin (2001)
Austin was currently the top heel after turning on WWF during the WCW/ Invasion, while Angle ended up being the top babyface despite being a heel just prior. Some great spots of note: Austin landing an early Stone Cold Stunner, but Angle kicking out and Austin ramming Angle’s bloody head into the ringpost. For the finish, Angle kicked out of another Stunner, Austin kicked out of an Olympic Slam, but Kurt locked in an Ankle Lock. Austin, unwilling to tap, punches Earl Hebner, Stunner’s Mike Chioda and hits Tim White with the title before Nick Patrick comes in and rings the bell, causing a DQ. This match was one of Angle’s best as a babyface, and the many who thought Austin’s heel persona never got over were proved wrong, as he generated insane amounts of heel heat. Angle won the title clean at Unforgiven in his hometown the next month before dropping it back to Austin a few weeks later.
4. WWF Championship–Cage Match: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (1994)
This feud had a great buildup. At 1993, it began to form. Owen turned heel at the in 1994, then beat Bret at WrestleMania 10 in the same year. Visually, many remember this match because the cage was blue. Both men were technical wrestling masters, and the match got just over 30 minutes of time, so it had all the makings of a classic. As it should be, the only way to win this one was to escape the cage–no pinfalls or submissions. A done right. This match had some great spots–Bret’s superplex off the top of the cage, Owen’s Sharpshooter reversed into another Sharpshooter, etc. Both men started to climb the cage, but Bret smashed Owen into the cage, causing Owen to slip upside down, hanging by one leg, allowing Bret to drop down and retain the WWF Championship. Post-match, Jim Neidhart attacked Bret, which led to a two-on-one with Owen against Bulldog and Bret. Overall, very well done with a great feud.
3. WWF Tag Team Championships–Tables, Ladders & Chairs: The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (2000)
The first three-team TLC match in WWE history. There were so many spots in this match, I don’t even know where to begin. Bubba hit a Full Nelson Bomb on Christian through the table, Edge pushing Jeff off a ladder and onto another ladder, which springboarded and hit Matt in the face. So many more spots. Bubba climbs the 20 foot ladder and is pushed off and through the stacked tables on the outside. Matt climbs, but D’Von pushes the ladder and duplicates the fall into another set of stacked tables. Many superstars always say that matches like these shorten their careers, and it’s totally true when you consider Edge retiring early because of disc issues in his neck. E&C eventually retained, but just as their WrestleMania 16 TLC match, these six men truly revolutionized TLC matches.
2. WWF Intercontinental Championship: “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. Bret Hart (1992)
On a two-day tape delay from London, England, these two put on an absolute show in front of 80,000 people. Smith is in front of his hometown crowd. Diana, Bulldog’s wife and Hart’s sister, was also at ringside. The finish for this match was crazy–with both men on their backs, Hart applies the Sharpshooter, but Smith eventually gets the ropes. Bret tosses him to the ropes, where Bulldog reverses a sunset flip and hooks the arms for a three count. The ensuing ovation is probably the top three that I’ve ever heard. The win helped solidify Bulldog as a superstar, and thrusted Hart as the go-to guy in the WWF, as he won his first ever WWF Championship just two months later.
1. WWF Intercontinental Championship–Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (1995)
The sequel to their flawless WrestleMania 10 ladder match. This match got about 25 minutes, seven more than the prequel, and it paid off. With both men as babyfaces, there was minimal buildup heading into it–HBK, who was originally going to face Psycho Sid, was being pushed as the top babyface, while Razor was a midcard babyface. This match had everything, from spills (HBK being suplexed over the top and landing on his knees), to spots (splash off the ladder). Razor eventually brought in a second ladder, and as both men started to climb to reach for the gold, Michaels landed a Sweet Chin Music! HBK took an unplanned fall, so to adlib, Michaels reversed a Razor’s Edge, sending Razor over the top rope and onto the exposed concrete, just as they did for WM10. In what can really be considered as the only potential miscue of the match, Michaels reached for the IC Title and missed it on the first grab before securing it on the second. Regardless, this match was superior to their WM10 ladder matc. This classic goes down as the best SummerSlam match of all-time.