Best WWE matches of the 2000s
"Hey Scott I wrote this just for fun, and thought maybe you could post it on the blog. If not, maybe you could read it and tell me just what you think.
By the way when exactly is the book coming out? Amzon has no definitive date as of yet?"
Book is scheduled to come out August 30, but I got a big box of author's copies the other day so it's probably due out sooner.
I don't have too many major qualms with the list, although HHH v. Steve Austin from No Way Out 2001 is a HELL of a match and should be on the ***** list. The rest seems pretty good to me.
20 Best WWE Matches of the 2000’s
We’re more than halfway through the first decade of the new millennium, so I figured I’d take a look back at what I feel are the 20 best WWF/E matches in the past six and a half years.
If you’ve been reading Scott’s reviews for a while you know that he did a similar themed rant on the 20 best matches of the 90s, as did the folks over at Death Valley Driver. I am totally ripping them off here, but everyone loves a list so why not.
20. Randy Orton vs. Mick Foley (Backlash’04)
One of the most important matches of the 2000s, this match marked both the beginning of Orton’s credibility as a legit main-event-level guy, as well as proof that when you need to put a new star over, no one will ever be able to do it like Mick. Hogan never puts anyone not named “Rock” over, Austin ditto, and Michaels since his return has only legitimately jobbed to Hunter and Kurt (of course he got put over them as well). At WM 19 he went over Jericho clean, totally the wrong choice. Point being that Foley has never been a prima donna, or politics-oriented guy. He goes out, makes the people happy , kills himself and writes books about it. This match was all kinds of insane, including a Foley hip-toss off the stage through a table, a dive off said stage, both men covered in thumbtacks and featuring a HOT Edmonton crowd. Orton goes over clean with an RKO on a barbed-wire-bat.
19. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (Backlash’04)
From the same show as the previous match, this was a rematch of a classic that appears much higher up on the list. Probably the third or fourth best Triple Threat match, this was a retribution for all the Canadian fans who had been waiting to see Shawn get it in Canada for seven years. They got it in spades, as Shawn taps to the sharpshooter in thirty minutes. Shawn took an awesome dive through the Spanish announce table, that lead to Benoit-HHH going at it for about six minutes that were lacking and dragged the match down to only “Match of the Year Candidate” territory. Still, not bad.
18. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania XX)
We hit another early 2004 match, as Eddie and Kurt went out in front of MSG (notoriously bloodthirsty) and WRESTLED, and had the crowd totally in the palm of their hands the whole way through. Eddie was the king in this period, and this match is no exception featuring some really sound psychology, with Angle working Eddie’s ribs, and an ending that is perfect. Meltzer only gave this ****, and a lot of people seem to forget about it due to the main event, but it is an undeniable classic.
17. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho (Fully Loaded’00)
Fully Loaded 2000, an infamous show where all the WWF mainstays (Rock, Taker, HHH) beat the new blood (Benoit, Jericho, Angle), but the two last matches both rock. This was the match of the night, though, and Jericho’s first real foray into the land of the giants. To this day he has a 0-6 record against HHH, but this was the first one, and a really hot angle at the time. Last Man Standing rules, which I always hate, but the ending at least kept Jericho strong, with HHH just barely getting up at 10 and then dropping right back down. A really effective brawl, with both guys letting it all hang loose. The great thing about it was the freshness, so keep that in mind when watching it today.
16. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Royal Rumble’01)
Easily the best singles ladder match since the Shawn-Razor classics, this is also probably the best match these two have ever had. Benoit debuts his crazy tope into a chair-shot spot here, and Jericho debuts his ladder-lion tamer finisher. A different type of ladder match, especially compared to the ladder-rinse variety of the past five years or so, as they somehow work technical wrestling into it. A gem.
15. Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin (SummerSlam’01)
If this match had a clean finish it’s in my top five. Sadly it doesn’t, but it doesn’t take too much away from a brutal, bloody masterpiece. These two wrestled each other a million times in the second half of 2001, but this was their peak, with Austin being suplexed every possible way, and Angle eating post for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Angle is probably the wrestler of the decade so far, and this match is one of the reasons why.
14. Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble’04)
Benoit sets a new rumble record (to be broken by Rey this year) in what was top-to-bottom the best booked Royal Rumble. Tons of cool shit like Big Show dominating five men, even after they all hit their finishers on him, and then Benoit proving himself to be for real. I think it lacked star power, but still the second best rumble, easily.
13. Chris Jericho vs. The Rock (No Mercy’01)
Jericho finally becomes WCW World Champion…in the WWF (sigh). Still, this is one of the best matches I have ever seen, as these guys set-up this match with gusto by giving killer promos for weeks prior, with Rock challenging Jericho’s ability to win the big one, and Jericho calling Rock out on his movie-star attitude. The resulting match is certainly Jericho’s best ever, as both men played mind games and truly gave us something special. The Steph run-in was a black mark, but the rest is pure gold.
12. Eddie Guerrero vs. Brock Lesnar (No Way Out’04)
A match made even more significant with Eddie’s passing, this is the best big-little match ever in the WWE. The crowd was smoking throughout. Brock, to his everlasting credit, knew he was going to leave the WWE after Mania (where he’d job clean to Goldberg), but still didn’t phone this one in. He gave Eddie the title in style. A really emotional match if you watch nowadays, which if you can’t is totally understandable.
11. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (WrestleMania X-7)
I think all the TLC matches hold up to a certain extent, but this one is the best of all. Rhyno, Lita and Spike all get involved, the spots are eye-popping (Edge spears Jeff off a ladder anyone?!), the huge crowd didn’t hurt things, and of course the right team goes over again. I loved E&C.
10. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio (No Mercy’02)
I have a feeling most people would have this higher, but I just couldn’t put it over anything else. It is however, a technically perfect tag team match, even more so than another tag match that appears higher on the list. I love it, and can watch in endlessly, but for some reason I don’t seem to have a special place in my heart for it like most do. Still, the second best tag match ever in the WWE.
9. Triple H vs. Steve Austin (No Way Out’01)
Austin hadn’t done much since his return in late 2000, and this was the jolt that sent him on his way to be wrestler of the year in 2001. 2 out of 3 falls, and 45 freakin minutes of pure wrestling and then bloody brawling. This one seems to improve on every further viewing. The ending is especially original. Scott’s right about Hunter, in the big match situations he always shows up in a big way.
8. Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit vs. Steve Austin & Triple H (RAW - 5/21/01)
In a weird storyline development Austin & HHH went from taking turns trying to kill each other to being Tag Champs. Only in wrestling. This was the famous match where HHH tore his quad, and he does man-up in a pretty big way by finishing the match and taking the Walls on the announce table. This was a wild match, with everyone stepping it up and really showing what a little bit of effort can do. The Canadians win the titles in the best match ever to air on RAW. Just about everyone adores this match, and I am no different.
7. Triple H vs. The Rock (Judgment Day’00)
No one thought they could pull it off, but they did it in spades. For 59 minutes this was art. We’ll pretend Undertaker has nothing to do with this match.
6. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
A dream match that actually lived up to the dream for once. At WM21, the ladder match totally stole the show, so these guys had even more pressure on their shoulders, but they went out and proved why they are two of the all-time greats. Some of the spots still make me mark-out today, like Angle’s Angle Slam from the top, Shawn’s Superkick, Angle’s rising from the dead to put the Anklelock on, and Michaels’ awesome selling of it. The rematches were all good, but this was as close to ***** as possible without hitting that magic mark.
5. Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X-7)
A really spectacular match. I watched it again to see if everyone overrates it, but no way. This was an instant-classic, with psychology, ass-busting and a crowd ready to riot if Rock wins. The ending is a little off-putting but who cares. The rest is so brilliant with shit like both guys applying the Sharpshooter, blood everywhere, Austin using his Ringmaster Million Dollar Dream and Rock sick slingshot head-first into the post.
4. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (Royal Rumble’03)
If you like technical wrestling, get this one. We all knew beforehand that it would be great, instead it was phenomenal. Matches like this make me sad, because I know how rare they are, and how very few guys in WWE now can pull it off. A stunning display of wrestling, made even greater when you consider the sad match that preceded it.
3. Steve Austin vs. Chris Benoit (Smackdown - 5/31/01)
A forgotten masterpiece, I saw it again before making my list, and I recommend you do anything humanly possible to get a copy of it cuz it’s better than I remembered it being in 2001. In fact on any other day this match could very well be *****, which is what Scott gave it. For a match on free television this was amazing. Twenty minutes in Edmonton, with the classic 10-straight German Suplexes. No wonder Austin was so beat up by the time 2002 came around. Benoit and Angle destroyed the man in 2001. For all his faults, I’ll give Austin one thing: he may be one the most underrated guys ever when it comes to wrestling. Sure everyone says he can brawl but a match like this one shows how amazing the man’s psychology and timing are, as well as his willingness to kill himself. I really hope this one gets rediscovered.
2. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XX)
I still think the Triple Threat at Unbreakable’05 is better, but this is still the second best ever anywhere. WM20 may not be X-7 or X overall, but it did have 4 great matches, this one being the best of the best. Benoit finally achieves his destiny and is crowed World Champion, making Hunter tap to the crossface 25 minutes in. So much has been said about it since it happened, and it’s all true. This a flawless, furiously paced match, with originality and BLOOD. Shawn’s insane moosault to the floor, the double-suplex through a table, and the eventual winning crossface all still give me goosebumps. Nothing’s better than when guys give you a classic when you least expect it.
1. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack (Royal Rumble’00)
The single most important match of the decade. HHH had been WWF champ three times, but no one bought him as anything more than a placeholder until Rock or Austin got it. This match defined the rest of his career, as he came up big in a match people thought may be good, but nothing special. I really don’t think he’d have become the big deal he is now without Mick there to carry him to a brawl of epic proportions. Bret-Austin at WM13 is still better (and in my opinion the best match ever in the WWF/E) but not by much. MSG is the best place to make a superstar, and whether you like him or hate him, HHH became just that here. As for Foley, he’d put HHH over in a Hell in a Cell match (****½) before retiring. He was class all the way, and this was a beautiful memory for him to go out on.
Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (SmackDown - 9/26/02)
Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (Unforgiven’02)
That’s my list and I’m sticking to it."