24th Mar2014

Ten Best: Wrestling PPV’s to check out on the WWE Network

by Chris Cummings

WWE-Network

After about a month of taking in what the WWE Network has to offer I thought we could take a look at some of the things that are worth your time on there, and even just to pick up on DVD. Every PPV event from WWE(F), WCW and ECW is included on the on-demand section of the network, which means there is hundreds of shows and thousands of hours worth of wrestling to dig through, so I wanted to whittle it down to ten shows that I feel are worth watching, and the reasons will be highlighted too.

Let’s begin with an obvious one shall we?

WWE: WrestleMania 1

Held in Madison Square Garden in New York City, the very first WWF pay-per-view ever presented and a show that lit the fuse on the rocket that became sports entertainment and the concept of pay-per-view. The show isn’t particularly good in terms of it’s look or it’s in-ring presentation, but there is much more to it that than. Looking back on this show highlights in a vivid bright way just how far the business of professional wrestling has come since then. The matches range from poor to decent, and the main event featuring Hulk Hogan and Mr T versus Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff is legendary because of what it accomplished. This show is a must-see for any wrestling fan who wants to see just how far wrestling has progressed and how different it is today. Without this show, we most likely wouldn’t be enjoying the spectacle of WWE in 2014.

Next, a show that, in many fans’ minds, is the best WWE show ever promoted.

WWE: WrestleMania 17

In 2001, WWE were riding the wave of popularity boosted by the insanely popular and highly publisised “attitude era” that began at the end of 1997. WWE had just purchased their biggest competitor in the business in WCW and was about to launch the famous “invasion” angle. This event, held in Houston, Texas, is remembered fondly due to the excellently booked card filled with a talented, young and hungry roster of workers. The main event features Steve Austin and The Rock. The mid-card featured the famous and incredible tag team ladder match between The Dudleys, The Hardys and Edge & Christian. Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Triple H, The Undertaker and other huge names were also featured, making it easy to see just why this show is regarded so highly by fans. The years 2000 and 2001 were truly memorable, unforgettable and exciting years for WWE and this is a highlight reel of that era in one event. Unmissable.

Stepping away from WWE and moving onto something more extreme.

ECW: Barely Legal 1997

ECW’s very first PPV event was an important one for the small Philedelphia promotion for many reasons. The success of the show would grant ECW the chance to promote further PPV shows, make more money and in turn survive in a wrestling landscape that featured two giant organisations in WWE and WCW. It was successful and in turn lead to four more years of pay-per-view events from Paul Heyman’s hardcore company. This show was promoted as a “look at what we offer” event, and ECW took full advantage of having so many eyes on them in that moment. With a main event featuring Terry Funk, The Sandman and Stevie Richards in a triple threat match with the winner going on to face ECW Champion Raven, The Dudley Boyz facing off with the ECW Tag Champions The Eliminators, Calgary’s own Lance Story taking on the future WWE Champion Rob Van Dam, and a smashing six man tag team match featuring talent from Michinoku Pro Wrestling in Japan, plus much more, the event impressed a lot of people and is one of the best PPV shows that ECW ever promoted, as well as the most important one. The passion in the performances of the workers was always a wonderful thing to watch in ECW, and it is in full force here. A special event for ECW, and a must-see for those interested in the extreme.

Moving on to the promotion that went head to head with WWE on Monday night’s.

WCW: Bash At The Beach 1996

Wrestling fans in the early 90’s knew Hulk Hogan as the biggest draw in the business, a babyface who made history, time and time again, facing villains and rescuing his country as he wore his yellow and red colours while draped in the American flag. Hulk Hogan was the guy to count on, the wrestler who would always be a fan favourite, and a guy who the kids could look up to as their idol. Times were changing in the middle of the nineties, and wrestling was too. People were wanting something different, and WCW saw that and decided to pull the trigger on one of the biggest heel turns in the history of professional wrestling. Legdropping babyface Randy Savage in the closing moments of the show and turning his back on the fans that had loved him for so many years, Hogan became the most hated man and most over heel in the business, and with the creation of the NWO after the show, WCW became the biggest wrestling promotion in North America. This show was the spark that shot the firework into space. WCW would become the promotion to watch with a roster of the biggest stars in wrestling and the most original and feared faction ever in the New World Order. WWE would be on the losing end until they fought back with the attitude era in 1999. This event also had guys like Ric Flair, DDP, The Giant and others, and is considered one of the most significant and controversial shows in wrestling history, making it a must-see for any fan.

Heading back to WWE…

WWE: In Your House – Canadian Stampede

In 1997 there was a war in the wrestling business, and no, I’m not talking about the WCW/WWF Monday Night War between RAW and Nitro. I’m talking about the USA and Canada, or more importantly, The Hart Foundation versus The USA. Bret Hart, alongside his brother Owen, his brother in-law’s Davey Boy Smith & Jim Neidhart, and “The Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman, formed a new and bigger Hart Foundation and declared war on the USA. Still babyfaces in their home country of Canada, yet despised heels in the USA, The Hart Foundation went home to Calgary for this show named Canadian Stampede. The show, from top to bottom, was a fantastic presentation featuring excellent matches and a heated and wonderfully constructed main event pitting The Hart Foundation against the team of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Goldust, The Road Warriors and Ken Shamrock. The match, which also featured the entire Hart family at ringside, was a spectacle and the crowd loved it. The undercard saw a heavy duty brawl between The Undertaker and Vader in what I feel was Vader’s best match during his WWF tenure. An entertaining match in the series of matches between Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Mankind during their great feud from that era. A great high-flying battle between Japanese stars The Great Sasuke and Taka Michinoku, who would be signed to a WWF contract following his performance here. Sure, there were only four matches if you don’t count the pre-show match, but each match had a meaning, a reason and was built up brilliantly. The show was only a two hour one anyway, so four matches of this quality is a treat. A definate highlight from 1997 and the era of The Hart Foundation, for sure.

Sticking with WWE…

WWE: Royal Rumble 1992

It took me a little while to choose here, because I am a big fan of the Royal Rumble concept and it is one of the most enjoyable shows of the year for me, and has been since I started watching professional wrestling. This one, though, just beat out the one from 2001 to make this list, and the thing that made it just that little bit more worthy of a spot here is that the prize for winning the rumble match here wasn’t just for a shot at the World Title, but rather the title itself. The winner of the rumble match in 1992 would become the main man in WWF and go on to WrestleMania VIII to defend that title. The match itself was very entertaining and saw Ric Flair last from the beginning to the end, picking up the victory and winning his very first WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The match was full of stars from the 80’s and 90’s, with the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog, Sid Justice, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, and many more taking to the ring for the big elimination battle royale. The undercard saw very little of consequence outside of Roddy Piper beating The Mountie for his first, and only, championship in WWF, the Intercontinental belt. There was also three separate tag matches on the undercard, the only vaguely entertaining one being Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart against The Orient Express. Still, though other Rumble events have featured far superior undercards to this one, this is still a very significant event due to the excellent Royal Rumble match and the Roddy Piper title win.

Back to Atlanta to WCW…

WCW: WrestleWar 1991

There are some excellent WCW events over the course of their existence, but none have impressed me as much, overall, as WrestleWar ’91. The match between Stan Hansen and Vader is hard hitting, the Japanese women’s tag encounter is a spectacle and makes me wish women’s wrestling was treated with more respect from bookers in this age, Dustin Rhodes has a quality match with Buddy Landel, but the thing to really focus on here is the phenomenal WarGames main event pitting The Four Horsemen against the team of Sting, Brian Pilman and The Steiner Brothers. This is spoken of by many wrestling fans as the best WarGames match ever promoted, and I’d agree whole-heartedly. A fantastically entertaining undercard and a wild and fabulous main event, this is WCW as it’s  best.

Heading over to the home of hardcore…

ECW: Living Dangerously 1999

The home of extreme presented some fine shows in 1998 and ’99, but this one stands out to me as the best of the bunch. Held in March of the year and featuring eight matches, four of which were incredibly entertaining, and four of which were not bad at all, it was a fun event from beginning to end. The opener between Yoshihiro Tajiri and Super Crazy was a great, high flying and purely fun battle in the series of amazing matches that these two had in ECW. Rob Van Dam wrestled for almost 25 minutes with Jerry Lynn in an incredible match that turned many heads back then, and for good reason. Dreamer and Shane Douglas against The Impact Players is a good tag match and reminds me how much I liked Justin Credible and Lance Storm as a tandem back then. The main event between Taz and Sabu is a great example of what made ECW a hardcore revolution in the wrestling business. Just a good show that shows how diverse the roster in ECW often was. Top stuff.

Back to Stamford to Vince & Co…

WWE: Extreme Rules 2012

I wanted to make sure I didn’t ignore the current product while compiling this list, and though I tend not to enjoy the current era of wrestling as much as I do previous ones, there is still plenty to enjoy in today’s wrestling landscape. There have been a few very good shows promoted in the last couple of years but one stands out in my mind at this time. After what I felt was a disappointing WrestleMania event in 2012, WWE promoted Extreme Rules, a show which featured many rematches from the previous month’s PPV. I wasn’t excited on the lead up to this event, but when I sat and watched it, I was more than pleasantly surprised by what WWE pulled out of the bag. Every rematch that happened here was far better than the previous event’s match, and the card, from the opening match onwards, was a thoroughly entertaining one. The non-rematch main event was a spectacle too, featuring the return of Brock Lesnar, taking on John Cena. The matched prior to the main event shone though, with a fantastic 2 out of 3 falls battle between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus, an entertaining street fight between Randy Orton and Kane, and a brilliant Chicago Street Fight between WWE Champion CM Punk and Chris Jericho in the best part of their 2012 feud. A great event that might go ignored by some, and shouldn’t.

Finally, and sticking with WWE…

WWE: Invasion 2001

Of course, it is obvious why this show is so significant. It was a dream-booking concept at one point: what if WWE and WCW went head-to-head. Sure, it didn’t quite live up to what it could have, the ego of WWE caused WCW stars to be booked weakly on many occassions, and overall they dropped the ball on what could have been a huge money-maker for WWE and a great thing for fans. Regardless of the negatives, this is still a significant show, the final battle between WCW and WWE in the WWE-promoted storyline that followed WWE’s purchase of WCW earlier in the year. Featuring a great main event tag match pitting Team WWE (Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle) against The Alliance (Booker T, DDP, Rhyno & The Dudley Boyz), a wildly entertaining hardcore title match between Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy, and bunch of other fun Alliance vs. WWE encounters, this event is worth checking out for many reasons.

So, there are the ten picks. Sure, there are some here that could easily be replaced with other great events, but I think this is a decent 10 to begin with, and each event here is definitely worth your time.

Here is a short list of PPV’s that didn’t quite make the “ten” but are still worth checking out: WWE WrestleMania XIV, WCW Chi-Town Rumble 1989, WWE Judgement Day 2000, WWE Royal Rumble 2001, ECW Guilty As Charged 2000, WCW Starrcade 1996, ECW Heat Wave 1998, WWE Fully Loaded 2000 and WWE Vengeance 2005.

Until next time!

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