I watched with great interest this past Sunday as the self-titled ‘Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ took place at Backlash between Randy Orton and Edge. In my contribution to the preview for the show, I said that I was looking forward to the match and I did think that it could prove to be a lot better than many people thought it would be. In fairness to both competitors, it exceeded expectations in every way and delivered way more than I thought it would. Perhaps the tagline caused some fans to scoff at the notion that we would witness the best ever wrestling match, but it gained interest and created a buzz. Greatest match ever? Not in my eyes, but it got me thinking, what is the greatest match and who gets to give that title out?
There’s a motto I live by; ‘opinions are like assholes, everyone has one’. Mine (opinion that is) doesn’t really count for much when it comes to WWE. I’m definitely not an expert although I’d say I know more than most people in my circle. I like wrestling and I like writing about it. I may prefer one superstar to another, but why should anyone care what I think? Furthermore, who am I to say that the match between Randy Orton and Edge wasn’t the greatest Match Ever? What qualifies me to be so sure? I defer such opinions to those who know more than me.
I’m a firm believer that the notion of greatest, best or most popular is a subjective opinion. Those who know more about a subject are deemed to be more ‘qualified’ to speak about it and therefore their opinion matters more – or does it? I think a good wrestling match is defined by how many people enjoyed it, remember it and hold it up as one of their favorites, not necessarily ‘the’ best, but one of the best. In the glorious history of professional wrestling, there have been hundreds of ‘best’ matches. Matches given the infamous ‘five stars’ that seems to be the symbol of excellence in pro wrestling. I don’t disagree with ranking matches, but doing so with such a limit of 1-5 makes it difficult to separate the greats from the very good. I’d much prefer a 1-10 rating personally.
Let me tell you something; I do not have a favorite match. There is no match in my mind that is head and shoulders above the rest. Now, that being said, I do have a lot of favorite matches that make up a top ten in an order that frequently changes. Am I ‘right’ by having certain matches in my top ten? Are some deemed unworthy of being in there? Who cares? It’s my list and mine alone. You have another favorite? Good for you. Enjoy your own top ten. I won’t judge. Some of my favorite matches include Undertaker vs Triple H (Wrestlemania 17), British Bulldog vs Bret Hart (SummerSlam 1992), Bayley vs Sasha Banks (NXT Takeover Brooklyn II), Eddie Guerrero vs Brock Lesnar (No Way Out 2004) and Edge & Christian vs Hardy Boyz vs Dudleys in TLC match (SummerSlam 2000). It may be fair to say these are all well-known matches, but I don’t consider any to be ‘the best’, I just consider them to be some of my favorites. Please note the word ‘some’ there, by not including a match that you may prefer, doesn’t mean I don’t like it. There are many more I can add to that list.
The small list above certainly has a lot of variety. It covers different eras of WWF/WWE, no wrestler appears more than once, and a variety of titles were on the line for most. So what is the formula for a match to be considered a classic, or one of the best? In my humble opinion, each of these matches had wrestlers who were/are extremely good at what they do and how to work a match from start to finish. Each match had the live crowd invested and a definite fan favorite was involved in each one (perhaps not the TLC, as there was no specific definite fan favorite in that). Overall, the sheer quality of match is usually what makes a good match great. It delivers on every level and leaves you wanting more. This past week, I want to see more of Randy Orton vs Edge. I want to see more of AJ Styles vs. Brie Bella’s husband Daniel Bryan.
I think an element of a ‘great’ match is one that catches you unawares. You can sit down to watch thinking ‘this should be good’, but if wrestling has taught us anything, it’s to not raise your expectations too high or else you’ll end up disappointed. I think the best matches are the ones that you imagine will be good, but go way above your expectations and exceed every one, resulting in one of the best pieces of live theater you’ve ever seen. We all knew AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan was going to be good, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be that good. Similar with Edge & Orton. Two veterans who can put on a hell of a show on their day and both men did. Is there a common factor that made those matches better than expected? Their individual styles? Their years of experience? The fact that Charles Robinson was the ref in both? Or is the sign of a great match to make us want more?
Again I reiterate that I’m only giving my opinion here, and I’m in no way an authority on what should be considered a great match. I guess what I’m saying is that you, the person reading this need not be influenced by others and enjoy what you want to.
If you are a Ric Flair mega-fan and love every match he’s ever had, then good for you. Enjoy every Wooo and chop he does in the ring. Equally if you consider Nia Jax to be the best women’s wrestler out there right now, then fair enough. I would respectfully disagree with you, but I’m not going to say you’re wrong.
Enjoy your favorites, cheer them on, and wish them the best. It’s all fun. We should be happy and enjoy what’s out there. In a difficult period of human history, I think it would’ve been harsh for us to expect WWE to put on showstopper matches, but they have. Not many, but one cannot deny there have been some great matches on show. What was the greatest? Don’t ask me, that’s up to you to decide.