Between this week’s ridiculous heatwave and the continued confusion surrounding attempts to ease the lockdown, what we all need is another whip-round of suggested wrestling matches to watch indoors. Preferably while sat right next to an industrial-sized fan or aircon unit.
Our ever-expanding team of contributors picked some of their favourite matches – any promotion, any reason. Just as long at it took place in the month of June.
And as ever, it created quite the playlist…
Liam Happe: Ricky Steamboat vs Rick Rude, Iron Man Challenge, WCW Beach Blast 1992
Anyone who ever attempts to work a wrestling match with Iron Man rules should watch this classic bout multiple times first. Not only were Rude and Steamboat perfect adversaries as the cocky womaniser vs the ‘family man’, not only was their work together in the first half of 1992 already stellar, but for half an hour in Mobile, Alabama they displayed an expert grasp of why scoring more falls in a set time limit (as with a game of football, for instance) is a completely different animal to one fall to a finish.
Their motivations and subsequent gameplans shifted throughout the bout as the score changed, and Rude’s desperate last-minute rush to tie the score at the death is as mesmerising as watching a team send their goalkeeper up for a corner in stoppage time of the FA Cup final.
Lewis Brown: Tommaso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano, NXT Takeover Chicago 2
This match was absolutely phenomenal! These two had a straight-up blood feud and this match was brutal! It built and built to a surprising finish out of nowhere with that DDT on the exposed wood of the ring. An absolute masterclass put on by two of the best in the black and gold brand.
Paul Benson: Batista vs Triple H, Hell in a Cell, WWE Vengeance 2005
Batista vs HHH was hands down one of the finest stories the WWE ever told. Never boring, it made Batista into a megastar from a background player in a matter of months. Wrestling storytelling at its best. This match was not only the definitive end of that story but the best match the two ever had together. Brutal, intense and showed that Batista could handle ungodly amounts of punishment.A blood soaked-emotional ending was so, so satisfying. Incredible work.
Steve Cox: John Cena vs RVD, ECW One Night Stand 2006
An absolute boiling pit of a fanbase wanted to tear the cult of Cena to the ground. RVD was the conquering hero (the only thing really missing was Pantera’s Walk to bring him to the ring – come on WWE, for one night guys!). What followed was 30 minutes of pure theatre. It’s worth watching for the atmosphere alone.
Ash Rose: Bret Hart vs Mr. Perfect, WWE King of the Ring 1993
Whenever you put these two in a ring together it was like wrestling magic and this is on a par with their famous SummerSlam match two years prior. As a kid I was torn because Bret Hart was the main babyface by this point, and even though he was a heel I loved Perfect even then.
Although this didn’t have the storyline highs of 91, the wrestling was as good with Hennig bumping and selling like a champ to make sure the night belonged to The Hitman. If this had been the final that night, I think it would be talked about more often. Bret and Curt’s chemistry was just about… Perfect.
Justin Czerwonka: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega, 2/3 Falls, NJPW Dominion 2018
To me, it is still the greatest wrestling match of all time. It had me hooked from the opening bell. They went for over an hour, but the time flew by. The backstory between both men and their past matches played into the match perfectly. It’s a shame we have not seen them go one on one since. It cemented the belief in my mind that Okada is one of the best ever to lace up a pair of wrestling boots.
Leanne Culverhouse: Shane McMahon vs Kurt Angle, Street Fight, WWE King of the Ring 2001
If anybody asks me what my favourite match is, I always point to this. I liked Shane because he was an idiot who did stupid things like jumping from the side of the TitanTron and Kurt was having an excellent start to his WWF career. The absolute thud when Kurt threw Shane in to the glass and it didn’t break put me on edge then, and still makes me wince now.
Jason Auld: The Shield vs Evolution, Elimination Match, WWE Payback 2014
I’m an unashamed Shield fan boy and this was their final match before Rollins’ heartbreaking heel turn. What a send off. Having defeated Evolution at the previous month’s Extreme Rules PPV, was it even conceivable that the Hounds of Justice could do the double over the faction known in the mid-naughties for overkilling opponents?
I always enjoy elimination matches because when done correctly, they build tension like no other but this match skipped all that and just had all members in an all-out melee. A masterclass in the often uneventful 6 man tag format and the peak of The Shield’s short-lived babyface run and the best Evolution had looked in nearly a decade.
Joe Kennard: Tommy Dreamer & The Sandman vs The Dudley Boyz, ECW One Night Stand 2005
The first One Night Stand changed me as a wrestling fan forever. Really the first time I had ever ventured outside of the big production of a normal WWE event. I will never forget the main event. Cheese graters, kendo sticks and tables set on fire! What in the hell had I just witnessed? Not a technical classic but only being 12 at the time it completely blew my mind and showed me that there was an alternative style to WWE, even though it had been provided by WWE themselves!
Chris Pereira: Shawn Michaels vs Steve Austin, WWE King of the Ring 1997
They were tag team champions at the time, Steve had turned face a few months prior and the fans loved him. HBK, whilst still babyface was in his pain in the arse backstage phase (or the chino shorts and loafers phase). They went back and forth in a great match. The pacing was spot on with Shawn bumping all over the place as usual. The finish was a little screwy but back then it felt like two top dogs posturing and making it clear who was in charge.
Pradeep Kachhala: Bret Hart vs Mr. Perfect, WWE King of the Ring 1993
I did some research on June matches just to find something better or different to what some of my colleagues had already offered, but I couldn’t. Perfect and Hart were so good together and I’m sure if Perfect had stayed injury free he would have eventually been in a PPV main with Bret. It should have been the final match of the tournament.
Paul Stone: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega, 2/3 Falls, NJPW Dominion 2018
The first ever (and only) seven star match, the end of a 720 day title reign, the culmination of one of the greatest feuds in wrestling history. The crowning of Kenny Omega.
In a 2/3 falls match that went over an hour, Omega and Okada went hammer and tongs for the championship. No one or two paragraphs could justify how good this match was or the history behind it, go and watch it again!
Cameron Bennett: Edge vs Randy Orton, WWE Backlash 2020
You don’t have to go very far back for my pick.
In a match weighted in expectation with the ‘Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ tagline, two of the best to ever do it put on an absolute clinic. Was it the greatest match ever? Probably not, but it came pretty damn close and you’d be doing it a disservice to not go and watch it now.
Andrew Charles: Shawn Michaels vs British Bulldog, WWE King Of The Ring 1996
If you put the origins and storyline of this particular match aside, this was the best match that Michaels and Bulldog ever had with each other. Literally from bell to bell this match was pretty much non-stop action.
The styles of Michaels and Davey Boy Smith truly complemented each other – size, strength, speed, agility, created a straight up wrestling match with decent storytelling. The steady paced start, the beatdown, and the heroic fightback all worked well.
All of this for Michaels to contend with along with the corruptness looming outside the ring from Mr Perfect, and Jim Cornette, Diana Smith and Owen Hart’s brilliant but biased color-commentary was the perfect foundation of adversity for Shawn Michaels’s true coming out party as the WWE Champion.