February is often looked on as a forgotten month in the world of wrestling, usually regarded as the halfway-point on the Road to WrestleMania, and not much else. After all, January is all about the Royal Rumble, March/April is all about WrestleMania itself, summertime has long had major-events like Money in the Bank, SummerSlam, the start of the infamous Invasion angle, the beginning of the New World Order, or the Summer of Punk. Autumn and Winter has usually been about Survivor Series, and of course November 1997 featured the Montreal Screwjob…
February seems to have got lost in the shuffle when it comes to recounting major-events in wrestling. And yet there are many glorious memories and classic matches to be found in the month of February, especially on pay-per-view. So here are the 10 best PPV matches in the month of February ever!
10. Big Van Vader Vs. Sting – WCW SuperBrawl III
It was one of WCW’s best-ever feuds, hotly contested over the World Heavyweight Championship. Nonetheless, the Stinger and then-champ Big Van Vader (in a non-title affair… really, WCW?) clashed again in a vicious strap-match. As always, the brutality and agility of Vader were on full-display, as he proceeded to mercilessly batter Sting with stiff shots.
The valiant hero of WCW fought back, though! Using his superhuman strength to slam the Mastadon and high-flying agility to further turn the tide. The strap itself was also used to great effect, with Sting viciously whipping Vader across the back and the WCW Champ using the strap to repeatedly pull his foe towards him for a clothesline/avalanche. It was a real war-of-attrition as the two arch-rivals tried to touch all four corners of the ring whilst dragging their opponent to win. In the end, Vader prevailed in a battle that’s regarded by many as the definitive Sting/Vader collision, and arguably the greatest strap match of all-time.
9. Shawn Michaels s. Owen Hart – WWF In Your House: Rage In The Cage
As we know, Shawn Michaels was simply the wrestler of 1996. Winning the Royal Rumble, beating Bret Hart in the legendary Iron Man Match at WrestleMania 12 to win his first World Title, then having a phenomenal reign, resplendent with several match of the year candidates against the likes of Diesel, the British Bulldog, Vader, Mankind and Sycho Sid.
However, many fans forget about his match against the late, great Owen Hart from In Your House in February 1996. Owen had levelled Shawn with a vicious enziguiri back in November 1995, which gave HBK a severe concussion (in reality, it was to write Shawn off telly so he could fully recover from injuries sustained in that real-life assault in Syracuse, New York). Owen goaded Shawn to put his WrestleMania title shot on the line. Simply put, it was a great match between two of the best of all-time! Two pros at work in a criminally-forgotten story that had rich psychology, high-flying and outstanding technical-wrestling. In the end, Shawn prevailed over Owen with Sweet Chin Music… then went-on to dominate the rest of 1996.
8. Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Vader Vs. The Undertaker Vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – WWF In Your House: Final Four
Another forgotten gem from February 1997. After Shawn Michaels lost his smile and vacated the WWF Championship, the title was now up for grabs in a four-corners elimination match, and the Final Four participants were all-equally-determined to get it. Bret Hart, who had lost the title the previous year, and had been screwed out of winning the 1997 Royal Rumble thanks to Austin, who in turn had been penalised by losing his WrestleMania title opportunity after cheating to win. The Undertaker was determined to get back on top after well-over five-years. And finally, there was Vader… who yearned to take the WWF Championship that had eluded him, and conquer the WWF like he had WCW.
It was a unique match, with no disqualifications, and eliminations being achieved via pinfall, submission or throwing an opponent over the top-rope. All four legends put on an exciting display for fans here, and history was made once again. After 24 minutes of terrific action, The Hitman finally eliminated The Undertaker to win his fourth WWF Championship. Bret would lose the title the next night to Sycho Sid (thanks to Austin!), but it was still another feather in The Hitman’s cap.
7. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels – TNA Against All Odds 2005
During the inception of TNA, it was the absolute thrills & amazing innovation of the X-Division that really put the promotion’s name on the map. And two of the major players responsible for that were definitely ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles and the ‘Fallen Angel’ Christopher Daniels. Going into Against All Odds in February 2005, then-X-Division Champ AJ Styles was scheduled to defend his title against Christopher Daniels in a thirty-minute Iron Man Match.
Once again, Styles and Daniels continued to showcase how utterly glorious the X-Division was, and why the championship was one of the most prestigious titles you could capture to cement your legacy. High-octane, thrilling action with plenty of aerial-offence and moves we’d never seen before, it was another epic bout you could expect to find in TNA. Despite Daniels initially taking the lead, Styles was able to equalise and withstand being busted open. In the end, the match went into overtime, and AJ withstood the Fallen Angel’s onslaught and retained the X-Division Title 2-1 with the Styles Clash.
6. Kurt Angle Vs. The Rock – WWF No Way Out 2001
Kurt Angle had been on Cloud 9 since his debut at the 1999 Survivor Series. After having arguably the greatest rookie year of any superstar in the WWF – culminating in Angle capturing his first World Title – the Olympic Gold Medalist had enjoyed a hugely-successful first-reign since taking the WWF Championship from The Rock at No Mercy 2000. But Angle’s time was running out. The Rock was coming for him, determined to reclaim the belt and main-event WrestleMania 17.
It was a high-stakes rematch with Kurt refusing to go down without a fight. In what was also Angle’s best match at this point in time, Kurt cemented his main-event credentials and his ability to be one of the best WWF/E Champions in history. As for The Rock, it was yet another exhilarating performance, resulting in his record-breaking sixth WWF Championship and him going-on to face Stone Cold Steve Austin in the greatest WrestleMania main-event of all-time. Not even Big Show’s interference or a botched ref-count tarnishes the excellence of this showdown.
5. Kurt Angle Vs. The Undertaker – WWE No Way Out 2006
It had been a long time since Kurt Angle and The Undertaker had faced each other, let alone in such a high-stakes match-up for the World Heavyweight Championship. Kurt was once again back on top, Taker wanted to reclaim the throne, both of them desperately wanted the main event of WrestleMania 22… and only one of them could take all the glory.
At No Way Out 2006, it was what we all expected. Two of wrestling’s greatest legends fighting each other in a SCORCHING thirty-minute classic over the Big Gold Belt. There were counters, reversals, German suplexes, the obligatory destruction of the Spanish announce table, chokeslams, Angle Slams, so many near falls, and great submissions from both the Deadman and the Olympic Hero. In the final moments, Taker had Angle trapped in the Triangle Choke-Hold and seemed to finally have victory in sight, only for Kurt to counter into a pinning-predicament and retain the title. Easily one of the top ten matches in both men’s careers.
4. Triple H Vs. Cactus Jack – WWF No Way Out 2000
Ah, the year 2000… the single-best-year in the history of the WWF/E. And it all started with the McMahon-Helmsley regime in full-swing, and Triple H on top as a THAT-DAMN-GOOD WWF Champion and the wrestler of 2000. Well in his prime and with such a stranglehold on the title, it seemed no one could beat The Game. And it was round this time when Triple H’s feud with Mick Foley reignited and exploded to a level more violent and intense than ever.
After a brutal, bloody, five-star street fight at the Royal Rumble, Cactus Jack demanded another title-shot at No Way Out… inside Hell In A Cell. Triple H agreed to set foot inside the structure with Cactus Jack, but only if Mick Foley put his career on the line. If he lost, Foley would retire. It was all-or-nothing for the King of the Deathmatch. And although this Hell in a Cell isn’t remembered as much as others (i.e. Taker/Shawn, Taker/Mankind), it was another five-star violent-epic with Triple H continuing to build his legacy as the WWF kingpin, and Mick Foley proving he could still deliver a match for the ages. Ultimately, after being back-dropped through the roof of the Cell, Cactus was finally put down with a Pedigree. Although Mick Foley would eventually return to the ring on a part-time basis, his days as a full-time wrestler were indeed over. It was truly the end of an era.
3. The Shield Vs. The Wyatt Family – WWE Elimination Chamber 2014
Both these factions had established themselves superbly from NXT to the WWE’s main-roster. The Shield had dominated virtually all in their path since Survivor Series 2012, and the Wyatts were slowly, creepily becoming the most sinister faction in wrestling. Their paths finally crossed in February 2014, when the Wyatt Family (who were targeting John Cena at the time) cost The Shield their chance to qualify for the Elimination Chamber. The Shield took that as a declaration of war, and demanded retribution against the Wyatts.
Really, this match was special enough for WrestleMania, but no matter. Even before things started, fans were chanting “This is Awesome!”… and the end result truly was one of the most awesome matches of 2014! It was over twenty-minutes of chaos, with perfect pacing and violent action; quite possibly the best 6-man tag match of all-time! The Wyatt Family successfully divided The Shield, taking out both Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose, and leaving Roman Reigns to fight the entire family by himself! Roman took out Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, but ultimately fell pray to Sister Abigail from Bray Wyatt. On this night, the Wyatts became the ones to finally divide and conquer the Shield.
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. Triple H – WWF No Way Out 2001
It was one of the most heated and intense rivalries in the whole Attitude Era. A fierce war that only exploded when Triple H masterminded the plot for Rikishi to run over Austin at the 1999 Survivor Series… and then Austin got his revenge a year later by trapping Triple H in a car and using a forklift to drop him from 20-feet in the air! Ah, good times…!
Finally, it all came to an end at No Way Out 2001. Three Stages of Hell matches are more common these days, but this was the first (and best!) 2-out-of-3 falls match to feature three different bouts in one. The first-fall was straight wrestling, the second was a street-fight, and the third would be contested in a steel cage. Simply put, it was forty-minutes of PERFECT CARNAGE, with Austin and Triple H showing their versatility and proficiency in all-match types. In a bout that could’ve gone either way, Triple H scored a fluke win after the two combatants knocked each other out, and Helmsley fell on Austin for the pin. Triple H may have won the battle, but Austin won the war, walking away after giving The Game a Stunner and onwards to his WWF Title shot at WrestleMania 17.
1. Brock Lesnar Vs. Eddie Guerrero – WWE No Way Out 2004
Really, what other choice could there be for Number 1? It is not just the greatest match on PPV in the month of February… it is also one of the greatest, most beautiful moments in all of wrestling. The late, great Eddie Guerrero’s struggles with alcoholism and drug-addiction have been well-documented, as has all his efforts to redeem himself. Eddie made himself a much better human being, family man and touched the hearts of the entire fanbase.
After all his success, trials and tribulations…Eddie had now earned himself the shot at ultimate redemption. A WWE Championship opportunity against the Beast himself, Brock Lesnar. In what was simply the greatest match of Eddie Guerrero’s career, Latino Heat wrestled ‘The Pain’ for thirty-minutes and ultimately prevailed! Lying, cheating, and stealing his way to victory – just like he had with the hearts of millions – Eddie defeated Brock Lesnar to capture his only WWE Championship. It was undoubtedly one of the happiest days in all of wrestling. One we shall all cherish forever.
So what were YOUR favourite Pay-Per-View Matches from the Month of February? Please share with us in the comments! See you again soon!