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Year-End Award

1992 Year End Awards (Best Matches And Wrestlers)

Hello everyone and welcome to my final article on 1992. In this special piece, we will take a look back at the best wrestlers in both the WWF and WCW. Then we will mention the top five matches for each company, followed by a top five list for both companies overall. After that, we will see who were the wrestlers in both companies (followed by overall, much like with the matches) that got more points. This will be according to the point system I use on every show, which you can see here. We’ll finish by looking at the PPV buyrates and TV ratings.

Before starting, one last announcement regarding the point system: the wrestlers involved in the 5th best match of their particulary company get 1 point, those in the 4th best get 2 points, those in the 3rd best get 3 points, those in the 2nd best get 4 points, and those in the best match of the year will get 5 points. As for the overall list (both companies put together), the points will double – meaning the participants in the 5th best match will get 2 points, and so on.

Check out the 1991 piece.

TOP 5 WWF MATCHES

Note: The Royal Rumble match is not eligible for this list. I will always give the edge to regular wrestling matches, since it’s pretty hard (not impossible, but pretty hard) to see a Rumble match that isn’t fun. Thus, I don’t include it in order to open the door for other matches, and also to prevent you from seeing “Royal Rumble match” mentioned as most of the wrestlers’ best match of the entire year in the top wrestlers segment of this article.

5) Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWF Championship (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE & IMDb

We start off the 1992 list with Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior from SummerSlam. This was their rematch from the retirement match at WrestleMania VII the previous year, winner of the 1991 match of the year award here on the blog. It was hard to top the ‘Mania 7 retirement bout, and while it did not, the two put on yet another exciting matchup at the Wembley Stadium extravaganza. Macho Man always managed to bring out the best in Ultimate Warrior, sharing great chemistry with each other. With Savage’s WWF Heavyweight Championship on the line, the two colorful megastars had a dramatic back-and-forth contest that had the fans in attendance, as well as those watching on TV all over the world, on the edge of their seats. The bout featured constant interference from Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect, who promised to be in cahoots with one of the participants, only for it to end via count-out, resulting in the eventual formation of the brief Ultimate Maniacs tag team. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****
4) Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Championship (Survivor Series 1992)
IMG credit: WWE & 411mania.com

The WWF Championship was defended on all four PPVs of 1992 (not counting UK Rampage). All those four matches were some of the very best of the year, including the annual 30-man Royal Rumble match won by Ric Flair. The final WWF pay-per-view of the year saw the two most technically-gifted up-and-comers in professional wrestling battle over the World Championship in a brilliant technical masterpiece. The match told an awesome story, with Shawn wearing Bret down due to Bret’s recent grueling schedule as the defending champion as the match went longer, whilst Bret had been able to outwrestle the arrogant challenger at first. The final few minutes in particular were very exciting, climaxing with Bret Hart forcing Michaels to submit to the Sharpshooter in his first World title defense on PPV. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****1/4
3) Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart – WWF Intercontinental Championship (WrestleMania VIII)
IMG credit: WWE & prowrestlingpost.com

WrestleMania VIII featured two all-time ‘Mania classics – one of those being this dramatic tussle between cousins for the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. Roddy Piper entered what would be his farewell match in the Hoosier Dome as the defending champion, whilst Bret was looking to snatch the biggest win of his career to that point in order to reclaim the gold at ‘Mania. Both professionals gave it their all during the time they got, keeping the crowd in the palm of their hands whilst delivering a highly-emotional encounter, filled with superb storytelling. The shot of Piper teasing to use the bell while the crowd beg him not to do it in the background is priceless, and proof of how great workers both these pros were. This stands as one of the greatest Intercontinental Title matches of all time in my opinion, and my personal favorite WWF Roddy Piper bout ever. Bret did indeed reclaim the title with a rare clean win over the Hot Rod, continuing his meteoric journey to the top of the Federation. As for Piper, he would not work a wrestling match in more than two years. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****1/2
2) Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage – WWF Championship (WrestleMania VIII)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlingheadlines.com

Well, here’s the other classic from the eighth WrestleMania mentioned in the previous entry! Ric Flair arrived onto the WWF scene in late 1991, claiming to be the real World’s Champ. He followed that up by winning the vacant WWF Title in the annual Royal Rumble matchup, last eliminating Sid Justice. While the NWA/WCW alumnus was arriving, the Macho Man was just returning from his short-lived retirement. After winning a heated feud with Jake Roberts, Savage was challenged by the cocky champion, who claimed to have been with Miss Elizabeth in the past. This infuriated Randy, who walked into Indianapolis on a mission to dismantle the Nature Boy. His emotions allowed Flair to dominate most of the match, combined with timely interference from Mr. Perfect, as well as Savage’s injured leg. However, the cockiness of Ric Flair is what ultimately cost him, as he became more focused on showing off to Liz rather than putting Macho Man away. Not too long afterwards, the returning hero surprised Flair with a roll-up that gave him his second WWF Heavyweight Championship. Despite the loss, the arrogant Naitch still had the last laugh, planting a kiss on Elizabeth that pushed Savage past his breaking point. This was a great matchup with some terrific selling by Savage, that also left the door open for future business between the pair. (Check out the full match review here)

Rating: ****1/2

1) Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog – WWF Intercontinental Championship (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE

It’s incredible how relevant this match still is today, nearly 30 years later. It is also still a brilliant match to rewatch nowadays. The work is very smart throughout the entire bout, with Bret subtlety working a more heelish style (whilst still following all the legal rules) as the match progressed. It was technically awesome as well, an intense struggle between two proud men who knew each other very well. It was Hart’s wrestling ability versus the British Bulldog’s insane feats of strength. In the end, Bret tried to wrestle Davey Boy down into a sunset flip, only to get caught and pinned to the mat by the powerful Englishman. He picked up the victory much to the delight of the 80.000 patrons packing the England national football team’s stadium that evening. This will remain a classic no matter how many decades or generation pass, and a perfect showcase of professional wrestling. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: *****

TOP 5 WCW MATCHES

5) Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman – WCW Light Heavyweight Championship (SuperBrawl II)
IMG credit: WWE & TheSportster

On Christmas night in 1991, the exciting Light Heavyweight Champion ‘Flyin Brian lost the belt to the international sensation at a house show. Their rematch was booked for WCW SuperBrawl in February. Pillman’s strategy was to keep Jushin grounded, preventing him from getting an edge through the use of his classic aerial moves. That is exactly what happened in the first couple of minutes, until the pace got quicker near the end. Both men gave it all they had in the opener of the very first WCW PPV of the year, going back-and-forth in an exchange of athletic moves. Eventually, it was through mat-wrestling that Pillman recaptured the short-lived strap. Liger climbed up to the top rope, only to miss a huge splash. Pillman caught the Japanese superstar in a pinning predicament, making good on his promise and reclaiming the Light Heavyweight Title after an amazing matchup. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****1/4
4) Sting vs. Big Van Vader – WCW World Heavyweight Championship (The Great American Bash)
IMG credit: WWE & TheSportster

After some one-off appearances throughout the last couple of years, Big Van Vader was finally a full-time WCW wrestler by early 1992. He made an impact in short order by targeting the top dog around, WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting. A couple of months later, the two went at it for Sting’s title at The Great American Bash. This was a brilliant “David vs. Goliath” type of wrestling match, with Sting somehow being able to withstand the beating of his life at the hands of the unforgiving monster. Sting’s last adrenaline-driven comeback was amazing, picking up the big man on spaghetti legs for a huge Samoan drop. Ultimately, this is what took him out of the equation, though. Sting knocked himself out cold on the turnbuckle on a missed Stinger Splash, allowing Vader to put him out with a massive Powerbomb to claim the WCW title. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****1/4
3) Sting vs. Big Van Vader – King of Cable Tournament Final (Starrcade)
IMG credit: WWE & theovertimer.com

Their rematch happened in December’s Starrcade, as part of the final of the King of Cable tournament, held to celebrate 20 years of pro wrestling on TBS. And while the final of a rather forgettable one-off tournament doesn’t sound half as exciting on paper as a World Championship match, I personally enjoyed the Starrcade bout slightly more. They followed up on the title bout at The Bash very well, delivering an intense physical battle with Sting getting another epic beating courtesy of the giant from the Rocky Mountains. This time around, though, Sting outsmarted the big man by asking for more punishment. Vader obliged and got even more vicious in his shots, only to eventually run out of gas in a brilliant touch. Not long afterwards, the exhausted monster climbed up to the top rope but got caught with a powerslam in mid-air, allowing Sting to quickly pin him after 17 minutes of brutality. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****1/2
2) Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat – 30 Minute Iron Man Match (Beach Blast)
IMG credit: WWE & thisisawesomepod.com

Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat had chased the United States title throughout the first half of 1992. Although Steamboat’s title shot at SuperBrawl did not result in victory, thanks to Paul E. Dangerously dressing up as a ninja and attacking the Dragon, the feud continued after the Dangerous Alliance’s leader broke Steamboat’s nose with his telephone. The two met in the blow-off in this Iron Man match. Rude might have survived with his US title intact, but the feud was now more personal than ever. This matchup is a masterclass in psychology for aspiring wrestlers, with Rude constantly attacking Steamboat’s previously broken nose whilst the Dragon targeted the ribs and midsection of the United States Champion. The selling by both workers was just as perfect. Steamboat got his revenge in the end with a 4-3 win, which was the cherry on top. It’s a shame that Bill Watts’ short-lived dumb rules (like jumping off the top rope being a DQ) resulted in a couple of lame spots and falls, but apart from that this was nothing short of brilliant. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: ****3/4
1) WarGames (WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE & Cultaholic

Regarded by many as the best WarGames match of all time, this brutal bout saw multiple rivalries come into play, creating over 20 minutes of quality drama and storytelling. Sting’s Squadron consisted of the returning newly-turned babyface Nikita Koloff, Ricky Steamboat with a broken nose, Dustin Rhodes, TV Champion Barry Windham and, of course, the WCW World Champion and team captain, Sting. The Dangerous Alliance was composed by Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin and the team leader, Rick Rude. Steamboat was in a heated feud with Rude, as previously addressed, and was looking for payback. Nikita had been last seen in a feud with Sting in mid-1991, and his recent change of attitude was questionable. Furthermore, Sting was coming into this bout with broken ribs courtesy of an attack by the number one contender to his World Title, Big Van Vader. To make matters even worse for the faces, the Alliance had both Paul E and Madusa at ringside. However, the Alliance was recently facing issues too: Larry Zbyszko was in the midst of a losing streak, and they lost the TV title (Austin to Windham) and the tag titles (Arn & Eaton to the Steiners) within the last few weeks on television. Long story short, there was enough action and drama going on to carry this to the next level. The biggest pop of the match came when Nikita sacrificed himself to save Sting from a double-team attack by Anderson and Austin, taking the beating himself. Sting finally understood Nikita was being honest and the two embraced in the ring, proceeding to clean house together to a thunderous ovation! Zbyszko’s bad luck cost his side the victory, as he grabbed the steel hook from a broken turnbuckle and took a swing at Sting, but errantly hit Eaton in the shoulder instead. Sting followed that up by smartly locking in an armbar on the injured ‘Beautiful’ Bobby, who gave it up to end this awesome fight. The Alliance blamed Zbyszko for this loss, kicking him out of the group shortly afterwards. (Check out the full match review here)

  • Rating: *****

TOP 5 MATCHES OVERALL

5) Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage – WWF Championship (WWF WrestleMania VIII)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlingheadlines.com
4) Sting vs. Big Van Vader – King of Cable Tournament Final (WCW Starrcade)
IMG credit: WWE & theovertimer.com
3) Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat – 30 Minute Iron Man Match (WCW Beach Blast)
IMG credit: WWE & thisisawesomepod.com
2) WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE & Cultaholic
1) Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog – WWF Intercontinental Championship (WWF SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE

TOP 10 WWF WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

Note: the following part is based on my point system used throughout each and every show of the year

10) Sid Justice
IMG credit: WWE
  • 12.75 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Sid’s first stint in McMahonland as Sid Justice was rather short, however it was still á quite impactful one. First debuting as a babyface to referee the “match made in hell” at SummerSlam 1991, Sid turned heel and joined forces with Harvey Wippleman in the beginning of the year. Sid Justice was the final man eliminated by Ric Flair in the Royal Rumble match for the vacant WWF Championship, eliminating the odds-on favorite Hulk Hogan in the process. A short partnership between the two was used to set up Sid’s inevitable heel turn, and the pair went on to main event WrestleMania VIII. The master and ruler of the world followed that up with a short program with the returning Ultimate Warrior, but allegedly left when he found out Warrior wanted to constantly kickout of Sid’s Powerbomb around the house show loop. Right before his departure, Sid had an interesting encounter with The Undertaker at UK Rampage, which would turn out to be the main event of WrestleMania 13 a few years later when Sid returned.

  • Sid’s best WWF match in 1992: W/ Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair & The Undertaker (Saturday Night’s Main Event #30 February 8th)
9) Rick Martel
IMG credit: WWE & steamcommunity.com
  • 12.95 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

‘The Model’ finished up with the WWF after the previous year’s WrestleMania due to the death of his sister. He made his return to the WWF in time for the Royal Rumble. While Rick Martel was not involved in any major program throughout the year, he was apart of some good one-off matches in 1992. While he did feud with newcomer Tatanka for most of the calendar year, with them wrestling at both WrestleMania and Survivor Series, the feud did not provide any notable bouts or moments. The most memorable part of Martel’s 1992 was arguably the unique “no hitting in the face” encounter with fellow bad guy Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam, which was highly entertaining.

  • Martel’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Bret Hart (UK Rampage)
8) The Undertaker
IMG credit: WWE & The Sun
  • 13.05 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

1992 was yet another important year that helped establish The Undertaker in the WWF. It was the first time that the persona was presented as a babyface, coming off a main event program with Hulk Hogan that saw ‘The Deadman’ briefly hold the WWF Championship. When ‘Taker first turned face, it set up a rivalry with veteran Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Jake became the second victim of the Streak at ‘Mania 8 in what would turn out to be his final match in the company. A long feud with Kamala followed, culminating in a coffin’ match at Survivor Series. While the feud wasn’t exactly out of this world, it at least kept the freshly-turned Undertaker gimmick involved in a featured program.

  • Undertaker’s best WWF match in 1992: W/ Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan & Sid Justice (Saturday Night’s Main Event #30 February 8th)
7) Irwin R. Schyster
IMG credit: WWE
  • 15.95 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

This is the fourth wrestler we have addressed so far, and it’s also the fourth new entry into the WWF list. This shows how much of a transitional year 1992 was for the World Wrestling Federation. After years of multiple gimmick changes, and wondering if his name ended with an O or an A, Mike Rotunda finally nailed it as Irwin R. Schyster – IRS. The gimmick was so simple, which is what made it effective. Mike played it well, and he shared huge chemistry with Ted DiBiase and Jimmy Hart as part of Money Inc. Alongside the ‘Million Dollar Man’, IRS dominated the WWF’s tag team division in 92, winning the company’s Tag Team Championship twice that year.

  • IRS’ best match in 1992: Vs. The British Bulldog (UK Rampage)
6) Roddy Piper
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 16.9 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Much like Sid Justice, the Rowdy one was only apart of WWF programming until the spring, finishing up after WrestleMania. However, while his run that year was short, there’s no questioning the impact that Roddy Piper had on WWF in 1992. His Intercontinental Title win over The Mountie at the Royal Rumble was brilliant, ranking amongst one of the all-time greatest title changes in WWF/E history. Later on that very same night, Piper entered the Rumble for the vacant WWF World title at #15 and lasted over half an hour, nearly winning yet another belt. Eventually, Piper entered a program with the former Intercontinental Champion, Bret Hart. Of course, this culminated with their terrific matchup at WrestleMania VIII, which saw The Hitman reclaim his championship in Piper’s final appearance of that year, outside of a very brief cameo at SummerSlam.

  • Piper’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Bret Hart (WrestleMania VIII)
5) Shawn Michaels
IMG credit: WWE & Bleacher Report
  • 29 points
  • Position in 1991: 9th (+4)

Kicking off WWF’s top five list is a man who truly elevated his game throughout 1992, Shawn Michaels. He started the year still as a member of The Rockers, throwing Marty Jannetty into the barber shop window in January to kickstart his singles run as The Heartbreak Kid. Shortly after gaining Sensational Sherri as his new manager, Michaels got his first huge win as a singles wrestler at WrestleMania, over the legendary Tito Santana. After a rare dream match with ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage for the WWF Championship at UK Rampage, and an equally rare and quite entertaining heel-versus-heel “no hitting in the face” match with Rick Martel at SummerSlam, Michaels secured his first title by beating The British Bulldog on the last episode of WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event. Arguably, the final two months of the year were Michaels’ best – starting a hot feud with the returning Jannetty, and working a tremendous World Championship bout with Bret Hart in the main event of Survivor Series.

  • Michaels’ best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Bret Hart (Survivor Series)
4) Ric Flair
IMG credit: WWE & Sky Sports
  • 31 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

The Nature Boy is synonymous with NWA/WCW, being arguably its most legendary champions of all time. Throughout the 1980s, Naitch was to Jim Crockett Promotions what Hulk Hogan was to the WWF. When Flair joined McMahonland in 1991, it was shocking to say the least. Whilst Flair’s run was extremely brief, lasting around a year and a half, Flair did all he could to make it good and memorable. There is no doubt he accomplished it. First debuting as the real World’s Champion carrying the Big Gold Belt, Flair entered WWF history in short order by winning the vacant WWF World Title in the Royal Rumble match, quite possibly the best ever. From there, Flair feuded mostly with Randy Savage, culminating with their incredible WrestleMania match. He was heavily involved in the Warrior/Savage title bout at SummerSlam, which set up the main event of Survivor Series, with Flair’s assistant Mr. Perfect replacing the departing Warrior. Furthermore, Flair briefly won the World title for a second time, dropping it to Bret Hart in Canada in an amazing match. So yes, it might’ve been short, but Ric Flair’s WWF run was pretty darn awesome.

  • Flair’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VIII)
3) The British Bulldog
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 37.55 points
  • Position in 1991: 6th (+3)

When one thinks of The British Bulldog’s 1992, one instantly thinks of the historic Intercontinental Title match with Bret Hart at SummerSlam. However, there was more into Dave Boy Smith’s year that helped him secure the third place on our list. Bulldog had a spectacular run in the Royal Rumble match, entering at number one and lasting over 23 minutes, being one of its highlights. The match in which he dropped the Intercontinental Championship, to Shawn Michaels at Saturday Night’s Main Event, was also a really good one. He also main evented UK Rampage, winning a fun house show-esque bout over IRS. The fact that he participated in the best match of the year helped boost his rating as well.

  • Bulldog’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Bret Hart (SummerSlam)
2) Randy Savage
IMG credit: WWE & Pinterest
  • 44.2 points
  • Position in 1991: 5th (+3)

The Macho Man had a career resurrection in 1992 after his in-ring return in December 1991, having his last great year in his historic run with the World Wrestling Federation. At the beginning of the year, Savage was still involved in his storyline with Jake Roberts, which is a really underrated program. Savage put ‘The Snake’ away for good at Saturday Night’s Main Event #30 in February, before moving on to another deeply personal rivalry, this time with WWF Champion Ric Flair. Macho won the World title for the second time in a true WrestleMania classic, continuing the feud with Flair all the way until Survivor Series. Savage’s second reign featured some amazing title defenses, in particular the rematch with Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam, but also the UK Rampage bout with Shawn Michaels, and the rematch with Flair on Prime Time Wrestling where Naitch won it back. Randy Savage was one of the highlights of the year.

  • Savage’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania VIII)
1) Bret Hart
IMG credit: WWE & Wrestling Headlines
  • 48.5 points
  • Position in 1991: 1st (same)

For the second year in a row, Bret Hart secures the top spot in the WWF list. ‘The Hitman’ kicked off the year as the reigning Intercontinental Champion and ended it as the reigning WWF Champion, a clear sign of progress throughout the year. The Canadian had great moments in both divisions in 1992. While working in the IC division, Hart was involved in amazing storylines with Roddy Piper and The British Bulldog, which resulted in a pair of all-timers at WrestleMania and SummerSlam, respectively. Once he moved on to the World title scene, he killed it in some fantastic matches with Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels, and him wanting to set a record schedule as defending champion made the reign stand out from all the previous ones. I will finish with the exact same line from the 1991 piece: Let’s see if he can keep this spot in 1993!

  • Bret’s best WWF match in 1992: Vs. The British Bulldog (SummerSlam)

TOP 10 WCW WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

10) Steve Austin
IMG credit: WWE & Reddit
  • 34 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

This is the first appearance on the list for someone who would be wrestling’s biggest star across the next decade. In Steve Austin’s first full-year in WCW, putting on consistenly good matches as a part of the Dangerous Alliance. Austin held the Television Championship for a really long time, showcasing the belt in some fun matches with the likes of Barry Windham, before dropping it to Ricky Steamboat at September’s Clash of the Champions in another good one. By the end of 92, with the Dangerous Alliance splitting, Austin moved on to the tag team division, where he’d shine in 1993 alongside Brian Pillman.

  • Austin’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
9) Arn Anderson
IMG credit: WWE & Wrestling News
  • 34.5 points
  • Position in 1991: 3rd (-6)

Arn Anderson was coming off a great 1991, in which he held the Television Championship and the Tag Team Championship alongside Larry Zbyszko. He also participated in some awesome matches, especially at SuperBrawl against Bobby Eaton, or the tag title match with Larry against Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes at a Clash. In 92, the 34-year-old Anderson did hold the tag straps with Eaton as a member of the Dangerous Alliance, and later joined the ‘tag team of the 90s’ alongside Eaton and Michael Hayes, but he wasn’t prominently featured as much. His work was good as always since he was a tremendous worker, but seeing Arn Anderson being used to submit to Erik Watts (on weekly television, no less) is total bullsh-t. Anyways, it’s great to still see him on the list.

  • Anderson’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
8) Brian Pillman
IMG credit: WWE & theofficialwrestlingmuseum.com
  • 35.75 points
  • Position in 1991: 9th (+1)

For the last couple of years, Brian Pillman had already established himself as a great wrestler who could have a good match with just about anyone. However, 1992 was Pillman’s breakthrough year. The exciting young man held the short-lived Light Heavyweight title in the first half of the year, having constantly good matches with the likes of ‘Z-Man’ Tom Zenk, Scotty Flamingo, Brad Armstrong and Jushin Liger in particular. The second half of the year saw Pillman destroy the injured Brad Armstrong, which cost Pillman his rematch at the Light Heavyweight title. From there, Brian adopted a new ‘give zero f-cks’ heel attitude that helped carry him to the next level. His match with Ricky Steamboat at Halloween Havoc was really good, and the tag title match alongside Barry Windham and Steamboat and Shane Douglas at Starrcade was even better.

  • Brian’s best WCW match in 1992: Vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (SuperBrawl II)
7) Big Van Vader
IMG credit: WWE & TheSportster
  • 36.25 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Vader had made numerous one-off appearances in WCW ever since Great American Bash 1990. But in the spring of 1992, he finally joined the promotion on a full-time basis, managed by one of the greatest World Champions of all time in Harley Race. Vader absolutely killed it in his feud with Sting, having awesome matches with the Stinger at both Great American Bash and Starrcade, even winning his first World Championship. Another notable moment from Vader’s year was at Halloween Havoc, where the monster replaced Rick Rude in his United States title defense against Nikita Koloff. Vader not only successfully retained Rude’s title, but retired the Lithuanian in the process. Just before the end of the year, Big Van Vader recaptured the WCW Championship from Ron Simmons and closed 1992 as the reigning champ. I have no doubt Vader would’ve been even higher on the list had he been a regular presence in the first half of the year as well.

  • Vader’s best WCW match in 1992: Vs. Sting (Starrcade)
6) Nikita Koloff
IMG credit: WWE & spaceflyingtigerblog.wordpress.com
  • 38 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Nikita Koloff made his return to WCW for the first time in over a year, suspiciously saving his arch nemesis Sting from a beatdown by the Dangerous Alliance. Heading into WarGames in May, many fans awaited the predictable outcome of Nikita dropping the Stinger on his ass to resume their program. Nikita was the final man to enter WarGames in a smart booking decision, milking the story until the end. However, Nikita did side with Sting & co., embarking on a face run against the Dangerous Alliance throughout the summer, namely against the Alliance’s top dog in Rick Rude over the US title. Nikita’s hatred towards Rude created a short alliance with Ricky Steamboat, who disliked the Ravishing one just as much. They entered the tournament to crown the NWA Tag Team Champions in June, pulling double-duty at The Great American Bash as they reached the semi-finals. Nikita’s feud with Rude led to a series of matches with Vader, including at Halloween Havoc. Before the end of the year, Nikita Koloff would leave WCW and professional wrestling altogether after a good final run.

  • Nikita’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
5) Rick Rude
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 55.5 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude held the United States Championship for the entirety of 1992. First winning it over Sting at Clash of the Champions way back in November 1991, Rude had the gold for over a year. In mid-December 92, Rude was forced to vacate the title due to an injury, also missing a scheduled WCW World title match against Ron Simmons at Starrcade as a result of the diagnosis. Rick Rude had a spectacular 1992, filled with countless memorable moments and great matches. His best were arguably the battles with Ricky Steamboat, but he also had other great ones, such as his King of Cable semi-final against Sting, and several tag matches alongside different members of the Dangerous Alliance. Rick Rude established himself as one of the all-time greatest United States Champions in history during this year.

  • Rude’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
4) Dustin Rhodes
IMG credit: WWE & giantbomb.com
  • 61.25 points
  • Position in 1991: 4th (+1)

The young son of ‘The American Dream’ improved massively compared to his work the previous year, especially in the first half of 1991. His runs tagging with Ricky Steamboat and later Barry Windham played a huge part in developing Dustin Rhodes’ skills early on. Dustin spent nearly the entire year working in the tag team division, opposing the Dangerous Alliance in the first half of the year, and chasing gold in the latter part of 1992. Alongside the veteran Windham, Rhodes reached the final of the NWA tag title tournament, pulling triple-duty at The Great American Bash and main eventing the show. They ultimately succumbed to the Miracle Violence Connection, but they did beat Williams and Gordy in a rematch for the now-unified WCW & NWA tag straps. Dustin was betrayed by his partner in a great match and angle at November’s Clash, resulting in them losing the titles to Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat, Rhodes’ former partner. As a singles wrestler, Rhodes reached the semi-finals of the King of Cable tournament in the fall, only losing to the monstrous Big Van Vader. The future seemed bright for young Dustin at the end of 1992, and he surely would enjoy a very successful wrestling career that is still going on today!

  • Rhodes’ best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
3) Barry Windham
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlinginc.com
  • 63.75 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Much like any other babyface in WCW’s upper-midcard/main event echelon in early 1992, Barry Windham found himself at odds with the Dangerous Alliance. Windham was looking for revenge from Halloween Havoc 1991, in which the Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko) broke Windham’s hand in the parking lot before the show. Windham was involved in Sting’s winning team at WarGames in May, and also briefly held the WCW TV Championship after ending ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin’s 329-day reign. That run was short as Windham would drop the gold back to Austin a month later, but he soon enjoyed tag team success alongside Dustin Rhodes. However, as mentioned in the previous entry, Windham embarked on a great heel run in November setting his sights on his first World title.

  • Windham’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
2) Sting
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 70.25 points
  • Position in 1991: 2nd (same)

After a 1990 marked by a horribly-timed injury and a disappointing first World title run, and a so-so 1991 that had its moments, Sting finally had his first amazing year as an established main-eventer in 1992. Sting won battlebowl at Starrcade 1991 by last eliminating then-champion Lex Luger, securing a World title shot against him at SuperBrawl II. Sting won that match and the title that night, before moving on to feuds with the Dangerous Alliance and Big Van Vader. That turned out to be a huge positive, as it resulted in some of Sting’s best matches of his career. Throw in the falls count anywhere encounter with Cactus Jack at Beach Blast, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a year.

  • Sting’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)
1) Ricky Steamboat
IMG credit: WWE & shitloadsofwrestling.tumblr.com
  • 74.75 points
  • Position in 1991: none (new entry)

Let me start by admitting that even I was surprised at Steamboat getting the most points out of everyone in both companies, and becoming the wrestler of the year. However, looking back at Ricky Steamboat’s 1992, it’s nothing short of amazing. He was involved in one of the feuds of the year with Rick Rude, which gave us three terrific PPV matches (including WarGames). Outside of that, Steamboat reached the semi-finals of the NWA tag team tournament at The Great American Bash alongside Nikita Koloff, featuring an underrated quarter-final tournament matchup against Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger. In the latter part of 1992, Steamboat ended Steve Austin’s lengthy run as Television Champion in another great matchup. Finally, he won the Unified World Tag Team Championship with Shane Douglas, closing the year with bangers against Windham & Rhodes at Clash and later Windham & Pillman at Starrcade for the titles. For Ricky Steamboat, the wrestler of the year according to our point system, consistency was the key in 1992.

  • Steamboat’s best WCW match in 1992: WarGames (WrestleWar)

TOP 10 WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR OVERALL

10) Big Van Vader (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & TheSportster
  • 36.25 points
  • Best match in 1992: Vs. Sting (WCW Starrcade)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
9) The British Bulldog (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 37.55 points
  • Best match in 1992: Vs. Bret Hart (WWF SummerSlam)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
8) Nikita Koloff (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & spaceflyingtigerblog.wordpress.com
  • 38 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
7) Randy Savage (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & Pinterest
  • 44.2 points
  • Best match in 1992: Vs. Ric Flair (WWF WrestleMania VIII)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
6) Bret Hart (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & Wrestling Headlines
  • 48.5 points
  • Best match in 1992: Vs. The British Bulldog (WWF SummerSlam)
  • Position in 1991 overall: 7th (+1)
5) Rick Rude (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 55.5 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
4) Dustin Rhodes (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & giantbomb.com
  • 61.25 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
3) Barry Windham (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlinginc.com
  • 63.75 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)
2) Sting (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • 70.25 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: 2nd (same)
1) Ricky Steamboat (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & shitloadsofwrestling.tumblr.com
  • 74.75 points
  • Best match in 1992: WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
  • Position in 1991 overall: none (new entry)

PPV BUYS & TV RATINGS

WWF

Pay Per Views

Royal Rumble – Jan. 19th: 260.000 PPV buys (main attraction: Royal Rumble match for the vacant WWF Championship)

WrestleMania VIII – April 5th: 390.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice; Hulk Hogan’s last match?; Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage for the WWF Championship; Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship)

SummerSlam – Aug. 29th: 280.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Championship; Whose side are Flair and Perfect on?; Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog for the Intercontinental Championship)

Survivor Series – Nov. 25th: 250.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Randy Savage & Mr. Perfect vs. Ric Flair & Razor Ramon; Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship)

TV specials

Saturday Night’s Main Event – Feb. 8th: 8.2 TV rating (main attractions: Hulk Hogan & Sid Justice vs. Ric Flair & The Undertaker; Randy Savage vs. Jake Roberts)

Saturday Night’s Main Event – Nov. 14th: 6.1 TV rating (main attractions: Money Inc vs. The Ultimate Maniacs for the WWF World Tag Team Championship; Bret Hart vs. Papa Shango for the WWF Championship)

WCW

Pay Per Views

SuperBrawl II – Feb. 29th: 160.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Lex Luger vs. Sting for the WCW Championship; Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat for the United States Championship)

WrestleWar – May 17th: 105.000 PPV buys (main attraction: The Dangerous Alliance vs. Sting’s Squadron – WarGames)

Beach Blast – June 20th: 70.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Rick Rude vs. Ricky Steamboat in an Iron Man Match; Sting vs. Cactus Jack in a Falls Count Anywhere Match)

The Great American Bash – July 12th: 70.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Big Van Vader vs. Sting for the WCW Championship; NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament)

Halloween Havoc – Oct. 25th: 165.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Sting vs. Jake Roberts; ‘spin the wheel make the deal’ stipulation reveal for Sting vs. Roberts; Ron Simmons vs. The Barbarian for the WCW Championship)

Starrcade – Dec. 28th: 95.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Battlebowl; Sting vs. Big Van Vader in the King of Cable tournament final; Ron Simmons vs. Rick Rude for the WCW Championship)

TV specials

Clash of the Champions XVIII – Jan. 21st: 3.7 TV rating (main attractions: Sting & Ricky Steamboat vs. Dangerous Alliance’s Rick Rude & Steve Austin; The Steiners vs. Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes; Big Van Vader returns to WCW)

Clash of the Champions XIX – June 22nd: 2.8 TV rating (main attractions: first round matches of the NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament)

Clash of the Champions XX – Sept. 2nd: 3.7 TV rating (main attractions: Sting, The Steiners & Nikita vs. Roberts, Vader, Rude & Super Invader; Ron Simmons vs. Cactus Jack for the WCW Championship; Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat for the Television Championship; special celebration of 20 years of wrestling on TBS)

Clash of the Champions XXI – Nov. 18th: 3.2 TV rating (main attractions: Sting vs. Rick Rude in a King of Cable tournament semi-final match; Madusa vs. Paul E Dangerously; Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas for the WCW/NWA Unified World Tag Team Championship)

Here are the files with the point system for both companies.

That’s it. We’re officially closing the book on 1992 here on the site and moving on to 1993. It will be another year with a lot of changes, beginning in January immediately with the debut of RAW. Make sure you keep following the blog as we take a closer look at yet another year. Until next time!

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Categories
Year-End Award

1991 Year End Awards (Best Matches And Wrestlers)

Hello everyone and welcome to my final article on 1991. In this special piece, we will take a look back at some of the best matches in both the WWF and WCW. Then we will mention the top five matches for each company, followed by a top five list for both companies overall. After that, we will see who were the wrestlers in both companies (followed by overall, much like with the matches) that got more points. This will be according to the point system I use on every show, which you can see here. We’ll finish by looking at the PPV buyrates and TV ratings.

Before starting, one last announcement regarding the point system: the wrestlers involved in the 5th best match of their particulary company get 1 point, those in the 4th best get 2 points, those in the 3rd best get 3 points, those in the 2nd best get 4 points, and those in the best match of the year will get 5 points. As for the overall list (both companies put together), the points will double – meaning the participants in the 5th best match will get 2 points, and so on.

TOP 5 WWF MATCHES

Note: The Royal Rumble match is not eligible for this list. I will always give the edge to regular wrestling matches, since it’s pretty hard (not impossible, but pretty hard) to see a Rumble match that isn’t fun. Thus, I don’t include it in order to open the door for other matches.

5) Ted DiBiase vs. Bret Hart (Saturday Night’s Main Event April 27th)
IMG credit: WWE

We kick off our list with what can be described as a hidden gem of some sorts. On the WWF’s only edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event from 1991, airing a little over a month after WrestleMania VII, the company booked Bret Hart against the veteran ‘Million Dollar Man’, in what was Bret’s first big chance to impress during his singles push. Having famously met in other instances, most notably during the Survivor Series match in 1990 that saw Undertaker make his debut, the two finally got to show what they could do in a singles match. They worked a fantastic nine minute match, with DiBiase (and Sensational Sherri) adding tons of heat to the bout and helping Bret score a number of hot false finishes near the end. This was Bret passing his first test as a singles wrestler, with the crowd showing they cared about him as a singles act. The match lacked a finish and it would’ve been a lot better with more time and a proper story, but this was really good for what it was. (Rating: ***1/2)

4) The Hart Foundation vs. The Nasty Boys – WWF World Tag Team Championship (WrestleMania VII)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

From Bret’s first big test as a singles wrestler to his last hooray as a member of the legendary Hart Foundation tag team alongside Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart. On a night where they dropped the WWF’s World Tag Team straps to The Nasty Boys at WrestleMania, they decided to put on a pretty good performance on their way out. The challengers injured Bret’s back early on and went to work on it throughout the rest of the bout, while Bret fought from underneath and sold like a champ. The Nasty Boys stole the belts with the classic Jimmy Hart megaphone finish on Anvil, putting an end to one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history in the process. (Rating: ***1/2)

3) The Rockers vs. The Orient Express (Royal Rumble)
IMG credit: WWE & ringthedamnbell.wordpress.com

If one ever talks about a fast-paced, exciting, innovative tag team match that was very much ahead of its time, a picture of the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1991 opener should pop up. The Rockers and The Orient Express were given nearly twenty minutes to kick off the event, and delivered a spectacular match full of impressive spots, reversals and nearfalls in front of a really hot crowd that loved absolutely everything they did. The finish was a great example of that, with Kato slingshotting Marty Jannetty right into… an inside cradle on Tanaka to steal the win. If you’ve never seen this one, it definitely deserves a look. (Rating: ****)

2) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – WWF Intercontinental Championship (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE & hammyreviews.wordpress.com

When fans or even younger wrestlers from this generation admit they have a soft spot for the Intercontinental Championship, it’s because of matches like this one and because of title holders like the two involved in it. Bret was in the midst of his first big singles break, as already mentioned in previous entries, while Mr. Perfect had spent most of the previous year (apart from a relatively brief Kerry Von Erich reign) being one of the greatest IC Champions of all time and putting on brilliant performances after another. Unfortunately, he broke his back shortly before this match and was on his way out for an extended period of time, but he still had enough gas left in the tank to put ‘The Hitman’ over in what was a true all-timer of a match at SummerSlam. Bret Hart didn’t allow Perfect to get the upper hand by pulling hair or any other kind of cheating like he normally did, always responding in the same manner before finishing Perfect with a creative Sharpshooter to capture his first singles title in Madison Square Garden. (Rating: ****1/2)

1) The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage – Retirement Match (WrestleMania VII)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestling.pt

Finally, here is the very best match of the company (and overall) throughout the whole year, at least in one man’s opinion. I understand and respect if you appreciate the technical masterpiece between Perfect and Bret, for example, over a more story-driven match such as this one, but this match is just way too special. The match is full of great moments and told a brilliant story from bell to bell, from Sensational Sherri constantly interfering in order to try and prevent her meal ticket from having to retire, to the famous dramatic spot that saw Warrior kickout of five Macho Elbows, to Sherri beating up Savage once he’d lost and meant nothing to her anymore, to the chilling post-match angle between Savage and Miss Elizabeth which saw the former go from the most hated heel in wrestling to the most beloved star in five minutes. It’s absolutely amazing, and the winner of the SmarkDown awards for best match of 1991. (Rating: *****)

TOP 5 WCW MATCHES

5) The Steiners vs. Masahiro Chono & Hiroshi Hase – IWGP World Tag Team Championship (Clash of the Champions #15 June 12th)
IMG credit: WWE

We’re kicking off the list over on the WCW side with a bang, which is exactly the best word to describe this absolute tussle! The Steiners defended the IWGP Tag Team straps against Masahiro Chono & Hiroshi Hase and the four guys decided to just beat the living shit out of each other and see who could hit harder for fun. At one point, Chono kicked Rick Steiner so hard that he literally broke Rick’s head gear in half! The Steiners obviously responded with their signature violent suplexes and Steinerlines, before Scott finished Hase with the Frankensteiner. A hidden gem that is truly worthy of eight minutes of your time. (Rating: ***3/4)

4) The Steiners vs. Sting & Lex Luger – WCW World Tag Team Championship (SuperBrawl)
IMG credit: WWE & sportskeeda.com

Babyface versus babyface matches tend to be a massive pain in the ass more often than not, both for the audience as well as those working them. It’s easy to understand why, as the crowd will feel divided and uncertain on who to support, thus creating a very weird scenario for everyone involved. This is a rare example in which that wasn’t the case. Four of the most popular babyfaces in WCW at the time went at it over the Steiners’ World Tag Team Title, and started off slow as a sign of mutual respect. That was until Sting questioned a blind tag by the Steiners that he missed (which actually happened), at which point the friendship was thrown out the window and added a lot of drama to the match, with the four wrestlers exchanging some great sequences and reversals to their big moves before Nikita Koloff got involved in the finish. Another great match from The Steiners in 1991. (Rating: ****)

3) Arn Anderson vs. Bobby Eaton – WCW World Television Championship (SuperBrawl)
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

One of the “lost arts” that lapsed fans always bring up that is missing in modern wrestling is solid in-ring psychology. Many people actually don’t undertand what that really means, and this match is a perfect explanation actually. ‘The Enforcer’ saw an opportunity to take advantage when he rammed Bobby Eaton’s leg into the post early on, and smartly spent the rest of the bout targeting said injured body part. Bobby tried numerous times to make his valiant comeback, but his leg gave out every single time and allowed Arn to stay in control. Even when Eaton blocked a flying splash with his knees, it hurt him more than it did Arn in a brilliant touch. It wasn’t until he reversed another one by using a punch that he was able to make his big comeback, capturing Arn’s TV Title with the Alabama Jam after a terrific encounter. (Rating: ****1/4)

2) WarGames (WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE & upprox.com

This can’t be shocking, right? Nine out of ten WarGames are going to be freaking awesome, and 1991’s wasn’t the rare exception. The match was designed to get the big monster Sid Vicious over, with all the big spots involving him, including the finish. However, it was the exciting Brian Pillman that stole the show, showing incredible babyface fire by fighting all Horsemen members despite coming in with an injury. The finish of El Gigante throwing the towel after Sid botched the powerbomb that caused Pillman to land on his neck wasn’t exactly the best, but pretty much everything else in this match absolutely rocked. (Rating: ****1/2)

1) The Enforcers vs. Ricky Steamboat & Dustin Rhodes – WCW World Tag Team Championship (Clash of the Champions #17 November 19th)
IMG credit: WWE & Twitter

When Ric Flair left for the WWF earlier in the summer, a massive void was left in the main-event scene of the Atlanta-based organization. The company was in desperate need of established big names, and that’s when Ricky Steamboat jumped ship after a really weird WWF run where he was simply called “The Dragon” and all of his status as a wrestling legend in the past was erased. Nah, really. The former NWA World Heavyweight Champion made his return at the 17th edition of Clash of the Champions, replacing the injured Barry Windham as the partner of the young Dustin Rhodes to challenge the Enforcers (Anderson & Zbyszko) for the World Tag Team straps. You could feel the relief in the crowd once Steamboat was announced, and the energy in the arena was off the charts. The moment was incredible, but the kickass match that they delivered was equally great, before Steamboat & Rhodes’ title win nearly took the roof off the arena in Savannah, Georgia. You should ABSOLUTELY give it a look, and it stands as the winner of the SmarkDown awards for the best WCW match of 1991! (Rating: ****1/2)

TOP 5 MATCHES OVERALL

5) Arn Anderson vs. Bobby Eaton – WCW World Television Championship (WCW SuperBrawl)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é image-34.jpeg
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com
4) WarGames (WCW WrestleWar)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é image.jpeg
IMG credit: WWE & upprox.com
3) The Enforcers vs. Ricky Steamboat & Dustin Rhodes – WCW World Tag Team Championship (WCW Clash of the Champions #17 November 19th)
IMG credit: WWE & Twitter
2) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – WWF Intercontinental Championship (WWF SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE & hammyreviews.wordpress.com
1) The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage – Retirement Match (WWF WrestleMania VII)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestling.pt

TOP 10 WWF WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

Note: this is based on my point system used throughout each and every show of the year

10) Ted DiBiase (18.5 points)
Every WWE Championship And The Match That Defined It – Page 3
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • Position in 1990: 5th (-5)

The reliable ‘Million Dollar Man’ had a memorable 1991, which he spent mostly feuding with his former bodyguard, Virgil. The two kicked off their program at the Royal Rumble after a win over the departing Dusty & Dustin Rhodes, and would go on to wrestle each other in singles matches at both WrestleMania and SummerSlam. The veteran was mostly used to get over younger wrestlers in 1991, such as Virgil and Bret Hart, as we saw in the match that made it to the list of top WWF matches. Another highlight of Ted’s year was the addition of Sensational Sherri after WrestleMania, which added a lot to the act.

  • DiBiase’s best WWF match in 1991: Vs. Bret Hart (SNME April 27th)
9) Shawn Michaels (18.75 points)
Shawn Michaels
IMG credit: WWE & angelfire.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

Rocker Shawn Michaels makes his first appearance on our list after a fantastic breakout year alongside his partner Marty Jannetty. They kicked off the year with an absolute banger against The Orient Express at the Royal Rumble, followed by a very good match with Haku & The Barbarian at WrestleMania VII. They were less featured in the second half of the year, until the split was first teased during their Survivor Series elimination match in November. Michaels spent most of the year working tag team matches, but he also had a number of great individual showings against established stars such as Mr. Perfect and even Ric Flair, in which he proved he had everything to be a future big time player himself. The future ‘Heartbreak Kid’ sits atop his fellow rocker Jannetty with a 1 point difference, which really are just a couple of pins that Shawn earned in tag matches.

  • Michaels’ best WWF match in 1991: W/ Marty vs. Orient Express (Royal Rumble)
8) Hawk & Animal (tied at 19.6 points)
IMG credit: WWE & denofgeek.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

Here we have a rare situation of two wrestlers tied in the same position, with said wrestlers being the legendary tag team of the Road Warriors, the reigning WWF World Tag Team Champions at the end of 1991. The dominant duo spent their year kicking ass and taking people’s heads off with the dreaded Doomsday Device, with the highlights being a very quick win over Power & Glory at WrestleMania, a dominant win over the Orient Express at The Main Event and, most importantly, defeating The Nasty Boys in a street fight at SummerSlam to capture the WWF Tag Team belts.

  • LOD’s best WWF match in 1991: Vs. The Orient Express (The Main Event V)
7) Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs (20 points)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlinginc.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

This might come as a surprise to most people. However, the truth is the Nasty Boys had a pretty strong 1991, including a run with the WWF Tag Team Championship. They achieved that after defeating the Hart Foundation in a very good match (that was already discussed) at WrestleMania, retained over established WWF teams such as the Bushwhackers before entering a feud with Legion of Doom, whom they would drop the belts to in a street fight at SummerSlam. Knobbs stands out above Sags because he participated in the Royal Rumble match in January, and actually made it to the final four, while Sags competed in a dark match before the show that night.

  • Knobbs’ best WWF match in 1991: W/ Sags vs. Hart Foundation (WrestleMania VII)
6) The British Bulldog (22.35 points)
IMG credit: WWE & calgarysun.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

After his run alongside Dynamite Kid as the British Bulldogs in the 1980s, Davey Boy Smith made his return to the WWF in the beginning of 1991, now as a singles powerhouse wrestler. The British Bulldog was given the difficult task of feuding with The Warlord throughout the entire year, working with him at every single WWF PPV of 1991(!), and Davey Boy made it work in spite of Warlord’s limitations. Their meeting at WrestleMania exceeded all expectations and then some, and while their other matches didn’t quite reach that level, they were still all perfectly watchable thanks to Davey Boy. The fact that Bulldog nearly made it to the top five while working with Warlord throughout the whole year shows how good he was, and that he is truly deserving of the spot.

  • Bulldog’s best WWF match in 1991: Vs. The Warlord (WrestleMania VII)
5) Randy Savage (23.25 points)
IMG credit: WWE & jivesoulbros.wordpress.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

‘How in the hell can a man that was retired and out of action for most of the year make it to the top 5 of the WWF?’ That is a very legitimate question, but you just have to expect things like this from the amazing Randy Savage. He was in the match that won the awards for #1 match of the year of both the WWF and overall, which earned him a lot of extra points (as mentioned earlier), and gave him such a boost. Savage started off the year as the arrogant ‘macho king’, alongside his sensational queen Sherri, until his loss to The Ultimate Warrior in the retirement match at WrestleMania humbled him and turned him back into the ‘macho man’. Savage did commentary alongside Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper on television while he was away, until the evil Jake Roberts started a program with him and the fans asked for his reinstatement. That finally happened in November, and the two would have a fantastic feud that saw Roberts’ cobra infamously bite Savage in the arm on TV, before the two wrestled at This Tuesday in Texas in December. He might’ve been away from the ropes for most of the year, but he showed he’s one of the best ever in the few times he did step inside them in 1991.

  • Savage’s best WWF match in 1991: Vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VII)
4) The Ultimate Warrior (24.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & pwmania.com
  • Position in 1990: 1st (-3)

The Ultimate Warrior had a pretty crazy 1991, a year that perfectly encapsulates his career. He entered the year as the reigning WWF Champion, put his career on the line against Randy Savage at WrestleMania and won, and then just as he was entering a promising feud with The Undertaker and Jake Roberts… he was gone. Just like that, puff. Much like Savage in the previous entry, being in the top match of both the WWF and overall lists gave him a huge boost in points, as Warrior only worked up until SummerSlam. The highlight of his year is obviously the Savage feud and match, with him famously walking towards the ring instead of running, saving his energy for what was the most important match of his life.

  • Warrior’s best WWF match in 1991: Vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)
3) Mr. Perfect (28.85 points)
IMG credit: WWE & pinterest.cl
  • Position in 1990: 7th (+4)

Much like The Ultimate Warrior, Curt Hennig only worked up until SummerSlam, but due to completely different circumstances – a severe back injury. Up until that, Mr. Perfect was on fire as the WWF Intercontinental Champion, with incredible performances against the likes of Big Bossman at WrestleMania, winning a battle royal (in which he was obviously the MVP) at the only Saturday Night’s Main Event of that year, in televised matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels and, most notably, in his final match in over a year against Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart at SummerSlam. Curt stands to this very day as arguably the greatest IC Champion, and that’s mostly due to his work in this particular year. He was off for the final four months and he still picks up the bronze, so imagine what could’ve been had the injury never happened! This guy was always a joy to watch, and this spot is much, much deserved.

  • Perfect’s best match in 1991: Vs. Bret Hart (SummerSlam)
2) Hulk Hogan (32.1 points)
Ask 411 Wrestling: What is Hulk Hogan's Longest Singles Match? | 411MANIA
IMG credit: WWE & 411mania.com
  • Position in 1990: 2nd (same spot)

Hulk Hogan’s 1991 wasn’t exactly the most interesting compared to some others wrestlers already mentioned, but his constant presence in main-events, his win/loss record and his multiple title wins allows him to be here. As well as the Royal Rumble victory, which was his second in a row. He kicked off the year still (sort of) feuding with Earthquake, before he stood up as the American hero against the WWF Champion, Sgt. Slaughter, heading into WrestleMania. Their feud continued all the way until SummerSlam, after which Hogan started a program with the young Undertaker. A possible future big match with the ‘real world champion’ Ric Flair was constantly teased throughout the fall as well, but we know where that is going…

  • Hogan’s best match in 1991: Vs. Ric Flair (MSG November 30th)
1) Bret Hart (37.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & lastwordonsports.com
  • Position in 1990: 3rd (+2)

No one can tell for sure if this would’ve been the case had Mr. Perfect stayed healthy and active the whole year, but Bret Hart secures the award for WWF’s top wrestler of 1991 regardless, according to my point system throughout the whole year. Bret kicked off the year as one half of the World Tag Team Champions as a member of the Hart Foundation, and closed it as the reigning Intercontinental Champion. His highlights along the way include the match with the Nasty Boys at WrestleMania, the hidden gem at SNME against Ted DiBiase, and above all else the IC Title classic with Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam. 1991 was a big test for ‘The Hitman’ and his true breakout year as a singles worker, and the results are reflected with his presence in our awards: #1 WWF wrestler, and in 3 out of the top 5 best WWF matches (#5, #4 and #2), with the Mr. Perfect match also securing the #2 spot in the overall list. Unquestionably Bret proved he could hang with the big boys in the top spots, and we’ll get to see more of him in years to come. Let’s see if he can keep this spot in 1992!

  • Bret’s best match in 1991: Vs. Mr. Perfect (SummerSlam)

TOP 10 WCW WRESTLERS

10) Bobby Eaton (28.75 points)
  • Position in 1990: 5th (-5)

Much like the ‘Million Dollar Man’ over on the WWF list, we have a fellow veteran kicking off the top 10 WCW wrestlers list. And much like DiBiase, Eaton drops five places after securing the 5th place in the 1990 list. The late great ‘Beautiful’ Bobby is mostly known as a legend of tag team wrestling, most notably as a member of the awesome Midnight Express. However, Eaton spent the whole year of 1991 as a singles wrestler, briefly holding the Television Championship as a transitional champion from Arn Anderson to a young bluechipper by the name of ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin. He finished the year back on the heel side of the locker room, alongside the likes of the aforementioned Steve Austin and Rick Rude as a member of Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance.

  • Eaton’s best WCW match in 1991: Vs. Arn Anderson (SuperBrawl)
9) Flyin’ Brian Pillman (32.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & fightgamemedia.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

Here’s a man who is a very strong contender for breakout star of the year, at least over on the WCW side. The highly charismatic and exciting Brian Pillman started the year by being the MVP of the WarGames match, in a field that featured talents such as Ric Flair, Sting or Arn Anderson! He continued to impress throughout the spring and summer, with many good-to-great match against Barry Windham or the Freebirds’ Badstreet, before becoming the company’s inaugural Light Heavyweight Champion at Halloween Havoc. The future sure looked bright for the young Flyin’ Brian.

  • Pillman’s best WCW match in 1991: WarGames (WrestleWar)
8) Ric Flair (33 points)
IMG credit: WWE & bleacherreport.com
  • Position in 1990: 1st (-7)

1991 was certainly a different year for the two biggest professional wrestling companies in North America, and a major part of that had to do with Ric Flair, one of (if not the) most iconic World Heavyweight Champions in WCW/NWA history, switching sides for the WWF. That explains his big drop on the list, going from WCW’s top dog in 1990 (and #2 overall) to the 8th position in 1991. That being said, it’s still impressive that Flair is even on the list, considering he only wrestled until early in the summer. Flair defeated Sting at a house show in January to win the belt, in the process also becoming the first ever official WCW Champion ever. Flair worked the WarGames in February before starting a feud with Tatsumi Fujinami, defeating him in a title-for-title affair at SuperBrawl. Other notable moments for Flair included rare title defenses on episodes of Clash against Scott Steiner and Bobby Eaton. That was all until, as you know, Flair left for the WWF over a disagreement with WCW management (they wanted to cut his hair and call him Spartacus, for fuck’s sake…) and debuted in McMahonland as the ‘real world champion’.

  • Flair’s best WCW match in 1991: WarGames (WrestleWar)
7) Rick Steiner (33.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & alchetron.com
  • Position in 1990: 3rd (-4)

The Steiners are one of my favorite tag teams of all time, and were by far the best in 1991. I mean, just look at the list of top matches, they appear in three of the top five WCW matches! All of those matches came during their reign as World Tag Team Champions in the first half of the year, with all of them being absolute kickass tussles. Their reign only ended when Scott suffered a serious injury in July, forcing the explosive duo to vacate their straps. Rick’s highlights of the year were the matches alongside his brother against Sting & Lex Luger at SuperBrawl, or against Masahiro Chono & Hiroshi Hase for the IWGP titles at Clash, a match that saw Rick literally get his head gear kicked in half!

  • Rick’s best WCW match in 1991: WarGames (WrestleWar)
6) Larry Zbyszko (34.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE & Twitter
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

Up until the summer, Zbyszko’s only appearance on the series had been as apart of the WarGames match in February, where he replaced his future tag team championship partner Arn Anderson due to injury. However, after Ric Flair’s departure and Barry Windham’s babyface turn, the enforcer was, hmm, enforced by Zbyszko! The two entered a tournament for the World Tag Team Titles that were vacated by the Steiners, and captured the gold by beating the unlikely duo of Rick Steiner and Bill Kazmaier in the final. They did their best to avoid a title match against the young Dustin Rhodes and former Horseman Barry Windham, going as far as breaking Barry’s arm to do so. The returning Ricky Steamboat would side with Rhodes to win the straps in WCW’s best match of the year in November, as the Enforcers dropped the gold in style.

  • Zbyszko’s best WCW match in 1991: W/ Arn vs. Steamboat & Dustin (Clash #17)
5) Dustin Rhodes (36.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & pinterest.com
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

It’s really weird to think about this and it seems like ages ago already, but Dustin Rhodes actually started the year in the World Wrestling Federation. After he and his father lost to Ted DiBiase & Virgil in their last date at the Royal Rumble, they immediately went back to Atlanta. Dustin’s first few months in WCW didn’t exactly set the world on fire, with him scoring questionable singles wins on PPV over established veterans such as Terry Taylor and Buddy Landel, whilst not putting on the most solid performances in the world. The second half of the year was a completely different story, though, with Dustin being moved onto the tag team scene, scoring a reign as one third of the Six-Man World Tag Team Champions (that title didn’t last long) and, most notably, as the World Tag Champ alongside the iconic Ricky Steamboat. He was involved in the top WCW match of 1991, and put on a great singles match at Halloween Havoc too, in 15-minute broadway with Steve Austin over the TV Title.

  • Dustin’s best WCW match in 1991: W/ Steamboat vs. Enforcers (Clash #17)
4) Scott Steiner (38.75 points)
Scott Steiner vs Stunning Steve Austin For The WCW TV Title in 1991:  SquaredCircle
IMG credit: WWE & reddit.com
  • Position in 1990: 4th (same spot)

I’ve already mentioned everything there is to be said about the Steiners earlier in Rick’s entry, so I’ll focus a little bit more on Scott individually and mention why Scott is ahead of his brother on the list. Scott Steiner continued to be perhaps the most exciting wrestler to watch in both companies throughout the year, with the intense and physical style of his matches leaving the WCW fans in awe, especially when he delivered his amazing Frankensteiner! Scott is ahead of Rick because he had a World Title Match with Ric Flair at the first Clash of the Champions of the year, while Rick didn’t wrestle at all on that show and, also, qualified for the battlebowl in the main-event of StarrCade, while Rick did not.

  • Scott’s best WCW match in 1991: WarGames (WrestleWar)
3) Arn Anderson (39.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
  • Position in 1990: not on the list (new entry)

In third place comes the man who I like to call pro wrestling’s ‘silent assassin’. He might not always be the most impressive, and he’s rarely in the big news coming off a show, but you can always count on consistent solid performances from him. And just like that, quietly, ‘The Enforcer’ secures a spot as WCW’s third best wrestler of the year. He spent most of the first half of the year as the Television Champion, putting on solid matches with challengers like Tom Zenk before dropping the strap to Bobby Eaton in a terrific match at SuperBrawl. He followed that up with the work in the tag division alongside Larry Zbyszko, which gave us that absolute classic against Dustin Rhodes and the returning Ricky Steamboat. Had Arn not been injured in February and worked the WarGames, he actually would’ve secured the top spot in both WCW and overall. See what I mean with the silent assassin line!

  • Arn’s best WCW match in 1991: W/ Zbyszko vs. Steamboat & Dustin (Clash #17)
2) Sting (40 points)
IMG credit: WWE & thesportster.com
  • Position in 1990: 9th (+7)

Sting climbs seven spots compared to 1990, due to his serious injury suffered early that year before his World Title reign. Sting dropped the gold back to Ric Flair at a house show in January, immediately moving on to other things. That included competing at WarGames, challenging for the Steiners’ World Tag straps alongside Lex Luger in a brilliant match, briefly feuding with the returning Nikita Koloff, and a brief US Title run that saw him feud with the Dangerous Alliance, dropping the gold to Rick Rude in November before winning battlebowl at StarrCade. It was a different year for the Stinger, and it was definitely much better than that weird feud with The Black Scorpion the prior year.

  • Sting’s best WCW match in 1991: WarGames (WrestleWar)
1) Lex Luger (42.25 points)
IMG credit: WWE & f4wonline.com

I often mention in my reviews how people often don’t give Lex Luger credit, probably because they are only more familiar with his work later in his career. Luger in his first WCW run, however, was a fantastic worker and here’s the proof: the winner of the SmarkDown awards for wrestler of the year. And that’s not just in WCW, but also including the WWF as well, scoring more points than names such as Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Sting and literally everyone else. Luger started the year as a popular babyface and the reigning United States Champion, with a PPV match against Danny Spivey that exceeded everyone’s expectations and then some. After putting on his best match that year in the aforemention Tag Title match alongside Sting at SuperBrawl, Luger climbed onto the main event scene as the heel World Champion, with the legendary Harley Race by his side. Luger delivered the goods in his title match against Ron Simmons at Halloween Havoc, before putting Sting over in the battlebowl’s dramatic finale at StarrCade. It was a very strong year for the ‘Total Package’, who finishes the year as the reigning WCW World Heavyweight Champion and as the winner of the SmarkDown award for wrestler of the year.

  • Luger’s best WCW match in 1991: W/ Sting vs. Steiners (SuperBrawl)

TOP 10 WRESTLERS OVERALL

10) Flyin’ Brian Pillman – 32.5 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & fightgamemedia.com
9) Rick Steiner – 33.5 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & alchetron.com
8) Larry Zbyszko – 34.75 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & Twitter
7) Bret Hart – 37.5 points (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & lastwordonsports.com
6) Ric Flair – 37.5 points (WCW/WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & totalwrestlinghistory.wordpress.com
5) Dustin Rhodes – 37.5 points (WWF/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & pinterest.com
4) Scott Steiner – 38.75 points (WCW)
Scott Steiner vs Stunning Steve Austin For The WCW TV Title in 1991:  SquaredCircle
IMG credit: WWE & reddit.com
3) Arn Anderson – 39.75 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
2) Sting – 40 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & thesportster.com
1) Lex Luger – 42.25 points (WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & f4wonline.com

PPV BUYRATES & TV RATINGS

WWF

Pay Per Views

Royal Rumble (Jan. 19th) – 440.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Royal Rumble Match; The Ultimate Warrior(c) vs. Sgt. Slaughter for the WWF Championship)

WrestleMania VII (March 24th) – 400.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Sgt. Slaughter(c) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship; The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage in a retirement match)

SummerSlam (Aug. 26th) – 405.000 PPV buys (main attractions: “match made in heaven”; “match made in hell”; Mr. Perfect(c) vs. Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Championship)

Survivor Series (Nov. 27th) – 300.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Hulk Hogan(c) vs. The Undertaker for the WWF Championship; Flair’s team vs. Piper’s team)

This Tuesday in Texas (Dec. 3rd) – 140.000 PPV buys (main attractions: The Undertaker(c) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship; Randy Savage’s return to wrestling vs. Jake Roberts)

TV specials

The Main Event V (Feb. 1st) – 6.7 TV rating (main attractions: Jack Tunney announces the number one contender for the WWF Title at WrestleMania; Sgt. Slaughter(c) vs. Jim Duggan for the WWF Championship)

Saturday Night’s Main Event (April 27th) – 7.7 TV rating (main attractions: battle royal; The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter in a rematch from Royal Rumble; Ted DiBiase vs. Bret Hart)

WCW

Pay Per Views

WrestleWar (Feb. 24th) – 160.000 PPV buys (main attractions: WarGames; Lex Luger(c) vs. Danny Spivey for the US Championship; Big Van Vader returns to WCW vs. Stan Hansen)

SuperBrawl (May 19th) – 150.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Ric Flair vs. Tatsumi Fujinami in a title for title match; The Steiners(c) vs. Sting & Lex Luger for the World Tag Team Championship)

The Great American Bash (July 14th) – 145.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham in a steel cage match for the vacant WCW Championship; Sting vs. Nikita Koloff in a russian chain match; scaffold match)

Halloween Havoc (Oct. 27th) – 120.000 PPV buys (main attractions: Lex Luger(c) vs. Ron Simmons 2/3 falls for the WCW Championship; chamber of horrors match; ‘WCW Phantom’ mystery)

StarrCade (Dec. 29th) – 155.000 PPV buys (main attractions: battlebowl battle royal; lethal lottery tag matches)

TV specials

Clash of the Champions XIV (Jan. 30th) – 3.9 TV rating (main attractions: Ric Flair(c) vs. Scott Steiner for the WCW Championship; Doom(c) vs. Sting & Lex Luger for the World Tag Team Championship)

Clash of the Champions XV (June 12th) – 3.9 TV rating (main attractions: Ric Flair(c) vs. Bobby Eaton 2/3 falls for the WCW Championship; Sting vs. Nikita Koloff)

Clash of the Champions XVI (Sept. 5th) – 3.7 TV rating (main attractions: Lex Luger & Ron Simmons’ contract signing for Halloween Havoc; Sting(c) vs. Johnny B. Badd for the US Championship; The Enforcers vs. Rick Steiner & Bill Kazmaier for the vacant World Tag Team Championship)

Clash of the Champions XVII (Nov. 19th) – 4.3 TV rating (main attractions: Lex Luger(c) vs. Rick Steiner for the WCW Championship; Sting(c) vs. Rick Rude for the US Championship)

COMMENT SECTION

And what about you? What is your opinion on the year of 1991 for WCW and the WWF? Use the following feedback form to share it!

And that’s it, we’re now officially turning the page from 1991 into 1992 here on SmarkDown. Make sure you keep tuning in and don’t miss any review, starting with the WWF’s Royal Rumble. Thanks for reading and for your constant support. See you soon!

Categories
Year-End Award

1990 – Best Matches And Wrestlers

Hello everyone and welcome to my final article on 1990. In this special piece, we will take a look back at some of the best matches in both the WWF and NWA/WCW. First of all, I will mention the top five matches for each company, followed by a top five list for both companies overall. After that, we will see who were the wrestlers in both companies (followed by overall, much like with the matches) that got more points. This will be according to the point system I use on every show, which you can see here.

Before starting, I have one last announcement regarding the point system. I thought it would be fair to award points to the wrestlers involved in the top five matches of the year, so I will. Here’s how it will be done: the wrestlers involved in the 5th best match of their particulary company get 1 point, those in the 4th best get 2 points, those in the 3rd best get 3 points, those in the 2nd best get 4 points, and those in the best match of the year will get 5 points. As for the overall list (both companies put together), the points will double – meaning the participants in the 5th best match will get 2 points, and so on.

TOP 5 WWF MATCHES

Note: The Royal Rumble match is not eligible for this list. I will always give the edge to regular wrestling matches, since it’s pretty hard (not impossible, but pretty hard) to see a Rumble match that isn’t fun. Thus, I don’t include it in order to open the door for other matches.

5) The Dream Team vs. The Million Dollar Team (Survivor Series)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

Kicking off the list is a very special traditional Survivor Series elimination tag match from the eponymous event. With Dusty Rhodes and Ted DiBiase as the respective team captains, some would say the match reached legendary status even before the opening bell sounded, with The Undertaker making his iconic debut. Even though that’s what people remember the most from this bout, the action in the ring that came afterwards was very good as well. Undertaker got to showcase his actual in-ring abilities and even got a pinfall win over the legendary ‘American Dream’, while Bret Hart and Ted DiBiase delivered a spectacular mini-match in the bout’s closing moments, with ‘The Million Dollar Man’ coming out on top. A very good match that elevated two future legends’ singles careers. (Rating: ***1/2)

4) Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWF World & WWF Intercontinental Championships (WrestleMania VI)
IMG credit: WWE & wrestlemaniacos.com

In what unquestionably is the most memorable match from this year, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior met for both the IC and World Championships in the main-event of WrestleMania. It truly is a bout for the ages, and will keep being talked about regardless of how much time passes. As is the case with most matches involving any of these two legendary names, it has many naysayers. And even though it’s a match elevated by the awesome crowd reaction, the actual in-ring match itself is good and easily one of the best in both Hogan and Warrior’s careers. I consider this to be Hogan’s finest hour in the ring, with him taking the relatively inexperienced and exhausted Warrior all the way to the finish line. Absolutely legendary, and obviously the #1 on this list if we were talking memorable alone. (Rating: ***3/4)

3) The Hart Foundation vs. The Rockers (Saturday Night’s Main Event April 28th)
IMG credit: WWE

After a disappointing WrestleMania that is only (rightfully) remembered for the aforementioned main-event, the WWF needed to start the new “season” with something good. Enter these four! Despite Demolition’s involvement causing a non-finish, the two awesome teams put on an exciting fast-paced contest that had every single fan in that arena on the edge of their seats. It showed that tag team wrestling, if done right, is fantastic and that both these teams deserved more than being in ten-second matches against the Bolsheviks at WrestleMania. And by the end of the year, they’d be going at it over the WWF’s tag team straps! (Rating: ****)

2) Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana – WWF Intercontinental Championship (Saturday Night’s Main Event July 28th)
IMG credit: WWE & enuffa.com

Here is what I’d probably call the WWF’s ‘hidden gem’ of 1990. Once Warrior had to vacate the IC title due to his World Championship win at WrestleMania, a tournament was held to crown the new champion. Perfect would best Tito in the final on Superstars to capture the gold, revealing Bobby Heenan as his new ‘perfect manager’ that night. The two would meet in a rematch at the following edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, and to say they tore the house down would be the understatement of the year. It was a dramatic back-and-forth match, featuring a brilliant performance by Heenan as well, that had the crowd believing Tito (a veteran undercarder for years at this point already) would somehow shock Mr. Perfect and win. Perfect managed to weasel his way into a cheap victory in the end, but Santana looked like a million bucks for the first time in a really long time. Absolutely… perfect. Sorry, had to do it! (Rating: ****)

1) Demolition vs. The Hart Foundation – 2/3 Falls Tag Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE

In my honest opinion, when it comes to the WWF in 1990, this was the very best match. The story was that the recently-turned-heel Demolition had three members with the recent signing of Crush, and they would be waiting to pull a switcheroo at any point. Once the bell rang and the two great teams started going to work, the fans got lost in the action and completely forgot about the heels’ intentions. And that’s when it happened! After a dramatic and emotional final fall that ultimately saw LOD expose Demolition’s tricks, The Hart Foundation finally captured the belts back, for the first time as babyfaces. A spectacular match that is 100% worthy of this spot. Give it a look if you haven’t already! (Rating: ****)

TOP 5 NWA/WCW MATCHES

5) The Steiners vs. Doom – NWA World Tag Team Championship (Capital Combat)
IMG credit: WWE & culturecrossfire.com

We kick off the NWA’s side with an intense and physical fight between four badass wrestlers over the World Tag belts. The challengers Doom were coming off a really weird run as a “mysterious” masked team (even though everyone could tell who they were…) and thus needed to establish themselves as soon as possible. Add the fact that the Steiners were in the other corner of the ring, and you got yourself a battle of the bulls between four motivated guys determined to hit each other as hard as possible and to earn their spots at the very top of the card. Awesome match. (Rating: ***3/4)

4) The Midnight Express vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE

This shouldn’t come as a shocker to anybody, as we’re talking about arguably the two teams with the best chemistry in the entire history of tag team wrestling. Is it the greatest match ever between them? Of course it isn’t, far from it. But even if there’s bad management and no clear direction, these two will always deliver inside the ropes. And not forgetting Jim Cornette’s awesome managerial work at ringside, always being able to make his presence felt at ringside without stealing the spotlight from the action going on. Great match between four (or five) workers who could have a classic with their eyes closed. (Rating: ****)

3) Ric Flair vs. Sting – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (The Great American Bash)
IMG credit: WWE & sportskeeda

This match is to the NWA/WCW in 1990 what Hogan vs. Warrior from WrestleMania is to the WWF. Unquestionably the first match that will come to mind of 99% of the fans, featuring the iconic moment that was Sting’s first World Championship victory. The technical aspect of the match itself was strong, way stronger than WWF’s Hogan/Warrior, with Ric Flair knowing exactly how to carry a story like this in order to make his opponent’s moment ten times more memorable than it would already be. By far the top NWA/WCW moment of the year, and one of the best matches as well. (Rating: ****)

2) Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE & thesewastedyears.wordpress.com

Speaking of Sting’s moment, it was actually originally set to take place at February’s WrestleWar PPV. However, earlier that month at Clash of the Champions, Sting suffered a serious injury during a segment with the Four Horsemen and the moment would have to be delayed. The reigning US champion Lex Luger was the one chosen to fill in that void left by the injured Sting, turning babyface and temporarily challenging Flair for the Big Gold Belt. They had two PPV matches while Sting was out, but WrestleWar is by far the greatest. Even though the match had a non-finish in order to protect both wrestlers, Flair did everything in his power to put Luger over like a billion bucks. Even though Luger didn’t win the title, he was off to the races afterwards as one of (if not the) most popular babyfaces on the whole roster that year. (Rating: ****1/2)

1) The Midnight Express vs. The Southern Boys (The Great American Bash)
10 Hidden WCW Gems To Watch On WWE Network – Page 5
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

And finally, the greatest match of not only the NWA/WCW, but from both companies overall in the year 1990. The young duo of the Southern Boys, Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong, challenged the veteran duo of the Midnight Express for the US Tag Team Titles and put on a true masterpiece. Whatever you name it, this match had. The younger team upsetting the cocky champions in the beginning, forcing the heels cutting the ring in half and trying their best to always keep their team in control, the essential babyface comebacks and hope spots and even a number of entertaining spots. Particularly a martial arts exchange between Stan Lane and Tracy Smothers that saw the babyface (again) get the better of the cocky heel. And again, not to forget the awesome work of Jim Cornette at ringside. In the end, the legendary Midnight Express were able to steal a cheap win and retain their straps, but the young duo of the Southern Boys won the respect of many fans and critics. A classic! (Rating: ****1/2)

TOP 5 MATCHES OVERALL

5) Mr. Perfect vs. Tito Santana – WWF Intercontinental Championship (Saturday Night’s Main Event July 28th) [WWF]
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é image-42.jpeg
IMG credit: WWE & enuffa.com
4) Ric Flair vs. Sting – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (The Great American Bash) [NWA/WCW]
IMG credit: WWE & sportskeeda
3) Demolition vs. The Hart Foundation – 2/3 Falls Tag Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship (SummerSlam) [WWF]
IMG credit: WWE
2) Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (WrestleWar) [NWA/WCW]
IMG credit: WWE & thesewastedyears.wordpress.com
1) The Midnight Express vs. The Southern Boys (The Great American Bash) [NWA/WCW]
10 Hidden WCW Gems To Watch On WWE Network – Page 5
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

TOP 10 WWF WRESTLERS

Note: this is based on my point system used throughout each and every show of the year

10) Dusty Rhodes (19.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE

We start our list with the American Dream Dusty Rhodes, baby! Even though Dusty is not a name that you associate with the WWF when thinking of him as an active wrestler, he had a solid 1990 mostly feuding with Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase. He might just be a common man, but he did just fine to earn a spot in our list! 

  • Dusty’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Million Dollar Team (Survivor Series)
9) Rick Martel (20.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

Here’s the guy that was perhaps the most improved worker of the year. After turning heel on Tito Santana way back at WrestleMania V in 1989, Martel spent the rest of that year on stand-by while waiting for something to click. After a short-lived partnership with Slick that wasn’t really it, Martel finally got there once he debuted the “Model” gimmick. Apart from being a good worker in the ring, what made Martel stand out was Arrogance (his fragrance shown in the picture) and allowed him to have a very interesting midcard feud with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts.

  • Martel’s best match in 1990: Vs. Tito Santana (The Main Event IV)
8) Tito Santana (23.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

We’re going from one Strike Force member to the other! Santana spent most of his year as the veteran “jobber to the stars”, particularly losing to both former Powers of Pain members Barbarian and Warlord at WrestleMania and SummerSlam, respectively. He was even in the “final match of survival” in the main-event of Survivor Series, being eliminated by Ted DiBiase. However, what earns him this spot on the list is unquestionably his work with Mr. Perfect over the spring/early summer, having some fantastic matches (including our #2 WWF match of the year). Santana lost to Perfect multiple times for the Intercontinental Title, helping the rising star on his way to the top. Santana is one of the most underrated star-making performers of all time, and a legend in his own right. Arriba!

  • Santana’s best match in 1990: Vs. Mr. Perfect (SNME July 28th)
7) Mr. Perfect (26.5 points)
The Heenan Family Ranked - From Worst To Best – Page 13
IMG credit: WWE

Well, speaking of him! I swear I didn’t script the way this list would go!! Mr. Perfect’s presence on this list should come as no surprise to anyone with half a brain. And speaking of brains, the chemistry this man had with Bobby Heenan is absolutely beautiful to watch. It didn’t start that way, though, as Perfect went into 1990 still being managed by The Genius. That was already a good duo, but him and Heenan together are just pure gold. I expected Perfect to be even higher on this list, but the fact he criminally lost EVERY pay-per-view match he was apart of (Rumble match, Beefcake at WM, Tornado at SS, Team Warrior at SVS) kicked him all the way down to #7. His incredible in-ring ability and charisma allowed him to thankfully still be apart of this list, where he belongs. Why? Because this man was exactly what he said he was. Absolutely perfect!

  • Perfect’s best match in 1990: Vs. Tito Santana (SNME July 28th)
6) Demolition Smash (30.5 points)
Ax & Smash On What Led To The End Of Demolition, Possible WWE Hall Of Fame  Induction, More | PWMania.com
IMG credit: WWE (Smash is on the left)

Now here’s one you probably weren’t expecting. In a year of ups and downs that saw Demolition win the tag titles from Andre the Giant & Haku at WrestleMania, gaining a new third member in Crush, turn heel for the first time in two years, lose the belts to The Hart Foundation (in our WWF match of the year) at SummerSlam, briefly change their look only to quickly go back to the original facepaint and ultimately lose Ax after Survivor Series, the one constant was Smash. He deserves credit for doing so well in what was a weird year for Demolition, and for playing a huge part in that epic match at SummerSlam.

  • Smash’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Hart Foundation (SummerSlam)
5) Ted DiBiase (31 points)
10 Best Performances From Number 1 In WWE Royal Rumble Match – Page 6
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

After a relatively timid 1989, ‘The Million Dollar Man’ quickly went back to being one of the highlights of the WWF in the first year of the new decade. He started the year off in the best possible way, putting on a respectful performance in the Royal Rumble match as its “iron man”. From there some of his most notables moments included buying Sapphire from Dusty Rhodes, facing the young Dustin Rhodes in a ten minute time-limit challenge in which he was humble enough to let the rookie survive, carrying The Ultimate Warrior to one of the greatest matches of his career in a bout for the WWF title, stealing the show with Bret Hart at Survivor Series and, of course, introducing the debuting Undertaker on that same show. For those wondering why someone else isn’t in the WWF’s top five for 1990 instead of DiBiase, always remember… everyone has a price!

  • DiBiase’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Dream Team (Survivor Series)
4) Jim Neidhart (37.5 points)
Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart Has Passed Away
IMG credit: WWE & in.ign.com

Jim Neidhart had a very strong year, being apart of some of the greatest matches alongside the likes of Demolition and the Rockers and having a good run as tag champ as a member of The Hart Foundation. The year didn’t start as well as it could’ve, with Anvil and Bret wrestling a twenty second match at WrestleMania against the undercard team of the Bolsheviks. From there things only went up, culminating with a fantastic match against Smash & Crush of Demolition at SummerSlam, which saw the legendary Hart Foundation capture the WWF tag belts for the second time.

  • Neidhart’s best match in 1990: Vs. Demolition (SummerSlam)
3) Bret Hart (39.5 points)
The Hart Foundation to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – Bret Hart –  Official Site of WWE Hall of Famer Bret "The Hitman" Hart
IMG credit: WWE & brethart.com

After Neidhart, it’s only fitting that ‘The Hitman’ would join him on the list. There’s not much to add from what I already mentioned in Anvil’s entry, as they were a tag team for the whole year. Individually, Bret’s highlight of 1990 was his breakthrough performance at the Survivor Series against the legendary ‘Million Dollar Man’. Bret scored two more points than his partner due to him winning most of the falls in their tag matches after the Hart Attack, which is one of the way to earn an extra half a point in SmarKDown’s point system.

  • Bret’s best match in 1990: Vs. Demolition (SummerSlam)
2) Hulk Hogan (46.25 points)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture

Hulk Hogan is always a top contender for these lists, participating in a lot of main-event matches and mostly scoring victories (and championships). In 1990, Hulk Hogan continued to be the undisputed top guy in the company by far, personally. Despite only holding the WWF Championship until WrestleMania, Hogan’s feud with Earthquake in the summer felt different from everything he’d been doing up to this point and had massive heat. You already know about the match and the feud with Warrior heading into WrestleMania, but some other highlights of Hogan’s 1990 include winning the Royal Rumble, the aforementioned feud with Earthquake and their often-forgotten SummerSlam match, being one of the “ultimate survivors” alongside Warrior at Survivor Series and a very fun match against Mr. Perfect (who else?) at SNME following WrestleMania.

  • Hogan’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VI)
1) The Ultimate Warrior (57.25 points)
IMG credit: WWE

And here he is, the number one WWF wrestler in 1990. It should come as no surprise to see Warrior ahead of everyone in the point system, considering he spent most of the year as champion and won pretty much every match he was apart of. Even though I am not a massive fan of his title reign, particularly before SummerSlam and until the feud with Randy Savage started being teased (that’s when it got better), I can’t deny that Warrior had a number of memorable moments. A repetitive feud with Rick Rude took a bit of a backseat to Hogan/Quake, but their match at SummerSlam was good. The feud with Randy Savage and Sherri late in the year also produced some quality segments. His title match with Ted DiBiase at The Main Event IV was another highlight and, of course, the feud with Hogan heading into WrestleMania is what everyone will always remember. I can see this being controversial, but be frank, it was ultimately inevitable!

  • Warrior’s best match in 1990: Vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania VI)

TOP 10 NWA/WCW WRESTLERS

10) Steve Armstrong (26.5 points)
Wild-Eyed Southern Boy' Tracy Smothers left his mark on the wrestling  business | Wrestling | postandcourier.com
IMG credit: WWE & postandcourier.com (Steve is on the right)

As one half of the young and exciting tag team of the “Wild Eyed” Southern Boys, Steve Armstrong manages to earn a spot in the NWA/WCW’s list of top ten wrestlers in 1990. Even though the team was not being pushed above the elite teams such as Doom, the Horsemen, the Steiners, the Freebirds or many others, they got over with the audiences as babyfaces and were able to create some good moments when given the opportunity, including participating in the match of the year.

  • Armstrong’s best match in 1990: Vs. Midnight Express (The Great American Bash)
9) Sting (26.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE & thesportster.com

At a low ninth position comes Sting, the reigning NWA World Heavyweight Champion for pretty much the entire second half of the year. I can see many of you being surprised to see him in this spot, but remember he spent the first half of the year away due to injury. And once he finally came back and won the big belt, his reign wasn’t exactly one that would set the world on fire. A dumb, boring, confusing and just plain stupid storyline with the mysterious Black Scorpion is what he spent the majority of the time doing, with a PPV title defense against a greener-than-a-bean Sid Vicious sandwiched in the middle. The feud with Flair and the Horsemen was awesome though, injury aside. Let’s hope for better things for Sting in 1991, preferably with more logical storylines, so he can occupy a better spot.

  • Sting’s best match in 1990: Vs. Ric Flair (The Great American Bash)
8) Stan Lane (28.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE & ringthedamnbell.wordpress.com (Lane is on the left)

Even though Lane and Jim Cornette left the promotion immediately after Halloween Havoc, they were absolutely killing it even without the best management to support them. Each and every single one of the Midnight’s matches were good (at the very least), when not classics – The Great American Bash. Apart from being in that year’s greatest match with The Southern Boys, another memorable moments include the match against their arch rivals Rock ‘n’ Roll Express at WrestleWar, Ricky Morton & Tommy Rich at Halloween Havoc in their final night in the territory, or putting the up-and-coming Steiner Brothers over for the US tag straps in the summer. Not the best year creatively, but the Midnight Express showed that even with some shaky circumstances, they will keep knocking it out of the park and are unquestionably one of the greatest tag teams in history.

  • Lane’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Southern Boys (The Great American Bash)
7) Ron Simmons (29.75 points)
IMG credit: WWE & bwwe.fandom.com (Ron is on the right)

He might have made a career later on out of just saying “DAMN!” or as a member of the APA alongside Bradshaw in the WWF, but Ron Simmons was a fantastic wrestler in 1990 as a member of Doom with Butch Reed. With Teddy Long in their corner, Doom play the roles of badass thugs from the streets who are not afraid of anything and will beat you up as hard as they possible can. Doom had many great matches throughout the year against legendary opponents such as the Horsemen or the Midnight Express, but personally their best work was against the Steiners. They truly deserve to be on this list, and I highly recommend everyone who sees the future Faarooq as nothing but a ‘GIF’ and a funny undercarder playing poker and drinking beer backstage to check out this era of Ron Simmons as a member of Doom. It is THE tag team that I always associate Ron Simmons with, not the APA. More than deserving of a spot on this list.

  • Ron’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Steiners (Capital Combat)
6) Butch Reed (33 points)
IMG credit: WWE & bwwe.fandom.com (Reed is on the left)

From one Doomer to the other! Much like with the Hart Foundation on the WWF’s list, everything I said about Ron Simmons applies to his tag team partner, Butch Reed. Reed got more points because possibly he got more pinfalls and/or took less pinfalls in their tag matches. Reed also took on Ric Flair in a singles match in the main-event of Clash of the Champions XIII.

  • Reed’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Steiners (Capital Combat)
5) Bobby Eaton (33.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & ringthedamnbell.wordpress.com (Eaton is on the right)

Being a member of The Midnight Express until very late in the year (October), I’ve also said pretty much everything there is to be said about Bobby Eaton in Stan Lane’s entry a while ago. Once his partner and manager left the company, Eaton settled as a singles competitor and defeated ‘The Z-Man’ Tom Zenk in the opener of StarrCade.

  • Eaton’s best match in 1990: Vs. The Southern Boys (The Great American Bash)
4) Scott Steiner (38.5 points)
IMG credit: WWE & prowrestlingstories.com (Scott is on the right)

Scott Steiner was easily the most exciting wrestler of both the NWA/WCW and WWF, putting on good matches regularly and being able to easily get everyone off their seats with his awesome FrankenSteiner. Alongside his brother Rick, Scott held two championships in 1990 – starting the year as the World Tag Team Champions and ending it as the US Tag Team Champions. Apart from the awesome work with Doom that I’ve already mentioned, they also had good matches against the Andersons (Arn & Ole), The Fabulous Freebirds, The Great Muta & Mr. Saito, The Midnight Express and others.

  • Scott’s best match in 1990: Vs. Doom (Capital Combat)
3) Rick Steiner (39 points)
IMG credit: WWE & prowrestlingstories.com (Rick is on the left)

It’s quite obvious Rick would follow Scott, isn’t it!? Scott might have been the highlight of the team, but the veteran Rick played his role brilliantly as the vicious ‘Dog Faced Gremlin”. The way Rick took the Steiners’ opponents’ heads right off their shoulders with his nasty Steinerline, or sent them flying into the other corner of the ring with his dangerously quick suplexes was awesome and made him stand out as a unique character himself.

  • Rick’s best match in 1990: Vs. Doom (Capital Combat)
2) Lex Luger (40 points)
IMG credit: WWE & keystonestatement.com

Speaking of exciting, very few people were as over as Lex Luger. Holding the United States Heavyweight Championship for most of the year (my personal favourite US Champion of all time), Luger cemented himself as one of the top up-and-comers of NWA/WCW. He had some fun tussles over the US title with Mean Mark aka WWF’s The Undertaker, Ric Flair or the brutal Stan ‘The Lariat’ Hansen, while also doing a tremendous job when asked to fill in the void left by the injured Sting in PPV World Title matches with the iconic Ric Flair. Another great year for Lex Luger and a much deserved second place.

  • Luger’s best match in 1990: Vs. Ric Flair (WrestleWar)
1) Ric Flair (52.25 points)
94 – Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match:  WrestleWar 1990 – 100bestWWEmatches
IMG credit: WWE & 100bestwwematches.wordpress.com

Who else could it be? Even though Flair had a more timid year compared to the greatness he produced throughout the 1980s, he was still involved in some of the best matches – including being in two of our top five overall list. As the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in the first half of the year, Flair was involved in bangers with Lex Luger and Sting before eventually putting the Stinger over for the belt like a true pro. Despite having a more quiet second half of the year, Flair was still involved in some really good matches with the members of Doom alongside his fellow Horsemen, particularly Arn Anderson. The less said about the whole Black Scorpion crap at StarrCade, the better. Ric Flair once again showing that, even with dumb creative, he is without any shadow of a doubt one of the greatest wrestlers that will ever live. WOOOOO!

  • Flair’s best match in 1990: Vs. Lex Luger (WrestleWar)

TOP 10 WRESTLERS OVERALL

10) Butch Reed – 33 points (NWA/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & bwwe.fandom.com (Reed is on the left)
9) Bobby Eaton – 33.5 points (NWA/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & ringthedamnbell.wordpress.com (Eaton is on the right)
8) Jim Neidhart – 37.5 points (WWF)
Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart Has Passed Away
IMG credit: WWE & in.ign.com
7) Scott Steiner – 38.5 points (NWA/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & prowrestlingstories.com (Scott is on the right)
6) Rick Steiner – 39 points (NWA/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & prowrestlingstories.com (Rick is on the left)
5) Bret Hart – 39.5 points (WWF)
The Hart Foundation to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – Bret Hart –  Official Site of WWE Hall of Famer Bret "The Hitman" Hart
IMG credit: WWE & brethart.com
4) Lex Luger – 40 points (NWA/WCW)
IMG credit: WWE & keystonestatement.com
3) Hulk Hogan – 46.25 points (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE & WhatCulture
2) Ric Flair – 52.25 points (NWA/WCW)
94 – Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match:  WrestleWar 1990 – 100bestWWEmatches
IMG credit: WWE & 100bestwwematches.wordpress.com
1) The Ultimate Warrior – 57.25 points (WWF)
IMG credit: WWE

And there you have it! What are your thoughts on the lists and your opinions? Do you have any early predictions and/or expectations for 1991? Let me know via email at cunhatomas2001@hotmail.com

And with this article we officially leave 1990 in the archives of the SmarKDown blog, as we now move on to the second year of the 1990s beginning with the WWF’s Royal Rumble event. This also marked the last year of the NWA-WCW association, with the company officially becoming just ‘WCW’ in January 1991.

Thank you so much for you support and for reading! Make sure you don’t miss any article and keep following the blog so we can find out more about 1991 together. Stay safe, everyone!

Categories
Year-End Award

1989: Year End Article – Best Wrestlers & Matches

Hello everyone and welcome to my final article on 1989. In this special piece, we will take a look back at some of the best matches in both the WWF and NWA/WCW. First of all, I will mention the top five matches for each company, followed by an overall top five list for both companies overall. After that, we will see who were the wrestlers in both company (followed by overall, much like with the matches) that got more points. This will be according to the point system I use on every show, which you can see here.

Before starting, I have one last announcement regarding the point system. I thought it would be fair to award points to the wrestlers involved in the top five matches of the year, so I will. Here’s how it will be done: the wrestlers involved in the 5th best match of their particulary company get 1 point, those in the 4th best get 2 points, those in the 3rd best get 3 points, those in the 2nd best get 4 points, and those in the best match of the year will get 5 points. As for the overall list (both companies put together), the points will double – meaning the participants in the 5th best match will get 2 points, and so on. Let’s start the top matches list with the World Wrestling Federation.

TOP FIVE WWF MATCHES IN 1989

5) Brain Busters vs. Demolition – WWF World Tag Team Championship (Saturday Night’s Main Event, July 29th)
IMG credit: WWE Network

After a really long feud with the Powers of Pain that was never that good or memorable to begin with, Demolition needed something fresh in order to get back some momentum. That would happen on the edition of SNME right after WrestleMania (the same one that saw Hogan and Bossman battle inside the cage), a match that was won by the Brain Busters by DQ, setting up a 2-out-of-3-falls rematch at the July edition. The two teams delivered a very good – not to mention historic – bout, which saw Demolition’s long reign finally come to an end at the hands of the Heenan family members. The match told a very good story of the heels cutting the ring in half in classic heel tag wrestling fashion, which got Demolition more and more upset to the point where the Brain Busters were able to walk away with the belts. Good way to kickoff our list. (Rating: ***1/4)

4) Brain Busters vs. The Hart Foundation (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE Network

Look, here they are again! This shows how, quietly, Anderson and Blanchard were one of the highlights of the Federation. Bobby Heenan was able to make this a non-title match since the contract was signed before July 28th, the date when the Brain Busters dethroned Demolition to capture the tag titles. Despite the titles not being on the line, the two teams put on one of the best matches on that year’s SummerSlam. Even though they did miss the peak of the match by a while (they went 16 minutes), there is no denying the great tag team work as well as the technical finesse in this bout. (Rating: ***1/4)

3) Rick Rude vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWF Intercontinental Championship (SummerSlam)
IMG credit: WWE Network

One of the reasons why I said the match in the prior entry was one of the best at that year’s SummerSlam, it’s because this match exists! Having already been in a really good match earlier that year at WrestleMania, Warrior had his rematch for the IC title at this show. The two managed to top their ‘Mania match while Warrior got back his belt, thanks to a distraction by Roddy Piper that would start one of the best feuds of that whole year, full of great interactions between Piper and Bobby Heenan on episodes of Prime Time Wrestling. (Rating: ***1/2)

2) Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart (Prime Time Wrestling Nov. 6th)
Resultado de imagem para bret hart vs mr perfect prime time wrestling november 1989
IMG credit: WWE Network

It’s now time to take a quick stop in Hidden Gem City. Here is a match that was not reviewed here on the blog, between two of the finest and most determined young wrestlers in the Federation. Curt ‘Mr. Perfect’ Hennig and Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart went at it on a random episode of Prime Time in the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, and they came close to putting on the best WWF match of that year. In what was a great showcase of their talents and a preview of what these two would do on bigger stages down the road (SummerSlam 1991, King of the Ring 1993), Curt came out on top and extended his perfect record. (Rating: ***3/4)

1) Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage – WWF Championship (WrestleMania V)
Resultado de imagem para hulk hogan vs randy savage wm 5
IMG credit: WWE.com

At the end of the day, when people think of 1989 WWF, this is the match that always comes to mind first. Featuring one of the best and most dramatic build-ups in the entire history of the business and the sport (still to this day), the two former Mega Powers arrived at Trump Plaza and put on a bout for the ages. With Elizabeth playing a great role and helping the participants tell an even better and more emotional story, she was helpful in making this match #1 as well. Savage was a superb douchebag throughout the whole main-event, playing the antagonist role as well as anyone ever did against the Hulkster. The result was a massive box office success along with a great match, while Hogan won his second WWF Championship. (Rating: ****)

TOP FIVE NWA MATCHES IN 1989

5) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (The Great American Bash)
IMG credit: WWE Network

Once the feud with Steamboat came to an end, which we will (spoiler!) cover up later in this list, Terry Funk made his presence felt by giving the champ a piledriver on top of a table. That took Flair out for close to a month due to a broken neck, and turned Flair babyface. Flair naturally came back looking for revenge, and he himself gave Funk a title match just so he could legally get his hands on the Funker. That match turned out to be painful for both wrestlers, with Funk obviously going after Flair’s previously broken neck, only for Flair to retaliate and hit several consecutive piledrivers during his comeback before retaining the gold with a sweet pinning reversal sequence. (Rating: ****1/2)

4) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – I Quit Match (Clash of the Champions IX)
Resultado de imagem para ric flair vs terry funk i quit
IMG credit: WWE.com

Now comes the difficult part, as these next four matches are legit four of the greatest matches of all time, personally. So it will tough for me to rank them. I will start with the I Quit match, simply because it was non-title… and it had to be one of them!! With the gold not up for grabs as I already mentioned, the two made up for it by each promising to raise the winner’s hand, with Flair even saying he’d forfeit the gold if he lost. In what was an ugly affair (in a good way) that saw Funk once again viciously going after Flair’s neck, perfect callbacks particularly the piledriver through the table spot that started the whole rivalry in the first place, Gary Hart getting paranoid over Funk losing and starting to turn on him, the story was simply done to perfection. Flair was able to turn things around and win with the figure four, while Funk turned babyface after the match after his humiliated manager Gary attacked him. Funk shook Flair’s hand as promised, and this spectacular feud was done – much like Funk’s wrestling career. Well, kinda! (Rating: *****)

3) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (WrestleWar)
IMG credit: WWE Network

Once again, I have no idea why this match is in third place and not higher, but one of them had to be here! In what would be their and final meeting of the epic trilogy, then-champion Ricky Steamboat and challenger Ric Flair put on another beautiful classic match. Their original rematch at the previous Clash of the Champions saw Steamboat controversially pin Flair in the last fall, hence the need for judges at ringside in this final encounter. In what was an intense, physical, fast-paced technical affair like their other two matches, Flair captured the World title back. And then came the legendary angle with the Funker, who broke Flair’s neck in the judges’ table with the piledriver, setting up their own amazing feud. (Rating: *****)

2) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair – 2/3 Falls Match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship (Clash of the Champions VI)
IMG credit: WWE Network

In what was Ric Flair’s original rematch against Steamboat after losing the gold at WrestleWar, this match featured a special two-out-of-three-falls stipulation with a one hour time limit. Both wrestlers brought back some spots from their Chi-Town Rumble meeting, reversing them in order to show that they were ready this time, knew each other better and/or studied the tape. Flair won the first fall and spent the next number of minutes trying to kill time and keep the 1-0 lead (in order to win via time limit), getting more and more confident with each minute while Steamboat took the punishment like only he can. Steamboat was able to tie things up with a double chickenwing submission, and then the frustrated Flair went after the legs which didn’t allow Steamboat to lock in the hold again in the final fall. Awesome! Steamboat managed to retain with a controversial finish (Flair had his leg under the bottom rope). Another epic match between the two with a lot of callbacks, psychology, emotion and logic. (Rating: *****)

1) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat – NWA World Heavyweight Championship (Chi-Town Rumble)
IMG credit: WWE Network

Finally, here’s the number one. The very first match of the incredible trilogy. With Flair as the reigning champion and Steamboat looking to capture a World Heavyweight belt for the first time, the two created pure magic inside those ropes. The physical and intense brutality in each spot, the smooth wrestling sequences and reversals left the whole crowd in awe, including a very young Dave Meltzer sitting in the front row. In the end, Steamboat won and got his much deserved moment in the sun as the World’s champion. Amazing! (Rating: *****)

TOP 5 OVERALL MATCHES IN 1989

5) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – The Great American Bash (NWA)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é flair-vs-funk.png
IMG credit: WWE Network

4) Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk – I Quit Match, Clash of the Champions IX (NWA)
Resultado de imagem para ric flair vs terry funk i quit
IMG credit: WWE Network

3) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair – WrestleWar (NWA)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é steamboat-vs-flair.png
IMG credit: WWE Network

2) Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair – 2/3 Falls Match, Clash of the Champions VI (NWA)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é flair-steamboat-1.png
IMG credit: WWE Network

1) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat – Chi-Town Rumble (NWA)
Esta imagem tem um texto alternativo em branco, o nome da imagem é flair-steamboat.png
IMG credit: WWE Network

TOP 5 WWF WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

Note: this is based on my point system used throughout each and every show of the year

5) Mr. Perfect (23,5 points)
Resultado de imagem para mr perfect 1989
IMG credit: WWE

Coming up at number five is someone who’s slowly climbing up the ranks in the World Wrestling Federation. A flawless win/loss record certainly helped Mr. Perfect make this list, with Hennig yet to taste defeat on television as he gets closer and closer to the main-event scene and the Hulkster.

  • Mr. Perfect’s best match in 1989: Vs. Bret Hart (Prime Time Wrestling)

4) Randy Savage (26,5 points)
Resultado de imagem para randy savage 1989
IMG credit: WWE

The previous year’s #1 WWF wrestler drops three positions, yet he’s still able to make the list. Despite slowly falling down the card after WrestleMania V, there is no denying the greatness of Randy Savage. The ‘Macho King’ gimmick couldn’t have come at a better time for Savage, as hopefully we can keep him on the top five list in years to come, where he deserves to be.

  • Randy Savage’s best match in 1989: Vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania V)

3) Tully Blanchard (30,5 points)
Resultado de imagem para brain busters wwe
IMG credit: WWE

Like I mentioned during the Brain Busters’ matches that made the top five list, Blanchard and Anderson were easily 1989’s “silent assassins”. They put on a number of solid matches throughout the year, particularly with Demolition, The Hart Foundation and The Rockers, won the tag belts and were pretty much featured on every card. Surprising? Perhaps, but they certainly deserve to be here, they put on a good effort consistently.

  • Tully Blanchard’s best match in 1989: w/ AA vs. The Hart Foundation (SummerSlam)

2) Arn Anderson (33,5 points)
Resultado de imagem para brain busters wwe
IMG credit: WWE

There’s not much to add from the prior entry. Anderson has more points than Blanchard because he got more falls and was pinned less times.

  • Arn Anderson’s best match in 1989: W/ Tully vs. The Hart Foundation (SummerSlam)

1) Hulk Hogan (52,5 points)
Resultado de imagem para hulk hogan 1989
IMG credit: WWE

Surprised? Don’t be. Even though Hogan is in this spot thanks to a lot of victories, a lot of main-event appearances and a lot of wins in title matches, he’s worthy of being here. Hogan did a great job in the famous feud with Randy Savage and deserves praise for having to carry a non-wrestler (Zeus) throughout most of their matches in the second half of the year. And then there are also some other highlights, such as the bouts with The Big Bossman – inside the cage – or The Genius. And also being a part of the #1 best WWF match! So yeah, at the end of the day, he deserves the spot. Now let’s see if he’s able to keep it in 1990.

  • Hulk Hogan’s best match in 1989: Vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania V)

TOP 5 NWA WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

5) Freebird Michael Hayes (31,5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

Now here’s another one I wasn’t expecting, kicking off the NWA list. Hayes had a brief reign with the US belt in the first half of the year, ultimately designed to put over then-babyface Lex Luger. Hayes would move back to the tag division afterwards, capturing World Tag Team gold as a member of the Freebirds. A surprise because I was totally expecting Terry Funk to be on the list, but he wasn’t around for long. Hayes is certainly worthy of being here, as he was one of the highlights of NWA’s 1989.

  • Michael Hayes’ best match in 1989: WarGames (The Great American Bash)

4) Sting (36,75 points)
IMG credit: WWE

Now here’s an entry who is everything but a surprise. Sting organically climbed up the NWA ranks throughout 1989, as the World’s TV Champion running through enhancement talent or older wrestlers (ie: The Iron Sheik) in short matches, getting more popular with each win. A number of barnburners with The Great Muta – particularly at The Bash – was the launching pad that Sting needed, with the energetic up-and-coming babyface wrestling in main-events for the rest of the year. The highlight of that year came at StarrCade in December, which saw Sting cleanly pin the World Champion Ric Flair.

  • Sting’s best match in 1989: Vs. Ric Flair (StarrCade)

3) Lex Luger (44,25 points)
IMG credit: WWE

Here’s a man who had one hell of a year in 1989, and was certainly one of the highlights of the whole industry. While he did have a solid enough run as a babyface working with the likes of Michael Hayes, it was after the heel turn that his work truly began to shine. With some superb heel work, a fantastic look, an all-time great US Title reign and numerous classic matches with the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, The Great Muta, Flyin Brian (Pillman), Tommy Rich and others, Luger was unquestionably one of the best.

  • Lex Luger’s best match in 1989: Vs. Ricky Steamboat (The Great American Bash)

2) Ricky Steamboat (54 points)
IMG credit: WWE

There isn’t much to say about these two final entries, I think the history and their actions speak for themselves. There is obviously the work with Flair and the World title win as the clear highlights from the Dragon’s year, but some of the matches he had with workers such as Terry Funk and Lex Luger were also classics. A great year for the legendary Ricky Steamboat.

  • Ricky Steamboat’s best match in 1989: Vs. Ric Flair (the whole trilogy)

1) Ric Flair (79,5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

And finally, the man. No gimmick, no nickname, simply the man indeed. There was no one able to even come close to being on Flair’s level in 1989, and that picture up above is a great way to describe him stylin’ and profilin’ his way to the top of the NWA (and overall) list of top wrestlers in 1989. Steamboat came close, yes, but ultimately longevity is what gave the big edge to the champ. Steamboat left after the Bash, while Flair kept on putting barnburners with everyone. To name a few – Terry Funk, Sting, Lex Luger, The Great Muta, etc. No one deserves the #1 spot in 1989 apart from Ric Flair. WOOOOO!

TOP 5 OVERALL WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR

5) Sting – NWA (36,75 points)
IMG credit: WWE

4) Lex Luger – NWA (44,25 points)
IMG credit: WWE

3. Hulk Hogan – WWF (52,5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

2) Ricky Steamboat – NWA (54 points)
IMG credit: WWE

1) Ric Flair – NWA (79,5 points)
IMG credit: WWE

And that’s it for 1989. The NWA was by far superior and more consistent to the WWF, and that is shown in the year-end lists of top matches and wrestlers.

We now leave the 80s behind and move on to the 90s and 1990, starting with the WWF’s Royal Rumble PPV. Let’s see who will be able to make the lists at the end of this next year! Until then, stay safe and thank you for reading!