This isn’t intended to be a “show off the great events I’ve been to” list, but my “live” wrestling experience is somewhat skewed towards big events in some sense. Some bigger than others, naturally. Most of my live experience has also been WW(F)E related. And a WCW Thunder show along with World Wrestling All-Stars and the odd British independent show haven’t really delivered the most memorable moments for me.
Ted DiBiase Vs Roddy Piper (WWF Uk Tour 1991, Manchester G-Mex)
The main event of my first ever WWE House Show and what a main event it was. Although I have obviously never seen this match since that day in April 1991 it is indelibly inked into my brain. These two were just great entertainment figures who knew how to rile up or excite a crowd. I can see it now; Roddy Piper tied up in the ropes, DiBiase grabbing the microphone and shouting “Roddy Piper, you suck! Just like the Manchester United football team.” I don’t even like Man Utd, and I booed. Looking back it was probably stall-central and work-rate light, but hell it was entertaining. I once told Roddy Piper on Twitter that this was one of my favourite matches ever. He said he loved Manchester and had some great stories about times there…but couldn’t tell them on there because his kids might read them.
Owen Hart Vs Vader (WWF One Night Only, Birmingham NEC)
The in-ring highlight of the WWF’s first ever UK-only pay-per-view, this was a classic little man vs big man old school affair. The WWF sent Owen Hart out in front of the crowd to cut a promo in the preview show in an attempt to garner him some boo’s. It largely failed. Owen was super over and he was at his best here. I was always a fan of Vader as well so I was really up to this one. There were some other good bouts on this show (Triple H/Foley, Bret/Taker) but this was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the evening and featured two of my favourite grapplers of the time.
Chris Jericho Vs Kurt Angle (WCW World Title, WWF Rebellion 2001, Manchester MEN Arena)
This was another great in-ring show with a lot to commend it. Edge and Christian had an exciting Steel Cage match and Steve Austin and The Rock tore the house down in the main event. But when it came down to it I’ve chosen this one. It was two excellent talents going at it one-on-one with no outside interference or shenanigans. The two were just allowed to go out there and wrestle, and that’s what they did. A hugely entertaining back and forth battle, again between two of my favourite grapplers of the era.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan Vs The Rock (WWF WrestleMania X8, Toronto Skydome)
Come on, you didn’t think this one was being missed off. One of the biggest bouts of them all. From the moment that Hulk Hogan’s music kicked in this was just a thrilling experience that will likely never be replicated in my time. This is the bout they wish Rock/Cena could have been. Hogan is THE master-manipulator of crowd reactions in wrestling history as far as I am concerned. He had us eating out of the palm of his hands within seconds and both of them took us on a ride I will never forget. To drop on ‘Mania when the legend that was Hogan was returning was just amazingly good fortune on our part, as was our meeting with him a couple of days before in the lobby of our hotel. Lovely fella. To that end, there was no way I was booing Hogan here regardless, but even if you intended to, Hogan played us all like a fiddle and was at his crowd pleasing best here.
Shawn Michaels & Chris Benoit Vs Randy Orton, Batista & Ric Flair (WWE Raw, 31st March 2004, Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, NJ).
I was going to include a match from WrestleMania XIX (such as Shawn Vs Chris Jericho or Austin Vs Rock or Brock Vs Kurt – man that was a great card, wasn’t it) but that might have been construed at showing off…I kid. The fact I’ve not included them is that we didn’t really have great seats for that show, being on the floor at the back, and my view of those great matches was somewhat obscured by a large Japanese kid, who my mate David Green (who also writes for this site) nearly hopped over three rows of seats to punch. So instead I’ve gone ahead a year and whilst we couldn’t get tickets for ‘Mania XX, we did secure seats for the post-Mania RAW in New Jersey. I struggle to remember much about the card, but the main event, whilst not being a wonderful wrestling match was absolutely star-studded. Michaels is my ALL time favourite, Ric Flair is a legend and it was a neat experience to see Chris Benoit’s first match as World Champion.
– By Matthew Roberts
What was your favourite live wrestling experience? Comment Below!