Professional wrestling is one of the most fickle sporting industries in the world. Your success is based on not just athletics but your ability to entertain as well. If you can’t navigate through those then your chances of success are slim to none. After all of that, even though both of those attributes pay off you can still fail in that world. It takes that special moment that gets you to the top. It takes that time in space where everything comes together and the world sees you for the star that you are. Throughout wrestling history, these moments have been some of the most special. They have gotten massive pops from the crowd and are still top hits on most streaming sights. Below we will take a look at ten such star-making moments from wrestling history.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Wrestlemania 13
Steve Austin had been showing flashes of a potential star for years before his entrance into WWE. WCW and ECW had, famously, dropped the ball several times and WWE didn’t look to make the same mistake.
Putting Austin opposite Bret Hart was the first step to the top of the card, but it was his 5-star classic, at Wrestlemania 13, that assured Austin’s place in the company.
Austin had been getting positive responses from the crowd for a few months now but the cheers were louder than the boos during the Submission match. This was further compounded by his refusal to tap out to the sharpshooter. It completed the fabled double turn and showed Austin for the badass that he was. It was the moment Austin became a star.
Diesel – Royal Rumble 1994
Coming in as HBK’s bodyguard Diesel was a one-trick pony. He stood behind Michaels and provided an imposing presence but that was the extent of his character.
This all changed when Diesel entered the Royal Rumble at the 7 spot. Diesel came into the ring and dominated the competition. In just over 17 minutes Big Daddy Cool ran through everyone in the ring. He eliminated 7 wrestlers and looked to be unstoppable. So much so that he began hearing some cheers from those in attendance.
In the end, it took 5 men to eliminate the man from the match. It showed the world the incredible force that was Diesel and the man from Detroit never looked back.
Jeff Hardy – Raw [July 1st 2002]
Hardy had been one of the most popular tag team wrestlers in the company. He and his brother were fantastic but some questioned his move into the singles division. Hardy’s size and inexperience worked against him for a long time, that is until his match against The Undertaker for the WWE Championship.
Entering into a match against The Undertaker not many gave Hardy a chance. Even with the ladder match stipulation, there was a 0% chance that Hardy was going to get one over the Deadman. It looked as if the odds were insurmountable for the Charismatic Enigma.
Truth be told, the odds were too much for Hardy, but that didn’t take away from his star-making moment. Hardy hung in with ‘Taker throughout the match. He used his quickness to stun the big man and create several instances where the fans believed that he could win. It was on this day that WWE, and the world, realized the singles potential of Jeff.
Owen Hart – Wrestlemania 10
The youngest Hart member was forever living in the shadow of his older brother. Bret had amassed himself quite the impressive career and this put more focus on him instead of Owen. This caused quite a bit of jealousy for Owen and he was forever attempting to get himself out from under his brother.
Turning heel, Owen began a crusade against his brother. It led to some great storytelling and an incredible star-making moment at Wrestlemania 10.
The opening contest, between the brothers, was an absolute classic. Owen hung in with his brother and matched his technical ability perfectly. This match showed everyone that Owen was just as good in the ring as his brother. It was also capped off by Owen surprisingly Bret with a roll-up and getting a clean win. Owen was never in Bret’s shadow again.
Becky Lynch – Smackdown [November 2018]
The women’s division had been treated like a joke for years in WWE. As much as some women have become good hands there was never a thought that one would be able to break the glass ceiling and become a top star in the company. That is until a Monday Night Raw in November.
Leading into Survivor Series Raw and Smackdown were invading each other’s show to hype up the PPV. On this night, Smackdown was mid-invasion when Becky Lynch took a nasty hit to the face courtesy of Nia Jax. It was a botch by Jax but one that led to the star-making moment of Lynch’s career.
Lynch was already massively over with the crowd but it was at this moment that she exploded. Fans began seeing her as a top star and when she returned from an injury she was one of the biggest talents in the company.
Sting – Great American Bash 1990
Sting was slowly gaining steam in NWA/WCW in the late 80 and this was getting attention from the top brass, namely Ric Flair. Flair was the man in NWA/WCW and he saw the potential in the man known as Sting. Flair took Sting under his wing and the two entered into the feud that would make Sting a star. Their matches were fantastic and it proved to the company that Sting would be able to take the ball and run with it.
It all culminated at The Great American Bash, in 1990, Flair did the honours for Sting, jobbing for him to win the World Championship. It was from that moment that Sting was a made man and became a perennial fan favourite.
DDP – Spring Stampede 1997
During the late 1990s, WCW was giving WWE a run for its money. The southern company was crushing WWE in the ratings, but most of this was due to ex-WWE guys leading the charge. There was little in the way of homegrown talent, save DDP. DDP stood against the NWO and his rebellion was getting him some incredible responses from the crowd.
All DDP needed was a foil to get him over the top and that came in the form of Randy Savage. Savage was a top star and was exactly what DDP needed to get over.
The culmination of this feud came at Spring Stampede in 1997. Main eventing the PPV, DDP, and Savage put on an incredible match. Their feud spilt over into a no-DQ match as both men beat the hell out of each other all over the arena. It was the best match of DDP’s career and the moment that he proved his main event worth to the world.
CM Punk – Raw [June 27 2011]
Since he showed up in WWE CM Punk was one of the most talented men in the company. He was a five-tool player that showed day in and day out he was the best in the world. Alas, the company failed to capitalize on his talent and he never got the push that he deserved. That is until CM Punk took matters into his own hands.
After costing John Cena the main event of the evening, Punk proceeded to plunk himself on the top of the stage and give a promo for the ages. He ripped into the company from top to bottom and gave one of the best shoot promos in years. He broke the fourth wall and ran down every authority figure the company had.
His promo was an instant hit and had the world talking. On that day, he pushed himself to the front of the line. He was never thought of as a second-rate talent again and the Summer of Punk began.
Kenny Omega – G1 Climax 2016
Omega has built himself into the best wrestler in the world. With NJPW and AEW Omega have proved, time and time again, that he can put on a 5-star classic with anyone in the world. This had made him into one of the biggest stars in the wrestling world but it was not always that way. Omega was just another wrestler, that is until he broke through at the G1 Climax Tournament.
In 2016, the tournament was Omegas’ time to shine. He cut through the competition and walked away the G1 Climax Champion. It was a massive accomplishment for the North American wrestler. It is not usual for a gaijin to win the tournament and this proved to the world that Omega was ready for the big time.