Friday, June 5, 2009

Kick-Out's Top 10 Extreme Matches in Wrestling History

With Extreme Rules this Sunday, it got me thinking a lot about old school ECW and hardcore wrestling in general. While I highly enjoy today's ECW, nothing's ever going to come close to the experience that was the original. I loved every crazy minute of it (well, except those last few PPVs, but I've blocked them out of my mind), and it was a wild ride that will never be duplicated, no matter how many promotions try. ECW was more than just hardcore, but they're certainly the ones who made it famous within the United States. I wanted to do something special this week in honor of ECW and the WWE PPV they spawned, so I came up with Extreme Week, which culminates with this list.

In order to make it onto this list, the match has to be relatively good and/or historically significant. Otherwise, it would be full of lunatics in bush league indy promotions who hit each other with weed whackers or Big Japan matches featuring Mr. Pogo. So here we go, the Top 10 Extreme Matches in Wrestling History:

Honorable Mention: Rhyno vs. Raven - Backlash 2001
A bit of a forgotten classic, but one I really enjoyed. This match epitomized WWE's vision of hardcore wrestling (and what they thought ECW was): weapons, the weirder the better. Road signs, shopping carts and literally the kitchen sink. In its early days, ECW had plenty of extreme weapons matches, but they had mostly moved on from that style by the time WWE took notice. As for the competitors in this match, neither Rhyno or Raven really got a fair shake in WWE, they could've both been much bigger stars, but I'll always remember this match as the best WWE's Hardcore division ever offered.

10. Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard - Starrcade 1985
While certainly not tame by today's standards, this match was nothing short of shocking in 1985. Described by many as one of the bloodiest cage matches in history, this match definitely deserves its place on the list. Once you see the image of Magnum raking a piece of a wooden chair across Blanchard's gushing forehead, you'll never forget it.

9. Mick Foley & Edge vs. Terry Funk & Tommy Dreamer - One Night Stand 2006
Well, technically it was Mick Foley, Edge & Lita vs. Terry Funk, Tommy Dreamer & Beulah McGillicutty, Dreamer's real-life wife... but the women weren't a major part of the match, at least until Edge won the match by pinning/dry humping Beulah. If that weren't extreme enough, how about barbed wire, flaming baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire, a 62-year-old Terry Funk bleeding from the eye, and people needing to be cut out of the barbed wire boards that they were thrown into?

8. TLC 2 - WrestleMania X-7
The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz... possibly the greatest ladder match of all-time. Sick bumps all over the place (Christian in particular takes a nasty spill from a ladder in the center of the ring all the way to the floor with nothing to break his fall), it's a miracle all these guys escaped this match without serious injury.

7. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - Bad Blood 1997
These two put on an instant classic at this year's WrestleMania, undoubtedly one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, but who can forget the first Hell in a Cell from the first Bad Blood PPV on October 5, 1997? Not only is it one of the most vicious matches I've ever witnessed, it's one of the greatest... still my favorite HIAC match to date.

6. Roddy Piper vs. Greg Valentine - Starrcade 1983
Calling this a "match" is a bit of a stretch, it's just a straight-up fight. Both guys working incredibly stiff, Valentine bleeding from the head and Piper gushing blood from his ear of all places, makes this one absolutely unforgettable. Also, you don't really see a whole lot of ear injury angles anymore, why not? Piper sells it brilliantly in this match and the image of blood pouring out of his ear is stomach-turning. If you've never seen it, pick up a copy of Piper's DVD or the new Starrcade Collection, you owe it to yourself to see this match that was way ahead of its time.

5. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka - ECW One Night Stand 2005
I posted the highlights to this match the other day and just can't stop watching the video. I remember watching this match live on PPV and thinking Mike Awesome was going to either cripple or kill Masato Tanaka, but "Dangan" just kept getting up and taking more. This entire event will always have a special place in my heart since it gave us closure to the original ECW, but I think the one match that will always stand out from the card is this one.

4. Undertaker vs. Mankind - King of the Ring 1998
Yes, that Hell in a Cell match. Yeah, the match is essentially four spots, Mick Foley is completely out of it once he falls through the Cell; Yeah, we've become completely desensitized to the imagery since it's been replayed over and over again; Yeah, every risk-taker in the industry has tried to one-up Foley's insanity... but it's still THAT Hell in a Cell match. It's not a good match, but its historical significance will never be eclipsed and it made Mick Foley's career. He's had so many better matches, he's an icon in the industry, but even Foley himself will admit that he'll always be remembered as the guy who got thrown off the Hell in a Cell.

3. Mick Foley vs. Edge - WrestleMania 22
Hey, Foley's back again, there's a reason they call him "The Hardcore Legend." A lot of people say this match is overrated, I say those people are crazy. I'd even agree with Edge & Mick Foley and say this is the best hardcore match in American wrestling history. Sure, there are plenty of guys out there who have done crazier things than what we see in this match, but cutting someone open with broken glass and pouring lemon juice into the wounds in front of a crowd of 100 people isn't wrestling, it's a low-budget slasher film. Foley and Edge told their story, got crazy and put on a hell of a match.

2. Terry Funk vs. Sabu - Born to be Wired
What separates the original ECW from the hardcore promotions that followed is the fact that Paul Heyman knew when things couldn't be topped. Instead of sending out two guys with the ropes replaced with razor wire or a series of knives, he simply never had another barbed wire match. Hardcore wrestling is like drug addiction, you can keep trying something stronger, but you're never going to match that first high. Funk and Sabu set the bar so high that it will always be the match people remember, no matter how many guys put their bodies on the line, they will never outperform this match.

1. Cactus Jack vs. Triple H - Royal Rumble 2000
This might not just be my favorite extreme match of all-time, this could very well be my favorite match of all-time, period. It changes often, but this match is always near the top of my list because it is bloody brilliant. Mick Foley's career is winding down, Triple H's main event run is just beginning and this is the match where the torch is passed; when many people were doubting HHH's ability to be a top draw, Foley solidified his status in one match. What puts this match on the top of this particular list is it's one brutal Street Fight that took the concept of extreme and made it something for a mainstream audience without losing its edge.

There you go, Kick-Out!! Wrestling's Top 10 Extreme Matches in Wrestling History. There were a lot of matches I wanted to put on the list, but there could only be ten and these were the ones that made the cut. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Speaking of lists, maybe you missed Kick-Out!! Wrestling's Top 25 Matches in WrestleMania history from the week the site went online? If you're curious, here's Part 1 and Part 2, hope you enjoy once you finish the Top 10 Extreme Matches.


  1. Great list. And if I may be a girl for a second ... eeewwww!!!

  2. I've always been partial to the Dudleyz vs. Dreamer/Sandman at ONS 05, but that's at least in part because I've yet to work out whether the cheese grater spot was worked or shoot. Either way, the camera shot just after where Dreamer crawls on the mat and you can see the blood literally pour out of his forehead onto the canvas was just...I can't think of a word that means "That was awesome, but I don't want to be a scumbag and admit that I marked for seeing a guy get his face slashed open", but that's the word I want.

  3. Raven has always been one of my favorites. His "Clockwork Orange House of Fun" match against Sandman is one of the best things to come out of TNA

  4. Raven's great... him being back in TNA almost makes me interested in watching. Unfortunately he seems to be working ridiculous Abyss storyline #449. TNA seems to be hellbent on making Abyss a character who has as ridiculous and convoluted a backstory as Kane.

  5. Just trying to figure out how many times I've seen Undertaker/Mankind Hell in a Cell, but lost count. One of my fave matches of any kind, EVER!