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1. Chris Benoit vs “The Snow Man” Al Snow – February 7th ECW Hardcore TV
The best matchup of 1995 in ECW, and one that tied best match in 1995 full stop in our end of year awards. Benoit and Snow wrestled a phenomenal long match which started out at an obscene speed, but guys combining speed and power in a way that you rarely see. The second half of the match is Benoit dominating with Snow clinging on before Benoit finally gets the victory with a bridging German suplex. Go out of your way to see this one.
2. Ric Flair & Sting vs Arn Anderson & Brian Pillman – Halloween Havoc
The near perfect tag team match. Sting said before the match “cross me and I’ll kill you” to Flair. Sting wrestled the first ten minutes alone, keeping the upper hand on Pillman and Anderson while Flair sold a pre-show “attack” backstage. Flair came out and worked the crowd into a frenzy in the second half as Sting faded. Finally, mercifully, Sting got the hot tag to Flair, who bounced off the far ropes and nailed Sting with a right hand. Never had a heel turned caused such a great reaction.
3. Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko – May 2nd ECW Hardcore TV
The now infamous match, with that double dropkick -> staredown that pops up on all of the highlight packages/DVDs. (Fun fact: despite the crowd giving that moment a standing ovation less than three minutes later Malenko/Guerrero completely lost them while fans were distracted by a fight/ejection elsewhere in the arena). Anyway, this is a technical wrestling masterclass in front of a crowd that wanted to appreciate it. The match went 30 minutes before going to a draw – leave the crowd wanting more. Read more about the Guerrero Malenko series here.
4. Raven/Richards vs The Pitbulls – 2/3 Falls Match Double Dog Collar Match – 19th September ECW Hardcore TV
There are probably hundreds of ECW matches over the years that you can say -> “That opitimizes what ECW hardcore wrestling is all about”, this would top my own list, mind. Two very quick and brutal falls to make it 1-1, before an amazing an utterly perplexing next 15 minutes that saw interference from just about everybody (Tommy Dreamer even pinned Raven during a false finish, before being cut off by the best act of 1995 – Bill Alfonso). Not the most coherent match you’ll ever see – but I also don’t know that you’ll see a better snapshot of 1995 ECW than this match.
5. Bret Hart vs The British Bulldog – WWF Title (In Your House 5)
The main event of the final WWF pay per view of 1995. After a card that was brisk, if unremarkable, the gates were opened to Bret and Bulldog to have plenty of time, and the pair delivered. While the match started slowly, the intensity ratcheted up a notch once Bulldog drove Bret into the guardrail. Bret bladed, causing the first sight of blood in the WWF in a long time. It added an intensity to the match that nothing else could come close to.
6. Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title – Ladder Match (Summerslam)
Would this match had been had we not have seen it in 1994? Quite possibly. Shawn and Razor worked really hard and, thanks to some preposterous new rules, couldn’t even use the ladder as a weapon. Despite this they pulled off another classic, Shawn taking an absolute beating before rallying, stuffing up an overambitious finish about three times before retaining his title. For all of the negatives of Shawn Michaels, he was still a star. Plain and simple.
7. Johnny B. Badd vs Brian Pillman – Fall Brawl
Putting two guys out on pay per view and hoping they would fail might seem like an odd attitude, but that was exactly what WCW did with Brian Pillman and Johnny B Badd. After firing Steve Austin – in part due to his attitude of an underused young talent – WCW put two of his crew in the opening match at Fall Brawl and gave them half an hour hoping they’d drown when it came to it. Two young guys, motivated to prove people wrong, did just that.
8. Ric Flair vs Randy Savage (w/ Angelo Puffo) – Great American Bash
With Flair out of retirement, and Hogan off on a PPV break, the main event of June’s PPV was open to Savage and Flair, a rivalry building off of Flair putting Savage’s dad in the Figure Four the month prior. The speed was electric, Savage and Flair still had it, and finally in June WCW had a pay per view main event worthy of the name. A clean finish would have to wait, Flair nailed Savage with Angelo’s cane and won the match.
9. Shawn Michaels vs Jeff Jarrett – Intercontinental Title (In Your House 2)
There’s a lot negative written about Jeff Jarrett, how he was overpushed relative to his ability or that he was only pushed due to his name. Sure, Jarrett was worked with Shawn Michaels, but both deserve credit for a spending effort that built over the part of 20 minutes. It would be Jarrett’s lackey – “The Roadie” who cost him the match, and an eventful night for the pair of them, who followed Jarrett miming a musical performance of “With My Baby Tonight” with walking out on the company.
10. Brian Pillman vs Alex Wright – Great American Bash
Would it be fair to say it took six months for WCW to have a good pay per view match in 1995? Perhaps, yes. Pillman, once again in the opening spot and Wright – who’s bubble was about to be burst as Ric Flair’s power base as head booker was evaporating had what was – at the time, WCW’s best pay per view match of the year.