The title of the column says it all. I often times read things from wrestling fans where people are bitching and moaning about things that pissed them off on Raw, Smackdown or some PPV. Week after week it's the same thing. I admit that I do it too. Sometimes you can't help it. It's hard to avoid talking about the bad things in the business. It doesn't make me dislike the business any more or less. I've been a fan of it my whole life and probably always will be. I've always compared the wrestling business (or WWE to use a particular example) to a favorite sports team. I follow my teams religiously, I watch all the games, I know what all the players and coaches bring to the table through my experiences watching them and I root for them. However, they don't always win. Things happen. Your team might sign a bad player or make a bad team. The injury bug could derail an entire season. You may rip them for being soft or poor at one particular thing that costs them a chance at competing for a championship. Deep down, though, you're a diehard fan. That's what I am when it comes to the wrestling business and if you're reading this you probably are to some degree too.<!--more-->Before I start, I need to lay down some ground rules. The words in the title of the column mean something. "My" means it's my choice. These are my memories that I took to write in my free time. They all mean something special to me. Some of them are ones that you may like while some may upset you. That's fine. Keep in mind it's "my" choice. I went with "29" moments because I'm 29 years old and I think for a personal column like this it felt right to go with my age. If I didn't go 29 it would have been 25 or 30 anyway, so I figured I might as well put it as my age. I chose "favorite moments" because it encompasses everything. It can mean an interview, a personal experience, a match or maybe even an entire PPV. There's really no limitation to it. The "wrestling history" basically covers it all. However, it's my wrestling history. These are things I've experienced from watching at the time. I can't watch Ric Flair wrestle Ricky Steamboat from 20 years ago and tell you how I would have felt if I saw it live. I don't know how I would have felt. If this was my 29 favorite matches maybe that's on this list. That's not what this is about. These are my personal moments that have had a profound impact on me as a wrestling fan.This list will largely be WWF/E related. That's what I grew up on. I'm from Canada and that's all we got here. I don't remember getting any NWA shows or WCW shows (we probably had them, but I don't remember) until about 1993 when they had WCW Power Hour. At the time, the WWF had two or three weekend shows running all the time plus the PPVs. We never had Nitro live in Canada. For whatever reason, we've always had TBS here, but never TNT. I can remember having to watch condensed one hour versions of Nitro on Saturday or Sunday afternoons for a while. By the time they had passed the WWF in the ratings, TSN (Canada's ESPN equivalent) started showing it although it would be at ridiculous hours like 12am or the occasional afternoon airing. My family was lucky in that we had an illegal cable box from like 1993 until 2001 (damn you digital and satellite companies!), so I caught pretty much every PPV live. Needless to say I've seen a lot of wrestling in my life and through this column I'm going to share with you what my favorite ones were. The oldest moment comes from 1988 because I have a tough time remembering anything before that. I was seven and a half years old when that moment happened, which you will read about shortly. The last thing I want to note is that I have my biases just like everybody else. My two favorite wrestlers ever, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels, are featured prominently throughout this column because without them I don't know if I'd still be a fan. Michaels kept me watching during that dark period in the early 90s while Austin's run in the late 90s made me become a bigger fan of the business than ever before. My other all time favorites like Randy Savage, The Rock, Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Mick Foley and others are also prominently featured. You won't find too many Hulk Hogan moments here because I've never been a huge fan of his. Do I like him? Sure, a little. Do I respect what he's done in the business? Yes, I do. Without him who knows where the business would be. However, seeing these are my moments he's not somebody I'll feature prominently here. Hopefully you Hogan fans can understand that. If not, I suggest you watch some clips of him giving people the dreaded back rake. The key thing to remember is that I put these moments in because they've stuck with me through my 20+ years of being a fan. They all bring a smile to my face and they all help me remember why I'm still a fan of this crazy business.Now that you know where I'm coming from, let's get to the countdown. I'll go from 29 to 1 with a written paragraph explaining each choice to help you understand why it's there. When it's all over I'll tackle some of the ones that I assume people will think should have been there as I try to explain why it failed to make the cut. It's a long read, but hopefully a worthwhile one. Enjoy.29. Randy Savage wins the WWF Title @ WrestleMania IV 1988If I could remember WrestleMania III perfectly I might have Steamboat vs. Savage in this list, but I don't. I was still too young. By the time WrestleMania IV came in 1988 I was fully into the business and I can remember watching it live. Randy Savage was always my favorite. I don't know why I was anti-Hogan. I guess because Savage had that top rope elbow as a finish while all Hogan had was that legdrop, which wasn't nearly as cool for a 8 year old kid. Savage was it for me. The WWF title was vacant heading into WM4, so they had a tournament to crown the winner. Andre the Giant came out to cheat for Ted Dibiase (Andre's opponent), so Hulk Hogan came out to help Savage. The finish saw Andre the Giant interfering, the ref turned to him and that allowed Hogan to hit Dibiase in the back with a chair. Savage did one of his patented stunned facial expressions, then climbed up top and hit the patented top rope elbow for the win. I was the happiest kid in the world. What's funny is if that kind of finish happened today a lot of people (myself included) would be bitching about how even when they put Savage over with the title victory Hogan was the reason for it. I really don't think of it that way, though. When I watch it now I remember how I felt the first time I saw it and it always brings a smile to my face.28. Meeting Andre the Giant in personThis is a personal one obviously. My family always used to take trips to Niagara Falls (in Ontario where the big falls are) at least once a year when I was a kid. We lived a couple of hours away, so we'd go in the morning and spend the day there. If you've ever been there you know it's a cool place. On this particular day in 1989 (I can't remember the month) when I was 9 years old we found out Andre the Giant was there. My dad knew I loved wrestling, so he wanted me to go meet him. I was nervous because Andre was a heel from when I started watching and for all I knew he was going to beat me up. The line was pretty long, but I stood there waiting. I finally got up to meet him. I was so nervous. He had to call me over twice. He had this big grin on his face with his giant hands sticking out. My dad edged me forward ever so slowly until I shook his hand. After that I got a photo with him putting his hand on top of my head as if he was palming a basketball. No idea where the picture is at, but I'll never forget the memory.27. DX does a parody of the Nation of Domination @ Raw 1998There are a lot of very good to great comedy segments in the history of WWE (there's another one higher up on the list) with this one falling into that great category. There was a long running feud involving the Nation (led by The Rock) and DX (led by Triple H). Each group had midcard wrestlers mostly with younger guys ready to break out. It was one of those situations that was perfect for stables to be fighting eachother. Triple H was The Crock (The Rock, obviously), Road Dogg was B-Lo (D-Lo Brown), Billy Gunn was The Godfather, X-Pack was Mizark (Mark Henry) and Jason Sensation was Owen Hart doing a perfect voice of him. "If anybody smells what the Rock is cooking it's me. Look how big my damn nose is!" It went about five minutes and it was classic. Their later parody of The Corporation was also pretty good too, but this one is the better of the two. When I re-watched it again I remembered just how great it was and why a decade later I can still laugh at it as much as I did at the time it aired.26. The Owen Hart (in 1999) and Eddie Guerrero (in 2005) Tribute showsI asked myself a few times if I should include these because any time you lose people who you care so much about as performers it's hard to call it a "favorite" moment, ya know? Owen never should have died. There was no reason to do the stupid stunt that cost him his life and I wish he would have said no. In Eddie's case, he had turned his life around and found happiness. He died young, though, and we're always going to miss him. I think their tribute shows are on my favorites list because I genuinely smiled while watching them. I thought it was touching that their peers would honor them the way they did. I'll be honest when I say that when I saw so many of these wrestlers that I grew up watching in tears I felt the same kind of sorrow. It hurt to know that they were gone, but at the same time those tribute shows were a way to honor these men for giving us their all every time they went out in the ring. It was proof that these two guys were really special individuals, not just wrestlers. They were more than that to their fans. To us as fans, they were more too. I never knew either, but I felt like I did. In a business that's "fake" Owen Hart and Eddie Guerrero always felt real to me. Rest in peace, men. We miss you.25. Ric Flair's "Abuse of Power" Promo @ Nitro 09/18/98This was on Nitro. Flair got suspended a few months earlier because he was booked for a Thunder taping. He asked for the night off to watch his son Reid wrestle and Eric Bischoff, head of WCW at the time, refused to give him the night off. Flair got suspended. On this episode of Nitro they had the current incarnation of the Horsemen at the time (Benoit, Malenko, McMichael and a retired Arn Anderson) in the ring with Flair coming back for the first time. He cut this promo with real emotion. Obviously it was angle, but the issue he had with Bischoff was real. Then Bischoff walked out without a microphone. Flair went nuts. "You're an overbearing asshole. You're an obnoxious, overbearing asshole. Abuse of power. You! You suck. You! I hate your guts. You're a liar, you're a cheat, you're a scam, you are a no good son of a bitch!" And the crowd goes wild. "Fire me! I'm already fired!" To me, one of the best moments in the history of Nitro.24. Steve Austin vs. The Rock – "My Way" video packageI thought it would be appropriate to include a video package because as WWE fans I think we can all appreciate how good the video packages are that WWE produces. This one is my all time favorite. It was the preview video for the huge match at WrestleMania X-7 (more on that later, I promise) featuring the song "My Way" by Limp Bizkit. Truthfully I don't even love the song, but I've heard it so much that it's fine with me. There's just something about it that works with the theme of the video. They've got the slow parts with the two guys staring at eachother, then it picks up the beat and all of a sudden they're brawling all over the place. It's the right song for the right feud.23. Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz @ No Mercy 1999 in a ladder matchThis was probably the best example of a breakout match in the history of WWE. At the time Edge, Christian, Matt and Jeff Hardy were all basically tag wrestlers. They ventured into singles once in a while, but for a full year they were helping to re-establish the WWF's tag division. They did it by having exciting matches on a weekly basis whether it was on Raw, Heat or one of the WWF's weekend shows. They were all guys in their 20s that were good workers too. At the time, WWE set up a best of five series of matches where the winning team would get Terri Runnels' managerial services as well as $100,000 in cash. The series was tied at 2-2 when they announced that at No Mercy there would be the first ever tag team ladder match. Not only was it the first tag team ladder match in company history, but you have to remember too that they only had done a few ladder matches to that point (HBK/Razor twice and Rock/HHH a year before this). The ladder match concept was still very fresh in our eyes as fans. What did these young guys do? They gave us not only the match of the year, but they also helped launch what would be the best two years of tag team wrestling in the history of the WWF. Looking back I would say that the TLC matches they did were technically better than this one, but this was a career making match. These guys became stars here. All of a sudden E&C were cutting hilarious promos on a regular basis while the Hardy's were being adored by fans all over the place for being daredevils. This match paved the way for that. Could you imagine WWE doing a match like this today with four younger wrestlers? Of course not. They hate tag team wrestling. What a shame. At least they liked it enough ten years ago to give these guys a chance and they capitalized in a huge way.22. Eddie Guerrero wins the WWE Title @ No Way Out 2004When I think of the moments that made me genuinely happy for the performers I see in the ring this one ranks really high. Having learned of Eddie's struggles with drug addiction, losing his family, getting them back and trying to live life the "right way" it made me really get a sense of what kind of man he was. He threw himself out there for the world to see. He was telling us that, "yeah I made my mistakes, but look at me now" and where he was at No Way Out 2004 was on top of the wrestling world. The match saw the defending WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, a dominant heel, taking on the perpetual underdog in Eddie Guerrero, who had never been a world champion. Twenty minutes later, it happened. Sure, there was the ref bump and the Goldberg interference that tarnished it ever so slightly, but I didn't care then. I don't care now. It was about the moment. The moment where Eddie hit the frog splash, covered for the three count and jumped into the crowd with the WWE Title in his arms. That's the picture that matters. That's the image that I will never forget. We lost Eddie too soon, but at least we got to share his happiest moment in the business that he loved with him.21. Shawn Michaels wins his first WWF Title @ WM12 1996I can't include a list of my favorite moments ever without putting in my favorite wrestler's first WWF Title win, right? The only reason it's not higher up on the list is because Shawn Michaels had better matches and better moments in his career. I think I loved the buildup for this more than I liked the actual match, in hindsight. They shot these Rocky-like videos with each guy training. Bret was running in the Calgary snow while Shawn was working out in the gym. They had voiceovers from each guy with music running in the background. They kept telling the story over and over about how it was Shawn's boyhood dream to become the WWF champion. I remember being so excited when they announced the match would be an Ironman. The two hadn't had a singles match on PPV since Survivor Series 1992, but honestly I didn't remember that one. It felt so fresh to me. It was also different because it was a babyface vs. babyface match with neither guy really looking like the heel. Was the match outcome obvious? Yeah, it was. I knew Shawn was winning. I think everybody knew. Over sixty minutes after starting it, he hit that superkick and it was all over. As Vince McMahon said, "The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels."20. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage Retirement Match @ WM7 1991You know how people ask what wrestling match would you show somebody that wasn't a fan in order to get them to be a fan? One of the first matches that comes to mind is this one. The story is simple. Savage was the former World Champion that was beloved by fans for years until he turned on his friend, Hulk Hogan. Part of the reason he was beloved was because he had Elizabeth at his side, who was almost a queen like figure. He ended up kicking her to the curb and instead pairing up with Sherri Martel, who wrestling fans knew as a heel. Two years after losing his title, he took on a former World Champion in the Ultimate Warrior in a retirement match. I never liked Warrior much, so of course as a Savage fan I wanted him to win. What happened? They had a ****1/4 match that saw Warrior win clean even after Savage hit him with multiple top rope elbows. Savage lost. After the match, Sherri got in the ring and put the boots to Savage because his retirement meant she lost too. That led to Elizabeth, seated in the audience, to come over the railing and haul ass to the ring to shove Sherri out of there. This was unheard of at the time because Elizabeth, unlike the women of wrestling today, never touched anybody. She was always just there standing at ringside supporting her man. The building erupted in cheers. It was huge. Savage awoke and looked at Elizabeth as if he had seen a ghost. He was stunned that she was there. They embraced, he put her on his shoulder and that pop was one of the biggest ones I've ever heard. It's a simple story that worked incredibly well. Of course Savage came back to wrestle and a year after this moment he won the World Title again, but to me this was the best thing that Randy Savage in his WWF career.19. Steve Austin attacks Bret Hart in the ambulance @ Raw 1997This was one of those moments that really made people take notice of the WWF becoming an edgier product at a time when WCW was beating them in the ratings every week. Austin and Hart had a street fight on Raw with Austin beating him up so bad that they had to take Bret out of there on an ambulance. Hart had a legit knee injury at the time, so it worked perfectly with the storyline. They did the whole thing by wheeling him out to the ambulance where his Hart Foundation brethren were there with him telling him everything's going to be okay. Then, out of nowhere, it's Austin. He's in the limo beating the crap out of Hart again while the crowd in the arena is going nuts. This was at a point when you could not stop watching what Austin would do because he was breaking the rules except he was doing it against the bad guys, which made us love him even more. This segment always stood out to me because it "came out of nowhere" as the announcers always like to say. It also taught us as viewers that "anything can happen" in the WWF and for those three or four great years that the company experienced it usually did.18. The Ric Flair farewell tribute @ Raw 2008I put this here rather than the match at WrestleMania 24 a night earlier ("I'm sorry. I love you") because to me this was the better moment. The way that WWE honored Flair on this night was classy in a way that you don't always see from them. It felt perfect. His friends came out to honor him in a way that you really don't see a whole lot. The best part was that unlike other tributes that we've seen in wrestling, Flair was able to be there for it. We saw those tears of joys in his eyes, as well as his friends. We could feel the emotion of the moment through our TV screens because it felt real. It wasn't a silly wrestling angle or something to promote the next PPV. It was a tribute to one of the best ever done for him by those that respected him the most, his wrestling brethren. Now, with that said, when Flair said on Raw that he would "never, ever, wrestle in this ring again" a lot of people didn't believe it. They were right in thinking that. Here we are in 2009 and Flair has wrestled again, albeit with Hulk Hogan in Australia. He might show up in TNA. I have no idea if he will. Does it tarnish the moment to me? No. Absolutely not. Seeing everybody in WWE come out to join in with the fans as they chanted "Thank you Ric" was one of those truly special moments that we don't get to see very often.17. Steve Austin stuns Vince McMahon in MSG @ Raw 1997There are a lot of great Austin/McMahon moments that I loved, but this one stood out to me more than the beer bash or the fake gun to the head. This was the first time Austin assaulted Vince. Austin was out with the legit neck injury and Vince was breaking his character of being an announcer by speaking to him as the owner saying that he should consider not coming back so soon. Austin wasn't about to listen to him. What does he do? A Stone Cold Stunner. The fact that they saved this for MSG wasn't an accident. It's the home arena of WWE. It's where special things happened. The Stone Cold rise was already on its way, but this propelled it at even faster pace and left an indelible mark on me as a wrestling fan.16. The crowd during the RVD/Cena match @ ECW One Night Stand 2006This was a special night for so many reasons. I think the one thing I'll always remember is this sign hanging down from a balcony: "If Cena wins we riot." Cena throws his shirt in the crowd. They throw it back. He does it again. They throw it back. He does it again. They throw it back. He does it again. They throw it back. He does it again. They throw it back, the guy doesn't get it to the ring and they boo the guy. This crowd was amazing. I've been to a lot of shows in my day and Canadian crowds are generally pretty great, but to me this was the best crowd ever. What was great was that Cena played up to it. They busted out the "you can't wrestle" chant at him and he did a suplex. Later, he and RVD traded punches with the crowd reaction with "yeah" for RVD's punches and "boo" for Cena's punches as well as the "same old shit" chant for Cena's offense. Later, a "fuck him up Van Dam, fuck him up" chant is pretty inspiring too. To me, this was the best crowd ever for a WWE produced show and that's why it's on my list. I like the 2005 show a lot too for other reasons, but this match right here was special because of the audience. For what it's worth, I liked the match quite a bit too and would rate it at ***1/2 out of five or so.15. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels @ WrestleMania 21 2005I remember reading the rumor in late 2004. An infamous post from somewhere saying there was "talk" that they might do Angle vs. Michaels at WrestleMania 21. At the time Michaels was still an active wrestler while Angle was having those same neck issues that he's had his whole career. Would it really happen? When the Royal Rumble came that year I was so excited. Due to the roster split (or brand extension as WWE calls it), Michaels and Angle had always been kept apart. At the Rumble they finally interacted with Michaels interacting. That led to Angle, the great heel that he is, coming back in to throw Michaels out, and putting him in the ankle lock on the floor with Michaels selling it like it was the most painful thing ever. They spent the next two months building up to the match. To say I was excited would be an understatement. What I liked too was that going in you really didn't know who was going to win. A lot of times in wrestling there are obvious outcomes. We all know that. In this match, it wasn't that obvious. Here was my immediate reaction after the match, which I gave five stars to, from my WrestleMania 21 recap column: "***** OH HELL YEAH! Wow. This was amazing. This did live up to the hype. This did meet all expectations. This did deliver the goods the way we all hoped it would. My God. The amount of counter holds seen in this match were unreal. It was wrestling at its absolute best. Amazing stuff here. I can't say it enough. The drama in this match was unreal. You didn't know when it was going to end. There was incredible spot after incredible spot here. Finishers kicked out of, drama at the end, and everything you want in a match. The match time was great, the pacing was really good because it built up to the end and the last ten minutes were as good a finish to a match that you can have. Thank you Shawn. Thank you Kurt. That was an epic." 'Nuff said.14. Mick Foley wins the WWF Title @ Raw 1999 (aired Jan. 4, taped Dec. 29/98)This wasn't the best match of Foley's career (2000 Rumble vs. HHH) or even his most famous moment (still to come), but it was the happiest moment for anybody that considered themselves a Mick Foley fan. The guy wasn't a bodybuilder or some kind of amazing athlete. He looked like a regular dude that could take an inordinate amount of punishment. And we loved him for it. They basically turned him babyface in the summer of 1997 because people really were getting behind this lovable guy in a way that I don't think management expected. There was chaos at ringside with DX feuding with the Corporation while Rock and Foley were going at it in the ring. Then the glass broke and with the help of Steve Austin, Mick Foley defeated The Rock. New world champion. What made it even greater was that WCW was giving the result away on Nitro with Tony Schiavone uttering the now famous line about Foley being unable to "put asses in the seats." More viewers flipped over to Raw then stayed on Nitro for the Hogan/Nash fingerpoke of doom and from that point on WCW was pretty much done. After the win, Foley paraded around the ring with that title like the happiest kid in the world. And you know why it was great? Because Mick Foley, that Christmas loving, amusement park riding, have a nice day kind of guy was a kid at heart. Amazing moment.13. Ric Flair wins the WWF Title @ Royal Rumble 1992This is arguably the best Royal Rumble match ever. The WWF title was vacant, so the winner of this match got to be the champion. Flair was fresh in the WWF, having come over just a few months prior and when he entered the match at #3 the crowd erupted like "oooohhhhhh." I remember watching this with about five or six people at my cousin's house and one of the guys there was a huge Flair fan. He was going nuts about how "that asshole Hogan is going to win again" because Flair was booked so early on. What we witnessed was a one hour performance from Flair as he outlasted what was a very star studded Royal Rumble. Some years the people in the Rumble aren't great. In 1992, though, it was loaded with top guys and the thinking was that Hogan would get the win. Didn't happen. Flair outlasted everybody, carried the match to a very high level (I'd rate it at ****1/2) and my cousin's friend was so happy. He was high fiving everybody like he won something. After the match, Flair cut one of the best promos ever talking about how, with a tear in his eye, it was the greatest moment of his life. At the time I knew it was pretty cool to see the guy last an hour like that and looking at it now I can't help but appreciate how great a moment it was.12. Owen Hart beats Bret Hart @ WrestleMania X 1994I'm assuming that everybody reading this right now would consider themselves a "smart" wrestling fan meaning that they can appreciate or tell when they watch a match that is great. Maybe you use the star rating system to rate a match like I do, or maybe you just have some kind of way to determine what the best matches ever are. For me, this was the defining match for me as a smart fan. I wasn't even 14 yet, but I had an older cousin that smartened me up to the business. I started to pay more attention to the spots in the match, the timing of the moves, the pacing and the chemistry of the combatants. It's what we call workrate. This match opened the show at WrestleMania X. Owen had turned on him late the year before as the jealous little brother and Bret kept turning down a match with him. Then they forced his hand and the two had this match. I thought for sure Bret was going to win. Owen was still a midcarder who hadn't even cracked the IC title level yet while Bret had already main evented the previous WrestleMania and been a World Champion. What we got was a 20 minute technical wrestling clinic that was contested mostly in the ring (there were a couple of out of ring moments) providing us with a match that will live on forever as a classic. My favorite part was the finish. Bret was going for a victory roll when Owen was able to block it and cover Bret for the three count. I was so happy for Owen. I'm a younger brother. My older brother and I fought quite a bit. It felt like Owen's victory was a victory for me too, as cheesy as that sounds. It's like rooting for an underdog sports team that comes through in the biggest game of their life. That's what this was. I'll never get tired of watching this match. And to think, this opened a WrestleMania. There will never be another opening match as good as this, that's for sure.11. Razor Ramon defeats Shawn Michaels in the ladder match @ WrestleMania X 1994It's not a coincidence that I put this one right beside the Bret/Owen classic because it's always been hard for me to separate them. They are two completely different types of matches, but also two amazing matches that happened on the same night. This wasn't technically the first ladder match in WWF history (Shawn and Bret had one at a TV taping to try it out that's now on some DVDs), but it was the first one that would be seen by a worldwide audience at a show like WrestleMania. Michaels had the Intercontinental title, he got suspended, so Razor ended up getting the belt. The problem was that Shawn still had his belt. To settle the issue, they put both belts up above the ring and we were told that the winner would have to climb a ladder to become the undisputed IC champion. Huh? A ladder? I didn't know what to think. Michaels had become a great worker by this point with the potential to be a future main eventer while Ramon was pretty talented for a taller guy. I knew they'd have a good match, but how would they incorporate a ladder into it? Well, obviously they did. They used the ladder as a weapon, Shawn did a splash off of it and they really timed their spots in a way that let the audience catch their breath. Every time something happened we all wondered, "What will they do next?" Razor won after Shawn got tangled up in the ropes and he sold that rope tangling better than anybody in the history of wrestling. Why? Because he's Shawn Michaels. I actually liked their rematch at Summerslam 1995 better because I think the spots were better, but in terms of a favorite this one makes the list because at the time I was so excited to see what they were going to do. Nothing beats the first time.10. Mick Foley goes crashing off the cell and through the cell @ King of the Ring 1998I feel bad putting this as a "favorite" because the guy legitimately got hurt both when he went off the top of the cell and when he went through the cell. However, how can this not be on a list of great moments? Getting thrown off the top of the cell through a table is the most iconic single bump in the history of WWE and that's saying something. I remember watching it so many times wondering how the hell did he get up from that? A few minutes later, not only did he get up, but he went back to the top of that cage and took a chokeslam through the top of the cage to the floor landing without a table to break his fall. That bump was more painful than the first one because there wasn't anything to soften the blow. I always admired Mick Foley, but my level of respect for the man reached an all time high after his performance on this memorable night. This was also a moment that made a lot of fans realize how great of an answer Jim Ross was. I think it was part great announcer (which he is, the best play by play guy ever) and part being legitimately worried about a close friend like Mick Foley. Anybody that's seen it will always remember the sacrifices Mick took for us on this night to entertain his fans.9. Chris Jericho's WWF debut @ Raw August 1999The rumors were out there for months. In the late 90s in WCW one of the most promising younger talents the company had was Chris Jericho. He was a good in ring performer that could hang with the cruiserweights and looked like he could be a top guy if he was given a chance. This was WCW, though. They didn't elevate young talent very well. It's a big reason why they don't exist anymore. In the summer of 1999, the countdown clock showed up on Raw. What was it? We thought we knew, but nobody really did. They kept it quiet. The countdown was set to expire on August 9, 1999 for a live Raw in Chicago. I remember how excited the online wrestling community was for this because Jericho was always popular among the smart fan. With the best talker in the business, The Rock, in the ring cutting a promo the clock finally expired, the lights went out and there he was with his arms spread out and his back to us. He turned around and the Chicago crowd gave him a loud "yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Then he spoke: "Now for those of you that don't know me, I'm Chris Jericho. Your new hero." Jericho has since given us many memorable moments both in the ring and out, but to me nothing can top his memorable WWF debut.8. The formation of the New World Order @ WCW Bash at the Beach 1996This is the highest WCW moment on the list because this is by far the biggest thing WCW ever did. A couple of months prior to this, Scott Hall showed up on Nitro. Hall had spent the earlier part of the decade in the WWF as an upper midcarder named Razor Ramon. He was a cool guy that had been in some epic matches in his career (you already read about the ladder match) and was hugely popular. When his contract was up, he jumped to WCW because they were throwing a lot of money at him. Hall showing up at Ntiro in May of 1996 through the crowd was a crazy moment. I remember at the time they showed Nitro here in southern Ontario on Saturday afternoons at like 2pm. I had no idea what was happening week to week because I wasn't reading about wrestling on the internet until the next year. Some weeks I missed the show. For whatever reason, that week I watched and was like, "holy shit, Razor Ramon is on Nitro!" I remember calling my buddy Nate. He didn't see it and he didn't believe me. From then on we made sure to watch Nitro all the time and eventually TSN (our ESPN) showed it on Wednesdays at like midnight, which meant we had to tape it every week. Anyway, Diesel aka Kevin Nash showed up after Hall and they booked it like it was an invasion calling them The Outsiders. I still remember going nuts when Nash put Bischoff through a table at the Great American Bash and I don't even like Nash! It was more about the moment.The match was set for the Bash at the Beach with Sting, Luger and Savage (all babyfaces at the time) representing WCW in a match against Hall, Nash and a mystery partner. I remember we gathered a few friends to watch this one at my place (I had an illegal cable box) because we had no idea who it would be. The match starts, we still don’t know. They did a spot where Luger got knocked out to make it a 2 on 2 match. Then all four guys were down selling injuries. Cue Hulk Hogan. We hadn't seen him for a while since he was off filming a movie (or maybe a TV show, doesn't matter) and the assumption was he was there to replace Luger for team WCW. Looking back Bobby Heenan spoiled it a bit by asking, "whose side is he on?" This was Hogan. He was always the good guy. Then, with Savage down on the mat, Hogan dropped the leg on him. He tossed the ref out of the ring and the match ended in a no contest. The fans were pissed. They tossed garbage at Hogan as he told Mean Gene Okerlund that we were witnessing the "New World Order" of wrestling. For nearly two years, WCW beat the WWF in the ratings battle because they turned wrestling's ultimate babyface, Hulk Hogan, into a heel, which was something that really got people talking and tuning in to see what WCW would do next. You can probably tell from this list so far that I'm not a huge Hogan fan, but I'll give him credit because it was handled perfectly. It was one of the true "holy shit" moments in the history of wrestling.7. Steve Austin's King of the Ring 1996 speechThis was one of those "wow, that was epic" kind of moments as soon as it happened. Austin had won the King of the Ring tournament and was talking at a throne with Dok Hendrix (Michael Hayes). His opponent from the match Jake Roberts, who was doing a bible thumper type gimmick, was slowly making his way up the aisle when Austin busted out with: "You talk about your psalms, you talk about your John 3:16. Well, Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!" This was at a point when the WWF wasn't really that raunchy (that would come about a year later) and Austin was just starting out the "Stone Cold" gimmick after the whole Ringmaster experiment failed. Through the next year Austin was starting to get some cheers even though he was a heel and those "Austin 3:16" shirts ended up being the highest selling shirt in the history of the company. From what I've read, nothing else is really that close. I don't want to call it the greatest interview ever or even Steve Austin's greatest interview, but in terms of impact nothing can top this. What's funny also is that HHH was supposed to win the King of the Ring this year, but was being punished for the MSG Incident (look it up if you don't know) and Austin took his place. This is a classic example of right place, right time and right person.In hindsight, it's pretty amazing that Austin's speech (June 23) and the birth of the NWO (July 7) happened within two weeks of eachother.6. Hell in a Cell #1: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker @ Badd Blood 1997I've written plenty about this match including a specific column dedicated to it and also a recap of the PPV that I wrote six months ago. I'd love to add something new here, but I feel like I've written about it very well in the past. I'll share some excerpts to explain my love for it. First, for the build of it: "This was easily one of the most anticipated matches of all time. A lot of people did not even know what the cell was going to look like. That drew a lot of people to be interested in the match. Tossing HBK into the match made things that much greater because he was such a good performer. The feud was built so strongly that Shawn went from a tweener at Summerslam to the most hated man in the WWF by the time Badd Blood rolled around." What made the match great? "The angle with the cameraman was executed perfectly because it allowed the wrestlers to get on top of the cage where the people wanted them to be. The match was booked perfectly because just as Shawn nailed the superkick, Taker sat up and the door was ready to close meaning Michaels wanted to get out of there. A lot of times little things are done wrong and it ruins the match. In this match it was the little things like the blade job and camera guy that made it that much more special. It's great storytelling." That didn't even cover the huge table bump that Shawn took, which was so good that it caused Mick Foley to nearly kill himself because he was so inclined to top it. Now for some final thoughts on the match: "This match had everything including a storyline, plenty of heat for both men, tremendous psychology, great timing, a killer blade job and one hell of a bump by HBK. Throw in the fact that it was the greatest performance by the Undertaker (up to this point in his career for sure) and that Michaels was the best wrestler alive at the time and you have yourself one of those special matches that you will never forget. Everything just seemed to go right. I know I certainly won't forget it and if you've seen the match you probably feel the same way." What more can I say? This is my second favorite match ever. Number one? Still to come.5. "The Rock: This is your life." @ Raw in 1999Ah, the Rock 'N Sock Connection. This was a classic segment on Raw with Mankind presenting "This is your life" to the Rock in a talk segment that took over 25 minutes without a commercial. It's the highest rated segment in the history of Raw garnering a 8.5 at a time when WCW was still relatively competitive although they were on their way down by that point. There are so many highlights of this with Foley sucking up to him playing the childish part while Rock fires off joke after joke at his home economic teacher, old high school football coach and high school girlfriend among others. The biggest reaction came when The Rock asked her if she wanted to serve him a piece of that poontang pie? Man, that line was legendary. This whole thing is gold, really. They (Mick, Yurple the clown and the crowd) sing Happy Birthday to The Rock who responds with: "Naturally The Rock is appreciative to all of his fans, but to you The Rock's birthday is May 2nd you stupid son of a bitch!" If you haven't seen it look for it online. If you have seen it, watch it again and remember how hilarious this segment was. Two comedic wrestling geniuses at their best.4. Shawn Michaels returns to the ring vs. Triple H @ Summerslam 2002In terms of actual matches, both guys have had matches that were better than this. In terms of moments, this is the best one for a diehard HBK fan like me. When Shawn retired in 1998 he wasn't faking some minor injury because he didn't want to put somebody over. He had back surgery. There are scars to prove it. You know the story of the comeback, I'm sure. He got married, he got off his painkiller addiction, he found God thanks to his wife and he became a changed man. Four and a half years after his last match in the WWF (he did have one brawl in his own TWA promotion), he came back. The story was that Triple H had reunited DX with Shawn, the crowd was going nuts for it and all of a sudden he hit a Pedigree. There was also the infamous attack in the parking lot that was creatively done to show that HHH was the assailant. The match made me nervous. I had no idea how Shawn would do. That's why I loved how WWE booked it. They had Hunter work the back and every time he hit a backbreaker the crowd's "oooooohhhhhhh" resonated with me watching at home because I kept wondering if Shawn would be done after that one. Not done in terms working the match, in terms of really being done. What if he didn't get back up? He did, of course. I think it was great that they booked a street fight because Michaels didn't know if he could work a regular match. Michaels ended up winning with a counter, scoring the victory and drawing a huge ovation from the crowd. The celebration didn't last long as HHH attacked him with the sledgehammer, leading to a stretcher job and a rematch down the road. This, to me, was the defining moment of Shawn Michaels' career. We've always known he was talented, charismatic and resourceful, but on this night he proved he was a changed man that would entertain us again for several years to come. I still can't believe he's gone seven years after this match. It's unreal to me. I wrote a biography and a greatest matches column for the guy ten years ago when I thought that was it. I've never been prouder to be wrong. Thanks Shawn, for making a fool out of me.3. "TYSON AND AUSTIN! TYSON AND AUSTIN!" @ Raw January 1998If you've read my work in the past you know that I'm a huge fan of pro sports. Yes, wrestling's a passion of mine that I've written about for a decade now, but I'm a big time jock. I love it all. I'm a competitive person, so it's easy for me to become engaged in what I'm watching. In the late 80s the athlete that captivated people the most was Mike Tyson. He was the best heavyweight boxer in the world and he was known for knocking people out. He lost in a huge upset to Buster Douglas in February of 1990. A year later, he committed rape and was later convicted. In 1995 he was released after three years. He came back to boxing, was heavily favored to beat Evander Holyfield in 1996 and lost in round 11. In June of 1997, they had a rematch where Tyson bit Holyfield's ear twice, leading to a DQ win by Holyfield. Tyson was suspended from boxing and his label as the "baddest man on the planet" rang truer than ever. While he was unable to box, Tyson signed with the WWF for $3 million to serve as an enforcer for the upcoming Michaels/Austin World Title match. This was a huge deal. Tyson was considered a nutcase by many people and the thought was in the world of pro wrestling that he could fit right in because of his "character issues."The night after the Royal Rumble, won by Austin, Tyson was at Raw. They were going to officially introduce him to the WWF audience with owner Vince McMahon there to do it himself. Then the glass broke. It was Austin. I remember my buddy Nate calling me up to make sure I was watching. Of course I was. Everybody was. Austin was the hottest thing in wrestling by this point and as teens this was right up our alley. Austin took exception to Tyson's claim as the baddest man on the planet. He got right in his face. Tyson had a huge entourage with him while Vince had WWF officials with him. Austin antagonized him verbally and then he stuck his trademark middle fingers right in his face. Tyson shoved him. Austin shoved back. Everybody was breaking it up. It was mayhem. Jim Ross was going nuts saying "TYSON AND AUSTIN! TYSON AND AUSTIN!" Vince was yelling at Austin telling him he "ruined it," which only added fuel to that fire and really put Austin over as some rebel that would stand up to authority figures. What was great about is it felt like there was legitimate animosity between them. Sure, we knew it was a work, but with Tyson he was just crazy enough for us to think it was legit. It was an incredible moment.2. WrestleMania X-7 in 2001I know that calling a four hour show a "moment" is a bit of a stretch, but it's here because it's the best PPV in the history of the business…at least to me. And if you don't agree, too bad. It's my list! It was the card that had it all in terms of matches and it came at a team when the WWF peaked as a company. The rise of the company started with the roots they planted in 1997 (Austin, Rock, HHH, Foley, etc.) and as they continued to grow it all culminated on this show on April Fool's Day in 2001. I'm not saying the entire show was amazing. The Chyna match was brutal and some of the midcard matches were just okay. The key thing is they were kept short. They knew they were weak points, so they didn't book them to take too much time. Instead, they gave time to the ones that they knew would deliver the goods. There was the first ever meeting between two great technical wrestlers in Angle vs. Benoit that ended with Angle scoring the win by cheating to further that feud (I gave it ****1/2). A little later, we saw a great Shane vs. Vince match that wasn't great from a technical standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint it was epic. Seeing Vince get kicked in the nuts by his wife Linda, who he had drugged to sedate her, drew one of the biggest pops I've ever heard. It was perfect storytelling. The best thing that the entire McMahon family was ever involved in as far as on screen storylines go. Following that match, we saw the second TLC match involving Edge & Christian defeating the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz. It was better than the first one although not by much. It still holds up today (I gave it ****3/4). In between this match and the main event we had a comedy match with the gimmick battle royal as well as a very solid Undertaker vs. Triple H that was tarnished a bit in my eyes for one of the longest ref bumps ever. It's okay, though, still a good match (I gave it ***3/4) Finally, the show ended with the best match ever in the great series from Steve Austin and The Rock (I gave it *****). Austin couldn't put Rock away, so he turned to the one man that was against him the most, Vince McMahon. He didn't win with the Stunner. Nope. He won by beating the shit out of The Rock with a steel chair that set the tone for what would be a heel run. Was turning Austin heel in his home state of Texas at WrestleMania the best move? In hindsight, it might not have been, but in terms of a match this one was an absolute classic. A legendary way to end what, to me, was the best PPV that there's ever been.1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin @ WrestleMania 13 in 1997I have to admit that putting this whole list together was pretty hard for me to do. Not only picking just 29 moments, but putting them in the right order. How can you really compare a memory from when you're 8 years old to one when you're in your 20s? That was the toughest part of writing this column. The easiest part? Picking number one. It's Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin in the submission match at WrestleMania 13 in Chicago. I've written about this one in the past. It's the match that incorporates everything that I've ever loved about the wrestling business. I once wrote: "I will never be tired of seeing this match nor will I ever be tired of talking about it. I will never forget Bret using the figure four around the ring post. I will never forget when Austin cracked Bret in the back with a chair. I will never forget the sight of Austin's blood dripping into his mouth. I will never forget the pop Shamrock got for pulling Bret off Austin. I will never forget the standing ovation Austin received after delivering the performance of a lifetime. This match had everything that is good about the wrestling business. Two great competitors, a terrific storyline, an extremely high workrate, plenty of crowd heat, one of the greatest blade jobs ever and the greatest double turn in the history of the business." I stand by all that.I think as I've gotten older and watched it many times I've appreciated it more and more. It's hard to have a perfect match. I don't know if you really can. To me, though, this is the closest example of that. It's why I love the business. Good vs. evil is what wrestling's all about and in this one match they flipped that upside down in a way that made sense. Austin became a hero after this. Yeah, he was on his way already, but this really vaulted him into that place. Hart became a villain to most while still sticking to his values. The key to being a good heel is always believing that what you are doing is right, which was Bret did in this match. He didn't think he was wrong to attack Austin after the bell. He thought he deserved it. Those of us at home? We hated him for it. Austin put up a valiant effort and he lost, but he went down fighting. He didn't quit. He simply lost to the better man on that night. The most telling thing about this match was the reaction Austin got after it was over. He was offered help. He refused. He stood on his own two feet and walked out of there like a man. He won over the audience in a way that makes this match as my favorite moment in the history of wrestling. The wrestling business is about telling stories. As a lifelong fan of wrestling, this match was the greatest story ever told.---------------What did I miss? I don't feel like I need to explain since it's *my* list, but I will discuss some rather obvious ones:- Shane McMahon on Nitro: Huge at the time, but I really would have preferred if Vince McMahon didn't buy WCW considering how quickly they screwed up the invasion. Huge moment. Not a favorite.- Hogan/Rock @ WM18: Classic. It would make a top 40 list for sure. I just didn't love it enough to put it in the top 29 since I've never been that big of a Hogan fan.- Austin attacking Vince in the hospital: The bedpan to the head is a classic moment for sure. How many Austin things could I put on? I liked others one better, that's all. I probably could have had the beer bath and his hilarious singing to Vince in 2001 too. Too many to pick.- Michaels putting Jannetty through the window: Loved it. However, I'd rather focus on Michaels' in ring performances because there's nobody better in that regard.- Undertaker vs. Michaels @ WM25: Loved it. If I did a list of the top 29 matches it would definitely be in there, but it didn't make this list. Maybe I'm too cynical to have as much of an emotional investment in today's wrestling than I was when they had the Hell in a Cell match. I don’t know.- Anything Trish or Mickie related. They're my two favorite women in wrestling history, no doubt about it. I chose not to include either of them because I really wanted to concentrate on the moments that helped to shape me as a fan. If I did a list of my favorite moments in wrestling that made me fantasize about things then I promise they'd be featured prominently. No, I'm not writing that column. Don't ask!- No Chris Benoit moments. It's true that in my 20+ years of being a fan he was one of my favorites. However, I can't look back at his 2004 title win at WrestleMania XX or his classic against Kurt Angle at the 2003 Royal Rumble the same way I did then. I just can't. To me, favorite moments need to stick with me for the rest of my life and it's too hard for me to evoke the same emotions that I had five or six years ago before he murdered two innocent people, as well as himself. If you can look past that to see him for the performer he was then good for you. Me? I can't do it. Sorry.In Closing…This was really fun to write. If you made it through these 10,000+ words I thank you. If you take anything away from this column it should be that I'm a big fan of the wrestling business. I try to look on the bright side of things. Writing this was very therapeutic for me because it made me feel like my 20+ years of fandom has been worth it, ya know? I don't know why I can remember wrestling moments from 1997 way easier than what I learned in school that same year. I just do. It's one of those things you can't explain. Why try to, right? It's as simple as saying we remember what we want to remember. For me, and maybe for you, I want to remember those great moments in wrestling that will live on with me for the rest of my life. This column helped me do that. And if it helped you in any way, shape or form then it was definitely well worth my time.Got memories of your own? Please share them with me. I might be posting some in the future. I'm not sure if I will, but if I get enough of them it's likely that I will do that. You can send them to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can post them on my blog at johnreport.wordpress.com or via Facebook or Twitter (links are below). It doesn't matter to me what your moments are. They are yours. All I want to know is why are they your favorite moments? Don't be shy. Please share.Thanks for reading.John Canton - email@example.comCheck out the blog at: johnreport.wordpress.comAdd me on Facebook at Facebook.com/thejohnreport and Twitter at Twitter.com/johnreportVisit My Archives to view ten years of The John Report columns.