The UFC recently started announcing their Hall of Fame inductees for this year’s class. One of the wings the UFC has in their Hall of Fame is a “Fight Wing” that inducts some of the greatest fights in UFC history.
So this week the HTCWrestling Staff answers, what WWE match would be the first match inducted into a “Match Wing” of the WWE Hall of Fame?
The Chairman: If the WWE started a “Fight Wing” to their Hall of Fame, it would definitely be tough to narrow it down to one entry right away. However if I had to pick one, I’d pick Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s “I Quit” match from Wrestlemania 13.
This match was significant for many reasons. The biggest one in my opinion is because this is the match that took Austin from the upper mid card to the main event and the WWE created their next superstar, if not one of their biggest of all time. Just to prove it, Austin won his first WWE Championship at the following Wrestlemania against Shawn Michaels. The events of this match and what happened afterwards is what got the fans behind Austin once in for all and turned on a long time fan favorite Bret Hart. Around this time also UFC was on the rise and WWE brought in Ken Shamrock to officiate this match. Remember Hart attacking Austin after the match only to get dropped by Shamrock. The match itself had it all. There was brawling on the outside, technical wrestling, chairshots, drama, blood, everything you would want in a wrestling match. Austin never did quit and the iconic image of the blood pouring down his face locked in the Sharpshooter still holds up to this day. The crazy thing to remember of all this is what happens if Shawn Michaels doesn’t get injured? We almost could’ve had Hart vs Michaels instead. The entire landscape of WWE could’ve been altered drastically if we never had Hart vs Austin in a “I Quit” match. Fortunately for us we did and many of us grew up watching Stone Cold slamming beers and handing out stunners for several more years.
Matt: There are SO may classic matches that could be #1. If you go historical, there’s Savage/Steamboat, Andre/Hogan, Michaels/Hart and Rock/Austin. If you say “fan favorite” there’s TLC, Michaels/Ramon from Wrestlemania 10 and Cena/Punk at Money in the Bank. But if you want to go with straight match quality, I would pick either Michaels/Taker from Wrestlemania 25 or Cena/Styles from the Royal Rumble 2017. Both matches are highly athletic, told a story, had a great finish and featured marquee stars. I don’t see either of these picked as most people’s number ones but they’re definitely mine.
Justin C: For me it all comes down to historical significance. Sure, a match could be five stars. But if we are talking about the very first inductee then the match also has to have some kind of historical significance. When it comes down to it, I have to go with Bret Hart vs Stone Cold at Wrestlemania 13. The match did two things for the WWF at the time. The first thing it did was launch a brand new star in Steve Austin. He was on the rise at the time, and this match solidified him as the guy in the WWF. He was going to be there star. The match also shifted the WWF’s booking philosophy into a more edgier product. That swung the ratings tide for the WWF. Yeah, it still took awhile for the WWF to pass WCW. But that swing doesn’t take place without this match.
Heather: Picking the most important match historically is tough. My first instinct was to say Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan because of how huge that was for wrestling at the time, and the iconic image of Hogan body slamming Andre. Even knowing Hogan is a racist POS doesn’t take away from the importance of that moment. It is, however, only a moment and it’s not a great match. So I’m going to jump forward a decade and go with a match that set off a spark to one of the greatest heel turns in wrestling, one of the greatest face turns, and a whole new era to wrestling. I’ll say Bret Hart vs Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIII. I never bring this one up in my favorite matches, but the significance of it is hard to beat. Bret had an epic run coming off this that was unfortunately totally destroyed, and Austin well…we all know how that went. While this didn’t immediately lead to him being at the top of the card, he was a bonafide star. It’s the greatest double turn and this is a GIGANTIC part of what started the attitude era.
Cam: The Rock vs Brock Lesnar SummerSlam 2002.