Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Wrestling with Trump: My Top 5 WWE Matches

by Oliver Clark


I first encountered Donald Trump not this past year in his political outings, not outside one of his many New York buildings on a family holiday last year, and not even on the US version of the Apprentice. I encountered him when watching the DVD for Wrestlemania 23, where he competed against the owner of WWE, Vince McMahon in a so called 'Battle of the Billionaires'. 

Donald's representative Bobby Lashley defeated Umaga, thanks to a little help from Stone Cold Steve Austin, and as a result, Trump shaved McMahon's head in front of an audience of 80,103 people. If you had told a 10 year old me that this man would soon be the President of the most powerful country in the world, I'd have been pretty damn ecstatic. Trump had just shaved the head of the crazy evil owner in the middle of a wrestling ring! What more could you want from a President?! 

Now although my views on Mr Trump have changed slightly in the ensuing years, as my political knowledge increased from just the heels and faces of wrestling stories, this is as much as I will reference the man in this article. I feel that the new President of the United States will result in a huge influx of Portsmouth Point articles over the coming months; therefore, in this article, I shall focus on something a little different. 

Wrestling. 

Now I'm sure we are all familiar with the copious yet never old myriad of John Cena memes on social media, but how many people really watch wrestling these days? I can honestly say that wrestling once was, and is becoming once again, a keen interest of mine. Outside of the plethora of terrible stories, poor booking decisions, awful matches and Donald Trump Barbershop Quartets, there have been some bouts that bring me, a dedicated sports fan, far more enjoyment than most football, basketball, rugby and tennis matches. So here it is, for anyone who has never seen wrestling before, or wants to spend an hour looking back at some fond childhood memories of the WWE, 

I have compiled a list of my 5 favourite matches in wrestling (unfortunately Trump's outing doesn't make the cut).

5. The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (Wrestlemania 17)


This match, had I been born a decade earlier, may well have topped my list. The 2 biggest names in the so called Attitude Era, an edgier product that began in the mid 90s and arguably ended after this night in 2001, both in their absolute prime, battling it out in the 2nd of their 3 Mania encounters. This match had it all, with both men putting everything they had into getting the title. A number of false finishes, stolen signature moves and a conclusion that shocked the landscape of the wrestling world, this is undoubtably one to watch for any fans wanting to look back at the golden days of the WWE.

4. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit (Wrestlemania 20)


This one is hard to put in to the list. Not due to the quality on show, but due to the tragic events of the Chris Benoit double murder of his wife and son and suicide that occurred only 3 years later. Despite the aftermath, this has to be looked upon as one of the greatest matches in wrestling history. The underdog Benoit, fighting against the powerful and dominant champion Triple H, and the defiant challenger that was the Heartbreak Kid Michaels. The match had everything: strong competitors, a great storyline, a couple of broken announce tables, and a finish that at the time was heart warming, but now always leaves a pinch of salt with this fan. It is still undoubtably worth a watch for the in ring quality on display.


3. John Cena vs CM Punk (Money in the Bank 2011)


It would seem rude to not have a John Cena match on here, simply because of how his name is... (cue the trumpets). But this match is something special, a true masterpiece of when wrestling mixed fact and fiction. In the summer of 2011 Punk's contract with the company was running out, and he subsequently went on a verbal tirade on an episode of the live Monday Night Raw, acting as the voice of fans who were unhappy with the current product. In the overly regulated and scripted world of wrestling, this had fans in shock. Was he meant to be saying he wished the owner of the company was dead?! The match, in Punk's hometown of Chicago, was nothing short of electric. Cena was told that he would be fired if he lost, as this would mean Punk leaving the company with the WWE Championship. Although the story would be ruined by the classically hapless WWE writing team, this was the high point of story telling in wrestling during the time that I watched.

2. Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Takerover Dallas)


Despite me not watching the current product outside of the main pay per views, this had to be on the list. This match is effectively the reason I wrote this list! NXT, WWE's development show, has become the home to the best rising talent in professional wrestling. Zayn was ready to move up to the main roster the next night at Wrestlemania 32, but when Nakamura, the flagship star of New Japan Pro Wrestling, signed for WWE, there was one final chance for Sami to bring the NXT roof down. This is here not for story, not for drama, but for being one of the best wrestling matches I've ever seen. The 20 minute tale that these 2 told in the ring, with no elaborate plot behind them, was mesmerising, and gives me hope that with these 2 rising stars, along with the likes of Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Cesaro and Kevin Owens, WWE can return back to the golden age of wrestling in the not too distant future. And also, Nakamura's entrance theme song is definitely worth a look on iTunes!

1.    Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 25)



And finally, the best of them all. The story was simple, one man, wanting to break the streak. Known as Mr Wrestlemania, Michaels genuinely thought he had what it took to beat the Undertakers undefeated streak on the grandest stage of them all, of the, which at the time stood at 16-0. The 2, both of whom were now in their 40s, put on the greatest match of all time. Numerous near falls, constant high drama, a dive over the top rope that nearly resulted in the Undertaker breaking his neck, this had it all. 30 minutes later, the fans gave a standing ovation to the two men. The rematch at the next year's event had even higher stakes, with Michaels' 20 year career on the line, but this was special. It was at this point that I had just started watching wrestling regularly, and this will undoubtably go down as the best match I've ever seen. This match showcases why wrestling is more than just large men parading around in speedos knowing who will win or lose. This showcases the art that is wrestling. 

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