Indeed, the 1980s were evolutionary, but the 1990s saw a landscape change in wrestling. Popular characters like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Iron Sheik, Muraco, and a lengthy list of others were now on a decline, while some retired. One thing that did not change was that there were very few entertaining activities other than watching wrestling.
WWE was now at its peak following crucial decisions made by McMahon with the help of other superstars. However, it was going to be the last decade of WCW and ECW. Profoundly serious characters engaging in very fierce fights characterized the 1990s, unlike the 80s, which had a sizable number of cartooned-face characters. There were lots of scenes you do not want to see in the 90s as wrestlers who went beyond the limits of entertainment filled the decade’s entertainment.
Here are the 10 Most Memorable Wrestling Moments that defined the 1990s!
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon
To have a match as one of the best requires the best characters’ presence, in a great form and a large audience.
The feud between these two wrestlers dominated the 90s. Razor was already at his peak at this time while Michaels was nearing the top of his illustrious wrestling career. This was one of the most notable ladders matches in wrestling history. The purpose of the ladders was not climbing; instead, the wrestlers would use the ladders in any way considered effective. In Mahon’s words, “the rule is that there are no rules.” The match occurred at the Madison Square Garden on March 20, 1994.
The interesting storyline leading to the fight was premised on the fact that Michaels lost his belt because he failed to fight within the stipulated 30 days. The belt then fell into the hands of the well-established Razor Ramon, and the two had to settle the score in a unique match at Madison. While Razor Ramon went away with the belt, the match launched Michaels to a different level, and he ended up becoming a force in the sport.
9. Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold
It was March 23, 1997. The date wrestling lovers had saved up somewhere, the date you could argue that the greatest wrestle mania match took place. The mind-blowing fights against Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair characterized Hart’s career. The match between Hart and Stone Cold was meant to be between Hart and Michaels, but Michaels’ knee injury opened the door for a rising star — Steve Austin.
At the end of the match in Illinois’ Rosemont Horizon, the ref had to end the match as Austin was lying in a pool of his blood. Years later, Austin would describe the fight as the biggest of his career. The audience felt it, the emotions turned. Austin became a hero with a phenomenally successful career, but it was Bret who walked out of the ring. The match was a victory for both parties. It was only the accolade that differed.
8. Ric Flair vs. Sting
Sting began his prolific wrestling career by teaming up with the great Ultimate Warrior in the 1980s, but he earned a name for himself in the 90s. In 1988, the first fight between these two was iconic as it lasted about 45 minutes before the referees judged it to have been a draw since they could not separate the two wrestlers.
The first major fight between the two in the 90s was in February 1990 when Sting beat Flair to win the world heavyweight championship before Flair returned to win the belt later. The rivalry between the two created beautiful wrestling scenes in the 1990s.
7. Steve Austin vs. Jack Roberts
Hart was the one who dominated the decade. Michaels, Undertaker, and others were gradually emerging. Roberts was a 1980 wrestler trying to rediscover his career, while Austin was the rising star known for his brutality. The King of the Rings 1996 final was not among those matches that took a decade, but it was one of the best moments of Austin’s career. If you think a final was meant to be a very heated match between two strong competitors, you got this wrong. The final was about Steve Austin, who did not take long before knocking out his opponent, who soon faded into obscurity after the match.
6. Shawn Michaels vs. Kevin Nash
Michaels and Nash were the story of another tag team that went from intimate friends to foes. The duo formed “Two dudes with attitude” in 1993. They both had a momentous year until 1994 when Shawn distracted Nash and made the latter lose his belt to Razor Ramon.
The duo faced each other in a brutal match in 1995, and despite the help of Sycho Sid, Shawn’s new bodyguard, Nash won the match in a unique style.
Shawn Michaels later blamed his new bodyguard’s intervention for the defeat, and he ended up reconciling with Nash. However, the two put up one of the most remarkable wrestling moments of the 1990s.
5. Bret Hart vs. Ric Flair
Bret was to the 90s what Hogan was to the 80s, and if there was a match that seals that statement, it was his match with Ric Flair. The date was October 1992. Flair was already an established wrestler, while Bret was still climbing the ladder in search of momentum that could sustain his excellent career. Why not? Bret embraced his opportunity by taking the belt off Ric Flair. Bret’s emergence at the top showed that wrestling was not just for the strongest and earning the fans’ support was about being flashy. Bret just worked hard and created one of the most remarkable scenes of 90s wrestling.
4. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart
This was a feud between the Hart brothers. For a family with all of them, either wrestlers or married to a wrestler, the fight for superiority was inevitable. No member of the Hart family was as good as Bret, but Owen, the last born of the family, was a rising star in the 1990s. The brothers tried making the match as violence-free as possible. The non-violence factor made them agree on escaping the cage as the deciding factor for the victory. The match earned the five-star rating, but a few would be disappointed because they have seen much more from Bret than they saw in the game.
3. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels
March 31, 1996, in Anaheim, California, was a remarkable date. Bret was the best wrestler of the 90s. He did not buy into the fashion and the lousy entrance of his rival. Michaels came down from the roof in remarkable fashion. The match was all about weakening a particular part of the body enough to easily knock out your opponent. The match lasted over forty minutes, and both wrestlers appeared very weak after the brutal beating. The fans enjoyed every moment of it as both were fans’ favorite, but it was Michael who got his first title with his amazing kick that knocked off his opponent. To date, there are very few matches in wrestling history that were as tensed, unpredictable, and exciting as the Bret vs. Michael’s wrestling match.
2. Mankind vs. The Rock
This was the year WWE took a different turn, characterized by violence and hostility. To distinguish themselves from the WWF, the WWE implemented unconventional rules, so the sport became vicious. The most notable difference between the 80s and 90s was the escalating level of violence. Foley (Mankind) took 11 chair hits to his head with his hands tied to the back. The scenes were uncomfortable to watch, but it was exactly what wrestling in the 90s was about.
Mankind and the Rock would make millennials, whose opinion that wrestling was an acted sport, put off their thought to watch this carefully.
1. Undertaker vs. Mankind
In 1998, there has been a change of form in wrestling, and this was a match that signified such change. It was about destruction. The introduction of the concept “hell in a cage” was not helpful either. Mankind suffered a dislocated jaw, a dislocated rib, broken teeth, and lots of injuries. He simply went beyond the script. The two wrestlers pushed wrestling beyond the boundaries of entertainment. There was nothing fake about the incident. If you watched that match live, you would never want to see anything like that again. Mankind was the wrestler known for putting extra commitment into his roles. Undertaker later admitted he thought for a moment whether Mankind was dead until he saw him move his body again. Though his commitment made him a remarkable career, he was still that good character you just do not want to watch because you knew he was going to try something crazy.
In conclusion, the 90s raised questions about the entertainment nature of the sport. The violent scenes went past all expectations as the wrestlers went beyond the conventional approach to the sport. However, there was never a time that wrestling has been more entertaining than it was in the 90s.
Author: Chris Ingledue
Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!