This is a list I'm putting together to represent a sort of "snapshot" of 80s wrestling around the world. Essentially, it's an attempt to capture a look at what was perceived to be the best matches of the time, what were the best matches at the end of the decade, and what were the best matches with a little revisionism and new footage thrown in thirty+ years later (or, the present-day).
Instead of approaching this with my own personal preferences and picks in mind, I've decided to use qualifiers to select what matches to include to present an "unbiased" view. These are:
Contemporary View: These are any matches that finished in the runner-up lists of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter for the decade. These capture what matches were perceived to be great at the time by Meltzer and his subscribers.
"End of the Decade" View: These are matches included in Jeff Bowdren's Top 100 Matches of the Eighties list released in 1990 through the WON. Although not something compiled by "popular" vote, it still gives a good idea about what matches were thought to be great after an entire decade had passed. Substitute matches have been included where necessary.
"Revisionist" View: Since the 80s project is essentially dormant, I've decided to include matches here that were listed as "recommended viewing" for wrestlers included in the top 100 of the PWO GWE list. This includes many of the top finishers in the project as well as ones from JCP and other territories where sets or voting are not complete. This part of the list would be representative of those matches which were not thought of at the time to be great (for whatever reason) or for which footage has not become readily available until recently.
I'm toying with a fourth category, Historical, which would encompass the PWI Match of the Year runners-up. These include a lot of matches which are not technically great but may be included for historical purposes (Hogan/Andre, etc.). However, there is some real junk in here so I am not completely decided on whether to incorporate this into the mix.
Here is 1980-1982 to give you an idea about what it will look like:
Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Dynamite Kid (NJPW 2/5/1980) (GWE Recommendation)
Bob Backlund vs. Ken Patera (Texas Death Match) (WWF 5/19/80) (WON MOTY, GWE Recommendation)
Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko (Cage Match) (WWF 8/9/80) (WON MOTY Runner-Up)
Roddy Piper vs. Buddy Rose (2/3 Falls) (Portland 9/13/1980) (GWE Recommendation)
Nick Bockwinkel vs. Billy Robinson (AJPW 12/11/1980) (GWE Recommendation)
Jerry Lawler vs. Terry Funk (No DQ) (Memphis 3/23/1981) (GWE Recommendation)
Pat Patterson vs. Sgt. Slaughter (Alley Fight) (WWF 5/4/81) (WON MOTY, Bowdren Top 100, GWE Recommendation)
Louisville Brawl (Memphis 5/26/81) (Bowdren Top 100)
Ricky Morton & Eddie Gilbert vs. Masa Fuchi & Atsushi Onita (Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl) (Memphis 9/4/81) (Bowdren Top 100, GWE Recommendation)
Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair (Finish Only) (NWA 9/17/81) (WON MOTY Runner-Up)
Stan Hansen vs. Andre the Giant (NJPW 9/23/1981) (GWE Recommendation)
Bruiser Brody & Jimmy Snuka vs. Dory and Terry Funk (AJPW 12/13/81) (Bowdren Top 100)
Bob Backlund vs. Adrian Adonis (WWF 1/18/82) (WON MOTY Runner-Up, GWE Recommendation)
Giant Baba vs. Stan Hansen (AJPW 2/4/82) (GWE Recommendation)
Jerry Lawler vs. Dutch Mantell (Barbed Wire Match) (Memphis 3/29/1982) (GWE Recommendation)
Andre the Giant vs. Killer Khan (NJPW 4/1/82) (GWE Recommendation
Buddy Rose vs. Matt Borne (2/3 Falls, Lumberjack Match) (Portland 6/12/1982) (GWE Recommendation)
Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka (Cage Match) (WWF 6/28/82) (WON MOTY Runner-Up)
Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid (NJPW 8/5/82) (WON MOTY, Bowdren Top 100)
Tiger Mask vs. Dynamite Kid (WWF 8/30/82) (Bowdren Top 100)
Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody vs. Dory and Terry Funk (AJPW 12/13/82) (Bowdren Top 100)
Ric Flair vs. Kerry Von Erich (Cage Match) (WCCW 12/25/82) (WON MOTY Runner-Up, Bowdren Top 100)
"Qualified," But No Known Footage -- These are all WON MOTY runners-up
Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Mid-Atlantic 2/7/82)
Ric Flair vs. Bob Backlund (Georgia 4/7/82)
Buddy Rose vs. David Schultz (Chain Match) (Portland 6/82)
Ric Flair vs. Stan Hansen (Georgia 10/3/82)
Potential PWI Inclusions ("Presumably" means the exact match is not known but I've made an educated guess as to which is being referred to)
Dusty Rhodes vs. Bob Backlund (NJPW 5/27/80)
Verne Gagne vs. Nick Bockwinkel (AWA 7/18/80)
Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan (WWF 8/9/80, Presumably)
Andre the Giant vs. Killer Khan (WWF 4/13/81, "Ankle Break" match, No Footage) 5/2/81 is thrown around as this match's date but appears to be incorrect, especially if Rochester is the correct location.
Bob Backlund vs. Don Muraco (Texas Death Match) (WWF 9/21/81, Presumably)
Michael Hayes vs. Terry Gordy (Georgia 1981, Exact Date Unknown, No Footage)
Nick Bockwinkel vs. Otto Wanz (AWA 8/29/82) Curiously, two matches are listed in the runner-up results. One is almost certainly the initial title change. The other is probably not the second title change as it falls outside of PWI's traditional cutoff date for voting (which is a problem in and of itself as matches in the latter half of the year get shafted by PWI). It can be assumed that the second runner-up match is one of the rematches in early September. Either way, the initial title change is the only one I know of that was filmed.
Any thoughts are more than welcome. I think it gives a good global view of the wrestling scene without focusing too much on any one particular wrestler or territory. Sure, there is a lot of good stuff missing but I had to draw the line somewhere. There is also some stuff that doesn't hold up but that's part of it. I'll do the rest of the decade and the 90s and 00s in follow-up posts or topics.