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Top 50 WWWF/WWF/WWE headliners


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Guest Hunter's Torn Quad

But in figuring who deserves it, from a McMahon standpoint, would be who headlined successfully. So here's the formula. We'll start with when Vince Sr. took over Madison Square Garden, which was November 1956. Since MSG was the main arena and focal point of the company, we'll award points for headlining MSG. One point for a main event, three points for a sellout. MSG shows will be considered through the spring of 1995, when the company went to monthly PPV shows.

 

Well also consider PPVs from Wrestlemania I to the present since PPVs are so much bigger than MSG, we'll go two points for a main event and four for either a 1.0 buy rate, or after PPV hit 40 million homes, for hitting 400,000 buys. Wrestlemania will be five for a main event, except for 1997, because it flopped. All shows that hit 600,000 buys will also be considered equivalent to Mania. A few record breaking events (WM 3 & 17. Austin vs. Undertaker on Raw) would be worth six points. The three Shea Stadium shows will be considered as the equivalent of WrestleMania?s, because that's what they were for their time. There are flaws with every model, but it rewards people who were successful main eventers and throws a lot of emotional judgment (and ability in the ring) out of it. The main flaws are, a lot more current guys are figured in because more guys are in main event positions, plus the PPV shows are weighed more highly than MSG house shows, giving more opportunity for points. But it would be ridiculous to consider an MSG house show equivalent to a national PPV, and the current wrestlers are drawing 40 times the revenue, so in that sense they are more prominent as stars. Also, the current generation has an edge because in the old days, wrestlers went from territory to territory. You got your three main events, worked a few more months, then went somewhere else. From 1963-83, virtually every MSG main event consisted of the champion against a challenger of the month. So the champs look ultra strong here because they always headlined, but they were usually faces. Other faces who were a big deal, notably Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, Chief Jay Strongbow, Peter Maivia (until his turn) and Mil Mascaras in the 70?s, almost never worked main events, Andre never had an MSG main event until the company went national, as even his biggest grudge matches against the likes of John Studd, Blackjack Mulligan, Hulk Hogan (first go around) and Killer Khan were behind Backlund's title defenses. Rhodes and Mascaras only did when Billy Graham was champion. Strongbow only did a few times in tag teams with Sammartino. Looking at that, we can see who are people who should be unquestioned Hall of Famers, borderline picks, and weak picks, and counting backwards, here are the top 50:

 

Some notes on people who didn?t make the top 50: Adrian Adonis was an awesome worker, whose weight issues killed his career. Argentina Apollo was brought in as a replacement for Rocca, but like Lex Luger being given Hulk Hogan's spot, or Tommy Rich & Eddie Gilbert were made the new Fabs in Memphis, the barefoot high flier gimmick had been done and people seeing a copy only made them want the original. Spyros Arion was Sammartino's best rival before Graham and Zbyszko. The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Hefferman) would have been the best drawing tag team in company history outside of The Grahams and Rocca & Perez. Owen Hart will get in at some point, but it's the situation with his wife and family that has probably held it up until this point. Curt Hennig is almost a lock to get in, but rarely headlined and didn't draw well in the promotion, but is remembered as a bigger deal than he was because he was an awesome worker at his peak. Honky Tonk Man is remembered as a bigger draw than he was, and came nowhere near top 50, but he's an unforgettable character and the "greatest IC champion of all-time" is probably no more accurate than JBL's "greatest champion of all-time," but it was said so often that some people actually remember it as being so. Also, he was a long-term IC champ at a time when the company had tremendous national visibility. I see him getting inducted at some point. Don Leo Jonathan was the most agile giant of his time, and was the most physically impressive opponent for Sammartino and Morales, but only had one WWWF run his entire career. Killer Kowalski and Ernie Ladd, who are both in, are remembered as bigger WWWF draws than they really were. Kowalski wrestled all over the world, but was probably biggest in Montreal, where he was one of that area's all-time great heels. Ladd was also a traveller, but only had three serious company runs, one when he was green, one as a legitimate star, and one when he was well past his prime that ended quickly. Peter Maivia headlined against Backlund and Graham, and may make it in because of his grandson. In many ways, "High Chief Peter Maivia was a late 70s version of Chief Jay Strongbow as the babyface who never headlined, but also almost never lost Mil Mascaras never worked full-time for the company, as during the 70s he was an international touring attraction, but was always a big deal as an attraction in MSG off his exposure on Los Angeles television. He and Dusty Rhodes were considered at pretty much the same level. Rhodes was invited this year, but didn't accept, but probably will be in at some point. Mascaras, I'm not so sure, because when Vince Jr. took over, he never booked Mascaras as much of anything, and there was always company resentment of Mascaras when he refused to job, and didn?t even want to sell much, for Superstar Graham in MSG during what was supposed to be their feud blow-off (they had to do a lame DQ finish instead). Toru Tanaka is borderline, but history hasn't remembered him well.

 

Others with more than five points to their credit are Johnny Barend, who was another tag team partner of Rogers'; Brutus Beefcake (only a headliner due to being Hogan's friend); Bam Bam Bigelow (headlined one Wrestlemania against Lawrence Taylor); Bulldog Brower. Edouard Carpentier (a major international name but only worked MSG briefly in the late 50s, but was a headliner); Bobby Duncum Sr.; Cowboy Bob Ellis; Jackie Fargo; Pampero Firpo; Bill Goldberg; Eddie Guerrero; JBL; Lex Luger; Shane McMahon; King Curtis Iaukea, Scott Hall as Razor Ramon; Hans Schmidt; The Sheik; Don Stevens; Vader, Rob Van Dam; Crusher Verdu; Bill Watts and Mighty Zuma; along with people in the WWE Hall of Fame like Brazil (who McMahon Sr. used extensively as a headliner in building Washington, DC, which was the home base of his Capital Sports company for years. but only main evented MSG a few times), Patterson. Putski, Race. Rhodes, Santana, Strongbow, Studd and Volkoff.

 

50. King Kong Bundy, Bob Orton Sr, Larry Zbyszko and Waldo Von Erich. - None of the four are in. Von Erich was a major Sammartino rival in the 60s and 70s, but I'd say he's borderline, and probably will never get in as he doesn?t have the allies and few remember him. Bundy headlined against Hogan and Andre in the 80s, and that was a period far better remembered, and he was on top at Wrestlemania II. Orton Sr. was Buddy Rogers' tag partner. While his son is better remembered because he headlined during a period of great visibility, the father had a better track record on top. Zbyszko makes it largely for the Sammartino feud, which drew a gate record that blew away anything ever in North America up to mat point in time, and the feud also did record business in nearly every other arena in the territory. But aside from that few month period in 1980, was never a main eventer. He left shortly after the Sammartino match at Shea Stadium over money from the show (he got about a $23,000 payoff), and never came back.

 

47. Eddie Graham, Big Show and Stan Stasiak. Graham was mainly tag partner with Dr. Jerry, and were the top rivals of Rocca & Perez. Show was groomed to be the next Andre, but didn?t cut it, but earned more than all but a few on this list. Stasiak was Morales' top rival as the heart punch master. At this level, Graham and Stasiak in my mind are marginal.

 

45. Iron Sheik and Jimmy Snuka - Both are thought of as having headlined more than they did. Sheik really worked more in the middle except for a few Backlund and Hogan matches. Snuka headlined some, and drew tremendously when he did, but his longevity was short. He's remembered better because the Muraco and Piper feuds were groundbreaking at their time.

 

44. Ken Patera - Headlined with Sammartino and Backlund and was always considered a stronger challenger because of his strength background than most Not in. but should be.

 

42. Freddie Blassie and Paul Omdorff - Omdorff is thought of higher because his feud with Hogan was among the biggest in history, and could be argued was me best house show feud in company history. He headlined WM I, but really didn't main event nearly as much as people remember. Blassie?s career was more in Georgia and California, but his percentage of MSG main events that were sellouts ranks only behind Billy Graham.

 

40. Ric Flair and Greg Valentine - Flair had a good run in 1992-93, and came back when he was 52, but most of his career wasn?t in WWF. Valentine was one of Backlund?s top rivals, and headlined with Hogan as well As irony would have it, the two were also a championship tag team and later major rivals in the Carolinas.

 

35. Ted DiBiase, Randy Orton, Sid Vicious, Davey Boy Smith and Brock Lesnar -DiBiase isn't in, but likely will be. Vicious, who knows? I'm figuring that Smith & Dynamite Kid (who actually never headlined himself) may go in together. Vicious was given chances to be a top 10 guy, but always dropped the ball.

 

33. Don Muraco and Stan Hansen - Hansen is mostly remembered as a Japanese star, but drew great after accidentally breaking Sammartino's neck, and later had a strong run with Backlund. Hansen is not in, because he really only had two short, but very successful, runs with the company.

 

31. Gorilla Monsoon and Sgt Slaughter ?

 

29. George Steele and Jerry Graham. Graham on paper is an oversight, but I?d qualify that. He is a guy who was out of his mind, and his own worst enemy. But as a child, he was also Vince McMahon's favorite wrestler. The hold-ups may be that he was such a drunk that the Vince Sr. would every few years give him a chance, and he?d always show up way out of shape and screw up to where he had a huge track record as a draw and no promoter in the country would touch him. Think about that, in an era with 35 companies, when you have the constant screw-ups today who cant do enough to get fired no matter how bad their track record is. Truth is, Graham is remembered far more for the negative and the insanity, but his track record shows he was one of the great heels of his time.

 

27. Ultimate Warrior and Johnny Valentine. Two names with interesting perceptions, neither of whom are in. Warrior is probably remembered as a better draw than he was, largely because of the Hogan match. But he did sell boatloads of merchandise and had a $2 million year, and very few men in wrestling can ever claim that. Valentine is forgotten as a WWWF star, thought of more as an NWA star, and is a major oversight.

 

23. Chris Benoit, Kevin Nash, Vince McMahon and Yokozuna. Yokozuna is an oversight who belongs in. Nash had a one year title run that didn't draw at the houses, but a year on top is a long time.

 

21. Ivan Koloff and Roddy Piper - Koloff will always be remembered as the man who beat Sammartino. He had so much beat for that he probably could have headlined for months, but instead they got him out of the territory immediately for fear hatred of him would be that bad, and didn't bring him back for nearly five years. A major oversight Piper, because he was the top heel during an important time in history, he's probably remembered as having headlined more than he actually did. By 1987, he retired, and never really worked full-time in the ring after that for the company.

 

20. Andre the Giant - Should be top five of all-time, but he was always a high card attraction rather than a main event during his prime.

 

17. Buddy Rogers, Kane and Chris Jericho tied, with the latter two being on top on a number of PPVs. Rogers would have been higher but he only worked MSG for two years, but was always the main event and a great draw. That was a pivotal period in company history as he was the NWA champion that Vince McMahon Sr. didn't want losing. McMahon Sr. quit the NWA and formed the WWWF when the decision was made to go from Rogers as champion to Lou Thesz (a match that was delayed several times as Rogers kept getting injured right before their scheduled matches), who was not nearly the same level of draw in New York. Many at the time felt McMahon Sr.'s plan was to steal the NWA belt by forming the WWWF anyway, making Rogers the champ, and have him never drop his NWA title back. It wouldn't be the last time a McMahon had that plan, because Vince Jr. tried to do the same thing in 1983 by trying to get Harley Race to join him and no-show his scheduled title loss to Ric Flair. If you are listing the most important wrestling figures in company history, due to the time period he was on top and how business was in those days, Rogers would probably be behind only Sammartino, Hogan, Austin and possibly Rocca.

 

16. Mick Foley - Was just hitting his stride as a draw when the punishment he took from overdoing things early caught up with him.

 

15. Kurt Angle - Headlined a lot of successful shows, as five years being a top guy is a lot of longevity in a one-company world.

 

14. Miguel Perez - Argentina Rocca's partner. Still alive and living in Puerto Rico, and the father of the current wrestler of the same name. A major oversight Largely forgotten because his heyday was in the 50s, and he was working prelims by the mid-60s. He never once headlined in a singles match.

 

13. Randy Savage - A few title reigns and the highest ranking heel of the 80s. A major oversight him not being asked to be in yet. I have to think it's coming.

 

12. Shawn Michaels - A back injury had him out for more than four years, as he was only 32 when it appeared his career was over, and his comeback came at 36.

 

11. Bret Hart - Was the company's top star for five years, but main events revolved more, plus it was a down period for business.

 

10. Superstar Billy Graham - Sold out 19 of his 20 MSG main events, a mark that may hold up for a long time. Even though HHH finished higher, you can probably make a case for him as the best heel in company history.

 

9. Pedro Morales - Headlined every show from 1971-73 and sold out 21 out of his 30 main events. He finished the highest of any inactive wrestler not in the Observer Hall of Fame.

 

8. Argentina Rocca -The company's top draw of the 50s, and he'd be higher except many of his main events came for other promoters who ran MSG before Vince Sr.

 

7. Undertaker - He's just been around and headlined so many times that he finishes this high.

 

6. Rock - Would have probably been up to No. 3 on the all-time list already, and ended up at No. 2 or No. 1, except Hollywood called. Another lock.

 

5. HHH - Because he?s current, people don't realize he's been headlining now for almost seven years straight He's almost always in the main events, for the obvious reasons, and unless he suffers a career ending injury, will wind up No. 2 on this list. He's not just a lock to get in, but he'll probably build the damn thing after he retires and have a section just for himself.

 

4. Steve Austin - Of course he's a lock to get in at some point. At his peak, there was nobody ever bigger. Due to injuries, he didn?t hit No.2, as he couldn?t match the longevity of those above him. Still, when it comes to actual money drawn, even with his shorter reign as a headliner, he would probably be No. 1 of all-time.

 

3. Bob Backlund - This again shows he needs to be in, as he headlined from 1978-83, and a few times after that, during a period when business was strong virtually the entire time. He drew 41 sellouts in 67 MSG main events.

 

2. Hulk Hogan - The man who made the company a success on PPV. Only three men in company history where you could say, without any question, that had they not been there, the company's popularity during that period would not have come close to what it was, and the course of wrestling history would have been significantly different.

 

1. Sammartino - Headlined virtually every MSG show from May of 1963 until January of 1971, and again from December of 1973 through May of 1977. While his often-repeated claim of selling out 187 out of 211 main events are terribly exaggerated (45 out of 130 is closer to accurate), his record is impressive because for much of his first run the company had a horrible television time, and for a while, no television. To show his strength, when the company got TV back in the late 60s on a weak Spanish language UHF station out of New Jersey that aired late at night, he immediately started setting box office records, even though his rivals were unknowns like Crusher Verdu (who never did anything anywhere else) and Bepo Mongol (a young Nikolai Volkoff). Even though others have the advantage of being in higher profile shows, his longevity as the top star makes him the company?s most enduring legend.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

AWESOME!~

 

23. Chris Benoit, Kevin Nash, Vince McMahon and Yokozuna. Yokozuna is an oversight who belongs in. Nash had a one year title run that didn't draw at the houses, but a year on top is a long time.

This is so messed up.

 

5. HHH - Because he?s current, people don't realize he's been headlining now for almost seven years straight He's almost always in the main events, for the obvious reasons, and unless he suffers a career ending injury, will wind up No. 2 on this list. He's not just a lock to get in, but he'll probably build the damn thing after he retires and have a section just for himself.

I was actually wondering the other day how many shows HHH has headlined in comparison to Hogan. And he only had 2 Mania ME's.

 

3. Bob Backlund - This again shows he needs to be in, as he headlined from 1978-83, and a few times after that, during a period when business was strong virtually the entire time. He drew 41 sellouts in 67 MSG main events.

How long did it take for Bob to make it into the WON HOF?

 

2. Hulk Hogan - The man who made the company a success on PPV. Only three men in company history where you could say, without any question, that had they not been there, the company's popularity during that period would not have come close to what it was, and the course of wrestling history would have been significantly different.

I think what's really scary, is that if you did the same thing for WCW he'd probably be near the top as well.

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Guest Some Guy

12. Shawn Michaels - A back injury had him out for more than four years, as he was only 32 when it appeared his career was over, and his comeback came at 36.

I suppose that might shut a few up who claim that HBK never drew. Without the injury he would have had countless matches with Austin, Rock, Foley, Taker, etc... and would have ended up near the top.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

I can't stand that bullshit.

 

"Without the injury" "If it wasn't for Hollywood". It is what it is and should be judged as such.

 

Michaels got big points for WM 14 and WM XX, and he had little to do with eithers success.

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It could've been clearer at the outset that Meltzer was evaluating WWE Hall of Fame candidates. It took me a few paragraphs to catch on. In any case, Yokozuna's exclusion surprises me, as WWE always spoke favorably of him, and Vince has always been on good terms with the Samoan wrestling clan.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

Same here. I was like "I thought they were already in the WON HOF and "Why would they get in the WON HOF".

 

I'd say that when they dry up the 80's well, they'll move on to the 90's. They have to get all the Mania ME'ers in, I imagine.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

It's hard to induct tag teams, especially for WON since there is a lot more critical thought being put into it.

 

With the WWE, there hasn't really been a tag team that hasn't had one person go on to a successful singles career.

 

Demolition, clearly, will get in someday. LOD will get in as well. The Steiner brothers. The Rougeaus. The HOF is WM-focused, so once they get done with WM 1, they'll move up.

 

The Bulldogs is an interesting one, and would be more based on Billingtons willingness/ability to participate than anything. If he's game, then the bulldogs will get in. If not, then Davy Boy will and Dynamite will probably be left to the sideline.

 

I wonder if Terry and Dory will go in together?

 

Zenk and Martel is an interesting question, since the Can Am wasn't a big team, but shit, Tito Santana got in. The Killer Bees. Nasty Boys. It will be very interesting to see if they put the Brainbusters in together.

 

It's important to remember that the WWE is looking to call every match that has ever taken place at Wm as a HOF-caliber match.

 

Bob Ueker has to get in. And I wouldn't mind seeing Vanna White get into a cat fight with Trish.

 

The Headshrikers, the Islanders, Barbarian and Haku in general is a good ?

 

I wonder if Earthquake will go in on his own, or with Typhoon. Or if he will go in at all. I can't imagine they'd leave him out, considering all the WM's hes been in.

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Guest Some Guy

I can't stand that bullshit.

 

"Without the injury" "If it wasn't for Hollywood".  It is what it is and should be judged as such.

 

Michaels got big points for WM 14 and WM XX, and he had little to do with eithers success.

I did this on TSM and I'll repost it here:

 

HBK drew a bad house in MSG and a bad rating on Raw (during the height of the nWo angle and with no one else on the show worth a shit at the time, 96 was truely a one man show while Bret was gone) and based pretty much soley on that people have decided that he couldn't draw.

 

BTW, from Cawthon's site:

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - March 17, 1996 (17,000; sell out; 14,824 paid)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - May 19, 1996 (18,800; sell out; 16,564 paid)

Survivor Series 96 - New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - November 17, 1996 (18,647; 16,266 paid)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - January 25, 1997 (matinee) (16,634; 13,480 paid)

 

I'd say Shawn drew some decent houses at MSG.

 

He had 1 so so one and 1 really bad one:

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - August 9, 1996 (11,314)

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - September 29, 1996 (matinee) (6,747; 3,917 paid)

 

Here's a sample of Bret on top:

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - November 25, 1995 (7,400)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - January 26, 1996 (15,000; 12,800 paid)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - October 6, 1995 (9,000; 7,900 paid)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - August 25, 1994 (4,300)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - May 20, 1994 (11,000)

 

I never hear that he couldn't draw though. I'm a fan of both guys but it seems to me that most people don't like HBK as a person and pick and choose their arguements to say that he couldn't draw and since Bret is well like by the IWC his failures are ignored.

 

To which HTQ replied:

 

Bret deserves as much credit for the Survivor Series '96 MSG sellout as Shawn, considering his big return was promoted just as heavily as Shawn's match against Sid.

 

And while moneywise, Shawn was a pretty good draw, ratings wise, he was terrible. While some of that can be blamed on going against the NWO, it was also down to the fact that his babyface persona was a huge turnoff for the heavily male fanbase of the WWF.

To which I reply:

 

Yes, Bret does deserve some credit for SS 96 and a few of the MSG shows. The only reason I picked him was because they are attached at the hip in history and there is a huge double standard when it comes to Bret and Shawn in the IWC. They like one guy and don't like the pther by and large.

 

Shawn drew poor ratings with no one around worth anything at that point. The only guy on the show during Bret's absence who ever drew anything was Taker and he wasn't close to the ME. I think an alwful lot of Shawn's failure as a ratings draw can be blamed on nWo. That was the hottest angle in wrestling history up to that point.

 

When Bret came back the ratings didn't exactly sky rocket right away. It wasn't until after Raw went 2 hours, Bret turned heel and Austin started taking off that WF started to become cool again and started drawing new fans in. WCW had their own fan base and syphoned off WWF in 96.

 

The thing that irritates me is that people point to the 1.6 and the bad house in MSG and say that Shawn couldn't draw. Bret drew a worse house in Aug 94 (6 months after winning the WWF title in that same building and having all the faces carry him a round the ring on their shoulders) and I had never heard about it until I looked on Cawthon's site.

 

I agree that Shawn's 96 face character didn't suit him and was in some ways worse than the one he has now. He was meant to be a heel, he had the look, the attitude, and the ring style, he shouldn't have been a virtuous babyface with his 70 year old trainer at his side.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

I never mentioned Bret once. Though you probably should give the line up of those shows. You've omitted certain things which means you are padding the results.

 

You said Shawn being ranked so high should "shut up" those who said he wasn't a draw, I merely explained why he would be ranked so high and some of it didn't have anything to do with him.

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Guest Some Guy

I'll do all the shows that HBK was in the ME and/or title match.

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - March 17, 1996 (17,000; sell out; 14,824 paid)

Aldo Montoya pinned Isaac Yankem DDS with a small package

Justin Bradshaw pinned Avatar with the lariat

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated Skip & Zip

Steve Austin defeated Barry Horowitz with the Million $ Dream

WWF World Champion Bret Hart & Undertaker defeated Diesel & Shawn Michaels via disqualification when Diesel hit the Undertaker with a steel chair as Taker had Michaels set up for the tombstone; after the match, Diesel hit Hart with the chair before doing the same to his own tag team partner

Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Duke Drose in a No DQ match following the Pedigree onto a trash can lid

WWF IC Champion Goldust pinned Savio Vega in a No Count-Out match after using the title belt as a weapon

Ahmed Johnson pinned the 1-2-3 Kid with the Pearl River Plunge

Jake Roberts & Yokozuna (w/ George Steele) defeated Davey Boy Smith & Owen Hart following the DDT and a legdrop; during the match, Jim Cornette was handcuffed to Steele at ringside for the duration of the bout (Roberts' return to MSG after more than a 4 year absence)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - May 19, 1996 (18,800; sell out; 16,564 paid)

The Bushwhackers defeated Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy

Savio Vega pinned Bob Backlund

Ahmed Johnson defeated Davey Boy Smith via disqualification when Owen Hart interfered

The Ultimate Warrior pinned Owen Hart with a flying shoulder block (Warrior's return to MSG after Summer Slam 91)

Steve Austin pinned Jake Roberts

Vader pinned Yokozuna with the Vader Bomb

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Skip & Zip to win the titles when Phinneas pinned Skip with the Slop Drop

Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Razor Ramon with the Pedigree; after the bout, Ramon grabbed the microphone to say goodbye to the WWF fans but officials cut the power to the mic (Razor's last match in the WWF for nearly 6 years)

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels defeated Diesel in a steel cage match by escaping through the door after hitting the superkick; after the match, Razor and Helmsley returned to the ring, broke kayfabe, and embraced with the two participants (Diesel's last match in the WWF for nearly 6 years)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - August 9, 1996 (11,314)

Included a Jim Ross in-ring interview with Mark Henry regarding the Olympics which was eventually interrupted by Hunter Hearst Helmsley; Henry quickly scared Helmsley out of the ring

Justin Bradshaw pinned Aldo Montoya with the lariat at 5:01

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy at 10:42 when Henry pinned the illegal man with the Slop Drop

Marc Mero pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley with a leg roll up at 9:02

Mankind defeated Jake Roberts via submission with the Mandible Claw at the 37 second mark after attacking Roberts on the floor before the match began (Mankind's MSG debut)

Vader fought Psycho Sid to a double count-out at 10:16

Yokozuna (sub. for WWF IC Champion Ahmed Johnson) pinned Owen Hart with a leg drop and the Bonzai Drop at 6:37

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels pinned Goldust with a flying elbow drop and the superkick at 17:05; immediately after the match, Mankind attacked the champion until the Undertaker made the save

WWF Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns defeated Skip & Zip when Bart scored the pin at 7:23 after hitting the Sidewinder behind the referee's back

Savio Vega pinned Davey Boy Smith at 7:32 by lifting his shoulder out of an abdominal stretch into a roll up

The Undertaker defeated Steve Austin via disqualification at 9:23 when Mankind interfered after Austin sustained the tombstone; after the bout, Goldust and Shawn Michaels also involved themselves in the brawl

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - September 29, 1996 (matinee) (6,747; 3,917 paid)

Salvatore Sincere defeated Bob Holly with the Sincerely Yours

Justin Bradshaw pinned Alex Porteau with a lariat

Jake Roberts pinned TL Hopper

Barry Windham pinned the Goon with the superplex

WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith defeated Henry & Phinneas Godwinn, the Smoking Gunns, and the Grimm Twins in a four corners match; Billy Gunn pinned one of the Grimm Twins; the Bulldog pinned Henry; Owen pinned Bart as Sunny distracted Billy

Vader pinned Psycho Sid in a lumberjack match with the moonsault after Steve Austin interfered and hit the Stunner on Sid

Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Freddie Joe Floyd with the Pedigree

Steve Austin pinned Savio Vega with the Stunner

WWF IC Champion Marc Mero defeated Farooq via disqualification after Farooq hit the champion with the title belt

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels & the Undertaker defeated Mankind & Goldust when Michaels pinned Goldust with the superkick after kissing him

Survivor Series 96 - New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - November 17, 1996 (18,647; 16,266 paid)

Free For All: Bart Gunn, Jesse Jammes, Aldo Montoya, & Bob Holly defeated Billy Gunn, Justin Bradshaw (w/ Zebakiah), the Sultan (w/ the Iron Sheik), & Salvatore Sincere; the Sultan defeated Aldo via submission with the Camel Clutch; Bart pinned Salvatore; Bradshaw pinned Holly; James pinned Bradshaw; James pinned the Sultan; Billy pinned James; Bart pinned Billy (Free For All)

Doug Furnas, Phil LaFon, Henry & Phinneas Godwinn (w/ Hillbilly Jim) defeated Marty Jannetty, Leif Cassidy, WWF Tag Team Champions Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith; Henry pinned Marty Jannetty with the Slop Drop after Jannetty hit the corner; Owen Hart pinned Henry with a spin wheel kick seconds later; the Bulldog pinned Phinneas with the running powerslam after Phinneas knocked Owen to the floor; LaFon pinned Leif Cassidy with a modified inverted superplex; LaFon pinned the Bulldog with a crucifix into a sunset flip (Bulldog clipped LaFon in the knee after the pin); Furnas pinned Owen with an overhead belly to belly suplex after Owen hit the corner

The Undertaker pinned Mankind (w/ Paul Bearer) with the tombstone; Paul Bearer was locked in a cage high above the ring for the duration of the match; after the bout, the Executioner attacked the Undertaker - allowing Bearer to escape the cage without harm

Marc Mero (w/ Sable), Barry Windham, Rocky Miavia, & Jake Roberts (sub. for Mark Henry) defeated WWF IC Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Goldust (w/ Marlena), Crush, & Jerry Lawler; Roberts pinned Lawler with the DDT after avoiding a slam; Goldust pinned Windham with the Curtain Call after Crush nailed Windham in the kidney from the apron; Mero pinned Helmsley with the Mero Sault as Helmsley was distracted by Roberts; Crush pinned Mero with the Heart Punch after Mero missed a dive to the floor; Crush pinned Roberts with the Heart Punch after avoiding the short clothesline; Rocky pinned Crush with a crossbody after Crush accidentally hit Goldust with the Heart Punch; Rocky pinned Goldust with a running shoulder breaker (Miavia's TV debut)

Bret Hart pinned Steve Austin by kicking off the top turnbuckle as he was caught in the Million $ Dream; due to prematch stipulations, Hart earned a world title shot for In Your House "It's Time"; named Pro Wrestling Torch's Match of the Year (Hart's return TV match from WrestleMania XII)

Savio Vega, Yokozuna, Flash Funk, & Jimmy Snuka (mystery partner) fought Farooq (w/ the Nation), Vader (w/ Jim Cornette), Razor Ramon II, & Diesel II to a draw; Diesel pinned Savio with the powerbomb after Farooq rammed Savio into the ring post on the floor; Snuka pinned Razor with a knee drop and the splash off the top; all the competitors were disqualified seconds later when Savio Vega returned with a chair and all the wrestlers began brawling; during the bout, Vader sustained a shoulder injury from Yokozuna (Flash's debut; Snuka's first match back in 3 years)

Psycho Sid pinned WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario) to win the title with the powerbomb after hitting the champion with a video camera on the floor; moments prior, Sid hit Lothario with the same video camera; after the match, Lothario was taken backstage on a stretcher with Michaels close behind (Shawn Michaels: Heartbreak Express Tour)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - January 25, 1997 (matinee) (16,634; 13,480 paid)

Rocky Miavia defeated Salvatore Sincere

Farooq & Crush defeated Ahmed Johnson & Savio Vega when Vega turned on Ahmed; after the bout, the Nation attacked Johnson

Steve Austin defeated Goldust

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated Bob Holly & WWF Tag Team Champion Owen Hart

WWF IC Champion Hunter Hearst Helmsley defeated Jake Roberts

Bret Hart defeated Vader via disqualification

Psycho Sid defeated the Undertaker via count-out

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels defeated Mankind

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - September 22, 1997 (14,615; sell out; 10,672 paid)

Steve Corino defeated Jimmy Cicero

The Brooklyn Brawler won a 20-man battle royal to earn a world title shot during the 11/15 MSG event; other participants included: Los Boricuas, DOA, the Truth Commission, Brian Christopher, Scott Taylor, the Headbangers, and the New Blackjacks, among others

Crush & Chainz defeated Recon & Sniper via disqualification

WWF World Champion Bret Hart defeated the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels by pinning Michaels after the Undertaker hit the tombstone on Michaels but was pulled out of the ring by the Hart Foundation

Shotgun:

Vader & the Patriot defeated Henry & Phinneas Godwinn when Vader pinned Phinneas with the powerbomb

Jesse Jammes pinned Flash Funk with a side slam after Jerry Lawler interfered

Savio Vega & Miguel Perez defeated the New Blackjacks when Perez hit Bradshaw with a spin kick after Los Boricuas interfered

Raw is War - included Steve Austin hitting the Stunner on WWF owner Vince McMahon during a segment in which McMahon said he would not allow Austin to compete due to his neck injury, laying the foundation for the Austin vs. McMahon feud which took place the following year; it was prior to the telecast that Vince McMahon came to Bret Hart about breaking his contract which ultimately resulted in the Montreal Incident several weeks later and Hart leaving for WCW:

WWF IC Championship Tournament: Ahmed Johnson pinned Rocky Miavia at 4:56 with the Pearl River Plunge; the Nation came to the ring with Miavia but were sent backstage by Sgt. Slaughter before the bout began

The Legion of Doom defeated Farooq & Kama via disqualification when the rest of the Nation interfered; after the bout, Ahmed Johnson attempted to make the save but was also beaten down

WWF IC Championship Tournament Semi-Finals: Owen Hart defeated Brian Pillman (w/ Marlena) via disqualification at 7:12 when Goldust interfered and chased Pillman backstage; after the match, Steve Austin attacked Hart from behind

Cactus Jack (sub. for Dude Love) pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/ Chyna) in a streetfight at 13:40 following a piledriver through a wooden table; prior to the contest, Dude Love appeared on the Titantron, saying that streetfights just weren't his thing; after inviting out Mankind as a possible substitute, Mankind said that he had an idea for the perfect replacement, Cactus Jack (Cactus' surprise debut) (Mick Foley - Greatest Hits & Misses DVD)

WWF World Champion Bret Hart defeated Goldust via submission with the Sharpshooter at 12:50 in a non-title match; after the match, the Hart Foundation and DX brawled inside the ring with the Undertaker eventually laying waste to both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels

 

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - November 15, 1997 (15,479; 12,525 paid)

Prior to Bret Hart's leaving the WWF, the main event was scheduled to be a title defense for Hart pitting him against the Undertaker, Steve Austin, and Shawn Michaels in a four-way match

Billy Gunn & the Road Dogg defeated the Headbangers when Road Dogg pinned Mosh after Gunn came off the top behind the referee's back

Farooq pinned Ahmed Johnson in a streetfight after Kama interfered as D-Lo Brown distracted the referee

Crush & Chainz defeated D-Lo Brown & Kama when Crush pinned D-Lo with a belly to belly suplex

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels pinned the Brooklyn Brawler at the 15 minute mark with the superkick after interference from Chyna and distraction from Triple H

WWF Tag Team Champions Legion of Doom defeated Savio Vega & Miguel Perez Jr. when Road Warrior Hawk pinned Miguel following the Doomsday Device

Kane pinned Vader with a chokeslam

Max Mini, Nova, & Mosaic defeated Torito, Piratita Morgan, & Tarantula when Max Mini scored the pin

Dude Love (w/ George Steele) pinned Jim Neidhart with a DDT after interference from Steele

Ken Shamrock defeated Rocky Miavia via submission with the ankle lock after fending off Kama and D-Lo Brown

The Undertaker & Steve Austin defeated WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels & Hunter Hearst Helmsley when Taker pinned Michaels with the chokeslam and tombstone

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - January 10, 1998 (15,712)

Included a segment in which an MTV camera crew taped Steve Austin cutting an in-ring promo regarding the SuperBowl half-time special 'Celebrity Deathmatch' which would be used to hype the program

WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku pinned Brian Christopher after 6 minutes with a roll up

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated the Headbangers in a Country Whipping match after 3 minutes when Henry pinned Thrasher after hitting him with the whip as Thrasher came off the top

Tom Brandi defeated Marc Mero via disqualification after suffering a low blow

Ken Shamrock pinned Farooq (w/ Kama) with a powerslam after throwing Farooq into Kama, who was on the ring apron; after the bout, Farooq argued with Kama and D-Lo Brown

The Undertaker & Legion of Doom defeated WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels & WWF Tag Team Champions Billy Gunn & the Road Dogg in a steel cage match when Taker pinned Michaels with the tombstone after Owen Hart interfered and repeatedly hit the champion as he attempted to climb out of the cage

Vader pinned TAFKA Goldust with a splash after Luna was knocked off the ring apron

Kane pinned Chainz in under 2 minutes

Steve Austin & Cactus Jack (sub. for Dude Love) defeated WWF IC Champion the Rock & D-Lo Brown in a falls count anywhere match when Austin pinned Rocky with the Stunner after hitting him with a trash can and broom

Survivor Series 02 - New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - November 17, 2002 (17,930)

Sunday Night Heat: Lance Storm & William Regal defeated Goldust & the Hurricane at 3:01 when Storm pinned Goldust with an inside cradle after Regal attacked Goldust from behind; after the match, Tommy Dreamer made the save with his Singapore cane

Pay-per-view bouts - featured Scott Steiner's return after 8 years as he beat up both Matt Hardy and Christopher Nowinski in the ring:

Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy defeated Rosey, Jamal, & Rico in an elimination tables match at 14:22; Spike was eliminated following a flapjack through a table by 3 Minute Warning at 4:25; Hardy eliminated Rosey by throwing him off the entranceway through a table at 7:59; Jamal eliminated Hardy with a splash off the apron to the floor at 11:12; Bubba eliminated Jamal with a powerbomb off the ring apron to the floor at 12:50; Bubba eliminated Rico after D-Von Dudley interfered and countered the interference of Rosey & Jamal before hitting the 3D on Rico

Billy Kidman pinned WWE Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Knoble (w/ Nidia) with the Shooting Star Press at 7:29 to win the title

Victoria pinned WWE Women's Champion Trish Stratus in a hardcore match to win the title at 7:01 with a suplex after using a fire extinguisher as a weapon

The Big Show pinned WWE Smackdown! World Champion Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) to win the title at 4:19 after hitting the champion in the midsection with a chair, followed by a chokeslam onto the same chair; moments before the finish, Heyman turned on his man by pulling the referee out of the ring after Lesnar hit the F5 on the challenger

Eddie & Chavo Guerrero Jr. defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Edge & Rey Mysterio Jr. and Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit in an elimination match to win the titles at 19:25; Edge pinned Benoit with the spear at 13:09 after ducking a clothesline; Eddie forced Mysterio to submit to the El Passo Lasso after Chavo hit Rey in the back with one of the title belts as the champion attempted to hit the West Coast Pop

 

Shawn Michaels defeated WWE Raw World Champion Triple H, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, WWE Raw Tag Team Champion Chris Jericho, and Kane in an Elimination Chamber match to win the title at 39:20; order of entry: Triple H, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Chris Jericho, Booker T, and Shawn Michaels; Booker pinned RVD with a missile dropkick at 13:37; Jericho pinned Booker with the Lionsault at 17:43; Jericho pinned Kane with the Lionsault after Kane sustained both the Pedigree and superkick at 22:53; Michaels pinned Jericho with the superkick at 30:43 as Jericho had the Walls of Jericho applied on Triple H; Michaels pinned Triple H with the superkick after reversing the Pedigree into a backdrop

WrestleMania XX - New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - March 14, 2004

Included a Hall of Fame segment showcasing Bobby Heenan, Harley Race, Superstar Billy Graham, Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, the Junkyard Dog, Tito Santana, Big John Studd, Sgt. Slaughter, Pete Rose, and Jesse Ventura; featured an interview by Ventura with Donald Trump, who sat ringside for the event; the Harlem Boys Choir performed 'America the Beautiful' to begin the broadcast; included Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler on commentary for the Raw matches, with Michael Cole & Tazz commentating the Smackdown! bouts

John Cena pinned WWE US Champion the Big Show to win the title at 9:13 with the FU after hitting the champion with a pair of brass knuckles

WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Rob Van Dam & Booker T defeated Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade,  the Dudley Boyz, and Rene Dupree & Rob Conway at 7:55 when RVD pinned Conway with the Five Star Frog Splash after Booker hit the scissors kick

Christian pinned Chris Jericho at 14:56 with a roll up and using the tights for leverage after Trish Stratus accidentally raked Jericho in the eyes; after the bout, Trish slapped Jericho and left ringside with Christian

WWE IC Champion Randy Orton, Ric Flair, & Batista defeated the Rock & Mick Foley in a handicap match at 17:09 when Orton pinned Foley with the RKO as Foley prepared to apply the Mandible Claw (Foley's first match in 4 years; Rock's first match in 11 months)

Torrie Wilson & Sable defeated Stacy Keibler & Jackie Gayda in a Playboy Evening Gown Match when Torrie pinned Jackie with a roll up at 2:41; prior to the bout, all four women disrobed to their bra and panties

WWE Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero Jr. (w/ Chavo Guerrero Sr.) defeated Nunzio, Shannon Moore, Rey Mysterio Jr., Sho Funaki, the Ultimo Dragon, Jamie Knoble, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, and Akio in a gauntlet match at 10:38; Dragon pinned Moore with the Asai DDT at 1:18; Knoble defeated Dragon via submission with a guillotine; Knoble pinned Funaki with an inside cradle; Nunzio was counted-out at 4:15; Kidman pinned Knoble at 6:08; Mysterio pinned Kidman at 7:35; Mysterio pinned Tajiri at 8:38; Akio couldn't pariticpate after Tajiri accidentally blew mist into his face; Chavo pinned Rey by holding onto Chavo Sr. outside the ring

Bill Goldberg pinned Brock Lesnar at 13:48 with the spear and Jackhammer; after the bout, guest referee Steve Austin hit the Stunner on Lesnar before doing the same to Goldberg (Lesnar and Goldberg's last match in the WWE)

WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty defeated the Acolytes, Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas, and Doug & Danny Basham when Rikishi pinned Danny with a sit-down splash at 6:05

WWE Women's Champion Victoria pinned Molly Holly at 4:56 by reversing a neckbreaker submission hold into a backslide; due to prematch stipulations, Molly had her head shaved bald after the bout

WWE Smackdown! World Champion Eddie Guerrero pinned Kurt Angle at 21:30 with an inside cradle and using the ropes for leverage after avoiding the ankle lock by unlacing his boot

The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) pinned Kane with the tombstone at 6:56

Chris Benoit defeated WWE Raw World Champion Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the title at 24:07 when Triple H submitted to the Crippler Crossface; after the bout, WWE Smackdown! World Champion Eddie Guerrero came out to congratulate Benoit; following the telecast, Benoit's family came out to celebrate the victory as well; voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year (Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story)

That's the last show Cawthon had on his site that HBK MEed and had attendance numbers.

 

I fully realize that three of the shows were PPVs and he was loudly booed at the first one. But overall he had a pretty good track record at MSG.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

Lots of matches with Taker, I see.

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - August 9, 1996 (11,314)

Included a Jim Ross in-ring interview with Mark Henry regarding the Olympics which was eventually interrupted by Hunter Hearst Helmsley; Henry quickly scared Helmsley out of the ring

Justin Bradshaw pinned Aldo Montoya with the lariat at 5:01

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy at 10:42 when Henry pinned the illegal man with the Slop Drop

Marc Mero pinned Hunter Hearst Helmsley with a leg roll up at 9:02

Mankind defeated Jake Roberts via submission with the Mandible Claw at the 37 second mark after attacking Roberts on the floor before the match began (Mankind's MSG debut)

Vader fought Psycho Sid to a double count-out at 10:16

Yokozuna (sub. for WWF IC Champion Ahmed Johnson) pinned Owen Hart with a leg drop and the Bonzai Drop at 6:37

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels pinned Goldust with a flying elbow drop and the superkick at 17:05; immediately after the match, Mankind attacked the champion until the Undertaker made the save

WWF Tag Team Champions the Smoking Gunns defeated Skip & Zip when Bart scored the pin at 7:23 after hitting the Sidewinder behind the referee's back

Savio Vega pinned Davey Boy Smith at 7:32 by lifting his shoulder out of an abdominal stretch into a roll up

The Undertaker defeated Steve Austin via disqualification at 9:23 when Mankind interfered after Austin sustained the tombstone; after the bout, Goldust and Shawn Michaels also involved themselves in the brawl

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - May 19, 1996 (18,800; sell out; 16,564 paid)

The Bushwhackers defeated Marty Jannetty & Leif Cassidy

Savio Vega pinned Bob Backlund

Ahmed Johnson defeated Davey Boy Smith via disqualification when Owen Hart interfered

The Ultimate Warrior pinned Owen Hart with a flying shoulder block (Warrior's return to MSG after Summer Slam 91)

Steve Austin pinned Jake Roberts

Vader pinned Yokozuna with the Vader Bomb

Henry & Phinneas Godwinn defeated WWF Tag Team Champions Skip & Zip to win the titles when Phinneas pinned Skip with the Slop Drop

Hunter Hearst Helmsley pinned Razor Ramon with the Pedigree; after the bout, Ramon grabbed the microphone to say goodbye to the WWF fans but officials cut the power to the mic (Razor's last match in the WWF for nearly 6 years)

WWF World Champion Shawn Michaels defeated Diesel in a steel cage match by escaping through the door after hitting the superkick; after the match, Razor and Helmsley returned to the ring, broke kayfabe, and embraced with the two participants (Diesel's last match in the WWF for nearly 6 years)

These are two which stand out to me. The others don't properly indicate HBK's drawing power because they feature Taker, Hart, and Foley, who also could be credited with drawing the house. I think that ultimately, that whole combination did pretty well together, and I wouldn't mind seeing someone get indepth with how the HBK/Mankind feud in particular did in business.

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Guest Alfdogg

Owen Hart defeated Brian Pillman (w/ Marlena) via disqualification at 7:12 when Goldust interfered and chased Pillman backstage

...shouldn't Pillman have won by DQ, then?
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7. Undertaker - He's just been around and headlined so many times that he finishes this high.

 

Wow, what a way to completely dismiss a guy who's been with the company for well over a decade at or near the top of the card despite being handed feuds with some of the most talentless loads in wrestling history.

 

I know Taker's done some shitty things behind the scenes but to simply write him off as someone who's "just been around" is so ridiculous it almost single-handedly kills any credibility this list has.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

I saw that as a bit strange, myself. I would imagine that Takers success on top would be as an opponent for the top star, rather than being the top star himself. Sort of the bridesmaid/bride deal. This is probably why Meltzer is so dismissive. He probably sees it as Taker not earning it, but rather, it just happening by default. What Meltzer doesn't credit Taker for is for the ability to continually be a _valuable_ opponent for almost every top guy in the past 10-15 years. That Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker in 1991 meant as much as The Undertaker vs. HHH did in 2001. The list of guys he has run opposed to on top is insane. And to do so is an incredible accomplishment in this day and age.

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Guest TheShawshankRudotion

Well he has contacts in the WWE, and a good track record. He's just like any news source, though, and still requires an active reader to pick through the bias. I'd still take his opinion over 98% of the wrestlers and wrestling fans out there.

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Guest Some Guy

Lots of matches with Taker, I see.

 

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - August 9, 1996 (11,314)

WWF @ New York City, NY - Madison Square Garden - May 19, 1996 (18,800; sell out; 16,564 paid)

These are two which stand out to me. The others don't properly indicate HBK's drawing power because they feature Taker, Hart, and Foley, who also could be credited with drawing the house. I think that ultimately, that whole combination did pretty well together, and I wouldn't mind seeing someone get indepth with how the HBK/Mankind feud in particular did in business.

1 sellout and 1 with the building 2/3 full. I don't think Foley was much of a draw in 96/97 so I think the credit he deserves is mariginal at best. He didn't really become a draw until late 98. Shawn did better than anyone likes to give him credit for.
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