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Greatest single year in pro wrestling history?

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Pretty simple concept. You can define your own criteria (booking, angles, in-ring and matches, business, combination of everything etc.). I care primarily about in-ring work and matches so right now I am thinking 1997 for high quality stuff from several different promotions and styles all around the world. 1989 and 1996 are the other really strong contenders for me.

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1992: Jumbo tearing it up with the kids in AJPW, Kip Frey giving out bonuses to produce amazing stuff in WCW, Hase having great matches in NJPW, Flair lighting up WWF.

 

84, 85, and 86 were all totally amazing years too across Mid-South, NJPW, AJPW, WWF, JCP, AWA, and various other territories.

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I feel like I still have so many years to fully explore, but off the top of my head, I'd go with 1985, 1986, 1989, 1992 and 1997 as my top five. Picking between those is agonizing.

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84 has:

 

NJ 5 vs 5 gauntlet

Sheik / Slaughter

Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota / Crush Gals

Jumbo / Kerry

Flair / Kerry

Cota / Rocca

Watts and Stagger Lee / Midnights

Ted / Magnum

Greg / Tito

Bock / Martel

 

 

85 has:

 

Magnum / Tully

Ted / Duggan

Ted / Flair

Duggan / Sawyer

Greg / Tito

Savage / Tito

Lawler / Dundee

Flair / Garvin

Flair / Taylor

Flair / Wahoo

Chigusa Nagayo / Dump Matsumoto

Hansen and Ted / Choshu and Yatsu

 

86 has:

 

Bock / Hennig

Rocks / Rose and Somers

NJ Elimination

Jumbo and Tenryu / Choshu and Yatsu

Hennig / Hansen

Flair / Windham

Flair / Morton

Maeda / Fujiwara

Aguayo / Chicana

Hansen / Leon White

Lawler / Dundee

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84 has:

 

NJ 5 vs 5 gauntlet

Sheik / Slaughter

Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota / Crush Gals

Jumbo / Kerry

Flair / Kerry

Cota / Rocca

Watts and Stagger Lee / Midnights

Ted / Magnum

Greg / Tito

Bock / Martel

 

 

 

 

+ Satanico vs. Cochise, Satanico vs. Koshinaka, a bunch of more great Satanico singles matches, Fujinami/Inoki vs. North-South, the Fujiwara vs. Sayama Series. 84 is a great pick.

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I've always been partial to '89.

 

Jumbo-Tenryu leads banner year for All Japan

Great all-around year for New Japan with rise of Liger

Strong year for Maeda's talent-rich UWF

Early FMW

Strong year for lucha footage

Epic Flair year

Hogan-Savage doing big business in WWF

 

The only real drawback is that the U.S. territories had entered full death rattle.

 

Of the other years mentioned, I'd have trouble going with '85 or '92 because they weren't elite years in Japan. Actually, neither was 1997.

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Of the other years mentioned, I'd have trouble going with '85 or '92 because they weren't elite years in Japan. Actually, neither was 1997.

 

I agree about 1985, it was sort of a relatively poor year for Japan (with the exception of AJW).

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I would think that it would be sometime around 84. WWF, Crockett, Mid-South, AWA, World Class, and GCW all had national television exposure. All six territories were in 50 plus markets thanks to cable tv and syndication. By 86 half of those territories would be on death's door, by 1990 only two would be left. So if you look at it by what year were the most guys making the most money I'd say 83 or 84. 83/84 there were probably 10 places a guy could go and make a really good living, working on a widely seen TV show and working in front of large audiences. Also at that time Mid South, All Japan, New Japan, and World Class were putting out some great TV. GCW was down but it still had national exposure. The first UWF was starting up in Japan. Mid South had DiBiase doing all sorts of awesome shit. WWF had Shiek vs Sarge and the start of Hulkamania. AWA was sort of down the second Hogan left. Memphis was awesome with Lawler vs Savage. In World Class the Freebirds feud which was going strong until the passing of David von Erich, but they drew a huge audience for their Cotton Bowl shows in 84. It was the last year of the NWA as it was. Correct me if I'm wrong but 84 was the last year for an NWA board meeting. Mexico was awesome with Satanico, Sangre Chicana, El Dandy, MS-1, Perro, etc all having awesome years. There's the second Starcade. In NJPW there's the gauntlet, Hogan's push, Fujinami vs Choshu, Dynamite vs Tiger Mask. Portland was still doing well. A few years later it would be dying a slow death.

So just looking at 84, a lot of places were still doing good business, expanding, putting on good matches, putting on good TV, and running great angles. A few years later, a lot of those places were gone, re-structured, or on death's door.

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If we are talking WWF ill pick 1989 for the following reasons

 

The Mega Powers feud

Warrior/Rude trading the IC Title

Demolition dominating the Tag Team scene

Roddy Piper coming back and fighting Rude in a series of Cage Matches

Roberts returning from injury to get even with the Million Dollar man

Ronnie garvin as a Referee to screw the heels and having a memorable time slagging Valentine off at Summerslam 89

No Holds Barred The Match The Movie

Warrior & Heenan as the final two in the last Survivor series match

The first ever WWF UK Tour

 

I could probably list another 20 favourites but Ill leave it at there.

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1985, '86 & '89 sure feel like the easy picks. 86 probably gets the edge because it was a much better year for Japan, and while '85 was incredible with everything you get in Midsouth and Flair's stops around the country, '86 still gives you his matches with Garvin, Morton, Windham and Dusty, the Tully/Garvin classic and a year of peak Horsemen. Plus an incredibly year from the AWA.

 

'89 is so incredible for the NWA & All Japan as well as angle-wise in WWF, but the depth across promotions likely can't match up.

 

Probably not a popular choice, but if we can ignore booking and just go on sheer volume of quality matches then the last couple years are really a great time. With WWE having as many hours of TV and PPV as they do every week/month, NJ shows every month and much more during G1, new stuff popping up from the UK, Mexico and US Indys just about every week, we're very possibly getting a great number of good matches on a regular basis than at any other time. Many will hardly be memorable, but a number of reasons, but the output is really incredible.

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I like 1993. That gets you:

 

- a still-strong WCW

- UWFI blazing hot, running a stadium

- RINGS

- good new Japan

- FMW at their peak, running a stadium

- AJW and the Dreamslams

- SMW

 

And, oh yeah, arguably the best in-ring year ever with All Japan. Who cares if the WWF sucked?

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Probably '86.

 

In addition to what's already been mentioned there's Puerto Rico having an awesome year, with Funk coming in and being crazy, the beginning of the Colon/Hansen feud, and Invader I having amazing brawls with a handful of different folk.

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1992

 

- WCW TV/Clash/PPV from first seven months is awesome

- Casas/Dandy

- Misawa/Kawada I, Can Ams vs Kobashi/Kikuchi

- AJW has maybe their best year of the 90's

- WWF has Bret/DBS at Summerslam

- Santo/Espanto III (of the 'made' tape kind)

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Not sure I'd call it the greatest, but 2002 had an excellent first year of in-ring stuff for ROH coupled with the fantastic run of the Smackdown Six in WWE. Plus TNA was throwing out some decent stuff in their formative days in and around all the crap booking. I don't have a TON of familiarity with Japan at that time, but I have a Best of Japan 2002 comp somewhere that I rather enjoyed and early NOAH certainly doesn't suck.

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I like 1993. That gets you:

 

- a still-strong WCW

- UWFI blazing hot, running a stadium

- RINGS

- good new Japan

- FMW at their peak, running a stadium

- AJW and the Dreamslams

- SMW

 

And, oh yeah, arguably the best in-ring year ever with All Japan. Who cares if the WWF sucked?

 

I'm not sure WCW was much better than the WWF in 1993, if at all. WCW was a trainwreck that year.

 

But yeah, if I had to pick a single year, I'd go with 1993 with 1989 a close second.

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I want to throw out 2005.

 

-Joe vs. Necro

-Peak NOAH

  • 7/18/05
  • The start of KENTA's peak
  • Tenryu comes in and fucks shit up
  • Kobashi & Shiozaki vs. Sasaki & Nakajima

-Arguably ROH's best year

  • Punk vs. Aries (and the entire Summer of Punk)
  • James Gibson vs. everyone
  • Joe vs. Kobashi, Joe/Ki vs. Kobashi/Homicide
  • Steel Cage Warfare
  • KENTA vs. Low Ki, Danielson vs. Marufuji

-TNA's year best, hands down

  • X Division madness with Joe/Styles/Daniels
  • Styles vs. Abyss in a cage

-One of Dragon Gate's best years ever

  • 7/3/05 six-man is PEAK Dragon Gate
  • Milano vs. SaiRyo
  • M2K reunion angle vs. Blood Generation
  • 3/6/05 two out of three falls tag
  • Nakajima, Mochizuki, and K-Ness all killing it

Chikara and All Japan both had really strong years. WWE was fine. New Japan was the only promotion that really lacked something big.

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right now I am thinking 1997 for high quality stuff from several different promotions and styles all around the world. 1989 and 1996 are the other really strong contenders for me.

 

Changed my mind and I am going with 1996. Unbelievable NJPW run, AJPW spitting out great matches, incredible CMLL, peak Michinoku Pro, FMW, UWFi, RINGS on fire, some really good Joshi, high quality WWF, quality WCW and the start of BattlARTS.

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I love '89 and instead of naming matches I would calculate how many guys or percentage of guys who are "over!" Look at WWF and I bet most of us over 30 ordered something from their catalog that year. U can hate on Honky but he was more over than 90% of current product. You can hate on beefcake but I bet u remember when Ron Bass raked his face! You can hate on Dusty but I know you were singing along to his theme. 89 is the 1st year I got into NWA/WCW Wow so much talent. Without 89 Flair would not be the legend he is today and he made other legends. 89 was No Holds Barred which I saw in theater! And loved it! And yes Zeus was Over. Yes as u smarten up u realize Zeus couldn't work for shit but he but asses in the building and if u don't remember go back and look at how awesome his promos were. He was a scary mofo to a 7 year old.

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90 was good too. I absolutely love Great American Bash 1990. When Vader debuts it's bad ass. Every match is exciting. Buddy Landel has fun opening bout.

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The trouble with 90 is tired jaded Ric when down by Herd and it dies reflect in his work and especially in his promos.

 

90 feels like a year of transition around the world and a wide scale finding of feet.

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It seems like 83 and 84 were pretty amazing years worldwide.

Yea see I think I might go 83 because Memphis was great that year and it would let me see the majority of Bob Armstrong's heel run in Southeastern.

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