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Matches That Changed Wrestling

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I was was thinking about this today after watching this video about the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde talking about it's aspects and elements that ushered in styles and methods of story telling to the American cinema that continued to have influence going forward to present day.

I also was reminiscing after listening to the Between The Sheets podcast from a few weeks back about the famous Dragon Gate 6 man from 'Mania weekend in 2006 and how influential it was for the amount of exposure to a wider audience of the state of the art Dragon Gate style and how the blow away 5 star match from the first real independent group to run on 'Mania weekend in a manner that mirrors what eventually became the big juggernaut the indy "Mania weekend supershow events came to become in recent years showcasing different protections styles, high end work rate matches and events that can be ahead of the curve of whats was to come in main stream pro wrestling.

I thought this would be a fun topic to ask the folks here since this board has such a wide variety of people who have really in depth knowledge about a slew of promotions and matches internationally that go back to the start of pro wrestling as we know it.

So what are matches from the history of wrestling that you personally look back and find elements or specific details that have emerged in the present day to become popular or commonplace that can be tied back to a specific match in your eyes? Can be good or bad and of course and it's all personal opinion/conjecture but my main interest is hearing some spirited opinion and thought to learn about some matches I might not know about or that I haven't been exposed to. 

Edited by SPS

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I will go on a very local scale here - and it's gonna be something strictly related to indy wrestling - but for us in Quebec, one of the matches that changed things was Kevin Steen vs Christopher Daniels in April 2004 for the defunct EWR promotion. Before that, it was extremely rare for promotions to import major stars to work events. While the match was fantastic as we fans in attendance expected it, this changed the game afterwards as our local promotions continued to take more gambles and bring in more guests; EWR continued that trend for the remainder of their existence (a short 2-year existence) including appearances by Samoa Joe and Steve Corino - Steen credited his match with Corino in Quebec City as the match that opened him the doors internationally as Corino was able to book him in Japan for ZERO-ONE in 2005 afterwards and IWS followed suit as well. Nowadays, it's now a common trend in Quebec - and Eastern Canada - to bring in big stars like Cody or the Young Bucks as NSPW in Quebec City has done a lot of it, becoming the top promotion in Eastern Canada and the Maritimes.

But more importantly than that, I feel like if EWR (Elite Wrestling Revolution was the name of the promotion) didn't take that chance in 2004 by bringing in Daniels, who was gaining a lot of attention for his work in TNA at that time, the chances that guys like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn being in WWE now would be almost inexistent. Because then, CZW wouldn't have invited them to work on their shows and then, ROH and you know the rest. So, it might not seem a big deal in general compared to the rest of the world, but for us in Quebec, that moment was a big deal for the growth of Quebec indy wrestling.

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Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko, ECW, 1995. The Eddilenko pinning sequence (you know the one, which they got from Tiger Mask vs Dynamite anyway I believe) which ended up everywhere after they did it. The pure workrate approach which was mind-blowing in context of the dull-ass and super mediocre (in term of in-ring work) mid-90's. The pretty much non-character driven aspect of the match which came right from their NJPW tours work, again a stark contrast with WWF and WCW at the time, which were at their all-time low in term of shitty gimmicks. One of the most influencial match(es) of the last 30 years, when you think about it.

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Obviously Hogan vs Andre from WM III. The first, and only, time that anyone ever slammed the 7'4" 555 pound giant.

(Nah, I'm just kidding. Though there probably is a - different - argument to be made for that match. The crisis has seriously affected my sense of humour, I think).

Seriously: Giant Baba vs Billy Robinson from (IIRC} July '76? The starting point of the King's Road in my opinion. The source spring from which flows a lot of the greatest and a lot of the most-loved pro wrestling of all time. People are still, clearly, being influenced by the people who were influenced by the people who were influenced by this match.

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55 minutes ago, El-P said:

Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko, ECW, 1995. The Eddilenko pinning sequence (you know the one, which they got from Tiger Mask vs Dynamite anyway I believe) which ended up everywhere after they did it. The pure workrate approach which was mind-blowing in context of the dull-ass and super mediocre (in term of in-ring work) mid-90's. The pretty much non-character driven aspect of the match which came right from their NJPW tours work, again a stark contrast with WWF and WCW at the time, which were at their all-time low in term of shitty gimmicks. One of the most influencial match(es) of the last 30 years, when you think about it.

Tiger Mask vs Dynamite was the first match that came to mind when I read the thread title so it's interesting that other influential matches have essentially built on it.

I'm sure there's a garbage or death match somewhere that was the inspiration for ECW, which eventually became omnipresent in WWF/E. I'd also love to know if there are any specific tapes that the likes of Daniel Bryan or Chris Hero watched that influenced them above any others. It's too easy just to say All Japan 90s matches. It would be great to know specifically what matches really stuck out to those guys. 

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Andre vs Hogan is not a bad pick I think. Is that the first real "Wrestlemania moment" in terms of a specific move during a match? Stuff like that and the Snuka cage dive define what the WWF wanted out of its biggest matches back then.

It doesn't seem to be much remembered now, but Liger vs Pillman would be a match that's along the same sort of evolutionary path as the Guerrero vs Malenko match. Although with Guerrero/Malenko I'd add that it also resembled modern matches in the audience not really caring who won or lost but just being excited by the skill on display and the fact that it was wrestled in their promotion.

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@FMKK Terry Funk, in his book, talks about Abby stabbing him in the arm with a fork as perhaps the starting point for hardcore wrestling. I'd tend to agree with him, there.to 

The above match, where the NWA World Heavyweight Champion gives too much offense to a jobber, due to which he lost all credibility and disappeared from wrestling history forever. Seriously, try looking up "Rick Flare" on Google or YouTube. You'll find nothing! 

(Sorry. Can't help myself these days). I'll edit in another serious one in a couple of minutes.

And here we go "The shoot kick heard round the world." An act of cowardice that nonetheless gave credibility to the shoot style movement. Would shoot style have taken off without this? Possibly not! Arguably planted the seeds for the currently popular type of 'strong style' as well. Another argument could be made that MMA might not exist as we know it if not for what Maeda does to Choshu here. Definitely had a huge effect on Japanese wrestling, that is still felt today. 

 

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8 hours ago, El-P said:

Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko, ECW, 1995. The Eddilenko pinning sequence (you know the one, which they got from Tiger Mask vs Dynamite anyway I believe) which ended up everywhere after they did it. The pure workrate approach which was mind-blowing in context of the dull-ass and super mediocre (in term of in-ring work) mid-90's. The pretty much non-character driven aspect of the match 

This is was also the first thing that came to my mind. 
 

Also, Onita vs. Masashi Aoyagi from the first FMW show; although Inoki had been in many different style fights over the years, the pro wrestling feeling was always prevalent, in line with the heated bullshit finish style of 80s New Japan. The FMW match was different, just an atmosphere of hate and slow built even before the match starts that would serve as the blueprint for Hashimoto vs. Ogawa and those crossover fights well into the Inokism era. Elements of those athlete vs. entertainment, slowly built pre match, the match itself having and unpredictable feeling and being a sprint more often than not can still be seen thirty years later when Brock Lesnar feels motivated. 

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I would definitely nominate Randy Savage Vs. Ricky Steamboat from WWF Wrestlemania III. To this day people in wrestling still talk about how influential that match was to them. 

On the other end of the spectrum, The Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels, both of their Wrestlemania matches. I think a lot of the current false finish wrestling, having to hit your finish like four or five times to win, became super popular because of them. Even though The Rock & Steve Austin did it too. I don't think you have guys like Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens wrestling the way they do without those HBK matches. Which as a whole, I feel like Shawn Michaels & Rob Van Dam are two of the biggest influences to wrestlers that were getting into the Independent scene in the early 2000s. Probably Jeff Hardy too. Which the Wrestlemania X-Seven TLC match should probably be name-dropped as well.

I know that Terry Funk hitting the Piledriver on Ric Flair in 1989 post-match was the first time I had seen or can remember a table spot. Which became huge in wrestling. ECW used tables all the time. WWF has some pretty big table spots with Foley, HBK, etc. even before The Dudleyz made it their entire gimmick. I know early Sabu pre-ECW was doing some table stuff too, usually to himself.

William Regal, Bob Backlund & American Dragon Bryan Danielson all seem to have been pretty influential but I don't know which match from any of them I would exactly pinpoint. I think it was more about their style overall than any one match.

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I was really struggling to think of something because most things that have changed wrestling haven't really been matches, but gordi nailed it with the Maeda tag. Within two years, the big two Japanese companies had to change their philosophy because they seemed behind the times.

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This is more of a booking decision than a match per se: as was touched upon elsewhere, Royal Rumbles 2014 and 2015, cuz they made WWE feel that the only way to get heat in the modern era is to make the promotion the heel and to book every face as an underdog fighting against the unfair system. 

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Speaking of, it's rare now that we get completely intra-world stories like Mandy and Otis. Was 2011 the start of the trend where almost every promo is about the idea of making history, people complaining about their pushes, pointing to your foe's weaknesses for why they've never been successful, etc.

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Keeping this connected to the thread topic, I would say so, yeah. 2011 had Taker-HHH and HHH-Punk, which really were also two matches that shaped the course of modern wrestling imo. HHH-Punk because I think one of the reasons Punk lost was because that was a way to get him continued sympathy because he was still "being buried by the management" or whatever. The storyline absolutely did not make any sense to have HHH pin Punk, but traditional storytelling was no longer the priority by then. 

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1 hour ago, Loss said:

I was really struggling to think of something because most things that have changed wrestling haven't really been matches, but gordi nailed it with the Maeda tag. Within two years, the big two Japanese companies had to change their philosophy because they seemed behind the times.

Was the Kobashi/Sasaki chop match the match that started the standing in the middle, exchanging blows endlessly tradition? 

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1 minute ago, Coffey said:

Was the Kobashi/Sasaki chop match the match that started the standing in the middle, exchanging blows endlessly tradition? 

Probably, yes.

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It goes back to 1998, at least. I have always maintained that Kobashi v Kensuke was their tribute to Hashimoto and this match:

It just took a while to catch on

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You could easily make the case that Lawler vs Savage LLT '85 was the source spring of all table spots, too. (Even though Coffey hasn't seen it).

Although

That was in '84... so maybe Savage gets the "credit"

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Agreed. And, while we're at it, here's Gypsy Joe doing a cage dive in 1976, six years before Snuka's 1st one and seven years before his famous one :lol:

The turnbuckle spot was also later stolen by Jado & Gedo, and Lesnar, and presumably others.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Loss said:

Speaking of, it's rare now that we get completely intra-world stories like Mandy and Otis. Was 2011 the start of the trend where almost every promo is about the idea of making history, people complaining about their pushes, pointing to your foe's weaknesses for why they've never been successful, etc.

Because everything has to be about the brand. That's their strategy. The Brand is bigger than all, so everything has to rely on the Brand, much like every build for Mania is now about pointing to a sign and have Mania MomentsTM.

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Just now, El-P said:

Because everything has to be about the brand. That's their strategy. The Brand is bigger than all, so everything has to rely on the Brand, much like every build for Mania is now about pointing to a sign and have Mania MomentsTM.

I always thought it spoke volumes that the winner of the Royal Rumble doesn't win a shot at the championship? No, the winner of the Royal Rumble earns the right to main event Wrestlemania.

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3 minutes ago, gordi said:

while we're at it, here's Gypsy Joe doing a cage dive in 1976, six years before Snuka's 1st one and seven years before his famous one :lol:

Gypsie Joe, Killing da business. Hilarious spot. He did not even jump nowhere near Kimura. :lol: Fucking summersault though, so much more impressive than Girlfriend Killah.

 

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