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Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho (c) for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship – Uncensored ’98
Back in 1997/1998 WCW was an exciting place to be. The product was conclusively winning the ‘Monday Night War’ between WCW Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw. It really is unthinkable in this day and age in 2012 that another wrestling product could get anywhere close to knocking WWE off of the mountain but back then WCW was “where the big boys played” and was pulling in the ratings week after week. WCWs dominance, of course, would not last. As they tempted big stars away from WWF such as Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Lex Luger and Bret Hart, the smaller, younger talent were pushed down the card and given little to no opportunities to grow within the walls of its organisation.
The WCW Cruiserweight division was arguably producing more classic matches than WWF at this time. Young, talented wrestlers brought pure wrestling and high flying to a mainstream American and global audience in an exciting, refreshing division. Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko were involved in an entertaining rivalry as two of the divisions stand-out stars. What Dean Malenko lacked in charisma, he possessed in pure wrestling ability. An incredibly talented, professional performer – the “Man of a Thousand Holds” helped to provide the backbone of the WCW product at this time. This particular show, Uncensored on March 15th 1998 at the Mobile Civic Center in Alabama, predictably had matches such as Lex Luger vs. Scott Steiner, Sting vs. Scott Hall and a main event of Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan higher on the card. As the “dinosaurs” drew the money and occupied the spotlight, Malenko and Jericho provided the strong wrestling match.
“Lionheart” Chris Jericho, the petulant villain, was another performer looking for his break in WCW. The Cruiserweight Champion succeeded at getting under the skin of Malenko, declaring himself to be the “Man of a Thousand and Four Holds” – a hilarious promo from their feud together and a personal favourite of mine.
Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero (c) for the WWE Championship – Wrestlemania XX
On Sunday March 14th 2004 Eddie Guerrero was enjoying his time on top of the pile. Securing his first WWE Championship the previous month when he defeated Brock Lesnar at No Way Out, Eddie then entered into a feud with Kurt Angle in the build-up to Wrestlemania.
Originally jumping ship from WCW to the WWE with close friend Chris Benoit, the two men who many saw as underused and underappreciated in WCW occupied the main events at Madison Square Garden as Chris Benoit battled for the World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match with Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
In a feud that included references to Eddies legitimate issues with drugs and alcohol the Olympian only helped to further establish Guerrero as one of the companys top faces, despite playing the part of a heel throughout the majority of his career. These two men are often referred to as two of the very best in-ring performers of their time and at Wrestlemania 20 they arguably stole the show with an astounding, technically sound wrestling match.
In just a few short hours at TNA Victory Road Kurt Angle will take on Jeff Hardy and if their previous matches, such as their encounter at Victory Road 2010, are anything to go by then it should be a classic. Until then get a taste of exactly how good Kurt Angle can be when he’s on his top of his game. You will struggle to find many better examples of pure class than this one.