As part of an ongoing series on the Place to Be Podcast, Scott Criscuolo and Justin Rozzero have been reviewing pay-per-view cards from the WWF/WWE month-by-month and putting together their all-time shows, plucking one match from each year. It’s made for some awesome shows and riveting discussion. (Here’s the All-Time PPV Card for January)
But have you been listening and found yourself now and again yelling “That’s not how I would have done it!” and becoming that weirdo on the train or in your office in the process? Well, we certainly have, and we’ve decided to do something about it.
Every time Scott and Justin build their all-time cards, we will do the same, offering our commentary on the PiCs’ selections as well as each other’s.
-One match must be selected from each year
-No competitor can be used more than once unless they undergo a drastic gimmick/persona change
-The WWF/WWE, World, Intercontinental and WWF/WWE Tag Team titles must all be defended
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
Chad’s Pick: Razor Ramon vs. The 1-2-3 Kid in a Crybaby match
Ben’s Pick: Shawn Michaels vs. Owen Hart
Ben’s Take: No brainer to start off for me, as I go with Scott and Justin easy here. You’ve got Shawn Michaels—in my opinion the best wrestler of all-time—in there against an incredible opponent in Owen Hart, plus HBK doesn’t really have another February classic, so what’s not to love? I’m not sure if Chad went with Razor/Kid out of personal preference or because he needed Shawn or Owen somewhere else, so we’ll see.
Chad’s Take: I took a different approach with the February card. I thought HHH vs. Steve Austin from 2001 was the biggest no-brainer on the list and that this match between Owen and Shawn was #2 because of the lack of strings attached to both matches with title shots. As a result, I didn’t think my card was as successful but I was able to create a decent card with these two restrictions. I certainly think that Shawn vs. Owen is a superior match but do have a guilty pleasure appeal towards Razor vs. Kid.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Marc Mero vs. Leif Cassidy
Chad’s Pick: WWF Tag Team Champions The British Bulldog & Owen Hart vs. Doug Furnas & Phil LaFon
Ben’s Pick: Marc Mero vs. Leif Cassidy
Ben’s Take: Well that didn’t take long, as I’m assuming Chad held Owen for the match here. Not the worst decision, as that’s an extremely underrated match with two overlooked but excellent teams, plus it gets the Tag titles out of the way with a solid defense. Nonetheless, I’ll take Shawn/Owen any day because I’d rather have an HBK classic (or even semi-classic) than a solid tag match, plus with Mero and Cassidy you get a nice hidden gem with two guys who always work their asses off.
Chad’s Take: Knowing that I wasn’t using Owen vs. Shawn, I had this pegged early as my tag title match. I like this tag match a great deal and think it is the closest that Furnas/LaFon ever got to their All Japan peak level. Mero vs. Cassidy is really forgettable so I put this as a win for my overall tally.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: NWA North American Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Bradshaw
Chad’s Pick: WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera
Ben’s Pick: WWF Light Heavyweight Champion Taka Michinoku vs. Pantera
Ben’s Take: Chad and I both veered away from the PiCs here and picked the Light Heavyweights over Jarrett/Bradshaw. I’m not shocked by Scott and Justin’s choice as I know Scotty in particular has a love for old school NWA type action—come to think of it, shouldn’t Mr. “Where the Big Boys Play” Campbell have gone there as well?—but a chance to get a different style as far as the highflying appeals to me, plus Taka had a real roll going in early 1998.
Chad’s Take: Jarrett vs. Bradshaw in WWF in 1998 is not NWA! Taka was starting to get over fairly well to the WWF around this time and while this match isn’t spectacular, it is a lot of fun and would be good to slot in between two high profile matches on an overall card.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Al Snow vs. Bob Holly for the vacant WWF Hardcore championship
Chad’s Pick: Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon in a Steel Cage match
Ben’s Pick: Al Snow vs. Bob Holly for the vacant WWF Hardcore championship
Ben’s Take: Going by the rules Scott and Justin laid out on the podcast, even though we already had Leif Cassidy in there a few entries back, Al Snow counts as a separate character, so I’ll take advantage of that and select one of the most unique Hardcore matches in the history of the title, which saw a pinfall outside in a river and gets another championship on the card. I can somewhat get behind Chad’s pick of Austin/McMahon in the cage if he’s going for historical significance, but I think taking “Stone Cold” off the table in February for anything other than the big match coming down the pike shortly doesn’t make sense.
Chad’s Take: Again working backwards from my original rules, I next thought about where to slot those guys and this seemed like the natural landing point for Austin. It again didn’t require burning up a title and it also involved what should have been the culmination of an 18 month storyline. Every reset of the McMahon vs. Austin feud after this match felt hollow to me. The Hardcore match is fun with them fighting in the Mississippi River but I give myself another victory here.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWF Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws vs. The Dudley Boyz
Chad’s Pick: WWF Champion Triple H vs. Cactus Jack in a Hell in a Cell match
Ben’s Pick: Rikishi & Too Cool vs. Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn
Ben’s Take: I remember the Tag title match here as being pretty much a glorified squash with Billy Gunn going in injured and I have other plans for HHH as well as the WWF title, so no problem slotting in Rikishi & Too Cool against the Radicalz here. This match spawned out of that red hot ten-man tag from RAW, has Rikishi at his height of popularity, plus gets some great workers in the WCW cast-offs on my card; also, Too Cool.
Chad’s Take: HHH vs. Cactus in the Hell in a Cell gets slighted a lot I believe for two reasons. One, it came off the Royal Rumble 2000 match and was slightly worse. Two, Foley blew his retirement stipulation immediately after this match. I still think it is a super match and one of the better matches in HHH career. Working under the context that HHH vs. Austin from 2001 is *****, I think most would peg this at ****1/2 or so (Scott goes the full 5 in his review). That is not a severe dropoff and the six-man tag is at best classified as good. I honestly thought the next two years make my card not that bad although I admit it seems strange on the surface.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Steve Austin vs. Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell match
Chad’s Pick: Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley vs. Trish Stratus
Ben’s Pick: Steve Austin vs. Triple H in a Three Stages of Hell match
Ben’s Take: If I recall correctly, Chad has an unhealthy love for the Trish/Stephanie match, so I can’t be totally shocked here; to be sure, it exceeded all expectation and turned out to be a fun sorta brawl, but keep in mind the low bar of said expectations. Austin/HHH in Three Stages of Hell stands out not just as a February hallmark, but as one of the very best matches of the Attitude Era, and arguably in the top five of all-time for both guys, two of the biggest stars of the past two decades, so to not use it seems lunacy to me.
Chad’s Take: I took a loss for this year but the more I think about it I do prefer the duo of HHH/Cactus and Steph/Trish over the six man and Austin/HHH. I do like HHH/Austin and don’t want that to be mis-construed, but I certainly wouldn’t call it one of the best matches of all time and have it lumped in the great WWF/E matches pile instead of the iconic one.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWF Intercontinental Champion William Regal vs. Edge in a Brass Knuckles on a Pole match
Chad’s Pick: Rob Van Dam vs. Goldust
Ben’s Pick: WWF Intercontinental Champion William Regal vs. Edge in a Brass Knuckles on a Pole match
Ben’s Take: I veer from Scott and Justin as I did not love the feud between Edge and William Regal, as I always thought their styles clashed and they could never get the best chemistry going. Nonetheless, I need an IC title match and the pickings start getting pretty slim the further past the turn of the century you go, so I’ll use this, though I did almost get onboard with Chad’s pick, a fun and forgotten piece of weirdness.
Chad’s Take: Both of these matches seemed samey to me so just to be different, I went with the RVD/Goldie match. Let the Goldust nostalgia keep running wild!
Scott & Justin’s Pick: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Chad’s Pick: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Ben’s Pick: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan
Ben’s Take: If you can get a marquee WrestleMania main event with two of the biggest names in wrestling history on your February card, yeah, you take it.
Chad’s Take: A big drop off from the Mania 18 match, but two huge stars nonetheless. I will certainly take this match as my third from the top slot on my overall card.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero
Chad’s Pick: The Acolytes vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team
Ben’s Pick: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Eddie Guerrero
Ben’s Take: I am shocked that Chad went this way, though I guess he really, really likes that HHH/Cactus Hell in a Cell from 2000. I remember watching Eddie win the title live and few matches come close as far as pure emotion and excitement. I’m not sure if it’s the best worked WWE title match in February—it might be though—but the story carries it through, plus I want super bully heel Brock on my card. An Acolytes match, Chad? Really? And not even an Attitude Era one?
Chad’s Take: This is the natural consequence of me going with HHH/Cactus earlier. Sorry that I tried to be different. I am honestly more saddened the Eddie/Brock match is not on my card more than HHH vs. Austin as I do think this is an awesome overall moment/match. Acolytes in 2004 seemed hilarious looking over the card even though I remember nothing about the match.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWE Cruiserweight Champion Funaki vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. Spike Dudley vs. Paul London vs. Shannon Moore vs. Akio in a Cruiserweight Open match
Chad’s Pick: WWE Cruiserweight Champion Funaki vs. Chavo Guerrero vs. Spike Dudley vs. Paul London vs. Shannon Moore vs. Akio in a Cruiserweight Open match
Ben’s Pick: Booker T vs. Heidenreich
Ben’s Take: And I immediately regret giving Chad a hard time about that Acolytes match. I had the Cruiserweight Open here originally, but had to back track when Paul London of all people screwed me over. More to come…
Chad’s Take: No one can take shots at Acolytes matches and pick Heidenreich. Slim pickings for 2005.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: World Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
Chad’s Pick: World Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
Ben’s Pick: World Champion Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker
Ben’s Take: No arguments here; a brilliant match between two more future hall of famers and it notches the World title.
Chad’s Take: The most “chalk” match that I went with. A match I had 0 interest in seeing going in, and yet was totally into by the finish. Wonderful stuff overall.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Chris Benoit & The Hardy Boyz vs. MVP & MNM
Chad’s Pick: Chris Benoit & The Hardy Boyz vs. MVP & MNM
Ben’s Pick: WWE Tag Team Champions Paul London & Brian Kendrick vs. Deuce & Domino
Ben’s Take: At this point, I’m sacrificing a lot of good stuff to get one match a little ways down the line; whether or not it’s all worth it, others than me will ultimately have to judge. I couldn’t use the six man because I need Johnny Nitro/John Morrison in a few, plus I don’t have a Tag title match here, so I went with the Hooligans against the greasers. I love the London/Kendrick pairing, so I don’t feel like this comes up a total wash, but I’m sure some will count it against me.
Chad’s Take: I count it against you. I guess you are stuck on the other side of the tracks but I thought the six man selected by me and Scott/Justin was superior to the one selected for 2000 and would be a perfect opener.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Ric Flair vs. Mr. Kennedy
Chad’s Pick: Ric Flair vs. Mr. Kennedy
Ben’s Pick: Ric Flair vs. Mr. Kennedy
Ben’s Take: Not one of the best ever, but it’s Ric Flair’s second-to-last major pay-per-view match when he had his final in-ring resurgence working off a great storyline, plus it doesn’t conflict with anything else, so an easy choice.
Chad’s Take: I think we all really picked this match solely to get Flair on the card. Kennedy was on his way down by this point but still had something to offer.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon in a No Holds Barred match
Chad’s Pick: Randy Orton vs. Shane McMahon in a No Holds Barred match
Ben’s Pick: ECW Champion Jack Swagger vs. Finlay
Ben’s Take: I needed Randy Orton for something else, but I also don’t have any great affection for his match with Shane, so I’m not wringing my hands over this one like the six man from 2007 or even the Cruiserweight Open. As ECW champ, Swagger had a beast run and put on a stiff brawl with Finlay here, so I’d even consider this a bit of a steal for me.
Chad’s Take: I have no beef with Ben’s pick as Swagger’s run as ECW champ is extremely underrated and I considered picking this match myself. I was trying to squeeze in an Elimination Chamber match but ultimately was stuck and as a result went with the higher profile match on this card.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: Team Lay-Cool vs. Maryse & Gail Kim
Chad’s Pick: WWF Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre vs. Kane
Ben’s Pick: Team Lay-Cool vs. Maryse & Gail Kim
Ben’s Take: A necessity pick with no other options; nothing against any of the four Divas involved, but it’s a pretty forgettable five minute match. Interesting choice by Chad, who I’m assuming got this deep and realized he needed an IC title match.
Chad’s Take: I did need an IC title match and there isn’t much to choose from February. I don’t think this match is very good but I still think McIntyre is one of the most mis-used guys in WWE currently and was having a great year in 2010 busting out 7-10 minute Superstars matches. The divas match is a divas match.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWE U.S. Champion Daniel Bryan vs. Ted DiBiase
Chad’s Pick: Kofi Kingston vs. Alberto Del Rio
Ben’s Pick: John Cena vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison vs. Sheamus vs. Randy Orton vs. R-Truth in an Elimination Chamber match
Ben’s Take: And here’s where all my sacrifices lead me. Basically, I decided I needed an Elimination Chamber match, and this one presented the fewest conflicts with other matches I really wanted to keep and didn’t burn a WWE or World title usage. Morrison presented a problem as he set up a chain of dominos that lost me one really good match and also forced me to use Booker T vs. Heidenreich, but I’ll stick to my guns on this one; for better or worse, the Chamber has become the marquee February gimmick, plus it usually results in a pretty decent match, so I felt representing it trumped what I lost. My card will essentially be made or broken off this decision. On the plus side, I get Punk in there, but I also lose another good match by using Cena and Sheamus; we’ll see.
Chad’s Take: I like the use of the Chamber as it has become a key element of the February PPV offering. It does sacrifice some meat though in 2009 and I really think 2013. Kofi vs. Del Rio was a good match overall and I think better than Bryan vs. DiBiase at the time.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka
Chad’s Pick: WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka
Ben’s Pick: WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix vs. Tamina Snuka
Ben’s Take: Tempting to say we had no other choice, but honestly, I love watching Beth Phoenix matches for the most part, and I’m not unhappy to have the Divas title represented.
Chad’s Take: Popcorn match.
Scott & Justin’s Pick: John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback vs. The Shield
Chad’s Pick: John Cena, Sheamus & Ryback vs. The Shield
Ben’s Pick: WWE U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro vs. The Miz
Ben’s Take: The final sacrifice to get my Elimination Chamber match from 2011. Happy to have Antonio Cesaro and the U.S. title, but the Miz doesn’t rock any worlds and it sucks to not get a great Shield match.
Chad’s Take: I hold this Shield match near and dear to my heart and think it is the quintessential Shield six man of their run. Everyone assumed Sheamus to lose here so the shock of Ryback losing at the time doesn’t need to be understated even though that feels comical to type a year later. Cena was a great face in this match leading the charge on the apron. This match is one of my favorite matches of 2013 in any promotion.
Chad: I was determined not to use three stages of hell and think as a result, I still ended up with a damn good card with the 2013 six man being the third best match on the show. I will take that and really feel like I only sacrificed Eddie/Brock in the grand scheme of things. A sacrifice I boldly take to be different in the world of PTBN.
Ben: Well, I made my bed by choosing to have an Elimination Chamber match come hell or high water, and though I have a twinge of regret over the stuff I lost, I maintain I’d rather have that signature gimmick included. Being able to keep the trio of Austin/HHH ’01, Brock/Eddie ’04 and Angle/Taker ’06 cushions the blow as I consider those the three best February matches WWE has to offer and Chad passed up two out of the three. Ultimately, Scott and Justin may have the best overall card here, depending how you feel about needing a Chamber match. Also worth noting: did any of us manage to get Chris Jericho on there? Poor Y2J.
What is your all-time February PPV card? Who do you feel did the best job with their picks? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page!