Dave is here with the first batch of match recommendations for you watch during your isolation at home.
Yoshihiro Tajiri vs Super Crazy January 10, 1999
This is the first high-profile match in what would become a classic ECW rivalry comparable to Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko four years before. When you think of modern wrestlers like Will Ospreay and Tyler Bate bursting onto the scene in recent years, you think of the kind of feeling one had watching these guys light up in the ring twenty-one years ago.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Cactus Jack Septembe 22, 1997
This is the long-awaited “debut” of Cactus Jack in WWF. It is introduced with one of the best-produced segments you can ever see in wrestling. It is followed by a somewhat short but very sweet falls-count-anywhere match between the two rivals.
Miguel Perez Jr. vs Super Black Ninja April 1988
Perez is on my list of most underrated wrestlers of all time. Perhaps he was overshadowed by the famous name of his father. Perhaps people couldn’t get past the inordinate amount of back hair. Perhaps there were better moves in 1997 than joining Los Bariquas. Regardless, he has a great body of work including this match against the future Great Muta. This is Keiji Mutoh during his North American excursion, focusing on developing basic match-building skills rather than just unleashing the high-flying he would become famous for and had already shown some of in Japan. He is a dandy little heel here facing off against my boy Miguel in Puerto Rico in a hair vs hair match.
Sweet Daddy Siki and Chuck Simms vs Dan Kroffat and Armand Rougeau February 8, 1987
This is from the waning days of the Montreal territory and of Siki’s career. He’s a legend in Toronto and it would be great if there was more footage of him but this match shows the guy could go. Simms had a short career as did Rougeau who is the lesser-known brother of Jacques and Raymond. He shows here that he could have gone on to fame but it just didn’t happen. Kroffat is one of the better in-ring wrestlers of his generation and had most of his fame in All-Japan and it is fun finding his stuff in Canada from the late-80’s. The first time I saw this match I did so without expectation and it blew me away.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs Psicosis December 13, 1995
This is possibly the best touring match I can think of and their wars all around the world established both as stars. This is up there with the best of their matches and helped them both get to the next level of exposure.
Takeshi Morishima vs KENTA March 4, 1997
This is the first defense of the ROH Title by Morishima and it happens in front of 13, 000 fans in Tokyo’s Budokan Hall. ROH fans, including me, had become spoiled with the title reigns of Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson and the idea of something new like Morishima was a struggle for some of them but I loved it. So many promotions over the next number of years would have killed for a showcase opportunity like this prior to the late 2010’s wrestling boom. This is a short and hard-hitting match which became the staple of Morishima’s early reign.
Michael Hayes vs Lex Luger May 7, 1989
This would have been one of the best matches you would see on most shows but was followed shortly after by Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat in one of the greatest matches of all time. This match became overshadowed as a result but is a great grudge match. Hayes had recently turned on Luger and makes for a great heel and both are at the top of their game here. This is pretty complete footage of it that I just wish had the great entrance by Hayes.
Jean Ferre vs Franz Von Buyten January 20, 1968
This is one of the earliest matches you can find of Andre The Giant and it shows him winning his first title in his native France at age 21. Von Buyten passed away in 2020 and has gained some acclaim from the reviewers at Segunda Caida in recent times. Legends are told of the athletic exploits of a young Andre including dropkicks. Here you see him rolling and bumping around the ring and showing what a specimen he was.