10 of the Most Important Pro Wrestling Moments to Happen in Texas
With the long history of professional wrestling in Texas, what are some of the most important moments to happen here?
This list is focusing on moments that happened in Texas that carry a good amount of historical significance and impact on the wrestling business, whether its the event itself of what the event directly led to. While its mainly individual moments we're looking at, entire events will also make this list if the event as a whole is worth noting.
And yes, this list is dominated by the WWE. Its hard to deny the WWE's impact in the world of professional wrestling, and comparative to smaller companies from the area like WCCW and later the UWF, the impacts made by WWF/WWE events are definitely bigger and farther reaching.
What are some of your favorite Texas wrestling moments?
We're not just talking about a good match here. We're talking about a match that lays claim to the title of greatest WWE match ever.
Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker had already been in amazing matches together over a decade before their clash at Wrestlemania 25. The duo fought in the first-ever 'Hell in the Cell' match in 1997, and had a career-halting casket match a few months later at the Royal Rumble.
12-years later at Wrestlemania, both men had grown as performers, which is saying something as Michaels was already called the greatest in-ring performer of all time. Michaels' entrance mirrored Undertaker's iconic entrance, with Michaels wearing all while and descending from the heavens. The match wasn't just good, it was beyond great, and is regularly called one of the best, if not the absolute best, match in this history of WWE. With the response to the match, and the difficulty Triple H and Randy Orton cited in following their match, the return match at Wrestlemania 26 was given its rightful place in the main event spot.
We covered this moment in the past when WWE named it the coolest moment to happen in Texas, and its hard to deny its importance.
At the time, this was one of the most shocking and violent things WWE had done. But ultimately, this moment signified the beginning of the solo career of the man considered to be the greatest performer in the history of professional wrestling, surpassing his long-time idol Ric Flair in the minds of many fans, fellow wrestlers, and historians.
Its not the match between NWA champion Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich that's historically important, but what this match started: the greatest rivalry in Texas wrestling history.
Leading up to the match between Flair and Von Erich, fans were given the opportunity to vote for the special guest referee. Michael P.S. Hayes won overwhelmingly, and Hayes picked his best friend, Terry Gordy, to man the cage door to make sure Flair didn't try to make a break for it and no one tried to interfere. During the match, Hayes and Flair came to blows, with Hayes laying out the champ and telling Von Erich to make the pin. A dispute started between Hayes and Von Erich that resulted in Gordy slamming the cage door on Von Erich's head, kick-starting the rivalry between The Fabulous Freebirds and the Von Erich family, selling out shows all over Texas.
In this case, we have to recognize an entire show for what it represented and the impact it had.
After David Von Erich died suddenly in Japan, WCCW's upcoming show at Texas Stadium was dedicated in his honor. The family patriarch Fritz Von Erich came out of retirement to team up with his sons against the Freebirds, and Kerry Von Erich took his late brother's place in the NWA title match against Ric Flair. Kerry ended up with the win, finally bringing the NWA title to his family. The event was a huge success, drawing one of the biggest wrestling crowds to date. Unfortunately, Kerry would drop the title back to Flair just a few weeks later.
With women headlining Wrestlemania for the first time this year, that would not have been possible without this match.
The women's revolution was in full swing, thanks in large part to the performances of Sasha, Becky, and Charlotte and their feuds over the Diva's Championship held by Charlotte. Thankfully, the WWE got wise and decided to retire the championship that was an insult to its female performers and reintroduce the Women's Championship at Wrestlemania 32. The Women's Revolution/Evolution would have been dead in its track had this match not delivered. It not only delivered, many say it stole the show, proving that they had what it takes to headline the company's top event.
We have no choice here but to recoginize the whole event of Wrestlemania X-Seven as many call it the greatest Wrestlemania WWE ever put together.
The first event after Vince McMahon purchased WCW saw Chyna finally claim the WWF Women's Championship, Shane and Vince McMahon in a street fight, a nostalgic gimmick battle royale filled with former stars, and the first of three Wrestlemania matches between Triple H and The Undertaker. But the two moments that truly make this event stand out are 'Tables, Ladders, and Chairs 2' and the second Wrestlemania main event between The Rock and Steve Austin.
The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boys, and Edge and Christian had a lot to live up to after their previous TLC match, but they did the unthinkable by topping it and stealing the show with spots like Edge spearing Jeff Hardy off a 16(ish) foot ladder.
The match between The Rock and Austin had the greatest lead up we'd ever seen, making the point that Austin was going to do whatever he had to in order to leave as the champion. That eventually included siding with his arch nemesis Mr. McMahon, turning the biggest star in the history of the company heel.
Unfortunately, one wrong move in Texas resulted in the end of an amazing wrestling career.
After finally accepting an offer to join WWE, Sting made his in-ring debut in a losing effort against Triple H at Wrestlemania 31. Afterwards, Sting began a feud with WWE Champion Seth Rollings, with the two facing off at Night of Champions. While many hoped this would be Sting finally getting his hands on the one major title that eluded his career, a powerbomb into the turnbuckle threw a wrench into the works.
Sting was noticeably affected by the move, and crumbled to the mat after ducking a clothesline, causing the match to be temporarily stopped while medical personnel attended to Sting. Though Sting would finish the match, he never wrestled again and announced his retirement while being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at Wrestlemania 32.
To be honest, the match itself is rather lack-luster, but its what it lead to that makes this important.
The 1997 Royal Rumble is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum in people's minds when looking at the history of the event. Many spots in the marquee match were filled by luchadors from south of the border that a majority of the WWF audience were not familiar with. Hell, we even had one who was so full of himself that he infamously told WWF management, "No yob!", saying he wouldn't do the job for anyone and let them eliminate him, so he ended up eliminating himself (We'll talk more about him in a bit). But the big story of the match was 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, fresh off his King of the Ring win and riding the Austin 3:16 wave. Dominating most of the match, Austin would eventually be eliminated by Bret Hart, but no referees were in place to see the elimination, so Austin rolled back in and eliminated Hart to be declared the winner of the Royal Rumble. Due to the nature of his win, Austin wasn't given the customary title shot at Wrestlemania, but instead faced Hart in the beloved 'I Quit' match at Wrestlemania 13. So while the match itself wasn't much to write home about, it directly led to one of the greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time and was the first of three record-setting Royal Rumble wins for the Texas Rattlesnake.
Remember that luchador who refused to let anyone eliminate him from the Royal Rumble? That was Mexican wrestling legend Mil Mascaras, and he's notorious for refusing to lose, no matter where he's wrestling.
In 1990, WCW was under the direction of Jim Herd, who was, and still is, regularly slammed for his horrible ideas like wanting to rebrand Ric Flair as Spartacus, and the masked tag team known as the Ding Dongs. Heard, believing that having luchadors on the card in Corpus Christi was a necessity, insisted on Mil Mascaras being booked for Clash of the Champions X. With Mascaras refusing to lose to a WCW wrestler, and Mascaras pinning an established WCW star was out of the question, they needed a job guy to make Mascaras look good. Enter Cactus Jack.
As Cactus Jack, Mick Foley had a huge support system in WCW creative team members Jim Ross and Jim Cornette. However, Ric Flair (head booker for the company at the time) and Jim Heard didn't see much in Foley and refused to bring him on. So Cornette and Ross decided to backdoor Foley into the company by booking him as enhancement talent, but giving him major spots to endear him to the audience (such as attacking his partner after the match). Foley was booked as Mascaras' opponent, but Mascaras' ego refused to let him talk to Foley to plan the match, something that resulted in Foley disliking the wrestling legend even today. Cornette assured Foley that even though Mascaras was winning, Foley would be the one remembered, and helped Foley plan spots like his Nestea Plunge, a flat-back bump from the apron to the concrete floor. Cornette's plan worked and the fans were firmly behind Cactus Jack, launching his Hall of Fame career.
Ultimately, the event itself was not as good as people hoped it would be, but like the aforementioned Royal Rumble, this is about what the event resulted in more than the event itself. This Tuesday in Texas is remembered in WWE lore for two reasons: the return of Macho Man Randy Savage and the return match between Hogan and The Undertaker.
After losing to The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VII, Randy Savage was forced to retire, but ended up the winner by getting back with Miss Elizabeth and getting married at Summerslam that year. But their celebration was cut short when Jake Roberts sent a cobra to the newlywed couple at their reception. The tension hit a peak when Savage, acting as a color commentator, went to the ring to confront Roberts but ended up tied in the ropes with a cobra chewing on his arm. Savage was reinstated and his return match was set for This Tuesday in Texas. The feud fizzled out shortly after, with Savage going on to win his 2nd WWF World Championship a few months later.
The Undertaker, after only a year in the company, scored a major win at Survivor Series by beating Hulk Hogan for the world title, with a little help from Ric Flair. Due to the interference, a rematch was scheduled for This Tuesday in Texas, with President Jack Tuney sitting ringside to make sure the end of the match was fair. The match didn't end fairly though, with Hogan taking the urn and throwing ashes into Undertaker's face. Due to this, the world title was vacated for the first time and would be awarded to the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble.
So what we got out of this was the return of one of the greatest wrestling legends, and arguably the greatest Royal Rumble of all time, with Ric Flair going nearly one hour to win the WWF World Title.