Review: WWE Network’s 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die: #39 Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko (ECW Television Title, ECW Hardcore TV, May 2, 1995)

20141106_EP_LIGHT_100best_2_home_nologo(Here’s the link for the match on the WWE Network: http://network.wwe.com/video/v36894069/?contentId=36894069&contextType=wwe-show&contextId=ecw_hardcore_tv

I can’t believe we are up to #39 and it’s Eddie Guerrero’s first appearance in the Best 100…List! For a man WWE fans (and WWE hold in general) hold in great veneration, over a decade after his death, I’m surprised he isn’t a regular on the Best 100…List. He’s only on it twice! That other match, ranked at #5, is a stone cold classic. This match is against Dean Malenko. Everytime he pops up I’m shocked that WWE remembered he existed. Just look at how he was treated during his WWE in-ring career. However, he was incredible in the ring. And so was Eddie Guerrero. In this ECW television match, Guerrero and Malenko put on a wrestling clinic. It is beautiful to behold!

Like any Malenko match, it’s slow to begin. The wrestlers go through the motions of chain wrestling and reversals. There’s polite applause after both individuals kip up, for example, but the crowd are more interested in chanting ‘Throw him out’ to an audience member causing a disturbance than the in-ring display. Admittedly I was wondering what all the fuss was about for at least the first ten minutes or so. It’s a typical Malenko display, punishing his opponent with a variety of submissions. All the other Malenko matches on the Best 100…List predominantly involve him in control of most of the match. About the midway mark of this match, however, Guerrero turns the table on Malenko. From that point on, the match becomes something special.39

In quick succession, Guerrero hits a cradle suplex, a powerbomb, a tornado DDT and a frankensteiner! After that, it’s a close battle between the two wrestlers. Neither one gains the upper hand for too long, as they are soon slammed down on the mat or wrapped up in a submission. There are impressive sequences of reversals and heavy duty moves. Malenko’s brainbuster is shortly followed by Guerrero’s brainbuster. Malenko misses a tope, Guerrero hits a crossbody outside of the ring. It builds and builds, until both wrestlers can barely stand. There’s a great variety of moves, both wrestlers managing something new even when the match approaches the thirty minute time limit. By the end, you appreciate whey Malenko and Guerrero kept things slow in the opening minutes of the bout. It was so they could keep up a lightning fast pace from the midpoint until the very end.

Both wrestlers would only get better, but this match represents a zenith in both their careers. It proved that they could keep a crowd entertained without weapons in a wrestling organization built on hardcore displays of blood and violence. They would lay the foundation for the WCW Cruiserweight scene (and should have done something similar for the WWE Cruiserweight scene, if WWE cared about it at all in the late ‘90s). It’s one of the rare cases where a standing ovation is genuine and natural. I felt like applauding the wrestlers myself! No one would care! But yet again, the Best 100…List has showed me a classic wrestling match that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Anything after the mediocrity that was Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs The Rock (click here for my review of that ‘Mania X-18 match) would have been appreciated, but this entry more than made up for that mistake.

VERDICT: 9/10. A slow start belies the classic ECW match that Guerrero and Malenko put on. It’s the old tale of neither man getting the upper hand, but the two wrestlers put on a great technical display whilst telling that story.

Does this match belong in the WWE Network’s ‘ 100 Best Matches To See Before You Die’ List? Leave your thoughts/comments below!

Click here for my review of #40 The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan (WWE Wrestlemania X8))

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