44. Vader vs Antonio Inoki (NJPW Wrestling World 1996)

Vader had one of the all-time great debuts in wrestling history when he battered Antonio Inoki in a couple of minutes in NJPW. I greatly looked forward to their future matches…and the first two that are on NJPW World left me disappointed. However, almost eight years after Vader’s debut, he fought Inoki in an incredible match. Inoki at 52, Vader with an injured shoulder (on his way to debuting in WWF as well), met one last time…and it is a must-see bout!.

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43. Vader vs Antonio Inoki (NJPW 7/29/88)

Vader’s NJPW debut saw him demolish Antonio Inoki in under five minutes. What a perfect way to debut a monster heel: have him easily defeat the company’s top babyface! Of course, the babyface has to get his/her revenge…in their rematch, it ended in a lacklustre countout, following a decent match. I expected so much more…so instantly watched the third match between them (well, the third match on NJPW World). And while better than their second match, this one still remained in the ‘average’ zone of quality.

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42. Vince McMahon vs Stephanie McMahon (‘I Quit’ Match, No Mercy 2003)

For me, the best WWE ‘I Quit’ match is probably Rock/Mankind, closely followed by Flair/Foley. But the worst one? Cena’s ‘I Quit’ matches aren’t any different from his ‘Last Man Standing’ matches, but they are, on the whole, entertaining. I haven’t seen Backlund/Hart from ‘Mania XII, but another sprang to mind last night. Vince McMahon vs Stephanie McMahon in the first ever ‘I Quit’ match.

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41. Mick Foley vs Ric Flair (‘I Quit’ Match, Summerslam 2006)

Charlotte and Rousey had a great ‘I Quit’ match at WrestleMania Backlash 2022. And I was thinking about the great ‘I Quit’ matches in WWE history. There’s Rock vs Mankind, Cena vs Batista, Reigns vs Jey Uso (inside a Hell in a Cell, no less!). But a lesser-talked about one is perhaps the most ultraviolent. And that’s the ‘I Quit’ match between Ric Flair and Mick Foley. It’s not for the faint of heart…

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40. Big Van Vader vs Antonio Inoki (NJPW, 27/12/1987)

There’s an art to the ‘squash’ match, isn’t there? They were ten a penny in the early years of Raw, just a method to get the wrestler to pushed over. When the ‘squash’ match is trying to put a monster heel over, there’s got to be a serious threat and even terror behind the heel. While I started off my venture into Vader’s career in NJPW with his awful match against El Gigante, I should have started here. This is his NJPW in-ring debut. If a would-be monster heel wants to learn how to perform a squash match, he/she should just watch this one!

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39. Charlotte Flair (c) vs Ronda Rousey (‘I Quit’ match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2022)

So, unless Madcap Moss vs Happy Corbin was an absolute mess, Lashley vs Omos must have been the worst match of WrestleMania Backlash. But what was the best match? That’s a tough choice between Rollins/Rhodes, Flair/Rousey and the six man tag main event. They were all top tier matches. But right now, I’d have to pick Flair/Rousey for Match of the Night.

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38. Omos vs Bobby Lashley (WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2022)

If it wasn’t for Vince McMahon deciding to take on Pat McAfee, I’d probably say Omos vs Bobby Lashley was the worst match of the whole WrestleMania card. So why have these two wrestle again? I know every action has an equal reaction, but let Lashley fight someone else! He is too good for the green Omos. Thankfully, however, this rematch was a little better than their previous effort…

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37. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Undertaker (No.1 Contender’s Match for the WWE Undisputed Championship, WWE Backlash 2002)

Tonight, it’s WrestleMania Backlash! Yes, I’m still not sure why they needed the ‘WrestleMania’ part before ‘Backlash,’ but hey, treat the audience as stupid and we will eventually become stupid! I looked at watching past Backlash matches, and there are some great ones, aren’t there? Austin vs Rock, HHH vs Rock, Orton vs Foley, Benoit vs HHH vs HBK…but I decided on Stone Cold vs The Undertaker from Backlash 2002. Yes, from twenty years ago! Both are legends, both have had lots of 5* matches…but have they had a 5* match together? Well, this one definitely isn’t a 5* match…

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36. Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, Sakura Genesis 2018)

After witnessing a couple of awful bouts from NJPW World, the first pitting Hogan vs Andre, the second featuring one of the worst wrestlers ever, El Gigante, I thought I’d treat myself to something that looked promising! I have a list of 5* (and some above 5*…out of 5 stars!!!) matches from Dave Meltzer’s ratings. But, of course, instead of looking at the list, I looked at the recommended section of NJPW World and found this encounter between Kazuchika Okada and Zack Sabre Jr, from NJPW Sakura Genesis 2018. And, I’ll be honest…I felt a little let down.

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35. Big Van Vader vs El Gigante (WCW – NJPW Supershow II, 4/1/1992)

Vader’s post-humous induction into the WWE Hall of Fame was long overdue. He was one of the best big men in the business. He made everything look legitimate, brutal and painful. WWE didn’t utilise him to his full potential in the mid-90s. But before that, he tore it up in WCW and Japan. Out of curiosity, I searched for ‘Big Van Vader’ on NJPW World. And, among the many intriguing matches I saw, this piqued my interest like no other: Big Van Vader vs El Gigante!

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