With WrestleMania XXX fast approaching, it only seems right to cover other companies (both past and present) who have(had) their own annual super shows. While not on the same scale as WrestleMania, these shows still delivered dream matches, feud blow-offs, and championship bouts that were just as exciting in their own respective country, territory, time period.
10. PWG – Anniversary Show (Also Threemondous)
While Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is usually known for putting on wrestling cards with some of the funniest and more creative names out there, their anniversary show names are a bit more basic. PWG usually opts for the number of years the organization has been operating, unless it happens to fall within a multiple of three, in which case we get something like Threemondous III, which took place in 2012. These shows have showcased not only the best independent wrestling talent across the U.S., but the homegrown local So-Cal wrestlers like Scott Lost, Joey Ryan, Scorpio Sky, Brian Cage and Willie Mack. PWG also has a penchant for spotlighting certain talent and giving them a title run before ROH jumps on board, like they did with Kevin Steen, Davey Richards, El Generico and current PWG Champion Adam Cole. So, their annual shows are definitely worth checking out to see who the next breakout star is. Last year’s TEN show had Adam Cole defend the title against Drake Younger and Kevin Steen, and featured a 3-Way Tag Team Title Ladder Match between the Young Bucks, The Dojo Bros and the Inner City Machine Guns.
Watch a preview for TEN.
9. ROH – Final Battle
According to Wikipedia, Glory by Honor used to be Ring of Honor’s annual super show, but was surpassed by Final Battle. Which makes sense when you consider Bryan Danielson and Takeshi Morishima beat the holy hell out of each other in a Fight without Honor match at Final Battle 2008, which sold out the Hammerstein Ballroom. Other previous Final Battle main events saw Samoa Joe defend the ROH World Title against Austin Aries, Davey Richards capturing that same belt from former partner Eddie Edwards, and El Generico and Kevin Steen’s epic Ladder War match. The most recent Final Battle, from December 2013, had Adam Cole defend the ROH Title against Michael Elgin and Jay Briscoe. Have I seen it? Not yet. Should you see it? Yes. If for any reason, to watch Chris Hero’s return to ROH.
Final Battle 2013 Highlights Part 1
Final Battle 2013 Highlights Part 2
8. TNA – Bound for Glory
Although Bound for Glory inaugural pay-per-view was in 2005, it wasn’t until after Jeff Jarrett stopped main eventing them in 2007, that they really became the company’s top event of the year. While former WCW and WWE talent have performed in previous main events, it should be noted that TNA has actually gambled on some of their homegrown talent to perform in those main events as well, of course opposite of former WCW and WWE talent. While technically the #2 wrestling promotion in the U.S., TNA can obviously be seen as the independent wrestling promotion with the most TV exposure. Nevertheless, between the terrible booking and ass-kissing of former wrestling superstars, guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and Austin Aries have been able to shine here and there. I’m hard-pressed to come up with an actual main event worth noting on here, especially when looking through the results I see that Bobby Lashley defeated Samoe Joe in a submission match at 2009’s Bound for Glory, so that isn’t going to happen. And Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels happened at Unbreakable. Although a much-praised Bully Ray did take on AJ Styles at Bound for Glory 2013, which I’m assuming was halfway decent thanks to this video package, and is probably the best way to watch most of what TNA puts out.
7. AAA – Triplemania
AAA is considered by many to be Mexico’s version of the WWE. Not because it’s the most important, dominant wrestling organization in Mexico, but because they tend to rely more on gimmicky characters, and outlandish storylines. So, it made sense for AAA to pretty much rip off the WrestleMania name by naming their major annual show Triplemania. Triplemania I started in Mexico City’s famous and largest bullring Plaza Mexico (Plaza de Toros), which holds about 41,000+ seats. It was headlined by Cien Caras defeating Konnan in a 2/3 falls retirement match. Fast forward 10 years later, and Konnan is still involved with AAA in some capacity and in Triplemania XXI. The most recent event was headlined by a 2/3 falls Hair vs. Hair Match, in which El Hijo del Perro Aguayo defeated Cibernetico. The event also included the likes of Blue Demon Jr., Dr. Wagner Jr. and fan favorite, non-Jr., La Parka.
AAA even posted the entire event on YouTube.
6. ECW – November to Remember
With its edgy show names that evoked their hardcore nature, it’s hard to imagine that Extreme Championship Wrestling’s top annual super show was called November to Remember. Perhaps they had a soft spot somewhere underneath the barbwire. By the second November to Remember show you had Chris Benoit legit-break Sabu’s neck and earn himself The Crippler nickname, Mikey Whipwreck defeat a pre-Stone Cold Steve Austin for the ECW Championship at the third event, then in later shows, Shane Douglas beat Bam Bam Bigelow for the ECW Title, the ECW dream team of Sabu, Rob Van Dam, and Taz vs. The Triple Threat, and Mike Awesome Awesome-Bomb the hell out of Masato Tanaka to round out some pretty memorable matches and moments from everybody’s favorite cult wrestling group. And now you can relive most of those moments via the WWE Network (1st official plug). Just make sure you click on the November to Remember event, and not the similarly-named bastardization, December to Dismember.
Here are some highlights from their last and final show November to Remember 2000.
5. WCCW – Parade of Champions
While the only match I’ve actually watched from any of World Class Championship Wrestling’s short-lived Parade of Champions super card, is the one where Kerry Von Erich defeats Ric Flair for the NWA World Title in 1984, it sill deserves this high a ranking because of the history surrounding it. First off, the “first” Parade of Champions (the actual first one was in 1972, but was a one-time deal) drew 50,000+ wrestling fans at Texas Stadium and set the record for largest wrestling crowd until WrestleMania III broke it. And the fact that the Von Erich family was so damn over in Texas, just another wrestling territory, that it was able to draw in that many people is pretty impressive. And I can’t overlook the emotional backstory surrounding the event as well, as the full title to this event was The David Von Erich Memorial Parade of Champions, a tribute to a recently fallen Von Erich. I never got the whole Von Erich/Texas wrestling fascination because a) it was before my time, and b) I didn’t live in Texas. Having been watching the WCCW TV shows on the WWE Network, I do find myself drawn in to the Von Erichs, especially as the shows are now getting into the Von Erich/Freebrid feud. Like all the other wrestling territories, it wasn’t long before WCCW closed its doors and by Parade of Champions 5, which took place in 1988, Kerry Von Erich had gone from wrestling Ric Flair for the NWA World Title to wrestling “Iceman” King Parsons for the WCWA TItle. No offense to “Iceman” King Parsons or the WCWA Title, but c’mon.
Watch Kerry beat Ric Flair for the NWA Title at the first Parade of Champions before the WWE takes it down.
4. NJPW – January 4th Tokyo Dome Show
New Japan Pro Wrestling isn’t the oldest promotion in Japan, but it has consistently remained one of the top, if not the top, promotions in Japan. It started its annual super card show in 1992, thanks to some help from WCW. Not only did WCW lend some of its top-tier talent like Sting, Lex Luger, and The Steiner Brothers, but it also lent out its name for the show: Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome; which saw Riki Choshu defeat Tatsumi Fujinami in the main event for the IWGP Title. Over the years, the January 4th show has had different titles from Wrestling World to the more recent Wrestle Kingdom, but there has always remained one constant: the date of January 4th. No matter the day of the week, their annual show is always held on January 4th. The shows have also always drawn huge crowds of 35,000 – 50,000. The latest show, Wrestle Kingdom 8, had Hiroshi Tanahashi defeat Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. The IWGP Title was also defended by the “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada against Tetsuya Naito. Unfortunately there was no awesome velociraptor-themed entrance for this event.
Check out the highlights for Wrestle Kingdom 8.
3. AJPW – Champion Carnival
One of the coolest concepts in sports are tournaments. When wrestling started incorporating them it made wrestling way better. I’ll take a tournament over a battle royal any day. Even over an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Champion Carnival was something I wished we would’ve seen here in the States. The King of the Ring came close in the beginning, but was quickly watered-down, and instead of seeing a wrestler put on an impressive showing by beating three other wrestlers in one night, we got some half-assed sporadic tournament that now takes place on Raw, sometimes. The concept of Champion Carnival is cool. Even though it’s spread over a few days, and has ranged from 10-15 participants, the tournament has also gone from being single elimination to round-robin style. It also now includes blocks (usually two) consisting of different wrestlers which gives it a World Cup feel. The winner, if he’s not already the champion, eventually is granted a title shot. Not surprisingly, former AJPW President Giant Baba won a bunch of them. Popular gaijins like Stan Hansen and Vader have won it as well. Most surprisingly is that Dr. Death Steve Williams never did. Last year’s tournament was won by Jun Akiyama, after defeating KAI. This year’s tournament is set to take place a week after Wrestlemania XXX. And even though AJPW isn’t the same organization it used to be, this is still considered to be one of the biggest wrestling shows in Japan.
Check out some classic AJPW as Mitsuharu Misawa beats Akira Taue to win the 1995 Champion Carnival.
2. CMLL – Anniversary Show
The CMLL is the oldest wrestling organization in existence. Yes, even older than the NWA.
On the verge of celebrating their milestone 80th Anniversary Show on September 13, 2013, the company was set to finally deliver the long-awaited Mask vs. Mask Match between former partners, long-time rivals, Ultimo Guerrero and Atlantis. However, the only way the match were to happen was if Guerrero and Atlantis teamed up and defeated another pair of rivals, La Sombra and Volador Jr., with the winning team advancing to the main event to fight each other for their masks. Pretty crazy booking, right? Well, it’s common in CMLL. However, La Sombra and Volador Jr. won the match, and La Sombra defeated and unmasked Volador Jr., leaving the Mexican crowd dissatisfied and founder Salvador Lutteroth spinning in his grave, as the big money match was definitely between Guerrero and Atlantis. Here’s hoping the WWE doesn’t do the same with WrestleMania XXX, and give us an Evolution-filled triple threat main event. From the original El Santo and Blue Demon to Mistico and Dr. Wagner Jr., CMLL’s anniversary shows have included pretty much every famous wrestler who ever laced up a mask in Mexico.
Watch and hear the crowd steal my heart as they boo the hell out of the finish of the tag team match at the 80th Anniversary Show.
1. NWA/WCW – Starrcade
Before WrestleMania I was broadcast via closed circuit TV, the NWA had put together Starrcade ’83: A Flair for the Gold, which saw Ric Flair defeat Harley Race in a Steel Cage Match for the NWA World Title. The undercard also saw Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine beat the ever-living dog shit out of each other in a bloody dog collar match. Much like how in the early years of WrestleMania Hulk Hogan main-evented the majority of them, the majority of Starrcade’s main events were headlined by Ric Flair, but were not as one-sided as the Hulk Hogan matches. Flair actually lost in some of these main events. The biggest Starrcade would have to have been Starrcade 1997, which finally saw Hollywood Hogan take on Sting for the first time (if you overlook their one-time Nitro skirmish from 1995). The match wasn’t the greatest and the ending was sloppy, but it definitely delivered on that big match feel that most of these annual super shows should be known for. Unfortunately, the last Starrcade featured Scott Steiner defeating Sid Vicious in the main event which, in a weird way, was a perfect indication as to why WCW was on its last legs. RIP WCW.
To watch any of these Starrcades feel free to get the WWE Network. Seriously, it’s worth it.