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Opening Matches on Major Cards


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Sitting here watching Anarchy Rulz 1999 and watching Jerry Lynn vs. Lance Storm. Opening matches are not always a punishment to talent or a means of young talent paying their dues. At times they can be used in major shows to set the tone for the evening, and sometimes they've outright stolen the show. So what are some of the best opening matches you can think of?

 

Aside from Storm-Lynn, one that immediately comes to mind is The Midnight Express defending the US tag titles against the Southern Boys. I mean, you had a hot crowd in Baltimore that was already primed and ready to see Sting dethrone Flair, and this match made the night that much better. From Cornette heeling it up to the crowd, to the hot finish that saw the Midnights barely escape with the title, to the MARTIAL ARTS BATTLE!~, this was what I consider the standardbearer for opening matches on major cards, and I'd like to think that the rest of the WCW roster challenged themselves to try and match its quality. The match was so good that it got put on the Rise And Fall Of WCW DVD.

 

Another one that comes to mind is Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio at Summerslam 2002. Really this was probably the best PPV of the year, as just about every match on the card delivered. 

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Best Curtain Jerker for a major card for me was Dean Malenko vs. Ultimo Dragon at Starrcade 1996. for the WCW World Cruiserweight Title.

 

I am old, so I cannot remember if the first title belt had the typo.

 

I still love the concept for the J-Crown.  More dudes need to walk to the ring with five or more championship belts.

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Rey/Psicosis at BATB 96 was a perfect way to kick off that show. Fast paced match to lighten the hostile takeover mood and a good showcase for the beginning of WCW's cruiserweight revolution. WCW regularly opened ppvs with CW matches for the rest of its existence.

 

Also, Owen/Bret at WM 10, obv.

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Oh, lets see:

 

Bret vs Owen as WM10

Rockers vs. Faces of Fear from WM7

Pillman vs. Liger from Superbrawl 2

Arn/Tully vs. Hart Foundation from Summerslam 89

Rockers vs. Orient Express from Rumble 91

New Foundation vs. Orient Express from Rumble 92

 

 

That's some old stuff that pops right into my head.

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Rey/Psicosis at BATB 96 was a perfect way to kick off that show. Fast paced match to lighten the hostile takeover mood and a good showcase for the beginning of WCW's cruiserweight revolution. WCW regularly opened ppvs with CW matches for the rest of its existence.

 

Also, Owen/Bret at WM 10, obv.

You don't get too much better than these two.  Rey/Psicosis is basically two guys who trusted each other completely doing the craziest spots they can think of to try to make a mark in WCW.  I'd take that match over probably any Jr. Heavyweight match that has happened in the last 10 years, and probably top 10 all time on American soil.  Owen/Bret was basically the heavyweight version of the first match.  Two guys who had absolute trust in each other pulling out all the stops and putting on the best match they could.  I don't know how many guys working right now will be able to develop the kind of chemistry with one opponent.  Maybe Cesaro/Bryan/Generico could based on their history in the indies, but the four guys mentioned here basically wrestled each other daily for years, and these matches were basically the culmination of those years of work.

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Midnights vs Southern Boys wasn't the opener of GAB '90, it just opened the VHS edit of it.

 

One great opener that doesn't get much mention is Hardy Boyz vs Lance Storm and the Hurricane from No Mercy 2001.

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Midnights vs Southern Boys wasn't the opener of GAB '90, it just opened the VHS edit of it.

 

 

Not the VHS I bought from Turner Home Entertainment for 40 bucks.  It wasn't on that tape at all.

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Opening matches are not always a punishment to talent or a means of young talent paying their dues. At times they can be used in major shows to set the tone for the evening, and sometimes they've outright stolen the show.

 

I've always agreed with the sentiment that the opening match is the 2nd most important match on the show.

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Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkreig was an awesome opener to the surprisingly great 99 Spring Stampede

 

yeah, WWE uploaded so much Blitzkreig to their YouTube that it made me think Blitzkreig was the guy running their YouTube account

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When I was a kid renting all the mid-90s WCW PPVs on tape because my folks wouldn't buy them, it really did seem like every one opened with an insane Cruiserweight match. If Bischoff and co. ever did anything right aside from the NWO it was that.

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Midnights vs Southern Boys wasn't the opener of GAB '90, it just opened the VHS edit of it.

 

 

Damn, you're right. If I'm not mistaken, Harley Race wrestled on the card that wasn't shown on the Turner release.

 

So on that note, was Sting/Koloff vs The Horsemen from GAB '88 the opening on that show, or was that a Turner edit as well?

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Whether this counts as a major card or not I don't know, but the first ROH match I ever saw was a guest Chikara Six man at Good Times Great Memories and it sold me instantly on ROH, Chikara and indy wrestling as a whole. It was just a crazy whirlwind of cool dives, intricate multi man moves and fun, offbeat comedy. I'd never seen anything like it at the time. It sounds silly considering it's not a particularly important match on the whole, but I think it might have solidified for me that wrestling was going to be my thing and not just something I followed casually. 

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Whether this counts as a major card or not I don't know, but the first ROH match I ever saw was a guest Chikara Six man at Good Times Great Memories and it sold me instantly on ROH, Chikara and indy wrestling as a whole. It was just a crazy whirlwind of cool dives, intricate multi man moves and fun, offbeat comedy. I'd never seen anything like it at the time. It sounds silly considering it's not a particularly important match on the whole, but I think it might have solidified for me that wrestling was going to be my thing and not just something I followed casually. 

 

GODDAMMIT! I needed money back in 2008 and I sold my copy of this DVD. I wanna go back and watch that match now. :(

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As already mentioned, I really liked DDP vs. Mero at Fall Brawl 95... although I'm not sure if you'd call Fall Brawl a major card.

 

Also, Bryan Danielson vs. Jay Briscoe was a really good opener at Final Battle '03 in what was a major card for an independent show (Great Muta coming over to the states). 

 

Also, once again not sure if this is really major but Foley vs HHH at Canadian Stampede I recall being REALLY GOOD.

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