With the final weeks of the 2009 year upon us, it got me thinking about what are the best years in professional wrestling.
In this countdown, I kept it to the last 20 years. I know there are cases such as 1987, when Andre The Giant went up against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 3, and many other big matches took place throughtout the 80's, but anything before 1989 is hard to rank.
There was so much wrestling going on with the amount of territories and promotions that its hard to classify what was meaningful and how much historical significance was involved. But from 1989 on, the wrestling world was much more defined and everything was directly effecting another.
I may leave some moments out but did my best to highlight some of the biggest moments of each year.
NUMBER 5: 2005
During this year at WrestleMania we got the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match, which has become a annual attraction for the biggest show of the year. During this year, two of the biggest names ever faced off in a match of ego and payment. Shawn Michaels took on Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam. In the fall of 2005, TNA Impact aired its first episode on Spike TV.
NUMBER 4: 1999
WWE became a publicly traded company in 1999. Smackdown was launched after nearly a decade of just having Monday Night RAW. 1999 provided us with the memorable debut of Chris Jericho with his Y2J countdown. After classic years as a heel, Hulk Hogan returned to Nitro wearing the Red and Yellow as a face.
NUMBER 3: 2001
This so far was the greatest year in professional wrestling in the 21st century. WWE acquired WCW and forever changing the industry. Besides now being the only big game in town for television, numerous big names would be added to the WWE roster all because of this historical business move that took place in 2001. Stone Cold Steve Austin would follow with shocking the world two weeks after the purchasing of WCW when he would turn heel at WrestleMania 17 when Vince McMahon helped him beat The Rock.
NUMBER 2: 1998
It was perhaps the most edgy year of the attitude era. WWE saw Stone Cold Steve Austin on top feuding with the rich Chairman of the company. This mixed with the deep unique story of Kane and Undertaker plus DX causing chaos, wrestling was the coolest thing. WCW saw Goldberg on the rise while the N.W.O. was still the big bad gang in town.
NUMBER 1: 1996
In my opinion, 1996 was the best year in professional wrestling to date. 1996 began with a great story of HBK on the rise to realize his boyhood dream at WrestleMania in what I consider one of the best 3 matches ever against Bret Hart in the first ever Iron Man match. WrestleMania 12 also had the return of the Ultimate Warrior, which while it did not have any big effect on the industry, at the time it was a big deal. May of 1996 we saw the beginning of the invasion angle by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who then brought in Hulk Hogan for the biggest shocker in wrestling when he turned heel and formed the New World Order. Also in the summer of 1996, Austin 3:16 was born and the first ever boiler room brawl match where Paul Bearer turned on the Undertaker and aligned himself with Mankind.
I am sure I will get many people who agree, think different, or are offended that I only selected from the past 20 years.