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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

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EOTR Discussion: 6 Great Wrestling Trilogies

By @TrueGodImmortal

Wrestling is one of the most interesting things in the world sometimes. The art behind it is amazing. The storytelling is immaculate. The action is usually engaging and interesting. Everything about wrestling has a tendency to be amazing when done right. Today, that's what we are here to talk about. When wrestling is done right. We discussed the worst trilogies in wrestling already, so today, we wanted to take a look at a few of the best. Let's get into it.

*Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat
(Chi-Town Rumble, Clash Of The Champions VI, WrestleWar 1989)

-You might be thinking this is the greatest trilogy of all time. You might be right. You might be wrong. However, as the business evolved and the stories told got better and better in wrestling, this trilogy lost a very small amount of luster when compared to some of the others on this list. For me, I always thought the chemistry between Flair and Steamboat was underrated in some instances, as they might be the two greatest opponents ever. Flair is a natural heel. Steamboat is a natural face. Combined in the ring, they made magic. It's hard for me to choose the best match of the three, but I'll admit, each of these matches are classics in their own right and some of the most entertaining contests I've ever witnessed. Flair essentially wins the rivalry, and in the process, he started a legendary rivalry of his own.

*The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
(Wrestlemania 15, 17, and 19)

-Rock and Austin have fought more than three times of course, but they had a Mania trilogy that was for the ages. When we looked back at the matches in their history, it was their Mania trilogy that caught my attention. It's the best three match series of each man's career and it started in Philadelphia at Wrestlemania 15 when Austin was the most popular wrestler and Rock was the WWF Champ and a rising star right on the pinnacle of becoming the man. That match represented The Rock being made into the next star even in a losing effort, and by the time they faced off again at Wrestlemania 17, it was no surprise that both men were equal and Rock was flirting with mainstream fame. Austin would turn heel in the best match of their trilogy, joining forces with Vince McMahon to become the WWF Champion. Their final encounter would be the last match of Austin's career at Mania 19, with The Rock pretty much looking at Hollywood full time and wanting to accomplish things he hadn't before and that was to defeat Austin at Mania. Rock wins clean and closes out the trilogy with one and final victory, as Austin won their first two battles. This is still an excellent rivalry and as a trilogy, it's probably the second or third greatest on this list.

*John Cena vs AJ Styles
(Money In The Bank 2016, Summerslam 2016, Royal Rumble 2017)

-In the modern day WWE, booking is rarely done the right way. There is no greater example of this than watching the product regularly now and seeing the nonsense that dominates the programming, but one thing that never fails or wavers is the in ring work. There are some occasions where the booking and the in ring combine for something special and this is one of those times. Their first match at MITB was solid, close to a near classic, and it set a precedent for which this entire feud would be judged by. Shortly after, they would have their best match at Summerslam, with AJ going over clean before revisiting their feud for one final battle at the Royal Rumble. I'll admit, that match is also a near classic, but in all honesty, I didn't find it to be as classic as their second battle. Still, this is one of the best trilogies and easily the best trilogy of this era.... even CM Punk vs John Cena's trilogy (well... maybe not, but it's really close).

*Samoa Joe vs CM Punk
(World Title Classic, Joe vs Punk II, All Star Extravaganza II)

-You might not remember this trilogy.... But I do. Ring of Honor was at their true prime, with a mass amount of talent coming through their doors, but perhaps there was no greater example of talent than these two wrestlers. CM Punk was the man in ROH and Samoa Joe had made a huge name for himself as the ROH World Champ, and their clashes would end up being something special. Their first match marked the first title shot for Punk since he came into the company. The match would become a classic, going the distance of 60 minutes, showing that both wrestlers were ironmen. The second match is widely regarded as the greatest ROH match ever, and rightfully so. I don't think there are 10 matches in wrestling history that I liked more than Joe vs Punk 2, and that was also a time limit draw that went 60 minutes. This would set the tone perfectly for the third and final match, which didn't go the full 60 minutes, but was just as good as the first two. Joe would retain his title in a third straight classic and this is without a doubt the greatest trilogy in indie wrestling history. There's nothing that comes as close in ROH history.

*Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
(Wrestle Kingdom 11, NJPW Dominion, G1 Climax 27 Block B Finals)

-Okada. Omega. Two of the best today. There matches. All three classics. Different stories. Different pacing and action. In each match. For me, my favorite part of this trilogy is that you watched them attempt to top their previous match every time and they managed to do so. What is surprising to me is that Wrestle Kingdom 11 saw the two stars have the match of the year essentially...... Then they upped the ante and had a better match at Dominion. Those first two matches went basically an hour, but their third and final (and less important) match was their shortest and somehow, it was almost better than their first two. Okada won the first match, the second match finished as a time limit draw, and the third match was won by Omega. Simply put, the booking of the trilogy was classic in its own right and there might not be a trilogy in wrestling history better.

*Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart
(Survivor Series 1996, Wrestlemania 13, In Your House)

-One of my personal favorite trilogies of all time, this was one of the first trilogies I witnessed as a wrestling fan. Simply put, when I saw Austin trash talk Bret, I couldn't help but tune in and watch the aftermath. Their first match is actually their best match in terms of wrestling, as the two stars gave each other everything they had, but Bret walked away victorious. Their Wrestlemania 13 match is amazing, and one of the best Mania matches, however, the one thing that bothered me was that Bret went over yet again. They would do a double turn here, and it's one of the most memorable turns ever, but I would have had Austin go over in the first and let Bret win at Mania by Austin passing out to lose and cement the double turn. Their third match is underrated and a great battle, but my only criticism is that Austin never got a clean victory in their feud on PPV. This is a classic feud and trilogy that just needed to have a different ending to their final match.



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