While WWE may try to convince fans that WCW was a 13-year-long disaster, the promotion actually produced a lot of great stories, characters, and matches, especially before the company’s excesses got the best of them — and sometimes even DURING those low points. In fact, some of the best wrestling matches ever happened under the WCW umbrella, like the legendary bouts between Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair.
WCW has also produced some legitimately great pay-per-views over the years, too. Let’s consult the wrestling equivalent of IMDb, Cagematch.net, and see which PPVs they consider to be the best in WCW history.
10Halloween Havoc (10/26/1997) – 7.18
Some PPVs get a high rating from Cagematch users because something important happened on this particular show, rather than being an overall great PPV. Halloween Havoc ‘97 certainly has some good stuff including Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page and Yuji Nagata vs. Ultimo Dragon in one of the few singles bouts they had, along with a non-title cage match stinker between Roddy Piper and Hollywood Hogan. But the real draw for fans here is the classic Cruiserweight Championship match, where Rey Mysterio Jr. — in his iconic Phantom inspired gear — put his mask on the line for a title shot against his rival/friend/father to his adoptive child Eddie Guerrero.
9Halloween Havoc (10/24/1993) – 7.29
Pre-Hulk Hogan 1990s WCW is severely underrated, and 1993 had an awesome array of talent on its roster. Halloween Havoc ‘93 certainly shows that roster off, as it’s got Dustin Rhodes vs. Steve Austin for the US Title, Rick Rude vs. Ric Flair for the International Title, and the only televised bout between English legends Davey Boy Smith and Lord Steven Regal. The main event here, however, is an expectedly brutal Texas Deathmatch between Big Van Vader and Cactus Jack.
8Starrcade ‘88 (12/26/1988) – 7.31
Starrcade was always WCW’s biggest show of the year, and the 1988 edition was one of the best ones thanks to a consistent match quality. While few Cagematch users are fond of Lex Luger, his main event bout against Ric Flair on this show is considered by many users to be Luger’s best match ever.
Along with Dusty Rhodes and Sting teaming up against The Road Warriors and a matwork-heavy bout between Rick Steiner and Mike Rotunda for the TV Title, there’s a lot of great stuff that’s easily overlooked. One of the big forgotten gems on this show is a US Title match between Barry Windham and Bam Bam Bigelow.
7Spring Stampede (4/11/1999) – 7.37
Late 2000 to early 2001 actually had some pretty decent shows, but for Cagematch users Spring Stampede ‘99 was the last truly great WCW pay-per-view. It’s especially surprising because this one followed a run of seriously lackluster shows, including Uncensored with its nonsensical First Blood Cage Match. But Spring Stampede opens with an awesome Juventud Guerrera/Blitzkrieg match and delivers nice hardcore brawls, tag team matches, and other midcard bouts before ending with a surprisingly good four-way match that ended with DDP capturnig the World Title.
6Starrcade ‘96 (12/29/1996) – 7.48
The main event of Starrcade ‘96 is an overhyped and underwhelming non-title match between Roddy Piper and Hollywood Hogan, but the rest of the card is actually great. It’s got Jushin Liger taking on Rey Mysterio Jr., an underrated match between The Outsiders and Faces of Fear for the Tag belts, and a killer opener where Ultimo Dragon defends the J-Crown and Malenko defends the Cruiserweight Title in a winner-take-all match. Despite the common criticisms of WCW during this era, they really did have some consistent PPVs.
5SuperBrawl III (2/21/1993) – 7.97
SuperBrawl III is notable for featuring the return of Ric Flair from WWE, but there are also some very good matches on this show including 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Chris Benoit, Cactus Jack vs. Paul Orndorff in a violent Falls Count Anywhere match, and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express doing their RNR thing against The Heavenly Bodies. Then there’s the main event, a super violent — but non-title — Leather Strap Match between Big Van Vader and Sting to end their epic feud.
4Fall Brawl (9/15/1996) – 8.24
Two months after the big Bash at the Beach shocker (see below), nWo and an ersatz Four Horsemen collided in a great WarGames match in the main event of Fall Brawl that’s famous for introducing the impostor nWo Sting character.
But the rest of the card is shockingly consistent, with an exciting Rey Mysterio Jr. Cruiserweight Title defense against Super Calo, and matchups that include Chris Jericho, Konnan, Diamond Dallas Page, and Chavo Guerrero. Despite WCW’s reputation, this show is light on ex-WWE guys and nWo overexposure, making it one of the best of this era.
3The Great American Bash (7/23/1989) – 8.31
The 1989 edition of Great American Bash started off on the wrong foot thanks to the world’s least enjoyable battle royal, where wrestlers had to get thrown out of TWO rings to get eliminated, and the last two guys in the match agreed to split the prize money because they were in the same faction. But the back half of the show is awesome, with Sting taking on Great Muta, a sick WarGames match (hence the two rings), and a bloody brawl between Terry Funk and Ric Flair in the main event.
2Bash At The Beach (7/7/1996) – 8.41
Bash at the Beach ‘96 is a perfect example of a show that’s highly rated by Cagematch users for historical reasons, as the show ends with Hulk Hogan’s heel turn and the formation of the nWo. It’s not the best PPV by any stretch, but it does offer some pretty good if odd matchups including Ric Flair vs. Konnan for the United States Title and a Cruiserweight Title match between Dean Malenko and Disco Inferno. And, of course, the opener between Rey Mysterio Jr. and Psychosis is great.
1Spring Stampede (4/17/1994) – 8.77
Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat put on three of the greatest wrestling matches of all time in 1989, and ended up reviewing their rivalry in 1994, with their 30-minute Spring Stampede classic being the first match in their new series. Even ignoring the main event, there’s lot of great, underrated bouts on this awesomely consistent show including Big Van Vader vs. Big Bossman, a Bunkhouse Match between Bunkhouse Bunk and Dustin Rhodes, and Lord Steven Regal vs. Brian Pillman for the US Title.