WWE Greatest 100 Matches by Dean Miller

December 10, 2019

It’s hard to tell if this book is a success because it’s unclear what it’s trying to do.

From a literal perspective, it fits the bill: it has 100 matches presented in a random order rather than ranking, with each getting a two-page spread with a brief background piece, a detailed description of the bout itself, and then a short paragraph on what happened next.

Perhaps anticipating the inevitable criticism of the choices, the authors give no explanation of the selection process or the criteria, other than that a handful of bouts are noted as being the top choice of a particular group (WWE wrestlers, WWE Magazine and so on.)

For the most part it’s a combination of the generally regarded best in-ring matches and those with some form of historical significance (the latter being the only explanation for including 2011’s 40-man Royal Rumble.) In some cases the reader is left to figure this out somewhat: for example, the only thing notable about Team Piper vs Team Flair at Survivor Series 1991 is that it was Flair’s WWF pay-per-view debut, but this isn’t really hammered home. Similarly the description of Shawn Michaels vs John Cena at the 02 Arena in London makes no mention of the match going (on TV at least) almost an hour.

There’s also a tendency to favour stipulation bouts, with a key example being the Bret Hart-Owen Hart SummerSlam 1994 steel cage match included but the pair’s WrestleMania X match left out. That’s probably the most obvious exclusion from an in-ring perspective, while Ivan Koloff ending Bruno Sammartino’s eight year title reign is likely the biggest historial oversight.

The list is more spread out chronologically that you might imagine, though a few of the more questionable choices seem to be the beneficiaries of recency bias such as Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler at Bragging Rights 2010, a match I still don’t remember even after reading the description.

For those wondering, there’s one Chris Benoit match included (the 2001 Royal Rumble ladder match with Chris Jericho), with the pictures carefully chosen to not show Benoit’s face. It’s very hard to criticise either the inclusion of this or the omission of the WrestleMania XX match which, while no doubt top-notch in the ring, loses much of its context and appeal given what later happened.

As a general rule the historical sections are accurately written, though the book does perpetuate a few myths such as Bruno Sammartino having “nearly 200 sellouts” at Madison Square Garden.

It’s a decent enough historical primer or nostalgia piece depending on your age, but having neither criteria nor rankings does leave it feeling a little flat.

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