If you really think about it, how often are you truly satisfied as a wrestling fan? I don’t mean moments where you say “That match was good” or “That’s interesting,” but rather those times when you feel a full rush or euphoria after a certain event occurs? Don’t feel bad if your answer is something like “Not that often.” Though wrestling is a very emotional form of entertainment, it can still sometimes struggle to provide that feeling of pure satisfaction that only comes when you’re able to put aside all the backstage elements and personal preferences in order to bask in the glory of that one perfect moment.
But when it does occur, there is nothing like it. A truly satisfying moment in professional wrestling isn’t just a testament to the power of the medium; it’s the kind of occurrence that justifies investing so much of your time caring about a form of entertainment that doesn’t always give much love back. It's the reason you keep watching in difficult times. You're always holding out hope that another satisfying moment is right along the way.
From shocking moments that made our deepest wishes come true to the culmination of year-long stories executed perfectly, these are the top 15 most satisfying moments in wrestling history.
15 The Rock And Hulk Hogan Soak In The Crowd Reaction
It’s been said that professional wrestling is at its best when it’s unpredictable. If you tune into an episode of Monday Night Raw and genuinely have no idea what is going to happen next, it’s a good sign that the creative team is doing their jobs well. Sometimes, though, the unpredictability of wrestling has nothing to do with the writers. Such was the case when The Rock and Hulk Hogan took to the ring for their dream match showdown as WrestleMania X-8.
As the two stared each other down, it became immediately apparent that the crowd had decided that Hulk Hogan was now a babyface. Watching these two pros slowly stare at the crowd trying to fully soak in this new dynamic was just one of those great moments that made you smile like a fool as you saw a stadium full of ravenous fans completely flip the sacred script of wrestling.
14 Batista Gives The Thumbs Down To Triple H
There are times when it’s hard to know what to make of Triple H’s “Reign of Terror” title run in 2003-2005. Although he did not hold the title for the entirety of that time, Triple H was almost always featured prominently in the main event scene and took up a good bit of television time as well. Some say that it became annoying to see him constantly come out on top with the help of Evolution while others argue that it was an effective way to build a number one heel. Regardless of your stance, it does sometimes feel that the entire angle was worth it just for the moment that Batista turned against his former mentor.
We weren’t quite sure how WWE was going to handle Batista winning the Royal Rumble, most people assumed that he would challenge the SmackDown champion rather than his mentor. When he looked Triple H right in the eyes and gave him that fabled thumbs down, it was a glorious declaration that the reign of terror was about to come crashing down.
13 Sami Zayn Wins The NXT Championship
From the moment that Sami Zayn entered NXT, there was just this feeling that he was going to be one of “those guys” who played the role of a constant title contender, but never actually won a championship. Sami was the ultimate babyface, but he was constantly treated as the wrestler that was destined to come up just a little bit short. After a while, fans grew to accept this role for Sami Zayn and just appreciate his efforts. But when Sami started to contend for the NXT title during the reign of Neville, suddenly that dynamic changed. Now, audiences were ravenous to see Zayn reach out and grab the championship after having come so close so many times.
Their patience was rewarded when Zayn finally won the championship in a do or die match against Neville at R-Evolution. Zayn’s post-match celebration was as much a culmination of his career as it was a collective sigh of relief for his fans.
12 Edge Cashes In
Although the first Money In The Bank match was a tremendous encounter that nearly stole the show at WrestleMania 21, the truth was that nobody knew quite what to make of the stipulation. As it was worded, the winner of that match would have the opportunity to “cash-in” his contract for a guaranteed shot at the title between that moment and WrestleMania of next year. Because of this, most fans assumed that the match would be a pre-ordained contest featuring weeks of build-up and that it would most likely take place at WrestleMania.
What we got instead was Edge waiting until the last moments of an otherwise forgettable PPV and beating a battered John Cena for the title. Given that most fans had, begrudgingly, accepted that John Cena would be walking into WrestleMania as the champion by that point, watching Edge (and the WWE creative team) creatively manipulate the stipulations of this match in order to have Cena finally drop the title was as satisfying as it was clever.
11 Lex Luger Defeats Hulk Hogan On Nitro
Whenever you think of Hulk Hogan losing his WCW Championship, your mind probably defaults to that classic encounter with Goldberg on Monday Night Nitro in front of a raucous sold-out crowd at the Georgia Dome. Although that moment is undeniably a satisfying one, the satisfaction is diluted somewhat by the inevitability of the result and the fact that most people were more relieved to see Hogan drop the belt than anything. The better 'Hogan loses' moment arguably occurred about a year earlier during a seemingly simple Nitro in Detroit.
As Hogan had held the belt for about a year at this point and WCW was preparing for a PPV that Sunday, the smart money said that Hogan’s match with Lex Luger that night was going to be a simple build-up affair. Instead, what we got was the sight of Lex Luger forcing Hulk Hogan to submit and capturing the championship in the process. Nobody saw it coming, and it just made you want to jump up and pump your fist in the air when it occurred.
10 Arn Anderson Reforms The Four Horsemen
It’s rare that you have a truly great wrestling moment not involve an actual wrestling match. The history of non-wrestling segments on wrestling shows is a bit…iffy, to say the least, and the most you can usually hope for is that the whole thing will be over sooner rather than later. Very rarely, however, such a segment can result in something truly special. Such was the case when Arn Anderson took to the Nitro ring on September 14th of 1998. At this time, WCW had essentially turned into the nWo show. In the process, the biggest victim became Ric Flair and his fabled Four Horsemen who had all but faded away.
Fans began to beg for Ric Flair to return, and they were rewarded on this night as Arn Anderson announced the return of Flair and The Four Horsemen. Though WCW would eventually squander this moment, for one glorious evening everything felt right in the world of WCW.
9 Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero Celebrate At The End of WrestleMania XX
It’s always odd to reference the career of Chris Benoit. Given everything that happened, you feel like it’s always necessary to finish every statement with some kind of disclaimer that ensures that nobody will have any doubt that you’re perfectly aware that you are speaking in the context of the moment. Even with the tragedy that would occur afterward, however, the moment that Benoit and Eddie Guerrero stood in the center of the ring with their respective World Championships at the end of WrestleMania XX can still inspire the same goofy smile that it did when it occurred. It was a moment that’s not only great because of the individual performers it involves, but one that feels good simply because it represented a point where the fans had seemingly won. Here were two wrestlers that were always a little short of what was traditionally looked for in a champion, and yet they stood atop the world on wrestling’s biggest night.
8 Macho Man Proposes To Miss Elizabeth
If you look up the definition of the phrase “better than the sum of its parts,” it should direct you to a clip of the Macho King/Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania VII match. Even though Macho Man was a step behind his best by this point and The Ultimate Warrior still had a reputation for being a little rough in the ring, the two were able to take the retirement match story they were given and turn it into pure in-ring magic. Following this brilliantly choreographed encounter, the Macho Man sat defeated in the middle of the ring being berated by his manager Sherri.
In that moment, Miss Elizabeth returned to the Macho Man’s side and received a marriage proposal for his efforts. Out of context of the match, the whole thing sounds rather goofy. In the moment, however, it was so relieving to finally witness these two icons back together again following one of the most emotionally draining matches anyone can remember.
7 The Sandman Makes His One Night Stand Return
The thing about an ECW event is that it has this way of just sweeping you up into the excitement even if you aren’t particularly invested in the matches or the individual performers. The passion of the crowd and everyone involved in the show itself has this magnetic pull that is impossible to not appreciate. A great example of this is the entirety of the 2005 ECW One Night Stand event. For one night only (at the time, anyway) ECW was back in force. The indisputable highlight of the evening, though, was the main event. As The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer stood in the middle of the ring, The Sandman made his way through the crowd with his Metallica theme song in tow. It didn’t matter if you even liked The Sandman, ECW or even that song. The feeling of seeing this hardcore legend chug beer through a ravenous crowd en route to the ring is one of those joyous moments that only comes along once in a great while.
6 CM Punk Runs Away With The Title At Money In The Bank
When CM Punk cut his famous pipe bomb promo on RAW, it was a gloriously unpredictable moment that got the entire wrestling world talking. Still, nobody was quite sure exactly what it was going to lead to. Whether or not you thought that CM Punk was actually going to still be in the company following his upcoming match with John Cena, it still felt unlikely that WWE would ever pull the trigger on a CM Punk title run. We had seen them drop the ball in the past with a million other red-hot young stars (including Punk) and the smart money was on them finding a way to do it again. Although we all wanted to believe it was possible when Punk received his hero’s welcome in Chicago, and certainly when he actually beat Cena for the belt, it still felt likely that somehow WWE would find a way to get out of this situation.
It wasn’t until we saw Punk dispatch of Alberto Del Rio and blow a kiss to Vince McMahon before making his way through the crowd that we were able to feel full satisfaction over what we just saw.
5 Sting Takes Out The Entire nWo
So far as long-term planning goes, it’s tough to argue that the greatest wrestling storyline of all-time is the return of Sting to WCW in 1997. After feeling that his fellow WCW wrestlers had betrayed him by doubting his loyalty to the company, Sting spent some time away from WCW before returning with a fresh black and white look. What people tend to forget about this time is that there was actually quite a bit of doubt regarding whether or not he was about to become the next member of the nWo. For weeks, WCW stirred the pot by suggesting that Sting was a WCW traitor in business for himself. Finally, there came a moment when Sting was officially offered an nWo allegiance, accepted it and proceeded to immediately beat up every known member of the faction with seeming ease. More than just vindication for Sting fans, this moment allowed everyone who was tired of the nWo to celebrate.
4 Austin Drives A Zamboni To The Ring
In retrospect, the great thing about the Steve Austin/Vince McMahon rivalry was the way that the company escalated the situation week after week. Just when you thought that things couldn’t get crazier, Austin would beat Vince up with a bedpan or Vince would handcuff Austin to a pole while his stooges gave him a beating. It wasn’t long before Vince finally managed to successfully stack the odds against Austin by putting him in a math against both The Undertaker and Kane. The night after Austin lost this match, Vince stood in the middle of the ring surrounded by security in order to gloat about “his” victory.
We all wondered how, exactly, Austin was going to get revenge this time, but it’s safe to say that nobody predicted Austin would drive to the ring in a zamboni, dive over the security and proceed to lay into Vince McMahon with furious punches. It was wild, unexpected and wholly satisfying.
3 Hulk Hogan Slams Andre The Giant
Has there ever been a professional wrestling phenomenon quite like Hulk Hogan during his prime in the ‘80s? You can break down the merchandise and ticket sale numbers to see who, exactly, is the biggest draw of all time, but what the numbers can’t tell you is the feeling that Hogan created at the height of his popularity. Wrestling had never really seen such a rock star/superhero headliner before, and his presence added a certain atmosphere to events that had never existed before. Of course, the best example of this was his encounter with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III.
Every little thing these two did drew a huge reaction because everyone watching was just begging to see Hogan come out on top through any means necessary. Although a Hogan victory would have resulted in an explosion of applause and emotion even if it had come from a wobbly punch, the fact he won the match by slamming the mighty Andre to the mat created a simply indescribable feeling.
2 Daniel Bryan Gets The World To Chant Yes
As a wrestling fan, you like to believe that you have the power to change the course of wrestling events though your reactions. Although it’s debatable how much that “We listen to the wishes of our audience” bit of the creative process actually applies, there are instances when fan reception can change everything and they are almost always glorious to witness. Yet, the very best of them all may just be the time that Daniel Bryan rebelled against the Wyatt Family on an episode of Raw. Though the turn itself was fairly predictable, the execution of seeing Bryan beat down Wyatt within the steel cage turned it into something special. So special, in fact, that the fans in attendance began to chant “Yes!” in absolute unison.
Fans had long expressed their wishes to see Daniel Bryan at the top of the company, but this was the one single moment when they all banded together over their bearded hero and seemingly forced WWE to push him to the moon.
1 Mick Foley Wins The WWE Title From The Rock
In theory, the easiest way to create a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction in wrestling is for the beloved babyface to beat the villainous champion. In practice, it’s a difficult piece of business to get right. You need the perfect babyface, the perfect villain, the right moment and, worst of all, absolute perfect execution of the title change itself. If you ever want to see the perfect template for how to pull off this moment, watch Mick Foley beat The Rock for the WWE Championship on the January 4th, 1999 episode of Raw. Though he had long been a fan favorite, nobody ever thought that Mick Foley would ever be a champion.
His win over The Rock would have been enjoyable enough, but what made it historically gratifying was the ending that saw Stone Cold Steve Austin return from injury in order to help him grab the gold. If you’re wondering why this moment is agreed to be the single biggest pop in history, it’s because it’s the single most satisfying moment in wrestling history.