Recently, Dave Meltzer rated the Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano match at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia five stars, and that’s a rare thing in the WWE. So rare in fact, that the company has been given six matches rated five-stars in its history. Compared to New Japan Pro Wrestling, who have over six in the last two years alone, with Mitsuhara Misawa, a legendary Japanese performer having over 20. Anyway, this is a rare feat in the WWE, and we can talk all day about how good Almas vs Gargano was, or we can look back on WWE’s history and talk about the other five that were rated five-stars.
Starting off the trend of five-star matches for WWE is Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X in a ladder match. Michaels is generally regarded as the best wrestler in WWE history, and although he’s featured in this list just twice, he deserves a lot more. Still, this one was great from start to finish. It was the first ladder match in WWE history to crown the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion, and it featured all the high spots we’ve now come to expect of one of WWE’s most signature matches. This was one of the best early WrestleMania’s, and this match was the reason why, and by today’s standard, it might have been outmatched by plenty of Ladder/TLC matches, but at the time, it was revolutionary and brilliant.
Not Long after that, WWE got their next five-star match with Bret Hart vs Owen Hart at SummerSlam 1994. It's a little confusing to many fans as the brother's match at WrestleMania is generally regarded as a better match, but this one was fantastic and proved just how good the Hart family truly were. This bout was contested inside a Steel Cage, and went over 30 minutes. It was a brilliant show of storytelling and pure wrestling ability while mixing it in with the brutality the steel cage encourages. Rumors have it that Owen was meant to go over here to win his first World Title, but the WWE didn’t believe in him, and it led to Bret coming out on top in what was a stellar match for the pair.
It took a few more years until WWE got it's next five-star rating when Undertaker took on Shawn Michaels in a Hell in a Cell match At Bad Blood 1997. This is arguably the worst big match that The Undertaker and HBK had, and their two WrestleMania matches definitely deserved the coveted 5-stars, but for the first Hell in a Cell bout, this one was perfect. It featured many brutal spots—what you’d expect from a Hell in a Cell bout—and it saw both men in their prime collide and set the standard for what we know today. The biggest talking point of the match, however, was the most memorable debut in WWE history, which saw Kane come to the ring and rip the door off the cell, and reveal himself as Undertaker’s evil brother. The match itself was fantastic, but sometimes gets overshadowed by that, but it’s basically what you’d expect from two such fantastic performers.
Not to be outdone by Undertaker and Michaels, Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin had a memorable battle at WrestleMania 13. This match is best remembered for being the greatest double-turn in wrestling history, with Austin, despite the loss, coming out of the match as a much bigger star than he was when he went in, and it led to the legend that became Stone Cold. The two styles blended perfectly, and these two came together and told a story like nothing else at the time, and it’s hard to argue with the five-star rating here. It was neither man’s best match in the WWE, but it was perhaps their most memorable, and it’s arguably the best WrestleMania match of all time.
PREVIOUSLY: WWE MATCH GETS A RARE 5-STAR RATING
Then, WWE didn't have a five-star match for years. It wasn't until CM Punk Took On John Cena at Money In The Bank. This was the most recent five-star match (until Gargano vs Almas, of course), and in our opinion, it’s the best all-around bout of the lot, taking place in Punks hometown of Chicago with the iconic WWE Championship on the line. After dropping his "Pipe Bomb’ promo on Raw just weeks earlier, Punk was the hottest performer the WWE had seen since the Attitude Era, and with the line of kayfabe being blurred more than ever, fans have no idea what to expect heading into this match. It was brilliant from start to finish, and fans were hanging on every move, and the crescendo saw CM Punk win with his GTS to a raucous ovation, and he left through the crowd with the coveted WWE Championship, ending one of the greatest matches in wrestling history.
So there you have it, a brief history of WWE's five-star matches. While many can argue WWE should have more than just those five (now six), it seems like when they do get that coveted five-star rating, they make it count.