Here's my chance to stick up for Triple H some more. His fac-gime peak following Vince's lame heel turn at Wrestlemania 2000 led to my favorite series of matches for about four months including TAKA (the best), Jericho (never happened), Rock (ironman), and Jericho again (last man standing.)
Best single isolated match of the 2000s: Shane/Angle KotR 2k1. Even Foley would quit after landing on his HEAD around the second time.
5. HBK vs. HHH vs. Chris Benoit, WM 20- This match has no re-watch value for obvious reasons, but I remember how great it was to watch at that moment, and this was just one hell of a match and moment.
4. HBK vs Ric Flair, WM retirement Match - I am a mark for historic moments, and its hard to top this match for historic value. The Finish, drama and story telling were all top notch, and the match was Flairs best in ring work in years. Great match and another amazing performance in the impressive resume of the Showstopper.
3. HBK vs Undertaker, WM25- The streak vs. Mr. Wrestlemania. An outstanding match by two all time greats. This is the best match of the last few years by a wide margin, so it gets points in my book for showing that even amid a sea of mediocrity, great wrestling is still possible in the WWE universe.
2. Rock vs Hogan, WM 18- Two legends in an all time moment. Again, I'm a mark for history. This match still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.
1. Austin vs Rock, WM X-7 - The two greatest stars of their generation going at it in front of a massive, super hot crowd. The last great moment of the Attitude era before the WWE's slow and painful decline became in earnest. No wrestling company around today could possibly come up with a match that even rivals this in magnitude. In my opinion, only Hogan-Andre beats this match for significance and historical lore.
This was a tough list to make because from 2000-2001 there were dozens of great matches that may have blended in a little more, any of which would be match of the year from 2005-2008, whereas Michaels-Taker was the best match of the last few years by a WIDE mile.
I'm never a fan of "I kick out of your high impact finisher, you kick out of mine" finishes that end certain matches (ROH, I'm looking at YOU, although the American Wolves ARE great), but this was a great match and an X-Division match that gets lost in the Joe/Styles/Daniels matches. The Daniels/Styles vs. LAX cage match is also very good from this card.
Booker T/Goldust vs Chris Jericho/Christian 2003 RAW 12/23 (no video anymore)
This might have been the best booked Tag Title match, in the sense that Chris Jericho gave a speech to Goldust before the match, making him feel like the weak link. Goldust was TREMENDOUS during this match (people were freaking out over him getting a close pinfall over a powerslam!) and when they won at the end, everyone's reaction was perfect (Jericho was shocked, Booker gave him a 'See? I told you so' smile, Goldust broke down). Just a great match with a great story.
Great opener. Remember when Angle had hair and wrestling was fun? Remember when the crowd didn't yell "What" all the time and only react to Cena? I miss when Edge didn't take himself as seriously.
Kurt Angle vs. Abyss (Angle's First Impact Match)
It used to be on youtube, but I can't find it, but I've NEVER heard a crowd like that. It was like Elvis had landed. Good match too. Sure, Angle's move to TNA meant nothing in the long run, but that night, he was the biggest star in wrestling.
Kane vs. Albert (Intercontinental match) RAW
The most random "How the HELL did these 2 guys end up having a great performance?" match of the last decade.
1: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan, Wrestlemania X-8. I loved how the crowd started cheering for Hogan halfway through the match. Great booking, great storytelling, and a lot of fun to watch.
2: Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker, WWE Raw in Vegas. I can't recall when this was, but they had a ladder match that opened the show, and what great match! Taker beat Hardy with the Last Ride, but Hardy refused to stay down. After the match was over, he took the mic and called out Taker, saying he wasn't down yet, so Taker came back and gave him another Last Ride. Hardy's up again, Taker Last Rides' him. Hardy then got up AGAIN and Taker, instead of hitting him, tussled Hardy's hair and gave him a show of respect. JR really rocked on the mic that night. He put his heart into it.
3: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania 24. I can't say anything about this match that hasn't been said before. Every wrestling fan should watch this match at one point in their lives.
4: Ric Flair vs. Sting, the final Monday Nitro. The final match in the history of WCW (that is, the real one, not the Alliance bullshit) - there was a lot of emotion between those two, and I just wish they had more time to go at it.
Does anyone remember how much hype there was in the mainstream media for Shamrock vs Ortiz last year? It was the kind of hype that high profile wrestling matches can only dream of getting. No angles, just two guys trashing each other in interviews.