The Greatest Match of All Time
June 9, 2004 by Keiran Holmes

To some, this was the match that REALLY made Stone Cold Steve Austin, to others it was a match that transcended the previous bout they had... but to me, as I sat up near 4am in the United Kingdom with High School in just a few short lived hours, I sat with my blood shot eyes, forcing myself to stay awake, even consuming vast amounts of sugar coated cereal so the sugar rush would propel me to the end...

I fought for every nail biting action packed moment when the Great One, the People's Champion, The Rock faced off against the Texas Rattlesnake, the man who brought Attitude to the WWE... Stone Cold Steve Austin.

I watched every moment of this match and all the time I was thinking that "this was history in the making... I'm watching the greatest match of all time."

I'm not talking about WrestleMania 19 when Austin had his final WWE match, nor the first time that The Rock or Austin faced... no. I'm talking about THE WrestleMania... when The Rock, at the time the WWF Champion squared off against the challenger Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 17.

In the weeks leading up to the match, the Raw and Smackdown! Segments those two had I will never forget until the day I die. When The Rock and Austin "toasted" each other about who would get there ass kicked at the biggest sporting event in all entertainment, and then brawling so badly that I have to think at least what, 20 officials and some WWF superstars came down to the ring to break them up, and had to carry them to their locker rooms, which were right next door to each other!

The other segment was "The Interview". The interview that you should see Austin was going to bring it... and something big was going to shock the world at WrestleMania. I'm talking about when Austin said "You have something that I want. The WWF Championship. I need that championship. And I will do whatever it takes to win it."

So it finally happened... Austin vs. The Rock Part 2...

They say that the sequel is usually disappointing and cannot live up to the expectations of the first movie. Look at Die Harder, The Matrix Reloaded and Bad Boys 2... all not as funny or as cool as there first instalments.

But this match... THIS very match destroyed that rule... completely annihilated it! The Rock, Rock Bottombing Austin, Austin, stunning Rocky with all his might and seeing The Rock take the stunner and flopping like a fish out of water, yes was a little bit exaturated, but it made a point, that Austin was a hard ass guy, and The Rock took the Stunner better than the "Oh No, I've been stunned and will just bounce once and lie on the floor" guys like Triple H and Mick Foley. The way The Rock takes Stunners, you almost WANT to see him get stunned! I know I did, but I didn't want the match to end.

The Rock and Austin were my favourite faces. Triple H and Undertaker were my favourite heels. With Taker out with a groin injury and Triple H not in the main event, The Rock and Austin's battles made for spectacular night. In my mind, this was what WrestleMania 20 should have been like. This one match made the entire event, in my opinion anyway.

For near one hour, these two took their respective finishers time and time again and get coming back for more. Never giving up. It was coming to the end, and how would it finish" You couldn't just have "may the better man win", you needed something to really make this match stand out, something that could make people who watched it have shivers sent down their spine as they remember it and think "I saw that live."

The finale was indeed the moment that Austin did what he set out to do... he did shock the world... by aligning with the very man he spent most of the 1990's battling with, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon shook hands and were a partnership. Steve had gone back on all that he set out to accomplish when he was a face.

To me, this was the very moment that set-up for the "I'm crazy" gimmick and speaking to his watch. This moment was the start of that, as Austin's obsession with the WWF Championship drove him to such desperate lengths that he went insane.

The Rock was beaten, 2-0 to Austin and we had a new WWF Champion... perhaps the greatest WWF/WWE Champion and superstar ever.

Steve should definetly be inducted into the hall of fame, and if he isn't, I consider that to not only be a travesty, but it just shows Vince's true colours, and everything that he represents would mean nothing, as if Austin may never be in the Hall of Fame, fans will resent Vince... and will blame Vince, not only for losing Austin, but for punishing him with no Hall of Fame award.

The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin made history, and perhaps, in maybe ten years time if the WWE is still around by that time, the world will see another Rock/Austin style with two of the companies biggest superstars, battling it out in another history making, moment defining match, but something that special doesn't come around all the time, we may have to wait longer than ten years... maybe we will wait for nothing. I've been waiting for another special match like that... maybe Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H at Badd Blood will be that special match... but I heavily doubt that it ever will.

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 17... the greatest WWF and WrestleMania match in the world. Period!

by Keiran Holmes..

Manfo44 wrote:
I am going to have to disagree with you on this one and I am sure many other people will too. There have been many great matches over the years and its hard to pick only one. A great match consists of non- stop action, intensity, and drama. I am having hard time trying to pick between these two: Hogan vs. Warrior Wrestlemaniw VI and Savage vs. Steamboat Wrestlemania III

Savage Steamboat was a non-stop intense match. So many close pin falls. And George the Animal Steele and Elizabeth played important roles. Great fast moving match

Hogan and the Warrior match was incredible. Both not known for in ring skills but these two men put on a show. "The imovable object" vs. " The iressistable force", as Jesse the Body noted. Big stare down in the begining of the match, test of strength, Hebner getting knocked out. Watching Hogan "Hulk up" still gives me chills and excited me still today, and when he kicked out of the Warrior's Splah and "Hulked Up" everyone went nuts. You figured it was over when Hogan went for the leg drop because no one kicked out of that, but he missed and was cleanly pinned. Phenomial match
Mike Petralia wrote:
AH yet another late 90s wrestling fan....are you kidding me this wasnt even Austins or Rocks best match never mind the "GREATEST MATCH of ALL TIME". I would love to know when you started watching wrestling. I can name probably 20 matches better than this but I will name you 10 in no order and im sure many will agree. HBK/Hart wm12,HBK/RazorWM10, Hart/Perfect, Hart/Piper, Warrior/Hogan, Flair/Macho wm8, any Flair/Steamboat, Steamboat/Savage, Hart/Austin wm13, and any of the 90 min matches back in teh 70s and 60s with funk, samartino and those guys headlining them.....Ah the days when you actually hit your finisher and the match was over not 23 stunners and 40 rock bottoms in a match.
Larry V wrote:
I don't know where to start.... ---- Now, I understand it is difficult to argue against opinion. However, claiming this match is the greatest match of all time is a challenging thesis to prove, and I feel Keiran has fallen short of any convincing conclusions.

- I don't know anyone who feels this is the match that made Austin. Perhaps his win at King of the Ring, or his match against Bret Hart at WMXIII, but certainly not this match. He had already been world champion FOUR TIMES!
- There is no doubt that the Rock and Austin cut great promos; that is their job. But arguing that these promos helped to make this match the greatest of all time is rather weak. They are supposed to sell this match as a great match considering it was the main event at Wrestlemania.
- Then you start to write about movies....
- Austin gets the rock bottom, and Rock gets the stunner. Usually in main events you see finishing holds. The Rock sells the stunner in an "exaggerated" manner, but how is this any different from a stunner he received on Raw"
- I find it interesting that Undertaker was out with a groin injury since he wrestled HHH the match before.
- "This one match made the entire event, in my opinion anyway." Well, with matches like the Gimmick Battle Royal and Raven driving around in golf cart, I don't think there was much competition.
- The match was 28 minutes, not an hour.
- Then there is a screw job ending, not a clean finish.

Okay, this might indeed be your favorite match, and that is fine with me. But this match isn't usually mentioned in the top five matches of all time, let alone the best Wrestlemania match of all time. So I have to respectfully disagree, you just did not convince me. Lastly, if you think this is the greatest match, I think it would do you some good to look at the list of top 50 matches here on and compare them to this match-see what you think...

Remember guys, no matter how "smart" we think we are, in fact-we are all marks.
Robert RENALDO wrote:
I just finished reading "The Greatest Match of All Time" and I do have some problems with it. Although the match between Austin and Rock is a good one, it is nowhere near as famous, entertaining, or thrilling as Michaels/Hart at Wrestlemania 12. I'm talking about the Iron Man Match that set the Michaels/Hart feud down in the history books. Think about how many Iron Man matches there have been in WWE history...only about four and this is the one that started it all. There have been so few because of the gruelling affects that a match of this magnitude has on the body. These two guys went 60 minutes with neither man scoring the pinfall.

This is my reason for disagreeing with you Mr. Holmes. Your column was very good, and was excellently written. But I feel that I too must be heard. The Michaels/Hart Iron Man Match was the greatest match of all time, and I don't care who knows it.
Keiran Holmes wrote:
Although some people disagree with me, I was only a fan of wrestling from 2000 onwards. To ME... and I stress this lightly, to ME, this was the greatest match of all time. Not to you. It is all fine to critisize what I have written but then again, I did state early on "In my opinion" No, I'm not "another late 90's fan", as this match was performed in 2001... not a year I remember much after 1992 or 1995 really, but in the very short time I have followed wrestling, yes there have been some incredible matches like the 1997 Montreal Screwjob, the collosal battle between Yokozuna and Bret Hart, Hart and Austin... the match that made Austin who he is (and I will say this again In My Opinion). It's all fine and dandy to "critisize" what I have written but to be honest, I welcome critisism, it makes me want to write better quality material, but, there isn't a hope in hell of pleasing all different types of people. We are all too different. To me, what I have seen of the WWE so far (2000 - 2004), the Rock/Austin match at WM17 was the best, the best performance, the best superstars and certainly the best WrestleMania.
Chris "The Threat" Gordon wrote:
Where to start. First off Stone Cold was the second one to bring attitude to the WWF. The man himself even proclaimed, "I was bringing attitude to this place before it was a catch phrase". That man was Shawn Micheals.

Second that match was so dissapointing. Too many kick outs from finishing moves and chair shots. And yes while the move to the heel side was one that was best at that time. I do not agree with McMahon coming down and helping.

I happening to agree with the other guys the Hogan vs. Warrior was a great match. But the best moment would have to be when lighting struck the grave and the undertaker reached out of the grave. Now that was awesome.

The greatest match, or at least one of them, would have to be Shawn Micheals vs. The Dead Man in the hell in a cell match. This because i am byist to the Undertaker because he is the greatest of all time.
Sam Tindall wrote:
I will be the first to agree with "K Holmes". There were a lot of great matches before this, but this was the biggest hype I can remember for me. The most emotion I had for a match. When it was over, the ending made the match...I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was so into it then. Don't get me wrong, there are many great matches. Another example...Hogan/Andre WM 3. HBK/Bret WM 12. Austin-Bret too.
Isaac Noonan wrote:
I only wish to comment on a particlar statement, which is probably off the subject. Everyone makes some good points. I want to address Keiran's Hall of Fame comment. Did you read somewhere that Austin is not gonna be inducted into the Hall of Fame" (If that's the case, then I'm a moron for missing that one) Or are you fuming that he's not in the Hall of Fame right this minute" Think about the one's who HAVE been inducted. They had all been out of the loop, as it were, for a long time before they made it in. Some of them had even passed away. But they weren't wrestling or even in a prominent role on TV. There were only two exceptions. Gorilla Monsoon was one, as he was still an announcer during his nomination. The other was Jimmy Snuka, who was nominated, and wrestled in the Survivor Series two days later. Here's some more food for thought. Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but they aren't yet. Even Vince knows it would be stoopid not to enter them. It all will happen in due time. Yes, even for Steve Austin.
Andrew Seisser wrote:
ah, yes the age old question. I feel that rock-austin at wm17 was a great one, and definitly the best rock-austin match. Greatest of all time" hardly. Since we all knew who was walking out with the belt, there was no suspense and that made it less exciting for me at least. plus the post match heel turn was completley unnecessary and sucked the fun out of the match, but I digress.

The greatest match of all time comes not from a wrestlemania or even from the wwf/e. The all time greatest match, in my opinion, came in 1989 at Wrestlewar. It was, of course, Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair, once more to settle the score. while slightly shorter and more old-school than today's wrestling, it had just enough of everything: crowd heat, psychology, and the right outcome. Ricky and Ric shaking hands at the end of the bout is one of the single greatest scenes to ever happen in a wrestling ring.
David_Woodland wrote:
Everyone has there own "Greatest Match of all time" and I think that is a good thing. I also find it hard to pick just one as the greatest off all time as there has bean so many, (in my eyes anyway) but the best wrestling match would have to be Kurt Angle Vs Chris Benoit at Royal Rumble 2003, it was great to see two guys just go at it like that pure wrestling at its best.
Trae Wisecarver, [email protected], wrote:
I could not agree more. The Rock vs. Austin WM17 is the all around best match I have ever seen, it had everything a wrestling match could have, brawling, wrestling, hardcore, and high impact moves, and the entire match was done to perfection.
BJ wrote:
I hate to burst everybody's bubbles but, the greatest match of all time was WM3-Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant!!!!! Ok Ok Ok, you might be thinking; no technical moves, no high flying moves, so how can that be the greatest match. Well, let's look at the facts. First, over 93,000 people came to this match. Second, Andre was undefeated in 15 years. Third, Hulkamania was in it's infancy. This match made Hulkamania and the WWE a household name. These two athletes brought pro wrestling to the forefront of sports entertainment. I truly believe had this match not happenned, wrestling would not be where it is today.
Ed Stevens wrote:
Picking the greatest match all depends on what the fan is looking for. You either look for the entertainment aspect of "sports entertainment" or you watch for the wrestling in professional wrestling. To me the best match was the Kurt Angle/Benoit match from Royal Rumble 2003 because the two put on a remarkable performance (an actual wrestling match) and in the end Angle won clean.(It didn't hurt that this match came on the heels of the craptacular HHH/Steiner match) To me, interference and screw job endings ruin great matches most of the time. I know there's a place for those endings to advance storylines, but why can't a heel get a clean victory, especially if he and his opponent give a good performance. If Austin wanted to turn heel, he could have beaten the Rock clean at Wrestlemania and offered a rematch on Raw, thus enabling Vince and HHH to help him wup the tar out of the Rock, sending him to Hollywood. Wrestlemania main events should be the culmination of a star's efforts to reach the top. On that special night, the men in the main event should be given the chance to shine and to show that they can carry the company with their ability outside the boundaries of an angle.

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