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10 biggest matches that were given away on free television

Matt Davis
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WWE started giving away big matches on television to capitalise on the momentum of
WWE started giving away big matches on television to capitalise on the momentum of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and gain an edge in the Monday Night Wars

Ever since the Monday night ratings battle between WWE Monday Night RAW and WCW Monday Nitro, the calibre of pro-wrestling matches that have taken place on "free television" has grown exponentially greater.

Prior to 1993, it was rare to see a premier superstar (read: non-enhancement talent) wrestle another premier superstar outside of a non-televised house show or a major Pay-Per-View. Sure, in WWE, there was Saturday Night's Main Event and the occasional feature match on Superstars or Wrestling Challenge, but these were not the norm and usually ended indecisively.

Even though not all of WWE's biggest televised matches came during the Monday Night War, this was the period when wrestling's weekly TV presentation changed. Several RAW and Nitro episodes featured legitimate dream matches that could've easily drawn major Pay-Per-View buyrates or, in these days, WWE Network subscriptions.

With a laundry list of matches to choose from, the following 10 bouts are undoubtedly the biggest marquee contests in "free TV" history.

#10 Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena (April 2007)

This hour-long match took place on the April 23, 2007, episode of Monday Night RAW and came three weeks after their WWE Championship match headlined WrestleMania 23. In one of the longest matches ever on WWE television, Michaels vs. Cena lasted 56 minutes and was considered an instant classic even before it ended.

At WrestleMania 23, John Cena defeated the Heartbreak Kid with his submission-finisher, the STFU. In this RAW from London, England, however, Michaels evened the odds, and despite several one-off matches over the next two years, a conclusive rubber-match was never booked.

Their previous bout headlined WWE's biggest show of the year in 2007. There's no better proof than that, considering this rematch took place only three weeks later, Michaels vs. Cena II was one of the biggest matches ever to be shown on "free TV".

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