2008 was a big year for wrestling as the landscape changed in many ways. For WWE, things changed the most because the company officially went PG, having spent many years as TV14-rated content. This impacted promos and non-wrestling segments more than the matches, but the new rating still changed how matches worked in some ways as well.
Oddly, it seemed that not everyone was on board with that decision at first. Two of the matches on this list involve top WWE wrestlers, and both of them featured violence that was decidedly un-PG in a supposedly-PG environment.
But while WWE was emphasizing bitter rivalries and personal storylines, other companies focused on the in-ring action. ROH and TNA were proving to everyone why they deserved fans’ attention as ‘alternatives’ to WWE’s product by putting on amazing wrestling contests.
ROH had a tremendous asset in Bryan Danielson, who could put on a clinic with any wrestler of any size. Meanwhile, TNA had both A.J. Styles and Kurt Angle, who put on outstanding matches against each other and other wrestlers.
So which matches from 2008 deserve to be (re)watched the most? Read on…
#5 A.J. Styles vs. Kurt Angle – Last Man Standing Match - TNA Hard Justice 2008
This is a match between two of the best in-ring wrestlers of the last twenty years. As you can imagine, they put on a phenomenal contest that made both of them look like true wrestling superstars.
However, this ‘Last Man Standing’ match had an added caveat: one had to pin or submit their opponent first before the ten-count could begin. That meant that elements of traditional wrestling made more sense, instead of a regular LMS match, which usually involves weapons and hitting big moves and little else.
This match was a clinic in drama and athleticism, as both Angle and Styles did amazing things in and above the ring. Angle, who was 39 in this match, did a diving somersault off the ramp onto styles below. For a man with noted neck problems, that is insanely hard to do safely.
Styles, meanwhile, shows his own skill by reversing out of almost every move, which made the required near-falls that much more exciting. Furthermore, he hit one of the most vicious moves ever seen in TNA: a top-rope DDT, which Angle sold by ‘convulsing’ which suggested that he landed on his neck. Small things like that give a match more realism and drama, and give the fans something more to invest in.
All in all, a must-see match for anyone that enjoys seeing these two phenomenal workers in the ring.