* 21 years ago in 1994, WCW ran the first annual Bash at the Beach pay-per-view live from the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida. In some ways, it was one of the biggest shows in WCW history, as it was built around the main event of Hulk Hogan winning the WCW World Heavyweight Championship from Ric Flair in his in-ring WCW debut.
The timing was a little weird with Hogan being just a few days removed from his Testimony in Vince McMahon's steroid distribution trial, but the publicity might have even helped WCW. Orlando was a good pick to host the show, as Hogan fans largely drowned out Flair fans, which was a concern after Hogan was booed at June's Clash of the Champions show in Charleston, South Carolina. Flair and Hogan had a very good, if very predictably patterned match, and Hogan of course looked like a big deal with Shaquille O'Neal presenting the belt to him.
Most of the rest of the card was panned. Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson vs. Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck was a very good match, but Arn's heel turn (one of the more telegraphed of the era) was missed by the director, who cut away from it. Steven Regal vs. Johnny B. Badd was good, but Badd felt like a big step down as Sting's replacement. Vader vs. Guardian Angel was fine, but a step down from their excellent match at Spring Stampede, while Pretty Wonderful (Paul Roma and Paul Orndorff) winning the tag team titles from Cactus Jack and Kevin Sullivan was an overly long clash of styles that didn't help anyone.
The in-ring highlight was Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat in what turned out to be Steamboat's last WCW PPV match. These two always had great chemistry, but Austin had only ee wrestling for five years and was getting better and better by the day. The rematch at the August Clash special was better, and they seemed like they were on the road to a classic feud when Steamboat had to retire due to a back injury.
* 13 years ago in 2002, TNA (then NWA-TNA) ran their fifth weekly pay-per-view event live from the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. That building, which looked great on TV, was supposed to become TNA's default venue, but they learned that they were being misled by their PPV consultant about buys, availability on certain cable and satellite systems, and other related matters. When it turned out that they were getting much less in the way of buys than expected, they had to drastically cut their budget, and that meant moving into the much smaller Nashville Fairgrounds Arena the following week.
The show itself was, like most early TNA, a mixed bag. The opener, a ladder match between Malice (Jerry "The Wall" Tuite) and the debuting Sabu was excellent. There's nobody quite like Sabu when he's on point, and Malice had turned into a really good big man style wrestler who gelled really well with him. A.J. Styles also defended his X Division title against Low-Ki, and they had great chemistry back then, so for in-ring action it was an excellent value for your $9.99.
On the other hand, it featured a segment that has come to define "bad TNA." They were using wrestlers from the "Bloody Midgets" troupe (midget wrestlers doing deathmatch style wrestling), which was actually not a terrible idea in and of itself since it was different and they were picking up a cult following. Then Goldilocks, TNA's intrepid backstage interviewer, went to find Puppet the Psycho Dwarf (who hated "midgets" and made it clear he was a dwarf and not a midget). She found him in a trash can. Where he appeared to be pleasuring himself. This was immediately followed by Goldilocks finding members of the incestuous Dupp family making out with each other.
* 4 years ago in 2011, WWE held the second annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view live from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Pretty much from the moment it ended, it's been in the conversation of the greatest PPV events in company history.
The main event is the one match nobody will ever forget, with CM Punk defeating John Cena to win the WWF Championship before fleeing the arena with the title. At close to 34 minutes, it was one of the longest WWE PPV main events in recent memory, and it was one of the best, if not THE very best. These two had better matches technically in the subsequent two years, like their outings at Night of Champions 2012 and the February 25, 2013 edition of Raw. That doesn't necessarily make them better overall, thanks to the story, emotion, and atmosphere of Punk winning the WWE Championship for the first time in his hometown.
It's hard to think of a hotter and more emotional crowd for a modern WWE Main Event, While Chicago had been one of WWE's best markets for years, this was the show where it became, at worst, tied with New York as WWE's best city for hot crowds, if not ahead of it as a clear number one.
While the Punk leaving as champion storyline quickly went away when WWE panicked at the lack of a SummerSlam main event, it amazingly doesn't take away much from this show in hindsight. In the meantime, Punk was on fire, and his new t-shirt, an in-arena exclusive, started selling for several hundred dollars on eBay. Bootleggers got in on the act, too. When he came back, WWE released a mass market version of the shirt, though it differed slightly from the Allstate Arena exclusive, which had the date of the show on it.
Everything else was either incredibly strong or short enough not to get in the way. Christian winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton by disqualification (in a match where that was the stipulation) would likely not have worked as well in any other city, as the Chicago fans immediately popped for the title change. Both ladder matches were excellent and were different enough from each other to not feel repetitive. The Raw brand match was even helped by some miscues, like ladders falling over when they shouldn't have, because it felt more gritty and real. And Mark Henry injuring Big Show after a solid match was a major chapter in the best run of his career, inducting his rivals into the Hall of Pain.