Star Making Role: Professional Wrestling

While many pro wrestlers find a successful character (if they're lucky) and play it for the duration of their career (if they're not Mick Foley) there is such a phenomenon as a star-making match. A sub-trope, but probably not enough of one for its own page.
  • Hulk Hogan: He was already a big-time wrestling star for the Midwest-based American Wrestling Association, thanks to his prolific role in the movie Rocky III. But the match that catapulted him into superstardom was his legendary match January 23, 1984, at New York's Madison Square Garden, where he defeated hated Iranian wrestler The Iron Sheik to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. The match broadcast live on the USA Network, allowing the nation to witness the birth of Hulkamania and see an American capture a huge victory over someone from one of the United States' most hated enemies, Iran.
    • If that wasn't big, then his WrestleMania III bout with André the Giant would be the one that catapulted him, and pro wrestling in general, to international stardom.
    • Also from WrestleMania III: Ricky Steamboat and the late Randy Savage's WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Title match was a landmark for showcasing that smaller wrestlers with tight work could steal the show and carry a crowd. It's frequently cited as one of the greatest matches of all time, and some aficionados say it's better than Hogan/Andre.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin first got over with his King of the Ring win in 1996, but it was his submission match at WrestleMania 13 with Bret Hart that solidified his standing.
  • Mick Foley's Hell In A Cell match with The Undertaker at King of the Ring 1998, possibly for all the wrong reasons.
  • Shawn Michaels' Wrestlemania X effort in a Ladder Match against Razor Ramon (Scott Hall), who sadly could never quite capitalize on his own momentum largely due to personal problems, or this might have been a double-sided SMR.
  • Speaking of double-sided Star Making Matches and ladders, The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian broke out over a series of Ladder Matches against one another, started by an outstanding effort at No Mercy 1999. The whole Hardyz/E&C feud is a Crowning Series of Awesome for all four men.
  • Though a regional and territorial star for years, Ric Flair's breakout match on the national stage was the legendary "I Quit" match against Terry Funk at NWA Clash of the Champions IX in November 1989. Because fans hadn't evolved to the "smark" stage yet and weren't entirely in on the choreographed nature of the sport, Funk didn't come out of this match looking as good as Flair did with the fans. However, it got him over with other wrestlers and many cite this as one of their favorite matches.
  • Jeff Hardy became more of a legitimate Single Eventer after his praised ladder match with The Undertaker. Later in 2008, his feud with Triple H cemented his new found Main Event Status.
  • Triple H escaped his past as Shawn Michaels' sidekick after his feud and retiring of Mick Foley.
  • CM Punk had been an indy darling for years but stagnated in WWE. Towards the end of a six year contract, facing an uncertain future, Punk grabbed a microphone and dropped a legendary worked shoot promo three weeks before Money in the Bank 2011. He went on to win the WWE Championship Title from John Cena at the event and solidified himself as a major star. (He probably would have left the company for real had he not cut that promo.) Nearly a year later, after several high-profile matches with some of WWE's top stars, a lengthy WWE title reign, a stellar program with the legendary Chris Jericho, and a WrestleMania main event match one could argue he became one of the the biggest stars in the business.
  • While Daniel Bryan has always been an internet favorite, the moment that helped his popularity skyrocket was his 18-second loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28.
  • Goldberg's career STARTED this way. After having worked some non-televised matches, he made his surprise TV debut on the September 22, 1997 episode of WCW Monday Nitro against Hugh Morrus, where he became the first wrestler to kick out of Morrus' Finishing Move No Laughing Matter en route to winning the match. EVERYBODY was talking about Goldberg after that.
  • John Cena had two: His TV debut on Smackdown against Kurt Angle and his Parking Lot Brawl against Eddie Guerrero.
  • The Undertaker had three: His debut at Survivor Series 1990, him defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWE title a year later or beating Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VII to start a historic streak.
  • For The Rock, it's either his Reality Subtext fueled Take That, Audience! promo right after his initial Face-Heel Turn or his "I Quit" match against Mankind in Royal Rumble 1999.
  • Brock Lesnar pretty much became a legend after defeating The Rock at SummerSlam 2002 to be the youngest WWE Champion in history.
  • For Kane, it's either his debut when he interfered in the match between Taker and HBK, his Inferno match with Taker, or winning the WWE title from Stone Cold at King of the Ring 1998.
  • Edge's big break as a singles competitor came upon winning Money In The Bank and later cashing in on a bloodied John Cena.