For every bad WrestleMania, the WWE has put on some amazing shows that left fans awestruck. There were certain points in history that WrestleMania left wrestling fans on the edge of their seats in amazement! It was a very tough job putting these WrestleMania’s in order because all of these were obviously very good WrestleMania events.
Each WrestleMania had its own certain feel to it and each were at a certain point in history where they had the talent and resources to put on a better show. I wish the WWE could look at these WrestleMania shows and realize what they did right and make WrestleMania feel really special again like it once did. Maybe it’s the way the announcers are nowadays that makes it feel not that special. Jim Ross doesn’t go nuts anymore, Jerry Lawler is tamed down, there’s no more Bobby Heenan or Gorilla Monsoon. Either way I want you guys to sit back, grab a bag of Cheetos and enjoy my list of the Top 10 WrestleMania Events of All Time.
This was another WrestleMania, like WrestleMania 25, where the other big match on the card overshadowed the main event. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan was a roller coaster ride of emotions throughout the entire match, just like the Stone Cold vs. Bret Hart match from WrestleMania 13. Hulk Hogan was supposed to be the heel of the match and Rock was supposed to be the face, but the fans at the Skydome would not have it that way. They booed The Rock and cheered the nostalgic Hogan, appearing in his first WrestleMania since WrestleMania IX. This match was one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time, not necessarily for its wrestling, but for the entertainment and emotional factors that went into it.
WrestleMania 2000 is one of those WrestleMania’s you can’t help but remember. It was during the peak of the WWF’s popularity and it was the first WrestleMania Triple H had ever headlined. The main event match that pitted Triple H vs. The Big Show vs. Mick Foley vs. The Rock was actually a very good main event after I went back and looked at it before writing this article. I still think to this day it should have been Triple H vs. The Rock for the WWF Championship in its place, you know that sounds and seems like it would be so much better. The ending was a little surprising with Vince taking the side of Triple H and enabling him to retain the WWF Championship.
This is significant too, in the fact that it was the first time a heel had ever won in the main event at a WrestleMania. We had a masterpiece of a match in my opinion when Chris Jericho faced off against Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in a triple threat, 2 out of 3 falls match for the Intercontinental and European titles. It was a fast paced match that lasted a little below 15 minutes. In the end, Kurt Angle, who walked into the match a dual champion, walked out of the match holding no titles after Chris Benoit won the Intercontinental title in the first fall by pinning Chris Jericho and Chris Jericho won the European title after pinning Chris Benoit in the second fall. Watch this match if you loved technical wrestling.
The most exciting match of the night is the Triangle Ladder match for the WWF Tag Team titles between Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz. This was a fast paced match, with death defying leaps and moves that had never really been seen before in the WWF at the time. You had Jeff Hardy swanton bombing Bubba Dudley on a table and in the end had Edge & Christian winning their first ever Tag Team titles after throwing Matt Hardy off of a ladder through a table. The special and exciting feel of this WrestleMania is a big reason for me ranking it this high and it is one reason you should go back and watch it right now so you can see for yourself.
This WrestleMania could go down as possibly the most underrated WrestleMania of all time. The show started off with a pretty good match between a young Shawn Michaels vs. “El Matador” Tito Santana. This was a perfect beginning match for the pay per view as it set a good pace for the rest of the show. In probably the most underrated match in WrestleMania history, Bret Hart defeated Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental title. These two guys went at it for around 15 minutes and it was pure technical skill and emotion throughout. These were two friends fighting for a championship that actually once met something to the wrestlers. Piper played the “heel”, if you can call it that, throughout the match. Hart vs. Piper just had that special feel to it, as did this entire WrestleMania. I rank this WrestleMania in my top 25 matches in WrestleMania history. Another match I rate in my top 25 WrestleMania matches of all time is Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair for the WWF Title. The buildup to this match was pure brilliance and I wish they could do something more like this these days. They put on one of the better WrestleMania matches of all time that night, and of course Flair did his patented blade job that made him look like a red mess. Probably the most unexpected and exciting moment I have ever seen in WrestleMania history occurred at the end of this WrestleMania as well.
Towards the end of the main event between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice, Papa Shango came running down to the ring to start beating on Hogan with Sid (Yeah I know, I have no idea what Papa Shango had to do with anything and still do not to this day.) All of a sudden out of nowhere a familiar music hits and the crowd goes crazy! Gorilla Monsoon yellss out “That’s the Warriors music!” You cannot help but get goosebumps when you see and hear this and I still do every time I see it. The crowd was just electric when this happened and it just added to an already classic WrestleMania.
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY
Any WrestleMania with possibly two of the top ten matches in WrestleMania history deserves to be ranked this high on anyone’s list. The first match I am talking about is the opening bout between Bret Hart and Owen Hart. This match had so much emotion in it and was a technical masterpiece from start to finish. You thought that Bret was going to win from the very beginning and go on to be in the WWF Title match at the end of the night. But to everyone’s surprise, and this came out of nowhere, Owen reversed one of Bret’s moves and ended up winning the match! No one saw this coming and Bret played it off perfectly, looking more shocked then any one of us that he was beat by his little brother.
The next match that I am talking about is the first ever televised ladder match that had Shawn Michaels going up against Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental title. This was such a revolutionary match at the time as things that they were doing had never been done before. They used the ladder to beat and batter their bodies throughout the entire match, and they wowed us with their athleticism as well. In the end Razor Ramon ended up winning the match and being the sole Intercontinental champion. This match propelled Shawn into main event status and had him headlining WrestleMania the next year for the WWF title. The rest of the card was so-so, but the main event with Bret winning the World title from Yokozuna and having Owen come down the aisle and look disgusted because he had beaten Bret was priceless.
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY
WrestleMania XX brought WrestleMania back to the garden for the first time since WrestleMania X, and it did not disappoint. This card had a bunch of fantastic matches on it and that is the reason it is ranked so high on my list of the best WrestleMania events ever. The opening bout was surprisingly entertaining as it had John Cena going up against The Big Show for the United States title. Cena had turned face not to long before this, and the crowd loved him at the time. I did not mind him as face at the time as his rapper gimmick was still going on and he could still put on a good match. I honestly hate the fact that John Cena is a face right now, but that is a topic for a later article. Another match I loved was the Chris Jericho vs. Christian match. The whole storyline with these two and Trish Stratus was played off very well and they put on one hell of a match also. It comes very close to making my top 25 matches in WrestleMania history.
The next match I loved was not necessarily the best match in the world, but it is a very nostalgic one for a lot of people. This was The Rock’s last WrestleMania match as it was him and Mick Foley against Batista, Randy Orton and Ric Flair. It still is to this day a great match to watch and I would recommend it to anyone. The Cruiserweight Open for the cruiserweight title was an excellent match to have in the middle of the card as it was a lot of high flying, fast paced action that kept the viewers and audience entertained. Chavo Guerrero Jr. ended up winning the tournament and the title.
The Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero match for the WWE Title was an excellent match between two of the best technical wrestlers of all time. This was a great match that I can watch over and over again, and it makes me miss Eddie Guerrero even more when I see at the end of the match how Angle pulls off Eddies shoe because he untied it. A great wrestler and a great entertainer to the fans.
The final match of the night was a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship between Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit. One of the best matches I have ever seen, hands down. The fact that you have possibly the best technical wrestlers of all time in Chris Benoit, one of the best all around wrestlers ever in Shawn Michaels and a very, very good wrestler in Triple H in the same match together, it already makes it special. These guys did not disappoint us at all this night. Many finishing moves were applied throughout the end of the match and it eventually ended with Triple H surprisingly tapping out to Benoit and him winning the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. I know this is a cause of controversy because of what Chris Benoit eventually did, but the ending to this WrestleMania was one of the most emotional events I have ever seen in wrestling. Eddie Guerrero came down to the ring and celebrate with his friend that they were both world champions and had come such a long way together to get to that pinnacle.
Pontiac Silver Dome
WrestleMania III is one of those WrestleMania shows that people tend to remember for one or two key moments and rightfully so. The historic moments that happened at this WrestleMania are moment’s that will be remembered forever in the history of professional wrestling, but that shouldn’t take away from a pretty good rest of the card. WrestleMania III originated from the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit Michigan and had a reported over 93,000 people in attendance. I have since heard that the number was closer to like 74,000, but in any event this is still a whole lot of people to show up to watch a wrestling event. The opening match was actually a pretty good match between The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) and Bob Orton & Don Muraco. This was your prototypical fast paced match with a bunch of guys who were over at the time, and the baby faces triumphing in the end.
Harley Race vs. The Junkyard Dog was a match between two of the greats of all time that should have lasted longer than the 5 minutes it did, but either way it was a pretty solid match between a major heel and baby face. Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis has a lot of historic value to it as it was billed as Piper’s retirement match at the time, and it was a hair vs. hair match. At the end Piper and Brutus Beefcake ended up cutting off Adonis’s hair and this gave way to Beefcake’s “Barber” gimmick, which was actually a pretty cool and over gimmick at the time. The Hart Foundation & Danny Davis vs. The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana was an excellent 6 man tag match between two of the greatest tag teams of all time. This is another thing the WWE is missing these days, tag teams like these two. This match could have been given a few more minutes to go on to showcase more of the talent between the two but I know that Dynamite Kid was hurting really bad at the time.
Next we get to what is probably the greatest match in the history of WrestleMania, Ricky Steamboat vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the Intercontinental title. The match was pure technical and high flying genius from the very beginning. They put on a show for the crowd at the Silverdome and the fan’s at home watching on television. I have heard that the match was literally planned out from start to finish, more so because this is what Savage wanted to do as he was a stickler for things like that. This paved way for Savage’s rise to the top of the WWF when he won the title the next year at WrestleMania IV. The final match of the night is essentially the main reason wrestling is as huge as it is today.
It was a huge main event that pitted the biggest rising star at the time Hulk Hogan, against the biggest and most popular star of the 1970’s and early 80’s, Andre the Giant for the WWF Championship. While not the greatest match in terms of pure wrestling skill, its lack thereof was made for in pure storyline telling and emotion. People wanted to see Hogan get the victory over the Giant who was undefeated for two decades. At one point in the beginning of the match Hogan tried to slam Andre but his back gave way and Andre fell on top of him and almost got the victory. Later in the match Hogan scooped Andre up and slammed him to the mat! The crowd went crazy. This is the most historic moment in the history of wrestling to this day and is what many people believe brought wrestling onto the map. Hogan did his signature leg drop and pinned Andre for the win and he had finally conquered the once unbeatable Giant.
This was the WrestleMania that brought the WWF fully into the Attitude Era. It signaled that there was a change that was going to be happening in the WWF. Overall this card was very solid from top to bottom and is one of those WrestleMania events that you can watch over and over again. In a vastly underrated match, Triple H defeated Owen Hart in just under 12 minutes for the European championship. Another great mid card match was between The Rock & Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental title. The Rock was just starting to come into his own at the time and Ken Shamrock was an amazing wrestler. The match did not last long however, and I wish it had. These guys were given only 5 minutes, and I think with more time they could have put on even more of a show. Even still it was a vastly entertaining match as in the end Shamrock got The Rock in an ankle lock and made the Rock tap. The Nation of Domination members jumped into the ring and Shamrock quickly disposed of all of them Referees stormed the ring and tried to get him to let go of the lock but Shamrock refused and suplexed a referee until finally calming down and letting go. In the end Shamrock was disqualified for not letting go of the ankle lock and The Rock was still Intercontinental champion.
The next good match was the Dumpster match for the WWF Tag Team titles between The New Age Outlaws and Cactus Jack & Chainsaw Charlie. This was an all out brawl throughout the entire match as one would expect. In the end Chainsaw Charlie got a forklift and when they both got the Outlaws into the dumpster Charlie drove the forklift to the backstage dumpster and dropped both of the Outlaws inside to win the Tag Team Championships for him and Cactus Jack. In a match that one would not expect to be that good, Undertaker defeated Kane in a match that lasted close to 17 minutes. This was a really good match between the two wrestlers, and at the time it made sense. They had never faced each other before and it was a culminating match in the feud between the two. After a furious back and forth match between the two, with choke slams and aerial moves throughout, it took Undertaker three tombstone pile drivers and a guillotine leg drop and clothesline in between for Undertaker to secure the victory over Kane.
The main event of the night was Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWF Title. Mike Tyson was the special guest referee for the match, and this added to the Attitude feel of the whole show. Tyson was believed to be sided with Degeneration X at the start of the match and people thought Austin had no chance because of this. Even though Shawn Michaels back was in really, really bad shape at the time, he and Austin put on a very good match that lasted for around 20 minutes. After brutally beating each other throughout the entire match and seeing Michaels in obvious pain, Michaels went for the Super kick on Austin and Austin ducked it and went for the Stunner on Michaels. Michaels then threw Austin into the ropes and went for the Super kick again and Austin spinned him around and hit the Stunner on Michaels. Tyson went into the ring and proceeded to count the three count on Michaels and revealing under his DX shirt that he was a Stone Cold fan. Michaels stood up all pissed off and got in Tyson’s ace and Tyson laid out Michaels with one punch. Austin celebrated in the ring, standing on the ropes and holding up the WWF championship and signaling a new era in the WWF, the Attitude Era.
Los Angeles, CA
WrestleMania 21 is a WrestleMania that has one truly masterpiece of a match and a bunch of really good matches to back its ranking up on my list. In the opening match Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero. This was a perfect opening match to a PPV as it featured two high flying wrestlers that put on an amazing show for the crowd. The feud that went into this match helped the special feel to the match as well and having many times to cheat and beat his friend, Guerrero let his conscience get the best of him and this ended up costing him the match in the end when Mysterio hit a hurricanrana to win the match. In an interlude to the event Eugene was in the ring celebrating being in his first WrestleMania when, one of the best heels ever in my opinion, Mohammed Hassan came down to the ring to berate Eugene and claim that he should be in a WrestleMania match. Hassan and his manager Daivari attacked Eugene and put him in the Camel Clutch until out of nowhere Hulk Hogan came down for the save. Hogan then celebrated in the ring to the crowd as they went nuts.
The next great match was the first ever Money in the Bank Ladder match, where the winner got a shot at any World title of his choosing at any time. This idea was thought of by Chris Jericho as a six way ladder match to determine who would get a shot at a World title and was put into place by Eric Bischoff at WrestleMania 21. This in my opinion is the best Money in the Bank match that has ever taken place. You had six great wrestlers involved in the match that suited all their styles perfectly. It was Chris Jericho, Edge, Christian, Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin and Kane involved in the match. After repeated head butts to Kane, Benoit knocked him off the ladder only to be hit with a steel chair by Edge who climbed up the ladder and claimed the briefcase to win the match and the title shot. Continuing the great WrestleMania that was going on there was an inter-promotional match between The Undertaker and Randy Orton. This was billed as a “Legend” vs. “Legend Killer” match. I loved Orton’s “Legend Killer” gimmick at the time. At one point during the match Bob Orton, Randy’s father and ringside manager at the time interfered in the match by hitting Undertaker with his arm cast. Undertaker attempted to choke slam Orton but it was countered into an RKO for a two count. After this Orton attempted Undertakers own finishing move on him, the Tombstone piled river, but it was reversed by The Undertaker into one of his own for the pinfall victory.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels was one of the top 5 matches in WrestleMania history and was a pure technical show between two of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The match lasted over 27 minutes and it did not disappoint anyone for a second. It was a back and forth match between the two for the beginning. Michaels eventually tapped out to the ankle lock, giving Kurt Angle the victory in one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time. The two main events were not exactly the greatest wrestling matches in the world but they told a good story and started a new generation of wrestlers in the limelight, which has not necessarily been a good thing in my opinion. In one main event you had the charismatic up and coming baby face in John Cena defeat the super heel John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE title and in the other main event of the night you had Batista defeating his former Evolution stable mate and leader Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. I did not mind these two guys at the time as their gimmicks did not make me want to puke like they do now.
WrestleMania XIX was a spectacular WrestleMania for many reasons, but the main reason it was I because a lot of the matches had that big, special WrestleMania feel to them. The opening match was really the start of the feud between Matt Hardy and Rey Mysterio for the Cruiserweight title, which was won by Matt Hardy. The first match with that true WrestleMania feel to it was the match between Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. This was one of the best done feuds ever heading into a match at WrestleMania. After Michaels freed himself from the Walls Jericho, Jericho attempted a suplex on Michaels but it was countered into a rollup victory by HBK. At the end of the match it appeared as if Jericho wanted to make friends with Michaels, but he ended up low blowing him and in a truly awesome and emotional moment Michaels slumped to the floor looking up at Jericho wondering why he would do what he did. Triple H vs. Booker T was not one of those matches with a huge WrestleMania feel to it, but it was a very good match between two wrestlers in their prime at the time for the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H ended up hitting the Pedigree for the win to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
The next match definitely had one of those true WrestleMania feels to it, as it pitted two of the most iconic figures in the history of the WWE, Vince Mcmahon and Hulk Hogan against each other in a Street Fight. The feud was basically Mcmahon saying he was responsible for the WWF’s early success and Hogan saying he had a lot to do with it. In a surprisingly watchable match between the two, McMahon ended up getting busted open by Hogan after a chair shot to the head. Later in the match Roddy Piper interfered in the match hitting Hogan with a pipe. Hogan however, by hitting McMahon with his patented big boot and leg drop for the pinfall victory over McMahon. Seeing Hogan defeat McMahon at WrestleMania nineteen years after it all started was truly a historic WrestleMania moment. The second to last match of the night was a pure singles match, where no championship was on the line, between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. This was Austin and Rock’s third and final meeting at WrestleMania and it did not disappoint. The Rock ended up hitting three Rock Bottoms on Austin to finally get a victory over him at a WrestleMania.
Coming in at the greatest WrestleMania of all time is WrestleMania X-7. This was a WrestleMania that ended up having three of the top 25 matches in WrestleMania history in my opinion, with one more quite possibly being included in that top 25 as well. The opening match for this card was Chris Jericho vs. William Regal for the Intercontinental title. This is a vastly underrated match that is a must watch for people looking for a good technical WrestleMania match to watch. This was when Jericho was still in the younger stages of his career and he performed the match perfectly. Jericho ended up hitting a Lionsault on Regal for the victory and to retain his Intercontinental championship.
In one of the top 25 matches in WrestleMania history, Kurt Angle faced Chris Benoit. It was a technical masterpiece from the very beginning with a lot of mat wrestling between the two to start off the match. Towards the conclusion of the match Benoit tried to pin Angle after performing his patented Diving Headbutt onto Angle, but it was only met with a two count. Angle capitalized by rolling up Benoit and using his tights to secure the pinfall victory for the match. The street fight between Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon was the next good match on the card. Shane dominated the start of the match with his usual kendo stick barrage and using the Spanish announce table monitors on Vince. Shane placed the trash can on top of Vince in the corner of the ring and climbed up to the other corner and performed a Coast to Coast on Vince for the pinfall victory in the end.
The next match on the card is another of the top 25 matches in WrestleMania history, more likely being in the top 10. It was a TLC match between The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boyz for the Tag Team championships that the Dudleyz held at the time. There were many interferences during the match with Rhyno interfering on Edge & Christians behalf, Spike Dudley for the Dudleyz and Lita for the Hardy Boyz. Rhyno then propped Christian onto his shoulders and walked him over to the hanging titles and secured the victory and the WWF Tag Team championships for Edge & Christian after a historic match. In a filler match between the two main event matches they had a Gimmick Battle Royal that was very entertaining to watch. It brought back “Mean Gene” Okerlund and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan to announce the match. I love listening to the Brain announce a match like no one else. It was a short match that ended up being won by The Iron Sheik. The second to last match of the night was a fight between Triple H and The Undertaker that is that match that is possibly one of the top 25 matches in WrestleMania history. This was a brutal back and forth match between two wrestlers who had not yet shown their age. They performed one of the best matches of each others careers. The match ended with The Undertaker performing the Last Ride on Triple H to extend his WrestleMania winning streak.
The final match of the night was the second meeting between the Rock and Stone Cold, and it ended up being the best out of the three they eventually had. It was announced before the match started that it would be a No-DQ Match. Vince McMahon came to ringside to observe the match and everyone, including me had no idea why he was at ringside since both of the wrestlers were face’s at the time. Everyone thought he was probably there to help out The Rock because of Austin’s history with McMahon. The Rock then performed The People’s Elbow on Austin and when he went for the pin was pulled off of Austin by McMahon at the cont of two. Everyone was in disbelief. Why would McMahon pull Rock off Austin everyone was wondering? He then went into the ring and handed Austin a steel chair to hit The Rock with. This revealed that McMahon was actually here to help Austin and Austin had sided with McMahon in his quest to win the WWF title. With this move, the unthinkable happened, Austin had turned heel and sided with McMahon. Eventually after multiple chair shots and failed pin attempts that made this match even better than it already was, Austin was able to pin The Rock and become the new WWF champion. The event ended with Austin and McMahon shaking hands in the middle of the ring drinking beers. While the Austin heel turn did not turn out the way the WWF wanted to, the actually turn itself at this WrestleMania was purely shocking to everyone and added to what was the greatest WrestleMania in the history of the WWE.
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Note: Originally published March 2010