WrestleMania time always has me thinking of the great matches, and the great wrestlers, and the great Mania moments over the previous 28 editions of this great PPV. After all, the PPV is WWE’s version of the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Breeder’s Cup, whatever sports reference you want to use. WWE fans get to not only look forward to this year’s Mania, but they start reminiscing about past Manias. Many times, you will get to think about great memories,such as a great wrestler winning his/her first major title, but at times, you will remember sad ones as well, such as you remember seeing that wrestler in the PPV who is now dead .
In this blog, I will post my personal top ten WrestleMania moments of all time. I admit it was hard to narrow it down to just ten, but I did. I should state that they are not in any strict order, as you could ask me next week, and I could write a different list. Before I start, I do want to say, that my definition of “moment” is broad: Moment could be defined from an embrace to the entire PPV.
10. Hogan slamming Andre in WM3 in Detroit, MI
No matter how many times Hogan exaggerates Andre the Giant’s weight, and no matter how many times I see on YouTube or on TV, this spot is amazing. The match isn’t great, but it is a heck of a moment. Hogan finishing off Andre with the leg drop was cool. It is one of the most defining moments in WrestleMania history, in front of over 93, 000 screaming fans at the Pontiac Silver Dome in Detroit, Rock City (sorry. I had to get that in) in Michigan.
9. “I’m sorry. I love you” – HBK defeats Ric Flair in Flair’s Retirement Match at WM 24 in Orlando, FL
The night after a very emotional, and teary WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which I was present at, the newly inducted Ric Flair, and soon to be Hall of Famer HBK Shawn Michaels had an excellent match which had all the emotional heat you could imagine. It was Flair’s “last match ever.” (of course we all know it would not be the case) Flair would have it with the best worker in the company, HBK, and why not. The ever defining moment was right before Shawn delivered the match winning Sweet Chin Music, he said, “I’m sorry. I love you.” After the pin, there was so much adoration and love between the two competitors and the fans, yours truly included. I was really believing that this would be Flair’s last. Great moment.
8. World Champion Eddie Guerrero and his friend WWE Champion Chris Benoit embracing at the end of WM 20 in New York, NY
Yes, I know this pick is controversial, but this moment is still unforgettable nonetheless. I am not one to erase history because of the treacherous acts of one of the people in a sport or whatever.
Now, I was at this PPV, and AT THE TIME, this was a fantastic moment. It was very emotional seeing two guys who not only were friends, and were in not only ECW together, but WCW as well before joining WWE. Both guys were seen by some as “too small” to carry the World Titles, but were finally given a chance, and at the company’s biggest event, Eddie retained his World Title in a fantastic match against Kurt Angle, and Benoit, in one of the best WrestleMania main events ever defeated both Shawn Michaels, and the defending WWE Champion Triple H in one of the best Triple threats ever, at least in my opinion.
After the match, while Chris Benoit was celebrating, out came Eddie Guerrero with his belt, and the two embraced. It was such a great moment. Of course, as wrestling fans know, that image is marred by the devastating tragedies that would befell both men and their families. I want to add that I feel sad for Eddie and his family, and I CONDEMN Benoit for his TREACHEROUS ACTIONS. However, this moment is still one that is on my list regardless.
7. Anytime Vince McMahon got owned at WrestleMania
This moment is a culmination of moments, and it involves the one and only WWE Chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon (God, how I love saying that.). Vince McMahon has an 0-4 record at WrestleMania, and that is no accident. As much as some moan and groan about seeing him put himself in matches with his own talent, I think it is awesome, because we all know that he is going to get his ass handed to him. Now, I am going to show a couple of my favorites. In fact, I was present for two of them: Vince McMahon getting his head shaved bald by his fellow Billionaire (except his opponent is an actual Billionaire) Donald Trump at WM 23 in Detroit, Rock City in Michigan at Ford Field, and at WM 22 (I was 9th Row ringside.) in Chicago at Allstate Arena when Vince McMahon was laying on a table, the top half of him in a garbage can, and HBK did an elbow drop from the top of a huge ladder. The third, which I was NOT at, was when at Safeco Field in Seattle, WA at WM 19, Vince gets his comeuppance from Hulk Hogan. I was not at this PPV either, unfortunately (KISS was in Australia at the time, and I was there for three weeks for six of their shows), but at WM 17 at Houston’s AstroDome, Vince got his butt kicked by his own son, Shane, after his “comatose” wife Linda got up and hurt Vince where the sun don’t shine.
WM 22 against HBK (last part of match): http://youtu.be/9OIPmNZ0DDo
WM 23 gets shaved bald: http://youtu.be/UZ1L013k5Hw
WM 19: against Hogan ( last part of match): http://youtu.be/QbBXe_qNeUs
WM 17. Linda’s Revenge: http://youtu.be/E17jqpLYajg
6. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s bleeding face as Austin refuses to say “I Quit,” while in Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter in WM 13 at the then named Rosemont Horizon (now All State Arena) in Chicago.
WM 13 is not known as one of WWE’s best Manias. It is known as one of the worst. The highlight of this PPV is this “Submission” or “I Quit” match between “Hitman” Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bret was going into a tweener mode in early 1997, while Austin was still in a heelish mode. During the buildup, there is this famous confrontation between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon where during an interview in the ring and Bret went on a obscenity filled rampage saying how he isn’t respected, etc. Austin eventually comes down and the two go at it.
The match at WM 13 itself is a classic. Bret Hart comes out as a babyface. Austin comes out as his heel persona. Ken Shamrock is the special guest referee. Austin and Hart go all over the arena, and during the match, the crowd changes loyalties. The crowd starts cheering for Austin, and Bret starts getting booed. When Bret locks on the Sharpshooter, and won’t let go, and Austin passes out from the pain, a few things happen. One, you get one of the most classic moments in not only WrestleMania History, but in wrestling history. Two, you have , at least in my opinion, one of the best double turns I have ever seen. I mean, I think this has assisted Austin becoming the top star that the company ever had, along with the famous, “Austin 3:16″ promo at King of the Ring 1996. Bret would go on to become an awesome heel, and start that Canada vs the USA angle, and create the new Hart Foundation with his brother Owen Hart, the British Bulldog, Jim “the Anvil Neidhardt, and Brian Pillman. Lastly, you see an example of the art of “putting someone over.” For me, it wasn’t so important that Bret “won” the match, that makes this so awesome. It was that Austin got put over. Watching the product today, it feels like forever since I have seen a promising young talent being properly put over.
One could say the entire match could be a moment, but it is the image of Austin’s bleeding face and the aftermath that is so striking.
(Last part of the match) http://youtu.be/qTYcx8dq7KY
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin shaking hands with Vince McMahon after defeating The Rock at WM 17 in Houston, TX.
Well, here is another Austin moment, and it involves my personal favorite WrestleMania main event match EVER. Mind you, I have seen six WrestleManias in a row, Manias 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25, and I plan to be at this one. I mean, my readers who know me well, you all didn’t think I was going to miss Edge being inducted into the Hall of Fame now, did you? Anyway, the only one that had a shot of toppling this particular Austin match was Mania 24′s Edge (c) vs Taker in Orlando. Very VERY close. This match also happens to be my favorite match by Steve Austin.
Before I go on, I nearly made the entire PPV the 5th best moment. WM 17, at least in my opinion, was an amazing PPV. I just thought every match was booked just about perfectly, even the silly stuff like the McMahon vs McMahon stuff. I mean, there was something memorable about every match, and I can not remember a match that was bad. I thought it was a nearly perfect PPV from the McMahon match (as in being a fun match), to the Taker/HHH match to the TLC match (Edge’s spearing Jeff Hardy in mid air is a memorable moment in itself) to this fantastic main event between the Rock (C) vs Austin.
As I discussed previously about the “I Quit” match, Bret Hart went on to have his heel run in 1997, and everyone knows what happened on November 9, 1997 in Montreal at the Survivor Series. Well, out of the ashes came this whole Evil Mr. Vince McMahon character where he was the evil owner who would try to thwart the hard working hero Stone Cold Steve Austin. As most fans know, this feud lasted for years during the Attitude Era.
Well, leading up to this particular match between the Rock (C) and Austin for the WWE Championship, Vince McMahon was manipulating both men by having Austin’s wife, Debra promise that there would be no contact between the two. Well, when there was contact between the two as one week, Austin gave Rock a stunner, and the Rock in retaliation, gave Austin a Rock Bottom, Debra got fired by Vince.
The match itself was a spectacle, and a classic. Great work by both guys, and Earl Hebner was fantastic as referee. Both Paul Heyman and Jim Ross were great on commentary. Ross especially was great, especially at the start when he was wondering about the mysterious announcement before the match began that the match was “No Disqualification.” Fans were treated to two terrible looking Sharpshooters, but other than that, the match was great. During the latter part of the match, who comes down the aisle, but Vincent Kennedy McMahon in his wrestling gear from his prior match with his son. There was a point where Rock had the cover, and the likely win where Vince pulled him out. Rock gave Vince the look of death, and chased Vince around the ring, and it was on. With the help of Vince and some chairs, Stone Cold Steve Austin not only won the title, and not only turned heel (which even he admitted was a bad idea), but did the unimaginable. He shook hands with the once evil, and reviled, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, and had beers with him.
That is an image I can’t get out of my mind, and I can STILL remember Jim Ross going crazy.
Scroll to about the 30:00 mark and go to the end: http://youtu.be/zwkQ2WNkXqY
4. Undertaker’s Return to face his brother Kane at WM 20 in New York, NY
Yes, I know that there are certain things that are guaranteed in this world: Death, Taxes, and the Undertaker winning at WrestleMania. Taker has defeated 19 previous opponents, and sorry, Hunter, as much of a die hard fan of yours that I am, you will be number 20. You could have Shawn as the ref, and Peyton Manning calling your plays or designing your game plan, you are, for the THIRD TIME, lose to the Undertaker. Heck, even the newly retired Hines Ward breaking through the Cell, and giving Taker one of his famous hits with former Steeler teammate James Harrison coming in, and hitting Taker, and leading with his helmet without fear of Commissioner Goodell is going to help HHH. HHH is losing at Mania……Career vs Streak or not.
That being said, what is also guaranteed is Undertaker’s long, but fantastic entrances. I mean, sure it takes him forever and a day to get to the ring, even on Raw and Smackdown, but at a PPV, especially at WrestleMania, it is well worth it.
In late 2003, Undertaker took some personal time off when he lost a Buried Alive Match at Survivor Series to Vince McMahon of all people, with the help of his “brother,” Kane. During this time Kane had gloated about putting away Taker, and said Taker was dead, etc. Right before Mania, on Raw, he faced a casket in the ring. The ring lifted up with Kane in it, and there was an urn with 11-0 in it which was a challenge from the Undertaker.
At the event itself, it was a spectacle to see. Out came the druids with flames, and with Paul Bearer leading them, and finally, the Undertaker. I was at this show, and it was a great site to see. I had seen Taker wrestle previously at shows, but this was my first WWE PPV, and I had never seen Taker all decked out in his costume walking with the druids and Bearer with Bearer carrying that urn. Great stuff to see live for the first time.
Of course we know who won, but that’s not important. Great moment.
At the 1:16 mark: http://youtu.be/dWd4B4Onu2o
3. A pair of Edge Landmark Moments. One at WM 21 in Los Angeles, and the other at WM 22 in Chicago
Well, my readers didn’t think I was going to leave Edge off of my favorite moments of all time list, did you? Well, I paired these two moments up into one because I feel they were landmarks and were kind of intertwined.
I will start with WrestleMania 21. That was the very first Money In The Bank Ladder Match. Of course, being that it was a ladder match, as his fan, I was worried about his neck, and all, but the other guys are professionals and such. Anyway, as people know by now, the idea of the MITB match is the person who climbs the ladder, and grabs the briefcase hanging above, wins the case, and its contents which is a contract. The winner has a year to “cash it in” from that year’s Mania, and challenge for whichever World or WWE Title he wants.
Of course, everyone knows Edge won it. When he did, it was a great moment. Being at the PPV, I could sense that he got a lot of heat. Of course, Shelton Benjamin had that awesome spot with the ladder in the match. However, it was Edge’s winning moment. I felt at that moment that we could be seeing a potential star. Well, he cashed in his case at New Year’s Revolution in January 8, 2006 on John Cena, and since then won the WWE/World Titles 10 more times, and became one of the best heels, and one of the best wrestlers in WWE history (yes, I said it). I would say he became a star.
Now, the second moment I picked: Edge’s first title, despite his ratings success, lasted three weeks. He started a feud with Mick Foley who Edge blamed for costing him a chance to headline WrestleMania 22 as the WWE Champ. That lead to a feud between the two which lead to a Hardcore match.
I was 9th row for this match, and the match not only kicked ass, but it was the best match on the card. The match also, at least in my opinion, solidified Edge as a main eventer in WWE. At least in my eyes it did. It showed me that he was willing to do just about anything to prove to a lot of those “in the back” (and there WERE the doubters) that he was a great singles star. The moment for me was the image of Edge spearing Mick Foley into that flaming table. It was awesome, but scary as well. After it was over, I was more concerned that Edge got to the back and got treatment.
However, it was a great moment. Both were great moments, and I thought they related to each other well.
Edge Winning MITB at WM 21: http://youtu.be/XsBZCXkT40E
Edge Spearing Foley at WM 22: http://youtu.be/OP-Iz1tQQoI
2. Edge’s last match at WM 27 in Atlanta, GA
Well, at the previous WrestleMania, fans saw the “Career vs Streak” match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker. Of course, Taker won the fantastic match which was a rematch of their sensational WM 25 classic in Houston. Shawn, of course, lost, and retired which he was going to do anyway. Shawn Michaels made a heartfelt speech at Raw tonight, and hugged HHH, his real life best friend after the speech.
The point of all this is that this particular last match, and retirement,was expected. The moment I am going to discuss was not, at least to the FANS anyway.
At WrestleMania 27, Edge was in a match to defend his World Title against the Royal Rumble winner, Alberto Del Rio. Inexplicably, at the PPV, the match , a WORLD TITLE MATCH, mind you, was put on first. Why WWE did that, I have NO clue. Being that it was for the World Title, and I know Smackdown is the red headed stepchild, but really. They could have started with the Rey/Cody match. Maybe it is just me, but I think when you have a World Title match, it should be higher up on the card than the curtain jerker spot. Anyway,in an excellent, 10 minute match where both Edge’s sidekick Christian, and Del Rio’s sidekick Brotus Clay (now the Funkasaurus) ran a little interference, Edge retained his World Title, and post match, destroyed Del Rio’s precious car.
Of course, we all know what happened with Edge about a week later on April 11, 2011, and the background leading up to the heartbreaking announcement. In recent interviews, Edge said that he had no idea it would be his last Mania. The plan was that they would get through the Ladder Match at Extreme Rules (where I assume Del Rio would get the belt), and he would take time off for his sore neck,but when the MRI came back, he was told he was done. He knew he planned to retire soon, but it just came sooner rather than later. He said everyone else was shocked, but he wasn’t as he knew his neck was off for some time.On a personal note, I had noticed for a few months that he seemed to be in a lot of pain, especially when he was hit in the left arm. I remember from his book when he started having neck issues, the left arm would go numb.Well, on that Raw after the 2011 Rumble, when Del Rio hit him with the guitar, even though he was selling, I could see him flexing his left hand trying to get the feeling back in. I was wondering if his neck was starting up.
The moment, at least to me, is incredible. Yeah, there were probably some who thought it was his last, but evidently it wasn’t the case. I thought after the ladder match he would take time off, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Yes, HBK retired, but I knew it was coming. Edge said he was going to retire within the next couple of years way back in June 2010, but I figured it would be in 2012 (right about now, and even he said this year’s Mania would have been his last had he not been forced to retire). It was just when I was trying to mentally prepare for Edge’s eventual retirement, that is when Edge made that announcement on Raw. It was so shocking. I just was not ready. I had such a crisis of faith as well. The realization that he had just wrestled at his last Mania was very hard to take. The finality of it. What’s even harder is the realization is that he can never wrestle again.
The great thing about it, though, is that a great wrestler , gets to leave on top, as champion. That does not happen a lot in wrestling. I am so glad, and so proud, as his fan, that he got to do that.
Edge’s Entrance and Match Only: http://youtu.be/O4shJ7k33kk
1. Shawn Michaels “Boyhood Dream” Coming True at WM 12 in Anaheim, CA
Well, here is the moment that for me is the best WrestleMania Moment EVER. It was at WrestleMania 12 at the Anaheim Pond in Anaheim, CA. It was in the Main Event, which was the 60 minute Iron Man Match. The two contestants were “Hitman” Bret Hart, who was the defending champion, against Shawn Michaels. The backstory is that Bret was going to take some time off, and Shawn was going to be pushed as the young man going for his “Boyhood Dream” of becoming WWE Champion.
It is the post match moment that I just love. That moment of him with the belt. His looking at the belt, and cradling it. What a moment. That image of the man who would go on to become the Showstopper, the Headliner, the Main Event, or as I call him, the Greatest of All Time, with his belt is just amazing and will always be my favorite WrestleMania moment ever.
The moment is at about the 7:50 point, but this is the last 2 minutes of regulation: http://youtu.be/NpOZxSkp2DU
Well, that is my list. I hope you all enjoyed it.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan