The countdown to the biggest show of the year in pro wrestling is on. WrestleMania is to pro wrestling what championship games are for professional sports. No matter how may pay-per-views the WWE may hold in a year, WrestleMania is always the biggest. In counting down to the big event, I will take a look at my top five WrestleMania shows of all time.
The criteria in determining the top five WrestleMania shows is a little complex. For one, I look at historical significance. The first WrestleMania is historic as the original and gets high consideration on that alone. Other WrestleMania shows may be historic for crowd attendance, availability, a particular point in wrestling history, matches, appearances, or a variety of other reasons.
There are a lot of great matches from WrestleMania but only a few are considered the greatest. It is common for a terrible WrestleMania to be looked upon far more favorably years later due to one great match. One great match can make a WrestleMania and put the show in the history books forever.
Star power is another big component in the mix. The power of the stars may be just as much about wrestling star power as it is power from the outside world. There is a big difference in a WrestleMania stacked with great stars as opposed to a show without a Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Steve Austin, The Rock, Bret Hart, etc. One WWE superstar doesn’t make a show, but a collection of stars is something that can truly make a WrestleMania special.
3 – WrestleMania XXI “WrestleMania Goes Hollywood” 04/03/05 Los Angeles, C.A.
WrestleMania 21 took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. This was the fifth WrestleMania to take place in the Southern California region. WM 21 was the fastest sellout in company history. Tickets for this show sold out in less than one minute. WrestleMania also generated a 2.46 buyrate, which is the largest in WrestleMania history.
Batista won the Royal Rumble, thus giving him a shot at the champion. The speculation following the Rumble would be whether Batista would use the opportunity to challenge Triple H or SmackDown’s champion, JBL. The answer would come during one of the greatest angles in Raw history. It would be Triple H getting the thumbs down and a beating by Batista. The match was on and it was signed for WrestleMania 21.
The match was better than anyone had expected. The match was so good, that subsequent rematches made this one of the most successful series of matches in company history. Batista would beat Triple H for the WWE title on this night. A Batista Bomb ended a bloody war between these two. Even after a war, these two still couldn’t steal the show.
Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels would wrestle for the first-time in what would be a dream match for wrestling fans. The match started with an angle at the Royal Rumble and would blossom into one of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Fans expected a lot from two guys as athletic and exciting as these two, and they got it. Kurt Angle made Shawn Michaels tap out in the first of what would turn into a trilogy. Kurt Angle said it best the next week on SmackDown. Angle claimed he was arrested after the match by the cops for stealing the show.
Randy Orton would also take his place in the spotlight with a big WrestleMania match. The self-proclaimed legend killer took his shot against the Undertaker. The match was special because the Undertaker wrestled on SmackDown, while Orton wrestled on Raw. The match was seen as an inter-promotional dream match as both wrestlers would attack each other on their respective brands in some great angles.
Orton gave the Undertaker a hell of a match. A great WrestleMania moment came from this match when Orton slid out of a Tombstone and hit the RKO for a close 3 count. Old school fans got a nice surprise at WM 21. Orton’s father, Cowboy Bob Orton did a run-in and nailed the Undertaker with the infamous cast. This would not be enough to keep the dead man down. Undertaker reversed Orton’s own Tombstone to go 13-0 at WrestleMania.
Other notables from the show included the return of two of the four men involved in the main-event of the first WrestleMania. Both Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper made appearances on the show. Akebono and the Big Show also wrestled in the first (& hopefully last) Sumo Match on a WrestleMania. Edge won the first-ever Money in the Bank match which earned him a title shot. Edge would wait almost one year before using the shot and defeating John Cena for the WWE title.
WrestleMania 21 truly moved the ladder for several superstars within the WWE. The impact of this WrestleMania continues to be felt today in the WWE. Without this WrestleMania, it is arguable whether the faces of the WWE would look different today. The torch was passed at WrestleMania 21 to John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, and Edge. If not for WrestleMania 21, the fabulous four may look differently in today’s WWE. The legacy of this WrestleMania is one that will last forever.
Complete WrestleMania XXI Results…
Booker T won a “battle royal.” Also in the match were: Akio, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Rob Conway, Simon Dean, Spike Dudley, Sho Funaki, Sylvan Grenier, Charlie Haas, John Heidenreich, Hardcore Holly, Hurricane, Mark Jindrak, Orlando Jordan, Paul London, Chris Masters, Maven, Nunzio, William Regal, Luther Reigns, Rhyno, Rosey, Scotty Too Hotty, Gene Snitsky, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Tyson Tomko, Val Venis, and Viscera.
Rey Mysterio pinned Eddie Guerrero (12:39).
Edge beat Chris Benoit, Christian, Chris Jericho, Kane, and Shelton Benjamin (15:17) in a “money in the bank ladder” match.
Hulk Hogan attacks Muhammad Hassan & Khosrow Daivari after they had attacked Eugene.
The Undertaker pinned Randy Orton (14:14).
WWE Women’s Champ Trish Stratus pinned Christy Hemme (4:11).
Kurt Angle beat Shawn Michaels (27:25) via submission.
“Piper’s Pit” with Steve Austin and Carlito.
Akebono beat The Big Show (1:02) in a “sumo” match.
John Cena pinned John Bradshaw Layfield (11:26) to win the WWE Title.
Batista pinned Triple H (21:34) to win the World Title.