*Edited on October 1st 2018. Removed broken pics/vids.**
Wrestlemania I – Hulkamania Running Wild, Andre Slams Studd
While the main event between Hogan/Mr. T and Piper/Orndorff was not a technical masterpiece, I was impressed by the crowd reaction. WWF had done a great job at promoting the first Wrestlemania, and the success of Hulkamania, and Mr. T, drew the fans in. Mr. T was no slouch; he looked like a wrestler in there! Also Piper was an excellent heel. He was so hated, and you could say he played a pivotal role in the first main event of Wrestlemania.
Another highlight was seeing Muhammed Ali. I would say he’s the biggest celebrity Vince has ever managed to book for a Wrestlemania event. It’s hard to describe how huge Ali was unless you lived through it. I didn’t live through it, but I grew up with a love for boxing, so the first name any boxing fan will hear is Muhammed Ali. He still remains the biggest star in boxing history.
A surprising highlight was the Body Slam Challenge for $15,000 between Andre The Giant and Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan). Also Andre would’ve been forced to retire if he lost. After five minutes, Andre lifted Studd for the slam, and the crowd went nuts! When I saw that moment, I immediately referenced Wrestlemania III. This was the original body slam pop at Wrestlemania, and sadly it never gets attention as it wasn’t in the main event. The aftermath saw Andre throwing the money in to the crowd, til the weasel Bobby Heenan snatched the rest of the money away from him and ran off.
Also, I was shocked by King Kong Bundy. He faced Special Delivery Jones in a match which was said to last nine seconds (but actually lasted 24 seconds), and I was blown away. It was the best squash match I’ve ever seen at Wrestlemania. It made Bundy look really strong, without a doubt. Sadly, future events didn’t treat him like the monster he portrayed at the first Wrestlemania.
Wrestlemania 2 – The British Bulldogs, Piper Vs. Mr. T
Wrestlemania 2 made my list of the top three worst in the events history. While it had many painful moments, I managed to find good from it. Firstly, I want to praise the Boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper. While some will say boxing has no place at a Wrestlemania (and I understand why), the heated rivalry lead to many stiff blows, and in the end it was very entertaining. They were simulating the Rocky films, and at times it felt like I was watching Rocky Vs. Clubber Lang, so it delivered in that aspect.
But I’m English, so by far the best moment from Wrestlemania 2 was seeing Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith take the WWF World Tag Team Championships from the Dream Team; the match was acceptable. Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrated with The British Bulldogs and gave their thoughts in a post-match interview.
Wrestlemania III – Savage Vs. Steamboat, Hogan Vs. Andre Reaction
Wow, 93,173 fans. Thought I should mention that first. I’ll continue by giving props to the Hair Vs. Hair match between Adrian Adonis and Roddy Piper (he would be forced to retire if he lost as well). Adonis transformed from the previous year, and looked the part, while Piper had become a firm fan favourite. Easily the second best match on the card behind the obvious; a true brawl which should be remembered more.
For a long time, Hogan Vs. Andre was remembered more by WWE. I could see why, the hype behind the encounter drew the biggest crowd they’d ever seen. While the match sucked when you compare to today’s standards, the fans eat it up. The fans LOVED the match, and anyone who lived through it will tell you the big match feel was there. The iconic moment of Hogan delivering the body slam on Andre will never be forgotten; and the pop was one of the biggest in Wrestlemania history.
I love great matches. Randy Savage Vs. Steamboat set the bar on how to work an entertaining match. Steamboat has stated it was all choreographed by Macho Man in advance. So much so it became frustrating for Steamboat, who was used to improvising. But if Steamboat fought Macho Man, it was only going to anger him, so they rehearsed the spots, and the result is a match miles ahead of its time. I’m sure I don’t need to explain this one any further.
Wrestlemania IV – Hogan Promo, Savage Wins The Big One
Wrestlemania IV almost made my top three worst events in history. I’m not the biggest fan of Hogan, but as I worked through the Wrestlemania series, I found myself becoming glued to his promos; the intensity brother! I’m going to post a video of it, because you don’t see promos like it nowadays.
The biggest moment of the event (by a long way) was the ending. Despite a tournament filled with as many screwy finishes as an unchained Vince Russo card, Macho Man Randy Savage got his Wrestlemania moment by winning the vacant WWF World Championship, and celebrated by hoisting Miss Elizabeth and the championship belt in the air. Hogan was there to put him over as well. Despite a lackluster event, seeing Savage’s time in the sun made it worthwhile. Can you dig it!?
Other highlights included an AMAZING Ventura promo where he slagged Hogan off (wish I could find a video..), and Bret Hart smashing the trophy after losing out in the opening Battle Royal to Bad News Brown.
Wrestlemania V – Savage Vs. Hogan, Rude Vs. Warrior
Just a small addition, but I really enjoyed the match between Mr. Perfect and Blue Blazer (Owen Hart debut). It was only six minutes long but it was still really good. Took me by surprise.
Another surprise was the contest between Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior for the Intercontinental Championship. Rude forced Warrior to work a quality match with him, and the result was Warrior putting Rude over, as The Ravishing One got his Wrestlemania moment by winning the Intercontinental Championship. Warrior used moves you rarely saw, proving he could wrestle when a ring general kept him in check.
The build for Hogan Vs. Savage was excellent. While Hogan’s Wrestlemania promo was decent, I preferred Savage’s pre-Wrestlemania promo. Despite it not being at the event itself, I’m going to include the video anyways. The match saw Hogan work at a higher rate than usual; probably because Savage had his say. Even in defeat, Savage became a legend at Wrestlemania V, and Hogan solidified himself as “The Man” of the World Wrestling Federation by becoming the first two-time champion.
Wrestlemania VI – Canadian Fans, Warrior Vs. Hogan, Andre Turns, Roberts Promo
Yes, I’m English, and I’ve never been to Canada, but damn I love Canadian fans. Just like us Brits, they know how to get loud! And they’ll let you know if something sucked. Despite a lackluster mid-card, the fans made the event bearable.
Ted DiBiase and Jake Roberts had a good showing; I enjoyed Roberts’ promo as well. During their match, there was a random Mexican Wave for no reason at all. I don’t think it happened because the fans were bored, it felt spontaneously fun more than anything.
In Andre’s last Wrestlemania match, he and Haku lost the WWF Tag Team Championships to Demolition. After several years with The Heenan Family, the weasel got in his face, which lead to Heenan slapping Andre. Bad Idea! Andre turned on Heenan and Haku, much to the delight of the raucous Canadian fans. Such a loud pop; it was deafening! Andre left Wrestlemania as a hero for the final time.
Wrestlemania VII – Savage Vs. Warrior, Roberts Promo + Blindfold Match
Once again, Jake Roberts proved his promo skills in a short and entertaining interview. The blindfold match against Rick Martel was far more entertaining than it sounds.
Savage and Warrior fought in a retirement match, which many consider Warrior’s best match of his career. The fans were seriously in to everything, and it ended with Warrior making a comeback after five (not kidding) elbow drops.
Miss Elizabeth (sat at ringside) jumped the rail and threw Sherri out of the ring. She tried to console Savage, who kept pushing her away as he was unaware it was her .. til he turned around. A lovely moment transpired between Savage and Elizabeth, as they reunited for the last time.
Wrestlemania VIII – Savage Vs. Flair, Piper Vs. Hart, Roberts Vs. Undertaker
Three memorable matches on one PPV made Wrestlemania VIII a pleasure to watch. The hype video for Roberts and The Undertaker was a definite highlight for me. It was an important match for The Undertaker, who was becoming a fan favourite despite the gimmick.
A crowning moment for Piper and Bret Hart as they fought for the Intercontinental Championship. Piper was the face, Hart was the heel, and the feud was heated. While the match began with wrestling holds, it soon transitioned to a fight, and Piper wrestled with his emotions as he considered hitting Bret with the ring bell. After thinking better of it, Bret was able to outsmart Hot Rod and roll him up to win the Intercontinental Championship. As a huge show of respect, Piper congratulated a bloodied Bret Hart, and handed the belt to him. They walked out together as the fans applauded their efforts.
The true main event of Wrestlemania VIII saw Randy Savage challenge Ric Flair for the WWF Championship. The feud was as heated as any rivalry you will see; Flair goaded Savage by frequently mentioning Miss Elizabeth in a negative light. Initially, she didn’t escort Savage to ringside, but she came out later with dozens of executives trying to persuade her to return to the backstage area. The fans were invested, and so was I. I loved everything about it, and after eighteen minutes, Savage rolled Flair up and grabbed the tights for leverage. The stadium didn’t have a roof, but if there was one, the reaction would have blown it clean off. A bloodied Ric Flair cut an intense post-match interview; even in defeat, Flair delivered one of the most memorable promos in wrestling history.
Wrestlemania IX – Perfect Reaction, Opening Ceremony, Commentary Team
A roller coaster of an event. Firstly, seeing Jim Ross, Randy Savage, and Bobby Heeman making their way to ringside was a highlight in its self. JR provided play-by-play, Heenan worked his magic, and Savage was nothing short of hilarious; in a good way. In a moment you never hear anyone talk about, the opening ceremony saw Julius Caesar and Cleopatra riding in on an elephant! After the actors dismounted, the elephant did his trick of standing up on his hind legs. I found it refreshing to see, but I can understand why wrestling fans don’t remember it fondly.
Aside from the above, it was difficult to find positives from Wrestlemania IX. The opening match was competitive, a singles contest between Tatanka and a young Heartbreak Kid. Tatanka defeated HBK in eighteen minutes by count-out, so HBK kept the Intercontinental Championship. Other decent moments/matches included The Headshrinkers Vs. The Steiner Brothers, and Doink The Clown’s evil promo.
Also, Lex Luger and Mr. Perfect fought in a singles match, and while it was a good technical vs. power game, Luger won by pinning Perfect with his feet on the ropes. Afterwards, Luger knocked him out and left. After some time passed, Perfect revived to a loud ovation from the fans. I can’t remember any other instance of Perfect getting such a loud reaction at Wrestlemania, so I had to include it. After realizing what happened, he charged to the backstage area to confront Luger, but instead, ended up in a backstage fight with Shawn Michaels after pushing him out of the way.
Wrestlemania X – Owen Vs. Bret, HBK Vs. Razor Ladder Match
I will echo the sentiments of others and say Bret Hart Vs. Owen Hart is the best opening match in Wrestlemania history. It should have been for the WWF Championship in the main event; that’s how good it was. They had twenty minutes, and the brothers gave us a wrestling clinic. Owen showed his arrogance and threatened to leave the match on occasion; Bret kept pulling him back in to the fold. After a kayfabe injury to Bret’s knee, Owen showed newfound confidence and targeted the injury with submission holds. In the end, Bret’s attempt at a roll-up was blocked by Owen, and the previous injury allowed Owen to gain leverage and pin his brother. Owen showboated with a gob of saliva on his face, which luckily didn’t take anything away from how great the match was.
As for the ladder match .. wow, it still holds up to this day. I’ve seen far worse ladder matches since HBK and Razor worked this classic. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s the match which innovated the ladder match in the WWF, and it continues to be the template for One Vs. One ladder matches. With two awesome contests on the same show, it’s hard to argue with Wrestlemania X. The event ended positively, with Bret Hart overcoming the odds to defeat Yokozuna, and claim the WWF Championship once again. The babyfaces hoisted Bret in the air and celebrated a definite career highlight for The Hitman.
Wrestlemania XI – Lawrence Taylor Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
Wrestlemania XI was included in my personal Top 3 Worst Wrestlemania’s Ever. Really difficult to find positives from the event, but still, seeing as I like to see the good in everything, I’ll bring you one entry. I never saw this event before starting the Wrestlemania series, so I had no idea who Lawrence Taylor was, and I’m English so I can admit to not being knowledgeable of American Football. When I saw Bam Bam Vs. Taylor as the main event, I had no expectations. Overall, I went in feeling disappointed by the event up to that point, so I was hoping for anything good to happen.
And then the match started. Boom! Lawrence Taylor flew out of the corner at Bam Bam like he owed him money! He showed his wrestling ability by performing moves like clotheslines, hip tosses, and bulldogs with ease. He also delivered some stiff forearms when Bam Bam tried to make a comeback. After Bam Bam got the advantage, Taylor sold his offense. The American Footballer was wrestling a great match with Bam Bam, and I felt so relieved. After more action, which included the flying headbutt, moonsault, and an enzuigiri from Bam Bam, Taylor kicked out at two and made his comeback with more forearms. Taylor knocked Bam Bam out with a flying forearm from the second rope and won the match!
In my conclusion of the event, I was left confused. On one hand, Wrestler Vs. Football Star felt insulting, mostly because the wrestler lost, but on the other hand, the American Footballer showed his wrestling ability, and I could understand WWF (in its fight with WCW) trying to garner mainstream attention from it. It’s sad when a celebrity match beats everything else on the card, so it may appear better than it was. Still, compare Lawrence Taylor Vs. Bam Bam Bigelow to any other match of its type, and it’s hard to argue it sits at number #1. WWE doesn’t like to talk about it, probably because Taylor is known for abusing drugs, and he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old girl in 2011.
Wrestlemania XII – Hart Vs. HBK Ironman, Piper Vs. Goldust
The hype videos were really good; the explanations of feuds were well-delivered by Michael Cole. Piper and Goldust had a Hollywood Backlot Brawl which continued on throughout the show, frequently cutting in to other matches. Piper was seen in a highway chase with Goldust in the middle of the Steve Austin match. It felt like a precursor to the hardcore matches in the Attitude Era. While some may find it embarrassing and unnecessary, I happened to enjoy it.
Not much else to say about the card. The most praise goes to the final twenty minutes of the Ironman match. It was a slow burner, the first forty plus minutes dragged on, and the last twenty minutes was exceptional. The match ended 0-0, but Piper chimed in and sent it to Sudden Death. HBK ended it with Sweet Chin Music, and celebrated one of his most memorable victories as WWF Champion.
Wrestlemania 13 – Bret Vs. Austin Saves The Show
Another event I considered for the Top 3 Worst. Luckily, the event saw one match which changed the face of professional wrestling forever. Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin showed up and set the bar for future generations. I feel like it would be insulting to your intelligence to explain why it was so great. On this occasion I’m going to assume you know; Austin became a legend on this day.
Wrestlemania XIV – HBK Vs. Austin, Undertaker Vs. Kane, Sable Pops
The Attitude Era in full swing by 1998; Wrestlemania XIV is arguably one of the most important events in WWE history. I’m going to begin with mentioning Sable, because the crowd reaction was the loudest I’ve ever heard for a woman at Wrestlemania. She was smacking Goldust around like a bloke, and she was incredibly over.
The feud between The Undertaker and Kane was a Vince Russo innovation; it’s difficult to watch the hype video and not feel goosebumps. Although the match wasn’t a five-star classic, the storytelling was, and it’s fondly remembered by Attitude Era fans. Kane lost, but he didn’t lose his aura, so the match delivered in making the Big Red Machine a household name.
An important time in the Monday Night Wars with WCW, as WWF invited Mike Tyson to hype the main event between Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Tyson sided with D-X, and he always looked to be enjoying himself. If you wasn’t told beforehand, you wouldn’t be able to tell Shawn Michaels worked with a serious injury.
So while the match isn’t remembered as a wrestling clinic, it’s understandable considering it was Michael’s last match for years, and Austins neck injury limited his moveset. We all know how it ended, with HBK getting knocked out by Mike Tyson. Awesome.
Wrestlemania XV – The Rock Vs. Stone Cold, Butterbean KO Punch
Not the greatest event ever. I’ll always appreciate the Butterbean Vs. Bart Gunn boxing match for showing that a real boxer will always KO a wrestler trying to be a boxer. As for Rock Vs. Stone Cold, it was a rivalry which kept the ratings war firmly in the WWF’s corner. It was nothing more than a fight with many bumped referees and interference from Mankind and Vince McMahon. Still, it was miles more entertaining than anything else on the card.
Wrestlemania 2000 – Triangle Ladder Match, Angle Vs. Jericho Vs. Benoit
You don’t see a triple threat match for the Intercontinental and European Championships every day, so what better way than to have three of the best workers tear it up? They were new to the WWF, and wanted to make a name for themselves. Benoit and Jericho took the belts away from the loathed Olympic Gold medalist, and while Angle lost his status as a double champion, it can be seen as a step in the right direction for all their careers.
Another match ahead of its time was the Triangle Ladder match between Edge & Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and the Hardy Boyz. Like HBK and Razor, the rivalry took the gimmick of ladders and produced a match filled with carnage and excitement. Tables were introduced as well, so it’s regarded as the match to innovate the TLC concept. E & C won the match by pushing Matt Hardy off a bridged table (across two ladders) through the table below.
Wrestlemania X-Seven – Austin Vs. The Rock, TLC II, Angle Vs. Benoit
Angle and Benoit fought in a match fitting of the phrase “wrestling clinic”. It’s difficult to find two wrestlers with the chemistry, work rate, and technique, to please the wrestling purists. It was a great match, but it wasn’t the best match they ever had together. Angle played the crybaby heel, and won the match by rolling him up after a low blow. The finish took away from the previous exchanges, but it made sense to give Angle the cheap win and keep the feud going.
After the first TLC match the previous year, wrestling fans eagerly awaited TLC II with much anticipation. It was a clear improvement over the triangle ladder match from the previous year, as spots linked together better, and the excitement remained at an all-time high. It’s self-explanatory, and if isn’t, you should find the time to watch Wrestlemania X-Seven.
Another big moment on the show was during the Shane McMahon Vs. Vince McMahon street fight. In the storyline, Vince had drugged Linda and kept her in a vegetative state. Trish Stratus was in charge of pushing her around in a wheelchair, while she wasn’t snogging Vince’s face off. It was rather silly, and fans criticized the use of Linda. During the fight, Vince got the upper hand on Shane and demanded Trish wheel Linda to ringside so she could watch him beat their son.
He lifted Linda in to the ring and sat her down on a chair in the corner. As Vince threatened to strike Shane again, Linda stood up out of her chair to a HUGE pop. She walked up to Vince and kicked him in the nuts. Trish started a cat-fight with Stephanie to another HUGE pop. What was seen as a silly match garnered a huge reaction in the end. Mick Foley intervened and assisted Shane in winning the match. Once again, the fans were happy to see Vince get what he deserved.
Steve Austin Vs. The Rock was huge. The rivalry was steaming hot, and while The Rock had become a star in his own right, the fans wanted Austin to win the WWF Championship. It was a bloody battle, and luckily they managed to improve on their previous encounter at Wrestlemania. The way it ended is questionable, as Austin turned heel and formed an alliance with Mr. McMahon. Regardless of how the PPV ended, Stone Cold Steve Austin Vs. The Rock at Wrestlemania X-Seven is one of the biggest main events in history.
Wrestlemania X8 – The Rock Vs. Hollywood Hogan
The Rock and Hollywood Hogan made Wrestlemania X8 memorable. Without it, you’re left with a bunch of filler matches, and Triple H going over on Y2J after his return from injury. While Hogan was booked as the heel, and leader of the reformed New World Order, the fans became Hulkamaniacs one more time and made him the babyface; the fan reaction is unparalleled. On occasion, the match was poorly worked, but it didn’t stop the fans from loving every second.
Rocky went over on the old man, so Hogan showed the Hulkamaniacs his appreciation and respect by shaking his hand. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall rushed down to the ring to express their dislike for Hogan’s actions, and delivered a cheap shot. Rocky returned to save Hogan, and they teamed up to take out The Outsiders. Rocky encouraged Hogan to pose in the ring for the Hulkamaniacs one more time. All in all, one of the most memorable encounters in Wrestlemania history.
Wrestlemania XIX – Lesnar Vs. Angle, Austin’s Last Match, Y2J Vs. HBK
I loved the rivalry between Y2J and HBK. Jericho stated he looked up to HBK and emulated him throughout his career. He turned heel against his “hero”, and it made for a great feud which came to a head at Wrestlemania. A really good match overall, with nice pacing, and an ending fitting of Jericho’s character.
Steve Austin worked his last match against his old nemesis. The Rock had turned “Hollywood” and played the heel this time around. Rock stated how his career wasn’t complete til he defeated Austin at Wrestlemania. While it wasn’t billed as a retirement match, the rumours were rampant and it seemed inevitable it would be his last match. Like some other matches I’ve posted, it wasn’t the best, but you could feel the crowds somber tone. They knew it was the last time we would see Austin Vs. The Rock, so they wanted to sit and enjoy it. The Rock won the match, and showed his respect by giving Austin the spotlight. Austin’s body language seemed different as he posed for the fans.
Another personal highlight for me was the Mr. McMahon Vs. Hulk Hogan street fight. I would say it’s the best work I’ve ever seen from Vince. He was completely ruthless and carried the match by himself. His facial expressions, the crimson mask, and the elbow drop from the ladder through the announce table was something else. He really hated Hogan, and even after Vince lost, he still had the strength to flip off Hogan with a middle finger salute. Brutal is the key word.
Smackdown was the superior brand because of guys like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, so it seemed fitting they would fight for the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania. The two most legitimate athletes on the roster went head-to-head in a match which seems to be remembered more for the way it ended than anything else. The botched Shooting Star Press continues to be one of the most shocking moves in a Wrestlemania main event. It’s safe to say Lesnar was trying to create a defining Wrestlemania moment, but despite performing the move countless time in OVW, Lesnar botched it when it mattered most. Still, Lesnar won the match and continued his dominance of the Smackdown brand.
Wrestlemania XX – Benoit Vs. HHH Vs. HBK, Eddie Vs. Angle, Stratus Turn
One of the better built feuds involved Christian, Chris Jericho, and Trish Stratus. Christian and Y2J placed a wager on who they could “nail first”, Lita for Christian, and Trish for Jericho. The only thing was, Jericho formed feelings for Trish, and Christian became jealous. Christian tried to sabotage Jericho, but it only pushed Trish and Jericho together even more. The jealousy spilled over and Christian showed his true colours by attacking Jericho.
The feud culminated at Wrestlemania, and as Jericho looked set to win the match, Trish entered the ring to console him. Suddenly, the fans erupted as Trish slapped the taste out of Jericho’s mouth several times. Christian took advantage of the distraction to finish the match, and take his girl. Y2J was left in the ring as a loser, as Christian and Trish had a tongue war. Once again, another memorable turn by Trish Stratus at Wrestlemania.
Later in the night, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle fought in an excellent back-and-forth contest for the WWE Championship. Eddie’s popularity had soared after his win over Brock Lesnar at No Way Out, and he was seen as the underdog against the multi-time champion. Angle vowed he would defeat Eddie to become WWE Champion once again. He was the aggressor throughout, and Eddie remained calm under pressure. After a really competitive contest which saw many wrestling holds and counter holds, Eddie loosened his boot. Angle attempted the Ankle Lock, Eddie got his foot free, and a surprised Angle charged towards Eddie who jumped in to a roll-up pin, defeating him and retaining his title. Easily the biggest match of Eddie Guerrero’s life.
It’s difficult to praise the main event without “glorifying the actions of a certain someone”. Many see it as the best triple threat match in wrestling history, and it cannot be denied. At the time, you had to appreciate the effort from all three men, and so many fans were looking to the underdog, and Royal Rumble winner, to do the impossible and defeat two of the biggest names for the World Heavyweight Championship. In the end, the impossible happened, and Chris Benoit realized his lifelong dream of becoming World Heavyweight Champion in the main event of the biggest show in the world.
To close the show, Eddie Guerrero celebrated with Chris Benoit with their championship belts; it remains a polarizing image. Before the summer of 2007, it was one of the best Wrestlemania endings of all time. After the tragedy, it became difficult to acknowledge the ending without being accused of defending the actions of Chris Benoit (“glorifying a murderer etc.). The way I see it, Eddie Guerrero was there too, and his legacy should be remembered. It’s why I still regard it as one of the best moments in Wrestlemania history; in memory of Eddie Guerrero.
Wrestlemania 21 – Angle Vs. HBK, Movie Vignettes, Money In The Bank I
The event showed several spoof videos featuring wrestlers who portrayed characters from famous movie scenes. My personal favourite was Booker T and Eddie Guerrero’s Pulp Fiction spoof. WM21 also saw the introduction of the Money In The Bank ladder match, where the winner would claim a contract giving a guaranteed title shot for the World Heavyweight Championship. Edge defeated Chris Benoit, Kane, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, and Christian to become the first MITB winner. The carnage was fitting of a ladder match, and it was so successful the concept continued to be used at future Wrestlemania events.
The true main event of the show was a singles match between Shawn Michaels (who returned to action following his retirement in 1998) and Kurt Angle. It could easily pass as a main event on any wrestling PPV, so the rest of the card suffered. What I saw was two guys stealing the show to prove a point; they’re the best.
Wrestlemania 22 – Foley Vs. Edge, Mickie Vs. Trish, MITB II
RVD got his Wrestlemania moment by defeating Ric Flair, Shelton Benjamin, Finlay, Matt Hardy and Bobby Lashley to become the second Money in the Bank winner. The highlights came mostly from Ric Flair and Shelton Benjamin, as Flair was bumping off ladders, and Benjamin innovated new spots.
Mickie James Vs. Trish Stratus, in my opinion, is the best women’s match in Wrestlemania history on fan reaction alone. The feud saw Mickie James stalk Trish as her “#1 fan”, and she would go as far to dress like her, act like her, and even kiss her in a backstage segment. Despite Mickie playing the heel, the fans embraced her natural charisma and ability, so the fans got behind the psychotic Mickie over the dominant champion; much to the despair of Jim Ross, who was forced to explain why they supported her. The fans were looking for change in the division, and the fans wanted Mickie to kick her off the top spot. They heavily booed Trish’s offense, and after a botched Chick Kick, Mickie pinned her and claimed the Women’s Championship for the first time. The fans loved it, as did I.
I’ll always remember Wrestlemania 22 for the Hardcore match between Edge and Mick Foley. When you think “Hardcore” in WWE, you don’t think of anything truly extreme. But on this night, Foley and Edge took hardcore to Deathmatch extremes, and I’ll always remember the brutality. The way they cut each other, and then forced barbed wire in to those cuts; it was pretty sadistic.
The match hit its climax at the end, when Foley doused a table with lighter fluid, Lita took it from him and finished the job. Foley stood on the ring apron as Lita set the table on fire, and Edge recovered enough to spear Foley, and himself, through the flaming table. It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget.
Wrestlemania 23 – Undertaker Vs. Batista, MITB III
MITB III was a train wreck. I mean .. Jeff Hardy jumped off a ladder right through Edge who was placed on a bridged ladder on the outside. The result was Edge being taken to the backstage area by the doctors. There was so much talent in the match and they all played their parts: CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Mr. Kennedy, Jeff Hardy & Edge. In a shocking moment, Mr. Kennedy won the Money In The Bank match, giving him his fondest Wrestlemania moment.
The event was lackluster, so outside the MITB match the only decent outing was the battle between The Undertaker and Batista. I would consider it one of Batista’s best matches, he really looked like the guy who could end the streak. The importance of beating the streak was growing exponentially, and on this occasion, the World Heavyweight Championship was on the line. Either way, something big was going to happen, and the fans were looking forward to The Deadman claiming gold once again.
Wrestlemania XXIV – Flair Vs. HBK, Taker Vs. Edge, MITB IV
The fourth incarnation of Money In The Bank featured CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Jericho, Carlito, MVP, Mr. Kennedy and John Morrison. Like the first three, carnage everywhere. Except this year it was CM Punk’s crowning moment, and the fans were receptive to the idea of the ECW guy getting a title shot.
The main event was another World Heavyweight Championship title match for The Undertaker, this time against the Rated R Superstar Edge. I think the match gets overlooked because of HBK Vs. Flair, and HBK VS. Taker the following year. There was good chemistry there, and it had moments where you considered Edge a contender to break the streak. It was such an important moment for Edge, as he was defending the title in the main event of Wrestlemania, and even in defeat, I bet he remembers it as one of his greatest moments. A Wrestlemania main event which deserves to be remembered.
But while the main event ended the show on a positive note, the earlier match between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair is the most remembered from WMXXIV. A retirement match with a build lacking in common sense, Vince McMahon forced Flair to wrestle matches, and if he lost, he would retire. Flar wanted a match at Wrestlemania, but he wanted to do it against the best wrestler he could think of; so he chose a reluctant Shawn Michaels. It was really emotional for everyone, and after Sweet Chin Music and the pinfall decision, HBK broke kayfabe to thank him immediately afterwards; who could be seen crying on the mat. It was a fitting tribute to Ric Flair’s career, even if it didn’t come close to being his last wrestling match.
Wrestlemania XXV – Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker
Wow. I mean, Shawn Michaels Vs. The Undertaker. Sorry, but I shouldn’t need to explain this one, it’s fairly obvious to you all.
Wrestlemania XXVI – HBK Vs. Undertaker (Career Vs. Streak)
Again, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels tore it up, this time in the main event. Michaels was desperate for another attempt so he put his career on the line. While I considered their first match to be (slightly) better, it can still be seen as a fitting tribute to the career of Shawn Michaels. And unlike Flair, it really was HBK’s last match; and he went out in the main event of Wrestlemania.
Wrestlemania XXVII – HHH vs. Taker II
I didn’t care for the fact WWE refused to acknowledge their first encounter. Aside from a decent outing between Randy Orton and CM Punk, WMXXVII didn’t have much to offer. After seeing it for a second time, the No Holds Barred match between The Undertaker and Triple H remains the sole reason to watch the event. It was brutal, and took the streak to another level.
Wrestlemania XXVIII – HHH Vs. Taker III
As an ongoing trend, there were some good matches, like Punk Vs. Jericho, but they didn’t live up to Hell in a Cell. While the match had its downsides, like having it in a cell structure despite it not being used, HBK and Triple H emphasized the importance of The Streak, and how far The Game was willing to go. The never-ending struggle between The Undertaker’s mortality, and how far he would go too to keep The Streak alive, tortured HBK as he watched his buddy Triple H mercilessly beat the man who ended his career. HBK was upset by his own actions, as he allowed himself to intervene out of retaliation.
Triple H used a chair with no remorse. He savagely beat The Undertaker down, but yet, he continued to kick out. The disbelief sent the crowd in to a frenzy, and everyone questioned whether The Deadman could be defeated. The Undertaker recovered enough to deliver the Tombstone on Triple H, yet it wasn’t enough. Triple H tried to introduce the sledgehammer, but The Undertaker surprised him with another Tombstone and sealed another pinfall victory at Wrestlemania. As a fitting show of respect, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels assisted Triple H up the ramp, where they acknowledged the crowd, and the “end of an era”.
Wrestlemania 29 – Punk Vs. Taker
The trend of recent Wrestlemania events has seen The Undertaker’s matches take precedence over the rest of the card. On this occasion, The Undertaker fought CM Punk, who alongside Paul Heyman, had mocked the passing of his former manager Paul Bearer. The Undertaker was coming to Wrestlemania, not to fight for The Streak, but to get revenge on behalf of his friend. Despite CM Punk’s title victories and other defining moments, I consider his match against The Undertaker his greatest moment. Punk was exceptionally arrogant, and showed as little remorse as The Deadman.
Just like previous years, the match was competitive, but I felt like the crowd knew The Streak wasn’t in jeopardy. It would’ve been an injustice for The Undertaker to lose the night after Paul Bearer was inducted in to the Hall of Fame. Regardless of predictability, the match was memorable, not just for CM Punk, but for The Undertaker, as he was seen tearing up immediately afterwards. He posed in the ring one last time for the man who believed in him since day one.
Wrestlemania XXX – Bryan Vs. Triple H, Bryan Wins Title, Streak Ends (?)
The greatest underdog story in WWE history? Absolutely. The event was recent, and Daniel Bryan’s retirement took us by surprise. The opening match with Triple H is one of the best in Wrestlemania history; you may even consider it #2 behind Owen Vs. Bret. The way the story played out, after the WWE Universe forced Vince to change his plans for the event; it was done in the best way possible. Vince made a huge mistake with Batista, and instead of seeing it through, he changed it up and gave the fans what they wanted. Wrestlemania XXX was like a love letter to the fans, thanking them for continuing to believe in the company and the talent.
And here comes the most controversial entry; the streak ending. Before you get steamed with me over this, let me explain myself. The term “shocking” is overused a lot, and in many instances we say something is shocking, when it really isn’t. The Undertaker losing at Wrestlemania is possibly the most shocking moment in the history of wrestling. It was done on a global scale, and the impact was immediate. It was mainstream news. Even former wrestling fans who hadn’t tuned in for years were talking about it. The Streak was the biggest attraction of Wrestlemania, and the past few years had been dominated by it. In a way, nothing else could beat The Streak, because it had become too important.
With The Undertaker’s health at an all-time low, and the likelihood of him wrestling again becoming less every year, Vince saw an opportunity. He took a calculated risk, one which would be used to put Brock Lesnar over in the biggest way imaginable (and give him much-needed momentum), and at the same time, take The Streak away from Wrestlemania so the newer generation of talent wouldn’t need to contend with it. In a way, I see it as Vince realizing that The Streak had to end so the future could begin. I also see it as Vince taking the burden off the man himself, as it seemed no matter what shape he was in, he was always going to risk his health by returning to defend The Streak.
The match itself was hard to watch. Not as bad as Taker Vs. Giant Gonzales, Mark Henry, Big Bossman, or Mark Henry, but still, it wasn’t what the fans had grown to expect from The Undertaker. Just one year prior, he worked a great match with CM Punk, so the fans were expecting a comeback. Every time The Undertaker tried something, Lesnar cut him off. It took three F5s to finish him, and the count was a little fast. Disbelief. Sometimes the moments which draw the most emotion from the most amount of people; they are the best moments, because they are the most memorable.
Whether you were disappointed with the match or not, you cannot deny that your heart sank when the decision was announced. Either that, or you were relieved because you were tired of seeing The Undertaker put his health at risk. Either way, whether it’s considered the best, or the worst, is up to you. Did Brock Lesnar deserve to win? It’s not really a question, because no one deserved to win. The fans assumed The Streak would live forever, but then it ceased to be. As morbid as it sounds, everything has to end someday. The Streak had to end, and we’ll never forget when it did.
Wrestlemania 31 – Seth Cashes In, Rousey/Rock/Stephanie
Ending this piece with a smaller entry, as it wasn’t even a year ago when this happened. I enjoyed Ronda Rousey’s appearance, and the reaction was great. One of those rare moments when it worked. Aside from that, the event had some decent moments, like Daniel Bryan winning the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match, and Sting making his debut against Triple H. Whether the D-Generation X vs. New World Order moment worked depends on how attached you were to the Attitude Era. Not the result most were expecting, but the fact Sting was wrestling at Wrestlemania was big enough for his loyal fans.
Easily the best moment of the night was Seth Rollins cashing in Money In The Bank during the Wrestlemania main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, making it in to a Triple Threat. There was much speculation over whether he would, and when it happened, the reaction was loud! A career defining moment for Seth Rollins, and one which saw him become a WWE and United States Champion later that year. He was never defeated for the title, so his return will be glorious, and I can only imagine a warm reception as the fans welcome him back with open arms.
And that’s all folks. Sorry if I took up too much of your time. This has been one of the longest I’ve done in a while, so hopefully it didn’t drag on too much. I would like to end this by quoting the readers of the Wrestlemania series. Below are comments that caught my eye, and apologies if you didn’t make the cut, it’s nothing personal. I know you love your comments section, so it’s only fitting I end this with your opinions. As always, thanks for reading.
Wrestlemania Series Quotes!
William Heuer: “Good article. Really good. Nice little analysis of the first Wrestlemania.”
Me ☆ NEW SENPAI ☆: “Damn kyle hitting the ground running . Your gonna breakdown 30 wrestlemanias better get some bengay for those fingers.”
Moonajuana: “1989 is probably the best year of wrestling ever. Hogan turned Savage from a star to a legend.”
tell me about it: “love the way you present these Wrestlemania articles. Very entertaining.”
Cool is the Rule: “I love these articles. I would have to say that Wrestlemania 11 is the worst one of all time.”
Master_Seamonkey: “good read while on the shitter. thanks :)”
The Tooth #EWN Hardcore Champ: “Great article, Kyle.
ThE JoKeR © ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ: “Good stuff Kyle, excellent again.”
Harley Race: “Very good review of a very average Wrestlemania, Kyle daddy.”
RyDoggy: “Thanks Kyle. Your work on here is a breath of fresh air. Could you do us all a favor and teach Ravens and Miller how to write?”
Sir William Robert: “Good read. Love these articles”
yapptiestrap-senpai (EWN WHC): “Good read again Kyle thanks for all your effort.”
Avis Quinn: “I don’t applaud and enjoy your articles because everyone else does. I
applaud and enjoy them because you are a genuinely great writer and you
have this understanding of the wrestling industry and wrestling
business that I find a lot of people lack. Fantastic article.”