The WWE continues to travel the road to Wrestlemania , which takes place on April 1st 2012. The event has been gaining a lot of mainstream media attention, promoting the appearance of Hollywood action star The Rock. In honor of the 28th annual Wrestlemania event, I thought it would be fun to make a list celebrating the 28 greatest Wrestlemania matches of all time.
28) Steiner Brothers v.s. Headshrinkers
Though the match between The Steiner Brothers and Headshrinkers was not the marquee tag team bout for Wrestlemania 9, it easily took the victory on that night. Scott Steiner took and incredible fall to the outside that nearly broke his neck. He literally flew from the center of the ring to the concrete floor onto his head. It's cringe worthy. Watch for Rick Steiner's body press reversal on one of the Headshrinkers. Incredible.
27) Bret Hart v.s. Vince McMahon
This match will never be considered a mat classic. In fact, I was hesitant to include this match on the list. However, nobody can deny the storyline between Vince McMahon and Bret Hart was too intense and real not to acknowledge After all, the "Montreal Screwjob" was one of the biggest incidents in the history of professional wrestling. Given Bret Hart's health condition, the action was somewhat dull and lengthy. But it also gave closure to many fans, and wrestlers, who still carried the weight of the "Montreal Screwjob" on their shoulders.
26) Tatanka v.s. Shawn Michaels
Easily one of the most underrated Wrestlemania matches of all-time. This would be the beginning of the Shawn Michaels trend of putting on the greatest wrestling bouts at the big event. Tatanka, to his credit, played an awesome babyface , bouncing and bumping the "Heartbreak Kid" around the ring.
25) Owen Hart v.s. Bret Hart
The dueling brothers first did battle at Wrestlemania 10 in New York. Owen Hart was just beginning to come into his own as the spoiled little brat, while Bret Hart maintained as the older and honorable brother. The two put on a wrestling clinic, that March night in Madison Square Garden. The match was a reminder that not every match has to be about titles or giants. Sometimes, the wrestling stands on its own.
24) Kurt Angle v.s. Chris Benoit
The match between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit at Wrestlemania 17 was a much anticipated bout. Both men were masters in pro wrestling but also were trained significantly in amateur wrestling. Of course, Angle was a bit more skilled in amateur wrestling, as he was an Olympic Gold Medalist. Regardless, this bout lived up to the hype. Both men went in to the match to prove they were the better technical wrestler. Angle versus Benoit at Wrestlemania 17 is equal to Steamboat versus Savage from 15 years earlier.
23) Hulk Hogan v.s. Vince McMahon
You would expect a match between an aging 50-something pro wrestler and his stiff untrained millionaire boss to be a complete disaster. Much to the surprise of fans and critics alike, the street fight between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan was very entertaining. Both men bled like stuck pigs. It also featured the owner of the WWE, Vince McMahon, climbing a ladder and jumping through a ringside table. The bout also featured a great cameo appearance by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. This match surpassed expectations.
22) Macho Man Randy Savage v.s. Ric Flair
"Macho Man" Randy Savage and "Nature Boy" Ric Flair always had a good chemistry. And this is none more apparent than at their Wrestlemania eight encounter. Though they were the first of two main events at the big show, the match easily superseded the Hulk Hogan versus Sid Justice stiff-as-a-board bout later in the evening. Savage won his second WWE Championship with a schoolboy pin.
21) Shawn Michaels v.s. Kurt Angle
Two of the most impressive athletes ever to step into the ring finally collided at Wrestlemania 21. This was the first time the two athletes crossed paths, and it was highly anticipated amongst fans. Unfortunately, this anticipation also worked against the two wrestlers. Expectations were so high for this match, that no matter what the two did, it would not have been enough. The match was fantastic but below expectation.
20) Eddie Guerrero v.s. Kurt Angle
Eddie Guerrero was on top of the world at Wrestlemania 20. The fan favorite had just won the Heavyweight Championship from Brock Lesnar, and now was defending the gold against wrestling machine Kurt Angle. Guerrero came from a wrestling family, and grew up in a wrestling ring. This helped Guerrero keep Angle at bay. Guerrero and Angle exhausted their arsenal on one another, but it was Eddie who got his arm raised in victory at the end of the night.
19) Macho King Randy Savage v.s. Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior was never known for his wrestling technique. But Randy Savage was. And Savage took it on himself to load the Ultimate Warrior onto his shoulders at Wrestlemania seven and carry him through a delightfully energetic and dramatic match. Warrior won the retirement match between the two superstars, but Savage was the true winner. His after match reunion and celebration with Miss Elizabeth is considered one of the all time great Wrestlemania moments.
18) The Undertaker v.s. Ric Flair
A bloody street fight between the "Nature Boy" and The Undertaker was a highlight from Wrestlemania 18. Undertaker was at a place in his career where he was having more good matches than bad. He lost some weight from the previous years, and was no longer confined by the "Dead Man" gimmick. Flair was in the twilight of his career, but was able to keep up with 'Taker. Flair did what he did best, bleed and lose.
17) Edge v.s. Mick Foley
Mick Foley returned to the ring for a special hardcore match against the "Rated-R Superstar" Edge at Wrestlemania 22. The hardcore match meant that there was no disqualification, no count-outs and no rules. This came in handy for Edge. In one of the most incredible visuals in the history of Wrestlemania, Edge jumped through the second rope and speared Mick Foley. The two wrestlers then fell through a ringside table that Foley had just set on fire. Fire! It was a scary moment, but one that paid off for Edge.
16) Chris Benoit v.s. Shawn Michaels v.s. Triple H
Triple Threat matches are known for being notoriously difficult to navigate. Unlike a tag team match, a triple threat provides a unique problem. There is always going to be an odd man out. But Chris Benoit, Triple H and Shawn Michaels was able to turn a potentially unfavorable situation into a very pleasing and entertaining main event. This match will never make it onto an official WWE "greatest matches" list due to Benoit's involvement. But the match remains a true gem among Wrestlemania matches.
15) Brock Lesnar v.s. Kurt Angle
When the 2000 NCAA wrestling champion Brock Lesnar made his debut for the WWE, fans immediately begged to see Lesnar versus Kurt Angle. Both men had intense and successful amateur backgrounds, but also excelled in the world of pro wrestling. They met face to face at Wrestlemania 19. The match was everything you would expect It featured great amateur action, high impact power moves and suplexes galore. The match often gets overshadowed because of the near career-ending botch by Brock Lesnar at the end of the bout. Lesnar went for a shooting star press, a top rope back flip maneuver. Unfortunately, Lesnar botched the move and landed directly on his head. Lesnar still won the bout, but who knows if he remembers it.
14) Tag Team TLC Match
The WWE introduced a special gimmick match in the late 90s called a "TLC match." TLC is an acronym for "tables, ladders and chairs." At Wrestlemania 16, three top WWE tag teams went head to head to head in a TLC match for the Tag Team Championship. Those competitors were the suicidal Hardy Boyz, former ECW Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boys, and Edge and Christian. The highlights of this bout is too many to write about. If you are into high flying death defying wrestling action, I recommend searching this match out.
13) Shawn Michaels v.s. Razor Ramon
The first ladder match in the history of Wrestlemania took place at Wrestlemania 10 when Shawn Michaels challenged Razor Ramon . The match was for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Once again, it was Shawn Michaels who stole the show. Though considered tame by todays stuntman wrestling standards, the falls and bumps that Michaels put his body through took the crowds breathe away. The match helped usher in the "Attitude Era."
12) Bret Hart v.s. Rowdy Roddy Piper
The charismatic Scotsman Roddy Piper never seemed to match up with a great Wrestlemania opponent. Despite being a marquee player, he was always saddled with mid card rivals like celebrity boxer Mr.T or Bad News Brown. But in 1992, the streak ended when Piper scored a match with "Hitman" Bret Hart. The intense battle between two popular good guys ultimately boiled over into an intense brawl. The bloody match took the cake as the best match as Wrestlemania 8.
11) Hulk Hogan v.s. Macho Man Randy Savage
Hulk Hogan admitted in an interview on "The Voice" that he made more money with Randy Savage than with any other wrestler. Their "Mega-Powers Explode" feud from 1989 made both superstars a lot of dough. And for Hogan, Savage carried him through the some of the best matches he has ever had. That includes their Wrestlemania five encounter.
10) Steve Austin v.s. The Rock
"Stone Cold" and The Rock carried their bitter feud through three Wrestlemania events. However, my favorite of their series took place at Wrestlemania 19 at Safeco Field in Seattle. These two dynamic personalities always had incredible chemistry, but this match was bittersweet. Fans worldwide were aware that, due to a serious neck injury, this was going to be Steve Austin's last match for a long time. Maybe that is what made this an extra special bout.
9) Hulk Hogan v.s. Ultimate Warrior
This was the biggest decision a grade school kid could make in 1990. Were you a "Little Warrior" or a "Hulkamaniac"? You certainly couldn't be both. It was the Hatfields and the McCoys. The WWE's very own civil war. The match exceeded expectations, but it was the crowd reaction and intense belief in the moment that makes this one of Wrestlemania's greatest matches.
8) Shawn Michaels v.s. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho looked up to Shawn Michaels when he started his wrestling career. It was Jericho's goal to become like Shawn Michaels. His admiration turned into obsession, and at Wrestlemania 19 the two like-minded individuals settled their conflict in the middle of the ring. These two workers are so similar, this was as close to seeing a Shawn Michaels versus Shawn Michaels bout as we can get. These two superstars meshed well, and their in-ring chemistry delivered top notch wrestling action. It's arguably the best wrestling match from the entire Wrestlemania 19 supercard .
7) The Undertaker v.s. Randy Orton
Randy Orton challenged the streak of The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 21. At the time, Orton was called the "Legend Killer," and his ultimate goal was to end the career of The Undertaker. Despite losing the match to the veteran Undertaker, Orton gained a lot from this match. The youngster proved he could handle the stress of a big match occasion. This was the match that proved Orton to be a headliner for years to come.
6) Macho Man Randy Savage v.s. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Often cited as the best "wrestling" match of the early Wrestlemanias. And that would be a hard point to argue. The two athletes were ahead of their time. The wrestling was top notch, with both competitors trading near pinfall attempts. The near win is a convoluted formula often used today, but at Wrestlemania three it was very innovative and did not become common for years to come.
5) Bret Hart v.s. Stone Cold Steve Austin
The submission match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin is largely considered the only good match at Wrestlemania 13. The brutal bout literally saved the show from disaster. This match produced the famous "double-turn," in which good guy Bret Hart turned evil because he did not let go of the sharpshooter, and bad guy Steve Austin becomes a babyface because he never gave up. It was picture perfect storytelling.
4) The Rock v.s. Hulk Hogan
One of Hulk Hogan's greatest late career matches, and made even better by the monstrous crowd reaction. Hogan had just returned to WWE as a heel after almost ten years away from the company that built him. The nostalgia factor was running high, and fans went bananas for the arrival of their childhood hero. Not many can claim to have gotten cheered over The Rock , but Hogan is amongst the few. This match is worth watching based on crowd reaction alone.
3) Shawn Michaels v.s. Ric Flair
The epic Shawn Michaels battle with Ric Flair may be the most perfect example of how to tell a story through wrestling action. Everything about this match was powerful and dramatic. Michaels played the lifelong Ric Flair fan, who Flair challenged because he wanted to prove he still had what it takes to hang. But in the end, the fan Michaels, out of complete love for his idol, put him out to pasture with a super kick. For new wrestlers, this match is an absolute must-see. Incredible.
2) The Undertaker v.s. Shawn Michaels
Wrestlemania 26 will be remembered as the night the "Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels retired from a full-time wrestling career. This was the second match at Wrestlemania between these two star-studded mega superstars. However, this match was a step ahead of their previous encounter, which was a massive success as well. It is always refreshing to see a match between two veterans and watch them as they stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. As a fan, you get to fall in love with your favorite wrestlers all over again.
1) Hulk Hogan v.s. Andre the Giant
We are 25 years removed from Wrestlemania 3, and yet this epic main event remains "the one." This bout is the pinnacle of Wrestlemania. It's the kind of match every wrestler should aspire to be a part of. It was not a technical classic by any stretch of the imagination. It didn't have to be. The people were there to see their new beloved hero conquers the old guard. It was the passing of the torch to a new generation. Not only does this match define an era, but it also birthed the movement of sports entertainment.
Wrestlemania 28 is on track to being one of the biggest and most celebrated events of all time. The main event between The Rock and John Cena is being viewed as one of the last great dream matches in pro wrestling today. Expect Wrestlemania 28 to be a tremendous wrestling show, with glitz and glamor galore. And do not be surprised to see a few of the Wrestlemania 28 matches to make this list next year.
Wrestlemania is right around the corner!!! I look forward to seeing some people from ONTD :3