WrestleMania 30: Top ten WrestleMania matches of all time
We count down the ten greatest match-ups in WrestleMania's long history
Saturday 05 April 2014
The grandest celebration in the history of the WWE is being prepared with an all-star line-up that is set to send the fans into a frenzied state as their music hits the Mercedez-Benz Superdome. It will be a night consisting shining lights, pyrotechnics and celebrity endorsements yet the “Showcase of the Immortals” will always revolved around the wrestling matches. Daniel Bryan vs Triple H, The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar and John Cena vs Bray Wyatt are all matches that have the potential to live up to the masterpieces that we have witnessed over the last three decades. Let’s take a look into the best matches in the history of the pay-per-view from the technical grapplefests to the show stealing brawls. Even though every match in this list is a classic, each have their own distinct features that make them stand out. Here are the top ten WrestleMania matches of all time.
10. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle—WrestleMania XIX
This is one of only times in the history of the WWE where the main event is actually headlined by actual former amateur wrestlers. This is the first WrestleMania closer that was billed with two superstars using their real name with Lesnar being a former NCAA champion and Angle an Olympic gold medallist. This WWE Championship match kept even Stone Cold vs. The Rock off the main event and really brought the best out of the two gifted technical wrestlers. Angle remarkably wrestled with a broken neck while Lesnar himself would end up nearly breaking his own neck when he missed a wild shooting star press before winning with an F5. This bout highlights the abundance of pure technical wrestling during the “Ruthless Aggression” era that the fans were treated to.
9. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair—WrestleMania VIII
Macho Man won his second WWE Championship in Indianapolis as he squared off with the devious Flair in this clash of two natural villains. Here it was Savage’s turn to be in the right as Flair publicly gloated that he had romanced with Macho Man’s lady Miss Elizabeth and that he had the pictures to prove it. The hatred felt real as the two ripped into each other with Elizabeth’s pride and the title on the line. Flair did a great job of goading Savage to lose his cool but the “Dirtiest Player in the Game” ended up being too cocky. Savage took advantage of Flair mocking Elizabeth with a crafty roll up and a grab of the tights for the win. This well told story may have never happened as the main event was initially going to be billed as Hulk Hogan vs. Flair but backstage constraints caused the shift to make this remarkable bout.
8. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon—WrestleMania X
This ladder match set the standards for what all succeeding matches of its kind as the “Heart Break Kid” took on “The Bad Guy” in this battle for the Intercontinental Championship. The duo revealed the level of entertainment that ladder matches could produce as fans were left gobsmacked by the high risk manoeuvres. Michaels’ bodyguard Diesel was unable to stop Ramon from winning as three of the members of the “Kliq” combined to emphasise the heart of the “New Generation” in the WWE. Ladders would become a staple at WrestleMania for years to come in the form of TLC & Money in the Bank matches. Michaels generated his nickname as the “Showstopper” with performances such as this and went on to become a main event player.
7. The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan—WrestleMania XVIII
2002 was a time where three generations of wrestling came together to create arguably the best roster in wrestling history. John Cena, Randy Orton, Scott Hall, Ric Flair, The Undertaker and Steve Austin are just some of the names that were all actively wrestling at the same time. The Rock’s battle with Hulk Hogan emphasis this rare period in the WWE as the “Icon vs. Icon” match was the most hyped non-main event ever. The two charismatic giants’ chemistry sent electricity throughout Toronto and gave every single fan goose bumps. The crowd never thought they would see Hogan home again in the WWE and they were ecstatic at everything he did. After a series of finishers from both wrestlers, The Rock won with a final Rock Bottom to calm the excitement in the arena. The sign of mutual respect following the match will be remembered forever by the fans as the two legends shook hands and received a standing ovation.
6. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian —WrestleMania XVII
The “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” match is just as violent as it sounds, three young teams used the homeware to keep the other team down long enough so that they could reach the hanging WWE Tag Team Championships. This fast-paced match failed to have a moment to give the fans a breather with 20 minutes of non-stop action consisting of bodies flying of ladders and slamming through tables. This match truly sent a farewell to the “Attitude” era in the most likely fashion with a lavishness of violence and reckless moves that are still talked about to this day. Edge’s spear from the 20 foot ladder onto a mid-air Jeff Hardy is continuously used in video package as with Bubba Ray falling out of a ladder to ringside and plummeting through four tables. Each team went on to be highly decorated with various championships and accomplishments and it was this match that cemented their place within the industry.
5. Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
Hulk Hogan’s body slam on Andre the Giant is one of the most famous moments in WWE history as the “Hulkster” beat the 520 pounder in front of a record 93 thousand fans in attendance at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. Although it was the Intercontinental title match from this night between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat that was truly a wrestling masterpiece. The bout had everything that sports entertainment would replicate as the formula for a great match going forward. The referee got knocked out, there were near falls and there were weapon shots. Steamboat nearly had to retire when Savage hit him in the throat with the ring bell, which only added to the significance of the match up where Steamboat ended victorious.
4. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels—WrestleMania XII
This match stands as one of the greatest matches ever wrestled with two of the most gifted wresters stepping into the ring creating the perfect in-ring chemistry despite their backstage grievances. This is the first Iron Man match in WWE history and transitioned a new era where the smaller athletes were given the chance to shine over the larger wresters. The 60 minutes ended in a deadlock so was ordered to go into sudden death where HBK delivered the Sweet Chin Music twice to cover “The Hitman” for his first ever WWE Championship. There are not many that can argue that this Iron Man match was “The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.”
3. Bret Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin—WrestleMania XIII
This submission match truly passed the torch between two generations as the position of the two superstars within the company transferred as the match culminated. The infamous image of Austin’s face covered in blood as he refused to give up while locked in the Sharpshooter. Bret went in the match as the face of the company and walked out as the villain while Austin walked out as a fully-fledged face, creating the perfect “double turn”. This match can be seen as the birth of the Attitude Era as the fans cheered a protagonist in the form of a beer swigging, finger flipping ant-hero who refused to quit in a bloody state. This emphatic display enabled “The Rattlesnake” to headline the following WrestleMania and win his first WWE Championship.
2. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock—WrestleMania XVII
Fans were spoilt for choice as the two faces of the “Attitude” era built their rivalry for arguably the greatest WrestleMania of all time. The WWE universe didn’t know whether to back the man that headlined each show during Austin’s absence or the recently returned superstar that was hungry to regain his place at the top of the company. This was one of the first time where superstars repeatedly kicked out of each other’s finishers, a routine that would be replicated as the big match formula going forward. The climax saw one of the biggest twists in wrestling history as “Stone Cold” joined forces with his nemesis Vince McMahon and repeatedly attacked Rock with a steel chair to win the WWE Championship. This unexpected move caused a stir in front of Austin’s hometown crowd in Texas and was a dramatic way to end a perfect pay-per-view.
1. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels—WrestleMania XXV
The 2009 match of the year displayed an emotional battle that was full of twists and turns to tell a compelling story. Despite the aging of the decorated legends, Michaels and Undertaker put on an exciting show that many young talents could only dream of achieving. The renowned shocked look on Undertaker’s face when HBK kicked out of the Tombstone piledriver is a snapshot of the heart and passion that was on display at the spectacle. The build-up into the match was executed perfectly with the Born Again Christian of Michaels taking down the demonic phenomenon of the Undertaker in the seamless angel vs devil angle. This was not only the best match on the night but also stands out as one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time with Undertaker finally picking up the ring following a chain of near falls. The bout was so revered that the rematch earned an inarguable spot as the main event at the following WrestleMania above the WWE Championship match.
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