With less than 2 weeks until WrestleMania 29, it’s time to get a little bit nostalgic about our favorite WrestleMania moments. There have been 279 matches spread over the last 28 WrestleManias, and let’s be honest; there have been some real duds. We explored the dregs last week, and so, to get you guys a little more pumped up for another incarnation of “Wrestling’s SuperBowl”, here are, in my humble opinion, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, and simply said, the best WrestleMania matches ever.
Honorable Mention: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – WWF Championship – WM 3
Not a spectacular match by any means, but you cannot deny its importance. The anticipation of Hogan vs. Andre floored the Pontiac Silverdome with over 90,000 fans and in my opinion, confirmed pay-per-view as a real thing. Hogan became an international celebrity as Andre passed the torch of the business to Hulkamania when he did what no one thought possible, bodyslamming the Giant; One of the most enduring moments in wrestling history.
#10: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock – No Disqualification for the WWE Championship – WM17
These 2 have one of the best rivalries in the history of the WWE. As expected, the crowd was decidedly behind Austin. The two fought all over the arena, hitting each other with anything they could find. The crowd swelled as the pair spilled each other’s blood everywhere. As the Rock went for the pin, Vince McMahon interrupted him and after Rocky chased him away, Austin took advantage of the distraction and delivered several chair shots to win his 5th WWE Championship.
#9: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels – Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship – WM12
I hate the Iron Man match, and you know why? 2 guys going nonstop for an hour is just a ridiculous concept. “The Excellence of Execution” and “Mr. WrestleMania” both at the height of their careers, proved me wrong. There were no long spells of headlocks and lame holds while they caught their breath and rested. Just an hour….oh wait….over an hour of some of the best wrestling you’ll ever see. A great way for Shawn to claim his first WWF Championship.
#8: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title – WM10
Prior to March 20th, 1994, almost no one had ever heard of a Ladder Match. Ask anyone and they will still tell you this is one of the best they ever saw. A stunned crowd in the arena and at home watched as these 2 men left everything in the ring on their way to easily the best match of the night. Razor Ramon would retain the Intercontinental belt, but had his best match I can remember. For HBK, it was just another day at the office.
#7: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match – WM 13
This match was the culmination of a long and heated feud between these 2 stars. Austin, arguably the top heel in the company would be put in a match that heavily favored Hart and his Sharpshooter. A brutal and bloody match followed, and when Bret finally locked in his finisher, Austin would not submit. Stone Cold passed out without giving in, and while he lost the match, his gutsy performance elevated him to the very top of the business. I loved this match more for the great match psychology that literally swapped them in the minds of fans as heel and face.
#6: Kurt Angle vs. “The Crippler” Chris Benoit – WM17
If you want to see mat wrestling at its finest, if you are a wrestling purist, you love this match. I think these 2 men worked so well together it was scary. There is a 4 minute stretch in this 14 minute masterpiece where rolling suplex after rolling suplex mesh seamlessly one after another. On any other night, this would’ve been match of the night, but still, the second best match at the best WrestleMania ever.
#5: “Y2J” Chris Jericho vs. “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels – WM19
No belt on the line, just pride. Chris Jericho against the man he patterned his style after. 22 minutes of the best action you’ll ever see. These 2 men simply crushed it. And then remember, 4 more matches had to follow this one, one of which featured Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon, yikes! When Jericho fell to “Sweet Chin Music”, the crowd roared in appreciation. When they hugged after, they cheered in joy. And when Jericho kneed HBK in the man zone after that hug cemented this as a truly great WrestleMania moment.
#4: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage – Intercontinental Title – WM 3
A great ongoing feud leading into the 3rd edition of WrestleMania, Savage would defend his prized Intercontinental Belt against the Dragon. And, on a show that the main event featured maybe the most anticipated match ever, these two men stole the show. Possibly the greatest match in Savage’s career, it is undoubtedly the Dragon’s best during his run in the WWF/WWE. Outside interference by George “The Animal” Steele would cost Savage his Title.
#3: Kurt Angle vs. “Y2J” Chris Jericho vs. “The Crippler” Chris Benoit – 2 Falls Match for the European and Intercontinental Titles – WM16
Anytime Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho or Kurt Angle is in a match, you’re likely to witness an instant classic. Put all 3 of them in the ring together, an instant classic is guaranteed. A very unique Triple Threat Match which had 2 different Titles on the line in 2 separate pinfall decisions. The first fall decided the Intercontinental Championship and the second fall would decide the European Championship.
Benoit would utilize the diving headbutt and pin Chris Jericho to win the Intercontinental Championship. The action continued for fall number 2 and after a wild series of near falls, Jericho would get the advantage and hit the Lion Sault for the second pin on Benoit and win the European Championship. Kurt Angle walked in with both championships and lost both championships without even being pinned once.
#2: Edge & Christian vs. The Dudleys vs. The Hardys – Tables, Ladders, & Chairs – WM 17
This is one of my favorite matches ever. These 6 guys took what was created by Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon and turned it on its ear. At WrestleMania 16, the same 3 tag teams had a magnificent ladder match, but adding tables and chairs to it sent it over the top. Edge’s spear off the ladder into Jeff Hardy, dangling in mid-air, is the single most visually stunning move in the history of tag team wrestling. Edge and Christian would leave the Astrodome as World Tag Team Champs.
#1: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker – WM25
Take 2 of the biggest legends in the business, and let them loose at the 25th WrestleMania. This match was the longest on the card, lasting over 30 minutes, but no one even realized it. It had everything, drama, psychology, great ring work, and unrivaled starpower. From the moment it started, The Phenom and Mr. WrestleMania had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Named match of the year in 2009, Triple H has often lamented that both he and John Cena had to watch from backstage and wonder how either man could top this one, simple, they couldn’t. I think it’s the best WrestleMania match to date, and without a doubt, it’s the strongest match without a Title or stipulation involved, a true classic.
Whether you agree on my list or not, I hope you will agree these are some true classics, and man does Shawn Michaels appear on this list a lot. Well they don’t call him “Mr. WrestleMania” for nothing. In fact, he has 2-3 other matches that warrant consideration here. But I thought about this pretty hard, and I am pretty happy with the list, hopefully you are as well, keep your shoulders of the mat.
As a bonus, for your viewing pleasure, is Shawn Michaels versus Undertaker #1, in its entirety … you’re welcome.