Alternate Reality by Vin Tastic

WrestleMania is the preeminent professional wrestling event of the year. Like the Super Bowl or March Madness, it’s often able to succeed based on the merits of its name alone. Many fans will ante up the pay-per-view fee simply because it IS WrestleMania. So since every other wrestling fan with a keyboard will be discussing it, I figured I’d jump in.

TODAY’S ISSUE: My WrestleMania Moments

As most of us will agree, few moments in the 23-year history of WWE’s “Granddaddy of Them All” live up to the mountain of hype that precedes them. In fact, anything other than an amazing match, an Earth-shattering surprise, or a truly classic moment could stand up to the expectations placed upon WrestleMania.

But there have been many fantastic WrestleMania Moments since the show debuted in 1985. Chris Benoit’s embrace with the late Eddie Guererro, Steve Austin’s first world title win, Hogan’s body slam and defeat of the icon Andre the Giant, and the magnificent Savage/Steamboat IC title match are events most any fan would consider classics, and I’d agree. Other favorite memories that come to mind when I think about WrestleMania include;

WrestleMania IV: WWF Championship Tournament. This show generally gets a bad rap, but seeing Savage survive four matches to win his first world title in the face of stacked odds and an opponent with none other than Andre the Giant in his corner was a special moment for this young (at the time) fan.

WrestleMania V: Randy Savage versus Hulk Hogan. Up until the final moments of the contest, this was a brilliantly paced, expertly performed and exciting world championship match. Savage did everything he should have needed to do in order to successfully defend his title, but of course, Hogan had to “Hulk Up”, and that was that.

WrestleMania VI: Ultimate Warrior versus Hulk Hogan. The Ultimate Challenge. Champion versus champion. Babyface against babyface at the biggest show of the year. For sheer storytelling and drama, this is a legendary moment in WWF history. These two sportz entertainers did their best to execute a good pro wrestling match, and considering the build-up and hype, their best was indeed good enough on this night in Toronto.

WrestleMania VII: Ultimate Warrior versus Randy Savage. Savage is 100 times the worker that Hogan is, so the match he was able to drag out of Warrior was far superior to Hogan’s efforts one year prior. With another dramatic build, this was a retirement match that eventually saw the loser turn face, reunite with his former love, and leave the arena far richer than the man who had won the match. Savage’s embrace with Elizabeth in the aftermath was as touching a moment as you’ll ever see in professional wrestling.

WrestleMania VIII: Bret Hart versus Rowdy Roddy Piper. A great Intercontinental Title match featuring Piper’s struggle to maintain control, a possibly accidental blade job by the Hitman, and the debut of his innovative counter to the sleeper that would come into play years later against Stone Cold Steve Austin.

WrestleMania IX: Various. I appreciate the innovation of the outdoor Caesar’s Palace theme, and I like the Luger/Hennig match. However, WWF champion Bret Hart getting screwed out of the title by a heel opponent in the storyline pales in comparison to how he got screwed in real life by Hogan, who somehow left with the belt without even being scheduled in a championship match. I guess we know who the real “Mr. Money-In-The-Bank” was. Still, we’re talking about powerful memories here, and that one certainly comes to mind.

WrestleMania X: Bret Hart versus Owen Hart. This match was the exclamation point on “smaller” performers who could actually go proving themselves far more entertaining than lumbering big men punching, kicking and choking each other all night long. Owen’s victory over his famous brother was a major moment in his career, and set the course for the next several months in the company, even as Bret regained his world title later in the same night.

WrestleMania XI: Diesel versus Shawn Michaels. HBK walked into the match not only greatly overpowered but physically outgunned, yet Diesel was the underdog; that’s how good Michaels is. They worked the big man/little man match concept to perfection, and Michaels worked his ass off for his pal Nash.

WrestleMania XII: Iron Man Match. Many wise insiders disapprove of this match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, but I absolutely loved it. The story of HBK outwrestling the great wrestler was compelling, and when Bret was forced to re-enter the ring after time had expired, I was screaming at my screen that the champ had just successfully defended his title, and that the sudden death overtime period was an outrage. These two great workers put on one Hell of a show that night.

WrestleMania XIII: Bret Hart versus Steve Austin. This is one of the best matches in one of my favorite feuds of all time, and the execution of the double-turn was a masterpiece of pro wrestling story telling. Austin’s face in agony from the Sharpshooter and covered in blood is an iconic image that will always be associated with WrestleMania.

WrestleMania XV, X-Seven and XIX: The Rock versus Steve Austin. These two giants in the business simply had that special something that allowed them to work so well with each other, and they always tore down the house together. Of special note for me is XIX, when the Rock finally got the monkey off his back and defeated the Rattlesnake on the grandest stage of them all.

WrestleMania 2000: Euro-continental Title Match. Anyone who loves good technical wrestling must have enjoyed seeing Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle tear it up in a two-falls, two-championship, triple threat match that saw Angle lose both his belts without being pinned in either decision.

WrestleMania X8: The Rock versus Hulk Hogan. This is the kind of spectacle, drama and excitement I’ve come to expect from WrestleMania. The electricity in the SkyDome was off the charts as Hogan turned face right before our eyes, even while aligned with the hated nWo and facing one of the most beloved performers of this generation. This match was what the term “main event” is all about.

WrestleMania XIX: Kurt Angle versus Brock Lesnar. Memorable because my heart was in my throat, knowing Angle’s neck was held together by masking tape and Super Glue. This match was equally memorable for Lesnar hitting his Shooting Star Press badly, and almost destroying his own neck in the process. At least they were both ok. As a staunch, MFer, I also popped for Matt Hardy’s successful defense of the Cruiserweight Title against future World Champion Rey Mysterio.

WrestleMania 21: My attendance and the first MITB. This one will always be special for me because it’s the only one I saw live in the arena, and I’d recommend that experience for any die-hard pro wrestling fan. Also, this year marked the debut of the now-annual Money In The Bank ladder match, and WrestleMania’s a better show because of it.

WrestleMania 22: Mysterio’s World Title victory. While much has been discussed about Rey Mysterio’s world title reign, his victory in the name of the late, great Eddie Guerrero was undoubtedly a feel-good moment.

I’ll have to review this year’s edition a few times before I can see which WrestleMania Moments stand out, but certainly at least one moment will define the 23rd annual show for me, just like every other year.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

p.s. – ” it’s better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it.” – Christian Slater as Clarence in True Romance

Before you go, check out our mega-sized two-part WrestleMania 23 Roundtable here (part 1) and here (part 2). Compare the staff’s picks to Steve Murray’s live coverage, and see the totals below.

IP Staff Roundtable Results for WrestleMania 23

Vinny Truncellito