This years WrestleMania has failed to excite me. But it does has me reminiscing. So, without beating around the bush(and dwelling on how much this WrestleMania could suck), I present to you my 10 favorite WrestleMania moments.
Honorable Mentions: WM 17-Shane O’Mac goes coast-to-coast on Vince, WM 4-Savage pins DiBiase to win the Heavyweight Championship Tournament, WM 22 Edge spears Mick Foley through the flaming table, WM 12-Shawn Michales beats Bret Hart for his first Heavyweight Championship, WM 10-Razor beats Michaels in the WWFs first* Ladder Match.
10. WrestleMania 20-Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero both win gold
Benoit and Guerrero were two of my favorite WCW wrestlers back in the day. When they jumped ship to the WWE as part of the Radicalz, I fully committed to watching Raw over Nitro every week. To see those two make it to the top of the WWF, in the same night, was particularly memorable for me. While Eddie’s win wasn’t the most memorable match, aside from the whole boot thing, Benoit beating HHH and Shawn Michaels in the Triple Threat main event was something special. I will never forget the image of Benoit and Guerrero together in the ring, confetti falling, with each holding a World Title. That is how I will always chose to remember those two men.
9. WrestleMania 17-Edge, Christian, the Hardyz and the Dudleyz nearly kill each other over and over again
I am usually not a fan of spot-fests, but this match the exception to my usual preferences. Every spot was bigger than the last, and I couldn’t get enough. Jeff Hardy’s swanton, on the outside, off of the gigantic ladder, onto 2 guys who weren’t even involved in the match was brutal(especially for poor little Spike, who took the brunt of it). Lita eating a huge 3D was crazy. Edge’s spear off of the ladder on Jeff as he hung from the titles is still my favorite spear ever, and I hate that move. And then Bubba and Matt going from battling on top of a ladder in the middle of the ring, to crashing through stacked tables outside the ring was something I never thought I’d see. I thought they had to be seriously injured. What these men(and woman) did in that match has never been equaled. We will never see another match like that in the WWE, ever.
8. WrestleMania 14-Tyson turns on DX
The match wasn’t great, but the story was. Steve Austin against Vince was always entertaining. Add in Mr. WrestleMania and the badest man on the planet and what more could you ask for? Tyson taking the side of DX against Austin had the whole audience waiting to see if Tyson and Austin would go at it in the middle of the ring. Tyson counting 1-2-3 for Austin against Michaels was one of the biggest swerves I could remember. I was a huge Austin and Tyson fan at the time, and was conflicted heading into the match. Tyson flipping on DX had me marking out big time. Tyson knocking out HBK after the match was the icing on the cake for me.
7. WrestleMania 13-Austin passes out(and wins my eternal affection)
That fact that Austin agreed to a submission match against Bret Hart won him some respect points from me. I mean Austin’s idea of submission wrestling is punching someone in the face until they give up. But the beating he took at the hands of Hart was as unexpected as it was brutal. I always liked Bret Hart more as a heel than a face, and his unrelenting assault on Austin was a great example of why. When Bret finally locked in the Sharp Shooter on the bloody Austin, I thought for sure he would tap, but he never did. Bret won the match, but Austin won the hearts of the fans. Austin proved that night that he really was the toughest SOB in the WWF.
6. WrestleMania 18-Hollywood becomes Hulk once again.
Much like #8 on my list, the match between Hollywood Hogan and the Rock by itself was nothing to write home about(no Hogan match ever was). It was the spectacle of a once in a lifetime encounter many fans thought could never happen that helped make this one of the most memorable moments in Mania history. The crowd was electric all night with anticipation. The atmosphere was incredible once these two icons stood toe to toe in the middle of the ring. But the moment for me was Hogan “Hulking up” for the first time in I can’t remember how long. The look on the Rock’s face when Hogan wagged his finger at him was priceless. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the Rock won the match because Hogan was the past and Rock the present and future, but the little kid in me secretly wanted Hulk to find a way to win one last time.
5. WrestleMania 28-Hell in a Cell-Undertaker v HHH w/ Shawn Michaels as ref was the match I thought would end the Streak
I though going into this match that the Streak was over and the Undertaker was going to retire after the match. I didn’t think there was any way he could beat HHH in a cell with Michaels as the ref. But the match, and even the result, paled in comparison to the story being told in the ring. There is no doubt in my mind that Michaels made this match what it was. He stole the show one last time at WrestleMania, and he wasn’t even competing in the match. Everything about this match was entertaining and dramatic, the way a big time match should be. Michaels and HHH mastered the art of in-ring storytelling that night. I almost wish all 3 never stepped in a ring again after that night. That would have been a perfect ending for all of them.
4. WrestleMania 26-Taker retires Michaels
Do you see a pattern here? They don’t call Shawn Michaels Mr. WrestleMania for nothing. This was the first time I thought for sure the Streak was over. There was no way Michaels was going to lose a retirement match on the grandest stage of them all. Once again, Michaels’ ability to tell a story in the ring is what did it for me. I will always remember actually feeling sad watching Michaels use Taker’s legs to claw his way to his feet, giving him the cutthroat gesture, and slapping him in the face. It was at that moment that I knew the greatest in-ring performer I had ever seen would never wrestle again.
3. WrestleMania 30-21-1
Most people never thought it would happen, and those that did, didn’t think it would be at WM 30. The minority that thought the Undertaker’s streak would eventually end, thought it would be at the hands of a young, up and coming Superstar that could use the rub of beating Taker at Mania to get to the main event level. No one thought that the Streak would be ended by a part time veteran wrestler, who didn’t seem to have a long term future with the company. Brock Lesner pinning Taker in the middle of the ring was the most shocking and unexpected thing I have ever seen in a WWE ring. It is moments like that that keep me watching wrestling after all these years. Just when I think I am getting too old for this shit, something truly unexpected happens, and I am sitting on my couch, marking out like I did when I was 10 years old. And the look on the face of that one guy sitting ringside(you know who I’m talking about) is priceless.
2. WrestleMania 6-Warrior beats Hogan
My feelings towards Hulk Hogan were much like a lot of fans’ feelings towards John Cena now. I loved Hogan as a kid, but by the time WrestleMania 6 was rolling around, I thought I was too old for Hulk Hogan(I was almost 12, after all). Only little kids liked him, and I was older and wiser, and way into the cooler wrestlers, like the Ultimate Warrior. I wanted Warrior to win soooooo bad. And I thought he would too, right up until Hogan started “Hulking up”. At that point I knew it was over. I was furious, and I made my feelings known to everyone in the room(courtesy of a very un-12-year-old-like tantrum). I was so distraught that I almost didn’t seen Warrior roll out from under Hogan’s big leg drop. When Warrior got the win I was ecstatic. It is those childhood memories of pure joy that everyone should cherish.
1. WrestleMania 3-Steamboat and Savage steal the show
This is the greatest match I have ever seen. I thought my judgment might be clouded because, even though I have watched this match dozens of times, I was 9 years old when this match happened. So I went back and watched it again yesterday for the first time in a long time. And guess what? This is still the greatest match I have ever seen. It’s not too long, it’s not too short. The action was back and forth, and virtually non stop. The few rest holds there were didn’t seem like rest holds. That backdrop that Savage took over the top is still one of the most impressive bumps I have ever seen. He was way up there. The storyline took months to develop, and even the interference from George the Animal Steel seemed to fit perfectly within the context of the match. The surprise finish(small package by Steamboat) was the perfect way to end the perfect match.
So ends my trip down memory lane. Did I leave off your favorite? Feel free to enlighten me in the comments. But be gentile, I bruise like a peach.
*-This was not actually WWFs first Ladder Match, a fact I learned not too long ago.
Tags: Falls Count Anywhere, WrestleMania 31