Based on my recent article about the Wrestlemania 35 weekend, I got a DM on Twitter that asked, basically, as I thought the main event of the show was one of the better ones, what are the ones I liked? He also went on to say his favourite Wrestlemania main event was Steve Austin v Shawn Michaels with Mike Tyson as guest referee. So I guess I know what he wants on the list…
Well, I’ve had a couple of weeks to think on this, and have eventually decided to write the list. Why so long? Well, because my favourite main event is one it took me some time to go back and watch… and I am glad I did. I can separate it now. And… well, you’ll see when I get there. Plus, main event will be the final match on the card. Which is unfortunate because some WMs had co-main-event slots, but the last match is always the main, and that is what I shall focus on (otherwise Flair v Savage from Wrestlemania VIII would be here).
Now, I am going to try and be generally positive in my articles here on Pulse, as much as I can. There is enough snarkiness in the world without me adding to it. That may be difficult when I look back at older shows that were awful, but I will try. And for that reason, I am not going to list all the Wrestlemania main events from worst to best. Just the best will do.
Final caveat – this is an opinion piece. This is my opinion, and your mileage may well and truly vary. That is fine. Opinions are like arseholes – we all have one. And, in that regard, I would be glad to have people comment, agreeing, disagreeing, putting forth their own point of view, whatever. Not a big one for abuse, but if that’s your bag… meh. So, let’s get some sort of conversation going!
For what it’s worth, I have seen all 35 Wrestlemanias. Yep – 35 of these bad boys. And the first 4 I saw pretty much at the same time as they were broadcast in the States. We got them only a month or so later here. What this indicates is that (a) I am old, and (b) I have no life. But also that I come at this from a position of enjoying professional wrestling, for all its flaws.
On with the list!
To start with, two that almost made the cut… but not quite:
Wrestlemania XXVIII: John Cena v The Rock
This was better than it had any right to be. The Rock was coming off several years of Hollywood and John Cena was… well, John Cena. Fun, without any extraneous crap, but too long.
Wrestlemania XIV: WWF Championship: Steve Austin v Shawn Michaels (c)
Mike Tyson as ring enforcer, a Steve Austin on the ascendant, Shawn Michaels in full on D-X mode – this was 1990s wrestling in a nutshell. However, Tyson was an embarrassment, both guys were hampered by injury and it felt like it never quite got into top gear. Still, Austin winning was a cool moment for all involved.
And with that out of the way – my top 5!
Wrestlemania XIX: WWE Championship: Kurt Angle (c) v Brock Lesnar
This match could well have been higher up the list, but that ending… yikes! These guys had hardly been in pro wrestling very long, and yet they managed to deliver one of the best main events. This match is a showcase of technical wrestling. I would encourage any up-and-comer to watch this match and take note of how the basics should be done – crisply, cleanly, tight and smoothly. And also, how to throw and take a suplex. (Unless you want to be a no-selling spot-monkey… but I digress.) The match is back and forth, showcasing both men’s strengths. They even make rest-holds look good. But then the ending. Brock goes up top and tries a shooting star press… he doesn’t get enough hip lift into his rotation and comes down on his freakin’ head. The ref looks like he’s about to have kittens. I’m guessing that was supposed to be the finish, but Angle improvises, covers for 2, then Brock hits an F-5 for the win and the title after about 20 minutes. Scary as all hell, and his celebration looks like he’s in la-la land, and that ending is why this is number 5 and not number 2 or 3.
Lesnar with the gorilla press
German to the top turnbuckle
Wrestlemania: Rowdy Roddy Piper & Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff (with Cowboy Bob Orton) v Hulk Hogan & Mr T (with Superfly Jimmy Snuka)
This is probably way too much on the guilty pleasure category to be comfortable, but this was a fine way to cap off the first Wrestlemania and it set the template for the pop culture icon professional wrestling was to become. Mr T was better than anyone could have hoped for, Piper was awesome (still love that bagpipe entrance), and the whole thing just had that big time feel about it. Look, technically it was not the greatest match ever, but it was fun, it still sends shivers up my spine, and it is a match I can watch, even now, 35 years later. There’s not a real lot of what we would call wrestling involved (especially compared to what JCP/NWA – later WCW – was giving us at the time), but I do not care. This is cool. Heels had a lot of control, then, after around fifteen minutes, Orton comes off the top rope, but hits Orndorff with the cast, which allows the faces to get the pin. This would lead to Orndorff’s face turn… and then heel turn because… wrestling.
T has Piper
All 4 go at it
T hiptosses Orndorff
Orton jumps… and the end is nigh
Wrestlemania 35: WE Raw Women’s Championship & WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship, Winner Takes All Triple Threat: Becky Lynch v Charlotte Flair (Smackdown champ) v Ronda Rousey (Raw champ)
Yes, I’ve written about this before. I’m half-inclined to cut and paste, but instead I’ll say go here and read my review of it. What makes this match so good, though, when compared to others? The cleanness of the moves, the selling, the intensity, and the fact it really did feel like a main event. This could so easily have fallen into “female freak show” territory, but it did not even come close because these three women seemed to actually care about putting on the very best match they could. Apart from the awkward table bump at the end, you would be hard-pressed to find a flaw in the match. Very, very good, and it has set quite a high benchmark for future women’s matches. Not only that, but it has set a decent mark for Wrestlemania main events. And, more than that, Lynch’s win after 20-odd minutes was such a cool feel-good moment.
Lynch meets wall
Rousey hits 2 at once
Said it before: Ouch!
Lynch hits 2 at once
Flair, meet table; table, meet Flair
Wrestlemania VI: Title for Title: The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental champion) v Hulk Hogan (World Heavyweight champion)
This could so have been a train wreck. Neither man were great technical wrestlers, but… apparently Pat Patterson laid the match out and played it to the strengths of both men. An unprecedented face v face, title v title match. Again, I’ve written about this match before and would encourage you to go there and have a read of it. The fact of the matter is, while it’s not my favourite Warrior match, it is certainly close to one of my favourite Hogan matches. And it says something about the way Hogan really stepped it up on the big stage in that he is the only wrestler to be in two of these top 5 matches. It is also one of the better Jesse/Gorilla commentary jobs. The ending with Warrior getting the pin to an explosion of the crowd that has to be heard to be believed and then Hogan handing him the WWF title belt – one of the greatest endings ever. Such a great match and a truly worthy Wrestlemania main event.
Test of strength
Slam on Hogan
Sportsmanship, to add to the greatness
A great sight…
Wrestlemania XX: World Heavyweight Championship: Shawn Michaels v Chris Benoit v Triple H (c)
Look, this is the reason why I took so long deciding whether to write this or not. After writing about Benoit I received a lot of feedback and have decided that I need to be true to myself. What Benoit did was terrible, but in the ring the guy was marvellous. And Shawn Michaels is no slouch either (if we look at a top 7, he joins Hogan with 2 appearances in the list), and HHH could pull it out when he had to. In fact, I would go so far as to say this is one of the finest WWF/WWE matches ever. The saves pout of nowhere, the double teams, the triple mix-ups – it is as flawless as it is possible for a match to be. And that ending… that it would always be the way to remember Benoit, with he and Eddie Guerrero, two champions rejected by WCW for being too small, in the ring together. I am just going to tell myself that this Chris Benoit was different from the brain-mushed psycho that is his unfortunate and tragic legacy.
Moonsault done to perfection
Nice 2nd rope suplex
And through the announce table we go
And this is how I wish I could remember things…
If we count to 2 that just missed, the Wrestlemanias are: 1, 6, 14, 19, 20, 28, & 35. That’s a fairly decent mix of eras, actually. Something for everyone. Anyway, like I said at the start, feel free to discuss, tear me a new one, whatever. Lists like this are objective, and one like this never more so. At the very least, I hope you enjoyed it.
Tags: Becky Lynch, Brock Lesnar, charlotte flair, Chris Benoit, Cowboy Bob Orton, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Main Event, Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff, Mr. T, Ronda Rousey, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, The Rock, The Ultimate Warrior, Triple H, wrestlemania, wrestlemania 1, Wrestlemania 35, Wrestlemania VI, Wrestlemania XIV, Wrestlemania XIX, wrestlemania xx, WrestleMania XXVIII, WWE, WWF