With WrestleMania one week away, it’s time to go back and revisit the cream of the crop. Since next week’s show is the 35th annual event, I’ll spend the week listing my favorite 35 matches in the show’s history.
** NOTE – The lists being published this week were compiled from the larger list of WrestleMania match rankings done for Scott’s Blog of Doom and Place To Be Nation. Check out those sites for more great WrestleMania content. All rankings are, of course, just my opinion and are not meant to be a definitive list **
Every day this week will feature another list of 5 standout matches. The complete list of 35 favorite matches draws from 23 different WrestleMania events over the years. Let’s get started with our first 5 big matches.
35 – Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XXX)
From LAST YEAR’S Best of the Undertaker WrestleMania List: The result of this match alone merits its inclusion on the list, as it’s not a particularly good match, hampered by The Undertaker seemingly getting knocked for a loop early on and fighting while in a daze against one of the scariest dudes to ever fight in a WWE ring. At this point, The Undertaker had beaten everyone at WrestleMania and, regardless of what The Beast Incarnate threw at him, no one expected Lesnar to be the man to break The Streak. And even as the referee’s hand came down for the three count after Lesnar hit The Deadman with the third F-5, I expected The Undertaker to kick out. But he didn’t. Sure, all streaks need to come to an end, but this was still shocking.
34 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
From LAST YEAR’S Other Title Matches WrestleMania List: Piper was defending the title here, his first ever in the WWF, after winning it from The Mountie at the 1992 Royal Rumble. Hart was looking to regain the title he lost to The Mountie just days before the Rumble. Bobby Heenan, on commentary, spent the match wondering which man would snap and break the rules first, and the story played out in the ring as well. Piper, the more storied rulebreaker, mostly sided with his better angels in keeping the match clean against Hart, though he nearly gave in to temptation when the referee went down and Piper considered walloping Hart with the ring bell. Instead, he threw the bell down and went for a sleeperhold, which Hart countered into a pin to regain the title. Great storytelling in an engaging match.
33 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania)
From LAST YEAR’S Tag Team Turmoil WrestleMania List: The main event of the first WrestleMania in 1985 was pure spectacle. Former boxing champion and greatest of all time Muhammad Ali was the special enforcer outside the ring. Former Yankees manager Billy Martin did the ring introductions and Liberace served as the timekeeper. No one had seen anything like this before, and the throng of photographers around the ring at the same time made the match feel like something special and crowded the ringside area whenever anyone went outside. It was a crazy scene, man, and the New York City crowd ate it all up. The match wasn’t an all-time classic in terms of action, but the energy and excitement within Madison Square Garden made it something special. When Hogan pinned Orndorff to get the win, the place went nuts.
32 – Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)
This WrestleMania was a pretty big one for Seth Rollins, as he would go on to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and turn the main event into a Triple Threat for the Universal Title (SPOILER: More on that later in the week). But first, he needed to get past the Viper. When motivated, and especially with a good dance partner, Orton can put on a great match and he was clearly on his game for WrestleMania 31. The ending of the match really added to the proceedings, as Orton countered a curb stomp into an elevated RKO – OUTTA NOWHERE – that earned Orton another WrestleMania win and one of the better matches in a pretty good year for the show.
31 – Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)
Back to that UNDERTAKER list from last year: The first of three WrestleMania matches with Triple H, this match took place during The Undertaker’s “American Bad Ass” phase, when he was a biker instead of an undead zombie who buried people. The match, in storyline at least, was thrown together because neither man had an obvious opponent for the big event. The brawl took to the floor and into the crowd at the Astrodome, and bodies flew all over the place before The Undertaker hit Triple H with his Last Ride powerbomb to get the win. This match began to redefine what a WrestleMania match from The Undertaker could be and was a precursor to a series of classic matches.
Alright, that’s all for the opening day of WRESTLEMANIA WEEK! There was a lot of copying and pasting here… I’m pretty tired, I tell ya. Come back tomorrow when we look at numbers 30 through 26!