With WrestleMania less than a 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.
15 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
From LAST YEAR‘s Best Opening Matches List:The Hitman was set for a WWF Title match against champion Yokozuna to close out the 1994 edition of WrestleMania, but first he had to go to battle with his younger brother, Owen. The Rocket had developed a chip on his shoulder after being in his brother’s shadow for so long and was determined to prove that he was the best Hart. The siblings meshed perfectly in the ring, and it was clear from early on that the match would be a classic. When Owen stunned his big brother with a counter to a victory roll to pin Bret’s shoulder’s down for the three-count, everyone in New York’s Madison Square Garden knew they had seen something special. In fact, this match would stand as the best opened in WrestleMania history for 20 years
14 – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
From LAST YEAR’S Best of the Undertaker WrestleMania List: The Heartbreak Kid and The Deadman had an amazing feud back in 1997-98, which included the first-ever Hell in a Cell match and Michaels injuring his back so badly in a casket match that he had to retire for four years. Since his return in 2002, though, Michaels and The Undertaker never crossed paths, until the 2009 edition of WrestleMania. The Undertaker put The Streak on the line against “Mr. WrestleMania,” and Michaels went all out to try and get the win. The match was a near work of art, marred slightly by The Undertaker diving over the top rope at Michaels, only to accidentally get dropped on his head. Michaels covered for it, though, by using it as an opportunity to get a cheap countout victory to break The Streak. The Undertaker managed to get back into the ring, though. When Michaels attempted a moonsault onto The Deadman, The Undertaker caught him and hit him with a monstrous Tombstone to get the win in the match of the night, and possibly the match of the decade.
13 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
Perhaps the most important thing to debut at WrestleMania 21 was a new concept: the Money in the Bank ladder match, which guaranteed the winner a World Title shot for up to one year. Featuring only Raw superstars, this first iteration of the match featured 6 men – four Canadians, a Libertarian and a human highlight reel. Yes, it was a spotfest, but it also had great psychology that controlled the flow of the match. Edge was the perfect choice to win this match, and it gave him the last piece of the puzzle to finally get him to the main event level that he had been hovering under for a while.
12 – Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Back to that UNDERTAKER list from last year:At the previous WrestleMania, Triple H sought to avenge his best buddy, Shawn Michaels, after losing his second straight match and his career to The Undertaker (more on that later), to no avail. This time around, Triple H challenged The Undertaker to a rematch within the confines of the Hell in a Cell cage. To stack the deck further, Michaels would serve as special referee for the match. There probably isn’t a soul alive who watched that match as it happened who didn’t think Triple H would get the win here, especially after Michaels hit The Undertaker with a superkick, followed by Triple H’s finisher, the Pedigree. But The Undertaker would kick out, and he would fight back to hit the Tombstone on Triple H. The drama in the match, billed “The End of an Era,” intensified every blow in the final half of the match and created several WrestleMania Moments in the process.
11 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
The legend of Mr. WrestleMania truly begins with this match. Less than a year after his return at SummerSlam 2002, Michaels already had a World Heavyweight Title win under his belt. But this match wasn’t about a title. It was about two of the best athletes in WWE going out and stealing the show. Michaels proves that he still has a lot left in the tank and Jericho proves that he is one of the elite workers in the company.
That’s it for the fifth part of the WrestleMania list! Come back tomorrow for the penultimate portion as I reveal my picks for the bottom half of the Top 10!