With WrestleMania tomorrow, 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.
5 – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
From LAST YEAR’S Best of the Undertaker WrestleMania List: As WrestleMania season approached in 2010, Michaels became obsessed with the idea of beating The Undertaker. He came close the year before and he wanted another chance. He could do it, he argued, if he had just one more shot at it. But The Undertaker refused. Michaels continued to provoke The Deadman, even costing him the World Heavyweight Championship in an Elimination Chamber match. The Undertaker only agreed to the match when Michaels agreed to put his career on the line. It would be difficult to top the match the two men had the previous year, but they managed to do it here. Michaels desperately did everything he could to get the win, but The Undertaker wouldn’t stay down. After kicking out of two Tombstone piledrivers, Michaels slapped The Undertaker in a final act of defiance, before getting hit with a third Tombstone, jumping in the air this time, to end Michaels’ career.
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
From LAST YEAR‘s World Title Match List: A match that could be considered problematic, due to the inclusion of Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and family before killing himself in 2007. But in 2004, when this match took place, Benoit was the darling of internet wrestling fans, facing two established WWE main eventers. Put in a match with Shawn Michaels and Triple H, expectations were low for Benoit to come out on top. But as the match built to its conclusion, momentum carried toward Benoit and the unthinkable became the inevitable. Benoit locked champion Triple H into his finisher, the Crippler Crossface and forced him to tap out. Benoit celebrated in the ring with his fellow unlikely champion Eddy Guerrero to close the show in what felt like a generational shift in the company.
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
Back to last year’s World Title Match List:Two of the greatest champions in the company’s storied history, facing off in their second of three WrestleMania matches in a no-disqualification war. Austin was gunning for the Rock, looking to take back the WWF Title and the champ was looking to avenge his loss to Austin at WrestleMania XV. Rock and Austin knew each other so well, they needed to use everything in their arsenal to put the other down. And when that didn’t work, they traded their finishing moves, with Rock using Austin’s Stunner and Austin hitting Rocky with a Rock Bottom. Austin was so desperate to win back his championship, he made a deal with the devil – WWF owner Vince McMahon – who interfered in the match and hit Rock with a chair to help Austin take his rival down.
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
From LAST YEAR’S Other Title Matches WrestleMania List:
For a decade, this was considered to be the greatest WrestleMania match of all time. Like everything else at the 1987 edition, it was supposed to be overshadowed by the Hulk Hogan-Andre the Giant main event (which we discussed YESTERDAY). The next day, though, it was this match I was talking about with my friends at school. Steamboat was looking for revenge against Savage after the champ put him on the shelf for weeks with a damaged larynx. What better way than to take the man’s title? Savage and Steamboat put on a wrestling clinic, the match was like two accomplished skaters working in sync. Every move flowed into the next and into the next and built to a finale that saw Steamboat roll Savage up with a small package for the win.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
Maybe it’s best that Hart-Michaels II didn’t happen, because it would have deprived us of one of the most amazing matches in WrestleMania history. Special guest referee Ken Shamrock plays his role perfectly, not disrupting the flow of the match the way Roddy Piper did at WrestleMania XI. Instead he let these two master storytellers work their craft. While Hart was already planting the seeds of his heel turn, the submission match pulled the trigger and managed to lay the groundwork for the short-term and long-term future of the WWF. It would be 13 years before Bret Hart appeared in a match at WrestleMania again, and this was a fitting swan song for Hart in this era.
That’s it! I’m passing out from lack of blood like Steve Austin in our number 1 match! What do you think? How much do you disagree? Let us know in the comments! I’ll be back sometime on Monday with a review of this year’s WrestleMania (if it ever ends…)!