It’s that time of year again. That time of year when the WWE puts forth its best and its brightest to put on the “Showcase of the Immortals”, the “Granddaddy of them All” – WrestleMania! This is the time of year when the WWE wraps up or begins some of its major storylines running through their programs: Monday Night Raw & SmackDown! Live. This is the show that highlights the top talent within the company as most of their major titles will be defended that night, their top WWE Superstars will compete in various matches that night, and all the glitz, glamour, and spectacle of the WWE will be on display for the WWE Universe to enjoy. And while even I, as a diehard WWE fan, have to admit that there are some matches that feel would have been better served on another event because they failed to live up to the hype, there are those certain matches that far exceed the expectations of both the WWE fans and Superstars and go on to become legends of their own, surpassing even the hype of the event itself.
Those are the matches that the WWE Universe talks about for years and years after the event as leaving an indelible mark on their memories. Those are the matches that we all continue to watch WrestleMania for, hoping to see for ourselves another legendary match unfold before our eyes. Those are the matches that we yearn for each and every year, knowing that with the amount of talent that the WWE has in its possession, they can achieve with the right amount of storytelling, athleticism, and planning. I have been privy enough to have seen every WrestleMania ever put on. From the first WrestleMania in 1985 that my uncle had on closed circuit programming to last year’s event that I watched with my family, I have never missed a WrestleMania event – and I certainly have my favorite matches that I believe are a “must see” for anyone who is a WWE or pro wrestling fan.
- “Macho King” Randy Savage (with Queen Sherri) vs The Ultimate Warrior (Retirement Match) – WrestleMania 7
- “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs The Rock – WrestleMania X8
- Kurt Angle vs Eddie Guerrero (C) (Singles Match for the WWE Championship) – WrestleMania XX
- “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania XXV
- “The Animal” Batista vs “The Viper” Randy Orton (C) vs Daniel Bryan (Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship) – WrestleMania 30
Randy “Macho Man” Savage (C) (with Miss Elizabeth) vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (with George Steele) (Singles Match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship) – WrestleMania 3
March 29, 1987 – On a personal level, this is still my favorite WrestleMania match ever. I believe it is the match that set the bar for what a great WrestleMania match should be. This is the quintessential WrestleMania match and the one I immediately mention when people ask me which one they should watch.
Ric Flair (C) (with Mr. Perfect) vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage (with Miss Elizabeth) (Singles Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship) – WrestleMania 8
April 5, 1992 – In terms of pure professional wrestling, this match at WrestleMania 8 had it all: classic in-ring storytelling with pure, old school “wrasslin’” that I had come to enjoy as I watched other promotions like the WCCW, NWA/WCW, and AWA.
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs “The Rocket” Owen Hart – WrestleMania X
March 20, 1994 – I was already in my late teens by the time this match came about and was well aware of the scripted nature of professional wrestling, but damn if this match didn’t feel intimate and personal – and real. To watch these two talented and athletic brothers brawl during the opening match of the event was one I will never forget.
Bret “Hitman” Hart (C) vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (with José Lothario) (60-Minute Iron Man Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship) – WrestleMania XII
March 31, 1996 – I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this one in Anaheim, CA as I worked my ass off all year my senior year to be able to afford these tickets, and it was all worth it. To see these two in-ring legends, the best in the WWF at the time, go one hour plus for the championship was a dream come true.
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (Submission Match with Ken Shamrock as the Special Guest Referee) – WrestleMania 13
March 23, 1997 – The WWE was just beginning its “Attitude Era” when this match took place, and the savagery and brutality displayed in this match far superseded what I expected to see in the match. And the bloody ending to the match perfectly exemplified what the WWE was soon to embark on.
The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) (C) vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) vs Edge & Christian (Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the WWF Tag Team Championships) – WrestleMania X-Seven
April 1, 2001 – This is the kind of match you would expect when you put three of the most daring, fearless, and athletic tag teams at the time in one match full of tables, ladders, and chairs – and I have yet to see a WrestleMania match as daring and audacious as this one.
The Rock (C) vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (No Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship) – WrestleMania X-Seven
April 1, 2001 – Though I absolutely hate the ending to this match because it ultimately led to nothing, this is by far the best of the three WrestleMania matches that these two legends engaged in.
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle – WrestleMania 21
April 3, 2005 – For my money, this is the most pure and athletic match I have ever seen in the WWE. To watch perhaps the two greatest pro wrestlers of all time go all-out for nearly half an hour and not once look like they were stalling for time, showing just how far they could both go, was an amazing sight to behold.
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels (Career Threatening Match) – WrestleMania 24
March 30, 2008 – In my opinion, there was no WrestleMania match more emotional than this match between one of the greatest legends in the business and a younger legend himself who looked up to him in a match that pretty much spelled the end of the illustrious in-ring career for the veteran. I’m not gonna lie, even still, today, when I watch this match, I still get a tear in my eye at the end.
“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker (No Disqualification Streak vs Career Match) – WrestleMania 26
March 28, 2010 – A lot of people will say that the previous match between these two the previous year at WrestleMania was the better match of the two, but I believe that the pure emotion and storytelling coupled with the athleticism on display on this match make it the more intimate and engaging match with so much at stake in the end.