WrestleMania 25 is just recently in the books. It wasn’t great but there were a couple of REALLY good matches. WrestleMania weekend for me always means going back and reliving some of those great matches from past events. It’s rare that this list is modified, but thanks to the Dead Man and Mr. WrestleMania this year, it was. Honorable mentions and The Top Ten are listed in order of occurrence (oldest to newest). Keep in mind that this is MY list. I’m sure there are those out there that will put some others in their top ten – I’m an old school guy which is why my list skews toward the older shows. Rock on!
- Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (WrestleMania III)
This match had Hogan defending his WWF Championship against Andre in a classic match at the Pontiac Silverdome in front of 93,173 people. It’s known as a “passing of the torch” match where Hogan slammed Andre and retained his title. A little slow for my tastes but obviously on any top list based on the sheer magnitude of the match.
- Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania VII)
Sgt. Slaughter had won the WWF championship a few months earlier from the Ultimate Warrior. This was taking place during the first Persian Gulf war and Slaughter was playing the anti-American heel to perfection. Hogan was in full “real American” mode and wins back the title in a bloody yet completely predictable finish.
- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
No title on the line – just pride. For months Owen had been bitching about how he was in the Hitman’s shadow. In the end, Owen won an incredible match – and then watched Bret win the title at the end of the show. Bummer. Rest in peace Owen.
- The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania X-Seven)
The Rock who’s playing heel at this point defends his WWF Championship against Stone Cold (playing the face). Pre-match this becomes a No Disqualification match. After each wrestler uses his opponents finisher, Vince McMahon comes to the ring, turns on The Rock and gives Austin a chair which he uses to pummel The Rock winning him the title. Another “double turn” which worked beautifully.
- Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
A straight up singles match. Once again, no title on the line – just pride and proving how damn good you can be. There were 3 more matches after this on the card but this one definitely stole the show. Angle wins an unbelievable match where both guys gave their all.
THE TOP TEN
- Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage (WrestleMania III)
Months before, Savage had attacked Steamboat crushing is larynx in the process. This is Steamboat’s first match back and not only is it a grudge match, but it’s also for the Intercontinental title which Savage had held forever. There’s a side story here with George “The Animal” Steele and Elizabeth but the reason this is a class is purely for the in-ring action. Steamboat wins with an inside cradle after an unbelievable match. Many consider this the best WrestleMania match of all time – I have a hard time disagreeing.
- Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania V)
After Macho Man won the WWF Championship at WrestleMania IV, he and Hulk Hogan teamed up to form the Mega Powers (essentially to keep Hogan in the spotlight and to set up this feud). Long story short, Savage became angry when Miss Elizabeth took care of Hogan after a beat down. This match was billed at The Mega Powers Explode with Hogan going after the title. It’s pretty typical Hogan stuff in the end but like I said before, I’m an old school guy and for me this is a thing of mastery. Seeing Hogan pose down after winning the title is second to none.
- Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VI)
Hogan has had the title since WrestleMania V at this point (see previous bullet). For the first time in history this bout would pit the WWF Intercontinental title against the WWF Championship. Also of note is this was a “friend vs. friend” match where it was about mutual respect rather than the typical “I hate you I’m going to take your title” stuff we normally get. Warrior kicks out of the Hogan leg drop and hits his finisher to win both titles and start a great era in the WWF.
- Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart (WrestleMania VIII)
This is a match for the Intercontinental title where Piper is defending against the Hitman. It’s the first and I believe only time Piper held a title in the WWF and marks the beginning of Bret Hart’s singles run where he became a dominant champion. This is just a classic wrestling match that goes back and forth. In the end, Hart reverses a sleeper hold and pins Piper while being put to sleep. There’s a great mutual respect angle at the end with Piper handing Hart the belt. Nice.
- Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania X)
This was a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Jack Tunney had stripped Shawn for not defending his title often enough and of course he didn’t think so… so there was two belts. They were both suspended above the ring and “the ladder match” was born. To this day, many people think this is the best ladder match in history. Seeing “The Bad Guy” unify the IC title was an awesome spectacle for sure.
- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XII)
This is the fabled “Iron Man Match” for the WWF Championship. It’s before the Montreal Screw Job and it’s a time where both Hart & Michaels are in their prime. The match is scheduled for an hour with the man gaining the most pin falls in that hour declared the champion. They wrestled to a draw with Michaels trapped in the Sharpshooter to end the match. In sudden death overtime, HBK hits Hart with Sweet Chin Music to begin his first title reign.
- Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WrestleMania 13)
There’s no title on the line here – just hatred. Hart & Austin had been going at it for months and their feud culminated with this match with Ken Shamrock as the special guest referee. This is a No Disqualification Submission Match rendering the Stone Cold Stunner worthless. They go back and forth beating the hell out of one another until Austin is a bloody mess and locked in the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Austin “passes out” and never does tap out but Shamrock ends the match. This match at the same time turned Austin face and Hart heel and kicked off the “Attitude” era in the WWF. The “double turn” is incredibly difficult to pull off and it was done flawlessly here.
- The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X8)
Billed as Icon Vs. Icon, this match lived up to hype – but not in the way the WWF intended. At this point Hogan has been heel ever since returning from WCW and The Rock is about the biggest baby face ever to grace the squared circle. The crowd had other ideas however and were totally behind Hogan from the beginning of the match. This was a back and forth match with each guy hitting their finishing move with their opponent kicking out to the shock of the crowd. The Rock finally put Hogan away after a couple of Rock Bottoms but then returned post-match when Hogan was being beaten up by Hall & Nash. One last Hogan posedown was in store for the crowd – I marked out so bad during this match it wasn’t even funny… totally a sign of a good match.
- Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. HHH (WrestleMania XX)
This match holds a special place in my heart because it was the main event at a WrestleMania that I ATTENDED!!! This was the first ever Triple Threat Championship Match to headline a WrestleMania card. HHH was the title holder and he’d been feuding with Shawn Michaels since their DX days. Chris Benoit won that year’s Royal Rumble to win his title shot. After an outstanding match Benoit made HHH tap out to the Crippler Crossface winning him is first World Heavyweight Championship. Looking back now it’s pretty terrible to realize that both main event winners (Benoit and Eddie Guerro) are now no longer with us. That said, I remember this match for what it was – superb storytelling amongst three outstanding talents.
- Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXV)
It’s not often that a new match makes it onto this list. This year’s 25th Anniversary show was pretty poor from top to bottom… except for this one. Shawn Michaels is known as Mr. WrestleMania and The Undertaker (along with all of his other accolades) has “The Streak”. Going into this show, he was an unprecedented 16-0 and WrestleMania events. The build up to this match was incredible with HBK getting the upper hand on Taker for a couple of weeks running. Once the match got going it was intense from the beginning. There were quite a few false finishes making me really wonder if The Undertaker was going to get it done. Even in a losing effort Shawn proved once again why he’s so damn good and Taker showed that he’s really got quite a lot left in the tank.