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Best of WrestleMania

Posted by Eric Fisher On April 4

As the list of the best WrestleMania matches in history gets longer each year, you might think it would get easier to make the list. In reality, though, we’re adding one spot on the list after approximately 12 matches take place at WrestleMania. Last year, not one match from WrestleMania XXXIII (I’m a traditionalist; I like the Roman numerals) was added to my list of the best WrestleMania matches in history. But WrestleMania XXXIV, which featured several excellent matches is tough to keep off this list.

Last year’s WrestleMania started off so well, with three of the first four matches on the main card at least making honorable mention on this list, that it had the potential to be one of the best WrestleManias in history. But the momentum died with a bad Undertaker vs. John Cena match and the show never fully recovered.

This list is updated every year, with one match added for each year of WrestleMania’s existence. The list is subjective, so sometimes matches move up and down the list. Matches toward the bottom of the list have moved on and off the list. For example, the Chris Jericho-Christian match from WrestleMania X, which now ranks at No. 35, has been pushed into the honorable mention category and then returned to the list the following year.

Two matches from WrestleMania XXXIV found their way onto thos list. That doesn’t include Charlotte Flair handing Asuka her first loss in WWE, a match that made honorable mention. The most unlikely addition featured the in-ring debut of Ronda Rousey in a tag team match with Triple H and Kurt Angle, both of whom are already on this list, but are far past their prime, and Stephanie McMahon, who has never been accused of being a ring technician. The other match that made the list was the excellent triple threat Intercontinental Championship match between The Mix, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. It is the first appearance on the “best of” list for both Balor and Rollins, both of whom are outstanding competitors. Knocked off the list and down to honorable mention is a match between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon. Styles’ match with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania XXXIV also made honorable mention. It’s only a matter of time until Styles makes it back on this list, perhaps with this year’s Wrestlemania opponent, Randy Orton.

It would be disappointing if the main event triple threat match between Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Rousey doesn’t make this list next year. Daniel Bryan defending the WWE Championhip against Kofi Kingston could also make the list, as could Rollins challenging for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Universal Championship. Unlikely to make the list are Triple H vs. Batista and Angle’s farewell match against Baron Corbin.

 

Please keep in mind that this list is subjective. It could change from month to month, week to week or even day to day. But it would not be surprising if at least two matches from WrestleMania XXXV don’t make next year’s list.

As for this year, in one man’s opinion, these are the top 35 WrestleMania matches of all-time:


(WrestleMania number and site in italics)

35. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (X, New York) An undercard match that mixes terrific technical wrestling with wonderful storytelling

34. The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor (XXXIV, New Orleans) A fast-paced opening match in which every move has meaning

33. Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart (VIII, Indianapolis) A wonderful Intercontinental Championship match between friends, with Piper (now a good guy) fighting his bad-guy demons as well as fighting Hart

32. Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker (XXX, New Orleans) The historic match in which Lesnar ends Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak at 21 matches, stunning wrestling fans all over the world. Paul Heyman’s facial expressions and encouragement of Lesnar are classic.

31. Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon  (XXXIV, New Orleans) With 2 past-their-primes Hall of Famers, Stephanie McMahon and someone making their in-ring debut, this is an unlikely entry on the best of Wrestlemania list, but everything about this match worked. It couldn’t have been executed any better.

30. Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (XXXII, Dallas) The first women’s match to make the list, this triple threat match — with Charlotte retaining the title — was excellent

29. Hulk Hogan/Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper/Paul Orndorff (I, N.Y.) The match that launched the WrestleMania rocket ship. Without the success of this match, WrestleMania may have been a one-year venture.

28. Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior (VIILos Angeles) A terrific “retirement” match with an emotional post-match surprise

27. Edge vs. Mick Foley (XXII, Chicago) Edge helps Foley attain his “WrestleMania moment” (below) with this fantastic hardcore match

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26. Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (VIII, Indianapolis) The build-up to this WWF Championship match, with Flair implying he had a prior relationship with Savage’s girlfriend, Miss Elizabeth, was pure gold. Manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and executive assistant Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig added immensely to the story-telling, and Flair and Savage delivered in the ring.

25. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit (XVII, Houston) A match that sometimes gets overlooked because of the other great matches on the same card. A wrestling clinic.

24. Edge vs. Undertaker (XXIV, Orlando) An excellent match between two of the best. Undertaker improves his unblemished WrestleMania record to 16-0 and captures the World Heavyweight Championship.

23. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (XVIII, Toronto) The emotion in this match is absolutely incredible. The crowd makes this match, but Hogan and Rock deserve tons of credit for adjusting to the crowd’s reaction and turning this into a memorable match.

22. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (XXX, New Orleans) A tremendous opening match to WrestleMania XXX, and it needed to be in order to follow an entertaining segment featuring three icons — The Rock, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin — in the ring together. Bryan and Triple H are excellent. Stephanie McMahon’s reactions ringside enhance the match.

21. Money In the Bank Ladder Match (XXI, Los Angeles) This ranks at the top of the MITB WrestleMania matches because, as the first one, it was so innovative

20. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior (VI, Toronto) An exciting face vs. face WWF Championship match in which Hogan passes the torch to the Warrior

19. The Rock vs. Steve Austin (XVII, Houston) A terrific WWF Championship match featuring a surprising ending. This is the best of the Austin-Rock WrestleMania encounters, all of which were very good.

18. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (XIX, Seattle) An often-overlooked match because no title was on the line and it is on the same card as Angle vs. Lesnar and Steve Austin vs. The Rock (which turns out to be Austin’s final match)

17. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (XIX, Seattle) Two former NCAA wrestling champions battle it out in this tremendous WWE Championship match. Angle is an Olympic gold medalist. Lesnar later won the Ultimate Fighting heavyweight championship.

16. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H (XXN.Y.This WWE Championship match may have ranked higher except the feel-good moment of seeing Benoit finally win the world title is spoiled by the knowledge that Benoit kills himself and his family a few years later.

15. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (XXIV, Orlando) Flair’s retirement match (left). An incredibly emotional match that might bring a tear to your eye.

14. Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.) Punk and Undertaker put on a dramatic match that convinced fans Punk could win, causing them to pop for many of the near-falls before Undertaker improved his WrestleMania record to 21-0

13. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (XII, Anaheim) What do you do with two of the best wrestlers of all-time? Give them an hour to entertain the fans on your biggest show of the year. An excellent iron man match between two real-life rivals for the WWF Championship.

12. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (X, N.Y.) Michaels and Ramon brought ladder matches to the masses with this dramatic confrontation

11. Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVII, Atlanta) The Undertaker takes a brutal beating from HHH, but still pulls out the victory to extend his WrestleMania winning streak to 19-0

10. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (X, N.Y.) The Hart brothers put on a wrestling clinic in the opening match of WrestleMania X. Perfect execution, with younger brother Owen pulling off the upset of Bret, who won the world title later that night.

9. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (XXX, New Orleans) Daniel Bryan captures the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Randy Orton in a triple threat match that hits all the right notes as the ultimate underdog overcomes incredible odds to win the coveted championship

8. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (IIIPontiacMich.) The match that arguably sold the most tickets in wrestling history. Not a technical masterpiece, but the magnitude of this WWF Championship match earns it a top-10 ranking.

7. Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVIII, Miami) The Undertaker survives Hell in a Cell, extending his WrestleMania winning streak to 20-0. Shawn Michaels does a tremendous job as guest referee. Seriously.

6. TLC (XVII, Houston) Edge and Christian, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and D-Von and Bubba Ray Dudley brought the house down with this innovative Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Tag Team Championship. (You thought TLC stood for Tender Loving Care?)

5. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (XXVI, GlendaleAz.) Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak vs. Michaels’ career (Michaels loses and retires)

4. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (XXI, Los Angeles) A tremendous example of story-telling in the ring. An amazing match.

3. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (XXV, Houston) An outstanding match featuring two of the all-time best. Fantastic series of big moves, near-falls toward the end.

2. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (IIIPontiacMich.) An all-time classic for the Intercontinental title that still holds up after all these years.

1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (XIII, Chicago) An outstanding brawl featuring a perfectly executed double heel/face (bad guy/good guy) turn. By the end of this match, the fans are vociferously booing Hart and wildly cheering for Austin. Hart and Austin use their actions to tell a story, which is what professional wrestling is all about.

Honorable mention: 20-man Battle Royal featuring NFL players (II, Chicago); the British Bulldogs vs. Greg Valentine/Brutus Beefcake (II, Chicago); Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (V, Atlantic City); Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel (XI, Hartford); Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (XIV, Boston); Triangle Ladder Match (XVI, Anaheim); Undertaker vs. HHH (XVII, Houston); Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (XX, N.Y.); Randy Orton/Batista/Ric Flair vs. The Rock/Mick Foley (XX, N.Y.); Randy Orton vs. Undertaker (XXI, Los Angeles); John Cena vs. HHH (XXII, Chicago); Undertaker vs. Batista (XXIII, Pontiac, Mich.), Edge vs. Chris Jericho (XXVI, Glendale, Ariz.); Randy Orton vs. C.M Punk (XXVII, Atlanta); Rock vs. John Cena (XXVIII, Miami); C.M. Punk vs. Chris Jericho (XXVIII, Miami); John Cena vs. The Rock (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.); Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (XXIX, East Rutherford, N.J.); Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (XXXI, Santa Clara); Triple H vs. Sting (XXXI, Santa Clara); Intercontinental Championship ladder match (XXXI, Santa Clara); Tyson Kidd and Cesaro vs. Big E and Kofi Kingston vs. Los Matadores vs. Usos (XXXI, Santa Clara); Chris Jericho vs. A.J. Styles (XXXII, Dallas); Intercontinental Championship ladder match (XXXII, Dallas); Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (XXXII, Dallas); Austin Aries vs. Neville (XXXIII, Orlando); AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (XXXIII, Orlando); AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (XXXIV, New Orleans);Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (XXXIV, New Orleans) 

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