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Goal by Flyers in 3 playoff losses to Penguins

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on Rollie Massimino, the Eagles’ “final” roster and the courage of Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh.

Expectations are high for the Eagles and Sixers this season, but high hopes often result in huge letdowns.

With this season’s struggles and the Eagles’ 55-year championship drought seemingly defying explanation, Gordon Glantz goes back in time to search for a reason the Birds might be cursed.

Archive for the ‘Sports+’ Category

WrestleMania 34 preview

Posted by Achilles Heel On April - 5 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, WrestleMania 34 should be better than WrestleMania 33. Last year’s show was a fun show, with many memorable moments, but the potential is there for this year’s show to feature much better wrestling.

Both main events, Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship and AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship, could be tremendous. The Raw Women’s Championship match between Charlotte Flair and the undefeated Asuka could also be excellent.

The Intercontinental Championship match, with Miz defending against Seth Rollins and Finn Balor also could be outstanding. And you won’t see more action in a match than the final of the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, with Cedric Alexander meeting Mustafa Ali.

Two matches that should have tremendous heat involve the McMahon family. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon will battle Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey, who is making her much-anticipated in-ring debut. Meanwhile Shane McMahon teams up with Daniel Bryan, who is taking part in his first match in nearly three years, to face Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in what should be a fantastic match.

WrestleMania 34, which takes place in New Orleans, should be a long show. The kickoff show, which also can be streamed live and seen on WWE Network, begins at 5 (the second hour will be televised on USA Network). The main card starts at 7 p.m. and probably won’t end until after 11.

The Greek God of Wrestling strongly recommends WrestleMania 34. Unless WWE gets in its own way with clumsy booking, this is almost a “can’t miss” show.

BROCK LESNAR vs. ROMAN REIGNS

(for WWE Universal Championship)

Story: Reigns has been chasing Lesnar (left) for a long time. He wrestled Lesnar for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31, only to have former Shield teammate Seth Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank opportunity and turn the match into a triple-threat match, with Rollins pinning Reigns to capture the title. Reigns has been calling out Lesnar for being a part-time wrestler and for receiving special privileges. Lesnar responded two weeks ago by beating the heck out of a handcuffed Reigns. WWE has been doing all it can to paint Lesnar as the bad guy so that Reigns won’t be heavily booed at WrestleMania.

Analysis: Reigns has been having terrific matches with a variety of wrestlers for the past year on Raw, so there’s no reason that he shouldn’t have a terrific match with Lesnar. The animosity built up during the past month or so should add emotion to this bout. Lesnar has the edge in power, but Reigns is strong enough that Lesnar, who is rumored to be heading back to UFC, shouldn’t physically dominate the match.

Prediction: Reigns wasn’t ready to win the championship at WrestleMania 31. It felt as if he was being rammed down the fans’ throat. He’s ready now. Reigns will take a physical beating, but he should conquer The Beast and emerge from Suplex City with the WWE Universal Championship.

AJ STYLES vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA

(for WWE Universal Championship)

Story: After Nakamura won the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, he immediately made it clear that he was going to challenge Styles rather than Lesnar. Styles and Nakamura have been expressing mutual respect for each other while each man maintains that he is going to win.

Analysis: There isn’t a grudge angle in this match, but anticipation is building for what some are calling a dream match. Both are creative wrestlers. Styles is arguably WWE’s best performer during the past two years. If given the time to develop, this match should land on PhillyPhanatics.com’s list of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. With a victory by either man a realistic possibility, the intrigue and drama should be enhanced.

Prediction: The Greek God of Wrestling doesn’t like to hedge, but the outcome of this match might depend on the outcome of another match. No, not the WWE Universal Championship match. The outcome of this match could be connected to the Smackdown Women’s Championship match between Charlotte Flair and Asuka. It’s difficult to imagine two Japanese wrestlers with limited English skills holding the two major titles on Smackdown. Unless Styles needs time off for a knee injury that kept him out of action recently, Achilles Heel is going with Styles to retain his championship.

KURT ANGLE and RONDA ROUSEY vs. TRIPLE H and STEPHANIE McMAHON

Story: This story can be traced all the way back to WrestleMania 31. The Rock was involved in a verbal altercation with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rousey, who was in attendance, shocked the crowd by climbing into the ring to join The Rock. Rousey hip-tossed Triple H and locked up Stephanie’s arm. Rousey returned to WWE at the end of the Royal Rumble in January. When she officially signed her contract on Raw, general manager Kurt Angle let it slip that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon wanted revenge on Rousey since the WrestleMania 31 incident and now control her. Rousey put Triple H through a table, but Stephanie put her through a table this past Monday on Raw. Triple H has hit Angle with a pair of cheap shots in recent weeks, furthering a feud that began before Survivor Series.

Analysis: It will be interesting to see Rousey in the ring. In a way, this may be tough for Rousey because Stephanie isn’t exactly Trish Stratus in the ring. Angle and Triple H are past their prime; however, they are both smart enough to take advantage of the emotion that this match should generate. Expect Rousey to put some moves on Triple H, enabling her to get over for her toughness – while giving Stephanie opportunities to hit her while she’s distracted fighting Triple H.

Prediction: Angle and Rousey have to win, don’t they? There’s no way that Rousey should lose her debut. The only possibility for a Triple H-McMahon victory is if Jason Jordan returns to cause his “father,” Kurt Angle, to lose the match.

DANIEL BRYAN AND SHANE McMAHON vs. KEVIN OWENS and SAMI ZAYN

Story: Owens and McMahon have been feuding since last fall. Zayn took Owens’ side when he pulled him out of the way of McMahon’s leap from the top of Hell in a Cell. Since that time, Shane has been trying to make life difficult for Owens and Zayn, who cost Shane and Team Smackdown a victory against Team Raw in the main event at Survivor Series. On the other hand, Bryan has appeared sympathetic toward Owens and Zayn, who, like Bryan, put together long independent careers before finally reaching WWE. But that all changed a few weeks ago. Owens and Zayn attacked Shane, sending him to the hospital. The following week, after Bryan made the huge announcement that he has been medically cleared to compete for the first time in nearly three years, he fired Owens and Zayn, leading to a vicious attack on Bryan. The stipulation for this match is that Owens and Zayn must win in order to get their jobs back.

Analysis: This should be a hot match. If the crowd reaction on Smackdown when Bryan fought back against Owens and Zayn was an accurate indication, the crowd should be crazy for Bryan in New Orleans, where he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXX. The intensity for this match should be extreme, both because of the stipulation and the emotional buildup to this match.

Prediction: Unless Owens and Zayn are going to continue the outlaw angle, the Greek God of Wrestling can’t imagine them remaining “fired.” So how can they win? There could be some sort of miscommunication or disagreement between Bryan and McMahon, playing off their earlier disagreements. Owens and Zayn prevail.

CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs. ASUKA

(for Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Story: After winning the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, Asuka waited a month before declaring that she would challenge Smackdown women’s champion Charlotte Flair instead of Raw women’s champion Alexa Bliss. Asuka is undefeated in WWE and NXT, a span that stretches more than 2½ years (Oct. 7, 2015). Asuka is 240-0 since that time, although that number doesn’t include Asuka and Miz defeating Charlotte and Bobby Roode on Tuesday in the finals of the Mixed Tag Challenge on Facebook. Charlotte has been an amazing wrestler, helping elevate the profile of women’s wrestling with her athleticism and natural feel for the sport.

Analysis: This is an extremely interesting match. It’s not clear that their styles will mesh, but Charlotte and Asuka should figure out a way to get it done. Not knowing which wrestler will win should add to the drama and intrigue in this match.

Prediction: Asuka remains undefeated, becoming the Smackdown Women’s champion.

MIZ vs. SETH ROLLINS vs. FINN BALOR

(for Intercontinental Championship)

Story: Miz has tried to stir up trouble between Rollins and Balor, but it hasn’t worked too well. Rollins and Balor have traded pinfalls, with Rollins winning an excellent match Monday on Raw, but they have been tough competitors rather than enemies.

Analysis: This has a chance to be the best match on the show. Rollins and Balor are outstanding wrestlers, and Miz has long deserved to have his detractors disappear. Despite playing the cowardly heel, Miz has developed into a tremendous champion.

Prediction: Any of the three men could win this match. I’m going to pick Balor to win, but, in a rare moment, the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t overly confident of this pick. He’s more confident, however, in predicting that this will be an outstanding match.

RANDY ORTON vs. BOBBY ROODE vs. JINDER MAHAL vs. RUSEV

(for United States Championship)

Story: Orton and Mahal have been feuding since Mahal beat Orton for the WWE Championship, which Orton won at WrestleMania 33. By hook and by crook, Mahal found a way to hang on to the title. Roode won the United States Championship Tournament after Dolph Ziggler vacated the title, but lost the title to Orton at Fastlane. Mahal inserted himself in the Orton-Roode rivalry. Rusev was a late addition to this match, turning it from a triple threat match in a fata four-way.

Analysis: It’s unclear if Rusev was added to this match because he doesn’t have anything else to do at WrestleMania or because WWE has plans to make him champion. This should be a good match, with fans having split loyalties. The only one most fans don’t want to see win is Mahal.

Prediction: Mahal would draw pretty good heat as champion, but he hasn’t delivered championship level matches in the ring. The Greek God of Wrestling would feel bad for Orton to lose this title so quickly, but I’m picking Rusev to leave New Orleans with the gold.

UNDERTAKER vs. JOHN CENA

Story: Let me start by saying that this match isn’t official. If it’s not going to happen, though, WWE sure wasted a lot of time and energy having John Cena promote a match that isn’t going to happen. Cena has been desperately calling out the Undertaker (left) for the past several weeks. Cena has challenged Undertaker. He also has insulted him, trying to get Undertaker to take his bait. Undertaker, who seemingly retired at last year’s WrestleMania after his loss to Roman Reigns, has not responded.

Analysis: If it happens, this match will be a brawl rather than a match. Undertaker’s match with Reigns last year was far below the standard Undertaker has set at WrestleMania. Perhaps Undertaker wins so he can go out as a winner.

Prediction: The match – if it happens – either ends in an inconclusive draw, or Undertakers picks up a career-ending victory.

JIMMY and JEY USO vs. THE NEW DAY vs. THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS (LUKE HARPER and ERIC ROWAN)

(for Smackdown Tag Team Championship)

Story: The Bludgeon Brothers have been destroying everything in their path, including the Usos and New Day, since reuniting as a tag team. They interrupted their tag team title match at Fastlane, leaving both teams battered.

Analysis: There should be plenty of action in this match. Harper and Rowan will play monster heels, which isn’t a stretch for either one of them. Harper is the far superior wrestler in the ring, and he can certainly match the other participants move for move. The Usos and New Day are tremendous teams, but their job in this match is to make the Bludgeon Brothers look unbeatable.

Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers will seem unstoppable – except when double-teamed by two members of one team or a tandem consisting of members of both teams. Achilles Heel has a feeling that the Usos will retain their titles by pinning a member of the New Day, unleashing a new round of destruction by Harper and Rowan, who will be unhappy at not winning the titles.

SHEAMUS and CESARO vs. BRAUN STROMAN and ???

(for Raw Tag Team Championship)

Story: By winning the No. 1 contenders tag team battle royal all by himself, Strowman earned a title shot at WrestleMania. The caveat is that he has to pick a tag team partner.

Analysis: Strowman has not revealed his partner – if he will pick one. He could pick a rival, such as Kane. He could pick someone inconsequential, only to destroy him before the match begins because Strowman doesn’t want a partner.

Prediction: Strowman could win the Raw Tag Team Championship by himself. But how does that elevate Strowman? And what damage would it do to Cesaro and Sheamus? The Greek God of Wrestling envisions Strowman’s choice of partners somehow leading to circumstances which prevent him from winning the tag team titles.

ALEXA BLISS vs. NIA JAX

(for Raw Women’s Championship)

Story: The much-larger Jax was sort of Bliss’ bodyguard. At least she was until Bliss was caught on camera telling Mickie James about how she uses Jax. An angry Jax charged backstage, causing Bliss and James to depart as quickly as possible.

Analysis: Bliss has been able to escape every predicament in which she has found herself. It appears there’s no escape against Jax, but that’s when Bliss is at her best.

Prediction: The Greek God of Wrestling has a suspicion that, perhaps with the help of James, Bliss finds a way to escape with the title. On the other hand, WWE could send a message about bullying by having Jax squash Bliss. A wild card is having Jax win, only to have Carmella cash in her Money in the Bank championship opportunity and, with the help of Bliss and James, win the championship.

KICKOFF SHOW

CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. MUSTAFA ALI

(Finals of WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament)

Story: Alexander and Ali have earned their way into the final by defeating formidable opponents throughout this tournament.

Analysis: This match should be packed full of action. Achilles Heel hopes the fans react to the match, which is on the kickoff show and could be placed between two battle royals. The placement on the kickoff show hurt the crowd reaction to last year’s excellent cruiserweight title match between Austin Aries and Neville.

Prediction: The Greek God of Wrestling believes that Alexander will be a deserving winner of the Cruiserweight Championship – only to lose it to Ali on April 27 in Saudi Arabia. And that match won’t be on the kickoff show.

ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL

Story: With HBO’s documentary on Andre the Giant scheduled to debut April 10, Achilles Heel thought this match would have received more hype. Winning this battle royal is supposed to be a big honor, but that feeling dissipated some due to Mojo Rawley’s disappearance after winning last year’s battle royal.

Analysis: Right now this match feels like nothing special. The announced participants have sort of been thrown into the match without much fanfare. The field is pretty pedestrian as well.

Prediction: Of the 14 participants announced as I write this, Dolph Ziggler, a master at remaining in battle royals, would be the best choice to win. Having The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) win as a tag team would be an interesting choice. But the Greek God of Wrestling thinks the winner hasn’t officially been entered yet. Elias is a possibility. Another could be Mark Henry. Having Henry win this battle royal as some sort of career achievement award two nights after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame would make the match feel special. Another possibility would be having someone from NXT, such as Drew Galloway – if his biceps is sufficiently healed – make an immediate splash by winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal.

WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL

Story: This is the inaugural WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Only 13 wrestlers have been announced thus far, but the field is much better than the men’s field. One reason for the improved quality is that there aren’t as many women’s matches as men’s matches at WrestleMania.

Analysis: With more potential winners, this match should have more drama than the men’s match. Unlike the men’s match, where Achilles Heel is searching for worthy winners, there are plenty to choose from in the women’s battle royal.

Prediction: WWE can either have an established star win the battle royal or use the match to elevate a new face. The Greek God of Wrestling would choose Natalya as the winner. Becky Lynch also would be a good choice. I’m going to assume that Sasha Banks and Bayley continue their feud, preventing either one of them from winning. The other path is to use this battle royal to elevate a new wrestler. If WWE goes down that road, Achilles Heel would select Ruby Riott as the winner.

*****

WRESTLING EVERYWHERE: Because of the thoroughness of my WrestleMania 34 preview, Achilles Heel highlighted many of the other non-WWE events, most notably Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor XII on Saturday (7:30 p.m.), taking place in New Orleans during WrestleMania weekend in the previous edition of Heel Turns.

One promotion not included in the previous edition of Heel Turns is Impact Wrestling’s Impact vs. Lucha Underground on Friday (10 p.m., Impact’s Twitch channel). Impact Wrestling world champion Austin Aries teams with Fenix to face Alberto El Patron and Petagon Jr. Eddie Edwards battles Jeremiah Crane (Sami Callihan) in an I Quit match. Scott Steiners and Teddy Hart – talk about an unpredictable team! – will square off with Dave and Jake Crist.

*****

EMOTIONAL NIGHT: Last week the Greek God of Wrestling told you that one of the speeches he’s looking forward to seeing during Friday night’s WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony (8 p.m., WWE Network) is Jeff Jarrett’s. That interest was piqued this week when WWE released video of an emotional Jarrett talking about what it means to get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Achilles Heel is most looking forward to the induction of the Dudley Boyz, both because Edge and Christian, who are introducing the Dudleys, are so awesome and you never know what Bubba Ray is going to say. Mark Henry’s induction could be very emotional.

The headliner is Goldberg, who will be inducted by Paul Heyman. Other inductees, with the person introducing them in parentheses, are: Ivory (Molly Holly) and Hillbilly Jim (Jimmy Hart). Jarrius “JJ” Robertson will receive the Warrior Award, and Kid Rock will be inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

*****

NXT IN NEW ORLEANS: The NXT event on Saturday (8 p.m., WWE Network) appears to be a terrific card. The main event features Andrade “Cien” Almas defending the NXT Championship against Aleister Black.

In perhaps the most-anticipated match, Johnny Gargano will battle Tommaso Ciampa in an unsanctioned match. If Gargano wins, he is reinstated to NXT. If Ciampa wins, Gargano is banished forever. (If it’s an unsanctioned match, how can there be stipulations about reinstatement?)

There will also be a six-man ladder match to determine the first NXT North American champion, a singles title that will be a secondary title to the NXT Championship. The competitors will be Adam Cole, Ricochet, EC3 (Ethan Carter III), Velveteen Dream, Killian Dain and Lars Sullivan.

Two other title matches round out the card. Ember Moon defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler, and The Undisputed Era defend the NXT Tag Teacm Championship against both The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne after interfering in their match in the final of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Furthermore, because Bobby Fish suffered a knee injury, believed to be a torn ACL, at a house show match. Cole must defend the title alongside Undisputed Era teammate Kyle O’Reilly and take part in the ladder match for the NXT North American Championship.

*****

FULL AXXESS: To counter all of the independent wrestling cards all over New Orleans, WWE has put together some No. 1 contender tournaments for a variety of titles. All of these tournaments will take place at WrestleMania Axxess, which runs from Thursday-Sunday.

WWE will also have matches involving wrestlers from independent groups with which WWE has a friendly relationship. WWN champion Keith Lee will defend his title Thursday against NXT’s Kassius Ohno, who excelled on the independent circuit as Chris Hero. Ohno will battle WALTER on Saturday. There also will be an EVOLVE Tag Team Championship match.

There will be an eight-man tournament to earn a shot at the United Kingdom Championship held by Pete Dunne, who is an outstanding talent. Lio Rush, Drew Gulak, Mark Andrews and Buddy Murphy are among the competitors battling to get a title shot against Dunne on Sunday.

The North American No. 1 contender tournament will also take place from Thursday-Saturday, with the winner facing the first NXT North American champion, who will be crowned in a ladder match Saturday night at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Hideo Itami, Akira Tozawa are in the eight-man field – and wouldn’t it be cool if those tag team partners squared off in the final. Or perhaps Chris Dijak is finally going to get his first moment in the spotlight by winning this tournament.

There also will be an NXT Tag Team Tournament, with the winner facing the champions, whomever that might be, on Sunday. The Street Profits, former tag team champions SAnitY, TM61 and Trent Seven and Tyler Bate, who had to pull out of the Dusty Rhodes Classic due to an injury to Bate, are among the teams participating.

There also will be an NXT women’s tournament, with the winner to face Ember Moon or  Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship on Sunday. Kairi Sane, Nikkie Cross, Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae are potential winners.

Best of WrestleMania

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 4 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

WrestleMania XXXIII (I’m a traditionalist; I like the Roman numerals) was a memorable show, but did any matches from that card deserve to be on my list of the best WrestleMania matches in history?

Last year’s WrestleMania will be remembered for Undertaker seemingly retiring after his loss to Roman Reigns, but, honestly, the match itself wasn’t particularly memorable. You couldn’t ask for much more than you got from Brock Lesnar regaining the WWE Universal Championship from Goldberg, but that match was far from a masterpiece. Fans will remember Matt and Jeff Hardy returning to WWE and winning the Raw Tag Team Championship in a ladder match, as well as John Cena proposing to Nikki Bella after they defeated The Miz and Maryse, but neither match deserves to be anywhere close to honorable mention, let alone on the list of the top WrestleMania matches in history.

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, when no match from WrestleMania XXXI was deemed worth of making the list (several made honorable mention) last year, the Chris Jericho-Christian match from WrestleMania X, which had been pushed into the honorable mention category the previous year, returned to the list.

After no matches from WrestleMania XXXI made the list, one match from WrestleMania XXXII, a triple threat match for the Women’s Championship involving Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Bayley, made this list. Similarly, one match from WrestleMania XXXIII was added to the list. In a bit of a disappointment, neither the Kevin Owens-Jericho match for the United States Championship nor the “non-sanctioned match between Triple H and Seth Rollins made this list. The match that made it at No. 34 was AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon. Styles and McMahon told a terrific story, with Styles prevailing in an action-packed match.

The Styles-McMahon match might not be on the list for long, though. It’s quite possible that more than one match from WrestleMania XXXIV makes this list next year. Styles is defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. It will almost be disappointing if that “dream match” doesn’t make this list next year.

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship could also make next year’s list. Another prime candidate for this list is the grudge tag team match between the team of Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon and the team of Sami Zayn and Owens. Bryan, Zayn and Owens are terrific in the ring, and McMahon knows how to build drama in a match. There also should be a lot of emotion in the tag team match pitting Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey, making her WWE in-ring debut, against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. With Angle and Triple H only wrestling occasionally, and with Rousey making her debut and Stephanie not exactly a smooth technician, this match is unlikely to make next year’s list, but who knows? The emotional component might make this a great match.

A more likely candidate for next year’s list is Miz defending the Intercontinental Championship in a triple threat match with Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. Balor and Rollins are outstanding wrestlers, and Miz has learned how to play the role of sneaky heel to near-perfection. Charlotte Flair could also make this list for the second straight year when she defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Asuka, who is undefeated in WWE and NXT. And don’t forget about the WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament final between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali.

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 surprising if at least two matches from WrestleMania XXXIV don’t make next year’s list.

As for this year, in one man’s opinion, these are the top 34 WrestleMania matches of all-time:


(WrestleMania number and site in italics)

34. AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon (XXXIII, Orlando) This probably won’t be Styles’ only appearance on this list for very long

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

32. 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

31. 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.

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).

Embiid injured in collision with Fultz