Well, we are just a few days from Wrestlemania XXIX and we’ve reached the end of another Road to Wrestlemania Countdown. So, here is the finale. I want you to know that these rankings do not necessarily reflect my personal opinion, but rather what the numbers show. The intangible section was done to keep these events in perspective, as I did not want a show like Mania 13 overshadowing Mania III just because of a five-star match on an otherwise lousy card with fewer matches. The business rankings were compiled based on the average numbers from various internet sources. The performance was taken straight from last year’s column series conclusion.
Doctor's Orders: The Road to Wrestlemania Rankings Finale
By The Doc
Apr 3, 2013 - 9:01:11 AM
I want to thank the readers for all their comments and shares. As it has been in the last two years, it has been a pleasure discussing all things Wrestlemania with you in the lead up to Sunday’s show. I hope that you enjoy it if you watch it and that you are not too disappointed if it ends up being great when you don’t. Personally, I think it will deliver as it usually does. I also want to thank the Snowman for the awesome column signature. Last year’s was great, but this year’s was incredible.
As always, I enjoyed writing this and thank you for reading it. Until next year!
Official Individual Rankings (Performance, Intangible, Financial)
28. Wrestlemania IX
Business: #25 / Performance: #27 / Intangible: #24
This should come as no surprise to anyone. It has long been amongst the candidates for the worst PPV of all-time, but the data backs it up. The competition for the worst Wrestlemania was close, so I will place the blame for the first Mania that I ever watched live being dead last solely on the shrinking shoulders of Hulk Hogan circa 1993. Without that impromptu main-event, Mania IX would have undoubtedly ranked higher.
27. Wrestlemania XI
Business: #27 / Performance: #19 / Intangible: #27
Shawn Michaels and Bam Bam Bigelow saved this show. If not for their matches with Diesel and LT skewing the performance data, then Mania XI would have ended up at #28. That was a horrible time for the WWE, though. I don’t suspect that they would have any druthers about seeing their “hometown” Showcase in such a low ranking position. I imagine Vince and Co. have pushed that year into their collective subconscious.
26. Wrestlemania XV
Business: #19 / Performance: #23 / Intangible: #28
There was no more disappointing Wrestlemania in history than XV because the roster was so chock full of acts that were over with the fanbase that each and every match got a reaction. Unfortunately, the hallmark booking of the era doomed the event. The Rock vs. Stone Cold was a memorable main-event, but it was not epic like it could and should have been. The WWE got everything right but the execution of the Showcase, itself.
Business: #22 / Performance: #26 / Intangible: #20
Records are meant to be broken, but there is no denying the success of the original Wrestlemania. It was what inspired the craziness that we now see on a yearly basis. I’ve often sat back, when watching something from Mania 1 for one of these columns, and tried to gain historical perspective by pondering what I would be doing with my spare time if it were not for the concept of a professional wrestling Super Bowl. Lord only knows…
24. Wrestlemania 13
Business: #28 / Performance: #15 / Intangible: #23
If it were not for Bret and Stone Cold – just a single match – then Mania 13 might have ended up at the bottom of the barrel. It was such a great match on a card with so few matches that it wound up skewing the performance data in its favor and earning a mark above last in the intangible rankings. Nothing could stop it from bombing at the box office, as it was simply the low point in WWE financial history. For those of you upset about this year’s “RematchMania” – arguably the greatest match ever was the rematch of a rematch of a rematch.
23. Wrestlemania 2
Business: #12 / Performance: #28 / Intangible: #26
A solid financial number served it well, as its performance and intangible rankings were the lowest of the low. Mania 2 survived on, but was also hurt by, the three venues, as it upped its attendance enough to jump far higher in the business list than most would’ve thought possible, but it also killed the intangible rating (which was, admittedly, very subjective; though I doubt the majority would disagree with my assessment).
22. Wrestlemania VII
Business: #23 / Performance: #22 / Intangible: #19
I don’t think that this ranking does Mania VII justice. Though it was not an excellent edition of the “Granddaddy,” it was an underrated one, in my opinion. I have long thought that there were too many matches, such is the reason why the several good matches (and one utterly outstanding match in Savage vs. Warrior) got overshadowed by the not so good work. I was not a fan of the exploitation of the war, however, and the business ranking pretty much reflects the general public agreement with my stance.
21. Wrestlemania XII
Business: #26 / Performance: #14 / Intangible: #21
A few of these Manias hinged on the star rating of one match. Such has often been presumed to have been the case with Mania XII. The HBK vs. Bret Hart “Ironman” match was rated (****1/4) by yours truly. Yet, Taker vs. Diesel was a damn fine big man match with a good story and better than usual psychological exploits from Kevin Nash. Subsequently, the performance ranking for a show with just a few matches was heavily weighted by not one, but two favorable ratings. Without that #14, Mania XII sinks far lower.
20. Wrestlemania 2000
Business: #16 / Performance: #20 / Intangible: #18
My least favorite Wrestlemania, to this point, was Mania 2000. As much as I love the first unofficial TLC, there is not another redeeming quality. I’m contemplating doing something different for Mania next year that doesn’t involve looking back at all the Manias, allowing me to skip over such filth as Mania 2000, which was horrifically disappointing sans for that one outstanding ladder match.
19. Wrestlemania X
Business: #24 / Performance: #18 / Intangible: #12
The period between 1994 and 1997 was bad for WWE business and the Wrestlemanias of the New Generation suffered accordingly. Mania X, by my recollection, was a favorite and highly ranked edition of the Show of Shows ten years ago when we were gearing up for the #20. The financials are what really hurt it the most, thought its lackluster card outside of the two matches that I have ranked in my personal top 10 didn’t do it any favors.
18. Wrestlemania XX
Business: #18 / Performance: #12 / Intangible: #22
I have felt like one of the few people defending the WWE’s decision to take Mania XXX out of MSG and move it to a football stadium. Part of my reasoning is that WM30, if it had been at MSG, would end up being sold largely on nostalgia, ala Mania X and XX. Well, look where nostalgia got those events…back-to-back at #18 and #19, respectively. Each produced an iconic match (or two), but there was something missing (namely, an extra 50,000 people).
17. Wrestlemania VIII
Business: #20 / Performance: #17 / Intangible: #15
In just a few graphs, we will cite a certain Mania’s longevity in the top half of the rankings as probably short-lived. Part of the reason for such a statement rests on the shoulders of events like Mania 8, which was highly ranked ten years ago but did not have the chops to stick around. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper and Savage vs. Flair were great matches that have stood the test of time, but the event that hosted those matches didn’t do strong enough business and didn’t bring enough to the table intangibly.
16. Wrestlemania IV
Business: #13 / Performance: #21 / Intangible: #14
Though it did not rank highly in performance, Mania IV did stand up against the rest in the other two avenues. I was quite pleased with its final ranking. I didn’t think it was bottom ten, nor did I think that it was top ten, so middle of the road reflects well on what remains one of my favorite Manias to pull out of the box and pop into the DVD player at random times over the years.
15. Wrestlemania VI
Business: #8 / Performance: #24 / Intangible: #11
Mania VI was a lot like Mania V, in that it did very well intangibly and financially, but crapped the bed on the performance ranking due to making its card so much about the main-event. I understand not wanting to have your biggest match outshined – and this was something fresh on the WWE’s mind with not being far removed from Mania III – but I’ve long been a proponent of having undercard matches that motivate your main-event guys to step up and do something even better.
14. Wrestlemania V
Business: #10 / Performance: #25 / Intangible: #8
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage was not even held in a large venue, but still managed to maintain a top 10 ranking in the financial section. Though its performance rating stunk because the entire card was basically built around that match, I gave it the intangible necessary to help bring the event into proper historical perspective. Mania V was important and it deserves its place near the top, even to this day.
13. Wrestlemania XXVII
Business: #5 / Performance: #12 / Intangible: #25
The Rock deserves much of the credit for the business end of making Mania 27 a success; the same can be said for Taker vs. Triple H on the performance side (though Edge’s final match and Orton vs. Punk also deserve some shine). Some may argue that the matches were not up to Mania standards, but I’ve never agreed with that. Intangibly is where the event suffered.
12. Wrestlemania 22
Business: #15 / Performance: #10 / Intangible: #10
The expectation that Mania 22 can stay in the top 15 for long is probably unrealistic. Of all the Manias of the last decade, it reminds me most of the original Manias in that it was held in a small venue, did not have a largely thought to be classic match, and did not leave a huge lasting impression that most can agree upon. So, as much as I enjoyed Mania 22, I believe that when we revisit this list in 5 years, it’ll rank a lot lower.
11. Wrestlemania 23
Business: #2 / Performance: #11 / Intangible: #17
I’m afraid it was my own subjectivity that hurt Mania 23’s ranking. It did such a smashing business number and held its own in the performance category, but my intangible rating prevented it from reaching the top 10. I do feel OK about that, though. From the perspective of what it brought to the table historically, I just don’t think it holds a candle to the best of the best. It was a solid Mania, certainly worth the money spent watching it, but I won’t often go out of my way to view it again.
10. Wrestlemania XXVI
Business: #11 / Performance: #8 / Intangible: #9
There may not be a more balanced ranking across the board. History should be kind to it, in my opinion. As Batista and John Cena are distanced from their retirements, people will look back on their match fondly. Combined with HBK’s final match, Bret’s return (on the surface), the first big match for Sheamus (if he continues his upward arc), and the work done by Jericho and Edge, the fanbase will recognize the substance and the flash.
9. Wrestlemania XIV
Business: #17 / Performance: #8 / Intangible: #3
Once upon a time, I had this event ranked third on the all-time list due to its historical significance and its solidly unspectacular overall card. I’m glad to see that it has managed to stay in the top 10. I helped that along with an outstanding intangible ranking, but I thought it was extremely justified given Mike Tyson’s excellent role. He did more for pro-wrestling than I think most of my younger readers realize.
8. Wrestlemania X-8
Business: #14 / Performance: #6 / Intangible: #7
#8 for the 18th version of Mania, to me, is a fair spot. My review of Rock vs. Hogan is so glowing that it gave the event a considerable boost compared to a lot of other respected reviewers (have I earned that title, yet?). Your thoughts may differ depending on your view of that one match. That was the barometer, essentially. There were a lot of solid matches, but Rock vs. Hogan being 3 stars or lower vs. 4 stars or higher makes a big difference to its performance rating.
7. 25th Anniversary of Wrestlemania
Business: #7 / Performance: #3 / Intangible: #16
The surprising performance ranking undoubtedly blew a lot of the readers’ minds. It is what it is. Though historically frowned upon, the event had a lot of good matches and one legendary, iconic match, allowing it trump a lot of the middle of the road shows that did not benefit from a 5-star match. Its business numbers cannot be argued. It might have done even better had it not been for a fairly lackluster card leading to a blasé intangible rank.
6. Wrestlemania XIX
Business: #21 / Performance: #1 / Intangible: #4
A better buyrate away from the top spot, only Manias III and XXVIII have multiple-category rankings inside of the top 5. Unfortunately, it was an event that came at a time when the WWE was transitioning from a period of being popular back to its usual place on the mainstream lexicon of relevant, but not exactly cool. Imagine if it had been held in an arena; then its business rank would’ve been even lower and it would have dropped. Interesting stats for Mania XIX…
5. Wrestlemania XXIV
Business: #4 / Performance: #4 / Intangible: #14
This was my favorite Wrestlemania. I sat in the crowd with my dad, watching my favorite of all-time (HBK) and his favorite of all-time (Flair) duke it out on the grand stage. There was a record-breaking crowd, a huge buyrate, several great matches, and three of my personal top guys experiencing one of their greatest career moments (Edge in the main-event, Orton retaining the WWE Championship, and Michaels doing his thing to the tune of one of the most pleasant surprises in wrestling history).
4. Wrestlemania III
Business: #3 / Performance: #16 / Intangible: #1
I think it says a lot about Mania III for it to be sitting in the top five after twenty-eight, going on twenty-nine other editions. The only category that hurt it was the performance side. Perhaps one day I can come up with a way to properly rate matches from the WWE of the 80s to match up with other eras, but the problem is that I grew up watching the NWA, the matches of which rate favorably up against the matches of the last twenty years. Unfortunately, Mania III may always suffer in that regard.
3. Wrestlemania 21
Business: #9 / Performance: #5 / Intangible: #5
I would imagine that this is as surprising to most people as it was to me once I crunched the numbers. I am a fan of the event, but a better than expected match rating average was what put it over the edge. Intangibly and business-wise, it’s hard to argue with its success. The only area that came into question was the workrate, but the better matches skewed the data in its favor and pushed it to the third best of all-time.
2. Wrestlemania X-Seven
Business: #6 / Performance: #7 / Intangible: #2
Many were likely surprised by the relatively low performance rank, but it ultimately did not matter. Even if it had been two or three spots higher, number one still would have defeated it for the top spot. The bottom line was that it was one of the greatest PPVs of all-time, worthy of being regarded as such in each and every historical context possible. It represented all that was good about the Attitude era, regardless of the heel turn gone awry. I watch it almost yearly.
1. Wrestlemania XXVIII
Business: #1 / Performance: #2 / Intangible: #6
I understand that there were some critics of last year’s event, particularly what happened to Daniel Bryan in the opening match and the first hour, overall. I can appreciate that, but Mania 28 was a great show featuring three matches that should all stand the test of time. From the financial standpoint, it may be tough to beat its combination of buyrate, modern buys, and attendance. So, it will hinge on your opinion of the Rock-Cena, Taker-Trips, and Punk-Jericho triad. If you loved even two out of three, then you should be able to look at the evidence and see WM28 as what these numbers reflect it to be.