FOLLOW Mr. Tito on Twitter: @titowrestling
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN - The Top 10 Greatest Wrestlemania Matches of ALL TIME
By Mr. Tito
Apr 5, 2013 - 10:00:28 PM
IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!!! It is April 5th and "On This Day in Pro Wrestling History", there exists 2 Wrestlemania shows to possibly cover. Wrestlemania 8 occurred on April 5th, 1992 while Wrestlemania 25 occurred on April 5th, 2009. Rather than writing on 1992 WWE again and probably just writing on one match for Wrestlemania 25, why not talk about both and also incorporate other Wrestlemanias as well. And when I say "talk about both", I mean their great matches. Both Wrestlemania 8 and Wrestlemania 25 featured 2 of the ALL TIME great Wrestlemania matches.
Thus, for the FINAL COUNTDOWN today, we'll cover the Top 10 Greatest Wrestlemania Matches of ALL TIME.
VERY tough list to construct and it become extra difficult when presenting it to the wide LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com audience. So many great matches to choose from as the WWE has historically "brought it" at Wrestlemania. Multiple "Match of the Year" winners from various publications have occurred from Wrestlemania. It's the WWE's biggest stage and the WWE saves their absolute best match-ups for this show. In addition, the WWE hypes this event like no other and then gives the wrestlers 20-30 minutes to bang out an actual good match.
BEFORE we go through the "FINAL COUNTDOWN", we must give out the Honorable Mentions... There are 3 match-ups from the 1980's that deserve merit for blazing the Wrestlemania trail both on super stardom and work-rate. They are etched in stone as being highly influential on future match-ups. It's just that since 1989, 23 Wrestlemanias have created great match-ups that have since eclipsed the following matches:
Honorable Mention #3 - Andre "the Giant" vs. Hulk Hogan - Wrestlemania 3 - This match single handedly distanced the WWE from the rest of the competition during 1987. Without this match ramping up hype for Wrestlemania 3, Vince McMahon would have been forced to work harder for his success. The hype of Andre vs. Hogan was huge and it delivered with Hogan being put over by Andre.
Honorable Mention #2 - Hulk Hogan vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - Wrestlemania 5 - Wrestlemania 5 was the WWE's highest buyrate until 10 years later when Wrestlemania 15 finally defeated it. Why? Because the Mega Powers exploded to ramp up hype for Wrestlemania 5. Once a tag team managed by Miss Elizabeth, Hogan and Macho split over Savage's jealousy over Miss Elizabeth with Hulk Hogan. Hogan and Savage's break up made Wrestlemania 5 a MUST SEE for a wider Pay Per View audience in 1989.
Honorable Mention #3 - Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - Wrestlemania 3 - I can just hear the mouseclicks on the "Back" button right now. This match was great for its time and influenced many wrestlers. It also gave cause for workrate at Wrestlemania as it's not just about hype but actually delivering an awesome match. Problem with Steamboat/Savage is that they had 25 Wrestlemanias that learned from them and pumped out better matches than their 15 minute match in 1987. This match is the trendsetter, but matches in the 25 years since have eclipsed it.
As always for the FINAL COUNTDOWN, it's a better read with the proper music... Or if you want to get in a bad mood disagreeing with this column, listen to the horrible cover instead.
#10 - "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. the Ultimate Warrior - Wrestlemania 7 - Just edging out Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart from Wrestlemania 10, this match had some serious heat during 1991. During late 1990, the Ultimate Warrior was WWE Champion and Macho Man Randy Savage wanted a WWE Title shot badly after being mostly out of the spotlight since Wrestlemania 5. However, Warrior opted to wrestle Sgt. Slaughter instead at Royal Rumble 1991 and Savage took exception by costing Warrior the title when the Macho King hit Warrior over the head with the scepter. Their feud heated up quickly, insomuch that it became a Career match. Warrior improved as an in-ring wrestler during his reign as WWE Champion and it showed against the consistently good Randy Savage in the ring. The match is nearly perfect with the exception of the Warrior strangely looking at his hand. Warrior put the final nail in Savage's career by pinning Savage with one foot. After the match, manager Sherri Martel would get upset with Savage and that would prompt Miss Elizabeth to step into the ring, fend off Martel, and reunite with Randy Savage. Ohhhhhhh yeah!
#9 - Triple H vs. Undertaker - Wrestlemania 28 - Not a favorite match of Bret Hart's, but this is the epic rematch of Wrestlemania 27's battle. Triple H gave everything he had to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27, yet the Undertaker escaped the match with a victory. Undertaker won the match but Triple H hurt him badly. 1 year later, the Undertaker wanted to redeem himself and Triple H was still lusting over breaking the streak. Better yet, Shawn Michaels, whom the Undertaker retired at Wrestlemania 26, was referee and showing an obvious bias towards Triple H. And it was a Hell in a Cell match on top of this... Superb match and these two veterans beat the living crap out of each other. The sheer "sense of urgency" of Triple H to defeat Undertaker, at all costs, drove the Miami crowd insane. Michaels tried to help Triple H out but failed... Undertaker would win the match and now holds 3 wins over Triple H at Wrestlemania as part of the Streak.
#8 - Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boys vs. Edge/Christian, Ladder Match - Wrestlemania 16 - Booked as a ladder match but it would involve Chairs and Tables. Mick Foley, for their future rematches, would dub the term "Tables, Ladders, and Chairs" match. This Wrestlemania 16 WAR of a match between Hardys, Dudleyz, and Edge/Christian was a violent battle that involved ladders of all sizes, tables that shattered into pieces, and extremely dangerous high flying matches. The spots were absolutely sick and the match could have higher on this list if the wrestlers didn't take forever to set up the tables as a platform. Spot paid off in the end, but the downtime slowed down a very hot match. Still, this match's success would stand out from the disappointment known as Wrestlemania 16 during the year 2000 and would prompt the Dudleys, Hardys, and Edge/Christian to do battle in the TLC realm several more times.
#7 - "Nature Boy" Ric Flair vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - Wrestlemania 8 - "She was mine before she was yours", was what Ric Flair uttered repeatedly to Randy Savage with regards to Miss Elizabeth. With doctored photos and everything, it was enough to make Savage boil over and put some nice heat into their Wrestlemania 8 match-up. Flair and Savage work well together as Flair knows how to push buttons and Savage is one of the most emotional characters ever. This match was a nice honor for Ric Flair, who had issues with WCW just a year before and for Randy Savage, who had bad luck since winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 4. 4 years later, Savage won his 2nd and final WWE Title. Flair would actually win the title back months later and the 2 would rekindle their feud in WCW when Miss Elizabeth would turn heel and join Ric Flair. Whoooooooo!
#6 - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. the Rock - Wrestlemania 15 - Other publications will like the Wrestlemania 17 match. Wrestlemania 15, however, set the standard for bigtime Attitude Era main events and pushed for the WWE, and fans, to watch a rematch for Wrestlemania 17. The Wrestlemania 15 is a polished match that provides a blowoff for the Rock's rise as "Corporate Champion" since Survivor Series 1998. Their chemistry, which was probably developed from their Intercontinental Title feud during late 1997, was quite evident for the Wrestlemania 15 main event.
#5 - Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels - Wrestlemania 20 - The greatest Triple Threat match of all time... It's the match result that the WWE refuses to acknowledge but they legitimately tried to push Chris Benoit during 2004. His loyal, longtime fans begged and begged the WWE to give him at least 1 WWE Title run. After the standing ovation received following the 2003 "Match of the Year" at Royal Rumble 2003, WWE officials gave Benoit his title shot through winning the 2004 Royal Rumble. Benoit, however, was a Smackdown performer and used his Rumble title shot to challenge for the RAW World Heavyweight Title instead. Michaels was added to the match and it seemed like Benoit would win the WWE Title by pinning Michaels. Not so... Benoit made Triple H tap out! Most fans screamed at the television scream "tap, bitch, tap!" and Chris Benoit celebrated with his pal and WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero to end Wrestlemania 20. But for the match, Michaels, Benoit, and Triple H all brought their A-games for this excellent Triple Threat match.
#4 - Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, Ladder Match - Wrestlemania 10 - Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart (just missed the top 10 list) was carrying "Match of the Night" until this match arrived. This was Shawn Michaels coming out match, as he was trending upward but didn't have that defining moment. Taking the Ladder Match to a whole new level put Michaels on the map and would catapult him into having back-to-back years of WWE Title shots. The unique concept of putting titles above the ladder added a new "sense of urgency" to the match, but the psychology of the 2 Intercontinental Champions made the match extra special. Michaels was reigning champion until a suspension forced him out and Razor won the vacated title. Thus, this match determined the undisputed Intercontinental Champion when such a thing existed. While Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) might not have been bumping around like Michaels, he carried his own in this match and doesn't get enough credit for this match as well. WWE thought so much of this match that they had a rematch of it at SummerSlam 1995 (cancelling Sid vs. Michaels).
#3 - "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Bret "the Hitman" Hart - Wrestlemania 13 - Wrestlemania 13 originally booked a Wrestlemania 12 rematch between Michaels and Bret Hart but Michaels lost his smile with a knee injury. Thus, the WWE went for a Survivor Series 1996 rematch instead. Austin's star was rising since King of the Ring 1996 with the infamous "Austin 3:16" speech, but Austin's promos and Bret's work with Austin for Survivor Series 1996 began to put Austin on the map as a potential main eventer. The match is superb and is full of psychology. Better yet, the match served its purposes of simultaneously turning Bret Hart heel while turning Steve Austin into a face. Bret Hart's work of selling for Austin and making him look like an equal to Hart should be a blueprint for older stars today. Easily, the highlight from Wrestlemania 13 which remains to be the worst sold Wrestlemania of all time.
#2 - Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - Wrestlemania 25 - Certainly, the "sense of urgency" is there for the Wrestlemania 26 rematch with the Streak vs. Career, but the Wrestlemania 25 match is an absolute gem of a match. Michaels and Undertaker have the perfect chemistry as Michaels is one of the few smaller wrestlers who looks credible against the Undertaker and Michaels's aggressiveness in the ring motivates the Undertaker to deliver. Just an absolute battle that saw many near falls and the Undertaker take a sick jump over the top rope and to the outside. This match being so good prompted the WWE want another for Wrestlemania 26 that was good but didn't flow as well as this one. Both performers did great business together during late 1997/early 1998 and many fans forgot how well they worked together. Wrestlemania 25 caught them by surprise and won "Match of the Year" in many places.
#1 - Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels - Wrestlemania 21 - What is there not to say about this DREAM MATCH that actually occurred and was delivered for fans of 2 wrestlers in their primes? When it became apparent that Shawn Michaels was not only a full time wrestler but wrestling at a high level again, wrestling fans began begging for this match to someday happen. And for 2005, it did... Twice. This match is perfect and both performers are clicking on all cylinders to deliver one of the best matches of all time. Better yet, Michaels silenced a lot of critics by putting over Angle cleanly via submitting to the Anklelock. This was a different Michaels than the reported backstage politician from the 1990's. Angle's matches with Michaels were his peak in the WWE, as he would be headed for TNA Wrestling during 2006.
Your thoughts on this list? Other great Wrestlemania matches? Comments and Tweets are welcome.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @titowrestling