With WWE's biggest show of the year right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my favorite matches from the past Wrestlemania's. These matches may not be the best on the card, but they hold a place with me as my favorite. Like my selections? Want to let me know why not? Please leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite matches were!
OH, each match poster is a WWE Network link! Enjoy!
The $15,000 Slam Challenge was a match between Big John Studd and challenger, Andre the Giant. This took place at Wrestlemania from Madison Square Garden on March 31st, 1985, and was originally called by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. The match featured some decent offense from both big men. It concluded with Andre slamming Big John Studd to an amazing pop from the New York City crowd. He was awarded a small WWF duffel full of “money” and celebrated with it. The duffel was snatched by the heel manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who ran away with it. This was a short and concise match that didn't expose the big men for too long. Although, both guys appeared to be gassed a few moments after the opening bell. Andre was his usual lumbering self, but he at least appeared more able and happy. Studd was his usual bland self. A good wrestler to do the job, but not much more than that. This match clearly established who the dominant big man in the WWF was at the time.
The WWF Tag Team Titles match from Wrestlemania 2, is the most entertaining on the card. The commentary was provided from Gorilla Monsoon, Gene Okerlund and Kathy Lee Gifford. The Bulldogs were seconded by Capt. Lou Albano and rock musician, Ozzy Osbourne. While the Dream Team (Brutis Beefcake & Greg Valentine) were managed by “The Luscious” Johnny Valiant. The match itself is awesome. The Bulldogs are in top form, Valentine and Beefcake are good opponents for these younger and stronger newcomers. The build in this match is great. Entertaining on a lot of levels. It was a great showcase of the quality of tag team wrestling in the nineteen eighties. The post match speech from Captain Lou Albano is hilarious, Bulldog is excited, and Ozzy agrees to stay in contact with the Bulldogs.
"Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 3 is an amazing match. The champion, coming into the match, was the Macho Man. Accompanied by his long-time manager, Miss. Elizabeth. The challenger is Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, an amazing wrestler that is seconded by George “The Animal” Steele. This match is a clinic. Macho Man is so damn good in that ring. His selling for Steamboat is some of the best in the game. Definitely the best in the WWF at the time. There is so much effective storytelling in this single match. It’s the true main event of Wrestlemania 3.
The final match in the WWF Championship Tournament from Wrestlemania IV. A main event bout between two highly proficient competitors that was a good pay-off to a less than stellar Pay-Per-View. Macho Man, who was accompanied by Miss Elisabeth and eventually Hulk Hogan, came into this match with a nearly empty tank. He had already fought three times earlier in the evening. While DiBiase, seconded by Andre the Giant, was a lot fresher. Having only competed twice. Both guys got to showcase some tremendous technical ability, while churning out an entertaining match. This was a good match that would have been so much better without Hogan being around at all. Macho could more than carry the title.
Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer was a exhibition match from Wrestlemania V in 1989. A match between Curt Hennig and Owen Hart, umm… yes please. A technical bout that is way too short, but still one of the more entertaining matches on the card. Owen looks great, his dropkicks and moves are delivered with such precision. Mr. Perfect did his job of being the smarmy, cocky heel that everyone wants to see lose. It was a great match that had a less than perfect ending.
The Ultimate Challenge was a match at Wrestlemania VI between the WWF Intercontinental Champion, The Ultimate Warrior and The WWF Champion, Hulk Hogan. This was a double-title match between these titans of the squared circle. The winner keeps the world title and vacates the intercontinental strap. Yes, it took me a long time to actually enjoy a Hulk Hogan match on a Wrestlemania card. Maybe part of that is due to the hype of this match, it's through the roof. Ultimate Warrior’s pop is deafening. The place goes nuts. Then Hogan comes out and it’s even louder. These two stars were clearly the top characters in professional wrestling in 1990. Every box is checked in this match. Hogan is red hot. The Ultimate Warrior is the new, hungry talent that has nearly the same popularity. It’s a huge match that has two titles on the line. Such a big time main event. Both guys gave it so much more than they had usually done in past performances. A rare showing of wrestling talent from both Warrior and Hogan. Great match, great ending.
“Macho King” Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior was a Career Ending Match at Wrestlemania VII in 1991. Dressed to the nines, Macho King showed his vivacious pageantry in a triumphant entrance. He was accompanied to the ring by the sinister “Macho Queen” Sherri, who interfered incessantly. Warrior came to the ring with little gusto. A man ready for a fight. He had clearly been pushed to the edge by King and Queen Macho in the months leading up to Wrestlemania. They had even added some additional story-line by showing Randy Savage’s former valet, Elisabeth, in the crowd as a spectator. This match is clearly a culmination of the popular story lines that Savage had seeded throughout his career in the World Wrestling Federation. It’s tremendous. One of the top Wrestlemania matches that might not leave you with a dry eye.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair was a grudge match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, that took place at Wrestlemania IIX in 1992. Ric Flair was on an incredible streak at the time as the champion. He and Randy Savage had a great feud going. Flair had seemingly wooed Elisabeth away from the Macho Man and justice needed to be delivered. Justice in the form of a flying elbow. This was a heavy hitting bout with some fantastic storytelling and a brutal beating. Ric Flair is a master in the ring and works in an amazing way with Randy Savage. When he is busted open the match takes this incredibly dramatic edge. It’s beautiful. One of my favorite Wrestlemania matches for sure. These two were made to fight. There isn’t a more appropriate match to chant “Fight Forever” at. A five star match all the way.
The WWF Tag Team Championship was defended in one of the only decent matches at Wrestlemania IX. It was fought between The Headshrinkers and The Steiner Brothers. A good back-and-forth for each team. The Steiners were the clear favorites, but the Headshrinkers were no slouches. They had shown in the past that their hunger for tag team gold makes them very formidable competitors. Scott Steiner was the showcase of the entire match, he did well selling for Fatu and Samu, but appeared to be overwhelmed halfway through. It was sloppy, dangerous and odd. However, the ending makes the whole thing worth it. This is by far the worst match on this list.
Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart was, and is the greatest opening match for any Wrestlemania to date. This particular brawl took place at Wrestlemania X on March 20th 1994. A civil war between two brothers striving to become THE MAN in the World Wrestling Federation. Bret Hart is playing the role of the face here. He was the new focus of the company after Hogan and Warrior left, with Randy Savage retiring from serious competition. Owen Hart had been fledgling in the mid-card with a number of gimmicks like The Blue Blazer and even teaming up with Koko B. Ware. Playing the heel in this match signaled his arrival as a viable top-spot competitor. The match is a technical powerhouse. Tremendous storytelling and a grandiose display of their wrestling ability. You can feel the emotion, the suspense and the intrigue all playing a part in this fight between two brothers.
No Friends in Matters of Gold was a match between the “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and the WWF Champion, Diesel. Two good friends and members of the Kliq, these guys would go in there and give it everything. This was a star-studded affair. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Nicholas Turturro were given special positions during the match as bell-keeper and special announcer. Shawn Michaels was led to the ring by his partner “Sycho” Sid alongside buxom model, Jenny McCarthy. And World Champion Diesel was led to the ring by Playboy and Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson. Everyone was in their prime, and looked fantastic. The match was fast-paced, well-executed and it told a good story. Michaels was a smarmy heel and Diesel was the clear crowd-favorite.
The Undertaker vs. Diesel took place during Wrestlemania XII in 1996. Kevin Nash was leaving the WWF for WCW and this served as his send-off. A great showing of respect between both men. If you want to see a good match between two big guys, then this is just what you're looking for. A real battle of the monsters. Hard hitting action from both giants as they hit each-other with finisher after finisher. This is Undertaker in his prime.
The Submission Match from Wrestlemania 13 between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, is one of the best matches in the history of professional wrestling. It is my personal favorite match of either competitor, and is a clinic for anyone that potentially wants to get into wrestling. The storytelling is beyond reproach. It also has the honor of being the single match that turned the tide of wrestling in the nineties. This bout ushered in the attitude era. Anything can happen, for better or worse. From this match forward, it was cool to be a heel.
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