In 1984, the world of wrestling changed with the first ever WrestleMania. The world had never seen a wrestling card like the one in Madison Square Garden. Over the years, the national interest in professional wrestling has gone up and down just like all types of entertainment. At first, we had the spectacle of Hulk Hogan’s Hulkamania running wild brother! Then a new generation of wrestlers took center stage with Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna and Diesel. Wrestling exploded with the Attitude Era with the rise of Stone Cold, The Rock, The Undertaker and DX. John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch, Brock Lesner and Roman Reigns all have entertained us over the years at the Showcase of the Immortals. Here are the top 10 Wrestlemania Matches that have entertained the wrestling fan in me over the years.
#10 WrestleMania 24- Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair
One of the most clearly emotional matches in WrestleMania history was the bout between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. During this time, Vince McMahon had stated that Flair’s next loss would be his last match. Flair had challenged Michaels to a showdown at WrestleMania 24. The Nature Boy and Michaels showed why the two of them had some of the best in-ring psychology in all of Pro Wrestling. Flair scratching and clawing through the match to starve off victory is fantastic. Every person watching this match felt the emotion of Flair trying to still fight and Shawn Michaels saying “I’m sorry. I love you” and delivering Sweet Chin Music to end the storied career of Flair.
#9 WrestleMania 28- Undertaker vs Triple H in Hell in the Cell (Shawn Michaels Guest Referee)
The third match in the series between Triple H and The Undertaker is probably the one most fans remember. This Hell in the Cell match maybe the best one ever to take place. The back and forth nature of both performers weaving a great story was truly remarkable. The odds seemed stacked against the Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. The near falls by Triple H are some of the most dramatic and had many wondering if this would be the first loss in the Undertakers historic streak. It was not. This match moved The Deadman to 20-0 at WrestleMania and the final shot of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker showed that these performers truly gave it their all.
#8 WrestleMania X-Seven- Hardy Boyz vs. Edge & Christian vs The Dudley Boyz (Tables, Ladders and Chairs)
This match has some of the craziest moments a fan can see during a WrestleMania match. From the Dudley Boyz performing the 3-D off the top of the ladder, to Jeff Hardy performing the Swanton bomb through two tables from an XL size ladder and Edge spearing Jeff Hardy while he hung from the belts are all must-see moments in WrestleMania history. The sheer craziness of this match, will leave even the toughest viewer wincing just a little bit. Edge and Christian won this Tag-team title out of this match that truly showed off the hardcore era of professional wrestling.
#7 WrestleMania X- Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon (Ladder Match)
This is the first ladder match ever shown on a WrestleMania and did it ever set the bar high. Leading into the match, Shawn Michaels had been stripped of the Intercontinental Title and Ramon had won the vacated title in the battle royal. Michaels still felt he was the true champion, since he never lost the title in the ring. The athletic storytelling in this match is absolutely incredible and is the first time fans got to see how truly special a performer Shawn Michaels was during WrestleMania. The ending of the match is incredible with Michaels foot tied in the ropes and Razor holding the belt on top of the ladder.
#6 WrestleMania III- Andre The Giant vs Hulk Hogan
Even a person who is not a professional wrestling fan has heard of the near mythological match between Hulk Hogan and Andre The Giant. WrestleMania III was huge show at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. Andre the Giant was THE spectacle in professional wrestling. Hulk Hogan was “can’t miss” with Hulkamania. The build up with Andre turning heel and siding with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was just masterful storytelling. This match was not the clinical classic of other matches, but was just an epic sight to behold at in 1987. Hogan and Andre staring each other down. Hogan doing the incredible task of bodyslamming the 7’4 Andre. The chills of the moment with Hogan dropping the leg and getting a clean 1-2-3 victory over the 8th Wonder of the World is something that will live on in the lore WrestleMania, brother!
#5 WrestleMania XIII- Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
Is there a more iconic image than Stone Cold Steve Austin, locked in the sharpshooter, screaming in pain and cut from the head? This has to be one of the greatest matches in the careers of both performers. It was an excellent match in terms of show put on in the ring, but the truly special piece was seeing Bret Hart switch to a heel and Austin switch to a babyface. The build up for this match was some of the best mic work of Bret’s career. With Ken Shamrock as the guest referee, the stakes on the match were huge. Shamrock calling the match since Austin passed out was the highlight of WrestleMania XIII. It’s still easily in the conversation as the greatest match of all time.
#4 WrestleMania XV- The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
Few names are as recognizable as The Rock and Stone Cold. The duo put on the trio of matches at WrestleMania but one of the best is still their first match at WrestleMania XV. The story of Mr. McMahon vs Stone Cold played out beautifully since Austin had become champion at WrestleMania XIV. With The Rock winning the World Title at Survivor Series, Mr. McMahon did everything he could to prevent Stone Cold to capturing the title again. Leading up to WrestleMania, The Rock and Stone Cold showed why they were masters at promos. The build up and energy, along with the play by play call with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler made this a match for the ages. The crowd reaction of Austin hitting the Stunner on The Rock and Mick Foley counting the pin is something that is truly remarkable for a WrestleMania in the 90s.
#3 WrestleMania XXXV- Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair vs Ronda Rousey
The first ever women’s main event in the history of WrestleMania did not disappoint. From Flair’s entrance into Metlife in a helicopter, Joan Jett playing Ronda Rousey’s entrance music and Becky Lynch’s “The Man” entrance had a huge match feel. Ronda’s MMA style paired beautifully with the athletic ability of Flair and the unique style of Becky Lynch. This match was a dominant show for Ronda and Charlotte. The near falls and near submissions told a story that at any point throughout the match, one of these ladies would walk out as champion. The back and forth of this match is what made Becky Lynch’s victory all that more surprising. This match would become the WrestleMania standard for women’s matches going forward.
#2 WrestleMania XXVI- Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker
These two legendary performers had two matches at WrestleMania that would make most lists as the greatest ever. The second one is something truly special because of the story it told. The Undertaker was 17-0 at WrestleMania and Shawn Michaels put his career on the line to face the Undertaker. Mr. WrestleMania and the Man of Darkness stole the show again. The back and forth between these two kept fans on the edge of their seats. From Shawn Michaels hitting Sweet Chin Music and getting a near fall to The Undertaker hitting the Tombstone Piledriver on Shawn Michaels. There are few visuals better than Taker looking down and yelling at Shawn to stay down. This was a pure demonstration of emotional storytelling between these icons. Ending Shawn Michaels career was a shock and an moment that most fans will never forget.
#1 WrestleMania X- Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart
The build up to the story of Owen vs Bret was perfect going into WrestleMania 10. Owen, the real life younger brother of Bret Hart, was sick and tired of being in Bret’s shadow. The slow build of Owen becoming more and more frustrated with Bret was slowly build over several months and really showcased the natural ability of the brothers. The wild thing was that this was the opening match for WrestleMania 10. The two brothers put on an absolute clinic in the ring and wove a perfect story as they both demonstrated an ability that few can touch. While Owen picked up the pinfall over Bret, it was Bret who became the WWF World Champion at the end of the night. The closing shot of Bret holding the World Title while on the shoulders of his fellow wrestlers and Owen looking on from isle shows the true art of story telling that comes from Professional Wrestling.