WrestleMania is like the Super Bowl of wrestling. It happens once a year, in a huge stadium, with people from all over the world in attendance. It is a destination vacation for some, a yearly pilgrimage for others. Perhaps the most important comparison though is that both events have provided fans with instant classics… and instant hot, hot garbage. We here at Geekade are optimists however. We see the glass as half full, the sun as always rising somewhere. With that in mind we humbly submit for your approval the top five WrestleMania matches ever.
Honorable Mention: Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant (WM3)
While not a great technical match, let’s be honest, technicality is not what we wanted from a Hogan or Andre match back then, it was an absolute spectacle. The most popular wrestler in the world, Hulk Hogan, clashing with the largest athlete in the world, and an incredibly popular star in his own right, Andre in a match every fan had only dreamed about. It was booked as the first meeting between these two, which was false, and sold as THE epic showdown to end all other epic showdowns. The match ended when Hogan, after his trade-marked “hulking up” routine, body slammed Andre, a feet no one thought possible as Andre was 520lbs at the time, and hit the Atomic Leg Drop. It was an incredible blow off to a massive storyline.
5. The Hardy Boyz vs The Dudley Boyz vs Edge &Christian (WM17)
These three teams set the standard for tag team wrestling in the late 90’s through the early 00’s. They were new; they were different. They did things people had never seen and took risks no one, probably, thought wise. This match, TLC II, had some of the most insane spots you could imagine. Massive leaps from ladders through tables, huge chair shots, tumbles to the floor, and a spear from Edge to Jeff Hardy while Hardy hung fifteen feet in the air. It is, to borrow a phrase from good ol’ J.R., a slobberknocker. How any of these men, and women since Lita interfered, walked away from this match is a mystery. It is also a testament to the talent involved that with all of the crazy this match possesses, it never feels too far.
4. Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar (WM19)
This match should be number one. It had all the makings of the greatest match not just in WrestleMania history but also in wrestling history period. And it was close, damn close, but only makes number four on this list. The match itself is a clinic. Brock Lesnar, a Division IA NCAA wrestling champion, and Kurt Angle, an Olympic gold medalist, put on a classic wrestling display with moves most fans had never seen outside of college or the Olympics. These were mixed in with sports entertainment moves and storytelling to form a near perfect whole. The ending of the match is the only knock against it. After a number of near finishes, F-5’s, Angleslams, and Anklelocks, Brock Lesnar attempted a shooting star press halfway across the ring. He did not make it. There was a bit of a scramble covering for the botch, which ended in a third F-5 and a Brock victory. Had he made it, it would be the greatest moment in WrestleMania history. As it stands, it’s a wonder he didn’t get seriously injured and was able to finish the match.
3. Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon (WM10)
At WrestleMania Ten, the WWE Universe witnessed the very first ladder match in WrestleMania history. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon wrestled a match many fans had never seen before for the Intercontinental Championship. It was a show stealer in every sense. Michaels and Razor would have had a great match no matter what. The added bonus of a ladder, a “steel” ladder at that, gave this match that extra little wrinkle to allow both men to take their performance up a notch. Now, taken in a vacuum, this is not the best ladder match that has ever been. It’s not even technically the best ladder match at WrestleMania. But it was the first. And it raised the bar. And for that, it ranks as number three all time.
2. Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky the Dragon Steamboat (WM3)
This match, for the Intercontinental Championship, set the standard for workrate and storytelling for years to come. The rivalry between these two, the heel Macho Man and the face Steamboat, had been building for months. It was based around Savage’s attack on Steamboat while he was greeting his fans. Savage dropped an elbow on Steamboat’s throat, and then proceeded to do further damage by dropping the ring bell on Steamboat’s throat as well, kayfabe injuring his larynx and sending him to the hospital. This match was the culmination of the feud and ultimately, Steamboat’s revenge. After fifteen minutes of back and forth action, Steamboat got the roll up, the victory, and the Intercontinental Championship.
1. The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels
Arguably two of the greatest wrestlers in the history of the business, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker had met in the squared circle many times before. Their matches had been bloody, technical showcases with each man getting victories over the other. Going in to WrestleMania everyone knew that the match between these two would be good. Many expected a classic because Shawn and Taker never failed to deliver on the biggest stage of all. What we got was quite possibly the best match that has ever been put on. From the very beginning, Michaels descending on a platform all in white while the Undertaker rose from a pit surrounded by flames and all in black, this match simply felt different. The storytelling in the match had all the drama of an Academy Award winner and had the crowd cheering both men, no easy feet. Every signature spot was hit by both performers, every finisher multiple times, and even an over the top suicide dive from The Undertaker. The ending of the match saw Shawn Michaels attempt a moonsault, get caught by The Undertaker, and end up on the receiving end of a massive tombstone piledriver. It is, quite simply, a perfect match.