WrestleMania season is upon us. Kind of like Christmas time, it is looked forward to all year and is usually a let down. Luckily or perhaps unluckily (depending on your view) WrestleMania has become less about the PPV and more about the whole weekend of Axxess events, the Hall of Fame, and other promotions running shows in the same town during the weekend. But still, we hype it up for months and it can almost never meet expectations. Yet we still order it, and fantasy book the card, and watch with high hopes. Sometimes it actually meets or exceeds our lofty expectations and these are the 10 very best Manias at doing that. Check out the list after the jump.
10.) WrestleMania III
WrestleMania III grabs a spot on this list because of sheer importance alone. To be honest the card wasn’t that great. There were three solid matches and one excellent match on a card of 12. A 1/3rd of the PPV is enjoyable. But the sheer size of the crowd and the impact of the main event will live on forever. The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis defeated the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana in a great six man tag match, and it was cool seeing the Calgary boys on such a big stage. Ricky Steamboat defeating Randy Savage for the IC Title is a match that has been talked about forever, and is widely regarded as the best Mania match of all time, it gets better with age, which in wrestling terms is a hard thing to accomplish. The Honky Tonk Man defeating Jake Roberts was another highlight, these two had a solid feud, and this match wasn’t bad. Also, Alice Cooper was ringside for Jake so that makes it even cooler. The main event is definitely not the best match of all time, but the images it produced are infamous. Watching this match for the crowd reactions alone is worth it.
9.) WrestleMania VI
Not a great card by any stretch of the imagination, but the main event more then makes up for the lackluster under card. Most of the early WrestleManias were all about the main event, the rest of the card was usually filler, and this one fits the mold. Title for Title had never been done before on such a grand stage though. Also, the two most popular stars in the industry at the time were locking horns for the first time ever. The Hulkster and Warrior actually pulled on a good match as well, which sounds ludicrous, but it is true. The tension in the building and the “passing of the torch” makes it worth watching.
8.) WrestleMania IV
I am a sucker for tournaments. I am also a sucker for tournaments that have Ted DiBiase and Randy Savage in the finals. I love the one night tournament concept, and one for the WWE title was awesome. Also, Andre and Hogan wrestled once, and weren’t the main event again, which made things fresh. Seeing Macho Man win the title for the first time is a sight to behold, as he was at his peak in popularity here. Also, Rick Rude and Jake Roberts had a very good match that went to a time limit draw. I loved their feud, and thought incorporating Jake’s wife was a risque move at the time for the company. This is the last “classic” Mania on this list and rightfully so.
7.) WrestleMania 13
This is the time when WrestleManias became less bloated. 14 and 12 match cards were gone, 7-10 match cards were in. Which meant everyone was given more time, which usually leads to good things. This Mania featured some memorable match ups including, Owen Hart and British Bulldog vs Mankind and Vader for the Tag Titles, an awesome match in my opinion. Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson wrestled The Nation of Domination in a solid Chicago Street Fight, and The Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid to claim the WWE Title in one of Sid’s best matches of his career. The match that made this Mania though, was of course, Bret Hart vs Steve Austin in a Submission match. If any match single handedly made a star it was this one. Equaling the wrestlers in brilliance was the Chicago crowd, who effectively turned Bret Hart heel and Stone Cold face during the match. Austin’s bloody face lives on forever.
6.) WrestleMania 14
Triple H faced Owen Hart in a solid bout for the European Title. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie defeated the New Age Outlaws in the infamous dumpster match for the Tag Titles. Undertaker finally got his hands on his brother Kane and defeated the Big Red Monster after three Tombstone Piledrivers, and Steve Austin beat Shawn Michaels for the WWE title. The first WrestleMania of the Attitude Era kicked things off with a bang. The Austin Era had begun and we were in for the ride of our lives. The dynamic between Mike Tyson, DX, and Stone Cold added that extra something on top of an already great WrestleMania.
5.) WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 16 is kind of regarded as a flop. However, as you can tell, I actually enjoyed it. The card being stacked with multi-man matches made it interesting enough, not to mention there were a few stand out bouts. The Hardcore Title battle royal was a great choice as show opener. The triangle ladder match for the Tag Titles is a precursor to the legendary TLC matches and stacks up against them well. This match launched the Dudleys, Hardys, and Edge and Christian into super stardom. The triple threat for both the European and Intercontinental Titles was an interesting concept and featured the three best wrestlers in the company, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle. Also, the fatal four way main event was a good match and saw the the WWE Champion (Triple H) retaining at WrestleMania which was a nice change of pace from the usual title changes of previous WrestleManias.
4.) WrestleMania XX
I loved WrestleMania XX. The whole 20th anniversary was played up really nicely and the card featured some excellent match ups. Christian and Chris Jericho had a great bout, which saw a Trish Stratus heel turn. I love Trish, I love heel Trish, and I love, love triangle story lines. The reunion of the Rock N’ Sock Connection was done well, the match was average, but the star power made up for it. The Cruiserweight Open is the only time the cruisers ever got a chance to truly shine on the Mania stage and they took advantage of the opportunity producing some of the best action of the night. Eddie Guerrero retained his WWE title against Kurt Angle in a great bout. Did these two ever have a bad match? We saw the return of the true “Dead Man” when he again beat his brother Kane. The main event of Triple H vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit is one of my favorite Mania matches ever. Chris Benoit holding up the World Heavyweight Championship after a hard fought victory still brings tears to my eyes. The embrace of Eddie and Chris at the end of the PPV always gets to me, and it is a shame how it all ended, but for that moment they were both on top of the world.
3.) WrestleMania X8
Despite the fact that Rock and Hogan should have been the main event doesn’t hurt this Mania too much in my eyes. The Rock vs Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest moments in company history, the two played off each other perfectly, and the Toronto crowd was amazing. The rest of the card was good as well. The Undertaker and Ric Flair wrestled a great match, which showed that Flair still had some left in the tank. Jazz, Trish Stratus, and Lita had one of the best Womens title matches in the history of WrestleMania. Triple H vs Chris Jericho for the Undisputed WWE Title was a great match, despite the burnt out crowd, if it would have went on before Rock and Hogan people would remember it more fondly. The last Mania with an “f” in it, was a good one.
2.) WrestleMania XIX
I would love WWE to have another WrestleMania at Safeco Field. The setup is still my favorite. A near perfect card, matched the perfect setting. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho. Triple H vs Booker T for the World Title. Hulk Hogan vs Vince McMahon. The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin III. Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title. WrestleMania XIX had five main events and each one delivered. Each one had a great buildup as well. WWE was clicking on all cylinders around this time, and this WrestleMania proves that.
1.) WrestleMania X7
No surprise here. This and 19 generally get swapped out for 1 and 2 on numerous lists. This is the WrestleMania I have seen the most, and fell asleep with the VHS playing in the background on numerous school nights. The peak of the Attitude Era featured a stellar card. The Triple Threat match for the Hardcore Title is easily the best Hardcore Title match in Mania history. Kane vs Big Show vs Raven doesn’t sound like a winning combination but these three had a great match. Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit wrestled one of their many classics here. Shane O’ Mac took on his pop in a brutal street fight. TLC 2. Enough said. The Undertaker vs Triple H, in what was their very best match at a WrestleMania. Rock and Austin II. I am going to go watch it now……..