5(tie). Ultimate Warrior vs Randy Savage — WrestleMania VII
193 points, ranked by all 11 voters, highest ranked by Chad Campbell at No. 2
Chad Campbell: Wrestling’s Luke and Laura moment. After two years of separation, Savage and Liz are together at last and everything feels right in the wrestling world. Genuine emotion was spread across the LA Sports Arena and even in the Campbell household with my mom taking a rare interest in an angle. This moment was pitch perfect with Sherri being a complete jerk to Savage only to be saved by the woman he was meant for. It is poetic justice and the best piece of storytelling in company history from an emotional gut punch aspect. Oh, and The Ultimate Warrior wins a match and ends Randy Savage’s career.
4. Steve Austin vs The Rock — WrestleMania X-Seven
202 points, ranked by 10 of 11 voters, highest ranked by Greg Phillips at No. 1
Greg Phillips: This was the pinnacle of the Attitude Era. With wrestling at its cultural zenith, its two biggest stars, each at arguably the peak of their abilities, stepped in front of the first stadium PPV show in years and put on one of the greatest championship matches of any era. Austin, surgically repaired, could finally wrestle again rather than relying solely on the brawling of 1998 and ’99. Interestingly, the match goes through several unique phases – Attitude Era brawl at first, classic WWF-style wrestling match and, finally, the balls-to-the-wall finisher-fest that would define the next decade of title matches.
3. Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage — WrestleMania III
223 points, ranked by all 11 voters, highest ranked by Todd Weber and Ben Morse at No. 1
Todd Weber: As wrestling fans, we all have had “that moment”. For me “that moment” occurred when what had previously just been the simple entertainment of larger-than-life characters pretending to fight each other became something more. A worked wrestling match transforms into a compelling piece of performance art that indicates that there’s something deeper, something that I daresay is sophisticated occurring. Savage/Steamboat from 1987’s WrestleMania III was the first great workrate one-on-one match that myself and millions of other Eighties kids had ever seen. Oh, there was the fairly standard “revenge” storyline there-who can forget Macho Man going after Steamboat’s throat with the ring bell and Ricky our hero holding his neck in agony-but the art of this match is in the athletic intensity of the combatants and its ability to create suspension of disbelief in the viewer. Near-falls, reversals, flying elbows and knife-edge chops all come together in a tour-de-force of spectacular competition that previously had never been seen in a WrestleMania. In 1987, there was obviously no IWC, so for a match to have near-universal acclaim in that era was truly something remarkable. Savage/Steamboat was the match that got me hooked, and darn it, I’m still hooked.
2. The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels — WrestleMania XXV
246 points, ranked by all 11 voters, highest ranked by Nick Duke and Justin Rozzero at No. 1
Justin Rozzero: When 2009 rolled around and rumors began cropping up that Shawn Michaels and Undertaker were finally going to tussle at WrestleMania, many fans sat and wondered just how these two megastars had crossed paths so rarely. When they feuded in 1997 it was the first time they battled since Taker arrived in late 1990. And eleven years later, they decided to go to war again. Michaels wanted to make a mark and end the streak, Taker respected his fellow legend but was in no mood to lie down. Expectations were really high and each one was easily met.
Always one to bust out a cool entrance for a big match, Shawn’s arrival from the heavens, decked out in all white was a tremendous moment. Taker’s entrance was fantastic as always. Then, the bell rang. And it was awesome. The two went toe-to-toe for 30 nonstop minutes filled with big bumps and crazy near falls. Rumors had swirled for weeks that Taker had given Michaels the thumbs up as the man to end the streak, but nobody knew whether those whispers could truly be believed. In careers filled with epic matches, Michaels and Taker came together to deliver what was perhaps their finest moment on the grandest stage of all. With both men at an advanced in-ring age, they went to school and taught a lesson that all wrestlers, bookers and owners need to remember: hard work pays off and fans will be emotionally invested in characters they are given a chance to know and a reason to care about.
1. Bret Hart vs Steve Austin — WrestleMania 13
250 points, ranked by all 11 voters, highest ranked by Jordan Duncan, Andrew Riche, Steven Graham, Chad Campbell and Wayne Maye
Jordan Duncan: When I think of great WrestleMania moments or matches, the first two that come to my mind are Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior at VII (I feel the best Mania MOMENT in history is the post-match here)….and Bret vs. Austin from 13. Are there other matches that are better TECHNICALLY speaking? Probably, but this match is a perfect “Wrestlemania” match.
Big stars facing off? Check. Culmination of a feud? Check. Pulling out all the stops? Check. Guest referee? Check. Heel or face turn? DOUBLE check! Iconic image or moment that everyone immediately recognizes? Check!
What makes this match even more incredible to me is that it came in such a down period for WWE. WCW was firmly in the driver’s seat, WWE was a distant second place and even WrestleMania didn’t feel like a “big” deal. You could almost justify the guys mailing it in given the situation where things looked so bad. Instead, we got the perfect combination in Hart and Austin: Austin with a chip on his shoulder wanting to become a massive star and Hart being a man who takes such pride in delivering great matches to the fans.
The match itself is the final chapter in the excellent Hart-Austin feud and couldn’t have been done better. Bret got the win, Austin never gave up, Bret turned heel, Austin turned face and BOTH guys came out of it stronger than when they went in. Amazing match from start to finish!
Well, that about does it for the Place to Be Nation’s top 25 matches in WrestleMania history. To see each voter’s ballot and the full rundown of point totals, check out this link. Don’t forget to check out our 15 Worst WrestleMania matches piece as well.