It is WrestleMania week! And we at Place to Be Nation love lists. So, over the past month, JT Rozzero, Ben Morse, Chad Campbell, Marc Clair, Brian Bayless, Brian Meyer, Glenn Butler, Jordan Duncan, Aaron George, Neil Trama & Andy Halleen have spent many hours crafting PTBN’s All Time WrestleMania Match Ranking just for your enjoyment! We have argued. We have number crunched. We have reshuffled multiple times. But, here is our final, ultimate, complete ranking of every single WrestleMania match in history. All 300 of them. The list only includes those matches that aired on pay-per-view and is an aggregate of votes from those that participated in the project. With that said… away we go!
60: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (WrestleMania XXI): Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero had a classic feud back in WCW that included at least one five star offering. They rekindled their feud in 2005 and in the beginning they competed as friends. After fast paced, red hot twelve minute sprint, Rey Mysterio won the bout and planted a seed of doubt in Eddie’s mind that explode into an atomic bomb of hatred weeks later.
59: British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team – WWE Tag Team Titles (WrestleMania 2): As WrestleMania 2 was a little more than halfway through and with the Chicago portion nearing its end, we still had yet to have a truly classic Mania match. Twelve minutes later that all changed when the British Bulldogs defeated the Dream Team to take home tag team gold. The offense was stiff throughout, including a nasty tombstone piledriver and absurd finish that nearly rendered Dynamite Kid unconscious.
58: Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude – WWE Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania V): Bobby Heenan had been with WWE for around five years in April 1989 and despite being involved in lots of big time feuds, he had never managed a champion. Until this match. He did all he could, including sacrificing his own body, to help Rick Rude outsmart the manic Ultimate Warrior for the IC title.
57: Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Ric Flair vs. Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. Bobby Lashley – Money in the Bank (WrestleMania 22): After the original MITB match stole the show a year earlier, expectations were high heading into Chicago for the follow up. And it was really good but not quite great. Ric Flair was in the middle of his garbage wrestler phase and takes a couple of nasty bumps here and we also got angry, stiff Finlay battering people left and right. Rob Van Dam would reach the briefcase first and cash in at One Night Stand in June.
56: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon – No Holds Barred (WrestleMania 22): We’re nearing the very peak of Vince McMahon’s descent into absolute madness here as we are mere weeks away from him challenging God and declaring Shane the product of his semen. Take a visual snapshot of this orange roided up asshole posing in front of that magazine cover and then tell me you don’t enjoy Shawn Michaels pummeling the living shit out of him for half an hour. A one sided beating of this nature has no business being this fun. Vince bleeds a gusher, gets kicked square in the face and still manages to bust us up as he’s carted from the ring in a stretcher, middle finger in the air.
55: John Cena vs. Batista – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XXVI): SummerSlam 2008 was a great face vs. face action style fight for the two biggest WWE stars of the first decade. This match added an extra wrinkle of douchebag Batista. Batista was amazing in this role wearing pink shirts and being that loathsome guy in the club that everyone hates. I do believe this helped John Cena gain a majority of the support throughout this match and they had a big time main event that has become one of Cena’s signature Mania wins and one of his best efforts as well.
54: Mr. Kennedy vs. CM Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. King Booker vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Edge – Money in the Bank (WrestleMania 23): Opening the show for the first time, the 2007 MITB was loaded with great talent and a few strong choices to win. The spot of the match came when Jeff Hardy hit a swanton off one ladder and through Edge, who was prone on another. Kennedy’s final blow was a Green Bay Plunge off a ladder as well, which was also a great bump. Kennedy would grab the briefcase and become the first poor MITB winner choice but for one night he sure seemed like a star.
53: Legion of Doom & Ahmed Johnson vs. Nation of Domination – Chicago Street Fight (WrestleMania 13): Ever since Faarooq’s WWE debut in the summer of 1996 he was targeting Ahmed Johnson. After injuries delayed their feud, it flared back up in early 1997 and was set to explode here in a street fight. In the weeks leading to the show, the LOD returned to the company and this was expanded to a six man battle. It was loaded with weapons and some hard hitting brawling and was capped with a statement win by Ahmed and the Roadies.
52: Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21): Lined up against a young star that needed a marquee win, it looked like Undertaker’s streak may have been in jeopardy in Hollywood. Randy Orton would go blow for blow with the Deadman and even get an assist from his dad but came up just short of a win. This match signified the early signs that Taker may be hitting a career renaissance.
51: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania VII): The feud was filled with jingoism and didn’t scream “marquee main event” in 1991 but Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter were able to turn the clock back to 1984 and put on a great title bout to close out WrestleMania. Sarge bumped all over, Hogan sold his ass off, the crowd loved it and Americana reigned supreme.
50: Chris Jericho vs. Christian (WrestleMania XX): We reach the top 50 with a match where former friends and tag partners collided after a bet gone awry and women got in between them. One of those women played a pivotal role here when Trish Stratus turned heel on Chris Jericho and hooked up with Christian en route to getting him the win. The match was really damn good and sexy heel Trish made it all the better.
49: Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XI): These two former best friends saw their relationship blow apart late in 1994 right before Diesel captured the WWF Title. Shawn Michaels would win the Royal Rumble and earn a shot to cash in on his dream in Hartford. The match was great but Michaels shined a bit too much and ended up making Diesel look slower and inferior, even though the champ won the match. Overall it was just few pieces away from being an all time Mania classic.
48: Rockers vs. Haku & Barbarian (WrestleMania VII): A fantastic tag team opener that hits the gas immediately off the bell and never slows down. 1991 was the final full year for the Rockers and they go out with a bang on PPV. The selling was tremendous, the power offense by Bobby Heenan’s monsters was sharp and the finish was smoking hot. A oft-unheralded opener that deserves much more love.
47: Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania X-7): The first match in the Undertaker vs. Triple H Mania Trilogy was a surprisingly feisty brawl that saw the two stars wrestle throughout the crowd and bring the hate at each other back in the ring. It also featured the best streak ending near fall to date when Hunter popped Taker in the head with his sledgehammer during a Last Ride attempt. Taker would recover and get the win in his best Mania match to this point.
46: Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust – WWE Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania 31): As essentially a capper to Daniel Bryan’s WWE career, this isn’t the worst note for him to go out on. This ladder match featured a ton of talent and the intrigue of the rumors swirling around about the rebuilding of the Intercontinental TItle. The match moved from a spotfest heavy affair to a ending crescendo full of stiff shots and in retrospect forgettable headbutts. Still, D-Bry holding the belt in the air on top of the ladder is a nice image to think about for one of the best wrestlers of this generation.
45: Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show – No Disqualification Match (WrestleMania XXIV): We have seen many celebrity matches at WrestleMania but Money Mayweather vs. Big Show may be the gold standard. Once the build was calibrated and Mayweather was cast as the natural heel he is, everything feel right into place. The match was booked to perfection and the way Mayweather won felt believable. The bar was officially set in Orlando.
44: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XXVIII): In the early goings of his incredible title reign, CM Punk finally found himself pitted against the recently returned and embittered star Chris Jericho. Jericho played dirty, drudging up Punk’s family past and the feud would edge on past Mania but in Miami, Punk won the battle as he retained by making Jericho tap out.
43: Undertaker vs. Triple H – No Holds Barred (WrestleMania XXVII): I was dreading this match big time. Even worse was that we had just suffered through the abomination of Cole vs. Lawler. Imagine my surprise when the match started out furiously and actually carried some big spots with decent intrigue. I was relieved we weren’t in store for a HHH NWA Masterpiece cosplay. Imagine my further surprise when a tombstone kickout for HHH is legitimately one of the top five live moments I have experienced while watching wrestling. This match had a lot of bombs and kickouts, but if that isn’t appropriate on the biggest stage of wrestling, when is it? – Chad Campbell
42: Steve Austin vs. The Rock – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XV): This long running feud was so amazing that it has three Mania matches inside the Top 42. This was their first and it was the one with the most clearly defined lines. The Rock was Vince McMahon’s corporate king and Steve Austin despised them both. After getting screwed at the Royal Rumble, Austin defeated McMahon to earn this shot here and then cleaned house in Philly to take back his coveted WWF Title.
41: Ric Flair vs. Undertaker – No Disqualification Match (WrestleMania X-8): The Undertaker was in the midst of a career revival as “Big Evil”, and the same could be said for Ric Flair, who looked ready for his first appearance at WrestleMania in ten years. Both brought their “A-game” to create a fun brawl, which also included another “A”- a surprise appearance from Arn Anderson.
40: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania 23): In many ways, it is tough to assert yourself as the top dog in WWE until you defeat the existing icons and champions in their own domain. In 2007, John Cena was transitioning from current top superstar into the true face of WWE for a generation. A win over Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania helped get him there. The two went out and had a fantastic main event title match and then topped it two weeks later in London, helping Cena rise up the ladder en route to one of the greatest in ring years of his career.
39: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania X-7): A great technical classic that featured a brilliant finish when Kurt Angle broke off the mat game and cheated to steal a win. It kept the feud rolling for the next two months and set up a rivalry that would last throughout the first half of the decade.
38: Undertaker vs. Edge – WWE World Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XXIV): We were close to having two WrestleMania undefeated stars going head-to-head for the World Title in the main event but Edge had been part of a losing group of stars in the previous year’s MITB bout. Beyond that, this was still a big time match as Edge was on a roll as champion and Taker was in the middle of his workmate rebirth. Many wondered if they could deliver in a non gimmick environment and they proved those doubters wrong by putting on a tremendous battle that saw Taker close the show as champion.
37: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Heavyweight Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII): The much maligned Iron Man match is usually either lauded as a classic or declared unwatchable. It’s absurd to declare it unwatchable in a world where Fuller House exists but I digress. In the end it’s a very solidly worked match. It does suffer tremendously from the first half hour being more about the headlocks than Kevin Owens and Bret Hart ignoring all of Shawn Michaels’ arm work. It’s quite telling when one of the more memorable spots is the poor timekeeper being kicked in the face. That being said the last ten minutes or so is stellar and we’re left wondering how great this could have been with some editing and a different stipulation.
36: Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon – Street Fight (WrestleMania XIX): Sure they were lying about the match being two decades in the making but the video package did a fantastic job of convincing us otherwise. Both guys do a tremendous job of selling their mutual loathing and acquit themselves admirably in the ring. We don’t get hate in wrestling any more so this one is still completely refreshing on re-watch. The blood is stellar, Piper’s interference is classic but it’s a bloody Vince McMahon peering above the mat that takes the title of greatest camera shot in company history. This one had no right being this good.
35: Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania XXIX): Had there been any, ANY doubt as to who was winning you’ve got to believe this one would be substantially higher on the list. It really is remarkable that both guys did enough to give us any doubt at all that the streak was in jeopardy. CM Punk made it his mission to steal the show and he delivered his best Mania performance in his final appearance at the granddaddy. Against a granddaddy.
34: Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection vs. Evolution (WrestleMania XX): Nothing much to say about this one other than it may the most purely fun match in Mania history. Rock and Flair are clearly having a blast out there together at the same time as Foley and Orton were legitimizing their blood feud. Was it a technical classic? Nope! Would we have guessed that Batista of all people would main event the next year? Absolutely not. Did it matter? Not a whit.This one ROCKed. Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
33: Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XIV): While everyone may have seen it from a mile away that Steve Austin was leaving this show with the gold, the addition of Mike Tyson was an exciting variable. It brought WWE back into the mainstream and helped propel them to the status of being the #1 wrestling company.
32: Mick Foley vs. Edge – Hardcore Match (WrestleMania 22): This one deserves to be up here almost solely on the back of the fact that there isn’t another match remotely like it at any WrestleMania. From the moment that Edge speared Foley only to roll around in agony we knew we were in for something special. The crowd’s slow realization that Foley had wrapped barb wire around his body is wonderfully foreboding and something we never see any more. This is just a fantastic, barbaric brawl that totally legitimized Edge. By the time Foley was speared through the table both guys had created an unforgettable “WrestleMania Moment” (a horrible trademark). Also Lita won the title of hottest woman on earth on this night.
31: Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XX): After a much publicized struggle to sobriety and the top of the mountain, the entire wresting world was behind Eddie Guerrero in his war with the vengeful Kurt Angle. Angle turned his back on Guerrero a month earlier, punishing him in a brutal taped fist attack and claiming it was time for a champion the country could be proud to watch. The match itself was a classic, with neither man slowing down from bell to bell, when Guerrero reached into his bag of tricks and stole a win when he loosened his boot, slipped out of an anklelock and wrapped Angle up for a pin. We all know how Eddie’s story ended but in early 2004 it was hard not to get choked up over what he had defeated to get where he now stood and picking up a win in a fantastic WrestleMania match was the cherry on top.
30: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania V): This match was a year in the making, dating back to Randy Savage winning the Championship Tournament with the assistance of the Hulkster. Cracks in their partnership began to show, finally exploding on prime-time television, leaving Miss Elizabeth in the middle of an epic war that easily delivered a match and finish worthy of their feud.
29: Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon – Street Fight (WrestleMania X-7): Mr. McMahon was always pretty evil. And sadistic. And ruthless. But perhaps never more so than in early 2001 when he drugged his poor wife and banged his side piece in front of her vapid eyes. Eventually, his son Shane showed up to defend his mom’s honor and also dig the knife deeper by purchasing the hated WCW out from under his father’s pen. The stakes were boiling hot heading into Houston, but nobody could have expected what we got on that loaded evening. The McMahons put on an epic contest filled with memorable spots, loads of sensible interference, the monster pop to end all monster pops when Linda rose from her chair, a catfight and the perfect finishing spot. Shane would reign supreme on this night but Vince tossed a stake in the ground that he could deliver the goods at WrestleMania when called upon as well.
28: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX): This match is comparable to a ‘modern day’ version of Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage, with two heated rivals exchanging inventive counters and numerous nearfalls. Both men were fully immersed in their characters too, with Michaels entering his career renaissance and Jericho embracing his role as the cocky heel. Many felt Jericho should have gone over at the time but this was before Michaels had returned on a full time basis and it felt like a lifetime achievement win when it wrapped up.
27: Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper – WWE Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VIII): “What the hell? Use the bell!” We knee Piper could fight. We knew he could talk. We knew he could see Aliens when given the right eyewear but it was on this night that we learned how great of a wrestler he could be. Piper never let Hulk freaking Hogan pin him and yet he laid down for Bret Hart in a little bit of a surprise show stealer at the time. The story of Piper teetering on the dark side in an attempt to defeat his friend with whom he used to share bologna sandwiches is expertly told and by the time Hart reverses the sleeper into the pin for the win we were all on board with Bret being a top guy.
26: Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian – WWE Tag Team Titles Ladder Match (WrestleMania 2000): Look how great tag team wrestling used to be. We used to get six guys who would go out and attempt to kill themselves for our enjoyment. Honestly it’s be no surprise if they stopped and yelled “Are you not entertained???” midway though the match. This match injected a lethal dose of tag team excitement into a once dormant division and set the stage for a year of fantastic matches from these three teams. There’s probably also a compelling argument to be made that this match saved the careers of Edge and Christian as they used their surprise win to launch their awesome careers into the stratosphere. I think the more compelling argument is that Bubba Dudley enjoys cake.
25: John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XXVIII): Despite the year build, the unfortunate feud with Awesome Truth and the seemingly endless concerts Cena and Rock delivered a classic in their “Once In A Lifetime,” encounter. Rock more than held his own despite the decade layoff and Cena was his usual big match self. It was a bit of a genuine surprise to see Rock pull out the three count but I guess that was preferable to the inevitable riots had the face of the company won the match. The image of Cena siting on the ramp defeated was of course discarded in the gigantic pile of reasons The Champ should turn heel but that doesn’t take away from an excellent WrestleMania main event.
24: Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania XXIV): Look I’m not saying you don’t have a soul if this match didn’t move you to tears but if there wasn’t at least a little something in your eyes you’re probably the type of person that enjoys eating kittens. The story of the match, and the build for that matter, was that Ric Flair couldn’t go any more and by the time the Nature Boy was unable to bridge out of a backslide we knew, despite our love for him that the end was near. This was a beautiful swan song by wrestling standards and “I love you I’m sorry,” made us all look like weepy fools in front of our girlfriends/wives. Flair always wore his heart on his sleeve and his genuine outpouring of emotion coupled with being matched up against HBK gave us possibly the best retirement match of all time. Until he ruined it by going to TNA. Woo?
23: Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII): Love or hate Triple H you’re always operating under the assumption that he JUST MIGHT put himself over the greatest streak of all time when he’s in there with Taker. Michaels’ melodrama as the ref is hit and miss depending on who you ask but there’s little doubt that the superkick/pedigree near fall is one of the greatest in company history. As great as that moment is it pales in comparison to Undertaker standing over the fallen Triple H standing on the sledgehammer and smiling. We know Hunter is dead in that moment and his subsequent destruction wonderfully pays off the story they began telling the year before. The curtain call was as strange as it was emotional and fittingly “ended an era,” that we still seem to be living in today.
22: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista – WWE World Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XXX): In truth they probably could have just had Bryan win in ten seconds and everyone would have been just as happy. The fact that they went out of their way to give us a great match only made his victory the sweeter. In the end we all knew that Bryan was going to conquer them but they did just enough to make us doubt that Batista was leaving with the title. Kudos to Big Dave for making the best out of a bad situation. Despite the layoff he was excellent in the match and proved himself quite the professional going from “crowned champion” to tapping out for the little guy. The little guy who finally got his moment and convinced us, ever so briefly, that the WWE listens to their audience.
21: Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XIX): The second appearance of this legendary feud on this list is the third match of the Mania trilogy. Rock was heading to Hollywood full time and Steve Austin’s neck was quickly falling apart and he on the verge of retirement but the two old warriors went out guns blazing just one more time. In many ways this may actually be the best of their three bouts just knowing everything that went on behind it and just how much the match meant to both men. Also, The Rock finally gets the win over his bitter rival and then shares an emotional moment with him afterwards. This match tends to fly under the radar within its own WrestleMania, within the trilogy and from a wholistic WrestleMania perspective. A true hidden classic.
20: Undertaker vs. Batista – WWE World Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania 23): Who in the hell would have guessed that this match would be the best one on THIS card? These guys have absolutely no right to be moving as fast and with as much intensity as they are throughout. In perhaps the most surprising great match in company history both Batista and Taker bust ass and more than proved they were worthy of the main event of the show.
19: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XIX): Everyone remembers the botch at the end and ridicules Lesnar for trying it. Had he hit that fateful shooting star press we’d probably be talking about a top ten match of all time. Instead we were treated to a phenomenal wrestling contest that is continuously overlooked because a man nearly broke his neck. Sure it was obvious he nearly died but so did that diver who smashed his head on the diving board and no one says HE ruined the event. Kurt Angle was a beast during this period and it’s scary to think how much he’d have accomplished if the company had always booked his as legitimate as they did leading up to Seattle.
18: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI): While not as great as their classic a year earlier these two once again tore the house down while a locker room full of younger guys “in their prime,” sat in awe. The jumping tombstone is perhaps the most definitive way to end a career in company history, coming after Michael’s countless attempts to put away the Dead Man. While lacking the suspense of their past encounters, this was a fantastic end to one of the greatest careers of all time made all the sweeter by Shawn’s draconian adherence to the stipulation. These guys never had anything but a great match together.
17: Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Benoit – Money in the Bank (WrestleMania 21): Carried by Chris Benoit and Shelton Benjamin running up a god damn ladder this first iteration of MITB still stands as one of the best. Not only did it dazzle on a night of dazzling matches but it also launched Edge into the stratosphere as he was the perfect smarmy choice to play a scumbag with a briefcase. This is what they should still be doing with guys they don’t know what to do with at Mania. Oh wait… They don’t know what to do with anyone? Shame. Shame on them. And us.
16: Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian – WWE Tag Team Titles TLC Match (WrestleMania X-7): A better version of the match from the previous year. Once again these three times did their best to shorten their careers for our perverse enjoyment. Only this time they felt like they were doing it to silence as the arena was apparently cavernous and they all felt the crow was dead. What a horrible feeling that must have been and yet they still pulled out a fantastic match. I wonder how much the crowd’s “silence” forced them to do stupider things to attempt to win them back. Is that why Matt Hardy can’t walk or move his legs when he throws punches any more. Is that why Lita cheated on him? Did she see Edge as a man who was actually able to bend his knees and think “This man could actually play with our kids?” Perhaps she thought “This guy doesn’t have one of the worst hairlines in the history of the globe.” Seriously what’s wrong with Matt Hardy’s legs. They don’t move like human legs. It’s like he’s on stilts. Someone should put Matt Hardy down. Just get him out of here, he’s in too much pain. Rhyno, Spike and Lita were fine additions and the spear off the ladder is still a great spot even today.
15: Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H – WWE World Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania XX): Wrestling fans all around the internet community had waiting nearly a decade for Chris Benoit to be fully utilized to his potential by a major wrestling company. He had come close on a few occasions but could never bust through the glass ceiling. Until 2004 that is. Benoit would go wire to wire and win the Rumble and then have to run the political gauntlet of a triple threat match in MSG. And the match was epic. The crowd was alternating between popping like crazy for every move and hyperventilating with fear that Benoit would be screwed yet again. The closing sequence was a masters class in ring psychology as Triple H kept leaving just enough doubt in your mind that he was going to put the screws to Benoit before finally tapping out and giving everyone their moment to bask in the glory of the new World Heavyweight Champion.
14: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania 21): If only Shawn Michaels hadn’t spent two minutes in the damn anklelock we may be looking at a top ten match of all time. As it stands it’s one of the finest examples of WWE style booking that has divided audiences for years. One might say there were too many near falls. Another might say that these two are the best kicker outers in the biz and every one of those near falls were earned. Kurt Angle has the rare privilege of being a heel who’s booked like he can actually win matches and the fact that he beats HBK clan only enhances this epic encounter.
13: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE World Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania 31): Pure catharsis. If you were frustrated with Roman Reigns being booked straight to the top of the promotion it probably gave you perverse joy to watch Lesnar systematically destroy the big dog. (Or whatever they’re calling him this week.) Reigns does a fantastic job selling the beating and his smiling as he realizes he’s in way over his head is great character work. I think the world let out a collective cheer as Roman got his leg caught in the ropes and proceeded to have his head clotheslined off his shoulders by Brock. And even after all the beatings, the suplexes and the blood we were treated to the tremendous surprise of Seth Rollins cashing in and winning the title. They took what was shaping up to be one of the more disappointing main events in Mania history and turned it into something truly special and deserving of living just outside the top ten.
12: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWE Heavyweight & Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI): I don’t care who planned the match or if they practiced it before hand, these two gladiators put on an absolute classic on this cold Toronto night. They just don’t book guys like they used to. Hogan and Warrior weren’t just the two top faces going up against each other, they were basically presented as Gods whose every punch would level an ordinary man. Watch them throw bombs at each other and tell me you’re not witnessing the two strongest men in the history of creation. And don’t you dare tell me that these two don’t participate in the greatest test of strength of all time. If you have the gall to say something so insane you’d better be prepared to defend yourself in a fist fight sir. Are there better technical contests in company history? Sure. But nothing feels like this any more. No one is presented as though they’re unbeatable and there are few matches where the ending was as in doubt as this one. Both guys killed it on this night and proved that they were both great workers in their own right.
11. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania VIII): Blood, damaged goods, a promise of a naked Elizabeth sprawled on the big screen, Ric Flair nearly getting pinned off a straight punch to the face as he jumped from the top rope; this match has it all. The great thing about Randy Savage matches is that they all seem to have this very personal intensity that few others could pull off. This match is no exception as both guys bust ass to turn a throw away title defense into one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time. There’s just so much cheating going on as Mr. Perfect runs in and out of the ring in an attempt to give Flair the win. There’s so much cheating that you actually feel a sense of justice when Savage hooks the tights for the win and his second WWF championship. Flair, Perfect and Heenan’s hypocritical post match promo is the stuff of legend. As much as WrestleMania VIII represents being cheated out of Flair/Hogan what we got in return was a masterful, all time great performance from two of the greatest of all time. Feels like we got more than fair value here.
10: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXX): A nice little sleeper contender for best opener of all time here as the crowd was white hot for Bryan and the match felt like the most important thing we’d ever seen. It’s amazing that Triple H would have his best WrestleMania match in his 17th try. More amazing that a Triple H match cracked the top ten without one of our writers committing suicide. Daniel Bryan is a beast and brings out the best in everyone he faces. It’s really no surprise he got the best out of Trips here. Underrated performance of the match: Stephanie McMahon at ringside. From the moment we see her in her Mike McGuirk getup announcing her husband we know she’s in it to win it on this night. She’s just so gross screaming “No one does it like you Hunter!” while she cheers on her husband as he beats on a man half his size. This match also gives us a fantastic moment of catharsis as Bryan drives his knee into Hunter’s face and pins him to move on to the main event. I like to imagine that Hunter’s nose goes into his brain and kills him. Sure it won’t make up for him killing the business but at least I’ll feel like there’s a sense of justice in the world. The post match beatdown of Bryan was also stellar and really added to the underdog feel going forward. A criminally underrated gem here which slots nicely into the top ten.
9: Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X): The match that launched a thousand hospital visits! On any other night this would have been the best match on the show. Well I guess on any other night other than the eight nights ahead of this on the list but you get the idea. It’s a great match. Sure the ladder match has now been innovated to the point where some of the spots in this one feel antiquated, but few to none recapture the magic and brutality of the first. It really looks like both guys are trying to hurt each other with the ladder. It was less about trying to do something spectacular and more about trying to use the ladder to win the match. Razor is just a master at making every second of his performance count. Every move of his body is nuanced and you really get the feel that he’s trying to murder Shawn Michaels. He’s just so, so smooth. And cool. I wanted to have a beard like Razor as a kid. Since I couldn’t grow facial hair I had to settle for a Razor Ramon necklace. Yes as lame as it sounds. Shawn Michaels already had some great little matches under his belt but this was his coming out party as someone who could be counted on to have the match of the night every night. He basically retired for the rest of the year after this match so you can imagine how good he thought it was. He felt he had nothing left to accomplish in 1994. He thought he peaked. I guess 94 was just a great year for he and OJ. You’ve seen the match yourself, you know how great and influential it is. If you haven’t found time to watch it die already.
8: Steve Austin vs. The Rock – WWE Heavyweight Title No Disqualification (WrestleMania X-7): The word climax as pertains to the attitude era drums up all kinds of mental images that truthfully have no place on our website. I’m sure the WWE will have you believe that the glory days went on for years, but the simple fact of the matter is this match was probably the culmination of their hottest period and the product would never be the same again. What a way to go out though. Both Stone Cold and The Rock wrestled as though they had something to prove as they wowed the Houston faithful by stealing each other’s moves and about a hundred thousand false finishes. The rabid crowd ate every second of it up, even Vince McMahon curiously walking down to ringside. We all now know that Steve Austin’s heel turn was ill-advised at best, disastrous at worst, but at the time it was…nope it was still weird at the time. I will say that the actual finish of Austin beating the Rock with a chair until he was jelly before pinning him is pretty spectacular on it’s own and truly played up the overarching story of the match that was that Stone Cold just couldn’t beat the Rock. Would this match be remembered better had Vince McMahon not been the one to hand Austin the chair? Debatable. I mean it’s number eight. As is though it’s still two of the best at the top of their game tearing down the house in a way not really seen since Hogan and Warrior eleven years earlier. It takes balls to have your two biggest babyfaces square off at your biggest show. It takes balls to turn the most popular guy… well… ever heel in his home state. Suffice it to say it would take even bigger balls to claim this one shouldn’t be in the top ten.
7: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan (WrestleMania X-8): Has a match ever been more elevated due to crowd reaction than this one? One could make the argument that the action is somewhat pedestrian but the moment when Hulk hulks up and brings seventy thousand people back to their childhoods is pure magic. Up in Canada we never really cared for WCW, so it felt like Hulk Hogan came out of retirement to fight the Rock. Both guys worked to their potential and Rock seemed to relish slipping back into the heel role. This one’s all about Hogan though. He was so over McMahon put the title on him the next month. The guy he basically said died at WrestleMania XII Vince built the company around SIX YEARS LATER. Is this the greatest technical match of all time? Far from it. But it goes to show that when you put two legends in the ring they can build a match on the basis of them being over. A match that despite and warts lives on as one of our fondest memories of our fandom. A moment when we all got to be Hulkamaniacs again.
6: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – WWE Heavyweight Title (WrestleMania III): What? So high? You guys are crazy. THIS WHOLE LIST IS A MONSTROCITY!!! I guess what it comes down to is what makes a great wrestling match? Does Hulk Hogan need to be doing 450 splashes to have one of the greatest matches of all time? Or is a great wrestling match really about how much a match captures and ravages the imagination? This match is pretty perfect when it comes right down to it. The crowd is rabid, RABID for every single move from the early false finish to Andre squeezing the life out of Hogan with a bearhug. There’s not a minute where they’re not completely engaged and frothing at the mouth for Hogan to conquer the giant. Every move counts, including the epic opening staredown and they even bother to tell a coherent story in a match by building up such a simple moment as Hogan knocking Andre off his feet. Every time Hulk gets a little bit of momentum the immovable object steps in and sucks the hope out of the crowd. It builds to a fever pitch until it happens… As Gorilla Monsoon yells “Look at this!” Hulk slams the Giant and creates the quintessential WrestleMania moment as 93,000 people lose their collective minds. It’s been nearly thirty years and it’s still arguably the greatest moment in company history. All built on the foundation of a tremendous, simple build that saw one friend betray another and a genuine fear that our hero would fall from the beanstalk and lose his precious title. We felt Hogan’s pain as he picked that cross up off the ground. We hated that Giant as he tossed Hogan from the battle royale and washed his hands of the whole situation. Three years to be a champion, is a long time… a long time… but really this match is nearly fifteen years in the making as Andre had built up an unbeaten streak that would send Goldberg back to synagogue. It also still stands as one of, if not THE biggest matches of all time. Ask a casual fan on the street about a match they remember from their childhood and you’re probably not going to get a five-star workrate classic, you’re going to get Hogan/Andre. A match that succeeds on nearly every conceivable level and is a more than worthy of the Russ Courtnall spot on our list.
5: Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage – WWE Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania III): In the 30 years since this match, we’ve seen Jeffy Hardy dive from the top of a ladder, Edge and Mick Foley crash through a flaming table, and even Brock Lesnar attempt a Shooting Star Press, but none of these high-flying moves can match the intensity of this action-packed match. It’s been stated by many that this match stole the show, and rightfully so, as it was crafted to perfection by Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. Both play their parts well, with Steamboat out for revenge after suffering a crushed larynx, and Savage was willing to do anything to keep his championship gold. Even George “The Animal” Steele was an essential piece to this match, as he was also a long-running rival of the Macho Man after he developed a crush on Savage’s lady, Miss Elizabeth. That also served two purposes, with Savage getting his comeuppance for injuring Ricky Steamboat and also cheating to beat Steele at the previous WrestleMania.
4: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WrestleMania X): “I kicked your leg Bret… and it FELT GOOD.” With that we were on the road to WrestleMania despite the fact that construction of that highway hadn’t even really started. Hell even the announcer trolling the New York crowd with “First from CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA (pause)… (Owen’s music),” is fantastic in the sheer disappointment and contempt it breeds. This is the greatest opening match in company history and easily one of the greatest matches as well. Brother vs. Brother can be so lame. We saw the Hardys fail, Undertaker and Kane was hit and miss despite Mama Undertaker’s heinous adultery and they never even bothered to face off the Dudleys in what would have surely been the greatest hate crime of all time. Bret and Owen nail it here as the slow burn of Bret wanting nothing to do with the match runs straight into Owen being named suitable competition. Owen looked hungry throughout the feud and he carries that quality into the match with him. From the opening bell he’s the perfect little shit brother; doing everything he can to win and celebrating the smallest of victories over his sibling. We shouldn’t be surprised at all that these two put of a masterpiece of mat wrestling, rarely spiraling into brawling yet losing none of the intensity. It’s a blood feud without any need of blood. It’s a younger brother trying desperately to claim his place. It’s perfect. Owen’s surprise roll up was magic and set up the company’s main event for the next year. Not only is this match a classic but it forever cemented Owen as a top tier guy. The image of a victorious Owen standing in the aisle as his brother is crowned champion at the end of the night is such a perfect image that it almost makes you forget about the giant spitwad at the Royal Rumble or kicking legs out from under legs. Almost.
3: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXV): How did these two old men pull off such a classic? Was it the dark versus light theme? Was it the impending sense of doom surrounding the main event of the night? Was it the insanity that placed them mid way through the card? Naw. It’s that wrestlers used to be trained to tell a story in the ring in lieu of hitting spots. Instead of worrying about poses they worried about building emotional highs and lows in their matches. Both guys understood that Undertaker’s shocked reaction when Michaels kicked out of the tombstone is a more important moment than anyone jumping off any ladder/TitanTron/elephant. At WrestleMania XXV we got two experts going out there and teaching a lesson in professional wrestling. By the time Shawn kicked out of that fateful tombstone (which hadn’t been done to death at that point) we already had a classic match. We then got another five minutes of nearfalls and drama that actually made us believe that Michaels could win. The match was so good that people BEGGED for them to repeat it the next year. Four years later people were outraged that we got something twice in a lifetime and yet I’m sure we’d still be happy to this day if they’d just kept on running this match year after year. This one also kind of snuck up on us as an all time classic. Sure Shawn and Taker never had a bad match together but would they really be able to pull off a classic in the twilight of their careers? It’s such a great example of less is more; of relying on the instinct of your top guys. It’s just a great example of pro wrestling and still a blast to sit through to this day. Also Shawn’s God costume was pretty spectacular. It takes balls to wear that much white after September.
2) Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII): Hey remember that roided up Ultimate Warrior that couldn’t work? The same guy who has as many matches as Bret Hart in the top twenty? Imagine how furious that would make Bret? He would probably start yelling at us declaring that “Everybody knows…” and “Two Harts beating as one” or some likely bullshit. How did I end up making this entry about Bret Hart? I wanted to be praising the Warrior. As much as I want to praise the Ultimate one (and he does deserve credit here) this match is legendary on the backs of Randy Savage and Elizabeth. First the match. I’m not sure there’s every been a wrestler before or since that has had such a clear and cohesive arc to their career as Randy Savage. Had he never wrestled another match this moment would have been perhaps the greatest exclamation point to a career in company history. Right from the start you knew that they were going to create something magical together. Warrior had forgone his usual sprint to the ring and when both guys get in each other’s faces you can taste the hate between them. Savage was just that guy. The guy who invested you in every second of his performances. I can’t really recall a feud that he had that wasn’t dripping with personal animosity that elevated his matches beyond simply pinning his opponent’s shoulders to the mat. Both guys throw absolutely everything at one another in a fruitless attempt to put their foe away. Savage even goes back to attempting to crush Warrior’s throat on the barricade a la Ricky Steamboat as he seemingly attempted to tell the entire story of his career throughout the course of one match. Warrior has the hokey drama on asking the Gods for answers when his gorilla press fails him, but his whole character was hokey so it fit. After kicking out of a stupendous five elbow drops from Savage, Warrior proceeded to beat Randy into goo and pin him with one foot sending him into what we thought would be a horrible retirement; living with Sherri and putting up with all those damn cauldrons in their house. I would assume by Zeus’ fourth houseguest stay Randy would have probably killed himself. Bobby Heenan’s “Oh no!” never sounded more foreboding. Then we were treated to nothing short of a Shakespearean romance as ELIZABETH ran in from the crowd and saved her once lover from the beatings of a deranged witch. Their reconciliation is as beautiful a thing as you’re likely to find in a wrestling ring and people had tears in their eyes as they watched wrestling’s first couple reunite. Sure one of the people crying was that weird guy in the green cowboy hat, and another seemed to be at their MSG wedding…but tears are contagious. I’ve heard. The post match stuff is what elevated this one to legendary status but the in ring portion is no slouch either. Warrior more than carries his end and Savage is arguably the greatest performer of all time so it’s no surprise they hit a home run here. I think the best moment though in the whole damn thing is when Savage doesn’t allow Liz to hold the ropes for him, deciding instead to finally hold them for her. He then turns to the crowd and the man who had entered the building as one of the most hated men in the company was now the most beloved. Amazing what compelling characters and great storytelling can do for your product. Not to mention a tremendous testament to how special a talent Randy Savage truly was.
1) Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13): I’m not sure were we’re legally allowed to have anything else at number one. Not only is this one of the greatest worked matches in company history but it’s also easily one of the most important. It MADE Steve Austin. It made the biggest star of all time and pulled off a near flawless double turn. It’s a rare example of the WWF striking while the iron is hot and running with a true alternative to their norm. If you’re reading the list you know all the high spots of this one. The image of Steve Austin bleeding out in the sharpshooter is probably more clear in your mind than the face of your firstborn child. Let me tell you something: it’s fine to admit that. Don’t think it makes you any less of a parent and/or human being. The match was that important. It’s so strange that arguably Bret Hart’s greatest match of his career is miles away from your typical Bret Hart match. Instead of a technical marvel we’re treated to both guys trying to “Beat the hell out of one another till they submit.” We were also treated to Steve Austin declaring he wasn’t bringing a condom to the ring to screw Bret in a pre match promo but as you can see there’s just so much greatness here that I could write an entire thesis on how fantastic this match is. Hell, even Steve Austin’s entrance through the broken glass was tremendous. Thank God Haku wasn’t still with the company because it would have been crazy to walk down that aisle afterwards. Then again he’d probably do it just to prove a point so why am I talking about this? Oh yeah, this match works on every possible level as both guys have the crowd eating out of their hands as they tell the story of a fallen hero and the rise of the anti hero. There’s a moment about midway through where Bret puts Austin’s foot in a chair in an attempt to “Pillmanize” him the way Steve had shattered the ankles of half the company by that point. Bret climbs the ropes but is met with an absolutely thunderous chair shot to the back. A chair shot that the audience SCREAMS for. Sure Austin solidified his face turn as he passes out to end the match (which was a brilliant finish) but I think it was that chair shot that turned him face. That and the attempt to piledrive the Canadian hero on the stairs. You’ve got to respect someone who tries to kill someone else on a staircase. It requires a crazy high skill set to pull it off. Honestly what more can be said about this match? It was an easy consensus as our number one pick. It was such a easy consensus that no one even bothered to argue it. People argued EVERYTHING, but number one was clear and obvious. It’s the greatest WrestleMania match of all time and arguably the greatest MATCH of all time. It’s a classic that lives up to the hype and an easy re-watch any day of the week. Forget bar mitzvahs, when my son comes on age the ceremony will be to watch this match and explain to him why Bret Hart is being such a whiney dick.