In honor of WrestleMania 33, members of the PTBN Staff has gathered to create a series of 33 lists, all dedicated to the rich history of WWE’s grandest spectacle. Each contributor assigned a ranking of 1-10 and votes were tallied accordingly. We will be releasing one list per day, with the final list to be posted on April 1, 2017, the day prior to WrestleMania 33! Be sure to share your feedback with us on social media! You can view the complete series here!
Day Four: Best WrestleMania National Anthem/America the Beautiful Performances
Others Getting Votes: Ashanti – WMXIX (12 ), Aretha Franklin – WM23 (12), Nicole Scherzinger – WMXXV (10), Lillian Garcia – WM21 (5), Aloe Blacc – WM31 (4), Fifth Harmony – WM32 (2), Gene Okerlund – WMI (1), Chris Warren Band – WMXIV (1), Michelle Williams – WM22 (1)
10. Robert Goulet – WrestleMania VI (29 Points)
Highest Ranking: #4 (Scott Criscuolo, Glenn Butler & Chris Jordan)
Adding some Canadian flavor to the first international WrestleMania, crooner Robert Goulet did a masterful job of firing up over 60,000 Canadians with a stirring rendition of O, Canada.
9. Willie Nelson – WrestleMania VII (30 Points)
Highest Ranking: #5 (Chris Jordan)
Decked out like a walking WWF merchandise stand, beloved country superstar Willie Nelson kicked off WrestleMania VII with America the Beautiful. Nelson, a salt of the earth good ol’ boy, was a fitting choice for a show that was draped in Americana from start to finish.
8. Harlem Boys Choir – WrestleMania XX (31 Points)
Highest Ranking: #5 (Scott Criscuolo & Steve Riddle)
One of the biggest hooks of WrestleMania XX was WWF tying the show back to its roots that began in 1985 and followed in 1994 in the very same Madison Square Garden. The retro callbacks started right out of the gate when the company brought back the Harlem Boys Choir to sing America the Beautiful. It was a classy rendition and perfectly fit the scope of what the company was trying to accomplish.
7. Gladys Knight – WrestleMania IV (32 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Chris Jordan)
Emanating from Trump Plaza, WrestleMania IV was a long, complex show that was kicked off by Motown icon Gladys Knight singing America the Beautiful. Knight had just embarked on a solo career and was a timely get for the WWF. Plus, that sequined top.
6. John Legend – WrestleMania XXIV (36 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Steven Ferrari)
As WrestleMania was transitioning from a major WWE PPV into a grandiose weekend long event, the company strived to lure as many “in the moment” celebrity acts to the show as possible. John Legend had been building a strong reputation over the previous decade but he had become a music superstar by 2012 and was a strong choice to play his piano while belting out a stirring America the Beautiful in Orlando.
5. Little Richard – WrestleMania X (47 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Neil Trama, Steven Ferrari & Jason Greenhouse)
Flanked by the Harlem Boys Choir, never aging music icon Little Richard got Madison Square Garden rocking by delivering a rendition of America the Beautiful as only he could.
4. Boyz II Men – WrestleMania XV (55 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Mike Eller)
Motown Philly was back again on the evening of WrestleMania XV as local music legends Boyz II Men returned home to belt out a harmonious edition of America the Beautiful. It was one of WrestleMania’s best opening performances as well as one of its most fitting.
3. Reba McEntire – WrestleMania VIII (58 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Tim Capel & Brian Bayless)
Country music superstar Reba McEntire was inside the Hoosier Dome and kicked off WrestleMania VIII with a simple, flawless version of The Star Spangled Banner. She also instantly became part of wrestling lore thanks to Bobby Heenan’s quick witted commentary where he christened her “Arriba McIntyre” after a brief encounter with Tito Santana.
2. Aretha Franklin – WrestleMania III (88 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Neil Trama & Tim Capel)
In one of WrestleMania’s most iconic performances, Motown icon Aretha Franklin knocked out a stirring America the Beautful in front of her hometown fans. Perched at a beautiful grand piano on a platform deep in the Silverdome, Franklin’s performance was an unforgettable image in WrestleMania lore.
1. Ray Charles – WrestleMania II (96 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Scott Criscuolo, Glenn Butler, Mike Eller, Steven Ferrari, Chris Jordan, Jason Greenhouse, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
After being reduced to have Gene Okerlund kick off WrestleMania I, the WWF was deadset on opening WrestleMania II with a much more memorable and fitting performance. Split across three arenas, 1986’s edition was loaded with celebrities from many tiers but one of the biggest they were able to land was Hall of Fame icon Ray Charles. Charles got the Nassau Coliseum keyed up by belting out America the Beautiful with his own personal soulful touch. There have been many memorable musical performances in WrestleMania history but this is easily one of the greatest.