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 Thirty One: Most Nostalgic WrestleMania
Others Getting Votes: WrestleMania IV (17), WrestleMania 21 (14), WrestleMania 22 (11) WrestleMania I (11), WrestleMania 29 (10), WrestleMania IX (8), WrestleMania V (8), WrestleMania XVI (8), WrestleMania XIX (7), WrestleMania 2 (7), WrestleMania 31 (7), WrestleMania XV (6), WrestleMania XII (6), WrestleMania 23 (4), WrestleMania 13 (4), WrestleMania XXV (3), WrestleMania 32 (2), WrestleMania XXIV (2), WrestleMania XI (1)
10. WrestleMania VIII (22 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Brian Bayless)
WrestleMania VIII, while not the strongest card from top to bottom, was not without great moments. With fan favorites Randy Savage winning the World Title and Bret Hart capturing the Intercontinental Title and the shocking return of the Ultimate Warrior in the main event to help Hulk Hogan against Sid Justice & Papa Shango, you had a show that left fans happy when it was over. The Hoosier Dome crowd looked impressive and it certainly gave it a big show feel. This show also featured wins by Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker, two men that would play an important part in the company for the rest of the decade and beyond.
9. WrestleMania XXX (22 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Mike Eller)
WrestleMania XXX was built on the crux of Daniel Bryan, the ultimate underdog, finally overcoming The Authority to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Bryan had spent over six months battling the mind games of Triple H and finally had the opportunity to overcome what looked like the impossible back in September. The fans certainly had his back as 70,000 shouted “YES” after pinning The Game and later submitting Batista in the main event triple threat match. Besides the Daniel Bryan show, there was an incredible opening segment where the three biggest icons of the WWE, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and The Rock all met in the ring together. And of course, The Undertaker finally lost the Streak after being defeated by Brock Lesnar in a shocking moment that left the Superdome in near silence.
8. WrestleMania XX (29 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Scott Criscuolo)
Where it all begins…again. In what will probably be the final WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden, the feeling was definitely harkening back to WrestleManias I and X with the Harlem Boys Choir and the skyline stage. Sure the talent was modern day with not too many old timers (unless you count the return of the Undertaker’s “Deadman” gimmick), however with it being the first Mania post-Attitude Era, you had the feeling that the company wanted to go back to a more nostalgic feel and embrace their history. Include the first Hall of Fame class since 1996 with all the legends that wrestled at the first WrestleMania in this building (with more to come in the future) and it was clear the company wanted to leave the trashiness and car crash style of the Attitude Era and go back to the more stable feeling of a company moving forward with great in-ring talent. The opening montage of Vince McMahon’s grandson, and Jesse Ventura interviewing Donald Trump were examples of old and new continuing to blend throughout the night. Wrestlemania XX ended wtih two stars of the present, but the first Mania fully out of the Attitude Era had the feel of our childhoods woven throughout it.
7. WrestleMania X8 (30 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Mike Eller)
WrestleMania X8 has maybe the most nostalgic match in Mania history. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan was a dream match that more than lived up to the expectations. A raucous Toronto crowd was very much pro-Hogan, who was supposed to be the heel during the match. The epic stare down at the beginning of the show had the fans in a frenzy and the roof nearly blew off the building when Hogan started to “Hulk Up” just like it was 1988 all over again. His near fall on his famous leg drop even had color commentator Jerry Lawler losing his mind. Overall, the show was unique in that it really seemed like the Attitude Era was starting to become a bygone era and the company was headed into a different direction with its talent but many of the vestiges still remained.
6. WrestleMania VII (34 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Tim Capel & Steven Ferrari)
The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was decked out in the red, white and blue as the WWF celebrated America on the heels of the U.S. squashing Iraq in Operation: Desert Storm. The company positioned WrestleMania VII as the final offensive against Sadaam Hussein and Iraq, as Hulk Hogan looked to regain the WWF Title from sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter. In addition to the main event, the 14 match card was peppered with many good-to-great matches and several classic WrestleMania moments, including the Ultimate Warrior retiring Randy Savage; Savage reuniting with Miss Elizabeth; Virgil beating his former employer Ted DiBiase; and the first WrestleMania victory for The Undertaker.
5. WrestleMania XIV (36 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Tim Capel)
Nostalgia isn’t about workrate. Nostalgia is a perfect marriage of time and place. On that point, WrestleMania XIV delivers in spades. The show stands apart from your run-of-the-mill Manias for serving as either the introduction to an entire wave of new fans, or reentry point for any number of lapsed viwers. Opions may vary as to the “official” start of the Attitude Era, but this event must unquestionably be looked to as a tipping point. Indeed, the Attitude Era could more precisely be called the Austin Era, as Stone Cold Steve Austin’s coronation as WWF Champion is the rare example of a company giving the nod to a mega hot star at EXACTLY the right time. Meanwhile, New Generation stalwart Shawn Michaels’ somewhat contentious efforts to reinvent his professional image (albeit by leaning more fully into his personal one) in this rapidly shifting landscape are abruptly cut short. Fitting, as most of the folks coming back around after an extended pro wrestling hiatus had little use for relics of the past and their associated baggage. They would join a legion of new followers overwhelmingly committed to the game-changing Stone Cold character and all that he represented, ushering in an unprecedented boom period for the promotion and soon flipping the competitive balance firmly in the WWF’s favor. Add to that the participation of controversial public figures like Mike Tyson, Gennifer Flowers, and Pete Rose — themselves all markers of the time — and you have a show that is quintessentially 1998. Topical pop culture references and celebrities instantly date the show, but isn’t that exactly what nostalgia is built upon? If one has any sentimentality for the late ’90s and the Attitude Era, revisiting WrestleMania XIV makes it all fit so comfortably once again.
4. WrestleMania X (50 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Neil Trama)
Taking place in the midst of a creatively and financially down era for the company, WrestleMania X was a show booked almost exclusively with one goal in mind: to send the fans home happy. From the two five-star matches at the beginning and near the end of the show (Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart; Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon) to a litany of celebratory moments including Randy Savage’s final Mania match and the end of Yokozuna’s one year plus reign as the WWF’s top heel, WrestleMania 10 was the high point of what would be known as the WWF’s “New Generation.” The company had bigger events in the past and would reach much greater heights in the future but for fans of the era, WrestleMania X holds a special and sacred place in their hearts.
3. WrestleMania VI (56 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Jason Greenhouse)
The afternoon of April 1, 1990 in Toronto offered a nice assortment of WrestleMania firsts and lasts. Coming to Canada for the first time in Mania history was a huge deal, especially with the event taking place at the brand new SkyDome. Something that rarely took place during the Federation Era was a babyface vs. babyface match. Not only did the two biggest names in the company square off in the main event, but they both put their titles on the line. Another first for the Showcase of the Immortals. The current WWE product offers plenty of pyrotechnics. However, following the main event as the Ultimate Warrior posed with his championship belts, pyro exploded throughout the SkyDome. This was something had not been done in the previous five Manias. In addition, ring carts were brought back for the time since WrestleMania III. One WrestleMania tradition that came to an end at this show was the final appearance of Jesse Ventura, as he left the company later that year. For five of the first six Manias, Jesse and Gorilla Monsoon were the voices of the grand spectacle. On camera, we saw over 25 future WWE Hall of Fame members, which shows the depth of the roster at the time. The atmosphere for this show is phenomenal as the 67,000 fans in attendance barley sat in their seats for three hours and were into every match on the card. A show taglined the Ultimate Challenge offers an ultimate throwback feel as the company took things into a new decade.
2. WrestleMania X7 (64 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Scott Criscuolo, Neil Trama & Brian Bayless)
Widely regarded as one of the best WrestleManias of all-time, WrestleMania 17 signaled the end of one of the hottest periods in wrestling history. The show had it all, from the big stadium setting, the WCW purchase storyline, TLC Tag Team Title match, and the biggest stars from the era in Rock vs. Steve Austin to close out the show. It even had other stuff like the Gimmick Battle Royal too along with other very good matches. An all around great show that is fondly remembered by fans of this era.
1. WrestleMania III (71 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Glenn Butler, Chris Jordan, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
The first WrestleMania set the stage and the second emanated from coast to coast, but it was WrestleMania III that solidified the idea of WrestleMania as a uniquely humongous event. 93,173 fans packed into the Pontiac Silverdome to witness an event that ranged from the antics of King Kong Bundy and the smaller wrestlers, to the character-based exploits of Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis, to the technical wrestling showcase of Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage, all capped off by the legendary main event, the greatest match in the history of wrestling. It’s the epic feel of this show that every modern WrestleMania yearns to achieve, in the same way that any WrestleMania Moment(TM) yearns to live up to the simple yet indelible quality of HE SLAMMED HIM.