As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania XX – March 14, 2004
In the same ways that WrestleMania X was a changing of the guard for the WWF, the 20th edition of the “Showcase of the Immortals” was a changing of the guard for the WWE. The iconic final image of the show – Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero celebrating in the middle of the ring – was something no one could even imagine happening just a year before.
Clocking in at 4 and a half hours, this is not a show that can be watched quickly, but the quality of most of the matches is unquestionable. Some of my favorite WrestleMania memories come from this show.
Best Match: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat. “TAP! TAP! TAP YOU BASTARD! TAP! YES! HE TAPPED! OH MY GOD! BENOIT WINS!” Those were the final moments of WrestleMania XX as I watched on WWE.com in my apartment that night. I may not have been the biggest Chris Benoit fan, but at this point, I was all in on him winning – and I absolutely did not expect it to happen.After all, he was in the ring with Triple H and Shawn Michaels. How could he possibly win? But WWE gave him the ball – for a short time anyway. But even if his title reign ended quickly, he certainly created one of the more memorable WrestleMania moments ever. To make it better, the three of them had one of the best Triple Threat matches ever and one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time.
Worst Match: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar. The stalling to open this match made Michael Hayes and Larry Zbyszko proud. The action once the match got going stayed away from the smash mouth slobberknocker that everyone expected. And the crowd shat on the entire match, with a smarky crowd knowing that both were gone from the WWE at the end of the night. Special referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the most over guy in the match and he got the best reaction for giving both guys the Stunner when the match was over.
Let’s Go Cena: The Doctor of Thuganomics makes his WrestleMania debut here and man, was he over with the Madison Square Garden crowd. Taking on the Big Show for Show’s US Title and the crowd went nuts when Cena hit Show with the knuckles and then with the FU for the win. I hope John enjoyed it, because that reaction wouldn’t last…
Showcasing The Future: The 3-on-2 handicap match between Evolution and the Rock N Sock Connection was an opportunity to give an even bigger rub to future main eventers Randy Orton and Batista. Being put in a group with Triple H and Ric Flair really brought the pair along quickly. And a match with Mick Foley and The Rock at WrestleMania XX was a great way to show these guys as the future of the company. Orton would go on to win the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam and Batista would leap frog everyone to be in the main event of next year’s WrestleMania.
Costume Contest 2: Rey Mysterio makes his second WrestleMania appearance, losing to Chavo Guerrero Jr. (?!?!) in the Cruiserweight Open. His outfit this year is inspired by DC Comics speedster, the Flash.
A Big Surprise: The stipulation for the Women’s Title match said that if Molly Holly lost, she would have her head shaved. I thought at the time that it gave away the ending: Victoria loses the belt, Molly’s hair is shaved. I give tons of credit to Molly for going through with it, because even after she lost, I expected Molly to weasel her way out. A memorable way to end a pretty good Women’s match.
Any Way To Win: Another great title match on the card was the WWE Title match between champ Eddie Guerrero – who beat Brock Lesnar for the belt in February – and Kurt Angle. Another match I expected to go the other way – because WWE – Angle and Guerrero had, in my opinion, the second best match of the night with a great ending. Guerrero unlaces his boot allowing him to escape the ankle lock and then trapping Angle in what I like to call a power-small package. The momentum as Eddie got Angle in the move is ridiculous. Another great WrestleMania moment.
Evil Is Hot: The Chris Jericho-Christian match is actually a pretty fun contest, but it’s not remembered for the workrate. The ending, with Trish Stratus costing Jericho the match “accidentally,” only to turn on Jericho post-match with a couple of slaps is a turning point for Stratus and really did make her hotter in the eyes of many (definitely in my eyes).
Hello Hall of Fame: As the WWE was looking to the future with WrestleMania XX, they also began to honor the past this year, as they brought back the Hall of Fame and introduced it to the WrestleMania weekend. The first batch of WrestleMania season Hall of Fame inductees were Big John Studd, Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Harley Race, jesse Ventura, Junkyard Dog, Sgt. Slaughter, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Tito Santana and Bobby Heenan. As an added bonus, Ventura interviewed future Hall of Famer and Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump during the show as well.
The Top Twenty!
As we hit WrestleMania XX – and we now have more than 200 WrestleMania matches to choose from, I’m celebrating by expanding the Top Ten to the Top Twenty! Rejoice!
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
6 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
7 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
8 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
9 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
10 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
11 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
12 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
13 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
14 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
15 – Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)
16 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
17 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
18 – Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon (WrestleMania X-Seven)
19 – Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania X-Seven)
20 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (WrestleMania XIX)