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 XXVII – April 3, 2011
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that the best thing about this show was the video packages hyping up the matches.
In the first few years of WrestleMania, Vince McMahon frequently played around with the format and tweaked things here and there so that every WrestleMania felt different and fans got a new experience out of every one. That became less and less true over the years, but in 2011, WWE tweaked the WrestleMania format once again and gave us WWE Superstar turned Hollywood star The Rock as our guest host.
Rocky got an opening package that superseded even the WrestleMania opening package. He got to make a rambling 12-minute opening promo that could have been used for anything else. And he got a prominent role in the main event, because WWE apparently needed to start the hype for WrestleMania XXVIII really early.
Over the course of 30-plus years, you’re going to have some shows that fall short of being memorable. It happens. WrestleMania XXVII is one of those shows.
Best Match: Randy Orton vs. CM Punk. Right here, you have two guys who know how to bring the goods going out and having a good match at a WrestleMania where average-to-terrible matches were the norm. The visual of Punk going for the springboard clothesline and getting hit with the RKO was fantastic as well.
Worst Match: Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Michael Cole. When you complain about WWE purposely not giving fans what they want, this should probably be a key example. No one wanted a 14-minute match between the Raw announce team. No one wanted to see Cole beat Lawler by reverse decision. About the only enjoyable part of the match was watching Lawler hit a dropkick while special referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin looked on in amusement. And while Lawler took out Cole, Austin knocked out announcers Booker T and Josh Matthews, allowing Lawler to announce the rest of the show with Jim Ross. That’s still not enough to make this any better.
And just a comment about Cole’s second, Jack Swagger. One year before this, Swagger won the Money in the Bank briefcase. Five nights after that, Swagger won the World Heavyweight title. And one year later? He’s booked as little more than a manager. Not even King Kong Bundy fell that far that fast. At least Bundy had a match at WrestleMania III.
The Mania Bank is Closed: From 2005-2010, WWE featured the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania, introducing a new concept to the company and giving multiple men a Mania payday over the course of six shows. But in 2010, WWE introduced the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, moving the match away from WrestleMania for good.
RematchMania: Triple H looked to avenge his retired buddy Shawn Michaels by taking on the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVII, 10 years after their first encounter at WrestleMania, which was never acknowledged on television in the build to the match. What will also not be acknowledged on television about this match is that Roman Reigns likely patterned his style of laying around midmatch on what Triple H and Undertaker did here. The video package for the match shown at the end of the show was so much better.
His Own Worst Enemy: One of the funniest things I remember about this WrestleMania is proving just how stupid John Morrison actually is. Probably on the advice of his girlfriend, Melina, Morrison complained about Trish Stratus coming back for a match and how it took a spot away from Melina, going so far as to reportedly give Trish the cold shoulder backstage. Stratus, of course, teamed with Morrison and Jersey Shore star Snooki to take on Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool and Layla. Sometimes, speaking your mind and asserting yourself is a good thing. When you’re just speaking up because your girlfriend is making you and causing trouble with someone the front office likes more than you? It won’t end well. John Morrison would be gone from WWE by the end of the year. Trish, of course, looked amazing and Snooki shocked everyone by doing a some pretty athletic flips in getting the win.
The Beginning of a Lifetime: WWE used the main event of WrestleMania XXVII – a lackluster WWE Title match between champ The Miz and John Cena – as a set-up for the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII. Cena and Miz never really got going and had a mediocre match that ended in a double countout before Guest Host The Rock restarted the match and gave Cena the Rock Bottom. Miz wins in the main event of WrestleMania. What a stupid ending to a show where nothing really stood out.
The Top Twenty!
No changes this time around, which should be expected from a mediocre WrestleMania.
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 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
6 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
7 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
8 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
9 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
10 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
11 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
12 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
13 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
14 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
15 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
16 – The Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
17 – Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
18 – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
19 – The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
20 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
Top Twenty WrestleMania Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Donald Trump – WrestleMania 23
Snoop Dogg – WrestleMania XXIV / WrestleMania XXVII
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Pee Wee Herman – WrestleMania XXVII
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – WrestleMania XI
Mickey Rourke – WrestleMania 25
LT’s All-Pro Team (Reggie White, Steve McMichael, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, and Ken Norton Jr.) – WrestleMania XI
Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
Elvira – WrestleMania 2
Jenny McCarthy – WrestleMania XI
Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
Top Ten WrestleMania Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
John Legend, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XXIV
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III / WrestleMania 23
Gospel Choir, The Time is Now – WrestleMania XXVII
Nicole Sherzinger, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 25
Boys Choir of Harlem, American the Beautiful – WrestleMania XX