As we count down the days to the biggest show of the year, I’ll be looking back at how WrestleMania has changed since it debuted in 1985. Instead of doing recaps of all the shows, I’m looking to create a Top 10 WrestleMania matches and see how that list changes over the years. We’ll also discuss some other highlights and lowlights of each show.
WrestleMania III – March 29, 1987
Vince McMahon has spent 19 years trying to top this show in terms of attendance and hype. Whether or not you believe the 93,000-plus number announced as attending the event, you can’t deny that the proverbial “sea of humanity” in the Pontiac Silverdome was an impressive sight.
This was the first WrestleMania I watched live as it happened, sitting in the TV room of my great-uncle’s house. While I was a huge Hulkamaniac back in the day, it wasn’t the main event I was talking about with my friends the next day. I was raving about the Intercontinental Title match. Which leads us into…
Best Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, WWF Intercontinental Championship. Easily the best match of the show – and of the 33 matches that have comprised WrestleMania history up to this point. The action was fast-paced, it told a great story and Savage and Steamboat had me at the edge of my seat with every arm drag, body slam and pinfall attempt. It was the first opportunity for a 7-year-old Extant to appreciate work rate.
Worst Match: “King” Harley Race vs. Junkyard Dog, loser must bow. At WrestleMania 2, JYD was in the second best match on the show. But there was no one to save this match from being a clunker. The only thing comes close is the Bundy and Jim with midget madness match, but even that had a perverse comedy to it, especially with Bob Uecker on commentary. Ueker and Mary Hart were amazing celebrity guests who enhanced the show whenever they appeared. Maybe including one of them in this match would have been helpful, but then mayber Uecker wouldn’t have been chasing after the Fabulous Moolah (who was in Race’s corner).
Missed Opportunity: They are few and far between on this show but I would have loved having a straight up Hart Foundation vs. British Bulldogs tag team title match on this show. Danny Davis and Tito Santana played their parts perfectly (and the match atmosphere again was enhanced by Uecker and Hart joining Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura on commentary), but I still always see them as unnecessary additions.
Setting the Standard: It’s amazing how well put together this event is. All 12 matches flow perfectly. The wrestling is in no way overshadowed by the celebrity guests (cutting down from 17 in 1986 to four – Uecker, Hart, Aretha Franklin and Alice Cooper) and the announcing from Monsoon and Ventura was on point.
The Top Ten
We have a new number one this time around, and I suspect it will be there for a while to come. I am, of course, keeping a master list of each match and its ranking, adding to it after each viewing (Match winners are in italics).
1 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
2 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
3 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
4 – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – WWF Title Match (WrestleMania III)
5 – Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs. British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (WrestleMania III)
6 – Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania I)
7 – Terry and Hoss Funk vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WrestleMania 2)
8 – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter – Women’s Title Match (WrestleMania I)
9 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis – Hair vs. Hair Match (WrestleMania III)
10 – Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne (WrestleMania I)
Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrities
1 – Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III
2 – Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
3 – Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
4 – Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
5 – Elvira – WrestleMania 2
6 – Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
7 – Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
8 – Joan Rivers – WrestleMania 2
9 – Joe Frazier – WrestleMania 2
10 – Tommy Lasorda – WrestleMania 2
Top 5 WrestleMania Musical Performances
1 – Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
2 – Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
3 – Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
4 – Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet National Anthem – WrestleMania I/WrestleMania 2
5 – Mean Gene Okerlund, Star Spangled Banner – WrestleMania I