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 31 – March 29, 2015
What we have is a really quality event that, because it followed on the heels of an amazing WrestleMania the year before, probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves. WrestleMania 31 features a series of good-to-great matches, a lot of fan service and a phenomenally hot crowd that enhanced everything about the show.
I doubt anyone expected WrestleMania 31 to be as good as it was, considering the build, but from the opening match forward, the guys in every match delivered and WWE produced a memorable event.
Of course, the final moments of a big show – no, not THE Big Show, he was on the pre-show – can influence how a lot of people feel about a show. And people were concerned with how they expected the main event to end at WrestleMania 31. But WWE threw a couple of unexpected curveballs – a really great match and a surprise ending.
Best Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Title Match with Money in the Bank cash-in. The match that introduced the world to the phrase, “Suplex City.” Lesnar tossed Reigns around like a rag doll. Reigns had a babyface comeback that seemed to finally start to get the crowd behind him. It was just a seemingly stiff, tough-as-nails match where two guys beat the hell out of each other. Lesnar got color and I think the fans in attendance started to believe that Roman Reigns would be a legit top guy. The magic of the Beast Incarnate, I guess. But then Seth Rollins’ music hit and – after 10 years of briefcase cash-ins – a heel finally used the briefcase in the main event and gave everyone a surprise. A true WrestleMania moment.
Worst Match: AJ Lee and Paige vs. Brie and Nikki Bella. For the second year in a row, it’s not a bad match per se, but it is not up to the quality of the rest of the card. The majority of the match is an extended heat segment on Paige as AJ spends a lot of time on the ringside mat selling a shot while she was on the apron. The cameras turned to AJ three times as she was seemingly unconscious on the ground before she finally got up for the hot tag. AJ was gone just days later, so it’s a little weird to see her get the win here.
Don’t Try This At Home: Daniel Bryan kicked the show off the same way he ended WrestleMania XXX – with 70,000 people chanting “YES!” as he came down the aisle. Another great WrestleMania match for Bryan and for the others in the match, but I cringed a little bit while watching it again. Knowing the issues Bryan had and knowing how dangerous things can get, I sometimes wish they would drop the ladder matches all together to try and prevent some of the injuries that seem to be pervasive in WWE today. A number of the guys in this match ended up injured in the year following, and while it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with this particular match, watching the bumps here makes me wonder if it’s worth it.
Too Much Talking: Triple H and Stephanie in the ring for a talking segment halfway through the show is groan-inducing, but at least it led to a confrontation with The Rock and Ronda Rousey. For as cool as the moment was, though, the segment still went on too long with too much silence. It was fun watching Rousey manhandle both Triple H and Stephanie, but I wish the segment was a couple minutes shorter. As Kid Ink said in his musical performance, “We’ve been going on for too long!” Truer words have likely never been spoken, both for the Rousey segment and the musical interlude.
Flashback: The Triple H-Sting match needed something to bring it to another level. Sting at his age was not going to produce a classic. So Triple H took his own advice from the Raw after WrestleMania XIV – he looked to his friends. The run-ins from both DX and the nWo made the match a lot more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. But the ending was a bit of a mess. I don’t mind Triple H winning – because really, who cares? – but Sting shaking Triple H’s hand after getting hit with the sledge hammer was just silly. A fun match with a questionable ending.
Quick Hits: Both Rusev and Bray Wyatt had awesome entrances – how do you top a tank and scarecrow zombies? Just awesome visuals; Greatest visual of the night was Randy Orton countering Rollins’ curb stomp into an RKO – OUTTA NOWHERE! – for the win. Another great Orton match at WrestleMania; The Shield, coming into this event, were 2-0 and undefeated. All three suffered losses this time around.
The Top Thirty!
Our final Top Thirty before WrestleMania 32 hits.
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. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
6 – Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXX)
7 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
8 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
9 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
10 – Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Title Match with Money in the Bank cash-in (WrestleMania 31)
11 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
12 – Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)
13 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
14 – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
15 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
16 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
17 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
18 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
19 – Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
20 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
21 – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
22 – Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania NY/NJ)
23 – John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XXVIII)
24 – Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
25 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
26 – Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania 31)
27 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
28 – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title (WrestleMania 23)
29 – Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Title Triple Threat match (WrestleMania XXX)
30 – CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho – WWE Title (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Top Twenty-Five WrestleMania Celebrities
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Ronda Rousey – WrestleMania 31
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
Sean “P Diddy” Combs – WrestleMania XXVIII
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
Pamela Anderson – WrestleMania XI
Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
Maria Menounos – WrestleMania 31
Top Twenty WrestleMania Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Living Colour, Cult of Personality – WrestleMania NY/NJ
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Mark Crozer and the Refs, Live in Fear – WrestleMania XXX
John Legend, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XXIV
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Machine Gun Kelly, Invincible – WrestleMania XXVII
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
Rev Theory, Voices – WrestleMania XXX
P.O.D., Booyaka – WrestleMania 22
Flo Rida featuring Sia, Good Feeling and Wild One – WrestleMania XXVIII
Aloe Blacc, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 31
Kid Rock Medley – WrestleMania 25
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Motorhead, The Game – WrestleMania X-Seven / WrestleMania 21