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 V – April 2, 1989
The second straight show at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ, you could say that WrestleMania V is the culmination of the story built at the previous year’s show. After a year with the title, “Macho Man” Randy Savage faced his toughest competition in the form of ex-champion and ex-best friend Hulk Hogan. Savage, of course, accused Hogan of having “lust in his eyes” for his valet/manager Miss Elizabeth. More likely? Hogan had lust in his eyes for the WWF Title.
There was no tournament this time around, but the WWF still managed to throw 14 matches on the card, plus a musical performance from Run-DMC and an extended Piper’s Pit. While the show is easier to sit through than the similar-length WrestleMania IV, the matches still leave a lot to be desired. I’ve probably seen this show a few dozen times since I watched it live and I still couldn’t remember a handful of matches here. Of course, it doesn’t help that the crowd once again sat on its collective hands for the majority of the show.
Best Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan – WWF Title Match. These guys work well together and Savage and Hogan overcame the less-than-enthusiastic crowd to put together the most enjoyable match of the night. The match told the story it needed to tell, completing a year-plus-long storyline that is to this day unheard of. As a young Hulkamaniac, I was thrilled to see Hogan get the belt back. Of course, with the benefit of age and experience, obviously Savage was the wronged party here. Either way, the WWF Title match to me just edges out the Brain Busters-Strike Force match for my favorite match of the night.
Worst Match: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Andre the Giant, with special referee Big John Studd. I’m giving Bobby Heenan vs. the Red Rooster the benefit of the doubt here because it was all angle and giving worst match to one with two lumbering giants in the ring trying to avoid a python. At almost 10 minutes, this match went on way too long for a BS ending.
Missed Opportunity: There are two mediocre tag team matches here that could have been combined into a much better one. Kill the Rougeaus-Bushwhackers and Harts-Honky/Valentine match and let the Hart Foundation and the Rougeaus go at it for 10 minutes or so to blow off that feud and give the crowd another great tag team match.
Also, for booking purposes, I would have opened the show with the Rockers vs. The Twin Towers, since it was a great high energy opener.
Random Numerical Fact: The opening match of WrestleMania V – King Haku vs. Hercules – was the 50th match presented as part of WrestleMania.
The Top Ten
WrestleMania IV gets eliminated from the Top Ten entirely this year, with only one match getting added to the list.
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 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan – WWF Title Match (WrestleMania V)
9 – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter – Women’s Title Match (WrestleMania I)
10 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis – Hair vs. Hair Match (WrestleMania III)
Top Five 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 – Run-DMC, WrestleMania Rap – WrestleMania V
The WrestleMania Rankings
Every fifth edition of WrestleMania, I’ll average out the match rankings and rank each show according to how well the matches are doing in my running list. It’s fun with math!
WrestleMania 1 – 41.22 points
WrestleMania III – 35.92 points
WrestleMania IV – 29.5 points
WrestleMania 2 – 28 points
WrestleMania V – 25.86 points
Obviously, the first WrestleMania benefits from having only 9 matches with very little filler and some quality matches, whereas the next four shows had a lot of filler. Yes, I was surprised to find WrestleMania III beneath I and V beneath 2. Bring on the hate!