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 VII – March 24, 1991
Operation Desert Storm may have been a glorified squash match, but for the World Wrestling Federation, the Iraqi conflict defined a good chunk of 1991.
This show has always been one of my favorites, and I think it’s because this is the show where they perfected the supercard format. Very few (if any) wasted spots and a lot of great action. Even the comedy match is memorable!
When you bring up WrestleMania VII, one of the first things people mention is the change of venue. One year earlier, the World Wrestling Federation announced that they would fill the 107,000-seat coliseum in Los Angeles and instead ended up in the Sports Arena with just 16,000. The joke is always that they didn’t sell any tickets, so they had to downgrade. But on Ric Flair’s Woo Nation podcast last week, Bruce Pritchard was asked by Conrad about that and Pritchard said they were in fact asked to move because the coliseum couldn’t be secured. Sure, he said, they wouldn’t have sold 107,000 tickets, but they would have sold more than 16,000. Is Bruce keeping kayfabe, 25 years later?
Best Match – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage, career ending match. There is a lot of great stuff on this card, but from a memorability standpoint, nothing beats Warrior-Savage. The match keeps you engaged all the way through and the post-match drama left a whole lot of people weeping tears of joy. Savage and Warrior crafted a beautiful struggle for their very livelihood. Some may be turned off by Warrior kicking out of FIVE Savage flying elbows, but I think it worked well within the context of this match. Of course, by the time WrestleMania VIII rolls around, Warrior is just returning after being gone since SummerSlam and Savage is in the WWF Title match. Career ending match indeed…
Worst Match – Demolition vs. Tenryu & Kitao. When you take out the squash matches that had a purpose of elevating certain talents, this match is the biggest waste of space on an otherwise well-produced card. Demolition was done and they were sacrificed to the visiting SWS guys to keep a good working relationship with the Japanese company. The highlight of the match? Regis Philbin interviewing Tenryu & Kitao backstage.
Missed Opportunities – I honestly believe they should have put the WWF Intercontinental Title on Big Bossman here. The guy had improved so much in his time in the WWF and the storyline with the Heenan family really could have used the catharsis of Bossman beating Perfect for the title. You could have easily put the title back on Hennig before the Summer Slam match with Bret “Hitman” Hart (maybe caused by the Mountie to set up the Jailhouse Match). Bossman absolutely deserved a title win.
It All Begins – Brock Lesnar may be the 1 in 22-1 now that he beat the Undertaker’s streak, but the No. 1 in that streak happened right here at WrestleMania VII. Undertaker beat Hall of Famer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka to begin the most-talked about streak in sports entertainment. The match was, of course, nothing special.
The Return of the Donald – When WrestleManias IV and V were held at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, future presidential candidate Donald Trump was front and center throughout both shows. After taking 1990 off, Trump was back in the front row of WrestleMania VII, which also featured his future wife, Marla Maples, as guest time keeper for the main event. Trump gets up and walks out during Tito Santana’s match against the Mountie, so his dislike of Mexicans goes back a long way! He was, thankfully, back in his seat before the Main Event to cheer on Hulk Hogan.
The Top Ten
*DISCLAIMER* Hogan-Warrior from WMVI has been reranked in the Top Ten.
1 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
2 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
3 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
4 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
5 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
6 – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – WWF Title Match (WrestleMania III)
7 – Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs. British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (WrestleMania III)
8 – The Rockers vs. Haku & The Barbarian (WrestleMania VII)
9 – Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania I)
10 – Terry and Hoss Funk vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WrestleMania 2)
Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrity Guests
1 – Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
2 – Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
3 – Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
4 – Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
5 – Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
6 – Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
7 – Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
8 – Elvira – WrestleMania 2
9 – Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
10 – Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
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 – Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
4 – Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
5 – Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania VII