It’s that time of year again – the time when wrestling fans feel that something special in the air as we approach WrestleMania. Over the past 30 years, Mania has been home to some of the biggest and best matches and some of the most unforgettable moments in wrestling history. Every performer seeks to leave their mark on the grandest stage of them all. However, much like any other prestigious event, there are always debates over which shows stand the test of time and deserve to be considered the best of the best. With that in mind, we felt it might be appropriate this year, with 30 WrestleManias now in the books, to take a look back and determine which shows truly are the greatest in WrestleMania history.
So, we assembled an all-star panel of Place To Be Nation writers and personalities to weigh in. Each participant submitted a list of all 30 WrestleManias, ranked 1 through 30. The list of 10 voters includes Nick Duke, Justin Rozzero, Greg Phillips, Todd Weber, Jordan Duncan, Glenn Butler, Jason Greenhouse, Aaron George, Tim Capel and Matt Davis. A points system was utilized, awarding each show 30 points for a first place vote, 29 points for a second place vote, and so on. Once the points were totaled, we came up with Place to Be Nation’s definitive WrestleMania rankings.
For each event, we’ll list the number of points it received and which voter or voters ranked it the highest and the lowest. Check out the first installment here.
25. WrestleMania XV (59 points)
Lowest ranked by Jason Greenhouse at No. 30
Highest ranked by Matt Davis at No. 22
Nick Duke: As awesome as the Attitude Era was in terms of creating memorable moments and characters, it was equally inconsistent in terms of delivering from bell to bell. Sure, there were shows where the stars all aligned and we got all-time classics, but more often than not, the wrestling at Attitude Era shows were the epitome of mediocrity.
But then, from time to time, you’d have a show that was mostly a trainwreck. And make no mistake, WrestleMania XV is a trainwreck. Sure, it has an explosion that you can’t help but watch in the first Rock vs Austin main event, but it has countless casualties left in its wake as well. This was during the unfortunate era where the New Age Outlaws were being pushed as singles stars, and neither exactly set the world on fire. We get Billy Gunn in a pretty bad hardcore title match and Road Dogg in a four-way intercontinental title match that not even the elimination stipulation can elevate to anything but passable.
Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett against D’Lo Brown and Test could have been good given the participants, but the tag titles got less than four minutes here. I guess that extra time was needed for such barnburners as Sable vs Tori and X-Pac vs Shane McMahon. Regardless of your feelings on Shane as a wrestler, normal singles matches weren’t exactly the best use of his talents.
Then, there’s the Undertaker against the Big Boss Man in a Hell In A Cell match. In addition to committing the worst sin a cell match can (which is being needlessly boring), it also has the matter of the incredibly tasteless “hanging” following the match. It looks even worse considering the glut of tragedy that has befallen the industry in recent years, and it didn’t especially look great in 1999. One gets the impression that the entirety of this show has the fingerprints of one Vince Russo all over it, which is somewhat appropriate. If nothing else, this Mania is a pretty good time capsule of its era — zany characters and zig-zagging storylines that often devolved into sloppy in-ring exchanges.
24. WrestleMania 2000 (79 points)
Lowest ranked by Jason Greenhouse and Todd Weber at No. 27
Highest ranked by Nick Duke at No. 19
Jason Greenhouse: Do you like tag-team matches, Hardcore Battle Royals, Six-person intergender tags and two-fall triple threat matches? GREAT! Then this show is for you.
I’ve watched this show at least a dozen times and still can’t get into it. With the exception of the Triangle Ladder Match, and the Triple Threat between Benoit, Jericho and Angle, this show does nothing for me.
They had the most loaded roster in about eight years and in order to get everyone on it, we saw gimmick match after gimmick match.
Let’s get to the Main Event. Five weeks after Triple H retired Mick Foley at No Way Out, here’s Mick right back at it. It’s no surprise that when a wrestler retires, chances are we’ll see him back in the ring at some point. But c’mon, five weeks after they are retired and in the Main Event of the biggest show of the year? I will say this, as of No Way Out, it was looking like Triple vs Big Show at Mania. That would have been a bigger stinker than the Fatal Four Way. At least we get Hunter and Rock one on one for 16 minutes to close this show.
2000 is a great year for WWE PPVs, but this show was a huge disappointment as the showcase.
23. WrestleMania 29 (90 points)
Lowest ranked by Aaron George and Greg Phillips at No. 26
Highest ranked by Glenn Butler at No. 17
Greg Phillips: WrestleMania 29 is a perfect example of why sometimes it’s better to be bad than boring. It’s also a shining example of how integral the live crowd is to these huge stadium shows. From beginning to end, this show just feels lifeless, more like the dead Anaheim crowd at 12 or 2000 than the lively sports-like fans at 17 or 28. Honestly, it’s hard to blame them.
This is one of the few WrestleManias I can barely remember details about. Sure, there’s a really good (if overrated) Undertaker-CM Punk match and a decent Swagger-Del Rio tilt, but nothing else rises above passable. Rock and Cena worked hard in the main event, but it was a foregone conclusion and a match few were anticipating. Just a bore fest of a show with arguably only one match that can stand the test of time.
22. WrestleMania XII (101 points)
Lowest ranked by Glenn Butler at No. 28
Highest ranked by Nick Duke at No. 14
Aaron George: WrestleMania 12 is the WrestleMania you never want to watch again. Sure Bret and Shawn have a great match, but I never want to sit through that hour again. If you’re not that in to either guy (I wasn’t at the time) this card is already dead in the water for you before you even get started. Sure Diesel and Undertaker have a surprisingly solid match, but I can think of a million better ways to spend twenty minutes. (and that’s just Taker’s entrance!) When you think about it, there really isn’t very much of anything that’s bad on that fateful night in Anaheim (why the hell do they get two Manias in four years??) but there just isn’t anything that’s really good either.
I guess match of the night would be the Iron Man, followed by the Austin/Savio match. The six man is fun if you enjoy overweight Jake flailing about the ring, hanging on to his last shred of fame and sobriety. The back lot brawl is decent… I guess… if you’re into Dustin Rhodes being stripped of his dignity. The image of him standing in lingerie is an image that takes at least four eye gougings to successfully remove from one’s mind. On top of all that “glory” you get the “hilarious” white Bronco chase segment. I’m sure Vince bellowed with laughter when that was initially suggested to him. That happiness promptly turned to rage/vomit when Marc Marrow was introduced to the fans.
It’s forgettable in every way as a card and unfortunately doesn’t even act as enough of a time capsule of the era to be interesting. Say what you will about 5 and 15 (they’re both pretty boring), but at least I can always throw them on and enjoy the characters, as many are prominently on display. With the Iron Man match, there’s just no room for everyone. It’s a shame.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the single greatest moment in the history of wrestling when HHH is humbled by the returning Ultimate Warrior. Of all the moments I don’t want to re-watch I can ALWAYS go for Warrior no-selling the pedigree and pinning him with his knees. Drive those fucking knees in deep Jim, make it good for all of us. Such a great moment of catharsis for the modern fan.
21. WrestleMania IV (105 points)
Lowest ranked by Jordan Duncan at No. 29
Highest ranked by Matt Davis at No. 4
Jordan Duncan: What do you get when you take a great idea that wrestling fans almost universally love (a tournament), mix in one of the biggest feuds in history (Andre-Hogan) and crown one of the most popular wrestlers in history (Randy Savage) the champion at the end?
Apparently, a hot bowl of diarrhea.
Which is what makes WrestleMania IV so…confusing. On paper, it should have worked. Hogan-Andre? Randy Savage in four matches? Ted Dibiase getting it handed to him in the finals? It all sounds so glorious. Heck, then you add in Demolition mauling Strike Force and becoming the tag champs, and Bad News Brown winning a battle royal that may have been Bret Hart’s coming out party (it wasn’t), and it looks even better. So why is this show the equivalent of someone farting directly into your eyes for four hours?
You may notice I said four hours and not three. Today, a four hour Mania is par for the course, but not in 1988. It made sense given that they were doing a tournament, so you’d need time for more matches….except every match felt like four hours by itself. This is particularly interesting since most of them were much shorter than anticipated. The main event of the show didn’t even go 10 minutes.
So why did it fail? Questionable booking such as Steamboat going out in the first round, and Bam Bam Bigelow only being out there for three minutes or so didn’t help. The non-tournament matches failed to deliver and nothing noteworthy happened, outside of the tag title switch. But for me, there’s one big reason WrestleMania IV is so bad.
Because it’s only there to get us to WrestleMania V. Listen, the Mega Powers explode is one of the best storylines in wrestling history, and WrestleMania IV was an essential part of the story, but it’s still the middle of it, not the end. Savage winning the title and Hogan celebrating with him and Liz is a necessary moment in the Savage-Hogan relationship and eventual feud. So I get it. I get why they did it, and in the days when PPVs only happened four times a year, maybe they had to treat this Mania as a stepping stone to the next one.
Still, why did everyone have to suck that night? Maybe they were all just stoned out of their minds, as you should be if you choose to watch this show anytime soon.
That does it for the second installment of P2B’s Definitive WrestleMania Rankings. Check back tomorrow for Nos. 20-16!