In honor of WrestleMania 33, members of the PTBN Staff has gathered to create a series of 33 lists, all dedicated to the rich history of WWE’s grandest spectacle. Each contributor assigned a ranking of 1-10 and votes were tallied accordingly. We will be releasing one list per day, with the final list to be posted on April 1, 2017, the day prior to WrestleMania 33! Be sure to share your feedback with us on social media! You can view the complete series here!
Day Thirty Two: Best WrestleMania Moments
Others Getting Votes: Seth Rollins Cashes In – WM31 (10), The Boyhood Dream Comes True – WMXII (10), Hogan Hulks Up – WMX8 (9), Hulk’s Giant Staredown – WMIII (9), Owen Hart Pins His Brother – WMX (8), Benoit & Guerrero Celebrate – WMXX (8), Edge’s Spear – WMX7 (8), Arn’s Surprise Spinebuster – WMX8 (8), Warrior Doubts the Gods – WMVII (7), Owen Stares Down His Brother – WMX (7), Piper’s Surprise Return – WMXIX (6), Andre Chokes Uecker – WMIV (6), Andre Gives Out Heenan’s Cash – WMI (5), Linda Rises – WMX7 (5), Tyson’s Knockout Punch – WMXIV (5), Fuji’s 5K Victory – WMV (5), LT Beats Bigelow – WMXI (4), Michaels Kicks Out of the Tombstone – WMXXV (4), Andre Turns Face – WMVI (4), Piper Retires – WMIII (4), Demolition’s Threepeat – WMVI (3), Robinson’s Long Sprint – WMXXIV (3), Austin’s Celebration – WMXV (3), Savage Barrage of Elbow Drops – WMVII (2), JR Roots on Shawn Michaels – WM22 (2), Savage Wins the Gold – WMIV (2), Shane’s Dive – WM32 (1), Cena’s Giant FU – WMXX (1), Brock’s Botched Finale – WMXIX (1), Ali Clears the Ring – WMI (1), Triple H Goes Corporate – WMXV (1)
10. Ultimate Warrior’s Surprise Return – WrestleMania VIII (10 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Scott Criscuolo)
One of the biggest surprises in early WrestleMania history was the shocking return of the Ultimate Warrior to save Hulk Hogan from an assault at the hands of Sid Justice and Papa Shango. Warrior had been gone from the WWF since SummerSlam and there were no rumors of his reemergence. When the music hit, the Hoosier Dome exploded in excitement as the two mega stars stood tall together inside a WrestleMania ring one last time.
9. The Austin Era Begins – WrestleMania XIV (17 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Tim Capel)
While Steve Austin’s popularity had built all throughout 1997, it wasn’t until his defeat of Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV that the Austin Era, and along with it the Attitude Era, officially began. He would go on to be one of the biggest drawing acts in history and it all began on this night in Boston when he had his hand raised by Mike Tyson, crowning him as WWF Champion and top dog.
8. The Torch is Passed – WrestleMania VI (20 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Steve Riddle)
For the first five WrestleManias, the show was built on the back of Hulk Hogan, who always left associated with the WWF Title, usually with it around his waist, at the end of the night. However, throughout 1989, the Ultimate Warrior skyrocketed throughout the ranks and suddenly emerged as a potential equal to the Hulkster. Thus, the Ultimate Challenge was born. At the end of a memorable night inside the Skydome, Warrior dodged a leg drop and landed a big splash to finish Hogan off and officially take the torch as WWF flag bearer from Hogan. Things may not have gone as planned afterwards, but for one night it seemed like Hulkamania was over and the Warrior would lead the way into the 90s.
7. “I’m Sorry, I Love You” – WrestleMania XXIV (21 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Chris Jordan)
Even though it wasn’t officially a “Retirement Match”, a strong majority of fans expected Shawn Michaels to officials end the career of Ric Flair in Orlando, and Nature Boy’s Hall of Fame induction the night before didn’t exactly help mask the finish. That said, what a match and finish it was. Michaels idolized Flair growing up and the pathos played out as the Heartbreak Kid realized what he was about to do in the waning moments of the match. As Flair begged for Michaels to finish him off, Shawn mouthed those famous words before smashing his idol with Sweet Chin Music and ending his career.
6. Austin Passes Out – WrestleMania 13 (26 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Steven Ferrari)
Perhaps the lone bright spot on a rather disappointing night of WWF action, the Submission Match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin more than saved the show. They delivered the greatest match in WrestleMania history. And maybe one of the most pivotal moments as well, as Steve Austin refusing to submit before passing out in a pool of his own blood officially set the tone for what was to come. It also set up Bret Hart’s tremendous heel turn and established Ken Shamrock to WWF fans as well. The match was iconic but the final moments are some of the biggest in WWF history.
5. Icon vs. The Great One – WrestleMania X8 (31 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Brian Bayless)
Hulk Hogan’s star had been so diminished and taken such a beating by the time he left WCW, I am not sure many wrestling fans were ready for the impact of his WWE return. And even though he was welcomed warmly (despite being a heel) out of the gate, it wasn’t until WrestleMania in Toronto that we all realized just what it meant to have the Hulkster back at Mania. The opening moments of his match with The Rock are legendarily goosebump inducing, a face to face showdown for the ages. The crowd never stopped roaring from the opening bell through Hogan’s post match posing, making it a night to remember forever.
4. Bryan Defeats the Authority – WrestleMania XXX (40 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Jason Greenhouse)
Yes! Yes! Yes! The battle between Daniel Bryan and the Authority was a personal one for fans. The man they felt had been buried and overlooked for years and also represented his brethren that fell to the same fate was crowned as the face of the company. In the eyes of fans, the Authority had tortured Bryan on screen and kept him under their thumb off screen as well, but on this night in New Orleans it all vanished in the blink of an eye when Bryan, who defeated Triple H earlier in the night, made Batista tap out to end the main event. It led to a jubilant celebration that WWE fans may never get to experience again.
3. 21-1 – WrestleMania XXX (53 Points)
Highest Ranking: #2 (Chris Jordan & Jason Greenhouse)
On the same night Daniel Bryan would be coronated, fans got to experience the most shocking moment in WrestleMania history when Brock Lesnar ended Undertaker’s streak. In retrospect it may make sense, Brock Lesnar is a monster and Undertaker was nearing the end of his run, but at the time it seemed very unlikely. But then it happened and everyone sat open mouthed, in utter shock that WWE actually did it. They ended the streak. Undertaker was now 21-1 and he and Lesnar were now part of one of the biggest moments in company history.
2. Macho Man & Miss Elizabeth Reunite – WrestleMania VII (87 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Mike Eller, Tim Capel & Jason Greenhouse)
If you don’t get choked up at the tearful reunion of Randy Savage and Elizabeth, you may not have a heart. Never has a moment elicited such a raw response from fans as when the Macho Man was reunited with his woman, just moments after his career was ended. It was a storybook ending to a tale as old as time. The WWF, Savage and Liz had earned this one after years of well crafted storytelling and emotion all crested on this night in Los Angeles.
1. The Slam Heard Around The World – WrestleMania III (93 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Scott Criscuolo, Glenn Butler, Neil Trama, Steven Ferrari, Chris Jordan, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
Hulk Hogan. Andre the Giant. WrestleMania III. The most important bodyslam in wrestling history.