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 X8 – March 17, 2002
Coming off the best WrestleMania of all time just last year, it was always going to be a difficult feat topping X-Seven. To try, Vince McMahon brought in the most popular faction in the history of wrestling – WCW’s New World Order – to inject a dose of excitement (or a lethal dose of poison) into the proceedings.
The show was also the first main event for a babyface Triple H, who had returned at the Royal Rumble after missing most of 2001 with a quad tear to win a shot at the first undisputed WWF World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Jericho. It would also mark the first time that Triple H went on last when another match probably should have main evented. It will not be the last.
It was, however, the last time that WrestleMania was conducted under the banner of the WWF. By the time summer rolled around, the panda bears placed the legal department in a inescapable submission hold, forcing Vince to “Get The F Out” and change the name of the organization to WWE.
Overall, this show was a significant downgrade from the previous year. Match quality, match flow and crowd reactions were all significantly reduced from Houston to Toronto. The second boom period was decidedly over.
Best Match: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. You want a WrestleMania moment? Get in the ring with Hulk Hogan. Hogan suffered his third WrestleMania loss and the second one in Toronto. Hogan and Rocky may not have put on a wrestling clinic, but the energy was off the charts and they gave the fans almost everything they wanted. I can only imagine how pumped the 68,000 people in attendance would have been had Hogan won.
Worst Match: Maven vs. Goldust – Hardcore Title match. The in-ring action was only a set-up to the backstage shenanigans that gave The Hurricane, Godfather, Mighty Molly Holly, Spike Dudley and Crash Holly something to do, as they chased after the title under the 24/7 Title Defense rules. After numerous title changes, Maven ended up winning the belt back from Christian and stealing Christian’s cab (along with his gear) and leaving the Sky Dome. The comedy was fine, the match was not. But hey, at least the worst match wasn’t the women this year. That streak has ended!
The Streaks Continue: That’s right, I said streaks! Undertaker wins “Biggest Bully” award for 2002, attacking Ric Flair’s son, David, and his best friend Arn Anderson in the build to this match. So does Flair get his revenge during the WrestleMania X8 match? HA! Nope, Flair goes down and Undertaker reaches double digits in the streak.
Further down the card, Edge stole Booker T’s Japanese shampoo commercial to set up a WrestleMania match. Does Booker get a measure of revenge? Nope. The newly-single Torontonian takes Booker out to run his WrestleMania streak to 3-0.
Biggest Disappointment: Both Steve Austin and Scott Hall are represented in the Top Ten Best Matches list (see below), so it’s a little upsetting at just how boring and uneventful their match against each other was at WrestleMania X8. Austin clearly didn’t care at this point and Scott “Last Call” Hall may have joined him at the bar before the show. The fact that the two of them lasted about 10 minutes in that state maybe was impressive, but the match overall was a bit of a waste.
Tag Team Turmoil: After two years of classic tag team title matches between the Dudleys, Hardys and Edge and Christian, the tag team scene at WrestleMania took was yet another disappointment. The Fatal Four-Way elimination match at WrestleMania X8 still featured the Dudleys and Hardys, but replaced Edge and Christian with the APA and Billy and Chuck. The equation turns out to be less than the previous years. The WWF may never hit the heights of tag team greatness again, unfortunately.
Musical Interludes: We joke about the recent move to include musical acts at WrestleMania, but the WWF went a little overboard with it in 2002. They brought in Drowning Pool and Saliva and each got two performances on the pay-per-view. Saliva kicked things off with WrestleMania X8 theme “Superstar” and also did the Dudley Boyz entrance, “Turn The Tables.” Drowning Pool “told the story of the WrestleMania main event” with “Tear Away” (which is the theme song to Triple H’s and Kevin Nash’s quads) and then did a live performance of “The Game.” Because they made them part of the show (with video packages and entrances), the performances weren’t as intrusive as some of the more recent musical performances have been. But it may have given the WWF some ideas about how well received these things are.
The Top Ten
There’s a small change to the list this time around.
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 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
5 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
6 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
7 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
8 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
9 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
10 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
Outside of the musical acts, there was no celebrity involvement at WrestleMania X8, significant or otherwise. So Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrities is held off for the time being. Check the WrestleMania X-Seven list for what the list looks like.
Top Ten Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
Motorhead, The Game – WrestleMania X-Seven
DX Band, DeGeneration X theme – WrestleMania XIV
Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania VII
Top Ten Intercontinental Title Matches
*EDIT DISCLAIMER* After the notification of an accounting error at the firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe, the triple threat from WrestleMania 2000 has been placed on the list, kicking off the match from WrestleMania XV.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho – 2-Fall Triple Threat Euro-continetal Title Match (WrestleMania 2000)
Chris Jericho vs. William Regal – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig vs. Big Bossman, Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VII)
Ultimate Warrior vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania V)
Greg Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog – Intercontinental Title match (WrestleMania I)
The Rock vs. Ken Shamrock – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania XIV)