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 XXVIII – April 1, 2012
I get it now! The whole “Once in a Lifetime” thing between John Cena and The Rock was all an April Fool’s joke! That makes so much sense…
After a WrestleMania that could be considered one of the worst of the modern era (or the John Cena era, whichever you prefer), WWE came back with a vengeance in 2012 and put together a spectacularly enjoyable WrestleMania where everyone on the card had their working boots on.
The build for WrestleMania XXVIII started a year before, when Rock cost John Cena the main event of WrestleMania XXVII. So, since in the ensuing year Cena won the WWE Title THREE TIMES, this match wasn’t really about revenge. And it was also about using The Rock to bring in a huge pay-per-view buy rate and a record-breaking live gate. So, you know, mission accomplished.
Best Match: Triple H vs. Undertaker – Hell in a Cell. A lot of people say that when Triple H hit Undertaker with the Tombstone at WrestleMania XXVII, they thought the streak was over. I never believed that. But when special referee Shawn Michaels hit Undertaker with Sweet Chin Music to lead into the Pedigree, I was convinced it was over. I feel the match is separated into two halves by Triple H yelling at Shawn to “END IT NOW, OR ELSE I WILL!” and Undertaker telling Shawn not to do it. Once they finished that bit, Triple H and Undertaker went into another gear and delivered one of the best WrestleMania matches of all time. If this match was actually the end of an era, like it was promoted, it would have been a fitting end to both of their careers. Too bad that wasn’t the case…
Worst Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus – World Heavyweight Championship. This match gets a lot of hate, and rightly so. A lot of people were looking forward to seeing what Daniel Bryan could do at WrestleMania. Instead, Bryan kissed AJ Lee, got kicked in the face and pinned in 18 seconds. Not exactly the kind of first WrestleMania experience people were looking forward to from the former American Dragon. But on the bright side, Bryan getting squashed at WrestleMania was the impetus for the whole “YES! Movement,” which eventually led to Daniel Bryan getting a whole WrestleMania booked around him. Still, a disappointing use of great talent.
That’s How You Do It: The WWE Title match between CM Punk and Chris Jericho was everything that the Triple H-Randy Orton WrestleMania 25 match should have been. Right before the match, John Laurinaitis announced that if Punk got disqualified, he would lose the WWE Title. So Jericho spends the match trying to taunt Punk into hitting him with a chair or going over the edge and getting DQed. Instead of handcuffing a match that should have been a blood feud – like it did at WrestleMania 25 – it managed to tell the story of a champion having to overcome his own anger and adversity to beat a superstar challenger. Punk and Jericho managed to include nuance in the match that Triple H and Orton seemed to ignore. Definitely one of the better matches on the show.
Shocker of the Night: I don’t think anyone expected Kane and Randy Orton to have such a great match, but once again, a couple of veterans stepped up and proved that they could go in a big match environment. Maybe some of that came from the surprise of Kane hitting a chokeslam from the ropes and actually pinning Orton. Regardless, I was impressed with the match they put together. One of Kane’s best one-on-one efforts in his 14 WrestleMania appearances (so far).
Tough As Nails: TV host Maria Menounos teamed up with Kelly Kelly against Eve and Beth Phoenix and did so with a pair of cracked ribs. That’s ridiculous, and you can see her favoring her ribs throughout the match. Most people remember the match for the stains on Menounos’ white pants, caused by slamming her ass against a makeup-laden face, a mistake I’m sure no one will ever repeat again. Surprisingly enjoyable match, considering the TV star’s tag team partner may have been worse in the ring.
That Main Event: For the second time in three years, a world title match was not the main event at WrestleMania. Not surprisingly, Triple H was not a champion this year (or at WrestleMania 26, when Michaels-Taker II main evented). But putting The Rock in the ring against the company’s biggest star, even without a belt on the line, was completely worthy of a main event slot. And the surprising result – Cena going for a People’s Elbow, Rock popping up and hitting a Rock Bottom for the pin – was a great cap to a very enjoyable WrestleMania, even if it did telegraph a rematch the following year.
The Top Twenty!
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 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
6 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
7 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
8 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
9 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
10 – The Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)
11 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
12 – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
13 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
14 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
15 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
16 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
17 – The Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
18 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
19 – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
20 – John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XXVIII)
Top Twenty WrestleMania Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Donald Trump – WrestleMania 23
Snoop Dogg – WrestleMania XXIV / WrestleMania XXVII
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Sean “P Diddy” Combs – WrestleMania XXVIII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Pee Wee Herman – WrestleMania XXVII
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – WrestleMania XI
Mickey Rourke – WrestleMania 25
LT’s All-Pro Team (Reggie White, Steve McMichael, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, and Ken Norton Jr.) – WrestleMania XI
Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
Elvira – WrestleMania 2
Jenny McCarthy – WrestleMania XI
Top Fifteen WrestleMania 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
John Legend, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XXIV
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Machine Gun Kelly, Invincible – WrestleMania XXVII
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III / WrestleMania 23
Gospel Choir, The Time is Now – WrestleMania XXVII
Nicole Sherzinger, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 25
Boys Choir of Harlem, American the Beautiful – WrestleMania XX
P.O.D., Booyaka – WrestleMania 22
Flo Rida featuring Sia, Good Feeling and Wild One – WrestleMania XXVIII
Kid Rock Medley – WrestleMania 25
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV