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Rockin’ the House: The Ten Greatest Wrestlemania Matches

Nothing in the pro wrestling industry summarises March as much as WWE’s WrestleMania. Many a-historic moment has taken place at the annual March pay-per-view. From Shawn Michaels’ ascension to the top at WrestleMania XII going over Bret Hart for the WWE title, to the Owen over Bret match at WrestleMania X…

Nothing in the pro wrestling industry summarises March as much as WWE’s WrestleMania. Many a-historic moment has taken place at the annual March pay-per-view. From Shawn Michaels’ ascension to the top at WrestleMania XII going over Bret Hart for the WWE title, to the Owen over Bret match at WrestleMania X.

Looking objectively, however, one would concede that there have been a lot of bad WrestleMania memories, with leading low-lights being WrestleMania IX as a whole, and more specifically the nonsensical main events finish of Bret jobbing Yokozuna, only for Hulk Hogan to go over new champion Yokozuna in under 60 seconds in an impromptu match.

Regardless, the build-up for a WrestleMania has almost always been spot on, cultivating, pushing and nurturing the top-line programs. This years’ WrestleMania is no exception, which is somewhat surprising considering the state of WWE from a creative standpoint.

Without question, this years’ WrestleMania build-up is the most important for many years, as this years WrestleMania will be an indication as to the direction the company will take for years to come.

Last years’ WrestleMania was the lowest since WrestleMania XIII, which isn’t a positive at all. Obviously, a good WrestleMania buy-rate on it’s own isn’t all that WWE needs, they need to follow it up with a well booked Backlash show in April.

It seems WrestleMania is capable of producing at least one **** match, if not more than one. At last years’ show it was Micheals going over Jericho in a belter of a match. At this years show however, the chances of seeing a **** match, or even a ***** match will greater, as this years’ show will be five hours (yes, five).

The stand-out match from a work rate point of view, is Kurt Angle/Eddy Guerrero. If this match is given time, like I’m lead to believe, it will be better than Eddy/Brock Lesnar at No Way Out. Here’s to hoping the MSG crowd isn’t dead near the top, like some MSG crowds can be from time-to-time.

But from WrestleMania XX, we go back to WrestleMania I. Muhammad Ali was there, Mr T. was there. Brusier Brody was almost there. Aside from taking the witness stand numerous days in a row, this was arguably the most important day and night in Vince McMahon’s professional life, and perhaps his personal life. A year prior to the first WrestleMania in 1984, his promotional rival Jim Crockett had staged Starrcade.

The Starrcade event was planned an entire year ahead, and was up until that point the biggest show in Jim Crockett Promotions’ history, with Roddy Piper working on the show in a ‘Dog Collar’ chain match against Greg Valentine. Starrcade was a resounding success and led JCP to new levels in their war against WWE. So, with JCP quickly snapping at the heals of his promotion, Vince McMahon created his own Starrcade, a yearly pay-per-view show, named WrestleMania.

Just as he was on the first ever Starrcade, Roddy Piper was on the first WrestleMania, and in the main event no-less. To figure out the best ‘Mania match of time doesn’t take much doing, or pondering. There is one run-away winner, and it took place at WrestleMania III, in front of 73,000 fans at the Pontiac SilverDome. The show will forever be remembered by casual fans for the Andre the Giant/Hulk Hogan match on top, but for the more dedicated fan, it’ll always be remembered for the show which Randy Savage and Rick Steamboat stole the show (and they got some heat for it too).

Without a shadow of a doubt, this was the greatest WrestleMania match ever, and in all probability, the greatest WWE match in it’s 40 year history. The match was for the-then prestigious Intercontinental title, and would see Steamboat go over Savage cleanly to one of the biggest pops on the entire show.

Whenever either mans’ careers are discussed seriously, this match is always mentioned, along side Steamboat’s 1989 matches with Ric Flair, which were the greatest matches anywhere in North American that year. Flair/Steamboat was an obvious choice, but second place was not. It’s tempting to give the second nod to Bret Hart/Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIIII, after all it was a blistering brawl that turned Hart heel, and Austin face. Likewise, the second slot could’ve just as easily gone to Bret/Owen Hart at WrestleMania X, in which Owen got the ‘shock’ win over brother Bret in a classic ‘Mania match.

However, second place goes to a match that arguably the last truly great match of either man’s career, and that match is Randy Savage/Ric Flair, at WrestleMania XIII. The event at the Hoosier Dome was notable for said Flair/Savage match, as well as the Roddy Piper/Bret Hart match, in which Bret went over Piper for the Intercontinental title.

The Flair/Savage match was for the WWE title, with Flair going into the match as champion after his superb showing in the 1992 Royal Rumble two months earlier, winning the Rumble and title in the process. The two were involved in a great program (thanks mostly to Flair), with the angle being that Flair claimed Elizabeth had the hots for him (which she didn’t’), and with Flair even claiming he had a centrefold picture of Elizabeth.

The match itself had a ton of heat, with the fans hating Flair and ‘Executive Consultant’ Mr. Perfect, who was at ringside for the bout. Flair jobbed the title to Savage, and with ‘Naitch’ juicing as well as dropping the title. The pop when Savage got the pinfall was enormous, and was the biggest pop of the night including Hogan’s famed entrance. So, with further ado, here are the prestigious ten…

–1. Randy Savage versus Rick Steamboat, WrestleMania III (Steamboat over Savage via pinfall to capture Intercontinental title)–

–2. Ric Flair versus Randy Savage, WrestleMania XIII (Savage over Flair via pinfall to capture WWE title) —

–3. Shawn Micheals versus Razor Ramon, WrestleMania X (Ramon over Micheals via Ladder climb to capture Intercontinental title)–

–4. Bret Hart versus Owen Hart, WrestleMania X (Owen over Bret via pinfall)–

–5. Bret Hart versus Steve Austin, WrestleMania XIII (Hart over Austin TKO)–

–6. Brock Lesnar versus Kurt Angle, WrestleMania XIX (Lesnar over Angle via pinfall to capture WWE title)–

–7. Shawn Micheals versus Chris Jericho, WrestleMania XIX (Micheals over Jericho via pinfall)–

–8. Bret Hart versus Shawn Micheals, WrestleMania XII (Micheals over Hart via pinfall to capture WWE title)–

–9. Steve Austin versus The Rock, WrestleMania XV (Austin over Rock via pinfall for WWE title)–

–10. Rock over Hollywood Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania XVIII (Rock over Hogan via pinfall)–

Matt Singh