Friday, April 3, 2009

Kick-Out's Top 25 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 1)

With WrestleMania 25 happening this Sunday, a slew of wrestling websites across the tangled web have put out top 25 lists based on the event and since I love a good bandwagon, I figured I'd hop on. Actually, this list was mostly inspired by the good people over at who had a list of their own that I just cannot agree with. I've seen some eyebrow-raising lists over the years, but the bizarre ordering of matches mixed with some glaring omissions made my list not something I wanted to do, but something I had to do as a public service.

To avoid making this list one long post, I've broken this list up into two parts (part two will be available tomorrow). I've been told I'm supposed to keep my audience wanting more, so enjoy the suspense and enjoy matches 25-11:

25. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania VII
The then-World Wrestling Federation was just too big for both of them after the Macho Man cost the Warrior the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble months before. Their feud had to come to an end and it would do so at WrestleMania VII in a retirement match. Despite hitting The Warrior with five of his signature flying elbow drops, Savage could not keep him down and wound up succumbing to the overwhelming power of the man from "Parts Unknown."

The real story came after the match when Randy Savage reunited with his long-time manager Miss Elizabeth. The two would go onto get married five months later at SummerSlam 1991, only to have their reception ruined when a cobra was discovered in a gift box courtesy of The Undertaker and Jake "The Snake" Roberts; Savage was reinstated soon after to get revenge... God I love pro wrestling.

24. The Iron Man Match: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XII
A lot of people have soured on this match over the years, probably due to the overwhelming amounts of praise that was heaped onto it soon after it happened, but it's still a damn good match. I wouldn't put it in either man's top 25 matches of all-time, but that's just how good they both were; a decent Shawn Michaels/Bret Hart match is still one of the best WrestleMania matches in history. Love it or hate it, they wrestled for 62 minutes... I'm exhausted after typing for 62 minutes.

23. The Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather - WrestleMania XXIV
Is it a "good" match, in what your typical, overly-analytical wrestling fan would describe? No, you probably won't be seeing anything like this on any Ring of Honor highlight reels in the future, but if you ever want to watch something that exemplifies what American pro wrestling is, watch this match.

Wrestling has an iffy history with celebrity involvement - sometimes it works, and sometimes you have a disaster like Jay Leno beating up Hulk Hogan. WWE executed this crossover with perfection and the match did what it was supposed to do: it received loads of mainstream attention, entertained those watching and kept The Big Show looking strong even though he lost to a guy that's more than a foot shorter and 300 lbs. lighter. All for the low cost of $20 million to "Pretty Boy" Floyd.

22. "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena - WrestleMania XXIII
Maybe I'm biased because I was one of the 80,103 setting a new attendance record for Detroit's Ford Field, but I absolutely love this match. I know a lot of people rag on John Cena for not being the best wrestler, but let me just say that those people are wrong. Easily Cena's best match to date and definitely on HBK's long list, this match shut up a lot of haters that deny the fact that John Cena is the most valuable commodity in wrestling today.

21. Kurt Angle vs. Eddie Guerrero - WrestleMania XX
I often find it difficult to write about Eddie Guerrero due to his untimely death in 2005, but this match always makes me smile. After years of being a perennial midcard talent, Guerrero finally got his shot at the big time and won the WWE Championship. Eddie was always one of my favorite wrestlers, but I never expected to see the day where he'd be the top champion in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world and then go on to headline WrestleMania. The match itself is absolutely phenomenal and essentially the epitome of Guerrero's "lying, cheating and stealing" character.

20. Money in the Bank - WrestleMania XXI
Featuring the birth of Edge's ascension into main event status and eventually becoming the best villain in the business today, the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match is absolutely jaw-dropping. I'll let this random YouTube video speak for itself:

19. Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin - WrestleMania XIV
Much like the Iron Man Match, I would not consider this match to be one of the best for either man involved, but you can't deny its historical significance. This match marked the beginning of the Attitude Era, where WWE became the edgy, intense, hypersexual, pop culture icon of the late 90s. It also featured another successful celebrity crossover with Mike Tyson counting the pinfall to give Steve Austin his first World Championship.

18. Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2 - WrestleMania XVII
Following the first TLC match at SummerSlam the previous year, three of the greatest tag teams in history - The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian and The Dudley Boyz (this was back in the day when the letter 'z' was considered edgy) - battled it out in an epic brawl featuring items that would generally belong at a Home Depot instead of a wrestling ring. Technically, they had a similar match at WrestleMania the year before, but it was only a ladder match that featured tables and chairs and not the cute TLC name. Of all the insane ladder/TLC matches these guys have had, I would say this one is the best.

17. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho - WrestleMania XIX
A match between two of my favorite wrestlers of all-time? Sign me up. This match is special in three ways: one, Chris Jericho lists it as his favorite match he's ever had; two, it was Shawn Michaels' first WrestleMania appearance in five years; and three, it marks when Shawn Michaels made a full-time return to wrestling. Shawn had been working sporadically for seven months prior to WM19, but after this match, he fell right back into a normal routine and has not missed a beat since.

16. Triple H vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XVII
Depending on who you ask, they'll either tell you this match is overrated or underrated. Personally, I love this match and am surprised at myself for having it this low on the list. Despite being with the company since 1990 and 1995 respectively, The Undertaker and Triple H never really had their first feud until 2001 and it was somewhat hastily thrown together in time for WrestleMania. Despite that, the two unsurprisingly put on one hell of a brawl and you can add me to the "underrated" column.

15. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania VI
I'm sure any old school wrestling fans reading this will cry blasphemy for this not cracking the top ten, as it is such an integral part of any wrestling fan who grew up in the 90s, but don't get too upset. I love this match as much as the next guy, but it's just not as historically significant today as it was in 1990 since Hulk Hogan didn't retire soon after (as was expected) and The Warrior obviously wasn't the guy to "pass the torch" to (as was expected). Unquestionably the pinnacle of The Ultimate Warrior's career and his best match, but the same cannot be said for the Hulkster.

14. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - WrestleMania XXI
Shawn Michaels fifth (and far from final) appearance on this list is a dream match of sorts. What would happen if the greatest wrestler from the 90s took on arguably the greatest wrestler of the 00s? What we got was the 2005 Match of the Year. I really hope to see Kurt Angle back in a WWE ring someday soon so we can watch these two go at it one last time.

13. Hulk Hogan vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage - WrestleMania V
In my opinion, the two greatest wrestlers of the 1980s and what I would say is Hulk Hogan's best match ever... maybe (more on that later). Randy Savage is often the forgotten man when it comes to the legends of the industry, but if it weren't for the giant shadow cast by Hogan, I think he had all the tools to fill the role occupied by Hulkamania. A tremendous match with one of the best build-ups in WrestleMania history, this was the biggest match possible for a certain five year old that never grew out of watching these larger than life characters.

12. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart - WrestleMania X
Much like the childhoods I ruined by having Hogan/Warrior at 15, I'm going to lose my wrestling nerd cred by keeping this match out of the top ten. Make no mistake about it, this is a tremendous match, but it was really just a building block in the bigger feud that was to come. It was the first time two real-life brothers did battle in a WWE ring and they put on a wrestling clinic with Owen Hart sneaking out a surprise victory. The reason I don't have this match in the top ten is it's overshadowed by Bret Hart going onto win the WWE Title later that same night and the far superior match they had several months later at SummerSlam 1994, which I would call the greatest Steel Cage match of all-time.

11. The Undertaker vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair - WrestleMania XVIII
Ric Flair is the greatest professional wrestler to ever lace-up a pair of boots, want to know one of the dozen reasons why? Because at the age of 53, after years of being told it was time to hang it up, he made his return to WrestleMania and put on an absolutely astounding match with The Undertaker and restarted his illustrious career. And Arn Anderson's Spinebuster cameo is one of the coolest moments in WrestleMania history.

So there's 15 of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history, but what are the Top Ten? Come on back to Kick-Out!! Wrestling tomorrow to find out.

1 comment:

  1. very good list so far man, i find myself agreeing with you. I would of probably put cena hbk in top ten but other then that, i love the list.