Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kick-Out's Top 26 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 2)

In case you missed Part 1, here ya go!

10. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XX
I hesitated even putting this match on the list due to the horrific events surrounding Chris Benoit's final days, but it is certainly one of the most memorable moments in WrestleMania history. I'm not one of those people who get all whiny about Chris Benoit being "erased" from WWE history, why would they ever want to associate themselves with that incident? But I'm also not going to go on some long rant about how a man I did not know was evil. All I can say is, the whole situation surrounding the man just makes me extremely sad; I haven't watched a Benoit match since June 2007 and I don't know if I ever will again, but this match is undoubtedly one of the best in the history of wrestling, let alone just WrestleMania.

9. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - WrestleMania VIII
After winning his first and only major singles title in WWE, Roddy Piper put the Intercontinental Championship on the line against the former champion, Bret Hart. Piper had been wrestling for almost 25 years at that point, but he put on arguably the greatest match of his career at this event. Bret Hart recaptured the IC Title and went onto become WWE Champion less than a year later, ascending to the upper echelon of professional wrestling, I like to think this match had a lot to do with that.


8. The Ladder Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon - WrestleMania X
Not the first ladder match in history, but definitely the one everyone remembers. Michaels and Ramon laid the groundwork for what would become one of the more popular gimmick matches in wrestling today. One could argue that without this definitive ladder match, the careers of Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Edge, Christian, would have never taken off like they did. I don't know what else to say about this match that hasn't already been said except that every ladder match you see today, uses this battle as the blueprint.

7. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania XVIII
"Icon vs. Icon" is all you really need to say to describe this unforgettable encounter. After a nine year absence from WWE, Hulk Hogan returned to battle the man who some would say replaced him as the most recognizable wrestler in the world. For years in WCW, Hogan was accused of being washed up and no longer capable of putting on a good match (depending on who you ask, some will tell you he was never capable), but those critics were silenced with this match. 70,000 screaming fans in the Toronto SkyDome welcomed Hogan back to WWE with a thunderous ovation that never seemed to quiet down during the actual match. Hogan and The Rock went out and not only exceeded expectations, they made history.

6. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV
Shawn Michaels eighth appearance on this list (there's a reason they call him Mr. WrestleMania), but this match isn't his story, it's the story of the greatest of all-time, "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Flair ended his 36-year career at last year's WrestleMania in one of those moments that when you watched it, you knew you were witnessing history.


5. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. The Rock - WrestleMania XVII
I'll let you in on a little secret, WrestleMania 17 (or WrestleMania X-Seven as WWE dubbed it) is the best WrestleMania, ever. The card is absolutely stacked, it featured this tremendous main event, wrestling's popularity was at its all-time high and WWE was sitting alone at the top of the mountain, having just bought their biggest competitor - Ted Turner's WCW. This match is fantastic to watch simply to see the two biggest stars of the 90s beat the holy hell out of each other, but there's a lot more to it than that. Stone Cold vs. The Rock is symbolic to the end of the famous Attitude Era with Stone Cold's shocking heel turn at the conclusion of the match. Austin aligning himself with his longtime rival Vince McMahon, closed the book on the 90s pro wrestling craze and began a major shift in the WWE landscape.

4. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXV
HBK's ninth and final appearance on this list is the most recent for Mr. WrestleMania.  Some might scoff at the idea of this match being so high, especially pushing out other classics on this list, but the bottom line is, the minute the three count was made in this match, it was a classic.  This match is the reason the term "instant classic" was coined, and I can't wait to see what they do this year in Phoenix... there's a good possibility the rematch could be sitting three places higher than this match.

3. "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat - WrestleMania III
Many call this the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time, and if you're looking at it from a strictly wrestling perspective, they're absolutely right. In terms of pure wrestling, there hasn't been a single WrestleMania match to eclipse this classic from 1987. The story was simple, Randy Savage was the dastardly heel that crushed Ricky Steamboat's larynx months prior by dropping him throat first on a metal guardrail and Steamboat got his revenge, and the WWE Intercontinental Title, at WrestleMania 3. If you or someone you know doesn't understand the athleticism involved in professional wrestling, watch this match.

2. Bret "Hitman" Hart vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin - WrestleMania XIII
If WrestleMania 14 was the birth of the Attitude Era, this match at WrestleMania 13 was the conception. The beauty of this match is that it's one of the few times that two wrestlers successfully turned within a match - Bret Hart walked in the good guy, Stone Cold walked in the bad guy, but when it was all said and done, Hart was the most hated heel in the industry and the fans fell in love with Steve Austin. This match is what it means to "tell a story" in the wrestling ring, it's not just two guys fake fighting, they're acting out things that would normally be told through scripted dialogue in a movie. The finale of this match, with Steve Austin's face covered in blood as he passes out from the pain of Bret Hart's sharpshooter, could be the most iconic image in the history of professional wrestling, with the exception of...


1. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant - WrestleMania III
Without this match, I probably wouldn't be writing this list. Say what you will about Hulk Hogan or the quality of this match, but at the end of the day, this match isn't just the most important in WrestleMania history, this is the most important match in the history of professional wrestling. Hulk Hogan bodyslamming the 500 pound Andre the Giant is the imaged etched in the memory of millions of wrestling fans around the globe.

3 comments:

  1. A great read. Hogan vs Andre being at the top of the list surprised me a little, but I suppose there's no denying its position in wrestling folklore.

    Despite what you said about Bret vs Owen being a building block for the rest of the epic brother-vs-brother feud, it still ranks as my favourite Wrestlemania match. Maybe part of it is the fact that I wasn't actually watching wrestling in 1994, but I just love the way it flows so smoothly and fluently, all whilst telling a simple, yet effective story.

    It was also a little disappointing not to see Savage vs Flair and Lesnar vs Angle in the rankings, but I can understand that choosing between all of the great Wrestlemania bouts will inevitably lead to matches being left out.

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  2. I really loved reading this two part series and it's a good journey through what remains the centrepiece of the pro-wrestling world. Very good stuff.

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  3. Angle vs. Lesnar and Savage vs. Flair were heartbreaking to leave off the list, because I really love those matches, but I think these 26 matches are the best representation of how I view pro wrestling.

    Hogan/Andre certainly isn't a "good" match like Steamboat vs. Savage, but you just can't deny its impact on the industry. The image of Hogan slamming Andre, in front of that massive crowd, it IS wrestling.

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