Saturday, April 2, 2011

Top 27 Matches in WrestleMania History (Part 2)

For part 1 (matches 27-11), click here. And now, the Top 10.

10. 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 WrestleMania 8. 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.



9. 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, Edge, Chris Jericho and many other stars 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.

8. 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.

7. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV
Yet another Shawn Michaels appearance on this list, 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. One could argue that it's been devalued in recent years with Flair returning to the ring in TNA, but c'mon, it's the Naitch, he'll never retire!

6. "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.

5. "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.

4. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXVI
Which match was better, 25 or 26? Go watch them back-to-back, I don't know if one is "better" than the other it just felt like the final act of a play. Act 1 was their feud in the fall of 1997, Act 2 was WrestleMania 25 and the story came to its conclusion last year at WrestleMania 26. The matches just go together and the only reason I ranked 25 above it is because the ending wasn't quite as obvious since it didn't have the retirement stipulation. Although I considered putting it above 25 just for the jumping Tombstone!



3. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXV
HBK's tenth and final appearance on this list should show you why he's been dubbed "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, it's the reason the term "instant classic" was coined.

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. When you say "WWE," Hulk Hogan bodyslamming the 500 pound Andre the Giant is the image etched in the memory of millions of wrestling fans around the globe.

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