With the 36th Wrestlemania about to begin, we took some of our biggest WWE fanatics in Connor Casey, Matt Aguilar, Ryan Droste, and Evan Valentine to pick through the history of the WWE's biggest events. Over the course of 35 years, Wrestlemania hasn't just given us some of the best matches in the history of the WWE, but in the sport of wrestling since its inception. These were not easy decisions to make, but they certainly represent some of the best that the wrestlers of the WWE have put forward in their careers and we're crossing our fingers that the 36th Wrestlemania adds some new matches to our stable of favorites.
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker — WrestleMania XXVI
Everybody and their mother expects Michaels vs. Taker from WrestleMania 25 to be on this list. And I get it, it's great. Maybe one of the best matches of all time. But I've always felt like their rematch at WrestleMania XXVI has the edge over it, mostly because of the build and the story it tells. Their first match is simply to two unstoppable forces colliding with each other, while Michaels keeps making references to Heaven/God imagery to combat Taker's demonic persona. But once the entrances are over with that's all pretty much thrown out the window.
Meanwhile the sequel can be entirely defined with one word — desperation. Michaels is desperate to get a rematch, so much so that he spends months trying to make it happen by either earning it (that Royal Rumble performance was the best of that year's match) or goading Undertaker into it. Finally when he gets a "Yes" out of Undertaker, Michaels doesn't even hesitate at the idea of putting his career on the line.
Then we get to the match itself. Unlike the back-and-forth epic from last time, the match is dominated by Michaels trying to mount enough offense to keep Undertaker down. He refuses to believe it can't be done, all the way up until Taker has him half-conscious on his knees and he slaps him across the face when he thinks he's giving him the easy way out. It's a beautifully crafted story told by two of the best ever.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle — WreslteMania XX
So you knew Eddie Guerrero was going to be on this list somewhere, and for me, it doesn't get much better than watching Latino Heat take on Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 20. The match was a fight for the WWE Championship and shows both Angle and Guerrero in their absolute primes. Angle's superb technical wrestling was on display as was Guerrero's charisma and style, but don't get it twisted, Guerrero was one of the best technical wrestlers around, and he showed that off in spades throughout this big-time match.
Granted, there was also some brawling to be had, as well as suplexes and frog splashes aplenty, but again, that's part of the fun, as this match had a bit of everything. Angle tried to focus on grounding Guerrero and Guerrero with hits in the back, on the legs, and ankle locks. It took its toll, but Guerrero would power through and at times frustrate Angle, but that was nothing compared to how this match ended.
Guerrero would win this match by loosening his boot, which many assumed was him playing along with the pain from Angle's Ankle Locks. That's what everyone was supposed to think, including Angle, as when Angle went for the lock again Guerrero kicked him, sending Angle forward with Guerrero's boot in his hand. The shock and anger resulted in Angle attempting to tackle Guerrero, only for Eddie to turn it into a rollup pin, snatching victory away from Angle.
You pretty much have everything you want in a match right here, and if you want to watch two greats in the ring, you can't do much better than this.
TLC 2 — WrestleMania X-Seven
I'm a sucker for a great Ladder Match, and good lord did this match between The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, and Edge and Christian deliver. The match took place at WrestleMania X-Seven (also known was WM 17) and featured so many insane and brutal spots that you could really do a whole list dedicated to it.
All three of these teams are known for taking chances, but good Lord did they do that in spades here, and pretty much every star got a shining spot in the match. From Jeff Hardy's absolutely perfect Swanton that split a table and Rhyno in half to the spear to end all spears after Edge lept from a ladder and speared a hanging Jeff Hardy to the mat below, this match had everything, and you know it's a good one when we don't even initially mention that Lita got 3-D'd to a chair.
The pressure was high on this to deliver after such a great freshman outing the year before, but they managed to up the ante while also crafting fantastic in-ring storytelling and packing in some humor for good measure. If you're looking for a match that will entertain you from beginning to end, look no further.
Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin — WrestleMania 13
My favorite WrestleMania match of all time is Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin from WrestleMania 13 in Chicago. The match has everything that makes a great Mania bout: great characters, a great storyline, a hot crowd, and an all-encompassing match.
One really gains an appreciation for this match after watching the recent interview with Hart on the Broken Skull Session on the WWE Network. This was a match where everything just seemed to click. The brawl throughout the crowd early on was just something you didn't see often in 1997, and the little details throughout the match and how these two legends laid things out is awe-inspiring. The final shots of a blood Austin passing out in the Sharpshooter are some of the most legendary camera shots in WWE history, let alone WrestleMania history.
The Hart and Austin feud led the way for the Attitude Era to take-off and really put a stamp on Austin as the company's next top star. One can't over-state how important this match was for the trajectory of his career.
Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat — WrestleMania III
Another of my favorites is Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania 3 at the Pontiac Silverdome. This is one of the most famous wrestling matches of all time, and many of the top wrestling stars of the last 20 years have cited it as one of the biggest influences on their careers (notably, Chris Jericho).
Savage had a reputation as a stickler for details, going to great lengths to plan out his matches ahead of time. He and Steamboat put together a notebook ahead of the match, with each sequence numbered. They practiced calling out numbers and being able to recite to each other which move the number represented. It's definitely over the top, but who can argue with the results?
The match stands the test of time as a fact-paced, action packed affair that comes across just as well in 2020 as it did in 1987. A true WrestleMania moment.
Other matches I considered for two of my favorites: Hogan vs. Savage from WrestleMania 5 (mostly for the build rather than the match itself), Savage vs. Warrior from WrestleMania 7, Owen vs. Bret from WrestleMania 10, Michaels vs. The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25, and Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista from WrestleMania 30.
Hulk Hogan Vs Andre The Giant - Wrestlemania 3
There are many iconic moments that have taken place in the history of Wrestlemania but perhaps none are bigger than Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant. With the original build up to whether Hogan could actually bodyslam the larger than life wrestler, it was with his match that the Pay Per View event became the juggernaut that it is, proving that this was the place to see events happen that just couldn't be seen on the weekly matches. Learning more about the match itself, it spoke to the character of Andre the Giant himself and how two wrestlers that were at the peak of their careers were able to give us one of the best matches not just in the history of Wrestlemania, but in all of wrestling history!
Daniel Bryan V Randy Orton V Batista - Wrestlemania 30
This match goes on the list as Daniel Bryan had ascended the ranks of the WWE through nearly sheer force of wheel, with his talent and charisma making him a fan favorite that no one could ignore. The match itself was a lead up of Bryan's efforts for a year prior to the match itself, showing just how much work Bryan had to go through in order to finally become the underdog champion. Bryan's career continues as he pushes himself to limits we never thought possible and this was one of his shining moments.
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