It’s WrestleMania week, which is the equivalent of Super Bowl week for wrestling fans around the world.
To get into the spirit of the season, it’s time to honor WrestleMania 32 by giving you JMRA’s top 32 WrestleMania matches of all-time.
If you haven’t watched some of these matches, what are you waiting for? They are accessible, especially if you have the WWE Network.
32. Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus – WWE Divas Title (22): The storyline heading into the WM 22 match revolved around James, who played the role of Stratus’ crazy fangirl stalker to a tee. The match itself is far from the best Divas bout ever but might have the most stunning finish to one. The close saw Stratus ready to lineup a bulldog on James, when the loopy challenger grabbed the champion’s private region to stun her…and then proceeded to lick her fingers in glee. James followed up the shocking move with a kick to Stratus’ head and grabbed the pin and her first Divas championship. Not surprisingly, WWE later edited out James’ slight of hand maneuver in later versions of WrestleMania 22.
31. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (I): The first WrestleMania main event had a ton of bells and whistles. Muhammad Ali was the special enforcer with Pat Patterson as special guest referee, former Yankees manager Billy Martin as ring announcer and Liberace as timekeeper. Piper hated A-Team star Mr. T and added some extra mustard on the match. However, the proceedings culminated with Hogan pinning Orndorff.
30. John Cena vs. The Rock (28): WWE used arguably the worst main event in ‘Mania history at WM 27 between Cena and then-champ The Miz as a setup to Rock/Cena I in Miami. While the “Once In a Lifetime” built was a bit much, WWE opted to announce this as the main event for WM 28 one night after WM 27 – a company first. In the end, The Rock bested Cena in Miami to set the stage for their WM 29 rematch for the WWE title a year later. Their two-year feud culminated with Cena defeating The Rock in what has proved to be Dwayne Johnson’s final in-ring performance (for now).
29. The Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk (29): The moody and mercurial Chicago grappler competed in his final WrestleMania (for now) with The Undertaker. This battle stole show at ‘Mania in Met Life Stadium. Also, it was the final victory for ‘Taker during his exceptional streak of 21 straight ‘Mania victories. Bonus points for Living Colour playing Punk to the ring.
28. Triple H vs. Batista – WWE World Heavyweight Title (21): It is quite possible to argue that if not for Triple H putting him over in this spot (and then in two more high-profile matches that year) that Batista may not have been able to launch a movie career as easily down the line. This is an underrated match that features a ton of blood from HHH. Nonetheless, it lands on the countdown for no other reason than Motorhead playing the champ to the ring:
27. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title (23): Mr. WrestleMania makes the first of numerous stops on the list. Originally, this seemed destined to be a rematch of the ‘Mania 22 main event between Triple H and Cena. Instead, the former suffered a torn quad injury several months earlier. Insert Michaels. It’s not the best match from either but it’s a pretty damn good effort despite having to manufacture a storyline to stage this battle.
26. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (VII): On a storytelling scale from 1-10, this was at a 9. It’s the first “career vs. career” match in WrestleMania history with plenty of juicy stuff heading into it. For the first time in a year, Savage’s estranged manager Miss Elizabeth shows up to watch the match. Meanwhile, Savage drops his trademark flying elbow on Warrior seven times and can’t get a pin. Brilliant stuff. Moments later, Warrior shockingly places a foot on Savage’s chest for the pin. The post-match sequence sees Savage and Liz reunite after two-year on-screen split.
25. Bret Hart vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – IC Title (VIII): WWE was starting a transition to the post-Hulk Hogan era in this show. Perhaps no match was more symbolic of that change than this underrated classic from Indianapolis. The iconic Piper, who alongside Hogan helped WWE reach unimaginable heights during the mid-80s, starred here as the rough and rugged IC champ. A bloodied Hart was victorious when scored the rarest of clean pinfalls over Piper to win the IC strap.
24. Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker (XXX): First off, this was among The Undertaker’s worst WrestleMania matches and is one of the worst matches of Lesnar’s second WWE stint. BUT…
…the end of the streak was probably the most shocking moment in WrestleMania history. Unfortunately, everything until the three count was largely forgettable.
23. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title (XIX): Here’s another entry from The Beast, who prior to his famous win over The Undertaker at the aforementioned ‘Mania XXX almost break his trying to win the WWE title over a decade earlier. As expected, Angle and Lesnar put together a strong match. However, Lesnar’s failed shooting star press and post-match “what state am I in” look on his face causes this match to slip a few rungs down the ladder.
22. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (XIX): Michaels stayed out of in-ring action for over four years due to a back injury. The Jericho bout marked Michaels’ first WM match since the latter dropped the WWE title to Stone Cold Steve Austin in Boston five years earlier. Jericho and Michaels more than lived up to the hype and featured Jericho’s sick post-match groin kick.
21. Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (XXX): Despite Bryan winning the WWE title later that night; he managed to open the show with arguably the evening’s best match. With the looming specter of a Triple H win giving us an Evolution three-way for the WWE title in the main event, Bryan went over in a great bout that finished with his signature running knee.
20. Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage – WWE Title (VIII): We will likely never know the official reason why Flair didn’t defend the title against Hulk Hogan on this show in what would have been the dream match of a lifetime. However, here’s one theory. Vince McMahon seemingly wanted to distance himself from the steroid case that almost put him in prison. Going to a more youthful and smaller product would allow him to do so. If he put the belt on Hogan (which would have been the likely outcome of that match), who knows where things would have gone from there.
As for the match, I implore you to listen to Flair’s podcast on this match. It details how awkward his Savage/WrestleMania storyline proved to be. Basically, Flair claimed he had an affair with Elizabeth on-screen, while Liz and Randy were having legit problems off-screen. Weird.
The ‘Mania match between the two is fantastic. Flair bled heavily, which earned him a tongue-lashing from McMahon backstage following the match. Savage regained the title, while cheating, which is a bit of poetic justice based off the angle. Primo stuff from two WWE Hall of Famers.
19. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (X-8): If this list was solely based off crowd reaction, this match might be the number one choice. The fans in Toronto ate it up and cheered Hogan heavily despite the Hulkster’s vehicular homicide attempt of The Rock on TV weeks prior to the match. While he didn’t earn the love of Canada, The Rock won the match. A major gold star in this match goes to Jim Ross, whose announcing efforts were on point throughout this epic. As Hogan buried The Rock with his patented legdrop, Ross bellowed “HE BEAT ANDRE THE GIANT WITH THAT MOVE” right as The Rock kicked out at two. That match was the definition of a WrestleMania moment.
18. Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (XXIV): The saddest match in wrestling history. Vince McMahon set the wheels in motion in this do or die encounter by stating months prior to the match that Flair’s next loss would his final one with the company. Eventually, the bumpy road led to a showdown with Michaels. Flair’s final WWE match drove some people in the Citrus Bowl to tears. I may or may not have been clutching an autographed picture of Flair while watching the match in my living room. After Michaels said, “I’m sorry, I love you” and then kicked his head off, a part of me died. Ok, a little strong but you get the point.
17. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (21): Nothing was at stake in this match, which in retrospect was perhaps the biggest crime committed here. Both Angle and Michaels were nearly at their peak in this one. In fact, this is by far my favorite Angle match. Hands down, the best match on the show that evening. A must-watch.
16. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns – WWE Title (31): People hate Roman Reigns but here is a secret. This is one of the better WWE title matches ever. Lesnar bullied Reigns throughout and threw some of the stiffest clotheslines since the days of Stan Hansen. The true showstealer of the match proved to be Seth Rollins, who became the first wrestler to cash in his Money In The Bank briefcase at WrestleMania to win the WWE title.
15. Edge/Christian vs. The Dudleys vs. The Hardy Boyz (X-7): Since WrestleMania X-7 might be the best ‘Mania ever featuring the company’s loaded roster at the time, this match sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. The Dudleys would appear to be the third wheel in this setup but they are far from it here. The match is definitely a spotfest but the spots are crazy. The Edge spear off the ladder of Jeff Hardy is one of the iconic ‘Mania spots ever.
14. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVII): I love absolutely loved the build for the Undertaker/Triple H ‘Mania matches. They were simple:
H: I’m going to end you.
UT: You’re not because I’m going to end you first.
The Atlanta ‘Taker/H battle came down to Hunter wanting to avenge UT ending Michaels’ career a year earlier. Triple H hit the Deadman with everything but the kitchen sink and lost. However, he had to be stretchered off, which set the stage for the blowoff match a year later in Miami.
13. Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart (X): The ’94 Owen Hart heel run is among the great bad guy years ever. Owen was just a whiny punk. Nobody loved him and everybody loved Bret. He was going to show everyone that he could beat his big brother…and he did. It was an amazing match that found a perfect pairing between the hostility these two had for each other and their technical ability. The ending sequence with Owen catching Bret by surprise for the pin was a fitting conclusion.
12. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWE Title (VI): Dubbed “The Ultimate Challenge”, Hogan and Warrior met in a rare meeting of good vs. good and title for title. Two wrestlers who were routinely known for no-selling put on a magical ride for over 20 minutes. The end came when Hogan missed his patented legdrop, (which was unheard of) and the Ultimate Warrior capitalized for the win. The victory shocked the Skydome crowd in Toronto and rightfully so. Hulk Hogan lost one match cleanly from 1984 to 1993…and that was it.
11. Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan – WWE Title (V): Hogan left the ring for several months in 1988 to shoot the film No Holds Barred. Meanwhile, Savage took over as champion and face of the company. Hogan returned to help the champ in his feud with Andre The Giant and Ted DiBiase, which indirectly leads to fuse lighting on their eventual battle. The true money is in the setup. I wrote a lengthy piece on it a few years ago and rightfully so. It might be the best buildup to a ‘Mania match ever. A love triangle blows up on national TV and it all leads to Hogan regaining the title in their WrestleMania showdown. The Savage and Hogan promos leading up were just insane. The match itself is great and full of rage.
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart – WWE Title (XII): CONTROVERSIAL HOT TAKE. This is the most overrated big match in WWE history. Something is missing, in my opinion. However, Hart and Michaels are so good that it is still good on merit alone. Plus, it’s a historical match. It’s the only time (and likely the last) that an Ironman match took place at WrestleMania. When two guys go over 60 minutes to decide the winner, you have to tip their cap to them.
9. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVIII): Dubbed as the “End of an Era”, the rematch centered on Triple H losing the battle but winning the war a year earlier. The “beating” ‘Taker received was so epic that he didn’t appear on TV until nearly a year later.
The rematch didn’t disappoint. Using Shawn Michaels as guest referee to stack the deck in H’s favor, The Deadman survived another beating and administered a mighty one of his own.
8. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – IC Title (X): After Michaels came back from a hiatus with the IC title, there was a problem. The actual IC champ was Razor Ramon. The two settled their differences in a ladder match at WrestleMania X in Madison Square Garden with both titles dangling above the ring. While it has aged a bit due to the number of ladder matches since, Michaels vs. Razor set the standard for ladder matches for decades to come.
7. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (26): The final match of Shawn Michaels’ illustrious career stemmed from their amazing bout from a year earlier in Houston when Showstopper nearly ended the Undertaker’s incredible WrestleMania streak. It’s a few ticks shy of topping their WM 25 showstealer but it’s still a sensational effort. Driven by his obsession to defeat his tormentor, Michaels failed again in Glendale, Arizona.
6. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – WWE World Heavyweight Title (XX): It’s hard to write or think about this match without letting the mind to drift to what happened with Benoit in 2007…or how sad the ending of WrestleMania XX is now with both deceased Benoit and Guererro celebrating as world champions. Those memories overshadow what should be remembered as one of the best ‘Mania bouts ever.
5. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant – WWE Title (III): While WWE history often states that this angle began with the Piper Pit trophy segments, the true seeds to the feud were planted earlier when Andre’s suspension was lifted thanks to a shocking assist from longtime nemesis Bobby Heenan. Out of the 32 matches on this list, this one actually might be the worst. When you strip it down to the core elements, it’s not a great match by any stretch. Yet, it’s the most famous match of all-time in the most famous ‘Mania ever. The match helped draw “93,173” fans to the Pontiac Silverdome and provided the indelible image of Hogan bodyslamming Andre and ending his “15-year undefeated streak.”
4. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart (13): When you see this entrance, you know there is going to be hell to pay for somebody:
The image of Austin’s bloody face trying to survive Hart’s deadly sharpshooter helped propel Stone Cold into greater heights. Notably, this “I Quit” match offered the famous double turn between Austin and Hart, which dramatically turned the fortunes for each performer.
Ultimately, this propelled Austin from star status to superstar status. Meanwhile, Hart’s decent out of WWE slowly began.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock – WWE Title (X-7): The greatest WWE title bout ever. Austin and The Rock tore the Astrodome down in a brutal, fun, and electrifying bout that featured the interference of Stone Cold’s long-time rival Vince McMahon. The evil Mr. McMahon played a vital role in the proceedings. Austin joined him and turned heel after the match, which in retrospect may not have been a wise move considering Austin’s massive popularity. Out of the three Austin/Rock ‘Mania bouts, this was the best and it’s not even close.
2. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat – IC Title (III): The Mona Lisa of wrestling matches. Even almost 30 years later, it stands as one of the greatest matches of all-time. The pacing, false-finishes, and timing are a thing of beauty. Even the somewhat questionable involvement of George “The Animal” Steele made sense and didn’t take away from the main idea: seeing two of the company’s best performers do their thing. Whenever the discussion of greatest matches ever comes up, this is typically in the discussion. The match eventually propelled Savage to win the WWE title at WM IV a year later. Meanwhile, Steamboat went on to defeat Ric Flair for the NWA title in 1989.
1. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (25): I didn’t think I’d ever see a match better than Steamboat v. Savage but Michaels and ‘Taker pulled it off. Their standoff in Houston was a showcase that saw the duo steal the show away from the main event (Triple H vs. Randy Orton). How great was this match? I watched this at a WrestleMania party and one of the attendees threatened to injury everyone if Michaels won due to his hatred of the WWE Hall of Famer. To say I worried about my life numerous times was an understatement. HBK’s athleticism was on point as he and ‘Taker drained every last drop of energy out of Reliant Stadium during their thriller. The Undertaker prevailed in a match that had a little bit of everything except for me getting powerbombed through a table thankfully.
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