The 20 biggest matches in WrestleMania history
Editor’s note: This file was originally published before WrestleMania 36.
It’s WrestleMania week, and the company’s biggest show of the year is taking place on Saturday and Sunday nights.
It remains to be seen if any of this year’s matches will join the pantheon of the biggest WrestleMania matches of all time, but as we head into the most important WWE weekend of the year, let’s look back and enjoy 36 years of WWE history. the largest wrestling event in the world.
1. WrestleMania 3: WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre the Giant
Few major events have reached the level of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant in terms of the scale of his impact. The two incredible characters sold out the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan with a claimed attendance of 93,173, a figure that has been disputed, but it was undoubtedly huge in scale. What is not disputed is how big this event was for wrestling and beyond. The feud, which began when Andre attacked his longtime friend Hogan, captured the cultural zeitgeist. Millions watched on pay-per-view at a time when pay-per-views weren’t popular in 1987. The climax of the match was when Hogan lifted the 7-foot, 500-pound Eighth Wonder of the World and hurled it to the roar of the crowd. It was a truly iconic moment in the American entertainment industry.
2. WrestleMania 14: WWF Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Steve Austin (guest enforcer: Mike Tyson)
At the height of the “Monday Night Wars” between the then WWF and WCW, when professional wrestling reached its peak in popular culture, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin became one of the most iconic characters in the history of the industry. But it wasn’t until 1998 and WrestleMania 14 that Austin became the official flag bearer for the WWF after winning the 1998 Royal Rumble match. Austin stood opposite Shawn Michaels and D-Generation X, and Iron Mike Tyson, apparently on DX’s side and at odds with Austin, was supposed to be out of the ring as an “enforcer”. This was the moment Austin officially became a major star and Tyson’s involvement raised the bar. This incredible match becomes even more impressive when you consider that Michaels was out of action for several months and was on the verge of forced retirement due to a back injury he suffered in January. After Michaels left Boston in April of that year, he was out of action for more than four years.
3. WrestleMania 6: WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior
Long before the popularity of UFC title-versus-title superfighting, Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior met in 1990 at the SkyDome in Toronto in front of over 60,000 people. Until that point, Hogan had been the biggest star in the WWF by a wide margin. He was the man the promotion had built around since the mid-1980s, but the wild, rope-shaking, face-painted Warrior became a huge fan favorite, especially among kids. After they faced each other at the Royal Rumble that year, Hogan proposed “The Ultimate Challenge”, proposing a match between two of the biggest fan favorites in wrestling history. The result was a moment of passing the torch: Warrior claimed victory and the heavyweight title.
4. WrestleMania 24: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (if Flair loses, he should retire)
Ric Flair was in his 37th year as a professional wrestler, having won a record 16 WWE-recognized world titles. He appeared on WWE television in November 2007 and stated emphatically that he would never retire, but Vince McMahon countered that Flair’s next losing match would force him to retire. Over the next few months, Flair fought off Randy Orton, Umaga, Triple H, MBP, Mr. Kennedy, and later McMahon himself. Flair was announced as a 2008 WWE Hall of Famer in late February, and then he turned around and challenged Michaels to a match at WrestleMania 24 the following week. Michaels was hesitant to jeopardize the career of his hero and icon, but eventually agreed. It was incredible performance for the then 59-year-old Flair, and it ended with one of the most memorable moments in WWE history: “Sorry. I love you”.
5. WrestleMania 31: WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
It was one of the best twists and turns in WrestleMania history. The main event was a WWE title match between champion Brock Lesnar and challenger Roman Reigns, but neither left Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California with a belt. With both men down at the end of the match, Seth Rollins ran to the ring and cashed in his “Money in the Bank” briefcase, allowing him to have a title match at any point he chose. At the time, Rollins had a strong storyline with The Authority led by Triple H and received huge support from fans who went crazy as he pinned Reigns after his Curb Stomp finisher to win the title.
6. WrestleMania 35: Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Becky Lynch
The first women’s match to become the main event of the WrestleMania card was the result of a combination of several key factors. Ronda Rousey brought her celebrity from the world of MMA and committed herself to the transition to WWE. Positioned as the centerpiece of Women’s Evolution, Charlotte Flair carried experience and pedigree. Then there was Becky Lynch, the fan favorite who, in the eyes of the masses, was a long-forgotten standout in the burgeoning women’s division. Purposeful decisions and every random moment along the way seemed to lead to this match, from Lynch’s attack on Flair at SummerSlam 2018 to her gory assault on Rousey and the cancellation of their Survivor Series match (featuring Flair) to Lynch’s victory. Winning the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble and finally including Flair in that match by Vince McMahon. By the time that long April night in New York was over and Lynch was holding both women’s titles over her head, history had already been made.
7. WrestleMania 30: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
The expressions on the faces of the ringside fans immediately after that match told the whole story, as did the reaction of Lesnar’s lawyer, Paul Heyman. The Undertaker has won 21 consecutive WrestleMania streaks, one of the greatest streaks in professional wrestling history. The storyline of The Strip was very well defended, and every Undertaker match at WrestleMania for two decades was special because of it. Lesnar, two years behind his UFC appearance, ended it with three F5 finishing moves in front of a stunned crowd at the SuperDome in New Orleans. Choosing the man to finally take down The Undertaker at WrestleMania was obviously a difficult decision for WWE, but Lesnar – one of the biggest stars in the two martial arts of the last two decades – was a wise choice.
8. WrestleMania 18: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
What started as a battle between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock on one side and the recently returned nWo on the other turned into something completely different when The Rock and Hulk Hogan agreed to go head-to-head at WrestleMania. Despite The Rock ostensibly playing the hero and his status as one of the biggest stars in WWE history, in this clash between wrestling icons, fans instead favored the seemingly villainous Hogan, chanting “Hogan” from the moment nWo music turned off. One of the most iconic moments of this match took place even before The Rock and Hogan touched, when they circled each other for several minutes and enjoyed the moment. By the end of the match, it was pretty clear that this clash of the ages was most likely going to be the main event of the show, and fans even got a funny epilogue when the nWo attacked Hogan and excommunicated him from the group, The Rock intervened, and all of this prompted Hogan to do his classic setting.
9. WrestleMania 28: Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Triple H (Special Guest Judge: Shawn Michaels)
At WrestleMania 27 a year earlier, The Undertaker and Triple H fought a brutal No Holds Barred match which resulted in an injury to the victorious Undertaker. He did not appear on WWE television for another 10 months, until he returned to challenge Triple H at WrestleMania 28. Triple H eventually agreed, but offered a Hell in a Cell match, a brutal closed-cell fight that The Undertaker made famous. If he was going to end The Undertaker’s famous streak, he would have done it in the most hell of a way. The bout was billed as the “End of an Era”, a clash between two of the most outstanding and consistent talents in WWE history for the second year in a row, and Shawn Michaels, as guest referee, added another wrinkle. The match was brutal and brutal. The Undertaker won again, extending the streak to 20-0, and the three went up the ramp together after the match ended.
10. WrestleMania 17: No Disqualification for the WWF Championship: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock
The Rock and Steve Austin met at WrestleMania three times: 1999 (15), 2001 (17) and 2003 (19). The first two matches were for the WWE Championship, but the middle chapter stands out. The first WrestleMania since the end of the Monday Night Wars brought together the two wrestlers who arguably contributed the most to WWE’s success during the Attitude Era in a No Disqualification match for the WWE Championship. The match itself was a tense brawl, and while some might take issue with the end of the match with Austin teaming up with his longtime enemy, Mr. McMahon, the significance of the night cannot be underestimated. For an extra dose of nostalgia, check out one of the best pre-match promos ever made, featuring a very fitting 2001 soundtrack to Limp Bizkit’s “My Way”.
11. WrestleMania 5: WWF Championship: “Macho” Randy Savage (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
The friendship, partnership, and ultimately horrific rift between Hogan and Randy “Macho” Savage was one of…