The Best WrestleMania Matches of All Time

April 3, 2024
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As of this writing, there have been well over 400 WrestleMania matches since the event began back in 1985. Since then, countless WWE wrestlers (and even a couple celebrities) have battled it out in so many different ways and with quality that runs the gamut from unwatchable to undeniable. In what is supposed to be […]

The post The Best WrestleMania Matches of All Time appeared first on Den of Geek.

As of this writing, there have been well over 400 WrestleMania matches since the event began back in 1985. Since then, countless WWE wrestlers (and even a couple celebrities) have battled it out in so many different ways and with quality that runs the gamut from unwatchable to undeniable. In what is supposed to be WWE’s biggest annual show, some matches fall short, but others rise to the occasion and put together some unforgettable performances.

But today we’re celebrating the very best matches WrestleMania has ever offered wrestling fans. But first, some ground rules. First, as there are so many WrestleManias to cover, we are only going to allow one entry per event. The modern shows with two nights of festivities will only count as one combined event. Second, to keep things from becoming repetitive, there will be no match redundancies. If two wrestlers battled it out in multiple WrestleManias, only one of those matches can be on the list.

Without further ado, here are our picks for the very best WrestleMania matches of all time…

15. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper (WrestleMania VIII)

WrestleMania VIII was a slog of a show carried by two fantastic matches. There was Randy Savage winning the WWF Championship off Ric Flair, and then there was this match for the Intercontinental Championship. The Hitman and The Hot Rod had an absolutely awesome face vs. face clinic that may have been Bret’s best match during his midcarder run.

It helped that this was Roddy’s last hurrah as a regular part of the roster, and he made it count. As somebody whose character was a cheating scumbag with a history of being overly protected and never letting anyone pin him, the final moments of the match were strangely poignant, showing that Hot Rod would rather win the moral victory and lose the match than sell his soul. As Bret was the future of the promotion, Roddy Piper did the most to pass the torch.

14. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania XXXI)

After spending months having everyone from The Rock to Daniel Bryan try to talk up how cool and badass rising face Roman Reigns was, WWE planned to make WrestleMania XXXI his big coronation by beating Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Too bad the fans openly hated this idea and WWE still cared at least a little about what they thought. The match itself turned out to be really entertaining though, playing up Roman as an underdog who, despite being the big and strong guy from The Shield, was running into someone bigger and stronger.

Instead of going the Hogan/Cena route of taking damage, then shrugging it off, Roman drove Brock mad by defiantly laughing through the pain. It did more to endear him than anything else from the previous months. Then once the match was reaching its climax, Seth Rollins ran out with his Money in the Bank briefcase to jump on the opportunity. It was one of the best uses of that gimmick and did a great job of getting the belt off of Brock, keeping Roman from the predictable win, and jettisoning Rollins into the main event scene. More importantly, it ended the show with an excited crowd.

13. John Cena vs. The Fiend (WrestleMania 36)

The COVID pandemic derailed the wrestling business in many ways, but it was fascinating to watch various promotions try to figure out a way to move forward in a time of social distancing and lack of public events. This led to the rise of the cinematic match, and Bray Wyatt certainly made the best of it. Wyatt’s creative ideas were very hit or miss, especially when knocked down by the whims of the brass. His career suffered for it at times, but the Firefly Funhouse Match was when everything clicked.

What was advertised as John Cena taking on Wyatt’s nigh-invincible Fiend persona ended up being a million times weirder. Cena instead got sucked into some kind of cerebral hellscape that turned the story of his career into a bizarre nightmare hosted by puppets. It was wrestling at its strangest and most inventive, and while it wasn’t for everybody (Titus O’Neil’s bewildered post-match expression says it all), it was at the very least memorable.

12. Gunther vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus (WrestleMania 39)

Sometimes you get a matchup that has all the potential in the world, but falls flat, like that time they did Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho and it was only pretty good. Throwing together Gunther, Drew McIntyre, and Sheamus was a dynamite idea, and by golly, they hit that potential. And each other. They hit each other. A lot. And hard. It ruled.

The three had perfect chemistry in this perfectly assembled triple threat match, and the fact that each guy was willing to work snug and take the damage just as well as they dished it out put it on another level. McIntyre doing a lucha flip to the outside during this was the cherry on top. Great stuff all around, a fitting ending, and a well-deserved standing ovation from everyone in the arena.

11. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (WrestleMania III)

Early WrestleManias can be hard to sit through. After the ambitious stinker of a show in WrestleMania 2, we had WrestleMania III deliver a gigantic show worthy of the name. Outside of Hogan vs. Andre the Giant in the main event, the match everyone remembers is Randy Savage defending the Intercontinental Championship against Ricky Steamboat in a classic of in-ring storytelling.

Hell, even the story going into the match is arguably better than everything else on the card, basing their feud over a throat injury inflicted on Steamboat that was treated like borderline death. The two had amazing chemistry and kept up a constant pace, making it a real shame that this would be the last major clash between the two due to their diverging careers. Still, it’s a beloved gem that stood out at a time when seeing a masterpiece on WWF PPV was like finding a needle in a haystack.

10. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (WrestleMania XXIV)

The story behind the match was novel. Ric Flair didn’t want to retire, and Vince McMahon explained that Flair could remain a wrestler as long as he kept winning. The moment he lost, Flair would be forced to hang it up. That meant months of Flair scraping by against various opponents, but how long could he keep it up? Shawn Michaels decided to challenge him at WrestleMania, feeling that he was doing Flair a favor by making sure his finale was on such a grand stage.

In what was the best WrestleMania of its era, the retirement match between Michaels and Flair was the crowning jewel. The two brought their A-games and threw in just enough drama that felt like even Flair himself knew he was out of his league and had no choice but to see it through to the end. It would have been the perfect retirement for Flair, but his various non-WWE trips back into the ring in the years that followed became increasingly embarrassing to watch. Ah, well. Wrestling is about pretending anyway.

9. The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)

The Ultimate Warrior is normally mocked for being winded and limited in the ring, especially for somebody who was so prominent in WWF. Thankfully, there were certain talents who were more than capable of pulling a top-notch match out of the guy, and his Career-Ending Match with Randy Savage is at the top of that mountain. It helped that Savage was the kind of guy to plan out every single story beat prior to the match, which helped bring a fitting climax to their rivalry.

More than that, Savage did intend to retire at the time, so he was putting together his own write-off in a way that built up his real-life friend in Warrior. It really did feel like an explosive conclusion to their feud, with Savage spamming his top-rope elbow drop, only for Warrior to power through and shoulder-tackle him into oblivion to the point that Warrior could just pin him with a foot to the chest. The post-match was just as memorable, as Savage and Elizabeth got to emotionally reunite and, for the briefest of moments, ride off into the sunset.

8. Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXX)

The events that led to Daniel Bryan being the hero of WrestleMania XXX will always be one of the more fascinating stories in wrestling history. How the promotion made a star out of someone they originally wanted to force into the background — only to change their strategy due to CM Punk’s abrupt departure and the vocally angry fanbase — is a fascinating bit of WWE history. Essentially, the promotion saved face by throwing Bryan into the title picture again, but in a way that made him the ultimate underdog.

What would have been a fairly mundane showdown between Orton and Batista instead became something exciting as Bryan’s inclusion — after defeating Triple H earlier in the show — added a new sense of tension to everything, especially with the added interference from Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. This is not only one of the best triple threat matches in WWE history, but one of the most cathartic victories.

7. Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks (WrestleMania 37)

WrestleMania 35 had the first women’s match main event with Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair, but it failed to hit its promise by overcooking the build, being sloppy at parts (including the ending), and being put on way too late in front of an exhausted crowd. Thankfully, WrestleMania 37‘s coronation for Bianca Belair fulfilled the potential of what a WrestleMania main event* should be. These two put on what might still be WrestleMania’s greatest women’s match ever.

There is an awesome story told about two overly confident women butting heads. On one side, it’s Sasha realizing what she’s up against and becoming increasingly frazzled and frustrated. On the other side, Bianca is able to get under Sasha’s skin, but that only makes her overconfident and susceptible to letting her guard down. Not to mention there is a lot of awesome offensive and defensive use of Bianca’s braid, including when it culminates in a thunderous whip from the hair that signals how this amazing bout is all but over.

*It’s still Night 1 for what it’s worth.

6. Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XIX)

This is going to be a controversial choice as Stone Cold and The Rock mixed it up at three different WrestleManias and WrestleMania X-7 usually receives all the love. It’s a great main event for sure, but the booking around it is iffy and it doesn’t quite hit the landing, especially with the Texas crowd refusing to play along with a Steve Austin heel turn. As for WrestleMania XV, it was also solid, but existed as little more than a pleasing catharsis in Austin regaining his title after a year of Vince McMahon messing with him.

Their third and final meeting was special in its own way, feeling like a genuine end of an era (unlike the Undertaker vs. Triple H match at WrestleMania XXVIII, which felt self-important). Austin’s body was falling apart, and this would be his last match for nearly 20 years. The Rock had a foot out the door, but despite all of his great accolades, he still felt empty due to his inability to beat Austin at the Showcase of the Immortals. That added to the emotion of the match, giving us an ending that really felt like Austin had exhausted every little bit of fight left in him so that both he and Rock could move on with their lives.

5. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania X)

As the story goes, Shawn Michaels’ future with the company was up in the air, and as he was Intercontinental Champion, they wrote around his exit by claiming that he had not defended it in the allotted time, and they would therefore vacate it and crown a new champ. They did a battle royal where the two finalists would face off in a regular match, which gave us Intercontinental Champion Razor Ramon. Then Michaels did come back after all, claiming that he was the legitimate IC champ. Hence, a Ladder Match to decide the one true champion.

While it was not the first Ladder Match in WWE history, it was the first to get such a big spotlight. The two proceeded to work their asses off, laying down the groundwork for dozens of other ladder-based matches in the decades that followed. WWE even organized a rematch between the two a year and a half later at SummerSlam 95, but it was nowhere near as good as the first hard-hitting clash between The Heartbreak Kid and The Bad Guy. The bout did run long enough to bump a 10-man tag match off the show, but in the end, it was worth it.

4. The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (WrestleMania X-Seven)

These three tag teams had already stolen the show with a crazy Ladder Match the previous year, and SummerSlam then did a rematch, calling it a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match, which was just the same thing, but with more emphasis on table spots and a few chair shots thrown in. That was an improvement, leading to the three teams to give it one more go at what is considered by many to be the all-time best WrestleMania.

The six men upped the game completely. It was 16 minutes of insanity, with these teams putting themselves through hell, including an iconic shot of Jeff Hardy hanging from the suspended titles, leaving himself open for Edge spearing him from a ladder. To increase the stakes, each party had a helper do a run-in, with Spike aiding the Dudleys, Lita aiding the Hardys, and Rhyno aiding Edge and Christian. They gave it their all to finish the trilogy and it still holds up as one of the best and most chaotic Ladder Matches of all time.

3. The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan (WrestleMania X-8)

From the days of going from Rocky Maivia to the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock has had a knack for adapting to the crowd’s reactions. It’s what gave us Hollywood Rock and the Final Boss. With his first one-on-one with Hulk Hogan, Rock was able to evolve the match into something truly epic and unforgettable, showing the true magic that can come from reading the room and correctly playing to the crowd.

Hogan went into the match in his heel New World Order persona, fresh from attempting vehicular manslaughter on The Rock. Having been gone from WWF for so many years and being in front of a passionate Canadian crowd, Hogan received a hero’s welcome, and the place gradually realized they were more into Hogan than Rock. Even if it wasn’t a technical masterpiece, and Hogan definitely seemed to have injured his ribs legitimately, the two put on a hell of a show that absolutely should have been the main event. Even the post-match visual of a hurt and humbled Hogan timidly asking for permission to show respect came off as extra special.

2. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)

In a way, it felt like the very concept of WrestleMania had led to this. Shawn Michaels rose up the ranks over the years to become a top guy and one of the go-to competitors who would constantly put on a showstopping performance at the year’s biggest PPV. The Undertaker had a strength and endurance buff, thanks to his undefeated streak at WrestleMania and the extra mystique that came with it. While the two had a feud a decade earlier, this time it felt almost mythological, and the two proceeded to put on an exhibition that caught up with the hype.

It was also done at the perfect time, as both men were getting ready to slow down. Michaels was a year from retirement, and Undertaker was about a year away from stepping down from the active roster and becoming a special attraction. Even then, he was only a couple years away from becoming over-the-hill. The stars aligned for this iconic bout, and while many will argue for years to come over whether or not the sequel at the following WrestleMania was better, we’re going to give the nod to their first one.

1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin (WrestleMania 13)

The last several entries were matches that were not the main event of WrestleMania, but probably should have been. The same shouldn’t be said about the Submission Match between Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Oh, yes, the main event of Sycho Sid vs. The Undertaker was mediocre at best and forgettable in the long run, but there’s a fitting novelty to this important meeting between Bret and Austin being thrown onto the midcard with no championship involved. The two forged something that reshaped the company forever by taking what should have been a blowoff victory and turning it into the rare double-turn.

The two put in a top tier performance, which was no surprise, as Bret Hart was Bret Hart and this was months before Austin’s mobility would be forever marred by neck injury. It put together the right mixture of in-ring continuity with the violent brawling that would define the upcoming era. In the end, Bret had Austin where he wanted him and received his decisive victory, but Austin’s defiance mixed with Bret’s petty frustrations made it a question of who really came out on top. Austin became the hero WWF needed, while Bret Hart acquired a new coat of paint, and wrestling would never be the same.

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