Corrigan’s Corner: 32 Greatest WrestleMania Matches

We are on the road to WrestleMania 32 and here at Corrigan’s Corner that means one helluva stroll down memory lane. I spent the last week of unemployment watching...
Credit: WrestleMania III broadcast
Credit: WrestleMania III broadcast

We are on the road to WrestleMania 32 and here at Corrigan’s Corner that means one helluva stroll down memory lane.

I spent the last week of unemployment watching the greatest matches in WrestleMania history and ranking them for my pleasure and your outrage.

So here…we…go!

32. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania V)

I expected something more than a standard Hogan match for the Mega Powers’ explosion. After all the buildup over lustful eyes, Macho Man losing his championship to three punches, a boot and a leg just doesn’t seem believable.

31. Shane vs. Vince (WrestleMania X-7)

This street fight may be all bells and whistles, but it epitomizes sports entertainment and the twists are fun.

30. Undertaker vs. Triple H (WrestleMania 28)

When I watched this match live in Miami, I thought it was the greatest thing ever. On second viewing, I don’t get it. The story is that Triple H and Undertaker brutalize each other, hoping the other will quit or demanding that referee Shawn Michaels stops the match. Meanwhile, the conflicted Hall of Famer begs each man to surrender to prevent more harm.

Understandably, HBK would want to save his best buddy from pain, but why Undertaker? The commentators claim it’s because he has so much respect for the man who retired him, but it’s not like they have the same relationship as Flair and Michaels. And if they do, it sure wasn’t mentioned before the match.

Yes, there are great near falls and J.R.’s voice and an emotional curtain call, but the psychology doesn’t make sense and the dramatic attempts came across as stalling.

29. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III)

It doesn’t hold up and was a shitty match even by 1980s standards. But the hype surrounding the encounter and the energy of the 93,000,000 (That’s right, million, BROTHER) fans in attendance causes a bigtime fight feel that’s rarely been equaled.

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

Hard to believe I’d rank Flair’s retirement match this low, but after watching it again more recently, it’s easy to see why the almost 60-year-old icon needed to hang up the robe. Of course, Michaels’ parting words to his role model ranks No. 1 on a different (but upcoming) list.

27. Edge vs. Mick Foley (WrestleMania 22)

It’s a sick hardcore match, but it’s remembered for the spear through the flaming table.

26. Warrior vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VII)

Billed as a “career ending” match, the Warrior and Macho Man left it all in the ring in the match of the year. You knew it was serious when the frenzied maniac (pick your choice, right?) in the face paint walked instead of ran to the ring. Savage deserved a purple heart for all the abuse he endured to showcase the Warrior and put him over. However, it’s the aftermath of the match that transcended this marquee bout into a legendary realm.

25. Money in the Bank (WrestleMania 21)

The first MITB will never be topped because of the freshness of the concept, star-studded talent pool and overall unpredictability. Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Kane, and Edge all had a viable shot to snatch the briefcase, and kept us in suspense as they tried.

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

Bryan’s 8month struggle to become The Man in WWE came to a satisfying conclusion as the injured underdog overcame the odds of Batista, Orton, and The Authority to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the greatest WrestleMania.

23. Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania VI)

Fans were forced to choose sides as the top superheroes clashed in front of a raucous Skydome and pulled off an unexpected four-star battle. The torch was passed, albeit briefly, and the Hulkster’s shoulders were shockingly pinned to the mat.

22. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania XIX)

Arguably the best wrestled main event in Mania history, Brock and Angle put on a clinic, with the Olympian struggling to hold on to his title while the unstoppable Beast refused to surrender. Lesnar’s botched shooting star press overshadows this precursor to Suplex City.

21. Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (WrestleMania VIII)

This was basically a handicap match as Mr. Perfect attacked Macho Man almost as much as the Nature Boy did. With the promise that Perfect would reveal scandalous photos of Miss Elizabeth if Naitch retained the gold, the crowd was hot and Savage was amped to defend his wife’s honor.

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

The Hitman lured “Rowdy” Roddy Piper out of his brawling style and into a scientific wrestling contest, which evolves into a bloody morality play as Piper chooses good over evil and loses the Intercontinental Championship to his Canadian brethren.

19. CM Punk vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 29)

Historic for two reasons: Punk’s last Mania match (for the foreseeable future) and the last successful Streak defense.

18. The Rock vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 28)

I bought my first WrestleMania ticket because of this match. Growing up a huge Rock fan, and spending my adolescence loathing John Cena (yes, even during the rap years), this supposedly “once in a lifetime” encounter was mandatory attendance. Rewatching it on the Network was fun, but doesn’t compare to experiencing that atmosphere and snapping my vocal cord in jubilation at the finish.

17. Evolution vs. Rock & Sock (WrestleMania XX)

I don’t know why Steve Austin and Mick Foley believe this was a poor outing on the Hardcore Legend’s part because Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy certainly carried his end of the tandem in his first match back since retiring in 2000. But make no mistake, you watch this match for the magic of Ric Flair squaring off with The Rock.

16. Undertaker vs. Batista (WrestleMania 23)

The first Streak vs Title bout pitted two monster babyfaces in a surprisingly high octane collision.

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

Although tame in hindsight, the first ladder match on WWE TV had the fans on their feet as Shawn Michaels battered Razor Ramon with an innovative assault but lost in a nail-biting conclusion.

14. Stone Cold vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XIX)

The final chapter in their Mania trilogy saw The Rock finally defeat Stone Cold in what turned out to be the Rattlesnake’s last match. We can only speculate as to what the teary-eyed Great One’s parting words to his longtime rival were.

13. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 31)

A shocking ending propelled this slaughter into an instant classic.

12. Dudleys vs. Hardys vs. Edge & Christian (WrestleMania 2000)

Heading into this triangle ladder match, we knew the Dudleys were the table experts while the Hardys and E&C had elevated the ladder match to hellacious heights. After this match, all three teams became synonymous with furniture and the second boom period of tag team wrasslin’ ignited.

11. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XXVI)

The sequel was not as epic as the original, but this time it rightfully closed the show and featured Michaels’ retirement, which for six years and counting, has been the only retirement stipulation to stick. The finishing sequence gives me goosebumps.

10. Owen vs. Bret (WrestleMania X)

The best WrestleMania opener until D-Bry and HHH 20 years later, the Hart brothers engaged in a technical masterpiece that cemented baby bro Owen as a main eventer.

9. TLC (WrestleMania X-7)

One year prior, the Hardys, Dudleys and Edge & Christian defined a new genre in the sport with a chaotic triangle ladder match. Expectations were high, and unfathomably surpassed one year later as the three teams and their friends tore down the Astrodome in the first Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.

8. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WrestleMania XXX)

Before the triple threat at Royal Rumble 2015, this was the greatest match I had ever witnessed. Despite not competing in almost a year, The Game went hold for hold with Daniel Bryan, targeting the wounded shoulder. As always with Triple H, and evidenced as recently as this year’s Royal Rumble, you can never count out a victory so it was euphoric when the B+ Player stuck the flying knee and scored a clean pin over the King of Kings.

7. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania XIX)

On a card with Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar, McMahon vs. Hogan and Stone Cold vs. The Rock, this undercard bout stole the show. Y2J tuning up the band and actually nailing HBK with some Sweet Chin Music is glorious. Perhaps most unbelievable is that these two would go on to have even better matches during their rivalry in 2008.

6. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)

This dream match would have ranked No. 1 if not for Michaels refusing to tap after seemingly a half hour in the Ankle Lock.

5. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania X-8)

If you judge pro wrestling quality by the amount of moves, then this was an abortion. But if you judge wrasslin’ quality by the entertainment value and crowd reaction, this belongs on your must-see list. To this day, it’s fascinating to see the black-and-white Hulkster cheered while the Toronto fans jeer the People’s Champ.

4. The Rock vs. Steve Austin (WrestleMania X-7)

“And the time is upon us, Paul.”

“The time is now. It’s the match where both men need to win, and neither man can afford to lose.”

That dialogue has been ingrained in my memory for 15 years and sums up why Stone Cold would enlist the services of his arch nemesis Mr. McMahon to capture the WWF Championship from the Great One.

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

This war transformed the beloved Hitman into the whining, social critic of not just the WWF but more importantly, America, and transformed the Texas Rattlesnake into America’s rebellious, blue-collar hero. Austin’s crimson mask while locked in the Sharpshooter is the snapshot that skyrocketed him into iconic status.

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

It set the bar in 1987 and it still holds up today. Although the Dragon has revealed that the Macho Man insisted upon daily rehearsal of the match in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania III, that doesn’t tarnish the athletic and dramatic spectacle these two Hall of Famers delivered over the Intercontinental Championship.

1. Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)

And here it is—the greatest match in WrestleMania history. From the symbolic entrances of darkness vs light, to the rapid slugfest, to the thunderous oohs and aahs as Undertaker and Shawn Michaels kicked out after repeated finishers. These immortal warriors, one representing Heaven and the other representing Hell, left it all out on the silver anniversary of the Grandest Stage of Em All.

This was their first one-on-one encounter since more than a decade prior when the Heartbreak Kid escaped the Deadman’s wrath in a Hell in a Cell and a casket match. Their chemistry transcended the standard David vs. Goliath theme; size and speed were eclipsed by the parallels of their careers, the final remnants of the Hogan years still plowing along in the PG Era. Two Texans dueling in their home state, one looking to gain his first singles win over the Showstopper and the other determined to end The Streak.

Both deserving of the Mr. WrestleMania reputation.

No Comment

Leave a Reply