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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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Retrospective: Matches That Define WrestleMania

By @Phranchize19 

Every year we as wrestling fans come together to witness the biggest event in the sport, WrestleMania. Vince McMahon’s vision for a supercard has gone from closed circuit and being watched in movie theaters to people traveling all over the globe to witness this spectacle. WrestleMania has produced some of the greatest moments in wrestling history. I am here to give you the matches that DEFINE the legacy of WrestleMania. Keep in mind, this list isn't a best match or greatest match list, therefore some of the best in ring matches will not be there (a good amount of them are however). These matches have had the biggest effect on this event.

 *Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (w/ Jimmy Superfly Snuka) vs Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (w/ Cowboy Bob Orton) 
WrestleMania 1

-In this day and age, we probably would've gotten a title match between Hogan and Piper, but with the company being dependent on the first WrestleMania being a success, Vince McMahon needed more star power. Enlisting Mr. T of the A Team to aid possibly the biggest star in America at that time against WWF’s top heel at that time made perfect sense. This match wasn't a technical masterpiece, but the importance of this match is significant as this match was going to make or break WWE as a company.

*Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant 
WWF Championship 
WrestleMania 3

-This match is not only the most important in WrestleMania history (IMO), but wrestling history as well. Andre was a world renowned figure and Hogan is one of the most popular figures of all time. Hogan and Hulkamania had captivated America as an irresistible force. Andre The Giant, a larger than life wrestler, stood as an immovable force (plus a 15 year undefeated streak). Throw in a friends turned enemies narrative and a collision was inevitable. Obviously this wasn't going to be a 5 star classic, but two of the greatest figures in wrestling colliding was memorable on so many levels. The iconic image of Hogan slamming Andre is still played today.

*Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat 
Intercontinental Championship WrestleMania 3

-While Hogan vs Andre was the big bout, it was this match that stole the show. This was the first classic match WrestleMania had ever produced. This is what set the standard for the Intercontinental title as two of wrestling’s greatest technicians collided for the second biggest prize in WWF. This match set a precedent and made the IC Title shine brighter than the World Title.

*Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan 
WWF Championship 
WrestleMania 6

-The match that was the main event of the first WrestleMania of the 90s. This match was huge in significance for two reasons: one, Hulk Hogan was pinned cleanly in a match at WrestleMania. This was unheard of during this time period so this was monumental off this alone. Two, it signaled a new era was on the horizon. Warrior was as popular as Hogan at this point. WWF started going into the direction of younger champions, which would serve them well in the future.

*Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon 
Intercontinental Championship
Ladder Match 
WrestleMania 10

-The first ladder match in the history of WrestleMania. Many didn't know what to expect from this match and it delivered and then some. Shawn Michaels would deliver a performance that would signify his run as Mr. WrestleMania. Razor Ramon was riding the wave as the most over midcard guy in WWF at that time. This match would push the limits of both men and send WWF into newer heights.

*Bret Hart vs Owen Hart 
WrestleMania 10

-A classic confrontation. A story of Brother against Brother couldn't have been written any better. Bret and Owen would go on first and set the tone for the evening. While Bret was the face of WWE at this time, him putting Owen over made Owen a legit star and would send him into superstardom. Owen benefited so much from this victory.

*Bret Hart vs Shawn Michaels 
WWF Championship 
Iron Man Match 
WrestleMania 12

-Quite possibly one of the greatest matches I've ever seen. This was the first Iron Man match in the history of WWF so there was a bit of risk on WWF‘s part, especially with two guys who are considered smaller by Vince McMahon’s standard. Hart and HBK put on a wrestling clinic and it paved the way for many of the smaller guy matches we view today.

*Bret Hart vs Stone Cold Steve Austin 
Submission Match 
WrestleMania 13

-In my opinion, the second greatest Mania match of all time. With WWF transitioning more towards adult friendly programming, the company needed someone to spearhead that revolution. Enter Stone Cold. Stone Cold and Bret would execute the greatest double turn in WWE history. The image of Austin in the Sharpshooter with blood trickling down his face was a WrestleMania moment and literally thrusted Austin into the main event scene.

*Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels 
WWF Championship 
WrestleMania 14

-Another changing of the guard. WWF was fully into the attitude era and Austin was the face of it. This match signaled another changing of the guard as I mentioned but also holds significance of Mike Tyson being involved which boosted business and ratings.

*The Hardy Boyz vs the Dudley Boyz vs Edge and Christian 
Triangle Ladder Match 
WWF Tag Team Championship  

-Up to this point, the tag team titles hadn't really had a major angle when it came to WrestleMania. These three teams changed that perception. This match but the tag title scene on the map. Arguably 3 of the top 5 tag teams in WWF history put on a show stealing performance and would set the world on fire with this match.

*The Rock vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan 
WrestleMania 18

-Wrestling’s past met wrestling’s present in a once in a lifetime match. Hogan had came back to WWE after almost a decade away and during that time, The Rock rose to greatness. Two of the most charismatic and iconic wrestlers of all time squared off on the biggest stage and did not disappoint. Their staredown alone was a WrestleMania moment.

*The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin 
WrestleMania 19

-This was quite possibly the greatest encounter these two have had. With Austin basically ending his in ring career after this match, it holds significance as the greatest rivalry in WWE history was finally reaching its end. The Attitude Era’s biggest stars got to ride off into the sunset one more time.

*Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels WrestleMania 25

-The greatest match I've ever witnessed. It doesn't get any better than this. WrestleMania’s biggest mainstays going one on one on the grandest stage. I think we expected a great match but we got something so much better. When you want to explain to someone what wrestling is: show them this match.

*The Rock vs John Cena 
WrestleMania 28

-Billed as once in a lifetime, this was greatness. Rock was one of the faces of the Attitude Era and Cena was the poster boy of the Ruthless Aggression era. What made this match special was the real animosity between the two men. This match was so big it was planned out a year in advanced and it delivered. Two of the greatest Mania performers squared off in a classic confrontation.

-C. Yates


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