WrestleMania is the Super Bowl of professional wrestling. No matter how much the Internet wrestling community might complain about WWE’s stale product, the one thing that nobody can deny is that WrestleMania always has a very special feel to it.
Everything at WrestleMania feels more important, feels historic. A 5-star match that takes place on any other night will not be remembered as well as a less impressive match that takes place at WrestleMania. Often it is a wrestler’s performance at WrestleMania that goes on to define their careers.
Being included in the Main Event of WrestleMania is also significant, it’s an honor that is bestowed upon only a select few wrestlers. To be placed in such a role, a performer has to have earned the confidence of Vince McMahon and anybody else in the back that has influence with him.
Some wrestlers have had highly decorated careers but never really managed to make their mark at WrestleMania, possibly because the office didn’t have confidence in them. One thing you never want though, is a wrestler who wilted under the pressure and was unable to turn a mid-card match into a show stealer.
Casual fans tend to watch WrestleMania even if they haven’t followed the product for the rest of the year, which gives the WWE a chance to turn them into full time fans if they can just put on a great show that night. The following names on this list are the ones that were able to come up big when it mattered most and created WrestleMania moments that have left an impression in the minds of fans all over the world.
20. Jake “the Snake” Roberts
A controversial inclusion in this list is Jake “The Snake” Roberts. While Jake never headlined WrestleMania, he was involved in some of the more talked about mid-card matches in WrestleMania history.
Alice Cooper managed Jake when he took on the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 3, so you better believe that’s memorable. Jake also defeated Andre The Giant by DQ at WrestleMania 5 and had an epic feud with Ted Dibiase heading into their WrestleMania 6 match in Toronto’s SkyDome.
It was at WrestleMania 6 that Jake cut what is regarded as one of the best promos of all time, when he quoted several bible verses at Ted Dibiase before their match, telling the Million Dollar Man he would be wallowing in his own muck and groveling for his own money. It was awesome.
Roberts also took on Rick “The Model” Martel in a blindfold match at WrestleMania 7, before becoming the Undertaker’s second WrestleMania victim at WrestleMania 8.
Kane’s first match at WrestleMania was one of the most epic matches of all time. At WrestleMania 14, Undertaker finally relented and granted his brother Kane a match. It would take several tombstone piledrivers for Undertaker to defeat his brother, but the world was shown just how powerful a force Kane was.
WrestleMania 20 saw a rematch between Kane and the Undertaker, with Taker once again defeating his brother.
It was rumored at one point that the WWE was leaning towards having Kane end the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania, to bring the storyline between the brothers full circle, but obviously that never materialized.
While Kane’s career at WrestleMania hasn’t produced as many memorable moments as one might expect from the near two decades he has competed at the event, he gets ranked on this list due to the frequency of which he has appeared on the card and the lasting impact his feud with the Undertaker on the WM stage has had.
Edge’s first match at WrestleMania was the famous ladder match between Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boyz and the Dudleys. The match was so well received that it kick started a trend of 3-way tag matches in the division, and the invention of the TLC Ladder match. Many claim that the feuds between the 3 teams were the best the tag team division has ever had in the WWE. Edge and Christian would win the 3-way ladder match at WrestleMania 2000, and the next year they would win a TLC match against the same teams at WrestleMania 17.
The first ever Money in the Bank match was held at WrestleMania 21, where Edge would become the first ever holder of the MITB briefcase (later becoming the first ever Superstar to win the World Title by cashing in the briefcase).
Edge’s last WWE match was at WrestleMania 27, defeating Alberto Del Rio to retain the World Championship.
17. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho main evented WrestleMania 18, kind of. After unifying the WCW Championship title and the WWE title at No Way Out, Chris Jericho became the first unified and undisputed World Champion. This was shortly after the failed invasion angle, and the WWE’s decision to unify WCW’s title belts with the WWF’s.
Triple H was the babyface that was chasing the dastardly heel Jericho and it was all supposed to culminate in the biggest match of the year. Only the audience was totally asleep for the whole thing.
The reason the crowd didn’t react well to the main event that year is because the epic Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan match also took place on that card, and the crowd was exhausted by the time the main event rolled around. Still, main eventing WrestleMania is not something many superstars ever get to do.
The next year Jericho would steal the show in his match with his childhood idol Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 19, a match that many consider one of the best in the history of the event.
16. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is an amazing wrestler. One of Angle’s most amazing matches came at WrestleMania 21 when he wrestled Shawn Michaels, earning the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year Award.
Angle also headlined WrestleMania 19, a match somewhat infamous for Brock Lesnar’s botched shooting star press to close out the show.
The next year at WrestleMania 20 Angle challenged Champion Eddie Guerrero for the title unsuccessfully.
WrestleMania 22 would be the last for Angle, he would leave the company and spend the rest of his career wasting away in TNA Wrestling after that.
15. Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat
Steamboat competed in the inaugural two WrestleManias, but it wasn’t until WrestleMania 3 that he would fully make his mark on the event.
Steamboat’s WrestleMania 3 match against “Macho Man” Randy Savage is on every wrestling critic’s best matches of all time list. The match is consistently regarded as one of the best worked matches of all time, and set the stage for Intercontinental Championship matches consisting of good workers putting on a good show.
Steamboat took some time off the following year, but did return in time to participate in the WWF Championship tournament at WrestleMania 4, losing to Greg “the Hammer” Valentine.
After several years of retirement, Steamboat stole the show again, this time at WrestleMania 25. Steamboat was on a team of legends that also consisted of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, but it was Steamboat who won over the fans admiration by looking very athletic for his age in the match. His performance that night was so impressive it led to his working another match against Chris Jericho the next month at Backlash.
14. Andre The Giant
WrestleMania 3 was one of the biggest pro wrestling events of all time, and literally one of the biggest reasons for that was Andre The Giant.
The Pontiac Silverdome didn’t quite hold the 90,000 spectators that the WWE claims it did, similar to how WrestleMania 32’s attendance in Dallas was not over 100,000, but all the same they were both huge events.
For decades leading up to the match Andre was the big attraction that would tour around the territories beating everybody. There was an aura around Andre that nobody could beat him, and yet nobody asked any questions as to why he never received a title shot.
Finally Andre was going to receive his title shot after aligning with Bobby Heenan and turning on his former friend Hulk Hogan. There was only one match that could have filled the Silverdome: Andre vs. Hogan.
Andre would also play a big part in the first two WrestleManias: Defeating John Studd at the first event and winning a battle royal at WrestleMania 2.
13. the Ultimate Warrior
While the inclusion of the Ultimate Warrior on this list might be seen as a touch controversial, he did main event and win WrestleMania 6. After two years of holding the event at Trump Plaza the WWE needed a big match to fill the new SkyDome in Toronto (later the host for WrestleMania 18 as well) and the only match big enough was the Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan.
This was supposed to be the passing of the torch from Hogan to the new leader of the babyfaces, and Warrior was the WWF’s pick. Warrior was incredibly popular at the time, maybe even more popular than Hogan. Shockingly the match was actually pretty good, and the roof almost blew off when Warrior beat Hogan.
Sadly, Warrior’s title run was not much of a draw and the belt would be back on Hogan after WrestleMania 7.
12. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Piper being ranked so low on this list seems like quite an injustice for the man that was so hated at WrestleMania 1 that it helped wrestling hit the biggest boom period it had ever had at that point. Piper being ranked this low really just speaks to the quality of the performers that are ranked above him.
All wrestling and MTV fans began to absolutely hate Piper for all the hateful things that Piper would say or do in reference to fans in the “Music Television” generation during the “Rock N Wrestling Connection” era that led into the first WrestleMania. And when Piper kicked Cyndi Lauper at Madison Square Garden, the audience saw red. Hulk Hogan’s popularity skyrocketed as he was seen as the only man who could come in and give this dastardly villain his comeuppance.
WrestleMania 2 was also significant as it was the first time a WrestleMania audience chose to cheer the bad guy and boo the good guy when more than a scattered few chants of “Roddy! Roddy!” could be heard during his boxing exhibition with Mr. T.
Piper would also have memorable WrestleMania moments in matches with Bret Hart, Goldust and Adrian Adonis.
11. Daniel Bryan
If only we had gotten a few more WrestleMania matches out of Daniel Bryan he would be much higher up on this list.
WrestleMania 30 was one of the greatest WrestleManias of all time, or at the very least it has one of the most interesting back-stories.
The WWE wanted the main event of that year to be the returning Batista to face the Champion Randy Orton, only that is not the main event the fans wanted. The fans were completely head over heels crazy for Daniel Bryan at this point, and when Bryan wasn’t entered into the Royal Rumble that year the fans booed relentlessly throughout the remainder of the event.
The fans ended up letting the WWE know that they weren’t going to settle for Bryan not being included in the biggest match of the year. Then in storyline the WWE incorporated the real-life scenario and produced a segment where Bryan invited fans to “occupy” the ring area until Bryan was given a match against Triple H at WM30 with the stipulation being if he wins he gets added to the Main Event with Batista and Orton later that night.
Bryan would go on to win both matches, and create one of the greatest WrestleMania moments of all time.
10. Brock Lesnar
In Brock Lesnar’s first run with the company he had a few hiccups at WrestleMania. He completely botched the planned end to his match with Kurt Angle in the main event of WrestleMania 19, landing on his head when attempting a shooting star press. Then he and Goldberg were booed out of the building at WrestleMania 20.
It was after Lesnar returned to WWE following his stint with the UFC however, that Lesnar really started to find his grove at the event.
At WrestleMania 30 Lesnar shocked the world by ending the streak, leaving many fans with jaws that haven’t fully recovered after dropping so far and in such drastic fashion.
After ending the streak Lesnar has become an event all-to-himself at WrestleMania, creating a secondary main event no matter whom he is booked against.
Lesnar would lose the WWE Championship at WM30 after Seth Rollins cashed in the MITB briefcase, and then defeat Dean Ambrose at WM32 in an unforgettable no holds barred match.
9. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
“Macho Man” Randy Savage is one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, and his performances at WrestleMania prove this.
Savage was involved in one of the greatest matches of all time against Ricky Steamboat at WM3, losing the Intercontinental Championship. The next year Savage, now a babyface, won a tournament to crown a new WWF Champion. The following year Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan would face each other in a match that brought a year long story to conclusion.
Savage would also lose an epic retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior and defeat Crush at later WrestleManias.
8. John Cena
John Cena has main evented WrestleMania 5 times, but what gets him ranked lower than others who have main evented the show less is that nothing Cena has done at WrestleMania has seemed all that memorable. This is most likely due to the fact that the John Cena era in WWE has largely been seen as boring. Despite Cena being a huge draw, both in terms of merchandise and TV ratings, long-time wrestling fans really aren’t interested in the guy.
Cena’s fan base tends to be kids, so while for them it might seem as though it was a big deal when John Cena won Championships against the Big Show or JBL at WrestleManias 20 and 21, for many veteran wrestling fans those matches were nothing special.
It is hard to deny Cena that his main event matches against The Rock at WrestleManias 28 and 29 are two of the biggest WrestleManias of all time. While much of the hullabaloo around those two WrestleManias has to do with The Rock’s return after a long absence, Cena played his role in the storyline to perfection.
7. Triple H
Triple H has main evented WrestleMania 8 times, tying Hulk Hogan’s record. Hunter’s record at WrestleMania is complicated, controversial, and possibly tainted due to the backstage influence he has over creative. His victory over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 29, Lesnar’s first WrestleMania since returning is particularly concerning in this regard.
Another controversial moment in WrestleMania history occurred in the main event of WrestleMania 2000 when Triple H became the first heel to win the main event, pinning The Rock for the final elimination in a 4-way elimination match that also included Mick Foley and the Big Show.
Another slightly disturbing victory Hunter got was at WrestleMania 31 when he defeated Sting at Sting’s first and only match on a WrestleMania.
Most recently of course Hunter dropped the WWE World Championship to Roman Reigns, after doing yet another incredibly elaborate ring entrance.
6. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
It’s hard to believe that a handful of wrestlers have done better at WrestleMania than Steve Austin, but it’s true.
The submission match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13 is consistently listed as one the best WrestleMania matches of all time. The match finalized a double switch that had been occurring between Austin and Hart, with Hart going heel and Austin turning into a face. The double-turn of Austin and Hart that took place at the match shun a spotlight on the changing dynamics of wrestling at the time, with bad guys like Austin and the New World Order seen as “cool” to the fans and getting cheered. The WWF turned Austin into a good guy, the Attitude skyrocketed and the rest is history.
Austin won his first World Championship at the following years WrestleMania by defeating HBK, and won it again in the main event of WrestleMania 15 as well, this time defeating “the Corporate Champion” The Rock.
After his in-ring career ended Austin would continue popping up at WrestleManias for special legends segments, most notably at WrestleMania 32 just recently, when he gave Xavier Woods a stunner.
5. The Rock
The most electrifying man in sports entertainment has created numerous WrestleMania moments over the years.
The first time Rock main evented WrestleMania was WrestleMania 15, when he defended the title unsuccessfully against Steve Austin. The Rock had won the title for the first time at the Survivor Series that year, turning heel and aligning with Vince McMahon and his Corporation. The Rock would face Austin on 3 occasions at WrestleMania, with Austin winning the first two and the Rock the last.
The Rock and John Cena storyline spanned the course of 3 WrestleMania events. In the main event of WrestleMania 27 the Rock gave Cena a Rock Bottom and allowed The Miz to cover and beat Cena, leading to the two of them scheduling a match in the main event of the following year’s WrestleMania.
Rock beat Cena in the main event of WrestleMania 28, but Cena earned the victory back the next year at WrestleMania 29.
Since then Rock usually shows up for a legends segment at WrestleMania, most recently he had an unannounced match with Erick Rowan at WM32: defeating the Wyatt Family member in 6 seconds.
4. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
During Bret Hart’s run with the WWF he competed on WrestleManias 2 through 13, main eventing the show 3 times and stealing it once.
The first time Hart main evented a WrestleMania was at WrestleMania 9, infamous for its Caesar’s Palace Roman theme, which included a debuting Jim Ross wearing a toga.
Hart lost the title to Yokozuna that night, only for Hulk Hogan to instantly challenge and beat the new Champion, becoming the champion himself. After Yokozuna regained the title from Hogan he was scheduled to once again meet Hart for the belt in the main event of WrestleMania 10, only this time Bret would come away the winner.
In the main event of WrestleMania 12 Hart and Shawn Michaels competed in the famous 60-minute Iron Man match, with Michaels coming away the winner in overtime.
Hart would also have classic matches with Austin, Roddy Piper, and against the British Bulldogs as a member of the Hart Foundation.
3. Hulk Hogan
Wrestling as we know it might not even exist if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan. The first ever WrestleMania was born out of the popularity that Hogan received as a result of his appearance in Rocky III, and out of the popularity wrestling was receiving as a result of their relationship with MTV and the “Rock N Wrestling Connection”. Once Roddy Piper kicked Cyndi Lauper on national television all the pieces were in place for a gigantic wrestling event.
After the success of the first WrestleMania the WWF was off and running, with Hogan defeating names like Andre, Bundy, Savage, Slaughter, Sid, and Yokozuna throughout the boom period of Hulkamania
2. Shawn Michaels
It’s impossible to talk about WrestleMania without talking about Shawn Michaels, that’s why one of his nicknames is “Mr. WrestleMania”.
HBK won his first World Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 12, defeating Bret Hart in a 60-minute Iron Man match.
Michaels wouldn’t compete in the following year’s WrestleMania as he lost his smile, but would lose to Austin in the main event of WrestleMania 14.
It was when Michaels returned from retirement that his WrestleMania resume really started to come together, having classic WrestleMania matches with names like Chris Jericho, Triple H, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and two classic matches against the Undertaker.
When the big spotlight of WrestleMania was shining in his direction, HBK always found a way to put on a spectacular performance.
1. The Undertaker
At WrestleMania 32 the Undertaker improved his WrestleMania record to 23-1, his only loss having been to Brock Lesnar at WM30.
Undertaker’s streak was a record that began to be seen as more important than any title in the WWE, with many feeling it would never be broken.
When the referee’s hand hit the mat for the 3rd time, pinning the Undertaker and earning the victory for Brock Lesnar time seemed to stand still. No music played as the WWE production team allowed the gravity of the moment to set in. Finally the graphic “21-1” flashed on the screen to indicate that what the shocked audience had just seen really did happen: the streak was over.
The moment was so shocking that it will forever go down as one of, if not the biggest moment in WrestleMania history, and that is all a credit to Undertaker’s body of work that led up to it.
Every match that Undertaker has ever had at WrestleMania is historic, all a part of one of the greatest careers of all time and his unmatched accomplishments on wrestling’s biggest stage.