The greatest spectacle in sports entertainment takes place in just a couple of weeks. March 29th will be the 31st WrestleMania and the highly anticipated event will happen at the Levi’s Stadium in Silicon Valley, California. WrestleMania has always set the standard for any other wrestling pay-per-view and quite possibly any other televised sporting event. Many die-hard wrestling fans can remember the phenomenal matches of the past, especially some of the ones that involved controversy, so much so that many people still talk about them today.
WrestleMania 31 will most likely have some controversy as well and will most likely be remembered years from now, for one reason or another. Some of the matches featured at this year’s event are Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns, HHH vs Sting, and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt, and that’s just to name a few. Fresh off last year’s huge surprise of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak being broken, there’s no telling what will happen this year.
In the 30 years of WrestleMania, the WWE has always been consistent in providing its fans with classic matches, shocks, thrills and controversy, all of which have brought moments that have had the crowd interacting with either cheers, tears or boos.
Here is a look at the top 10 controversies at WrestleMania over the last 30 years.
10. Taker vs Giant Gonzalez – WrestleMania IX
At the time of WrestleMania IX, the Undertaker‘s undefeated streak was in its early years, but even so, pitting Taker against Giant Gonzalez was something of a surprise to many of the Undertaker’s fans. It just didn’t make sense that Taker’s opponent during the biggest wrestling event of the year would be someone with so few credentials. Gonzalez’s only accreditations at that time were his gigantic size and off-putting appearance. The match ended in a disqualification, as Taker was suffocated by Gonzalez with a cloth that was drenched in chloroform. The paramedics came and took Taker out on a stretcher, but he soon returned and knocked out Gonzalez.
9. Benoit and Guerrero – WrestleMania XX
Respectfully, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were two wrestlers who were power houses and did, in fact, give the best of wrestlers the matches of their lives. They may not have had the stature of The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin, but these guys were a great contribution to the history of the WWE.
Because Benoit and Guerrero weren’t the A-list wrestlers like others on the bill at WrestleMania XX, it was questionable as to why they were given such a huge moment that night. Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and HHH fought for the World Heavyweight Championship in a phenomenal match, and Benoit came out on top and became the World Champ.
It was the celebration, between Guerrero and Benoit, that made this moment so special and had everyone in tears. Unfortunately, because of the tragic circumstances of Benoit’s death the WWE is forced to keep this memorable moment in the vault.
8. Mayweather vs The Big Show – WrestleMania XXIV
Through the years quite a few celebrities have been part of the WWE’s live event shows, but being knocked out by a celebrity is pretty uncommon. The no disqualification between Big Show and Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania XXIV is a perfect example of this.
Despite the extraordinary record of Mayweather, the match was that similar to David vs Goliath. Many people assumed Mayweather would win, which he did, but no one really expected him to win the way that he did. Knocking out the Big Show with a brass knuckle was completely uncalled for and the match was over as soon as this happened.
7. Lesnar VS Angle – WrestleMania XIX
WrestleMania XIX brought us Brock Lesnar, who climbed on top of a turnbuckle during the match and attempted to do a shooting star press. This dangerous move could have potentially killed him, he ended up landing on his head but luckily only suffered a concussion because of it. Thankfully the angle of his drop most likely saved his life. By some miracle Lesnar managed to get up and finish the match, even beating Kurt Angle, and he walked out of WrestleMania XIX a champion.
6. Goldberg vs Lesnar – WrestleMania XX
The match between Goldberg and Lesnar at WrestleMania XX was a disappointing one to say the least, and almost unforgettable because it was so bad. At the time Lesnar was one of the hottest new wrestlers in the WWE who tore down anything in his way and Goldberg had the hottest streak in wrestling history while he was in the WCW. So their match was highly anticipated by everyone, and it didn’t hurt that Steve Austin was the special guest referee. If things had played out differently it could have been a classic match. Lesnar and Goldberg took three minutes to interact with each other after the bell rang, and their lack of effort made fans chant for Austin instead of them.
5. Bryan vs Sheamus – WrestleMania XXVIII
The humiliating 20 second match of WrestleMania XXVIII is surely the one that will most likely stick with Daniel Bryan like a thorn in his side for the rest of his wrestling career. Before the match began Bryan wanted to give AJ Lee a kiss, but when he turned around Sheamus delivered a big boot to his face. The legendary Brogue Kick move from Sheamus knocked Bryan out cold and he won the match in 18 seconds. Despite the embarrassing loss, Bryan has climbed up to become one of the top wrestlers in the WWE and has surpassed the man who defeated him.
4. Austin vs The Rock – WrestleMania XVII
WrestleMania XVII was right in the midst of the Attitude Era, and the feud between Vince McMahon and Steve Austin was an expected weekly event. It’s for that reason alone that fans were stunned to see Austin turning heel in his home town and joining forces with McMahon. In the middle of his match against The Rock, McMahon gave Austin a chair and he ended up smashing the Rock with it, he then pinned The Rock and began celebrating his victory with McMahon. Because this all happened in his hometown, he wasn’t booed out of the building, but he was soon known as “the heel” of the industry after teaming up with his enemy.
3. Michaels vs Austin – WrestleMania XIV
The classic match between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIV is still memorable today, it’s hard to forget Mike Tyson knocking out Michaels while donning a DX shirt (Tyson was there to be the ring enforcer). During the match, the referee was knocked out and Austin tried pinning Michaels. Tyson took the opportunity to jump into the ring, with a very quick count, giving Austin the win, and he became the WWE champion. After realizing what happened Michaels was in shock and questioned Tyson’s motives, only to be knocked out by the boxing legend.
2. Hart vs Austin – WrestleMania XIII
Bret Hart and Steve Austin‘s match at WrestleMania XIII was one of the biggest matches in WWE history. The highly anticipated submission match was officiated by Ken Shamrock. Hart took the win due to the fact that Austin ended up passing out from a large amount of blood loss, but that’s not what made this match so unique, it was the events that came after the match. Hart went after Austin, which riled up the crowd and they ended up booing Hart and cheering for Austin. The idea that Bret became a heel at that point in time was a huge surprise which ended up benefiting Austin in a big way. The events that took place that night during and after the match are a refreshing reminder of just how awesome wrestling used to be.
1. Hart vs Yokazuna – WrestleMania IX
The match that took place at WrestleMania IX between Bret Hart and Yokazuna has been mentioned over the years as one of the worst pay-per-view matches in WWE history. Yokazuna ended up defeating Hart in just a few minutes for the title. The fact that this was the main event at the biggest wrestling event of the year only made this match a bigger disappointment for everyone watching. Yokazuna won after Mr. Fuji threw powder into Harts eyes. Eventually Hulk Hogan ran out to the ring to tell the referee what happened, only to be challenged my Mr. Fuji to wrestle Yokazuna. Hogan immediately accepted and won the title.
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