On Sunday April 3rd WrestleMania turns 32 years old. With that grand age comes grand achievements and accomplishments. It will always be known for The Undertaker‘s streak, monumental matches that caught the attention of wrestling fans around the world, and championship title contests that showed just how much effort these men and women would give. However, as well-known as WrestleMania may be, it has seen a number of amazing matches that don’t get the attention that they should. These matches fall under the WrestleMania wrestling radar for a number of different reasons. Whether it’s because of where they were listed on the card or because other matches on that card received most of the attention, these matches were exceptional, but not given the credit they so greatly deserve.
While a number of matches by John Cena are recognized by wrestling fans, would you ever think of Triple H and Chris Jericho being in a match that was underrated? Would you ever think that Steiner Brothers were part of an underrated match, or Trish Stratus and Mickie James? They are all incredibly talented and exceptional wrestlers whose matches weren’t given as much attention as they deserved. Were they bad matches? Not by any stretch. These matches should go down as being better than they were first thought of as being. In fact, we will celebrate a number of different matches and recognize the quality of these individuals’ performances. Here are 15 of the most underrated matches in WrestleMania History.
15. The Dream Team vs. The British Bulldogs – WrestleMania 2
During WrestleMania 2, wrestling fans were treated to a tag team match that showed just how well The British Bulldogs, Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine could tell a story. They were all equal parties in ensuring the match was a success. The power, strength and speed of The Bulldogs going against the strength and style of The Dream Team was sure to lead to a terrific match up.
While Beefcake has often received criticism for what he was able to do in the ring, his work alongside Valentine really stood out. Valentine was a long time seasoned veteran, as was The Dynamite Kid. The match showcased a stiff and high impact style that is more often showcased in today’s wrestling. Even though The Bulldogs went over in the end and walked away as the WWF Tag Team champions, all parties involved in this match worked to make the story as effective as it was and the match a success. This was a truly underrated match in WrestleMania history.
14. Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio – WrestleMania 27
This isn’t the first time a Rey Mysterio match flew under the radar, but it is the first time a Cody Rhodes match has. Rhodes and Mysterio competed against one another at the WrestleMania XXVII pay per view. Prior to that match, fans were just becoming aware of what Rhodes was capable of doing. It was during this time where Rhodes wore a mask protecting his face, while stating how horribly damaged it was because of his time in the ring against certain opposition. What was remarkable was how these two were able to showcase their skills while still selling the offense of their opposition.
Rhodes has become a seasoned veteran during his time in the ring, but it was his match here against Mysterio where he truly shined. Mysterio, who was the much more experienced of the two, didn’t hesitate to help elevate Rhodes’ position. The match was just short of twelve minutes, but both men made every minute count. Both men demonstrated what it means to make their time count, and even though it wasn’t a focal match it didn’t matter. Both guys wrestled their butts off.
13. Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon – WrestleMania 17
Arguably the most talked about WrestleMania was WrestleMania X7. The matches on that night were stacked from top to bottom, but as far as a match that didn’t get enough credit it would have to be the Shane McMahon and Vince McMahon street fight. The feud all centered around the issues that had arisen within the McMahon family. At the time, Linda McMahon was apparently comatose as she was reduced to remaining in a wheelchair and having to be brought around from one place to another. The match was refereed by Mick Foley, and immediately began with Vince beating down his son repeatedly in the corner just to have him make a comeback.
Stephanie was clearly in the corner of her father Vince, while Shane stood up for his mother and stood by her side. There were blows exchanged and no punches were pulled as Shane sported swelling around his right eye early on in the match. The match was a fight through and through. While it would be hard to give a fight consideration as an underrated match, it gets credit because of the weapons and overall assault that each man put the other through.
12. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers – WrestleMania 9
At Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, WrestleMania IX managed to surprise many, with the main event putting Bret “The Hitman” Hart up against Yokozuna. A rather underrated match was a tag team match that saw The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu) up against Rick and Scott Steiner. We could’ve presumed this would have been a solid match because both teams had either a rich family tradition in wrestling, or a solid amateur background which they could lean on.
The Headshrinkers come from the Anoa’i family tree, where Samu is the son of Afa (who was their manager at the time) while Fatu is his nephew. Both Rick and Scott had a longstanding history wrestling at the University of Michigan, and showed their incredible array of suplexes throughout the evening. While it could be said that the Headshrinkers were more known for brawling, make no mistake both men could tell a story in the ring like very few from their time.
11. Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero – WrestleMania 21
At WrestleMania 21, the show opened with a match that could easily fall under the radar because of where it was positioned on the card. On a card that included Kurt Angle versus Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker versus Randy Orton and Batista against Triple H, Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero opened the show. With all those notable names all performing on the same show, it was easy to forget about this gem. The match began with Mysterio taking the fight directly to Guerrero. Guerrero eventually thwarted Mysterio’s aerial attack with his own signature moves, including an attempted flog splash.
The match ended with a hurricanrana finisher by Mysterio for the three count and the win. After the match, both men shook hands in a sign of mutual respect for one another. It says a lot about both men that they were able to demonstrate such an incredible level of competitiveness and still managed to walk away with no hard feelings towards one another. This wasn’t the only match these two had in their careers, but this one is certainly very underrated.
10. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WrestleMania 20
WrestleMania XX was advertised as being two decades in the making, but a match that didn’t nearly have the pomp and circumstance of others was the Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle match. These two men were about as gifted in every area as you could possibly imagine as it pertained to wrestling. They were clever on the microphone, delivering convincing promos, and were able to wrestle a match that would never disappoint. This was during a time when both Raw and Smackdown were split into different brands.
Despite being for the focal point for the Smackdown brand, the WWE Championship, it wasn’t given the amount of attention that the World Heavyweight Championship match from the Raw brand between Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit received. Guerrero and Angle tore the roof off the arena, whether it involved grappling, spots in and out of the ring, or pinning attempts. Guerrero ultimately came out victorious as he defeated Angle with a small package. That finish worked because the two men working the match had so many different exchanges with neither giving up.
9. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James – WrestleMania 22
One of the biggest criticisms of WWE has been the lack of opportunity women’s wrestling has received over the last few years. During WrestleMania XXII, Mickie James and Trish Stratus told a story unlike many we’d ever see told. The crazed fan Mickie became obsessed with not only wanting to beat Trish, but be Trish. At stake was the WWE Women’s title and neither woman held back. There were spots and ground grappling galore.
The match was as successful as it was because the story being told was done by two of the best women wrestlers in the world. Often when we think of wrestling matches that fly under the radar, a women’s championship match may get missed. But when these two were involved the sparks really flew because leading up to the match Trish had just about had enough of Mickie and her antics. James may have walked out the winner, but fans in attendance were treated to a tremendous match by these two fine competitors.
8. Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 19
While some may find it hard to believe these two facing each other was underrated when you consider the types of matches they’ve engaged in with others. Michaels and Jericho were able to tell a story of student and pupil, mentor and mentee. Michaels was known for setting the bar early in his career and blazed a trail for a number of different wrestlers in the sport.
One of those wrestlers was Chris Jericho. Jericho never hid the fact that he was a Shawn Michaels fan, so when they faced each other fans were treated to a match where that respect was reflected in the ring. Michaels may have picked up the victory, but the reaction at the end left many saying “why Chris, why?” After Michaels offered his hand as a show of admiration, Jericho came in for a hug as tears welled up in his eyes. Michaels obliged, but was left vulnerable to a low blow at the hands of Jericho. Michaels crumbled to the feet of Jericho showing that respect meant nothing and all that mattered was winning.
7. Money In The Bank – WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania XXI marked the first time we had been exposed to the Money In The Bank concept. The idea was that the winner would have to climb a ladder and capture the briefcase that was suspended above the ring, in order to have a chance at a WWE Championship match. At the time the WWE Heavyweight title and the World Championship were separated. The winner would have a chance to cash in their opportunity any time and anywhere.
The participants included CM Punk, Kane, Mark Henry, Shelton Benjamin, Finlay, Kofi Kingston, Christian and MVP. The match worked because of the number of athletic competitors that could pull off eye-popping moves, such as Punk, Benjamin, Kingston and Christian. Fans were treated to ladder spots they had never dreamed of before, whether it was Benjamin scaling a ladder lying on the top rope or Christin hitting an unprettier off a ladder. What took place was nothing short of absolutely incredible.
6. Blue Blazer vs. Mr. Perfect – WrestleMania 5
WrestleMania V was billed as when the Mega-Powers explode, but one match out of all the contests on the evening completely flew under the radar. On this night Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig went against the mysterious yet acrobatic Blue Blazer. The Blazer was played by the late Owen Hart, who wrestled under a mask likely to create distance between himself his brother Bret. The match was a real treat. The exchanges between the two really pushed the boundaries of wrestling in the WWE, especially early on.
Perfect was a known veteran that had tremendous technical and athletic ability. The Blazer was very different in that he used moves off the top rope, but was still able to incorporate a technical ability in the ring. Both men were second generation wrestlers so you know that they were sure to put on a wrestling classic because their training led to extensive knowledge of the ring.
5. Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Owen Hart – WrestleMania 10
The match between these two brothers at WrestleMania X was amazing. It was presented as jealous, younger brother against older, more successful brother, and the match didn’t disappoint. It showcased a saw a number of moves that illustrated how technically savvy both men were. Owen would raise his hands when he would outdo his brother during an exchange. In the end, the match saw Owen victorious with a victory roll. It was an impressive and unexpected result, but the younger Hart had certainly earned a name for himself by defeating his older brother at Madison Square Garden.
Sadly, this gem doesn’t get the attention that it surely deserves and could receive, considering who was involved. The late Owen Hart’s matches will always be remembered for how he was able to ensure that not only did he look strong, but his opposition did as well. This is one of the more underrated matches in WrestleMania history, and one fans are surely be encouraged to go back and watch.
4. Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase – WrestleMania 6
At WrestleMania VI, one of the more underrated matches was one that took place over the Million Dollar title, between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. The focal point of the night was the WWF Heavyweight title match between The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. But this match had terrific technical wrestling. During the match there were moves that many may find dull or disinteresting, but those moments really helped to further along the story being told between these men. For instance, Roberts would work on DiBiase’s arm with hammerlocks while he was on the mat, a classic bit of wrestling.
It was the tremendous mat wrestling between these men that made the match as successful as it was. It was an exchange between two tremendous wrestlers that could sell the other person’s offense and do so effortlessly. The title was retained by DiBiase, but the match itself showcased how well both can work and the trust they had for one another.
3. Triple H vs. Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 17
At WrestleMania X7, this match flew under the radar not because of who was involved, but because of what match it followed. It was the Triple H/Jericho match that followed The Rock/Hulk Hogan match (with only a short women’s championship match in between as a buffer). While the previous match wasn’t great by any means, it was the fans response to it that made it as momentous as it was.
This Triple H/Jericho match had Stephanie McMahon siding with Jericho, in helping to further her feud with her husband at the time. There were risky spots throughout the match, and Stephanie was involved as well. Jericho was such a great heel at the time, and having him side with the one person he had spent so much time embarrassing years earlier was an unlikely sight to see. Triple H was seeking retribution for all that took place between himself and Stephanie. Jericho’s involvement only helped add fuel to the fire burning between those two.
2. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – WrestleMania 8
From WrestleMania VIII, this match between Piper and Hart often flies under the radar. Rowdy Roddy Piper had never held a title in the WWF before this, but came into the match as the Intercontinental Champion, and the build going into it was about the respect that Piper had for Bret’s family and how he anticipated how effective this match was going to be.
Bret was less vocal going in, and did most of his talking in the ring. The excellence of execution was just earning a name for himself, but it was Piper’s performance that had caught people off guard. As most know, Piper was always a brawler, but here he was in a position where he could showcase his wrestling acumen. The match ended when Piper had Hart tied up in his signature sleeper. As Piper was directing Hart towards the corner turnbuckle, Hart managed to get his feet up and push Piper backward, tying him up and causing Hart to pick up the three count and the win.
1. CM Punk vs. The Undertaker – WrestleMania 29
From WrestleMania XXIX, if there is a match that could easily be said to have gone under the radar it was this one between Punk and The Undertaker. The previous four WrestleMania events saw Undertaker face either Shawn Michaels or Triple H. This match flies under the radar because of Taker’s age. However, a lot of credit goes to both men as they told a story and drew a reaction that was greater than they probably had originally anticipated.
Leading into the match we had Punk disrespecting the memory of Paul Bearer, often mocking Taker with the urn, in order to help further along their storyline. When the match took place, we saw risks taken by both Punk and The Undertaker throughout. Even though The Undertaker walked away the winner, Punk needs to be given credit for what he contributed to this match. He helped to further along The Undertaker’s legacy and The Streak.