Known as the “Showcase of The Immortals,” WrestleMania is the biggest pay-per-view extravaganza in professional wrestling. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) doesn’t have any other event that comes close to matching the quality, prestige, or buzz that WrestleMania generates, ever since its inception in 1985.
WrestleMania is included in the original four pay-per-view events, alongside Royal Rumble (January), SummerSlam (August) and Survivor Series (November), yet it stands alone because it’s simply the biggest and most popular wrestling event in the world. Families unite to spend their Sunday night watching the spectacle, even if some members don’t like the sports entertainment business at all.
It’s the biggest celebration of all things wrestling, not to mention the grandest stage to make oneself a legend. After all, it is known as a place where legends are born.
WrestleMania XXX will be taking place on April 6th, 2014, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, headlined by a triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match featuring title holder Randy Orton against Batista, and either Daniel Bryan or Triple H (depending on who wins that match).
30 years of WrestleMania means there have been 30 main events. There have been countless occurrences of amazing sequences throughout the years, including memorable headlining bouts involving the WWE Championship, which had wrestling pundits talking for several years.
Here are the 10 best WrestleMania main events, featuring some of the biggest stars in wrestling history.
10. Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior (WWE Championship and WWE Intercontinental Championship — WrestleMania VI)
This match was actually quite awful. But, it should be considered, because the truth is wrestling didn’t have a match quite like it before. There were a number of monumental scraps before this bout took place in Toronto’s Skydome in 1990, yet it was a meeting between two champions which had the crowd divided between two major faces for the first time ever.
The Ultimate Warrior was the reigning Intercontinental Champion, who had a lot of hype coming into this match up with the biggest star of the company. It was literally a pick ‘em, since it was highly unpredictable to call who would emerge as both the Intercontinental and the WWE champion.
The match itself was incredibly disappointing, because both of these dudes couldn’t wrestle if their lives depended on it. They had no chemistry, no real plan throughout the match and they truly had limited move sets.
In the end, The Warrior prevailed, and the dislike between these two wrestlers would go on for years to come.
Maybe it was just an ego thing.
9. Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (WWE Championship — WrestleMania V)
“The Mega Powers” were the biggest tag team in the late 80s. They were a fantasy pairing, as “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan took on the toughest heels in the business on a consistent basis. What breaks up a friendship? A beautiful woman by the name of Miss Elizabeth.
In all fairness, Savage was jealous because Hogan tended to Elizabeth after an injury, which led to this blockbuster main event. Contested at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, pro wrestling was a spectacle on the rise and there weren’t any better options than these two juggernauts to headline the event.
Savage did a great job in his second straight Mania main event, while Hogan was no stranger to the grandest stage of them all. Looking back on this match, it wasn’t one that will go down in history as one of the best bouts ever, although it’s imperative to include this match up on the list based on star power alone.
It makes you wonder if Savage would have had greater success in WWE if Hogan had jumped ship to WCW earlier, or if he never even existed at all.
8. Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (WWE Championship — WrestleMania XIV)
D-Generation X was the baddest stable around in WWE. With stiff competition from WCW’s New World Order (NWO) on the other side, Shawn Michaels and Triple H brought crude, sexist humor to television sets across North America on a weekly basis. After overcoming The Undertaker courtesy of Kane’s inclusion into his matches, Michaels was on cloud nine, but the beer-drinkin’, ass-kickin’ Stone Cold Steve Austin was on the rise — gunning for his first major championship.
What made this match amazing was the fact that Michaels was in no shape to wrestle, since his back injuries had caught up to him and he was destined to leave the company afterwards. Depending on whom you believe, Michaels didn’t even want to do the job to Austin that night.
With the help of outside enforcer Mike Tyson, who had joined DX before this match, Austin captured the WWE Championship after a hard-fought victory over “The Heartbreak Kid,” who left it all inside the ring before his departure.
Fans will remember Tyson’s knockout punch delivered to Michaels directly after the match. It’s interesting to note Tyson was already a convicted rapist by this point and had bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off, which boggles one’s mind as to why he was brought in by WWE.
That was “The Attitude Era” for you.
7. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE Championship — WrestleMania XIX)
Brock Lesnar is such a gifted athlete. He’s an immense creature who moves faster than a WCW cruiserweight in their prime. After winning the 2003 Royal Rumble, it seemed inevitable he would win the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIX.
That doesn’t mean Kurt Angle was a slouch, either. The Olympic gold medalist was able to have a great match with anyone, but you had to bust your behind to keep up with him. This particular Mania had several amazing matches, including Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho and The Rock vs. Steve Austin, yet this main event completely stole the show.
These two athletes worked so well together that they would continue their feud for months afterwards. The crowd was behind the young Lesnar, who exchanged suplexes and fought off submission holds from Angle. The Pittsburgh native couldn’t risk being disqualified, since the stipulation was the title would change hands regardless.
Sadly, his botched shooting star press will forever overshadow this great contest, but really, who cares? He hit Angle with two F-5’s and showed the world he had the most promising future out of his peers in a long time.
Too bad he didn’t stick around for much longer.
6. Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. Big Show (Fatal Four-Way for the WWE Championship — WrestleMania 2000)
In all honesty, WrestleMania 2000 was a train wreck every wrestling fan would like to forget. Even WWE was cashing in on the millennium craze, deeming WrestleMania 2000 as the biggest Mania yet.
It turned out to be putrid, only having one singles match on the whole card (Terri vs. The Kat), and with the exception of the Ladder Match featuring Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz, and The Dudley Boyz, along with a triple threat match for both the Intercontinental and European championships featuring Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle, the main event salvaged the whole card.
Every member of the divided McMahon family cornered a wrestler in this match. Stephanie McMahon was in her husband Triple H’s corner, Shane McMahon invested his time into Big Show, Vince McMahon chose The Rock, and his wife, Linda McMahon, cornered the lovable Mick Foley.
The fatal four-way bout turned out to be an entertaining affair, with Big Show being eliminated first by The Rock. Mick Foley spent a good amount of time battering Triple H, who he had a lengthily feud with at the time, but he was pinned by “The Game” after a second “Pedigree” onto a chair.
It was Vince McMahon who turned on The Rock, hitting him with a chair to allow Triple H to get the pin and retain the title. It was a frustrating end to a great match, but afterwards, The Rock dished out his finisher, “The Rock Bottom,” to every member of the family except for Linda. He also hit Stephanie with a “People’s Elbow” for good measure.
5. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (No Disqualification Match for the Streak vs. Career– WrestleMania XXVI)
When you think about The Undertaker’s streak, there are a few names that come to mind which bring forth laughter when thinking they could have broken the streak. You’ve got Big Boss Man, A-Train and Mark Henry, and in all honesty, nobody ever came as close as Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXI.
The year before this event, Michaels made it believable that after 17 years of being undefeated at the extravaganza, The Undertaker could have met his match at WrestleMania XXV.
In their second meeting, both Texans delivered and gave the public a great match, but it didn’t compare to one of the best matches in the history of wrestling a year before. It was Michaels’ swan song, and even if he would be seen a few times afterwards, this was the last effort of giving it all and then some.
Taker was great in this rivalry, selling the fact that he couldn’t put Michaels away, no matter how hard he tried. Tie that in with the fact that Michaels hit a moonsault onto Taker who was laid out on the announce table, and you’ve got to raise your glass to the madman.
In the end, The Undertaker prevailed and it was obvious he would win the rematch since breaking the streak has been a taboo subject for a while now.
4. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship — WrestleMania XV)
The first meeting between The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin was seen as a changing of the guard. Pro wrestling wasn’t about superheroes like Hulk Hogan or workhorses like Bret Hart anymore. Although there was still room for those names mentioned, the focus was shifting. The public was becoming more drawn to hardcore scenes, involving misogyny mixed with violence in the worst way possible.
This isn’t to say The Rock or Austin were guilty of being chauvinistic, but they sure paved the way for the future of “The Attitude Era” because of their behavior and we knew these two personalities would be at the forefront of where wrestling was going. After enduring rough starts to their careers, they both feuded over the Intercontinental Championship, and when they were ready to the take the reigns, they headlined WrestleMania XV in one of the better WWE Championship matches of the 1990s.
This contest marked the beginning of the trilogy, and some feel it was the best match out of them all. This was a true slugfest, from start to finish. Both The Rock and Austin have different styles, yet their ferociousness made them match up well together, proving it was the right decision for them to lead the way into the future.
Austin avoided McMahon, who was pulled as the special referee ahead of the match by Shawn Michaels, but still felt the boss’ wrath towards the end of the match.
Thank God Mick Foley found an oversized referee shirt to save the day.
3. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (WWE Championship — WrestleMania III)
This was a dream contest that was too good to be true. Before the “Hulkamania” craze and after Bruno Sammartino’s dominance, Andre The Giant was the athlete who arguably brought pro wrestling into the mainstream.
Hulk Hogan had never beaten Andre The Giant. They were described as friends who always helped each other out, but when Andre went heel, he accused Hogan of being scared of him. Hogan had no interest in fighting his friend.
This proved to be a great selling point. What if “The Immortal” was afraid?
You could say this is still regarded as the biggest match of all-time. A packed house of 93,000 people at Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome witnessed the most important moment in the history of the business, which was Hogan picking up the mammoth giant and slamming him down on the canvas, before unleashing his patented leg drop to retain the championship. Everybody remembers Hogan’s moment, yet they should also consider the fact Andre laid down for Hogan, making the next ten years of Hogan’s wrestling career marvelous since everyone had to lose to him.
The Iron Sheik probably has something else to say about it, too, but that’s another story for another time.
The best part about this main event was Gorilla Monsoon’s commentary, since the phrase “the irresistible force meets the immovable object” was coined.
2. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (Iron Man Match for the WWE Championship — WrestleMania XII)
For over one hour in Anaheim’s Arrowhead Pond, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels laid down the blueprint on how to have a really long match. This was not unknown, since lengthily matches happened in Japan all the time, but WWE fans had never seen an Iron Man Match before — a 60-minute contest where the objective was to pin your opponent as many times as possible to advance on points in the end.
There was only one pin in this match, and it came in overtime.
Hart and Michaels weren’t the biggest guys around, since the mid 90s was a time where the jacked up and veiny behemoths weren’t around because of multiple lawsuits against Vince McMahon and a change of direction in wrestling.
These two superstars were quite possibly the best performers on the roster in that current time, headlining the 12th edition of WrestleMania after finding success as Intercontinental champions shortly before their main event meeting.
Everything a wrestling fan could ever want was included this match; there was a boatload of technical wrestling, high-flying sequences and even a bit of back and forth slugging (although, nowhere near the amount witnessed in their Survivor Series 1997 main event).
In the end, Shawn Michaels came out on top to secure his first WWE Championship after Gorilla Monsoon ordered the match to continue after a 0-0 draw, and although there have been Iron Man Matches that have proceeded this contest including The Rock vs. Triple H and Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar, this is the match everyone in WWE tries to emulate if they find themselves in a 60-minute scrap.
1. The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin (No Disqualification Match for the WWE Championship — WrestleMania X-Seven)
Thanks to Limp Bizkit’s “My Way”, which was surprisingly tolerable for every buildup video we had to watch hyping up this match, this feud hit it’s highest point at WrestleMania X-Seven.
The Rock and Steve Austin were undoubtedly the biggest stars in the company, and quite possibly the biggest of all-time. This match was huge at the time, being known as the match of the century. The buzz over-weighed any other match in WWE pay-per-view history, with the inability to call who would win.
It was a bloody affair contested in Austin’s home state of Texas, which made the ending that more shocking. For approximately half an hour, The Rock exchanged finishers, chair shots and unorthodox maneuvers with Austin, who soaked up every bit of the crowd’s reactions.
Right off the bat, the action was fast and furious, and it was obvious these two wouldn’t be exchanging wristlocks and sleeper holds. They brought the action to outside, into the crowd and it was dead even throughout. The match turned into a brawl quickly, with both mega stars beating each other into a bloody pulp.
The end angered wrestling fans, not because Austin had sided with evil boss Vince McMahon after tormenting each other for so many years, but because he won via multiple chair shots.
It was a weird ending, although one that fits the billing for someone to turn into a heel in front of his home crowd.