Even if you don’t watch pro wrestling, if you haven’t heard the term ‘WrestleMania’ before, you probably live under a rock. WrestleMania is the single biggest pro wrestling event in the business, produced by the biggest pro wrestling organization on the planet, Vince McMahon’s WWE. The inaugural WrestleMania took place in 1985 and was a main evented by a tag team match – refereed by none other than Muhammad Ali – that featured Hulk Hogan and Mr. T facing off against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Since the initial success, the WrestleMania brand has gone on to become the premier pay-per-view event for the WWE, who have marketed it as the pro wrestling equivalent of the Super Bowl.
This year marked the 30th incarnation of WrestleMania. The main event of Wrestlemania XXX was a 3-way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship featuring Randy Orton, Batista, and 3rd contender who turned out to be none other than the injured underdog Daniel Bryan. The final spot in the main event was decided the night of the event, in a singles match between WWE veteran Triple H and relative newcomer Bryan, with the winner advancing to the night’s main event. Had Triple H defeated Bryan, he would have added yet another WrestleMania main event appearance to his illustrious track record.
In fact, despite WWE having a fairly large turnover rate for the bulk of their roster, there are quite a few recurring names that pop up when you look at the event details of the 30-year history of WrestleMania. These are the real legends of pro wrestling, the men who have worked on the biggest stage of them all multiple times.
10. Randy Savage – 11 WrestleMania Appearances
Ooooooo yea! Besides making us all want to snap into a Slim Jim, the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage found the time to make 11 Wrestlemania appearances. He made his first at Wrestlemania 2, defending his intercontinental championship against George Steele. The next year, at Wrestlemania 3, he cemented his legacy as one of the greats with an absolute classic match against Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat. Their match was meticulously planned – Steamboat and Savage allegedly rehearsed every move at Savage’s Florida home – as opposed to the improvisational nature of most pro wrestling matches at the time. Randy Savage made 9 more appearances, including winning the WWF championship at Wrestlemania IV. Savage makes this list perhaps for the last time, as Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio are currently both tied with him with 11 WrestleMania appearances each.
9. John Cena – 12 WrestleMania Appearances
Love him or hate him, John Cena has been the face of the WWE for close to a decade. Since first winning the WWE championship at Wrestlemania 21 in 2005, Cena has been given a nearly consistent push by company management and has basically been the face of the organization. He’s been in the main event of almost every Wrestlemania since, or at least near the top of the card. His Wrestlemania opponents are a whose who list of WWE superstars; The Rock (twice), JBL, Edge, and many others. At Wrestlemania XXX, Cena faced off and triumphed against the creepy and enigmatic Bray Wyatt, the leader of the Wyatt family.
8. Hulk Hogan – 12 WrestleMania Appearances
Hulkamania is running wild! The WWE’s original superstar made 12 WrestleMania appearances over the course of his career, and acted as the main draw for the first few inaugurations of the event. His most memorable WrestleMania appearance was at WrestleMania 3, where he defended the WWE championship against Andre the Giant in a match billed as ‘the unstoppable force meets the immovable object.’ He left the WWE in 1994 for rival promotion WCW, but returned to the WWE in 2002 for an ‘Icon vs. Icon’ match against The Rock at Wrestlemania 18. Since then he’s been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and hosted the 30th edition of Wrestlemania this year.
7. Chris Jericho – 12 WrestleMania Appearances
Wrestler, author, musician, and all around talented guy, Chris Jericho has made 12 Wrestlemania appearances during his WWE career. He’s a former 9-time Intercontinental champion (a WWE record), WWE champion, and WWE tag team champion, among other accomplishments. Jericho headlined the 18th edition of Wrestlemania in Toronto, in front of 60,000+ fans in the Skydome, where he defended the WWE championship against Triple H. Y2J didn’t make an appearance at Wrestlemania XXX as he’s in a state of semi-retirement that allows him to make sporadic appearances while still touring with his band Fozzy and recording his podcast.
6. The Big Show – 14 WrestleMania Appearances
The biggest man in the WWE, the 7’1, 425 lb titan named Big Show, comes in at #6 on our list with 13 Wrestlemania appearances. He made his Wrestlemania debut at Wrestlemania XV, in a loss by disqualification to Mankind. Despite making multiple appearances on the big stage, he has a less than stellar record of 4-9. His biggest moment in Wrestlemania history came at Wrestelmania XXIX, when he was booked in a match that attracted considerable media attention against boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. He lost that match too, but performed well and arguably raised his position within the WWE. Big Show came close to winning the Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania XXX but was thrown from the ring by Antonio Cesaro.
5. Bret Hart – 14 WrestleMania Appearances
‘The Hitman’ has made 14 appearances at WrestleMania over the years, despite a sometimes tumultuous relationship with the WWE. He made his Wrestlemania debut in a battle royale at Wrestlemania II, and would feature regularly in the annual extravaganza nearly every year thereafter. Hart faced Roddy Piper, Yokozuna, Owen Hart (his brother), Steve Austin, and had an absolute classic against Shawn Michaels. He left the WWE in 1997 after the infamous Montreal Screwjob, where Vince McMahon and others legitimately – and successfully – conspired to strip him of the WWE championship before he departed to rivals WCW. He returned to WWE programming in 2010, for one last WrestleMania match against Vince McMahon to settle their score, which he won decisively.
4. Kane – 16 WrestleMania Appearances
Mask or no mask, Kane is a terrifying sight to behold. The massive monster has a mediocre WrestleMania record of 8-7, but has been consistently involved in the annual event since his debut as the other half of the ‘Brothers of Destruction’ in 1997. His first appearance was against his ‘half-brother’, The Undertaker, at Wrestlemania XIV. Since then he’s been involved in various WrestleMania matches, including winning the ECW championship in the fastest ever WrestleMania match – all 8 seconds of it – and winning the ‘Money in the Bank’ ladder match at Wrestlemania XXV. This year he was defeated in a 6-man tag team match with the New Age Outlaws against The Shield.
3. Shawn Michaels – 17 WrestleMania Appearances
The ‘Heartbreak Kid’ – or HBK for short – had another nickname he used each spring, and that was Mr. WrestleMania. Shawn Michaels was the complete package year round, but he seemed to always find ways to turn it up a notch on the big WrestleMania stage. Although he has a 6-11 record, he’s had classic matches with Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Kurt Angle, John Cena, Ric Flair, and The Undertaker. It was only fitting that his career came to an end during WrestleMania, in an epic career vs. streak match against the Undertaker. Taker may have defeated HBK (twice) at WrestleMania, but there’s no denying that he was part of the heart and soul of the event for many years.
2. Triple H – 18 WrestleMania Appearances
The King of Kings, the Game, the cerebral assassin, or, simply, Triple H. The man went by many names and monikers during his WWE tenure, but no one can dispute that Triple H has had one of the longest uninterrupted relationships with the WWE in its history. He made his WrestleMania debut WrestleMania XII, losing to the Ultimate Warrior. He has an 8-9 record at WrestleMania, and has been involved in the main event multiple times. This year he suffered a bitter loss to Daniel Bryan in a singles match, with the winner advancing to a 3-way Wrestlemania XXX main event featuring Randy Orton and Batista (his former students), with the WWE World Heavyweight championship on the line.
1. The Undertaker – 22 WrestleMania Appearances
Could it be anyone else? Before WrestleMania XXX ‘The Deadman’ was 21-0 at Wrestlemania, an unparalleled streak that no one in WWE history has come even remotely close to matching. That all came crashing down when he was beaten by Brock Lesnar for his first ever WrestleMania defeat. With the exception of WrestleMania X and 2000, the Undertaker has been at every incarnation of the annual event since WrestleMania VII in 1991. As the wins piled up year after year the WWE began marketing Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak, and every year a new challenger has popped up to claim they’re the one to finally stop ‘Taker on the big stage. For 23 years, one by one, they’ve all failed. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Batista, Edge, Kane, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Big Show; the names of his opponents read like a whose who list of past, present and future WWE legends. This year’s faceoff against the dangerous Brock Lesnar proved to be interesting as the two allegedly have real life disdain for each other. Fans were undoubtedly disappointed by the underwhelming conclusion of the greatest streak in sports entertainment, but that takes nothing away from the amazing accomplishments that this man has brought to the ring for over two decades.