The perception of how a wrestler is remembered is often linked to their performances at WrestleMania. It is a fair measuring stick. If WrestleMania is WWE’s equivalent of the Super Bowl, and we rate NFL players based on their big-game performances, then we should do the same for wrestlers at WrestleMania. Obviously, in professional wrestling we won’t measure success by wins and losses, but rather the impact one makes on the grandest stage and whether or not they steal the show. There will seem to be a lot of glaring omissions from this list, but it’s not meant to slight guys like Chris Jericho, John Cena or Mick Foley. For one reason or another, certain guys don’t always get that chance to truly shine at WrestleMania, whether they’re stuck in a lacklustre feud, placed low on a card or not given a lot of time to put on a great match. This list will measure the amount of times these wrestlers competed, how consistently they delivered great performances and whether they helped grow the event. Here they are.
Edge‘s ascension up the WrestleMania card was organic and by the time he made it to the top, no one doubted that he earned it. He competed in a total of 10 WrestleManias, beginning with Ladder and TLC matches.
A serious neck injury caused him to miss WrestleManias 19 and 20 but he bounced back with a string of incredible showings, winning the inaugural Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 21 and defeating Mick Foley in a Hardcore classic at 22. He came up short at the Money in the Bank match in 2007, but main evented against the Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIV. This would prove to be the only time the Rated-R Superstar closed the show.
His next (and final) three were all World Title matches, facing Cena and Big Show in a Triple Threat at WrestleMania XXV, losing to Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXVI, before ending his career at WrestleMania XXVII. He defeated Alberto Del Rio in the opening match to retain his title and retire a champion.
Some great performances, some good ones, never a bad one. All in all, Edge never disappointed.
9. Triple H
Triple H has been able to do so much at WrestleMania. The sheer amount of matches he’s competed in almost makes it impossible to not have a few classics in there. He’s competed 17 times on the grand stage and headlined six of those events.
For all the notorious Triple H haters who say he ‘buries’ people or politicks his way into winning, he’s 8-9 at WrestleMania. The reason he’s not higher on the list is although he’s had many classics, including two of his three matches against Undertaker, his Triple Threat title match at WrestleMania XX, against John Cena at 22, he’s also had some mediocre matches. His WrestleMania XXV main event with Randy Orton is a black mark on his career. It was so disappointing after a fantastic build.
There were some solid, but unspectacular ones. That would include his Triple Threat with Cena and Orton at WrestleMania XXIV, against Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVI and against Booker T at WrestleMania XIX.
Overall, it’s a pretty good balance and he had ultimately done more good than bad at the big event.
8. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle probably would’ve been a lot higher up on this list had he stuck around in WWE longer than seven years. However, for the years he was there, he set some pretty high standards and made it tough for anyone having to follow one of his matches.
His WrestleMania debut came in 2000 where he defended the Intercontinental and European titles in a two-fall Triple Threat match against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. He lost both titles without being pinned, but the match stood out on a messy card.
He followed up with a one-on-one match against Benoit at WrestleMania X-Seven, a treat for any fan of technical wrestling. His match against Kane at WrestleMania X-8 is forgettable as the match seemed thrown together and found itself on a card featuring Hogan/Rock.
Angle’s moments of glory came in the years that followed. He main evented for his first and only time at WrestleMania XIX against Brock Lesnar. Perhaps the two most accomplished amateur wrestlers in WWE history headlining spelled glory. His title match with Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania XX created more magic, but his best came at WrestleMania 21.
When Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels was announced, everybody knew it was going to steal the show and it most certainly did, as the matches that followed came nowhere close to matching what Angle and HBK did.
Finally, Angle lost the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat against Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton. Had the match been given more time than eight minutes, it undoubtedly would’ve been one of the best three-way dances in history.
For the amount of time Angle was in the WWE, he stepped up his game at every WrestleMania. Hopefully he eventually ends his career with one more match on the grandest stage.
7. Macho Man Randy Savage
While Hulk Hogan was the main event in a whopping eight of the first 10 WrestleManias, the Macho Man was the one constantly stealing the show.
Savage was perhaps the best in-ring performer of the Golden Era, and his WrestleMania performances make a strong case for that. He had the first true classic of the show’s history, facing Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III.
He finally got his moment in the sun at WrestleMania IV, winning a 14-man tournament for the WWE title. He headlined WrestleMania V against Hulk Hogan. At WrestleMania VII, he got an unbelievable match out of the Ultimate Warrior, and while Hogan headlined that event, Savage had the best moment. Following his loss, he reunited with Miss Elizabeth, which remains one of the most heartwarming moments in the show’s history.
He again won the title at WrestleMania VIII against Ric Flair, the match of the night at the Hoosierdome. While Hogan was constantly the headliner, if you’re looking for the best matches of the early WrestleManias, look no further than the Macho Man.
6. Hulk Hogan
It’s pretty simple folks; without Hulk Hogan you’re not watching WrestleMania XXX. WrestleMania would not have made it all this way. While Vince McMahon created WrestleMania, having a mega star like Hogan is a big part of what gave McMahon faith in knowing the event could succeed. Hogan was the headliner because he’s who fans wanted to see.
Hogan went on last in eight of the first nine WrestleManias, (okay so WrestleMania IX was a farce). Still, he tagged with Mr.T to face Piper and Orndorff at the inaugural WrestleMania and the show never looked back.
Headlining against Andre the Giant and slamming him in front of 93,000 people is when WrestleMania elevated itself to being known as the showcase of the immortals. His matches against Savage and Warrior further solidified it.
His matches against Slaugher, Sid and Yokozuna were forgettable, but his star power is what fed the event.
He made a smashing return at WrestleMania X-8, facing The Rock in a dream match, and while that wasn’t officially the main event, it was in the minds of fans. His last WrestleMania match was a street fight against Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania XIX.
He’s on this list because he grew the event like no other. He didn’t always have the best matches, but there’s a reason he’s hosting WrestleMania XXX. He built this event.
5. Bret Hart
The WWE’s shift from a headliner like Hulk Hogan to that of Bret Hart was significant. The focus was on the in-ring product more so than the colourful characters of the 1980s. Bret Hart set the tone for future generations by showing that if you put on a classic WrestleMania match, no one will ever forget you. He gave us several.
Before he got to the top though, he had to toil in the lower midcard as part of the Hart Foundation. He competed in the WrestleMania 2 battle royal, last being eliminated by Andre. He was the runner-up in the WrestleMania IV Battle Royal as well, being tossed out by Bad News Brown. His tag matches included the Foundation and Danny Davis vs. the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana at WrestleMania III. They faced Rhythm and Blues at WrestleMania V, the Bolsheviks in 1990 and the Nasty Boys at WrestleMania VII.
When Hart got a chance as a singles star, he consistently shined at WrestleMania. WrestleMania VIII against Piper for the IC title helped his popularity soar. He headlined WrestleManias IX and X against Yokozuna, pulling double duty at X, as he faced Owen Hart in the show’s opening match. His lone blemish is a messy, forgettable match with Bob Backlund at WrestleMania XI. Don’t worry, he redeemed himself.
He had the epic IronMan match with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII and the iconic Submission match with Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. Those two matches saved what would’ve otherwise been two lacklustre WrestleManias. Hey, maybe if Shawn Michaels is the Showstopper, Bret Hart was the Showsaver!
Finally there was his match with Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI. I think we’ll give the Hitman a free pass on that one.
4. The Rock
No professional wrestler in history rose to the stardom of The Rock and no one became as popular at such a quick rate. He debuted in 1996 and was a household name by 1999.
The Rock also set box office records, both as a wrestler and as a movie star. His match against John Cena at WrestleMania XXVIII drew the highest buy rate in the history of WrestleMania. His matches rarely disappointed either.
His WrestleMania debut came at WrestleMania 13 against the Sultan. It was a successful Intercontinental title defence. The real story was the crowd’s negative reaction to his vanilla gimmick swaying the WWE to turn him heel where he truly began to thrive and became the star everyone saw in the blue chipper.
He again defended the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania XIV, this time against Ken Shamrock.
Finally, The Rock became the headliner in 1999 and he never looked back. He defended the WWE title twice against Stone Cold, at WrestleManias XV and X-Seven. At WrestleMania 2000, he competed in a Fatal-Four-Way for the title against Triple H, Mick Foley and the Big Show.
He faced Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8, a match where the crowd was as loud as it has ever been at WrestleMania. He faced Stone Cold a third time at WrestleMania the following year, this time beating him. He reunited with Mick Foley at WrestleMania XX, teaming against Evolution. This would be his last match for seven years.
His WrestleMania return was as the main event, facing Cena two years in a row. The Rock can say that he beat the faces of three different generations, all at WrestleMania. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, John Cena. He defeated them all. Pretty impressive.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold’s career was taken to new heights thanks to WrestleMania and he finished his career at WrestleMania. In seven matches, he gave us so much.
No one will remember his WrestleMania XII encounter with Savio Vega as the Ringmaster, but they’ll sure remember the rest.
The image of a bloody Austin passing out to the sharpshooter at WrestleMania 13 remains perhaps the most iconic image in the show’s history. His run as the company’s most popular star began that night.
At WrestleMania XIV, the Austin era began as he beat Shawn Michaels for his first WWE title. He headlined WrestleManias XV and X-Seven against the Rock, with perhaps his best career performance coming that night in Houston.
He had a forgettable match with Scott Hall at WrestleMania X-8, before ending his career on an incredible high at WrestleMania XIX.
His last match came against his greatest rival, the Rock, and capped off their WrestleMania trilogy. He put the Rock over and walked into the sunset. As much as we’d love to see Austin back for one last hurrah, his career ended so perfectly that night.
2. The Undertaker
You simply can’t leave out WrestleMania’s phenom. The Undertaker is 21-0 and while this list isn’t measured by wins and losses, the Undertaker’s streak has become the biggest attraction at WrestleMania. It’s grown so much and will likely never be broken. It’s the most unique legacy one has left in professional wrestling.
He’s been the most loyal wrestler to the WWE and not only is he undefeated, he’s had an incredible run of consistently putting on the best match. His more recent WrestleMania matches with Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Triple H and CM Punk all arguably stole the show.
He wasn’t given many chances to shine in earlier WrestleManias as he was rarely given adequate opponents, but his performances got better and better. Even into his late 40s, he’s still managed to capture our imaginations.
1. Shawn Michaels
There’s no case to be made otherwise. Shawn Michaels has earned none of his other nicknames more than he has of Mr. WrestleMania. He’s had 17 matches at the event and never gave us a stinker. His worst performances are good matches.
The amount of times he stole the show was ridiculous. WrestleManias X, XI, XII, XIV, XIX, XX, 21, 22, 23, XXIV, XXV and XXVI. That’s right, you could make the argument that these 12 matches were all the best ones at that year’s WrestleManias.
The slam dunks are his Ladder match with Razor Ramon at X, his match with Diesel in albeit a bad WrestleMania card, the Ironman match against Bret Hart and a title match against Stone Cold. His WrestleMania return at XIX was arguably the best match, though cases can be made for others on that card. His triple threat with Triple H and Benoit at XX and his match against Kurt Angle at 21 were undoubtedly the peak of those shows.
He even made a strong case at 22 in a match with Mr. McMahon of all people. His match with Cena at 23 gave Cena the best WrestleMania match of his career. He ended Ric Flair’s career at WrestleMania XXIV.
He then went out with two showstoppers against the Undertaker at WrestleManias XXV and XXVI, putting his career on the line and losing at XXVI.
HBK’s win-loss record at WrestleMania is actually 6-11. As mentioned earlier, it’s sports entertainment, so it’s all about performances. HBK did it all.
Anything less than spectacular at WrestleMania just seemed unacceptable for Shawn Michaels. The reason he’s widely regarded as the best performer of all time is because of his WrestleMania resume. Matches at WrestleMania in the future will forever be compared to his.
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