WrestleMania has, in the past three decades, evolved into far more than just the top WWE pay-per-view of the year. It is a true media event unlike any other, the Super Bowl of pro wrestling, the “Showcase of the Immortals.” That WrestleMania is a yearly scripted event does not keep it from being covered by ESPN and news outlets from all over the world.
And 'Mania seemingly gets bigger and bigger with every year.
Fan-favorites and heels are made in script-writing and during weekly WWE television programming. Icons and legends, however, are made when performers have “WrestleMania Moments,” those seconds in time that become frozen in our memories and that live on for generations. Some of these helped build the foundation for what WWE is today, while others played roles in creating lifelong fans.
10 The Start - WrestleMania I
Sometimes, it's best to start at the beginning. Pro wrestling has a long history of big-time cards and big-time main events. The first WrestleMania wasn't a wrestling card as much as it was a pop culture phenomenon, one that involved celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, Cyndi Lauper and Liberace.
9 Foley's WrestleMania Moment - WrestleMania XXII
Mick Foley had done it all in pro wrestling. The hardcore icon had performed all over the globe. He was a best-selling author. Foley had hoisted the WWE World Championship.
He had never had a true WrestleMania Moment, however, until his battle with Edge at 'Mania XXII.
8 Three Legends Stand Tall - WrestleMania XXVIII
For several years, The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak involved three key players; 'Taker, Shawn Michaels and Triple H. Michaels twice tried and failed to defeat The Undertaker on wrestling's biggest stage, and the second loss cost The Heartbreak Kid his career. Triple H was unable to get the job done at WrestleMania XXVII, and, after being egged on by both The Undertaker and Michaels for several weeks, the man who is now known for being part of The Authority went for history once more.
7 Shawn Michaels “Ends” Ric Flair's Career - WrestleMania XXIV
WWE had one of the best retirement angles I've ever seen going in the months leading up to WrestleMania XXIV. Flair would be forced to call time on his wrestling days upon losing a match, and thus The Nature Boy just kept on winning...and winning...and winning...up through the moment that he chose to challenge Mr. WrestleMania on the biggest stage of them all.
The match itself didn't disappoint. In fact, it even exceeded expectations. Michaels' hesitated to take it to Flair at certain points of the contest, not wanting to end the career of one of his mentors. In the end, with Flair insisting that Michaels finish the job, HBK looked at the all-time great and said what are now famous words:
“I'm sorry. I love you.”
6 Donald Trump Shaves Vince McMahon Bald - WrestleMania XXIII
I did not, until looking back, remember that Umaga and Bobby Lashley were the wrestlers involved in the epic “hair vs. hair” showdown. I cannot recall anything about the match other than the ending, and that's only because of the wonder of YouTube. What immediately came to mind upon reflecting on this WrestleMania moment was Vince McMahon, playing the coward role as only he can, begging for mercy before Trump, Lashley and Steve Austin buzzed the billionaire WWE Chairman bald.
5 Shawn Michaels Descends From the Ladder - WrestleMania X
Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon wasn't the first ladder match in WWE history. It wasn't even the first time that Michaels was involved in such a contest. Michaels vs. Ramon is the showdown that the WWE tells us “revolutionized ladder matches,” and it's one move in particular that continues to be showcased in WrestleMania highlights year after year.
4 Icon vs. Icon Staredown - WrestleMania X8
I remember not loving the build for the match involving Hulk Hogan and The Rock. It included the return of the nWo, Hogan using a semi-truck to crash into an ambulance that contained The Rock, and, for me, a guy passed his prime setting to take on a Hollywood actor. Big whoop.
Then came that special night at the SkyDome.
3 Brock Lesnar Beats The Streak - WrestleMania XXX
I went back and forth on where to rank the latest great WrestleMania Moment. We, as sports fans, have a tendency to overrate recent events merely because they are fresh in our memories. The last Super Bowl champion was an all-time great team. No competition has ever topped the 2014 NCAA Tournament. You get the idea.
That out of the way, the undefeated streak of The Undertaker was sacred for many WWE fans, to the point that even wrestling journalists were convinced that 'Taker would retire without having ever been defeated at a 'Mania. Spectators at the Superdome weren't just surprised when the ref's hand touched the mat for the third time, and Lesnar was announced the winner.
They were left dumbfounded, shocked in silence.
2 Stone Cold Steve Austin Bleeds and Passes Out - WrestleMania XIII
Just as an investigation, I went to Google Images and searched “Steve Austin blood.” The first three results were the zoom-in of blood trickling down Austin's forehead and face as he struggled to find a way out of the Bret Hart sharpshooter. Arguably the biggest double-turn in WWE history occurred that evening, as Austin refused to give up and eventually passed out from the pain, and Hart, the ultimate good guy, then stomped on his unconscious and battered victim.
1 Hulk Hogan Slams Andre The Giant - WrestleMania III
WrestleMania III remains proof that, even in this modern era, reality and truth can become myth and tall-tale. There are, to this very day, discussions about how many people actually attended that show, a pay-per-view that set an attendance record for a live sporting event held in North America. Even Andre's weight at the start of the match has fluctuated as stories have been told and retold.
I was just three-years old when I saw Hogan do what I, a naive child, thought to be impossible; scoop Andre up and then, in the same motion, slam the giant to the ground. It was a real-life David vs. Goliath spectacle with the good-guy victory included. I was hooked, as were other youngsters who believed that superheroes did truly exist in wrestling rings.
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