Every year around the month of March, wrestling fans usually start to roam the web or dive into their personal memorabilia collection for past WrestleMania memories.
The stage known as “The Showcase of the Immortals” is pro-wrestling grandest spectacle, with WWE’s biggest superstars poised to rewrite the history books composed of the great achievements made possible by their elders.
There have been dozens of unforgettable WrestleMania events, not to mention moments that last a lifetime (like The Ultimate Warrior pinning Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6 or Mike Tyson knocking out Shawn Michaels almost 10 years later). On the other hand, there have also been some lackluster WrestleMania offerings, whether it’s a specific year that failed to live up to expectations (WrestleMania 2000) or a few stinkers on the bill holding up the festivities.
However, it’s nearly impossible for the spring showcase to not feature a shocking development, or a surprising incident year after year. From its inception in 1985 to the 30th anniversary in 2014, there is always a Mania moment worth talking about year after year.
That being said, here are some of the most shocking and jaw-dropping episodes from WrestleMania’s rich 30-year history:
15. Randy Savage & Miss Elizabeth Reunite (WrestleMania 7)
Some may suggest the word “shocking” brings forth a negative connotation. In this instance, that’s definitely not the case.
Randy Savage put his career on the line against The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7, with the loser needing to leave town for good. At the end of the match, in which “Macho Man” lost, Sensational Sherri attacked her beau in the middle of the ring until Miss Elizabeth — who was sitting near the entrance way in the crowd — stormed down and sent Sherri packing. The two late greats would embrace in the center of the ring, forcing many in attendance to shed tears uncontrollably (which was kind of funny).
14. Owen Hart Defeats His Older & More Accomplished Brother (WrestleMania X)
In one of the greatest WrestleMania curtain jerkers of all time, Owen Hart would topple his older brother Bret Hart at WrestleMania 10, much to the surprise of everyone. Owen beating him clean was even more impressive. Bret would go on to win the WWF Championship later in the evening, proving putting his little brother over was a proper move. Owen even shocked audiences a year later at WrestleMania 11, announcing Yokozuna as his mystery partner (against The Smoking Gunns) and eventually hoisted the belts with the Samoan.
13. Butterbean Legitimately Knocks Out Bart Gunn (WrestleMania 15)
Bart Gunn had surprised his peers by being a hoss that could strike, too, when he won WWE’s Brawl For All, a shootfighting tournament that was both a failed and dangerous experiment.
Officials thought it would be a marvelous idea to invite Eric Esch — a pro boxer known as Butterbean — to trade fisticuffs with the overachieving Gunn. You could probably guess the outcome, as Gunn was floored by Esch and proved to be no match for an actual combat sports figure. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the WWE slugger.
12. Kane Assaults Pete Rose (WrestleMania 14)
Kane must have been a Red Sox fan, since he warmed up for his older brother by delivering a Tombstone to a helpless Rose. Either that, or Kane was the monster Paul Bearer declared him to be.
Maybe a little bit of both.
11. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock Together At Last (WrestleMania 30)
Within the first 10 minutes of WrestleMania 30, some pundits were already declaring it the best WrestleMania yet. For the first time ever, Hogan, Steve Austin and The Rock were in the same ring together, opening the show and firing up the New Orleans crowd. The moment was simply magical, given these three stars are arguably the most important ones in WWE history. “Hulkamania” couldn’t quite remember he was in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but thankfully, Austin didn’t stun him for his troubles.
10. Goldberg & Brock Lesnar Stink Up The Joint (WrestleMania 20)
The clash between Goldberg and Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 20 in 2004 had the potential to be one of the biggest matches in the history of the business. When you take Goldberg’s WCW streak and tie it up with Lesnar’s impressive WWE run, it had all the makings to be a classic encounter.
The problem was both competitors were leaving the company, and the Madison Square Garden crowd in New York didn’t pull any punches.
Both were mercilessly booed and despite working a fair match, it wasn’t close to anything observers were expecting. Thank goodness for “Austin 3:16” saving the day and turning it into a Stunner party moments after the match concluded.
9. Brock Lesnar Botches The Shooting Star Press (WrestleMania 19)
All was swell until Lesnar attempted a shooting star press from the top turnbuckle, a move he had done in the developmental territory leading up to his WWE run. His athleticism was undeniable, yet he failed to perform the move correctly (due to distance measurement), landing on his neck and almost paralyzed himself.
8. Roddy Piper’s Offensive “Ring Attire” (WrestleMania 6)
Roddy Piper’s fall from grace over the years is a little inexplicable, considering he headlined the first ever WrestleMania and found himself in an odd and meaningless match against Bad News Brown at WrestleMania 6.
Moments before the pair duked it out, Piper cut a promo backstage, where half his body was painted black. Nobody really mentions this racist and classless approach enough, and quite frankly, it’s better left forgotten.
7. Hulk Hogan Somehow Wins The WWF Championship Over Yokozuna (WrestleMania 9)
When one thinks of the worst WWE booking decisions, the finale of WrestleMania 9 should stick out like a sore thumb.
When Mr. Fuji tossed salt in the “Hitman’s” eyes and facilitated a championship win for Yokozuna, “Hulkamania” rushed to the ring and somehow, with Hart’s blessing (which surely makes his stomach turn to this day), found himself in an impromptu match with Yokozuna and pinned him in 22 seconds. Maybe this is why a lot of people in the business don’t really credit Hogan the way he’d like to be credited.
6. The Undertaker Hangs Big Boss Man (WrestleMania 15)
The Hell in a Cell match pitting The Undertaker against Big Boss Man wasn’t all that great. To make matters worse, the ending was horrifying. The Brood invaded the ring and aided The Undertaker in hanging Boss Man (complete with the slip knot and noose) from underneath the top of the cell, with Paul Bearer raising the cage. It was a disturbing occurrence that confused the audience, and presumably disgusted everyone at home, too.
5. Sheamus Shocks Daniel Bryan In Just Under 20 Seconds (WrestleMania 28)
Time restraints have played a role in booking decisions over the years (see Rey Mysterio vs. JBL or Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero), but none were more appalling than Sheamus’s win over Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Just when Bryan was getting a major backing from fans, WWE decided to have Sheamus “Brogue Kick” Bryan for the quick win, after the latter deemed a kiss from A.J. Lee necessary before commencing his match.
Go back and look at the amount of Bryan signs in the crowd if you need to be further convinced.
4. Bret Hart & Steve Austin Do The Old Switcheroo (WrestleMania 13)
This epic encounter was billed as a Submission Match, which favored the technical Hart over Austin’s brawling style. With Ken Shamrock serving as the referee, Hart trapped his foe in the Sharpshooter for the win, but it was the conclusion of the match that would forever change the careers of both individuals.
Austin was bleeding profusely in the submission hold, which will be remembered as one of pro-wrestling’s best images ever. The audience sympathized with “Stone Cold,” turning on Hart and booing the Canadian when he further attacked his adversary after the match.
In just mere moments, Austin’s status as a face was apparent, while the beloved babyface Hart was jeered by the Illinois crowd.
3. Stone Cold Steve Austin Makes A Deal With The Devil (WrestleMania 17)
There was no bigger dream match than Austin vs. The Rock at WrestleMania 17. Both superstars were juggernauts in the wrestling world, both at the top of the heap in terms of status. You just didn’t know who was going to take it.
The bloody back-and-forth war would go down as one of the best in Mania history, aside from the jaw-dropping conclusion. Vince McMahon made his way down the ring, helping Austin batter the “Great One” with a steel chair and aligned himself with his most hated rival.
To top it all off, it happened in Austin’s home state of Texas.
2. Hulk Hogan Body Slams Andre The Giant For WWF Supremacy (WrestleMania 3)
These former friends had a contest lasting just over 10 minutes, yet the end result was all that mattered. After a failed scoop slam attempt, Hogan picked up Andre for a bodyslam and rammed him into the canvas for the three-count, propelling Hogan to legend status and further escalated his career into the biggest superstar ever. The Iron Sheik had helped build “Hulkamania” three years prior, but it was Andre’s demise at the Pontiac Silverdome that turned Hogan into the “Immortal.”
1. Brock Lesnar Crushes The Undertaker’s 21-0 Streak (WrestleMania 30)
Not only was this shocking for a WrestleMania crowd, this was perhaps the most astonishing moment in pro-wrestling history, besides the obvious Montreal Screwjob and “Vinnie Mac” purchasing WCW.
The Undertaker was WrestleMania’s most successful wrestler, winning 21 matches in his career at the pay-per-view. He was no match for “The Beast Incarnate,” who was light years ahead of “The Phenom” in terms of in-ring performance on that given night, yet the majority of onlookers expected a Taker victory because it was a given at that point.
When the current WWE Heavyweight Champion hit the Texan with his third F-5 and scored a three count, the Superdome went silent, as the camera caught hundreds of fans in complete amazement and disarray.
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