After presenting numbers 20-11 on the list yesterday (link), here is the second and final part of the Top 20 Wrestlemania matches of all time!
Every single contest between two babyfaces should strive to get the reaction that Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior did in Toronto at Wrestlemania VI. The crowd was split right down the middle with some fans cheering for the Hulkster and others screaming for him to be overthrown.
This is probably the best match of all time that was actually a bad pure technical wrestling contest and I can't believe this is the SECOND Warrior match to be on this list. Both Hogan and the Warrior were inadequate wrestlers, but to each guys credit, they both probably had the best match that they could capably have.
In the late 1980s/early 90s it was unfathomable that Hogan could lose at Wrestlemania, especially with the title on the line. Alas, along came the Warrior who was starting really connect with the fans in a way that rivaled Hogan's. To Hulk's credit he did a clean job for the Warrior, who got a deafening reaction from the crowd when he was handed to WWF Title from Hogan.
#9 Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat: Wrestlemania III
The most famous undercard match in Wrestlemania history is the highly acclaimed technical masterpiece between Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage and the challenger Ricky Steamboat. In a time where the WWF was mostly focused on stiff muscular wrestlers and squash matches, a match at Wrestlemania between two quick evenly-matched competitors really stuck out.
Putting this match at number nine is sure to ruffle some feathers, and I hate to mention the flaws in this match because it is an excellent contest, but the match is not as perfect as it is generally portrayed to be.
The match was not the pinnacle of either man's career, both men went on to bigger and better things after the match. Savage would carry the WWF title for a full year and Steamboat would go on to have a series of matches with Ric Flair that would top this list if they took place at a Wrestlemania. The finish of the match was also overbooked. Instead of allowing Steamboat go over with no outside help, the WWF got George Steele involved who was used purely as a hokey old man at the time to go over.
With all of that being said, it is impossible to ignore the brilliance of both competitors, who put on an absolute clinic in front of a crowd that may have been unfamiliar with such ability.
After having fantastic matches at Wrestlemania 2000 and Summerslam, it was hard to imagine this trio of teams going out and topping themselves once again, but that is exactly what happened at Wrestlemania X-Seven. In a match that featured a Litany of insane high spots and crazy bumps, it was probably the best tag team match in the WWE's history.
A case can be made that all three teams were at the height of their respective powers. Each team had their own group of niche fans and the WWF couldn't really pick a bad team to win this thing. It's the pinnacle of tag team wrestling in the WWE, a time where tag teams were getting just as big of a reaction from the crowd as the main event guys were getting.
For fans who are really interested in the skill of taking and delivering moves, this is probably the best match you could possibly watch. Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from off the ladder is a perfect example of a guy knowing how to take a bump, and another knowing how to take care of his opponent in the ring. And who could forget Bubba and Matt Hardy crashing through all those tables?
#7 Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon: Wrestlemania X
Although the ladder match had been around since the early 1970s, it wasn't until Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon faced off for the Intercontinental Title did the true potential of the ladder match become apparent. The TLC match(es) may have been flashier and had better spots, but Michaels and Hall revolutionized how a ladder match could work.
This was the first Shawn Michaels match at Wrestlemania that kicked off his claim for being called Mr. Wrestlemania. HBK's antics in this match, from taking bumps that where unheard of at the time to riding the ladder all the way down onto Hall's prone body, were the highlights of the match. Even though Hall won the match, it was Michaels who came out of the match a star.
This was an old-school shooter's dream, two amateur champions wrestling for the company's top championship in the main event at Wrestlemania. Brock and Kurt had tremendous in-ring chemistry, and it was on full display in Seattle.
The match was filled with false finishes, with it taking a mind-blowing three F-5s to keep Angle down for the three count. Brock and Angle are possibly the two best suplex artists to ever wrestle, and their match featured what had to be at least a dozen belly-to-belly and german suplexes, all hit perfectly.
The most memorable thing from this match however, is Brock's botched Shooting Star Press. Some fans feel that this was a terrible botch that took away from the match, while others (myself included) think that Brock doing a complete back flip, landing on his forehead and getting up like nothing happened was amazing and helped enhance the match. No matter how you feel, it is undeniable that this is one the best matches to ever take place at Wrestlemania.
What makes this ladder match better than the others? For starters, there is more on the line in the Money and the Bank match. The Tag Team and Intercontinental Championships are important, but they are not what is essentially a guaranteed WWE or World Heavyweight Title reign.
Secondly, unlike the later MITB matches, the first one featured an unquestionable assembly of top flight talent. I mean, look at the guys in that match! There are a lot of world title reigns amongst that group.
With the possible exception of the Ultimate X match, the MITB matches are consistently the best stipulation matches in wrestling, and the first one is still the best. If the Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon match was the birth of the ladder match, and the TLC matches were the evolution, than the first MITB match is the culmination of what the ladder match can be. The creativity of guys like Shelton and Jericho was amazing, and there are so many sweet spots in the match that you can always re-watch and catch yourself saying "Wow, I forgot about how awesome that spot was."
#4 Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho: Wrestlemania XIX
Shawn Michaels hadn't wrestled at Wrestlemania in five years, and Mr. Wrestlemania was set to make his return against the might Chris Jericho. Y2J was at his peak during this period and him working with HBK was a no-brainer, setting up a match that was easily expected to be a match of the year candidate.
Interestingly, like the matches that rank above it, nothing was really on the line for this match. No titles or crazy stipulations, just two guys who really didn't like each other. Wrestlemania XIX was a really loaded card, with The Rock vs Austin III, the Hogan vs McMahon street fight, Booker T vs HHH for the WHC and Kurt Angle vs Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship. But it was a standard one-on-one match that stole the show and got everybody talking.
Both competitors put everything into this match, particularly Jericho who delivered a picture perfect superkick to HBK (with a little Y2J flair of course) and almost got the pinfall. HBK won with a great roll up of Jericho in a classic between arguably the two top performers of their generation.
#3 Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker: Wrestlemania XXV
The problem with a lot of the Undertaker's matches at Wrestlemania is that is hard to believe that someone could conceivably win the match. Fortunately, if there is one man who could end the streak, it was Shawn Michaels. This match is really the present day standard for wrestling, all matches to take place in the last five years are measured up to it.
It's also proof that Undertaker works best when matched up with a smaller opponent. His matches with HBK and Bret Hart were classics while his matches with Diesel, Big Show and Kane were all disappointing.
Both Michaels and the Undertaker are infamous for kicking out of finishing moves, so it was really unpredictable as towards when the match was going to end. Michaels showmanship and charisma really sold this match, his ability to appear beaten and broken but then spring back to life is second to none.
The most telling thing about this match is that it was impossible to follow. Both the WWE Championship and the WHC were on the line in the following matches, however the crowd was really not interested in watching them because of what the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels did, and that is what made it special.
#2 Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Bret Hart: Wrestlemania 13
An iconic match between two men who stood for two completely different things in a submission match during the WWF's darkest era. Stone Cold had yet to suffer his neck injury and Bret Hart was at his peak so it was obvious this was going to be a doozy, but few could predict just how thrilling it was going to be.
Austin came into the match as a heel and a Hart as the face, but by the end of the match, the men switched roles in a classic double turn. The turning of the always straight Hart and the obnoxious and abusive Austin signaled a change in the WWF's philosophy which would launch them into their greatest success period.
Even though Austin lost the match, it was him who became the next big star after the match. Austin withstood the sharpshooter for longer than probably anyone before, and he still refused to tap, losing the match when Ken Shamrock called for the bell when Austin passed out in a pool of his own blood.
At the time, the WWF was getting crushed by WCW, in fact Wrestlemania 13 did the lowest buy rate for any Wrestlemania in the WWF/WWE's history. However, the success of this match and others like it triggered a boom period for the WWF and wrestling in general, making it arguably the most important match to ever take place.
#1 Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle: Wrestlemania 21
The differences between this match and the Austin vs Hart match are really miniscule, and it is hard to really claim one was better than the other. That being said, Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle is the ultimate masterpiece to take place at Wrestlemania. Shawn was beginning to get up there in years, but he showed no effect of that when going toe-to-toe against a mat genius in Angle.
Kurt was really at the top of his game in this point, and not only was his awesome in-ring ability on display but his talent for drama and storytelling as well. An unpredictable match with numerous false-finishes, this is really what pro-wrestling should be all about.
A great story went along with this match as well, with Kurt angry at Michaels for stealing his thunder way back in 1996 when Angle won his gold medal and the only thing people were talking about was HBK gliding down from the rafters and putting on a wrestling clinic. Kurt had something to prove that night, and he succeeded in forcing Michaels to tap out to the ankle lock.
Just like Austin vs Hart, this match was really the epitome of what pro wrestling is. It's raw, it's violent, it's dramatic and sometimes the bad guy wins. These two matches are the peak of Wrestlemania, and what people are wishing to see on the grandest stage of them all.