Yesterday I covered the bottom 14 Wrestlemania's of all-time, which you can read here
Let's continue the fun with the top 15:
Middle of the Road
16. Wrestlemania 15
15. Wrestlemania 14
14. Wrestlemania 12
Wrestlemania 15 was a show that I think that we all wish ended up being quite a bit better. It was the height of the Attitude Era, and while there was a lot of intensity, there was also a lot of matches that just didn't seem like Wrestlemania matches. Steve Austin faced off against The Rock in what was probably the biggest main event since Andre vs Hogan back at Wrestlemania III. As exciting as that match was, the show was plagued by the two most important undercard matches (Mankind vs Big Show and Triple H vs Kane) ending in disqualifications and The Undertaker wrestling the Big Boss Man in an unnecessary and short Hell in a Cell match.
Wrestlemania 14 was essentially just a more well-rounded version of Wrestlemania 15. The main event was great, with Austin dethroning Michaels, who worked hurt with a badly damaged back and still pulled out a classic. Owen Hart vs Triple H for the European title is an underrated match, and Chainsaw Charlie and Cactus Jack vs The New Age Outlaws in a dumpster match was at least unique. Overall the show could have achieved more, but Wrestlemania 14 was at least a very good indicator of what the Attitude Era was all about.
Out of all of the events, no single Wrestlemania cared more about actual wrestling than Wrestlemania 12 did. A main event that didn't rely on street fighting and went over sixty minutes was and still is a rarity in pro wrestling, and this one featured two of the very best. Because over an hour was dedicated to one match, the rest of the card was pretty shallow. However, it did feature the hilarious OJ Simpson car chase parody featuring Roddy Piper and Goldust, which is always a plus.
Best of the Hogan Era
13. Wrestlemania 6
12. Wrestlemania 8
Hulk Hogan wrestled more high-profile matches than anybody else, and in my opinion, his very best work was at Wrestlemania 6. Back in 1990, the fact that the two biggest faces in the company would wrestle each other in the biggest match of the year was almost unimaginable. By the end of the 80s, Hogan had seen some of his popularity stolen by the Ultimate Warrior. In the Warrior, Hogan saw a performer very similar to himself, and, for all of Hogan's faults, did put him over in front of an absolute electric crowd. Surprisingly, despite neither man being known for great technical ability, they stringed together one of the best matches in Wrestlemania history. The rest of the card wasn't great, but that couldn't stop how impressive the "Ultimate Challenge" was.
Wrestlemania 8 was supposed to have the greatest main event in history, with Ric Flair battling Hulk Hogan while both men were still in their primes. However, egos got in the way and Hogan ended up main eventing the show against Sid Justice in what is probably the worst Wrestlemania main event in history. Flair went on to have an instant classic against Randy Savage, in a match that was probably better than anything Hogan and Flair could have done anyways. Bret Hart also claimed the Intercontinental Championship in a bloody and thrilling brawl with Roddy Piper.
Nothing Bad, Nothing Great
11. Wrestlemania 23
10. Wrestlemania 22
Both of these shows were very similar, so that is why the share a similar ranking. Wrestlemania 23 had a lot of really good matches, but nothing that really stood out as a true Wrestlemania classic. The main event with John Cena defending his title against Shawn Michaels was good, as was the World Heavyweight Championship match with The Undertaker taking on Batista. The Money in the Bank match was also solid, as was the United States Championship match with Chris Benoit wrestling MVP. While all of these matches were entertaining, but none of them were truly excellent, which limited its legacy.
Wrestlemania 22 was just a smidge better than Wrestlemania 23, and that is because Mick Foley and Edge had one of the best street fights in company history. Edge spearing Foley through the flaming table is one of the most memorable moments in Wrestlemania history. Shawn Michaels vs Vince McMahon was also entertaining, and the main event with John Cena taking on Triple H was good, even if it was pretty predictable. The Money in the Bank match with the deserving victory of Rob Van Dam was also a bonus.
Cracking the Top 10
9. Wrestlemania 13
8. Wrestlemania 28
7. Wrestlemania 20
Wrestlemania 13, from a financial standpoint, is considered the worst Wrestlemania of all-time. However, since this was the event that solidified Steve Austin as a face in the company, you could argue it was actually one of the most financially beneficial in wrestling company. The match Austin had against Bret Hart is often cited as the best match in Wrestlemania history, and it is easy to see why. The blood, the drama, Austin passing out rather than give up, all of that stuff symbolized how good the Attitude Era could become, as long as it had the right talent in place. Besides Austin and Hart, the card was rounded out solidly by Owen Hart and the British Bulldog taking on Mankind and Vader for the tag titles, and Ahmed Johnson teaming up with the Road Warriors to take on Crush, Faarooq and Savio Vega in an entertaining "Chicago Street Fight." The main event was a little weak, with Shawn Michaels losing his smile forcing a makeshift match with The Undertaker taking on Sycho Sid in a mediocre main event. Overall though, Wrestlemania 13 set a tone for the next 365 days, which would culminate in the launch of Stone Cold Steve Austin as the face of the company.
A lot of the recent Wrestlemanias get a bad reputation, and a lot of the time that reputation is justified. However, I do believe that Wrestlemania 28 stands out as one of the better efforts from WWE to put on a major show. Sure, Sheamus opened the show squashing Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds, and Maria Menounos beat the two best heels in the company despite not looking capable of bench pressing a pipe cleaner, but overall the show was pretty solid. Triple H and The Undertaker had a Hell in a Cell match worthy of Wrestlemania, and CM Punk and Chris Jericho had a really good technical brawl for the WWE Championship. The maligned main event between The Rock and John Cena was probably the best match that they could have possibly had with each other. Really, this show had something for everybody. If you liked technical wrestling, there was the Punk/Jericho match. If you liked star power and big matches, you liked the main event, and if you liked old-school storytelling, you liked the HIAC match.
Wrestlemania 20 was a show fitting as a tribute to the previous 19 events. The show had an instant classic in Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Angle and Eddie were both at the peak of their wrestling ability, and Eddie winning the match by tricking Angle into attacking his loose boot was vintage Eddie. The main event was also solid, with Triple H dropping the World Heavyweight Championship to Chris Benoit, with Shawn Michaels also getting in on the action. I find the match to be historically a little overvalued, but it was a strong main event nonetheless. The show was also backed with a strong undercard. The cruiserweight open was fast and exciting, The Rock and Mick Foley teamed up one final time against Evolution, and Christian and Chris Jericho had a really underrated match to open the show. The show had the detriment of having Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar on the card, but as bad as that was, it was at least entertaining from a morbid standpoint.
Shawn Michaels's Pantheon
6. Wrestlemania 25
5. Wrestlemania 24
4. Wrestlemania 10
If there is any good signs for Wrestlemania 30, it is that WWE has a history of nailing it's anniversary events. Wrestlemania 25 was the last in a streak of good Wrestlemania's that had been going on since Wrestlemania 19. The event is best remembered for The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels having a classic bout, and rightfully so. Michaels and The Undertaker had wrestled so many good matches before that it seems odd that a match that took place with both of them well into their 40s would be the best of the bunch, but like a fine wine, HBK and 'Taker just seem to get better with age. In addition, the Money in the Bank match was really good, and the Hardy Boys had a really gritty street fight that ended with Jeff taking a sick bump off of a ladder. Wrestlemania 25, like Wrestlemania 13 and 18, was detracted by having a match that wasn't the main event end up being the most talked about match. While HHH vs Orton was good, it was nowhere near the level of The Undertaker vs Michaels, and that hurt the shows overall reputation.
After four years of having either Triple H or John Cena main event the biggest show of the year, it was refreshing to see The Undertaker and Edge main event Wrestlemania 24. Edge and The Undertaker had a really exciting match that launched one of the better feuds of the 2000s. Shawn Michaels once again delivered on the big stage, retiring (kind of) probably the greatest wrestler of all-time in Ric Flair in a classic that was a fitting end to the Nature Boy's career. The undercard also featured a good Money in the Bank match and also had Randy Orton retain the WWE Championship against Triple H and John Cena. The match was a good one, and it had a surprising finish when you consider who he was wrestling.
Wrestlemania 10 was an event that launched a new direction for the WWF. The show stated with Owen Hart getting a perfectly clean victory over his brother, Bret. This was a strange decision, since Bret was set to win the WWF title later that evening, and why on earth would you have your future champion lose to his younger brother on the same night? Besides that hiccup, the match was arguably the best pure technical match in WWE history. The Hart brothers consistently displayed that nobody knew each other better than them, and only brothers could have such good chemistry in the ring for each other. Wrestlemania 10 also really brought the ladder match to the forefront in mainstream wrestling. While Razor Ramon ended up winning the match and the Intercontinental Championship, it was really Shawn Michaels who was the star of the match. Michaels, up until that point, was seen as a good mid-card wrestler. However, after that match, Michaels was seen as a future world champion and a guy that could be the top heel, or the top babyface in the company.
Ruthless Aggression vs Attitude Era
3. Wrestlemania 17
2. Wrestlemania 19
While other Wrestlemania's during the Attitude Era kind of fell flat, Wrestlemania 17 was an event that perfectly captured the quality entertainment that the Attitude Era produced. The main event, with Steve Austin defeating The Rock after an unimaginable heel turn that ended up going disastrously wrong, is one of the most shocking moments in wrestling history. In addition, the Hardy Boys, Dudley Boys and Edge and Christian continued to top themselves in ladder matches, having a devastating match that some fans feel is the best match ever to take place inside a WWE ring. William Regal and Chris Jericho opened the show with a solid contest, and The Undertaker and Triple H had a wild brawl that went all over the arena. Kurt Angle and Christ Benoit also competed in an often-forgotten match, but to no one's surprise, the match was very good and brought a much-needed technical aspect to the show. Lastly, and some fans probably feel like this wasn't necessarily a positive thing, but I absolutely loved the gimmick battle royal they had at this event.
If Wrestlemania 17 was the perfect Wrestlemania for the Attitude Era, Wrestlemania 19 was the perfect Wrestlemania for the Ruthless Aggression Era. Similar to Wrestlemania 10, Wrestlemania 19 sported two classic matches. The first match was Chris Jericho vs Shawn Michaels. At the time, HBK had just recently made his return to WWE after a long absence, and he still felt rusty in the ring. If there was any doubt that HBK was rusty, it was quickly put to rest when he started cooking with Y2J. Jericho didn't get enough love in this article, but it should be known that he was as reliable of a Wrestlemania performer as anyone. Jericho got the best out of HBK, and Michaels would actually credit Jericho for re-instilling confidence in himself, confidence that allowed him to go on to have a slew of great Wrestlemania matches.
The second great match was the main event, Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Angle and Lesnar are the most accomplished amateur wrestlers in the company's history, and their mat prowess was on full display in this match. While Rock vs Austin was a great brawl at Wrestlemania 17, it couldn't match the pure wrestling and athleticism that Brock vs Angle brought to the ring. In addition to those two matches, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan had an exciting street fight, Rock vs Austin met one final time in what a lot of fans feel was the best match of their feud, and HHH defeated Booker T in a strong match for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The Best of the Best
1. Wrestlemania 21
Why is Wrestlemania 21 the best Wrestlemania of all-time? I will explain in three parts:
1. Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle
I wrote last year that this was the best match in Wrestlemania history, and while that is an easily disputed claim, I still feel justified in my opinion. Michaels and Angle are two of the best performers ever, and they met with a really exciting storyline. Angle represented his divine amateur background and mat skills against Shawn Michael's charisma and showmanship. With Jim Ross calling the match, everything just fell perfectly into place for both competitors, and they hit the ball right out of the park.
2. A strong supporting cast
While Angle vs Michaels was clearly the star of the show, the rest of the card was filled out with a lot of high-quality matches. The show opened with Rey Mysterio locking up with Eddie Gurrero, and while they were tag team champions together, they were still out for vengeance. That match was followed up with the very first, and in my opinion the best, Money in the Bank ladder match. The MITB match these days is always considered to be a great match, and that standard was set by this one. Kane, Edge, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin and Christian? That is a great collection of talent, and to have them all in one match is a true Testament to the depth of talent WWE had at the time. Randy Orton and The Undertaker also had a thrilling match that really put The Undertaker's streak in question, and was the kick starter for a feud that would really elevate Orton into a full-fledged main eventer.
3. The Future
The gap between Wrestlemania 20 and Wrestlemania 21 was a tumultuous one. Gone were The Rock, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and other stars who helped get that event over. WWE had to prepare itself by creating new big time stars that could carry the company into the future. John Cena and Batista were declared to be the future stars, and both delivered with solid matches to close out the show. Cena was really over at the time of his first championship, and a majority of the fans actually thought he was "cool." Batista had a really brutal and bloody match with Triple H, that officially ended Evolution as a viable entity and would launch a series of even bloodier matches.
What are your top 5 Wrestlemania's of all-time? Sound off below.