THREE GUYS AND… RETRO WRESTLING
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“ALL 31 WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENTS RANKED, VOLUME 2”
written by Dominick Cappello
Here’s volume 1…
And here’s volume 2…
21. WrestleMania I
Main Event w/ Special Enforcer — Muhammed Ali:
Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion) & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka) vs.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (w/ “Cowboy” Bob Orton)
This is where it all began. Madison Square Garden. New York City. March 31, 1985. Not a scientific wrestling masterpiece, but more of a spectacle. Long before there was an Attitude Era, there was The Rock & Wrestling Connection. This is back when the WWF was riding the massive wave of Hulkamania, turning pro wrestling (or sports entertainment or whatever you want to call it) into a global phenomenon. Celebrity involvement was a huge part of WrestleMania’s I and II. If you were a fan of “Rocky III” (1982), it must have been pretty cool to see Thunderlips and Clubber Lang as a tag team.
20. WrestleMania 2000
WWF Championship “Fatal 4-Way” Match:
Triple H (c) (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. The Rock (w/ Vince McMahon) vs.
The Big Show (w/ Shane McMahon) vs. Mick Foley (w/ Linda McMahon)
A McMahon in every corner? I don’t know about that. I mean, did all of The McMahons really need to be at ringside? Other than that, I thought that this was a fun match. Mick Foley was finally in a WrestleMania main event. I don’t really count him being the guest referee for the last few minutes of The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin at WrestleMania XV. Yes, Mick Foley had already been retired by Triple H at Now Way Out 2000, but this is wrestling. Nobody ever truly retires. It’s like being in the mafia. They never let you go. Also, with Triple H retaining his title, it was the first time that a heel left WrestleMania with the gold. It had to happen eventually. It was getting pretty predictable that the baby-face was going to win every year. Can you believe it? I’m actually justifying Triple H not jobbing at a WrestleMania… Cut to Triple H not jobbing to Booker T at WrestleMania XIX and I’m beyond pissed off.
19. WrestleMania XXXI
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
I can. I will. Everyone was so sure that Roman Reigns would be winning the title, but I was never convinced. There was something about The Roman Empire that was reminding me of The Lex Express. I had the vibe heading into WrestleMania XXXI that this was going to be like SummerSlam 1993 with a baby-face the company was trying to push to the moon coming up short in the main event. It was hard hitting match. Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns beat the tar out of each other. But, in the end, it was Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank contract, winning the title by pinning Roman Reigns under triple threat rules. This was the second year in a row that the WWE had to begrudgingly change their plans because of negative crowd reactions.
18. WrestleMania XXI
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H (c) (w/ “Nature Boy” Ric Flair) vs. Batista
WrestleMania goes Hollywood. In my own humble opinion, the inter-promotional matches outshined the title matches at this show. I enjoyed The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle was brilliant. A work of art. John Bradshaw Layfield vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship was a dud. But, Triple H vs. Batista, the implosion of Evolution, was a solid match. It’s funny to look back and see the WWE apparently grooming Batista to be the face of The Ruthless Aggression Era. Within a few short months, John Cena was drafted from Smackdown! to RAW and was anointed as the #1 guy, but WrestleMania XXI was Batista’s time to carry the torch.
17. WrestleMania XXIV
WWE Championship Match: Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker
This was only the second time that The Undertaker had been in the main event of WrestleMania, believe it or not, and a first for Edge. The Phenom vs. The Rated R Superstar. Streak vs. Title. Edge claimed that him beating The Undertaker would be akin to The Ultimate Warrior defeating Hulk Hogan back at WrestleMania VI, which Edge had attended. The match was spoiled a bit by what I felt was weak commentary from Michael Cole and Jonathan Coachman, but referee Charles Robinson’s mad dash to the ring was a memorable moment. Not your traditional WrestleMania moment, but still fun. If anyone deserves to close WrestleMania with all the pageantry that goes along with that position, it’s The Undertaker.
16. WrestleMania X
WWF Championship Match:
Yokozuna (c) (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart (w/ Special Referee — “Rowdy” Roddy Piper)
Ten years in the making. WrestleMania returns to Madison Square Garden. WrestleMania X was essentially an apology for WrestleMania IX. We all know about the Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels ladder match, but let’s talk about Bret “Hitman” Hart. He was supposed to be crowned the leader of The New Generation Era the year prior, but instead had to claw his way back to the top, being more over than Lex Luger, the superstar who Vince McMahon was itching to make the new Hulk Hogan. Bret Hart was defeated by his brother Owen Hart in the opening match, then defeated Yokozuna for the title in the main event. Nobody really liked the finish with Yokozuna slipping off the ropes when attempting a Bonsai Drop, but the celebration afterwards, with all the baby-faces hoisting Bret Hart up on their shoulders and carrying him around the ring was the WrestleMania moment that I’ll remember. In the build to WrestleMania XXIX, the WWE claimed that The Rock vs. John Cena was the first ever back-to-back WrestleMania main event. Um, hello, what about Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna???
15. WrestleMania XXVIII
Once in a Lifetime: The Rock vs. John Cena
I know, I know, once in a lifetime, what a crock. Apparently, the WWE new all along that they were going to milk The Rock vs. John Cena feud for two years. You already know that I was none too impressed with their rematch, but I still enjoyed their first encounter. It was in The Rock’s hometown of Miami and it was interesting to see the nearly invincible Superman of the WWE, John Cena, be humbled for the first time ever by a superstar whose magnitude eclipses his. For one night only, the smile was wiped from his face and John Cena found out what it was like to be common. Shockingly, this was The Rock’s only WrestleMania main event victory. Remember that his biggest WrestleMania win against Hulk Hogan was not the main event (for some reason). Whether the CM Punks of the world like or not, The Rock, being a pillar of the Attitude Era, deserved to have a WrestleMania main event win on his résumé.
14. WrestleMania XIX
WWE Championship Match: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
The first WrestleMania under the WWE banner and the first since the brand split. Smackdown! usually had to play second fiddle to RAW, but not at this WrestleMania. The Attitude Era was over and this was the start of Ruthless Aggression, which put more of an emphasis on wrestling whereas The Attitude Era main events had mostly brawling. Brock Lesnar in his rookie year had won the King of the Ring and the Royal Rumble. Now, he was in the main event of his very first WrestleMania. Standing in his way was 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle. Because of a neck injury, Kurt Angle nearly had to bow out of the match, but he was able to gut his way through like a true champion. This match also gave us an unintentional WrestleMania moment. Brock Lesnar went for a Shooting Star Press and landed on his head! Holy shit! Somehow, he recovered and hit Kurt Angle with a third F5 for the win.
13. WrestleMania XXII
WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs. Triple H
John Cena, the WWE’s Man of Steel, who is as polarizing as the film. This was Super-Cena’s first WrestleMania main event and the rabid crowd in Chicago tore him a new one. It has been heavily censored on the WWE Network, but trust me, the expletives were flying. Triple H was relishing the moment. Someone had finally replaced him as the smart mark’s public enemy #1. Triple H even broke out a DX crotch-chop for this first time in over five years for a cheap pop. Eventually, Triple H tapped out to John Cena, so he put the new guy over, but in subtle Triple H sort of way, still managed to throw some dirt onto poor John Cena.
12. WrestleMania XXIII
WWE Championship Match: John Cena (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
Now it was John Cena vs. the other half of DX. If not for his second of two torn quadriceps, it would have been John Cena vs. Triple H for the second year in a row. Really? Triple H was going to get his win back already? Well, fate intervened and his opponent ended up being Shawn Michaels. This was a blessing in disguise for John Cena because Shawn Michaels did a much better job of putting him over. The match didn’t quite steal the show like Shawn Michaels did most years. That honor went to Batista vs. The Undertaker, but John Cena tapped out the other half of DX, cementing him as the top man in the industry. When The Rock and John Cena hugged it out at WrestleMania XXIX, it seemed so phony, but Shawn Michaels seemed genuinely heartbroken (no pun intended) when he refused to shake hands with John Cena after their match. I prefer that over some disingenuous hug. Shouldn’t a wrestler be upset that he lost in the main event?
– Dr. Rochester
To be concluded…