THREE GUYS AND… RETRO WRESTLING
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“ALL 31 WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENTS RANKED, VOLUME 3”
written by Dominick Cappello
Here’s volume 2…
And here’s volume 3…
11. WrestleMania XV
WWF Championship “No DQ” Match: The Rock (c) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Let’s be honest, this show seemed like a three edition hour RAW. Multiple heel / face turns. Who was supposed to be the guest referee in the main event changed several times. But, the actual main event was pretty damn good. The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The Brahma Bull vs. The Texas Rattlesnake. The first of three WrestleMania bouts between these two legends. The Rock was the corporate champion, representing Mr. McMahon, so this was the climax of the year long Austin vs. McMahon rivalry. (Even though they restarted the feud a couple months later when Mr. McMahon was revealed to be The Greater Power). Steve Austin won his second consecutive WrestleMania main event and the WWF Championship for the third time in his illustrious career.
10. WrestleMania XX
World Heavyweight Championship “Triple Threat” Match: Triple H (c) vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit
Well, here’s a touchy subject. I guess I could just pretend that Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship was the main event of WrestleMania XX, but that would be a disservice to my readers. I won’t romanticize this moment because it has obliviously been tainted. Chris Benoit won the 2004 Royal Rumble and was inserted into the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels rivalry. Chris Benoit made Triple H tap out, winning the World Heavyweight Championship for the first time… unless you count his one day reign as WCW Champion. He then celebrated alongside Eddie Guerrero, who had successfully defended his WWE Championship early in the show. I’ve haven’t re-watched this match in years. I’m sorry. It’s been tarnished.
9. WrestleMania IV
WWF Championship Tournament Finals:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (w/ Andre the Giant)
This was my first WrestleMania as a kid, so the show will always hold a special place in my heart. This was the first time that Hulk Hogan wasn’t competing in the main event of WrestleMania. A tournament was held to crown a new WWF Champion. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase schemed his way through the tournament while “Macho Man” Randy Savage had to win four tough matches in one night, defeating “The Natural” Butch Reed, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, The One Man Gang, and The Million Dollar Man to win the title. The Macho Man’s finest moment. Hulk Hogan, the other half of The Mega Powers, was in The Macho Man’s corner to prevent Andre the Giant from interfering and The Hulkster stuck around afterwards to help The Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth celebrate. Hulk Hogan grandstanding with the manically paranoid Randy Savage? Hmm… I wonder if that will play into the main event of WrestleMania V? (Spoiler Alert: Yes, it does.)
8. WrestleMania XIV
WWF Championship Match:
Shawn Michaels (w/ DX) (c) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (w/ Special Enforcer — “Iron” Mike Tyson)
Another one of those WrestleMania main events that is better than people remember it being in terms of a wrestling match. I guess that bar is pretty damn high for a Shawn Michaels match. HBK’s back was badly injured. He would be out of action until SummerSlam 2002. You can see just how much pain he was in, but he was able endure long enough for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to win his first WWF Championship. The Attitude Era really began in the build up to the Montreal Screw-Job and Steve Austin had been the #1 man in the eyes of the fans since WrestleMania XIII, but WrestleMania XIV was the official coronation. The tide of the Monday Night War turned soon after and the WWF was finally able to overtake WCW in the ratings. If any one superstar can take credit for winning the Monday Night War, it’s “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Whether you call it The Attitude Era or The Austin Era, he was undisputed top man in the industry.
7. WrestleMania XXX
WWE World Heavyweight Championship “Triple Threat” Match: Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
The WWE can try to rewrite history all they want, but it’s clear that they never wanted Daniel Bryan to be in the main event of WrestleMania. He wasn’t even in the 2014 Royal Rumble. Remember, CM Punk didn’t walk out on the WWE until the next day, so that means he was still penciled in to face Triple H at WrestleMania, meaning that it’s total and utter bullshit if anyone in the WWE claims that Daniel Bryan was always supposed to have a #1 Contender’s Match with Triple H. Nobody cared about seeing Randy Orton vs. Batista, so the WWE begrudgingly inserted Daniel Bryan into the main event and he won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. YES! YES! YES! The people made their voices heard. Score one for the good guys. Daniel Bryan recently retired due to concussion related injuries, but no one can ever take away his epic WrestleMania moment.
6. WrestleMania III
WWF Championship Match: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre the Giant (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)
WrestleMania’s I and II were sold on celebrities. WrestleMania III was sold on the main event. A clash of titans. The irresistible force meeting the immovable object. 93,173 fans in attendance (allegedly). Andre the Giant was the Eight Wonder of the World. He had been a friend and mentor to Hulk Hogan, but he became bitter as a result of The Hulkster’s great success, so The Giant did the unthinkable and recruited Bobby “The Brain” Heenan as his manager and challenged Hulk Hogan to a WWF Championship Match. Hulk Hogan was the underdog for the first time ever. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship may have stolen the show, but Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant was wrestling’s version of the shot heard around the world. The torch was passed from one icon to another and Hulkamania became immortal.
5. WrestleMania XXVI
Career Threatening Match: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker should have been the main event of WrestleMania XXV, but somebody didn’t have their head screwed on right. The next year, the WWE made amends. It was the rematch of the decade. The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak vs. the career of Shawn Michaels. HBK had retired “Nature Boy” Ric Flair at WrestleMania XXIV, so it was interesting to see him in the same position. Having to end his storied career at a WrestleMania. After all, he was Mr. WrestleMania. Not because of his win / loss record, but because of his ability to consistently steal the show. You could argue that this match didn’t quite top their previous match, but The Undertaker picked up the win after a devastating Tombstone Piledriver. Shawn Michaels was retired on the grandest stage of them all and unlike most wrestlers who lose retirement matches, HBK has actually remained retired. The next two WrestleManias saw The Undertaker vs. Triple H in vein attempts recreate the chemistry that Shawn Michaels had with The Undertaker. Look, you can’t out perform The Showstopper, so why even bother?
4. WrestleMania V
WWF Championship Match: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
The Mega Powers explode! It’s Hulkamania vs. Macho Madness. This match had building up since even before WrestleMania IV. The Rock vs. John Cena had a year long build, but that was just them trading childish insults on social media. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan reached a boiling point after months of tension. Was Hulk Hogan trying to steal the spotlight or was Randy Savage just being paranoid? Were they fighting over the WWF Championship or were they fighting over Miss Elizabeth? Personally, I think they were fighting over Miss Elizabeth. What’s the title mean when compared to the love of a beautiful woman? The Macho Man returned to Atlantic City, the site of his WrestleMania IV triumph, but this time he was bested by Hulk Hogan. This was The Hulkster’s second WWF Championship win. The Mega Powers eventually reunited in WCW, but for legal reasons, they were dubbed The Monster Maniacs. Hmm… That’s nowhere near as catchy.
3. WrestleMania XII
WWF Championship “Iron Man” Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart (c) vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Jose Lothario)
The mid 1990s in the WWF was defined by two names. Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Bret Hart was the leader of The New Generation despite Vince McMahon always wishing that it was someone like Lex Luger or Diesel. Meanwhile, the much more flashy Shawn Michaels was always nipping at the heels of The Hitman. The main event of WrestleMania XII was a 60 minute Iron Man Match. The two best wrestlers in the world would apply their craft for one hour. Bret Hart, a stoic traditionalist, vs. Shawn Michaels, a brash risk taker. Surprisingly, the time limit ended without a single decision. Normally, Bret Hart would have retained the WWF Championship in a draw, but President Gorilla Monsoon declared that there must be a winner and the match was restarted. After two Super-Kicks, Shawn Michaels won the title and realized his boyhood dream. Bret Hart then stormed out of the arena in disgust. Life would imitate art as this storyline would lead to actual animosity and borderline hatred between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.
2. WrestleMania VI
WWF / Intercontinental Championship “Title for Title” Match:
Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion) vs. The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental Champion)
The Ultimate Challenge. At WrestleMania III, Hulk Hogan was the irresistible force and Andre the Giant was the immovable object. Now, The Ultimate Warrior as the irresistible force and Hulk Hogan was the immovable object. Baby-face vs. Baby-face. Title for title. Seeing Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior back then was just as good as seeing Superman vs. Batman. I grew up a Hulkamaniac. I didn’t have anything against The Ultimate Warrior, but I had to be loyal The Hulkster. In a moment that shocked the world, Hulk Hogan missed the atomic leg drop, then The Ultimate Warrior hit the big splash for a count of three. The first clean loss for Hulk Hogan since the inception of Hulkamania. The Ultimate Warrior unified the Intercontinental and WWF Championships (albeit briefly). Some say that Hulk Hogan congratulating The Warrior afterwards was an unplanned moment, but if you look carefully, you can see The Warrior accept the Intercontinental Championship from referee Earl Hebner, but refuse the WWF Championship, so he must have known ahead of time Hulk Hogan was going to officially pass him the torch. An ultimate WrestleMania moment.
1. WrestleMania XVII
WWF Championship “No DQ” Match: The Rock (c) vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The biggest of the three WrestleMania matches pitting The Rock against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The culmination of The Attitude Era. There was a big difference between this match and their WrestleMania XV match. The Rock was now at the same level as Steve Austin in terms of their status as icons, but being in Texas, the hometown crowd was supporting Steve Austin. He could do no wrong in their eyes. The match was made No DQ at the last minute without any explanation. Mr. McMahon then made a surprise appearance towards the end of the match. Why? He had betrayed The Rock at WrestleMania 2000, but surely he wasn’t siding with Steve Austin? Austin vs. McMahon defined The Attitude Era. Well, anything can happen in the WWF because Mr. McMahon helped Steve Austin win the match! WHAT!? The Texas Rattlesnake sold out!? Say it isn’t so!? Actually, the crowd was so happy to see Steve Austin win the title, they really didn’t care that he turned heel. Long term, Steve Austin aligning with Mr. McMahon was a bust (other than him singing songs with Kurt Angle), but for one night, one WrestleMania moment, the end of an era, the greatest of all The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin matches ended with the biggest swerve in WWF / WWE history.
– Dr. Rochester