WrestleMania 1 Through 23: My Favorite Matches

WrestleZone


With Wrestlemania XXIV right around the corner, it only seemed fitting to take a good hard look at the establishment that is Wrestlemania. Rather than offering my predictions for this year’s card (which I very well may do next week), instead I thought I’d take a walk down memory lane and offer up my personal favorite matches from each of the previous 23 WM cards. Unlike my often analytical reasoning, this list is based on nothing…I won’t justify a single selection and there may be very little rhyme of reason to any of it…these are simply the matches that jumped out at me as I scanned the cards. Not claiming they are the best, the most historic, or any such thing – just the ones I remember or enjoy or think fondly of for whatever reason.

WM1 – King Kong Bundy over SD “Special Delivery” Jones – The match was 9 total seconds. The squash match to end all squash matches. I remember Uncle Elmer winning on a Saturday Night’s Main Event in 6 seconds after a bodyslam, but I didn’t really carry the same weight. Total destruction. I re-created this result with my LJN action figures for years thereafter (isn’t it awesome that they made an SD Jones figure?).

WM2 – Wrestler/NFL Player Battle Royal (winner – Andre the Giant) – This is back when Andre the Giant was unbeatable in Battle Royals…very cool gimmick to have. After 22 years, I still remember Bill Fralic, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Russ Francis, and Refridgerator Perry “going to the well one too many times.”

WM3 – Ricky Steamboat over Randy Savage – Speaks for itself. An all-time classic. First time I ever saw a near-pinfall sequence like this one…absolutely on the edge of my seat, as the match almost ended a solid dozen times.

WM4 – Demolition over Strike Force for the Tag Team Titles – I was a huge mark for Demolition in their prime. Hell, I even liked Darsow as Repo Man. Sure, the ending took a page out of the far superior WM1 tag title match (which they should have actually had on RAW a few weeks back), but I was jumping for joy when it happened nonetheless.

WM5 – Rick Rude over The Ultimate Warrior for the IC title – Overall, very few matches stand out from this card. I almost selected Red Rooster over Bobby Heenan.

WM6 – The Ultimate Warrior over Hulk Hogan for the World Title – Easiest selection out of any on this entire list. When I personally think of WM, this is one of the the first two matches that comes to mind (see WM10 for the other). On a side note, honorable mention goes to The Orient Express over The Rockers by countout – one of my best friends couldn’t finish his pizza and may have even cried because he was so distraught about that result.

WM7 – The Utimate Warrior over Randy Savage in a Retirement Match – Naturally, Savage fought for 117 more years after this, but didn’t change the effect as it happened. Wow, who knew I even liked Warrior? Evidently I seem to, as he gets my choice two years in a row.

WM8 – Bret Hart over Roddy Piper to win the IC title – Only match of the night that really stands out as being of high quality to me. Innovative ending for the time. Overall, one of the worst WM cards by far.

WM9 – Doink over Crush – Two Doinks! Brilliant! Surprising, clever, funny booking. Doink the crazy evil heel was actually a really good character. Doink the happy birthday party clown was not. The thing that stands out to me most about the card in general was being outdoors and the Roman theme.

WM10 – Razor Ramon over Shawn Michaels in a Ladder Match – It actually pains me to not select Owen over Bret…the single most pleasant surprise ending in WM history. However, the ladder match is still in a league of its own…and I was there live at MSG to enjoy it.

WM11 – Owen Hart & Mystery Partner (Yokozuna) over Smoking Gunns for the Tag Team Title – Basically, this card sucked and I’m an Owen Hart mark. This was a strange pairing, a strange dominant outcome…but clearly, far from a special WM match. Only 7 matches on the entire card make the pickings kinda slim.

WM12 – Shawn Michaels over Bret Hart to capture WWF Title in an Iron Man Match – Went to overtime after an epic bout. What did you expect me to take…the backlot brawl between Piper and Goldust? This was an easy one…I’d be shocked if anyone disagreed.

WM13 – Bret Hart over Steve Austin in a Submission Match – Welcome to the attitude era! And welcome to superstardom Steve Austin. Welcome to serious booing Bret Hart. Crowd reaction is one of the most memorable in wrestling history.

WM14 – Mick Foley &Terry Funk over The New Age Outlaws in a Dumpster Match to win the tag team titles – The result was overturned the next night on RAW, which ultimately cheapened it, but at the time it was a pretty nice hardcore brawl and something a little bit different. Sure, Tyson refereeing the main event would have bee an easy choice, but this stood out to me as something a bit more out of the box.

WM15 – Butterbean over Bart Gunn in Brawl 4 All – Hahahahahahaha! A true favorite of mine. What a bad idea. What a brutal knockout. This essentially ended Bart Gunn’s US career. And all this came on the heels of Bart Gunn ruining Steve Williams’ WWF career. Disasterous, but truly memorable and insanely funny and vicious.

WM16 – Edge/Christian over The Hardys & The Dudleys in a TLC Match – Purely awesome. Not quite as good a T&A over Head Cheese from earlier in the card, but a close second. Please note the sarcasm.

WM17 – The Gimmick Battle Royal (Winner: The Iron Sheik) – Any match where the winner is decided by who CAN NOT take a simple over the top bump is great to me. And any WM appearance for Duke “The Dumpster” Droese deserves mention on this list.

WM18 – The Rock over Hulk Hogan in an Icon vs Icon match – I want to mention this match solely so I can mock my buddy who I know will be reading this column. This match brought him to legit tears and “gave him chills.” He also once made love to his Randy Savage wrestling buddy pillow. He never even had to tell me that, I just know.

WM19 – Brock Lesnar over Kurt Angle for the WWE Title – 300 lb man + botched shooting star press = memorable. Furthermore, the rest of this card kinda sucked.

WM20 – Christian over Chris Jericho – Great build, great storyline, great swerve, great heat. Well performed by both wrestlers and especially Trish Stratus with the classic, old school style badass heel turn. Overall, this card had a lot of memorable moments, but this was very well executed.

WM21 – Money in the Bank Ladder Match (winner – Edge) – Extremely innovative, exciting, and led to one of the finest character builds of all time. Honorable mention has to go to Angle vs HBK, which was an instant classic.

WM22 – Edge over Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match – Hidden barbed wire (fun psychology) and a flaming table made this the match of the night in terms of pure entertainment. This retrospective is actually giving me a real appreciation for how big Edge has truly been for WWE through the past 10 years.

WM23 – John Cena over Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship – Delivered on the promise of what a main event should be. If this match is any indicator of things to come, I’m excited to see what both of these guys have in store for their bouts this year.

There’s no right or wrong, no calling me a buffoon…can’t dispute it – I liked these matches! As always, I’ll be curious to hear which matches bring back the memories for you guys.

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