Off The Record – Wrestlemania Favourites

Euan Conway


Hello everyone and welcome to the latest edition of Off The Record with me Euan Conway. With that Wrestlemania time of year fast approaching I thought I would take the opportunity to focus on the biggest event of the year. However instead of focusing on this years event I will be taking a look back to past events and sharing with you my countdown of my 10 favourite matches of all time at the biggest event of them all.

Before I do that however a quick look at how this year’s show is building up.

I have seen very little to excite me about the HHH v John Cena main event match at the moment. Smackdown have been building their main event for sometime but I am just not into what is happening on Raw. Hopefully Saturday Night’s main event will give me something to shout about.

Love the idea of Chris Benoit v JBL, it is a new combination that we have not seen all that much of before. It is also unusual the fact that the heel is playing the injury angle, a refreshing change. Full marks to the WWE on this one.

Would love to see Finlay and Lashley get it on at Wrestlemania, however I doubt we will see it now with the Lumberjack match on Smackdown. I can’t help but think Finlay is wasted in MIB. What now for Lashley at Mania as well. I think he might still end up in MIB.

Speaking of the MIB ladder match this is shaping up nicely. It is the best decision WWE have made in a long time to make this interpromotional. I was fed up of Smackdown being treated as the second rate show. Still very interested to see who will be representing Smackdown though as their 3rd participant.

I cannot help but think that they could have found better matches for Edge (cough WWE Title match) and Foley than against each other. Having said that I think these guys will steal the show in a hardcore match.

I fail to see the point of Carlito and Masters against Kane and The Big Show unless they are making a serious go of Carlito and Masters as a Tag Team. This just shows how far the Tag Team division has fallen in recent years.

I can almost certainly see appearances from The Boogeyman, Eugene and Hulk Hogan himself in non match segments, would love to see Bret Hart appear to but I think we will sadly have to make do with the hall of fame.

So all in all some mixed views on the Wrestlemania card so far. We still need another 2 or 3 good quality matches in there to make it worth ordering. At the moment I am 50-50 but probably more against ordering. I will hopefully be back with a full Wrestlemania preview and my advice on whether the show is worth ordering before the event itself.

However now it is time for a stroll down memory lane and a look back at my favourite 10 Wrestlemania matches of all time. Please note this is not a best of list, these are my personal favourites that I thought I would share with you for a different type of column to the usual current events so no hate mail saying I missed out your favourite matches.

Triple H v The Undertaker – Wrestlemania 17

What a totally awesome match this was. I admit that this match is probably not one of the hall of fame matches that everyone thinks about from Wrestlemania’s past but these two guys delivered perhaps the best match either has ever wrestled in my view. In the build up to the event it was largely overshadowed by the main event of Austin v The Rock but these two guys don’t need build up and can tell a story with just the ring. The match was a brutal affair even although it wasn’t a No DQ and after the ref bump they went all over the arena including into the crowd and into the technical area. HHH took some massive bumps if I remember rightly as well and I largely forget that he actually jobbed in this match, which was a rare occurrence back then. Never expected to be a classic but certainly turned out to be one.

Randy Savage v Ricky Steamboat – Wrestlemania 3

No two grapplers these days could put on a match longer than half an hour like these two did. If you look at today’s main event matches you will find it hard to believe also that they done it without using chairs, tables or any cheating at all. I find it difficult to believe that Steamboat was never the top man in the WWE although he did have success in other promotions as all his matches had the fans on their feet. Savage also could have had so many more matches like this if given the chance but instead got stuck working with less athletic guys like Hogan and Dusty Rhodes. The actual match went back and forth so many times I almost lost count and can probably be called the greatest Intercontinental Title match of all time. An utter classic. I think only Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle would be able to put on this kind of match these days. Again another match overshadowed by the main event on the card but then the main event isn’t always the best match is it.

Shawn Michaels v Razor Ramon, Ladder Match – Wrestlemania 10

Just watching this match again the other day made me realise what it had started. The first big ladder match on PPV and arguably the match that inspired today’s TLC matches. Shawn Michael’s and Razor Ramon put on a absolute classic after both had laid claim to the IC Title. It is doubtful that you would have seen the likes of RVD, Jeff Hardy and Christian in ladder matches today if it had not been for this match. The quote that I fondly remember from this match is Vince McMahon saying on commentary “we didn’t expect the ladder to be used as a weapon”. Can you imagine that now? A match that inspired a generation of performers and will never be forgotten.

Hulk Hogan v The Ultimate Warrior – Wrestlemania 6

I started watching wrestling around 1990/91 times when these guys were in their prime and Hogan was arguably my wrestling hero. This was the first time it had ever happened. Icon versus Icon, Hogan vs The Warrior, the two top guys in the company. What made it even better was that it was champion vs champion, which was also another first for the WWE. I remember they used to show highlights of old WWE matches on a show a couple of years ago called Axcess hosted by Jonathon Coachman and Trish Stratus and this was the first classic match they ever showed. This was a face v face match but in reality everyone’s hero was Hulk Hogan. The finish of this match was a shock to many but most people also respected the Warrior and realised he was a worthy champion. I will certainly remember this match for a long time and in particular the show of sportsmanship at the end that is so often missing from wrestling nowadays.

Kurt Angle v Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 21

Probably one of the best pure wrestling matches I have ever seen equalling if not surpassing the Benoit v Angle match at the Royal Rumble a few years back. If ever two wrestlers deserved time to put on a match on the biggest stage of them all then these are the two to pick. In a Wrestlemania that was rather weak in terms of star power these two stood out from the crowd and put on a wrestling clinic. The WWE deserve all the credit in the world for letting these two go at it. Put your best workers in a match (not Mark Henry) and they will perform. It had so many near finishes and twists and turns that the crowd were on their feet. The one thing that would surprise a wrestling fan that doesn’t watch WWE all that often is that no Title was on the line, as this match wouldn’t have looked out of place in the main event. It showed how equal these two superstars are that they had three matches in 2005 with one win each and a draw. I would give anything to see these to go at it again. Wrestlemania 23 anyone.

HHH v Big Show v The Rock v Mick Foley – Wrestlemania 16

In a Wrestlemania where almost ever superstar on the roster was used it was the main event that stood out. It was built as a family feud, a McMahon in ever corner. The IWC has accused the McMahon’s of spoiling storylines by splattering themselves all over the screen but not in this case. Pissed off by the McMahon Helmsley era Vince decided to align himself with The Rock going into Mania. Linda McMahon brought back Mick Foley who had been retired by HHH at No Way Out one month before. Shane McMahon joined The Big Show and the family feud was on. In a match that had everything Big Show was eliminated first after being triple teamed and Foley got pinned by HHH whom he then hit with a barbed wire 2×4. The shock was to come at the end of the match when a bloodied Vince turned on The Rock joining forces with his daughter and son in law. Had the crowd on its feet the entire way through and one of my personal favourites.

Bret Hart v Shawn Michaels Iron Man Match – Wrestlemania 12

The first time this had happened in the WWE. A 60-minute match in which the superstar with the most falls would win the match and the WWF Title. Vince picked the two best guys he had in his roster at the time and they had a fantastic match that even went into overtime. Despite the fact that there were no falls in the opening 60 mins there were many spots that had the fans on their feet and I have never heard a bad thing said about this match. It was totally different to the recent HHH v Rock and Brock Lesnar v Kurt Angle iron man matches, which you tended to think, needed several falls to keep the fans going. Bret Hart and HBK didn’t need to do that, they were able to keep us entertained and on the edge of our seats for the entire match with their sheer effort and ability. It is rather disappointing that they will be remembered for a certain other event at Survivor Series 97 and not this match.

Hulk Hogan v Andre The Giant – Wrestlemania 3

This was the very first wrestling match I ever watched and it was what got me into being the big wrestling fan that I am today. It was on a video entitled The Best of Hulkamania that a friend of mine loaned to me. This match was billed as Hogan’s biggest challenge during his illustrious four-year title reign in the mid 80s. A superstar over 250lbs heavier than him. Could he slam The Giant? Could he even do any major moves to him at all? People were stunned as throughout the match the Giant dominated everyone’s hero, until Hogan got a new lease of life. He was back on his feet and Hulking up. He then picked up Andre (something which he had failed to do earlier in the match) and slammed him to the mat. I have to admit I was hooked on this match; it was great TV and had the attention of the world upon it. Andre The Giant may not have been the most athletic performer but he certainly gave us a Wrestlemania moment to remember in this match.

Austin v The Rock – Wrestlemania 17

The second match on my list from what I consider to be the best Wrestlemania of all time. Everybody assumed that when Austin was victorious in the Royal Rumble that he would he would somehow end up face HHH at Wrestlemania despite The Rock being champion. However they settled that feud in a never to be forgotten 2 out of 3 falls match at No Way Out and set up Austin v The Rock as the championship match along with HHH v The Undertaker as the double main event of the show. It was a face v face match, something uncommon in wrestling these days but was executed to near perfection including spots where both hit each others finishers. Along with HHH v The Undertaker you truly could believe that this was a double main event. It also had the shocking heel turn by Austin at the end of the match aligning himself with old foe Vince McMahon. I always had a feeling that something like this might happen because it was face v face and that was the reason why I was glued to my TV.

Hollywood Hogan v The Rock – Wrestlemania 18

This was a dream match for anyone. The icon of the past against the icon of the present. Hogan and returned to the WWE along with fellow New World Order members Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and immediately target the big guns of the company. I still remember to this day the segment on Raw when The Rock challenged Hogan to a match at Wrestlemania and was then beaten to a bloody pulp by all 3 members of the New World Order. This is probably the best 25 minutes ever on Raw. I stared at the TV screen in amazement. Anyway I am moving off topic, back to the actual match at the grand stage itself. This is probably the greatest match in terms of fan participation in the history of wrestling. The roar that went up when the match started was unbelievable. The way the fans turned on The Rock was a joy for many. Hogan looked as though he was going to take the victory with the leg drop but this time the younger legs of The Rock prevailed. The two shook hands afterwards and received a deserved standing ovation from the crowd. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash turned on Hogan after the match leading to the return of the Hulk Hogan we all love. One of my all time favourite matches.

So there you have it that is my list of my 10 favourite Wrestlemania matches, your list might be very different but ill think everyone should agree that the 10 matches above will certainly never be forgotten.

Reader feedback

I don’t normally do this anymore but I thought I had to print this email in response to my last column

I just have to say that I really enjoyed your article: Off The Record –

Disrespect. It’s about time the message is spread that no person who goes to

Such levels should not be allowed to get away with it. It’s a shame that the

WWE has to exploit the name of Eddie Guerrero even in death.

I was overjoyed when I saw Rey Mysterio win the Royal Rumble. He was a long shot

even from the beginning, but he preserved till the end and won. I too, though

that people were going to get their money’s worth at Wrestlemania. It was

going to be his moment at Wrestlemania, win or lose.

Then Orton showed up, and started to run his mouth, complaining it was a

fluke?. He should have taken it like a man, or least not to go down to a

Disgusting level and bring up Eddie Guerrero as he did. No superstar had been

Disrespected like that in death, not Brian Pillman, not Owen Hart, but I guess

Eddie had to be different (and Hawk, as a side note).

When Orton proposed the match between himself and Mysterio, I figured they

weren’t really going to go through with it. It’s just customary that the

winner of the Royal Rumble goes on to Wrestlemania. That’s just the way it

goes.

I was nervous on the night of the match. I didn’t think that Orton was really

going to win; they just couldn’t do that to Rey or the Royal Rumble itself.

When Orton did win, I just thought to myself ?Wow, he got away with it

all?. He practically ruined the name of the Royal Rumble, Eddie Guerrero, and

even Wrestlemania.

So I guess what was learned today is that if you are low enough to disgrace

someone’s name (especially in death) and the Royal Rumble itself, you too one

day can be headlining Wrestlemania.

-Amanda L

Response: I am glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the feedback. The disrespecting of Eddie Guerrero really annoyed me. The fact that the Royal Rumble angle was spoiled is just a side note. The WWE have got to learn that disrespecting the dead is just not something that is done in modern society.

Now to finish off this column I would just like to include a quick plug for my local company The Scottish Wrestling Alliance’s next show on the 25th March at the Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre in Bellshill, Glasgow, Scotland. This is a promotion, which in the past has had bigger attendances than some ROH, and FWA shows so it is well worth a look.

After a sold out 520 in Bellshill and the sold out 475 in Clydebank at the first two shows of 2006, Scotland’s number 1 promotion the SWA is back in Bellshill for their latest show called CLAN WARS which promises to be another action packed night of wrestling action.

The show is being headlined by 2 CLAN WARS matches, which are the same as Survivor Series elimination matches.

The main event involves “The Last True Phenom” Conscience and NWA Scottish Heavyweight champion Eric Canyon teaming up with 3 partners to be announced to take on a team headed by Majik of The Sinners stable and The Highlander Colin Mckay of rival promotion BCW in a 5 on 5 elimination match. The Sinners group and BCW have formed an alliance to battle the SWA and this promises to be a main event not to be missed.

In the second 5 on 5 CLAN WARS match the SWA is taking the opportunity to showcase some of its younger talent when 5 members of the new A-LIST (PYRO , DARKO , WOLFGANG ,DARKSIDE AND FALCON) stable will take on 5 members of the T Division (GRANT DUNBAR,GLEN DUNBAR, WHITE TIGER AND TEAM CAPTAIN CJ HUNTER AND A PARTNER TO BE ANNOUNCED) . This promises to be a fast paced match and should have a major impact on the future careers of all 10 men.

A further match announced for the card will see Canadian ICE XVII take on an opponent chosen by fellow Canadian and arch nemeses Aidan Corrigan. These two superstars have not got along since the break up of their tag team and should ICE win his match against that chosen superstar he will earn a match with Aidan at a future show.

Also on the card is a T Division Championship Trophy rematch from Clydebank, which will see DARREN LEWIS the SWA’s cocky WWE tryout take on champion MICKEN. After both men’s shoulders were pinned to the mat in Clydebank the referees could not decided upon a winner so a rematch has been ordered.

Also confirmed for the show is tag team PERFECTLY IRISH who will continue their quest for a tag team championship shot and former Sinner CHRIS RENFREW who came so close to winning the NWA Scottish Heavyweight Championship in his hometown of Clydebank. This all promises to be a show not to be missed by and British and in particularly Scottish wrestling fan.

Tickets available from SWA officials and staff, online at www.scottishwrestling.co.uk or in Glasgow City Centre at the address below.

Scotsman Models 55, Parnie St, Glasgow, Lanarkshire G1 5LU

Well that is all for this edition of Off The Record. If you want to send me any feedback on this column or send your own list of 10 favourite Wrestlemania matches then please feel free to do so. Oh and remember please do whatever you can to support your local promotion.

euanconway@hotmail.com

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