daniel-bryan-triple-h WrestleMania
Photo Credit: WWE

Best Opening Matches In WrestleMania History

WrestleMania is the biggest event of the year in professional wrestling. Main eventing WrestleMania is a distinction that very few have, and it’s very often the match that provides a legendary moment for years to come.

In years past, opening an event was met with mixed reactions but as time goes on, more and more wrestlers have said they prefer to go on first. The opening match sets the tone for the rest of the night, and WrestleMania has seen some real show-stealers throughout its history.

These are the top 5 opening matches in WrestleMania history. Each of these matches set the tone for the rest of the event and got the crowd excited for what was to come, whether it was later in the night or in the months to follow.

*These matches are the opening matches on the WrestleMania broadcast and the list does not include pre-show or kickoff matches.

WrestleMania 35: Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins

Brock Lesnar going on first sounds like an oddity, but it happened at WrestleMania 35.

Seth Rollins entered the show as the challenger to Lesnar and looked to recreate the magic he had in beating Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. Lesnar attacked Rollins during his entrance and picked him apart, finally calling for the referee to ring the bell.

Rollins fought back and used a counter and a ref bump (and a low blow) to regain control, ultimately winning the title after three consecutive Curb Stomps. The official match itself was just over two minutes, but it was full of action and a shocking start to the show.

WrestleMania 33: AJ Styles Vs. Shane McMahon

Shane McMahon showed up and showed out at a WrestleMania event some felt he shouldn’t have been competing at.

Going into the event, there was banter amongst fans that felt like AJ Styles “deserved” a better match than the one he was in. Shane and AJ opened WrestleMania 33 with a match that was much better than anyone expected it to be, with Shane proving he could still hang. In what could be considered his last great WrestleMania match, McMahon pulled out all stops, adding strikes and submissions to his high-flying arsenal fans were used to.

McMahon hit a Coast-To-Coast, kicking a trash can into Styles’ head, but came up empty after attempting an elbow drop from the turnbuckles onto the commentary table. Styles would ultimately win after avoiding a moonsault and hitting a Phenomenal Forearm, but both competitors quieted the critics and set the tempo for the rest of the night.

Photo Credit: WWE

WrestleMania 30: Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan is another example of the opening match influencing the main event of a WrestleMania event.

Bryan’s journey to WrestleMania started the year prior at SummerSlam 2013 after he had won the WWE Championship. Triple H ultimately turned on Bryan and allowed Randy Orton to win the title from him. Triple H justified his actions by saying it was best for business and claimed Bryan was a “B+ player” when Orton was the face of the company.

Triple H continued to sabotage Bryan’s attempts at winning the title back, and Bryan finally had enough and challenged him to a match at WrestleMania. Triple H initially refused, but the YES Movement was born as a result. Bryan got his match and if he won, he would be added to the main event between Orton and Batista.

Bryan had the fans get behind him in a big way, and Triple H did everything he could to stop his momentum. Nearly 25 minutes later, Bryan would kick out of a pin attempt after a Pedigree and hit Knee Plus for the win. Triple H then attacked Bryan and focused on his injured arm, putting the main event in jeopardy.

Bryan would of course go on to win the title and fans still remember him doing a YES! chant with both belts, but the moment might not have had as much impact if it wasn’t for their efforts in the opening bout.

WrestleMania 21: Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero

The WrestleMania match between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero is a great example of a WrestleMania match setting the stage for a months-long feud.

Going into this match, Mysterio and Guerrero were friends and the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions. The bout was positioned as a friendly contest to see who the better man was. Mysterio and Guerrero brought their best, but Rey ultimately picked up the win after hitting a hurricanrana and hooking the leg to pin Eddie.

Guerrero ultimately (and perhaps reluctantly) shook Rey’s hand after the match, and that moment served as a jumping-off point for a feud that would last months. Guerrero would turn on Rey a few weeks later, growing increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t beat his former partner.

Guerrero and Mysterio would deliver several engaging contests in that time and ultimately battled over the storyline paternity of Rey’s son, Dominik. Rey prevailed in a “Custody Of Dominik” ladder match at SummerSlam that year, but Eddie would finally get a big win over Rey in a steel cage the following month.

Photo Credit: WWE

WrestleMania X: Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart

The brother vs. brother match is not only considered to be one of the best opening matches ever but one of the best matches ever, period.

Owen had demanded a match with Bret for several weeks leading up to WrestleMania and finally got his wish. Bret Hart also had a WWF Championship match scheduled for the same night, but first he needed to settle the score with his brother.

Bret and Owen went on first as a result of a kayfabe coin toss between Bret and Lex Luger, who was also set to challenge Yokozuna for the WWF Championship. Owen won the impressive match by blocking a roll through and getting the pin and it was considered an upset by many.

Bret still went on to main event and win the title from Yokozuna, who already defended his title against Luger earlier in the night. Bret and Owen would go on to feud throughout the rest of the year. Owen ultimately won the 1994 King Of The Ring tournament, and then he ended up being partially responsible for Bret losing the title, forcing their mother to through in the towel (literally) for Bret at Survivor Series.