WrestleMania is the biggest showcase in the wrestling world (despite many feeling Wrestle Kingdom is a much better and more consistent wrestling show), and this year is shaping up to be another huge event. It’s safe to say though, that like every other WWE show, WrestleMania has had it’s fair share of ups and downs, with some of the best and worst matches of all time occurring on the show.
From iconic and innovative matches such as Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels or Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels to the last minute, bathroom break matches such as battle royals, the event has seen both the highest peaks and lowest valleys.
The following will outline both of these on the last 10 WrestleMania events, which matches stole the show and which ones stunk up the joint.
20 WrestleMania 23: Best – Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena
WrestleMania 23 may now best be known for the infamous Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga match, which pitted Vince McMahon and now President Donald Trump against each other, but it also featured several great matches. The Undertaker vs. Batista and Money in the Bank Ladder match both come to mind, but looking back on the event, none were better than the main event that featured the Heart Break Kid against John Cena. This may have not been their best match, that would come just after on an episode of Monday Night RAW in which they had an hour long classic, but this was still the best match on the card. The two were tag team Champions together, and had a hard fought battle over the WWE Championship, and after Shawn hit Cena with a pile driver on the steps, John recovered and was able to submit him to retain his title in a thrilling match.
19 WrestleMania 23: Worst – The Great Khali vs. Kane
When talking about bad matches at WrestleMania, they often involve around idiotic gimmicks and stupid humor, but in this case, it was just two oversized wrestlers who battled for 5 of the most forgettable minutes of the entire year. The match was a disaster, and featured only one memorable spot, which was the slamming of Khali by Kane, the first time it had been done. Following the horrible bout that the Great Khali won, he choked out Kane with Kane’s hook, a reference to his character in the movie See No Evil. It was received very poorly, and on a very solid card it stuck out like a sore thumb, and received a 0.5/10 rating by many wrestling sources.
18 WrestleMania XXIV: Best – Edge vs. The Undertaker
This match starts a string of 6 straight show stealing matches for The Undertaker, and it is with perhaps one of his best rivals of all time, the best heel of the PG Era, the Rated-R Superstar, Edge. Fans hadn’t seen The Undertaker challenged like this in years, as Edge seemed like a star destined for the top, so what better way to make him the huge star he was becoming then give Edge the victory on the grandest stage in wrestling? Unfortunately for Edge, he would fall just short of defeating The Undertaker, but he came out looking better than he did going in, and with the performance both men put on, fans knew they were in for a classic rivalry, which is exactly what they delivered.
17 WrestleMania XXIV: Worst – Kane vs. Chavo Guerrero
This isn’t the only match that makes this list due to how short it was, but this one was just a complete slap in the face for the revived ECW brand, as Kane won a battle royal contested on the pre show to earn this right, only to have their World Title won in a measly 11 seconds. This may have been some comeuppance for the main heel on the young ECW brand, but to have not only your World Title, but the only match the brand had on the card finish in 11 seconds is complete disrespect. Yes, it came as a shock due to Kane emerging from under the ring like he has so often before, but these two men could have had a great match, and told a much better story with more time, especially considering the amount of time that other matches on the card received.
16 WrestleMania XXV: Best – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Not only was this the standout match of the 25th WrestleMania, but it is perhaps the best match in the event’s entire history, if not the history of the entire WWE. The story was simple, two of the greatest of all time battling to see who is the better man, with Michaels looking to be the first man to ever defeat The Undertaker on wrestling’s grandest stage. At this stage of their career, people may have been slightly skeptical, but what took place was almost half an hour of a perfectly paced, fantastically told story, which had the fans hanging on absolutely every move. The finish was done perfectly too, with fans going back and forth full of emotion, the two competitors used many false finishes until finally the Dead Man would put HBK down for good.
15 WrestleMania XXV: WORST – Divas Battle Royale
This match was meant to be a celebration of the illustrious history of women in the WWE for the ’25th anniversary of WrestleMania’, unfortunately the WWE couldn’t convince any of the innovative pioneers of women’s wrestling like Trish or Lita to turn up. Instead the match was filled with a bunch of women from the Attitude Era or the model type diva’s that they were heavily employing at the time. What’s even weirder is how the finish of this match went, because despite of this celebration, the WWE wanted to go with their typical brand of childish humor, as they had Santino Marella, disguised as a woman win this atrocity of a match. No wonder Trish declined her invite once she heard the planned result.
14 WrestleMania XXVI: Best – Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
If their bout a year earlier wasn’t good enough, HBK and the Deadman tried to top it again, adding the Streak vs. Career stipulation to give fans even more reason to become emotionally invested. Those fans had waited a whole year to see the two do it again, and they may not have topped their previous match, but they sure as hell gave it everything they had. Unfortunately for Shawn Michaels, the result was the same, but after an amazing career that spanned 20 years, I am sure that there is no better way for such an icon to leave the wrestling industry for good. To be fair, this event didn’t have much competition, but put this on any wrestling card in history, and it will definitely be hard to top.
13 WrestleMania XXVI: Worst – Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon
To be fair, it was amazing to see the Hitman back in the WWE after so many years, especially after the controversial and emotional way he left the company, but this is a direction they never should have gone in. It’s easy to see what they were going for, given the history between these two men, but after Bret and Shawn made up on an episode of RAW, it seemed there was no tension at all. The story was quite well told, with a lot of fans actually quite excited for the match, but there was one problem, Hart wasn’t medically cleared to take any bumps, so the match was just two old men slowly beating on each other for an entire 11 minutes (which felt much more like 25).
12 WrestleMania XXVII: Best – Triple H vs. The Undertaker
This was the second of three bouts that these two men contested at WrestleMania, and with their careers nearing an end, many fans (especially those with knowledge of The Game’s politicking and influence backstage) thought that this could finally be the end of The Undertaker's impressive WrestleMania streak.
Fortunately for the fans, the Deadman was able to fight off yet another challenger, and although he had undoubtedly stolen the show the previous 2 years with the best in ring performer of all time, ‘Taker proved that he could do the heavy lifting and lead a match too. While not up to the level of their rematch a year later or the two predecessors, this match was still very fun to watch, and with two stars the caliber of this, the atmosphere and the drama made it the stand out match on a very weak WrestleMania card.
11 WrestleMania XXVII: Worst – Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler
We all know that Vince McMahon likes to treat WrestleMania as more of a spectacle than a culmination of the best wrestling in the world, but even for this event, a rivalry between two commentators did not deserve the time it got. Even the inclusion of the most popular star in wrestling history, Stone Cold Steve Austin couldn’t get fans invested in this, which is saying something about the depth and quality of wrestling in the WWE at the time. The match was slow and boring for most fans who wanted to see genuine wrestling, but after a few minutes, Jerry Lawler made Cole tap out after he received a Stunner. The decision was overturned thanks to the interference from Stone Cold, but fans couldn’t have cared less, as long as the horrendous match was over.
10 WrestleMania XXVIII: Best – Triple H vs. The Undertaker
Like his best friend Shawn Michaels, Triple H got a second straight shot at breaking the vaunted streak of the Deadman, but this time he enlisted the help of the Heart Break Kid as he walked into ‘Takers match, the Devils Playground, Hell in a Cell. The atmosphere was electric, as fans knew they were about to witness history, but as much as Triple H tried, he couldn’t put the Deadman away. This left Michaels to interfere, hitting a Superkick before The Game pinned the Undertaker for the 1-2-3. Except he didn’t, as ‘Taker kicked out in one of the most dramatic moments in wrestling history, before he went on to come back and defeat both the Game and his best friend. The match billed as ‘the end of an era’, truly lived up to the hype, and will be remembered as one of the best matches in the events history.
9 WrestleMania XXVIII: Worst – Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
This was the true start of the ‘Yes’ movement, as Bryan was already incredibly popular with the audience, and this made them sympathetic to his cause, which would lead him on an incredible journey that culminated at the big event two years later. The match itself however was horrible, and whoever decided that the match between Bryan and a hard-hitting Sheamus should last for a measly 18 seconds needs to be fired, if they haven’t already. Bryan gave his girlfriend, AJ Lee a kiss, only to be met with an immediate Brogue kick from the Celtic Warrior, and the thought of wasted potential in this match with their blend of styles in annoying still to this day, as the two honestly could have had the best match on the card.
8 WrestleMania 29: Best – CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
Despite never getting his much sought after WrestleMania main event, CM Punk definitely stole the show on several occasions, with this match being the most notable. The build for the match may have soured some people, as Punk was asked to mock the memory of ‘Takers late manager Paul Bearer, but on the night in New York, the Straightedge Saviour and the Deadman tore the house down in 25 minutes of non-stop action and fantastic storytelling. As you’d expect from two ring veterans, they paced the match perfectly, and it had everything that the crowd in New York wanted, as they were in the palm of their hands, making the back and forth and the finish that much more dramatic.
7 WrestleMania 29: Best – Mark Henry vs. Ryback
Although it only lasted around 8 minutes, this match was a disaster, with fans nowhere near as excited for a big hoss match as they once would have been. Not much even happened in the 8 minutes to have made it worth either mans time, as they could have skipped completely over the match, with the last three bouts on the card taking 20 minutes each, they could have used some of the time wasted on this match. Simply put, the match consisted of a few knock downs, a big clothesline from Ryback and a botched Shellshock, which led to Henry knocking the Big Guy out and pinning him in incredibly forgettable fashion.
6 WrestleMania XXX: Best – Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton
This match was the culmination of one of the best stories in recent WWE memory, and it’s safe to say that the ‘Yes Movement’ made for one of the best main events in WrestleMania history. After the disaster that was the Royal Rumble, WWE fixed their mistakes and the fans forced Bryan into the main event, if he could defeat Triple H to kick off the show. He did just that, and limped into the main event which was a brutal, chaotic, back and forth match, which saw Bryan almost taken to the back on a stretcher. He recovered and made his way back to the ring, and after several near falls and outside interference, he found Batista trapped in his patented Yes Lock. The rest they say is history, as Batista tapped out to send New Orleans into a frenzy.
5 WrestleMania XXX: Worst – Divas Battle Royale
As mentioned in the introduction, Battle Royal’s are often used on WWE’s big shows to get more people on the card, and while most of the time it may be just seen as a harmless bathroom break, sometimes it actively takes away from the show. This is the second such event involving diva’s, and it gets much worse looking back on it, especially what you consider the women did just 2 years later at WrestleMania. The 14 Woman battle royal lasted just 6 minutes, and after the amazing finish involving Cesaro in the Andre the Giant battle royal moments earlier, this could have never been anything but a disappointment (thankfully this time though, a woman actually won the match).
4 WrestleMania 31: Best – Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (vs. Seth Rollins)
Despite all the criticism of Roman Reigns over the past few years, the WWE managed to do a great job of building him as true opposition to Brock Lesnar, especially due to the amazing work of Paul Heyman. The match itself was very hard hitting, as Reigns was finally finding chinks in the armor of the Beast Incarnate, until something that no one in the world saw coming happened. The match had come to a stop until the music of Seth Rollins hit, making the match an impromptu Triple Threat. After another few minutes of frantic action, Rollins hit the curb stomp on Reigns, pinning him to claim his first WWE title, with ‘the heist of the century’ capping off a great match and a great event.
3 WrestleMania 31: Worst – Andre the Giant Battle Royal
WrestleMania 31 was widely considered one of the best in recent memory, with the Intercontinental Championship Ladder match, Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins and the Ronda Rousey/Rock segment (and the previous entry) all considered high points. One segment on the show that lacked was the second annual Andre the Giant Battle Royal, with few performers to care about and terrible booking. This match did feature The Miz and Damien Mizdow (who many think should have had a one on one encounter), but unfortunately the WWE failed to capitalize on Mizdows crowd popping elimination of The Miz. Instead they decided to give the deflating victory to the Big Show, in a typical ‘big man wins the battle royal fashion’, with this being considered a missed opportunity to make a huge star out of Sandow.
2 WrestleMania 32: Best – Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
Coming into the year 2016, WWE had botched the ‘Diva’s revolution’ with the arrival of these three ladies from NXT, but after 2 great PPV matches in the lead up to the big show, fans couldn’t have been more excited to see Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte clash. The stakes were raised even higher when Hall of Famer Lita announced early in the night that the winner would be crowned the WWE Women’s Champion, officially marking the death of the embarrassing Diva’s title. The entrances on the night made this night even better, as Sasha came down to the ring with Snoop Dogg, while Charlotte channeled her father with her robe, making all three look like huge stars. The match itself showcased all three performers talents, with huge spots and a great story all night, despite the questionable ending. Charlotte made Becky Lynch tap out to the Figure-8 with some help from Ric Flair, and it was obvious to all that it was a definite show stealer. (Honorable mention to the Intercontinental Championship ladder match).
1 WrestleMania 32: Worst – Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
The biggest topic of discussion in the WWE over the past few years has been the rise of Roman Reigns, and the rise to top babyface that Vince McMahon has been pushing, despite the fans rejecting him at every turn. The problem with this is that the fans just don’t buy it, due to the corny character and predictable, Super man like booking, and this predictability was on full display in the lead up to WrestleMania 32. Starting at the Royal Rumble, Triple H won the title after Reigns was ‘screwed over’ by Vince McMahon, which led to the Road to WrestleMania. Triple H was cheered while Reigns was booed, and those fans could see exactly what was going to happen in the main event. It was 25 minutes of slow, boring action, and when the main event was over, the fans that were left in the arena were highly disappointed (although muted), and it stands out as the worst match on a pretty solid card.
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