WrestleMania is not only the biggest event of the year, it is also the most emotional. “The grandest stage of them all” is where many wrestling dreams finally come true. Where young talent suddenly become superstars. Where old legends go for one last ride. Where the road begins or some times ends. WrestleMania is where it all happens.
Many years have past and what was once a long shot idea from Vince McMahon has grown into a worldwide sensation. People from all over the world tune in and attend the massive spectacle which has taken to be being held in football arenas due to the number of people wishing to witness the event live and in person.
WrestleMania is the one night of the year where every complaint and grievance us bitter fans have with WWE are placed aside in order to enjoy what we all grew up loving; wrestling on its largest platform. Sure, once the night is over we will divert back to our keyboards and touch screens to bash and belittle the event, but for those four hours we sit glued to the screen, we are simply fans.
When it comes to matches, WrestleMania has done them all: from an Iron Man match to Hell in a Cell to Retirement matches and Hardcore encounters – memorable Ladder matches and the greatest of Championship bouts.
WrestleMania has featured musicians, actors, athletes, and reality stars alike. There is no telling who will take part in the annual extravaganza. The night truly does showcase the brightest stars around and illicit the biggest emotions.
This article will take a look at some of the most emotional matches to have taken place over the years. Matches that have had a lot more of the line than perhaps just a championship. Matches that really messed with human emotion.
These are the 10 most emotionally charged WrestleMania matches:
10 The Rock vs. John Cena - WrestleMania XXVIII
For years, John Cena had been calling out The Rock in hopes of luring him back to the WWE and facing him in a WWE dream match. On February 14th, 2011, The Rock would finally make his return on Monday Night Raw when he was announced as the guest host of WrestleMania XXVII – where the main event would feature The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. Subsequently, it was The Rock who cost John Cena a victory that night, setting up a match for the following year at WrestleMania XXVIII.
The coming together of two generations was placing all eyes upon The Rock and John Cena and what fans received was some of the best promo work in the career of John Cena. Whenever Cena spoke of The Rock or Dwayne, you could hear the sincerity in his voice. Meanwhile, The Rock was doing the same old schtick he had been using for years. John Cena displayed a side of him that was more real than ever before – a man who loved the WWE – and a man who looked down upon The Rock for claiming to have just as much love for the company despite never coming around.
9 Triple H vs. Randy Orton - WrestleMania XXV
The 2009 Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton, was faced with three options heading into the main event of WrestleMania. Orton was to choose between facing the WWE, World Heavyweight, or ECW Champion at the massive 25th Anniversary event. Over the weeks that followed, Triple H – who was WWE Champion – would pretty much make that decision for Randy Orton, following the attacks on his family at the hands of Orton which included an RKO on Stephanie.
When Randy Orton agreed to face Triple H at WrestleMania, the heat was turned up and this feud became even more personal. Unsuspected attacks were seemingly the predominate focus, with Triple H even attacking Randy Orton at his own home. The involvement of family and the intensity put forth by both Triple H and Randy Orton really gave this match the level of emotion that it required. In the end, it was Triple H who retained his championship and while the match itself was not necessarily the greatest bout ever, it certainly wasn't lacking emotion.
8 Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan - WrestleMania VII
When Hulk Hogan lost the WWE Championship to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI, he would not regain the title for an entire year, until he defeated Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles. The match between Hogan and Slaughter was not only emotional but highly controversial.
The storyline would see Sgt. Slaughter, once a red, white, and blue, tried and true American, now acting as an Iraqi sympathizer. With Slaughter being the most hated man in WWE, who else could the people depend on to take the WWE Championship away from the perceived traitor? Naturally, the American hero, Hulk Hogan.
7 Mick Foley vs. Edge - WrestleMania XXII
New Year's Revolution 2006 would see John Cena retain the WWE Championship inside of the Elimination Chamber. Immediately following the grueling match, Edge would make his way out to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, the first official cash-in in WWE history, and defeat John Cena for the championship. Three weeks later at the Royal Rumble, Edge would lose the title back to John Cena making him a “transitional champion.” This is a concept that Mick Foley knew well, having won the WWE Championship three times and holding the belt for a grand total of twenty-nine days.
This was the seed that would sprout into a Mick Foley vs. Edge Hardcore match at WrestleMania XXII – the final time Mick Foley would compete on the grand stage. The emotional build to this contest was great, with Edge claiming that the only thing Mick Foley cared about anymore was a pay check while Foley was deadest on proving the Rated-R Superstar wrong. Both Mick Foley and Edge are masterful promo cutters which left no dull moments anywhere to be found within this storyline. When it came to the match: Edge spearing Mick Foley through a flaming table was the exclamation point to this story.
6 Triple H vs. Booker T - WrestleMania XIX
WrestleMania XIX featured a classic wrestling match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship, as well as the final encounter between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Which is why the World Heavyweight Championship match featuring Triple H and Booker T is often overlooked when thinking back on that event.
This match would be the first and only time that Booker T would compete for a major championship at WrestleMania – a WCW guy challenging a pure-bred WWE guy (much like the storyline involving Sting set for this year's event). It was clear that Booker T had the deck stacked against him but the rallying fan support was giving Booker T what he needed to compete with The Game. Along the way, some personal and controversial promos were delivered, especially on the part of Triple H who once said that “guys like you don't get to be World Champion” when confronting Booker T. Triple H would go on to make derogatory reference to the hair of Booker T while asking him to dance for him – for his own personal entertainment.
Hunter ended up winning the impressive match, by nailing Booker T with a pedigree.
5 Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker - WrestleMania XXVI
Following his loss to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXV, the obsession of Shawn Michaels would lead to him costing The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship the following year, as HBK was determined to take another shot at The Deadman and his undefeated streak. When The Undertaker informed Michaels that he would only face him again if HBK placed his career on the line, Michaels replied that if he could not end the streak, then there was no reason for his career to continue.
Longtime fans of The Showstopper knew full and well what this meant: Shawn Michaels would be leaving the WWE – there was always hope that he would defeat The Undertaker but deep down inside, everybody was well aware of the reality of this match. The emotional ride taken with HBK and 'Taker was outstanding and as expected. The Undertaker ended the career of Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXVI – leaving tears streaming down the faces of HBK fans.
4 Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart - WrestleMania X
There is no secret about who is the most popular and successful member of the legendary Hart family. Bret was the face of WWE at one point during the nineties and the leader of what WWE called “The New Generation.” His brother Owen was a tremendous talent in his own right whose life was taken during a WWE event when a stunt went tragically wrong. The brothers were longtime allies but at WrestleMania X would open the event in a one-on-one contest.
The build-up to this match had been months in the making with Own challenging his brother to a match in the past but Bret would constantly refuse. When Bret eventually accepted the idea of facing his brother, the sibling rivalry got heated and heartfelt. While Owen worked as the heel, there was a part of you that wanted him to overcome his brother and win the match – which is exactly what happened that night at Madison Square Garden.
3 Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania XXIV
When the great Ric Flair was forced to fight for his career on a weekly basis thanks to Vince McMahon, he wanted only one man to step into the ring with him at WrestleMania XXIV, Mr. WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels. Ric Flair made it clear that he wanted to take on the best WrestleMania performer of all time and despite initial reluctance from Shawn Michaels, the match was soon made official.
There was so much emotion involved with this match. Ric Flair was not going to accept any pity or sympathy from Shawn Michaels, as he wanted him to bring his best to their match – which is exactly what HBK did in Orlando. The farewell kick to the face of Ric Flair was enough to make your heart drop, as HBK would effectively end the WWE career of The Nature Boy.
2 Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant - WrestleMania III
WrestleMania III was held in the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan back in 1987. The event drew an attendance of 93,173 people. The main event that night would see Hulk Hogan defend the WWE Championship against the undefeated Andre The Giant. This was the kind of match that wrestling fans would dream about as the circumstances did not get any bigger.
The build to this epic bout saw great emotion coming from the participants and fans alike. When Andre The Giant ripped off the T-shirt and crucifix necklace of Hulk Hogan during an interview segment, the emotions were jacked up to new limits. As well all know, Hulk Hogan would defeat Andre and hand him is first loss, in what was truly one of the first real emotionally charged WrestleMania matches.
1 Stone Cold vs. The Rock - WrestleMania X-Seven
Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would do battle on three occasions at WrestleMania. However, it was their encounter at WrestleMania X-Seven that drew out the most emotion. Austin had missed much of the year 2000 due to an injury. During this time, The Rock was the man who would step in as the new top dog in WWE. When Stone Cold won the 2001 Royal Rumble and The Rock captured the WWE Championship at No Way Out, the wheels were in motion for Austin/Rock to once again headline WrestleMania.
In a sit-down interview with Jim Ross, both men expressed how much they needed this victory with Austin stating: “I need to beat you Rock. I need it more than anything that you could ever imagine.” The emotion and the look on the face of Stone Cold made your spine tingle. This match would mark a monumental moment in WWE history as Stone Cold Steve Austin would align himself with his longtime rival, Vince McMahon, in order to secure his victory thus turning The Texas Rattlesnake heel in the process.