Over the course of 31 years, wrestling fans have been treated to some of the greatest matches in history on the grandest stage of 'em all, WrestleMania. Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky The Dragon Steamboat at WrestleMania III. Bret The Hitman Hart vs "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. Edge & Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz wowed audiences for two years straight at WrestleMania 2000 and WrestleMania X-Seven. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels pulled off that same feat at WrestleMania XXV and XXVI.
Within great matches are great WrestleMania moments and there's certainly plenty of those to go around. There's the sight of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin writhing in pain and dripping with blood as he passed out to Bret Hart's Sharpshooter. I could name about 20 different spots in the ladder/TLC matches, but the most memorable is likely when Edge speared Jeff Hardy in midair. There was the crazy Shooting Star Press attempt from Brock Lesnar on Kurt Angle. There's all of WrestleMania IX....obviously kidding on that one.
But then there's those WrestleMania moments that come after the bell. Or before the bell. Or right before the action starts. Or none of the above. Sometimes, all it takes for a WrestleMania moment to happen is for three icons to be standing in the ring together...or walking out of a ring together for that matter. It's a celebration. It's a stare down. It's a crowd reaction. It's a final goodbye. So many things can make up a WrestleMania moment.
Here are 15 of my favorite non-wrestling WrestleMania moments.
15 WrestleMania 23 - Vince McMahon Gets His Head Shaved/Trump Gets Stunned
This is easily the least emotional item on this list, but it certainly is the funniest. I know the whole "Battle of the Billionaires" thing with Donald Trump was absolutely ridiculous (most things are when it comes to that guy), but just seeing the owner of a billion-dollar company make a fool of himself in front of the biggest audience of the year is a WrestleMania moment. Having McMahon's archrival, Stone Cold Steve Austin, on hand certainly didn't hurt things. Perhaps an even bigger moment came when Austin gave Trump a Stone Cold Stunner to finish things off.
14 WrestleMania VIII - Roddy Piper & Bret Hart Walk Out Together
After putting on an absolute classic match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania VIII, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Bret Hart put on a great display of sportsmanship...at least for the crowd. Piper walked over and handed the title to Hart and the two Hall of Famers walked out of the ring together in a great WrestleMania moment. In reality, Hart was furious as Piper had kicked him in the head during the match and busted him open the hard way. Hart says that they needed to be separated in the back for about an hour before they could really thank each other for the match.
13 WrestleMania XXX - Crowd Reacts To The End Of The Streak
In one of the biggest surprises in WrestleMania history, The Undertaker walked into WrestleMania XXX with a 21-0 record and left with a 21-1 record after being defeated by Brock Lesnar. The loss itself was a WrestleMania moment, but since we're talking non-match moments, the crowd reaction really was a moment in itself. The looks of the folks in the Superdome were absolutely priceless and are still shown just about every time this match is discussed on WWE programming.
12 WrestleMania VI - Andre's Final Walk
Nobody knew at the time, but WrestleMania VI would prove to be the legendary Andre the Giant's last match on television. He and his partner Haku lost the Tag Team Championship to Demolition and following the match, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan blamed Andre for the loss and began to assault him. In a split second, Andre became a face for the first time in over three years and proceeded to throw Heenan and Haku from the ring before taking one final walk out of WrestleMania. Just hearing the crowd pop for Andre again made it a very special moment to watch and gave the very first Hall of Famer a great sendoff.
11 WrestleMania VI & VIII - Hulk Hogan & The Ultimate Warrior
There are a couple of great moments between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. Their match at WrestleMania VI, while not a classic, told a great story, but the emotion that came afterwards was just as good. Hogan wouldn't drop the belt to just anyone back then and it was easy to see how thankful Warrior was to get that respect. As the two embraced in the middle of the ring, just notice Warrior pounding on Hogan's back as if to say "thank you so much for this".
The second would come at WrestleMania VIII as Warrior returned after a controversial hiatus to save The Hulkster from a beatdown after an atrocious main event. It wasn't nearly as emotional as WrestleMania VI, but it was good enough to throw in here as a bonus.
10 WrestleMania XXX - Daniel Bryan
This is the first of a few celebrations on this list from guys that were never supposed to win the WWE title. They were either pegged as "too small" or "a tag-team guy" or whatever other reasons Vince McMahon and the powers that be could think of to not put the strap on a guy. However, in this case, the fans spoke and they spoke loudly. Daniel Bryan was never supposed to be a top guy, but after "The Yes Movement" caught on, the company really wasn't left with much choice and Daniel Bryan beat Triple H in the first match of the night and Randy Orton and Batista in the final match of the night to win the title.
His celebration following his win in the main event is what hard work looks like when it pays off. The joy on his face and him sharing the moment with the fans, including Connor Michalek, was a true WrestleMania moment. Given that he's now retired less than two years later, looking back this feels like the culmination of a career's work.
9 WrestleMania XXVI - Shawn Michaels Says Goodbye
Not every wrestler gets that one final match and one final moment, but "Mr. WrestleMania" Shawn Michaels got his at WrestleMania XXVI. For the second year in a row, he lost a legendary battle with The Undertaker. The two had battled on so many occasions for so many years that this really was the best way for HBK to leave. And what an exit it was. Following the pinfall, The Undertaker helped Shawn to his feet, the two embraced and Michaels got the sendoff he richly deserved.
8 WrestleMania X8 - Hulk Hogan & The Rock Electrify Toronto
The match at WrestleMania X8 between The Rock and Hulk Hogan will never go down as the best technical affair of all time, but the electricity in the Skydome that night was off the charts. And it started before the match ever began. Seeing Hogan walk into WrestleMania after almost a decade was a moment in itself, but as he stood face to face with The Rock in the middle of the ring, I got goosebumps as I watched. Still do. Even the great Jim Ross recognized what he was witnessing and called it a WrestleMania moment and who am I to argue with "good ol' JR"? Throw in the flexing by the two afterwards and you've got another bonus moment.
7 WrestleMania XX- Chris Benoit/Eddie Guerrero Celebration
When Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero came over from WCW, most expected them to be lifetime mid-carders with no real chance at main-eventing a WrestleMania. Both were tremendous wrestlers, worked hard and found themselves in huge matches at WrestleMania XX. Eddie Guerrero had captured the WWE Championship by defeating Brock Lesnar and defended that title successfully at WrestleMania against Kurt Angle.
Benoit won the World Heavyweight Championship in one of the best matches in WrestleMania history against HHH and Shawn Michaels in the final bout of the evening. As Benoit celebrated his victory, Guerrero came out to join him as the confetti flew and the crowd cheered at Madison Square Garden. Awesome.
6 WrestleMania III - Hogan Celebrates A Giant Victory
You could almost put Hulk Hogan's post-match celebrations on here as their own thing, but the one at WrestleMania III was particularly special, especially for The Hulkster. Hogan versus Andre is still considered by most to be the most important match in WWE history, but nobody knew what Andre was going to do that night. Would he let Hogan win? Even Hulk knew that if Andre didn't want to lose, he wouldn't. However, Andre did let Hogan slam him and get the 1-2-3, officially passing the torch to his good friend. Overwhelmed with emotion, the tears flowed down Hogan's face in front of 93,173 screaming fans at the Super...er, Silverdome.
5 WrestleMania XXVIII - "End Of An Era"
In case the moment between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXVI wasn't enough, adding Triple H to the mix should do the trick. This was the scene at WrestleMania XXVIII. Following a solid Hell In A Cell match between HHH and 'Taker with HBK as the special guest referee, the three legends left the ring together, walked the ramp together and stood on the stage for a minute before heading to the back in a classic scene. These were three men who played a huge part in keeping WWE afloat and seeing them together one last time was a treat for all wrestling fans.
4 WrestleMania XII - The Boyhood Dream Comes True
If it's a list about WrestleMania, there's bound to be multiple Shawn Michaels references. After all, he is "Mr. WrestleMania" and he owned WrestleMania XII. Not only was his entrance one of the most memorable in WrestleMania history, but he also had a little match with Bret Hart that was one of the best of all time. Following more than an hour in the ring, watching Michaels clutch the championship while on his knees is one of the most iconic images in 'Mania history. He had dreamed of that moment and after years of stealing the show, the spotlight was finally his.
3 WrestleMania IV & VII - Savage & Liz Bring The Tears
With all due respect to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H, Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth will always be the greatest couple in wrestling history. Not only were the two married in real life for years, but they gave us some great moments over the years, especially at WrestleMania. When Savage won his first title at WrestleMania IV, he and Liz celebrated in the ring together in a truly beautiful moment (if only Hogan wouldn't have tried to steal some of that spotlight). Yet, it was their reunion
2 WrestleMania XXIV - Ric Flair Says Goodbye
"I'm sorry. I love you." With those words and one Superkick from Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair's WWE wrestling career was over. Now, the retirement ceremony the next night on RAW was something special, but the few minutes after the Flair/Michaels match at WrestleMania XXIV were special in their own right. Flair was crying before the match was even over and the tears continued as Michaels embraced him immediately after the three count. Flair then walked to the front row to hug his children, including a young Charlotte, before walking up the ramp to a thunderous ovation. I was in the arena that night and I've gotta say that I still get chills thinking about it.
1 WrestleMania XXX - Three Icons Share The Ring
Hulk Hogan, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock are three of the biggest names in the history of the industry, which made the opening of WrestleMania XXX so awesome. First of all, it was great to see Hogan back at WrestleMania after a nine-year absence. Granted, his excitement made him forget exactly which arena he was in, but that only made things better when Austin hit the ring and made fun of him for it. As the two showed a great deal of respect for one another, business only picked up when The Rock hit the ring. Having these three legends in the same ring at the same time on the 30th anniversary of the biggest wrestling event in the world was undoubtedly a huge WrestleMania moment.