Just like any other huge combat sports spectacle, WWE’s WrestleMania heavily promotes its main event. Whether the show has one or two main events, the company will do everything they can to fill up the seats and garner a loud crowd reaction. From Hulk Hogan and Mr. T beating Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff to Daniel Bryan finally winning a major title, the final matches of the Showcase Of The Immortals often reminded us of why we all love the sport, despite its scripted nature.
While most Mania main events delivered, we also saw matches that left us wondering why they went last. The Miz vs. John Cena at WrestleMania XXVII was the perfect passing of the torch moment, but WWE decided to ruin it by letting The Rock interfere. At WrestleMania 32, we expected a few surprises at the Triple H vs. Roman Reigns bout, but what we got was a long and boring match with a predictable finish. Thankfully, the undercard saved the day. These are the bouts that made us forget how awful the main events were.
Majority of the fans are already complaining about WrestleMania 33’s main event, which features two part timers, but there’s still a fragment of hope. We may see an amazing Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton fight! As we wait for the 33rd edition of the Grandest Stage Of Them All, let’s take a look at the 15 instances where the undercard matches stole the show. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels is mentioned a few times, which is proof that he is indeed Mr. WrestleMania!
15 Intercontinental Title Ladder Match – WrestleMania 32
Without a doubt, WrestleMania 32 started with a bang. The opening bout featured Kevin Owens defending his Intercontinental Title against Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, Sin Cara, The Miz, and Zack Ryder in a Ladder Match. We all know that ladder matches are exciting, and this one is certainly no exception. Each superstar was able to make an impact, and we saw plenty of impressive spots. The ladders also played a huge role throughout the match.
Almost everyone predicted that either Zayn or Owens will win, so when Zack Ryder climbed the ladder and grabbed the IC Title, it was truly an unforgettable moment. After being a jobber for most of his career, seeing the Long Island Iced Z finally win in a huge event was inspiring. The moment became even more special when his dad came to the ring and hugged him. This match saved WrestleMania 32 from being called the worst Mania of all time.
14 Bret Hart Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – WrestleMania 13
The Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid match at WrestleMania 13 is often criticized for being boring, but it’s a different story for Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Despite the poorly-received main event, WrestleMania 13 is still a classic thanks to the brutal submission match between The Rattlesnake and The Hitman. Not only did the bout show the art of technical wrestling, but it was also abundant on foreign objects. The match ended with a bloody Stone Cold passing out from the sharpshooter, declaring Bret Hart as the winner. In a shocking turn of events, the crowd turned on Hart and started cheering for Austin. It paved the way for the beginning of the renowned Attitude Era. WrestleMania is where stars are born, and this match served as proof.
13 Chris Benoit Vs. Kurt Angle Vs. Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 2000
WrestleMania 2000 is proof that things weren’t always good in the Attitude Era. Fans criticized the show for its sloppy multi-man matches, bad booking, and overexposure of the McMahon family. The only bout that received a positive response was the Two-fall Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental and European Championships between Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho, and Chris Benoit. With three supremely talented athletes in one ring, you can expect a technical wrestling masterpiece. All three wrestlers delivered, and even though the finish was still a bit disappointing, it gave us over 13 minutes of action-packed moments.
12 Rusev Vs. John Cena – WrestleMania 31
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 was a great match, but let’s face it, the real highlight was Seth Rollins cashing in his Money In The Bank briefcase. When it comes to pure wrestling, the United States Title bout between Rusev and John Cena stole the show. Not only were their entrances awesome, but both superstars also gave an impressive performance in the ring. Rusev, who was still undefeated, cemented his status as a monster heel by dominating most of the match. As for Cena, he proved that Never Give Up was not just his slogan, which led to him winning the US Championship for the second time. The storytelling of the match may be old school, but it was still effective. It also made the belt relevant again.
11 Edge Vs. Mick Foley – WrestleMania 22
The Attitude Era may be over already in 2006, but Edge and Mick Foley brought it back for us in their Hardcore Match at WrestleMania 22. We saw these legendary athletes unleash their brutal side by using cookie sheets, steel steps, street signs, and the famous barbed wire bat. Lita’s involvement also provided us with an “Oh My God!” moment. Edge won the bout after spearing Foley through a burning table, making him the official Rated R Superstar. For over 14 minutes, we were treated to a spectacle of bloodshed that we no longer see today. WrestleMania 22 will forever be remembered for this hardcore battle. Even Shawn Michaels wasn’t able to steal the show. Now that’s a rare occurrence!
10 The Undertaker Vs. CM Punk – WrestleMania 29
The rematch between John Cena and The Rock was the focus of WrestleMania 29, and even though it produced enough historic moments, casual and hardcore fans believe that the CM Punk vs. Undertaker fight was the highlight. At that time, a huge Mania match was the only thing missing in the career of CM Punk, who was still one of the most popular wrestlers in the company. So, when he was paired with the legendary Deadman, it was the perfect opportunity for him to prove why he’s the best in the world. The match lasted for over 20 minutes, and it was an instant wrestling classic. Taker showed that he still got it while Punk fought back with a vengeance. The chemistry was so good there were times when we thought Taker was actually going to lose. If you watch this match again, it will definitely make you miss the glory days of Punk as a WWE superstar.
9 TLC Match – WrestleMania X-Seven
WrestleMania X-Seven’s main event was still memorable, but only for its final image. The sight of Stone Cold Steve Austin and the evil Mr. McMahon shaking hands will be forever etched in the minds of wrestling fans. However, when it comes to the total package, the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match will always be seen as the match of the night. Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz, and The Hardy Boyz exceeded the expectations of the audience who wanted to witness an all out war. It has the necessary ingredients of an Attitude Era match, from the death-defying spots to the chaotic atmosphere. Even the multiple interferences helped the bout become even more entertaining. Up to now, people still remember the spot where Edge speared Jeff Hardy mid air. No other TLC match was able to capture the excitement of this one.
8 Shawn Michaels Vs. Razor Ramon – WrestleMania X
The tenth edition of WrestleMania is often included in the best Manias of all time lists not because of its main event, but because of its undercard. Despite being the final bout of the evening, Bret Hart vs. Yokuzna for the WWE Title wasn’t able to top the intensity of the Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon showdown. It was a Ladder Match for the Undisputed Intercontinental Championship, and both guys showed their impeccable in-ring abilities. HBK’s fast-paced moves blended well with The Bad Guy’s powerhouse style. The Heartbreak Kid performing a splash from the top of the ladder was considered groundbreaking during that time, and it is one of the reasons why he’s called Mr. WrestleMania. Without a doubt, this bout revolutionized the ladder match concept.
7 The Ultimate Warrior Vs. Randy Savage – WrestleMania VII
Who would expect a pro wrestling match to capture our hearts and put tears in our eyes? The retirement match between The Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII stole the show not only because of its back and forth action, but also because of what happened after. Savage was a heel during that time, and after losing the match, he was attacked by his manager Sherri. This prompted Miss Elizabeth, his former manager, to come to the ring and save him, which led to an emotional reunion. It made Macho Man a babyface again, and almost everyone in attendance couldn’t hold back their tears. Pro wrestling may be scripted, but this moment proved that it can still produce real emotions.
6 The Undertaker Vs. Triple H – WrestleMania XXVII
We couldn’t forget how awful The Miz vs. John Cena and Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole were, but WrestleMania XXVII wasn’t really a bad event from start to finish. Despite several cringe worthy moments, we still witnessed a brutal No Holds Barred Match between The Undertaker and Triple H. The entrances were already awesome, and the match itself proved that both guys can still go at it after all these years. From the vicious exchange of finishing moves to the use of steel chairs and a sledgehammer, the bout kept the viewers on the edge of their seats. Taker won via submission, making him 19-0 at the Grandest Stage Of Them All. WrestleMania XXVII could’ve ended on a high note if this was the match that closed the show.
5 The Rock Vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania X8
WrestleMania X8 was headlined by Triple H vs. Chris Jericho, and even though it was a great bout, it wasn’t as exciting as the Icon vs. Icon. The Rock faced off against Hollywood Hulk Hogan in a match that got the crowd hyped up all throughout. We saw two of the biggest stars in wrestling give their one hundred percent, and just the sight of them executing their finishers was enough to call it a classic. The Rock emerged victorious after a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow, and as he left the ring, the nWo attacked the Hulkster. It didn’t end well for Nash and Hall though, because The Great One decided to come back and save his opponent as a sign of respect. Indeed, this was the real main event of the night. Hogan quickly turned face and enjoyed another decent run in the company.
4 Ric Flair Vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania XXIV
Just like VII, WrestleMania XXIV also gave us a tear-jerking moment. The Career Threatening Match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels may not be the main event, but it certainly looked like it should’ve been. Despite Flair’s age, he still managed to show off his wrestling skills flawlessly. HBK also delivered, proving that he is the Show Stopper. The match had a lot of counters and near falls, which made the crowd go even wilder.
Michaels was ready to do a third Sweet Chin Music, but before executing the move, he uttered the words “I’m sorry! I love you!” to the Nature Boy. When the ref counted to three, tears flowed down from Flair’s eyes, realizing that it was his final match. He received a well-deserved standing ovation and then, he went ringside to hug his family. That’s what you call a WrestleMania moment.
3 The Undertaker Vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania XXV
Do you remember the Triple H vs. Randy Orton match at WrestleMania XXV? If your answer is no, then we certainly understand. WrestleMania XXV’s main event wasn’t as magnificent as the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker match. These two superstars are known as the show stealers of Mania, and they proved it in this bout. HBK and The Deadman wrestled for over 30 minutes, hyping up the crowd with vicious strikes, high flying maneuvers, and thrilling exchanges of finishing moves. Undertaker won the match after a Tombstone Piledriver, and everyone was left in awe. The 25th anniversary of WrestleMania will be remembered as the night when Taker and HBK went all out. It’s the type of match that may even attract non wrestling fans to the product.
2 Randy Savage Vs. Ricky Steamboat – WrestleMania III
Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre The Giant at the main event of WrestleMania III was a memorable sight, but you have to admit that the match was lackluster. The epic battle between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat is what made the third Mania a classic. It was for the Intercontinental Championship, and was one of the first to feature technical wrestling at its finest. Back and forth action and near falls were still relatively new during that time, so when Savage and Steamboat executed them with perfection, the crowd loved it instantly. The Dragon won after a Small Package, establishing himself as a top star. Apart from the fans, many wrestlers today also believe that it is the greatest WrestleMania match of all time. Savage and Steamboat basically invented the term “stealing the show”.
1 Shawn Michaels Vs. Kurt Angle - WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania 21 was all about making John Cena and Batista huge stars, and while the WWE was successful, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle proved that they’re still the best wrestlers. Because of the predictability and the slow pace of the main events, fans often say that the Heartbreak Kid vs. the Olympic Gold Medalist was the match of the night. Just like any other HBK bout, we witnessed back and forth action and a few impressive counters. Angle was also able to show his technical wrestling skills, which was enough to get the victory. The olympian made Michaels tap out of the ankle lock, and the rest is history. Despite the loss, the crowd at the Staples Center still gave HBK a standing ovation. Will we see another undercard match stealing the show at WrestleMania 33? We’ll just have to wait a few more days to find out.