WrestleMania has become bigger than anyone could have imagined. WWE’s yearly mega-show is now on par with the Super Bowl among the biggest attractions of the year with various cities battling it out with sales pitches to earn the rights to have WrestleMania take place in their stadiums. The power of the event brings many tourists and boosts the local economy in a big way. It would have been nearly unbelievable years twenty years ago to imagine a pro wrestling show having such a cultural impact but WWE has branded it perfectly. Casual fans, diehard fans, talent, stockholders and everyone involved views WrestleMania as the biggest weekend of the year.
Pro wrestling gets its own special weekend with various events running to give the fan base the chance to take in the experience over multiple days. The show itself is also pretty great. Wrestlers work all year to get to the honor of participating in WrestleMania. Considering wrestling is scripted by those in charge of the company, the ultimate payoff for their work is getting the chance to showcase their talent in front of tens of thousands in the venue and millions at home. WWE stars get to work in front of large audiences often but this is a special difference and the wrestlers try their best leave an impact with a “WrestleMania moment.”
As we’ll see on this list, there are a few wrestlers that have used WrestleMania to create their legacy with storied matches and memorable moments. The show has seen wrestlers become superstars with crowning moments and guys lower on the card catapult themselves into a bigger role with a clutch performance. Everyone has the goal of stealing the show and we’re going to look at those that actually did it. Over the thirty-one WrestleMania shows up to this date, one talent has stood out as the best performer of the night. We’ll break down each specific show and select the MVP of each WrestleMania in WWE history now.
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31 WrestleMania 1: Vince McMahon
Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Roddy Piper all deserve credit for their pivotal roles in the success of the first WrestleMania, but Vince McMahon’s vision was the most important factor in getting the concept running. McMahon’s vision was before his time and he forced the time to catch up to him by bringing pro wrestling to mainstream America. Celebrities were utilized and the biggest wrestling show in the world benefited from having its own version of the Super Bowl. The idea could have easily failed given how limited wrestling’s outreach used to be, but McMahon took the chance and changed the business forever.
30 WrestleMania II: Hulk Hogan
WrestleMania II started the trend of Hulk Hogan having a WWE title match in the main event of the big show every year. Hogan successfully defended the title against King Kong Bundy in a cage match to cap off the mega-event featured with matches taking place and being broadcasted in three different venues. The match was lackluster but it showed the star power of Hogan was here to stay and he would be the main attraction that the show was built around going forward. No matches on this show stood out as anything special, as it was carried by the spectacle and marketing.
29 WrestleMania III: Ricky Steamboat
The most memorable match at WrestleMania III is a controversial topic with two schools of thought having very different opinions. The main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant is often remembered for the spectacle of the magical bodyslam but the right answer is definitely the Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat. Future stars were inspired by the latter and it still lives on today as one of the most celebrated matches of all time, rather than just skipping to a bodyslam spot. Steamboat was an all-time great in-ring performer but never was spotlighted as a WWE main eventer, so this was his only true chance to shine and he sure delivered. The match improved the future of WWE with the work rate becoming more important after these two stole the show.
28 WrestleMania IV: Randy Savage
The idea of having a one-night tournament to crown a new WWE Champion at WrestleMania IV was exciting on paper, but turned out to be a disaster. Sixteen matches were featured on the show and only two of them went over ten minutes. The only positive memory to take from it was Randy Savage finally winning the WWE Title and getting to shine as a rare face champ not named Hulk Hogan. Savage wrestled four different matches and deserved the accomplishment after he had a long night working against various styles in each bout. WrestleMania IV was the story of Savage finally getting his moment under the spotlight in WWE as a beloved superstar.
27 WrestleMania V: Randy Savage
The showdown between Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan finally took place at WrestleMania V. Savage embraced the villain role,claiming Hogan was lusting after Miss Elizabeth. The match was highly entertaining and that was definitely due to Savage more than Hogan. Savage showed his prowess as a top tier in-ring performer and gave Hogan one of his better matches at the time. The character work by Savage also added quite a bit to the match, as his heel demeanor would create a conflict that the fans could buy into. Hogan is always rightfully referred to as the top star from the era but Savage deserves to be mentioned as a 1A.
26 WrestleMania VI: Hulk Hogan
No one will ever consider Hulk Hogan as one of the best at leading opponents to a great match, but his star power was unquestioned. WrestleMania VI was a rare case of both the larger than life character and a strong work ethic in the ring leading to a memorable match. The Ultimate Warrior was gaining popularity as a main event face that the fans wanted to see become champion. The billing of Hogan vs. Warrior featured two beloved heroes battling and Hogan actually did the job taking the loss cleanly. While Hogan was clearly limited in the ring, Warrior was far worse and it forced Hogan to work harder in an attempt to carry the match to success.
25 WrestleMania VII: Randy Savage
Despite not getting the main event spot, Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior created a main event level attraction match. The limited Warrior delivered a rare classic and it was clear that Savage carried him to such a fantastic match at WrestleMania VII. Savage is even more loved today by long time wrestling fans that view him as an all-time great and this match is a work of art that shows his case. The match was a roller coaster ride of action and emotions. The fans entered the match loathing the heel Savage, but ended up adoring him at the end with his face turnafter reuniting with Miss Elizabeth. Savage’s star performance was one of the best in WrestleMania history.
24 WrestleMania VIII: Bret Hart
The cluster of the WrestleMania VIII double main event featuring Hulk Hogan vs. Sid and Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage failed to leave a lasting impact. In what would become a trend for the next few years of big WWE shows, Bret Hart had the best match of the night. Hart retained the Intercontinental Championship by defeating Piper and started his momentum towards the upper echelon of WWE. The typical WWE main eventer had a bodybuilding physique, a larger than life personality and was usually not capable at creating great wrestling matches. Bret Hart was the exception and changed the perception of a star in WWE. WrestleMania VIII was the first signs of the change occurring with the best match of the night.
23 WrestleMania IX: Bret Hart
WrestleMania IX was horrible. No memorable matches occurred and the only noteworthy thing to happen was the announcers having to wear togas. Bret Hart wins the spot for the top performer on this show because of what he endured. The face usually would win the world title main event to close WrestleMania, but Hart took the loss to the sumo-sized Yokozuna. To make matters worse, Hulk Hogan made an abrupt match against Yokozuna to win the title seconds later. Hart looked like a fool and Hogan walked away with the gold, stealing the moment. The fact that Hart did the business and didn’t melt down on that night earns him the best performer of the night of the terrible show.
22 WrestleMania X: Shawn Michaels
Much like Bret Hart’s rise to the top of WWE, his eventual rival Shawn Michaels would follow the same path. Michaels was one of the smaller headliners in WWE at the time but his unparalleled in-ring skills would take him to the world title picture. WrestleMania X was Michaels coming out party as he put on a legendary Ladder Match with Razor Ramon. The debut of the ladder in WWE created a new exciting game changer when it came to gimmick matches and Michaels’ performance at WrestleMania X allowed that. Michaels is often referred to as “Mr. WrestleMania” for his incredible performances on the big show and this was the birth of that.
21 WrestleMania XI: Bam Bam Bigelow
The best match at WrestleMania XI was the WWE Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Diesel but the best performer was Bam Bam Bigelow. In a rare case, the title wasn’t the main event but rather NFL star Lawrence Taylor faced Bigelow to close the show. The mainstream appeal of seeing the celebrity wrestle in an actual match gave WWE a box office attraction but the pressure was all on Bigelow to make it look credible. Bigelow stepped up his game and delivered an outstanding performance to convince the audience that Taylor wasn’t a joke by leading the match to a serviceable result. Bam Bam should have been pushed harder in the future for his work here.
20 WrestleMania XII: Bret Hart
WrestleMania XII is remembered for the classic Iron Man Match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. Both in-ring masters were given an hour to close the show in a straight up wrestling contest. There were no weapons, no loud promos or silly gimmicks involved. The two wrestled for over an hour to prove who was the better man and it worked. Hart and Michaels both deserve credit for their efforts in the difficult spot but Hart would be classified as the MVP of this show. Michaels was the one to walk out as champion but Hart lived up to his name as The Excellence Of Execution by controlling the pace and showing facial expressions that sold the story of making fans want Michaels to win the title.
19 WrestleMania 13: Bret Hart
Bret Hart managed to top his prior WrestleMania heroics and gave us arguably the best pro wrestling match of all time at WrestleMania 13 against Steve Austin. The match was the perfect combination of violence, athletics, storytelling and star power. Hart changed from face to heel and Austin elevated himself from popular heel to top face by the end of the match with a masterful double swerve. Both men were superstars on this night but Hart should be credited as the top performer in the match. Hart was on top of his game as a wrestling genius and did just enough to allow the fans to organically push the double turn rather than overdo it like most wrestlers would do.
18 WrestleMania XIV: Steve Austin
The ascension of Steve Austin may have started at WrestleMania 13 but the crowning moment was at WrestleMania XIV when he defeated Shawn Michaels to become the WWE Champion. Michaels’ injury issues prevented him from delivering his best effort but Austin still came off like an absolute megastar by defeating him to win his first WWE Title. The guest referee, Mike Tyson, created an incredible atmosphere that brought new fans over to the product and Austin used the situation to show why this was now his company. WrestleMania XIV was the perfect execution of someone organically and slowly becoming the face of the franchise. WWE should watch this back and realize why Roman Reigns isn’t working.
17 WrestleMania XV: Steve Austin
Everyone remembers The Attitude Era fondly but this show perfectly sums up what it was truly like. The undercard was a disaster with nothing of note. Poor writing and overrated talents gave us an extremely forgettable show until the main event of Steve Austin vs. The Rock. The star power carried The Attitude Era to the promise land along with catering to what society wanted from a character perspective. Austin was still red hot and this was basically just marketed around him kicking ass to get revenge on The Rock and Vince McMahon. The Rock emerged as a star but he wasn’t on the level of Austin yet and this match showcased that with Austin reminding us why he was the biggest star in WWE history at his peak.
16 WrestleMania 2000: Jeff Hardy
Six men managed to steal the show at WrestleMania 2000 with a truly innovative concept. Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boyz and The Dudley Boyz squared off in a triangle ladder match but added in tables and chairs to the mix as well. While it wasn’t billed as a TLC match, it was what caused the invention later on with this amazing effort. The three teams delivered an all-time classic by dazzling fans with aerial displays and brutality. Jeff Hardy would get higher priority as the star of the match due to an unbelievable Swanton Bomb from the top off a ladder onto Bubba Ray through a table on the stage.
15 WrestleMania X-Seven: Steve Austin
Many believe WrestleMania X-Seven was the greatest wrestling show of all time due to the memorable matches, star power and large crowd. The entire card was stacked with a Hall of Fame worthy talent in each match. The very fitting main event featured Steve Austin squaring off with The Rock in a battle of the two biggest stars in WWE history. Both men were beloved and at the top of their game. The match was stupendous and ended with Austin turning heel. That decision was highly questionable and Austin even regrets it but he wrestled that match perfectly. Austin showed the intensity and aggression that set the story that he would do anything to win, including aligning with Vince McMahon to defeat The Rock.
14 WrestleMania X8: Hulk Hogan
The WWE roster was pretty loaded at WrestleMania X8, but it resulted in a disappointing show with the only standout match featuring the dream bout of The Rock facing Hulk Hogan. The New World Order returned to the WWE with Hogan playing the heel but the Canadian fans at WrestleMania X8 cheered him like a hero out of respect for his legacy. Hogan worked to the crowd’s desire while not completely ruining The Rock’s standing as a face. Some would say the veteran turned back the clock but his efforts here were more impressive than most of his work in his prime. Hogan delivered a once in a lifetime performance that fans still talk about today.
13 WrestleMania XIX: Shawn Michaels
WrestleMania XIX had a top-heavy card with five main event caliber matches and you can argue which match was the best. Most would agree Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho delivered the best one with Michaels making his return to WrestleMania after a five-year absence. Jericho got the chance to wrestle his childhood hero and it did not fail to deliver with the two telling a great story in between the stellar action. It was the most complete match on the card and reminded us why Michaels was the best in-ring performer when at his peak. The comeback story of Shawn Michaels was great when he faced Triple H in late 2002 but this WrestleMania XIX match put him back on the map at “The Showstopper.”
12 WrestleMania XX: Eddie Guerrero
The double main event of WrestleMania XX gave us two incredible bouts for the world titles. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels was great but Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle was the better match at the end of the day. The former used blood and table spots which are fine but Guerrero and Angle worked a traditional match to entertain the fans with the same result. Guerrero was at the peak of his career as champion at WrestleMania, finding a way to get to the top of the WWE. Many of today’s stars name Guerrero as a major influence and that was due to nights like this where he was arguably the best of all time.
11 WrestleMania 21: Kurt Angle
For the second consecutive year, Kurt Angle stole the show at WrestleMania with a classic match against Shawn Michaels. The dream match was third in the pecking order behind the two world title matches at WrestleMania 21 but it blew them out of the water. Michaels and Angle have to be in the top five when discussing the best in-ring performers in WWE history and this match perfectly captured why. The art created in the ring delivered one of the most must-see matches in WrestleMania history. Angle was a little bit better of a performer than Michaels at this point and made this his WrestleMania moment as opposed to just another five-star HBK match.
10 WrestleMania 22: Edge
Chicago hosted WrestleMania 22 and the card was quite solid with an array of enjoyable matches. However, the match of the night was absolutely Edge vs. Mick Foley in a Street Fight. Edge won his first WWE Championship months prior but lost it as the company didn’t feel he should be above John Cena or Triple H in the title match. The jilted star channeled his frustrations into making his WrestleMania match against Foley a classic hardcore brawl that culminated with the flaming table spot. Foley gave his all to help get Edge over, but Edge having such a great match with an older, retired wrestler showed us just how amazing he was.
9 WrestleMania 23: Shawn Michaels
Shawn Michaels had yet another classic performance at WrestleMania 23 in the main event against John Cena for the WWE Championship. The original plans were to feature Cena against Triple H in a rematch of the prior year’s main event, but an injury to Triple H led to Michaels replacing him. It ended up working out for the better as Michaels’ streak of delivering the goods on the biggest stage continued. This is still the best WrestleMania match Cena has participated in and Michaels definitely deserves more credit for bringing his wrestling genius to it. WWE should have went with the title change to better the story and moment, but even with Cena retaining, it was a spectacular match.
8 WrestleMania XXIV: Shawn Michaels
Surprise: Shawn Michaels did it again. WrestleMania XXIV was one of the better WrestleMania shows of the decade and the best match of the night featured Ric Flair retiring after losing to Michaels. Everyone knows Flair is one of the all-time greats but he was a shell of his former greatness at this point. The aging star was able to give enough for a final classic and that was due to working with The Heartbreak Kid. Michaels did everything in his power to send his former hero off in grand fashion and he surely succeeded. The emotion, action and storytelling were perfectly executed with Michaels once again being the MVP of WrestleMania.
7 WrestleMania XXV: The Undertaker
Shawn Michaels was once again featured in the match of the night at WrestleMania XXV, but The Undertaker was the star of the show in their legendary match. This match would finish high in any poll looking at the greatest WWE matches of all time with the two icons leaving it all in the ring for a once in a life memory. The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak being on the line made it all the more incredible and the fans were red hot for every second. For all the classic matches during the streak, this was Taker’s best performance. The Undertaker actually fell on his head doing a dive to the outside in the middle of the match but somehow got past the pain to give us the epic performance.
6 WrestleMania XXVI: Shawn Michaels
The highly anticipated rematch between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI was not as spectacular as the prior year’s bout, but they once again had a classic to deliver the match of the night. Michaels retired after the match as per the stipulation and wrestled like it was his last match, showing everything we loved about the one of a kind talent. At one point, Michaels actually did a moonsault from the top rope onto The Undertaker lying on the commentary table. The action and mannerisms expressed by Michaels were of a man desperate to give anything to continue his career. No one could match Michaels as a wrestling artist.
5 WrestleMania XXVII: The Undertaker
Following the two epic matches against Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak became the main selling point of the show. It was obviously a big deal before but those two matches made it more significant than anything else going on in the company. Triple H tried to challenge the streak by giving us another battle of icons and The Undertaker match once again was the high point of the show. Everything else T Wrestlemania xxvii was either average (Edge/Alberto Del Rio) or horrible (Miz/Cena) so the appeal of the streak and two legends battling saved the show. tHE Undertaker would take the damage of three Pedigree finishers, a Spinebuster through the commentary table and about a dozen chair shots in the match before saving the streak with the win.
4 WrestleMania XXVIII: The Undertaker
Once again, The Undertaker’s streak was the high point at Wrestlemania 28 in a rematch inside Hell in a Cell with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. The idea of Triple H getting another crack ‘Taker rather than a new opponent was criticized at the time but they proved everyone wrong with one of the best Wrestlemania matches ever. The brutality exhibited in the cell was only topped by the emotion shown in the storytelling between all three men. 78,363 fans collectively gasped in Sun Life Stadium when Michaels hit a Superkick and Triple H delivered the Pedigree before Undertaker kicked out. WWE’s gatekeeper continued his miracle run as the man to give us the peak Wrestlemania moment.
3 WrestleMania 29: The Undertaker
The Undertaker would enter a different program than we became used to at WrestleMania 29 with CM Punk. Rather than the prior four years based on competition, Punk exploited the death of Paul Bearer as a way to make the WrestleMania bout more personal. The Undertaker once again had the match of the night as compared to the other two bouts in the triple main event. Many already consider WrestleMania 29 among the more disappointing shows in Wrestle<ania history and it would be severely lower if not for the magical ‘Taker match. The next two years of Wrestlemania would feature disappointing Undertaker matches, so this could be considered the final great moment in the streak.
2 WrestleMania XXX: Daniel Bryan
WWE fans fell in love with Daniel Bryan but WWE management didn’t think he was worthy of the world title or a WrestleMania main event. Bryan was scheduled to be in a lower card match against Sheamus but fans hijacking the shows with rejecting of the likes of Batista, forced WWE to add Bryan to the match. Bryan defeated Triple H in an amazing opener at WrestleMania XXX to earn his place in the main event again Orton and Batista. The unlikely hero would finally get crowned on the biggest stage in two outstanding matches. Despite the sadness of injuries piling up after this night and his retirement coming recently, Bryan and his fans will always have WrestleMania XXX to remember how special his journey was.
1 WrestleMania 31: Brock Lesnar
Roman Reigns was the #1 contender entering WrestleMania 31 and no one wanted to see him get crowned in the main event of the huge show. Does that sound familiar?
The fear was fans hijacking the match with negative chants similar to Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania XX due to both hatred of Reigns and rumors of Lesnar leaving WWE once again for UFC. Lesnar announced days prior to the show that he would be re-signing with WWE and it added a new dynamic to the match. The fans were completely into the idea of Lesnar decimating Reigns until Seth Rollins cashed in his MITB title shot to become WWE Champion. All three men were money but Lesnar’s dominance provided an outstanding main event no one could have expected heading into WrestleMania 31.
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