NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio – For years it has been argued as to what is the best Wrestlemania ever, and which one is the worst. Well, as a lifelong fan and someone who has seen all 31 live, I can’t help but throw my opinion into the mix.
In order of best to worst and why, here they are.
WM X7 – This is widely regarded as the greatest Wrestle Mania of all time, and for good reason. It was loaded with classic matches including TLC2, Jericho vs Regal, Shane vs Vince, HHH vs Taker, The Gimmick Battle Royal, Benoit vs Angle and the greatest Main Event of all time with Stone Cold Steve Austin beating the Rock for the title, and turning heel by doing the unthinkable and siding with Vince McMahon. The card was amazing and in front of a packed house at the old Astrodome in Houston. It will take a near miracle for this to ever be overtaken as the best mania of all time.
WM19 – This classic is at the top of the draft board of those who don’t consider 17 as the best, however, you will never see it fall below number two as it was epic in stature! With a triple main event that saw Hulk Hogan vs Mr. McMahon, Stone Cold vs The Rock in Austin’s last match and Brock Lesnar beat Kurt Angle for the title, this mania had something for everyone. The undercard was stacked too with excellent matches between HHH vs Booker T and Rey Mysterio vs Matt Hardy. Not too mention one of the greatest tag matches in Mania History between Team Guerrero vs Rhyno & Benoit and The World’s Greatest tag team. The most shocking thing was that on an incredible card, the only dull match came from the Undertaker as he took on Big Show and A-train in a clunker. Every other match was excellent as Safeco Field in Seattle was on its feet throughout.
WM 25 – There must be something about huge stadiums in Texas corresponding with excellent Wrestlemanias, and this one was no different at the Reliant Astrodome in Houston. For the second time in 8 years, the WWE brought an amazing Wrestlemania to Texas. Perhaps the greatest match in the history of wrestling took place on this night as Shawn Micheals vs Undertaker took place on the biggest stage of them all for the first time. The match was an instant classic that completely overshadowed the double main even that also took place that night. Also very notable on this night was Rickey the Dragon Steamboat coming out of retirement to push Chris Jericho to his limit. Who can forget the brother vs brother match with the Hardy Boyz let alone the best MITB there has ever been that CM Punk walked away with the win for the second year in a row. A five star Wrestlemania on its silver anniversary!
WM VIII – This is another Wrestlemania that seems to get overlooked in mania lore but it was also solid and worth the watch. The night started off with three excellent matches to begin the show as HBK beat Tito Santana, The Undertaker beat Jake The Snake Roberts and Rowdy Piper dropped the IC belt to Bret Hart in an instant classic. The show was highlighted by an incredible WWF title match between two legends in their prime as Macho Man took the title off of Ric Flair in a wild one that saw a bloody nature boy plant a wet kiss on Mrs. Elizabeth. The show was capped off by a battle between the immortal Hulkster and Sid Vicous. Top to bottom, this card had it and the Hoosier Dome in Indy loved it!
WM XV – This is another Wrestlemania that took advantage of being during the Attitude ERA during which the WWE was not restricted by a rated PG limit and could really let it all hang out in which they did that night in Philly. It had everything from Butterbean knocking out Bart Gunn, to HHH turning on DX to join the corporation. It was a night full of turns actually as Chyna turned face, then back to heel. Kane turned face as well as Big Show. Undertaker hung Big Bossman from a cage while Stone Cold Steve Austin vs The Rock took place as part one of their incredible Wrestlemania trilogy. Throw in Pete Rose getting Tombstoned by Kane in a chicken suit, and this mania was a can’t miss!
WM 22 – This was an incredible show from top to bottom that had several matches worthy of stealing the show. Vince McMahon vs HBK was shockingly good and John Cena vs HHH was a great main event. Helping matters was a stacked undercard that saw Edge put Mick Foley through a flaming table and Trish Stratus pass the torch to Mickie James. An emotional tribute the night before to Eddie combined with a Bret Hart induction into the Hall of Fame gave the entire weekend a special feel. A hostile Chicago crowd rooted for heels and booed faces all night long!
WM 31 – Maybe I’m just a prisoner of the moment with what is fresh in my head, but last year’s mania from San Francisco was incredible from a card that should have been miserable to get through. Rollins cashing in the MITB was only the topping on an incredible mania. Mix in an appearance from the Rock, let alone re-appearances by DX and the NWO and this mania had everything covered. Sting finally got his Wrestlemania moment and Cena won the crowd over in an instant classic versus Rusev.
WM VII – In a Wrestlemania often overlooked, this patriotic version of the yearly classic tore down the house in Los Angeles. The retirement match between Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man is easily one of the greatest matches in mania history. Hulk Hogan defended all of America in his win against champion Sgt. Slaughter to reclaim his World Title. Who can forget the first last and only blindfold match between Rick The Model Martel and Jake The Snake Roberts? This was also the final match for legendary tag team the Hart Foundation as they dropped their WWF tag titles to The Nasty Boys.
WM 28 – With a yearlong build up to this “Once In a Lifetime Clash” between John Cena vs The Rock, it was HHH vs The Undertaker that stole the show in Miami. In a match that could have easily been ranked in the top five of mania history these two first ballot Hall of Famers kept the crowd in awe and guessing for over 30 minutes of the most dramatic action in Wrestlemania history. Cena vs The Rock and Punk vs Jericho was also great. It was a solid card from top to bottom in front of a hot crowd.
WM V – This Wrestlemania was live from Trump Plaza for the second consecutive year for the only time in history. The main event was one of the most famous of all time and one that people still talk about 25 years later as the Mega Powers exploded. It was also a tremendous undercard that saw The Ultimate Warriors ever loss, as Rick Rude beat him for the IC title. Another great match often overlooked on the card was Andre The Giant vs Jake The Snake Robert with Big John Studd as ref, mix in a run in from Ted Dibase and this was an instant classic. Also of note on the card was the return of Rowdy Roddy Piper and the Twin Towers beating the Rockers.
WM III – It was unheard of for Andre The Giant to lose a match, let alone get body slammed. Both of which occurred in front of 93,000 people in Detroit’s Pontiac Silverdome. Rickey the Dragon Steamboat took the IC title from Macho Man in what many fans consider the greatest match in pro wrestling history. Other classics saw Roddy Piper defeat and shave the head of Adorable Adrian Adonis, not to mention Harley beating JYD and The Hart Foundation with Danny Davis beating The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana. The Hercules vs Billy Jack Haynes and also Koko B Ware verus Butch Reed were solid in their own rights. Jakes the Snake vs Honky Tonk man helped spark Honky Tonk’s career.
WM XII – While this mania from Anahiem will always be remembered by the classic 60 minute Iron Man Match that saw HBK realize his boyhood dream with a win over Bret Hart for the WWF title, the rest of the card had great moments as well. Diesel was the first man to get a good match out of The Undertaker at mania, despite it being in a losing effort.
WM X – In the tenth anniversary live from MSG in New York, Owen Hart vs Bret Hart kicked it off in grand fashion. The winning putting Owen into the main event picture as he deserved. It was also very notable for the best ladder match in the history of mania as Razor Ramon beat HBK in a match that stole the show.
WM 21 – Wrestlemania went Hollywood and it was excellent. The tone of the night was set perfectly with the opening match of Eddie vs Rey Mysterio. Kurt Angle vs HBK stole the show in an epic encounter. This night also show cased John Cena winning his first WWE title over JBL and the end of Evolution at the hands Batista. Also of note was the first ever MITB match that saw Edge win and launch his career.
WM XI – A lot of people call this mania one of the worst ever, but this sportswriter does not get that logic. Diesel vs HBK was incredible and a five star title match. Bret Hart vs Bob Backlund in a submission match had the potential to be an instant classic. LT’s performance in the main event was shockingly good, which is a true testament to the incredible skill of Bam Bam Bigelow. A very cool moment as well was Owen Hart surprising everyone by introducing Yokozuna as his mystery partner to take the tag titles from the Smoking Gunns. As usual in those early days, the Undertaker match was a letdown, but the rest of the night was solid.
WM24 – Live from sunny Orlando this one brought plenty of memorable moments with it. No one will ever forget Ric Flair’s emotional retirement match against HBK. Floyd Mayweather came through in the clutch as well with a giant win over the Big Show. The MITB put CM Punk in the main event picture for the first time with the win. The battle for brand supremacy also had plenty of action with Batista beating Umaga. This mania would be ranked higher if it wasn’t for two lackluster WWE and World title matches.
WM2 – The only Wrestlemania to take place from three separate venues and be held on Monday night. Each location had a memorable main event. New York had Piper vs Mr.T in a boxing match, Chicago held a 20 man battle royal with football players and wrestlers and LA held the cage match for the title with Hogan vs Bundy. However, it was the tag title match between the British Bulldogs and The Dream Team that stole the show. It was a clinic in tag team wrestling during the hey day!
WM VI – This was a one match card. People often think it was better than it was because of Hogan vs Warrior. But, can anyone name another match from the card? It did see Demolition win it’s third tag team tile while Andre the Giant had his last match. Other than that, not much worth of note. One very sad note however, the Dusty Rhodes and Saphire vs Macho Man and Sherri match that had Mrs. Elizabeth at ringside, now has 0 living competitors .
WM IV – The tournament took place, allowing Macho Man to take his rightful place on top of the mountain when he beat The Million Dollar Man in the main event for the title. Another classic on this card often overlooked is Demolitions dominant title winning performance over Strike Force and also Ultimate Warriors first big match on PPV with a victory over Hercules.
WM1 – It all had to start somewhere, and it did from Madison Square Garden in 1985. As for quality of Wrestlemanias this one was by far the worst. What keeps it from appearing last is the sole fact that it was the first and has the nostalgia feel to it. Besides that, not much to talk about here.
WM 14 – This was the Wrestlemania that went DX themed and scored big. The Stone Cold Steve Austin era began with a big win over HBK. The undercard was loaded as well with Undertaker and Kanes first PPV clash of many. Who can forget the classic tag team title dumpster match with The New Age Outlaws taking on Funk and Foley. The best match on this card a lot of people overlook was the European title match between HHH and Owen Hart.
WM18 – This was another one match card like it’s predecessor from the Toronto Skydome at WM 6. This one match card was The Rock vs Hogan in a battle of two eras colliding that didn’t disappoint.
WM XXX – New Orleans became Yestlemania as Daniel Bryan walked away with the title after six months of battling The Authority. The streak of the Undertaker came to a close in a dominant win by Brock Lesnar. Solid mania with plenty of fun moments throughout including a very cool entrance by the Wyatt Family.
WM 23 – Ford Field in Detroit saw over 80,000 people pack the stands to witness Batista lose his World Title to The Undertaker in a match the was easily the best of the night. The Battle of the Millionaires won’t soon be forgotten as future President Donald Trump was victorious over Mr. McMahon that saw the CEO have to shave his head by special guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin.
WM IX – This widely regarded as the worst Wrestlemania of all time from Las Vegas. I couldn’t disagree more. Perhaps the logic wasn’t the best, but anytime you have two World Title changes in 2 minutes, how could you not love that. Mix in classic moments like two Doinks and Mr. Perfect being knocked out cold by Lex Luger and this mania wasn’t nearly as bad as people make it out to be.
WM XX – The 20th anniversary show from MSG was not as good as expected, with a awful Lesnar vs Goldberg match and just too many matches overall. However, the saving grace was the excellent WWE title match with Angle and Eddie. The Undertakers return fell flat as well.
The final five Wrestlemanias as the worst in history. I will try hard to shine these up, but it won’t be easy.
WM 29 – This could have been called “Predictable Mania” live from New York. Almost every outcome could be spotted a mile away. You knew Cena would get his win back against The Rock, and you also knew HHH would get his win back against Brock Lesnar. The only match worthy of watching again would be the classic between CM Punk vs The Undertaker. That match just proves how good CM Punk was, carrying the aging and broken down dead man.
WM 2000 – This show was awful. The only reason it isn’t dead last was because of the wrestling showcase put forth between Beniot, Jericho and Angle. Also, the first ever TLC match put the Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boyz and Edge & Christian on the National map.
WM 13 – If it wasn’t for the Austin vs Bret Hart submission match, this card would be stripped of it’s Wrestelamania status. The Sid vs Undertaker main event may be the worst in PPV history.
WM 27 – When Snookie is one of the top highlights of the night, you know you have trouble on your hands. The HHH vs Taker match was solid but the over exposure of The Rock kills this show. There was no need for him with the exception of a last second run in to cost Cena the main event. It was a terrible show from top to bottom. At the very least, you can indulge in Edge’s last match, if it wasn’t for a very awkward and unsettling destruction of Del Rio’s car.
WN 26 – With a card that should have been loaded, this one on paper may have been one of the best, however, it is the worst. Between Jack Swaggar struggling to get the briefcase off the hook, to the unsettling and bizarre McMahon vs Bret Hart match, this is easily the worst mania of all time. Combined with the fact that the crowd was awful, they didn’t cheer all night and it brought down the atmosphere of the whole show. They are easily the worst crowd in mania history. Making matters even worse was the terrible crowd and speeches at the Hall of Fame the night before. Just an all around despicable weekend for WWE thanks to the worst fans in the history of pro wrestling.
You can contact Vince McKee on twitter at VinceTheAuthor