Wrestlemania is the biggest highlight in every wrestling fan’s calendar. This long-running event holds so many moments that we all cherish and will remember for as long as we live. So as we gear up for this year’s show of shows in Orlando, I’m looking at all of the various different aspects that make the biggest PPV in wrestling so special.
WWE loves to promote the concept of ‘Wrestlemania Moments’ – while they do sound like a corny marketing scheme, they certainly hold a lot of memories for a lot of people. Wrestlemania is the home to many of our most cherished, fond wrestling memories (and it’s also home to some terrible memories, like Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler), so much so that I couldn’t limit this list to just ten. So here they are, my Top 15 Favourite Wrestlemania Moments.
15. I’m Sorry, I Love You – Wrestlemania 24
It’s a moment that touched wrestling fans’ hearts around the world. Those five words, followed by a superkick, marked the end of the legendary career of the 16 time world champion in the most emotional way possible (let’s just pretend those TNA matches never happened.)
14. Three Legends, One Ring – Wrestlemania 30
It started with a hilarious string of mistakes by one Mr 24 Inch Pythons, then out came the Texas Rattlesnake, and then Rock The Dwayne Johnson. Three of the biggest names in wrestling in the same ring sharing a few cans – what an iconic way to start one hell of a Wrestlemania.
- A Hellacious Leap of Faith – Wrestlemania 32
Shane McMahon was always one of my favourites as a child for one simple reason – he’s fucking crazy. His willingness to dive from ridiculous heights and destroy his body in the most spectacular of ways left me in awe. So when he made his surprise return last year, and dove from that ridiculously large cell onto an announce table (bah gawd!), it brought back a whole stream of memories for me. Yes, the match itself wasn’t exactly a show-stealer, but seeing this man ascend and then quickly descend from the gigantic metal structure after so many years was both slightly terrifying, and extremely nostalgic for me.
12. Undertaker Diving Over the Top Rope – Wrestlemania 25
Watching a man of that stature, both physically and within the hierarchy of the wrestling world, is truly a sight to behold. From the height the Deadman achieves, the cameraman not successfully catching him, and Undertaker’s ability to flip his body at the last minute so he didn’t land on his neck and actually become a dead man, everything about this sequence is scarily spectacular.
11. The Crimson Mask – Wrestlemania 13
Austin’s bloody face screaming in agony from his second Wrestlemania match is one of the most iconic images in WWE history. Red poured from Austin’s skin as he refused to give up to Bret’s Sharpshooter, until he eventually passed out, and the match ended. As that bell rung, it was obvious that a star had been born.
- Icon vs Icon – Wrestlemania 18
Watching two of the biggest names in wrestling square off in the middle of the ring as the crowd around them erupted with electricity was an incredible sight, and no matter how many times I see it, it’s enough to give me goosebumps.
- Zack Ryder Finally Got His Moment – Wrestlemania 32
In 2016, Zack Ryder finally got his wish – he heard his entrance music played at Wrestlemania. It wasn’t much to ask for, given that he’d been with the company for the better part of a decade, but he finally heard it. However, that wasn’t the original plan. Zack was only added to this Intercontinental Ladder Match pretty much at the last minute as the WWE roster was suffering from a plague of injuries. As such, the chances of the Long Island Iced Z lifting the belt at the end of the night seemed non-existent. But just as it looked like The Miz was going to become Intercontinental Champion once again (which he did the night after on Raw), Zack ascended the ladder, pushed off the a-lister, and pulled down the white strap to win the match to the surprise and delight of everyone. One of the most underutilised talents in WWE finally got the Wrestlemania moment he deserved after years of waiting, and he got to hear his music played for the second time ever at the show of shows as a champion.
8. One Last Show of Life – Wrestlemania 26
Career vs Streak – the rematch to what many consider the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time. Undertaker loomed over a destroyed heartbreak kid. He slit his throat in trademark fashion to signify that the end was near, when suddenly, Michaels showed signs of life. The legend staggered to his feet, which left Taker in a state of complete shock. Using his rival’s body to prop himself up, Shawn responded with a throat slit of his own, and with the last of his energy, gave the Deadman one hell of a slap. Taker responded with a devastating, leaping Tombstone Piledriver, and thus marked the end of an incredible career. That moment is wrestling storytelling at its best.
7. That RKO – Wrestlemania 31
Just look at it. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Slithering Randy, but this sequence is a pure work of art. Simply stunning.
6. That Spear – Wrestlemania 17
From one spectacular move, to another. The image of Jeff Hardy hanging from the tag team belts as Edge leapt from a ladder and speared him mid-air is embedded every wrestling fan’s brain. We’ve seen it so many times, but this move never loses its impact. It’s been fifteen years since it happened, and I’m sure in another fifteen years, this Wrestlemania moment will still be talked about and shown every year.
5. That Other Spear – Wrestlemania 22
And from one spear, to another. Five years after the previous entry, Edge decided he wanted to ramp up the extreme factor, to create an even greater Wrestlemania spear. He leapt through the ropes and speared the hardcore legend Mick Foley off the ring apron and onto a flaming table below. The visual was brutally stunning. I couldn’t believe what I had witnessed when I first saw this unfold in front of my young eyes. Not only was Edge’s act of extreme brutality an incredible sight, it also meant that one of my favourite wrestlers of all time, Mick Foley, finally got his Wrestlemania moment, and still to this day, it remains one of my favourites.
4. The Billionaire’s Finger – Wrestlemania 22
I’ve already spoken at length about Shawn Michaels vs Vince McMahon previously (which you can read here), but in summary, this was one brutal match. Michaels dominated throughout, leaving Vince motionless and bloody by the end of it. Following the three count, paramedics leapt to the ring, and placed the billionaire’s lifeless carcass onto as stretcher. As they wheeled him up the ramp, Vince suddenly showed a single sign of life. He couldn’t life up his head, he couldn’t speak, all he could do was stick his middle finger in the air and give one last “fuck you” to the man he despised so much. For me, this is one of the greatest visuals in Wrestlemania history.
3. 21-1 – Wrestlemania 30
I’m not for or against the streak ending – I have no problem with the fact it did end, but then again I would have been perfectly fine if it remained intact forever. Needless to say though, I was not expecting this to happen at Wrestlemania 30. Nobody was. The reason why this moment is one of my favourites is because of the reaction of everyone watch. The arena suddenly went silent. The cameras cut to see a shocked faces. Every single person in the pub I was in at the time could not believe what had just happened. History had come to an end before our very eyes, and nobody saw it coming. A moment like this is completely unheard of in modern wrestling. The doors to the wrestling industry are wide open, so a true surprise is a very rare thing these days, but this left everyone truly stunned, and that’s why I love it.
2. The Architect Cashes In – Wrestlemania 31
Going into the main event of Wrestlemania 31, most people weren’t really expecting much – Brock vs Roman didn’t sound like the most exciting of championship bouts, but how wrong we were. The battle between these two juggernauts turned out to be surprisingly great, full of physicality. Just as it seemed as though the match couldn’t get much better, some familiar music started playing, and the crowd leapt to their feet. Seth Rollins came charging down the ramp, cashed in his money in the bank briefcase, and went on to win the WWE Championship in the newly sanctioned Triple Threat Match. Despite it being around 5am when this happened, I screamed out with joy at the top of my lungs, and began pacing around the room with excitement. I honestly couldn’t sleep for another hour and a half because of how this had completely caught me off guard in the most amazing of ways. It was a truly monumental moment, and one of the best endings to any Wrestlemania.
Rey Mysterio Winning the World Heavyweight Championship – Wrestlemania 22: As an eleven year old WWE fan, obviously I absolutely love Rey Mysterio, so watching him win the World Heavyweight Championship was really a special moment for young, hairless me.
Cesaro Winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal – Wrestlemania 30: Sadly, this big win didn’t really lead to anything, but the prospect of Cesaro finally getting a big push was exciting, and watching him pick up Big Show was amazing.
Unveiling the Women’s Championship – Wrestlemania 32: A beautiful belt that signified a long-overdue change in the WWE.
McMahon Having his Head Shaven – Wrestlemania 23: Turns out Vinny Mac has a small, peanut-like head.
Hogan Slamming Andre – Wrestlemania 3: Obviously this moment is a little before my time, but in terms of historical significance, it may be the most important Wrestlemania moment ever. Even for those of us who weren’t watching at the time, seeing that arena rise to their feet and erupt with excitement is a fantastic sight to behold.
The End of an Era – Wrestlemania 28: Three legends stood together after one hell of a match. That’s goosebump material right there.
- The Unthinkable Happens at YEStlemania – Wrestlemania 30
Daniel Bryan’s world title win is possibly my favourite wrestling moment I have ever witnessed, not just at Wrestlemania. The magic behind this monumental victory was the fact that it really wasn’t supposed to happen. Going into the event, Bryan was the biggest star on the roster – crowds were erupting in “YES!” chants every single week, and the wrestling world had embraced him in their hearts. He appealed to everyone – his technical mastery and indie credentials pleased more hardcore fans, whilst his personality and infectious chants drew in kids and casuals alike. Everyone was talking about Daniel Bryan, apart from WWE creative.
Despite being the most over guy in the entire company, Bryan was not entered into the 2014 Royal Rumble, and once the fans in attendance realised this, they began to revolt. Boos reigned down for the remainder of the match, and for weeks to come. It was clear to everyone watching that this should be Daniel’s year, yet WWE were still obsessed with pushing part-time performers, to the point where it blinded them from the star they had. However, after weeks and weeks of fans voicing their opinion and displaying their love for the former world champion, WWE finally decided to place Daniel into the main event. Not only did he beat Triple H in the opening contest, Daniel managed to capture the WWE World Heayweight Championship in a fantastic main event triple threat match, and the whole world exploded with joy.
And that’s exactly what makes this moment so special – this would never had happened if it wasn’t for us, the fans. It really felt like we had made a different, we had made that happen for an extremely talented performer that was more than deserving of the main event of Wrestlemania. Our collective voice caused WWE to completely change the main event of their biggest show of the year, and as a result, one of my favourite ever wrestlers got to experience the most beautifully emotional Wrestlemania moment in history.
The best moments in wrestling are built upon real emotion and hardships, and nothing encapsulates those two things more than this. Unfortunately for us all, Bryan’s career would sadly be cut short less than two years after this night, but even though he didn’t get the chance to provide us with more magical Mania moments, he already gave us the greatest of them, YEStlemania.
What’s your favourite Wrestlemania moment? Let me know in a comment below or tweet me @HairyWrestling