Did you know that wrestling isn’t real? Just to get that one out of way to nullify some of the comments that will undoubtedly follow this piece.
Wrestling is a form of entertainment. It combines incredible physical talent with clever storytelling and culminates in one of the biggest events in a calendar year. Just because you can’t accept that, does not mean it’s untrue.
For those who don’t need conversion and understand the true value of this spectacle, happy WrestleMania weekend. Granted this is the most unique edition thus far, but most, like myself, it will still go down in the record books as a renewal and that in and of itself is worth noting.
It’s a time to celebrate a staple of our lives, and what better way do so than by listing the very best matches in the history of the event? Here are the ten best bouts to ever take place at the Granddaddy of them all.
10 – Bret Hart v Owen Hart – WrestleMania 10
Two brothers. Actual brothers now – not Kane and Undertaker.
This was a culmination of two siblings who spent their entire childhoods practising with each other for this very moment and what resulted was one of the more special moments in the history of the event.
And that’s not to say that the emotion overrode the actual quality – these two deserved to be top billing.
9 -Eddie Guerrero v Kurt Angle – WrestleMania 20
This match was the coming-of-age party of Eddie and his actual ascent to the top table – something which so many believed him capable of.
But if you can find a better pairing of wrestlers who can combine both technical ability and storytelling, I’d like you to present them to me.
A true clinic in how to get over, as well as how to perfectly execute a script with interlinked character moments, Eddie and Kurt produced in what I believe is one of the most underrated Manias of all time.
8 – The Undertaker v Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 26
Relax, relax. This is the second one. That might save me from being lynched.
This entry doesn’t quite need an explanation because – and I mean major spoiler alert – this match may appear again further down the line.
7 – TLC 2 – WrestleMania 17
I understand this is actually called X-7, but I won’t be a strange fish and hold you to it.
This list will largely feature singles matches and for every reason: the stories are better when you’re clashing two individual characters.
But tag-team wrestling gets a rough ride sometimes. You can implement match dynamics into these that you simply can’t in singles bouts, and this brought together the three iconic tag teams of a generation: Edge and Christian, the Dudleys and the Hardys.
Oh, and they’re diving off ladders, through tables, while hitting each other with chairs in between.
Chaos. Beautiful, beautiful chaos.
6 – Shawn Michaels v Ric Flair – WrestleMania 24
“I’m sorry, I love you” – and just like that, Ric Flair’s career was over.
The quality of the match was still sort of there, although an old Shawn Michaels had to carry an older Ric Flair on his back through most of it, leading it to be off-pace.
But this had the best build-up to any match, simply because it was plucking at heartstrings. You’ll generally find that matches that have the biggest impacts are when generational stars collide and this is the biggest example of that.
5 – The Rock v Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania 18
See the above? Yeah, copy and paste for here, except magnify it by a thousand.
The Rock and Hogan were not the best pure wrestlers of their respective eras – not even close, some would argue.
But they were the poster boys for the company and you can’t truly get over one until he’s been buried by the next. That’s a long-standing wrestling tradition, and this did exactly that.
It’s probably the last time it happened, too. Wrestling lost its way with his etiquette soon after.
4 – Shawn Michaels v Bret Hart – WrestleMania 12
An iron man match.
This was groundbreaking and it went on for an hour. Try and think of the physical shape you need to be in to actually land something like this.
And it wasn’t boring; it didn’t drag. It absolutely should have.
But these, again, were the two best performers of a generation and this match is perhaps lost in time a small bit because of the Montreal Screwjob.
Two absolute technicians.
3 – Stone Cold v Bret Hart – WrestleMania 13
The hardest thing to do a scriptwriter is to convince people a good guy has become a bad guy and vice versa.
If you watch this match, it’s quite clear from crowd reaction that Austin was the heel and Hart was the babyface.
But by the end of this trojan battle in which Austin never gave up and actually bled during Hart’s sharpshooter until he passed out, the fans had turned.
This match was technically fine, but you very rarely see something so well scripted come to fruition like that.
2 – Stone Cold v The Rock – WrestleMania 17
To me, this is the pinnacle of my childhood.
Liverpool and Man United was replaced by Stone Cold and The Rock in the playground. You were either one or the other, and nobody failed to have an opinion.
I still don’t watch Dwayne Johnson’s films out of bitterness because I was so pro-Austin.
This match also had the biggest surprise heel turn in the history of the business. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please watch it.
Two years of television turned on its arse to the shock of millions.
1 – The Undertaker v Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25
I can’t even begin to talk about this match without getting emotional. And for some reason, if you’re a non-believer, and you’ve made it this far – please just watch it.
These two men are the most iconic names in WrestleMania history and this is them fighting out the best piece of professional wrestling I’ve ever seen.