For years, there has been no professional wrestling event more celebrated, anticipated, and iconic than WWE’s WrestleMania. The annual pay-per-view event has been an entertainment staple since its birth in 1985. The event often features celebrity guests, live music performances, awe-inspiring moments, and the culmination of some of the best rivalries in professional wrestling history.
This year’s event marked the 33rd time that fans tuned in from all over the world to witness the prestigious event, which aired live on the WWE Network from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on April 2, 2017. With this year’s edition of the “Showcase of the Immortals” still fresh in our minds, PopWrapped is ranking the top ten greatest WrestleMania matches of all time.
10. WrestleMania XIX – Shawn Michaels vs Chris Jericho
We begin the list with a match that usually doesn’t see the same kind of attention that many other WrestleMania matches receive when discussing the true greats. In the months leading up to WrestleMania XIX, Chris Jericho began a feud with “Mr. WrestleMania” himself, Shawn Michaels. Eventually, the bad blood between the two became so intense, that the feud could only be settled on “the grandest stage of them all” in front of 54,000 fans in Seattle, Washington.
The feud was built around the heel Jericho’s belief that Michaels was well past his prime and hogging the spotlight from up-and-comers like himself. Interestingly enough however, Jericho later stated in his 2007 autobiography, Lionheart: Around the World in Spandex, that he actually idolized Michaels as a child and considered him to be his main inspiration for becoming a wrestler. To date, Jericho cites this feud and subsequent matchup as his favorite from his entire career.
The match itself told an interesting story of an aggressive young superstar attempting to prove to himself and the world that he truly had what it took to beat the best. However, Jericho would end up losing the match following a quick roll-up that caught Y2J by surprise. Following the bout, the two men appeared to embrace as a sign of mutual respect. However, immediately following the embrace, the revolting Jericho hit Michaels with a low-blow, bringing fan hatred of his character to a record high and further solidifying Y2J as one of the company’s most despicable villains.
9. WrestleMania X – Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon
The next entrant on our list again features Shawn Michaels, albeit a full nine years earlier in his career. Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels competed in one of WWE’s earliest incarnations of a ladder match for the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. The match took place in front of 18,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Razor Ramon and Michaels first began their feud in late 1993 after Michaels (working heel at the time) was, in storyline, stripped of his Intercontinental Championship for refusing to defend it. Eventually, the company crowned a new Intercontinental Champion in Razor Ramon after “The Bad Guy” won a 20-man battle royal match to obtain it.
Because Michaels had never actually lost the title, a storyline was constructed during early 1994 that there were two rightful Intercontinental Champions. Soon, Michaels had his own belt made and declared himself the rightful champ. He challenged Razor to a match at that year’s WrestleMania to decide who the true Intercontinental Champion was once and for all.
The resulting brutal and creative match went on to become a new standard for ladder matches in the industry, as well as redefine what could be done inside a wrestling ring. Though Michaels is credited as the first innovator of the ladder match, it was Razor Ramon who emerged victorious after tossing Michaels off the top of the ten-foot ladder.
8. WrestleMania XXVI – Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker
The eighth entrant on our list is a match that often gets overlooked in favor of its predecessor, but is still one of the greatest WrestleMania bouts of all time. Sure enough, it again features the “Heartbreak Kid,” this time, in the final match he ever competed in.
In what can be considered one of the most well-done builds to a WrestleMania match ever, the months leading up to WrestleMania XXVI saw Shawn Michaels struggle with his career as he just could not accept the results of his WrestleMania match the previous year (we’ll get to that!). As a result of his internal conflict, Michaels openly challenged The Undertaker to a rematch on an episode of Monday Night Raw in December of 2009. However, “The Deadman” refused this challenge, causing Michaels to become more and more obsessed with defeating him.
Michaels would go as far to interrupt several of The Undertaker’s matches, eventually costing “The Phenom” his World Heavyweight Championship in a match against Chris Jericho. This provoked The Undertaker to finally accept Michaels’s challenge, on two conditions: 1. The match would be no disqualification, and 2. If Michaels lost, he would be forced to retire from professional wrestling forever. Michaels hastily accepted the conditions.
In the main event of WrestleMania XXVI, The, Undertaker and Michaels attempted to top their earth-shaking match from the previous year. After several Tombstone Piledrivers, Diving Elbow Drops, Chokeslams, and Sweet Chin Musics, The Undertaker pulled out the victory, extending his undefeated streak to 18-0 and officially ending the 26 year career of “The Heartbreak Kid.” As Michaels limped backstage, the 72,000 fans jam-packing the University of Phoenix Stadium showed their appreciation for the match and the performer by chanting “Thank you Shawn.”
7. WrestleMania X-Seven – The Hardys vs The Dudleys vs Edge & Christian
Taking place in front of nearly 68,000 fans at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match for the World Tag Team Championships is often credited for revolutionizing both tag team wrestling and matches involving foreign objects.
The match itself featured three teams of (at the time) relatively unknown wrestlers, all of which would go down in history as three of the greatest tag teams in pro wrestling history. Eventually, five of the six competitors featured in this match would go on to have wildly successful singles careers resulting in numerous World Championship reigns all across the country.
In addition, the match treated fans to countless awe-inspiring, death defying stunts which forever changed fans’ expectations and perceptions of a wrestling match. Eventually, Edge & Christian won the match and secured their seventh World Tag Team Championship reign. Since this match occurred, countless superstars have attempted to top it, taking wrestling stipulations to new heights. Therefore, it undoubtedly deserves its place on this list.
6. WrestleMania 29 – CM Punk vs The Undertaker
WrestleMania 29 took place at Gillette Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, but the show was billed as New York City based. The match between CM Punk and The Undertaker is notable for being The Undertaker’s last successful defense of the coveted “streak,” which was ended by Brock Lesnar the following year. Additionally, this match was CM Punk’s last appearance at WrestleMania, as “The Straight-Edge Superstar” would leave the company on bad terms in January of 2014. Aside from all that, the match itself was a damn good one.
In the lead-up to WrestleMania 29, Punk was portraying a vile and disgusting heel, going as far as to continuously degrade and mock the legacy of The Undertaker’s former manager, mentor, and dear friend, Paul Bearer, who had legitimately passed away in 2012. Punk’s disrespectful words and actions enraged “The Phenom,” who eventually challenged Punk to a match on WWE's grandest stage.
The match saw the two men trade signature maneuvers and flurries of offense for 22 straight minutes. At one point, Punk laid Undertaker out on a ringside announce table, ascended to the top rope, and landed a nearly 10-foot wide leap of faith on “The Deadman.”
After Punk arrogantly stole The Undertaker’s signature Tombstone Piledriver and successfully used it against him, The Undertaker kicked out of a remarkably close two-count. This led to an opening for “The Phenom,” who capitalized on Punk’s astonishment by hitting a Tombstone of his own, finally securing the victory and bringing his undefeated WrestleMania streak to 21-0 to the roar of 80,600 fans.
This match was likely CM Punk's greatest WrestleMania performance. Therefore, it was a fairly decent send-off for the man who once called himself "the best in the world."
5. WrestleMania III – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat’s match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania III at the Pontiac Silverdome is often overshadowed by the legendary clash between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. However, while Hogan’s “slam heard ‘round the world” is the more iconic moment, the match between Savage and Steamboat is far superior from an in-ring perspective.
The two men’s feud began in the Fall of the previous year, when Savage (in storyline) injured Steamboat’s larynx by using several foreign objects to his advantage. In the three-month build-up to their WrestleMania match, Savage was unsympathetic to Steamboat’s struggle to recover from the injury.
The WrestleMania match itself served as a showcase of both men’s ability to craft a masterpiece, featuring several elements of story-telling and in-ring psychology. At one point, Savage was about to use the ring bell to target Steamboat’s injured larynx in a call back to the origin of the rivalry. Later, Savage attempted a scoop slam, but Steamboat reversed the move into a small package to get the win and the Intercontinental Championship.
According to a number of WWE insiders, Savage and Steamboat worked out and discussed nearly every step of the 15-minute match beforehand in order to be able to execute it in perfect detail. This was a new concept at the time, as most matches featured spots and sequences called by the performers while in the ring. The pre-planning tactic worked flawlessly, and the match would go onto to be considered one of the richest matches in WrestleMania history.
4. WrestleMania X-Seven – The Rock vs “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
The Main Event of WrestleMania X-Seven was a WWE Championship match between two all-time rivals at the top of their game: WWE Champion The Rock and fan favorite “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
The match was given a surprise no disqualification stipulation just before the two stars were introduced, which surely foreshadowed the events that would come. Rock and Austin brawled all over the Houston Astrdome and eventually, both men were bloodied. Soon, the two men traded submission holds, The Rock utilizing the Sharpshooter, only for Austin to reverse the hold into his own Sharpshooter. Austin soon slapped on the Million Dollar Dream sleeper hold in a throwback to one of his earlier gimmicks, but failed to garner a submission.
Late in the match, The Rock hit Austin with his own finisher, the Stone Cold Stunner, followed by a People’s Elbow. However, in a surprising turn of events, the subsequent pinfall was broken up by Austin’s arch-nemesis Vince McMahon, which distracted The Rock long enough for Austin to recover and hit The Rock with his own finisher, The Rock bottom. After another Stunner, The Rock kicked out at two.
Frustrated, McMahon then tossed Austin a steel chair and encouraged “The Rattlesnake” to use it against The Rock. Austin eventually did so, striking The Rock with the chair 16 times and finally securing the victory. In the aftermath of his Championship win, Austin shook hands and shared a beer with McMahon, which effectively turned him heel in what is considered one of the most iconic WrestleMania moments ever.
3. WrestleMania 13 – “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs Bret Hart
WrestleMania 13 can be considered the first WrestleMania of WWE’s beloved “Attitude Era,” a period characterized by ramped-up violence, blood, and intensity. Steve Austin and Bret Hart’s submission match at this event solidified that concept.
Prior to the famous match, Austin and Hart had been feuding for close to a year. Austin, working heel, had been a thorn in fan-favorite Bret Hart’s side for too long, and he challenged Austin to a submission match on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.” During the brawl, Austin’s forehead was bloodied after Hart drove Austin’s face into one of the four steel ring posts in an increasingly brutal attempt to overcome “The Rattlesnake.”
Frustrated at Austin’s remarkable resilience, Hart continued to aggressively attack Austin to no avail. At the end of the match, Hart was able to lock Austin in his signature submission hold, the Sharpshooter. As blood cascaded from his forehead, Austin screamed in pain but still refused to give up. Austin was locked in the sharpshooter for close to seven minutes until he passed out from blood loss (in storyline) and Hart was awarded the win.
The finish to the match resulted in a double turn for both men, with Austin’s resilience earning him fan support and Hart’s brutality causing the fans to rally against him. To this day, WWE’s ability to successfully pull off such an intricate double turn makes this match one of the all-time greats.
2. WrestleMania XII – Shawn Michaels vs Bret Hart
The second-best match in WrestleMania history pitted WWE Champion Bret Hart against longtime rival Shawn Michaels in a 60-minute Ironman match. The Ironman match is arguably the most difficult match for a performer to put on due to a combination of top-notch endurance and having to ensure that fans stay thoroughly entertained for the full length. When pro wrestling legends Hart and Michaels went to pull it off, it of course resulted in one of the most acclaimed matches of all time.
The two mens' feud was largely built around Bret Hart swearing to successfully defend the WWE Championship against Michaels who was having the storyline-worst year of his career. In the year prior to this match Michaels was subjected to misfortune after misfortune, including failing to win the World Championship from ex-friend Diesel the previous year at WrestleMania XI, being assaulted by a group of Marines at a New York nightclub, forfeiting the Intercontinental Championship to Dean Douglas in October of 1995, and suffering a storyline concussion at the hands of Bret Hart’s brother Owen.
This hour-long spectacle saw the two men fight a hard-hitting non-stop contest all the way to the expiration of the time limit, which resulted in sudden death rules. Shawn Michaels eventually won the match with his signature Sweet Chin Music, allowing him to realize his boyhood dream of becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion. after twelve grueling years in the industry.
This outstanding match, coupled with Michaels's zipline entrance into the arena, earned him the moniker "Mr. WrestleMania."
1. WrestleMania 25 - Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker
Unquestionably, the greatest match in WrestleMania History is Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker's first clash at the "Showcase of the Immortals."
This incredible feud was built around The Undertaker's unbroken victory streak at WrestleMania. With 16 other opponents having failed to hand "The Deadman" his forst loss, Shawn Michaels decided it was he who could end the streak once and for all, claiming that he was the light that would vanquish The Undertaker's 20 years of darkness.
The match was a masterpiece, going a full 30 minutes before the finishing sequence came into effect. The two legendary superstars traded countless signature maneuvers including Michaels’s top-rope diving elbow drop. The match ended when Michaels again ascended to the top rope to attempt a moonsault, but was caught upside-down in mid-air by The Undertaker, who proceeded to hit his signature Tombstone Piledriver, pinning “Mr. WrestleMania” for his seventeenth consecutive victory at the prestigious event. The two megastars put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this match that both men took a four-month hiatus from professional wrestling. That, my, friends, is why its the greatest match in WrestleMania history.
What do you think of our list? Are there any matches you would add? We hope you enjoyed our definitive ranking of the ten best matches in WrestleMania history.