Top 5 WrestleManias

WrestleMania is a one of a kind show. No other show can match its combination of star power, hype and sense of scale. That doesn't always guarantee a great show by any means but when the stars do align we are treated to some of the best shows in wrestling history. Today we will look at the 5 that can be considered the best of the best.

Honourable Mentions

WrestleMania XX - This was headlined by an incredible triple threat World heavyweight Title match between HHH, HBK and Chris Benoit, and also featured Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle, Christian vs Jericho, and the Rock n Sock Connection vs Evolution. 

WrestleMania 22 - The highlight of this show is the fantastically brutal hardcore match between Mick Foley and Edge. The MITB ladder match, HBK vs Vince, and Cena vs HHH are all worthwhile matches too. 

WrestleMania XXX - This show is bookended by two exceptional matches involving Daniel Bryan, culminating in a wonderful feel good moment. What keeps it off this list is that there is not a great deal going on in the middle of the show.

5. WrestleMania X

WrestleMania X is not a show that you could say is exceptional throughout but it does feature some classic matches. It features one of the best opening matches in wrestling history between Bret and Owen Hart and ends with the Hitman lifting the WWF Title. 

The semi main event is the other oustanding match on this show, the historic ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. It may not really resemble a modern ladder match but the layout and performances are exceptional. The rest of the card really isn't that great at all, though there is a fun falls count anywhere match between Macho Man and Crush. 

4. WrestleMania 21

This was the night that both John Cena and Batista won their first world titles. While neither of those matches are particularly good, the Batista win is easily the better of the two. It is the first half of the show that sets this one apart though. 

It opens with a good match between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio and immediately follows that up with the first ever Money In The Bank ladder match. That may still be the best MITB match there has ever been and had a fantastic line up of talent. That in turn is followed by Undertaker and Randy Orton, who was in full 'Legend Killer' mode at the time. It is one of the strongest starts to a Mania card. 

The real stars of this show are Kurt Angle and, somewhat unsurprisingly, Shawn Michaels. The two put on a legitimate 5 star classic that will still stand the test of time by the time WrestleMania 50 rolls around. 

3. WrestleMania XXIV

We are into the part of the list where the show can be regarded as an all-time great. There are definitely duds on the undercard, as there are with all WrestleManias, but they are outweighed greatly by the good stuff. 

You have the Money In The Bank match that had become a staple by this point, and this was one of the better ones with CM Punk winning in a good field. That isn't the best match from the first half of the show, though, as that accolade falls to the Ric Flair retirement match against Shawn Michaels. Not only is it a match that is beautifully constructed, it also features one of the most memorable finishes ever. 'I'm sorry. I love you.'

The second half of the show is pretty damn good too. Randy Orton defends the WWE Title in a triple threat match against Triple H and John Cena, which is a fun encounter, albeit not one that gets remembered all too often. There is also the most surprising celebrity match of all time, Big Show vs Floyd Mayweather. This should have been terrible but it somehow turned out pretty damn well. 

The main event of the show saw Edge defend the World Heavyweight Title, obviously unsuccessfully, against Undertaker. After putting on bad Mania matches for a long time Undertaker had recently started his run of superb matches. This was an excellent main event and it was the first time that I properly cared about an Undertaker Mania match.

2. WrestleMania XIX

If you started watching this show without knowing anything about it you would be forgiven for getting through the first hour and thinking that this was going absolutely nowhere. Matt Hardy beats Rey Mysterio in under 5 minutes, Undertaker beats A-Train and Big Show with a helping hand from Nathan Jones, and Trish Stratus beats Jazz and Victoria in a very underwhelming match. 

Things turn around after that though, starting with a good tag match between World's Greatest Tag Team, Los Guerreros, and Benoit and Rhyno. The next match on the card is another in the long list of Shawn Michaels WrestleMania classics. He and Jericho put on a superb match that I appreciated more on subsequent viewings than I did watching it live 15 years ago. It was essentially a taster for the amazing feud these two would have in 2008.

The last underwhelming match on the card is Triple H beating Booker T, following a build that was pretty tasteless. But enough of that, back to the good stuff. The last three matches are all really good in their own way, starting with the Hulk Hogan vs Vince McMahon street fight. You would be hard pushed to say that this was a great wrestling match but it sure as hell was a fun brawl. It even had a Roddy Piper run in.

The two biggest matches on the show were both really well executed, albeit very different, matches. Austin and Rock finish out their WrestleMania trilogy with a match that wasn't quite as good as their match from two years prior but was still superb. This was a very brawling heavy match that was the last of Austin's career. The main event was much more of a wrestling match. This is the match that featured Brock Lesnar famously botching the shooting star press and almost dying. This isn't the best match that Lesnar and Angle had, that was the ironman match on Smackdown, but Angle puts in a beast of a performance here, fighting through injury. 

1. WrestleMania X-Seven

It may be the incredibly obvious choice but X-Seven is the best incarnation of WrestleMania, hands down. It was the very last show of the Attitude Era and it encapsulates the very best bits of that era while wisely eschewing the worst. This manages to stand the test of time as one of the most entertaining wrestling shows of all-time.

Jericho vs Regal is fun enough and the 6-man tag is over before it can become tedious, which leads to Kane vs Raven vs Big Show for the Hardcore Title. This is the best terrible match in wrestling history. They brawl all around the backstage area and it is glorious stupidity. Raven gets thrown through a window, Kane and Big Show destroy a few walls and they almost cut out the power to the broadcast when they crash a golf cart. I know it's awful but I don't care.

Eddie Guerrero then beat Test in a match that was somewhere between how good you expect a Guerrero match to be and how good you expect a Test match to be. The next match is Angle vs Benoit, and while it isn't their best work, they could put on a great match in their sleep. The first half of the show ends with Chyna winning the Women's Title in a very short match.

We move into the crazy part of the show now, where everything is either great or absurd. First up is the Vince vs Shane street fight which, like most of Vince's Mania matches, is mindlessly entertaining. Shane does his many crazy spots and the, kind of, swerve ending got a pop that you very rarely get these days. It's good fun. 

Up next, TLC 2. For my money this is still the best TLC match ever and that spear to a dangling Jeff Hardy is still my favourite ladder match spot. The whole of the Hardys vs Dudleys vs Edge and Christian feud is iconic and this is the pinnacle of it. If you made a list of the most iconic WWE matches this would be towards the top end.

We then get a gimmick battle royal to calm things down. It is won by Iron Sheik as he can't take the bump required to be eliminated. We all know it should have been Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese though. Next up is the first match of the Undertaker vs HHH trilogy, 10 years before the second. It's better than you probably remember, with the exception of a very obvious crash mat. It's a really fun brawl.

This leaves us with just the main event, and what a main event it is. Along with TLC 2 and the Hell In A Cell match from KOTR '98, this is one of the definitive Attitude Era matches. The hype package is one that always sticks in my mind too. Both Austin and the Rock are at the peak of their powers here and it results in one of the hottest crowds in wrestling history. They are absolutely rabid. Austin hits a Thesz press and they lose their shit.

Considering that this is such a good match there is a distinct lack of actual wrestling, but it doesn't matter one bit. They brawl all over the place but every single thing they do has a purpose. The match has storytelling and psychology dripping out of every pore. There are callbacks to Mania 13, Survivor Series '96, and even the Ringmaster gimmick, it is near peerless in that regard. But then there is the finish.

It is considered one of the most ill judged heel turns ever but it doesn't take away from how good the match is in that moment. There is something else that actually adds a layer to this match too. In movies that have twist endings you can go back and see that they gave subtle hints all along. This match is no different. From the random switch to a no DQ match, to the way Austin works the match more heelishly than usual, to the foreshadowing on commentary by Paul Heyman, this is the pinnacle of storytelling in WWE, even if what followed was underwhelming and misjudged.