WrestleMania Celebrations: The 12 Best Gimmick Matches from the Event
The term "WrestleMania" was coined by Mean Gene Okerlund to be the name of the event Vince McMahon would bet his whole future on.
Since that night 28 years ago, WWE has gone on to become the worldwide leader in providing wrestling action around the globe.
This year marks the return of The Rock to the WrestleMania scene after having hosted the event last year.
With this year's event being built around a few big matches, I thought it would be appropriate to take a trip down memory lane and go over the 12 best stipulation matches in WrestleMania history.
The list is in chronological order, so take that into account, this is not ranking the matches, just listing the best gimmick matches in WrestleMania history.
1. Steel Cage Match WM2 Hogan vs. Bundy
This was the meeting of the unstoppable force and the immovable object before Andre and Hogan mixed it up the following year.
Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy faced off inside a steel cage to main event WrestleMania 2 in a match that had its share of excitement.
Back when this match took place, there were not many stipulation matches outside of the cage matches, especially compared to today, so this was a special match for fans to witness.
Bundy is often overlooked as being one of the better big men ever to step foot in the ring. He was reliable, performed up to task every night and had good speed for someone his size.
This was one of the first matches I saw on WWE home video, and it will always stick out in my mind.
2. 20 Man Battle Royal WM2
This match was special because it featured not only WWF superstars, but NFL players as well.
In a rare mix of sports, we got to see some of the gridiron's best go up against the grapplers of WWE. William "The Refrigerator" Perry was one of the bigger names involved.
None of the pigskin players could get the win that night, and it was Andre the Giant who ended up getting the win by last eliminating a future World Champion in Bret Hart.
3. Ladder Match WM10 HBK vs. Razor
This is often incorrectly regarded as the first ladder match in WWE history, but it is the first one to bring the stipulation to the forefront.
Shawn Michaels had returned from exile with his IC title, but the problem was that Razor Ramon had already been crowned the new champion.
The two put their titles on the line by hanging them from the rafters and having a ladder match.
Razor may have gotten the win, but it was Shawn who stole the show with his high-flying moves and unique spots.
This match would have stolen the show had it not been a star-studded card to begin with.
4. I Quit Match WM11 Hart vs. Backlund
This was like a passing of the torch for me. Backlund represented the best of the previous generation.
Having held the WWE title for over two years at one point, Backlund had proved he was one of the best in ring technicians the sport had ever seen.
Now it was time for another technical master to step up, and Bret was the guy for the job.
The two had a brutal match which saw both men come close to tapping out several times.
Roddy Piper was the special guest ref and at the end of the night he held his old rival, Bret Hart's hand up high as the winner.
5. Ironman Match WM12 Hart vs. HBK
How do you take WWE's two best stars and feature them on the biggest night of the year? That very question plagues Vince every year, I am guessing.
This year, he had an easy decision on his hands as an Ironman match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels was sure to sell tickets.
With Michaels becoming a major force in WWE, there was really no better way to have him win his first title.
The match was intense and it seemed like the hour went by all too quickly, especially since it ended with neither man having a single point.
After the match ended in a scoreless draw, Bret was forced to return to the ring and defend the title again until there was a winner.
A few short minutes later, we witnessed HBK make history and become the WWE champion.
6. Submission Match WM13 Hart vs. Austin
Like Backlund two years earlier, Stone Cold faced Bret Hart in a submission match.
These two men had built up an intense rivalry at this point and the match only added fuel to the fire.
This match marked one of the greatest creative moves by WWE to date, as the minutes following the match would see Austin go from heel to face and Hart go from face to heel.
Such a turn had never really been done before, but WWE knew how to do it and the two men entrusted with the risky angle pulled it off with ease.
As Austin dripped blood, Bret held the sharpshooter on tight, refusing to let go ever after the match had been stopped.
I will always remember this as being my favorite WrestleMania match of all time.
7. Triangle Ladder Match WM 2000: E&C vs. Hardys vs. Dudleys
This is the match that started the whole TLC craze. The Hardys, Dudleys and Edge and Christian took the ladder match to a whole new level on this night.
By involving tables and chairs into a normal ladder match, these six men helped to usher in a match which would end up being the whole basis for a yearly PPV.
All three teams showed that they deserved to be featured on the grandest stage of them all by putting their bodies through hell and performing risky spots that could end careers.
Everyone was up to par this night, but it was Edge and Christian who ended up taking the titles down from the ladders.
What followed was a series of matches which changed WWE forever.
8. Triple Threat, 2/3 Falls Match IC and Euro Titles WM2K Angle vs Benoit vs Y2J
This was a unique match in that it was a triple threat match, and also a match with multiple falls and multiple titles on the line.
Kurt Angle defended two separate titles going into this match. He had the Intercontinental and European titles.
The first fall was won by Chris Benoit to claim the IC title and Chris Jericho won the second fall and the European title.
I am not sure if anyone has ever lost two different titles in one match before, but it happened on this night in a match that featured three of WWE's best in-ring performers at the time.
9. TLC WM 17 E&C vs. Hardys vs. Dudleys
In another match in a long string of tag team title bouts, the three teams which originated TLC came back to Mania to do it again.
Unfortunately for the Dudleys and The Hardys, the result was the same as the previous year and Edge and Christian took home the gold.
This match featured more high spots than ever before, and it could have stolen the show had someone been measuring crowd response.
The TLC match has become a mainstay in WWE because these six men made it the best concept WWE had come across in years.
10. First MITB WM 21 (Every MITB Match)
Frankly, I would mention every MITB match WrestleMania has ever had because they always impress, but I decided to only feature the first one to save some space.
This concept was developed by Chris Jericho and it has become WWE's most valuable non-title prize.
Every winner has cashed it in to become champion, and a couple guys have even done it twice.
The first MITB match was won by Edge, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year before Mania.
This is just one of the matches which led to Edge having a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
11. Hardcore Match WM22 Edge vs. Foley
Speaking of Edge, his match with Mick Foley at WM22 will never be forgotten.
The hardcore icon faced the Rated-R superstar in a hardcore match which showed why both men were fan favorites.
Whether it was the whole match or just the spot where Edge speared Foley into a burning table, you must admit that this match nearly stole the show that night.
If Mysterio, Angle and Orton had not put on such a great match later in the night, I would have said this was the best match that year.
12. Extreme Rules WM25 Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy
Brother vs. Brother feuds are usually entertaining since it is relatable to many people to want to knock their brother's teeth down his throat.
Jeff and Matt Hardy had been on the same side almost their whole career, save for a short time when Matt began his Mattitude gimmick.
Jeff had lost the WWE title because of Matt and the two had become bitter rivals due to Matt's jealousy.
Say what you will about these two guys now, this night they performed like it was the last match they would ever have.
Both men came out of this match with some injuries but it was Matt who took home the win after a nasty looking Twist of Fate with a chair wrapped around Jeff's neck.
WrestleMania is a time for WWE fans to really dig their teeth into the storylines and the action.
Every year has some kind of special match and this year, it looks like Triple H and Undertaker will be going at it inside Hell in a cell.
I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane and please take a moment to check out the other "WrestleMania celebrations" pieces below.
To check out the rest of the "WrestleMania Celebrations" here are the rest of the writers participating.
And make sure to check back throughout the week for entries by Kevin Berge, Ryan Frye and William Gullo.
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