WWE WrestleMania 28: 20 Greatest Championship Matches in WrestleMania History

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IMarch 24, 2012

WWE WrestleMania 28: 20 Greatest Championship Matches in WrestleMania History

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    WrestleMania XXVIII is a heartbeat away, and wrestling fans are counting down the days to see some fantastic matches on the year’s biggest event in professional wrestling.

    For a large majority of wrestling fans, the matches they look forward to seeing the most are the matches involving the various titles in the WWE.

    It’s that extra bit of seasoning that makes WWE matches the complete recipe for a great match. In the 27-year history of WrestleMania, there have been 105 championship matches and they have all been superb.

    But only a fraction of those matches are considered the greatest.

    Here, in chronological order, are 20 of the greatest championship matches in WrestleMania history.

Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat (WWE IC Title) WrestleMania III

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    This match is considered by many wrestling fans to be the greatest match in WWE history.

    These two icons of the squared circle wrestled for 15 grueling minutes, and it seemed that Savage had the upper hand.

    But Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat with all his heart and determination defeated Savage and became the new WWE intercontinental champion.

    Fans came to see Hogan vs. André, but they left talking about Savage vs. Steamboat.

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WWE Championship) WrestleMania III

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    Best friends who became bitter enemies, Hulk Hogan and André the Giant met at the biggest stage of them all in front of 93,173 fans for the biggest prize in pro wrestling, the WWE championship.

    This match catapulted the WWE into the mainstream and cemented their status as the number one wrestling-sports entertainment company in the world.

    It literally was Hogan’s biggest challenge facing the 7'5", 500-pound-plus giant, but with the power of Hulkamania, Hogan overcame the odds to retain the WWE title.

Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase (WWE Championship) WrestleMania IV

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    The finals of the tournament for the WWE championship at WrestleMania IV came down to two men, Randy Savage and Ted Dibiase, and they did not disappoint in the ring.

    Because Savage wrestled in three other matches in the tournament, Dibiase took advantage and dominated him, but Savage did not go down without a fight.

    With his superior athleticism and having the fans in his corner, Savage defeated Dibiase to win his first WWE championship.

    The Trump Plaza was indeed filled with “Macho Madness” on that night.

Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan (WWE Championship) WrestleMania V

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    This match was a year in the making, and the build was nothing short of spectacular.

    Hogan and Savage were once the best of friends, but because of Savage’s paranoia and jealousy, that friendship was shattered.

    It all came to a head at WrestleMania V, when Hogan came in as the challenger and had an uphill battle ahead of him.

    Savage did all he could to retain the WWE championship, but it simply wasn't enough.

    Hogan defeated Savage for his second WWE championship, and Hulkamania once again ran wild in the WWE.

Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior (WWE & IC Championship) WrestleMania VI

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    Two of the biggest stars in the WWE came to WrestleMania VI to battle for not one, but two WWE titles.

    Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior met in the squared circle and put on a great match, and many wrestling fans thought Hogan would come out the victor.

    But the power of The Ultimate Warrior triumphed over Hulkamania, and Warrior captured his first WWE championship.

    The torch had been passed to the Warrior, and a new era began in the WWE.

Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper (WWE IC Title) WrestleMania VIII

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    Bret “The Hitman” Hart and the “Hod Rod” Roddy Piper were quite familiar with each other in the ring, but a bitter rivalry grew over the WWE intercontinental championship.

    They met at WrestleMania VIII and put on a phenomenal match—Piper the seasoned veteran, and Hart the young and hungry technician.

    It was a see-saw matchup, but Bret Hart used his in-ring prowess and defeated the rowdy Scot to capture his second WWE intercontinental title.

    That was just the beginning of Bret Hart’s monumental career in the WWE.

Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (WWE Championship) WrestleMania VIII

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    This match was for all the marbles, and the hatred between Ric Flair and Randy Savage added the fuel to this fiery matchup.

    Flair provoked Savage to the brink of insanity with his insinuations of him and Savage’s then-wife Miss Elizabeth having an affair.

    Savage got his revenge at WrestleMania VIII against “The Nature Boy,” and the two put on a fantastic match.

    Savage beat Flair to a pulp to capture his second WWE championship.

Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon (WWE IC Title) WrestleMania X

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    This match was the first side post for Shawn Michaels’ stellar career in the WWE, and the blueprint on how he became “Mr. WrestleMania.”

    This was the first ever Ladder Match at WrestleMania, and Michaels would have to go through “The Bad Guy” Razor Ramon to capture the gold.

    Michaels gave Ramon a hell of a fight, but Ramon climbed that long ladder to capture his first WWE intercontinental championship.

    Ramon showed Michaels what “machismo” was all about.

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XII

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    Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels had a rivalry that stepped on the line between kayfabe and reality, and at WrestleMania XII, that heated rivalry came to a head.

    It was the first ever 60-minute Iron-Man Match in the WWE, and Michaels and Hart wrestled in what most wrestling fans called the definition of a skilled technical match.

    The match came to a stalemate, with neither man getting a pinfall on the other.

    The match was ordered restarted, and Michaels pulled his Sweet Chin Music on Hart out of nowhere to capture his first WWE championship.

    This was just the beginning for Michaels, and the beginning of a new “era” for the WWE.

Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XIV

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    “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was on a rocket-ship ride to superstardom in the WWE, but his biggest obstacle was WWE champion Shawn Michaels and his group Degeneration-X.

    Austin and Michaels met at WrestleMania XIV, and Austin not only had to deal with Michaels, but DX members Triple H and Chyna, and the “Special Enforcer” for the match, “Iron” Mike Tyson.

    But Austin overcame the odds and defeated Michaels, with Tyson counting the 1-2-3.

    The “Stone Cold” era was off and running in the WWE, and Michaels was on the receiving end of the hook that made Mike Tyson a champion.

Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho (WWE IC & European) WrestleMania XVI

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    This match featured three of WWE’s top technical wrestlers: Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho.

    The match itself was a unique one, a two-falls match for two titles.

    In the first fall the WWE intercontinental title was awarded, and on the second fall the WWE European title was awarded.

    These three vibrant stars battled in a wrestling clinic, with Benoit capturing the intercontinental championship in the first fall, and Jericho capturing the European championship in the second fall.

    The WWE’s foundation was built on classic technical wrestling, and this match was no exception to that fact.

Edge & Christian, the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz (WWE Tag) WrestleMania XVII

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    This match was the sequel to the “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” Match from SummerSlam 2000, and like the first TLC match, this one did not disappoint the fans.

    The Hardy's, Dudley's and E&C battled in a knock-down, drag-out contest that took years off of their careers in pro wrestling.

    Each team gave it their all in that match, but in the end it was the team of Edge and Christian that captured the belts high above to become the new WWE World Tag Team champions.

Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XVII

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    Steve Austin and The Rock were no strangers to each other in the ring, and were not the best of friends outside of it, and their bitter rivalry culminated at WrestleMania XVII.

    Rock and Austin gave each other a hellacious beating, and what came next shocked the wrestling world.

    Mr. McMahon was at ringside, and he handed Austin a chair at Austin’s request and labeled The Rock to get the victory over the “Brahma Bull” to become the new WWE champion.

    Austin had indeed shaken the hand of Satan himself, and thus began the unholy alliance of Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon.

Chris Jericho vs. Triple H (WWE Undisputed Championship) WrestleMania XVIII

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    Chris Jericho and Triple H had a rivalry that most wrestling fans would say was one of the greatest in WWE history.

    After a long absence from the ring due to injury in 2001, the year 2002 proved to be a better year for “The Game” Triple H, winning the 2002 Royal Rumble.

    His next challenge was to win the WWE undisputed championship.

    That challenge was met when Triple H overcame the odds and defeated “Y2J” despite the efforts of Stephanie McMahon, Jericho’s ally, to become the WWE undisputed champion.

    “The Game” had indeed returned with a vengeance.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XX

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    These two naturally gifted WWE superstars, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle, met inside the squared circle and the prize was the WWE championship.

    Guerrero the high-flyer, and Angle the skilled mat worker, put on a phenomenal show.

    These two superstars gave it their all in this match.

    But in the end, it was Guerrero’s cunning that earned him the pinfall over Angle to retain the WWE championship, cementing Guerrero’s place as one of the all-time greats in WWE.

Chris Benoit, Triple H, Shawn Michaels (World Heavyweight Title) WrestleMania XX

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    After winning the 2004 Royal Rumble, Chris Benoit had his sights set on the World heavyweight championship.

    He would have to go through not one, but two men to get to it.

    The match was set for WrestleMania XX, featuring Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, and this match was the highlight of the pay-per-view.

    All three men pounded each other into complete exhaustion, but Benoit came out on top and forced Triple H to tap to the devastating Crippler Crossface.

    Benoit was the World champion, and his long-time friend Eddie Guerrero joined him in the ring as they celebrated—a moment that wrestling fans will remember for a long time.

John Cena vs. JBL (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XXI

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    John Cena was a rising star in WWE, and was destined to be a world champion.

    That destiny came true at WrestleMania XXI, when he faced the WWE champion JBL (John Bradshaw Layfield).

    JBL had punished Cena for most of the match, and it seemed that he was going to be the victor.

    But Cena pulled every ounce of energy he had left to make the comeback, hitting JBL with the FU and his first WWE championship.

    John Cena’s meteoric rise to superstardom fittingly began at an event that makes WWE superstars into icons, which was WrestleMania.

John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (WWE Championship) WrestleMania XXIII

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    Many wrestling fans were highly critical of John Cena’s wrestling ability, but after they witnessed this WrestleMania XXIII match, those same fans had a different opinion on Cena.

    It was John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE championship, and this match was an absolute thriller.

    For close to 30 minutes, these two superstars competed in a fantastic match that was a nail-biter to say the least for wrestling fans.

    Michaels gave his heart for this match but, in the end, Cena pulled through and defeated Michaels to retain the WWE championship.

    When John Cena is in the ring with an icon like Shawn Michaels, he can deliver a great match.

The Undertaker vs. Edge (World Heavyweight Championship) WrestleMania XXIV

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    Edge was a man of opportunity, capturing several world championships and becoming a main-event player in WWE.

    The Undertaker had amassed an iconic undefeated record at WrestleMania of 15-0.

    He wanted to make it 16 wins and to take the thing that meant the most to Edge, the World heavyweight championship.

    The match itself was nothing short of stellar. 

    Edge seemed to have the upper hand on “The Deadman,” but after attempting a second spear on Taker, Edge fell victim to the Hell’s Gate Submission with nowhere to go, and tapped out.

    The Undertaker’s streak continued at 16-0, and he was the new World heavyweight champion.

Chris Jericho vs. Edge (World Heavyweight Championship) WrestleMania XXVI

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    These two fantastic Canadian exports, Chris Jericho and Edge, met inside the squared circle at WrestleMania XXVI, and the prize was the World heavyweight championship.

    Chris Jericho and Edge put on a great match and countered each other's moves in the ring.

    Edge was literally a stone’s throw away from becoming the new World heavyweight champion, when Jericho, in a classic heel move, hit Edge with the title and hit the Code Breaker for the win.

    Even though Edge did not come out on top, he proved to the wrestling world and to the pundits that he was a bankable main-event superstar in the WWE.

     

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