WrestleMania's 10 Most 'Real' Moments
WrestleMania is upon us. They say that is where legends are born—from Hulk Hogan, to Shawn Michaels, to Steve Austin, to John Cena and beyond.
While the WWE's signature event has produced countless fantastic matches and blasted workers to superstardom, it has also given us some very real moments.
These “real” moments are not about breaking kayfabe nor are they limited to the athletic performers that grace the squared circle. These are moments that transcend and break into real emotion for any length of time.
Before we embark on WrestleMania XXVIII, let's take a look back at the most real moments WrestleMania has given us.
WrestleMania IV: Randy Savage Wins the World Championship
The Macho Man defeated "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase in the finals of the one-night tournament to become the WWE World heavyweight champion—with Hulk Hogan's help, that is. Afterwards came a celebration that saw the company's biggest star crown the new champion in front of the Atlantic City crowd.
You can see the happiness on his face as he carries around Elizabeth on his shoulder.
WrestleMania XI: Lawrence Taylor Defeats Bam Bam Bigelow
The match itself won't win anyone over, but you cannot deny that LT gave it all that night in the main event. Why does this make my honorable mentions? Because even from his interviews and entrance, you can see the joy on his face. He was like a little kid and I can respect that.
WrestlemMania XIV: Mike Tyson Punches Shawn Michaels
Another sports star living his dream inside the world of sports entertainment. After Tyson counted the three on his D-X teammate Shawn Michaels, there was an argument. Then HBK made the mistake of trying to punch the former heavyweight boxing champion.
During the entire exchange, you can see Tyson preparing for the rehearsed punch. After delivering it, a gleeful "Iron" Mike celebrated with the new champ. While moments like this will not crack the top 10, they do deserve a mention.
WrestleMania XV: Butterbean KOs Bart Gunn
OK, I will admit it: This is a cop-out. But I said "real" moments, right? You do not get anymore real that being knocked out in 35 seconds.
WrestleMania 2000: Edge and Christian Win TLC
This was a special match that stole the show that night, but what lands it here is the post-fight reaction of Edge and Christian. Two guys who are like brothers find themselves atop—pun intended—the WWE Tag Team Division. It's a special moment for them and it translated to the crowd both in attendance and at home.
WrestleMania X8: The Rock and Hulk Hogan Dueling Chants
Before the action got underway, both men stood nose to nose while the crowd was split. The Rock came into the bout as the face and Hogan the heel. However, the crowd knew the significance of this match and was simply excited to see two of the biggest stars to ever grace the sport in there together.
It was a special moment marked by each man turning his head to the crowd as they were chanting for both. It is a moment in WrestlemMania that we will never forget.
10. Hulk Hogan Slams Andre the Giant
Over 93,000 filled the Pontiac Silverdome to witness two former friends, and the two biggest stars, square off in the main event. In the months leading up to WrestleMania, Hulk Hogan was torn on whether or not to accept the fight with his friend, but when Andre sided with Heenan and attacked Hulk, the fight was on.
The match was the most important in company history and you could feel it in the air.
While this moment may be the most significant and most poignant moment in company history, it is on this list because of the astonishment it brought to everyone. Everyone had their doubts as to if Hulk Hogan could pick Andre up and when he tried early on in the match, he failed.
But as Hogan neared victory, he hoisted the Giant up and completed a task that erupted the capacity crowd, had fans jumping out of their seats in the theatres and even amazed Hulk himself. It made the impossible possible.
9. Hulk Hogan Tears the Iraqi Flag
Sgt. Slaughter turned in to a traitor and became an Iraqi sympathizer. This left Hulk Hogan to defend America's honor and bring the championship home. The WWE was exploiting the Persian Gulf War for their benefit and the storyline did not work that well, but not all real moments are classy.
Slaughter has a bloody Hogan laid out and drapes the Iraqi flag over him. When Hogan comes to and "Hulks Up," he rips the flag. This is a major gaffe in international etiquette and was not a great look for the company. However, it's no secret that the American public at large felt this way about Iraq and Saddam Hussein at the time. That is why this moment finds a spot on the list. Despite it being in poor taste, it reflected real feelings and real emotions of the times.
8. Shawn Michaels Apologizes to Ric Flair
Leading up to WrestleMania ,Vince McMahon told Ric Flair that if he lost his next bout, he would be forced to retire. Flair later challenged Shawn Michaels to a match at WrestleMania XXIV which he reluctantly accepted. Flair avoided the pitfalls leading up to the match, leaving Shawn Michaels with the task he did not want to do.
As Michaels awaited Flair to get to his feet to deliver "Sweet Chin Music," you could see the remorse in his eyes. And then he uttered the words, "I'm sorry, I love you." It was the sincerity in Michaels' voice that lands this at No. 9. It was not just a scripted line; it was a tribute to a man who has given us decades of wonderful moments. Yes, Michaels was sorry that he had to end the career—in the WWE at least—of a legend of professional wrestling.
7. Hulk Hogan Passes the Torch to the Ultimate Warrior
Champion vs. Champion. The World Heavyweight Champion, Hulk Hogan, versus the Intercontinental Champion, The Ultimate Warrior. 1990 had come and the smell of change was in the air. This match was brewing for months and fans were able to see a glimpse in to the future at the Royal Rumble when the two superstars were left in the ring together. Two childhood icons stepped foot into the squared circle with both of their titles on the line in Toronto.
The Ultimate Warrior was victorious and a new reign had begun. While The Ultimate Warrior was celebrating his victory The Hulkster rolled to the outside and took the championship belt. He re-entered the ring with it on his shoulder and the tension in the building arose, but the Hogan did the distinguished thing and presented The Ultimate Warrior with the belt. At the time it truly was a passing of the torch and the embrace that the two shared, at least for that moment in time, was real.
6. Stone Cold Refuses to Submit to Bret Hart
Steve Austin had his sights set on Bret Hart for nearly a year. They finally met at the Survivor Series that saw Hart come away with a victory. But Austin repaid Hart back at the Royal Rumble by stealing the victory away from him while the referees were not looking and then cost Hart the championship a month later on Raw. Finally, it was time to settle this in the ring once and for all. A No-Disqualification bout was set for WrestleMania 13.
Many will argue that the "Attitude Era" was born at the previous King of the Ring. That was the birth of "Stone Cold" not the era. The crowd had started to turn toward Austin's favor, much to the befuddlement of Hart, previous to WrestleMania but he was still very much the heel. As Hart locked on the Sharpshooter in the match a bloody Austin struggled to survive. As he gave it everything, he had the blood pumped harder out of his wound in one of the most picturesque scenes in WWE history. It was at that moment that fans around the world stopped picking between heel and face and realized where we were headed. Through the blood, sweat and tears, we achieved a moment of clarity. Once he regained consciousness the crowd gave Austin a standing ovation. That moment was a turning point for Austin and the WWE.
5. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg
The Goldberg and Lesnar match had been in motion since the Royal Rumble. The stars from competing brands finally got the bout signed. Many fans were anticipating the match between the two muscle-bound stars. Then with a little more than a week before the show, news broke that it would be both superstars' final match with the company.
As real as it gets. Pun completely intended. The moment is the beginning of the match. With the internet in full play, the crowd knew that both men were leaving the company and coupled with minimal action they turned on both men. It was a surreal moment to have the hostile New York crowd become the focal point. There was even some jawing toward the crowd from Lesnar and Goldberg. The anniversary of the spectacle did not go quite as planned but it still gave us one of the most real moments in its history.
4. Miss Elizabeth and Randy Savage Reunite
The Ultimate Warrior and "Macho King" Randy Savage were in the midst of a fierce rivalry. The two agreed upon a Retirement Match at WrestleMania VII that The Ultimate Warrior won. During the contest, the camera spotted Miss Elizabeth watching worriedly in the crowd. After the contest, Sensational Sherri kicked the down Savage. And then it happened.
Miss Elizabeth ran to the aid of her former husband and fought off Sensational Sherri. Upon realizing what had just transpired, the long-awaited reunion happened. It is one of the most touching and special moments in WrestleMania history. It was real enough that several crowd members, male and female, started to shed tears. Corny? Maybe. But the emotional reunion between the "First Lady of Wrestling" and the "Macho Man" was something to behold and stole the show in Los Angeles.
3. Shawn Michaels Says Goodbye
After coming up short just a year previous, Shawn Michaels put his career on the line for another shot at ending the infamous streak of The Undertaker. In one of the most thrilling matches in WrestleMania history, The Heartbreak Kid could not survive a third and final tombstone to save his career. After the match had ended The Undertaker embraced Michaels briefly before exiting and leaving Michaels to say goodbye.
The end of a career is always a sad thing. The end of an icon's career is something entirely different. For Michaels to go out in the main event of WrestleMania was fitting. As he waved goodbye to the crowd, exited the ring and embraced the fans at ringside, it was a moment where you continued to watch the program being captivated by a special performer. A storied career that connected with so many fans around the globe received the proper emotional send-off.
2. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero Embrace
One could write an entire article on the friendship and careers of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, but needless to say the two men found themselves in championship matches at WrestleMania after years of hard work. Guerrero captured his championship a month earlier at No Way Out and defended it earlier in the night. Benoit had earned his shot by winning the Royal Rumble and took the title in an excellent three-way match.
As Chris Benoit was celebrating his long-time friend Eddie Guerrero came out to help celebrate the moment. The wait was also long for their fans who had wanted their talents to ascend to the highest level for years. That in itself was a special moment. But when they embraced it was more like family than friends. You can see how proud Guerrero is in his eyes. You can sense the brotherly love the two had for each another. A culmination of a lifetime of work in one heartfelt celebration.
1. The Boyhood Dream Has Come True
Shawn Michaels had tried to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion but failed. Bret Hart was one of the greatest and most technically skilled champions in company history. After winning the Royal Rumble to claim the No. 1 contendership, the two found themselves in an Iron Man Match for the title. After the full 60 minutes, neither had claimed a single fall. WWE Commissioner Gorilla Monsoon ordered there be a sudden-death overtime period. A short time later, Michaels hit Hart with the superkick and got the three count.
Immediately after he got the three, Michaels was on the brink of tears. And being presented with the belt you could see the emotion in his face. The viewers at home were assisted in this by the pre-fight build-up with Michaels and his trainer Jose Lothario. For viewers it culminated with Vince McMahon's legendary call, "The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!" This moment of jubilation for Michaels resonated with the crowd and everyone who has that dream that they think is unattainable. Watching Michaels stare at the belt is the ultimate in telling that story in the WWE Universe.