The WrestleMania Invitational is back for round two!
For those that don't know, I introduced an invitational a couple of weeks ago to crown the best WrestleMania of all-time. Every WrestleMania thus far has been randomly matched-up with another, with some receiving first round byes.
In round one there were some surprises. Most notably the first two WrestleMania's did not advance to round two.
We are now down to 16 'Mania's. What surprises are in store for round 2? Let's find out...
WrestleMania X8 vs. WrestleMania III
X8 advanced pretty easily with a win over WM IX. This matchup, however, is not as easy. X8 was, overall, a WrestleMania where the undercard dominated the main event. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker, and Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall almost seemed more important than the main event of Triple H vs. Chris Jericho.
WrestleMania III still holds the record for the largest attendance for an indoor sporting event (93,173). The main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant may be the greatest main event for any Wrestlemania, ever. Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat is one of the greatest matches of all-time.
WrestleMania X8 did have Hogan vs. Rock, but it can't trump the impact of 'Mania III.
Winner: WrestleMania III
WrestleMania 2000 vs. WrestleMania X
The first WrestleMania of the new millienium meets the 10th anniversary of the event.
The interesting thing about '2000' was that there was only one singles match on the entire card (Hardcore Holly vs. Crash Holly). The main event was a fatal four-way, there was a triple threat match, and a number of tag team matches.
As stated in the previous article the ladder match between The Dudley's, Hardy's, and Edge and Christian stole the show.
The concept behind the WrestleMania X main event sucked, for lack of better words. Lex Luger and Bret Hart both earned the right to title matches by being co-winners of the Royal Rumble. They both got their shots with Bret Hart eventually coming out the champion at the end of the night.
Bret Hart was forced to fight a preliminary match by virtue of losing the coin toss with Luger. This led to the classic match with his brother Owen. Almost, maybe even, overshadowing the Bret vs. Owen match was the ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship.
Both 'Mania's had great ladder matches but Owen vs. Bret gives 'X' the edge.
Winner: WrestleMania X
WrestleMania VII vs. WrestleMania X-Seven
WrestleMania VII, by all accounts, wasn't the greatest pay-per-view. It pulled off the first round upset of the original WrestleMania by virtue of having some better matches. My personal favorite was the retirement match between the Ultimate Warrior and "Macho Man" Randy Savage.
Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter may have been one of the worst 'Mania main events ever. The storyline of the "American Hero" versus the "Traitor" during the Persian Gulf War made it a little intriguing.
WrestleMania X-7 was about as solid as you can get as far as wrestling cards go. Of course there were some duds, but overall the card was solid.
Another TLC match between the Hardy's, Dudley's, and E&C would become a classic. The Rock vs. Austin was a continuation in what would become one of greatest rivalries in sports entertainment. The shock of the night came when Austin shocked the world by turning heel, and aligning himself with his arch-nemesis, Vince McMahon.
The power of X-7's card gives it the win.
Winner: WrestleMania X-Seven
WrestleMania 23 vs. WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania 23 was a record breaker. It broke Ford Field in Detroit's attendance record, it was the highest grossing one day live event in WWE history, and it was the highest grossing pay-per-view in WWE history with 1.2 million buys.
All of this, and their really wasn't a match that blew your socks off!
John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels was decent. Batista vs. The Undertaker was a match that a lot of people wanted to see, but not because there would be great wrestling involved.
I witnessed this one live, and enjoyed every minute, but overall it was just a "good" WrestleMania.
WrestleMania XXIV was a year later and boasted a better main event and undercard.
CM Punk took advantage of a great opportunity and won the "Money In The Bank" ladder match, Randy Orton shocked the world by beating Cena and Triple H to retain the WWE Championship, and who can forget a 135 pound Floyd "Money" Mayweather defying the odds by beating the 7ft. 500 pound Big Show?
All this in my opinion made XXIV a better Pay-Per-View.
Winner: WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania 21 vs. WrestleMania XX
Another matchup of Mania's that took place one year after each other.
WrestleMania decided to go "Hollywood" for the 21st edition; with promos themed around Hollywood movies. The pay-per-view itself did not disappoint. We had the first MITB ladder match and Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels.
WrestleMania XX was live from Madison Square Garden as we witnessed Chris Benoit finally reach the mountaintop by becoming World Heavyweight Champion in a match that is regarded as one of the greatest 'Mania matches of all-time.
Eddie Guerrero retained the WWE title by defeating Kurt Angle. There were some matches on the card that left a lot to be desired however, and Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar was a huge disappointment.
In an upset of sorts the first 'Mania to get a first round bye goes down...
Winner: WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania 22 vs. WrestleMania XIX
WrestleMania 22 didn't have a match that blew you away, but it did have Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle in a "Playboy Pillow Fight"! WHOO! Rob Van Dam won the MITB ladder match, which later in the year lead him to the WWE and ECW Championship.
John Cena made Triple H tap in what could be deemed a bit of a surprise. The night, however, belonged to Rey Mysterio; who became World Champion by defeating Randy Orton and Kurt Angle in a triple threat match.
WrestleMania XIX could be remembered for the botched shooting star press that Brock Lesnar attempted on Kurt Angle in what was still a decent match. If that isn't your primary memory from this event perhaps it is the underrated classic that took place between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels.
What I remember most is the final encounter between Dwanye Johnson...er...The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rock finally got over the hump and defeated Austin at WrestleMania.
Winner: WrestleMania XIX
WrestleMania V vs. WrestleMania XIV
Wow, WrestleMania V had 14 matches on the card! When is the last time the WWE had that many matches on one card in recent memory? Out of those 14 I would only deem four of them bad, of course the event was centered around the "Mega Powers" exploding in what was a great storyline at the time.
WrestleMania XIV brought us a pivotal moment in WWE history. Stone Cold Steve Austin became WWE Champion in a match that would usher in the "Attitude Era". Kudos to Shawn Michaels for performing in the main event with a severe back injury. This high profile main event also included "Iron" Mike Tyson, who was the "special enforcer" for the match.
Outside of this match the only other highlight may have been Kane delivering a Tombstone to baseball legend Pete Rose.
WrestleMania V was a better pay-per-view as far as the quality of the card. However, you can not deny the significance of Austin winning the title and the "Attitude Era" beginning.
So in Bret Hart fashion I'm "screwing" WrestleMania V.
Winner: WrestleMania XIV
WrestleMania XII vs. WrestleMania VI
We all know the history behind WrestleMania XII. Austin and Triple H make their debuts on the big stage, and of course the historic "Iron Man" match between HBK and Bret Hart. That's about all that 'XII' brings to the table, but that match alone makes the PPV worth the money.
WrestleMania VI brought us a match between the two biggest stars in WWE at the time. Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior went one-on-one with then WWF Champion Hulk Hogan in a title vs. title match.
This match doesn't compare in quality to Michaels/Hart but outside of Hogan/Andre was there a bigger WrestleMania main event?
I guess that's debatable.
What's not debatable is that WrestleMania VI had an undercard that blew WrestleMania XII out the water. 'XII' skated by with a first round victory on the strength of Michaels/Hart but the power of the "Warriors" and "Hulkamaniacs" prove too much for these two.
Winner: WrestleMania VI
Round two is history and we now have the "Elite Eight". Next article we will have four matchups of the best WrestleMania's of all-time. We are close to naming the greatest WrestleMania ever.
Who will survive round three?
We shall soon find out. Check out these matchups....
WrestleMania III vs. WrestleMania X
WrestleMania X-Seven vs. WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania 21 vs. WrestleMania XIX
WrestleMania XIV vs. WrestleMania VI