WWE was home to some of the best wrestling during the 1980s and 90s. The biggest names in the business were around during this time—Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, Stone Cold, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart and much more.
As a result of all that star power, the pay-per-views were spectacular. WWE made it a point to make sure that every match on the card was important.
There were so many memorable PPVs during these two decades. However, I feel that five PPV events stood out from the rest. These cards featured high-profile matches and kept the fans on their feet from beginning to end.
Most, if not all, of these pay-per-views are still talked about today, and with good reason.
These pay-per-views were entertaining, but had some flaws that kept them out of the top five.
WrestleMania I: The first isn’t always the best, and that is the case with the first WrestleMania. The main event was a tag team match between Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndoff. However, the rest of the card was lackluster, as Junkyard Dog beat Greg Valentine and David Sammartino and Brutus Beefcake fought to a double disqualification.
King of the Ring 1998: The main thing fans remember about this event is Mankind getting tossed from the top of the cell through the announce table. That was certainly the spot of the night, but there was still great action all night. Kane and Steve Austin battled in a First Blood match for the WWE Championship, and Ken Shamrock defeated The Rock in the King of the Ring finals.
WrestleMania XV: This event featured the first WrestleMania meeting between The Rock and Steve Austin, but the undercard didn’t make this event special. The Undertaker defeated The Big Boss Man in a Hell in a Cell, Triple H disqualified himself against Kane and Road Dogg retained the Intercontinental title. This event also saw the conclusion of the dreaded Brawl For All when Bart Gunn lost to Butterbean.
Ric Flair won the vacant WWE title by winning the Royal Rumble match.
This Royal Rumble event is a very memorable one for the sole fact that 30 Superstars were competing for the WWE Championship.
Hulk Hogan was stripped of the title after two title changes at the 1991 Survivor Series and Tuesday in Texas event.
Ric Flair entered in at No. 3, lasted an hour and eliminated Sid Justice on his way to winning the vacant WWE title.
The event kicked off with a tag match between The New Foundation (Owen Hart and Jim Neidhart) and The Orient Express (Tanaka and Kato). The WWE Tag Team Championship was on the line when The Natural Disasters (Typhoon and Earthquake) beat The Legion of Doom by countout.
When this night was all over, the Nature Boy was on everyone’s mind.
The immovable object vs. the irresistible force. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. This was a huge match that the 93,000 people in attendance and millions more at home wanted to see. It was the bodyslam heard, and seen, around the world.
However, this wasn’t the show-stealer everyone thought it would be.
That honor goes to the Intercontinental Championship match between Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The chemistry they displayed in the ring is something rarely seen today.
Despite having the first eight matches go less than nine minutes each, the Intercontinental and WWE title matches were worth the price of admission.
The second WrestleMania held at Madison Square Garden was the best of the three.
Bret and Owen Hart kicked off the event with a 20-minute match. IGN ranked this match the No. 4 match in WrestleMania history.
The event continued with a ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship. Michaels had many WrestleMania moments, and this may be in the top five despite the loss. It is also one of the best ladder matches in history.
Bret rested as he watched Luger challenge Yokozuna for the WWE Championship. Luger lost by disqualification when he pushed special referee Mr. Perfect after he was tending to Jim Cornette and Mr. Fuji.
Bret Hart and Yokozuna closed the show. After a belly to belly suplex, Yokozuna went for the Banzai drop, but he lost his balance and fell. Hart took advantage and won.
Fans were spoiled with the opening and ladder matches, two of the greatest WrestleMania matches in my opinion.
The 1992 SummerSlam event is still the only major WWE pay-per-view held outside in England. It will be hard for WWE to top this despite it taking place over 20 years ago.
The event started with a tag match between the Legion of Doom and Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster).
However, the event revolved around the rematch between The Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage for the WWE Championship. This match went over 25 minutes and resulted in Warrior winning by countout. This match could have been the main event, but there was a much better match that deserved that spot.
Bret Hart vs. The British Bulldog gave the fans their money’s worth when they fought for the Intercontinental Championship. Fans in attendance saw their hometown hero win the title after a 25-minute match.
This match was placed in the right spot on the card, and the fans let the WWE know.
This WrestleMania, in my opinion, was the beginning of the Attitude Era and pushed WWE past WCW.
Triple H retained his European title against Owen Hart. Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie defeated the New Age Outlaws for the WWE Tag Team Championship in a dumpster match.
Undertaker and Kane also met for the first time. Undertaker kept his streak alive, but it took three tombstone piledrivers to keep the Big Red Machine down.
It would be hard for anyone to follow that match. Well, almost anyone. Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin had one of the most entertaining matches of all-time.
The buildup with Mike Tyson as the special enforcer was perfectly executed. He and Austin were at each other’s throats.
The final seconds of the match were heart-racing. Michaels went for the Sweet Chin Music, but Austin ducked and attempted the Stone Cold Stunner. Michaels pushed Austin into the ropes and attempted another super kick. Austin caught the leg, spun Michaels around and hit the Stunner and Austin’s first WWE title reign began.
From top to bottom, this WrestleMania is the greatest event of the 80s and 90s.