Mania Milestones: My Top 10 WrestleMania Moments
From the beginning, at the inaugural Wrestlemania, we've been given our fair share of memorable moments. Moments that made us cheer, and moments that made us boo, moments that made us laugh and moments that made us cry.
Wrestlemania is the culmination of an entire year for the WWE, and with our investment in story-lines and angles as fans, it's only natural for our emotions to run wild.
To celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the grand daddy of 'em all, join me as I share my top 10 favorite Wrestlemania moments.
At Wrestlemania 14, WWE Champion and DX leader Shawn Michaels would defend his title against a man that would go on to become arguably the greatest WWE superstar of all time, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Only The Heartbreak Kid had an insurance plan, or so he thought, in special guest referee "Iron" Mike Tyson. An honorable member of Degeneration X, Tyson played the heel the entire match, waiting for the opportune moment to plant the double cross, and secure Stone Cold his first of many WWE titles.
Hogan's a Surprise Champ!
Themed after the Roman Empire, Wrestlemania IX emanated from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The main event pitted Bret "The Hitman" Hart against Yokozuna for the WWE Championship. The match ended with Yokozuna getting the victory thanks to an assist from Mr. Fuji. But it wouldn't end there, as a surprise visit from "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan would result in a new champion.
The Smallest Heavyweight Champion
Although many within the wrestling world felt this was a pity championship run, it is clear that not many men were more deserving of the honor to wear World Heavyweight Championship gold than Rey Mysterio. As the smallest man on the WWE roster, and probably the entire wrestling community, Rey Mysterio had to prove himself and show that he could hang with the boys. His championship win at Wrestlemania 22 will only solidify his legacy as the Biggest Little Man.
Tender Love and Care
Wrestlemania X-7 hosted a brutal match to determine the WWE Tag Team Champions. That match would set both the Dudleys and Edge and Christian apart from the other performers on the WWE roster. This TLC match truly set the bar for ladder matches to come, and the fans couldn't be more thankful for it.
The Slam Heard 'Round the World
An obvious addition to anyone's ultimate Wrestlemania moments; the body-slam that shook the wrestling world to its core. Up until that moment, it was an idea that could never happen. It was an impossible feat of strength and an unthinkable test of will. On that fateful night, at Wrestlemania III, Hulk Hogan did the impossible, and slammed Andre "The Giant" to the canvas.
Icon vs. Icon
Wrestlemania X-8 will forever go down as the day two icons stepped toe to toe. The original showman versus the People's Champ. The "Immortal" versus the "Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment." Hulk Hogan versus the Rock. These two men are without a doubt two of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots. To have them both in the same ring, on the grandest stage of them all, was nothing less than incredible. It's just too bad we will likely never see either of them in a ring again.
Fifteen years ago, Wrestlemania X featured a match that single handedly revolutionized the gimmick match to this day. "Mr. Wrestlemania" Shawn Michaels and then-foe Razor Ramon were set to square off for the Intercontinental Championship. However, on this day, there was a little bit of a catch. Instead of pinning your opponent to win the championship, you had to climb a ten foot ladder, and retrieve the title from the cable suspended from the ceiling. Sure, that all sounds tame for today's average wrestling fan, but fifteen years ago the idea of the ladder match was unheard of. Sure there had been ladder matches in the past, featuring the likes of Jake "The Snake" Roberts, among others; but those matches paled in comparison to the bar that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon set at Wrestlemania X. These two men put the ladder match on the map, and truly made it what it is today.
Battle with a Warrior
In what I believe to be the only Championship versus Championship match in Wrestlemania history, The Ultimate Warrior defended his Intercontinental Championship against Hulk Hogan, who was defending his WWE Title in a winner-take-all bout at Wrestlemania IV. In a battle that my early childhood memories could only describe as epic, The Ultimate Warrior stood tall as the smoke cleared, holding the WWE's top two championships. Yet, perhaps the greatest part of this was the respect filled embrace that Warrior and Hogan shared in celebration, the "ultimate" passing of the torch.
The End of an Era
In what I believe to be the most emotional moment in Wrestlemania history, Ric Flair's long, illustrious career was ended with a super-kick at Wrestlemania 24. It was important that Flair have his final match at wrestling's biggest show of the year, but even more important to have that last match with the right person. Fortunately, we were given just that, as "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels walked to that ring and gave Flair everything that he had, to ensure that his last moments in the ring would be ones he would remember forever. Not everyone gets such an ending. But not everyone is Ric Flair. Woooooooooooooo!
The Boyhood Dream Comes True
And finally, my favorite Wrestlemania moment comes from Wrestlemania 12, some 13 years ago. In what I believe to be one of, if not the greatest wrestling match I've ever seen, my favorite, Shawn Michaels finally became WWE Champion for the first time. It was a grueling, 60 minute Iron Man match, where the man who scored the most pinfalls within that hour would be declared the winner. Then WWE Champion Bret "The Hitman" Hart defended his title well, not allowing HBK to score a single pinfall in the entire sixty minutes. With the score tied at zero, and the time expired, the match was ordered to continue, and a few moves and a superkick later, Shawn Michaels realized his childhood dream.
Well, there you have it! My top ten most memorable moments from Wrestlemania's past. I'd love to hear your feedback on these, and what your fondest memories are from Mania. And let's all not forget to tune in this Sunday to see if Wrestlemania 25 will provide us with even more incredible memories!