In less than a week, WWE will experience a marvelous and breath-taking event that will only take place once in a lifetime: the 25thanniversary of Wrestlemania. The granddaddy of them all is now 25 years old. It seems like yesterday that Liberace was dancing with the Rockettes at Madison Square Garden. That was a quarter of a century ago. Many people have forgotten all of the great moments that have taken place throughout the 25 years of Wrestlemania. So here are my top 25 most memorable moments in Wrestlemania history:
25. Liberace dances with the Rockettes—Wrestlemania 1
The famous musician made a grand entrance to the ring with the city’s own Rockettes. Before being the time-keeper for the main event, Liberace did the famous leg-kick routine with the Rockettes in front of the excited New York city crowd. It is still one of the more illustrious entrances in Wrestlemania history.
24. Brother vs. Brother—Kane vs. The Undertaker—Wrestlemania XIV
Kane had only come on to the scene about four months prior to Wrestlemania XIV. He had been getting the best of the Undertaker for just as long. He had been billed as perhaps the one that the Undertaker couldn’t beat. Months prior to Wrestlemania, it had been revealed that Kane was indeed the Deadman’s brother. This was Undertaker’s chance to prove he could defeat this monster who was almost a mirror image of himself.
23. Mike Tyson KO’s Shawn Michaels—Wrestlemania XIV
Whether he was in the boxing ring or not, Mike Tyson was the “baddest man on the planet.” In early 1998, Tyson sided with Degeneration X because they so resembled his style. Tyson was assigned to be the special enforcer for the WWF Championship match between challenger Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. However, Tyson counted the 1-2-3 for the Rattlesnake and shortly there after punched out Shawn Michaels in a shocking turn of events.
22. Lawrence Taylor pins Bam Bam Bigelow—Wrestlemania XI
Lawrence Taylor had been ringside to watch the Royal Rumble in January of 1995 when he was suddenly pushed by Bam Bam Bigelow. Obviously LT didn’t take kind to the shove and felt like he had something to prove. He agreed to a match with Bigelow at Wrestlemania XI. He then pulled off a flying shoulder block on the big man and successfully pinned Bigelow for the win. It has since become one of the more shocking upsets in Wrestlemania history.
21. Shane Goes Coast to Coast on the Chairman—Wrestlemania X-Seven
Father and son had been going through a very bitter feud in the months leading up to Wrestlemania X-Seven. So the only way to settle it was to have an “anything goes” match. The two were dismantling each other throughout the match, but all of a sudden Shane went to the top rope as his father lay on the opposite side of the ring with a garbage can in front of his face, and delivered a crushing leaping dropkick to Mr. McMahon.
20. Andre The Giant chokes Bob Uecker—Wrestlemania IV
Bob Uecker has always been known as a pretty funny guy. Uecker was interviewing Andre The Giant backstage when Andre had his hand on Uecker’s shoulder. Just then Uecker said “Get your foot off my shoulder!” Andre didn’t react kindly to the remark and began choking Uecker back and forth in one of the funniest segments in Wrestlemania history.
19. The real Brother vs. Brother—Wrestlemania X
It had been a long time coming for Owen Hart. He was fed up with living in the shadow of his brother “The Hit Man.” He wanted to prove to everyone that he had what it took to beat his brother. Bret, who had a WWF Championship match later that night, was his usual relentless self, however Owen seemed to have his brother well scouted and in the end was able to get the victory over Bret in one of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history.
18. Hulk Hogan defeats Yokozuna for the WWF Title—Wrestlemania IX
The WWF Championship match at Wrestlemania IX had originally been billed as Bret “The Hit Man” Hart vs. Yokozuna. It had been an entertaining match thus far until Mr. Fuji threw salt in the eyes of Bret Hart. This caused Yokozuna to take control and pin Bret Hart for the win. Just then, Hogan had come down to the ring to check on Hart when Yokozuna challenged him on the spot for the WWF title. With Bret’s approval, Hogan accepted. Mr. Fuji attempted to throw salt again-this time at Hogan who ducked and the salt went into the eyes of Yokozuna. Hogan then delivered an easy leg drop and became the new WWF Champion in one of the most bizarre moments in WWE history.
17. The Ultimate Warrior Saves the Day—Wrestlemania—VIII
The Wrestlemania VIII main event pitted Sycho Sid against Hulk Hogan. It was said that this would be Hulk Hogan’s final match. Hogan began dominating Sid then was in line to perform his finishing move, the leg drop, when Papa Shango came down and interfered in the match causing a disqualification. Shango and Sid were pummeling Hogan until the Ultimate Warrior came down to the ring to aid Hulk Hogan. Everyone including Hogan, was shocked at the sight of the Warrior who hadn’t been seen in WWF in quite some time. It was one of the more shocking moments of Wrestlemania.
16. Rhyno Throws Matt Hardy and Bubba Ray Off a Ladder—Wrestlemania X-Seven
Once again, The Dudleys, the Hardys, and Edge & Christian were in another Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match. TLC 2 it was called. These three tag-teams despised each other and had nearly killed each other the previous year at Wrestlemania. Rhyno had come to the aid of Edge & Christian. Rhyno was on top of one of the ladders in the ring and flung Bubba Ray Dudley and Matt Hardy off the ladder to the outside where the two crashed into a set of tables in one of the most gruesome sights in WWE history.
15. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan Enters Riding Backwards on a Camel—Wrestlemania IX
It was Wrestlemania IX. The year was 1993. Wrestlemania took place from Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Many Superstars made grand entrances but none more memorable than Bobby “The Brain” Heenan’s entrance. He entered the Caesar’s Palace in a toga riding backwards on a camel in one of the funniest moments of all time.
14. Stone Cold Steve Austin Shocks The World—Wrestlemania X-Seven
Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mr. McMahon have always detested each other. Stone Cold was always the ultimate non-conformist. He went into Wrestlemania X-Seven against The Rock, a long time enemy, for the WWE Championship. We all knew The Rock would stop at nothing to become WWE Champion. However, everyone was utterly shocked when Austin used the help of Mr. McMahon to blatantly destroy The Rock en route to the WWE title. No one thought Austin would sell out like that. It was one of the more shocking moments in Wrestlemania history.
13. Austin’s Last Wrestlemania Match—Wrestlemania XIX
Most of the WWE fans knew that this was probably going to be Austin’s last Wrestlemania match. What they didn’t know, perhaps, was that he seemed to show ungodly resilience. The Rock was once again his opponent and was trying to avoid going 0-3 against Austin at Wrestlemania. The two battled back and fourth for most of the match, but The Rock then suddenly gained control. However, no matter what Rock seemed to do Austin either countered or refused to be defeated. It took The Rock three Rock Bottoms for the Brahma Bull to finally defeat Austin. Afterwards, The Rock whispered a few encouraging words to his counterpart and tapped him on the back.
12. The First Ever Main Event—Wrestlemania 1
The first-ever Wrestlemania main event featured a tag team match. It was “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T from a sold out Madison Square Garden. “Cowboy” Bob Orton was in Piper and Orndorff’s corner and “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka was in Hogan and Mr. T’s corner. Orton tried to interfere by attempting to hit Mr. T with his cast but hit Orndorff instead allowing Hogan to pickup the victory for he and Mr. T.
11. Brock Lesnar Tries a Shooting Star Press—Wrestlemania XIX
Both Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar had amateur backgrounds. Both were amazing in-ring technical wrestlers. So the crowd in Seattle knew they were in for a great wrestling match to determine the WWE champion. What they didn’t know or ever even think of, was seeing Brock Lesnar climb to the top rope and attempt a Shooting Star Press on Kurt Angle. A Shooting Star Press is a maneuver that predominantly smaller wrestlers perform. The move is certainly not designed for someone the size and stature of Lesnar. Lesnar did his best but hit his head on the canvas just shy of Angle but still had the wherewithal to cover the Olympic Gold Medallist to become new WWE Champion in a shocking turn of events.
10. Jeff Hardy Hits A Swanton Bomb Off a Giant Ladder—Wrestlemania 2000
Jeff Hardy has always been known as a risk taker. He couldn’t possibly have taken a bigger risk than he did at Wrestlemania 16 in 2000. The Hardy Boys, Edge & Christian, and The Dudleys faced off in a Ladder Match for the World Tag Team Championships.
It was a brutal match throughout, but the most unbelievable part of the match came when Jeff Hardy went to the top of a 20+ foot ladder and performed a Swanton Bomb on Bubba Ray Dudley through a table. Both wrestlers miraculously continued the match. That maneuver is still etched in the minds of many WWE fans today.
9. Chris Benoit celebrates his World Heavyweight Championship with Eddie Guerrero—Wrestlemania XX
It took 18 years for Chris Benoit to make it to the top. But after winning the Royal Rumble in January 2004, he set his sights on Triple H’s World Heavyweight title. The Rabid Wolverine was in a triple-threat match for the title against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. After making Triple H tap out to the Crippler Cross face, WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero came down to celebrate with an emotional Benoit as confetti covered Madison Square Garden.
8. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels—Wrestlemania 21
This feud began in January at the Royal Rumble. Since then, Angle and Michaels’ relationship went from just business to personal. In the following weeks, Angle sought out Michaels at times even stalking him. Michaels retaliated. However, when the bell rang at Wrestlemania, these two would proceed to give the fans everything they had. The match was terrific and both men at times kicked out of their opponents’ finishing moves. Unfortunately for Michaels, Angle also had a submission move in his arsenal, the ankle lock. It finally proved to be too much for Michaels as he tapped out after the most resilient effort anyone had ever given against Angle.
7. The First-Ever Ladder Match—Wrestlemania X
Madison Square Garden has hosted some of the best Wrestlemanias of all time. Perhaps none were better than Wrestlemania X which included Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels in the first ever Ladder Match for the undisputed Intercontinental Championship. The match went back and forth but the most memorable part was when “The Heart-Break Kid” hit a diving splash off the ladder. Many people still clearly remember this moment. Razor Ramon went on to win the Intercontinental title.
6. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat Pins “Macho Man”—Wrestlemania III
This match has been widely regarded as one of the best matches of all time. Months prior to Wrestlemania, Savage brutally injured Steamboat causing an injury to his larynx. “The Dragon” however made a full recovery in time for Wrestlemania. Savage seemed to have control for most of the match but couldn’t put Steamboat away. “Macho Man” went for a body slam, but then Steamboat countered into a rollup for the victory and he successfully got revenge on Savage and became new Intercontinental Champion.
5. Shawn Michaels Comes To The Ring On A Zip Line—Wrestlemania XII
Everyone knows that Shawn Michaels is the “Showstopper.” Well he certainly stopped the show at Wrestlemania XII when he entered the ring on a long zip line, like a super-hero like entrance. It was a fantastic spectacle, and just as fantastic was the match itself- HBK vs. Bret “The Hit Man” Hart for the WWF title in a 60 minute Iron Man match. At the end of the 60 minutes, the match was tied, so it went into a sudden death finish where “the boyhood dream had come true” for Shawn Michaels as he hit sweet chin music on Bret Hart for the victory and became the new WWF Champion.
4. The Announcement of The Record-Breaking Crowd—Wrestlemania III
You couldn’t help but notice the large mass of WWE fans that filled the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit at Wrestlemania III. Over 93,000 people piled in the Silverdome breaking the indoor record for the facility. The fans wanted to see all the action, however they all were patiently waiting to see the main event, Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant.
3. Icon vs. Icon—The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan—Wrestlemania X8
Entering 2002, The Rock had done it all in WWE. He was admired by the people, won championships, and continued to lay the smack down on opponents. However, a new group had just entered the WWE, a group that liked to do things their way- none other than the NWO. The NWO was led by Hollywood Hogan who had not been in WWE in almost 10 years. The NWO had picked on The Rock, mainly Hogan. So a dream match was set up between Hogan and The Rock. The beginning of the match was probably the most memorable part when the two looked at each other, then looked at the crowd. The match was great- a back and forth battle which also included Hogan’s weight belt. The Rock kicked out of Hogan’s leg drop and finally got a Rock Bottom on Hogan for the pin. That night, Hogan passed the torch to The Rock. Later, Rock came back to help Hogan after the NWO berated him for losing. Rock wanted Hogan to do his signature gestures to the crowd, and so he did.
2. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart—Wrestlemania XIII
In 1997, the WWE was going through a change. It had a new attitude. Stone Cold Steve Austin best represented this new “attitude.” Bret Hart did not like where the company was headed so the two didn’t see eye to eye. They decided to have a submission match at Wrestlemania XIII to settle their differences. Ken Shamrock was the special referee. This was an absolute grueling match that often went outside of the ring. The two pummeled each other senseless. However, Austin couldn’t escape the master technician and his holds. Hart wrapped Austin up in a sharp shooter. Austin, with blood gushing out of his head and screaming in pain, never gave up. He passed out from the pain and lost the match, however he never tapped out. That night he became the toughest SOB that Hart had ever wrestled and that anyone had ever seen.
1. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant—Wrestlemania III
In front of a record-breaking 93,173 people at the sold out Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Hulk Hogan and the Eighth Wonder of the World Andre The Giant, were ready to do battle in the main event for the WWF Championship. Prior to Wrestlemania III, Andre had grown tired of hearing about Hogan and his success and felt like he was the best at that time. He of course was undefeated and wanted to prove he could beat Hogan. Hogan accepted the challenge, and put his title on the line. The match was not long, but nevertheless breathtaking. People were amazed that these two were actually in the same ring. Hogan attempted a few times to body slam Andre, but to no avail. Then Hogan got the Giant up and finally successfully body slammed Andre. It became the most memorable moment in WWE history. Hogan got the pin and the victory and successfully defended the WWE Championship. That night, Andre had passed the torch to Hulk Hogan in front of over 93,000 people. Hogan was without a doubt now the face of the business.