WrestleMania 25: A Quarter Century Of Phenomenal

Curthis EhrhardtContributor IApril 5, 2009

   WrestleMania. Even non-wrestling-fans can appreciate the hugeness of this event. People come from all over the world to participate in the single most important event in Sports Entertainment every year. But this year is different. This year marks a very special moment in the lives of wrestling fans around the world. This year is the year that everything becomes official, that wrestling becomes the single longest tv show ever. Because this year, its the 25th anniversary of the greatest spectacle on earth. This year, WrestleMania has officially reached the quarter-century mark. And its been well earned.

   For those uninitiated out there, I will give you an in-depth look at WrestleMania, both past and present, and then will attempt to predict the outcome of what could very well be one of the most unpredictable WrestleManias ever. From the inaugural show to the Hulk slam to the Battle of the Billionaires to Ric Flair's last match, I will take you through some of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history, from the groundbreaking to the amazing to the downright insane or hilarious. And I do it all for you. My fans.

WrestleMania I:

   Hard to believe its already been 25 years. The very first WrestleMania epitomized both the importance of the event with the superstar power, and also the ability it would have to attract celebrities, both in the ring and out of it. The main event featured Hulk Hogan and Mr. T with Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff with "Cowboy" Bob Orton, with Muhammed Ali as referee. This match ended when Orton interfered allowing Hogan to get the pin. Also on the card Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik def. the US Express to become Tag Team Champions. And the other major event was the $15,000 dollar Body Slam Challenge, which stipulated that if Andre the Giant could not bodyslam Big John Studd, he would be forced to retire, and if he succeeded (and succeed he did), he would win 15 grand. A moment was made as Andre slammed Studd then began to throw the money to the crowd in celebration. As you can see, the star power of this event was off the charts, with some of the biggest names of the time getting top billing. 1985 marked the creation of something special, something that would be passed down from generation to generation. It marked the creation of WrestleMania. And the event would only get better as time went on.

WrestleMania II:

   This event was three times as big as the inaugural event. Literally. It took place from three venues and was simulcast across North America. Ray Charles sang "America the Beautiful" to open the whole thing. It also had three main events, all of which were well worth watching. The first, from the Nassau venue, pitted Roddy Piper in a boxing match against Mr. T. T beat Piper by DQ when Piper bodyslammed Mr. T in a hilarious ending. It was at the same venue earlier in the night that Randy Savage added to his legacy by defeating George "The Animal" Steele to win the coveted Intercontinental Championship. The second main event was from Rosemont, Illinois, and it was a 20-Man Battle Royal featuring both wrestlers and NFL stars. It was a match that was won by the then-unconquerable Andre the Giant. But it was the main event from LA that stole the show and reset the WrestleMania bar for future shows. This event featured Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in a violent Steel Cage match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, a match that Hulk Hogan won despite bruised ribs.. The three venues, the steel cage, the giant challenge, all of this set standards for future WrestleManias and showed for the second time why this would eventually become the show of shows.

WrestleMania III:

   WrestleMania II was big, but WrestleMania III was huge. Again, quite literally. It set a record for the largest recorded attendance for an indoor sporting event in North America at a staggering estimated 93,173 raucous, ready fans. And the attendance wasn't the only huge thing. The main event itself was magical. It featured the two greatest of the time fighting for the title in a dream match. The whole thing was kicked off with the Vince McMahon announcement, followed by Aretha Franklin singing America the Beautiful.

   The first of three huge matches I'll talk about was the Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship. It was a great match, a high-flying affair that ended with Steamboat getting the pin and providing a moment to add to his illustrious career, though Savage also had his moments. It was a 15 minute battle that is still today considered one of the greatest matches in WWE history.

   The second match I want to bring up is another classic celebrity moment. The match itself was Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. The Honky Tonk Man. HTM won the match due to Jimmy Hart's inteference, but it was Alice Cooper, in the corner of Roberts, who had the moment of the match when he attacked Jimmy Hart with Roberts's snake Damien, causing Hart to shriek in fear like a little girl and run screaming. Never underestimate the power of a rock star.

   The final match created one of the greatest moments in WWE history, a moment still admired and referenced by fans and superstars alike. The main event was Andre the Giant, still undefeated in his career, versus the unconquerable Hulk Hogan, for Hogan's WWF World Heavyweight Championship, in Hogan's toughest challenge ever. In perhaps the single most important moment in WrestleMania history, Hulk took down Andre with a clothesline, then pulled him up and bodyslammed the largest man in wrestling history, following it up with a leg drop and the pin. It is a moment they relived twenty years later at WrestleMania 23...well, we'll get to that.

WrestleMania IV:

   While this payperview is not mentioned as often in WrestleMania moments, it does have a few notable moments. In an event that was kicked off by Gladys Night's rendition of America the Beautiful, there were two major matches, both of them WrestleMania firsts.

   The first match was the WrestleMania debut of the Ultimate Warrior, who defeated Hercules in a powerhouse vs. powerhouse match. There was electricity in the air, and this match went a long way towards making it known that there was no one with quite the same intensity as the Ultimate Warrior.

   The other major match was a 14-man tournament to determine the new WWF World Heavyweight Champion. The tournie feature many of the most popular superstars of the time, including Andre and Hulk, Ted DiBiase, Randy Savage, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Greg Valentine, Rick Rude, Ricky Steamboat, One Man Gang, and Bam Bam Bigelow. While Hulk and Andre eliminated themselves with chair shots to each other, Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase battled it out for the vacated title. It would ultimately be Hogan and Andre who were the deciding factors however, as a distraction by Andre would allow Hogan to nail DiBiase with a chair, allowing Savage to hit the Savage Elbow for the win. Another massive viewing across the nation for another star-studded affair. However, while these two matches were worth watching, overall this ppv was not quite as fulfilling as the first three. Still, it did have some memorable moments and must be mentioned.

WrestleMania V:

    This one brought back some of the excitement of the first three and added it to the stories from the the fourth. The two big matches on this night had both historical value and WrestleMania moment-nominee written all over them. The first major match also wound up being Ultimate Warrior's first pinfall loss, as he was defeated by one Rick Rude for the Intercontinental Championship in an exciting affair. The other major match was one of those matches that again cemented the legacy of Hulk Hogan, as he defeated Randy Savage in an exciting, close affair to regain the Championship. The whole thing took place in the Trump Plaza, significant because Donald Trump has a WrestleMania moment of his own later on, and also because it was held there the year before, the only time WrestleMania has ever been held at the same venue two consecutive years. Run DMC performed a special rap for the event, significant because many future WrestleManias would feature special performances by major groups. Unfortunately, this WrestleMania's moment would be that it was labeled as the Worst Wrestling Event Ever but a major wrestling magazine.

WrestleMania VII:

   In a time of major events, this WrestleMania has one of the most important events relevant to WM25....and that would be the debut of the undefeated Phenom himself, the Deadman.....Undertaker. This is the event that launched the single-most impressive active streak in wrestling today....the WrestleMania undefeated streak of the Undertaker. It was only fitting that an event that featured musical legend Willie Nelson singing "America the Beautiful" and Regis Philbin on commentary at one point, as well as an American Patriotism theme with a Slaughter-Hogan main event would be the launching point for the greatest WrestleMania streak of all time.

   Undertaker, who had debuted in the WWE at Survivor Series four months earlier, faced off against one of the legends, Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka, and defeated him, making him the first of many WrestleMania victims.

   Also on the card was a retirement match between Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage. In a grueling 20-Minute affair, Warrior managed to get the victory over Savage, forcing the Macho Man into early retirement, or at least it was supposed to. This not would not end all bad for Savage however, because he has one of those WrestleMania moments of his own...as he was reunited with Miss Elizabeth at the end of the match and left with her, holding down the ropes for her to leave the ring as she had done for him so many times.

   The main event of the evening was memorable because the storyline was an odd one. Leading up to the event, Sgt. Slaughter was revealed to be an Iraqi Sympathizer, leading to the American Patriotism theme and a main event with a real American Hero, Hulk Hogan, who pulled out the victory in a suprisingly close, 20 minute affair. Still, the moment of the night because of what it created had to be Undertaker's debut. 17 years later and he hasn't been beaten....yet.

WrestleMania IX:

   This was the first one to be held outdoors, which is what led to Bobby Heenan entering on a camel in one of the more hilarious WrestleMania moments of all time. Its also fitting that it featured a Battle of the Titans, so to speak, as Undertaker faced Giant Gonzalez. Though Undertaker was knocked unconscious in the match, he won due to dq because it was a chloroform-soaked rag that did it, not Giant Gonzalez alone. Taker's streak is intact.

  The other major moment to come out of this pay per view was Hogan winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Yokozuna, who defeated Bret Hart immediately before. Yokuzuna should probably be credited with one of the shortest title reigns in history....it only took 21 seconds from him winning to Hogan winning, thanks mostly to Mr. Fuji accidentally hitting Yokozuna in the eyes with salt. Still, though the viewership was down for the WrestleMania, it has to go down in history because of these moments and therefore gets mention here.

   One other thing. In possibly one of the more painful looking moments in WrestleMania history, The Headshrinkers hit a double splash on Scott Steiner, a moment that should be in the greatest moments though it isn't.

WrestleMania X:

   Its only fitting that an event that was opened by the incomparable Little Richard singing "America the Beautiful" would contain more than one WrestleMania moment. In fact, the first moment was one of the most memorable, as Owen Hart defeated his older brother Bret Hart to cement his own name in WrestleMania history.

   The second moment came a little later when Lex Luger faced off against Yokozuna in the first of two WWF World Championship Matches. With Mr. Perfect as the special guest referee and Donnie Wahlburg of New Kids on the Block as a special announcer, they squared off in a match that ended with a disqualification of Lex Luger, causing him to make a major heel turn.

   The third moment came in the second World Championship match, marking only the second time that the same title was defended twice at one pay-per-view. With Roddy Piper as special guest referee, Burt Reynolds as guest announcer, Bret Hart managed to overcome the earlier loss to his brother to defeat Yokozuna for the championship.

   However, the most memorable moment in this WrestleMania and one of the most in the history of WrestleMania, came in the match before that. The Intercontinental Championship match saw Razor Ramon battle Shawn Michaels in the first ever ladder match at WrestleMania. In a grueling, violent encounter, it was Razor Ramon pushing the ladder over and causing HBK to get tangled in the ropes that led to the Razor victory. This match can be directly attributed as leading to the Money in the Bank Ladder Match later on. This was also the match that jumped HBK into the limelight at WrestleMania, leading to him being called Mr. WrestleMania for all the memorable matches he's had.

WrestleMania XI:

   From the start of this event you knew it was going to be special. It all started with Special Olympian Kathy Huey singing "America the Beautiful". Later on in the night, Salt N Peppa performed "Whatta Man" live onstage. Also included, Nicholas Turturro conducted the interviews and Jonathan Taylor Thomas was the timekeeper for the Heavyweight Championship match. It also featured a storyline as amusing as it was weird, with the Million Dollar Corporation having possession of an urn that supposedly gave the Undertaker his powers.

   In another memorable Taker moment, Undertaker overcome the enormous odds against him to beat King Kong Bundy and again add to his undefeated streak. Another memorable and amusing moment was when Bret Hart made Backlund say something unintelligible into the microphone which special guest referee Roddy Piper determined to mean I Quit, giving Bret Hart the win.

   In a personal favorite moment from this WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels squared off against Diesel. Michaels was accompanied to the ring by Jenny McCarthy, while Diesel got the luscious Pamela Anderson (yumminess points there). Despite distractions by Sid, Diesel managed to finish of HBK and retain the championship.

   However, the most memorable moment of the night came not from a wrestler, but from an NFL Player in the Main Event. At the Royal Rumble, Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow started a feud that culminated in this match. Since Bigelow brought out members of the Million Dollar Corporation with him, Taylor brought some backup of his own...NFL players...including Steve "Mongo" McMichael, who would later have a career in WCW. The match ended with a huge and fairly impressive flying forearm smash off the top rope by Taylor that led to the pin and the win, giving him a major WrestleMania moment.

WrestleMania XII:

  We have reached perhaps the single greatest WrestleMania moment in history. Those of us that watched this event still revel in the main event. It has been voted repeatedly as the greatest match in WrestleMania history. But we'll get to that, because its not the only moment in this awesome event.

  The first notable moment occurred a little earlier, when Ultimate Warrior returned to Mania to defeat the young, brash Hunter Hearst Helmsley, who was accompanied by the luscious Sable. Then, a little later, Undertaker defeated Diesel in the Battle of the Big Men, again adding to his quickly rising WrestleMania number.

  The moment of the night, and perhaps of the century, was the main event. It was for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, and it featured two of the greatest superstars of all time. The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels did battle with The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be, The Excellence of Execution, Bret Hart, in a 60-Minuted Iron Man Match. Except it was better than billed. At the end of the 60 Minutes neither man had a fall, so they went into sudden death overtime. That's when Shawn Michaels truly became Mr. WrestleMania; he nailed a huge Sweet Chin Music and got the first and only pin of the match to become the new World Heavyweight Champion in perhaps the single-most greatest WrestleMania moment of all time.

WrestleMania XIII:

  In a time of huge moments, this WrestleMania did not disappoint. It featured Legendary appearances, hard-fought victories....and the padding of a record for one Phenom. Lets look at it now.

  We'll start with a moment that may have helped the Rock become the Rock. In a match that saw Honky Tonk Man on commentary, Rocky Maivia defeated The Sultan to retain the Intercontinental Championship. After the match he was attacked by Bob Backlund and Iron Sheik, two legends in the business at this point....and then another legend made the save....The Rock's own father, the legendary Rocky Johnson!!!!! In a proud moment, father and son stood tall in the ring.

  Next, we got to see the match that helped elevate Austin into the spotlight for good. It was a no dq submissions match against the Excellence of Execution himself, Bret Hart. This match started off...ok, it didn't actually start right away, as Austin took the fight to Bret Hart before the bell could ring and they beat the holy hell out of each other all over the arena, special guest referee Ken Shamrock in tow to try to get them in the ring. Austin got busted open by the timekeeper's table, Hart got choked by the television cable...it was brutal, it was violent, it was bloody, and it was awesome. The match ended when Austin passed out to the Sharpshooter, refusing to tap out and cementing his legacy as a badass. When Hart wouldn't let go, Shamrock suplexed him, and he left to a chorus of boos, cementing Hart's heel turn at the time.

  The final moment is one that not only pads a legacy, it also marks the first championship victory for the same superstar. Shawn Michaels was on commentary and Bret Hart interfered twice, causing distractions to the then champion Psycho Sid. The distractions led to the Undertaker hitting the Tombstone Piledriver and winning his first major championship at WrestleMania, and his second major championship ever, padding his record. It would not be his last title victory at this event.

WrestleMania XIV:

  This event was one of those memoral appearances by a superstar of another sport. It also marked the first WrestleMania appearance of a big man who plays with fire. Lets do this.

   The first memorable moment of this particular event had to be the Battle of the Rocks and The Rock took on Ken Shamrock for the Intercontinental Championship. The match ended with Shamrock making The Rock tap, only to be dq'ed when he refused to let up on the hold, causing the Nation of Domination to try to make the save. They were all dispatched, then Shamrock chased The Rock up the ramp and they continued to battle until security broke them up.

   The next moment was when Pete Rose decided to introduce Kane...however he made the mistake of insulting the hometown fans and Kane nailed him with the Tombstone Piledriver....wouldn't be the last time either. This led into the match, which is memorable for two reasons...one, it was brother vs. brother as Kane battle the Undertaker. Two, it took the Undertaker 3 Tombstone Piledrivers to get Kane to stay down. After the match, Kane attacked Taker, but Taker sat up after they left, WrestleMania streak still intact.

   Now the final moment, and one of the most memorable in WrestleMania history, because of who was involved. The match was for the WWF Heavyweight Championship, and it was Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, with the Special Guest Enforcer being one Mike Tyson. Leading up to the event, everyone thought DX had Tyson in their pocket. It was a great back and forth match, but it was ultimately won by Austin with a Stunner after they knocked out Mike Chioda. Tyson made the three count wearing a DX shirt, proving he couldn't be bought. After the match, HBK confronted Tyson about making the count, so Tyson floored him with a huge right, donned an Austin 3:16 shirt, and drank a few brews with the new champion. Mike Tyson has a WrestleMania moment? Check.

WrestleMania XV:

  In a WrestleMania that featured some incredible match-ups, this will forever go down as the year of hardcore. That is because it contained a street fight, a TLC match, a Hardcore Championship defense (first at Mania), a Hell In a Cell, and a Brawl For All. Lets do this then, shall we?

  We'll start with the Triple Threat Hardcore match. Hardcore Holly, in typical Holly fashion, stole the title when he nailed Billy Gunn with a chair as Gunn tried to pin Snow. Holly pinned Snow, and the first ever WrestleMania Hardcore Championship ended in fairly hardcore fashion.

  The next match was the Brawl For All, a fairly stupid idea with Bart Gunn challenging Butterbean in a boxing match. I say stupid because that's exactly how Butterbean made Gunn look when he knocked him down with a 1-2, then out with another right hook. The match, thankfully, lasted only 34 seconds, but it is a WrestleMania moment  many fans won't forget.

 The next moment is actually two moments in one. It involves Kane, the San Diego Chicken, and Pete Rose. You know where this is going. Rose, disguised as the Chicken, attacked Kane before his match to gain revenge for the previous year, only to once again receive a Tombstone Piledriver from the big man. It again won't be the last time. This led to the match, in which Triple H and Chyna reunited to take out Kane, marking the reunion of one of the greatest groups of all time Degeneration X.

  The next moment will go down as one of the most brutal moments in WrestleMania history. It was a Hell in a Cell match, the first one in WrestleMania history, between Taker and Big Boss Man, but its the end that sticks in the memory. After defeating the Big Boss Man, Undertaker put a noose around his neck and had them raise the cage....hanging Boss Man in the process. Taker's record grows, and his trail of violence gets more brutal.

  The final moment is here because of its significance. The main event of the evening was The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Its significant because this is the very first WrestleMania meeting between arguably two of the four biggest stars in WWE history. They only had three meetings at Mania in their entire career. It also marked the first return of Jim Ross from a Vince McMahon firing. Wouldn't be the last return. The match ended after 15 minutes or so with Steve Austin nailing The Rock with the Stone Cold Stunner to win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. It was his first time winning that title at WrestleMania, but it wouldn't be his last.

WrestleMania 16 (also known as WrestleMania 2000):

  This was one of those WrestleManias that everyone will remember. Not only was it the first one of the new millennium, it was a stacked card with some excellent matches, and the only one to not feature a single standard one-on-one match. It featured the first ever Triangle Ladder Tag Team Match at WrestleMania, as well as a Fatal Fourway Battle of the McMahons for the World Heavyweight Championship in which all four McMahons were represented by superstars battling for the title. It also featured a 2 Fall Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental and European Championships, another one of those holy crap matches, as well as a 15 Minute hardcore battle royal for Crash Holly's Hardcore Championship. So, without further ado, lets review history.

  First match I'll discuss is the Hardcore Battle Royal, first of its kind at WrestleMania. There were a total of 10 championship changes in this match, but it was only the final one that counted as Hardcore Holly pinned his own brother Crash to gain the Hardcore Championship after 15 minutes of pure insanity.

  The next moment was a WrestleMania first, a Tag Team Triangle Ladder Match featuring The Dudley Boyz going against The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian. I was insane, bodies flying everywhere, but it was a double team by Edge and Christian that sent Matt Hardy crashing through a table and allowed them to win the titles.

  The next match was also a WrestleMania first, and it was the 2 Fall match, with the first fall being for the Intercontinental Championship, and the second fall for the European Championship. It was also the first time two championships were up for grabs in the same match. Benoit got the first fall and the Intercontinental Championship when he hit the diving headbutt on Jericho. Jericho got the second fall and the European Championship when he hit the Lionsault on Benoit. Another crazy match, and a very interesting concept as well.

  The final match was the main event, which was a Fatal Fourway for the World Championship in which all four competitors were accompanied by a McMahon. Stephanie chose Triple H, the champion. Vince McMahon chose The Rock. Linda McMahon chose her buddy Mick Foley, and of course Shane McMahon chose his pal Big Show. It was a crazy match that had a surprise ending as Vince turned on his choice and nailed the Rock twice with a chair, allowing Triple H to get the pin and retain, thereby sealing the McMahon-Helmsley Alliance and the Rock's fate, and creating another of those special, one-of-a-kind moments.

   Oh, and one other quick item. Kane was involved in a forgettable tag team match, but memorable moment number 3 for Pete Rose came during the match when he tried to destroy Kane with a Baseball bat......and again got flatten by Kane, although this time it was with a Chokeslam, not the Tombstone. This is the last Wrestlemania appearance by Pete Rose (thank god).

WrestleMania 17:

   This one was another one of those hardcore WrestleManias with the first WrestleMania TLC match, and only the second TLC match ever period. It also featured a battle of family members and the second meeting of three between two legends. Time to go.

   The first moment created in this ppv was a WrestleMania first, McMahon vs. McMahon, as Shane O'Mac battled his own father, Vincent Kennedy McMahon in a Street Fight with Mick Foley as the referee. The week before on Raw, Shane announced to the world that he bought WCW, and Mick announced that Linda had given him a contract to referee the match of his choice, so it would seem the odds were stacked against Vince on this one. He didn't know the half. It would be his own wife, Linda McMahon, rising out of a wheelchair to kick him squarely in the jewels, that would lead to one of those Oh My God moments at WrestleMania when Shane McMahon went Coast to Coast on Vince with a garbage can and Foley counted the 1,2,3.

  Then next match was another WrestleMania first, the first ever TLC match at WrestleMania and only the second in WWE history. It was an insanely violent and exciting affair pitting the Dudley Boyz against the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian. There were all kinds of insane moments, including a Bubba Bomb off the top of a ladder, a Swanton through two guys on tables courtesy of Jeff Hardy, and an huge spear by Edge off a ladder onto a hanging Jeff Hardy, as well as interference on all teams behalves by Lita, Rhyno, and Spike Dudley. Edge and Christian got the win thanks to the boost by Rhyno for Christian, but this was one of the craziest matches in WrestleMania history and another first, making it memorable.

  The third memorable match was between Taker and Triple H. It was memorable both for the match itself, and Triple H's entrance, which was performed live by Motorhead themselves, marking another appearance by a live band. The match itself was also good, as it saw a lot of battling outside the ring, both before and during the match. It also saw Undertaker hit Triple H with the Last Ride and extend his winning streak to 9-0, cementing his legacy as the Phenom.

  The final memorable match at this particularly good ppv was the main event, which was the second WrestleMania meeting between The Rock and Stone Cold. It was a bloody affair that did not disappoint, made a No DQ before it even started. They both shed blood after ring bell shots to the head, but it was on this night that Austin did the unthinkable. He sided with Vince McMahon after Vince handed him a chair to nail The Rock with!!! Austin wins, and turns heel, The Rock becomes an even bigger face, and WrestleMania again proves why it is so dominant.

**Side note: This pay-per-view would eventually lead to the Invasion that eventually led to the WCW being closed under and its roster being added to the WWE.**

WrestleMania 18:

  This is one of those WrestleManias that was both a good and bad idea. It was huge, setting attendance records at the Toronto Skydome. It was also the second WrestleMania in Toronto. However, it felt like they may have tried to hard to create a WrestleMania moment, which they did create. I will explain...now.

  The first match we have to discuss is Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal because it marks RVD's first major title win outside of ECW when he hit the Five Star Frogsplash for the pin to win the Intercontinental Championship. That was one of the good moments.

  The next two moments were not matches, but rather performances, as this was the first time two different bands performed songs live, one being Saliva with "Superstar", the other being Drowning Pool with "Tear Away", both bands who will be used later on, Drowning Pool with the original opening song to ECW on its return, Saliva with the theme song for WrestleMania 24.

  The next match we'll discuss is one of the bad, but ultimately amusing, moments. It was for the Hardcore Championship. At this point the 24/7 rule is in effect, so when the two combatants, Maven and Goldust, knock each other out, Spike Dudley arrives and pins Maven to win the title. Later he would be kicked in the head by a rope-swinging Hurricane Helms backstage, and Hurricane would gain the championship.

  Quick one, only because it adds to a legacy, was Undertaker defeating Ric Flair with a Tombstone to go 10-0 at WrestleMania despite interference by Arn Anderson. Ok, next.

  The next moment is a continuation, adding to a scenario that is already overdone at the particular event. Mighty Molly nailed Hurricane with a frying pan to become the new Hardcore Champion backstage under 24/7 rules. This should be it, this has been done to the limit now. However, two matches later they would again flash backstage and Christian would nail Molly with the top half of a dutch door to get the pin and become the new Hardcore Championship. This would mark the first time that a title officially changed hands more than twice in one WrestleMania....and the only time. This wasn't over....after my next moment, Christian went to leave in a taxi only to be jumped and pinned by the original champion at the start of the evening Maven, who then hopped in the taxi and left, making him the final Hardcore Champion. Why does this all make my memorable moments? Because its the first time a title was "defended" five times and changed hands five times at one ppv EVER in WWE history.

  Ok, back to the good...kind of. The next memorable moment was Icon vs. Icon as two of arguably the three biggest icons in WWE history faced off in Hollywood Hulk Hogan and The Rock. This match is memorable for two reasons....the end, and the build up. It ended after three Rock Bottoms and a People's Elbow by The Rock for the win, followed by an attack by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and a save by The Rock leading to the posing by Hogan. The build up for this match was absolutely legendary, and it was talked about everywhere wrestling fans were. A moment worth remembering, though I don't know if it should have happened. Hogan was retired, and probably should have stayed that way, because he just didn't look like his old self.

  The final moment of the evening was probably one of Triple H's greatest and one Jericho would probably like to forget. Triple H faced then undisputed champion Chris Jericho for the titles. Before the match, Triple H had Drowning Pool perform their version of his entrance theme "The Game", marking the second performance by the band of the night. Triple H wasn't just facing Jericho, he was facing Stephanie McMahon as well, and before he became the second ever Undisputed Champion he nailed her with the Pedigree.

WrestleMania XIX:

  This is probably one of the two most memorable WrestleManias because it marked the final match to date of an icon. It was also the first one to be officially under the WWE name after the closure of WCW. Limp Bizkit performed both the theme song to WrestleMania that year and also "Rollin (Air Raid Vehicle)" for the Undertaker. It marked the first WrestleMania to have a separate main event for Raw and for Smackdown instead of everyone together. And it saw the return of Hulk Hogan again.

  The first moment came early on in the night and is a quick one as Taker got the pinfall in a tag team match to continue the streak when he pinned A-Train. Not his biggest moment, but it adds to the record.

  The next moment was a match that had the potential to steal the show as Michaels faced off against Jericho. After a good match, Michaels pinned Jericho WITHOUT Sweet Chin Music (rare) to win the match.

  The next moment once again involved Hulk Hogan, though this one is a little more amusing as he took on Vince McMahon in a Street Fight. This match also had the interference of another legend, the great "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, who attempted to help Vince by nailing Hulk with a pipe. However, Hulk got the win in Hulk style with the Boot and Leg Drop combo.

  A moment to come at the end of the night, though not the most memorable, was the match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, memorable because it saw one of the worst botches moves in history as Lesnar attempted a Shooting Star Press and missed badly, though he later won the match with his second F5.

  The final moment is one of the most memorable matches in WWE history as it marked the last official match for the great Stone Cold Steve Austin, as well as the third and final match between him and The Rock. It was a great match, with them using each other's finishers on each other, and it took The Rock three Rock Bottoms to finally put away Stone Cold, giving The Rock the pin and the win. I don't think anyone but the two guys in the ring, a few people backstage, and Vince knew that it would be Austin's final match, but it made all the more memorable that it was with one of his biggest rivals.

**Side note: Triple H defeated Booker T to retain in a pretty one-sided, forgettable match.

WrestleMania XX:

   This night started as memorable as the event turned the big 2-0. We saw two "brothers" both win major titles, another giant get slammed hard, a return match between to brothers, and another first, among other notables.

   We'll start with John Cena vs. Big Show, the first time the United States Championship has ever been defended at WrestleMania. This is also notable because it marked a new big guy getting slammed by a much smaller guy, as John Cena hit an incredible FU on the then over 500lbs. Big Show for the victory.

  Next was a match for memories as Evolution took on the Rock N Sock Connection. Evolution, of course, won after an Orton RKO, but just the Star Power in the ring was enough to make this match memorable.

   The next moment is memorable both because of who was the referee and who was in the match. Bill Goldberg, the man who ran through WCW and still has the longest number of matches in an undefeated streak, faced off against Brock Lesnar, an insane man who almost killed himself last year against Kurt Angle. The referee was none other than the great Stone Cold Steve Austin. Goldberg won the match after a spear and Jackhammer. After the match, Stone Cold Stunnered the pissed-off Lesnar, then started to have a beer celebration with Goldberg before also Stunnering him, much to the crowd's delight. While it was only for one night, it was great to have Austin back, and he again creates a memorable WrestleMania moment.

  The next moment saw Eddie Guerrero defending successfully against Kurt Angle with a roll-up, which is memorable more for the end of the evening, which will we talk about in a moment.

  The next event was the second meeting at WrestleMania between the Undertaker and his brother Kane. This was Undertaker's first match since being buried alive at SummerSlam, and he was accompanied by Paul Bearer. Taker got the win with the Chokeslam and the Tombstone, boosting his streak to 13-0.

  The final event of the evening is part two of the Eddie Guerrero moment. Chris Benoit, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels did battle in the seventh different title defense of the night, a record for WrestleMania (the previous one only had five different titles being defended, though the Hardcore title changed hands five times.) Chris Benoit came out at the end victorious with the Crippler Crossface. Eddie Guerrero came out and they celebrated, having both either won or retained World Titles at the same WrestleMania. This also goes on my personal favorites list.

WrestleMania XXI:

   Alright folks, this is the home stretch. So lets get into one of my personal favorite is WrestleManias. I knew it was going to be special when I heard that it completely sold out in less than a minute!!! Fast sell-out in WWE history, one of the fastest in history period. It also, much like the past few WrestleManias, contained a WrestleMania first, only this one would become a standard at WrestleManias to come...the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

   We'll jump right into this with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This new match was absolutely insane as 6 guys battled to climb a ladder and retrieve a briefcase above the ring that contained a guaranteed title shot that the winner could then cash in any time they wanted to. In the match were Edge, Christian, Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Jericho, and Kane, with Tyson Tomko at ringside watching out for Christian. It was in this match that Benjamin had his first WrestleMania moment as he inclined one ladder against the one in the middle, ran up it standing and nailed Jericho with a clothesline that sent them both crashing to the mat below. This was also the rise of the Rated-R Superstar as Edge nailed Benoit with a chair, climbed the ladder, and retrieved the first of his two Money in the Bank briefcases.

  The next memorable moment wasn't as memorable until the next year. Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero in the ring and shook hands. What wound up making this memorable was the unfortunately and untimely death of Eddie Guerrero the next year, making this match his final WrestleMania appearance ever.

   Hogan made yet another WrestleMania appearance when he saved Eugene from Daivari and Muhammed Hassan. Really, very unnecessary but the crowd ate it up so it goes on the list.

   The next memorable moment is the one that made Taker 13-0. He wrestled Randy Orton who had his own father Bob Orton at ringside. Taker overcame the odds when Randy tried to hit the Tombstone only to have Taker reverse it and hit it on him. 13-0 Taker, we're getting into legend territory. WrestleMania is Taker's house at this point.

   Stone Cold and Roddy Piper share the next memorable moment as they both attacked Carlito during Piper's Pit due to Carlito interrupting. Stone Cold hit the Stunner, Piper hit threw him out of the ring, they celebrated...then Stone Cold nailed Piper with the Stunner, showing once again why he's called the Texas Rattlesnake. He may not be a wrestler anymore, but he's still not done collecting WrestleMania moments.

   The next moment is not so much for the match but for the result. John Cena took on JBL for JBL's WWE Championship, and though JBL dominated the match, Cena won with the FU after ducking the Clothesline From Hell. This would be Cena's first World Championship, and not his last. It would also lead to a major feud that would end with Cena making JBL Quit in an I Quit match, then getting traded to Raw. This also marked the eventually creation of the spinner belt, which is still used today.

   The final moment was the main event, when Batista battled Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. Evolution had fallen apart at this point, and Batista wanted the title. Motorhead again performed Triple H's entrance music, second time in history, but Batista had the last laugh when he hit the Batista Bomb to gain his first World Heavyweight Championship.

*Note: The tagline was "WrestleMania goes Hollywood" and they made parodies as ads for the event involving superstars performing as characters in certain movies, including Forrest Gump, Taxi Driver, and Gladiator.*

WrestleMania XXII:

   An awesome WrestleMania for a few reasons. One, Shawn Michaels battled the Chairman. Two, Taker won again. Three, MITB returned, and four, the Ultimate Underdog did the impossible.

  We start right away with the Money in the Bank. This year the contestants were RVD, Matt Hardy, Ric Flair, Shelton Benjamin, Bobby Lashley, and Finlay. It was another highflying "Oh My God!" affair, with Shelton again shining with a leap from the turnbuckle onto RVD's ladder. Then Matt Hardy joined the fray, Shelton switched ladders, and RVD pushed Hardy and Shelton's ladder over to win the match and the guaranteed title shot. RVD had his WrestleMania moment.

   The next moment was the Hardcore Match between Edge and Mick Foley for the defunct Hardcore Championship that Mick Foley owned. This match is memorable simply for one image: Edge spearing Foley through the ropes and through a flaming table on the outside. Another of those "Oh My GOD!" moments courtesy of Mick Foley.

   Another memorable item from this particular WrestleMania was the Casket Match between Undertaker and Mark Henry. Its memorable for two reasons. One, it contained the largest casket ever used by the WWE. Two, Taker his a very impressive suicide dive over the ropes and casket onto Mark Henry, who was standing on the floor. Didn't know Taker still had that in him. Taker is 14-0.

   The next moment was when Shawn Michaels hit a huge flying elbow drop onto Vince McMahon off a 20 ft. ladder through a table in their No Holds Barred match after placing a trash can on Vince McMahon's head. Oh My God!!!!! Michaels then stood McMahon up and nailed him with Sweet Chin Music, and another moment of McMahon embarrassment is created at WrestleMania.

   I have to mention this next one because it is still one of my favorite moments in wrestling history. The next match was Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton vs. Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight championship. This one was for all the little guys out there as Rey Rey did the unthinkable and nearly impossible by hitting the 619 and West Coast Pop on Orton to win the match and become the smallest World Champion ever.

   The final moment is one of my favorite Cena moments. John Cena faced Triple H for the WWE Championship. Both had entrances for the ages, with Triple H coming in carried on a throne and dressed like Conan, and Cena coming out like an untouchable, complete with a cigar and Tommy Gun, and in a memorable Cena instant made him tap to the STFU, putting himself in the WrestleMania greatest moments list.

WrestleMania XXIII:

   Throughout history there have been many memorable WrestleManias and WrestleMania moments both good and bad for the WWE in general and Vince McMahon in particular. This particular event will go down as McMahon's least favorite moment and most embarrassing, and probably as the greatest thing Trump ever did for the WWE. Lets do this.

   Things started with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, memorable for two reasons. One, it had eight men instead of 6, and two, the winner was not the one who cashed in the contract because he lost it to Edge after a real-life injury would have made it impossible for him to use it before WrestleMania 24. The contestants in this one were Edge, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Finlay, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Mr. Kennedy, and Jeff Hardy. This was the best one yet, as everyone was going nuts with the ladders and finishers, with Edge spearing everyone, and Orton RKOing almost everyone, including one from the ladder on CM Punk. It also saw Jeff Hardy lay Edge on a ladder outside the ring, propped between the barrier and the ring apron, and the hit a leg drop from the top of a ladder inside the ring, taking them both out of the match. The end came when Kennedy hit Hornswoggle with the Green Bay Plunge from the ladder, then knocked CM Punk off with another ladder before retrieving the briefcase. He would, however, as I mentioned earlier, not be able to use the briefcase due to an injury suffered a few weeks later, so he dropped it in a match against Edge, and Edge used it later to again win the Championship.

   One quick notable item was Kane paying homage to Taker vs. Andre 20 years before when he hit a bodyslam on The Great Khali, making him the first man to do so. Kane, however did not win. He was Chokebombed, then choked out with the chainhook he used as a weapon in See No Evil.

   The next moment wasn't a match. It was backstage segment of dancing that included many people who hadn't been seen on tv in years including Backlund, Dusty Rhodes, IRS, Howard Finkel, and others dancing with Cryme Tyme, Extreme Expose, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, and Eugene. Memorable for the nostalgia aspect it brought to the show.

   The next match was another win for Undertaker, making him 15-0 when he defeated Batista in a very good match with the Tombstone Piledriver to win the World Heavyweight Championship, making him the only man to have won both world titles at WrestleMania. I believe this still stands today.

   The next moment is probably one Vince McMahon wishes he could forget. Because its the moment he was trumped and lost his hair. Literally, in both instances. It was the Battle of the Billionaires, and while McMahon had been beaten and embarrassed at WrestleMania before, this one was the most painful as not only was he beaten by Donald Trump, his nemesis at the time, he had his head shaved. Donald and Vince both picked Superstars to represent them at Mania, with Donald picking Bobby Lashley, a former military champion and all-around powerhouse, and Vince picking Umaga, a seemingly unstoppable machine at the time. Stone Cold Steve Austin was chosen as the Special Referee...a decision that McMahon would ultimately regret. Austin was knocked out halfway through, and Shane O'Mac would come out and try to give it to Umaga, but Austin would come to and send him home with a Stunner. Then the Donald nailed Vince with a clothesline out of anger for trying to cheat. Then Umaga attacked Stone Cold again, so he too received a Stunner. Then Lashley nailed the Spear, and it was all over. Vince tried to run, Lashley caught him, and per the stipulation, the three took turns shaving Vince bald. After the match, Stone Cold nailed him with a Stunner. Then he nailed Lashley with one too. Then, while they were celebrating, he said, ah, what the hell, and nailed Donald Trump with a Stunner!!! Stone Cold gets another WrestleMania moment without even being an active wrestler!!!!

   The final match was for the WWE Championship, and it pitted Shawn Michaels against the champion, John Cena. John Cena got the win and another WrestleMania moment when he made Michaels tap out, meaning he submitted both members of DX at consecutive WrestleManias and added to his quickly-growing legacy.

WrestleMania XXIV:

   This was a personal one for me, as it was the first wrestling event I ever attended live. It was also the Mania in Florida and only the second at an outdoor venue. It had some of the most memorable and forgettable moments, including the end of a career, and incredible accomplishment, and one of the shortest matches in history. Lets get right into it.

   The first moment is more of a personal one. During the first official match of the night, a Belfast Brawl between Finlay and JBL, a chant was started that influenced the match. That chant was "We Want Tables!!". And the person that started that chant was....well, me, your writer. They used a table too, with Finlay throwing JBL through it in the corner, though he would later lose due to a Clothesline From Hell.

   I start actual moments for everyone else with the Money in the Bank match. This one is special because it has seven guys, and its also the third one for Shelton Benjamin, giving him the most experience. In the match were Shelton, Finlay, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, MVP, Mr. Kennedy, and John Morrison. There were plenty of "Oh My God" moments, including a Codebreaker from the ladder on Punk, a Moonsault off the turnbuckle with a ladder by Morrison, and others. It was Punk who got the briefcase by hanging Jericho upside down by one leg off the ladder. CM Punk would later cash in on Edge, the master of cashing in MITB, and gain his second major title.

   The next moment is one of the funniest in history as Kane chokeslammed himself into the record books by defeating Chavo Guerrero in 8 Seconds to tie for the fastest title match in history.

   The next moment was unnecessary and frankly beats the Butterbean-Bart Gunn match in stupidity in my mind as Floyd Mayweather knocked out Big Show using brass knuckles after his security dropped Show to his knees with a chair. And he got paid 20 Million Dollars for that stupid moment. Disgusting.

   The next moment is the second most emotional moment in my lifetime, the first being the untimely death of Eddie Guerrero a few years before. In a moment that will be remembered forever, Shawn Michaels hit his second Sweet Chin Music on Ric Flair after saying "I'm Sorry. I Love You.", thus ending the 3+ Decade career of the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. It was the second time as a fan I've cried, and it was probably the single greatest moment in wrestling history. Not match, moment.

   The next major moment happened when Randy Orton overcame the odds and defeated both John Cena and Triple H in a Triple Threat Match to retain the WWE Championship, beginning the Age of Orton. He did this by punting Triple H in the head as he pinned Cena, then pinned Cena himself. This was the first time a Championship was defended in a Triple Threat at WrestleMania.

   The final moment of the night came when Undertaker did it again, defeating Edge finally to gain the World Heavyweight Championship when he locked Edge in the Hell's Gate submission after a spear and Edge tapped. Taker is a staggering 16-0, and the champion once again.

And that brings us to......

WrestleMania 25: A Quarter Century in the Making

   After 25 years, they have to do something special to make this one stand out. And I think they have the potential to do just that, with a WrestleMania first, and also a possible end to The Streak. I will break down each match briefly, then give my predictions and an overall preliminary ranking based on the facts, the storylines, and the competitors.

Ms. WrestleMania 25 Diva Battle Royal:

   Its not very often that they have a good divas match at WrestleMania, but this is a first. They'll be putting every current active diva in this match, including (rumored) Lillian Garcia. They'll also be bringing a few of the past divas out of retirement, and there's rumblings about a return as well. The winner will be crowned Ms. WrestleMania.

      Rumored return: Ashley

      Rumored return for just this match: Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Mae Young

      Prediction: If she really does compete, Trish all the way. If not, I'm calling either Gail Kim or Tiffany. Yes Tiffany.

      Overall rating: 6-8 out of 10. Bonus points if the above do return.

Legends vs. Loudmouth:

   Chris Jericho battles Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat in a three-on-one handicap for the legends to gain revenge against the vindictive Jericho. The legends will have "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair in their corner, and Mickey Rourke will be in the front row. Probably not gonna be much of a match, though the nostalgia factors in a bit.

     Prediction: The legends win due to interference from Rourke.

     Overall rating: 5-6 out of ten. Not really necessary, though again, they get points for the nostalgia.

Tag Team Title Unification Lumberjack Match:

   The Colons and Miz & Morrison put their respective titles on the line in a unification, winner-take-all lumberjack match. This rivalry has seen both teams successfully defend their titles against each other, and has even included the separation of Nikki and Brie Bella between the two teams. It has potential dark horse written all over it if it ends the right way and is executed right.

     Prediction: Either The Colons or a No Contest. I don't see Miz & Morrison having the titles much longer...but I've been wrong before.

     Overall rating: 7-8 out of 10. Not gonna be match of the night, but could very well wind up being memorable.

Ultimate Underdog vs. Mouthy Millionaire

   Rey Mysterio plays the underdog yet again as he goes for a title he's never held, challenging JBL for the Intercontinental Championship. This match has some serious potential if they do it right, but they'll probably wind up making it short and predictable.

     Prediction: Rey Rey after a short match.

     Overall rating: 7-8 depending on length and execution.

Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Championship:

   This match the culmination of a long, bad storyline involving a love triangle between the Big Show, Vickie Guerrero, and Edge, and also a rematch owed to John Cena. Not expecting much out of this match, and I don't think many other fans are either.

     Prediction: Either Edge or Cena. Not much of a chance of Show walking out with the title.

     Overall rating: 6-8 depending on if they can surprise me or not. Expect Vickie Guerrero to be involved, which would cause a lower score.

Brother Vs. Brother Extreme Rules:

   This a match to determine who the better Hardy is. The lead in was everyone finding out Matt Hardy was the cause of all the accidents to Jeff Hardy in the last few months, including the fire in his home and the car wreck. This match has serious show-stealing potential as it would be hard for them to have a bad match with Extreme Rules.

     Prediction: Jeff Hardy...barely.

     Overall rating: 8-9 unless they seriously mess this one up.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match:

    Take five high-fliers, a brawler, and two huge monsters and put them in a match with ladders. What do you get? An all out hardcore massacre that has the possibility of bringing the house down. This will be Shelton Benjamin's fourth, giving him the experience advantage in this specific match. Then you throw in last year's winner CM Punk, Ladder Match specialist Christian, The Big Red Monster Kane, The World's Strongest Man Mark Henry, The Belfast Brawler Finlay, Kofi Kingston, and MVP, and you get the possibility of the best MITB yet.

     Prediction: Either Christian or Punk, depending on which way they want to go with it. Since no one has won twice (Edge doesn't count...he took it off the real winner later.), Christian gets the lean.

     Overall rating: 9-10.

WWE Championship Match:

   Randy Orton take on a pissed off Triple H for the WWE Championship. Triple H, after having witnessed numerous attacks to his in-laws, the McMahon family, has the emotional edge over Orton. However, this may get him into trouble if he lets them get the better of him in this match that's more personal than professional.

     Prediction: I have no idea. For the first time in a long time, I have no prediction. I have no idea where this story is going or how it ends. I do know both Priceless and the McMahon men will be involved in some way.

     Overall Rating: 9-10.

The Streak vs. Mr. WrestleMania....The Phenom vs. The Icon:

   This is probably the single most built up match in WrestleMania history. This could also wind up being the single most important match in WrestleMania history, regardless of the outcome. Either Taker will go 17-0 and most likely retire with the greatest all-time streak intact....or Shawn Michaels will become the only man to defeat The Phenom on the Grandest Stage of them All. Either Way, Match of the Night, possibly Match of the Year.

     Prediction: Taker....barely.

     Overall rating: 11 out of 10.  Unless they have the ultimate screwup, there's no way this match isn't historic.

   Overall WrestleMania rating: 8-10 out of 10. Might not be the greatest WrestleMania ever...but it has the potential to rank in the top 10, if not the top 5.

  So, as you can see, every WrestleMania has a lot of work to beat the WrestleManias of the past, and this year is no exception. This year has even more on the line being that its the 25th anniversary. But rest assured, as long as they have superstars willing to lay it all on the line, we will always have the Greatest Spectacle on Earth, The Grandest Stage of Them All, The Grandaddy of Them All, the one and only, WrestleMania. So sit back, relax, and take part in 25 years of history in the making, with the fans, the superstars, and me, Curthis. Thank you WWE for all the history, and here's to a spectacular show.


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