Ranking Every World Heavyweight Title Match in WrestleMania History
The "big gold belt" has been a staple of WWE's show of shows since it was rechristened the World heavyweight championship back in 2002.
The World heavyweight championship has been defended 10 times at WrestleMania, and has been contested in some of the event’s biggest matches.
These matches are ranked by two main criteria; match quality and match significance.
In other words, how good the match was and how special it felt.
World championship matches, with one exception, are given a good amount of time and prominence on a WrestleMania card, and have the potential to make a big impact.
The following is a ranked list of the matches that were, or were not, able to realize that potential.
10. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, WrestleMania XXVIII
There really isn’t much to say about this "match" that hasn't already been said.
Daniel Bryan won the World heavyweight championship in December 2011 and, to the surprise of many, kept it until WWE's biggest show of the year.
Bryan had overcome two giants in Mark Henry and the Big Show and survived an Elimination Chamber on his Road to WrestleMania.
In 18 seconds, WWE made a joke out of his entire title reign and heavily devalued the championship itself.
It was a sad moment for hardcore wrestling fans everywhere.
9. John Cena vs. Edge vs. Big Show, WrestleMania 25
WrestleMania 25's triple threat match for the World heavyweight championship wasn't bad, but it wasn't memorable, either.
The match was simply okay; no flagrant mistakes or poor performances by any of the men involved, but not much really happened.
Well, Cena lifted Edge and Big Show on his shoulders at the same time, which even the most ardent Cena hater would have to admit is impressive.
But with the exception of that glorious 10 seconds, the match was unremarkable.
It was also hurt a little by an asinine love triangle back story involving Edge, Big Show and Vickie Guerrero.
Additionally, the entire program seemed completely engineered around the idea of Cena winning a title at WrestleMania.
Nothing groundbreaking here.
8. Triple H vs. Booker T, WrestleMania XIX
Rolling into WrestleMania XIX as the No. 1 contender for the World heavyweight championship, Booker T seemed poised to go over and realize his potential in the WWE.
It was unfortunately not meant to be.
Triple H added yet another name to his list of promising challengers who have fallen to the King of Kings.
Their bout was far from bad, but was ultimately one of the least significant World championship matches in WrestleMania history.
Booker T never received a one-on-one rematch for the World heavyweight championship, and their feud ended with a six-man tag match at the following pay-per-view.
7. Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio, WrestleMania XXVII
For the first time ever a World championship match opened a WrestleMania at the 27th anniversary of the event.
Edge and Alberto Del Rio worked a good opening match, but that's part of the problem.
Their match did a good job at livening up, but it wasn't befitting of much more than that.
The main issue is that it felt underwhelming as a World championship match.
It's certainly true that the match was hurt by its placing. It's hard to think of a match as being main-event worthy when it opens the show.
The match was decent and the outside scuffling between Christian, Brodus Clay and Ricardo Rodriguez was a nice added element.
However, a World heavyweight championship match should feel like a big deal, and this never really did.
6. Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton, WrestleMania 22
If there was one fault with the triple threat match at WrestleMania 22, it's that it was too short.
The pace was quick, the wrestling was fluid and the crowd was hot.
Kurt Angle, as usual, was a wrestling machine, and Orton and Mysterio did a good job at keeping up. It certainly didn't feel like anyone was carried.
The buildup to the match was head scratching, with WWE basically making Mysterio look like a charity case.
He lost to Orton at No Way Out, giving up his main-event spot in the process. Teddy Long literally just gave Mysterio an opportunity by making the match a triple threat.
The crowd didn't want anyone other than Angle touching the title, but it was a big win for Rey and a great moment if you extricate it from its poorly thought-out story.
Clocking in at just over nine minutes, though, the match felt far less significant than it should have.
Regardless, the time was used well by three men who have all become industry legends.
5. Batista vs. Triple H, WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania 21 saw Batista defeat Triple H in a very important match for the company.
The Animal was one of WWE's brightest new stars, and it was clear that Vince had big plans for him.
After being a part of the Evolution faction and learning from veterans Ric Flair and Triple H, it was time for Batista to make use of his teachings and become a huge star.
WrestleMania 21 was his night, and he delivered.
His match with Triple H was by no means a five-star classic, but Batista proved he could work a solid match and perform well under pressure.
This match solidified Batista as a main-event star, a lofty position from which he would never fall.
Incidentally, this was the first of several impressive WrestleMania performances by the Animal, who seemed to up his game considerably at the Showcase of the Immortals.
4. Undertaker vs. Edge, WrestleMania XXIV
WrestleMania XXIV featured the much hyped Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show exhibition and matches like Flair vs. HBK and Cena vs. HHH vs. Orton.
On such a huge card, it was Undertaker challenging Edge for the World heavyweight championship that was the main event.
Edge and Undertaker told a great story with Edge countering the Deadman at every move.
It did a good job of convincing the audience that The Rated-R Superstar had a shot at ending the streak.
The match made both men look fantastic, but in the end it was the Demon of Death Valley who was victorious.
This was the second year in a row that the Undertaker won the World heavyweight championship at WrestleMania.
Incidentally, it was also the last time Smackdown’s World title was contested for in the main event of the show of shows.
3. Batista vs. Undertaker, WrestleMania 23
Before Shawn Michaels and Triple H took "the streak" to a whole new level of legendary, Batista and Undertaker wrestled one of the best matches in the Deadman's ‘Mania history.
The Animal received a mega push after he left Evolution in 2005, and it seemed possible that he could be the one to defeat Taker on the grandest stage of them all.
Batista, not particularly known for putting on great matches, was terrific.
This was a fast-paced, fluid match, a fact made more impressive when you consider the size of both men.
There were no rest holds or slow periods; this was 15 minutes of big impact.
Undertaker won the match to win his first ever World heavyweight championship, the first in a series of matches that were part of one of 2007's best feuds.
2. Edge vs. Chris Jericho, WrestleMania XXVI
Edge and Chris Jericho are two of the greatest and most respected wrestlers ever, so anticipation was high for their clash at WrestleMania XXVI.
To add to this, both superstars were fighting somewhat of an uphill battle.
Edge looked out of shape and was a little less consistent as a performer after his Achilles tendon injury.
The back story to the match was also very disappointing.
Both Edge and Jericho are capable of cutting outstanding promos, so the fact that the build-up essentially was the word "spear" is perplexing.
Thankfully, Edge was as good as ever and Jericho was excellent, as he almost always is.
The later part of the match was exciting and dramatic, with several creative counters and false finishes.
In the end, Jericho prevailed in what can be considered one of the biggest wins of his career.
1. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
It's hard to watch the main event of WrestleMania XX and not experience some contradictory feelings.
Admiring Chris Benoit is difficult given the way his life ended, but the truth is he was just so damn good.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels are legends who performed at their highest level, but it was Benoit who stole the show.
The match featured some great spots, such as the double suplex through the announce table and Michaels' explosive superkick on the Rabid Wolverine.
Much like WrestleMania 22's crowd was into Angle, this crowd cared for no one but Benoit.
This triple threat made all three men look fantastic, told an immensely satisfying story, and is one of WrestleMania's greatest matches ever.
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