Due to WrestleMania's immense popularity with WWE fans, it is quite surprising that many of the earlier WrestleManias were never released on single DVDs. Thanks to the WWE's partnership with Walmart, however, that is no longer the case as every 'Mania from I through XV is currently available.
Those WrestleManias were formerly only on the market as part of box sets, but now WWE fans can pick and choose which ones they want to watch. As a huge fan of late-1980s and early-1990s wrestling, these releases are certainly right in my wheelhouse and it's fair to say that the same is true for many of the company's current fans.
As much as I enjoy the time period from WrestleMania I through WrestleMania XV, not every event is required viewing. There is no question that something good can be taken from every WrestleMania, but some of them are lacking from an overall entertainment perspective, so you shouldn't rush out to add them to your collection.
Here are the top five WrestleManias from I through XV that are must-buys for any wrestling fan. Perhaps some fans may not be familiar with them due to their limited availability over the years, but there is no doubt that they deserve a spot on every wrestling fan's shelf.
While many fans seem to view WrestleMania I as an average 'Mania in retrospect, the pageantry of the event outweighs the in-ring action. With WrestleMania XXIX set to take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in a few weeks, there is no question that the show of shows has become a huge success. When Vince McMahon launched WrestleMania I, however, that was far from a sure thing.
Prior to WrestleMania I, most of the WWE's exposure came through syndicated television shows as well as house shows at Madison Square Garden and other Northeastern venues. McMahon had a grand vision for his company, though, as he wanted to do away with territorial wrestling by expanding it across the United States and across the globe as well.
There were admittedly quite a few filler matches on the WrestleMania I card as the actual wrestling portion of the show did resemble a house show more than anything.
The main event is one that will always be remembered, though, as Hulk Hogan teamed with Mr. T to defeat "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. In addition to that, Muhammad Ali served as a special guest referee in the match, so it was about as star-studded as could be in 1985.
McMahon aimed to mix wrestling and mainstream stars in order to generate mass appeal, and he definitely succeeded in that regard. In addition to Mr. T and Ali, other top entertainers such as Cyndi Lauper and Liberace were featured throughout the night. McMahon wanted WrestleMania I to transcend professional wrestling as the fans knew it at the time, and that was clearly the case.
WrestleMania I may not be the greatest 'Mania of all time, but it was the first and it's an event that every wrestling fan must watch at least once.
WrestleMania III may have only taken place two years after the original, but the WWE definitely took some big steps during that time frame. There was still plenty of focus on making it an event that anyone could enjoy, but it resembled present-day WrestleManias more than it did WrestleMania I. Perhaps the biggest reason for that was the fact that it took place at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich.
The WWE exclusively utilizes large stadiums for WrestleMania these days, and WrestleMania III was the first instance of that. A record-breaking 93,173 fans attended the event, which is still a record for the WWE. In fact, it was a record among all North American indoor sporting events until 108,713 people attended the 2010 NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium.
Even though WrestleMania III's record has been broken, it is still among the most memorable 'Mania's of all time. The main event in particular was something special as Hulk Hogan retained his WWE Championship against Andre the Giant, who was billed as undefeated.
Hogan slammed Andre in the match as well, and even though it wasn't the first time somebody slammed him, it was the first time it occurred in front of a widespread audience.
As great as the atmosphere was for that match, most argue that the Intercontinental Championship bout between Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat truly stole the show. Steamboat ultimately won the match after plenty of back-and-forth action. Many wrestling aficionados consider it to be the greatest WrestleMania encounter ever.
When you add those two iconic matches to the overall scope of the event itself, it is blatantly obvious that WrestleMania III is a must-own DVD.
There have been a lot of highly-anticipated WrestleMania main events over the years, but few have ever measured up to "The Ultimate Challenge" at WrestleMania VI. The top attraction of the night featured WWE Champion Hulk Hogan against Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior with both titles on the line. It was the first time that two top faces had locked horns at such a huge event and it made for an awesome atmosphere.
The show itself was the first WrestleMania to take place outside of the United States as it was staged at the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto faithful proved to be among the greatest 'Mania crowds ever as they were excited from start to finish and were particularly engaged during the Hogan vs. Warrior match. That match was far from a technical masterpiece, but both men played to the crowd and put on a fantastic exhibition.
Since I wasn't even a year old at the time, I'm not sure how the fans felt about the match heading into it, but I would imagine that most expected Warrior to come out on top due to the "Ultimate Challenge" tagline as well as the fact that Warrior was a rising star. At the same time, Hogan was similar to what John Cena is now, so I'm sure that there were plenty of fans out there who believed that Hogan would once again overcome the odds.
Warrior did prevail, though, in a memorable pass-the-torch moment. There was a lot of filler on the card aside from that match as was the case with most of the earlier WrestleManias, but Demolition beating the Colossal Connection for the Tag Team Championships, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake vs. Mr. Perfect and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts were all solid bouts as well.
Based purely on the main event, however, the WrestleMania VI DVD should most definitely be on your wish list.
I didn't have the pleasure of watching WrestleMania X live as I didn't become a wrestling fan until one year later in 1995, but it stands as my favorite WrestleMania to date nonetheless. Some WrestleManias have been considered a success in the past due to one great match, but WrestleMania X featured arguably two of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history as well as two separate WWE Championship matches on the same card.
Choosing the best match at WrestleMania X is essentially the same as flipping a coin. There are two top-notch options in the form of Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, which opened the show, and the Intercontinental Championship ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels, which was the second-to-last bout on the card. Both of them were absolutely fantastic in a very different ways and they featured four of the most popular performers of all time.
The opener between Bret and Owen was special as it pitted two brothers against each other in a big-time grudge match. The action was incredible as it seemed like each wrestler knew what the other was going to do. Seeing as how they learned the craft together, that shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. One thing that did shock a lot of people, however, was the fact that Owen won the match with a roll-up and showed up his brother.
As good as Bret vs. Owen was in terms of regular matches, the Razor vs. Michaels ladder match was quite unique. Ladder matches had been done before in other promotions and even in the WWE, but they had never been featured on the big stage.
Razor and HBK fed off each other extremely well and truly put ladder matches on the map. Michaels lost the match, but it can be argued that the loss marked his arrival as Mr. WrestleMania.
In addition to those great contests, both Lex Luger and Bret Hart had WWE Championship matches against Yokozuna as they were declared co-winners of the Royal Rumble.
Luger came up short in his match as he lost by disqualification, but Hart was victorious in the main event, which resulted in him winning the title and getting revenge on Yoko from the previous year.
Some WrestleManias are great for their matches while others are great for their historical significance. Very few are remembered for both, but WrestleMania XIV definitely fits into that category. The Attitude Era was still in its infancy in March 1998, however, WrestleMania XIV put it over the top as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship in the main event to usher in a new age.
Despite Michaels' mounting injuries, he put on a fantastic show as always in the main event against Austin. The true focus was on Mike Tyson, though, as he served in a special outside-enforcer role. Tyson had joined forces with D-Generation X during the road to WrestleMania, but he swerved everyone when he made the count for Austin and raised his hand in victory. With that win, Austin became WWE Champion and the official face of the company if he wasn't already.
The second-to-last match on the card was also fantastic as The Undertaker defeated Kane in the first of many encounters between them. Another match that many fans remember fondly is the dumpster match between the team of Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie and the New Age Outlaws.
The object of the match was to lock one of the teams in a dumpster, which Jack and Charlie did successfully after plenty of hardcore brawling to become Tag Team Champions.
Even the undercard was stacked with underrated bouts that most fans would really enjoy. Triple H vs. Owen Hart for the European Championship was a nice supporting match, as was the Light heavyweight Championship battle between Taka Michinoku and Aguila. There was a ton of action from start to finish and there weren't really any boring parts of the show.
Pretty much any Attitude Era fan will tell you that WrestleMania XIV was fantastic and I certainly won't argue with that assertion. If you haven't seen it, then you should absolutely buy WrestleMania XIV on DVD, and even if you have you should buy it anyway.