WWE

WrestleMania XXX: Most Underrated Matches in Event's History

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

WrestleMania XXX: Most Underrated Matches in Event's History

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Some of the greatest matches in wrestling history have taken place on the grand stage known as WrestleMania.

    Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart and Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels are just a few of the matches that will live forever in the annals of the sport's biggest event.

    Throughout 30 years of WrestleMania, however, there have been more than a few matches that have flown under the radar in terms of appreciation.

    These are the matches that were forced to go on early in the card, matches that were used to set the stage for the night's main events. Some were overshadowed by a better match, while others were forgotten thanks to a memorable moment that simply outshined it.

    Whatever the case may be, there are several very good matches that have not had the spotlight shone on them in the way that they should.

    This list will feature the usual players, such as Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels, but will also showcase some matches from a few of WWE's greatest workhorses.

    What matches are they? Which Superstars will finally have their hard work recognized?

    Find out after the jump.

    These are just eight of the most underrated matches in WrestleMania history.

     

    Ranked in chronological order.

The Rockers vs. Barbarian and Haku (WrestleMania 7)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One of the better opening matches in the history of WrestleMania occurred in 1991 at WrestleMania VII when The Rockers took on Barbarian and Haku.

    Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels, despite not having been given a chance to run with the Tag titles to that point, were arguably the best and most over tag team in WWE and got the fans inside the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on their feet from the start. 

    A fast-paced match early gave way to a slower, more methodical and power-based bout, as Barbarian and Haku took control. They dominated the middle portion of the match by using their significant power advantage to keep Jannetty isolated from his partner.

    Eventually, the hot tag was made, and Michaels entered the ring, injecting the match with energy and excitement.

    A missile dropkick from Jannetty, followed by a high cross body block from Michaels spelled the end for the Bobby Heenan-managed villains.

    The match was an example of the tag team formula done to perfection and really set the standard for what would become a tradition of delivering hot opening matches to set the stage for the remainder of the night's festivities.

Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania VII)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The second match from WrestleMania VII to appear on this list, the WWE title match between Hulk Hogan and Sgt. Slaughter is a very good, old school-style wrestling match that featured blood and really sold Slaughter as a threat to Hogan's dominance, not to mention the American spirit.

    Slaughter was in the middle of a career renaissance and had completed a heel turn that garnered him legitimate heat with fans. In the middle of Desert Storm, he sided with Iraq and became the most hated villain in all of professional wrestling.

    The conviction with which he cut promos denouncing the United States and applauding the enemy did such a great job of putting over the character that both Slaughter and Vince McMahon received death threats from irate fans.

    Hogan, as he had been so many times throughout his career, was the American hero who stood up for the country and its people. The No. 1 contender to the WWE title, he also had the opportunity to take the strap from the Iraqi sympathizer.

    After taking every blow and every bit of energy that Slaughter had to dish out, Hogan "Hulked up," delivered his tried and true leg drop and scored the pinfall victory and his third WWE Championship.

    A very physical match in which Hogan resembled an '80s action star, fighting through pain and blood to vanquish the vile villain and restore order.

Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 9)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The opening contest of 1993's WrestleMania IX saw Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels defend his title against the undefeated Native American competitor Tatanka.

    It was the biggest match of Tatanka's career to that point, and the relative newcomer was determined to deliver a performance that would let the world know that he was for real. Michaels, on the other hand, had been involved in the main event of Survivor Series 1992, taking on Bret Hart for the WWE title. That match, the best on the show, really cemented Michaels as one of the brightest young workers in the business.

    Heading into WrestleMania IX, he was really finding his stride as a singles worker and was growing as a performer with every match that passed. His bout with Tatanka would provide him the opportunity to steal the show on what was an otherwise very underwhelming card, capped by Hulk Hogan's return and a Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna match that lacked a certain sense of anticipation.

    With purpose and determination fueling them, Michaels and Tatanka delivered a very good match that saved WrestleMania IX from being even worse than it wound up.

    Michaels controlled the match, as he was expected to given his experience advantage, and did a tremendous job of bumping around the squared circle and making the No. 1 contender to his title look like a legitimate threat to take it away.

    Tatanka was crisp is all of his maneuvers and demonstrated a very real chemistry with the Heartbreak Kid.

    The outside interactions between Sensational Sherri and Luna Vachon did little to hurt the overall quality of the match.

    Tatanka won the match by disqualification, but it was the champion who had the last laugh as he left Las Vegas with the title still.

Chicago Street Fight (WrestleMania 13)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania 13 is remembered as one of the worst shows in event history—the Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart match not withstanding—but there was another very good match on the card that continues to be overlooked to this day.

    While it may be looked back upon as overly long and unsatisfactory in its conclusion, the feud between Ahmed Johnson and the Nation of Domination was one of the hottest of late 1996 and early 1997. Johnson was an incredibly intense individual, and it was not a stretch for fans to believe that his hatred for Nation leader Faarooq was very real.

    The two Superstars had injured one another in '96 and competed for the first time against one another at the Royal Rumble in January. His issues with Faarooq were unsettled and sensing that the numbers advantage for the Nation was becoming too much, Johnson recruited two partners with roots in Chicago, home of that year's WrestleMania.

    Hawk and Animal, the spike-wearing Legion of Doom, returned to WWE in early 1997 and aligned themselves with Johnson in his war with the Nation. The culmination of the six-man rivalry would come on March 23, as the rough and tough babyfaces took on Faarooq, Crush and Savio Vega in a Chicago Street Fight.

    A wild, chaotic and violent match featured everything, including the elusive kitchen sink.

    Blood was spilled, bodies were beaten and a young D'Lo Brown was driven through a table courtesy of Ahmed Johnson and the Pearl River Plunge.

    Ultimately, the babyfaces were victorious in what was a precursor to the many hardcore matches the company would produce over the next five years. 

Marc Mero and Sable vs. Goldust and Luna Vachon (WrestleMania XIV)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania XIV is one of the most important pay-per-views in WWE history.

    It featured the coronation of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the top star in the industry, the rise of The Rock to prominence, Triple H saving the night for DX early in the broadcast and the first of many hard-hitting wars between Undertaker and Kane.

    All of those men would become instrumental in the success of the Attitude Era, a period of time in which WWE would rise from the ashes to overtake WCW in the Monday Night Wars and eventually put the rival company out of business. One other performer, a stunning blonde bombshell of a woman, would be equally as important.

    Her name was Sable, and her crowning achievement came on that same night when she teamed with Marc Mero to take on Goldust and Luna.

    The match was beautifully built, as Mero and Goldust did most of the heavy lifting, but Sable exploded into the ring, showing great intensity and aggression while doing so, and laid into both of her opponents. The crowd ate it all up, as the beautiful blonde released her frustration on Luna, planting her with a power bomb and TKO, Mero's finisher, for the win.

    The match was the coming-out party for Sable, who was already wildly popular, but she backed up that popularity and a major push with a performance in a high-pressure situation that really confirmed the company's faith in her.

    As the sex symbol for WWE during its hottest period, Sable became as big a star as her male counterparts, and in 1999, she appeared on the cover of Playboy, which became the hottest-selling issue in years.

Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon (WrestleMania 17)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There are a handful of matches from WrestleMania X-7 that are remembered fondly for their quality, the stories they told and the effect that they had on the weeks, months and even years that followed.

    One of those matches is the Street Fight between father and son, WWE and WCW owners, as Vince McMahon took on Shane McMahon midway through the greatest pay-per-view event of all time.

    The match is often praised, but does that praise do it any actual justice?

    Both McMahons beat the unholy hell out of one another using their bare hands and an array of weapons. The top-rope elbow drop from Shane, which resulted in him crashing through an announce table after sister Stephanie pulled Vince off of it, was breathtaking.

    Better than all of the actual action were the superbly orchestrated culminations to the side stories that went into making the match a reality in the first place.

    Trish Stratus wheeling a catatonic Linda McMahon to ringside, then betraying Vince with a hard slap after weeks of degradation and humiliation was perfectly done, as was the cat fight with Stephanie that led to their exit from ringside.

    Linda McMahon rising from her chair after weeks of living in a catatonic state, thanks to huge doses of medication from Vince, and delivering a low blow to her husband was not only an amazing moment, it received one of the loudest pops in WrestleMania history.

    Mick Foley, the special guest referee, assaulting Vince and setting him up for a Van Terminator from Shane helped pay off a story that started four months earlier when Foley was unceremoniously fired.

    And finally, Shane's sweet victory meant that the evil Mr. McMahon, who had toyed with and manipulated people for an entire year, would not leave the event with his head held high.

    Or would he?

Chris Jericho vs. Christian (WrestleMania XX)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania XX was a show that was rich with high-profile, main event matches. Each one had fans talking the following day, but it was one bout that took place on the undercard of the show that remains underappreciated for its stellar quality some 10 years later.

    Chris Jericho vs. Christian had a tremendous story attached to it, dating back some five months to a bet made between the longtime friends and tag team partners.

    Jericho and Christian made a one-dollar (CANADIAN!) bet over which one could sleep with their desired Diva first. Jericho had his sights set on Trish Stratus, while Christian focused on Lita. As is the case with most terrible guys, their plan ended up being broadcast to the world.

    Christian's budding relationship with Lita did not fair so well, but when Jericho revealed that he had very real feelings for Trish, the two became closer and closer. The relationship necessitated a babyface turn for Jericho and as the weeks wore on, it became clearer that Christian was not thrilled that his best friend had began a relationship that threatened their team.

    Eventually, Christian assaulted both Trish and Jericho leading into WrestleMania XX, and a match between the former friends was booked for the show.

    Jericho and Christian, two of the best in-ring workers of their era, delivered a very good match that lasted just under 15 minutes. Jericho showed great fire and intensity early, as he unleashed his anger on the former Intercontinental champion.

    Captain Charisma slowed things down a bit and took control, but the former partners knew each other so well that they were able to escape by countering signature moves.

    Late in the match, Trish made her way to the ring and almost instantly became a target for Christian. He brought her into the ring by her hair, then shoved her down in the corner. When Jericho attempted to check on her, she caught him with what appeared to be an inadvertent elbow, allowing Christian to roll him up and score a cheap win.

    After the match, Trish slapped Jericho and revealed her relationship with Christian to the shock of the Madison Square Garden crowd.

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania 27)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The rivalry between Randy Orton and CM Punk started in February at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view when Orton was controversially eliminated by Punk, who had used a loophole in the rules to avoid elimination himself. 

    It bled into Raw each and every week leading up to the Showcase of the Immortals, as Orton systematically injured and eliminated each member of the New Nexus until there was no one left between him and his rival.

    At WrestleMania, the two Superstars took to the ring for one of the night's undercard bouts. By the end of the show, it was considered the best match of the evening depending on one's opinions of the Undertaker-Triple H showdown.

    Seemingly motivated more than he had been recently, Punk turned in a fine performance, as he targeted the leg of his opponent. Unfortunately, all of the work on the limb of Orton could not prevent the Viper from striking. 

    As Punk launched himself off the ropes, he did so right into the waiting arms of Orton, who delivered the RKO and scored the win.

     

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