After years of memorable matches on the year's biggest stage, 'The Heartbreak Kid' Shawn Michaels has gone from the 'Show-stopper,' to the 'The Main Event,' and eventually to the greatest title of all, 'Mr. WrestleMania.'
But should we trust another slogan or title being fed to us by the WWE? Let's examine some other viable candidates and see if anyone else has a justifiable shot at the title.
12 consecutive WrestleManias from the Rock n’ Wrestling era, through the New Generation, and into the dawn of the Attitude Era.
Bret Hart was there for it all and enjoyed three Main Events (IX, X, XII), two PWI Matches of the Year, against Michaels and Austin, and fought in memorable title bouts for each of the top 3 belts, and this is not even including his outstanding opening match against his brother Owen and WrestleMania X.
He often carried lesser men to great heights. Could Shawn Michaels have made Bob Backlund look good? Did Bob Backlund ever look good?
The Game is nearing his 14th Wrestlemania in 15 years and has enjoyed main event status on six cards. The problem with making a case for Triple H is that much of his headline status fails to deliver.
He has enjoyed good matches with Owen Hart and the Undertaker, but his Main Event matches against Chris Jericho (X8), Batista (21), John Cena (22), and Randy Orton (XXV), and in the Fatal Four Way (2000) were all borderline stinkers.
His strongest main event was with two great workers in Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels. And don’t forget the squash job by Warrior.
A random choice, I know. But the man has the resume despite a long absence from WWE television.
His encounter with George ‘The Animal’ Steele (WM II) was more entertaining than it was technical, but it also paved the way for what is probably the greatest match in history, against Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III.
He then followed it up with two consecutive main events, first winning four matches in one night to succeed Hulk Hogan as the first long-running champion in five years (WM IV), and then main eventing against Hogan a year later.
His retirement match at WM VII against the Warrior was exceptional, despite the below average work rate of his prima donna opponent.
One year later, he defeated the legendary Ric Flair for his second World Title in a classic match. Savage even provided commentary at Wrestlemania IX before one final match the following year.
Does The Macho Man at least deserve enough respect to be in the conversation?
I know… Kane would not be in anyone’s conversation, considering all he will have accomplished after this year’s main event is to have competed on a record 13 straight WrestleMania cards.
His matches are versatile (MITB, Hardcore, Singles, and Tag Team) and almost always forgettable… But if Mr. WrestleMania represents the guy who shows up year after year to compete in whatever capacity he is needed, then Kane is your man.
Just book the poor guy a good storyline already, though.
An obvious candidate. Taker holds the records for most WrestleMania cards and most wins (both at 17). His streak is the stuff of legends, though many of his matches have been against throwaway opponents like King Kong Bundy or Mark Henry.
Some of his matches have been exceptional (Shawn Michaels, Triple H) and some complete stinkers (Mark Henry, King Kong Bundy). While he has enjoyed a longer uninterrupted run at the top than anyone else, Taker has only appeared in the main event twice (XIII and XXIV), and has seldom carried a card on his back.
With sheer numbers and this kind of dominance, can an argument be made that 'Mr. WrestleMania' is this victorious mainstay?
Hogan competed in eleven Wrestlemanias, and a legitimate argument can be made that he headlined every single of them. He has an era all to himself from 1985-1992.
He main evented the first WrestleMania and headlined the largest indoor event ever at the time in 1987 against Andre the Giant.
His match with the Ultimate Warrior was talked about on every playground in North America in 1990 and he brought the house down against The Rock 12 years later, stealing the show and winning PWI Match of the Year honors.
As a sheer drawing power, and the main who carried the first nine WrestleManias on his back, should the legendary Hulk Hogan lay claim to the title of the REAL Mr. Wrestlemania… and then hand it over to Abyss?
While Austin had an epic WM encounter with Bret Hart, and The Rock with Hogan, these two men will be remembered more for the only trilogy in WrestleMania history, and all three matches were classics.
While neither man has the volume of work at Mania to compete with a Taker or a Michaels, they each made more of a lasting impact individually and as opponents on the wrestling industry than anyone since Hogan, and they did it with only a fraction of the matches.
Honorable mention status to both men.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is the one WrestleMania mainstay that has survived every step of the way, producing the first card when everyone told him he was crazy, and now preparing to face Bret Hart in just a few weeks at the 26th installment of the WWE's flagship Pay Per View.
He put on the biggest live draw in North American wrestling history at WM III, and gave fans countless creative spectacles over the years, from the three city event of WM II, to the Title Tournament at WM IV and the Hogan-Warrior showdown at WM VI (every kid's dream match they thought they'd NEVER see), not to mention all of the other memorable cards over the years.
McMahon IS the WWE and the WWE's biggest show IS WrestleMania. But could the REAL Mr. WrestleMania really be 0-5 at his own event?
Edge, Cena, Orton... These are just a few of the names already building huge resumes.
Cena will be fighting in his sixth straight title match at a WrestleMania, and Edge already has a strong Main Event performance against Taker to go along with World Title Matches and back-to-back TLC show-stealers with Christian.
Orton is already on a fast-track to the Hall of Fame, getting better with every match...If Michaels truly is Mr. WrestleMania, how long will his claim to the title last?
Despite all of the others in the conversation, Michaels stands tall above the rest.
He has certainly earned the praise with hard work, a career resurgence, and a fierce legion of fans that repeatedly make sure his Mania matches win Match of the Year Honors year after year, sometimes deserving (against Hart, Taker, and Angle), and sometimes laughably unworthy (against McMahon).
He carried a flabby Ric Flair, who frankly had no business being in the ring with anyone anymore, to an epic finish in his ‘retirement match,’ and made the ladder match mainstream against Razor Ramon at Wrestlemania X.
Even on the losing end, Michaels always comes out the better, and this year should be no different.
He has competed in six World Title Matches and 9 of his PWI Match of the Year wins have come on the grandest stage of them all.
No one will ever be able to come close to scratching the surface of his accomplishments, and despite my initial skepticism, Mr. WrestleMania might be the greatest title he has ever worn.