Greatest WrestleMania Match of All Time Tournament: Round 1 (Austin Bracket)

Eric Kanes@EricKanesContributor IIIMarch 13, 2011

Greatest WrestleMania Match of All Time Tournament: Round 1 (Austin Bracket)

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    What's up, ladies and gentlemen? My name is Eric Kanes, and I welcome you to Round 1 of the "Greatest WrestleMania Match of All Time" tournament that I am hosting this year.

    We’ve got four head-to-head matchups. Vote how you want by picking the match that you feel is better. It’s your choice. Vote in the comment section and feel free to justify each pick. Voting will be open for 72 hours.

    Note: These are not the only eight matches involved in the tournament. There is a total of 32 matches involved and this is only the first of four first round brackets. You can view the complete list of matches involved and the complete list of rules right here:

    And without any further ado, here are the eight matches involved in the first round of the Austin Bracket.

1. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 25)

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    The 2009 Match of the Year saw the two longest-tenured performers in WWE face off at the 25th anniversary of WrestleMania. The result was a show-stealing match thanks to some of the best nearfall sequences ever and that one awesome facial expression from the Undertaker where he was like, "What the hell?" This was a classic in every sense of the word, and this turned out to be one of the greatest matches in wrestling history—not just WrestleMania history.

vs. 8. Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 24)

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    Rather than being a technical classic like Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25, this was more of a psychological classic.

    In January of 2008, Vince McMahon made the stipulation that Ric Flair had to win every match in which he competed from that point on, or else, he would be forced to retire. Everybody knew that Flair's WWE career was coming to an end, so every near fall in this match was a huge deal and had everyone on the edge of their seats.

    Of course, this match is not as special in the modern day as it was then due to the fact that financial woes forced Flair to come out of retirement and work for TNA. However, this still turned out to be one of the best matches of 2008, and it also helped set up the brilliant Jericho-Michaels feud and that is enough to garner this match a spot in this tournament.

2. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WM 10)

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    This match had a great story behind it with Bret Hart not wanting to fight his younger brother but having to if he wanted a title match later on in the night.

    In retrospect, this was also perfect booking. Bret could afford the loss because he was booked to win the title later on in the night, and now, they had a feud to carry them through the summer.

    This is as good a technical match as there's ever been at a WrestleMania, and it still holds up 17 years later. I'll also go on record and say that this had to be the best WrestleMania opener in history.

vs. 7. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (WM 25)

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    Going head-to-head with Bret vs. Owen is another brother vs. brother feud.

    This started all the way back in November of 2008 when somebody kept trying to hurt Jeff Hardy by crashing his car, burning him with pyros, etc. Jeff went on to win the world title for the first time in December at the Armageddon pay-per-view and was about to retain it at Royal Rumble when Matt Hardy interfered and cost him the title. This set up their feud with the story being that Matt felt overshadowed throughout his entire career.

    My thoughts on the feud? It was lackluster, and that's a nice way of putting it. The promos were hard to get into and felt forced. It doesn't help that neither Matt nor Jeff are any good on the mic.

    My thoughts on the actual match? It was fantastic with many memorable spots and would have stolen the show if not for the epic Michaels-Taker match. When the topic of the greatest WrestleMania match is brought up, this match is often overlooked due to the fact that it was overshadowed by Taker-Michaels and the fact that the feud was not very good but it was a solid ***1/2 match and that lands it a spot in this tournament.

3. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (WM 20)

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    The best triple threat match ever? A lot of people would say yes.

    This was Benoit's best shot at winning the world title, and he'd have to do it against two main event regulars. This was Benoit's big breakthrough after many years as a midcarder, and he had a hot New York crowd behind him every step of the way.

vs. 6. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 10)

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    Shawn Michaels did not win this match, but when all was said and done, he proved to the entire wrestling world that he did have what it takes to be the best in the business. I'd say that this is where he officially became Mr. WrestleMania.

    This match was also for the Intercontinental Championship which shows you just how prestigious that title was back then and how much its prestige has deteriorated since then. Just a kickass match that deserves all the praise it has ever received.

4. John Cena vs. Batista (WM 26)

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    This is what many would call the Rock vs. Austin match of this generation.

    The top two stars of this generation would go at it in a match that was half a decade in the making and the story behind it was legit as well. The story was that both Batista & John Cena won a world title on the exact same night at WrestleMania 21, but ever since then, John Cena went on to become the poster boy for the company whereas Batista was forgotten about and got kind of lost in the shuffle. The story was that if Batista won, he would be the poster boy for the company, and he would finally get to be the top guy.

    Of course, there was a lot of doubts about this match because neither guy has ever been known for their ability to work great matches. However, they proved everybody wrong when they went out there and put on a fantastic ***3/4 match. I was in attendance for this match in the University of Phoenix Stadium, and I have to say that the crowd was phenomenal. The last five minutes were very exciting even if you aren't a fan of either guy. This also turned out to be the Badass Grandpa's last feud in WWE.

    At the end of the day, say what you want about either guy, but this was a match that will be remembered for years to come.

    On a side note, I couldn't find the full match on YouTube, so I put up a pretty sick highlight video instead.

vs. 5. Batista vs. Undertaker (WM 23)

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    Just like with the Cena-Batista match, there was some doubt about whether these two guys could put on a decent match but lo and behold and four years later, this match is (personally) considered to be one of the top 32 WrestleMania matches of all time. The Batista powerslam through the announce table was the spot of the match and was certainly an awesome visual.

    The ending sequence with the chokeslam, Batista Bomb and Tombstone was predictable yet still awesome with lots of near falls. On a night with a stacked card involving matches such as John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit vs. MVP and the most star-studded Money in the Bank match to date, this is the match that stole the show.

    Props to both of these guys for putting on a ****16-minute match that did not have any slow-down spots.

Final Bracket

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    In conclusion, in case you didn't catch it, here is the final Austin bracket:


    1. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 25)


    8. Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 24)


    2. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WM 10)


    7. Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (WM 25)


    3. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit (WM 20)


    6. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (WM 10)


    4. John Cena vs. Batista (WM 26)


    5. Batista vs. Undertaker (WM 23)


    On a personal update, there will be no RAW Review or Smack Talk this week as I have a very busy work week. However, I will still be posting the tournament brackets every day so stay on the lookout for those. The Michaels Bracket will be posted tomorrow afternoon but until then, I'm out.