10 Most Iconic Images in WWE History
Moments captured in time. Images evoke memories in an almost unparalleled manner, prompting us to remember the most compelling incidents imaginable. We remember with happiness, sadness, anger and disbelief. But we always remember certain moments.
WWE, being the most successful company in the history of professional wrestling, has provided fans with several of these moments. Men like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and the Undertaker have imprinted themselves into our minds. So too have their greatest moments, as well as the greatest moments experienced by many other wrestling legends.
These are the 10 most memorable, iconic images in WWE history.
The Unstoppable Force Meets the Immovable Object (WrestleMania 3)
In this match stood the most culturally relevant wrestler of the time. And I'm not talking about Hulk Hogan.
Andre the Giant was a celebrity before "Hulkamania" ran wild; he was "the Eighth Wonder of the World," a gargantuan individual whose colossal stature drew media attention like no other wrestler before.
This image, of him facing a rising star called Hulk Hogan, was the initiation of a new star. In what became known in professional wrestling as the ultimate example of passing the torch, Andre the Giant was defeated by the infinitely charismatic Hogan.
From then on, "Hulkamania" ran wild, brother.
The Boyhood Dream Comes True (WrestleMania XII)
Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, allow me to introduce to you, "The Showstopper; the Headliner; the Main Event; the Icon; Mr. WrestleMania!"
Indeed, it was this moment that catapulted HBK to stardom; this image is of him winning his first WWE Championship, an accomplishment that led to Vince McMahon legendarily claiming that "the boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!"
The rest, as they say, is history. HBK could easily have been remembered as one of the greatest wrestlers ever in WWE, but no more. By entrusting the smaller than average wrestler to carry the company, in the same way he did Bret Hart, Vince McMahon instead created a legend who is arguable the greatest performer in the history of WWE and professional wrestling.
Stone Cold Refuses To Submit (WrestleMania 13)
Broken, battered, and most of all, bloody, the valiant warrior refused to submit despite suffering through unbearable, unimaginable agony.
Except...Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn't supposed to be the valiant warrior. He wasn't supposed to be the vanquished hero. Austin was a villain...wasn't he?
That moment, captured forever in this image, in which Austin refused to give up in a submission match against the babyface of the match Bret Hart, was perhaps the most important in WWE history.
It was the orchestration of the ultimate double switch, where Hart's self-righteous attitude made him the heel, and Austin's defiance saw him become perhaps the biggest face in the history of the business.
With someone like John Cena, whose mantra is "Never Give Up," or even someone like the Rock or Undertaker, it couldn't have possibly worked as well. Austin, who exuded the image of a literal bad ass, was the right person, in the right place, at the right time. And from there, he led WWE to victory in the Monday Night Wars.
He became the valiant warrior.
The Montreal Screwjob (Survivor Series 1997)
A moment in professional wrestling that lives on in infamy, and no doubt, always will. The Montreal Screwjob, as it became known, has been discussed, analysed and argued more than any other issue in the history of wrestling. When Vince McMahon orchestrated a scheme that saw Bret Hart lose the WWE Championship despite being booked to retain, the entire industry was turned upside down.
The enduring image of this notorious incident, of course, is that of Shawn Michaels, co-conspirator in the act, holding "the Hitman" in his own finishing maneuver, the Sharpshooter, while referee Earl Hebner called for the bell despite the fact Hart hadn't submitted.
The Undertaker's Greatest Entrance (WrestleMania XIV)
The Undertaker, epitomised.
Generally, Undertaker's entrance, a combination of chilling music and exhilirating pyrotechnics, is considered by many to be the greatest entrance in professional wrestling. And of all the times he made his long, gradual walk to the ring, this is considered the most iconic
In the image, the Deadman is show proceeding slowly to the ring, where he would face his then-greatest challenge. Kane, a monster supposedly stronger, more evil and more unstoppable than the Undertaker could ever be. His younger brother.
Did Kane win?
It was at WrestleMania. Do the math.
Good God Almighty! He Killed Him! (King of the Ring 1998)
Incidentally, the title of this slide is perhaps the most iconic piece of commentary in professional wrestling. Only Good 'ol J.R. is capable of such appropriate words.
Mick Foley is many things.
A devoted family man.
A connoisseur of theme parks.
A best-selling author.
The most charismatic speaker in WWE history.
And the craziest figure in wrestling.
This image, of Foley being thrown from the top of a 16ft cell, confirmed it. It injured him beyond belief. It's the most watched clip in WWE history. It made Mick Foley a WWE legend.
And we loved it.
He's Smiling! (King of the Ring 1998)
Again, the title of this slide is an iconic, if inaccurate, piece of commentary from Jim Ross.
If falling 16ft from the top of a sell and crashing through a table wasn't enough to solidify Mick Foley as a tough, sadistic, crazy human being, then this image certainly did. Yes, people were mistaken in thinking he was smiling. In fact, he was sticking his tongue through a gap in his teeth.
The missing tooth, by the way, is what is hanging out of his nose. It was dislodged by a steel chair that fell with Foley through the roof of the cell and onto the hard mat of the ring. People were shocked, awed and impressed by this supposed show of testicular fortitude, and again, Foley had endeared himself to WWE fans worldwide.
Austin Sells His Soul to the Devil (WrestleMania X-7)
The end of an era. The crushing betrayal of a hero.
What you are looking at is the moment in which celebrated anti-hero Stone Cold Steve Austin sold out. To "the man", no less. A legendary representative of the blue-collar worker, Austin tore the heart out of WWE fans when he sold his soul in return for the WWE Championship, allying himself with Vince McMahon in order to overcome the Rock.
His sharing of a beer with McMahon, the drink which symbolised his anti-authority stance, only added insult to injury. This was the one of the biggest face-heel turns in the history of the business, second only to Hogan's betrayal of WCW during the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view.
In both cases, nothing was ever the same again.
Icon vs. Icon (WrestleMania X-8)
When two of the biggest icons in the industry face off, you're guaranteed an iconic image.
This was it.
It was a collision of the Immortal and the Great One.
It was a collision of Hogan and the Rock.
It was a collision of the "Hulkamaniacs" and the "millions of Rock Fans."
In the ring, the Rock won. Outside the ring, "Hulkamania" ran wild.
Despite a match that polarised fans and popular opinion, the WWE was left with one of its greatest moments, and this, one of its most iconic images.
Icon vs. Icon, indeed.
Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero (WrestleMania XX)
This image has so many connotations, it's impossible to list them all.
Ask WWE fans what this picture means to them, and the multitude of different answers you'd receive would be astounding. At WrestleMania XX, two of the greatest in-ring performers in professional wrestling, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, closed the show as World Champions.
In a business notorious for emphasising size and stature over genuine talent, this was phenomenal. Both men toiled tirelessly throughout their careers to stand atop the mountain, travelling all over the world to refine their in-ring performances. They were truly deserving of this moment, which at the time was one of the most heartwarming in wrestling history.
It was a dream. It became a nightmare.
What happened in the next few years shocked, devastated and appalled fans. Eddie Guerrero, still in his prime and more popular than he'd ever been, died of heart complications in 2005. In 2007, Chris Benoit committed suicide after murdering his wife and child, the ultimate black mark on the history of professional wrestling.
Fans look at this image and remember a moment of such unadulterated joy that it makes the way the lives of both men transpired more bitter, tragic and troubling than ever.
In an image that displays both men as heroes, one man's legacy remains pure. Eddie Guerrero is perhaps the most beloved wrestler of all time. The other man's legacy is irreparably shattered; Chris Benoit is the most divisive, controversial and disquieting wrestler in history.
Bonus: CM Punk Wins WWE Championship (Money in the Bank 2011)
Is this an iconic image? Not yet. But one day? Maybe.
This image could one day be looked at and determined as the moment in which the WWE entered a new era of programming. On the other hand, it could one day be looked at as a moment in which WWE promised fans something new and exciting only to snatch it cruelly away.
Have I missed any images? Do any of the images I've included not deserve to be on the list? If so, comment below or contact me on Twitter