Reliving the Biggest Pops and Mark-out Moments in WWE WrestleMania History

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2018

Reliving the Biggest Pops and Mark-out Moments in WWE WrestleMania History

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    WrestleMania is the biggest WWE event of the year, and it brings together diehard wrestling fans from around the world to create a crazy atmosphere in the host city.

    A consequence of having such a high concentration of people with intense knowledge about the product—as opposed to a typical Raw or SmackDown where it's a mix of serious fans and casual viewers—is that the audience becomes tough to impress.

    So it takes a truly special moment in order to get a massive pop at the Showcase of the Immortals. That's especially true given the current state of internet reporting on the company, which often spoils the major returns that would have caused a memorable Mania reaction in yesteryear.

    With that in mind, let's check out some of the best pops in WrestleMania history ahead of this year's showcase in New Orleans on April 8.

Hulk Hogan Defeats Andre the Giant (1987)

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    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Although the first two WrestleMania shows laid the foundation for long-term success, WrestleMania III highlighted the potential of the event.

    The main event saw fan favorite Hulk Hogan taking on monster heel Andre the Giant. After a back-and-forth battle, the crowd was built into a frenzy by the time Hogan lifted his massive counterpart for a body slam before hitting his patented leg drop to retain the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

    Proverbially speaking, the eruption from the over 93,000 in attendance at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan that night still lingers as WrestleMania rolls on three decades later.

Stone Cold Steve Austin Wins WWF Championship (2001)

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    Stuart Ramson/Associated Press

    Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock is one of the greatest matchups in WWE history. Two wrestlers deserving of a place on the company's Mount Rushmore battling in the main event of WrestleMania X-Seven is one of the matches fans won't soon forget.

    What made it even more special was Austin aligning with longtime rival Vince McMahon, who handed the Rattlesnake the chair he'd use to incapacitate The People's Champion, creating a massive swerve after the pair served as perfect storyline rivals in the years prior.

    Seeing Stone Cold and Mr. McMahon celebrating together, and chugging beers to close out the show was something that should land on every Mania highlight reel until the end of time, and it drew a great reaction from the crowd.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan Given Hero's Welcome (2002)

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    J. Pat Carter/Associated Press

    The WWE expected Hogan to receive backlash from fans when he returned to the company for WrestleMania X8 after leaving for rival WCW during the Monday Night Wars.

    Fans in Toronto didn't stick to the script, though. They cheered like Hulkamaniacs when he took on The Rock, starting with a massive pop when he came out for the match. It made for an interesting battle since the NWO member used heel tactics throughout.

    Nevertheless, Hogan continued to get cheered after taking the loss, which led The Rock to get him to accept the crowd's praise as part of a face turn that ended his time with the NWO.

The Rock Shocks John Cena After Year-Long Build (2012)

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    One night after WrestleMania XXVII, which saw The Rock help The Miz defeat John Cena for the WWE Championship, The Great One and the leader of the Cenation agreed to fight one year later at WrestleMania XXVIII.

    Prevailing wisdom throughout the on-and-off feud over the next 12 months suggested the match would be a chance for Rocky to pass the torch to Cena. Of course, that didn't appeal to the smarks, who'd become tired of the shtick used by the current face of the WWE.

    Instead, The Rock ended up pulling off the shocking victory, much to the delight of the crowd in Miami, where he played college football for The U. He'd lose the rematch one year later, but his win in 2012 showed it was still possible to surprise the crowd.

Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock Open Show (2014)

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    WrestleMania XXX provided one of the most electric atmospheres in the Show of Shows' rich history.

    Hogan kicked off the telecast as host of the event and made a flub, accidentally calling New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome the Silverdome, where his match with Andre the Giant took place.

    Luckily, the roof nearly blew off the arena when he was unexpectedly joined by Austin and then The Rock for a star-studded opening promo about their involvement in past Manias. Both of them also provided some light-hearted ribbing about the Silverdome remark.

    It set the tone for what would become a memorable night for the WWE Universe.

Daniel Bryan Captures WWE World Heavyweight Championship (2014)

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    WrestleMania XXX started with a bang thanks to Hogan, Austin and The Rock, and it ended with one too as Bryan's "Yes! Movement" finally reached the mountaintop.

    Bryan's ascent to the top of the WWE showed the fans do have power. He didn't fit the mold of a prototypical top title-holder as an average-sized, technically strong wrestler compared to most of the champions, who usually feature abnormally large frames or statuesque physiques.

    Yet when he started to receive support from both the passionate and casual fans, the company had no choice but to give him the push he richly deserved. And one of the best storylines since the Attitude Era came to a pinnacle at WrestleMania.

    After Bryan defeated Triple H earlier in the evening to earn a title shot, he overcame both Batista and Randy Orton in the main event. The enthusiastic "Yes!" chant from the crowd as he stood in the ring holding the belts is a moment members of the WWE Universe will never forget.

Seth Rollins Cashes in Money in the Bank Briefcase to Win Title (2015)

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    Don Feria/Associated Press

    One year after intense WWE fans received what they wanted with Bryan, there was fear the company would go against their wishes by letting Roman Reigns beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 31.

    In many ways, Reigns has done everything right since The Shield broke up. He's developed into a strong worker who does the heavy lifting by headlining house shows around the country while John Cena is off trying to make himself into a Hollywood star.

    Yet the Big Dog hasn't been able to earn the backing of the smark crowd, though there's no doubt he's immensely popular among young portions of the audience. The former group makes up much of the Mania crowd, however, which made it feel like a riot would break out if he defeated Lesnar.

    So Levi's Stadium in California went wild when Rollins' music hit to make it clear he was about to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase to turn the match into a triple threat.

    Rollins won to send the crowd home happy. The fans may not be so pleased if they show up to WrestleMania 34 next month to cheer against Reigns, though.


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