10 Most Underrated Matches in WWE WrestleMania History

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

10 Most Underrated Matches in WWE WrestleMania History

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE WrestleMania has been home to so many industry-defining matches and moments that it is oftentimes easy to neglect matches that may not have carried the same historical significance but certainly earned recognition for their quality.

    Over the course of 35 years, a slew of matches have gone underrated by fans and historians quick to point to the grandeur and spectacle of the more celebrated bouts in the event's long and illustrious history.

    They are matches that delivered from bell-to-bell, told solid stories and left fans more than satisfied by the athleticism and entertainment on display.

    The Superstars of Vince McMahon's sports-entertainment empire will arrive in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on April 7 looking to etch their names in history books and ensure their immortality.

    Some will succeed, thanks to the status of their match on the card, while others will join the ranks of the men and women on this list—their contributions to the card underrated.

    In preparation for that inevitability, relive these 10 most underrated matches in WrestleMania history, ranked solely based on the overall match quality.

10. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WrestleMania VII)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The exploitation of Operation Desert Storm has cast a cloud of disdain over WrestleMania VII, but upon revisiting, it rates as one of the more underrated cards in the long and illustrious history of the event. It only makes sense, then, that the night's main event would make its presence felt on this countdown.

    Sgt. Slaughter returned to WWE television in 1990 and shockingly revealed himself as a sympathizer of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime in the Gulf War. In January of 1991, he stunned the wrestling world by defeating The Ultimate Warrior to win the WWE Championship.

    He rolled into WrestleMania as the most hated villain in the industry. His opponent? 1991 Royal Rumble winner and American hero Hulk Hogan.

    The Hulkster found himself a bloodied mess and was forced to fight from underneath for the majority of the match. The heat was at a fever pitch as Slaughter applied the Camel Clutch and appeared on his way to a successful title defense that would have broken the fans' spirits.

    Instead, Hogan battled back, dropped the leg and ended the show waving Old Glory high overhead as he celebrated his third WWE Championship victory. 

9. Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson vs. Nation of Domination (WrestleMania 13)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Chicago Street Fight at WrestleMania 13 was the culmination of an intense, seemingly neverending rivalry between Ahmed Johnson and The Nation of Domination, led by the devious Faarooq.

    At a distinct numbers disadvantage, Johnson recruited The Legion of Doom to join him on wrestling's biggest stage for a fight against Faarooq, Crush and Savio Vega that was one of the more entertaining and enjoyable hidden gems in WrestleMania history.

    The match never pretended to be anything it was not. There was no traditional wrestling to speak of, no mat work or even the slightest hint of a selling a body part. It was a plunder-filled match that appropriately wrapped up a feud between Johnson and Faarooq defined by hatred.

    It made use of 2x4s, rope, tables and even a literal kitchen sink.

    In the end, Johnson, Hawk and Animal scored a grueling victory. At least for one night, the heroes conquered the vaunted Nation and all was right within WWE.

8. The Rockers vs. the Barbarian and Haku (WrestleMania VII)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Rockers were, arguably, the best tag team in all of WWE by the time March 1991 rolled around. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty had unmatched in-ring chemistry and had finally matured into an act the entire division could be built around, even if Vince McMahon and Co. had not taken that leap of faith with them.

    WrestleMania VII kicked off with the dynamic duo battling the Heenan Family's Barbarian and Haku.

    A classic big vs. little tag match, it saw The Rockers utilize their speed and agility early to frustrate the heels before succumbing to their power advantage. They still managed to battle back and score the victory over the brutes in what proved an action-packed, energetic way to kick off the show.

    The formula of the match was simple and seen in numerous bouts over the years, but The Rockers were on such a roll here, and Barbarian and Haku did such a great job of selling their frustration over not being able to put them away that it made for a better-than-normal match that set the tone for the rest of the night.

    WrestleMania VII remains one of the more underappreciated shows in event history, and matches like its opener prove as much.

7. Chris Jericho vs. Christian (WrestleMania XX)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Chris Jericho and Christian were once best of friends until Y2J caught feelings for Trish Stratus. That blossoming relationship took Jericho's focus off his partnership with Captain Charisma and created jealousy on the part of the Toronto native. 

    A shocking betrayal gave way to an emotional showdown inside Madison Square Garden at WrestleMania XX.

    The wild card, of course, would be Stratus.

    Jericho and Christian, best friends-turned-bitter enemies, knew each other so well that each could scout the other's moves. There were plenty of counters to be had early before things settled down and Jericho found himself fighting from underneath.

    Late, a concerned Stratus rushed to the ring, cheering on her love interest Jericho. She would find her way into the ring via the heinous Christian and, after being shoved into a corner, accidentally caught Y2J with an elbow to the face. Christian capitalized and scored the upset victory via rollup.

    Had the match ended there, it would have been excellent and totally worth inclusion on this list.

    It did not.

    After the match, Stratus revealed her true colors, slapping Jericho in the face and leaving with Christian. Together, they shared a passionate, tongue-tying kiss at the top of the stage while the bewildered Jericho watched on from the squared circle.

    The storytelling and in-ring action meshed well and provided fans with a really strong match that, unfortunately, would be lost in the shuffle by the end of the night's five-hour pay-per-view extravaganza.

6. Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (WrestleMania 22)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Trish Stratus was the measuring stick in the women's division by 2006. She was a six-time champion and the Superstar around whom the best storylines were built. It was her storyline with Mickie James that brought the two together for, arguably, the most underappreciated match of the WrestleMania 22 card.

    James, an obsessed stalker of sorts, was rejected by Stratus on the road to WrestleMania. She snapped prior to the event, brutalizing Stratus on Saturday Night's Main Event and setting up the long-awaited match between them. 

    The fans in Chicago were red-hot for the match, but not at all supportive of the champion. Instead, the audience threw their love behind James, who fed off of it and delivered what remains her most raw and emotional performance to date.

    She laughed out loud as she punished Stratus, reacted to her former hero's suffering with a smile and relished the opportunity to inflict more on her.

    And the crowd ate it up.

    Stratus limped through a knee injury to mount a comeback, but James responded with, let's say, unconventional means to halt that and deliver the Mick Kick that would win her first women's title.

    A masterclass in storytelling with a completely backward crowd reaction, the match remains one of the most surreal in recent WrestleMania history.

5. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair (WrestleMania XXXIV)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Though it is less than a year old, Charlotte Flair's stunning victory over the then-undefeated Asuka from WrestleMania XXXIV already feels like a match destined to be underrated among fans.

    The Empress of Tomorrow entered New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome riding a 914-day win streak that no one had even come particularly close to ending. The Queen was the centerpiece of the women's division and its champion.

    For 13 minutes, the performers delivered a hard-fought, hard-hitting and dramatic match that featured some jaw-dropping bumps, including a nasty suplex to the arena floor by Asuka.

    Flair would answer later with a Spanish Fly from the top rope, but neither woman was able to put the other away, no matter what high-risk maneuver they broke out.

    It would be a well-timed spear from Flair, followed by her Figure Eight submission, that finally delivered Asuka her first "L" in WWE, much to the shock and awe of the WWE faithful.

    Whether WWE Creative got the finish right is irrelevant. Flair and Asuka tore the house down in the second match of the night and provided the quality of bout reflective of the rewards at stake.

    It would not be the last time a Flair victory over Asuka would leave fans stunned.

4. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle (WrestleMania X-Seven)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle found themselves in a tricky position in the weeks ahead of WrestleMania X-Seven in that neither had a match on what was shaping up to be one of the best in the event's long history.

    What better way to solve that problem than by bringing the two best pure wrestlers on the roster together for a war of attrition on the undercard?

    Angle and Benoit wrestled a catch-as-catch-can, near-classic that saw them take their battle to the mat. The intensity of the match picked up as tempers flared and frustration set in.

    Counters and reversals, dramatic near-falls and a few submission teases made up a match that may not have had the reaction from the Houston audience that The Rock vs. Steve Austin did later in the night but proved a classic wrestling match can still thrill an Attitude Era audience.

    Desperate for a win, Angle eventually scored the pin off a roll-up while holding the tights. In the process, he won the battle but not the war as his feud with Benoit would continue for a number of months and reignite many times over the years that followed.

3. Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania XXVII)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Cody Rhodes entered WrestleMania XXVII a broken man. His nose busted following a 619 from Rey Mysterio, the narcissistic, vain second-generation Superstar spiraled out of control. Mentally broken, his face no longer dashing, he took up residence in a deep, dark place in his psyche.

    He became more dangerous than ever and sought to punish and disfigure the man responsible for his damaged face.

    Rhodes controlled the first half of the match, fueled by his hatred for Mysterio. Ever the resilient babyface, the masked luchador fought back and even delivered the 619 to Rhodes, who's protective mask had come off in a nice call-back to the start of their program.

    Mysterio would put the mask on himself and deliver a headbutt that nearly put Rhodes away. The heel returned the favor, bashing Mysterio in the face with his own knee brace and scoring the tainted win.

    The clever uses of the Superstars' braces for previously existing injuries, the storytelling involved and the action packed into the bout's 12-minute runtime came together to create one of the smarter, more enjoyable bouts on this countdown. 

2. CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XXVIII)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It seems almost impossible to dub anything involving CM Punk or the WWE Championship "underrated," but here we are, seven years after he entered Miami for WrestleMania XXVIII with the title, doing just that.

    His match that year was against Chris Jericho, who did everything in his power to get in the head of the typically unshakable Punk, including insulting the champion's family.

    To make matters worse, Raw general manager John Laurinaitis revealed just moments before the match that getting himself disqualified would cost The Best in the World his title.

    Fueled by rage, Punk was aggressive from the outset of the match, teasing weapon use that would have lost him the gold.

    It made for something of a clunky start to the match, but by the time Punk and Jericho got that out of the way and focused on having the wrestling match most expected out of them, fans invested in the action.

    The counters and reversals of submission maneuvers late in the match really elevated it and left fans guessing as to which Superstar would emerge victoriously.

    The answer? Punk, who trapped Jericho in the Anaconda Vise and forced the tapout that would preserve his title reign and give him that first, signature singles 'Mania win.

1. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana vs. Terry and Dory Funk (WrestleMania 2)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog started their WrestleMania 2 match with the Funk Brothers—Terry and Hoss (Dory)—off red-hot, sending the former to the floor before working over Hoss. The energy they brought early, though, would be negated when Terry blasted Santana with a knee to the small of the back.

    The Funks isolated Santana, working him over the majority of the match before a hot tag to JYD sparked a babyface comeback.

    Said comeback included a nasty backdrop by JYD to Terry over the top rope and on to the unprotected arena floor as it looked like the heroes may be able to pick up a quality win.

    It was not meant to be, though, as Terry blasted JYD with Jimmy Hart's megaphone for the win.

    This was a good, old-fashioned tag team match between four Hall of Famers. The pacing was perfect, the action was strong and the finish portrayed the Funk brothers as the dastardly heels they were.

    This was the first really great Wrestlemania match that has, over time, become lost in the shuffle thanks to the many extraordinary, higher-profile bouts in the event's annals.