Ranking the 25 Greatest Matches in WWE WrestleMania History

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2020

Ranking the 25 Greatest Matches in WWE WrestleMania History

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The coronavirus pandemic will force WWE WrestleMania into unprecedented territory April 4 and 5, as the annual extravaganza is set to emanate from a fanless Performance Center. The circumstances surrounding the show notwithstanding, the card features some intriguing matchups with the potential to rank among the best of all time.

    John Cena, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar will look to add more classics to resumes that already feature some of the greatest and most memorable matches to ever take place at the pay-per-view spectacular.

    Where do those Superstars' previous encounters on the Grandest Stage of Them All rank among the best of all time, and which 5-star classic tops the list?

    Find out with this countdown of the 25 finest matches in WrestleMania history, ranked by overall quality and, in the event of a tie, historical significance.

25. The Rock vs. John Cena (XXVIII)

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    Dubbed "Once in a Lifetime," the WrestleMania XXVIII showdown between The Rock and John Cena was a dream match for fans of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Eras.

    The two biggest, most successful and recognizable stars of those periods came together for a monumental clash on wrestling's grandest stage, splitting the audience in a manner not seen since Team Edward and Team Jacob battled for supremacy in midnight showings of the Twilight saga.

    For 30 minutes, two of the most charismatic and popular stars of all time captivated fans with a dramatic, back-and-forth match that relied on false finishes and signature maneuvers to pop the crowd. In the end, Cena's hubris cost him, as a failed People's Elbow attempt landed him directly in the waiting arms of The Great One, who planted him with the Rock Bottom for the victory.

    The image of a dejected Cena sitting on the ramp, watching as his foe celebrated in front of hometown fans in Miami, was an epic bit of storytelling that fueled a much less enthralling rematch a year later in New Jersey.

24. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (X8)

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    The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. Icon vs. Icon.

    The real main event of WrestleMania X8 saw two of wrestling's greatest trailblazers square off in a drama-filled match that relied on the anticipation of the Toronto crowd, simple storytelling and tried-and-true spots to fuel it.

    Rock and Hogan, masters of crowd manipulation, had the fans in the palms of their hands throughout their titanic clash, eliciting the exact reaction they sought as they took them on a roller-coaster ride of emotion. Hardly a wrestling classic, it was instead two of the best showmen in the industry's rich history captivating the WWE Universe as only they could.

    Though he had made a name for himself by hulking up, rifling off some rights and lefts and downing opponents with his trademark leg drop, Hogan was no match for The Great One on March 17, 2002, succumbing to a People's Elbow.

    Though he lost, the match proved the fans' desire for nostalgia and catapulted The Hulkster back to the top of an industry that had seemingly passed him by a number of years earlier. Within a month, he would be WWE champion, while Rock's place in the annals of history was cemented.

23. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (XX)

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    Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle had long been two of the most talented in-ring workers in the industry, so given 20 minutes to work with, an intensely personal backstory and the WWE Championship to fight over, it was no surprise they created magic in wrestling's most historic arena.

    Madison Square Garden was home to a tenacious, physical battle for the top prize on the SmackDown brand in which Angle punished the champion, targeting his lower limbs and ankle in an attempt to secure a tapout victory.

    Guerrero loosened his boot, presumably to reduce swelling of the joint, but in reality, he set up Angle for a humiliating downfall. As the challenger applied his trademark ankle lock, Guerrero kicked him away, sending his own boot with him.

    A bewildered Angle charged at Latino Heat, who rolled him up and scored the pinfall victory.

    The match lived up to lofty expectations, gave Angle a second superb main event at The Show of Shows and solidified Guerrero as the blue brand's most beloved hero.

    It remains Eddie's greatest performance on wrestling's grandest stage.

22. Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels (XII)

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    For 61 minutes, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels waged war for the WWE Championship in the first Iron Man match in WrestleMania history. Not just for the top prize in the industry, the match was a battle for the company's soul.

    Hart was the seasoned vet, the respectable champion who brought a seriousness to his work. Michaels was the brash, young, charismatic performer who was viewed by many to be the future of the industry. Who would emerge from their heated battle, under circumstances never before placed on two men headlining the year's biggest show?

    The grueling match and grit shown by both men helped to bring a realness to it. The contest felt like a legit sport rather than a spectacle. The later it got, the more alive the crowd came, recognizing that a single fall would likely be all it would take to determine a winner.

    Late, Hart caught Michaels and applied his dreaded Sharpshooter, looking to make HBK tap out. The valiant challenger fought through the pain, resisting the urge to give up in order to live to fight another day. The bell sounded, and we had a tie.

    WWE President Gorilla Monsoon demanded sudden-death overtime, wherein Michaels would deliver two doses of Sweet Chin Music and, as Vince McMahon exclaimed in iconic fashion, "the boyhood dream has come true!"

    The lack of falls over the course of the hour was both a blessing and a curse. While it helped the match late, with drama ramped up for the closing minutes, it left a good portion of the bout limping along. It was slow, not at all what the fanbase was used to and tested the limits of boredom.

    Less talented individuals would have faltered in the circumstances, but Hart and Michaels managed to produce one of the most hotly contested matches in event history and one essential to their stories, both individually and as rivals.

21. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (23)

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    To be the man, you have to beat the man.

    It is a phrase used to death in professional wrestling, but in 2007, at WrestleMania 23, reigning WWE champion John Cena found himself in that position as he battled the Superstar most synonymous with the extravaganza, Shawn Michaels.

    The main event was as much about Michaels' claim to his throne as Mr. WrestleMania as it was solidifying Cena's status as the top star in the industry. The Heartbreak Kid had taken a year off, using the previous spectacular to battle Vince McMahon in a gimmick-heavy match. And in Detroit, he was very much seeking his latest classic.

    Cena was on the heels of a phenomenal match with Umaga at the Royal Rumble in January and looked to continue his hot streak of fantastic main events.

    Together, The Showstopper and The Champ blew the roof off Ford Field with a dramatic contest that left fans guessing with every near-fall. Would Michaels do what Triple H was originally slated to and defeat Cena for the gold, or would the champion overcome his greatest, most skilled challenger to date and remain the top dog in WWE?

    The answer, it turned out, was option B, as Cena tapped out Michaels to the same STF that felled Triple H the previous year and became one of only two men to defeat D-Generation X in consecutive years.

20. Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (XXX)

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    Daniel Bryan's long and arduous journey to the top of WWE took several wrong turns in the months leading up to WrestleMania XXX. He was beaten down by The Authority, abducted by The Wyatt Family and left thinking his dream of holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship would never come true.

    Then came a victory over Triple H in the opening bout of the 2014 Showcase of the Immortals, guaranteeing him a shot at the title later in the show—if he could overcome the injuries to his shoulder perpetrated by the vengeful COO.

    Bryan entered the night's main event at less than 100 percent and appeared to be taken out of the match completely when champion Randy Orton and Royal Rumble winner Batista delivered a wicked RKO/Batista Bomb combo through the announce table.

    Wheeled out on a stretcher, he appeared done-for. Instead, he returned late in the bout and showed the same tenacity and determination that made him a fan favorite in the first place. After overcoming interference by Triple H and Stephanie McMahon before fending off Orton, he was left alone with The Animal.

    Bryan tapped out the 2020 Hall of Famer in the center of the ring and rejoiced as he was crowned the undisputed champion of WWE. Pyro exploded, the crowd erupted and confetti fell from the ceiling as Bryan's underdog story paid off in the most wonderful and fantastic way imaginable.

    And on wrestling's most prestigious night, the Yes! Movement was undeniable.

19. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (XIX)

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    The better man, and wrestler, would be decided in the main event of WrestleMania XIX, as amateur marvels-turned-pro wrestling megastars squared off for the WWE Championship in Seattle.

    Titleholder Kurt Angle not only entered the contest with the top prize in the industry to defend but nursing a badly injured neck that would require surgery later that week.

    The weight of the world on his shoulders, not only to perform up to the level of the marquee bout of wrestling's grandest event but also to protect Angle from possible paralysis, Lesnar arrived at Safeco Field for the most important match of his career.

    And with that, the stage was set for the most pressure-packed main event in WrestleMania history.

    Lesnar and Angle delivered a grueling, physical match that never once would have hinted at any of the outside factors surrounding it. The champion sought to keep Lesnar grounded, while The Beast would use his power to combat that plan.

    Fans watched with great excitement as the competitors escaped each other's finishers and kicked out of others. Then Lesnar delivered a devastating F-5 that probably would have earned him the victory. Not content, he climbed the ropes for what would be the first glimpse at his much talked about Shooting Star Press.

    Except, he undershot his target and crashed head first into the ring. Dazed, he followed Angle's lead, delivered one last F-5 and won the title.

    The match is remembered for Lesnar's legendary botch, but the action that preceded it was damn good, intense and felt like a legitimate sporting contest. Lesnar's win propelled him to the top of the industry, while the fans' respect for Angle and the toughness he showed under the circumstances grew tenfold.

18. The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (29)

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    On the outside of the WWE Championship picture looking in, CM Punk sought to take the one thing even more prestigious than wrestling's top prize, The Undertaker's undefeated streak, when the two locked up at WrestleMania 29 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    Fresh off a 434-day reign as champion, Punk was hellbent on avenging his monumental defeats to The Rock to start 2013 by doing what 21 other competitors could not: defeat The Deadman at The Showcase of the Immortals.

    Played to the ring by Living Colour, Punk was clearly amped up and ready. Undertaker, on the other hand, calmly stalked his way the squared circle, his aura filling MetLife Stadium.

    Like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Edge and Batista before him, Punk came within seconds of defeating The Phenom and etching his name into the history books. Unfortunately for the self-proclaimed Best In The World, the same fate befell him.

    Late in the match, he set Taker up for GTS after blasting him with his own iconic urn, only for The Deadman to counter into a Tombstone Piledriver for the win.

    The contest, one of Punk's last great performances in a WWE ring, added to the string of Match of the Year contenders for Undertaker and solidified the villain's status as one of the top performers in his field.

17. Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan (35)

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    "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain," Harvey Dent uttered in the modern classic The Dark Knight.

    In 2014, Daniel Bryan was the people's choice, forced to overcome incredible odds to reach WrestleMania and challenge for the WWE Championship. Fast-forward five years, and he was the corrupt champion benefiting from the same obstacles he once encountered.

    Kofi Kingston was what Bryan had been, the beloved underdog babyface seeking championship gold on wrestling's biggest night. To get it, he overcame gauntlet matches and handicap matches Mr. McMahon set up to derail him.

    His story was, despite all marketing efforts to the contrary, the most anticipated of the 2019 spectacular.

    Kingston showed aggression early, but an ill-fated dive from the top rope saw him crash into the announce table. Bryan capitalized, unloading on his challenger and setting fans up for heartbreak. Kingston fought back, as he did his entire career, this time with a ferocity that fans had not seen from him before.

    Trouble in Paradise put down Bryan and gave both Kingston and the WWE Universe the fairytale ending they deserved.

    The emotion surrounding the match, the anticipation for Kingston's long-awaited coronation and the excellence of Bryan in a big-match setting helped to elevate this one above other popular entries on this list, including the latter's own title win.

    It is another testament to Bryan's selflessness and the power fans have to influence the product, as they made Kofi's win possible.

16. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (XIX)

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    Imagine standing across the ring from a younger, hungry, arguably better version of yourself with the task of defeating said opponent on the most important night of the year.

    That is the fate that awaited Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XIX, his first match back on the grand stage in five years. His opponent? Former undisputed champion Chris Jericho, who was hellbent on proving that he had eclipsed The Heartbreak Kid.

    The unabashedly arrogant, disrespectful Jericho mocked Michaels over the course of their classic. He stole his poses and mannerisms, his kip-up and even Sweet Chin Music, but the valiant HBK refused to stay down. His back wracked with pain, the result of a focused attack by Y2J, Michaels withstood everything thrown at him by his brash opponent and scored a pinfall victory with a rollup.

    The excellent storytelling, particularly from Jericho in what was one of his best performances to that point, fueled a match that was lower key than most of Michaels matches that would follow it. There were no death-defying high spots. Nor were there countless false finishes. It was a great, smartly wrestled match that spotlighted both Superstars and protected Jericho in defeat.

    It was a classic that proved just how much Y2J was coming into his own as a performer and a reminder that the back injury that had sidelined Michaels for four years was officially a thing of the past.

15. Money in the Bank Ladder Match (21)

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    Facing the very real possibility of himself and other immensely talented performers being left off the WrestleMania 21 card, Chris Jericho devised a ladder match in which the winner would receive a guaranteed championship opportunity at any point over the next year.

    The inaugural Money in the Bank bout saw Jericho, Chris Benoit, Edge, Christian, Kane and intercontinental champion Shelton Benjamin vie for the coveted briefcase and, in the process, provide the blueprint for every one of the popular gimmick matches that followed.

    The storytelling amid the chaos and high spots was simply fantastic.

    The sneaky Christian relied on his muscle, Tyson Tomko, to help him in key spots. Benjamin, in his first singles appearance at The Show of Shows, delivered a breakout performance that saw him do things no other athlete could dream of. Benoit fought through a bloody eyebrow and a left arm injury, only to fall short of winning the match because of the ultimate opportunist, Edge.

    Not only was the first Money in the Bank match a critical success, but it also exceeded all expectations to become one of the greatest of its kind.

14. Mick Foley vs. Edge (22)

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    Too often, WrestleMania matches are about one competitor proving something to themselves, the fans and their opponent. That was not the case in 2006, when Edge and Mick Foley squared off in a Hardcore match.

    The Hardcore Legend sought the WrestleMania moment that eluded him his entire career. The Rated R Superstar demanded a stage on which to prove he was a main event-level talent. Together, those determined performers crafted an engrossing war of attrition that was appropriately violent given the storyline that accompanied it and beautifully barbaric.

    Foley rose to the occasion, understanding the gravity of the match and its effect on his legacy. Edge took a nasty beating, including a side suplex on a pile of thumbtacks and a barbed wire baseball to the face. In the end, it was Lita's interference, a flaming table and a death-defying spear that proved Foley's downfall.

    Edge limped up the ramp, blood seeping into his eye, with his place as a bona fide headliner firmly established. Meanwhile, Foley laid at ringside, basking in the reaction of the crowd, realizing that even in defeat, he had accomplished his goal.

13. The Ultimate Warrior vs. 'Macho King' Randy Savage (VII)

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    Sometimes, a match is defined by more than the in-ring action that unfolds from bell to bell.

    Such is the case of "Macho King" Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior's retirement match at WrestleMania VII.

    The in-ring content was secondary to the epic tale of a wrestler uncertain of what his destiny held for him. Warrior, torn as to whether his future called for the continuation of his career, looked to the sky above for answers.

    The distraction allowed Savage to rain down on him with a punishing onslaught that included no fewer than five top-rope elbow drops. It was after the last one that Warrior realized his work in the rings of WWE was not done. He fired off a barrage of shoulder tackles that left Savage a heap of pummeled flesh in the center of the ring and then pinned him with one foot on his chest.

    The victory further established Warrior's place in the pantheon of WWE greats, while Savage was seemingly forced into retirement. The post-match events, including Queen Sherri's berating and assault of Savage, followed by Miss Elizabeth's return and emotional reunion with her husband, only added to the overall package.

    As wrestling began transitioning from the theatrical to more of an in-ring based product championed by the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, this was a not-so-subtle reminder of the power of storytelling in relation to fan reaction and investment.

12. The Rock vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin (X-Seven)

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    The Attitude Era's most iconic Superstars squared off in the main event of WrestleMania X-Seven and, unbeknownst to fans and wrestlers alike, brought an end to that period as they knew it.

    In a battle between the most popular stars of their generation, Rock and Austin tore the house down in Houston's Astrodome. They beat the hell out of each other in a hard-hitting, bloody brawl that saw The Texas Rattlesnake dip deep into his bag of tricks, even pulling out the Million Dollar Dream from his Ringmaster days in an attempt to wrest the title from The People's Champ.

    But he couldn't, and as frustration set in, it became clear that the Austin fans were seeing was not the same unflappable badass they had come to know and love.

    When Mr. McMahon made his way to the ring late in the match, most felt it was only a matter of time before he interfered. What no one could have expected was that he would make his presence felt on behalf of sworn enemy Austin, helping Stone Cold in his desperate quest to regain the top prize in sports entertainment.

    A deranged, diabolical and frustrated Austin unloaded on Rock with a dozen chair shots about the body and then covered him to finally win the gold. In a stunning moment (pun intended), he engaged McMahon in a handshake, the deal with the devil done.

    The match featured several callbacks to previous bouts between Rock and Austin, with superb character work from Stone Cold and a heel turn that should have been foolproof. Unfortunately, that was not the case for a multitude of reasons. But that does not undo the utter awesomeness of the match and its place in 'Mania lore.

11. Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair (XXIV)

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    "I'm sorry. I love you."

    It is the single most crushing moment in WrestleMania history.

    In the weeks leading into WrestleMania XXIV, Shawn Michaels vowed to put Ol' Yeller, his idol, the legendary "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, out of his misery. He would send the greatest wrestler of all-time into retirement, ending Naitch's one last run tour.

    In doing so, he lit a fire in Flair that saw him more serious, focused and determined than ever to win a match. To do it on wrestling's grandest stage, against a man synonymous with the event's best performances, was a daunting task.

    Yet in what would prove to be his last go-round on The Grandest Stage of Them All, Flair was up to the task. He grounded Michaels, capitalizing on a missed moonsault that saw HBK crash sternum-first into the announce table. He applied the Figure Four leglock and nearly earned a submission victory.

    Everything he threw at his opponent, but Michaels was able to absorb and retaliate.

    Then came the night's most emotional moment. Michaels, saddened by what he had to do, apologized to his childhood hero before he blasted him with one last Sweet Chin Music. He pinned Flair, putting an end to his career and kissing his forehead in respect and admiration.

    The match, an emotional roller coaster as it was, evolved into a classic by way of the drama provided by the performers. It became a work of art thanks to Michaels' work and the post-match goodbye from the sport's measuring stick.

10. Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker (XXVI)

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    The crushing loss to The Undertaker by Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXV haunted The Heartbreak Kid for an entire year. The thought that he could have been the first Superstar to put a blemish on The Deadman's unbeaten streak at The Show of Shows remained in the back of his mind, leading him to take a drastic step to ensure one last showdown with The Phenom.

    Michaels put his career on the line against his rival's streak, creating a must-see sequel to the duo's instant classic and a high-stakes main event for WrestleMania XXVI.

    The match, another extraordinary feat from two of the greatest to ever lace a pair of boots, lived and breathed on the same sort of near-fall-driven drama as its predecessor. Even better, it built on spots established in that previous encounter and evolved them to suit the story the in-ring artists were telling.

    Late in the match, having thrown everything he had at his opponent and seemingly accepting his fate, Michaels mocked The Phenom with his throat-slashing taunt. It was the final thing he did before enduring one last Tombstone.

    The Superstars engaged in a post-match embrace, and Michaels made one last walk up the WrestleMania ramp and into immortality, waving goodbye to the fans who took the ride along with him for nearly three decades.

9. The Undertaker vs. Triple H (XXVIII)

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    At WrestleMania XXVII, Triple H nearly defeated Undertaker. Perhaps better than an actual win was the moral victory he enjoyed, as he left the stadium under his own power while his opponent was removed from the building on a stretcher.

    Driven by his own certainty that he could do the unthinkable by beating The Deadman at WrestleMania XXVIII, not to mention gain vengeance for his best friend's retirement at the hands of The Phenom, The Game set foot inside Hell in a Cell for one more showdown with Undertaker.

    Officiated by Shawn Michaels.

    The match, an epic that played on four years of storytelling, saw fans on the edges of their seats for every near-fall. They invested in the relationship between Triple H and Michaels, and the inevitable Sweet Chin Music from HBK to the Deadman popped the WWE Universe.

    Despite a punishing onslaught from The Cerebral Assassin and uneven officiating from the man he sent into retirement two years earlier, Undertaker put away Triple H and extended his streak at WrestleMania to 20-0. 

    The embrace shared by the three performers at the top of the ramp following the match, acknowledgment of the battles they had participated in and the journey they had shared through good (and not-so-good) times, was befitting of the End of an Era label WWE Creative had put on the match.

8. Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle (21)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle are two of the greatest in-ring performers of all time, so when a match between the duo was announced for WrestleMania 21, fans had every right to be excited about the prospective classic.

    Expectations running high, Michaels and Angle somehow managed to exceed them, turning in a 5-star classic reflective of their immense talents.

    Angle, a tenacious pitbull, wore out HBK for a good portion of the match. Michaels, though, fought back and delivered a springboard plancha on to his opponent at ringside. Back in the squared circle, he flattened Angle with Sweet Chin Music.

    Unfortunately for Michaels, the same strike that had earned him the WWE Championship at 'Mania nine years earlier failed to put the Olympic gold medalist down for the count. Angle recovered, trapped Michaels in the ankle lock and tapped him out to the delight of a Los Angeles crowd that appreciated the SmackDown Superstar's excellence above and beyond his status as a heel.

    On a night when WWE went Hollywood, it was Michaels and Angle's treatment of their match as a genuine sporting contest that won over the audience and earned them the rave reviews they had become so accustomed to during that period of their careers.

7. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian (X-Seven)

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    For the second consecutive year, Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz battled for the WWE Tag Team Championships. After their Triangle ladder match stole the show in 2000, the three teams reignited the rivalry in just the second Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in history at WrestleMania X-Seven.

    Upping the violence, the risk and the creativity, the teams delivered an awe-inspiring match that built on previously established spots. The integration of Rhyno, Spike Dudley and Lita added exponentially to the match. Their interference and bumps helped add to the storytelling of the match amid all the risks taken elsewhere.

    A massive spear off a ladder from Edge to Jeff Hardy, who was hanging from the championship belts some 15 feet above the mat, that remains the enduring moment from the contest.

    So much so that it is easy to forget that Rhyno survived a jaw-dropping Swanton Bomb from Jeff at ringside to return to the squared circle and aid Edge and Christian to another 'Mania victory.

    On a card considered by many to be the greatest in sports-entertainment history, the three most defining teams of the Attitude Era again stole the show and left fans astonished by their willingness to throw caution to the wind in the name of entertainment and forging their own legacies.

6. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (X)

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    Seven years before three teams upped the ante by adding tables and chairs to the mix, Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon revolutionized the industry with their ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania X.

    Set up by each competitor's insistence that they were the real IC champ, it introduced a new match type to the WWE Universe and expanded on the storytelling options that existed for the Superstars of the time.

    Whereas most ladder matches since have relied on high spots and a car-crash mentality to wow fans, grizzled veterans Michaels and Ramon opted to use the ladder to enhance their psychology-heavy match. Michaels targeted the ribs of his opponent, attacking them with the contest's namesake prop.

    Late in the match, Ramon tipped the ladder, sending Michaels into the ropes, where he became entangled. The drama associated with the heel's fight to escape his predicament fueled the final seconds before Ramon recovered the IC title to the delight of the crowd.

    That the bout, an instant classic and one of the defining contests in the long and illustrious history of WWE, narrowly misses out on Match of the Night honors is a testament to the event's 10th edition.

5. Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (X)

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    A monthslong story of brotherly envy culminated in the opening match of WrestleMania X, a showdown between Bret and Owen Hart that would have implications on the night's main event.

    Royal Rumble co-winner Bret was set to have a WWE Championship match later in the night, a potential distraction as he sought to settle his differences with his brother. Owen was hellbent on escaping the shadow of his older brother and forging a reputation for himself.

    And he did.

    In a shocking upset, Owen pinned Bret and left the arena celebrating his monumental victory.

    What preceded it was a technical wrestling masterpiece that saw the younger brother focus his attack on Bret's knee, working it over and setting up The Hitman to sell the injury all the way through his appearance in the main event.

    Bret's resilience was on full display, but just as he built momentum, The Rocket beat his sibling at his own game: wrestling. He countered the former WWE champion and pinned his shoulders to the mat, instantly establishing himself a top contender to the world title in the near future.

    That would come sooner than expected and keep Owen's destiny intertwined with that of his brother.

4. Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat vs. 'Macho Man' Randy Savage (III)

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    Built on the back of an unforgettable angle in which "Macho Man" Randy Savage used the ring bell to crush Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat's throat, the WrestleMania III match for the Intercontinental Championship was a masterclass in athletic storytelling.

    Steamboat, seeking revenge for a cowardly assault that nearly ended his career and cost him years of hard work and dedication, was able to portray that without losing the art of grappling. After hoisting Savage overhead by his throat in one of the lasting images from the match, Steamboat engaged Macho Man in a contest that saw a dozen or so near-falls.

    The fans reacted to each one, recognizing the distinct possibility that the match could end at any time.

    But it did not.

    A referee bump gave way to Savage retrieving the ring bell and climbing the ropes. George "The Animal" Steele, with whom Macho Man had a long rivalry over the affections of Elizabeth, interjected himself in the proceedings and shoved off Savage. Steamboat capitalized and scored the win and title via a rollup.

    The image of Steamboat celebrating along with Steele, and the realization that the evil Savage had finally gotten his just deserts, put an exclamation point on one of the greatest matches of all time and a one of the most influential bouts in all of sports entertainment.

3. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (XX)

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    Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit arrived at WrestleMania XX ready to capture the one thing that had eluded him his entire WWE career: a world title reign. To achieve his goal, he would have to defeat the champion, Triple H, and the greatest wrestler in event history, Shawn Michaels, in a Triple Threat match.

    That The Game and HBK had a long history of friendship, followed by unabashed hatred for one another, made the prospect of a victory that much more daunting, but Benoit proved the tenacious combatant his reputation suggested en route to the greatest win of his career.

    It was not easy.

    Benoit had to overcome a double suplex through the announce table that seemingly eliminated him from the equation. Michaels and Triple H reignited their rivalry, spilling blood in the process. Late on, Benoit returned to the ring, where he sent HBK to the arena floor and trapped the champion in the Crippler Crossface.

    Despite a spirited escape effort by The Cerebral Assassin, he acknowledged his own mortality and tapped, preserving his health for another day.

    Some 15 years of hard work gave way to the most emotionally satisfying win of the Canadian's career. Benoit stood tall in the center of Madison Square Garden as the top champion in a company that traditionally did not give athletes his size (5'10") opportunities.

    This remains the greatest Triple Threat match in the illustrious history of WWE, a contest that figured out how to mesh the three competitors together without relying too much on the formulaic nature of other three-way bouts.

2. Shawn Michaels vs. the Undertaker (XXV)

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    Two of WWE's greatest veterans, gunslingers from a bygone era, met in the middle of the WrestleMania XXV card with fairly lofty expectations of a fantastic pro wrestling match. What Shawn Michaels and Undertaker delivered, though, was an instant classic that had some fans proclaiming it to be the greatest match of all time.

    That night in Houston's NRG Stadium, two familiar foes rediscovered their incredible in-ring chemistry and produced an epic encounter that included high spots, mat psychology, crowd manipulation and some extraordinary facial expressions that put over the gravity of the situation.

    Undertaker threw caution to the win early, soaring over the top rope before crashing to the arena floor. The competitors exchanged finishers but failed to put the other away. In a rare glimpse into the frustration experienced by the typically unflappable Phenom, he flashed a look of disbelief as the referee's hand slapped the canvas two times and Michaels shot his shoulder off the mat.

    Sweet Chin Music could not put an end to The Deadman's unbeaten streak, while the Last Ride was met with a defiant kickout by HBK.

    In one of the greatest finishes of the past two decades, Michaels scaled the ropes and launched himself off with a moonsault, landing in the grasp of his waiting opponent. One final Tombstone put an end to Michaels' challenge and etched another name on to the list of Superstars who stepped up to the plate and failed to knock off The Deadman.

    Its inability to seize the top spot on this countdown can be attributed only to the No. 1 match's undeniable historical significance.

1. Bret Hart vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin (13)

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    The greatest match in WrestleMania history is a prime example of talented individuals working for each other, working for the company and working toward a common goal of achieving greatness on wrestling's grandest stage.

    The monthslong rivalry between Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin culminated at WrestleMania 13 in a Submission match officiated by Ken Shamrock. The bout, a hell of a brawl that spilled from the ring and into the stands and then back to ringside, saw an unforgiving Hart pay off frustration after frustration by bloodying The Texas Rattlesnake.

    Austin still managed to fight through the proverbial crimson mask, catching The Hitman with a ring bell to the face. He broke out the Million Dollar Dream in homage to former manager Ted DiBiase but failed to score the win. Later, Hart managed to trap Austin in the Sharpshooter, and what followed was one of the greatest star-making moments of all time.

    Blood pouring from the wound on his forehead, down his face and over his teeth, Austin fought through the agony of the Sharpshooter. As Shamrock repeatedly asked whether he wished to submit, Austin tried to fight out of the maneuver and, at one point, even appeared to break the hold.

    Hart strengthened his grip, though, and sat back down on the lower back of his opponent. The blood pouring, Austin began to lose the fight. He passed out, unresponsive to Shamrock's interaction, and the match was called in the favor of the second-generation star.

    Hart entered the match the traditional babyface, Austin the rebellious heel. Over the course of one contest, they had flipped the script, swapping roles and setting in motion a magical run that would turn the Monday Night War back in the favor of Vince McMahon and WWE.

    Austin became the face of WWE's Attitude Era as a result of this match, while Hart found renewed creative freedom as a heel the next night on Raw. Together, they created magic and, unbeknownst to them at the time, altered the history of professional wrestling.

    It's for that reason that Hart vs. Austin from 1997 remains the best match to ever take place at The Showcase of the Immortals.