WrestleMania 36: Best and Worst Rematches Ever Ahead of John Cena vs. The Fiend

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistApril 1, 2020

WrestleMania 36: Best and Worst Rematches Ever Ahead of John Cena vs. The Fiend

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    Credit: WWE.com

    This weekend at WrestleMania 36, John Cena will face Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Fun House match, but this isn't the first time the two have battled it out on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

    Six years ago, Cena took down The Wyatt Family leader at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. In fact, that loss is what drives The Fiend's lust for revenge now.

    Whether their forthcoming bout builds on that previous contest or becomes a needless rehash is unknown, as rematches in the past at The Show of Shows have been hit or miss.

    In no particular order, let's look back at some of the best and worst rematches from previous WrestleManias.

Good: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 25 and 26)

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    Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker are two of the most widely recognized wrestlers to step foot in the ring. Putting them together on The Grandest Stage of Them All was a recipe for success.

    Their clash at WrestleMania 25 is one of the best matches of all time. It's one that every fan needs to see and every aspiring wrestler must study.

    Following it up with something better was expected to be impossible, but they came as close as they could the next year with the added stipulation that Michaels would retire if he lost.

    One match stole the show and the other was the main event that will forever reverberate with the WWE Universe.

Bad: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus (WrestleMania 27 and 28)

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    The kickoff at WrestleMania 27 was a lumberjack match for the United States Championship with Sheamus defending against Daniel Bryan. After just over four minutes, a brawl ensued and it was ruled a no-contest.

    This turned into a an impromptu Battle Royal that The Great Khali won by last eliminating Sheamus.

    For the most part, this was a waste, yet WWE managed to find an even worse way to follow it up the next year.

    The Celtic Warrior became the 2012 Royal Rumble winner—something that arguably should have gone to Chris Jericho—and was set to start the show against Bryan once more. This time, it was for the World Heavyweight Championship, and the tables were turned with Sheamus the babyface and Bryan the heel.

    One Brogue Kick later, and Bryan lost the title in 18 seconds in front of a shocked arena. However, the stunned confusion swiftly turned to disappointment, and WrestleMania 28 started with an audience booing its opening contest.

Good: Triple H vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 17, 27 and 28)

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    The Undertaker and Triple H went to war at WrestleMania 17 and could have left it at that. A decade later, though, their paths crossed once more.

    Driven by Shawn Michaels' loss the previous year, The Game was determined to offset his friend's disappointment by ending The Phenom's undefeated streak at The Show of Shows. But the brutal 30-minute No Holds Barred match ended with Undertaker's winning run intact.

    WWE decided to hit the repeat button again 12 months later, this time inside Hell in a Cell with Michaels as the special guest referee.

    The WrestleMania 28 fight lasted for half an hour, with superkicks and sledgehammers culminating in what was dubbed "The End of an Era" for the three titans.

Bad: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (WrestleMania 3 and 4)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Perhaps the quintessential "moment" that tops every list is Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. It was far from the best match ever, but it's one of the most important bouts in sports entertainment history.

    Over 93,000 fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome to watch the two former friends battle it out after Andre's unexpected heel turn, and Hogan retained the World Heavyweight Championship after a back-and-forth battle.

    The following year, WrestleMania IV featured a tournament to crown a new champion. In the first round, Hogan and Andre would have the first rematch on back-to-back WrestleManias.

    The crowd was still hot to see it, but instead of getting a next-level upgrade, it was a step back and more of a setup than a payoff. It lasted half the time of the previous year's clash, without the same main event buzz and ended in a double disqualification. 

    Just like that, two of the biggest players in the tournament—the ones on the poster selling the eventwere out in the first round of the competition while some less popular Superstars remained in the mix.

Good: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (WrestleMania 20 and 33)

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    With Goldberg and Brock Lesnar leaving WWE, their match at WrestleMania XX was a disaster. The crowd booed them both out of the building and what should have been a major attraction was a black mark on the festivities.

    Their rematch at WrestleMania 33, though, was much more of a success.

    Based on their Survivor Series match, this didn't promise to be anything more than it was. No one will say it's a technical masterpiece, as it only needed to be two huge dudes hitting power moves for a couple minutes.

    While it's still disappointing WWE pushed Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho aside in order to insert the Universal Championship into this feud, it served more of a purpose at the time. Lesnar got his win back and was the top of the food chain yet again.

    In theory, this set the tone for someone to step up to the plate to then take down The Beast Incarnate and be made for life. Unfortunately, that's not what happened, but that doesn't take away from Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 33 being an upgrade from WrestleMania 20.

Bad: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 31 and 34)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The WWE Universe was not collectively on board with Roman Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble. "Anyone but Roman" was a philosophy going around the Wells Fargo Center that night, so fans were less than thrilled at the prospect that he'd take the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31.

    Still, The Beast Incarnate and The Big Dog had a solid match. Then, Seth Rollins cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and stole the title in one of the most exciting finishes of a WrestleMania, ever.

    Fast-forward a few years, Reigns had been multi-time champion and crowned The Guy on several occasions, while Lesnar reaffirmed his stranglehold over the top title.

    For whatever reason, WWE decided to go with a rematch for WrestleMania 34—almost as if to prove everyone wrong who doubted that was the right call three years ago.

    However, fans still rejected it.

    The match had no luster. Everyone had seen it. Worse off, Lesnar retained, rendering all of it pointless. An entire year had been spent with Lesnar destroying everyone just to give Reigns this massive victory, only for it to flop.

    Further digging the hole deeper, another rematch happened a few weeks later at Greatest Royal Rumble, also with Reigns failing. It wasn't until SummerSlam that he finally beat Lesnar.

    Sadly, everything fell apart after that, too, as Reigns had an awful feud with Braun Strowman and had to vacate the title for leukemia treatments. Lesnar won the title back again at Crown Jewel and the status quo was restored. None of it mattered.

    In hindsight, all these elements made their rematch and even their WrestleMania 31 encounter worse, as it's hard to look back on this feud and not feel anything but frustration at all the wasted time with little positive results.

Good: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna (WrestleMania 9 and 10)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The main event of WrestleMania IX saw 1993 Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna dethrone Bret Hart for the WWF Championship. It would have been the first time a heel stood tall at the end of the night, as all previous WrestleManias culminated in a celebration.

    Then, Hulk Hogan randomly came out, challenged Yokozuna and promptly won the title. A babyface was back on top in a matter of minutes, but nothing felt right.

    A few months later, Yokozuna won the title back from Hogan at King of the Ring and it was time to build toward WrestleMania X. Would Yokozuna face Lex Luger or would Hart get another chance to right the wrongs?

    Both Luger and Hart won the 1994 Royal Rumble and it was decided both would get a shot at the title at WrestleMania. Yokozuna retained against Luger and Hart lost to his brother, Owen, earlier in the night.

    All seemed hopeless, yet Hart managed to score an upset when Yokozuna fell off the ropes. As Rowdy Roddy Piper counted the pinfall, the crowd erupted.

    In one of the best endings to a WrestleMania, the babyface locker room came out to raise Hart on their shoulders in celebration as Owen looked on in disgust, envious that his glorious victory was already overshadowed by his brother's ascending the throne once more.

    This managed to take a wrong call from the year prior and make it feel like a long-term story with a happy ending.

Bad: John Cena vs. the Rock (WrestleMania 28 and 29)

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    It's frustrating when WWE thinks stretching something out is the same as a high-quality slow burn storyline.

    After teasing John Cena vs. The Rock, WrestleMania 27 ended with The Miz beating Cena while The Rock screwed him over. It was a stall, rather than the match everyone wanted to see.

    A year later at WrestleMania 28, Cena and The Rock fought in a match that was constantly subtitled "once in a lifetime."

    Then, they did it again at WrestleMania 29.

    Once in a lifetime, for the second time, wasn't even an upgrade. The Rock was injured during the match and its entire purpose was to even the score and give Cena a win in return.

    Everyone saw that coming a mile away, so it screamed of WWE trying to milk three years out of one match that arguably should have happened at WrestleMania 27.

Good: TLC (WrestleMania 16 and 17)

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    Edge and Christian, The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz stole the show at WrestleMania 2000 with their three-way ladder match. It was so good that WWE revisited it a few months later with the first-ever official TLC match at SummerSlam 2000.

    Then, that was so good that at WrestleMania X-Seven, it happened again.

    As simple as can be, these matches were just so entertaining, innovative and mold-breaking that the WWE Universe couldn't get enough of it.

    This could have happened 100 times and it probably never would have gotten boring. Each time was wilder than the last with more dangerous spots to try to one-up the game.

Bad: The Undertaker vs. Kane (WrestleMania 14 and 20)

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    At WrestleMania XIV, after months of saying he would not fight his brother, The Undertaker finally sought out to extinguish Kane's flames.

    While match itself isn't going to top anyone's best technical performances of all time, the spectacle of it all was immeasurable. Finally, The Demon of Death Valley had met his match in his larger, somehow even more demonic brother.

    Once a first-time ever fight like that happens, after so much build, it's hard to reach that same level of enticement. Over the following years, The Brothers of Destruction would team alongside and fight against each other on many occasions.

    The feud was revisited when Kane buried Big Evil alive at Survivor Series 2003 to set up the switch from The American Bad Ass to the return of The Grim Reaper.

    That was the hook everyone cared about and remembers. Even after more than a handful of resurrections, fans were still into seeing the mystique restored.

    But this wasn't much more than a squash. The match itself left much to be desired.

    If you loved this, you likely have fond memories of the entrances and the vibe, rather than the match itself. That's fine, but as this just revisited older gimmicks, it's hard to say it was an improvement, no matter how cool it was to see The Undertaker back in true form.

Good: Steve Austin vs. The Rock (WrestleMania 15, 17 and 19)

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    As the two biggest icons of their era, whenever Steve Austin and The Rock stood across each other in the ring, fans lost their minds.

    No matter how great dozens of Superstars have been since then, no one has been able to match that level of electricity.

    At WrestleMania 15, The Rock was a Vince McMahon surrogate that The Texas Rattlesnake had to overcome to win the WWF Championship. It was great in its own right, but nowhere near the level of what they would later achieve.

    Once The Great One broke out even more into his own, their rematch two years later saw a different dynamic. They were now equals.

    Surprisingly, McMahon and Stone Cold joined forces—something no one thought could happen—becoming one of the most surprising WrestleMania endings, ever.

    Most fans would agree this is better than their WrestleMania XIX match, but that comparison isn't a knock. After three Rock Bottoms, The Rock finally beat Austin at WrestleMania and the 54 thousand in attendance were on their feet.

Bad: Triple H vs. Batista (WrestleMania 21 and 35)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Batista's 2005 Royal Rumble victory, babyface turn and victory at WrestleMania 21 over his Evolution superior was about as great of a run as his fans could have hoped for.

    The Cerebral Assassin was in his prime and The Animal was the exciting, fresh star of the future. They fought tooth and nail to be the top of the food chain and the event ended with a new World Heavyweight champion and smiles across the board.

    Their rematch at WrestleMania 35 just wasn't the same.

    This time, it was part-timer office executive Triple H against movie star Batista with ring rust. Both had seen their best days behind them.

    Triple H's in-ring career was on the line, but everyone knew this was Batista's retirement match. That spoiled much of the hype.

    Then, Batista tripped getting into the ring during his entrance, becoming one of the most memorable things about the match in the worst way.

    It had its moments, like Triple H ripping Batista's nose ring out with pliers, but it didn't live up to the hype.

    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.