The 10 Matches That Defined WWE WrestleMania's Legacy

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2020

The 10 Matches That Defined WWE WrestleMania's Legacy

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    This weekend will see WWE hold the 36th edition of WrestleMania, but unlike previous years, this event will not have any fans in attendance.

    The past 35 years' worth of pay-per-views have given us some incredible memories and unforgettable matches featuring some of the biggest names in the history of the business.

    Even if a wrestler doesn't care if they make it to WWE, headlining WrestleMania is a dream for anyone who steps through the ropes. Anyone who says it isn't is fooling themselves.

    With each year comes the chance for WWE to create new moments that will last a lifetime. Whether someone is in the opening match or main event, everyone tries a little harder on The Grandest Stage of Them All because they know the world is watching.

    Let's take a walk down memory lane and revisit the 10 matches that have come to define the legacy of WrestleMania. 

    Just to be clear, we are not saying these are the 10 best matches: They are the ones that are the most iconic. 

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant

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    If you put three people in a room together, there is a good chance they will all have a different opinion about what the best WrestleMania match is, but nobody can argue about which one is the most iconic.

    Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3 has probably been referenced more times on WWE television than any other bout by a wide margin.

    This was the meeting of the two most famous men in their field at the biggest show in the history of the sport at the time. 

    By no means is this the best match either of these men ever had, but the crowd and the story leading to it helped make it one of the most important moments in WWE history. 

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan

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    For the first several years of WrestleMania's existence, Hulk Hogan was the face of the company and by the time WrestleMania 6 rolled around in 1990, Hollywood was beginning to take notice after his appearances in the lauded Rocky 3 and the maligned No Holds Barred.

    Around the same time, The Ultimate Warrior was rising through the ranks. He had dethroned The Honky Tonk Man as intercontinental champion and earned a shot at the WWE Championship at The Show of Shows.

    Both men in the main event were babyfaces so the crowd was split on who to cheer for. This was Hogan and Warrior at their best, and they gave the crowd everything they had that night.

    After 22 grueling minutes, The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hogan to become the first IC and WWE champion in the history of the company. This was as big as it got back then. 

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

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    As WWE began transitioning into a new era in the mid-'90s, technical precision and high-flying ability began to be just as important as the size of a Superstar's muscles.

    Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were two of the early Superstars who helped break the pattern of bodybuilder champions and proved two smaller guys could be just as entertaining as giants.

    At WrestleMania XII, The Hitman and The Heartbreak Kid wrestled for over an hour in an Iron Man match that has stood the test of time as one of the best performances in WWE history.

    They put each other through the wringer and ran out the clock without scoring a single pin or submission. It took restarting the match until a winner was declared when Michaels finally put Hart on the mat for the pin with Sweet Chin Music.

    When it comes to Iron Man matches, this is the gold standard. 

Bret Hart vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

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    Pulling off a double turn is one of the trickiest things in pro wrestling. It requires a beloved babyface and a reviled heel to convince the crowd to change its mind about both men in a matter of minutes.

    The most masterful execution of the double turn happened at WrestleMania 13 when "Stone Cold" Steve Austin faced Bret Hart in a submission match.

    Austin was beginning to gain support but was still the bad guy when the first bell rang. By the time special guest referee Ken Shamrock called for the match to end, the entire arena was booing Hart and cheering The Texas Rattlesnake. 

    Seeing Stone Cold refuse to submit as blood ran down his face was a powerful image. As he passed out, you could see The Hitman become a villain as he refused to release his Sharpshooter.

    It was an epic moment and another example of two Superstars making each other better just by being in the ring together. 

The Rock vs. 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin

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    This selection is a bit of a cheat because you can pick between any of The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's three WrestleMania showdowns and they would fit right in on this list.

    No other feud in WWE history has spanned three 'Manias across five years. The Great One and The Rattlesnake needed each other more than even they may have realized at the time.

    Their feud was great because it didn't matter which one was playing the good or bad guy. You always knew you would get awesome action and entertaining promos out of them.

    Their bouts at WrestleMania 15, 17 and 19 still hold up after all of these years because there is no substitute for star power and skill. 

The Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

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    Can you think of any match that managed to push six Superstars at the same time better than the Tables, Ladders & Chairs match at WrestleMania X-Seven? Probably not.

    The Hardy Boyz, Dudley Boyz, Edge and Christian were already at the top of the tag team division after their amazing TLC match at SummerSlam 2000, but TLC 2 took them to a new level.

    These three teams elevated the entire tag team scene in professional wrestling and inspired an entire generation of wrestlers with their affinity for weapons and penchant for taking risks. 

    Half of the guys from this bout are already in the Hall of Fame and the other three are guaranteed to join them someday. 

    WWE has tried and failed many times to recapture the magic these three teams created during their feud. 

Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

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    From a purely technical standpoint, Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar from WrestleMania XIX is one of the best main events in WWE history.

    Angle was already one of the top stars in pro wrestling by 2003, and Lesnar was quickly rising through the ranks after debuting just over a year earlier in Match of 2002.

    These two amateur wrestling champions put on a clinic that included a failed shooting star press from The Beast among other exciting moments.

    Angle has had a lot of classic matches, but this is in the top five performances for both men. You are doing yourself a disservice if you have not taken the time to watch this bout. 

The Rock vs. John Cena

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    The Rock and John Cena clashed at successive WrestleManias in 2012 and 2013, but it was their first showdown at the 28th edition that brought the two top stars from different generations together.

    In a lot of ways, Cena was the successor to The Great One in WWE. They both have a handful of signature moves that parallel each other, and they also are known for being two of the best trash talkers in the business.

    Cena pulled out all the stops during the buildup to this match to make it as exciting as possible. He even brought a bit of his old hip-hop persona into the feud.

    For seven years, we thought The Rock was gone from the ring for good. Seeing him back at WrestleMania XXVIII in a match with The Cenation Leader is the kind of moment WWE can and will milk for years to come.

    Their match the following year for the WWE Championship was also a lot of fun, but it failed to capture the magic of their first encounter. 

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

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    For many years, The Undertaker's undefeated streak was one of the major selling points of WrestleMania. Some of the biggest names in the business stepped up to him but were all defeated for 21 straight matches.

    Then WrestleMania 30 rolled around and The Deadman found himself standing across the ring from Brock Lesnar. He had faced plenty of dangerous powerhouses, but The Beast Incarnate was on a different level.

    It took three finishing moves but he finally pinned The Undertaker and broke the Streak. It was a moment some people still think should never have happened.

    Whether you loved or hated the decision, everybody felt strongly about the end of this match. It takes a special moment in scripted fighting for the crowd to have such a powerful reaction.

    An entire stadium stood in stunned silence when the referee counted the pin and one fan will be forever immortalized as a WWE meme

Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

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    The women's division in WWE was a source of frustration for both fans and Superstars for many years, but the Women's Revolution changed all that.

    Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair were all called up from NXT to help change the way women's wrestling was viewed. Less than one year after they were brought to Raw, the trio were fighting over the newly minted WWE Women's Championship at WrestleMania 32.

    Not only were they given a decent amount of time to work with, but all three stars also proved their worth by giving us one of the best matches of the night.

    With a little help from Ric Flair, Charlotte won the belt and officially ended the Divas era in WWE.

    Four years later, and they all find themselves in different title bouts at this year's Show of Shows, proving the company was right to trust them with such an important task.

    Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to WrestleMania. Which matches do you feel are important the legacy of the PPV that were not included here? 


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