Ranking Every Triple Threat Match in WWE WrestleMania History

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

Ranking Every Triple Threat Match in WWE WrestleMania History

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Universal champion Roman Reigns is likely to defend his title against Edge and Daniel Bryan in the main event of WrestleMania 37, the culmination of a three-way rivalry that escalated in the closing moments of the Fastlane pay-per-view.

    The Showcase of the Immortals is no stranger to Triple Threat Matches, having featured 17 of them over the course of three-plus decades, some of which have gone on to be considered among the best matches of all-time.

    Almost all have had some championship at the center of them, while some have stood heads and shoulders above the rest, superb examples of the drama and storytelling made possible by the additional Superstar's presence.

    Ahead of what may prove to be one of the best matches in recent WrestleMania history when it is made official and takes to the squared circle in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on April 11, relive these Triple Threat Matches that paved the way for Reigns, Bryan, and Edge, ranked according to overall quality and historical significance.

17. WrestleMania XV: Billy Gunn vs. Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It is probably no coincidence that the very first Triple Threat Match in WrestleMania history is also its worst.

    The match type had been a staple of WWE television for such a short period by the time WrestleMania XV hit the pay-per-view airwaves, live from Philadelphia, that it is of no real surprise that Billy Gunn, Hardcore Holly, and Al Snow struggled to tell a compelling story beyond hitting each other with weapons.

    Even then, said weapons shots did not improve upon the blunder-filled brawls fans had bore witness to in the weeks leading into the 1999 event. After all, Holly and Snow had a better match just weeks earlier at St. Valentine's Day Massacre when they battled into the Mississippi River.

    In comparison to that match, this was just pedestrian and did nothing to elevate the title or any of the three competitors involved.

    Even if it was nice to see Holly score the first big 'Mania win of his career.

16. WrestleMania X-8: Trish Stratus vs. Lita vs. Jazz

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There would be far better women's title bouts to come on wrestling's grandest stage but the Triple Threat Match between Trish Stratus, Lita, and Jazz at WrestleMania X-8 was the first hint of the evolution of female competition in WWE.

    The Golden Era of women's wrestling in Vince McMahon's company was underway and three legitimate wrestlers did battle for the top prize in their division.

    As much as it would have been nice to to point to that match as the genesis of something truly special, though, it simply was not. Sandwiched between the iconic encounter between The Rock and Hulk Hogan and the Undisputed Championship Match pitting Triple H against Chris Jericho, the match was a rushed mess that saw Jazz retain with a fisherman buster from the middle rope on Lita.

    Had Stratus, the hometown hero, emerged with her second women's title, perhaps it would have been more memorable. Instead, it is little more than a footnote in history and the first time any of the three women competed on the grand stage.

    In fact, it remains the one and only time Hall of Famer Lita took to the squared circle for an actual match on wrestling's most prestigious night.

15. WrestleMania XXXIV: New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Bludgeon Brothers

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    With talent like Kofi Kingston, Big E, The Usos, Erick Rowan, and the late Luke Harper involved, the Triple Threat Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at WrestleMania XXIV really should have been a classic match.

    Instead, it resides near the bottom of the barrel in this countdown.

    There was no recognizable story to the match and worse yet, the competitors never really got into any real flow. Instead, it was spot after spot and considerable domination by The Bludgeon Brothers.

    It should have been. Harper and Rowan were the dominant force in the tag team division and dismantling New Day and The Usos would cement them as the gatekeepers of that roster.

    The lack of narrative or even build over the course of the six-minute match hurt it tremendously, though, and lands it where it does on this rundown of the greatest triple threat matches in event history.

14. WrestleMania XIX: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz vs. Victoria

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    Stratus' second dance on the big stage netted better results than her first, but was again subject to time constraints, leading to another rushed championship encounter.

    Women's wrestling in 2003 was still marginalized by bookers who did not understand the considerable value it would have later down the line. Thus, despite a greater effort to feature that genre on its show, it was still short-changed in a way the male-centered divisions were not.

    The sequences were better, Stratus played the role of underdog babyface to perfection, and the fans in Seattle appeared to be invested in the championship clash despite following The Undertaker's match.

    Stratus won the match and title, rightfully so, but would have to wait another three years for her defining WrestleMania classic.  

13. WrestleMania XXVI: Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Throughout 2009, Legacy dominated on Monday Night Raw.

    The trio, led by Randy Orton and featuring upstarts Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, made life a living hell for the likes of John Cena and D-Generation X but by early 2010, would disintegrate as egos ran wild.

    Out to prove to Orton that they no longer needed The Legend Killer to be successful in WWE, Rhodes and DiBiase battled the third-generation star in a Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania in 2010.

    They would not succeed.

    Orton defeated Rhodes and DiBiase, pinning the former following his trademark RKO.

    The match lacked flow and heat, the crowd not entirely sure what to make of this three-way feud between Superstars they had spent so much time despising prior to the breakup.

    A few months later and an Orton squarely on the babyface side of things and this may have succeeded. Instead, it was a tepid, dull three-way that let down the young stars and hardly served as representation of The Viper's greatness.

12. WrestleMania X-Seven: Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Creativity is key in separating any wrestler's match from another and the Triple Threat Match for the WWE Hardcore Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven had it in spades.

    Raven defended against Kane and Big Show that night, the overpowered and outmatched David amongst Goliaths. He took a tremendous beating, including getting run over by a golf cart and thrown through a window. 

    The wild, chaotic brawl around the Astrodome concluded with Big Show hoisting Raven overhead in a gorilla press, only for Kane to knock them both off and through part of the stage. A big elbow drop to Show would win The Big Red Monster the match and title.

    There was nothing traditional about the match and to be honest, it was hardly different from the majority of the hardcore title bouts that had become such a staple of WWE programming. It was the creativity in the spots that separated it, though, and helped make the contest one of the most memorable of that unforgettable card.

11. WrestleMania 22: Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

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    Rey Mysterio won the 2006 Royal Rumble Match to honor the late Eddie Guerrero and embarked on a journey to WrestleMania 22, vowing capture the World Heavyweight Championship as a tribute to his friend. Standing in his path were the vile Randy Orton and the incomparable Kurt Angle in a star-studded Triple Threat Match.

    Angle was a wrestling machine, countering, reversing, and suplexing his way through the relatively short match. Orton, conversely, was the cerebral villain, picking his spots as he sought to regain a title he first won a year and a half earlier.

    Mysterio, as he had been over the course of his career, was the dynamic underdog, exploding into the match and staying alive long enough to remain in the fight. The fast-paced, back-and-forth sprint of a match concluded with Mysterio launching himself off the top rope and turning Orton inside out with a hurricanrana for the emotional win.

    It's quality hurt by the lack of time given to it, the match probably would have been even better had it had the opportunity to slow down and tell a story rather than trying to jam-pack all of the spots into a tiny window.

    Still, Mysterio's win was unforgettable and remains one of the great WrestleMania moments of the last 20 years.

10. WrestleMania 2000: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Three of the best technical wrestlers in the world collided at WrestleMania 2000 when Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle waged war over the Olympian's Intercontinental and European Championships in the first (and only) Two-Fall Triple Threat Match.

    Angle entered the match as a dual champion, accomplishing outlandish feats early on in his WWE career. Jericho and Benoit sought to silence the loudmouthed, braggadocious athlete by beating him and taking his titles.

    They accomplished one of the two.

    Benoit earned the first victory, pinning Jericho to win the IC title. Y2J fought back and defeated Benoit to win the European title, robbing Angle of his titles despite the fact that he never actually lost either of the falls.

    The action was solid, if not hampered somewhat by the match stipulation, and gave a fan a taste of things to come from the three relative newcomers. There would be significantly better from all involved in the years that followed but the contest served as one of the best on an otherwise bloated WrestleMania 2000 card and certainly earned its place in the top 10 of this countdown.

9. WrestleMania XXV: John Cena vs. Big Show vs. Edge

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    John Cena, Big Show, and Edge clashed at WrestleMania 25 for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Triple Threat Match set up unconventionally.

    There was Cena, who wanted his World Heavyweight Championship back after losing it to Edge at Elimination Chamber. Edge wanted revenge on Big Show for making out with his wife, Vickie Guerrero. And Big Show...didn't have anything else better to do on the card, robbing fans of what would have been the one and only WrestleMania match-up in the intense and acclaimed rivalry between Cena and Edge.

    Despite the sometimes ridiculousness of the storyline, Cena, Edge, and Big Show brought their veteran in-ring experience and longtime chemistry to the match, delivering an entertaining romp that still struggled to win over an audience exhausted by Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels just moments earlier.

    There were cool spots, the most unforgettable one being Cena hoisting both opponents onto his shoulders for an Attitude Adjustment. In the end, Cena would capture the title and set up a rematch with Edge a month later at Backlash that far exceeded the quality of this three-way.

    Even so, it was a quality match on a card that lacked them and one that deserves its placement on this list.

8. WrestleMania XXIV: John Cena vs. Triple H vs. Randy Orton

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    Three of the top stars of the Ruthless Aggression Era gathered in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship on the undercard of WrestleMania XXIV, an indication of just how loaded that particular lineup was, as Randy Orton defended his title against Royal Rumble winner John Cena and runner-up Triple H.

    Painted as the underdog due to the overwhelming odds stacked against him, Orton entered the match the defiant champion, hellbent on finding some way to retain his gold. And he did.

    Late in the contest, The Game appeared to have things in-hand, delivering a perfect Pedigree to Cena. Then, from out of nowhere, an alert Orton exploded across the ring, delivering a punt kick to The Cerebral Assassin and earning the successful title retention.

    The match, not quite as great as you would expect given the talent involved, was still one of the better contests on the 2008 card and remains the one time those three competitors shared the ring in a Triple Threat Match despite their many years atop the company.

7. WrestleMania XXXV: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey

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    History was made in the main event of WrestleMania 35 as women headlined the most prestigious event for the first time ever. Ronda Rousey entered the night as the Raw women's champion, Charlotte Flair the SmackDown titleholder. The red-hot Becky Lynch arrived as the challenger to both in the Winner Takes All bout, ready to establish herself as the top star in all of WWE.

    What ensued was an extremely physical, hard-hitting encounter that left Rousey with a broken hand and three women's names etched in the history books. 

    After a taxing back-and-forth, Lynch found herself in the grasp of Rousey, who looked to put her rival away with the Piper's Pit. Lynch, though, countered into a crucifix pin and became the first person to defeat the UFC Hall of Famer in a WWE ring.

    The Man stood tall to close out the show, her dreams realized and her star burning brighter than ever as she hoisted both titles overhead. It was a magical moment, one that would have been better suited for a crowd that had not been exhausted by five hours of wrestling before the women even entered the arena.

6. WrestleMania XXXII: Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair

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    Flair and Lynch were no strangers to WrestleMania triple threat matches, having competed in one three years before their appearance in the main event. In 2016, The Queen entered Dallas' AT&T Stadium as the Divas champion. That title would be abolished prior to the advertised Triple Threat Match against Lynch and Sasha Banks and the WWE Women's Championship would be awarded to the victor. 

    With history at stake, the women pulled no punches, throwing caution to the wind as they delivered an enthralling match that would steal the show.

    Flair soared through the air with a picture-perfect moonsault that wiped out both opponents. Banks would answer, delivering an Eddie Guerrero-inspired frog splash to break up a Figure Four attempt. Lynch threw both opponents around with her trademark Bexploders. 

    In the end, though, it was Flair who managed to tap Lynch out, retaining her title before Banks could make the save.

    In many ways, the WrestleMania 32 classic was the precursor for Lynch, Flair, and Rousey's match three years later. Without The Man, The Queen, and The Boss excelling in their highest-profile position to date, there's no telling if Vince McMahon would have even seen the Women's Revolution through, let alone given them the top spot on his most prestigious event.

    The historical implications have as much to do with this ranking as highly as it does on the list, let along the strong in-ring effort provided by those involved.

5. WrestleMania XXXVI: Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso vs. John Morrison

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    WrestleMania 36 is one of those events that will be forgotten over time, thanks to the lack of fans in attendance and the relatively small-scale production from WWE's Performance Center. A victim of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, that year's event was unlike any before it or after, the perfect setting for the next match on our list.

    With The Miz unable to appear due to his own bout of COVID, the originally scheduled Triple Threat Ladder Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships was unable to go forward as planned. Instead of scratching it, WWE officials booked a singles Triple Threat Match with one member of each team involved.

    John Morrison defended the titles against The New Day's Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso. What unfolded was one of the best matches of the two-night card and an underrated gem in the WrestleMania annals.

    There were incredible bumps, including Jimmy's climactic tumble off the top of a ladder, over the ropes and to the floor, as well as jaw-dropping displays of athleticism.

    All in front of no fans to feed off of.

    Morrison won the match but the real winners were the fans, who were able to enjoy such an incredible match from three men unfazed by the lack of crowd and motivated by the enormous WrestleMania sign hanging on the wall. 

4. WrestleMania XXXIV: Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins vs. The Miz

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    Do yourself a favor: go back and watch the opening match of WrestleMania XXXIV.

    The Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship in which The Mix defended against Finn Balor and Seth Rollins is a dark horse candidate for the most underrated bout of the last 10 years of WrestleManias and proof positive of why all three have played significant roles on WWE television of late.

    The counters, reversals, dramatic near-falls and unpredictable nature of the match captured the attention of the New Orleans fans, leaving them hanging with every pin attempt.

    Rollins was undeniably the biggest star in the match, a year removed from defeating Triple H in an emotionally fueled grudge match, but Balor was also one of the more prominent stars on the Monday Night Raw brand.

    Miz, as usual, was his typically excellent heel self, creating a dynamic in which fans wanted to see him get his ass kicked and lose the title.

    He did.

    Late, Balor delivered the Coup de Grace to Mix, appearing to have the title in-hand. Rollins came from out of nowhere, though, delivering his stomp finisher and capturing the gold.

    The 15-minute match set the bat incredibly high for the rest of the performers to try and eclipse and further solidified Rollins' place in WrestleMania lore.

3. WrestleMania XXXI: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins

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    How interesting that the No. 3 entry on this list was not originally scheduled to be a Triple Threat Match, nor was it one until the closing minutes.

    For the majority of the WrestleMania 31 main event, Brock Lesnar savagely manhandled Roman Reigns, tossing him around the ring with German suplexes and battering his face in with punishing forearms until a Superman-like comeback by the Big Dog.

    Then, it happened. With both men down, Seth Rollins rushed the ring with his Money in the Bank briefcase, officially cashing in his guaranteed championship opportunity and turning the night's marquee bout into an impromptu Triple Threat Match.

    Lesnar would put Rollins' title aspirations in jeopardy, hosting The Architect on his shoulders for an F-5 until Reigns exploded across the ring with a spear. Rollins would deliver a stomp to Reigns, pin his shoulders, and leave the wrestling world elated by capturing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in an absolutely unforgettable moment.

    The drama of it all, the booking, and the finish came together to produce one of the greatest main event spectacles in event history and a definitive star-making performance from Rollins. To underrate it, or underestimate its place in the event's long and illustrious history, is to do it a disservice.

    The "match" absolutely earns its place this high up on the list.

2. WrestleMania XXX: Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton

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    To earn his place in the Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H in the opening contest of WrestleMania 30.

    Dismayed by his defeat, The Game attacked and brutally injured Bryan, leaving his status for the main event against Batista and Randy Orton unclear.

    The gutsy babyface, riding a wave of momentum provided to him by the wildly passionate YES Movement, gutted it out and made his way to the squared circle for the most important and momentous match of his career.

    Bryan was battered and brutalized by his opponents, both of whom sought to end his fairy tale story and focus on each other instead. Orton and Batista combined for a powerbomb/neckbreaker combination that drove Bryan through an announce table and left him to be wheeled out on a stretcher.

    From there, The Animal and The Viper engaged in a one-dimensional main event for several moments until Bryan popped the crowd and returned in time to tap Batista out with the Yes Lock and win the title.

    The main event, formatted like an old-school, story-driven Attitude Era contest, was the culmination of a magical journey for Bryan. Long the beloved Superstar, he paid of the most significant night of his career with a victory in the main event of WrestleMania.

    Pyro exploded, confetti fell and for the first time in what felt like forever, WWE rewarded its fans with exactly what they had been demanding for the better part of two years. 

1. WrestleMania 20: Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

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    Credit: WWE

    It is somewhat sad that the greatest Triple Threat Match in WrestleMania history is the one erased by WWE from the history books. One look at the company's own website provides no evidence that Chris Benoit defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship in the greatest three-way match of all-time.

    And rightfully so.

    Yet, it is difficult to tell the story of the best Triple Threat Matches in WrestleMania history without shining a light on what he, The Game, and The Heartbreak Kid accomplished inside the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden in 2004.

    A dramatic, intense, bloody, brutal and hard-hitting Triple Threat Match saw Michaels and Triple H try to eliminate their opponent from the match, driving him through an announce table so they could continue waging their war against each other. 

    Benoit, a tenacious pitbull of a competitor, fought back into the match.

    He ducked Sweet Chin Music late and deposited Michaels to the floor. From there, he trapped Triple H in the crossface and after several moments of the Cerebral Assassin fighting through the pain, he finally tapped out to give Benoit the career-defining win that had eluded him.

    The five-star classic match, post-match celebration with Guerrero, and overwhelming emotion of the entire presentation helped make for an unforgettable moment etched in the minds of those who watched it unfold live.

    And that may be for the best, considering the likelihood that WWE will ever air it away from its streaming network is nonexistent.


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