Ranking the 10 Greatest WWE WrestleMania Matches of the Last 5 Years

Philip LindseyContributor IMarch 28, 2021

Ranking the 10 Greatest WWE WrestleMania Matches of the Last 5 Years

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    Photo credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania 37 is set to get underway April 10. Recently, The Greatest Spectacle in Sports Entertainment has become more synonymous with big moments than classic matches. After all, every WWE superstar wants to be immortalized at the event.

    Most fans remember where they were when they watched The Hardy Boyz make their surprise return to WWE to a raucous ovation in 2017. We remember the swell of emotions as Daniel Bryan triumphantly re-entered the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the venue where he famously secured the biggest win of his career four years prior, to wrestle for the first time since 2015. Viewers witnessed what felt improbable before when AJ Styles faced a familiar opponent in Shinsuke Nakamura in world title match in the U.S.

    Those memories have shaped the event over the past five years. Although The Show of Shows is filled with grand entrances and the company's brand of showmanship, it has also hosted several classic matches. Let's take a look at the 10 greatest WWE WrestleMania matches of the past five years.

10. Neville vs. Austin Aries (WrestleMania 33)

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    WrestleMania 33 was a mixed bag. There were plenty of memorable beats like the thunderous reaction for The Hardy Boyz or what looked like The Undertaker's final match, but there were just as many head-scratching moments like Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton.

    However, the WWE Cruiserweight Championship match was a hidden gem on this card. Neville, All Elite Wrestling's PAC, and Austin Aries put on the most technical match of the night. It's a shame that it landed on the pre-show because it was easily one of the highlights of the show.

    Aries spent most of the match trying to ground the King of the Cruiserweights and lock in his signature hold, the Last Chancery. In the end, he finally cinched in his finishing maneuver but Neville poked him in the eye and landed the Red Arrow to retain his title.

    205 Live was one of WWE's best weekly shows during this time. So it was great to see these two perform on such a massive stage. If you haven't seen this match, it's worth a rewatch.

9. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (WrestleMania 32)

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    At WrestleMania 32, WWE officially ended the Divas Era when it re-established the WWE Women's Championship. In what will go down as a turning point for women's wrestling, three of The Four Horsewomen competed for the new prize.

    This match immediately felt special because Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair all had distinct entrances fit for up-and-coming stars of their stature. The three women also graced the marquee in front of AT&T Stadium.

    Each woman had a strong showing, but it turned out to be a star-making performance for The Legit Boss, who received the loudest response as she entered the stadium with Snoop Dogg. Flair retained to become the first WWE Raw women's champion, but this sowed the seeds for her feuds with Banks.

    These women stole the show, and it wouldn't be the last time they did so at the event. It may not be as historic as the Winner Take All match that headlined WrestleMania three years later, but the visual of Flair raising the title for the first time with fireworks behind her will be a lasting image.

8. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon (WrestleMania 34)

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    Ronda Rousey’s highly anticipated WWE debut was surprisingly one of the most entertaining matches at the Showcase of the Immortals in 2018. It was the culmination of a rivalry between the MMA legend and Stephanie McMahon.

    At the event, The Baddest Woman on the Planet teamed up with WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle in a mixed tag match that even featured some intergender spots. Everyone knew that Rousey could bring star power to WrestleMania, but she also looked impressive in her first wrestling matches. The inaugural UFC women's bantamweight champion showcased some believable strikes and inventive judo throws as she took the fight to both McMahon and Triple H.

    Ultimately, Rousey forced McMahon to tap out with her trademark armbar and kicked off an eventful rookie year. It was a little hard to believe that she managed to block the hold earlier, but it was still rewarding to see Chief Brand Officer get her comeuppance.

7. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley (WrestleMania 36)

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    Last year, Rhea Ripley made her WrestleMania debut as the first woman to defend the NXT Women's Championship at the event. In the opening bout of Night 2, The Nightmare took on the 2020 women's Royal Rumble winner, Charlotte Flair.

    These two homegrown stars delivered an excellent match with a controversial finish. Heading into The Show of Shows, Ripley had all the momentum following a breakout year in 2019. During Survivor Series weekend, The Aussie won the first women's WarGames match and led Team NXT to victory in the five-on-five-on-five women's elimination match. In December, she closed the year by dethroning Shayna Baszler to become the only woman to have held both the NXT and NXT UK titles.

    So it seemed like WrestleMania would be her major introduction to the mainstream audience as the next big star. Ripley and Flair had a physical and grueling matchup, but The Queen effectively targeted the champion's knee throughout the fight. The strategy worked to perfection, as she forced her opponent to submit with a Figure Eight leg lock and became a two-time NXT women's champion.

    This outcome divided fans, but this was still a great match that managed to tell an engaging story in the empty Performance Center.

6. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 36)

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    Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins delivered a banger on Night 1 of WrestleMania 36 in a no-disqualification match. The Prizefighter became the foil for Rollins' Monday Night Messiah character in 2019 after being attacked by Rollins and AOP.

    Their heated rivalry played out over several months as the former universal champion tormented Owens with the help of his disciples. This all led to an amazing war of words in the build to The Show of Shows, with Rollins taunting his foe because he never had a WrestleMania moment.

    This was the hottest feud coming into last year's show. Their match helped to prove that WWE could put on a captivating show to give its audience a distraction from the pandemic that forced the company to host its biggest event of the year in an empty arena for the first time.

    It was a night wrestling fans will never forget. Owens scored the highlight of the night when leaped from the WrestleMania sign to land a diving elbow drop and vanquished Rollins with a Stunner.

5. Seth Rollins vs. The Miz vs. Finn Balor (WrestleMania 34)

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    WrestleMania 34 opened with a tremendous intercontinental title match that blew the roof off of the Superdome. The champion, The Miz, was on the hot seat as Raw general manager Kurt Angle forced him to contend with Finn Balor and Seth Rollins.

    In this action-packed Triple Threat match, Balor and Rollins pulled off some inventive spots as they tried to one-up each other to claim the gold. It wouldn't be a stretch to say was one of the best bouts featuring the stipulation in WrestleMania history.

    The Extraordinary Man Who Does Extraordinary Things looked like he was going to win when he nailed Miz with the Coup de Grace. But Rollins ingeniously broke up the pin with a Curb Stomp and administered a second to pick up the win. His Intercontinental Championship reign helped to make him the top star on Raw in 2018.

4. 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena (WrestleMania 36)

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    Right. So it's difficult to call Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena a match because they didn't wrestle. Nevertheless, the Firefly Funhouse match was a masterpiece that set a new standard for what cinematic matches could be.

    Wyatt is the only wrestler capable of making this zany, fever dream sequence-meets-This Is Your Life segment work, and the result was equally ludicrous and brilliant. Cena also deserves a lot of credit for committing to the creative experiment. His comedic timing shone as he regressed to variations of his character from his illustrious career with WWE.

    The Eater of Worlds forced Cena to acknowledge that he was the bully all along. Seeing the Leader of Cenation on a WCW Monday Nitro set dressed as a heelish member of the NWO was one of many memorable scenes that made longtime fans regard this match as an instant classic.

    As the 16-time world champion pummeled Huskus the Pig Boy, The Fiend defeated him with Sister Abigail and the Mandible Claw. Well, there was no referee to count the pinfall, so it was open-ended. Still, this was a creative and wildly entertaining match that is fascinating to revisit.

3. The Boneyard Match (WrestleMania 36)

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    The Undertaker's final WrestleMania appearance pitted him against AJ Styles in a campy cinematic exhibition that won over the WWE Universe. This contemporary version of a Buried Alive match was a clever way to produce a dream match with Styles and bypass The Phenom's limitations in the ring.

    Viewers didn't know what to expect because the company never described what comprised a Boneyard match before the event. What we got was a return of The American Badass persona, complete with Metallica playing as he rode in a motorcycle to face Styles, who humorously arrived inside a hearse. The two proceeded to have an extended brawl in a cemetery in the main event of Night 1 of WrestleMania 36.

    The Good Brothers tried to intervene, but it wasn't enough to give Style the edge, and Undertaker buried him to win and cap off his storied run at The Showcase of the Immortals. The Boneyard match may not have worked as well in any other year, but in 2020 it was the perfect use of taped footage to entertain fans during the pandemic.

    It also served as a fitting send-off for the man who was such a fixture at WrestleMania throughout his career.

2. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (WrestleMania 34)

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    Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship is the best women's match in WrestleMania history. In 2018, The Queen and The Empress of Tomorrow faced off in a first-time matchup with high stakes and top-notch in-ring action.

    At the event, the Japanese star put her undefeated streak on the line against Flair for the blue brand's women's title. Asuka targeted the champion's shoulder for most of the match, while The Queen tried to work the challenger's leg to soften her up for her finishing move.

    WWE fans know that Flair is capable of stunning feats of athleticism, but her jaw-dropping Spanish Fly still caught us by surprise. Still, Asuka held her own with an array of well-timed counters and holds. Viewers have never seen her sweat, and this was no different, but she surprisingly fell victim to the Figure Eight as the second-generation stalwart ended her streak.

    It was a little bittersweet because this match could have gone on a little longer, and the finish felt anticlimactic. However, it's still an incredible example of just how far WWE's women's division has come.

1. Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania 35)

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    Kofi Kingston's journey to WrestleMania 35 wasn't perfect, but it was worth the wait. The 13-year veteran received his first WWE Championship match on The Grandest Stage of Them All against the original B-plus player, Daniel Bryan.

    The Planet's Champion was the only thing standing between Kingston and his childhood dream to win the title at the event. But it wouldn't be easy to overcome one of the greatest technical wrestlers of all time. That was clear, as Bryan was in firm control for most of the match, but the oldest member of The New Day wouldn't be deterred.

    Eventually, he displayed the same fire that helped him win over the crowd in the gauntlet match on the Feb. 12 episode of SmackDown. After a barrage of stomps straight out of the champion's playbook, Kingston hit Bryan with Trouble in Paradise and pinned him to become the first African-born WWE champion.

    KofiMania and his subsequent win made up the most beautiful, important and inspiring WrestleMania moment in recent memory. It was proof that WWE still knows how to craft a proper happy ending.

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