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My Favorite WrestleMania Matches of All Time

WrestleMania is just about two weeks away, and as always, hopes are high that it is a blow away show.  Through the years, the "sports" biggest event has left lasting memories on millions of fans world-wide, and I'm no different.  Here are My Top 5 Favorite WrestleMania Matches Ever.

#5:  WWF vs NFL Battle Royal, WrestleMania 2, 1986

As a kid who was a huge wrestling fan, battle royals always held a special intrigue with me.  Maybe it was having so many guys in the ring, or the possibility that any of them could win, I'm not sure.  But what I do know, is that to an 8-year-old, when you put some of the biggest and best wrestling stars and some of the biggest and best football players from the NFL in the same ring, anything can happen!

I was so pumped to see this affair heading into the event, that it was really the only match that I talked about at school.  While all of my wrestling friends wanted to see Hulk Hogan get his revenge against King Kong Bundy in a cage, I wanted to see if Superbowl Champion William "The Refrigerator" Perry could be the last man standing in the big battle royal.

With an impressive lineup of WWF talent including Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Bruno Sammartino, The Hart Foundation, The Killer Bees, Pedro Morales, the Iron Sheik, King Tonga and NFL stars like Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Harvey Martin, and William Perry, the ring was filled with star power.  And on the outside of the ring were NFL legends Dick Butkis and Ed "Too Tall" Jones as referees!

The most interesting part of the match was when Big John Studd and William Perry got to square off.  Perry held his own until Studd tricked him into running into his big elbow.  He then simply beeled Perry over the top rope to eliminate him.  But once on the floor, Perry wanted to shake Studd's hand and congratulate him.  When Studd reached down to shake his hand, Perry gave a big tug and pulled John Studd over the top rope to eliminate him too!

Andre the Giant went on to win the match, last eliminating both members of the Hart Foundation.  Andre was always referred to as the King of Battle Royals, and in this match, he proved once again that he was deserving of that title.

Watch Match

#4:  Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior, WrestleMania 6, 1990

It was a battle for the ages.  Good guy vs good guy.  Champion vs. Champion.  The best the 80's had to offer vs. a superstar for the 90's.  Hulkamaniacs vs. Little Warriors.  As a fan, in this battle you had to choose a side.  Were you with WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan?  Or were you with Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior?

The WWF had first teased this matchup back at the Royal Rumble in January.  Both Hogan and Warrior were in the ring and had cleared out the rest of the competition at that point in time, and had about a minute before another Superstar would be joining the fray.  What happened next was a fan's dream.

Hogan and Warrior went at it for a bit in a battle that left both men laying prone....and without a decisive winner.  We now had our main event for Wrestlemania 6.  WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior.  The match was so big, it had to be held in one of the only arenas big enough to hold it....The Sky Dome in Toronto Canada.

The fans were split for this match, but I knew who I wanted to win.  I wasn't really a fan of the Ultimate Warrior, but I despised Hogan, and wanted to see him finally lose the belt.  The Warrior didn't disappoint me as he defeated Hulk in a match that was a pretty good display of power.  Both men pulled out all the stops and unleashed the biggest moves they had against each other.

It was a tense back and forth affair, and the Ultimate Warrior was able to hand Hulk Hogan one of his only clean losses in his entire WWF career.  Hogan was man enough, even in defeat, to present the Ultimate Warrior with the WWF World Title and raise his hand before leaving Warrior alone in the ring to celebrate.  It was Warrior's finest night as a professional wrestler.

Watch match

#3:  Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, WrestleMania 13, 1997

I was never a huge fan of either Austin or Hart, before or after this match.  But in the moment watching it live, these two great performers totally sucked me into their brutal I Quit match.  It was a fantastic back and forth match that would go on to help shape what the WWF Attitude Era would be all about.

Both men fought with energy and hatred.  They pulled out their best moves from their repertoires, and in the process brought out the best in each other.  Going into the match, Hart was the fan favorite, and Austin was the villain.  As the match wore on, those roles started to reverse.  The more punishment Hart dealt out, the more the fans started to boo.  The more punishment Austin took without giving up, the more the fans turned to his side.

That dynamic climaxed when Hart locked a bloody Austin in his patented "Sharp Shooter" submission hold going for the victory.  But Austin refused to give up.  He seemed to be on the verge of passing out, but slowly, his grit and determination started to show as he planted his hands in the canvas mat and pushed up with all he had in an attempt to break the hold.  As he pushed up and exerted all of his energy, the camera caught the look on his face.  He was screaming in pain more blood started streaming down his face from the strain and began to puddle on the mat.

When his last bit of energy was used up, he collapsed back down to the mat and passed out from the pain and loss of blood.  Special referee Ken Shamrock stopped the match and awarded it to Bret Hart.  But the fact was that Austin never said I Quit.  He fought to the end and passed out when he just couldn't take any more.  That made him an iconic hero in the fans eyes, and launched him on the road to becoming one of the biggest stars of all time.

Watch Match

#2:  Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, WrestleMania 3, 1987

As a kid, Ricky Steamboat was my favorite wrestler that the WWF had to offer.  His move set was more martial arts based, and coupled along with his high flying ability made him exciting to watch to my 8-year-old self.  Randy Savage on the other hand, was equally talented, yet came across as a huge butt hole with his attitude.

The seeds for the match were sewn on an episode of WWF Superstars when the two faced off.  The match was pretty good, giving a taste of their eventual legendary encounter at WrestleMania.  As the match ended, Savage went into a rage and attacked Steamboat viciously.  He didn't just stop with the traditional wrestling beat down of his foe...he took it to a whole other level.

He dropped Steamboat throat first on the ropes and railing, and then with Steamboat laying prone in the ring, he launched from the top rope holding the ring bell, and drove it into Steamboat's throat.  The result was a crushed larynx and several months out of action for Steamboat.  When Steamboat finally returned, the match was made and the stage was set for what many consider to be the best wrestling match in the history of WrestleMania.

The match at WrestleMania 3 was fast paced and exciting throughout, as neither man held anything back and seemed intent on stealing the spotlight from the Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant event.  As the match was in progress, commentator Jesse Ventura exclaimed that this was the best match he had ever seen.  There were an amazing 17 two-counts in the match.  17 different times when you thought it was possibly over while watching.

The actual end came however when Savage got the ring bell and was once again going to attempt to cripple Steamboat.  Steamboat's friend George the Animal Steele prevented that however when he pushed Savage from the top rope to the mat.  That gave Steamboat a chance to get his second wind.  A shaken Savage lifted Steamboat up to attempt a body slam, but Steamboat hooked his leg on the way down and rolled him up into a cradle for the deciding three count to win the Intercontinental Title in what I STILL think is the best wrestling match to take place on a WrestleMania card.

Watch Match

#1:  Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania 24, 2008

I started watching wrestling in 1985.  My first favorites were the Rock & Roll Express, but it didn't take long for me to become enamored with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.  Throughout its existence, I was a fan of the NWA and WCW.  I watched the WWF, but I always preferred the more athletic based wrestling of the NWA, and Ric Flair was it's kingpin.

For years upon years I cheered for Flair, so in what was speculated to be his final match at WrestleMania 24, I was more than a little choked up.  While it was great to see him in the ring with another all time great performer like Shawn Michaels, it was also a sad day knowing that it would be Flair's final high-profile match.

Even in his advanced age, Flair was still able to dig down deep one more time and hold up his end of what was a very good match on the biggest stage of them all.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I had the beginnings of tears in my eyes throughout the whole thing.  It's hard not to when you've followed someones every move for 30+ years, and knowing this is his last hurrah.

After he lost the bout, I let the tears finally did the "Nature Boy" himself as he slowly exited the ring and took in the cheers and appreciation of the huge crowd in Orlando one last time.  

Watch Match

For me, it was the end of an era.  An era of fully enjoying watching wrestling.  I watched Raw the following night and the awesome send off the WWE gave the greatest wrestler of all-time.  That was the last time I watched a full episode of a wrestling show.

I had seen my favorite at his peak, and at his lowest, and then I got to see him on one last high over those two days.  As Flair closed the book on his active wrestling career, I closed the book on my fandom.  No one would ever capture my imagination like the "Nature Boy" did again.

It's hard to explain to non-wrestling fans just how big a deal Wrestlemania is.  Now we all know that wrestling is staged, but the fact that every professional wrestler wants to be the best at what they do is very real. Wrestlemania is their pinnacle.  They work hard all year long, putting on the best performances they can every night in hopes that their hard work will be rewarded with a spot on the biggest show of the year.  

When they get that opportunity, every single one of them wants to, and tries their hardest to go out and have a match that will be remembered and talked about through the years that follow.  They want to leave behind something that will never be forgotten, and the surest way to do that is to steal the show at WrestleMania...The Showcase of the Immortals.

The men and the matches I talked about above achieved that goal.  They have left with me memories of their character, their passion, their toughness, and their finest moments.....and that will never be forgotten.

Mickey Yarber
@yesterdayville on twitter
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Looking for more from mickyarber?

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 25, 2016 at 04:06 PM

I know who Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are. That's about it. LOL

Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Mar 25, 2016 at 06:52 AM

@Vaporman87 Some NFL stars. JJ Watt, Defensive end for the Houston Texans. Ndamukong Suh, Defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins. Haloti Ngata, Defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions. James Harrison, Outside Linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Von Miller, Outside Linebacker for the Denver Broncos.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 25, 2016 at 01:03 AM


Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Mar 24, 2016 at 07:09 PM

I always thought it would be cool to see another NFL Battle Royal. Imagine today's NFL stars in the ring, like Watt, Suh, Ngata, James Harrison and Von Miller.

Mr Magic Posted on Mar 22, 2016 at 08:38 PM

I thought Undertaker was going to retire after losing that one WM match a few years ago, but he's still wrestling. I don't know if that's his decision or if WWE is making him.

comic_book_fan Posted on Mar 20, 2016 at 04:39 PM

great picks everyone of these are great.

mickyarber Posted on Mar 18, 2016 at 05:12 PM

@crow I loved the build up to that one. The whole "she was mine before she was yours" story line was great.

@massreality I too really enjoyed the lead up to 14, and the show itself. That was a fun time to be a fan.

Mr Magic Posted on Mar 18, 2016 at 02:09 PM

Savage vs. Flair at WM VIII is a great, memorable match to me.

massreality Posted on Mar 18, 2016 at 03:42 AM

My favorite Wrestlemania moments come from two different time periods in my life. My first is Wrestlemania VI – Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior. I was a huge Ultimate Warrior fan and a pretty big Hulkster fan as well, so this match just blew my mind. It’s still my favorite Wrestlemania match of all-time. It was booked well, the match flows amazingly, and just everything about it was awesome.

My second favorite Wrestlemania moment isn’t just a moment, but an entire card- Wrestlemania 14. I got back into wrestling pretty hot and heavy in late 1997, and everything led up to Austin vs. Michaels. I loved the buildup to this Wrestlemania and my mind was blown by everything from Legion of Doom 2000 to Mike Tyson’s face turn. It was the most anticipated pay per view event of my entire life, and while it isn’t perfect, it lived up to everything I wanted at the time. It was also the first PPV I watched live, which made it that much more special.

OldSchool80s Posted on Mar 17, 2016 at 04:49 PM

Wrestlemania III will always stand out best to me in my memory. You had to love the Savage/Steamboat match, but also the iconic nature of the Hogan/Andre match capped off a magical event especially for a kid my age back then.

Mr Magic Posted on Mar 17, 2016 at 12:41 AM

Neville looks a little too big to be a high-flying wrestler. He does have a few high-flying moves, but I don't think he's earned the name "The Man That Gravity Forgot"

mickyarber Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 11:15 PM

@pikachulover you're exactly right. They were both fantastic IN RING story tellers. They knew how to read and respond to an audience. And another thing they had in common with all of the other one on one matchups on my list....they were well defined characters. You knew what there motivations were, you knew who THEY were. You cared about one or the other or both for a reason. That is sorely lacking in the product of today.

Just as examples off my head....why should I care about Neville? He does some flashy moves, but what are his motivations? Who is he? Other than him being a wrestler with a few flashy moves, what is there about him that I should be able to relate to? There is not any time given anymore to character depth and development.

pikachulover Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:11 PM

The thing about the Flair vs HBK match was that they made it work because they are both good story tellers in the ring.

Mr Magic Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 05:59 PM

Growing up is a possible factor. I was about 21 when I was starting to lose interest.

It's not just growing up, though. Cruiserweights, the smaller wrestlers, usually have some dazzling moves, but not so much now.

mickyarber Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 05:19 PM

@Crow I too think the excitement has died down. But I wonder sometimes if it just seems that way because we are grown up now. My youngest daughter is a fan, and she is really excited about Wrestlemania coming up. Reminds me of me at that age. But as for me, I could take it or leave it these days.

Mr Magic Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 05:08 PM

Hogan and Warrior is definitely a key match. One for the ages. Good call.

The excitement for WM has died now. It's been treated like some common event. It really bothers me.

Vaporman87 Posted on Mar 16, 2016 at 05:03 PM

I definitely remember the Steamboat vs. Savage and Hogan vs. Warrior matches. Man, those were true classics. I don't think we'll ever see the enthusiasm for events like these classic matches in the future. People are more cynical, and less amused by "pretend" bloodsport. They want the real deal (MMA and such). Me, I prefer to know that nobody is actually TRYING to hurt each other, and the drama that comes with the show makes it more enjoyable. But I just think today's audience and the audience of the future won't be as engaged or entertained.

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