Time to look at the best of the Showcase of the Immortals
After bringing you the worst of Wrestlemania last week it would only be natural to do the best of the best this week. As with last week there are no real ardent rules of how I ranked these, just my personal opinion. Every year in the 2 weeks leading up to Mania, I marathon every event in order, so I’ve seen every show multiple times and this list reflects my enjoyment. Will it change? Most likely as my mood changes, but generally this list is pretty much how I view things with Wrestlemania.
So here we go!
10) Wrestlemania VII (1991): This one is an interesting one for me. For those that don’t know, This was the “Gulf War” show headlined by Hulk Hogan challenging for the WWF title against Sgt. Slaughter, who had become an Iraqi sympathizer. This show is also know for being the one that changed locations about a month before. Originally it was to be held in the 100,000 plus seat Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles, but was moved to the 20,000 seat L.A. Sports arena across the street. Vince McMahon over the years used the reason of a safety issue (bomb threat, sniper threat, ETC.) but in reality it was moved because they only sold about a quarter of the stadium seats for the show, even after a year of hype. The video release at the time was horrendously edited and for the longest time I hated this show, but then I got to see the unedited full version and it’s like night and day. Despite all the crap surrounding it, this is actually a really good show. The crowd is into almost everything that goes on, especially the Savage/Warrior retirement match. No one really dogs it in their matches, and the worst segment of the night is edited off most releases of this show (The instant replay “debate” that aired during the intermission). Even the main event is a good match with both guys giving what they had.
9) Wrestlemania X-8 (2002): From the Skydome in Toronto. This of course is best remembered for the show featuring Hulk Hogan V/s The Rock, but had a decent card surrounding it. Despite the awful storyline leading to the match, the Unified World title match with Triple H and Chris Jericho is actually pretty good. None of the matches are terrible, even if they storylines for why they are happening were Wrestlecrap worthy (Edge and Booker T. had a match over Shampoo. Seriously). A great example of how a great match can overcome horrible storytelling.
8) Wrestlemania 21 (2005): From the Staples Center in L.A., this was the show that launched John Cena and Batista into stardom. The “Wrestlemania goes Hollywood” theme that year was great with all the movie spoofs they did. The in ring action was great with Shawn Michaels V/S Kurt Angle, Triple H V/S Batista, and the first ever Money in the Bank ladder match being highlights. Although there were some crap matches (Trish Stratus V/S an untrained Christy Hemme and the Sumo match with the Big Show and Akebono) they were kept brief. The only true disappointment of the show was Cena V/S JBL which would introduce the “Cena formula” (spend 90% of the match getting his ass whopped just to spring a brief comeback and win) that would define his matches for years to come.
7) Wrestlemania V (1989): Just like the year before this show was held in the New Jersey Civic center/Trump Plaza. However, the card for this event was MUCH better than the tournament the year before and the crowd is a lot more responsive. The main event was “The Mega Powers Explode” with Hulk Hogan challenging for the WWF Title against former friend “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Underneath that big money match was Jake Roberts V/S Andre the Giant, Demolition V/S the Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji, and a surprisingly awesome match with the Ultimate Warrior and “Ravishing” Rick Rude for the Intercontinental Title. Modern fans might not take to this show as much, since in those days not every WM match needed some elaborate storyline behind it. But for the time this show is really good, with only the National Anthem botch up (that is edited off most releases of this show anyway) and the horrible RUN DMC concert really going against it. This was much better a showcase than WM IV as everyone got the spotlight, at least for a few minutes.
6) Wrestlemania XIV (1998): The show that officially kicked off the Attitude/Austin era. Here is a little anecdote. Here in Maine, the Friday before this show (it was held in Boston) a morning news anchor on our local NBC station covered this show by saying it was a big embarrassment for the city of Boston. This show would then go on to bring in a HUGE amount of money and do 3 times the buyrate as Wrestlemania 13.Shawn Michaels V/S Austin with Mike Tyson as the enforcer was the focal point, but up and down this card had a statement to make that the storylines were edgier, the action was harder, and that the era of tepid, safe, kiddy crap was OVER. The action was intense, it was fun, and even the goofier aspects of the show still were really enjoyable. Although the Attitude era had a lot of flaws and didn’t age very well, this show had none of that.
5) Wrestlemania VI (1990): “The Ultimate Challenge”. Hogan V/S The Warrior, title for title. WM’s first trip to the Skydome in Toronto and the grand finale of the 80’s wrestling boom. This show had a huge crowd, a great set up (The carts bringing people to the ring added the big event feel) and had a solid card to show for it. Besides the main event you also had Jake Roberts V/s The Million Dollar Man, The Mixed Tag match, Brutus V/S Mr. Perfect, and what would be Andre the Giant’s swam song on the show as well. Again, newer fans may not like that not every match had a storyline behind it, but the matches themselves ranged from good to awesome and the show really lived up to the Wrestlemania name.
4) Wrestlemania XXX (2014): The most recent addition to the list and may surprise some people I have it ranked so high. I love this show. Sure, it ended up only having 7 matches on the show (with a preshow match shown on Youtube) but in this case it was a matter of quality over quantity. The storyline of Daniel Bryan during the show was what GREAT storytelling with a satisfying conclusion is about. It not only made for an amazing opening match, but also made the main event that much better. Even though I’m not usually a fan of opening big shows (let alone Wrestlemania) with a promo, Having The Rock, Austin, and Hogan in the ring really was something special. Cena V/S Bray Wyatt was a good match as well, and even the Andre the Giant memorial Battle royal was a plus for this show. Borck V/S The Undertaker under delivered, no getting around that, but the feeling of “are the going to really end the streak here” and then when it finally happened was an experience all to itself. While right now it may not be a cornerstone in history, I think later on in the future this event will be looked at quite well.
3) Wrestlemania XIX (2003): Often called the most overlooked Wrestlemania in its 31 year history. This was the first Wrestlemania of the draft split era. But with Hogan V/.S McMahon, Rock V/S Austin, Triple H V/S Booker T (offensively racist build up aside), Shawn V/S Jericho and Angle V/S Lesnar to top it all off this was a mega show if there ever was one. Seattle’s Safeco Field made for a unique environment where the WWE presented pure mat wrestling (Lesnar/Angle), sports entertainment (Austin/Rock), and a bloody brawl (Hogan/Vince), so it offered something for every one. The show was paced perfectly with the big matches getting plenty of time and the lesser matches were kept rather short, with only the lame catfight segment really dragging anything down.
2) Wrestlemania X-7 (2001): This was a close one for the top spot, believe me. Held at the Houston Astrodome this was the climax for the 90’s wrestling boom, and held just a week after WWF’s closest rival WCW went out of business. This show was the perfectly booked Wrestlemania for the time period with the two top fan favorites in The Rock and Steve Austin going one on one. Underneath that you had Vince V/s Shane in a street fight, a 3 way Hardcore match that went all over the building, Angle V/s Benoit, Triple H V/S the Undertaker, and even a goofy gimmick battle royal to give people a breather but still be entertaining. This show clicked on every level and shows what happens when Vince and Company are actually doing things right and not trying to force things down people’s throats. The ONLY knock against it was the ending of the main event, which they ended up paying for ultimately. But even still this show is a shining example of what the WWF/E can really do.
1) Wrestlemania III (1987): Yup. I’m old school and that won out on in the end. Held at the Pontiac Silverdome the crowd lies somewhere between 78,000 and 93,173 people, depending on who you believe. Either way this show was MASSIVE. Hulk Hogan V/S Andre the Giant wasn’t just a match, it was a happening. Even if you didn’t follow wrestling, you knew about this match. And of course you can’t talk about this show without talking about what I STILL believe is the perfect match in Randy Savage V/s Ricky Steamboat. That match is a classic in every degree. It had the storyline going in and only surpassed itself once they actually got inside the ring and wrestled. None of the other matches on the show were terrible, even the more gimmicky stuff like the mixed 6 man and the King’s crown match. The Celebs that appeared were used MUCH better than the previous years shlockfest. This show not only defined the WWF in the 1980’s but also helped define the 80’s itself (any retrospective of the decade worth its salt mentions this show at some point). The WWE should make this show a requirement to watch when you get the WWE network. If you haven’t seen it, YOU NEED TO!
You can veiw and purchase my books HERE