Muslims go to Mecca. Elvis fans flock to Graceland. And for every spring since 1985, wrestling fans have sought to make that pilgrimage to WrestleMania, that event that produces a thousand clichés and a thousand sign points. From its relatively humble beginnings at Madison Square Garden on March 24, 1985, WrestleMania has become a week-long event surrounded by any number of events from promotions around the world. It is bid on by cities, it generates hundreds of million of dollars a year, and most importantly, still no event can match the moments that it produces for wrestling fans around the world.
Of course, not every WrestleMania was created equal. There are some that blow us away, and keep us talking for years and even decades, some that we would rather just forget, and those that maybe deserve a second look.
Leading up to this year event, to be held at the Silver-uh, er, SUPERDOME in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 8th, FightBoothPW.com resident historian, Frank Anguiano, will go in-depth to find the good, the bad, and the hidden gems of WrestleMania, in this edition of POWER RANKINGS. Events will be judged in descending order on match quality, star power, segment quality, and pageantry.
Of course, we have to start at the bottom of the barrel. The WWE narrative will tell you that all WrestleManias were great, with the newest edition being the greatest. It just ain’t true. Here are the worst WrestleManias. Each of these has their moments, of course, but overall, these are the ones that you can skip without missing too much.
33) WrestleMania XI — April 2, 1995 — Hartford Civic Center (Hartford, Connecticut) Attendance: 16,305
The WWF had fallen onto its ass in 1995 and there is no bigger evidence than this WrestleMania. The first sign is that they decided to hold the event in Hartford, probably the smallest city ever to host a WrestleMania, simply because it was near WWE headquarters in Stanford. Second is that this event had more celebrity involvement than any WrestleMania in years, a seemingly obvious attempt to surround this bad steak with as much garnish as possible.
And then, the card, which isn’t that bad on paper was just a dud. Razor Ramon and Jeff Jarrett have probably the worst match they ever had, The Undertaker is saddled with a past his best King Kong Bundy, and Bret Hart has one of the few bad matches he ever has, going way too long with Bob Backlund. The show closes very strong with an excellent WWF title match between Diesel and Shawn Michaels, and much better than expected main event that saw Lawrence Taylor gives his all against Bam Bam Bigelow. But this card is just so bad that it is sad. If you need anymore prove, the opener is Lex Luger and the British Bulldog, teaming for the first time against Jacob and Eli Blu. Jacob and Eli Blu! That’s just sad. This is undoubtedly the WORST WrestleMania of all time.
32) WrestleMania IX — April 4, 1993 — Caesars Palace (Las Vegas, Nevada) Attendance: 16, 891
There are many people will tell you that this is the worst WrestleMania of all time, and they have a damn good argument. Between the tag title match, Giant Gonzales, and this ending-where Hulk Hogan came out of nowhere to challenge and beat Yokozuna in seconds, just minutes after Yoko had beaten the stalwart champion Bret Hart, it’s WrestleMania epicact-guaranteed to induce vomiting.
I give Nine the benefit of doubt over Eleven for several reasons. First, the wrestling is very solid in several of the undercard matches and Bret Hart and Yokozuna actually had a very good match before Hogan Must Pose came back in the picture. But what really puts this event over for me is the pageantry of it al. Caesars Palace was lit up that day with the Roman Coliseum theme and the site of Good Ole’ JR in a toga, Randy Savage being carried into the arena eating grapes, and Bobby Heenan riding into the arena backwards on a camel is what saves this show from being the worst WrestleMania of all time.
31) WrestleMania II — April 7, 1986 — Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, New York; Rosemont Horizon-Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California) Attendance: 40,085 (Combined)
With three locations, a seemingly endless array of often misused celebrities (Fucking Elvira doing color commentary on the main event), and a plethora of short, useless matches, this show is a total clusterf**k. The first hour in New York is particularly painful to watch. There obviously trying to figure out a formula here, and they hadn’t gotten it right yet. Yes, there are some gems in here, particularly the British Bulldogs (accompanied by Ozzy Osbourne) beating the Dream Team for the Tag Team Titles and The Funks beating Tito Santana and JYD, but watching this show is a labor of love for sure.
And what the hell does “What the World Has Come To” mean! Seriously! I have lost several afternoons trying to figure this one out…
30) WrestleMania IV — March 27, 1988 — Boardwalk Hall (Atlantic City, New Jersey) Attendance: 19,199
This is not a bad show per see, just one with little to recommend itself. It’s long (the VHS was two tapes), it’s one short match after another, and the current President of the United States is seemingly everywhere. While there are a few little gems thrown in throughout the show, this show is really about the storytelling and everything that sounded the action. Given that the buildup to show is one of the best ever, even thirty years later…
But this show is worth watching if only to watch two performers-The Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth. Macho worked four matches and he and Elizabeth wore different outfits each time. It is a spellbinding effort from one of the best performers in wrestling history. The show’s ending with Macho celebrating with Elizabeth and Hulk Hogan set up one of the best periods in WWF History, but on this night, we are left waiting for more.
29) WrestleMania XV — March 28, 1999 — First Union Center (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Attendance: 20, 276
This show has aged terribly over the years, but then again, so has a good chunk of the Attitude Era. This edition of WrestleMania has Vince Russo’s fingerprints all over it-from the subpar wrestling, lack of clean finishes, and more emphasis on soap opera than anything else. That being said, it easy to see why this show had a better reputation in years past, as it had a hot crowd and its main event, the first WrestleMania battle between Steve Austin and The Rock, is about as good as a main event can get…
But man, there is some shit on this show. First, the match between Sable and Tori is terrible beyond belief. Then you have to spend time on the Brawl for All before you watch Bart Gunn nearly get murdered by Butterbean. And then they hang the Big Bossman…
No joke, they hung the Big Bossman. From the Hell in the Cell. That shit happened.
And overall, this is a show with some fun segments, a great main event, and very little that is quality. 1999 does not age well at all.
29) WrestleMania XXVII — April 3, 2011 — Georgia Dome )Atlanta, Georgia) Attendance: 71, 617
This is where this list starts to get a little better. Now there are some real gems on this show, such as CM Punk vs Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes vs Rey Mysterio. A lot of the stuff with the Rock is really fun. And the hype videos and entrances for the main event between John Cena and The Miz were some of the best the WWE has ever done, especially that video for the Miz set to “Hate Me Now” by Nas. That’s classic stuff.
But this Mania is sunk by what has to be the worst segment in the history of WrestleMania, the match between Jerry The King Lawler and Michael Cole. They gave this monstrosity of a segment nearly a half hour of time, and put Daniel Bryan on the preshow. Someone deserves jail time for that. In addition, the finish of the main event, with a double countout turning into a restart to the Rock screwing Cena has to be one of the lamer ends to a WrestleMania event ever.
And they put Snooki on this show. Snooki.
28) WrestleMania 29 — April 7, 2013 — MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey) Attendance: 80, 676
This show gets a bit of a bad rap, as it’s actually a very solid show with some pretty good matches. But for most fans, it’s the show we remember as the one where we got the rematch no one wanted. Rock vs Cena I was special, Rock Cena II was pedestrian AF. The buildup to the show was also absolutely terrible, with the Raws leading up to it giving me some nightmares. And then the match that should have broken the Streak, an excellent battle, end with the wrong guy winning…
But this show also comes with a silver lining. The next night was the first real Raw After WrestleMania, which I have come to call Smarkamania. The crowd the night after WrestleMania 29 will go down as maybe the best crowd in Raw history, with chanting and Fandangoing and a total rebellion against what was a terrible product in a desperate need for a fresh look. Thankfully, it was coming…
27) WrestleMania VII — March 24, 1991 — Los Angeles Sports Arena (Los Angeles, California) Attendance: 17, 158.
Here’s some advice for watching this show-cut it off after the Perfect-Bossman match. The first two hours of this show our excellent, with the IC and Tag Team title matches being fantastic, Jake The Snake Roberts and Rick the Model Martel have probably the only good blindfold match ever, and Randy Savage giving the Ultimate Warrior the best match of his career, before reuniting with Elizabeth, in which to this day, is one of the most heartwarming moments in WWE History.
But the last hour is BRUTAL. This is the last of the WrestleMania era where it’s simply one short match after another, and the last hour just goes on and on! And the main event is similarly brutal, twenty minutes of sleep inducing and sloppy brawling between Hulk Hogan and Sgt Slaughter. Sometimes video is merciful…
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