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 2, 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.
After spending yesterday scrapping the bottom of the barrel, we now move into what strikes me as a land of ambiguity. The majority of these shows are full of good content, and have plenty of things that are fun to watch. Yet when you look at them, they just don’t make you feel as if you have watched a great show. With most, if not all of these, there was just something missing.
Let’s do this:
26) WrestleMania I — March 31, 1986 — Madison Square Garden (New York, New York) Attendance: 19, 121
The first edition! Relationships with the first show in a franchise are often very complex, as often the historical context makes it very hard to judge. The simple fact of the matter is that in a lot of ways, this is just another Madison Square Garden house show, and the card itself is pretty run of the mill.
But honestly, this is still to this day the most important show the WWE has ever done. It was the first big wrestling show to be broadcast across the country. It was the first show to skillfully mix celebrities and wrestling, and it brought pageantry to wrestling in a way that had never been accomplished. In so many ways, WrestleMania I is nothing, and everything.
25) WrestleMania VIII — April 5, 1992 — Hoosier Dome (Indianapolis, Indiana) Attendance: 62,167
This was the beginning of a new era for WrestleMania and thankfully, that meant no more of the one short match after another. The matches at this show were longer and more substantial, and we had Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and the Undertaker all in singles matches. As for the show itself, it starts off hot, peaking with the excellent Bret Hart-Roddy Piper IC title match. But the last hour of the show is a dud, and the main event, pitting Sid Vicious versus Hulk Hogan is pretty damn hard on the eyes, after seeing in Hogan in this spot for seven of the last eight years.
And if you wanna be pissed off (or amused, depending on the type of person you are), think about the fact that Sid has closed two WrestleManias, and CM Punk has closed zero.
24) WrestleMania 32 — April 3, 2016 — AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas) Attendance: 93, 370
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a strange relationship with this show. This was my first and to this day only Wrestlemania I have ever attended live, in my home state, in my adopted hometown. It’s a very special experience to me, and live, this show was an absolute blast. Yes, it was longer than War and Peace, but it was still a blast.
But watching it back on tape, man, is it long, and it’s a shame, because this show should have been better. It had the Best Women’s Title match in WM history between Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha, the greatest stunt in WM history with Shane McMahon, who made a return that was just off the charts, jumping off the Hell in the Cell, and the biggest upset in WM History, with Zack Ryder winning the IC Title match. This show should have been better!
Yet I just can’t get past that main event. Maybe, one day this show will get more love and respect, but for now it’s simply a good, really long show, with a main event no one wanted to see.
23) WrestleMania 2000 — April 2, 2000 — Arrowhead Pond (Anaheim, California) Attendance: 19,776
To this day, this show is a puzzling one to me. The roster at this time is one of the deepest and youngest and hungriest ever seen at any point in wrestling. WWF was arguably at its highest point in company history. And I loved this show when I watched it live as a kid!
But when I look at out now, objectively, it was a lot of strange multi-man and random tag matches, with the only singles match being a catfight between Terri Runnels and Stacy “The Kat” Carter. In hindsight, it’s such a weirdly booked show. But the crowd was mostly hot and the action is good. The triple Ladder match between Edge and Christian, the Dudleyz, and The Hardyz was incredible and the dawn of a new era, and the four-way main event was fun. But when you go back and look at the roster, you cant help but wonder what else they could have done…
22) WrestleMania 33 — April 2, 2017 — Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Florida) Attendance: 75, 245
As hard as is it is to judge the first of any show, it’s almost equally hard to judge the latest installment in an event. You’re still so close to everything, even a year later, and getting an accurate judgement of what you saw is just tough to do. After a year of looking at this show, the end result is we got a better version of 32-pretty damn good action and stories throughout, but WAY TOO LONG and once again, a main event that just pisses everyone off.
And it’s too bad, because this show had a lot of good matches with some solid storylines coming in. The return of the Hardyz was an amazing moment, seeing the Smackdown women on the big stage after they were once regulated to pre-show was great, and I have a real soft spot for Shane McMahon versus AJ Styles.
But again, WWE gave us Roman Reigns vs Undertaker and Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar, and we got two winners we didn’t want. This is another show I really want to like more, but I just can’t.
21) WrestleMania VI — April 1, 1990 — The Skydome (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) Attendance: 67,678
Going back into territory of classic Wrestlemanias, I feel like I will take some flak for how low this show is. But as I’ve said before, this was an era where Wrestlemania was one short match after another, and most of the mid and lower card matches has no stories coming in-they were just trying to get as many guys on the show as possible. But we remember these so fondly because the main events were so well-built and usually very good.
Here we got a main event for the ages as two big characters who were not great wrestlers, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior, have a great match that was built tremendously. It certainly deserves its high place in our memory. But other than that match, there is not a ton of stuff other to remember on this show. It has fun segments and great interviews (Jake the Snake Roberts’s pre match interview is one for the ages), but not much as far as great matches. And Mr. Perfect lost to Brutus The Fucking Barber…
20) WrestleMania V — April 2, 1989 — T***P Plaza Hotel and Casino (Atlantic City, New Jersey) Attendance: 18,946
It has been almost thirty years since this show, and you can argue that to this day, no WrestleMania main event was build up better than the one for this show, where the Mega Powers exploded, when Hulk Hogan met Macho Man Randy Savage. It was an all time buildup to what turned out to be an excellent match, even if the wrong guy probably won. That alone is enough to remember this show fondly.
Other than that though, this show has all the same problems that all of the early WrestleManias had that I have listed throughout this rankings. But this show has gems throughout that lift it above those early shows sprinkled throughout. Mr. Perfect and The Blue Blazer have about as good of a match as you can have in six minutes, Roddy Piper creates some damn magic with Brother Love and Morton Downey Jr, and Shawn Michaels takes the best clothesline in history during the Rockers match. I can watch that shit all day…
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